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Reminders to be kinder : 7 fun ways to bring more kindness into each day (and feel calmer and more patient while you’re at it)

nothing-can-make-our

Kindness is a gift.

And like all the best gifts, it doesn’t matter if you are giving or receiving, that warm fuzzy glow you get feels great.

The benefits of kindness are huge.

Yet some days, life just happens. We get busy, side-tracked and overwhelmed. And then we forget our intention to be kinder.

On those days we could all use a reminder.

And today, just for you, I’ve got 7 of them. Some are physical reminders while others are habits we can build into our daily routines. All of them help to sew kindness right into the fabric of each and every day and can help pull us back from the brink when we feel those good intentions slipping away.

These reminders can help us to navigate when we get lost in the mess and muddle of the day and nudge us in a kinder direction. And not only that, but they can support us to be more patient and boost our sense of peace and calm.

When we are intentionally focussed on spreading good will, and our radar is set to seek out benevolence in all it’s forms, we become much less vulnerable to sudden bursts of temper in the face of challenges. We gain trust in the people and world around us and feel better able to negotiate the bumpy road of life’s ups and downs.

Let’s get to it.

  1. List three examples of kindness you have given or received today.

Just like the gratitude habit but focussing instead on the kindness you’ve experienced each day. Make it a ritual before bed or over dinner where the whole family can swap their stories. Share the kindness of others and celebrate how you’ve been able to help someone else today.

Acknowledge the compassion you’ve shown yourself, it’s a powerful model for those around us and skyrockets our ability to show others genuine kindness.

  1. Write in a kindness journal every day.

Go one step further and get those glorious examples down on paper. Build an ongoing treasury of kind loveliness you can look back on.

As daily practices, both of these can be so beneficial in retraining our minds. Sometimes it can be difficult to see the good that is all around us. But what we notice and pay attention to will inform our reality. By choosing to focus on the altruistic activities of others and deliberately looking for opportunities to practise kindness ourselves, we begin to see and experience yet more and more.

  1. Make a kindness jar.

Maybe you’d prefer to write your examples on slips of paper and fill a kindness jar. Decorate it beautifully and display it prominently, then whenever you’re feeling a bit down pull out a slip of paper and you get to experience those moments of kindness all over again.

Or for a little twist, why not fill your jar with ideas for random acts of kindness. Routinely pull out a slip of paper, be inspired and go forth with grace and generosity.

  1. Use kindness rocks or beads.

If you’re looking for a more tangible reminder, carry a kindness rock (just a little one!) in your pocket or bag, or wear some kindness beads. You can make your own or pick some up from Etsy. Every time you reach in your pocket or see your chosen item you’ll be reminded of your kind intentions.

Decorate rocks from your garden with inspiring words or phrases and leave out and about for others to find. They might just brighten someone’s day and remind them too of the healing power of kindness.

  1. Use visual reminders on your hands and arms.

I love drawing smiley faces and hearts on my hands to support my intentions. Choose any symbol that embodies kindness and it will remind you of your commitment each time you notice it. You could decorate your arm with a well-chosen keyword or mantra to inspire you through the day. Or maybe an inspirational wristband or those gorgeous beads from number 4.

As well as spurring you into action, these might also spark curiosity in others, providing the opportunity to spread the message of kindness and encourage them to stretch their own kindness muscles.

  1. Dish out the cheese and crackers.

“…and take it to them, wherever they are, unasked.” So beautifully put by Pam Sorooshian, quoted on Sandra Dodd’s website (in the second section of this page). Take some time every day to stop and think of ways to express your love with kindness. It doesn’t have to involve crackers (although we should never underestimate the value of a nice snack). Make someone a cuppa or take them a blanket, whatever seems right at the time.

Like all of these suggestions it can be helpful to set an alarm or reminders on our phone – think about who could use some cheese and crackers (metaphorical or real) and go fetch some.

  1. Star in your own kindness documentary.

Imagine you are the star of a documentary on kindness, there’s a camera crew following you around and you’re demonstrating how this kindness lark is done really, really well. Be the epitome of kind. Channel a kindness superstar and go spread the love.

