By Laura Sheehan

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Today was too much for my toddler

Today was too much for my toddler

Today was too much for my toddler. We all have them, even as adults. Those days where nothing seems to go right and everything insurmountably goes wrong! When a series of events leave you tripping, fumbling, stumbling until you inevitably fall into a messy heap. […]

Born Sleeping

Born Sleeping

I held you in my arms, I kissed your soft, pink lips, I nuzzled your cheeks, your nose, your tiny perfect ears. I breathed in every inch of you. So hard, to let you go. . . . Beau, born sleeping the 19/06/14. We’d just […]

Freedom to fall, freedom to fail

Freedom to fall, freedom to fail

Watching the Hurricane climb a tree my mind began to race, the ‘what ifs‘, creeping, crawling in through the crevices, chipping slowly away at me. I see his small hands reaching for the frail branch, my gut instinct tugging and pulling at my insides, mentally screaming at him stop, don’t, no, you’ll fall. In that moment I have to make a choice as parent.

I can, and more often than not, have intervened, putting a stop to an action before an accident or consequence has occurred. Guilty as charged, call it natural or maternal/paternal instinct, but we are wired, equipped and programmed to prevent any harm or danger coming to our children and there is nothing wrong with wanting and feeling that, it would be unnatural not too.

However, in that moment, I could also take control of something that comes so naturally to me, alter my perspective and look beyond my what if fears and turn them on their head, flipping negative, nagging to a positive moment of crucial learning.

What if the Hurricane does take hold of that weaker, creaking, cracking branch and identifies himself that it is not the best nor the safest path to pursue. Wow. Now that branch full of risk and full of my fear has given my Hurricane the opportunity to problem solve, to navigate, to identify, to choose and to follow a better, sturdier and successful climbing path.

On the other hand, what if the Hurricane did choose to take hold and continue his climb with the weaker branch, it creeks, it cracks, he stumbles and yes he does fall. A few bruises, a scuffed knee, of course an abundance of tears, and there I am, arms open wide, ready with that ever reassuring, supportive, cradling hug. He’ll fold into my embrace, nuzzle in, a few snuffles and it’s all over. Then wow! He’s off and he is up that tree again but this time he will seek the safer path having made a mistake and learnt from it.

Two scenarios but both leading to a huge, pivotal moment for my exploring Hurricane and myself. By controlling my fears, my inhibitions and my what if’s, the Hurricane could have fallen but in the same breath he could have soared!

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Children need to be given supportive room to grow and ultimately to fail, to trip, to stumble, to fall, to make mess and grow from errors. I am not saying to throw away all our cares and protective stirrings, there are of course limitations, but more so, broaden our boundaries and increase our comfort zones in order to foster, encourage and support the growth and exploration of our children.

Children are beautifully equipped with little to no inhibitions, a blank canvas, open and absorbing, seeking and discovering without the withdrawing and withholding we as adults have evolved over time. It is in their natural make up, they crave to experience, they crave to learn and in order to nourish this they must involve themselves in action, learning by doing.

This fostering of supportive risk taking can also be reflected in the idea of messy play. We as parents can often become preoccupied with the picture perfect image and over simplify the basics. Setting up structured play or a learning enriched environment for your little ones is a great stepping stone to exploration and learning. Painting, craft, box construction, block building, drawing, play dough, puzzles, dress ups, toys, all wonderful and essential elements of play based learning. Children thrive in these experiences however we as parents can often make the mistake of placing restrictions on their exploration, halting before the true magic can unfold. Our own inhibitions can often over shadow the lack of theirs, with occupying worries of mess, disorder, dirt, wet or ruined clothes, we potentially narrow our view of what could wonderfully occur if we allow our children space and freedom to express themselves.

For example, I had planned a structured outdoor activity for the Hurricane in the garden. I had placed his larger trucks in amongst the rocks and loose dirt in the prospect of a structure sand play experience. Digging, dumping, driving, tracking, piling,already in momentum, but after a time I could see his curiosity sparking and his eagerness to discover drive him outside the structured implied restraints. He was off, quickly he found a pot from the kitchen, running back outside I spied him filling the pot with water from the outdoor tap. Full and spilling over he fumbled, slopping back to his trucks and the dirt and in a rush of exhilarating excitement, pouring from the pot, the water cascaded down upon the structure, shattering the restraints and transforming it into an amazing moment of muddied magic!

In that mess he has not only constructed a full bottle learning experience covering properties of change, measurement, more or less, elements of nature, but he has used and harnessed essential problem solving skills, that while may look simple and small to us are unbelievably important to their growth and development. Not to mention the sublime joy, happiness and sense of accomplishment beaming from the Hurricanes face and yes he was covered from head to toe in glorious mud!

Structured activities can be used at a foundation level, as a spring board for unstructured, uninhibited freedom of expression, allowing children to be children and learn by doing, learn through experience and learn through mess and play!

This time of play is such a small window of opportunity for our little ones, it is special, it is magical, and it is monumental to shaping their little selves into their future ambitious adult. They must make mistakes in order to learn from them, they must fall in order to pick themselves up and dust themselves off, and they must fail in order to try again, challenge their constructs and better themselves to the best of their abilities.

