What happened when I binned our toys…

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(Toy Binning, Phase 1)

The number of toys in our house is something I have been questioning for a while. Initially the thoughts of “we have too many toys” sat alongside my other “should” thoughts, such as “I shouldn’t let the kids watch so much TV”, “I should probably take school more seriously” and “I ought to be taking the toddler to more toddler groups”. But for once I decided to listen. I continue to ignore the rest of my ‘should’s’ for now but a recent holiday opened my eyes to a life of less toys.

During half term we visited Tenby and for the first time since our youngest could move, the kids didn’t argue! Not at all… Without the usual mountain of toys, they played classic games like Tag and Hide & Seek, they spent ages in the bath with a colander and a milk jug. They ran around the apartment, jumped on beds, made dens and played ‘mums and babies’. They had fun… without toys… and together.

So the day after I unpacked our suitcases (a week after returning home), I got some black bags and went crazy. I explained to my eldest (the only one who noticed my wide-eyed and hyper frenzy) that I have noticed that lots of toys do not make her happy, and that we were going to try life without them for a while. And then she carried on doing her colouring in. Don’t get me wrong, I had a couple of moments of “But muuuuuum, I loooooove this toy, I play with it everydaaaaay”. So I allowed them to keep a few extra’s, only to bin them during phase two last week (she still hasn’t noticed).

Let me just be honest about why we had so many toys to begin with. I allowed encouraged it because:

  • Each new toy represented time… A perceived time that I would have freed up to read, catch up on emails, clean the house etc.
  • I liked seeing them have fun with something that they enjoyed
  • British weather is so crap, we are at home long enough to justify a house full of toys
  • Me and the hubby might get to have a conversation while they play with their own little toys
  • Everyone else has lots so if I have less I will look like a bad mum and the children will want to live somewhere else

I admit I have credited toys with far too much and have been pretty delusional for the past 4 years… Since doing it though, I can honestly say it is one of the best decisions I’ve made. And guess what?! When I got rid of the toys (and the storage to remove future temptation), strange things started to happen:

  • I suddenly have more time!!! It seems the less toys they have, the longer they play! Woo-hoo! What a revelation, my youngest (now aged 2) will sit and play with a train track – my personal favourite – for 15 minutes. We didn’t really have this before, she would move on every few minutes and need support retrieving or setting up something new. I get 15 minutes now where she will play with a toy pretty independently, which frees up time for me if I need it.
  • We have more fun. We had literally hours of laughter playing catch, football, and piggy in the middle with a single red balloon. I don’t even remember where we got it or how it didn’t end up in one of my black bags but the day it deflated was a sad day indeed.
  • We go out more. Fortunately, this autumn has been particularly mild but I don’t think the deepest and darkest of winters will keep us home now. The kids LOVE being outside, whatever the weather. And so do I. We go for walks and catch leaves, we visit the quiet – and wet – parks, we go look at boats and ducks. And another amazing perk of doing this? Our youngest is sleeping better! We’ve had 5 nights through in a row – until 7am! Literally unheard of here.
  • The kids play nicer together. We still need to intervene 100 times a day but it’s far less because there is less to argue about. They do more role play which causes less arguments, increases their levels of patience and teaches them better social skills.
  • They are happier. I am happier. There is less mess, less distraction, more connection and more fun. If only I knew this 4 years ago 🙂

From now on, for birthdays we are asking for money so that we can have more experiences, for Christmas we are buying them practical gifts or role play gifts and attempting to make our day less about presents. I am so excited by it all. Children really don’t need very many toys, they need connection, and they need love. And that’s it. I’m done surrounding them (and me) with things they do not need. Are you brave enough to minimalise your kids toys? Let me know if you do, I would love to see some photo’s and hear about how it’s changed things for you.
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(Disclaimer: I haven’t binned all of their toys. We have 3 buckets full left, which are staying… For now. Almost all of the toys went to charity shops. I also took some advice from this article on the Becoming Minimalist blog).

Frickin’ Hormones!

pmsOne of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about the things that don’t always get talked about it. Not talking about some of the guilt, shame and general shit stuff can be pretty lonely. And if there’s ever a time I feel lonely it’s when I’m suffering with PMS. According to the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome, common symptoms of PMS are: moodswings, depression, tiredness, fatigue or lethargy, anxiety, feeling out of control, irritability, aggression, anger, sleep disorder and food cravings. I suffer with all of these along with ‘wanting to punch hubby in the face’ and ‘kids drive me even crazier than usual’.