This isn’t about pretending; although a little bit of ‘fake it til you make it’ can definitely help to turn around a bad mood. And it doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. In fact making mistakes is the perfect opportunity to practise self-compassion whilst striving to do better next time. If you can make amends when you do slip up, maybe a heartfelt apology after some harsh words, that can be a great chance to deepen our connections to others.

So, have you have used any of these reminders to be kinder? Let me know which ones worked well for you. And I’d love to hear any more great tips on making kindness the focus of our days, please go ahead and share them in the comments.

Keeping it kind x

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Supporting natural learning : A step by step guide.

Natural learning happens, well… naturally!

As humans we are programmed to learn. It is a lifelong process; an evolutionary design to give us the best chance of survival.

We see this clearly in babies as they learn to walk and talk – they learn incredibly complex actions with no need for formal instruction, through a process that is highly efficient.

But this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are many ways that we can support our children with natural learning and much that can get in its way.

In the eight years that our family has been home educating I have seen many times how these positive and negative forces can play out.

Of course, every family’s experience will be different and every child is unique. But there are some proven steps that can support you and your child to work with nature, rather than against it.

  1. Allow time for deschooling. If you or your child have ever been to school then you are likely to benefit from some time spent deschooling.

Deschooling is a process of adjustment.  Allowing yourself time to consider your beliefs about learning can be really valuable. It can be a chance to let go of expectations and to rethink some ‘schooly’ ideas about what learning looks like, how it can be measured and what it should be at different ages and stages of life. Compare these ideas to the reality of your own learning experiences and be willing to question any assumptions you have previously made.

It is generally thought that deschooling can take at least one month for every year that a person has been involved in the school system – this may not be very long for children but for adults who may have been to college or employed in the education system, and then had children who also went to school, the time begins to add up.

Take the opportunity to focus on family time and reflect on why you have chosen this path. Resist the temptation to launch into a ton of ‘educational’ activities and be open to challenging ideas about what ‘educational’ even means. Use this time to research ideas about natural learning but be sure to pace yourself and watch out for information overload.

  1. Look for the joy. Make time to play, relax and have fun.

Spend an afternoon drawing up joy lists – literally listing what brings you joy. You can decorate these lists and display them if you wish, but the most important thing is that you set aside time to think about what you and your children love to do. Plan how you can bring more of that joy into your lives. Make a conscious decision to engage in activities from your joy lists regularly. Become a tourist in your local area and visit those places you always meant to. Watch your favourite shows together, listen to music and dance, make art, spend time outdoors and play lots of games.

Prioritise time together and nurturing your relationships. Give your children space to explore their interests and be careful of overscheduling your time. Pay attention to your family’s natural rhythms, notice how your children like to spend their days, when they get hungry and sleepy, and be sensitive to that rather than imposing rigid schedules on them.

  1. Be attentive and curious. Observe your child and actively engage in their world.

Spend time with your children discovering more about what they like to do. Notice the activities they seem to enjoy most, their likes and dislikes, and pay attention to their strengths and areas where they ask for help.

Chat regularly about their interests and try and get a sense of their priorities. You don’t need to have a meeting or be too formal about this, although family meetings can be lots of fun. Conversation in any context can be such a valuable tool for learning. Allowing lots of time and space for this can deepen our relationships, give us a better understanding of each other, and boost our levels of mutual respect and affection. Take the time to really listen so your children feel genuinely heard and respected.

  1. Create a rich and stimulating learning environment. Gather useful and interesting resources and make them available for your children.

As you make time for steps 2 and 3 you will be gathering vital intelligence to inform your actions at this point.  Support and encourage your child’s existing interests, offer ideas and help so they can delve deeper into the activities they love.

Add to their fun by considering what else they might enjoy. Sandra Dodd has many great suggestions for strewing, the art of leaving out interesting bits and pieces for others to pick up. Perhaps these items will spark someone’s curiosity or just brighten their day. It’s a lovely way to introduce all sorts of things…new games, pattern blocks, books that you think someone might love, unusual craft bits and pieces, retro technology, whatever you like and think others might too. Let go of any expectations of what should happen next – leave them out for a while and if no-one’s interested then embrace the challenge of looking for stuff that might go down better next time.

