Sunday, 26 February 2017

Divorce & Happier Handovers for Kids and Co-Parents

Handovers for parents and kids during and after divorce can be difficult, challenging and painful. 

Kids of divorced parents essentially have two homes and it is the kids, NOT us, who are on the move, packing, repacking and sleeping in different beds. Generally, we parents aren't the ones changing homes each week or month, it is our kids. So how can we best help them?

Take a moment to check in with how the kids may be feeling with all this moving, ask yourself how would you feel, have been there yourself and already know? Next take on board all the possible crapola of parental anger, guilt and painful energy you and your Ex can put out at handover - I still remember my parent's handovers today...

We hear stories of parents who stop half way down the street, their kids having to walk the final 30m of shame to their other parent's house... because these two adults couldn't face each other. The stony-faced, rushed and humiliating handovers in service stations or grandparents being meditators? Divorcees, we need to shape up! Are these not the sort of 'handovers' that make us recoil, feeling the shame and guilt inside that we couldn't try a little harder to be kinder to our Ex for our kid's sakes?  

What I know is this, working together as divorced parents is so worth the looks of love and unbridled excitement clearly visible on kid's faces as soon as they see their Dad or Mum. What a gift out of all the pain to know that handover time can be easier, more co-operative and kinder? How good does it feel when handovers are uncomplicated, simple and compassionate? Do you know how this feels?

An easier said than done reality for many couples I hear you shout. Work is needed with drop offs, they are big, impactful moments of emotion around children, and happen regularly. I am not here to judge others mean's and ways of managing their children's drop off', however, what I do feel is that it is the children left shouldering our adult life bags of "stuff" during bad handovers, and really is this what we all really want? 

So I wanted to share 5 ways for happier kids handovers.

#1 GETTING THE PARENTS ORGANISED

One of the biggest stressors for kids is not knowing what is happening and when. Not everyone is an organisational wizard, so for the children's sake try to help your Ex get organised by supporting them with helpful, not condescending suggestions. For happier handovers, give yourself permission to let go of the frustrations you had when you were married. Try to be a little flexible with your thoughts. Perhaps gift your ex - nicely, a kid's visit diary or if you are tech minded - set up an electronic diary or calendar and show them how to use it - be helpful! And use it! Help each other to help future handovers be happier.

#2 GETTING THE KIDS ORGANISED 

Get your kids ready and be on time! Helping your kids as much as possible learn valuable life skills like getting themselves organised. Do whatever is possible to have your kids feel happier that they are going to see their other parent; take favourite toys; snuggle blankets; school uniform; swim gear and have the majority of it packed ready to go. Be on time! Kids worry if they've forgotten stuff, or if they haven't packed yet... help them, encourage them and lovingly support them... oh and did I say... BE ON TIME?

#3 YOU CAN'T ORGANISE YOUR EX 

Aaaahhhh the frustrations and the lack of control... yes! Ex's can be difficult, they have bad days, no sleep nights, they feel ill, they are angry... you can't change this and some days you just have to choose your battles, let it go... Handovers are not about you or your Ex, they are about your kids. Kindness, respect and understanding for your own peace of mind, and for your kids ... and just maybe, it can be as simple as taking a deep breath and letting go of any outcome... letting the inner control freakery take a holiday...

#4 HOWEVER YOU CAN ORGANISE YOURSELF

Begin with you, get yourself in order. Check in with your own stress barometer as to how you are feeling? You'll find the stress somewhere in your body, believe me, your body will be hunching, clenching or aching somewhere.  Find your calm mojo before the handover, meditate, breathe deeply, rediscover your inner cool... don't be tempted to drink coffee, alcohol or ramp up negative energies with a bitching session beforehand with a friend or your mum. Look after and nurture yourself, helps you feel calmer and this can only be good for everyone.

