Mental Wellbeing at Work – Staff Development Day

Gie’s Peace – Staff Mental Wellbeing Development Day

Investing in your staff team’s Mental Wellbeing is the most important investment you will make

Most employers now understand the benefits of promoting the positive mental health of their staff team. Employers have a legal responsibility to minimise the risk of illness or injury to employees – This includes the mental health of employees

These past 2 years have been the most stressful and overwhelming ever, and as the uncertainty continues, stress and anxiety are reaching unprecedented levels at work, resulting in high levels of staff absence, emotional and physical burnout, low motivation and poor productivity.  Staff need help to recover from the stresses of this pandemic, and learn strategies to help improve their mental wellbeing, to promote their emotional strength and resilience

The Gie’s Peace – Mental Wellbeing at Work –  Mindfulness Staff Development Day will work with your staff team to teach tools of Calmness, Resilience, Self-Care, and positive mental wellbeing. These results will not only benefit your staff team in their individual lives, but will benefit them as a team and benefit your organisation as a whole including those who use your service

Mental Health for Staff – It’s not a Splurge … It’s an investment

The benefits of a Mental Wellbeing Development Day include, better relationships between staff, increased communication, planning skills, increased focus, improved employee motivation & employee collaboration. We use fun & interactive activities to help colleagues to connect in a different way, offering strategies and tools for a more peaceful and relaxed working environment.  We also provide you with tips, tools and a plan to help your team staff stay mindful, calm and connected going forward

The Gie’s Peace – Mental Wellbeing at Work Development Day provides the opportunity for your staff team to try a variety of Mindfulness and Self-Care techniques to help them improve their own mental health, to better support their employees, and help remove some of the barriers that contribute to poor mental health within the workplace

Our Staff Development Day is fun, interactive and suitable for all, regardless of whether individuals are completely new to Mindfulness or experienced practitioners. The Staff Development Day takes place online to ensure staff safety in relation to Covid 19 guidelines

Cost per Development Day is £525 which accommodates up to 15 participants

It pays, not only financially, to support workers mental wellbeing

You can’t afford NOT to promote your employee’s mental health

Emotionally Strong and Resilient individuals = Emotionally Strong and Resilient Teams

Mental Wellbeing First Aid is a lifesaver – It’s as important for the mind as CPR is for the body

C – Calm Minds

P – Present Minds

R – Resilient Minds

Small Steps & Giant Leaps

Having just returned from a family holiday, I thought I would share some reflections on how this holiday compares with a previous holiday 2 years ago. *(That’s a whole previous blog all on its own).

During the course of the week, I saw many situations unfold in front of me and my mind automatically recognised them as significant signs of real progress or “Giant Leaps”. To the outside world, they would not have gained any attention, and would be considered as completely “normal” interactions or behaviours of a 14 yr old, however to me they were the result of a huge amount of effort on his part and over 3 years of Trauma Informed Therapeutic Parenting on ours.

  • This week my 14 yr old made a friend. He approached another boy his own age and struck up a conversation, they exchanged numbers and they met up each day for the rest of the holiday, hanging out together, texting each other, interacting … being friends.
  • This week my 14 yr old was able to choose from a fairly large menu without having a meltdown due to the huge pressure of possibly making the wrong choice.  He also managed to choose another drink when the waiter told him his 1st choice was unavailable! This situation would, in the past have warranted an emotional meltdown due to feeling put on the spot and being asked to make a choice in a hurry.
  • This week my 14yr old dressed in a smart new shirt and jeans (rather than comfy joggers) and said he “looked good” and he “felt good”.  He also went out in public without his hood up, enjoying his new found slice of confidence.  (This one in particular gave me huge punch right in the feels!)
  • This week my 14 yr old joined in some healthy banter with others without feeling that it was directed towards him in a negative way. His humour shone through and he had others laughing with him.
  • This week my 14yr old took on the responsibility of kicking around the holiday park with his friend without getting involved in any “drama’s”. (Avoiding drama’s that actually belonged to him, AND drama’s that belonged to others, that would have landed right at his feet and sucked him in like a magnet) There were no parents seeking me out to complain, or security chapping on my door regarding any breakages, verbal or physical attacks on others, or generally troublesome behaviours. In fact – I was informed by one parent that my 14yr old let her smaller boy go in front of him at an activity.
  • This week my 14yr old told me he was having a great time and was “happy”.
  • This week my 14yr old exchanged his tokens for prizes within 10 minutes as opposed to upwards of 2 hours, and even used some of his tickets to chose a gift for others.
  • This week my 14yr old engaged in appropriate interactions with girls his own age and looked confident doing so.

