What’s your view on ‘to do’ lists?
I realise now I used to spend so much time planning what I had to do, making very elaborate to do lists. I felt very accomplished with my ‘artwork’ (list) with lots of colours and organisation – how could I possibly not achieve all the tasks I set myself?
Of course, most of these were totally unachievable and as much as I tried to manage my time, there were not many items crossed off. If I did something that wasn’t on the list, I would add it and then cross it off, just so I felt like I had achieved something.
So, I decide to put a stop to the ‘to do lists’ and try and rely on my memory – if something wasn’t done, then surely it was proof that it really wasn’t that important in the first place!
I actually get LOTS more done now and instead of ending my day berating myself for what I HAVEN’T done, I look at what I HAVE done.
What do we really want for our children? What I want for mine is for them to be happy, healthy and safe.
As parents we try to protect our children, we don’t want them to suffer, we try to cheer them up when they are sad, tell them not to cry, but really we should be allowing them to express what they are feeling. Emotions are often labelled either positive or negative, but they all serve a purpose, for instance without a degree of stress we would be unable to function, it keeps us safe!
It is when these emotions become too intense that there becomes a problem. We teach kids to read and write but shouldn’t we also be teaching them how to understand and cope with emotions, how to solve problems and how to overcome life’s challenges?
Whether we think so or not, we are role models for our kids and one way they learn about life is by watching us. It is ok for ‘us’ parents to express our feelings, after all ‘underneath our parent skin’ we are (believe it or not) a person with a full range of emotions, thoughts and actions (and we were a person long before we were a parent!) but what great practice to also offer some examples of identifying and dealing with our own emotions. For example, “Mum is feeling a little worried about having to speak in front of lots of people at work today but what I am going to do is take three deep breaths and say to myself I can do this”
We live in a world where ‘failure ‘ is not an option; where on birthdays, siblings also get a present. I remember years ago, my kids primary school not allowing sports days as they didn’t want the kids competing against each other or feel bad for not winning. That is life, we cannot all be good at everything, but we are all good at something and we need to celebrate our child’s strengths, whatever that may be.
It is sad to think so many of today’s children don’t have resilience, don’t know how to cope when there is a problem! Some kids ‘sail through school in very calm seas’, everything going right, getting great marks, being super popular, etc. but then don’t get the first job they apply for and never encountering something not going their way before, simply fall to pieces!
Let’s give our kids the best gift of all- resiliency (the ability to bounce back) Allow them to experience emotions, make mistakes, solve their own problems, all within the safety net of a loving family and school community, so when they grow up and go out into the big wide world and face a challenge, they have the necessary skills to deal with it.
For as long as I could remember I wanted to be a nurse, my mum and sister were nurses and as a child I spent hours bandaging my teddy and dolls. I was a very shy and quiet child (and still am in certain situations!) so having a job that involved really talking and getting to know people was not really one I had initially intended and I did ‘go off’ nursing for a little while.
One person changed that though and made me believe that I could really do it. I will never forget the day my brother-in law rang me to say the hospital he worked at (Rampton) was pilotting a new training scheme, students were employed by Rampton and did some training there but the majority was to be at Nottingham.
I had spent so much time with my sister and brother in law as a child and teenager and although I didn’t get to see exactly what his job entailed, as I had ‘grown’ up around mental health hospitals (they lived in the hospital staff communities, at both Middlewood and Rampton and I so loved visiting) I found the whole mental health thing really fascinating.
My initial reaction was one of fear, how could I possibly do what he did? but he encouraged me every step of the way and I have to say I have adored my career in mental health. There have been times when I have struggled with not my job, but the systems around it. I have felt honoured to have been invited into people’s lives at their most difficult times and have met some amazing people along the way.
Without that phone call I am not sure I would be where I am today, so thank you Jack for being my inspiration.
Do you look after your phone better than you look after yourself? We don’t start the day without our phone being charged, yet we often start the day without ourself being charged.
Don’t let your battery run flat – Look after your ELF
It has taken me a long time to practice what I preach and care for my own elf. As a mum, wife and a nurse, I am ‘programmed’ to look after others, with the innate believe that not to do so would be elfish.Like many people, my life has been busy and everything came to a head and I had no choice when I became ill. Now, I make sure I have some ‘me’ time,which I will admit is a lot easier now the ‘kids’ are older. Having that little bit of time for my elf means that I am so much more present for others.
Do something for your elf today – it doesn’t have to be elaborate (unless of course you want it to be) it could be something as simple as having a coffee with a friend, going for a walk or having a soak in a hot bubble bath.
When I first came to Australia six years ago, people struggled (and still do at times!) to understand my mixture of Nottinghamshire “ey up me duck” and Yorkshire “nah than,all reyt?” twang. What I heard coming from my mouth as ‘mental health’ was lost in translation as ‘mental elf’ and so a seed was sown.
As we know there are a number of Elf ‘families’, such as Dobby, Legolas and Ben Elf, but my favourite of all are the Christmas Elves, so I sent a letter to Santa asking if he could spare some of his tireless workers to help develop a mental elf service and so Helping Elf began….an elf is not just for christmas.
Our elves will be keeping you updated on all things mental elf over the coming weeks, so stay tuned to see what they have been getting up to, but most of all remember……….
Look after your elf!
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