What Made You Happy Today?

Seriously, think about it for a while. It is so easy to get caught up in all the negative stuff that happens around us. Especially when the everyday is rolling away and chores and errends and jobs and tasks and demands and what-not fills up our days. We get stressed. We get tired. We get grumpy. Sometimes we get bored. I get bored a lot. Then the negativity spiral takes off. Damn it.

Negativity breeds negativity

I read this article explaining how emotions are contagious, the negative once even more so:

“Many experts believe that negative emotions are a lot easier to catch than positive ones. Some believe this is reflective of our evolutionary past wherein being highly attuned to other people’s negative emotions (pain, fear, and disgust) was directly linked to survival. Those who could pick up on someone else’s pain, fear, and disgust were more likely to survive than those who could not.

But – positivity also breeds positivity. Phew!

It most definitely does. Take it from the experts and take it from me, the self-acclaimed negative/positive expert that I am.

Saying positive things. Doing positive things. It spreads positive vibes.

So, am I positve all day everyday? Hell no. I am often the opposite. I am prone to dwelving in my own missery, but that is exactly why I need to do something active and conscious to force the positivity into my life – otherwise it all gets too dark and dull to handle. Worst of all, I can give my negative vibe onto my kiddos.

My bag of little tricks to boost my own and my family’s positive spirit is pretty jam packed. I think I need to use it even more, ay?

Well, this particular trick is a family one, because our family needs to calm the fuck down and be postive every night – we can be such a bunch of whingers otherwise.

What is it we do?

It is pretty simple and something everyone can do every day. We eat dinner together every night and while eating we take turns in telling the other which three things that made us happy during the day. Simple.

Does it really work?

Yes! Focusing on some positive things that we experienced during the day help us to:

1. Start good conversations about the day around the table.

3. Give everyone a chance to get a word in and be heard.

2. Focus on the positives and go to bed with that in mind – or at least we can remind us self that life isn’t that bad afterall.

It might sound basic, but, as you know, back to basic is the new black. Some days it is really easy. Some days it can actually be pretty hard. On all days it is a good idea.

Here are some examples from our dinner table:

Today it made me happy (kids edition)…

…to play with my friends.

…to eat pizza here with you right now.

…to play in the sandpit.

…that I love my whole family.

…to get lollies.

…to swim in the pool.

…to play games together.

And the adult edition…

to paint the bathroom.

…to have a nap.

…to see Lulu take her first steps.

…when you girls played nicely together.

…to finish my assignment.

…to hear back from that job.

…to get the shopping done.

And one that very often goes again around the table:

Right now, eating dinner together.

As you can see, it does not have to be huge magnificent things. It can be, but it can also be tiny little things that made your day better in some way or another.

Have a go yourselves tonight and let me know how you go. Also, be a bit patient. It somehow gets better over time. At least that is my experience.

What has made you happy today?

❤️

How Small Changes Can Make a Huge Difference

All children are different. Even my children are different. So figuring out and satisfying their individual needs really is a question of observing, analyzing, adjusting, modifying, experimenting, and occasionally just going with the flow.

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So yeah, sometimes parenting really makes me feel extremely exhausted and lost even to the point where I just want to throw in the towel and run away from it all. Honestly, that used to be my solution to any sort of problem back in the day.

Now, giving up is just not an option. This is it. This is my life. And I just have to deal with it. And I try my best…

Lately, we have realized that the girls, especially Abby, have been somehow under stimulated with our daily routine.

It has come to show by a rising number of conflicts between the girls or with us, concentration difficulty, less in-depth play, less imaginary play, more destructive behaviour, and all-in-all less laughter and more whinging.

To try to deal with these challenges that we are facing, we have made some minor but efficient adjustments to our routine and to our surroundings.

LESS STUFF, MORE PLAY

First of all, we have tried to get rid of a lot of stuff and make our home a tiny bit more minimalistic. It might sound a bit irrelevant when it comes to the girls’ stimulation and wellbeing, however, it actually works for us. Somehow having a tidy home with less clutter and even less toys to chose from has made it easier for the girls to concentrate on playing with the toys they do have.

Another benefit of having less stuff is that our house is generally less messy than it used to be, which definitely helps to reduce stress for all of us. And even the girls are now helping tidying up every(other) night. It’s highly recommendable to get rid of the clutter.

THAT DAYUM SCREEN-TIME

Second of all, we are doing our best to cut down on screen-time. We are not fanatics when it comes to screen-time limits, but we have noticed that the number of conflicts are much higher when the TV is on for longer periods of time. So for us there is no doubt that too much screen-time has negative consequences for our children. I am still very guilty of putting the TV on whenever I need some time to make breakfast, lunch or dinner – or when I just need a little break from the craziness of having kids – but I am slowly getting better at turning it off again too.

GETTING OUR ADVENTURE ON

Third, and quite importantly, I am trying my best to get out of the house (and the garden) with the girls every day. Preferably to spend time outside where the girls can be physically active. It can be a trip to the beach or the skatepark, a bush walk or even just a bike ride to the local playground. The most important thing is that they get some fresh air, that they get to explore new, exciting places and first and foremost, that they get to use and challenge their bodies in a healthy and fun way.

Abby has always been very physically advanced and she is simply a happier child when she gets to move freely, so it only makes sense to get out there and get active. Besides, Billie has had a little bit of difficulties with her balance and general physical development, so making sure that we challenge her every day greatly supports her development and lately it has really paid off. Her balance is improving, she is getting a lot more confident with her movements and she even climbs things now. Our little trooper.

On days where we have been out and about the girls play so much better when we get back home and they sleep so much better when they go to bed. Even I get more energy in the long run. It really is a no-brainer that it’s good for everyone – I just have to get a little bit better at organizing snacks, lunch, drinks, naptime and bla bla bla, so we can go on more and better adventures in the future.

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LET THE KIDS

The last thing, that we have actively taken a decision to go along with, might be a little bit controversial, because we are actually giving our two, young children a lot of freedom to roam. Both the girls have very free range to play and explore in our house and in our garden – without our participation or involvement. Of course we keep an eye and two ears out for them, but we also give them privacy and room and time to just do their own thing.

Billie is getting quite good at focusing on one activity for longer periods of time and it really has made Abby’s creativity flourish. The amount of things that she has created so far is seriously incredible. She’s such a problem solver and a creative soul. To give her free range to create, explore and build is one of the best decisions we have made for her lately. And basically we haven’t done anything, really. On the contrary.

MORE LAUGHTER, LESS GUILT

So, have these little adjustments made our family all happy clappy? No, definitely not. We still have our conflicts and our challenges, like any other normal family, I guess. However, the overall mood in our home is better than it was a couple of weeks ago and no doubt it’s a work-in-progress – but very importantly, simply just addressing the matter instead of letting it grow bigger has reduced my parent guilt and made me less inclined to give up and more inclined to keep on keeping on.

I’ve got this!

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