For me, my symptoms start about a week before my period is due and get considerably worse about 3 days before, I almost always cry  as it approaches. Last month I cried when I overcooked some eggs, like not a trickle of tears… A full on slam the door, storm upstairs put my head on my pillow and cry hysterically whilst shouting into it what an idiot I am. Sometimes I cry because the children don’t like me, or because I’m fat and ugly. Either way it’s all completely valid at the time and disappears the minute I get my period. As soon as my period arrives, there’s a wave of relief, a feeling of a dark cloud being lifted and my ‘normal’ personality returning.

Since being a mum my symptoms of PMS have remained ever strong, only now I have two more reasons to find ways of coping with Frickin’ Hormones. Here is how I will attempt to deal with PMS this week:

  1. Ask for help!

I do not ask for help enough, even when I was poorly with the flu last week, I really struggled to ask for help. I think I can do everything by myself, I compare myself to women in other countries and circumstances and convince myself that unless I can do it all, I’m weak and stupid. No! When I can’t be completely loving to the girls, I MUST ask for help. It is my job to love them not do absolutely everything regardless of physical and mental health. Asking for help shows strength, if a woman asked me for help with her children because she was suffering with her monthly cycle I would think her a legend.

2. Rest.

I’ve been suffering with PMS since I was about 14 so I know by now I’m going to feel tired. Resting has often felt naughty to me because I hate my own laziness. But resting isn’t being lazy, it’s being responsible. As much as I can this week, I will rest.

3. Eat well.

This week I will want to eat: chocolate, sweets, biscuits, popcorn and double deckers. My good friend is a nutritionist and when I asked for her advice she told me to avoid sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods. So, although it will take a lot of my strength, I am determined to avoid (most) sugar and will stick to my herbal tea’s.

4. Not feel guilty.

When I’m evil (due on) I use it as yet another excuse to feel like the world’s worst mum. I get on my own back for failing as a woman instead of simply saying: “I’m due on, I should be back to my old self on Friday. Until then, speak to Daddy”

5. Tell your partner

As much as I am certain it’s glaringly obvious that I am hormonal, apparently my husband can still mistake my hormones for thinking he has done something wrong. True, it may be difficult for him to anything right this week, but it’s important our partners know that our current misery is not their fault, just like it is not ours. I am going to stop presuming that my husband knows I am amidst the cloud of PMS but tell him, explain I’m gonna be moody and will have nothing to give him emotionally until (hopefully) Friday. In doing this I manage his expectations, feel absoutley no pressure to be loving to him and can ask for help more easily (see step 1).

I love being a woman, I love that I am raising girls. Periods are a pain (literally) but without them we would not be able to produce and birth our amazing little people. They are not something to feel guilty or bad about. They are something to serve as a  reminder of who we are and the miracles we birth. They can be an opportunity to connect with other women, to rest, to lean into others and to learn about our bodies. According to NAPS there is no known cure for Premenstrual Syndrome, but we really can do small bits to help ourselves and each other. And if nothing works, don’t feel guilty. Accept that your body is doing it’s job, even though it doesn’t always feel like it. Accept that you are amazing, even when you are feeling evil. You’re a beautiful mama, whether hormonal or not.

Right, I’m off. It’s time to drink a herbal tea, punch a wall and not feel guilty.

#periodtalk #nomoretaboos #pms  #letssticktogether

Being a perfect mum is over-rated

`Not perfectLet’s face it, we all want to do a good job as parents, but we’re never going to be perfect. And that’s OK. In fact I think as mum’s we owe it to our children to NOT be perfect. Imagine living up to somebody who’s divinely perfect – depressing! No, we need to show our children that we are flawed and at times that we are sorry. But never, ever perfect.

I propose we aim for being ‘enough’. We each have different circumstances and characters which keep us from parenting perfection. We may have to return to work when the baby still needs us, we may suffer from stress, anxiety, Post-natal depression, we may simply need a break more often than they would like. And we can suffer all those things and still be enough.

In fact here is why I’m not going for perfect:

If we ourselves are ‘perfect’ then it teaches are kids that they too need to be perfect. It teaches them that perfection is important. It really isn’t. Love is important. And perfectionism isn’t love, it’s tiring and it’s foolish. Love isn’t always perfect, it grows and part of that growth comes from our mistakes, therefore love is in fact imperfect.