Those of us who live with, or work with, youngsters with ADHD, FASD, Attachment Disorder, Autism, or who have been affected by Trauma of any sort will understand just how huge these reflections are. All these marks of progress didn’t happen easily, they still needed a huge amount of effort from him and are the results of over 3 years of Trauma Informed Therapeutic Parenting from us. I also know that these challenges are not gone forever, that he will continue to struggle with all the points above from time to time, and for many years to come. 

These signs of amazing progress look tiny and insignificant to the untrained eye. However, to those of use viewing our youngsters through a trauma lens can see them for the huge signs of progress that they really are. One small step for mankind … One giant leap for Trauma Informed Therapeutic Parents.  I saw one parent / carer whose youngster was totally overwhelmed with the sensory overload of the arcade, the noise, the crowds, the excitement and disappointments and she dealt with it amazingly. I was able to give some hope that I had been where she is and that actually things do get easier for our youngsters, and for us, and that her boy too would make some giant leaps in the months and years to come. Trauma Informed Therapeutic Parenting does work…however it needs time to be cultivated and tended to, like a tiny seed as it grows, and we need to continue to view the world through our trauma lens.

Tough Days & Sensory Repair

So day 4 of high school didn’t go well. Texts from our boy telling me that he is annoyed and needs to come home. I empathise & tell him to speak to his support teacher about whatever is bothering him. He quickly tells me it’s her that’s bothering him. In addition to that everyone is p!ssing him off and he wants to come home. I reassure him and explain that we’re not at home just now, and that I knew it was difficult, but that I would see him at 3 o’clock & I’d have a wee snack ready for him.

Truth is that secondary school holds, for him, everything that scares, challenges and terrifies him. Lots of new people, lots of bigger (scary) boys, lots of moving from class to class, lots of noise, lots of transitions, classes starting and ending. In the first week, so far he’s attended on day 1 and day 4. Day 1 he came home after what seemed (on the face of it) a good day, and erupted into chaos at home when the cat seemed to take her affection from him and give it, momentarily to another human. This act confirmed, at least in his mind, that she loved them more than she loved him, instead of viewing it as the typical cat-like behaviour.  He had contained all his worry, fear, anxiety and fear of failure throughout the 6 hour school day and it had nowhere to go except out. And so it all came spilling out when he arrived home. Then came day 2 and complete refusal and so Day2 became a day for him to recover from the emotional exhaustion of day 1.

Day 3 is a story for another day !

Day 4 and the texts start after an hour & a half of the school day. The texts suggested that he was struggling. Reading them filled me with worry that he actually might arrive home soon.  Truth was, the thought of him arriving home from school before 3pm was just too much for me to contemplate!!

A wee bit of backstory we have just came to the end of a long long summer school holidays, which involved a holiday abroad that could have easily featured as an episode of “Family Holiday Nightmares” ( also a story for another day).  And when the day arrived that the schools returned it was a huge sigh of relief. You know that feeling when you work in a regular job and you’ve got holidays coming up and you genuinely feel that you have no more “days” in you, and you only have enough energy in your tank to get to that day, and you’ll fall exhausted into your holiday. Yeah that’s how I felt about the day the schools returned !!

