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work/life balance, parenting, Daily Mail, femail, alison canavan, practical parentingIs there really such a thing as a good work/life balance? Can we have it all as mums? Do we have a right to be happy? Should mums stay at home? We constantly battle with these questions and more but I have only one answer for all of them

DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU!!!!

I cannot tell you how many people have felt the need to give me their advice on my work/life balance. I work very hard as I want to give James a good life, education and future. I also like work. There I said it, I like working! We need to stop judging each other as women and mums because its really none of your business if a mum chooses to stay at home or go to work as long as they are happy and they feel that it’s the right decision for them.

Let me make one thing very clear before I continue: ALL MUMS ARE WORKING MUMS. That’s right staying at home is actually the most difficult job in the world. It’s constant and you don’t even get a lunch break most days!

That is why I think the best thing a mum can do is reserve judgment and offer support. If you want to stay at home then do that but if you want to go to work you should be able to do that without feeling guilty

As a new mum you might want to give up work and stay at home, change career, start your own business or head back to college. Be careful not to fall into the “I’m a mum now so I can’t do that” trap because it’s just not true.

I have achieved far more since becoming a mum than ever before. Becoming a mum has given me the courage to fight, follow my dreams and pursue my passions. It most certainly has not been easy but it has definitely been worth it.

Your life does not end when you have children in fact a whole new world of opportunity awaits. Don’t get me wrong you have extra responsibility and less time but if you are doing something you love you can be happy doing both. I believe that you can have everything just not all at the same time and you will have to sacrifice different things at different stages. But don’t ever give up on your dreams.

The first thing I would say to all new mummies is to simplify your life as much as possible. We all think everyone else is coping better than us but the reality is that most mum’s struggle trying to get any balance into their lives never mind getting it right. Most mums will feel less confident after a baby and nervous heading back to work, throw in a bit of guilt and a whole lot of I’m not good enough type of feelings start to bubble to the surface.

So my advice is get organized and stick to a routine. In my previous life I hated routine of any kind but not now. Get everything ready the night before. It saves time, sanity, helps with stress and the kids love their routine (even if you don’t)

You need to create lists and make them your best friend. Whether you have lists on the wall or in your phone they will help to keep you focused and there is nothing more satisfying that checking off a list. Set alarms on your phone if you are busy and tend to forget things (perfectly normal for mums!)

Preplan your meals for the week. Make your baby food in batches and freeze and do the same for your own dinners. Switch to Internet shopping as it cuts time and you can do it from the comfort of your own home when the baby or kids are asleep.

If you are struggling to stay on top of the cleaning and washing ask for help and if you can afford it get someone in to help for a few hours a week

Nearly every day at work people ask how I do it? When I get to work I switch to professional mode and leave my stresses at home. I struggle so much when trying to balance work and home life. But I need to take jobs whenever they come in which means that one-week I’m incredibly busy and the next I have nothing. For this reason panic mode can set in for financial reasons. There are definitely a few things that can help

Keeping a list and scheduling 5 minutes of me time every day and make sure you get some exercise. This can be as simple as sitting down with a cup of tea on your own and taking a few long deep breaths or going out for a walk. Getting the kids involved in chores from an early age and helping them to understand responsibility is also very important. My top tip and the most important rule I live by is to be present when you are with your children and make that precious time count.

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN THE DAILY MAIL – YOU CAN READ MY PARENTING COLUMN  EVERY THURSDAY IN FEMAIL

EVOKE.IE WORK/LIFE BALANCE

I caught up with Jason Vale a couple of weeks ago and he shared a couple of great tips about juicing. If any of you are fans of my Facebook page www.facebook.com/alisoncanavanofficial you will know that I’m a huge fan of both juicing and blending.

