Each Friday I get the opportunity to feel like a ‘proper Mum,’ I get the chance to start work late and take my two boys to school which is something I love to do. I’ve got to be honest though and admit that sometimes the thought of this is often more appealing rather the reality of it.
You see, each morning our boys wake at 7am and they get ready, eat breakfast and they leave for child-minders with my husband at 7.40am. It has to be like a military operation as we’ve all got to be out the house and out the door by this time to ensure we arrive at work on time. So on Fridays I let the boys relax a little, watch TV and make the most of Mum taking them to school which in my eyes is a real treat.
We still get them ready before Richard leaves for work but, instead of encouraging them to eat their breakfast at break neck speed we encourage them to eat slowly and enjoy the morning. This Friday they woke, got their uniforms on and ate breakfast and then asked if they could go on technology which is something they love to do.
A year ago we changed the rules of the house with technology and stopped them using it during the week as it was preventing them from playing with their other games and to add to this it caused no ends of arguments about who won which game and who’s turn it was. It was one of the best decisions we made but, we explained that they could have technology on Friday evenings and Saturday and Sunday mornings. They were pleased with this and it’s worked well however, this morning as they were so well behaved I allowed them to go on technology as I thought it would be a nice treat for them – big mistake!
Tom (aged 6) and James (aged 5) love technology and were over the moon at the idea of this. So whilst I was getting ready I allowed them to play games and enjoy themselves for 45 minutes. This time soon passed and I gave them a 5 minute warning to say that in 5 minutes they needed to brush teeth, get shoes and coats on and we’d head out to school.
Any parent who’s got young children knows that this 5 minute warning enables the child to understand what’s coming next and it usually works well – well, most of the time. So the 5 minute warning came and went and I thought I’d better issue a 2 minute warning too just so they knew what was happening, so I did just that. Then after 5 minutes I shouted the boys upstairs and asked them to do what we’d already agreed.
Tom happily finished his game and did exactly what I asked of him as he understands when it’s time to play and when it’s time for school. James on the other hand had other plans and he didn’t come upstairs when I asked him so I popped downstairs to encourage him to follow the rules we’d already set out.
James refused and wouldn’t give me the iPad back so after 3-4 minutes of trying to coax him upstairs I had to hold his hand and take him upstairs. If I had more time I would have issued a ‘time out’ as that usually works but, as we were running late I needed to hurry things along. At this point he was crying uncontrollably and complaining and being completely irrational which admittedly was becoming increasingly frustrating.
Anyway, after some time he eventually came round and made his way to the car, but he wasn’t happy and we headed off to school with 9 minutes to spare. He was still crying and complaining the whole way which was making Tom feel frustrated too! (You can just picture the scene can’t you?!) As we arrived at school there was still no sign of James calming down but, we had to walk to school rather quickly to make sure we got there on time as on top of this the snow started to come down.
As we walked up to school James complained that I wasn’t helping him and he insisted that he couldn’t stop crying but, to be honest I was struggling to help him as at times like any young child they can be irrational for no apparent reason.
I reflected for a moment and thought about what he said, I knew exactly what he meant and I remembered what had worked before for James. James meant that he wanted me to help him ‘breathe it out.’ You see, each night when I lie with him in bed we finish the day by talking about what’s happened, what we’re happy about and grateful for and then we end the day with a breathing meditation. We take some deep breaths in and out and relax our whole bodies using a body scan meditation and within minutes he’s calm, relaxed and ready for sleep (sometimes he’s already asleep).
So even though we were rushing to school I of course helped him with his breathing and we practised ‘breathing in’ and ‘breathing out’ and within seconds he was much calmer. This mindfulness practice that we’ve rehearsed so many times before works so well for James and even at the age of 5 he knows what he needs to do to calm down which is skill he’s practised and now it’s in his toolbox for when he needs it.
James was able to calm himself before he went into school using these strategies and the techniques we practise each night. Mindfulness encourages a sense of self awareness and it teaches way of becoming more attuned to your feeling, thoughts and emotions without judgement. It’s personally helped me and now I get the opportunity to share it with my children too so they in turn too benefit from these practices.
Last year we wrote a Mindfulness Programme, ‘The Conscious Way!’ for children and this year we’re already working with school children to help become aware of their thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours and even though this morning didn’t quite go to plan it ended with James feeling more relaxed and calmer.
Mindfulness is a life skill which I think we should all have the opportunity to learn, it can help in so many ways and that’s why we offer both Mindfulness sessions for Children and Adults. So if you’re interested then please visit our website for more information at www.aspirationalliving.co.uk