So anyway, I fell into a sense of false security after he attended all day on Monday, as then came a complete refusal to attend on day 2. And I fell deeper into compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, vicarious trauma, it doesn’t really matter what we want to call it here, it all feels horrendous.  It makes you feel like a failure as a carer & parent, as a trauma informed person it’s awful when your empathy starts to deplete or dry up completely. It feels like walking every day through deep thick quicksand in your wellies.   Of course I know his trauma history, I know his pain, I know how hard he is trying to manage his worst nightmare,  I know he doesn’t mean it , it’s not intentional, he genuinely can’t help himself.  But….. My physical tiredness and emotional exhaustion make it difficult to remember this.  I have to “try” to be empathic. I need to dig deep into the very bottom of my bucket to find empathy, which adds more tiredness on top of what was there.

Luckily, I am able to see it exactly for what it is…. A normal reaction to the very demanding situation of caring for a traumatised child. A normal reaction to caring for a child with such a horrendous trauma history.  Blocked care / compassion fatigue / secondary trauma is not something that “might” happen to foster carers / adopters and parents of traumatised children. I believe it’s an occupational hazard. Just like hitting your fingers with a hammer is an occupational hazard for a joiner. It will happen to most, if not all carers, and possibly more than once too. It needs to be ok to say the words and to reach out for help & support. Agencies and local authorities need to be understanding and accepting of this fact, and create a safe space to be able to say … this is all a bit shite just now! We love him, we don’t want him to leave, we’re still 100% fully committed,  We’re not thinking of “giving up”, We know we are the right family for him, that we can give him what he needs to thrive and grow, I just need it to be ok to say that at the moment it’s exhausting, it’s awful.  

So what can we do when we find ourselves in this deep river of mud in our wellies … well, what I did was sent out a distress call, I fired my SOS out there to a few people who I knew would get it.  And they responded (as I knew they would) …thank you… You know who you are.  They responded not with words of encouragement that “it’ll get better” or “you can do this” but with agreement that yes indeed it was absolutely shite and with humour to make me smile and laugh.  I also requested additional support from those who can provide it, without fear of looking weak, or incapable.

And when my adorable, funny, loving, challenging, emotionally demanding, struggling, sensory overloaded child returned home from another 6 hours of his nightmare, I dug deep and responded with sensory repair, that involved a foot spa to soothe his sore feet that had been in his new shoes all day, a kitten to soothe his tired emotions and some Ben & Jerry’s…. everything needed to soothe an emotionally overwhelming day.

And as part of my own self care, this will all be repeated for me later tonight once he’s in bed.  And we will go again tomorrow. Yes it’s all a bit shite just now… but this too shall pass… and until it does there’s always foot spa’s, kittens, Ben & Jerry’s & good friends.

Morning Coffee Read – My Coronavirus

So I think it goes without saying that it feels like Coronavirus (or Covid-19 to give it its Sunday name) has taken over our world, countries, cities, towns and villages to the extent that our heads are filled with the daily updates from politicians and the instant news feeds that give us a constant flow of extremely harrowing pictures and stories of the dead and the dying.  I like most of us, have never experienced anything like this nor could I have ever truly imagined the impact of one person sneezing or coughing (in a place that most of us will never have heard of before) could result in so many people around the world losing their lives before their time. 

Unfortunately, we know that negative headlines have more hits than positive feel good stories.  So much of what we are being exposed to doesn’t in my opinion give a balanced account of the vast majority of people who have been told that it is ‘likely’ they have had or have the virus and go on to make a full recovery.

I am one of those people and this is an overview of my experience.  My 14 days of self-isolation ended yesterday and started with a dry and persistent cough.  Initially I thought I had a cold, even though I am not prone to catching a cold and don’t think I have ever had the flu.   I wasn’t in denial I just didn’t see that it might be the virus as it was still ‘out there’ and no one else I know had or appeared to have any symptoms.