Getting things wrong can be fun. Recently I faced one of my bigger fears: I got lost on the Motorway (Argh!!). My husband had no phone and the 3 people I phoned could not decipher where I was based on my panic-stricken shouts. The baby was crying and shouting the entire time and the toddler was begging me to look at her painted face whilst choosing to ignore repeatedly that “I CAN’T LOOK AT YOUR FACE WHEN I’M DRIVING ON THE MOTORWAY!” When I eventually spoke to my husband it turns out that miraculously I had got myself onto the right motorway and was on route to Bristol. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked my Toddler for staying calm in my panic. Toddler, now munching on biscuits doesn’t even look at me when she replies: “I wasn’t scared, I just showed you the way” and the baby is now laughing her head off at nothing. This wasn’t a perfect journey but I learned that kids barely notice when we make a mistake. And sometimes, just sometimes it  can end with laughter.

I find that for my sanity it is important to bond with other mums. I also find that the best way of doing this is by talking about our imperfections, not about how well we are doing. I find comfort in brutally honest conversations, and I find Real Friends when I can bare my imperfections and they are met with an “amen”.

Trying to do things perfectly is kind of arrogant (sorry), because if I’m perfect then are the rest of the parenting population wrong? No. Let’s accept that we are all different, beautifully and imperfectly different. When we try to be perfect, we are focused totally on ourselves, because kids really don’t care if we get everything spot on. They want to know that they are loved and what better way to love our kids than to tell them when we screwed up and say sorry.

Let’s not love our kids by trying to be perfect, let’s love our kids while making mistakes, being honest and having fun.

Because being perfect is over-rated (I assume so anyway).

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A Mum’s Biggest Enemy: Guilt

FullSizeRender (2)Mum Guilt begins (I think) during pregnancy. It did for me anyway. I felt guilty for not taking pregnancy supplements. I felt guilty for not eating enough fish, for constantly forgetting my folic acid, for eating too much sugar, and for not being active enough.

Then there was labour, and guilt for not being able to bring her into the world all by myself. I felt guilty that I couldn’t take care of her physically and that we didn’t have skin to skin.

I hear stories of Mum Guilt all of the time: Child fell down the stairs, didn’t want to sleep in their own bed, swallowed detergent, had a bad day at pre-school. Stories of mums being told they’re not liked by their kids. As mums we often feel the need to take the blame for just about everything. Our children are our responsibility sure, but feeling and carrying guilt is pointless and sometimes a little stupid.

Here are just a sample of things I’ve felt guilty about recently:

  • Constantly rushing my toddler
  • Sometimes forgetting I have a second baby… Then remembering but forgetting her name
  • Raising my voice
  • Crying after a bad day
  • Missing my old life
  • Viewing work as a break
  • Not having the energy to play non-stop all day, 365 days a year
  • Giving my toddler too many treats
  • Not giving my toddler any treats
  • The baby crawling around our dirty kitchen floor
  • Not cleaning the bathroom as often as I should
  • Not loving them as much as I think I should
  • Craving adult company
  • Wishing the day away

I don’t feel these things every day but I’ve spent a lot of my motherhood feeling guilt. And it’s a killer!

All of the things we feel guilty about are either out of our control or a mistake. Feeling guilty about them not only makes them seem worse than they were, but it keeps the event right with us today, even though it may have happened weeks, months or years ago.

If we’re feeling guilty about anything we simply cannot be loving. Guilt is selfish, it is never about our children, it is only ever about us. The things we feel guilty about our kids have absolutely no idea of, nor care about. My toddler doesn’t know that I ‘failed’ during labour, she doesn’t know how I feel about work and she doesn’t need to. Right now, all she needs to know is that I love her. I know for a fact that children would never want us to feel guilty because as soon as we do, we’re pretty grumpy and completely unavailable; when we feel guilty we are not focused on them, which is about all they do care about.

Guilt keeps us trapped. If we feel guilty then we are focusing on something bad and when we do that it’s very hard for us to shake it off and think of the good things that we do. Of which there are many! I am not a bad mum, neither are you. We are always doing our best.

