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1 week ago · · 0 comments

Married with Kids – When You Clash With Your In Laws

Relationship problems with your extended family often begin when you’re married with kids

family conflict - Married with KidsWhen you fall in love with someone, life seems great

Then you meet your partner’s family and soon enough your in laws become part of your life too. In the ideal world, you would seamlessly slot into your partners extended family and vice versa. Unfortunately this is not the case for many couples and relationship problems often arise, especially after you are married with kids. One of the main reasons for this is that the family dynamics need to change when a new partner settles into a family as a new family ‘team’ is formed.

When you become a ‘couple’, you essentially combine one set of upbringing with another and hope for the best

Relationship problems often arise when a new partner does not seem acceptable to a family. In other words the new partners lifestyle, personality, beliefs or occupation are not accepted by the extended family. This can cause conflict for the person torn between previous and new family values and expectations. For instance, if you have always done whatever your parents ask of you (even if it’s unreasonable) and this conflicts with what your partner is asking of you.

In these situations there needs to be an understanding that adult children will need to develop their own lives and new family rules of behaviour. However, as a parent you can begin to establish family routines that can be maintained even after your children leave the nest, so old and new families can both feel important.

The concept of being a ‘team’ in a partnership is often neglected by many couples when they become married with kids. 

childcare decision - Married with KidsWhen children enter a family, issues with in laws can really intensify. Some inlaws become insecure and possessive of grandchildren. They may be critical of your parenting practices and place demands on when they should have the children. If you are having this experience, it can be very difficult to manage, particularly if your partner is in conflict with you. The ideal thing would be to discuss any concerns you have before your child arrives. Place some ground rules in place early, so potential conflict does not arise.

If you already have children and you are experiencing conflict with in laws, the way you communicate with your partner is vital to keeping the peace within your new family. It’s important to also keep in mind that your partner is trying to keep the peace. This can be difficult when in laws place pressure on your partner to see their point of view.

In order to manage this pressure once you’re married with kids (and not allow it to lead to significant relationship problems), always keep 4 things in mind

1) Always work as a team and get to the heart of these issues so they do not impact your relationship.

2) Do not allow these differences to impact how you feel about, or treat each other.

3) Talk about why you each have your point of view.

4) The key thing to always consider is “what’s in the best interest of our child?”

When considering the fourth point above, ask your partner questions like:

  • what are our family values in terms of how often we want to socialise without our child and how much we want to be the primary influencers of their upbringing
  • is it in the best interest of our child to be left with a grandparent one day per week versus childcare?
  • are you leaving our child in family members care just to appease them and to stop having to feel guilty for saying “no”?
  • how does our child feel about being left in this family members care?
  • do we believe this career physically and mentally capable of looking after our child unsupervised?
  • would this person be a good influence on our child?
  • will our child miss out on important social interactions if grandparent care substitutes childcare?
  • how often should we leave our child with family members – what are we comfortable with?

It’s important to feel confident and comfortable with your child’s carers when you’re married with kids

When you take away the emotion and just deal in the world of facts, you can have a reasoned discussion about how often, where and when in laws should look after your child. This way personal feeling are not hurt and you can look after the best interest of your child. That’s what really matters.

There is no right or wrong way to make decisions about childcare

Your (and your partners) personal and family values and beliefs will have a significant impact on your childcare decisions. For instance, if you have come from a stressful upbringing, you may be more inclined to want to protect your child from any potentially negative influences. In contrast, if you have come from a very warm and caring background, you may be very comfortable with your child being raised by various members of your family.

The most important issue for your new family, is to communicate your feeling. Be specific with your partner about your reasons behind your views on childcare. Be open to your partner’s views and concerns too. This way, you always work as a team with the primary aim of keeping your child safe, secure, healthy and happy.

What if we just can’t agree on childcare?

If you are having difficulties communicating with your partner about these issues, see help now before you experience further relationship problems. Take advantage of our August 2018 special and receive $80 off your first couples counselling session. Simply download your free coupon here and email us at info@happylife.net.au to book in your first session now. OFFER ENDS 30 Aug 18. If you would like to take up this offer, but are unable to attend counselling in Malvern victoria (where our office is located), we offer couples counselling via Skype also.

Grab your Free Couples Counselling Coupon Now

marriage counselling offer - married with kids

 

1 month ago · · 0 comments

The 3 Key Steps to Feel Good About Yourself

How to feel good about yourself?

feel good about yourselfIn the past few weeks I have spoken to lots of people who have told me they are currently feeling really flat. They feel disheartened and defeated by life and don’t feel good about themselves as a result. This is coming from people who are usually very positive and upbeat. So it got me thinking…. “what’s going on?”

Modern life can be a struggle at times, particularly if you are suffering (or have ever suffered) from low self esteem. The news does not help either, as every day seems to be filled with more negative things happening. However, a lot of the current level of low self worth and depression is centred around what is happening in personal relationships. The increase in mental health issues, has also placed a strain on relationships and the breakdown of healthy communication.

We live in a world of Mass Social Media where we are bombarded by opinions and new research daily, so people are quick to judge others and blame others for things they disagree with. This places further pressure on relationships as you develop beliefs about what relationships ‘should’ be like, how people ‘should’ behave and how people ‘should’ look.

In addition to these expectations, comes the expectation of time. Work, family, friends and you personally all demand parts of your time. When you do not meet these external expectations, you are often met with more pressure and disharmony. So what’s the answer? The answer really lies in being confident in the decisions you make about yourself and your immediate family (e.g. your partner and child/ren) and boosting your self esteem to be able to cope with the opinions, beliefs and expectations of others that conflict with your own.

The 3 key steps to feel good about yourself

  1. Find your purpose in life and love it
  2. Cultivate healthier relationships
  3. Absorb the true positives others see in you

What makes you feel good about yourself?

