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Ten Common Toddler Parenting Myths You Likely Believe (and Why you Shouldn’t!).

26 Jan

Toddler myths busted by a gentle parenting guru….

What Rod? Our Experience of BedSharing to Age 4.

13 Jan

Five Things I Learned in the First Year – Raising My Highly Sensitive Son

16 Jun

Natural learning; the unschooling way

5 Feb

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Education is something I excelled at both as a young child and into my early adult years. I was one of those students who never had to study very hard to pull the good grades out of the bag. Why then having been through the school system myself would I choose not to do the same for my children? I believe learning is so much more more than just academics and exams. Despite doing well at school, having suffered from bullying and stifled creativity I feel my younger years could have been spent much more wisely had I had the freedom to explore my own potential rather than being pigeon holed into a structured and categorised learning system which is, on the most part, disconnected from nature and life itself.

Now my oldest child is nearing on six years old I am often asked that question, ‘What school does he go to?’ When I reply I am reluctant to use the word ‘unschooling’ as people have a hard enough time getting their heads around home schooling. Nevertheless I attempt to explain the natural learning path I have chosen to walk down with my son and the questions go a little something like this, in no particular order….

  • How will he learn social skills and socialise with other kids?
  • How will he learn the three R’s?
  • What will you do if he wants to go to school/college/university or take exams?
  • How will you keep him busy?
  • How will he get a rounded knowledge of all areas and what if there is something you don’t know how to teach him?
  • Isn’t the full time, stay at home educating role only for those parents who can afford it?

Perhaps the best way to describe unschooling is to to define how it is different from home schooling. Unschoooling is very much a child-led approach, and this does not necessarily mean never directing or guiding your child into a structured activity or group, far from it, unschooling parents tend to make a great effort to facilitate their kids getting out and about regularly.

Children are natural explorers and have an innate desire to learn whatever captures their interest. Home schooling is much like transferring a set curriculum taught in a school from classroom to the home. Unschooling on the other hand (also a sub category of home education) involves taking a child’s lead in their current interests and providing them with the resources and opportunities to discover more about that theme/topic for themselves. This capitalises on the fact that children, and in fact all ages learn best and most efficiently when they are engaged fully with interest in what they are discovering. Like the public school system, home schooling can often employ rigid, scheduled and ‘age appropriate learning targets,’ whereas unschooling treats a child as having unlimited potential and possibilities and gives them a flexible and unstructured way to learn within their capabilities and without pressure.

 

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Unschooling acknowledges that life is a school with learning opportunities everywhere you go and in everything you do. In a limitless learning environment a child may learn…

  • Maths as they go shopping.
  • Geography as they travel.
  • Literacy as they read books from a library and language as they communicate with friends or loved ones in a letter or electronically.
  • Science as they explore nature and animals. Rock pooling, farm visits, cooking, wild food foraging and camping are all great opportunities.
  • History as they visit museums and explore sites of interest such as castles and roman ruins.
  • Music from going to festivals or observing a talented relative or friend play their instrument.
  • Religious education as they mix with people from different faiths in groups.
  • Design and technology through free play with different materials and access to computers.
  • Physical education through regular activities such as swimming, tennis, yoga and football in the community.

Furthermore with the advent of the world wide web as a self-directed, educational resource, no question will remain unanswered.

So now back to those common concerns and questions often asked of the unschooling family.

Socialising: A child is far more likely to connect to people and learn social skills in a setting where they feel at ease and where they enjoy spending their time. Whether it be at the park, in a group with a shared interest or simply visiting other young family members or friends, there is a big world outside your front door that is difficult not to interact with. It interesting to note that children of the same age rarely socialise well together (as found in the usual classroom setup), they actually learn far more social skills and indeed other skills from older children in mixed age settings who are able to demonstrate their next stage of development. Also having the opportunity for older kids to interact with younger children helps them develop their nurturing qualities and important virtues such as patience.

Reading, writing and arithmetic: Words and numbers are found everywhere you go, not just in a classroom. Many children, especially boys are not mentally ready for formal or structured learning and trying to teach them this way can, and often does, set their comprehension back rather than if they were allowed to pick these skills up naturally at their own pace. Some examples of how a child is exposed to numeracy and language in daily life include: road signs, posters in a shop, watching films, reading menus in a cafe and working out transport timetables.

Gaining qualifications: Exams and structured schooling are not one and the same thing. At any time your child can, having never attended a school, choose to enrol for any number of exams they feel they wish to gain in order to further their future career path.