#5 HAPPIER HANDOVERS 

Be smiley, smiling helps us feel better! Not the comedic, grit your teeth, frozen face smiles but genuine, warm and soft smiles. Truly wish your gorgeous children a wonderful weekend with their Dad or Mum, gift them your smile so they can relax knowing that it will be okay. Take a moment to ask yourself, how you felt after a smiley goodbye?  Was your gorgeous aching heart beating a little easier? Is your life not worth more of this gentle, kind and compassionate stuff? Is being a BIGGER person with your Ex in front of your kids really that hard?

Life is too short to have us all sad over weekends with our behaviour at handover, the school and working week too stressful to be loaded with anger and pain in families - divorced or otherwise.

Easing up on ourselves and letting go of 'fight club' at handover is a whole load better, gentler and happier for everyone. And our children's lives can only benefit from it...

Natasha x

For daily inspiration and top tips follow me on Twitter or Instagram and I can follow you too! 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Love and Being Single on Valentine's Day - #notjustforvalentines

So once again we all find ourselves in the hearty wash cycle of February. Marinating whether we like it or not immersed in love marketing, preparing mentally, emotionally and physically for the DAY of LOVE that is Valentines Day  ta dahhhhh, so nearly upon us.

"Love" is now literally flooding our purchasing world, in supermarkets, card shops, social media, wine shops, more supermarkets, coffee shops - we are all swimming in the expectation of the possibility of love.   Except for one thing, "Where is the love?" asks the Black Eyed Peas.  If the figures are right, currently in the US 1 in 4 people have no one to turn to or talk to... The saddest of stats on this burgeoning, over-populated and increasingly lonely planet of ours...  Yes indeed, where is the love?  


Perhaps then, we could start with the place we are least likely to look for love and that is within ourselves?  Why so?  Are we so disjointed, distracted or disinterested in who we really are, that we have forgotten that love truly begins with ourselves?  So here is a little experiment... take a few moments, either in your mind or on paper and note down a list of people and things that you love................. How many of you had "me", "myself" or "I" on your list?  If you did, I would love you to say why in the Comments box... people need to hear how good it feels to love yourself... I will start... I love myself because I make myself laugh, I make a mean paella and I trust my intuition.


So if love begins with ourselves, surely then the love we can give others from this place within us is our most authentic love?  Is this why perhaps self-love is sometimes the toughest love?  Is this why it is always an easier option, although not necessarily a less painful one, to go looking for love elsewhere?  Caring, loving and cherishing ourselves gives us the rock-solid foundations and equips us with a whole ocean full of abundant love to give wholeheartedly to another.

Recently, whilst teaching a teen mindfulness session I mentioned February 14th. What I observed were the veils of sadness, despair and anxiety that dropped across lovely, fresh, gorgeous faces with one commenting how she "hated" Valentines Day.  Hate is a strong word for a day supposedly about love... but for this young woman, Valentine's Day is synonymous with everything that is, on so many levels, wrong with our society. Shame, embarrassment, the 'lack' of love, the loneliness felt by too many during the February cloudy gloom?  I am on a roll with my soap box, so throwing in humiliation, judgement and the one-up-man-ship of cards, flowers, tables for two and the contrived extraordinary efforts of the marketeers to continue the shameless highlighting. Or could this be seen as supporting a less than love healthy world helping us all to feel the love? 

What I love is this .... there are so many people old and young in love, and there is nothing so wonderful as seeing love in its most kindest, affectionate and longevitous form. Be it the first buds of young love and shy glances, a couple giggling with their children or later life lovebirds walking hand in hand.... these are all reminders that love is amazing, real and there for us all.  

Are you feeling the loneliness of Valentine's Day? So whether you are single, married or divorced?  I dare you to rise to the challenge of being your own Valentine this year ... Gift yourself some lovely s, buy beautiful underwear and wear it for the day, call someone you care about and tell them you love them - family, friends, children, grandchildren... Let's just not stop the loving because it isn't happening the way we want it to... 

