Home schooling, lockdown vol.2 – the winter edition

Four days in to January 2021 in the UK, any hope was slashed by the Prime Minister’s announcement to return to life in March 2020, you have every right to feel the emotions you do; whether you are fearful, angry, bored, or nonplus *or perhaps like me fly between them all like a Meerkat on look out. It’s perfectly normal to not feel normal, that’s the new normal.

However, hope is on the horizon and that’s why I have popped this midweek post together. This time we have several super powers within us and we should unleash them…well it could make all the difference to us and our families thriving in 2021. Although I write as both a parent and teacher, I would also like to highlight that everyone is in their own personal battle at present and hopefully non parents can take some joy from this post too.

Super power one: knowledge: Volume two means there was a volume one. I know you know that, I know things aren’t exactly the same BUT we lived through volume one! Knowledge is power, something I never had last time. This time I can see an end, volume 1 was six months of ‘maybe next week’ a blur, a really long Sunday…this time I know it will end because it did before. Maybe we didn’t all thrive, but it’s well worth taking time to reflect on the things that did work, adapting them where necessary and making them work for the winter edition, hindsight is a beautiful thing – use it. For example, a paddling pool in January probably isn’t going to go down well, but we as a family in vol.1 took the time each day to come together and watch a film, it was a calming time (it was always Disney) and it added a drop of structure to an otherwise chaotic day.

I took the time to ask my son what he wanted to do, sure home schooling was usually part of the day but actually with no commutes we did have time to bake or build some Lego. We went for walks, okay if I’m honest I’m a little walked out but I also know that nature always makes me feel better…do the things that served you last time.

Superpower two: Know your child isn’t behind: You are giving them an experience. Like most adventures in life it comes with highs (we uploaded work to the school site) and lows (no work was achieved and my son claimed corona stole all of the pencils in the house) but it’s how we look at them that counts. My child is where he is academically; I can’t rewind 2020, I can’t push knowledge into his brain, but I can make sure that no matter what he is safe and healthy. Today the juggle was real. My full time job, our home, my sons education, our families sanity, our mental health all rolled into one and it was messy…but it was also good too….

Super power three: Hold on to the gratitude: Being thankful, for whatever small glimmer of hope, joy, love, appreciation you see or feel…it matters. I’m eternally indebted to frontline workers, I’m pleased my family is healthy, that today we are ok, that the internet connection works, that I have the skill set to break down tasks set for my child and can make them applicable to him, that the dog didn’t bark when the postman came and I was on a Teams call for work, that we did our best.

Super power four: Small steps are mighty: This may be part of your existing super power one, but I know that small steps, low expectations and being kind to myself is the only way I can manage at present. I didn’t do all the work tasks I had the intention of completing, by 10am I prioritised them and spread them out over the next few days. I can only do what I can. I did take a few minutes to do a facial this evening so that tomorrow I wake feeling topped up with self love, I also treated myself to a hot chocolate because this life is precious. Small steps with treats along the way make unstructured time’s a little easier. Also, a technique that works well for most children and age groups is Now, Next and then. It works like this: Now we are doing maths, next we will read and then you can play. Forget the rest of the day for a few small steps, when they are heading off to play, remind them that now they are having play time, next they can read and then we will have lunch. Those three small words can give enough knowledge to make your child feel safer. If you have multiple children it might be that time is divided and your ‘Now i’m helping Bethan, next we will go and play and then we will revisit your history work together’ feeling heard is so important and often grounds us far more than Mummy spending 5 hours the night before creating a complex rota that due to a tantrum and a high temp from the baby has all gone out of the window before 7:30am

I hope by reading this you maybe remembered how awesome you already are, that you’ve got this and that with a few super powers under your belt you can achieve anything.

Letting go is an active process

Quote from Alicia Menendez

Firstly, congratulations you’ve made it to 2021! Let’s be honest, it was touch and go…

Now we’ve hit 2021 and the world is crying out for a kinder year and I’m hoping that travel will resume. However, I can’t help but see the usual spiral of diet plans, fitness regimes, goals, coaches, juices, subscriptions being pushed down our throat’s….and that’s great, if that works for you.

