We all go through tough things sometimes – from a prolonged period of unemployment to death of someone close to us, bad things happen. For parents, that can be especially hard.
Anyone paying attention will know that the last few years have been incredibly hard for me. A bad pregnancy, tough things happened in my marriage, terminal illness, death, isolation – it’s been a tough few years. I don’t often talk about it, but when I do, people always ask me how I’ve made it through, and when I tell them, they all say the same thing:
You should write a book!
Well, I have. It’s a short book – only 51 pages, because I know that when you’re going through hard things, and you barely feel able to breathe, the last thing you need is a book that that’s heavier than the feeling in your chest. What you need is practical, simple, step-by-step hand holding. And Parenting in Tough Times is that – I see it as a guide to setting out buoys in a stormy sea. Buoys are invaluable when you’re trying to keep afloat.
This book – currently only available as an eBook – is available for Kindle from Amazon or as a printable PDF from Gumroad
If you’d like to be notified when the paper version is ready for sale, pop your email in here – don’t worry I won’t use it for anything else!
It’s almost Halloween, which is kind of amusing because we don’t really ‘celebrate’ Halloween. Or Samhain. Or Day of the Dead. We have two birthdays in October which is pretty much enough for us, but you know… everyone’s doing it. Our Bostik Bloggers Box this month contained lots of Halloween-themed goodies, with a giant foam skeleton, pumpkin and bat. There are all sorts of little scrapbook odds and ends and paper, including Halloween confetti.
For these decorations we used:
- Halloween themed scrap book paper
- Webbed material
- Halloween foams
- Glu Dots
- Bostik PVA Craft Glue
Read more: Halloween and Day of the Dead Mosaic Crafts
I have a whole drawer full of printed games and puzzles and activities that I can pull out whenever we need something to change the narrative on our day. One of the activities that I recently added to this collection was a faces & feelings matching game (download it free here). I printed it and laminated it and keep them for a quick, five minute activity from time to time.
You can do it either way – lay out the faces and match the words, or lay out the words and match the faces to them. There are more words than faces because some faces can match a variety of words – like terrified and yelling.
You can either pull out extra words so that you can focus on the words you’re interested in, or you can leave it as is.
Read more: Face & Feelings Matching Game
A few weeks ago I was chatting with a new friend, Donna Jones Mbe. Donna worked with ‘at risk’ and vulnerable teenagers in Sheffield for 31 years, so when it comes to talking about feelings and emotions, she was a font of information and ideas of how to have a meaningful session with the children. One of the activities Donna recommended was to lay each child on a roll of paper and draw an outline around their forms. As it turned out on the day, we didn’t have enough paper on our long IKEA roll, but we did have little person-shaped-foams*, and I decided to use those. Read more: Five “About Me” Questions For Children
This week, on Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, we combined Matilda’s boats and our feelings and emotions themes and made paper boats, which we set free on the ocean.
I’ve always been particularly fixated on the line from the Matilda movie
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea.”
I guess it speaks to what’s always been my attraction to the ocean – the freedom, the weightlessness of water, a whole world of separate reality.
The kids have had some difficult news this week, so I’m very conscious of their feelings and fears right now – more than they seem to be, since they need some prompting about things that they may be worried or upset about. Never the less, identifying your worries and setting them free is a useful skill to have, and one well-started in childhood.
There are many tutorials on-line on how to fold a paper boat, so I won’t remake the wheel, but instead will share one here from Big Enough Umbrella as I found it the easiest to follow: Read more: Cast Away Worries On A Worry Boat
Carrying on with our emotions and feelings theme, we made balloon-stress balls with faces on them for the different major emotions.
We started off filling the balloons with oats, but after a couple decided to do it without – I could just see the living room filled with oats! – and decided instead to only blow the balloons up a small bit – about a quarter of their capacity. This gives them a lot of room to stretch which means they can still squish and squeeze it.
Read more: Easy ‘Feelings’ Stress Balls
I really enjoy game cubes – I’ve made a few of them over the course of parenting, like this activity cube for rainy days – and was going to make one for animals & emotions to go with our feelings and emotions theme, but then happened across this printable version on Twinkl. I decided to save my wooden blocks for another time, and printed this emotional animals game instead.
Read more: Printable Emotional Animals Game
If you’re anything like me, the idea of snug snowy winters is a lot more appealing than the reality of grey days and rain. There’s so much hope in knowing that come the worst of January, you have a little mini escape planned, and with a little foresight and planning you won’t even need to fork out too much for it after Christmas, since you can book and pay for it well before!
But where to go? Well, there are many choices, obviously, but a good one for families is a sunny break in Tenerife. With January temperatures around 18C or 19C, it’s pleasantly warm and an ideal destination that’s not too far away.
Read more: Six Family Friendly Winter Activities In Tenerife
We’re talking about feelings and emotions at the moment, because both seem to be running high with my four-going-on-fourteen and six-going-on-sixteen year olds. Sometimes its hard to know what really sinks in, but this evening as we were climbing into bed, my youngest was becoming shouty, then stopped herself and said “Mommy, I’m feeling sadness” – the sadness was about going to bed, which was promptly ended by falling asleep, but it was progress, still!
I saw a picture of window charms made from melting beads somewhere recently, and it struck me as a good way of showing how different emotions and feelings can be amassed in a melting pot to make a life – spend the majority of your days angry, and you’ll have an angry life. Spend the majority of your days joyful and you’ll have a joyful life. (With the obvious exception of mental health concerns.) I wanted to demonstrate this visually.
First I rummaged around for a variety of beads and poured them into a muffin case and labelled each colour on the tin.
In our example I used white for happiness, pink for joy, light blue for sadness, dark blue for anger, dark pink for fear and orange for disgust – these being the six major emotions. Read more: Using Beads To Show How Feelings Affect Life
It’s finally happened. My baby has decided she’d like to be able to read. Her big sister can spend hours lost in her latest favourite book, and she wants to be able to do the same, I guess. With Ameli it was easy – one round of Reading Eggs and she was on her way. Aviya needs a little more interaction in her learning though, so we’re working our way through the alphabet.
I found a few different alphabet-learning printables on educational resources website Twinkl, and here’s how we’re using them.
Read more: Four Printables For Alphabet Learning