Be the change #notjustforvalentines, use the hashtag to remind your friends and followers that love is not just for Valentines Day... spread the love, be your amazing, loving and authentic self...

Peace and love gorgeous hearts, peace and love Xx


For daily inspiration and top tips follow me on Twitter or Instagram and I can follow you too! 

Friday, 3 February 2017

Love is Reaching Out So We Can All Talk More

There are moments in our lives where we all really need to talk.  We bottle up our thoughts and emotions, feelings and experiences until we either suddenly explode in anger or we harbour our 'stuff' and become a prisoner of the darker days of depression.  Divorce can be a place of shame, guilt and sadness and invariably is the big elephant dressed up in fully stigma regalia in most rooms and is absolutely difficult to talk about.  

After we agreed to divorce, I spent time with coaches and counsellors talking and I talked a lot!  It felt good to talk and to be listened to.  The relief of having a safe, non-judgemental place to speak of my shoulder burdening worries and fears, helped me feel better. I realised too that it was not just me feeling the way I did... this was huge and is, on a simple level, it was just being human.
With this in mind I wanted to share with you 3 simple ways to remind us all how we can help make the biggest difference to those we care about and love today, this week or month...

1.  Pick up a pen and write to someone, telling them how much you love them no matter how little time you spend with them. Let them know how much they mean to you and the gratitude you have for them being in your life.

I am so fortunate, my wonderful Mum always, always sends me newspaper clippings, a card she has found or a scribbled note, in her familiar, crazy, smile inducing handwriting with a quote she has seen and feels I would benefit from.  

And without fail in amongst the faceless junk mail and formal letters, there is, the oh my goodness, the gift, the moment of joy I feel as I open postbox and find an envelope in there with handwritten script on - AND it's not my birthday. 

Whether you are on your own, divorced, or not, the very fact that someone has taken care, time - and money, because stamps are not so cheap anymore, to put pen to paper and has given you time in their thoughts and efforts is loneliness salve.  It shouts a big "someone cares" out and we feel the warmth of kindness. 

So this month I have bought a book of stamps, inspiring cards and I am sending gorgeous people I care about a note telling them I love them, handwritten... simple. And it's not even Valentines yet!

2.  Pick up the phone and have that intention to talk to someone... Take advantage of the free minutes you may get to speak to and check in with a person, who you know may just be having a hard time.  These tough periods of time happen in all our lives and it won't be difficult to chose someone to put a call out to. 

Talking to someone, giving them space to share how they are feeling, letting them compassionately and gently know you care about them and hearing them by acknowledging their problem can be so powerful.  

Those going through separation, divorce or bereavement do not always have someone to talk to.  Couples currently in a difficult relationships may have challenges finding a non-judgemental ear and for many lovely people there can be a gaping hole needing to be filled by caring lovely people close to listen to them.  Pick up the phone, make that call and if they don't pick up, do LEAVE a gorgeous message - tell that person you love them.

3.  And lastly, my top tip, is when we are feeling alone and sad, a little lost and overwhelmed in our lives it is so hard to make contact with others, even with our friends.  It is worth remembering that we too can also reach out and ask for help.  Having courage, being brave and feeling worthy of being heard is part of the process of picking up the phone or writing a note, this is how others know how we are feeling.

Even if we do not always think we are such good company in those darker moments and our inner joyous mojo is feeling less bright - make a list of those you can call, the friends, family and loved ones who do care and will listen to you talk, cry, grumble... 

Everyone has tough times in their lives, SO reach out, smile, send love, write, speak, talk ... and the big fantastic happy bonus is... we feel better in ourselves too... winner!

Wishing you all a happy communicative week ahead.

Natasha x  

Time to Talk is a campaign to encourage and support those suffering from depression, isolation and January blues to talk about their experiences and to give them a safe place to share how they are feeling.  With 1 in 4 people suffering from mental health issues communicating has never been more important.