I kept getting mails asking about the difference between juicing and blending and also for some of my recipes so here’s a full page that I did as part of my minding mum series with the Daily Mail. Enjoy xxx

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As you will know by now I’m a big fan of doing a lot of little things to keep healthy. By this I mean eating well, exercising, meditation, keeping a gratitude diary every day and, much more. The trick is to find what works for you and everyone is different. As a busy mum my nutribullet has been a lifesaver as sometimes I simply don’t have time to juice in the morning and my nutribullet is just so easy to clean but there is a difference between juicing and blending and a nutribullet is a blender.

 

The main difference is that juicing removes the pulp and extracts most of the liquid nutrients and water from the fruits and vegetables. Blenders pulverize the whole produce making it into a smoothie. The pulp is what is called indigestible fiber, which has no nutrient content but is essential and very important for a healthy diet. It helps to keep your digestive system and gut healthy and it also slows down the absorption of sugar which is why you should not juice a lot of fruits together as the sugar will get absorbed quite quickly leading to your blood sugar becoming unbalanced which causes mood swings and believe it or not energy loss!

 

The trick is to use mostly vegetables when juicing or blending. When I’m juicing however I always notice how much more produce I go through so as Jason Vale says juicing really is “a nutrient express”.

I’D LOVE YOU TO TRY SOME OF MY RECIPES ABOVE AND LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK? XX

AS PRINTED IN THE DAILY MAIL

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is whether I read to James every night.

I recently spent the night at my cousin’s and this topic came again.

There were three mums there and we all had very different opinions and experiences. However we agreed, fundamentally, that reading is a crucial part of our child’s development.

For me, personally, I love the bond it creates. I started reading to James when he was a few weeks old — primarily because I’m a complete nerd and had been reading lots of research about how it improves listening skills and helps to improve IQ.

But, most importantly for me, it has been shown to help you and your child communicate, while increasing their attention span (miracles also do this!).

TNM Monkey cover copy (2)In the early days, I used to point out the pictures and colours and bought the entire collection of the ‘That’s not my…’ Usborne children’s books. I loved the different textures on each page and James did too. Reading always helped me to keep him quiet in restaurants and still does.

For me, reading with James has become a form of escapism from everyday life. I adore listening to his stories as he usuallyN embellishes whatever we are reading with secret characters and storylines that are quite spectacular.

As your child grows, remember to differentiate between words and pictures. And, when you’re reading, run your finger along the sentence from left to right. If you’re having a chat about a character, I often ask James to point him or her out and describe what they’re wearing.

I find it keeps him focused and he feels like he’s involved. He often wants the same story read for weeks on end and then he will ask me can he read it.

This can become a bit tedious and boring, but hang in there — because sometimes that story can appeal to their emotional needs or interests at the time.

Our lives are so hectic but it’s important to try and find even ten minutes a day and it doesn’t have to be at bedtime.

James is going through a phase of reading his Smyths toys catalogue at night now before it’s lights out! I used to put so much pressure on myself trying to do things right and now I find that at night, with the evenings being so busy, I usually put him straight down and we read during the day or in the morning. A great piece of advice I was given when James was very young is that ten minutes a day is better than an hour at the weekend.

Reading and books are powerful tools in teaching your children thinking skills early on. Your children can also learn to understand cause and effect and exercise logic through reading. It can teach them the consequences of their actions, and the basics of what is right and wrong.

Reading can also be a very useful tool for parents who are dealing with emotional problems or indeed issues like bullying with their children. There are many books on the market now that deal with all these issues and Joanna Fortune from parent/child relationship clinic, Solamh, has written a list here https://alisoncanavan.com/parenting/books-to-help-communicate-feelings-and-life-events-to-young-children-by-joanna-fortune-of-solamh/ you might find useful.

There are also books to help with grieving and loss. And when a child reaches a new stage in their life or they find themselves in a new and unfamiliar situation, reading them a story relevant to the new experience can relieve their anxiety and help them cope.

For example, if your child is stressed about his first day in school, having a new sibling or moving to a new location, you can read a book that shows and explains how other children/characters go through similar experiences and find solutions.

This can be great for parents who might find it hard to communicate themselves.

Books teach us all about relationships, situations, personalities, and what is good and what is bad in the world we live in. For your children, it’s no different. So give them the gift that keeps on giving and create memories you’ll cherish forever.