Keeping busy: The problem with keeping balance for our children in the modern world is not so much under-stimulation as it is over-stimulation. Too often parents and children do not spend any quality time and get to really know each other due to hectic, over scheduled timetables and time pressures. When you dedicate time to the unschooling lifestyle, life takes a natural rhythm and balance. Too often in trying to make kids achieve everything to survive in the corporate and consumerist world, we forget to teach them the basic skills of self-sufficiency. Such skills can be gained through simply helping with household chores, learning to cook, looking after pets, growing your own food and taking part in everyday life. Another valuable life skill not taught in schools, meditation, also develops a spiritual awareness so they can learn to balance themselves during times of stress. All too often schools neglect these vital areas of education.

The main focus in unschooling is unstructured learning although, structured learning can also play a part should a child wish to master a certain skill. For example, a music class or gymnastics club. To keep learning opportunities ever present sometimes it requires thinking outside the box such as engaging in volunteering opportunities. You can also set up a kid-share scheme with other fellow home educators to help parents gain some extra ‘me’ time. As long as you you look hard enough you will always find a way.

Mentors and general knowledge: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to teach magnetism and how plants grow. Most parents can read, write and count and therefore have the ability to be a learning facilitator for their own child. When the time comes that your child expresses an interest in a topic you have little knowledge of then it may be time to draw upon other people as mentors for your child; friends, relatives and professionals in that area can all engage with your child to help them learn more. For older children the internet provides such a vast array of learning resources much like a virtual classroom. It has been said that ‘it is better to be a jack of all trades than a master of none’ if however, you look at earning potential in society is it not the ‘master of one trade’ who achieves the most success? Perhaps we should concentrate less on children obtaining a good general knowledge but rather help them find what they excel and are passionate in and follow this to it’s greatest potential.

Money matters: Choosing to be a full time parent and learning facilitator for your children is a choice, not a luxury. In a society that requires both parents to work full time to keep up with the Jones’s, sacrifices have to be made and it’s not easy. To bypass relying on paid activities, we get creative. A typical week for us involves dog walking, a home educators (informal forest group) meet-up in the woods, watching YouTube documentaries, trips to the park, visiting friends, gardening, growing and cooking food, trips to the beach, library, free museums and local festivals. A garden is an absolute necessity for us and we sacrifice the size of our property and number of bedrooms to ensure we have access to outdoor space at all times. With money to spare unschooling can be made a little easier for example, taking advantage of off-peak tickets to nearby tourist attractions whilst other children are attending school. At the end of the day though children need nothing more than human interaction and exploration in nature to learn, which doesn’t cost a penny.

Some may argue that I’m taking away the privilege of education from my son at an age when he does not have the choice. I know my son better than anyone else and I observe that he does not thrive in large groups and overly controlled environments, two main aspects of the schooling environment. For these reasons I have decided to let him make the decision as he grows older whether he wishes to try school or not. Like the Spartans and other ancient cultures, I believe that a young child below the age of seven needs to be close to their primary care givers and allowed the freedom to just play, discover and explore, letting their imaginations run wild and free.

Natural remedies for children

10 Dec

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Following the natural parenting path isn’t easy, especially when your child becomes ill and you must decide which is the best course to ease their suffering. Although I use to work as a nutritional advisor in the field of testing for food intolerances, I am not a medical doctor or any other certified practitioner of heath care. As a natural mama I do have experience of using natural remedies on my child to ease the transition through various forms of healing crisis.

Medical science has done a great job in providing the technology needed to deal with accidents and emergencies which are man-made e.g. surgical methods to prevent life threatening bleeding caused by a car accident.

Holistic or natural therapies and remedies deal with the whole organism in striving to combat dis-ease whilst modern conventional medicine only ever looks at the individual parts of the body/mind system in a separatist, mechanistic model. Furthermore, naturally occurring exposure to germs, and infectious diseases play an important role in helping to develop and strengthen our immune system for maintaining future health.

For these reasons I have opted to not administer any drugs, vaccines or other man-made chemicals to my child’s developing immune system. I view fevers, childhood diseases and other imbalances as a positive sign that the body has reached critical activation point in toxic load and has now activated a healing purge or ‘crisis’ to allow the body to cleanse the poisons

Instead of using drugs to suppress these important healing symptoms, there are a host of natural remedies and therapies available which do not cause the liver to become overburdened and exhibit more negative side effects.

Below are listed a range of common health complaints alongside some natural remedy suggestions. I recommend that you always talk to a health care practitioner of your choice and do your own varied research before trialling any new remedies. Above all else I trust my own instincts and observations whilst trialling new healing remedies or therapies:-

Asthma: Turmeric and ginger root, Fresh unpasteurized apple juice, Salt pipes, Yoga breathing exercises (for older children 3 yrs plus), Breathing in a steam shower room with eucalyptus oil (to open up the airways during an attack), Chiropractic/Osteopath/cranial sacral adjustments. Elimination diet* (led by a natural health practitioner)

*The main culprits which cause intolerances or allergic symptoms in the diet are: wheat, dairy, sugar, yeast, MSG and other artificial flavourings, additives and preservatives.

