Who you gonna call??

I read recently on one of those free magazines you pick up in a supermarket a brief note about children’s holidays and the ever so important “me time” for the parents.

“Me time” it is the most important thing you can ask for particularly when you are a parent and / or carer of a child ; “me time” is necessary if you want to keep your sanity and don’t lose all your marbles not only over the holidays but daily.

I am all up for “me time” and If I don’t make the time for “me” no one else will. I cannot see my son quietly retreating himself to some sort of mischief to give me “me time”.

Anyways, before going into a tangent, this article suggest to call another adult as soon as you have 10 minutes to yourself to catch up and talk about adult things and perhaps vent out your frustration because the child went to bed late because he / she would not put the “iPad” down.

All well, it is true, part of that “me time” involves heavily to contact another adult and talk about adult things instead of Legos, toys and the latest trend on teen fashion. The bit that I do not agree is the one about “vent out about the iPad” and your child not going to bed on time. First, why the child has the “iPad” until that late?

A myriad of reasons spring to my mind and believe me, I can easily back up many of them. But it does not mean I justify them.

“I just came from work and I have to prepare dinner”

“I’m on the phone trying to sort something out for work”

“I need 5 minutes”

“He will not settle if he does not watch TV…modern kids, hey!”

“She has to watch some tv so she can relax after school whilst she has some snacks”

“I don’t want my kid to miss out on tv or technology and be left behind by his peers”

“I have to work”

And the list goes on. And on. And it gets so ingrained into routines, into habits that they are categorised as “normal”. Ask any child and technology (call it phone, iPad, TV, Xbox, etc) will be a part of their routine and when these are missing from this routine, havoc begins until the pacifier in some sort of techie shape comes along.

To clear the air: I am as guilty as charged for my little one relationship with technology. Once I found out about the damage I was provoking to my son with technology, I manage to decrease it and take it to a sort of reasonable 20 to 30 minutes per day; a weekend treat of a movie or following up a series about nature on rainy days. These last two activities are done as a family.

The time that was once used and abused by screen time was changed slowly by my change of attitude towards it. Instead of coming from work and go in a rampant to prepare tea sort out the house and deal with everything else I decided to approach it differently. I made a routine out of coming back home from work.

This routine involves his screen time, play time, homework time (if any) helping around time, bath time, teatime, story time and bedtime. And only after bedtime it was the time for “me time” in between getting ready for the next day, feeding the cat, finishing a thing or two from work and chatting with another adult besides my partner.

Was it easy? NO.

Is it paying off? Yes.

Most importantly, do I still get some “me time”? Yes. And more than 10 minutes…

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A quién vas a llamar?

Hace poco, agarré una de esas revistas gratuitas que los supermercados dan de forma gratuita y encontré en ella una nota acerca de como hacer para tener el famoso “me time” (tiempo personal)durante las vacaciones de los niños.

El “tiempo personal” es la cosa mas importante que un adulto que cuida de niños puede tener si quiere preservar su sanidad y no perder la cordura no solo durante el período de vacaciones, sino también en el dia a dia.

Estoy totalmente de acuerdo con el tiempo personal. Si yo no me hago tiempo para mi tiempo personal nadie lo hará por mi. No puedo imaginar a mi hijo retirándose silenciosamente a hacer alguna travesura con tal de que yo tenga mi tiempo personal.

En fin, antes de irme por una tangente, vuelvo al punto de inicio, el famoso artículo donde se menciona que cuando se dispone de unos 10 minutos sin los niños, llamar a otro adulto para mantener una conversación adulta y hablar de otros temas y desahogar el malestar que le ha provocado el niño en cuestión por haberse ido a la cama tarde por haberse quedado con el “iPad” hasta cualquier hora…

No hay que negar que parte de ese tiempo personal involucra el contacto con otro adulto y conversar acerca de temas que no sean Legos, juguetes y la última moda para dolescentes. Lo que no me termina de cerrar es la parte de que el niño/a se quedó con el “iPad” hasta cualquier hora. Qué hacía el niño/a en cuestión con un “iPad” hasta tan tarde?

Cientos de motivos se me vienen a la cabeza, y creanme cuando digo que las apoyo. Lo que no implica que las justifique.

“Recién llego de trabajar y tengo que preparar la comida”

“Estoy al teléfono solucionando un tema de trabajo”

“Necesito 5 minutos”

“Es que no se tranquiliza si no mira sus programas de TV…chicos de hoy, eh?”

