For many, 2020 in Australia has had an incredibly stressful and horrifying start. Even for those not directly impacted by the fires, the images, smoke, awareness of wildlife in crisis and deep fears of what this all means certainly created an unsettling start to the new year. We have been asked a few questions from our lovely and loyal supports. We plan on honouring these with a longer blog but wanted to respond in brief as quickly as possible.
"How do you remain hopeful during this time?"
To answer this we will draw on Mr Rodgers' famous quote about distressing images on the news: "Look for the helpers, you will always find people who are helping." There have been so many examples of human kindness over this period, whether it be adopting koalas, sewing pouches for joeys, donations large and small, rescues of people and animals, bake sales galore. What can you do as a family to help? There are countless ways, no matter how small they feel, these actions generate hope.
2. "Isn't it strange to force yourself to try and feel hopeful?"
Don't ever force yourself to feel anything! It won't work. Instead, give a name to the feeling and be curious about where you are feeling it. This is not about putting a positive spin on bushfires. It is about maintaining an ability to be creative in order to be a problem solver and we need hope on our side to do that. More on these topics later in our next blog. In the meantime, we would love to share with you a brilliant bushfire resource pack from Be You. It is primarily for educators, however much of the advice is applicable for parents and caregivers in how to talk to children about the fires.
And now on to the theme of this blog - essentialy maintaining a small piece of the parent you were during the holidays as you embark on a new school year. We have 4 invitations on savouring the good times and bringing some of the holiday chilled vibes to every day working week mayhem.
1. Section off some time to reflect on the holidays
Whether your children be 3 or 15, invite everyone to write or say a few reflections on the following:
1 brave thing I did
1 kind thing I did
1 new thing I learnt
2 of my most favourite parts of the holiday
Reflect together - out of these answers what strengths did they show? Can they use these strengths to help them for a new year at school?
Why do this exercise? You are practising authentic gratitude which has a host of benefits AND you are pausing for a moment before rushing onto the next thing. Which is a simple way to be mindful.
2. Decide on your family values
Draw a compass and explain to your family that you are all going to come up with a set of values that represent what is important. The values that you decide on will act as a guide to enable you to get on well, to help each other and to make decisions. Values are different from strengths, although they may overlap. Strengths are what we inherently have within us, values are what we choose our lives to be about.
Next to each value, come up with an example that represents it. e.g say you choose respect:
We speak in a nice way to each other even when we don't agree with something Or: We pick up after ourselves
Potentially a value is gratitude: We focus on what we do have as opposed to what we don't.
Why do this? Because knowing our values can help to steer us in the direction we want to proceed and it can be a positive reinforcement for how we want to behave. It's also an opportunity to connect in moments of friction and conflict....e.g.It feels like we are compromising our value of ...... honesty..... how can we do things differently to get more in line with that? Display your compass in a visible part of your home.
* You can print the compass on our free resources section
3. Make a be of benefit mindmap
Brainstorm all of the ways to be of benefit at home. What does this mean - ways we can help. In our school program, we call it the BOB movement. Be of Benefit. You could extend this outside of the home too. What are some tangible ways we can help? Feeding animals, vacuum, empty dishwasher, pick up rubbish that's not yours, cook etc You could assign names to tasks or agree on making sure they are achieved once a day/week etc. The empowering message in this is: everyone can be helpful.
4. As a parent prioritise your own wellbeing
If we want our children to be kind, we need to be kind to ourselves and to them also! If we want our children to be calm, we need to be able to display how we also can emotionally regulate. Make time, every day for your own wellbeing. What brings you joy? Organise a way to fill your cup! And try and carve out go slow time in 2020. If you want more ideas about taking care of your mental health we have an abundance of resources and blogs to assist you and your family.
Our next blog: Look for the helpers will be out soon with a strong focus on cultivating a benefit mindset.
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