However, I just wanted to tap you on the shoulder and remind you that you’re enough just the way you are. Perfectly imperfect.

I personally like to analyse the year and set a few goals, perhaps try something new BUT not by January first. After the year we’ve all expected and the uncertain future that may be ahead, it’s time to slow things down. Take time to reflect, enjoy the process. You may wish to create a mind map or journal on the topic, so unpick the pieces of life’s puzzle that no longer serve you.

In the UK January is cold, grey and not the best time to be motivated. That doesn’t need to be an excuse, so be kind to yourself and make any goals small and achievable based on your circumstances.

New habits take time and so introducing small manageable changes is the best way to optimum success.

Action is needed; so if you aren’t ready to end old patterns that don’t serve you…don’t. Also don’t expect change. I’ve always found best results when I take my time to let go over things that don’t serve me any longer. If you rush the process, you often sabotage the results. An example of this was when I was pregnant and ‘nothing in my wardrobe fitted me’ so I took irrational action and threw away over half of my perfectly good not-pregnant wardrobe. I spent the next three years looking for tops or ‘ that belt’ constantly reminding myself that I’d given it away and it seem cases (basic tops) having to replace them. The same goes for taking on drastic diet plans that leave you malnourished or excessive exercise programmes that give you injuries. Small steps, one at a time…letting go as the quote suggests is a daily practice of moments and blessings, these often lead to more productive changes and take you a little nearer to your happy ever after.

Jingle all the way

Lyrics from Jingle bells

I went with this quote for selfish reasons…it looks festive on my fridge, but it also has a seasonal message that you can apply all year long.

The vibration that we put out in to the world is often what we attract back. Karma, derived from India is now accepted in many cultures as ‘that which you put out in the world, you receive back’. Hinduism and Buddhism sometimes connect this with reincarnation but often it’s spoken in the moment.

Today I watched 20 children play Rugby in the rain, my son came home looking like he had had a mud wrap in a spa. A bubble bath and a couple of loads of washing later meant order was restored but upon reflection nobody moaned about being cold on the pitch, parents didn’t grumble on the sidelines and even when my son went for a tackle and face planted to the ground,he got up and smiled. For me, this is a classic ‘jingle all the way’ moment. The children haven’t been able to play Rugby for a while, despite mother nature’s down pour they were thrilled to be back, parents were wrapped for the elements and the perspective was on learning, improving and having fun…

In hindsight, the Rugby game could of been a miserable morning, I could of grumbled about the extra washing…instead we had a giggle and it was a positive experience for all…except the dog, she got cold and was shivering.

I’m not sure that 2021 is going to be significantly better than this year, in honesty I have so much to be thankful for this year and many cherished moments at home with my family BUT I am going to watch my ‘jingle all the way’ and add a little more sparkle to 2021 created simply by giving out positive energy. I may well receive even more joy back and if not, it’ll make for a more pleasant experience.

Dust off your bells and enjoy the lighter moments life has to offer, celebrate the small successes and know that time with loved ones is precious.

Merry Christmas

Be kind. Even on your bad days

Quote Anon

Today’s post isn’t long and its message is simple. We all have battles that we face, both internal personal battles and external battles that we may find ourselves in through no fault of our own…so do other people.

It’s easy to be consumed by the now and even the toxicity of the past, it’s much harder to smile on days when you don’t feel like smiling and even harder to push that smile into the world towards strangers.

However, in my experience it’s the light in the darkest of moments, the kindness that comes from people that don’t need to care that is truly special.