There is the obvious answer to this – how you view yourself in the eyes of others (what you think others think of you). But deeper than this is how you live by the rules you set out for yourself.

The way you feel about yourself is a direct measure of the expectations you believe you should live up to and the value you believe you give to this world. This is why negative external comments by others can be so painful. They directly attack the need we have as human beings to feel valuable in this world. If you have every experienced or known someone who has experienced bullying, you will be able to acutely identify with this.

Step 1: Find your purpose in life and love it – to feel good about yourself

You spend so much time at work.  Wherever you go, people will ask you “what do you do?” So a lot of your self value is based around work.

Happiness is directly related to having a purpose.

Therefore, having a clear purpose is one of the keys to feeling good about yourself. Make sure you have a purpose and make sure it is something you are proud of. If you don’t like your job, find something within your work or personal life to give you purpose until you can move on to another job.

At work you may find purpose in helping others, providing a good service to your clients or customers or knowing you are a part of an industry who’s goal it is to serve the wider community.

Step 2: Cultivate healthier relationships – to how to feel good about yourself

As noted above, personal relationships are the major key to feeling good about yourself. Unfortunately most people persist with very negative relationships in their lives. These negative relationships infect the self esteem and over time, often lead to anxiety and depression.

It is imperative to find ways to protect yourself in negative relationships. Make sure you are not being taken for granted. If you are allowing others to treat you with disrespect, it’s important to first build your self esteem. Then you will have the strength to stand up for yourself. Being assertive does not mean yelling at others or getting into confrontations with others. It means assessing situations and saying “no” or offering alternative solutions when it’s appropriate.

Watch my free video on The Secrets To Successful Communication in Your Relationships to find out how you can improve your relationships today.

Step 3: Absorb the true positives others see in you – to feel good about yourself?

Whilst there will always be challenges in life, there are always others in your life who treat you well. It is really important to get life into balance and note when you are treated well. It’s a little thing, but even when you go into a store and you are treated kindly and with respect, take note of how nice these people were.

When you receive a complement from someone, don’t just dismiss it.  Absorb it. Think about what the person said about YOU and how much he/she values you. These are the world to remember, not the minor negative comments you may hear from time to time. Fill your mind with the TRUTH about what others truly see in you.

The key steps to remember to feel good about yourself

  1. Find your purpose in life and love it
  2. Cultivate healthier relationships
  3. Absorb the true positives others see in you

If you focus on building these 3 elements in your life you will begin to really feel good about yourself and create healthier personal and professional relationships in your life aswell.

lizzie o'halloran - feel good about yourself

lizzie o'halloran - feel good abuot yourself

 

 

Founder of Help For Mums & Happy Life

Author of Perfect Mums & Refresh Your Life

2 months ago · · 0 comments

Stressed Out – 3 Steps To Help Mums To Cope With Stress & Guilt

Feeling guilty and stressed out are the biggest factors for many mums returning to work

A 2014 study conducted by Care.com, found that of the 991 working mothers they studied many were highly stressed out and emotional after returning from maternity leave. Here are some of the results they found:

  • 1 in 4 mothers cry at least once per week
  • 1/3 fight with their families at least once per week
  • more than 50% fear they will miss everyday moments
  • over 50% do not feel they spend enough quality time with family
  • most spent an average of 6 hours or less alone with their partner
  • 80% felt stressed about getting everything done

Returning to work is a highly emotional time

Working mother after long day stressed outAs a mother you want the best for your child. When you are pregnant with your first child, you don’t know exactly how you are going to feel about retuning to work. Unfortunately the research clearly shows that many mothers return to work out of financial necessity, rather than desire. This is the case especially when their children are younger. This leads to a lot of the guilt and feeling stressed. Mothers often don’t really want to leave their child to go to work, but have to. This pressure leads to mothers HAVING to find ways to cope with this inner turmoil.

No-one really prepares you for how to cope with feeling stressed out in motherhood once you are retuning to work.

If you are lucky enough to love your job, or you feel like you need an emotional and physical break (very normal by the way), it releases some of the pressure and guilt of leaving your child in someone else’s care. However, as just noted, this is not the norm for many mothers. Many mothers might enjoy working, but would like to either have a more balanced job or to not have to work at all. Modern society and the higher cost of living has made this option of staying at home to care for children untenable.

So how can you make returning to work a more pleasurable experience?

As a working mother, the first thing to recognise is that you have power. Research shows that mothers make some of the best employees, because when they are at work that are focussed on getting the job done. Working mothers don’t have time any more to go out for long lunches. They don’t have time to dawdle in the kitchen chatting to colleagues, to check out the latest news or gossip on the internet when bored etc. Mothers are focussed on doing their best to provide for their families and advance their careers. So, use this leverage.

Step 1. Ask for what you really want

A mother can get done more in 4 days than many staff get through stretching out 5 days. If you would like to spend one day a week home with your child, just ASK and negotiate this. Deal with the facts. If there is still a pushback you can ask for a trial period to see how things go. Often mums are scared to ask for flexible working arrangements for fear of being fired. However, if you negotiate in a professional manner, you will create a more balanced arrangement that reduces guilt and stress for everyone in the family in the long run.

Step 2. Seek help so you can spend more time doing things you love

Most mothers do not ask for help for 3 reasons:

  • fear they will look like a failure, or feel like a failure
  • they believe it is too expensive
  • they feel guilty about asking for help

If a lot of daily stressed out feelings result from returning to work to start the second ‘housework’ job. If you can relate to this it’s important to research options for getting some more help. If you are still finding it too expensive, ask family members to help out if possible. Think about the things that make you feel the most stressed in the home and ask for regular support in these areas. For instance, ask your partner to do the vaccumming once per week, or the bathrooms or windows. However, whatever you ask your partner to help with – DO NOT COMMENT ON THE JOB. Even if you think the job has not been done to your liking, accept it and move on. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s still better than not being done at all.