So next time we feel guilty, let’s be honest and remember that guilt is about us and only us. Let’s not spend one more minute in the past (which we cannot change) but focus on the moment we are in right now. Let’s remember that we must let go of the guilt to be better mummies, feeling guilty only hinders us. Let’s spend more time focusing on all the good things we do, all the grateful feelings we have. Let’s put a stop to feeling guilty. Right now. Are you with me?

When you don’t bond with your baby

Me, pregnantI believe that when we’re pregnant, we know expect we are going to bond with our baby. We love them when they are in our tummies so we can’t imagine how much we’re going to love them when we have them in our arms. This expectation is natural, and not always met.

When I had my first baby, my mind and body was pretty shocked. I didn’t feel the rush of hormones when a baby comes out naturally. I didn’t have skin to skin, I was drugged up, in stirrups and exhausted. When I looked at her I remember thinking “you don’t look like my baby”. It wasn’t what I was expecting to think or feel.

When we got home from the hospital I expected us to bond because I would be in familiar surroundings, we would be alone, a family. We didn’t. My healing was slow and painful. I couldn’t breastfeed. I could barely walk so taking care of her physically and emotionally was almost impossible. I was desperate to feel a bond that just wasn’t there. So I pretended – lied – to the people around me, petrified of what they might think if they knew how I felt. And then there was the guilt. The guilt which kept me trapped; trapped in the past and trapped in fear.

I don’t even remember when or how the bond started to develop and I know we’ve still got a way to go. I love her more now than I ever have but there are a few things I know I need to do in order to really bond connect with loving her as I know I can. Perhaps you might take something from this too…

Firstly, I need to forgive myself. What happened during and post-labour wasn’t my fault. She’s healthy, she’s happy, everything’s OK. I didn’t ‘get it wrong’ or ‘let her down’. Feeling guilty or afraid won’t help me to be a better mum, in fact it will stand in the way of me being the best mum I can be.

Secondly, I need to focus on the now. I have to stop dwelling on the past and what I could or should have done and I need to stop worrying about our relationship in the future. This doesn’t help her and it doesn’t help me. I will love her today and right now that’s the only thing that matters.

So, if like me, the initial bond with your baby isn’t (or wasn’t) there, don’t be afraid. They don’t need a ‘bond’, they need a mum (or dad) who is absolutely determined to love them in spite of everything. A mum (or dad) who is dedicated to learning how to better love them everyday. A mum who doesn’t care so much about bonding with their children, but cares only for their happiness. That’s real love.

What’s wrong with being wrong?

Delilah2As mums we all want to do a good job – of course. But there’s more to it than that; for many of us there’s also a fear of failing, of getting it wrong, of seriously screwing up our kids. And we probably will… My parents were amazing, perfect? No (sorry mum). They made mistakes which created behaviours and fears in me that I don’t particularly like. But they did the best they could, just like I am, just like you are.

I think we should embrace being wrong, talk freely about our mistakes, our fears, our true feelings. Let’s face it we’re all making mistakes, is it better to hide them away or share them? Hiding them won’t make you feel better, believe me I’ve tried. There’s a pretty good chance that other mums are making the exact same mistakes as you (or worse) and I feel much more connected to an honest mum, someone who trusts me with her ‘dark side’. Let’s not hide our mistakes, let’s own up and really connect. What’s wrong with being wrong? A cliché I know but getting it wrong is how we learn, how our children learn.

Here then are some of the mistakes I’ve made during my parenting (mainly with baby number one… poor thing):

  1. I was so afraid she might die without me in the room that I took her around the house with me: into the kitchen to make a cuppa, into the bathroom to have a wee… Everywhere. And guess what? She’s almost 3 and she hates being in a room on her own.
  2. At around 6 months I finally left her while I cleaned my teeth just once, and she fell off the bed
  3. I was much less afraid to leave baby number 2 but didn’t think not to leave the baby and the toddler alone… Toddler fed her a crisp at 2 weeks old and pulled her out of her bumbo and dropped her at 5 months.
  4. I once put baby 1 “safely” down in her car seat outside… right next to my sisters car exhaust while the car was running…
  5. I returned to work when baby 1 was three months old because I was “ready”. This is perfectly fine for some mums, there’s no judgement here. But I wasn’t really ready, I hadn’t yet adjusted to being a mum so no way was I ready to jiggle this and work. It didn’t go well.
  6. I was convinced that a ‘good mum’ was a fun mum therefore I played with baby 1 constantly and now I can’t go to the toilet without her asking when I’m coming back and what we will play
  7. I may have once or twice used the commonly used term: “Huh?” when I haven’t quite heard what someone has said and now the toddler says this same word after every single sentence… Sometimes before I’ve even finished the sentence.