I followed the government guidance and settled myself in for my 7 days of self-isolation.  During this time the cough persisted and by day 4 or 5 I was experiencing fatigue, back pain and a dreadful headache.  It was only when family and friends started to comment and suggest that it could be more than a cough and cold that my thinking changed.  I accepted it was more than a cold by about day 8, I self-diagnosed that I had a chest infection.  Again, I don’t think I was in denial, the absence of a fever or difficulties in breathing, convinced me that because I wasn’t ticking all the boxes, then it I didn’t have the virus.  Oh, and loss of appetite, the one symptom that I would have welcomed with open arms, was definitely nowhere to be seen nor was there a glimpse of it out there wating to pounce on me.

The awful stories about the rising death tolls in Italy, Spain and the UK meant we had come to believe that coronavirus = death and the last thing I wanted to do was to scare my family by agreeing that I might have become infected.  I had also spent the previous weekend prior to the start of the cough with friends and I was concerned about them.

In as much as I felt really unwell, I instinctively knew I wasn’t seriously ill, but after another sleepless night with constant coughing and at the insistence of my daughters, I gave in and called my GP surgery and asked for a telephone consultation.  When he called me back, I started the conversation with ‘I do not think I have the virus, I do however think I might have a chest infection’.  He proceeded to ask me a series of questions after which he informed me that ‘you either have or have had Covid19’. 

Shocked is putting it mildly, my survival brain kicked in, I probably lost much of what he said after this.  I do recall him saying ‘so if you develop a fever or breathing difficulties then you need to call immediately and you will be referred to an assessment centre’.

Once the call ended, I took time to process what he had said, did this now mean that I was now one of the vulnerable? The lid that had done a great job of keeping fear at bay started to creep open and visions of ventilators, hospitals and hazmat suits raced through my mind.  Prior to this, one of my cousins on our family chat had said that if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds then you’re ok.  I checked my breathing, that seemed fine but made a mental note that it would be a good idea to check regular and often and have the phone ready to make that call if I didn’t manage the 10 second target. 

Temperature, I knew I had seen one of my grandson’s old thermometers somewhere in a drawer so went on the hunt for that.  Started to fret when it was nowhere to be found….then thought it’s ok I can buy a new one….followed by OMG I actually can’t because I actually can’t leave the house!!….  reminded myself to check my breathing…. did the 10 second test….still ok….relaxed when I realised that of course I could ask one of my daughters to buy me one and drop it off (obviously observing the social distancing rule)…. then immediately panicked again when I thought I can’t because then how would I explain to them why I wanted one….really worried…. I googled ‘how can you tell if you have a fever if you don’t have a thermometer’…….

Did I mention I am a mindfulness practitioner?  

Anyway, there’s me in a state of panic, survival brain now fully engaged, visualising nothing but the worst and taking the 10 second test at least every 20 seconds, I think it might be when I thought about my own funeral that I realised what was happening to me.  Instead of the 10 second test, I did the 5,4,3,2,1 exercise, 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch,3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste, this helped to ground me and bring me back to the here and now.  My thinking brain was then able to re-engage and I was able to regain a calmer perspective on my situation. 

My GP’s diagnoses did not make me any more unwell nor did it mean that I would become so, I was also able to recall his words that ‘the vast majority of people who become infected will manage this at home’.  I decided I would be one of those people, that is until the early hours of the following morning.  As usual my sleep was interrupted by my overwhelming need to cough. I realised my pj’s were damp and my body was drenched in sweat.

Panic…survival brain re-engaged….did the 10 second test….tried to work out when my GP said ‘call immediately’ did he mean during daylight hours or did this new symptom mean ‘immediately’, like right now at 3 in the morning….berated myself for not asking the right questions….did the 10 second test again and then had another panic….did 10 seconds mean 1.2.3.4.5 etc….or did 10 seconds mean 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi (for fellow ‘Friends’ fans out there!) of course I could have used the timer on my phone but at that moment all logic had escaped me.

