My mother’s favourite expression is ‘A mother’s place is in the wrong’
It makes me smile and it is so easy to slip into guilt around motherhood and be tempted to fix things when they’ve gone wrong.
I has certainly felt like that for me.
I remember my daughter Scarlett left favourite dolls china tea set right in the middle of the playroom floor and went off in search of something else to do.
A rule in our house was that if you’ve finished playing with something, it has to be put away before you play with something else. I’m not saying I always succeeded with this one but it was a clear rule.
Shortly after she wandered off her brothers chased each other across the playroom and trod on the plates and cups.
She was devastated and said ‘It wasn’t my fault mummy. Now my tea set is broken and you need to get me a new one’
Woah – doesn’t that press some...
I remember my parenting coach telling me that it wasn't my job to make my child happy and I felt really shocked by that.
What's the point in having kids if we don't want them to have a happy life?
If you want to raise a well-rounded, emotionally well-balanced child then you’ll want to read on.
Actually as a mother of small children there were many times I didn't feel happy at all, but that was mostly when I found myself nagging and often shouting because I didn't have the right parenting tools at the time.
So happiness - why shouldn't we want our kids to be really happy, as much as we possibly can?
Of course we want them to be happy but we also need our kids to be able to cope with disappointment and be able to bounce back.
So that’s why I had the courage to stick to my guns when my three year old changed her mind about the ice cream.
So here is the scene.
‘What kind of ice cream would you like darling?’
‘Are you positive you...
When my eldest son Nico was 9 we made the decision to move him from his cosy primary school to an all boy’s school that we felt would suit him better academically.
He was the kind of child who sucked up information like a sponge.
He would inform us of the most amazing facts.
He poured over books
He stayed up late into the night aged 7 to read a book about the Rubik’s cube and figured it out by the morning.
‘Let’s move him to somewhere that will stretch him more academically’ we thought.
All done in the best intentions of course – as are all our parenting decisions like that.
Except it was a really bad idea.
He was very cheerful, self-contained child, who hardly complained.
It turned out that the new school was a cold environment, he was subtly bullied and he didn’t make any friends there.
When he had more bouts of misbehaviour I started to connect it with what was going on at school, and I'm grateful that I had the tools to help him...
I went to a cafe today with my husband today and he ordered their banana bread with our coffee.
We were having an impromptu 'date' after a visit to the dentist.
I love banana bread and was really excited to eat it.
Isn't it funny how small things like that can give you pleasure?
Except it was SO disappointing.
It had a flabby texture, they used white flour (which I don't like) so it was really pale and you could barely taste the banana.
It reminded me how good my banana bread is.
I don't mean to brag or anything. But...
It's a recipe I have perfected over the years so I want to share it with you.
Camilla's Banana Bread
175g whole spelt flour (you can use normal wholemeal flour but I prefer the spelt)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g unsalted butter melted (do this carefully in the microwave - watch out as it splatters if it goes too fast)
100g coconut sugar or soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 small very ripe well...
For mental health awareness week, I met Heather Rutherford for an instagram live Q&A. Heather runs The Parenting Partnership and is an old friend and colleague.
Heather and I have 7 children between us and have raised our children using gentle parenting with firm boundaries. We were talking about the importance of nurturing our children’s mental health from a young age
As I always say to parents I work with, we need to think about parenting as the long game and know that laying the foundations for strong mental health and a strong self-belief is the best investment you can make for their future.
So here are the most important things we can do to nurture our kids mental health.
I was listening to a great podcast today - I highly recommend it - by Erin Royer and is called Your Village, Parenting Beyond Discipline.
I wanted to tell you about something Erin suggested - it's especially helpful if you have a child who is prone to emotional outburst but it could be lovely for any child.
I so wish I'd known about this when my children. I think they would have all benefitted from it at some point.
So she recommends having a 'cosy space' or 'calm corner' that you can gently take your child to if they are becoming overwhelmed and starting to lose it. Here are some ways to make your space
As parents we often feel overwhelmed by the responsibility for making sure our child gets the best education and we want to make sure that we get it right.
I learnt something interesting many years ago. In French the word ‘Education’ means educating the child in the widest sense of the word – their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development. In the English language we tends to think of it as ‘academic learning’ - but actually when we think of it in the round, we can give ourselves a pat on the back for all the extra things we do to educate our child.
Did you know that in Japanese culture the word ‘struggle’ is synonymous with learning? They encourage struggle and consciously set difficult tasks for children in order for them to struggle but it is seen in the culture as a good thing to struggle, not something to be ashamed of.
So many studies have shown that the children’s receptiveness to learning is inextricably...
I always hoped I'd be the kind of parent who was patient and encouraging.
I mean when my kids were learning to walk I was right there saying 'come on.... you can do it!'
Did I ever say ‘Aren’t you a bit too old to still be crawling'?
or 'Look, your brother was much younger when he took his first steps'
Of course not!
But when I'd catch my second son Felix creeping out from behind the sofa with a steaming poo swinging in his pants I'd jump in with 'Eeeeew Felix – why can’t you JUST POO ON THE POTTY!' and I know he felt my impatience and judgement.
What I discovered later was that I'd followed the wrong roadmap for Felix’s potty training.
I rushed at it, thinking that my maternity leave with my third child would be the perfect time.
I had my deadline, not his readiness in mind and I’ve since used my mistakes to help so many others get potty training nailed without the stress.
I've also spent a long time working on myself and helping other...
I felt a tap on the shoulder at school pick up
'Can I have a word Mrs McGill?'
My heart sank.
In these situations you know it can only be bad news and you immediately start to doubt your parenting abilities and blame yourself for whatever your child has got up to.
My son Nico's teacher told me he had been rude and spoken back to her when he was being reprimanded for 'bullying' a boy in his class.
I was mortified and really upset with Nico.
On the way home he refused to talk to me about it.
He was sullen and bolshy.
He pushed past me when we got to the front door.
He then refused to do his homework and picked on his siblings.
My patience was really being tried by this point until I remembered my mantra
‘Look behind the misbehaviour’
At bedtime I lay beside him on his bed whilst we stared into the darkness.
I breathed slowly and said simply
“It sounds like you feel blamed for something you didn’t mean to do…”
He started off with a rant...
One day on the way back from nursery when my daughter was little, I sensed something wasn't right. We stopped to sit on a park bench and her eyes welled up with tears.
'Nobody would play with me today, they said I was a baby and couldn't join in their games'.
I felt a terrible stab in my heart and an urge to run into my daughter's school and demand what was going on.
I wanted to shake the mean girls and tell them they needed to include Scarlett.
I felt like calling up the parents to 'have a word'
It is devastating to think of our children being in pain.
We want to 'make it all better'
To take the pain away.
But all my research told me that to build resilience in a child, we need to allow them to experience tough times and not rush to protect them.
If you haven't had this kind of experience, be prepared as it will happen.
If it isn't 'nobody wants to play with me' it could be:
'I wasn't invited to the party',
'I didn't get picked for the team',
'I'm in the bottom reading group',...