Do you like playing with your child? I always thought I’d be great at it and when Moses was a baby I found it easy. Recently I noticed the resistances I had. Such as:
I’ve got to do x/y/z before I can play
I’m not good at playing
I don’t feel like it
Why can’t he just play on his own?
A recurring theme in my personal development work is discovering how I can invite more play into my life because I know how much I benefit from having fun and not being too serious. I think of activities that are fun and I schedule them in.
This week I started reading Playful Parenting by Lawerence J. Cohen and it dawned on me that right here was an amazing human being aka my three year old son, who knew instinctively how to play. Here was my teacher. And so I began, without overthinking it; to play. And it’s been so easy because I do what feels right not what I think I should be doing. I tell stories and act out all the parts and we both giggle. (ex-drama student over here) And there is no planning or scheduling involved. The benefits children gain from play have been well documented. Sometimes children do need and want to play on their own and sometimes they need to play with a parent. For example they might need to work through some difficult emotions which a parent can support them with through play.
And the benefits for me? It’s been a complete game changer. Turns out I love playing, I’d just forgotten. I feel energised, in the moment but mainly it feels so good to be really silly and make an arse of myself. So this week I”m celebrating three things:
my new found love of playing
the fact that I’ve learnt it from Moses
that it’s been so effortless
We all parent in our own way and we all play in our own way. I really encourage you, if you’re not doing it already to give your inner child permission to take centre stage and start playing with your child. And of course, let me know how it goes.
I’d like to share with you an amazing communication tool I use once a week with my partner. It can also be used on your own as a journalling exercise as well because as we know our relationship with ourselves is fundamental so please do try that as well if you fancy it.
Anyway, today, it’s about our primary relationship. If you are anything like me then once children are in our lives it can feel super challenging to have time with our partners to talk about what’s going on for us, what’s challenging us right now and even just to share some of our longings and desires for the future.
So this is where the Daily Temperature Reading developed by a family psychotherapist called Virginia Satir comes in. For me it ticks all the boxes: quick, effective and nourishing.
Here’s how it works:
Diarise a time with your partner where you can have at least 15 minutes uninterrupted time
Get comfortable and have some physical contact with each other
You are going to work your way through each section listed below so for example you will list your appreciations for the other and then they will list theirs and then you will move onto the next section and so on
When you are not speaking your role is to listen, to be a container – this is not a conversation,
See specific details for each section below
Daily Temperature Reading
List five appreciations (it can be anything at all) you have for your partner.
The person receiving the appreciation can say thank you afterwards but nothing else please.
Here you get to tell your partner anything new you’d like to tell them that’s going on for you that they don’t know.
The other person receives the information and doesn’t respond.
For this section you can ask your partner a question regarding something that is puzzling you about them. Here the other person can respond if they would like, and they also have the option not to. Again, don’t get into a conversation here.
Complaint with a Recommendation
For this section use the following structure to keep the communication as clear as possible. It’s also a good idea with this one to pick something that doesn’t still have a really big charge for you. Essentially don’t choose something you are really furious about. The ideal is is that you have already vented about this particular subject to someones else first.
Here’s how it might look: When you ….I feel…… I’d really like it if next time you….
Be really specific and with this one it’s a good idea to practice what you are going to say on your own first. The other person receives the complaint with recommendation and does not respond.
Hopes, Dreams and Wishes
This is where you get to speak out loud all your desires for your life, your life together, your family, the world! Really revel in the joy fo this one.
So there you have it. I love it and I wouldn’t be without it.
Wow, this week my 3 year old son has massively pressed my buttons. Sometimes it feels like everything is a fight. Whilst I understand that this is part of him defining himself and finding out who he is in the world (good stuff) I often find myself feeling angry and exhausted. On top of that, if I am sleep deprived, feeling a general feeling of being pissed off about something or perhaps we are in a rush, I know I am less tolerant and more prone to get angry. It’s harder to feel someone else’s pain when are our own pain is close to the surface.
Afterwards, I feel ashamed that I am not parenting in a way I believe in. In calmer more rested moments I have greater clarity and I hope the result is that I am a much more conscious parent. At these times I welcome the opportunity to allow his behaviour to hold a mirror up to me and how I need to reparent myself.