These two articles might inspire some new ideas for possible resources  –

http://www.racheous.com/toys/homeschool-spaces-tour/

http://happinessishereblog.com/2015/11/favourite-homeschooling-resources/

But don’t feel any pressure to go out and buy lots of lovely shiny new things all at once, or ever. Be realistic about your budget and the space available in your home. You are likely to have lots of useful and interesting resources already and you can always add to these over time.

  1. Make your home a safe space to grow and learn. And not just in terms of physical safety.

Along with providing lots of inspiring resources and interesting surroundings it will help if your emotional environment enables natural learning to flourish too. Be patient, gentle and kind with your children. Respect their views and their preferences.

While supporting your children’s interests be wary of becoming so invested that you are unwilling to allow for twists and turns in the learning journey. Be okay with unfinished projects, feel grateful for the learning that’s occurred and be open to new adventures. Allow for changes of mind and changes of direction.

Remember that the value and learning in different activities may not reveal itself until later, if ever, but that doesn’t make it any less real. Learning is happening all the time. Develop trust in your child and the process of natural learning. Accept that your child is continually learning and growing and an external reflection of this may be changes in their interests. Likewise, if your child remains committed to a particular interest over a long time and you’re struggling to understand the appeal, be reassured that there will be some value for them even if it’s not clear to you.

  1. Prioritise learning in your own life. Be receptive to new ideas, keep curious and keep questioning.

Open your heart and mind to new possibilities, recognise that your own learning is never done and there will always be fresh challenges to our certainties.

Modelling, or setting examples for our children through our own behaviour and actions, is such a powerful force, often underestimated and misunderstood. Be intentional about the example you set for your children; be a positive role-model with your own commitment to learning.

  1. Look after yourself. Make time to take care of yourself so you can give your children the care and support that they need.

This is an important step that can be easily overlooked. Putting our relationships first and being a responsive parent is a wonderful way to live a more peaceful and fulfilling life. But it is not an easy option. It takes a lot of time and energy, both physical and emotional, to meet our children’s needs, and while the benefits are many, there are bound to be challenges and difficulties along the way.

Taking the time to look after ourselves leaves us better equipped to meet the needs of others. Give yourself permission to relax and recharge your batteries. Get support from others, maybe partners, extended family or friends. Join local home education groups, or perhaps if you have younger children, breastfeeding support groups, attachment parenting networks or toddler play sessions may be a good way to meet like-minded people. Search online for relevant forums, and explore Yahoo Groups and Facebook to find local meet-ups and online support.

  1. And repeat.

As parents we all play a part in shaping the relationship our children have with learning. This guide can help you be more intentional about this. Each step will support you in learning more about the unique needs of your child and how you can work with them to get these needs met. At the same time, you’ll be gaining more confidence and trust in yourself, your child and the process of natural learning.

Supporting our children with natural learning can be a voyage of discovery for us all. It is likely that many of us will repeat some of these steps, if not all, many times, lingering longer on some than others depending on our needs at the time. Be reassured that this doesn’t mean that natural learning doesn’t work, isn’t effective or doesn’t suit your family. It is not an indication of failure on any level, or on anyone’s part. More likely it’s a good sign, it shows your commitment to the learning process, your willingness to adapt to change, and your recognition that you too are continuing to learn along with your child.

Let me know if you found these steps helpful or if you have any more to add. I would love to hear about your experiences and what has been most useful for you and your child in this exciting adventure of natural learning.

Enjoy the journey x

 

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Kindness Quotes : 3

http://www.littleheartsbooks.com/about-the-authorillustrator/

Limiting our children’s choices, disregarding their rights and enforcing arbitrary rules through rewards and punishments creates frustration, anger and discontent.

Perpetuating the myth that life is cruel and hard promotes a mind-set of scarcity and desperation, and skews our natural tendencies towards cooperation and connection.