I could go on… and on…

Some of my mistakes and wrong-doings were made out of fear (some just stupidity). And when I’m in fear of being wrong or causing my kids harm what am I teaching them? That I can’t be trusted to look after them, that they cannot be trusted to ‘survive’ or manage things by themselves, that being wrong is bad. Rubbish. I want to teach my girls courage, I want them to be (relatively) fearless, I want them to know that it doesn’t matter one bit if they make mistakes, get it wrong or in some way fail at anything.

Some of the things I’ve done wrong I can laugh at now (cried at the time) and others have had an impact on who my girls are becoming. Their behaviours and characters are being shaped by what I have done and said, what I continue to do… And you know what? No matter how wrong I get this, how badly I screw up at times it won’t make any difference to how much I love them. And I love them exactly as they are, odd habits and all. This means that no matter how wrong I get it, it can’t change how I feel about them. And that’s all they really need to know. My kids don’t need me to flawless, just to love them exactly as they are.

So I ask again, what’s wrong with being wrong? Huh? 😉

Why don’t you ask for help?

help2I believe people are generally quite terrible at asking for help. Especially us mum’s. Think about the number of times you’ve said one of these: “It’s OK I can do it”, “No thanks, I’m on it”, “It’s fine, I’ve done it loads of times”. Now compare that with how many times you’ve said: “Can you help me?”.

Yes, mum’s are amazing, we multitask like nobody else on the planet, we give, we play, we love, we feed, we plan, we clean, we work, we listen. We don’t however like to ask for help or accept it when it’s offered, and we don’t always tell the truth when we’re finding things really tiring, difficult, stressful or depressing.

Only tonight I burnt three of my knuckles on the oven – ouch! It hurt so much my face and body went hot, I ran it under the cold tap until my hand went numb but as soon as I turned the water off it was agony. So what did I do next..? Well I put both kids to bed. I read to Florence whilst feeding Eden with a cold flannel wrapped around my fingers. I was in pain the entire time and constantly telling myself “almost done, don’t think of the pain” when what I really should have said was: “Hey Ben can you take over?” He would have done it in a flash, but it seems asking for help is actually more difficult than putting two young kids to bed single-handedly (literally).

What’s so wrong with asking for help anyway?

We somehow think it makes us weak or seem like failures. I don’t know about you but for me it might have something to do with how my mum was. She told me time and time again that my Dad worked away a lot when we were little, that her mum didn’t help her with us and that she raised us pretty much alone. What I would have heard is: “I did it, so you can do it”. My mum didn’t mean to give me this message, but it’s what I came to believe. I forget that my mum didn’t work, that she was 10 years younger than I was when I started a family. Nutrition and diet planning wasn’t as important to her and she didn’t have the distractions of email, WhattsApp and social media. Times have changed. And yet our willingness to ask for help hasn’t.

And what effect is this having on our children?

I’m only seeing it now. When Florence needs help, she doesn’t ask; she cries, moans or get’s irritated. I haven’t properly taught her that she gets to ask for help whenever she likes. I haven’t displayed in my actions how this might look. So how can I change this? I’ll keep reminding her that when she asks for help I will listen. I will make sure that when she does ask for help I do in fact listen! I won’t help her when she cries without asking and most importantly I will make sure she see’s me asking for help when I need it.

Why is it so important to ask for help?

It will make us more loving and here is why: I know when I’m running on empty; I’m pretty irritable and I usually have a vacant ‘here but not here’ look about me. I’m no fun for Florence or Eden and I can feel myself watching the clock for bedtime. How loving am I being in those moments? Not very! This afternoon I asked Ben to play with Florence so that I could go for a walk with the buggy as Eden slept. I took a slow and quiet trip to Sainsbury’s where I bought some essentials – nappies and chocolate. When I came home I was a different person. I was happy, full of energy and grateful. What a difference a walk makes! In doing this I can see that me asking for help doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong when I’m having a moment of weakness. It doesn’t make me a failure, it makes me a success for the rest of the day.

Asking for help can make us feel vulnerable, but let’s see this as a good thing. Sharing our vulnerability with others can make us feel really connected, and give others permission to do the same.