I’m part of a wonderful parenting group with a therapist and this week I expressed how hard I was finding it right now. As is often the case, once I have talked about an issue I’m grappling with and had the space to be completely honest with someone who is really listening, I start to feel a lot better.
As we explored different ways of responding in those testing moments, something my therapist said made a lot of sense:
Firm boundary, soft delivery.
It’s true that I love to keep things simple and maybe that’s why this little beauty has become my mantra in the last week. Firstly in my parenting if I keep bringing myself back to this I feel so much better about how I am parenting. I put the boundary in place, firmly. And when I do that I don’t ask it as a question, I state it and I am clear that it is non-negotiable. My delivery is soft which means I stay calm and I don’t shout. Moses will often scream and fight against what he believes is the injustice of the boundary and I have to have the capacity to hold that which isn’t always easy. But I remind myself it’s my job. I’m the adult after all and I need to contain my own feelings in order to hold his.
As such, I think it’s so important as parents that we are getting support and a space to vent our frustrations. It means we have a much better chance of having the emotional space not to let it all spill out in those trying moments with our children.
This little mantra has been great for other areas of my life. Here are some of the ways I have experimented with applying it this week:
How do I set a boundary with myself, like doing my meditation daily? It’s non-negotiable because I love myself enough to know how good it is for me and how awful I feel when I don’t do it. And what about treating myself softly? Asking myself gently rather than telling myself I have to do something? What does it feel like when I don’t keep a boundary I have set for myself?
In Relationship with Others
How does it feel to put a boundary in place even when I am worried that it will cause a row? Where am I not putting boundaries in place where I should be? How am I creating the time and space I need for myself so that I can give to others? How can I put a boundary in place with ease and confidence rather than guilt or shame?
This week has reminded me that there is always so much learning and growth available for us as parents. And sometimes we might want to go there and sometimes we don’t! Do let me know if this resonates with you and your experience of parenting. I’d love to hear.
I’m a hypnobirthing teacher and postnatal coach and my passion is empowering women to feel good in their choices, their bodies and their capacity to trust themselves and their intuition.
The first time I talk to a new client, I ask her to describe her ideal birth. And I want her to be as detailed as possible. That’s what we are aiming for, during the pregnancy with all the relaxation, visualisation and meditation. We are working towards an ideal birth. Our subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined. Therefore it makes sense that that’s what we focus on.
Certainly a significant proportion of my teaching is concerned with understanding this principle; if we want a positive birth we need to release negative beliefs and limitations and replace them with and focus on positive ones. Simple. Or is it?
Well actually, no. The thing about birth is that we are never completely in control and things can most definitely take an unexpected turn either in pregnancy, labour or both. So how do we then focus all our attention on our ideal birth but also remain aware and informed about potential other eventualities; so that if we are thrown a curve ball we can handle it by staying calm, grounded and relaxed?
Here are my top ten tips
Positive not perfect
Let’s strive for a positive birth experience not a perfect one. Let that shit go!
On the subject of releasing, I believe it’s really important to work on releasing painful traumatic feelings and fears you may be holding onto. It could be about a previous birth, a fear of hospitals, or feeling disconnected from your body. The list is endless and unique to everyone. The point is these are the things that may affect your ability to feel safe enough to give birth. We have to release those thoughts, feelings and beliefs before we can fill ourselves up with the positive ones. There are lots of different ways you can do this. I find talking therapies and energy work very effective.
Being connected to our intuition during pregnancy is so important. Including daily practices of mediation, yoga and journaling for example are all great ways to ensure this is happening. Why? Because if we are connected to our intuition and are thrown a curve ball during pregnancy or birth, we have a much better chance of being able to make a decision that really serves us and is for the higher good of us, our baby and our family. And the added bonus is that if you’ve never been in touch with your intuition before you may well discover what an amazing intuitive creature you are with a super power to tap into whenever the need arises.
Create alternative birth plans
Once I’ve talked to women about their ideal birth we discuss different eventualities. Curve balls. And by the end of our sessions together they have a clear idea of what a plan B and C might look like. One couple I worked with printed out their plan B and C birth plans and put them in an envelope in a drawer. That was their way of knowing they’d researched and planned for other eventualities so if things did take a different direction they would handle it. And once it was in that drawer they could put it to the back of their minds and focus all of their attention and positive thoughts on their ideal birth.