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My mum recently sold the house and one day when we were clearing out 36 years of hoarding she handed me a newspaper article from 2012. “I want to go there one day,” she said and just like that she left the room. I looked up the website details and it looked like heaven. It’s a place called Dzogchen Beara in West Cork offering some peace and tranquility away from this sometimes chaotic and crazy world. As I looked at the website I got incredibly excited to see that Sogyal Rinpoche was in Ireland for 10 days and they were offering a weekend retreat in three days time. I called mum and she has absolutely no idea why I was so excited or indeed what the hell I was rambling on about. The book I kept saying to her, the book I read fifteen years ago, he’s here. It was at that point I think she wanted me to go for the weekend in case I was having a mental breakdown.

When I calmed down as I do like a bit of drama, I explained to mum that Sogyal Rinpoche wrote the book, The Tibetan book of living and dying. Its now 20 years old and will still be relevant in another twenty years because the content is timeless. Every one regardless of background and religion should read it. It has many lessons in it relevant to all of us during our lifetime and for me its an incredibly thought provoking book that made me look at meditation in a new light and develop my own compassion for others and to try and look at death differently. The book teaches us that everything in life is transient and if we don’t come to terms with that we will always struggle and hold onto things or indeed people when we should let them go.

This book has taken me on a spiritual journey through some incredibly difficult times and no matter how many times I read it I learn something new.

I headed off to Cork on my own which was exciting as it was the first time I have been away completely on my own since I had James and all I could think about was sleeping without getting kicked in the face by a toddler. I arrived tense and quite stressed as recently a couple of my business ventures were showing signs of failing and I was upset because I had put my heart and soul into them. I was becoming impatient and angry and needed space to think. On Saturday afternoon as the day was progressing I began to feel quite emotional. Listening to the teachings from Rinpoche was stirring a lot of uncomfortable feelings inside me. I thought of my dad, my sometimes pained and fractured family and when I returned to my B&B I sobbed so hard I honestly thought my insides were going to come out. I returned the next day slightly speechless as I began to feel a change within myself. Again I felt emotional but I gave in and allowed myself to actually feel and work through my feelings. We meditated for quite a while and as the day went on I really felt a sense of peace within myself. I also realized how much of my own “stuff” I hadn’t dealt with. Sometimes in life we move on so quickly after traumatic and sad events. We live in the future almost constantly from the minute we get up till the minute we go to bed. When we go to bed we worry about the next day and all day the next day we worry about next week or even next month.

This was the first retreat that I had been on where I was introduced to meditation with my eyes open. This made me quite uncomfortable in the beginning but made so much sense towards the end. Tibetan Buddhist Meditation is about being present in the moment and having your eyes open ensures you are present. You don’t look at any one thing, you look or gaze but without focus. You see things but you are not really involved. I learnt a few key simple steps, which are that during meditation you need to sit still, speech silent, have the natural flow of the breath and the mind at ease. You should also keep your mouth slightly open as if you are about to say Ahhh. The main thing during meditation is to not block your thoughts. Acknowledge them but don’t follow them. Think of it like watching traffic and then all of a sudden you see a Ferrari and are tempted to follow it, don’t, let it go by!

The biggest addiction we have in modern society is negative thinking and meditation can help with this. It has been scientifically proven that meditation can alter the structure and function of the brain, which is called neuroplasticity. It activates a part of the brain associated with positive emotions. Even when you are not practicing these areas are sill lit up proving that mental training does affect the mind.

The mind really is the root of everything. It’s the creator of both happiness and suffering. Buddha says that all our fear and anxiety comes from a mind that’s untamed leaving me with one thought. Why not try meditation? Its free and just 10 minutes a day can transform your life. Driving back from Dozgchen Beara I felt different like my energy center had changed. I felt emotional but calm as I reflected on a three-day retreat that has probably changed my life forever and for that I will always be grateful. #meditatewithali
Over three million copies of the Tibetan book of living and dying have been printed in thirty-four languages, and the book is available in eighty countries.  It has been adopted by colleges, groups and institutions, both medical and religious, and is used extensively by nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals. For more information on retreats www.dzogchenbeara.org

AS PRINTED IN THE DAILY MAIL 30TH JULY 2014

 

 

Being a model let me run away from my problems.

