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How To Manage Stress As a Parent

When you’ve told someone that you feel stressed either at work or home because you were a new mom, what have you been told? 

Let me have a few guesses:

“You just need a holiday.” 

“Have a massage.” 

The issue with these ‘go-to’ recommendations is that they imply that stress will only go away when these events happen.

So even though you might feel less stressed when you are on holiday or having a lovely message (and don’t get me wrong, I love both of these)…

…your anxiety or worry is likely to come back the moment you get home. 

Why? 

Because you didn’t address the real problem AND allowing someone or something to be responsible for lowering your stress means you are now dependent on that someone or something. 

And let’s face it, you can’t spend your life on holiday or at the spa. 

But there are many things that you CAN do to manage your levels of stress. 

Things like finding moments of meditation throughout your day or introducing calm at home. 

I’ve talked about these in the context of helping kid’s anxiety but managing your stress as a parent is just as important. 

It will help you react better when your kids trigger you and allow you to set an example to your kids of the type of person you want them to be. 

When you can manage your own stress, you will sleep better, have more patience and become more empathic. 

This helps with every aspect of your life, not just parenting.

If you’d like to learn more about stress triggers and management, visit this blog post:

Stress Triggers: How To Identify Them

identifying stress triggers

Stress Triggers: How To Identify Them

I was in the neurologist’s waiting room fearing the worst. 

After feeling dizzy for about a month I actually decided to see the doctor. And after a series of tests I was now waiting for the result. 

Anticipation, I’ve come to learn, is generally always worse than the actual event.

Thankfully it wasn’t something serious, but something called vestibular migraines. They are like regular migraines except they make you constantly dizzy with some vertigo thrown in for good measure.  

The doctor explained that just like other migraines, they usually occurred in response to a trigger and that I had to find mine. 

After weeks of going through the list of possible food and drink triggers it turned out that my trigger was (thankfully not chocolate), but in fact just plain old stress. 

Saying that stress was a trigger was like saying that some or all fruits were a trigger. I needed to get more specific, was it apples, bananas, a combination of both? 

It’s the same thing with stress, except that unlike fruits, we cannot just simply cut it out of our lives.  At any given point we are all under some kind of stress. 

So what do you do, live with it? … well, No! 

In overcoming my vestibular migraines I realised 2 things: 

1) There are some stressors that you can remove from your life. We are usually embarrassed, ashamed or feel guilty about removing them. 

2) Your reaction to those stress triggers will dictate how well (or badly) that stress affects you.  In my case how badly my migraines would become. 

This is part of what led me to meditation. I wasn’t trying to become enlightened or a monk, I just wanted to feel better, to feel like a normal person again.  

Eliminating triggers doesn’t mean you have to change your entire life. But it does mean you have to become more observant and aware to be able to identify them.  

For example, during my parent’s course I ask students to focus on identifying their stress triggers in the week ahead. Recently one of them said this exercise made a massive difference in her life.

She realised that after having inadvertently agreed to pick up a friend before a lesson 3x a week she found herself constantly hurrying and pressuring her son to finish his homework. Homework for those 3 days a week was a battle, mum and son were constantly upset and frustrated with each other.

After realising this, the solution became immediately obvious. To tell her friend (even though she felt guilty about it – but that’s a topic for another email)  that she was no longer able to collect her. 

Even though it was only 15 extra minutes, they made a huge difference. She no longer felt she had to hurry and was able to enjoy helping her son with his homework. Their relationship improved and they got homework done faster!  

Eliminating stressors are not always about changing jobs or ending relationships, sometimes they can be small things like having an extra 15 mins with your child that make a huge difference to how you both feel. 

So tell me, do you know your stress triggers

How To Handle Kids’ Meltdowns

Going back to school after the holiday break is hard for kids.  

But you know what’s harder? Going back to school after lockdown. 

Emotions are running high on every side, and the moment kids are back home from school, they are likely to let all their emotions out. 

On you… 

And maybe you’ve heard this is actually a compliment because it means they trust you and feel safe enough to have that emotional outburst knowing you will not stop loving them.  

