Backyard Garden at Home

Going Home

I hadn’t been interstate to visit my Step-Dad for a while, and I finally made it last weekend. It was so good to catch up with him, and to be back in the family home, sleeping in my old bedroom.

It’s funny how when you go home after a long time that you both notice the changes and the familiar. By changes I mean things like furniture that’s been moved, new china or freshly painted walls – they stand out, and make the place feel somewhat different, a little less familiar.

You also notice the things which are the same – your teenage bedcovers, the board games in the cupboard and the ticking clock… they all remind you that this is ‘home’.

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Post Natal Depression – a personal story

In October we had Mental Health Day. Some mothers experience Postnatal Depression with many consequences for them, their babies and attachment, and for their families. Many chose not speak up because they think they ‘should be able to cope’. Here’s a story from a friend of mine, who did speak up and sought help. Thank you Shanelle for sharing something so personal, in such an open way…

“Today is World Mental Health Day.

I wanted to share this picture of my daughter and I from 6 years ago, when my post natal depression was at its peak.

You cannot tell someone’s mental health state just by looking at them. You cannot know how someone is feeling by the way they present themselves to the world. You can never know the stories that someone is telling themselves over and over in their head.

I was great at wearing the mask of “perfect mother” when I was out in public. If you saw me out and about, you would probably think that I had adjusted to my new role of motherhood rather well. If there was video footage of what was happening in the 4 walls of my home, you would be shocked to know I was the same person.

There was constant anxiety over doing things the “right” way, if I was following the rules (of course my baby had a rulebook!). There was so much guilt associated with feeling totally out of my depth with the challenges of being a new mum. I constantly beat myself up over a traumatic birth experience and a daughter born with a dislocated hip.

I was so sad, so emotional, so teary. I was exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping well in fear that something might happen. I felt so alone and isolated, like I was the only one going through this experience. I was ashamed that this wasn’t a natural experience for me. Why hadn’t I got the fairy-tale the media makes motherhood out to be?

I would put my daughter down for her nap and then lock myself in the walk-in robe to cry. Locked in the darkness the tears would stream endlessly.

I kept myself busy cooking, cleaning, washing and whatever else I could to keep my mind off how I was really feeling. It got to a point where I couldn’t handle it anymore.

Finally I made the call to see my GP. A call that was probably one of the bravest and scariest things that I have ever done. A call that ultimately put me onto the path of receiving the help I so desperately needed and to getting my mental health under control.

6 years on, I now have 2 beautiful children. Most days are great, however there are times when depression starts to creep back in. Nowadays I am aware of the signs to look out for and can put the steps into place to get me back on track before I am

Statistics say that 1 in 2 of us will develop a mental illness during our lifetime. Mental Illness doesn’t have to define you. It can be managed.

It’s time the guilt and shame were removed from mental illness. People don’t choose to get diabetes, nor do we choose to have a mental illness. We need to be able to have open and honest conversations about how we are genuinely feeling and know that these conversations will be taken seriously and are free from judgement.

Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness (www.peachtree.org.au) is an organisation that I found during my second pregnancy who focuses on peer support for mental health challenges during the perinatal period. There are several Peachy Parent groups who meet each week throughout Queensland providing support to parents from a lived-experience perspective. Having the support and understanding of other parents who have had similar experiences is so important on the road to recovery.

Please, if you need to reach out – contact your GP, call Lifeline 13 1114 or PANDA 1300 726 306 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467″

Shanelle

Happy Parenting this week, by taking good care of yourself Mums… it’s important for you, and for your family – You are Special and Very Important!

Yellow Daisies and Blue Skies

The Sun Comes Up Again Tomorrow

I remember my mother talking to me as a child, about disagreements within the family – How sometimes my sisters and I would argue about something or other, and one of us would end up saying (like many 7 or 9 year olds): ‘I’m not talking to you ever, ever again’! The ‘injured’ one would be lamenting to Mum about how mean or unfair our sister was, and after she’d soothed us, she would then say: “The sun comes up again tomorrow” – meaning that tomorrow was a new day, a fresh beginning.

When I was older, she talked about how she never went to bed without saying: “I love you to my Dad” – even if they’d had a disagreement – she refused to take the emotion of anger or hurt to sleep.

I was reminded of this last week, when I went to a Joan Baez concert – a folk singer from the 60 -70’s who was performing in Hobart. One of the first songs she performed had a line it it which resonated for me…. it was: Every new day we have is another chance to get it right”. Now it could be many things… your relationship, an assignment you’ve been working on, or a handyman job you’ve been struggling with. I really like these sentiments as it’s a reminder that indeed the ‘sun does come up again tomorrow’, that yesterdays situation is gone and today is a new opportunity to move forward, to get it right. This also has relevance to parenting and the relationships within our families….

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Two young kids splashing in a play pool

The Things Some Parents Say…

In my work as a Parenting Consultant I work with parents who approach me for different reasons. I have parents who want reassurance that their child is developing as they ‘should’ ie that they are meeting the milestones for development in the areas of Language, Intellectual skills, Motor skills – both gross and fine motor, and Social-Emotional skills. Some parents contact me when they think there may be a possible delay in one of these areas – that their child isn’t talking as much as his peers, or not moving as well. Other parents contact me when Mum is returning to work and they want to check on how to best ensure that the child will cope with this new change of routine and people in childcare. And other parents contact me when there is an issue with their child eg around bedtime routines, or when they are approaching toilet-learning, or when they are behavioural issues.

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Veggie Garden Image by Hazel Owens via Flickr

A Flourishing Garden

Last weekend I stepped outside and headed to the veggie patch, as I needed some parsley for my cooking. I was surprised to see that it was turning yellow, with only a few green tufts left. Glancing around I saw that the rhubarb was bolting, the tomatoes were tiny and had been eaten by a grub, and the other plants were looking wilted. How did this happen to my once lush, productive garden? I stopped to think…..Mmmm, it had been a week since I’d been out there. No wait …. maybe it was 2, or even 3 weeks! I realised that I hadn’t tended to the garden for such a long time due to my work and personal commitments, and as a result it was neglected.

12 months ago that same garden had given me large quantities of tomatoes, parsley and zucchini which I happily shared. 12 months ago I was regularly out in the garden weeding, watering and nurturing it. What a difference!

 

How does this relate to parenting?

Children need to be nurtured. Just like a plant which needs good soil, water and sunshine to grow, our children also have needs. These must be satisfied in order to grow into healthy, ‘productive’ children.

Their needs are simple….. and it doesn’t involve trips to the toy store or expensive excursions to the latest theme park! Their needs centre around you. They need the basics as all humans do of food, clothing, shelter AND they need love and connection in order to thrive!

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Image by nicholasjon via Flickr

The Social-Emotional Development of your Child: Part 1 of 2 From Birth to 8 months

When I have Home Visits with families in my role as a Parenting Consultant, I’m watching and listening to see how the child is developing across four areas – Language , Intellect, Social-Emotional, and Motor skills. If you are interested to know more about our Home Visit plan, check out our Home Visits page.

Imagine how much easier parenting would be if you understood why children do what they do… If you knew the ‘why’, then you may approach the situation differently…

Today I’ll share with you what I might expect to see in the Social-Emotional domain in young babies.

 

Social refers to how the child interacts with others and the learning of social skills.

Emotional refers to how they express their emotions.

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Image by Travis Swan via Flickr

Magic Moments

Have you ever had your child calling: “Mum, Mum, come and look at this.” You go and it’s a dead cricket. At that moment in time you have a choice to make…. To either engage in the moment with your child or to dismiss it/ them. You can either talk with them about what they’ve found, ask questions about what they think happened or what they think they should do with the cricket, thereby making it a time of learning, understanding and connection. Or, you can dismiss it with: “Its dead, leave it alone” or “Is that all, I was in the middle of doing dishes!”

 

One way helps the child feel connected with you, that you have time for them, and that what they have to say or show you is of value to you.

The other way – if said often enough- gives the message that you aren’t interested in what they like, and that dirty dishes are more important than them.

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Imabe by Kah Wai Sin via Flickr

Windows of Opportunity

Many of you will have heard this term before, in relation to opportunities which come our way. The idea being to grab the chance to do ‘xyz’ now, because the opportunity is only available for a short time.

 

Did you know that there are windows of opportunity in relation to children and their development?

 

For babies and young children this is when it is optimal for learning to occur in a certain developmental domain, because the conditions are ripe for learning. It means there is a time when it is easier to learn or develop that area. Let me give you an example using animals.

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Christmas Kids

All I want for Christmas is…

So want do you say to yourself at this time?

  • Yahhhh I love Christmas;
  • It’s so expensive;
  • I can’t want for it to be over;
  • I love watching the kids faces on Christmas morning;
  • Family disagreements – no thanks;
  • I love family get togethers, especially Christmas;
  • I love the excitement and special treats.

 

Which ever sentiments you have about Christmas, the reality is it is approaching fast! What can we do to make it a pleasant, positive experience for children and families? Here’s some ideas…

 

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Anxious Child

How do I Help my Anxious Child?

I was recently asked by a parent of a 6 year old, ‘How do I help my child who worries a lot. He’s anxious, but won’t always tell me what’s going on?’ First thing – give him regular hugs and tell him how much you love him – that’s always a good start!

The following will give you some ideas on how to assist your child if they have a tendency to worry or be anxious.

 

Where did the anxiety come from?

It’s always useful to look at the background of the child… the parents, the home and the past experiences. Sometimes there is an overly anxious parent who constantly gives children messages to: ‘be careful’, to ‘watch out’, or ‘you might get hurt’. When children are told this often enough, they start to believe that their world isn’t safe. In regards to the home situation – has there been a trauma? eg a death, a serious accident, or parents separating, where there’s been a lot of heightened emotions – some children tend to make this mean that’s there’s immediate danger to them or those around them – they fear ‘bad stuff’ will happen to them. There are also children who have been affected by alcohol or drugs when in utero. When a woman uses these during pregnancy, they can affect the developing foetus, and may cause brain changes, which can affect a variety of functions, including being anxious or lacking impulse control. Obviously we can’t change what has already happened in the past, so let’s look at what we can do now, and also in terms of building resilience in children.

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