Fear, competition and self-obsession become the drivers by which we strive to get our needs met.

The more messages that our children receive that they cannot be trusted, that they must be constrained and controlled for their own good, the more likely they are to internalise this and begin to distrust themselves and everyone around them.

In essence we create a self-fulfilling prophecy, a culture of fear and distrust and a tolerance for hardship, cruelty and oppression.

Becoming comfortable with negative and pessimistic views of human nature, of life and of the future, can chip away at our capacity to challenge, to envisage change, and to work together.

Yet by supporting our children to get their needs met, treating them with respect and acknowledging and upholding their rights as people, rather than using their age and stage of life as an excuse to disregard these, we provide a space for them to discover and appreciate their connection to others.

Experiencing kindness, developing a sense of abundance and a healthy regard and recognition for meeting their own needs promotes understanding, empathy and compassion, empowering and enabling them to recognise and respect the needs of others.

By cultivating a culture of kindness and respect in our relationships with our children and in our homes, we are in a very real and practical sense promoting a culture of kindness and respect in the world.

Children whose needs have been respected and have been supported to meet these needs develop a sense of self-worth and acceptance, they value themselves and others.

These are the children who will be less likely to tolerate cruelty and brutality in their personal relationships and in the wider world.

These are the children who will ‘make the world a little less cruel and heartless’.

Beautiful x

 

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The best thing any parent can do for their child.

Just one best thing, I hear you wonder. Can it really be that simple?

Parenting feels infinitely complex. So many different elements and seemingly competing demands. An endless juggling act with too many balls in the air rapidly falling to the floor. Just the practical stuff – the keeping clean and fed, and clothed and healthy – it’s a full-time job in and of itself.

But perhaps it really is much simpler than we might sometimes believe…

The best thing we can do as parents is nurture our relationships with our children.

Grow and develop those loving connections that were likely established at birth and even before.

Make those relationships a priority.

It’s a cliche, but a classic – the days are long, but the years are short.  One day that relationship may be all we have left.

While pondering our educational philosophy for the umpteenth time, contemplating our big picture goals and musing over the job of parenting, this really struck me. Everything just keeps coming back to the nature of our relationships.

Valuing connection rather than compliance, respecting rights rather than enforcing rules, and listening rather than lecturing – these can radically transform our family dynamics and improve our relationships. But this is all dependent on our choices, how we choose to invest our time and resources, the effort we make in nurturing and supporting these relationships to thrive.

We are all busy, we are all tired and we are all bombarded with images of perfect homes and perfect lives, often leaving us feeling swamped and overwhelmed. But there is hope. If we can stop to catch our breath, pause, slow down and be more intentional. If we make the time to ensure that our actions, our words and our mindset are strengthening our relationships rather than undermining and damaging them, then all the other tasks of parenting inevitably get easier.

If we can put the relationship first, all the other stuff will follow. So much of what we do and who we have become has been influenced by fear. Fear that doesn’t serve us, that leads us to fret and to worry, a self-fulfilling prophecy that damages our relationships. Let’s try to worry less.

When we become too concerned with the societal expectations of children at a particular age, or the stereotyped difficulties supposedly inherent in parenting certain stages – think terrible twos and rebellious teens – maybe, sometimes, we get what we expect. We may be inviting challenges based on expectations without effectively communicating with, or respecting the reality of our children’s actual individual experiences.

If we really want to nourish our relationships, strengthen our bonds and really get to know our children better, then it can help to release ourselves and our children from the ‘shoulds’, the ‘always’ and the ‘never’. Thinking of our children, or ourselves, or indeed anyone, as fixed entities – ‘they always forget stuff’, ‘they’re always late’. ’they never learn’ – damages our relationships and disregards the reality that we are all growing, learning and developing as people throughout our lives.

Seeing our children free from the baggage of labels, maybe we or others have previously given them, can allow us to consider a greater range of possibilities when issues do arise. We can think in terms of opportunities for growth, and ways to be helpful, supporting them as they develop skills, knowledge and tools to deal with different situations. We can model useful strategies and positive responses to life in general. We can give them the chance to see themselves in different ways and embrace their whole humanity. If we can do this both metaphorically and literally then so much the better- go on, get hugging!