As the Christmas season approaches and we all become consumed by…well, consumerism, perhaps in this crazy world of 2020 that we all find ourselves in, the best gift we can give ourselves and those around us is a little extra kindness. It often doesn’t cost a lot and it doesn’t always get noticed but I truly believe the future of the world depends on it (that totally sounded like a marvel film intro)

As the last few weeks of 2020 past and we step into 2021 with a little more hope and a dollop of joy, please add a gallon of kindness to those who need it. You can never be sure who needs it, so aim for everyone. Let the car out of the side road if it’s safe to do so, let the man in a rush pass you by and don’t judge him – you don’t know why he is rushing. Kindness is checking on friends with a quick phone call and knocking on vulnerable neighbours doors to check if they need anything. Open doors and smile.

Smile when people give you eye contact, increase your manners (it’s something adults generally suck at), tell people you love them and give compliments like you’re PollyAnna. Over the years I’ve written a lot about this topic, gratitude and kindness truly matter and usually I write to remind myself.

So if nobody has told you today, your hair looks fab, I love that jumper and I’d like to thank you for dropping by, it’s means the world.

Humble with a hint of Kanye

Quote Anon

This week we said hello (and then goodbye) to Friday 13th in 2020. The meme game was high and it made reflect on the year a little, was 2020 really that horrendous? For me personally we have said goodbye to loved ones (not pandemic related), we’ve been affected by the lockdown restrictions and I updated my passport unnecessarily but we’ve also had so many awesome moments. The UK had a summer that seemed to last forever and it was joyful sunny! We used our garden and lockdown gave us family time that I couldn’t have imagined possible. I stepped over fear and went for an interview on zoom (so 2020) got the job, that led to a huge lifestyle change and well…there were a lot of good moments weaved in between.

In the last few weeks of 2020 make sure you’re your own hype man, don’t get caught in only reflecting on this year in a negative manner. All years, months and days have contrast of both good and bad moments, in fact I’ve learnt from experience that sometimes laughter in the darker moments is all the more precious. Some years are a little sweeter and now as it turns out, some have memories of banging on pans with wooden spoons and not seeing extended family as much as we would have liked.

But we’re still here, unless you’re reading this from beyond the grave, which would be pretty cool. We are still here and we still have time to create more awesome memories and remember this year with some Kanye flair – he ran for president, which lets me honest is both bold and so Kanye. Imagine if the world had as much self esteem as Mr West, although as the quote suggests a little humbleness often goes a long way too and it’s a delicate balance. Here are a few quotes from the man himself.

“For me to say I wasn’t a genius would just be me lying to myself and you”

“Everything I am made me everything i am” nope I don’t understand this either?

“I feel I’m too busy writing history to read it”

Then every now and then he says something that makes me cherish 2020 a little more…

“The only luxury we have is time. The time you get to spend with your family” count your blessings as much as you count your hardships and when the New Year’s Eve bells ring you can step into 2021 with gratitude (and a dash of relief)

Every storm runs out of rain eventually

Quote from Alex Banayan

Being from the UK I’m an expert in all things weather related, you see in England we don’t have a climate, we have weather. Sometimes (and often in the last few weeks) we can have torrential rain and seconds later clear sky’s and something in the sky that resembles the sun beaming down like ‘what rain?’ The key in terms of fashion if you’re ever visiting is layers. Be prepared for cold Mornings, rain, an unpredictable grey sky and if you’re lucky that orange mystical beast of a sun may come out to play…although unlikely.

Alex’s quote above related to storms, they blow over and the clouds run out of rain…a comparison to a metaphorical storm you may be in in a physical sense. Emotions are often temporary and with support, ease and flow you’ll find that emotions too run out of cloud.

However, the true surprise from me is that people strive for the sun. Looking for pure happiness and expecting to stay in it. Think tropical island for a second – too much of anything has its downsides. We think we want the sun until we get burnt, we think we want the snow until we slip on the ice or get lost in a blizzard. We are often surprised when we try new things and like them…actually the real sweet spot in the weather system is a rainbow, the prism of joy that leaps from sun and rain combined.

