When you see a parent losing their rag try this…

Following on from my experience last week, where my son losing it in public drew attention from the law enforcement, I decided I better walk my talk about being a support to struggling parents while others look on. The opportunity arose when I saw, late one sunset flooded evening, a mum dragging her screaming kid across the field at Buddhafields in a wheelbarrow. I didn’t see what happened to flip the mama’s lid, but when she threw down the barrow and the (biggish) kid rolled out, I ran over just as she was tossing her daughter back in and scolding her to stay there. “Hey, tell me how hard it is, I’m with you” I said. She surveyed me apprehensively, not quite able to make eye contact in her rage. I couldn’t tell if coming over had been helpful or was just making her more furious, but I was happy for her to channel her feelings towards me. “It’s Ok I got you, tell me, or just take a minute for yourself, I can stay with her” She turned to her kid “I just can’t take you screaming any more. I am SO beyond my limit and you are too, you are making this so hard and I just need you to get to bed now” I tried to encourage her to tell me instead of the kid but she said she just had. Her little girl was screaming hysterically “You’re not being a kind mummy.” “I just CAN’T anymore… I’m so tired, I don’t want to do this.” I colluded that parenting was so hard and relentless and that... read more

The longing epidemic

I sit here watching YouTube clips of Jamie Catto, musician, producer and leader of inspirational, spiritual workshops. He’s talking about feeling intense pressure on your chest, pain across your solar plexus and the benefit of noticing these interesting sensations. I’m feeling them. I feel a weight pressing down on my lungs, a sharp pain in my heart and a strangling sensation around my throat. Emotionally, I feel a confused amalgamation of anxiety and nauseating longing. As I allow it to expand, it gets intense and I sit back and watch with curiosity and affection. The feelings arising in me are actually in response to Catto himself, the intensity of which has come and gone for some weeks, since I met him. I feel like the kid, Kenny in South Park, who vomits every time he sees the girl he likes. My Somatic Experiencing therapist, Bevis Nathan, has tasked me with watching Jamie Catto and allowing the sensations. Although it would be easy to get confused; Jamie is a smoking-hot creative genius, wise teacher, loving coach, glorious embodiment of entrancing masculinity, dedicated single dad and actual live rockstar, I’m not taking this infatuation too seriously. I’m aware that this is a projection of my early longing for one parent or both. Longing is a feeling I realise I know well. And as I reacquaint myself with it, I notice it everywhere. In lyrics of songs, artists expose themselves as stalkers and I realise I’m not alone. Billboards advertise to that longing, promising to numb or distract from the borehole in our hearts. Why is that sense of longing such an... read more

Love tickles, knee squeezes and licks

While I’d consider us as a fairly loved up, snuggly, nuzzly clan, the truth is I’ve had to actively force myself to be physically affectionate with my kids. Not because I lack affection, but because showing it wasn’t wired in my brain’s Mothering 1.0 software. I’ve had to train myself to kiss them goodbye each time I go out. Children need to feel connected to us almost as much as they need air. Affection is like a beautiful thread that strings the connected moments of a day together. I don’t know when I started using love tickles, but they are a sweet way to say “I’m right here” particularly if I’m driving. I usually just slip my hand into my child’s lap and that’s the code to say “I love you”. Their part of the code is to tickle my hand. It feels warm and fuzzy. Or let me know they are feeling off track by whacking my hand, which is fine too. Other little check-ins between chores or separations might be hugs or nuzzles, knee squeezes or running my fingers through their hair. We do lots of kisses and little licks in our house too. I’m really grateful to my husband for injecting abundant use of the words “love you” into our family; something that was rarely said in mine. And I think we need to make the effort to connect physically even when our children grow beyond the sweet intimacy of the early years. Patty Wipfler, Founder of Hand in Hand Parenting, talks about the over the top nuzzling she did of her teenage boys. She would say “Come... read more

Ecstatic Birth is not Hypnobirthing

I often get asked; Ecstatic Birth, is that like hypnobirthing? No, not really from what I can tell. The emphasis with hypnobirthing seems to be on minimalising the intensity of birth. Instead of contractions, we’ll call them waves or surges. We won’t mention the words pain or fear, but instead focus on the positive. But my experience in hypnobirthing is limited to having heard a few tapes and doing a fair amount of plain old hypnosis. I may have this completely wrong and if that is the case, I’d love to hear from any practitioners/mothers who can enlighten me. Throughout pregnancy and particularly when a woman enters the altered state of labour, releasing hormones, endorphins and even the psychedelic chemical DMT, any underlying fears and negative beliefs can start to manifest in the environment around her. If she has been avoiding these fears by focusing only on what is positive and affirming, she may get railroaded by them. Ecstatic Birth is about addressing fear at the root cause, (which is the impact of her own birth and the beliefs she has taken on about birth and life). Women who prepare ecstatically, using Binnie Dansby’s approach, look forward to birth as an opportunity to experience their life energy in full technicolour. Some crazy folks invest a lot in getting a rush from paragliding, base jumping or mountain climbing. Here we have this amazing opportunity for exhilaration and empowerment available to us in a normal family event. More importantly, it is an opportunity for profound and fast-track healing of our core wounds that stem from the way we were welcomed to this world. Hypnobirthing seems to be more about... read more