Step 3. Ask for regular updates

Regardless of who you leave your child with, ask for regular updates and photos throughout the day so you see how your child is coping once you leave. This is particularly important when you have to leave your child in tears. Often, just seeing your child is happy, is enough to reduce your guilt and help you to continue to work with a clearer mindset.

You don’t have to be Supermum

9 out of 10 Australian mums are damaging their health trying to be Supermum. As a mother, you can often feel like YOU have to be the one doing EVERYTHING to look after your child, but this is NOT the case. The key to happiness and reduced guilt in motherhood is to work out what balance works best for you, your partnership and your child/ren. Then, you will feel so much more relaxed and comfortable in the moments when you are engaged with your child and you can be focussed and ‘in the zone’ at work when you need to be aswell. If external pressures, such as housework, are getting you down, seek help (paid or unpaid). If not exercising is getting you down, find a way to incorporate fitness with your child/ren, or ask for help so you can go to the gym, a class, run etc.

A healthy and happy mum is the best gift you can give your child, so don’t struggle alone. Pushing yourself to the edge to be Supermum and constantly feeling stressed out never helps anyone!

lizzie o'halloran stressed out

 

 

 

lizzie o'halloran - stressed out

 

3 months ago · · 0 comments

How To Stop Being Insecure – The Top 5 Answers You Have Been Searching

Learning how to stop being insecure is a skill

In order to learn how to stop being insecure, you must first begin to understand your self esteem. Self esteem, begins early in life. Low self esteem is the product of your upbringing and life experiences and manifests in feelings of insecurity, fear and anxiety. Feelings of insecurity are learnt along our journey when you (incorrectly) learn through negative experiences to connect negative events to being rejected.

For instance, as a child, you learn to feel insecure if you are brought up with caregivers engaging in inconsistent parenting. This happens when your parents’ or guardians’ disciplines in an inconsistent manner. This inconsistency results from parenting being mood dependent, rather than consistently being based on particular rules, norms or expectations.

how to stop being insecureAt school this inconsistency is highlighted on a regular basis amongst friendships. Children are going through so many hormonal and emotional changes at school, that emotional reactions and hurt feelings occur daily, if not weekly. If you were taught to perceive these changes as simply emotional and not personal, your self esteem would stay in tact. However, often children internalise these daily rejections to mean they are not liked or unwanted. Even after children make-up (which also happens daily), they can be left with the scars of potential rejection. Children then learn early how to ‘walk on eggshells’ to avoid being rejected again. Thus perpetuating feelings of insecurity.

 

The same insecurities can develop in personal relationships when there is inconsistency, or highly negative consequences to your behaviours. Examples of how insecurity in relationships develop are as follows:

  • A close friend gets angry any time you have to say “no” to doing something with her, regardless of your reason
  • Your partner yells at you every time he is overtired or stressed out
  • A mother in your mothers group argues against every opinion you have about parenting
  • Someone close to you ignores you when you are in a group
  • Your x-partner cheats on you, so you become paranoid every partner will cheat on you in the future

How To Stop Being Insecure In Relationships

The above points highlight negative behaviours that can lead to the development of fear of rejection and feelings of insecurity. Each of these examples highlights other people’s behaviours, which were internalised incorrectly as self-blame. However, this internalisation was incorrect. The examples above would best have been internalised as external responses resulting from the other person’s personal issues. Let’s quickly dissect each example:

  • A close friend gets angry
    • This is a reflection of your friend’s insecurities and has nothing to do with your behaviour. You have a right to say “no” when you are busy too 
  • Your partner yells at you
    • Your partner’s moods are dictating his reactions towards you. His moods are the issue, not your behaviours 
  • A mother in your mothers group argues against you
    • This is a reflection of the mother either feeling intimidated by your opinions, or insecure about your role within the group. You have a right to have a different opinion to hers
  • Your close friend ignores you in a group
    • This is either an oversight, or the other person is overcompensating for their own insecurities, or jealousy, by focussing on those who may need more work to become close friends or family 
  • Your x-partner cheats on you
    • This is a reflection of your x-partner and has no bearing on you within the relationship. Regardless of anything occurring within the relationship, cheating is only the fault of the person engaging in the behaviour

The Top 5 Answers For How To Stop Being Insecure

The answer to how to stop being insecure lies in

  1. Rebuilding your self esteem to ensure you have the strength to cope when things go wrong and to be resilient to negative experiences
  2. Questioning honestly whether someone’s behaviour  is a reflection of their issues (not yours)
  3. Trusting in yourself and in your instincts
  4. Being open and honest with those you care about to express how you’re feeling and question inappropriate behaviour
  5. Living in the world of facts, not perception. So you only act on your insecurities when you are 100% confident your judgement is accurate (e.g. ask if necessary before you act).

How To Stop Being InsecureStart by Rebuilding Your Self Esteem with my Free ebook you can download here.

This free guide will help you to reduce fear and anxiety and rebuild your self confidence.

 

 

The most important thing is to trust that insecurity is not a healthy emotion and leads to negative and destructive behaviours. It’s not your fault that you feel insecure, but as an adult you have the choice of either continuing to feed this insecurity, or challenging it and overcoming in. In doing the latter you will enrich your relationships, enhance your career and live a much more healthy, happy and successful life.

lizzie o'halloran - how to stop being insecure

 

lizzie o'halloran - how to stop being insecure

 

 

 

Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums & Author of Perfect Mums & Refresh Your Life

3 months ago · · 0 comments

Relationship Counselling – Do You Feel Unappreciated?