Alison Canavan on hanging out with Christy Turlington, why we need to talk more about mental health and how having her son finally brought her home.

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Myself and James

AS PRINTED IN THE DAILY MAIL

Q: Has James asked about his dad?  My child’s father doesn’t see her, I don’t know how I’ll explain this when she asks

It’s probably the most heartbreaking and difficult question that I’ve had to deal with. I remember when James was a tiny baby, looking into his blue eyes and thinking to myself, ‘I hope this situation works itself out as I really don’t know what to say to this little angel.’

Then I figured I had a couple of years, at least, before the question would come up and — surely — by that stage I’d have it all figured out.

James makes every day worthwhile and never fails to make me laugh. He gives the best hugs and has changed my life in positive ways that I never thought possible. I often feel sad that his dad has missed watching this amazing little person sit, crawl, walk and talk.

I’m lucky to have great friends and  family — and indeed a counsellor — who have all talked me through the bad days when I feel guilty and sad that his dad isn’t around.

One thing I’m very sure of is that I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I have a very happy little boy who smiles from morning until night.

However, children go to pre-school and then they go to school and it’s around this time that those tough questions start to be asked.

James is nearly four years old and the only child in his pre-school that doesn’t have a dad at home however, we have spoken about how much his dad loves him but that he lives far away for work. James did ask me why he didn’t want to meet him but I reassured him that of course he does and hopefully will one day soon.

I felt that was appropriate for now and my sister Laura also spoke to him at length about all the
amazing people in his life that love him and how lucky he is to have such a big family. He seemed delighted and for days kept talking about — and listing off — all the people that love him. He kept telling me the list was so long and that he kept forgetting people.

But recently, we went to Wexford for two days and had an incredible time building sandcastles at the beach. After we returned, his teacher Rosie — who is his idol — asked to speak to me because James had told his class that he had been away with his dad.

My heart sank. I know he only said it because everyone else in the class was saying that, but it doesn’t make it any easier. My advice is to be as age-appropriate and honest as you can. If you’re finding it hard to communicate, ask for help. But remember: love, stability and security are what a child needs and if you’re providing those, then you’re doing a great job.

One thing I would love to see is all parents talking to their kids about the different types of families that exist nowadays. I didn’t give single parents a second thought before I had James. I know that some parents don’t feel it’s their responsibility because they’re happily married, with perfectly adjusted children (yes, this was actually said to me) but times are changing. Whether you agree with how people live or not, teaching kids to be accepting and non-judgmental can only be a good thing for them and our communities.

AS ALWAYS I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU SO PLEASE COMMENT BELOW XX

 

MEDITATION-facebook

 

 

AS PRINTED IN THE DAILY MAIL:

Q: Have you any tips on taking mum time when there’s so little time to spare?

 

“Mum time”, the mere words make us shudder and shake with guilt. I always hear Mums talking about never having a second to spare and being completely exhausted and that is exactly what led me to having such bad post natal depression. Trying to be the perfect person simply didn’t work for me. I’m now settling for just doing my best, which is what everyone should try and do as being perfect is vastly overrated or so I’ve heard!

Long before having James I started going to meditation classes in New York. Initially, I thought everyone was bonkers and as we sat and meditated I kept cheating and peaking to see if everyone else was actually doing it. Over time though I began to understand the power of simply sitting still which is something so rare for any of us nowadays. When you have children the thought of doing anything for yourself simply goes out the window but it is vitally important.