Did I mention I am a mindfulness practitioner…….

Fortunately, there was just about enough thinking brain cells around to enable me to stop and breath, long and slow breaths that filled my lungs with the much-needed oxygen I had been depriving myself of with my overuse of my 10 second testing analysis.  It felt good to feel calm overtake the panic and for the rational to overtake the irrational.  The cough never gave up but I gave up on letting fear take over and made a conscious decision to ditch the 10 second tests and visualising the worst and to do what I train others to do, breath, stay grounded and find your calm.

I did call my GP at 8 o’clock in the following morning and was duly referred to an assessment centre where I was looked after by a team of our incredible NHS workers, (huge thanks and appreciation to them and our NHS) The doctor I saw confirmed that I did not have a chest infection, also that only people who end up in hospital are tested, she reiterated that the vast majority of people who are infected by Covid-19 will manage their symptoms at home.  Thankfully I did not need to go to hospital, in as much as a chest infection is not something I covet, I think I would have been happier to have been diagnosed with one, better the devil you know as they say………

Update, I have been told that I am likely to have the cough for several weeks but because I have not developed any further symptoms or become more unwell then I am fine to follow the government guidelines without fear of infecting anyone else.  I am also very aware that the ‘other side’ of the virus is as yet very unknown and there is much debate about the possibility of becoming infected again and until testing is made available to us all, I shall proceed with a high level of cautiousness in case I pass anything on to others.

If the headlines are right, then I am one of the lucky ones and my prayers are for those whose lives have been devastated by the impact of the virus.  If the 2 doctors who advised me are right, then I am only one of many who will be kept under the radar because only people who are in hospital are being tested and are included in the statistics, (unless of course you are one of the important people like a prince of prime minister)

What did I learn from this experience?

Not sure if I mentioned that I am a mindfulness practitioner. 

My colleague Shary and I run a social enterprise call ‘Gie’s Peace’ and we offer training to adults who work with children and young people who have had adverse early life experiences using a ‘Mindful Approach’.  (more information is available on our website, www.giespeace.co.uk )

I have also recently finished an 8-week course in Mindful Self Compassion run by the amazing Stella and Cat, which is in my opinion, the jewel in the mindfulness crown and I would highly recommend to anyone who is looking for that next step.

I mention this because I consider myself to be an able practitioner of mindfulness, I am also a great believer in acknowledging gratitude’s, I start my day each morning by listing what and who I am grateful for, family, health, friends, my grandchildren (James, Riley, Teddy and Winnie) just visualising their wee faces makes me smile, fills my heart with the love I have for them and sets me up for the day.

Looking back, I realised that whilst I was unwell, I wasn’t practising mindfulness or acknowledging my gratitudes and this is turn resulted in a reduced state of emotional and mental resilience.  It surprised me to realise that when I needed it most, I stopped practising it, possibly because my sense of fear was far greater than my sense of calm.  Did I think this would happen to me? Definitely not! but lesson learned, pride can definitely come before a fall!   The good news was that once I started practicing again, I felt almost instantly better, maybe not physically but I noticed my mood changed, I felt more positive and my outlook improved.

I guess my coronavirus experience is actually more a reflection on how important mindfulness has become in my everyday life.  It goes without saying that this virus has devastated our world as we know it and as the scientist and politicians debate how best to fight it, we can find our own protection and stay as resilient as possible by taking some time out each day to practice mindfulness and self-care.

There will of course likely be many theories and conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus and we might never know the true extent of how many people have or will become infected, however what we absolutely know if that if we look after ourselves then we are able to better look after others and as the need for us all to become teachers to our children, cares to our neighbours, nurses to the sick in our homes etc then self-care has never been more needed.

Please visit our website to find some examples off how this can be achieved, from a couple of minutes each day to longer periods. If we are able to see that the extra time we are all finding ourselves with during this lockdown period as a gift’ then we can use it to really look after ourselves and introduce self-care into our lives.  you can also find us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Finally, we all say ‘take care’ to others on a regular basis and often without real meaning.  However, this could not be more meaningful now, so take care you and those around you and remember when the going gets tough the tough get mindful and practice self-care!