Allergies (non-life threatening): Freshly prepared nettle tea (contains naturally occurring anti-histamines), Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (taken diluted in water), Chiropractic /Osteopath/cranial sacral adjustments. Elimination diet* (led by a natural health practitioner)

Autism: A complex condition often triggered by heavy metal poisoning from the mercury in dental fillings and/or the mercury added to vaccinations. A heavy metal detox under guidance of a qualified practitioner is paramount to healing the body from mercury poisoning. A natural and safe combination for children to take combines coriander/cilantro herb with the algae called Chlorella.

Constipation: Chia seeds, Flax seeds, Prunes, Apricots, Pears, Figs, Psyllium husk, Aloe vera (in a juice), Probiotics (found in all types of natural yoghurt including vegan coconut yoghurt), Sauerkraut Abdominal massage with lavender oil, Warm bath, Increase water consumption, Physical exercise, Reflexology, Elimination diet* (led by a natural health practitioner)

Colic: Fennel, mint and chamomile tea combined and left to cool to tepid temperature. Baby wearing in a correctly supportive wrap or sling, Switching from formula milk with soya or cows milk to donated breast milk or Goat’s milk as a second best option to human milk, Sound and movement vibration (e.g. riding in a car or dancing and singing to baby)

Congestion/mucus: Turmeric root powder added as a large pinch to homemade lemonade (add a natural sweetener instead of sugar), Neti pot cleansing with sea salt water.

Eliminate mucous producing foods: bananas, wheat, dairy foods such as ice cream, yoghurt and butter; soya, deep fried foods, corn, chips/crisps, cakes, unstable oils such as sunflower and safflower vegetable oil, jams, cereals, biscuits. Increase foods that eliminate mucous such as: green vegetables, ginger, turmeric root, garlic, grapefruit, bamboo shoots, oranges, onions, celery, cauliflower, lemons and limes, asparagus.

Cough: Raw honey mixed with turmeric taken on a spoon.

Cradle cap: Extra virgin coconut oil rubbed on to affected area.

Diabetes: Cinnamon, stevia and xylitol for balanced sweeteners which will not spike blood sugar level. Incorporate as much of the raw food diet as possible to the daily diet.

Eye infection: Breast milk squirted into the eye directly.

Ear infections:  Olive oil poured into the ear canal whilst head is turned to the side.

Fever: Camu camu berry powder mixed with water and a little natural sweetener in a drink.

Flu: To nourish and heal the body use a liquid diet of green smoothies/juices freshly prepared from organic produce in a low speed RPM blender/juicer. Raw garlic and ginger can also  be taken chopped up in small chunks and swallowed like a pill.

Rash: Pure Paw Paw ointment (made from Papaya fruit)

I hope these suggestions help relieve any uncomfortable symptoms. Do remember these healing modalities are not a ‘cure’ for the dis-ease but rather act to buffer and comfort the pain and unpleasant symptoms of healing.

As ancient tribal wisdom and quantum physics all agree, ultimately the root to all dis-ease is first created in the mind through mental disturbance and emotional stress and so can not be ‘cured’ in the long-term by simply treating the physical body.

Techniques such as emotion freedom technique, progressive and attachment parenting methods and other types of emotional therapy are great ways to get to the root of any diseases. (For more information on this see my blog on ‘Mental invitations: the real root cause of disease’).

 Wishing great natural health to you and your children.

Mirror image: Your child as your reflection

30 Oct

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When you look in the mirror, what do you see?…You’re reflection and based upon how you view your reflection will determine  how you behave. Perhaps you use your mirror to apply make-up, straighten your hair and pluck any unwanted hairs before observing your outfit and accessories, making sure you are comfortable with what you see before embracing the day ahead with confidence that you look good….but how do you feel deep inside?

Did you choose your style, dressing the way you truly wanted or did you surrender to societal norms selecting smart clothes and shoes for work, minimal jewellery and discreet make-up in order to conform. For that matter did you surrender your dream job to go and work somewhere which would pay your bills and give you perceived ‘security’?

Is your reflection of who you have become what you thought it would be 10, 20 or even 30 years ago? What changed? What part of you might have been lost?

When the lake is still your reflection is clear, but throw a stone into the lake and you reflection becomes distorted, if you keep on throwing stones, clarity will evade you. Let’s compare the stones here to all that ‘noise’ we hear around us telling us what to do and how to act and all those feelings associated with that noise, feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and fear; if however, you allow the water to settle and become quiet, a clear reflection of your true self will be presented.

When we move away from the mirror or the lake do we stop seeing our reflection? Absolutely not, in reality we now come into contact with the mirrors of our inner world, the world we like to hide and distract ourselves from. How many of us find it near on impossible to sit still and quiet without any distraction such as  a book, film or even just running through our ‘to do’ list in our heads rather than remaining quiet by stilling the mind?