“Es que tiene que mirar un poco de TV asi se relaja un poco después de la escuela, mientras toma una merienda”

“No quiero que mis hijos se pierdan algo que esta en TV y no estén a la par de sus compañeros”

“Tengo que trabajar”

Y la lista es interminable. Y está tan arraigado dentro de la rutina, de los hábitos y costumbres que han ganado la categoría de “normalidad”. Pregunten a cualquier niño y verán que la tecnología (llámese TV, teléfono móvil, iPad, XBox, etc cualquier cosa que tenga una pantalla ) forma parte de su rutina y cuando estas desaparecen de esta rutina, reina el caos hasta que el “chupete” tecnológico se hace presente en alguna de sus formas.

Dejo en claro: Soy tan culpable como cualquier otro padre/madre de la relación que mi hijo generó con la tecnología. Pero, una vez que me informé del tremendo daño que le estaba causando a mi hijo con la tecnología ( llámese TV, teléfono móvil, iPad, XBox, etc cualquier cosa que tenga una pantalla ) logré disminuir la cantidad de tiempo que el pasa frente a una pantalla y reducir ese tiempo a 20 o 30 minutos por día; durante los fines de semana nos damos el gusto de una peli; si afuera llueve demasiado, miramos alguna serie acerca de la naturaleza. Estas últimas dos actividades se hacen de forma familiar.

El tiempo que en su momento era usado (y abusado) con tecnología, lentamente se cambió, pero no por arte de magia sino por un cambio en mi actitud. En vez de llegar del trabajo y entrar en la vorágine de “todo lo que hay que hacer, preparar la cena, y todo lo demás” decidí tomarmelo de forma distinta. Hice del llegar a casa del trabajo, una rutina.

Esta rutina esta compuesta de tiempo de tecnología, seguido de tiempo de juego, tareas (si las hay) baño (mas tiempo de juego), cena, cuento y a la cama. Y recién después de que el niño está en la cama, ahi si, es mi tiempo personal, entre medio de preparar todo para el día siguiente, darle de comer a las mascotas, terminar algo del trabajo, hablar con otro adulto que no sea mi pareja, etc.

Fue fácil? NO.

Está dando resultado? SI.

Lo mas importante: Tengo “tiempo personal” (me time)? Si. Y son mas de 10 minutos….

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An old jam jar

Have you got an old jar with lid?Image result for empty jars

Have you got pieces of paper where you can write a simple phrase?

Have you got a pen?

If you answered yes to all of this, you are set to go and create something special….perhaps a new tradition in your household. A new antidote for a bad day!

Here’s how it works: Every night before you go to bed write down in few words something that made you smile, something that made you laugh, something that you enjoy doing, something you have achieved. Put the date,  fold it and put it in the jar.

Try to do it every day. Yes, EVERY day.

For example what made me smile yesterday was playing Scalextric with my son. So I wrote it down, put the date, folded it and into the jar.

I feel it will be the perfect antidote for a bad day. Consider: you have had a bad day and everything seems or feels wrong. Open the jar, start to read the few words and I think probably a smile will turn up in your face.

Try it.

(At the end of the day it is the new year and it is the perfect time to try something new).

Image result for empty jars


 

Rough translation

 

Tenés un frasco con tapa vacío?

Tenés papel en blanco donde puedas escribir una frase corta?

Tenés algo con qué escribir?

 

Si la respuesta es sí a todas las preguntas, tenés todo lo que necesitas pas crear algo especial…tal vez hasta una nueva tradición en tu casa, o el antídoto perfecto para un mal día.

Así es como funciona: Al fin del día, antes de irte a dormir, escribí en un papel , en pocas palabras, algo que te haya sacado una sonrisa, algo que te haya hecho bien, algo que hayas disfrutado, algo que hayas logrado. Poneles la fecha, doblalo y guardalo en el frasco.

Intenta hacerlo todos los dias. Si, TODOS los días.

Por ejemplo, lo que me hizo sonreír ayer fue jugar al Scalextric con mi hijo. Lo escribí, le puse la fecha , lo doblé y lo metí dentro del frasco.

Creo que va a ser el antídoto perfecto para un mal día. Pensalo: tuviste un muy mal día y todo se ve mal…todo se siente mal. Abrí el frasco, empezá a leer los papeles, y seguramente una sonrisa aparecerá en tu cara.

Intentalo.

(A fin de cuentas es el año nuevo y es el momento perfecto de probar algo distinto).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swa, ongietan (Thus, perceive)

A few days back I had one of those days where everything you can possibly imagine goes wrong.

It started with me missing my bus and right after it, missing my bus stop which made me walk twice the distance to work.