What if you don’t have a partner who’s around as much as mine, or parents who live as close? You can ask friends, siblings or trusty neighbours. You may be surprised to see how people love to help. How good do you feel when you help someone who needs a hand?

Despite our reluctance to ask for help, our ability to give it is pretty special. So when a friend or fellow mummy offers you help, don’t say “it’s OK”, grab it with both hands and run. Let’s get better at asking for (or accepting) help and show our children that when they need help, all they have to do is ask.

Breast is best – is that what matters most?

Eden feedingBreast feeding always brings up such debate and almost drives a wedge between those that do and those that don’t.

I chose not to. “What?! You mean you can and you didn’t?!” Yep. I was poorly after I had Florence. I expressed the colostrum for about 4 days but that’s it. I wasn’t in a good place physically or mentally so Ben and I decided formula was best.

With Eden it was a slightly different story. Great labour and I was much stronger emotionally, however I still stopped after two weeks. Why? It wasn’t right for us as a family. I was in tears whilst doing it through physical pain and stress, and I saw this made me completely unavailable to Ben and Florence for as long as I chose to do it.

Sure I’ve felt some guilt – and that was the killer. I know mums who absolutely love breastfeeding so why would they not do it as long as they could? But I’ve also known mums who do it in spite of pain, in spite of not enjoying it. Why? Obligation, social pressure, fear, a strive for perfection and more. All too often mum’s sacrifice their own happiness and do ‘the right thing’, and I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m simply saying that we don’t need to conform to people’s judgement or scientific evidence, it’s way better to do what makes you happy and just love ’em. That’s what’s more important than anything. Feeding our babies is taking care of their basic needs, and vital for their survival for sure. But love is what makes our babies grow into healthy, happy adults.

So how do you love a baby? Work on eliminating your fear and guilt as much as possible because it’s impossible to be afraid and be loving at the same time. Relax about breastfeeding. Forget about what people might think. Remember always that you are going to do the best you’re capable of and right now that’s enough. We’ll all make mistakes with our kids that are far greater than giving them a bottle of formula. When we do make a mistake with them, we need to tell someone who can love us and let it go.

Breast feeding might boost your baby’s immune systems and even their IQ’s but does it make for happier people? Is it such a big deal that it should divide mums, create martyrs or mum’s riddled with feelings of guilt and inadequacy?

For the 50 or so years that you’ll be a parent, choosing to focus on what we feed our babies in the first 12 months seems a weird thing to focus on. Surely we should be asking: “How do I keep my cool and remain loving when I’m at my wits end?” “How do I raise happy, responsible children?” “How do I make my partner a priority when I give so much to my kids?” And a million other questions.

As I said, breast milk is amazing, this isn’t news. But how about creating happy and loving families? Now there’s something worth talking about.

“What choices do you have?”

This week I once again used a powerful tantrum-stopping sentence…

Florence (two and a half) was tired, it was coming up to dinner time, and she hadn’t seen Ben or myself since that morning. It was a recipe for meltdown. As she dived on the sofa face down insisting that she wanted Daddy. I asked very calmly “what choices do you have in this moment?”

The whingy voice became one of intrigued confusion: “huh?” I continued: “Let’s look at them together; you can continue to lie on the sofa and feel sad, you could go upstairs and look for daddy, or you could play with mummy”. The look on her face was a picture, from contorted to happy in just seconds. She looked up as she thought about it with a big smile on her face before exclaiming “play with mummy!” When I asked if she wanted to play downstairs or upstairs she looked as if she might explode with excitement.

I know this won’t work every time but it proves that kids LOVE choices. I believe a lot of tantrums are a result of children feeling that their choices have been taken away. Think about tantrums you’ve seen or experienced, we’ve nearly always just said “no”. Sometimes we must say no, but if we think about it, there might also be a choice. Instead of “we must leave now” we could ask whether they would like to wear their jacket to the car or carry it. Instead of “no you can’t have chocolate”, we could say chocolate isn’t very good for you, which of these snacks would you like this morning?

When we’re tired, stressed or anxious it’s almost impossible to think of a choice. I was all of these (and super embarrassed) when Florence pooped on a friends floor and refused to put her trousers on afterwards. In that moment I couldn’t quite think straight but I have thought since about possible choices or consequences which I will use if a similar ‘accident’ occurs. That’s how we learn right? Child embarrasses us, we feel anxious, resort to punishment, feel bad, do better next time.