Avoiding judgement and resisting the temptation to disregard our children’s activities or interests can provide possibilities for increased connection. Nurture those opportunities to deepen attachments. Listen and be curious, remain open to the idea that our children have much that we can learn from.

Trust may have been lost if we have neglected our relationships. As we rebuild those relationships then we encourage that trust to return. As we learn more about each other as real people, rather than being confined to the roles that society attempts to assign us, we will gain more respect for each other and trust will become easier.

By setting the tone for our relationships with kindness, peace and mutual respect, by trusting and being trustworthy, and acting in ways that support what we seek, we invite what we wish to receive. It’s also worth remembering here, that sometimes it’s the actions we choose not to take – the comments we refrain from making, the complaints we resist sharing, and the demands we decide not to make – that can have the most impact on our relationships.

As our relationships improve, we may see changes in the way we respond to everyday situations. We may stop acting from a place of desperation, impulsively and in fear. We can move from being reactive to becoming more reflective. And as we begin to relax and enjoy the benefits of better relationships, then so too will our children. The potential for conflict is reduced and our relationships improve yet further. Isn’t that really what we all want?

(If you’re worried that this all seems too much like being a friend rather than a parent, and you think that might be a bad idea, see what I have to say on that here)

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The job of parenting.

Not because we have to, but because we want to.

Not because we get paid to, but because the rewards are infinitely more than money.

There is much work in parenting – the routine, practical, daily living tasks, the being together time, the not being together time, the time in our heads. The list could go on and on.

When we began home educating our children seven years ago, one of the first things we did, was to write an educational philosophy. This was our attempt to summarise how and why we had chosen to home educate. In reality, it became much more than just about education, it was an exercise in defining what kind of parents we wanted to be.

Taking the time to really think about our big picture goals (you can see those here) helped us to sort out our priorities and reflect on what was really important for us and for our children. It was a useful process in so many ways and, certainly, helped to confirm that we had made the right decision. It became obvious that the school system was not the ideal environment to support and promote what we had deemed most important.

The use of the word ‘goals’ sounds so future- focussed, like we were working towards a specific target. That there would be an end, a point at which success could be quantified and measured, confirmed or denied. Maybe we thought that then. Of course we still had much deschooling to do.

In reality, of course, there is no moment when our children will be done, no end point at which we can sit back and revel in our success, or despair in our failure. Children are not simply grown-ups in waiting, future citizens in need of shaping and moulding.

Our children are complete and whole and messy and glorious people right now, whatever age or stage they currently inhabit. Children are people, people who are deserving of our respect and appreciation right now, in every moment, not merely in some unknown future.

Maybe the term ‘big picture’ is also, a little misleading. It might be off-putting, seem too massive to contemplate, too broad and overwhelming. Like there are too many possibilities for failure and disappointment, frustration and regret.

Yet defining our ‘big picture goals’– (yep, here I go, still using that term, even with it’s problems. At this point I shall stubbornly soldier on, awaiting a better alternative – feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments). It’s not meant to be an attempt to control the future, or to create the perfect children.

They were, and are, perfect.

Maybe this process isn’t even really about the children at all.

Except of course, it is. Those children that we love, that inspire us to be better every day, that delight and challenge us in so many ways. Those children, they are our responsibility, and they are our reason.

So it is about them. But really, it’s much more about us.

The actions that we take in those every-day, ordinary moments, the environment we provide, the example we set and the people we are. This is all about us.

Taking the time to consider how our actions affect those around us, how we conduct our relationships and the ways we respond to others. These can actually offer simplicity, allow us to reach some clarity of purpose and highlight our priorities.

There is no single ideal way to parent. There is no one model child, no universal rules, no job list, no person spec, and no ideal candidate for parenting. But there are real consequences and real people to nurture and love, real people that can be damaged and hurt.