Bernadette – Gie’s Peace

Things to remember we already know !

In these worrying and uncertain times, I was thinking of how we foster carers and our kids are coping. The more I thought about it, the world might be a very different place for most folk, but it struck me that life doesn’t really look that different for many of us, than it did before. So it got me thinking that we have so many skills and coping strategies already in our toolbox, that we use day in & day out, that put us in a really good place for what is happening just now.  So, I’ve put together a few things that we should remember that we already know.

#1 We know how to live with uncertainty.  Living with the kids we live with is “uncertain”,  we live with uncertainty every day.  Our kids can be very unpredictable and not knowing what is coming next is a huge part of what we do every day. Uncertainty is also a fact of life for our kids, even if we can have a certain amount of certainty about their future with us, for example being with us long term or permanently, it often doesn’t feel “certain” for them, so they generally live every day with uncertainty.

#2 We know how to manage anxiety.  We live with kids who have a high degree of anxiety every single day, not just in times that generate high anxiety for the whole country / world.  We know that anxiety can come in waves and can “wash” over our kids and that we need to take each moment as it comes, balancing the level of anxiety at any given moment. We also know that our kids pick up on our anxiety. Chaos is contagious…but so is Calm.

#3 We know how to manage in a crisis.  Crisis is part of our lives as a foster carer. Crisis is our bread & butter. We deal with them day in and day out and we know about staying calm, taking a step back, breathing, and responding to the situation in front of us. We also know how to think on our feet, in the moment, in the spur of the moment. And most importantly we know that we sometimes get it wrong. And when we get it wrong, we know the importance of not giving ourselves a hard time and also about the importance of the apology see #4

#4 We know the importance of an apology.  We sometimes feel stressed and anxious too, and we get it wrong.  Apologising to our kids when we get it wrong is one of the most attachment building and emotionally connecting lessons we can share with our kids. It shows that that we adults get things wrong and more importantly it shows that our relationship can survive making mistakes. That we can move on without it affecting the relationship.

#5 We know about feeling isolated. Isolation is real for most foster carers. Remember the many names that were on our Eco-map when we completed it during our assessments haha…. When we sat optimistically listing the people who would be there to help us once our young person came to us. That list gradually (or not so gradually) got smaller and smaller as our fostering journey commenced. We are already used to our tribe being a virtual one and that social media / messages/ telephone is an important, and often the only way to keep connected.

#6 We know that we are part of a wider team, we are an important link in a chain of support that includes others. Others we might not see them much but they are still there.  We know about keeping folk updated and linking in when we need to share information. We know we are not alone (although it might sometimes feel like it).

#7 We know the value of being child centred, empathic and listening to our kids. We know that hearing them with more than our ears, and playing detective to work out what is going on, explains far more that the words that they actually say.

#8 We know the importance of relationships.  And how important relationships are to kids who have attachment disorders, and that connecting with them is more important than having them “do what we tell them”. We know that timing is everything and that “biding oor time” is an actual strategy.

#9 We don’t worry about the need to home school oor kids when they are not at school. We tend to use the phrase “home’s home & school’s school. We know that stressed kids cant learn and we know that stressed adults cant teach stressed kids, so we don’t stress it. We know that not all learning is about Maths & English & sometimes “making pancakes” ticks the “learning” box for the entire day.

#10 We know that sometimes “anything for a quiet life” actually means “anything to survive”.  And we know that there are times that we will be using You Tube, PS4, TV, and Computers more than we would usually like because we “need” some head space to keep our own self care topped up as much as possible.

And ultimately, we know that we have got this. We will get through this…… and that the world will get back to “normal” at some point.