Do You Ever Wonder If Your Partner Really Appreciates You?

One of the things that often occurs in long term relationships is complacency. You get so used to your partner, you do the things you HAVE to do to keep each other happy and you assume your partner should just know how you feel. Affection drops, you look around and it feels like every other couple is ‘loved up’, holding hands and happy. Just look at the recent Royal Wedding! This lack of appreciation is a common thread in many relationship counselling sessions.

relationshp counsellingOf course life gets busier as the years pass in your relationship. When you add children to the family unit, life gets even busier, as a lot more your of  your energy needs to be directed towards raising a family. With or without children, life becomes more complex and financial responsibilities increase. As a result, couples often forget what it means to really show their partner they are still in love. They love each other, but often forget the important aspects of intimacy and expressing love. If the love is still expressed, it is often only reserved for special occasions, such as Valentines Day, Birthdays and Holidays.

How Do You Show Your Partner You Care – & Vice Versa?

Do you ever stop to asses how you and your partner like to give and receive love? Consider the 5 love languages described by Gary Chapman:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch 

If your preference is for Quality Time, but your partner’s preference is for Receiving Gifts, miscommunication of love can easily occur. One is not better than the other, but they are very different.

What often occurs in relationships is each person is expecting to receive love in the same manner in which he/she prefers to be shown love. Everyone has elements of each of the 5 love languages, but one is almost always more prominent. If your prominent preference is lacking in your relationship, you can feel very hurt, unloved and resentful. Confusions strikes when one person is showing love through their preferred love language, but it is falling on deaf ears. This is something I see often in my marriage counselling practice with couples.

So what can you do to bring love back so that both people feel loved and satisfied?

Firstly you need to understand how each of you prefers to receive love. Then, it’s time to talk about it honestly. Sometimes you need an impartial therapist to guide the conversation during relationship counselling and not deviate towards hurtful conversation. Then it’s also important to understand how you prefer to communicate. This is achieved through the Myers Briggs. It’s a wonderful tool for helping couples to understand their respective personality types and the best ways to communicate to really hear each other. For instance, the Myers-Briggs helps each person within couples discover:

  • if they prefer details or bigger picture themes in a conversation
  • whether they make decisions based on facts rather than feelings
  • if they need to be alone or around other people to reenergise before engaging in ‘partner time’ after work

and so on…

These issues are so important to help to understand each other and in turn avoid each person taking conversation or behaviour the wrong way. Miscommunication often happens as a result of each person within the relationship operating within the confines of their own Myers Briggs personality type. Thus not really understanding how their partner prefers to communicate.

We can’t be complacent in relationships. We need to regularly check in with each other and be mindful of each person’s needs. In doing so, each person feels really heard and truly loved.

Is Relationship Counselling Right For You?

If you are struggling within your current relationship, it’s important to speak to an expert. A Relationship Counsellor can really help to get your relationship back on track and to also tap into the real issues behind relationship conflict. Relationship Counselling takes place in a supportive and trusting environment. It’s a place to work through issues that you are your partner are struggling to resolve alone.  Relationship Counselling is not about casting blame on to one person within the partnership. Therapists take an empathetic and objective view of your personal circumstances, so that they can assist both parties to achieve happiness and peace.

Find Out More

relationship counselling

Author, Therapist & Motivational Speaker

3 months ago · · 0 comments

Is Your ‘The Grass Is Always Greener’ Thinking Holding You Back From Being Truly Happy?

Do You Engage In “Grass Is Always Greener” Thinking?

When you engage in “grass is always greener” thinking, you are rarely satisfied and always looking forwards or backwards, assuming life is better ….over there. This type of thinking leaves you feeling frustrated, unhappy and constantly searching for something external to bring you happiness.

If you engage in these types of thoughts on a regular basis, it is highly lightly you are engaging in grass is always greener’ thinking:

  • “things will be better when…”
  • “if only I had [xxx], then I’d be happier”
  • “when I get [xxx], then my life will be easier”
  • “things were better before this”

grass is always greener thinkingThis type of “grass is always greener” thinking style leaves you feeling very dissatisfied with life. It also welcomes too much upheaval into your life as you pursue happiness in the form of change. Lastly it creates low self-esteem because you no longer learn to trust your instincts and easily question decisions that you finally make. This makes it very stressful for you and for those around you. You regularly break promises, disappoint and change your mind to satisfy your insecurities and hope that new decisions will ultimately lead to happiness.

Despite all these negative arguments, MANY people engage in the “grass is always greener” thinking style.

 

Has the “grass is always greener” thinking style held you back?

Think about your life this past week in your life. How many times did you think to yourself that life would be better if something changed? Yet, how many changes have you made and how many goals have you achieved over the course of your life? Do you recognise these achievements, relish in them and feel happier – long term – as a result? The problem with “grass is always greener” thinking style, is that it leaves you constantly dissatisfied. You feel happier for a moment when you achieve yor desires, but this happiness is only short lived and you soon look for (and find) problems with this outcome. This negative thinking then creates a dissatisfaction with your current situation and you search for change again.

Good example of “grass is always greener” thinking, include when:

  • you search for a new relationship, but soon find problems within it
  • you buy a new car and soon crave a newer/shinier model
  • you move to a new location and soon pine over the old one you used to complain about

grass is always greeneAre you convinced yet that the “grass is always greener” thinking style is NOT good for your health?

What if you learnt to trust your instincts and relish if your achievements and desires? Imagine how much more enjoyment you would gain from your life, if you consciously decided to STOP engaging in this negative thinking style. Let’s look at an example.