Don’t spend your days chasing the storm or under grey clouds of doom…it’s temporary, everything is – even you. Instead I double dare you infinity to look for the joy in all weathers, in all emotions and remember it’s only for a short moment, tomorrow may be different and different can be better or worse and if you’re truly blessed you may get a tomorrow after that and that too will be different. Enjoy the contrast in the journey and don’t spend your time looking for an end result.

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle

Quote from James Keller

Another week whisks past and many are still finding their feet, understandably.

This quote from James Keller reminded me to pause and reflect on how I can serve others. Sometimes it might be just a smile or making someone a cup of tea, a hug or perhaps picking up the phone and checking on a loved one.

If your cup isn’t full then I suggest you top your own cup up (and add sugar) first. However, if you have some to spare I often find the smallest gestures can enhance others and like the quote suggests it won’t dim your light.

In fact often, spreading the light can raise happiness levels in teams, families or tribes. Perhaps making some cakes and taking them into the office might bring some joy to others, maybe leaving a post-it on someone’s desk to show you appreciate them is all they need, the small flickers of light, like the night sky make for a beautiful night sky over all. Today I sold some houseplants on Facebook and a lady was delayed as she has locked her keys in her car, the RAC were out but she was clearly distressed. I told her there was no rush and I’d hold the plant for her, but when she arrived I gave her a bonus mini plant as well, her smile was enough to make it worth while. When we feel like the world is against us, it often only take a small connection to relight our energy again so that we can shine. Constellations create wonderful images when we join together, in this crazy universe beauty can be found when we do just that.

This week make time to give a little, love a lot and sleep with gratitude as your base – it’s the recipe for success for you and the universe.

Don’t be eye candy, be soul food

Quote by…

This quote makes me overflow, it makes me excited and I feel the need to put this in neon lights (* adds that to my to do list).

Physical appearances are subjective, they change with and like the seasons. Also, different people are attractive to different people. Now, before you stop reading this because you feel I’m stating the obvious, Im writing this because there are multi billion pound corporations preaching to us what is assethitically pleasing? That I find odd. 

I don’t need a chef to tell me if I like the food I’m eating, but it would seem humanity likes to be told what’s fashionable, what’s acceptable – the eyebrows are in and they are huge. Working in an all girl school for over a decade I can tell you that they can look gorgeous or absolutely terrifying. 

I once had to collect a girl from a lesson as she took the ‘natural’ make up policy to a new level. She began to cry, her reaction to me offering wipes and the time to ‘tone it down’ devastated her. So we spoke it through and she explained that she’d woke up early to apply the ‘many’ layers as she was meeting a boy after school and clearly she really liked him. As I helped her wipe away the ‘concealer’ we spoke about what she liked about him. I asked her what his eyebrows were like, she wasn’t sure. I altered the conversation and highlighted why I thought she was soul food, her assets. On the Monday morning she came to tell me something I already knew – he prefered her without the make up. For a 14 yr old girl this was a revelation, for anyone that’s actually spoken to member of the male population its common news that they aren’t a fan of excessive make up. Whilst they lived happily ever after for a handful of weeks until she moved on to someone ‘even fitter’ it made me reflect on what she had learnt about herself, that said full on make up can be fun to in the right setting and I think its essential that we try to keep judgements on peoples appearances to ourselves, comments that are often meant with love can shatter hearts and leave our confidence in a puddle at our feet. 

Perhaps your soul food is wearing bright colours or expressing yourself through tattoo’s or maybe you feel your best in comfy pjs and rocking a messy bun….the look is irrelevant, its how you use that look to fuel your soul that matters. When we know we look good, a giddy smile beams out of us like a search light and it highlights other peoples joy too. When we receive a compliment we are much more likely to see that energy reflected back to us.

Honesty is a very expensive gift, don’t expect it from cheap people

Quote by Warren Buffet

This quote made me smile. Then I realised it’s truth, after all if someone is dishonest to you, it’s probably for their own gain and that’s cheap.

I’ve met many people from many walks of life and the wealthiest people aren’t always the richest. There is often richness in freedom and nature, simplicity and joy. Usually, financially wealthy people are found in office blocks or networking gatherings, tied to a computer or phone. The poorest people lack integrity and friendship, love and gratitude and sometimes money lines their pockets.