But I know that at that moment, it doesn’t feel like it. 

So how do you get through them? 

In breathwork, there is a saying: “If you resist, it will persist.” 

I believe something similar applies to meltdowns/tantrums/emotional outbursts. 

If all you are thinking at that moment is: “OMG, please let this be over soon,”… it is likely to take longer. 

Instead, here is my suggestion: 

Allow space for the emotional outburst and become an observer instead of a participant to it. 

When you become an observer, you can emotionally detach yourself from the result. 

As long as they are not hurting themselves, they can be angry, shout, cry or be silent. 

Sit with them through it. Observe it without judgment and be willing to offer a hug if they need it. 

Remember, it has nothing to do with you. They are processing emotions. 

Then talk about it when they are calmer. Label the emotion, ask what they were feeling. 

For example, you seem, angry sweetheart. How does that feel in your body? Does your belly or head hurt? 

This type of communication is key to help them become aware of how they are feeling and why. 

And really, this is why I encourage learning meditation. It gives children core skills to learn emotional regulation. 

How I taught my 6 yo about Manifesting

How I taught my 6 yo about Manifesting.

How I taught my 6 yo about Manifesting.

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Last summer we went hiking in an area in Switzerland called Grindelwald. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen.

Here is a pic of our hike:

Half way through the hike it started raining, actually a full-on thunderstorm with lighting starting pouring down. 

My son was scared (and if I’m honest I was a little bit scared too), we were in open plains with no cover in the middle of a heavy thunderstorm. 

He started crying and said “I don’t want to walk anymore, I want to be at the hotel”… unfortunately we still had about an hour’s hike to get down not to the town, but only to the next ski lift where we could catch a ride down. 

We sat down next to some bushes to wait the worst out. I kept repeating to my little one that he was safe, that we were all safe, that soon the storm would pass and we would be able to get down. 

Even though we were wet and a bit cold, we all huddled together and kept repeating that it would be ok. 

But S also kept repeating he didn’t want to walk anymore, he just wanted to get to the hotel… “no more walking mummy” he said time and time again. 

As the storm started subsiding, we started walking again and after less than 100mts around a bend, I saw it. 

A BUS! 

Halfway up this mountain, there was a bus about to leave for the centre of town right in front of us. I couldn’t believe it. 

S turned to me and said, “I told you I didn’t want to walk any more mummy, let’s get on the bus”. 

To say I was shocked to see the bus would be an understatement. 

I’ve done some good manifesting in my life. 

But manifesting a BUS halfway up a mountain, that we had no idea would be there AND that was only there a few times a day… that was some next level manifesting. 

 

We can create with our thoughts. 

Instead of saying to my son, “oh that was lucky” or brushing it off I seized the opportunity to congratulate him on making the bus appear out of nowhere… i.e. manifesting it. 

I explained to him that we can create things with our thoughts – good and bad-. 

And that when he dearly wished with all his heart to be safely back at the hotel and not to walk anymore – his wish was manifested through that bus. 

You may say that this is just encouraging him to believe in “magic” or that he may become lazy and sit back waiting for things to appear in front of him. 

There is a big difference in teaching (or enabling) someone to be lazy and encouraging self-confidence and self-belief. 

For example, I’ve taught him to help put his laundry in the washing machine since he was 4 – this way he knows that laundry doesn’t magically appear in his bedroom. 

But I’ve also taught him that visualisation and breathwork can help him perform well in his school plays. 

And when we were on that mountain I didn’t let him or encourage him to sit there in the bushes and wait for a miracle… we still had to walk a bit more. 

It was there, after having picked himself up and walked a bit further – when he didn’t want to walk anymore- that the magic appeared. That single act taught him resilience AND self-belief.   

It’s all about balance. And I want him to believe in equal measure that hard work is as important as the thoughts he thinks every day. 

As someone who struggled with depression and burn out, I KNOW this to be true. Because no matter how hard I worked to get through it, it wasn’t until I put my mind and thoughts into it that things started to change.