Read the evidence based research. Be confident in the knowledge that you can make informed choices.
Trust your instincts at all times. If the way you are being treated or spoken to doesn’t feel right then it’s not!
Make relaxation your top priority.
Hypnobirthing provides you with a toolbox of techniques to keep as relaxed and calm as you can whatever the situation. The breathing techniques you learn for example can be used whenever you feel anxious. Just by breathing in through our nose we are activating the parasympathetic nervous system and producing oxytocin, our best friend. Yes breathing is very simple but it is very effective! Find ways to add in relaxation sessions in your week. Massage, reflexology and being in nature are all brilliant options. Believe me when I say you can’t relax enough right now.
I want you to see yourself as part of a team during your pregnancy and labour. Your team is made up of you, your birth partner (if you have one) and your caregivers. Like all teams everyone has a job to do that’s unique to them. What makes for good team work is lots of encouragement positivity and support from everyone, including you! We know that what we focus on grows so by being as positive and encouraging as possible and thinking good thoughts about your birth partner and caregivers can only be a good thing and contribute to a positive experience.
Positive environment for birth
We are mammals and we like to give birth the same way they do: in a quiet dark setting where we aren’t being observed. We need to feel safe. So take some time to think about how you can create this for yourself or if you have a birth partner this is a great job for them. I encourage the birth partners I work with to create a lovely, cosy, snug for the woman at home a few times a week. The birth partner can practice reading relaxations and hone their massage techniques. So these become like mini practise sessions for labour. And think about your senses, what can you have with you in labour that are like touchstones for you? To bring you back to yourself so you feel calm and grounded.
The old saying that still gets banded about ‘as long as the baby is healthy’ is not helpful. It negates the importance of the mother’s care and wellbeing.
I believe that fostering a great relationship with ourselves from the moment we are pregnant, through birth and into motherhood is what’s really fundamental. If we’re ok, chances are everyone else is.
The truth is I am a massive advocate of a morning routine. I think how we start our day has a huge impact on so many things. Here are some benefits I have observed in myself when I am following a morning routine:
My interactions with other people feel great. People smile at me!
The getting-out-the-house-saga with Moses is less fraught
My connection to my intuition feels stronger
I have more belief in things always working out
My productivity levels increase
My energy levels are higher
I feel more connected to my body
I overthink less and do more
I feel more connected to and supported by the universe
I feel more in flow and in receptive mode
Before I had my son Moses my morning routine was looong. There was a time when I actually used to get up at 5.30am and travel to practice yoga for an hour and a half before work. Can’t believe I did that but I do remember feeling bloody amazing for the rest of the day. I did that for a couple of years and then I developed a routine at home which incorporated meditaion and the morning pages which is a writing practice created by Julia Cameron. It lasted a couple of hours. I loved all three aspects and felt how deeply and differently each practice fed my soul. I continued during pregnancy, incorporating my hypnobirthing practices into the mix. For probably the first year after Moses was born I abandoned any kind of morning routine because it seemed completely impossible. I missed it and I mourned that time to connect with myself. Around a year ago, I began experimenting with re-introducing it. I started meditating again because that was what I craved the most and the one thing I really needed him to be asleep for. After a while I could feel the difference massively. That twenty minutes of time with myself was golden. I was reminded how much I loved that feeling of being up early before everyone else. Catching that beautiful part of the day. If you love visiting a new city and getting up early to explore because of that magical quality that seems to only exist at that time; you’ll know where I’m coming from. Hal Elrod of the Morning Miracle advises six components for a morning routine:
Having experimented with all these aspects together and separately over the years I do think he has created a winning combo and he certainly has a lot of fans who can indorse it. You may balk at the thought of fitting this all in and I totally get that.
There are two words I’d like to introduce, that I believe can really revolutionise the way we view a morning routine: ritualand intention.
Ritual: definition – a series of actions or types of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone.