As time is of the essence I recommend finding just ten minutes every day where you can sit still. Meditation is not about connecting with a higher being or feeling like you were transported to another place. I’ve been to a lot of weird sessions which is why people get turned off so let me simplify it for you. Unless you’re dead or an enlightened being (god, Buddha, Dali lama) it is impossible to clear your mind completely. For me meditation is about sitting still in the moment and watching those thoughts pass through. I either focus on my breathing or I listen to some music from www.omharmonics.com or www.zen12.com where you can download sample tracks. You also don’t need to be in a room with candles and sit on the floor with your legs crossed. You can meditate anywhere at anytime. I have often sat in the car when I have ten minutes when I’m early for a meeting or sometimes I set my alarm ten minutes early in the morning. Those ten minutes are there you just need to make sure you find them. You could write a book about the benefits of mediation but here are just a few.

It increases optimism; self esteem and helps with depression. It can also help you sleep better and help your mind to become clear and focused. I find it helps my patience, especially with a 4 year old. It definitely reduces my stress levels and emotional wellbeing. Try it for a week and if you like it tweet me @alicanavan #meditatewithali

 

4  TOP TIPS:

1. Pay attention to your breath as it’s the greatest way to focus on being in the present moment.

2. Don’t try and stop your thoughts, instead let them float by and focus on your breathing again. This will become easier with time

3. Use music specially designed for meditation. I find it gives me a far better experience. I alternate this with days of silence too for maximum benefit.

4. Enjoy the experience and as a mum enjoy this time alone

 

 

breastfeeding-1 jpegIn last week’s Femail two angry mums revealed how they were led to believe breastfeeding would help them lose weight, when in fact they piled on the pounds. Both admitted that their diets had been poor, blaming the ‘myth’ constantly pedalled to new mums by health professionals and breastfeeding advocates that the babyweight would melt away as they fed for tricking them into thinking they could eat what they wanted. Here, Alison Canavan, who breastfed her son James for a year, launches a staunch defence of breastfeeding. She argues that it should always be a personal choice made with the best interests of mum and baby at heart, and argues that by vilifying breastfeeding we are ignoring deeper issues about motherhood and self image.

AS I READ last week’s article I felt frustration and anger, yet again, about this topic. Since giving birth to James I’ve noticed that anytime the topic of feeding your baby is brought up, mums should be prepared to have their head eaten off by another mother who thinks they know better or who disagrees with our choice for our child.

I have never and will never understand why women are so hard on each other — this topic in particular seems to always hit a nerve.

In my opinion the breast Vs bottle debate is a complex one where no one wins. We all have different reasons for feeding our children the way we do and should never underestimate the complex issues that can arise post-birth for mum and baby which can influence feeding.

Weight loss alone, however, should not be the reason you choose to breastfeed your baby. Neither should articles claiming that women are now getting fat from feeding frighten you off. Each and every woman’s body will react differently to pregnancy. Some women fly through their pregnancies while others have problems from day one, they gain weight, develop pelvic problems, require emergency sections… the list goes on.

One thing we now know for sure is that eating for two during pregnancy is a myth. Believe me, I was guilty of using it as an excuse to pig out for the first few months, until my doctor told me women only need an extra 200 calories (equivalent to a small bowl of muesli or two slices of wholegrain bread) per day and that’s not even until the third trimester.

In the article the women targeted two aspects of breastfeeding in particular, saying ‘breastfeeding is a very sedentary activity’ and ‘women commonly experience ravenous hunger while feeding’. While I agree with both these statements, they’re not necessarily bad things. I actually enjoyed sitting down to feed as I was wrecked. And I was very hungry but I tried to eat nutritious foods as I knew they would make me feel better and fill my breast milk full of nutrients for the growing baby.

Things are never as simple as they seem, especially when it comes to the combination of women, babies, food and weight. I know that I’m an emotional eater and make bad choices to fill that gap. If I feel lonely, have had bad news about work or am simply tired I pick up the phone to the local takeaway — undoing all the good work I’ve done. But I also know I’m a model and that eating healthily is a big part of my job, which leads me to wonder why I make a choice that can potentially impact my career? Yet we do make poor choices and they are usually multi layered.