Meeting the NEED

The full day’s work that takes place before 9 am

A typical morning with an anxiety filled, adhd, attachement disordered, insecurely attached, developmentally traumatised 12 yr old. We’ll start after the 40 minutes or so,  it takes to coax him out of bed, using lots of soft voices, encouragement, gently eeking him from his sleep into the start of another day, opening the blinds only an inch to let in some natural light, but only an inch, as more that that will let in too much light,  (resulting in me “blinding him” which will inevitably mean it’s impossible for him to open his eyes for the next 5 minutes) then using a variety of silly animal noises & voices, and the clever choosing of a transitional object that she needs to bring downstairs for breakfast, to help him end one period of time and start another (the first 40 minutes of the day deserves a whole blog of its own).  He seems quite “wound up” which from experience, I know means he will be on a “very” go slow, avoidance fuelled, get dressed, a very go slow is far slower than just a go-slow (which is actually quite fast when compared with a very go-slow) and is reminiscent of a very slow turtle, on a go-slow getting dressed and out for school. “Wound up”, means pretty much complaining about most things, mostly complaining about breakfast (but not the usual everyday kind of complaining, “wound up” complaining is a harsher, sharper type of complaining.  It’s not like the legitimate kind of complaining we do as adult when we feel the need to tell the check-out wummin that there’s not enough tills open for the size of the queue, knowing full well it’s no her fault and she jist works there, “Wound up” complaining is the type of complaining that we do when we completely and wholeheartedly believe the check-out wummin is responsible for everything from the size of the queue, the over pricing of the messages, and the fact that you’ve no cash in your purse and you can’t get your bank care oot cause its stuck in that tight stupid wee sleeve that I keep putting it in, in the cheap phone case I ordered from ebay for a few quid.

Anyway, I kept my cool through the wound up complaining, and I changed his socks for “another” pair, when it became apparent that the inside seam was like barbed wire against his big toe, that was a wee bit tender this morning after some anxiety provoked nail picking during the night. (I quickly whip out my tube of germaline which is actually a cure for everything that itches, scratches, or is generally troublesome)  reach for the spare socks that I keep handy as a back-up plan – (and internally check an imaginary tick in an imaginary box in the space just above my head),  and then I take it to another level altogether, when I automatically turn the new sock inside out as it seems that the socks with the “softer seam” still doesn’t have a soft enough seam and is actually still out to get him  – back-up to the back-up. (P.S I will be eternally grateful to my good friend Lou for teaching me the importance of always having a back-up to the back-up, this principle has stayed with me over the years, and it has certainly made many a difficult situation much better).

 Just as I think we are edging toward the door and his exit for school and the clock could start counting down  (at superfast speed it seems) the 6 hours until he’s home again, I could see it coming, the next need building and growing in front of me. It’s the “my bag doesn’t feel right need” this is where the weight of the bag, doesn’t fit the weight he needs to carry today to feel ok, to feel grounded, and that the heavy book, placed in the bag purely for weight purposes only, and not for actual reading, is not positioned as it should be and is sticking into his back, like a spear jabbing him in the upper back.  So, off it comes, and unpacked it gets, and repositioned and repacked to ensure no more jabbing in the back, (jabbing in the back is like a pain in the neck…only much more annoying) another need met and another mini victory and another step closer to the door we get.  He turns before opening the front door for the obligatory “toothpaste check”, this is the NEED to face the world with a toothpaste free face. So, just to make sure there’s no spots of toothpaste on his face that could result in name calling, poking fun, bullying, or any other kind of general social suicide that would inevitably result from having the tiniest bit of toothpaste on his mouth.  I have a good look, holding his worried wee face in my hands, scanning this face that he NEEDS to present to the world like a mask hiding his true deeper worries and anxieties, and tell him there’s “no toothpaste …. Just handsome-ness” (he likes this and usually elicits the tiniest minute inkling of a smile on the very corner of his lips, or maybe that’s just my wishful thinking and positivity imagining it. He unlocks the door, (if it’s already been unlocked this morning by the other half taking something out to the recycling bin, then he has a NEED to lock it first so he can then unlock it) open the door, peer out and tentatively take a step out into this scary new day with its abundance of  new worries, new fears, and new insecurities, and walks towards his 6 hours of school where he’s expected to learn, pay attention, solve problems, communicate with others, manage friendships (or not on most days) and generally engage with the outside world. While I shut the door, feeling empathetic but relieved and proud that we’ve done it, another mini triumph …. And I put on the kettle for a cuppa and rich tea biscuit and rejoice in the many possibilities that the next 6 hours might bring my way… and I wonder and I hope that by meeting his NEEDS, in the years to come my wee “wound up soldier, might at some point in the future, unwind enough that the day will come where he looks forward to the amazing things that a brand new day might bring.