Yes, I was not happy, but nevertheless I carry on, went to work, walked through those gates with the same enthusiasm of not knowing how my day was going to be – although I do have some sort of idea, but my mindset is always the same: expect the unexpected which is for me a far more challenging mindset and inevitably puts a smile on my face.

As the day went through my enthusiasm dwindled and I finished my working day disheartened and feeling more alone than usual. I just wanted to go back home and find my ground. And settle my thoughts.

When I finally settled and quieted them thoughts I started to follow the succession of events from that day and everything made sense.  The inescapable conclusion was in front of my eyes and it was simple: my time at that work was over. I did not want to see it straight away; as a fact part of my brain was asking, almost shouting for a bit of peace and quiet to process everything, but the other side of the brain was asking for more with a louder voice hence it would silence it.

Once I arrived at this conclusion of game over the subsequent feelings followed suit. “I’m not good at it”. “If I was good at it, probably they would hire me directly instead of keeping me working as a contractor”” I should have taken more chances” “What / when / where did it go wrong?” And I felt tears rolling down my cheeks.

Immediately afterwards I started to think what I am going to do for money; thought again on putting my stuff for sale on how to do it; to catch up with my CV and sort out my pile of papers; apply for part time jobs and juggle everything in between.

You may say “right, tell me something I don’t know already; we all go through that path!”

To what I say: after all that thinking, I realised I did not think about the most important thing: my family. I did not think straight away “well, I can take this time to be there for them, to be more present”. I did not think “now I got this time out I can spend more time with my little one sorting out the patio, playing games or else when he is back from School”.

And that made me feel awful.

At this point I don’t know what made me feel worse: the realisation that I was going to be on the hunt for a job yet again or the awareness that I was running on a hamster wheel and lost sight of what it is important, what truly nurtures me: my family.

It was a slap on both cheeks, I tell you. Hard ones. Sometimes you do need them, so you can re-focus and stop the autopilot and be more attuned to the surroundings. I want to be present once again, and feel the precious weight of that word, and allow life to meet me so I can greet her on the here and now.

 

 

  • Swa (Thus) and Ongietan (to understand, perceive) are both part of what is called Old English Core vocabulary.

Grabber Revolution

Have you ever got the feeling that if you do not do something it will never get done?

Well, that is how I have been feeling for the last weeks. Let me tell you why.

In front of our house, between our path and the road, there is a stretch of land with bushes and trees (and yes, we already hanged a bird feeder from one tree which faces my son’s bedroom window, so he can see the birds) which in summer is a fresh green natural screen that separate us from the road and in winter is just bare and…yes, wintery.

Because this stretch of land is now bare, I can see everything: twigs, branches, stones, plants, and…. rubbish. Lots of. Bottles. Cans. Wrappings. Pieces of aged polystyrene. Supermarket bags. Lids. Costa Coffee cups. All scattered along this stretch of land which is about 50 metres long. This stretch I must see it every morning when I leave for work, and every afternoon / evening when I come back from work. I have to see it every time I walk along with my son to go to School, or to the park. You get the picture.

I SEE IT ALL THE TIME.And it is annoying. Waking up, move the curtains, look up, look down…and I see litter. Come back from the park…and litter. This stretch of land is trimmed by a quadrille that comes in the autumn to cut the hedge and to trim the trees. But not to clean it.

Hence…. Today was the day when I decided it had to change. Since we are on school holidays and my little one is remarkably better (he has been unwell for almost the entire week) and it is sunny outside (for a change!) I thought it would be a good idea to go out with the grabber, plastic bags, gloves, and woolly hats to pick up the litter. And so, we did.

 

DSC_0077

 

No need to say that contrary to everybody else’s views and opinions, my little one had a blast of a time. What could be more fun than to go with the grabber and pick up a wrapping, a bottle, a lid? Discover bottles and count how many cans we found?

My little one saying aloud “all this plastic is no good for birds’ mummy! We must collect it with the grabber!” and giggling after every finding, saying “yucky!” more times than I can remember and  watching him separating plastic, tin and glass in some kind of order, pattern only known to him with a scientific concentration was priceless.

We stopped for lunch and afterwards we finish what we started. We brought back into our yard 2 bags full of plastic, about 6 cans and 4 bottles (yes, my son counted it all).Full bird feeder

Our reward was to put some seeds for the birds on the bird feeder and a new feeder, but this one hanging from the hedge, as an experiment.

We ended tired, but happy. I hope this activity helps him to recognise how important it is to put the littler where it should go and helps him to understand that he is responsible for looking after this planet of ours…no matter how small the contribution.