In the first few months after giving birth a lot of women experience real loneliness and sadness while home alone with their newborn. Too tired to exercise and too embarrassed to tell anyone how they’re feeling, food can be a big comfort. I’m not saying that these are the reasons the women in the piece gained weight, but we do need to be careful when we make blanket statements about such complex issues.

Breastfeeding is a choice, our food types are a choice and lifestyle is a choice. I always say that how you treat yourself and what you feed yourself will directly influence how you look and feel.

I spoke to Clare Boyle, a midwife and breastfeeding consultant, about this topic. Clare has been working with breastfeeding women for the last 13 years and her experience is that most lose weight easily and usually within the first six months. She tolds me, ‘I have never met a breastfeeding mother who had the weight gain issues such as those described in the article. I wonder if there were some other issues that may have contributed to it as it seems so unusual. I think it would be important to know what type of foods were they eating and whether they were they exercising.

‘It is true that most breastfeeding women have an increased appetite but provided they eat a healthy, well-balanced diet they shouldn’t necessarily put on weight and it is by no means the norm.’

Clare then made another very valid point, ‘There is the common perception that breastfeeding mums think that they are free to eat what they like and therefore they can go for high-calorie foods that they would normally deprive themselves of. If they do this to excess, obviously breastfeeding isn’t going to counteract a complete gorge-fest!’

I didn’t give breastfeeding much thought during my pregnancy. In fact, I just presumed baby came out and fed from boob and we all lived happily ever after.

Well, instead of that plan playing out like the plot of a movie, James couldn’t latch on and my boobs became so sore that I was permanently taking hot showers to relieve them. We soon figured out that James had a tongue-tie, causing his inability to latch.

Then I developed thrush — and my body was producing enough tears to fill Ireland ten times over. I was extremely lucky, though, to have a great friend Andrea Casey sit patiently with me, literally holding my boobs as otherwise I could’t latch him on. Catriona McCarthy, a lactation consultant, also spent considerable time helping me. What I learnt from the experience is that breastfeeding is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of women, it’s one that both you and your baby might have to learn together. I succeeded in feeding James but not until he was nearly three months old. I persevered because I’m stubborn and, after three months, I had finally started to enjoy the experience. I consider myself very lucky to have had the support I had, because without it I would not have continued to feed.

How you feed your child is a deeply personal choice. I have a friend who is simply uncomfortable with the thought of breastfeeding her children. She has three beautiful kids who are all healthy and happy. How we feed our children does not affect our parenting abilities, food or lifestyle choices — those choices are ultimately up to us. Judging other women also has no bearing on your parenting skills.

It’s great to talk about being more honest with each other, but I think deep down we’re all smart enough to know that the realistic experience of breastfeeding will not result in a woman getting a Gisele-like body. Tiredness, hunger and hormones are all part of the reality of being a new mum but good food, exercise and communicating with loved ones is far better for us in the long term than reaching for the biscuits!

HAVE YOU HAD YOUR LITTLE ONES SHOES FITTED CORRECTLY?

HAVE YOU HAD YOUR LITTLE ONES SHOES FITTED CORRECTLY?

 

This is a question I had myself when I was a new mum and ­­recently I was able to get the answer from the lovely Siobhan Matthews, who is the owner of a children’s shoe shop called Little Piggy’s Shoes For Kids in Trim, Co. Meath.

As a qualified nurse and mother of three children, she believes that well-fitting shoes will benefit your child on their long road ahead.

She is an expert in this area and had some very interesting advice. The bones in children’s feet are mainly cartilage and do not develop into hard bone structure until the age of five.

As we all know cartilage is a firm tissue but is softer and more flexible than bone, so when a baby is sitting up and ­
not moving around shoes are generally not required, unless advised by ­
a physiotherapist.

Most podiatrist and physiotherapists say that ‘barefoot is best’ — as it allows toddlers to expand and develop the muscles and nerve endings in their feet. But we all know for practical reasons this is not always possible.

Little feet can get cold and damaged with rough surfaces both outdoors, and indoors especially on tiles and wooden floors.