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How to practice self-care, when everyone is home.

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“I can’t do this anymore… even sneaking away to the bathroom isn’t working anymore”

“I love my kids dearly, but I just need to be away from them”

“I need more than 10 mins on my own… I need a full week away”

Sound familiar?

We have now been living with a pandemic for a year and this latest lockdown is the equivalent of the 20 mile mark of a marathon… i.e. hitting the wall.

If you want to get scientific, during a marathon “hitting the wall” happens when a runner’s glycogen (i.e. his or her stored energy) in the muscles is depleted. This forces the runner to slow right down, sometimes even to a walk, if not to a complete halt.

I think there has never been a time when so many non-running people have perfectly empathised and understood the concept of hitting the wall.

So what can you do when you desperately need time for yourself, but you just can’t get away from your house and everyone inside?

You take time for yourself… together.

Seems counterintuitive right?

But the reality is that when you close your eyes during a meditation you go inwards, so does it really matter whether your kids are next to you or the house is a mess?

If you are thinking, “but I read that to meditate I need to set up a clean tidy area where I am not going to be distubed, so then I can’t do it”… please don’t let this stop you.

Yes this would be great in an IDEAL scenario, just like it would be ideal if cake didn’t have calories.

We are past ideals or perfect scenarios, we need to work with what we have. And if that means inviting your kids to meditate with you for 5 or 10 minutes, then that’s where you start.

My hubby used to get annoyed when our then 4yo sat next to him near the end of his morning meditations.

We spoke about it and I said why don’t you reframe that?

Imagine all the love he is feeling for you in that moment and take that love into your meditation.

Feel grateful that he is there with you, feel the love he has for you and the love you have for him.

After that conversation, he tried it and said it was such a beautiful end to his meditation that he looked forward to our little one joining him more often.

We are all tired, we all want things to go back to some sort of normality or at least be able to see family and friends.

But for now, we are in THIS moment.

And our anger, frustration or annoyance at why can’t things be different, won’t change the NOW… but it’s highly likely to continue to add more stress hormones to our already tired bodies.

The good news is that at each moment, you get to choose. I choose to take time to myself and if that means doing it with my son, that is also ok.

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Need A Calming Message For Your Kid Right Now? Watch These 3 Animated Movies

Need A Calming Message For Your Kid Right Now? Watch These 3 Animated Movies

Need A Calming Message For Your Kid Right Now? Watch These 3 Animated Movies

The lead song “Into the Unknown” is all about Elsa resisting change (and finally accepting it). She has her family, has embraced her powers and her people have accepted her – why would she want to mess with it? 

But she goes ahead anyway. Change can be scary, but by showing our children that change can be an opportunity, we prepare them for the only constant in life: change.

In our first book, Ava starts being afraid, but then she feels brave and she becomes brave. It’s important for children to learn that it’s not about not feeling afraid, it’s about having the courage to do something even if you are a little afraid.

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Frozen II 
(Walt Disney Pictures/2019)

#1: Frozen 2

Dare I say that this is currently my favourite animated movie of all time? That’s a big statement particularly for a sequel, where I thought the first movie was just ok

Aside from the comedy genius that is Olaf (his recap of Frozen 1 was hilarious), the movie deals with deep messages about self-love, courage, self-belief, and doing what is right. 

Here are the themes from from Frozen 2 to discuss with your kids:

Courage in the face of fear:

The lead song “Into the Unknown” is all about Elsa resisting change (and finally accepting it). She has her family, has embraced her powers and her people have accepted her – why would she want to mess with it? 

But she goes ahead anyway. Change can be scary, but by showing our children that change can be an opportunity, we prepare them for the only constant in life: change.

In our first book, Ava starts being afraid, but then she feels brave and she becomes brave. It’s important for children to learn that it’s not about not feeling afraid, it’s about having the courage to do something even if you are a little afraid.

Accepting and loving yourself:

As Elsa arrives in Ahtohallan, she believes she is on course to meet the entity that is calling her there. Only to find that, in fact, she is calling herself, to her destiny.  