 

EXAMPLE: Engaging in “grass is always greener” thinking

You are feeling unhappy at work. You begin to engage in the “grass is always greener” thinking. You tell yourself, you will be so much happier if you just get out of there. You spend every effort to move into a new job. You settle into your new job, but soon the same personalities begin to annoy you. You soon begin to feel just as agitated and dissatisfied as you did before you left your last position. In fact, you begin to look back with rose coloured glasses to find positives in the job you just left behind. You feel very dissatisfied and start looking for a new job again.

EXAMPLE 2: Curbing “grass is always greener” thinking

You are feeling unhappy at work. You begin to engage in the “grass is always greener” thinking. You tell yourself, you will be so much happier if you just get out of there. You stop yourself and you begin to question what your dissatisfaction is really about. Are you unhappy with the work location, the hours you’re putting in, the work you’re undertaking, your pay scale, or the people you’re working for? You pinpoint what’s going on. You’re feeling undervalued. You decide to have a meeting with your boss to discuss the issue, but you do not feel much better after your meeting. You decide to look for a new position, but you focus on looking for a job where your skills will really be valued and you can shine. You project this through the interviews you sit and you finally secure a job that provides you with that validation you have been missing. You settle into your new job and begin to thrive. You leave that “grass is always greener” thinking style behind and feel so much happier. You love your new job.

The key difference in both these examples is questioning WHY you might be engaging in “grass is always greener” thinking. Most likely, there is something underpinning this thinking tendency. When you identify what is really going on, you can address the issue at hand and stop yourself from looking for change to make you happier.

But isn’t change as good as a holiday?

They say “change is as good as a holiday” and this is true. You feel great when you go on that holiday, but very soon after you return, life goes back to normal. If you were feeling dissatisfied before – you will feel dissatisfied again. The holiday does not fix any internal issues, it just helps you to ignore them for a while. Whilst this is a nice distraction, it’s not the way to resolve personal issues, because they are all there waiting for you when you return. The change, just gives you a break. It does not make you happier long term if you continue to search for happiness externally to yourself. The first place to start building your happiness is internally, but focussing on building your self esteem. Then, you will be in control of your life and your destiny.

lizzie o'halloran, grass is always greener blog article

lizzie o'halloran, grass is always greener blog article

3 months ago · · 0 comments

Separation Anxiety In Toddlers – 5 Steps For How To Best Overcome It

How To Ease Separation Anxiety In Toddlers

separation anxiety in toddlerSeparation anxiety in toddlers is very normal, however, it can still evoke worry and guilt in mums having to leave a crying baby behind. The good news is, it usually dissipates with age and careful strategies which we will discuss in the 5 step process.

Regardless of whether you are a first time mum, or a seasoned parent, separation anxiety in toddlers is often a source of great anxiety and stress. As a parent, you always want the best for your child, so it can be heartbreaking to see your little one crying as you leave, or even getting upset when being held by others. Because there is a misconception that children should just easily transition to new experiences and to new people, parents often (incorrectly) blame themselves for their child’s separation anxiety and this causes further anxiety and guilt down the track. These emotions can make the separation process even more difficult and drawn out for both you and your toddler or baby.

The good news is there are easy to follow steps you can implement to aid your child through transitions. This process will also be much smoother if your understand your child’s temperament, which we will go into a bit more detail in the 5 step process below.

5 steps for how to overcome separation anxiety in toddlers

How To Ease Separation Anxiety In ToddlersStep 1: Getting to Know Your Child’s Temperament

You may be thinking “what does this have to do with easing my child’s separation anxiety?” Well, it is actually the key piece of the puzzle that not many people talk about and yet it is SO… helpful to parents when going through separation anxiety in toddlers. Research tells us that approximately 65% of children fall into 1 of 3 temperament characteristics. Slow-to-warm Up, Easy, Feisty. Each one of these responds very differently to new environments and new people. If you work out your child’s temperament, you with then be able to assess the best way to deal with separation anxiety based on your child’s temperament.

Each of these 3 temperaments responds uniquely to new environments

Slow to warm up

The slow to warm up child takes time to adjust to new environments and people. They need lots of security and attachment to parents. These babies do not like to be held by people they do not know. They need to feel comfortable and then they will relax and be the life of the party. These children need gradual introductions and repeated similar introductions. So ensuring your child is left with the same carer in childcare for instance, will make the transition MUCH smoother. Also, this child is better off attending childcare a few days a week, rather than one day a week. The reason for this is that by the time ‘day-care day’ returns you toddler will have forgotten about it again and the separation anxiety will once again begin.

Feisty

The feisty child needs rules, boundaries and structure. So, this child will want to be very clear of the process of transition. Keeping the routine and simple and clear as possible will really help this child to adjust. For instance, going through the same motions in the morning on your way to childcare, or when leaving your child with a babysitter will help your toddler to feel comfortable about the separation process. You may also have a routine after childcare pick up which you can maintain consistently for your child to feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

Easy

The easy child will find new environments much less stressful and will adapt to new environment with greater ease. With an easy temperament there may be signs of separation anxiety, however these will typically only last for a short period of time. They will only represent in times of extreme stress or uncertainty.

How To Ease Separation Anxiety In ToddlersStep 2: Ensure the care in which you are leaving your child meets the 4 Quadrant ‘Perfect Mum Book‘ Rules

In order for you to feel OK about leaving your child crying in someone else’s care, you need to feel comfortable about where you are leaving your child. In the Book Perfect Mum, I talk a lot about the 4 essential parenting quadrants which centre around four critical questions:

Is Your Child

  1. Safe?
  2. Secure?
  3. Happy?
  4. Healthy?

When you can answer “yes” confidently to these 4 questions, you are much more comfortable about the emotional aspects associated with separation anxiety in your toddler. For instance, when you receive images throughout the day from your day-care centre showing your child is happily playing, you feel comfortable that question 3 (is my child happy) has been satisfied.