So we sat down again, and we thought. About what kind of parents we want to be, about our vision, our purpose and what principles we want to guide us.

It turned out to be another long list.

For our children, we want to –

• be kind and gentle, appreciative and respectful

• be trusting and trustworthy

• be patient and calm, present and attentive

• be a safe space, supportive, approachable and dependable

• offer a guiding light and a welcoming beacon

• be quick to help and slow to judge

• make a home they can always return to

• recognise their competence and respect and trust them as whole and capable people

• nurture and encourage their innate curiosity and wonder about the world

• support them to explore the rich diversity of the world’s natural, social, political, historical and cultural heritage

• support them in following their passions and interests

• recognise that their personal learning journey is unique and special and individual

• offer opportunities to develop new passions and interests

• open up new possibilities and options to explore

• use our experience and power to support and guide, rather than to control and manipulate

• provide time, space, resources and our committed presence to support them in fulfilling their ambitions, today, tomorrow and as long as they need us

• do our best, be aware that we can always do better, that there is always more to learn and that we will make mistakes and mess up over and over again

• be willing to apologise, be able to pick ourselves up and move on from our mistakes, try harder and…

• model patience, forgiveness and grace for ourselves, and for them, as we learn and grow together.

 

Like any job, there are better days and worse days. There is always more to learn and there is always more to give. We don’t always get it right but we keep on trying and doing the best that we can, because this, surely, is the best job there is.

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What do we really want for our children? Big picture goals.

I don’t believe in controlling children, or forcing them to do things they don’t want, or making them do things for their own good, or trying to fashion them in our own image.

But I do believe in parenting intentionally – with purpose and with kindness.

It can be so easy to get bogged down in our to-do lists, frantically trying to get stuff done and pay the bills, again and again… and earn the money for those pesky bills, again and again!

Of course, these are important. But sometimes it’s good to step back and consider the bigger picture.

Alfie Kohn, in his book Unconditional Parenting, sets the scene –

“Picture yourself standing at a birthday party or in the hall of your child’s school. Around the corner are two other parents who don’t know you’re there. You overhear them talking about…your child! Of all the things they might be saying, what would give you the most pleasure? … My guess- and my hope- is that it wouldn’t be, ‘Boy, that child does everything he’s told and you never hear a peep out of him.’ “

Alfie asks us to consider “whether we sometimes act as though this is what we care about most.”

Writing an educational philosophy for our family’s home education journey prompted us to dig deep around this issue.

What kind of education do we want our children to have?

What kind of people do we want them to be?

This is not about trying to create the perfect child, they are all perfect.

It’s certainly not about creating rules and routines and rewards and rotas.

It’s about considering what our actions and our interactions with our children say about our priorities, what is important to us and what we want to nurture.

Our list got quite long.

We want our children –

• to feel comfortable in their own skin

• to feel safe and secure at home and in the world

• to have confidence in us and feel able to come to us whenever they need and want to, and feel sure that we will support them

• to have close, loving, mutually supportive and respectful relationships with us, their siblings, wider family and friends

• to recognise and place appropriate boundaries when relationships are not wholly positive

• to be curious, kind, generous and compassionate individuals

• to be kind and patient and calm when they can be and be forgiving and kind to themselves and others when they struggle with these things

• to love learning, to want to grow and develop themselves

• to follow their joy, passion and interest

• to have a healthy respect for, and a deep sense of caring about, themselves, others and the world

• to be able to say no and have an appreciation for the possible consequences of doing so in different contexts

• to be able to listen to their own bodies, explore what feels good and bad to them and use this knowledge to nurture their own sense of well-being and good health

• to develop resilience that will enable them to manage difficult times and emotions and respond to challenging times with as much positivity as they can muster

• to recognise the value of time as a healer and recognise, that sometimes, in some moments, survival is the best we can do (and that it always beats the alternative)

• to assume responsibility for their own actions and recognise that not everything is their responsibility

• to recognise that sometimes it is someone else’s problem and that we cannot fix or change everything

• to be able to let some stuff go and move on

• to be self-reliant and yet also be comfortable in asking for and accepting help

• to be gracious in accepting help that is wanted and in refusing help that isn’t

• to be willing to help others and be gracious if that help is refused

• to look for the positives and to recognise the value of re-framing

• to have a sense of connection to and appreciation for the natural world

• to be open to and considerate of new ideas

• to have a sense of their own competence and ability to tackle whatever life throws at them

• to recognise that learning never ends and that mistakes do happen

• to appreciate that mistakes and difficulties can be opportunities for growth (and usually are!)