Your kid can recover from traumatic times

Dan Siegel, in his wonderful book, Parenting From The Inside Out, outlines research that suggests a child’s attachment status can actually be predicted by how coherent their parents’ autobiographical narratives are. Our stories reflect how well we have made sense of our lives and this directly impacts on our ability to parent responsively. I know personally from spending many hours using listening partnerships to make sense of some of the hard things in my life, that the process is transformative. I feel lighter, more authentic, more playful. I experience greater intimacy and uncontrollable belly laughs several times a day! Siegel suggests helping children heal their experiences too, by telling them their story. I had been waiting for the opportunity to do this with my 7-year- old. This morning we were off on an adventure, just the two of us. He was in the back of the car playing with Lego vehicles and one of them represented me. They fought and he said to my vehicle, “Aw, you broke my heart”. “Did I?” I asked. “Nah…” he said. Now was my moment; he was calm and connected and was captive to the car journey ahead. I took a deep breath. “I might’ve broken your heart at some points in your life,” I said casually. “Really?” he was intrigued. So I told him his story. How when he was a baby he had two very devoted parents who were right there with him and helped him with everything he needed. But when he was a toddler Daddy was confused about whether he loved Mummy or a different lady and became unsure if he wanted to... read more

How to be your own guardian angel

  I have discovered a superpower and I’m going to share so you can be a superhero too. I’ve discovered that by just being with whatever is going on in my body, I am more likely to remain “in charge”. Last night, I was staying with a friend in Devon. As I snuggled down in bed I experienced the familiar meltdown my body goes into when it comes into contact with feather bedding. I noticed my throat closing, my ears becoming unbearably itchy and cascades of mucous filling my nose. I often have a pretty extreme reaction to feathers, dust or cats (my lips and eyes swell, I start wheezing, my head explodes with a thousand scratchy critters attacking me from the inside out), but this time I did something different. I tapped my chest soothingly and spoke to my body “Hey body, it’s OK, you are just reacting to feathers, you’re going to be alright, this is NOT an emergency, just fall into a deep sleep and relax, you’ll be fine”. And guess what… the symptoms eased off and I slept pretty well! How awesome is that? Bodies are remarkably obedient (I discovered this once when I told my 2 year old sternly to STOP bleeding and sure enough the gory pumping action ceased instantly). Another triumphant moment was when I got uncontrollably triggered by my son attacking his sister. I wanted to whack him, but somehow managed to whisper to myself like a seraphim through the sound of blood pounding in my ears “It’s not an emergency, you’re flooded, you need space, keep the children safe”. I closed... read more

What if you spoke to yourself the way you speak to your kid?

I was walking up a long, beautiful hill in the wilderness today, with my reluctant 3 year old in tow. She was shivering and taking a few little steps at a time. About halfway up the hill she started screeching “I’m too tired” and “I can’t walk” over and over.   When the black clouds opened and spewed hail into the pounding winds, I held her frozen little hand and she huddled under my long coat . Although part of me shared her concerns about how I’d get a weary, icy Lausbub up the hill, what I said was things like “I know, the top looks so far away…You feel like you can’t go on… You are doing so well… You’ll make it… Just one step at a time… Look how far you’ve already come”. And suddenly, listening to her words of doubt screaming on repeat, I felt like I was hearing my own voice. The 3 year old in me that feels “I can’t do it” or “I’ll never get there” about pretty much anything long or hard that I do. And it struck me… what if I spoke to myself with such calm, patience and reassuring authority? I’ve previously been far more likely to agree with my inner doubting 3 year old, or worse, lay on heavy criticism. When I imagine how ineffective/damaging it would be to speak to my daughter like that, it pains me to think how I’ve done that to myself for so many years. My mother was doing her absolute best, but didn’t have much capacity to encourage me like that. Unfortunately her rather... read more

7 Tried and Tested Mastitis Remedies That Worked for Me

7 Tried and Tested Mastitis Remedies That Worked for Me Few breastfeeding challenges are more sudden or painful than mastitis. Unfortunately, mastitis and I go way back. I had two tongue-tied babies, both of whom had trouble latching properly, and I endured several sprees of recurrent mastitis. I can remember being held down, delirious with fever, screaming in pain, by three women who latched my baby for me and kept him feeding to try to get the blockage out. I tried everything to cure mastitis, from drugs to home remedies. Here’s what I learned and the solutions that worked for me. What Causes Mastitis? Mastitis is an inflammation caused by a blocked milk duct. It’s characterised by a red patch on the breast, breast pain and flu-like symptoms. Your milk can get backed up for various reason: Your baby’s latch could be ineffective, so it doesn’t clear all the milk. You could go a prolonged period between feeds due to separation of mother and baby, initiating routine feeds, or sudden breast refusal or weaning. One of your milk ducts could be compressed by too-tight clothing or underwired bras. If the mastitis is related to latching issues, then these need to be addressed first. Sometimes ‘laid back’ positions can help you achieve a deeper latch. If you have consistent issues latching, get support from a Breastfeeding Counsellor for ideas and to rule out an underlying cause such as tongue tie. If you have an older baby, you may just need to pay extra attention when latching, particularly if they are teething or going through a developmental leap. But sometimes, a mastitis case has a deeper cause. Often, it’s a physical expression of an underlying emotion. Mothers... read more