Step 3: Repetition is the Key

Your child will feel much more comfortable being left within an environment that feels comfortable. Whilst it may always be his/her preference to stay with “mummy’, your child will find the separation much easier if you ensure things are kept relatively similar and the environment is not completely alien. When beginning a new childcare arrangements, start slowly if possible. Begin by attending the centre together a few times, then leave your child for 1-2 hours and eventually build up to the required day-care length of time. Repeating the process several times will help your child to feel safe and secure being left somewhere without you (quadrants 1 and 2 above).

How To Ease Separation Anxiety In ToddlersStep 4: The Comforter

Choose a special toy your child can bring from home to provide familiar comfort throughout the day. You can also select a special toy your child likes at childcare. You can talk about how exciting it will be to see your child’s special toy again when you arrive and go together to collect the toy. This little routine can give your child something special to look forward to and because you have been talking about it, the toy provides a comforting reminder of you if they begin to miss you throughout the day.

How To Ease Separation Anxiety In ToddlersStep 5: Avoid dragging out the drop off

This step is probably the toughest for mothers experiencing separation anxiety in toddlers. As a mother, you want to leave your child in care feeling happy. However, the longer you stay to comfort your child, the harder it is for your child to separate and make the transition. Quick and comforting goodbyes are usually best. Your child then becomes accustomed to this routine and will not draw out the tears begging you to stay. You can tell your child “mummy is coming back to pick you up” when you leave. Then when you collect your child, repeat this again – “see mummy came back to pick you up”. This helps your child to feel secure and to trust that everything is going to be OK. Then at pick up, if you’d like to stay a bit longer to play with some toys together or read books, this is the time when you can take as long as you like to leave.

Following these 5 steps to easing separation anxiety in toddlers will really help to make transitions into other people’s care much smoother. There may be tears from time to time, especially if your child is feeling unwell or overtired. However, you know the tears will only last for a very short period of time. It is important to note, though, if your child continues to feel anxious, or the anxiety is getting worse, it’s time to intervene. Talk to the carer/s about what might be happening. Assess whether the childcare arrangement is suitable for your child. Further, don’t be afraid to make a change if you feel it’s in the best interest of your child.

Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums and Author of Perfect Mum & Refresh Your Life

separation anxiety in toddlers

4 months ago · · 0 comments

What happens if I experience breastfeeding problems?

Breastfeeding Problems – the biggest stressor for many new mums today

counselling for new mumsAs a new mother, you make certain assumptions. One of these assumptions is that you will be able to breastfeed naturally and not experience breastfeeding problems. You assume breastfeeding comes easily to most mothers and subsequently, it should come easily to you too. Unfortunately, breastfeeding is one of the biggest causes of stress for many new mothers. The main reasons for this are:

a) it does not always come easily to all mums

b) babies can reject the breast

c) there is a method behind getting it right so babies latch correctly

d) there can be issues with milk supply

All these issues can result in problems breastfeeding when your new baby arrives.

 

‘But.. Isn’t Breast the best?’

There is little talk about the issues many mums face when attempting to breastfeeding. The facts are that approximately 5% of women are physically unable to produce enough milk to feed their babies and further. The Centre For Diseasde Control and Prevention in the United States notes, by the time a baby is 1 year of age only 33% of mothers are still breastfeeding. This is despite the fact that currently, the World Health Organisation recommends exclusively breastfeeding your baby until 6 months of age and then combining breastmilk with solids until the age of 2 or beyond. So you can understand why new mothers feel such intense pressure to breastfeed and why they berate themselves and feel so stressed and depressed when breastfeeding does not go according to plan.

Why is breastfeeding claimed to be so great?

There are many benefits to breastfeeding. According to The World Health Organisation :

Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.

The Word Health Organisation also notes the following:

  1. Breastmilk contains antibodies that protect a baby against diarrhoea and pneumonia – the two most common causes of infant death world-wide
  2. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer
  3. Breastfeeding reduces the chance of your child becoming obese or overweight later in life
  4. Mothers often require assistance in how to breastfeed correctly
  5. Formula milk does not contain the antibodies of breastmilk

In addition, research has shown that breastmilk also influences your baby’s gut microbiota which protects your baby from skin conditions such as eczema and can having a healthy gut helps protect against chronic illness’s later in life. You may like to read the book ‘Clean Gut‘ for a details explanation of the importance of good gut health.

So, the message is clear – if you can breastfeed – it’s the best source of nutrients for your baby.

But what if you experience breastfeeding problems and must top up with/or exclusively feed with Formula?

bringing baby homeThere is an underlying assumption in the wider community that women stop breastfeeding because they want to make their lives easier. This is rarely the case. Most mothers (in the Western world at least) are very intent on breastfeeding and go through a very traumatic emotional turmoil when they experience breastfeeding problems. They experience high levels of stress when they come to the realisation that they HAVE to formula feed their baby – for the baby’s health’s sake.

Whilst breastfeeding should come naturally to most mothers – it doesn’t always come easily and often takes a bit of practice and guidance to get it right. In fact, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to enter motherhood quite unsure about how to breastfeed their baby.

 

Anecdotally, mothers often report having issues during the breastfeeding days, such as:

  • cracked nipples
  • sore nipples
  • enlarged breasts
  • decrease in milk supply
  • tongue-tie
  • vasospasm
  • babies gaining insufficient weight
  • babies with wind pain after breastfeeding

just to mention a few….