Siobhan would generally recommend a pair of ­­
pre-walker shoes for your toddler when they start to pull themselves up on furniture and begin cruising.

The gripped sole is soft enough to allow them to mobilise naturally and comfortably while also providing them with a little confidence to get going.

She recommends that children should have their feet measured at this stage to ensure that the ­­
pre-walker fits perfectly on your child’s particular shape of feet. The main reason for this being that, at this stage, you want to prevent any unnecessary
injuries to the foot.

Shoes that are ill-fitting can prevent natural growth, cause discomfort and lead to foot problems.

As every child is different, it’s tough to say how long their shoes will last. James goes through growth spurts and once increased a size in six weeks, but his current shoes have lasted much longer.

Children grow at such a rapid rate, especially up to three years of age. Growth rate for the first year can be up to three sizes. Therefore, the general rule of thumb would be to have your little one’s feet measured at least every six weeks. This can be an expensive time but is a very important time in the development of a child’s foot. Remember that their feet will slow down in growth after the age of three.

TOP TIPS:

1.  Have their feet measured by a trained shoe fitter, ensuring they are wearing the correct size.

2.  Economically it makes more sense to have one good quality perfectly fitting leather shoe rather than having to purchase may pairs of ill-fitting flimsy shoes.

3.  Caring for your child’s feet especially up to twelve years of age will pay dividends in the long run, reducing foot problem’s leading to back and hip pain in adulthood.

TOP TIPS FOR EXAM STRESS

TOP TIPS FOR EXAM TIME

 

My daughter is doing her Leaving Cert and feeling really stressed. To be honest I am too. Can you help?

 

Oh, I REMEMBER my exams like it was yesterday — snapping the head off everyone and cramming three years’ work into one night. People also forget how stressed and helpless parents can feel too.

 

Remember, though, that a little stress can be a good thing. It has the power to motivate and stimulate us, pushing us to do better, triggering our adrenaline and keeping us focused. Without stress, life would simply be dull and boring. Not knowing how to manage stress, though, particularly during exam time, is what can cause sleepless nights, panic attacks and feelings of anxiety.

 

Some of the most common factors contributing to stress in the build-up to exams are the long hours of study, the tensions between you and your kids, revision classes, all-nighters, lost notes, deleted documents and early morning starts.

 

Whenever I’m doing talks or studying, which I have been at night for many years, I use Bach Rescue Remedy. It might not give you all the answers but it may help both you and your daughter to relax, focus and feel reassured in the build-up to exams.

 

I also meditate, exercise, try to eat well and avoid too much sugar. If your daughter is up all night hitting the books, the lack of sleep will really affect her concentration and there will come a point in the evening when her brain won’t soak up any more information.

 

I often find it tough to sleep when I have a lot on my mind but getting enough sleep — the recommended amount is eight hours — in the run-up to the exams is really important. The Bach Rescue Remedy Night range with white chestnut is a great sleep aid. It helps the mind to switch off from unwanted thoughts, so your daughter can enjoy a restful night’s sleep and have more energy and a clearer head in the morning.

Encourage her to go to bed earlier as she will achieve more the next day with a clear and rested head.

Ask your daughter if she’d like to try a 10-minute guided meditation every day which will really help her to stay calm and focused. You can download samples from websites such as omharmonics.com

 

THE Bach Rescue Remedy range includes Rescue Night Drops 10ml, RRP €7.95, Rescue Liquid Melts, RRP €9.95 and Rescue Night Spray 10ml, RRP €10.95

RRP €9.95 and Rescue Night Spray 10ml

 TOP TIPS

1. EXERCISE releases endorphins which make us feel happy, making it easier to concentrate and study.

 2EAT a balanced diet full of green vegetables, nuts and fruits little and often during the day to keep energy levels up. You should take Omega 3 fish oils, drink plenty of water and avoid stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks.

 3.GET plenty of sleep

 4. REMEMBER there is life after exams. Things might seem intense right now, but they won’t last forever.