At that moment, she seems to fall in love with herself and “steps into her power” not only because she is the fifth element, but because she is complete in herself.  

Self-love sounds like a cliche, but understanding it is a key issue in meditation. Why? Because you realise that when someone else is being unkind, rude, angry, etc. at you… it’s not about you, it’s about them

I talk all about this and how to explain to your kids on my Instagram story highlights “Movie Analysis” HERE

Men/Boys are also vulnerable (and it's more than ok, it's normal):

I cannot recall another movie that shows male vulnerability at this level through the character of Kristoff. From his various failed proposal attempts to that 80s style song, Kristoff is shown in love, being left behind, and battling with his feelings. 

Yet, when he finds Anna again, he doesn’t complain or tell her off for leaving – his responses “I am here, what do you need?” and “My love is not fragile” are mature and pretty much perfect. 

#2 The Little Prince

(2015 Production by Orange)

I flat out cried my eyes out the first time I saw this movie, but don’t let that put you off because there is also a huge message in there for adults. 

Here are the themes from The Little Prince to discuss with your kids: 

The Little Prince
(Onyx Films Orange Studio/2015)


Our relationships make us unique to each other:

The Little Prince comes across a bush of roses and becomes disappointed because his rose which he thought was unique “was just a common rose… there was nothing special about her”.  

Until the fox explains that his rose is indeed unique to him. And that it is the love and time that he devoted to his rose that made it special. 

Dealing with Loss:

The little girl befriends the pilot throughout her summer and through learning the story about the little prince she understands that the pilot may soon leave her too. 

As he falls ill and she goes to find the little prince, she understands that when a loved one leaves us, they are always with us in our hearts.

The Fox says: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye"

Immortal words of the original book told by the fox to the Little Prince before they say goodbye. 

The Little Prince
(Onyx Films Orange Studio/2015)

Seeing with your heart means that instead of seeing the world in the way that you may be feeling (which may be fear, anxiety, anger) you see it through the lense of kindness and love. 

And seeing with the heart leads to compassion and understanding, which is something we all need right now. 

#3 Moana

Another musical makes the list, but honestly when you have The Rock as the demi-god Maui, one can hardly resist! 

Moana
(Walt Disney Pictures/2016)

Here are the themes from Moana to discuss with your kids: 

Questioning authority and the way things "have always been done"

It’s all fun and games telling kids to question authority, until they start questioning your own!  Moana struggles with her desire to please her parents and follow her heart to go out to sea. 

But she knows that she needs to save her island and that “the way things have always been done” are not helping.

So with her grandmother’s and mother’s blessing but against her father’s wishes she sets out into the unknown to restore the normal balance of things.

Failing and trying again:

Moana had no idea how she was going to achieve her goal. 

In her first attempt, she failed and was abandoned by Maui and in her moment of despair she gives up and asks the sea to choose another.

Through a vision her grandmother comes to her and she realises that her failure has shown her what not to do, so she tries again… and succeeds.   

Knowing and embracing your true self:

Moana is in her boat, alone and defeated. Her deceased grandmother makes a simple question, “Moana, do you know who you are?

Moana realises that she is both the daughter of the Chief who doesn’t want to go to sea and the descendant of voyagers. She realises she is more than what others think of her and that in embracing all of the aspects of who she is, makes her stronger. 

Now, go put on one of the movies above (#NoGuilt) and get on with some work… 

or you can always join your kids with a bowl of popcorn.

If you want to know how to keep the zen going after the movie is finished keep reading…  

Can these themes help introduce your child to meditation?

The themes in these movies such as self-love, courage, embracing your true self (actually all of them) are also the themes that you work on through meditation. 

This is why I believe that teaching kids about meditation is so important. It not only gives them direct benefits now, but also helps them grow into happy, kind and emotionally intelligent adults.  

Want to gently introduce your kids to meditation but have no idea how to start?

At Meditation Fairy you can find books (printed and online) that introduce kids to meditation, printable activities to do at home with your kids and much more. 

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