How did I get here? My journey to physical health transformed me from a firm believer that the only way for babies was the rigid way of the Gina Ford routine – to now sitting somewhere around gentle routine, RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) and Attachment Parenting. Now, I understand that this is not for everyone, but for me this came from a huge shift of beliefs about what health was, and now is, to me. So, it begs the question. What does health look like to you? And, are you and your family in that place? Or do you have DIS-EASE in your home? (A feeling of being not at ease in one or more area, mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually).What did DIS-EASE look like for me? Let’s take a look at what that looked like in my world… I was 26 years old when the doctor said there was nothing more he could do for me. Although it was never diagnosed, I had 75% of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia (the painful version of Chronic Fatigue), I was in constant pain, exhausted, depressed (probably from the constant pain), incredibly frustrated, and as I would refer to myself, “a miserable git”. It turns out that short sentence he spoke was the beginning of the new me. The happy, healthy person here today that found another path, one that felt right, one that I could believe in and sink my teeth into. It all came down to how I chose to take my health on – it was either that or accept that no Western medicine could help me.
Choose Health! My local health food store at the time – Fresh and Wild in London was a popular hang out for me on the weekends, there was another regular there, I forget her name, but we had very similar symptoms. The only real difference was that she was a good few years older. As time went on it became very apparent to me that the attitude you have when taking on your health is directly related to the results you end up with. Over time as I got well, she stayed the same. I watched this unfold over many years. The difference? I took on health, she took on her illness.
That said, you can see why I believe that we are responsible for our own health and well being. I do not believe that we should surrender that power to anyone else. So, in the context of families what, if anything, is not working as well as it could be?
The things that spring to mind when I ask this question are: are you getting enough time together as a family, as a couple, with friends and one on one with your kids? Are your children always testing you to the limit so you are not getting as much enjoyment out of them/for yourselves as possible? Are there niggly issues health wise that create a bigger picture of unrest within the family unit?
If so, then what can be done? Here are some ideas, and although not new and original maybe start you thinking…
Time out for the adults! take some regular times to nurture your relationship with your partner (if you have one) and yourself. Imagine how it would feel to be refreshed on a regular basis. It is essential that you feel like your own person, first and foremost who happens to have children, rather than your child’s parent where “you” get lost somewhere along the way. Have you thought about creating a babysitting group with some friends? A friend of mine in the UK used to have a babysitting circle, where 4 families would take equal turns to babysit and to get out and about. It was a cost-free solution to getting a babysitter in.
Time in for the kids! This comes in two parts, the quality time and a quicker option. How about taking some time every day, if possible just before the typical “witching hour” to spend some quality time with the little ones. Any time of the day or evening is great. I love the idea of it. You can read more about “time in” on this blog where a family in America are sharing about their lives. The quicker version of time in is sometimes used as an alternative to the time out punishment, where a child misbehaves and instead of sending them off to time out, the parent stops what they are doing and takes a few moments to spend with the child, acknowledging they’re upset and working through it together – when a child is very angry, an initial cooling off period works well before offering your loving arms.
Healthy eating is a given, but I would encourage more fruit, and especially vegetables than is currently recommended. I have recently come across some nourishing recipes that are worth a look including a healthy chocolate smoothie! Healthy eating might be time consuming, but totally worth it for the benefits. Kate Cater has some great ideas on her Eating Well blog.
Alternative health practitioners, can often pick up subtle things that are not on a Doctor’s radar. If you feel that you or your child has little niggly things that are not really anything medical (because you have checked it out first) then it might be worth looking at alternatives to get you back on track. I would recommend something and someone who is the right fit for you. There are lots of choices out there. For me, I stumbled across a Cranial Osteopath in London, who happened to be a Naturopath and Acupuncturist – oh, and a Kiwi! I worked closely, as in weekly, with him for 5+ years slowly unwinding the tightly wound spring of dis-ease. For years I cut out wheat, dairy and sugar, and took on everything he said to do. If I had to do it all again… I would do it in a heart beat knowing that this life of health, well being and abundance was at the end of it. It sure was a leap of faith at the time.
Reducing stressors – stressors come in all shapes and sizes. They can be major illness, bereavement, trauma, overwhelm, tiredness/exhaustion, environmental, being very busy, among many others. The ones that I see most commonly are overwhelm and tiredness or exhaustion, and not just in parents. In my experience too much television, computer time, video games and a full schedule create stress for children.
There is a psychology term to describe being fully immersed in an activity called Flow. I believe if a child does not get enough time playing in flow, then they can have difficulty in shutting down and calming down at night, impacting on bed time behaviour and sleep. My belief is that if a child is too stimulated by structure be that electronic games, computers, tv, sports (they have rules), and organised activities etc… then they are not getting enough time to process and figure out their world. They are not being creative and dreaming up ideas, and having an outlet for that. Where is the relaxation time, or down time that children need to learn about the way the world and the things in it work?
For example, have you noticed whenever you have been out for a long period of time and you come home, the kids disappear? I used to notice this with the boys I looked after for 5 years as their nanny. Whenever we got home after being abroad or a full day at the zoo for instance, I would not hear from them until dinner time. I always imagined that there was a sigh of relief as they walked in the door. Whenever I checked on them, they were often in “flow”. Also, I love it when kids get bored, because it gives them an opportunity to get into flow.
Removing Toxicity, this for me was at the forefront of my “recovery”. I concentrated on removing toxicity in my world. Cleaning products, personal care products (the skin is the biggest organ of the body), choosing organic foods, vastly increasing healthy foods, doing a course that allowed for an emotional detox and having a friend and associate overhaul.
What or who feels toxic in your world and what can you do to implement changes to feel light and free?
An example I will give is that I had a friend who for months had been doing nothing but moan about her job and life. My take on a friendship is that it is a mutual thing and there is give and take, but after a while, if the balance doesn’t come back then action needs to be taken. So, after one particularly one-sided conversation, I thought, hang on, this needs to stop. I phoned her back straight away and said words to the effect of “I am concerned about our friendship. All I get from you at the moment is a rant about your job and life, and it’s not ok! I have things going on in my world too. How can we fix this?” She said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realise. How about shopping on the weekend?” and the balance was restored on the Kings Road in London. It was then, and always will be a relationship worth fighting for.
Exercise and sleep are as vital as the air that you breathe for health – I almost got forgot to put them in! They’re so important I don’t even think about them anymore. Exercise increases the endorphins in your body, it makes you feel good and you can lose or manage weight with exercise. Good quality sleep is essential for a general sense of well being as well as supporting the body to function on every level, including the immune system.
In my world now – the healthy one, the people, things and majority of events in my world are ones that I choose to have. I don’t just hang out with people for the sake of it; I invest, or I don’t. I now live consciously and with awareness. I guess I choose to live by the serenity prayer – God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference. I either change things, accept things or remove things so that I feel whole and complete and worthy. I don’t hold onto anger. I acknowledge disappointment and upset, I help the children around me to do that too.
I choose health! I choose to be happy! And I choose to make my life work with the resources available to me. Who knew that choosing to change the physical aspects of my health that I would end up with a whole new outlook on life and my approach to baby care? I certainly didn’t, but wouldn’t change one thing about my journey, it has made me into the person I am today, and I am ok with that.
My hope is that every one of you knows and feels, health, love and being appreciated. If you are about to embark on a journey of health, or you are on one already… enjoy the ride.