Therefore, in order to feel calm and relaxed during the breastfeeding process, new mums should consider the following:

  1. Be aware that it’s not uncommon for breastfeeding to take time to get the hang of
  2. When/if things do go wrong there are things you can do to ease the issues
  3. All you can do is try your best and if all else fails, you can still look after your baby’s health well using the right formula

There are a number of things you can do if you are experiencing trouble breastfeeding

  • Speak to a lactation consultant (start with a call to your midwife, or the Australian Breastfeeding Association Helpline on 1800 686 268)
  • If you have engorged/swollen breast, try to gently hand express some milk, or place your baby solely on this side of the breast to initiate the flow of milk – this will hurt a bit, but it should only last until the milk has flowed through the breast
  • Place a cold pack on the breast when swollen, or a heat pack to ease the pain
  • Speak to a health expert about natural herbs to increase milk supply (we can recommend Herbario in Melbourne)

If all else fails and you need to switch to formula milk, it’s very important to not feel like a failure and to trust the most important thing is that you and your baby are healthy and happy. If you are increasingly getting stressed and your baby is also stressed – this is NOT good for your baby’s health. If your baby is losing weight due to poor milk supply, this is also no good for your baby’s health. So, in this case, it is a good idea to do some research into the best brands of formula. There are many formulas that are very close to the make-up of breastmilk. These brands are the best to use to ensure your baby is getting the best nutrients possible.

There are a huge range of formulas to choose from. However, one formula brand which is recommended by Naturopath Kate Dalgleish, containing  a good source of nutrients for your baby is the Bellamy’s organic brand. Kate also recommends adding DHA and probiotics to the formula, which you can read about in her downloadable guide.

The take-home message

In the ideal world every mother would breastfeed easily and without any breastfeeding problems down the track. However, this simply is not the case for many mothers. Personally, I was able to fully breastfeed my first child with the help of some lactation teas from Herbario. I struggled with the pain of engorged breasts from time to time, but was able to treat myself and continue breastfeeding. However, despite being confident everything would be the same for my second child, I did not have sufficient milk for her. I persisted, expressed milk and tried natural therapies, but nothing changed my milk supply.

I didn’t want to lose the intimate connection I had soothing my baby with breastmilk, so I finally gave in to ‘formula top up feeding’. I continued to breastfeed my second child until 2 years of age and just topped up her feeds with formula milk and solids (after 6 months of age). I was warned that my daughter would reject the breast, but she never did. Perhaps this was because she had started the first 3 months with exclusive breastfeeding. Perhaps it was because she would soothe to sleep on the breast and found this very comforting. I’m not 100% sure. However, the main thing for me was knowing I was doing my best for the health and wellbeing of my child. She soon began to regain weight on formula milk and we still had our comfort feeding with breastmilk, so it was a win-win in the end.

As a new mother all you can do is try your best and ensure you have your own and your child’s best interests at heart. With this mindset you can handle anything that comes your way.

 

breastfeeding problems

 

4 months ago · · 0 comments

Reducing Stress and Depression Comes First From Taking Control

Stress is all around us – but reducing stress is within your control

self confidence at work and reducing stressWe live in a very stressful world. Reducing stress is not always easy. Recently I was speaking to an environmentalist. He made an interesting observation. He said “how can psychology really work, when you are telling people to be happy in a world that is full of stress, fear and catastrophe and in an ever increasing state of global climate crisis”.

I had to really ponder on this question. To answer it, I had to look back in time. I thought back to Victor Frankl, who in his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning recounts how he survived the Holocaust by finding personal meaning amongst the struggle and how that gave him the will to live. Throughout history there has always been struggle and this struggle persists today. However, alongside this struggle has been major positive change.

There has never been so much love, kindness and support for those who are struggling. As a I write this, the movement to listen to those who have been abused, to stand up for those who have been persecuted for being women and to stop mass shootings by pushing for stricter gun control in America are underway. These movements all have the same internal belief – that taking control can make a difference.

This is where my personal psychological physilophy ensues. I know that when you gain a sense of personal control you can make huge positive changes in your life. When you trust in your heart that you can change your personal circumstances, you can do anything. When it comes to counselling and psychotherapy, this is the primary goal. To help you to believe and to feel empowered that you can change your physiology, your mental state and your internal health – which in turn will improve your overall life circumstances. Being educated to trust that your voice matters and that you have the power to effect change, is essential.

Reducing stress through more positive news

The news about how terrible things in our world have become is not helping our cause to reduce stress. Particularly when you think that depression arises out of a combination of feeling helpless, hopeless and pessimistic. We need to be informed and educated correctly, not through fear and stress inducing media that leave us feeling as though we have no control and are unable to change our current circumstances. Real news helps to inform us and to empower us to stand up for what is right and ‘just’ and empowers us in ways that we can make a change. When we hear sensationalised news it leads to feeling disheartened, because you can start to wonder if there is anything you can really do to make a change. If you do the reverse and start looking into things you can personally do to make a change, you will feel that you can help, you will feel that there is hope that things you do will make a difference and you will feel more optimistic about the present and future as a result.

So, my environmentalist friend was not correct in stating there is no point in using psychology to help people feel happier when there is suffering all around. This is actually the time when people need the most support in reducing stress, the most meaning and the greatest sense of control in their lives. To feel empowered, is to feel happier. Once you know the true facts and you are empowered to know what you CAN do to effect change, then you can live in hope amongst the stress and strain of the world around you. You can start to believe that change IS possible and you can NEVER give up on yourself, your life, those you love and the world around you. When you are in the midst of personal tragedy, psychology is the greatest help. It provides you with support and guidance to see your way through the pain and loss. It provides you with structure and a personal control and it gives you hope and optimism in the present and future.