Intention: definition – a thing intended; an aim or plan If we think about it in this way it lightens the whole thing up. Essentially, have a plan to carry out an action every morning. And that’s it. We don’t have to spend hours or follow a certain routine to get the benefits. Do what you can in the time you have. And do what feels good to you. The beauty of this is that you can do each bit for a very short time, even one minute. Or if you’re really short on time, tune in and pick one or a few to do. Let go of the idea that a practice has to be a certain time to be beneficial. Instead start with making an intention to practice one of the above and if it feels good make the intuition to do one or a few the next day and so on. This works so well for me even if I get interrupted (which I do a lot!) I hope like me, you’ll notice how giving yourself this gift every morning creates beautiful little changes in your day.
The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.
The last few weeks have been full of changes as I have moved house, which is an interesting experience with an energetic toddler at your side. And yes I’m using the Marie Kondo method! Meaning I’m discarding anything that doesn’t bring me joy so no more holding onto things just for the sake if it. It’s amazing just how much stuff I’ve accumulated. And you know what a lot of it is? Journals I’ve kept! I love self development work and I have completed some wonderful courses in lots of different modalities. Through it all, journaling has been a constant.
I had a thought while I was clearing through all my journals, photos and sentimental items. Like everyone there have been so many changes in my life, different houses, relationships and experiences. Reading those journals I realised how painful some of those transitions have been for me and how sometimes I have been so tough on myself to just push through it and not express how I’m really feeling and what I need. The other thing that struck me was how lucky I am to have been so loved in my life. Did I really appreciate it at the time or was I caught up in feeling angry because maybe that person wasn’t supporting me in exactly the way I wanted at that time? Or perhaps I didn’t have the tools to communicate clearly?
What would it have been like if I could have held myself in self compassion during those times of change. If I could have been curious and been able to ask myself: Anna what do you really need right now? What are you hungry for? What would it have been like to communicate my desires to other people in my life without any drama or blame? And what would it have been like to appreciate and love myself and those people in my life, with the knowledge that we are all only ever doing our best with what we have available at the time?
Whilst clearing through my journals I was reminded of a brilliant practice for you to try. Get a pen and some paper or a journal and set a timer for 5 minutes. Begin each sentence with I appreciate myself for…. Keep doing that for 5 minutes and if it feels tough, dig deep, there are always masses of things that we sometimes struggle to recognise that we can appreciate ourselves for. Believe me, like a gratitude list, this is a simple but life changing practice especially if you commit to doing it every day.
Giving birth for a woman is like hurtling off a cliff in the dark. Many of us prepare thoroughly for the birth but how many of us prepare for our role as mothers adequately?
In lots of cultures around the world women have a different experience of the post-natal period. Family members move in with the new mother and father and the new mother is not expected to do anything else expect rest, recover and feed her baby. As we know a woman has gone through a life changing journey, mentally /psychologically she’s different and of course the physical changes that have taken place.
Sadly that is not usually the experience for the majority of new mothers in this country. Trauma from birth, stress and depression, feeling isolated, trying to ‘do it all’, and sleep deprivation do not bode well for a positive start for the new mother, baby and family.
I’ve created a new online training programme for new mothers who have given birth in the last year. What would it be like during this time to gently take yourself by the hand and give yourself the care and compassion you need right now?
What the F*ck? – Fourth Trimester to First Year
Who am I?
What does it feel like to be me?
What do I want?
What am I hungry for?
When do I feel at home in my body?
What do I believe about myself?
What am I here for?
This six week online training programme is for mothers in the first year after giving birth who are interested in exploring these questions. At the heart of this course is our relationship with ourselves. We’ll be using a series of self-enquiry tools and resources that build our capacity for:
What you get:
– Weekly teaching video with supporting notes
– Live Q&A’s sessions with me twice a week
– Daily home practices to integrate what you’re leaning.
* No longer than 5 minutes a day
– Private Facebook group to share your discoveries and support each other
Live weekly interviews and Q&As with experts on mental health, movement, nutrition, energy healing and more
The course will launch on Monday 13th May
£111 paid in 1 instalment
£37 paid in 3 instalments
Refer a friend and if they sign up you get 20% off
I believe that when we are connected to ourselves we pave the way for more meaningful relationships with others and we are more in integrity with our values and purpose.
If you would like to join the programme or have any questions, concerns and/or would like more information please connect with me on Instagram or email. I am always happy to connect and answer questions.