• to place their relationships with others above any social expectations that don’t serve them well

• to question assumptions and challenge injustice

• to feel confident in their own judgement and decision-making skills

• to view the world with a sense of awe and fascination

• to let go of measuring and comparison, to give freely and without expectation of return

• to expect miracles and to recognise the gifts in the every day

• to wonder and be wonderful (tick!)

Of course, we can’t make these things happen. We can’t know the future and neither would we want to. But considering what is important to us and what kinds of qualities we value, can guide us in our everyday moments. Allow us to think more clearly and more creatively, be more reflective and less reactive, and be intentional in our relationships.

What do you want for your children? I would love to know your thoughts.

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My morning routine.

Most of my life I’ve considered myself a night owl. But since having children my perception and reality have shifted. I have learnt to love mornings and value the time and space that waking early can offer –

  • waking before the family to get a head-start on the day
  • getting work done without depriving anyone of my presence and attention
  • getting ahead with some of the household tasks that help the house to run more smoothly

My ideal waking time is 5.30am and there have been times where this was possible. Right now, with some night-owl leaning tendencies present in other members of the family, 6.30 is a more reasonable waking time.

Even then, I am struggling to fit in seven hours sleep each night. I know that seasons come and go and that change is never far away. So at the moment I am trying to accept the current situation with grace and know that soon enough things will have moved on again and I will, once again, be waking before the sun.

Whatever time I wake, I try to follow a basic morning routine.

Following routines comes more naturally to some than others. For me, I need it written down… and then I need reminders on my phone to look at it… and then I need a hand-written note to remind me to look on my phone… and – enough already! I’m sure you get the picture, I am easily distracted. But I am working on this and now much of this morning routine feels like second-nature-ish!

So the morning routine –

  • Water – I usually drink a pint of water as soon as I wake up and another one pretty soon after.

 

  • Animals – let the doggie in the garden. Feed him and the rabbit. Somewhere around here I turn the kettle on for that first glorious mug of Earl Grey. Some point soon I might wander out in the garden to clear up any business my four-legged friend has left behind (it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it – yes, I was singing as I wrote that bit!)

 

  • Re-boots – the washing and the washing up, hopefully while the dog and the kettle are doing their stuff. Re-booting is just a cool way (thanks, Flylady) to say ‘taking the next step to move these jobs along’; unfortunately completion isn’t really an option or reality here.

The actual task will depend on my efficiency the previous evening. Some mornings a load of washing will be ready to hang out, other times I’ll need to get a load on. For the washing up, it could be as simple as clearing the draining board and washing up any straggler items from last night – maybe a mug and cereal bowl left over from a late night snacker (you know who you are!) On some mornings, it could be a complete tidy up of last night’s dinner things – not my favourite or proudest moments.

 

  • Write and walk – These are the two big tasks I want to complete before anyone else is awake. My intention is to work on a writing project for 30 minutes to an hour each morning. I’m also trying to make sure I walk 10,000 steps every day, so aim for about 2000 before breakfast.

 

  • Check the to-do list – reminding myself of the plan and most important tasks for the day ahead. I usually check the calendar and weekly plan as part of my evening routine so I can prepare any launch-pad items that might be needed in the morning and pinpoint the most important tasks that will need to be done.

 

  • Breakfast time – once my little one wakes up, it’s breakfast time. And so the day begins!

 

Some days I manage to complete all the tasks of my morning routine, and others, not so much. But I do love the reminders and rough plan it provides.

Do you have a morning routine? If you have any tips for getting the day off to the best start, I would love to hear them, please comment below.