I’ve deliberately blurred the words we associate with our economy because although it makes the world go round, we all know there are other qualities that are valuable.

Honesty and trust are crucial in creating bonds in relationships. Playing games can be fun, until you get burnt but usually there is more to gain in a relationship where you can be you, where you can laugh together, be serious together and navigate each other’s pathways together. In a honest relationship you don’t need to be on the same pathways either, as long as you both set out your intentions.

I once dated a cheap man. I was lucky and escaped the lies and lack of integrity. He was transparent and nobody wants to date cellophane. Our friendship circles overlap and over the years he has continued to treat people poorly, using them or manipulating them for his own gain. I’ve actually learnt a lot from him about how not to be a friend or partner, but more importantly about creating boundaries.

This quote inspires me to know my worth, to look for richness, to create relationships that are held together with love, integrity and sparkle. To walk with my head held high (to keep my tiara in place) and to never settle for less than I’m willing to give.

If you have some cheap people around you, perhaps leave them at the goodwill shop the next time you’re passing. You’re worth much more.

Sometimes the tiniest things shine brightest in our lives.

Quote Anon.

I’m a fan of the small twinkles of joy that I find in my life. I’m hardwired to see them, breath them and appreciate them. It’s true I’m one of the happy, cheerful sorts that you don’t want to meet on a bad day, but you’d be wrong in thinking that this outward joy comes naturally to me. So what keeps me on the sunny side of life?

My thoughts:

I consciously make positive choices asking my internal self ‘Does this feel good?’ or ‘Do I need to let go of this?’

I also read positive literature and online only follow accounts that make me feel good as I scroll, the exception are topics I feel passionately about; like teen mental health, anxiety or sometimes adoption stories – however, again I select accounts that are giving solutions, tools or sharing positive intentions around those issues. We don’t have the TV on in our home, instead we sit down to stream specific films or series – the news is never on. If I need to know, social media has a way of letting me know the big stuff, without the TV on we also don’t have adverts blaring through our home or the constant chatter of day time TV and negative energy.

I do meditate but I admit this is something I’m currently struggling to keep in my routine. Mornings can be manic and evenings I just end up dozing off, however this week I’m going to trial lunch time meditations now the little dude has returned to school. There are many articles on why we should all meditate and so many different ways; guided or not, with or without music, with actions or still….it’s worth exploring what works for you.

Magnetised by positive people:

We can’t always avoid people that have low energy or perhaps drain us, in the work place you may not get to decide who you work with and its unlikely that you’re already thinking of a certain someone that drains you faster than the bathroom plug can be emptied. However, in your personal life you can, or you can minimise interactions with people who dont raise you up.

Another way around this, is balancing your time with personalities who both drain and radiate for you at the same time or near each other. I also sometimes will make sure I have time to myself to ‘fill up my cup’ before I enter a situation that I know may be highly stressful, although I realise that this isn’t always possible.

Actively search for the tiny moments of sparkle in your day:

Don’t just notice them, highlight them. Keep track of them in a gratitude diary, or a note in your phone, share them with others or just relish them a little longer than you might normally.

To get you started here are a few of mine from where I’m seated in this moment:

  • The sun is shining through the windows and its hitting my prisms that hang and casting rainbows everywhere.
  • My cup is over half full…no seriously, I just filled glass with water (hydrations lifts moods too)
  • My dog is laying across my feet – bonus that she’s keeping them warm
  • I hoovered this morning so my carpet looks clear (no toys in site!)

Once you begin this Polly-Anna approach to looking for the light in life, much like any habit you’ll magnetise to more of the joy life offers. Whilst its not always easy to see, I promise you there is always something good to appreciate. Basic maths tells us that we can’t get a negative number from two or more positive numbers. I suggest that you can lead a more hopeful, sparkly and joyful existence if you choose to focus on the tiny moments life offers us.