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I’m a better mum with active wear and a ponytail

I’m a better mum with active wear and a ponytail

Active wear. Big buzz word of the moment and the butt of many a joke, with the targeted muse at women. Don’t get me wrong, I have a laugh just as much as the next person as, yes, there is a mass movement of women […]

A letter to my first born

A letter to my first born

I began to write this it at the end of a particularly ‘challenging’ day with the Hurricane. This unique little human was given to me as complicated reflection of myself, ready to mirror and enhance my own flaws, strengths and convoluted aspects of self. We […]

Kids in the Kitchen

Kids in the Kitchen

I know what you’re thinking, the first word that springs to mind is MESS! By all accounts yes it’s true! Flour covering every surface area, shattered egg shell slipping and sliding along the counter top, you lift your feet only to feel the sticky, stretching pull of the oozing misplaced honey and this is only the beginning you haven’t yet assessed the state your toddler is in!

Yet in amongst this chaos wholesale jerseys and disorder, behind the muddle and the clutter there is a beautiful, tangible, magical moment of connection, of learning and of relationship between you ClamXav: and your little chef.

Not so long ago The Big Man and cheap jerseys I decided to make a change for the benefit of the Hurricanes behaviour as well as a Trends healthy shift for the whole family. We took the step to cutting refined sugar from our diet, not an easy feat by any means for the cake loving, biscuit hoarding, chocolate lovers that we Meningococcal were/are. The decision forced me to strip back my pantry, to re construct my perception of baking and cooking and much to my dismay remove the convenience of buying already prepared supermarket snacks. Handy, quick and accessible but full of junk!

At first that suffocating, overwhelming feeling of adding to what I considered to be an already overloaded mummy day took over. Juggling my toddler, new baby, house work, domestic duties, finding a small opening for exercise let alone a few minutes for a cup of tea was already Massapequa a thinly timed circus act as it was!

Fixed and focused on the healthy goal of my kitchen efforts, I blindly thought I’d achieve this on my own, the head chef of my mastered and well organised kitchen, all while the kids would happily play around me. I laugh even now at the absurdity of my starry eyed dream!
Of course, my ever inquisitive and curiosity seeking Hurricane had other plans. There it was that oh so familiar feeling of a small arm wrapped around my leg, I hear myself ‘out of the kitchen bub mummy’s baking’ knowing full well it’s falling on deaf ears. Suddenly my determined little Hurricane was sitting on my strategically itemised and organised bench top pushing my best laid plans aside. Ok! Throwing up my hands I surrendered and suddenly my wholesale nfl jerseys solo act became a duet.

We jumped right on in, literally! Both hands in the Hurricane began his exploration into the baking world, with me just barely holding on for the ride. Pouring flour, cracking eggs, measuring milk, scooping cacao. Eagerness and excitement took over and grabbing hold of utensils completely new to him the Hurricane took off, whisking, stirring, slopping, moving, the momentum in his play, in his learning, it was whole body and all encompassing. The chatter, the giggling, the joy, it was such a pleasure to be present in and to be apart of. Slam! The oven closed and the dust settled.

Messy, well that’s one way to describe it, war zone could be another! The Hurricane and I were covered, head to toe in a zebra looking combination of flour, cacao powder, oats and coconut sugar! The kitchen became a battle field of cracked eggs, dripping yolk, sticky honey, crunching powders and wholesale mlb jerseys rolling grains. Mountains of dirty dishes slowly rising and eroding on the sink, pieces of torn baking paper ripped and haphazardly tossed to the ground. Yet there he was, my Hurricane, beaming from ear to ear, so proud of himself and all he had just conquered and achieved.

Looking under the layers of disaster a wonderful moment had unfolded before me, one I’m so grateful my determined Hurricane had forced me to participate in. The tactile, real experience, the engagement and bonding that I so easily could have missed being so caught up in my own perfectionist notion cutting of maintaining a clean and organised household. It was through play and creating the mess that he was connecting and learning.

Removing myself from the moment I reflect through the eyes of a teacher and began checking all the the imaginary learning boxes;

English – speaking, listening, vocabulary, categorising, reading, contextual language.
Mathematics- number, counting, order, sequencing.
Fundamental movement skills – fine motor, gross motor, understanding health and safety.
Sensory – tactile, sight, sound, smell.

Developmental overload all while engaging and having fun through a concrete and real experience.

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From the perspective as a mum, what an incredibly beautiful moment I had with my son. There was immense laughter, mischief, cooperation and genuine opportunity for bonding. We were building memories, building relationship and building the foundations of an ongoing, special activity reserved for just the Hurricane and I that we honestly look forward to with enthusiasm and keen anticipation.

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Now believe me when I say this it took all my power not to interrupt his exploration! I could feel the fretful anxiety of the mess bubbling up inside of me. Inhale. Exhale. Deep breath. Make a quick mental mummy note that this is learning, this is amazing and I am enormously blessed to be apart of Injuries this journey with this little human growing and unfolding before me! Whatever mess the Hurricane leaves in his wake I can clean it up later!

At the end of the day what’s a little eggshell crunch when you have a super healthy and not to mention massively tasty muffin full of love, learning and grounded connection!