What we need more of are stories about what people ARE doing and what IS making a change in people’s lives. For instance, there are organisations like the Climate Action Network Australia  who are dedicated to support its members and allies to take action to protect people from climate change, to safeguard the environment and build a clearer environment for Australians. Here at Help For Mums we are starting a free weekly newsletter detailing the top 10 good news stories of the week. Our aim is to give our readers hope and control in their future. You can sign up to our newsletter at www.helpformums.com

Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums and Author of Perfect Mum

5 months ago · · 0 comments

Improving self esteem unlocks the key to happiness

Why Improving self esteem is vital to your health and happiness

career mother returning to work and improving self esteemWhen you do not feel happy about yourself at your very core, life is so much harder. Low self esteem has a profound impact on all aspects of your life. Feelings of insecurity, self doubt and lack of self confidence are all intrinsically linked to low self esteem. Yet, improving self esteem is often at the bottom of people’s to-do list. People spend copious amounts of money on external things in a hope this will boost their happiness levels; like going on shopping sprees, going on expensive holidays, having regular day spa treatments, cosmetic surgery and going into millions of dollars in debt to purchase a bigger home. Whilst these things are lovely and will give you an instant buzz, they do not lead to long term happiness or self-confidence.

If your self esteem is low, the good feeling you achieved from these external purchases will only last temporarily. If you are regularly making these purchases (& they are not causing you further financial stress), the feeling you gain from these experiences will be long lasting and treasured. For instance, when you save for a holiday and really enjoy the experience, that positive feeling stays with you for life. On the flip side, if you took that holiday as an escape from your current life, you would return to the same problems and your ‘holiday buzz’ would soon dissipate.

In order for these feel-good moments to last, you must first work on improving self esteem, so that these experiences enhance your life, rather than you relying on external events, people and circumstances to boost your self worth.

Improving Self esteem In Relationships

We often measure ourselves by how people are treating us. We often feel happy when our family, work colleagues partner or friends are nice to us and can feel devastated when we are treated poorly. To have a healthy and strong self esteem it’s necessary to have strong resilience. This means that when things happen you are entitled to have a reaction to them (e.g. to feel upset). However, it’s important to deal with the issue at hand and not take the next step and assume you are a bad person as a result of someone else’s behaviour or their beliefs.

When you can accept criticism as separate to you, your self esteem is kept intact. You can also deal much more productively with issues that arise in relationships over time. Instead of crumbling every time someone points out a criticism, you can look at the criticism objectively, separate if from how much you value YOU as a person and deal with the criticism is isolation.

The next time someone upsets you, put it in perspective. Separate yourself from the other person and deal with what just happened – as soon as possible – so you don’t internalise it and assume you must have done something to create their behaviour.

Improving Self esteem Through Exercise

There is a strong connection between being active and feeling good. Just try to go to the gym and do a workout and NOT feel good afterwards. Unless you overtrain or give yourself an injury it’s pretty hard not to feel great from exercise. One of the reasons you may not be exercising is that you don’t remember that good feeling, or you feel too tired now to get up and take part in the exercise.

However, how would you feel if you knew that being physically fit and healthy actually leads to improvements in all areas of your life. This is especially true for your energy levels? Think about how much more confident you feel when you’re healthy. What about the fact that you are less snappy at other people because you’re in a better mood? What about the fact that you have a lot more tolerance, can think clearer and have more energy to do all the things you’ve been putting off?

improving self esteemSo, the first step is pushing yourself to just get started. In the Refresh Your Life program we just start with 10 minutes of walking – that’s it. WHY? Because 10 minutes is achievable for most people. Also, once you see how easy it was to do 10 minutes, you can slowly increase the time exercising to gain even more mental and physical health benefits.

Making a start is all you need to start boosting your energy and positively impact your self esteem too.

 

 

Improving Self esteem and Rebuilding The Past

It can be very difficult to let go of past pain when you’ve suffered rejection. This is a big one for many people, particularly when it is associated with a bad break up or rejection from within ones own family.

It’s never easy to deal with this rejection. Sometime we just have to learn to accept that everyone lives in their own world of experience. Being rejected does NOT mean there is something wrong with you. In fact, it says volumes about the person rejecting you. In children rejection often comes from feeling hurt or rejected in the first place. Children lash out with rejection to avoid being hurt again. Being rejected also does not mean you’re not worthy of that person’s love. It simply means that the other person does not have the capacity to be strong enough to maintain the close relationship or at least verbally explain why he/she is no longer able to be close to you.

Learning how to deal with rejection is a key aspect of re-building self esteem.

Reducing Feelings of insecurity is vital for improving self esteem

Insecurity is often associated with low self esteem. When you feel unsure about yourself you can spend a lot of time double guessing your thoughts , behaviours and feelings. It’s common in this mindset to irrationally question things like whether:
  • you said the right thing to someone, because they haven’t called you back today
  • indirectly you upset someone, because they look tired/bored
  • or not somelike likes/diskiles you, because they forgot to thank you

Many of your self doubts can be based on interpretations of behaviour, rather than on actual facts. For instance, many women spend a long time asking their partners “are you OK?”. This often happens because their partner doesn’t feel like talking, isn’t smiling at that moment in time, or is just too tired to pay as much attention as usual.

It’s really easy to assume someone is upset with you when you read into facial and body expressions. This is particularly evident when you’re feeling insecure about yourself. The easiest way to get around this is to ASK questions. Seek reassurance in a kind tone – without it seeming like an interrogation. For example, there is a difference between saying:

  • “You seem a bit quiet tonight, are you tired” and
  • “What’s wrong with you, am I boring you?”

Ask questions to open communication and keep those insecure emotions in check and take the time to rebuild your self esteem to reduce feelings of insecurity too.

Improving your self esteem is vital to your health and happiness. Make yourself a priority and do this first. Then everything else in life will be SO much easier. Start by downloading our free ebook on the ‘5 Everyday Ways to Add Serious Self-confidence to Your Life

Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums