Updated: Dec 28, 2019
I often call my Relax Kids business my third baby. I launched my business whilst on maternity leave when my actual baby was 5 months old.
I took part in a training course whilst my second baby was just 4 months old, that being the first time I have been away from him. As I sat pumping milk in the corner of the training room on the second day, reflecting on the training so far and my plans for my Relax Kids business to grow, it never really occurred to me the personal impact it would have on me and my parenting.
As a children’s Therapist and someone who has only ever worked with children in a variety of roles, I would like to think this has contributed to me generally being a good mum. This sentence is something I hesitate to write, as I feel that currently society and social media doesn’t seem to allow a space for mums to celebrate that they are doing a good job. There’s usually more of a focus on what else could you be doing. We are bombarded with parent labels and categories which we must fit into (allegedly) and images showing insta-perfect parenting blogs when the truth is most parents do their best for their children. This is usually dependent on their knowledge, skills and experiences as well as the resources available to them. My favourite Maya Angelou quote springs to mind here “When you know better, you do better” But I digress, this is perhaps a blog for another day.
Back to topic, I was a good mum before Relax Kids but since Relax Kids, there is an added depth to my parenting that I am forever grateful for. It was a recent interaction with my 5-year-old daughter that highlighted this to me. I usually call her my mirror and in many ways, she is. Not only does she look like me (or so I am told repeatedly) but as her personality develops and emerges, I see so much of me in her. (Uh-oh, watch out world!) She also has an amazing empathetic quality of being able to reflect the family’s mood back to us. I think most kids have this ability, to tap into what’s going on in the family, how they reflect it back to us varies and depends on the environment and how it is encouraged or discouraged. No surprise, I am a talker and encourage my daughter to express her thoughts, freely and openly. So, one day, she was having a wobble about having to stop sucking her thumb (dentist orders) and suddenly she took a deep breath and said, “I know I can do it, I just have to tell my brain I can, isn’t that right mummy?” She went further and asked if she could put an “I can do it” affirmation above her bed. Cue me gaping at her, I didn’t think all my ramblings about affirmations and meerkat brain had sunk in that much. Relax Kids enriches the conversations I have with my daughter around her thoughts, feelings and actions (behaviour).
Relax Kids has given me the ability to practice mindfulness and the power of affirmations on my own personal journey and has strengthened my ability to cope during the challenging mum of 2 moments that frequently occur. Daily affirmations along with my faith have ingrained more of a positive thinking mindset in me. I have always been a glass is half full person but never really practiced daily affirmations until Relax Kids, it has felt a bit ‘mozzarella cheese cheesy’! But I do use them and it works! It has allowed me to give my daughter real and easy to apply strategies to cope with the range of emotions and feelings she experiences as a typical 5-year-old.
One weekend, I was sitting sipping my tea whilst my daughter was role playing mums and dad with her cousin. I cringed a little as I listened to their play as my little mirror sounds too much like me in her role as mum to dolly. “I am not going to repeat myself dolly” she declares! As they were playing a tiny spider came across the doll’s house, my niece began to panic and I was about to get up and assist then I heard my daughter instruct her cousin to calm down. “It’s the meerkat in your brain telling you to panic… You know you are bigger than the spider and it’s probably more scared than you”. My niece’s response? “What are you talking about?! What meerkat in my brain?!” Often in Relax Kids sessions, we use a meerkat, owl and an elephant to explain to children how our brain works in terms of feelings and behaviour. The meerkat represents the part of our brain that is responsible for our fight or flight responses. So now that my daughter understands this, often she knows when it’s her ‘meerkat’ in the driving seat when she is having panicky moment. Like with most things in life, with knowledge comes understanding and with understanding we can face most things.
I thought Relax Kids would be a job that allowed me flexible working hours and more family time, that’s all it was meant to do for me. However, it has become so much more. I am part of this amazing purple family and gained a shift in my mindset and approaches. In other words, I practice what I preach and as a result I am calmer in my interactions with my children and those around me.