Disappointment sucks !!

Our kids can be unpredictable, emotional, and lack rational thinking. But then again…so can we.  I have been thinking about bad moods, and how they just come on, often with little or no warning. One minute everything’s fine, and the next minute … boom!! We’re in a bad mood. I could blog about Mind set and changing this and thinking positively and telling ourselves that todays a good day.

But I’m not …. I’m going to write about our fundamental right to be in a bad mood and the fact that it’s absolutely ok to be in a bad mood. (It’s not ok to whack your wee sister over the head with a light sabre when you’re in said bad mood but that’s a story for another day) but never the less, it’s ok to be in a bad mood.

I was recently in a bad mood, and I didn’t see it coming, it just snuck up on me and boom!! I was in a bad mood. Here what happened:  I had been having some hoover troubles, my old hoover was familiar and did exactly as it should, it picked up, the hose reached all the way up my stairs and it just worked as it should.  Then it decided it’d had enough. And then began my hoover woes.  You’d think it would be easy, however it really wasn’t. After much research, shop visiting, trying…we finally ordered one.  I was really looking forward to getting it home and trying it out, I was like a kid at Christmas. I tried it out and this is when it happened. I realised it was great hoover, very powerful and very sucky…. In fact it was too sucky. It was really hard to push and shove and it didn’t feel right on the stairs, not like my old one did. The hose didn’t stretch all the way up meaning half way up the stairs I had to carry the hoover in one hand and use the hose head with the other, making it really difficult. I had to admit it… my new hoover sucked .. And not even in a good way!  I was then instantly in a bad mood. I was grouchy, wound up, emotional, frustrated, annoyed and most of all very disappointed.

Now if you’re reading this thinking …. Jeezo…get a life!! Then that’s the very point. It might not make sense to you…. But my bad mood and my hoover disappointment made sense to me. Often our kid’s tantrums don’t make sense to us, but they make sense to them. And nine times out of 10 the underlying feeling at the bottom of it is … Disappointment. We don’t see disappointment, we see an adult acting like a spoiled kid because her hoover disnae work as she wanted it to, and we see a child shouting and screaming and whacking the wardrobe doors wi a nerf gun (that’s a story for another day too) or a toddler throwing themselves on the floor in the supermarket, or the teenager storming upstairs and banging the door nearly taking it aff its hinges. But these are the behaviours that result from the emotion. In this case almost certainly disappointment. Disappointment that our long awaited hoover didnae work as we want it to, disappointment that bedtime came a bit sooner than he was ready for, disappointment that the sweets we desperately wanted… even “needed” didn’t come, disappointment that we didn’t get the test result after a night of semi-studying! But disappointment it is, and it’s an awful feeling. And once we understand this, the behaviours that we see as a result make sense, we might not like them and we may well need to address them, but if we dig deep enough, they do make sense. And that’s how we tailor our initial response. We say, I understand you want the sweet and it doesn’t feel good when we don’t get what we want, or , i know you were having so much fun you didn’t want it to end, and it doesn’t feel good when our fun has to end, or I know you feel disappointed with your result, you put a lot into it, and its tough when we feel our effort isn’t rewarded…. Disappointment sucks!!