Everything we see in others can teach us something important about ourselves, perhaps something we wish we had as an attribute, or even worst something we do not like about ourselves . As a parent we are now given a unique opportunity to experience a completely unbiased and sometimes, painfully true set of reflections directly from the one’s who we cherish the most.

One of our greatest teachers is our two-year old son, but what can someone so young teach an adult you might ask? The answer is everything you have hidden away under the layers, over the years. They will reflect your anger, loneliness, sadness, despair and even your greatest joys and loves. They will reflect honestly every time, without prejudice. When you become angry and sad they will test you further and push all your buttons, reflecting straight back at you, the anger and sadness they can feel and provoking in you even more anger. When you laugh, they will laugh with you, reflecting your joy. A child will also teach you about time, reflecting back to you just how little time you believe you have and your inability to slow down and just be. They will also repeat things over and over, driving you crazy and reflecting back to you your impatience and your ego, ‘I know/have done this already, can’t we move on now?’

Children love to enquire, asking you questions about life and engaging with you by inviting you to see the world through their eyes rather than your ‘all-knowing’ eyes. The reflections are subtle and one of the most prominent reflections they give shows how adults are rarely present in the moment. Children are present all the time, showing imagination, creativity and amazement at every detail. These attributes flourish in the present and diminish in the past and future where most adults find themselves dwelling. Surely adults cannot afford this luxury of being present as they have responsibilities to concern themselves with and money to earn for their family?

Yet all we have is right now, it’s not about quantity, it’s quality and if we learn to be truly present in the precious moments we spend with our children then they will demand less of us. So next time you see your child run to the computer when you ask them a question, ask yourself what is this reflecting back to you, do you often multi task and talk on your phone whilst having ‘quality time’ with your child?

Unconditional love from a child is pure, they smile, make you melt and their innocence can make the most hardened person laugh. Their giving is endless and if you share unconditionally with them they will demonstrate this to others they come across. We were told many times by other parents that ‘not sharing’ phase was inevitable yet nearing on 3 years now it still hasn’t arrived.

If you teach your child possession, not allowing them to share what you deem to be ‘yours’ and demonstrate fear of loss, you may miss the reflective teaching when your child snatches from another and they may grow to become possessive, believing in separation and inequality rather than infinite abundance and connectedness.

A child is never innately violent and spiteful. These traits have become a reflection of what they are seeing around them in their environment; somewhere they have seen this violence play out and they imitate what they’ve witnessed. In our family we once watched The Bee movie, there is a part in the film where the bee playfully slaps the other bees in the hive. All of a sudden soon after viewing the film our then 20 month old son began slapping us around the face. We then began noticing similar behaviour in other animations he was exposed to and even though it was only playful banter we had to accept the responsibility for exposing him to a behaviour he was not yet able to comprehend yet. Thankfully with love, patience, acceptance and surrender we have now overcome this phase.

We live in a fast paced, stressed society and when you have had a tough day and are perhaps feeling exhausted and wired the last thing you need is your child playing up. At this point you must realise that your child doesn’t discriminate between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of behaving, they simply feed off of your energy and reflect it back to you no matter how hard you think you may be covering it up. If you can detach yourself and notice the feelings and reflections, you will see it is not personal. The sooner you can re-set your mood to positive, the sooner your child will follow suit. Maybe a soak in the bath, a short meditation or walk or a tasty meal will help you achieve this, whatever you do though remember to first change yourself rather than trying to change the child’s behaviour. As Mahatma Ghandi famously said ‘be the change you want to see’.

The teaching of reflections isn’t permanent and simply reveals your current transitional state. The more present you can be around your family, the less reactive you will become and the happier you will all be.

Ultimately you create your reality and if it is not the reality that you wanted then the teaching of reflections can guide you to remove the very obstacles that you yourself have placed in your way. By demonstrating to you via the behaviour and mood of those you attract into your life and who share your life with you, you are given the opportunity to grow and learn about yourself using compassion as your guide.

Reflective teaching is simply like attracts like, the difficult part is sometimes accepting who we are when the behaviour we have attracted into our world is negative, we cannot possibly attract negative things into our lives? Well we do on a daily basis and we end up blaming others and passing our responsibility on to others as well as circumstances for its presence. When we practice with compassion we recognise that we are all reflecting our pain and pleasure simultaneously, that we all have mountains to climb and obstacles to overcome, especially you could argue when it comes to parenting. Ultimately compassionate parenting is about honouring the reflective teaching of your child and accepting responsiblity for that regardless of you judging who’s right or wrong, good or bad and simply surrendering and accepting what is before you. If you can meet the reflection with an open heart you will be amazed at what it will reveal about you.

Be present and open to witness the magic occur.

 

(Co-written with Matt Allen http://www.theyogahealthcoach.co.uk)

Naturally healthy kids on a shoestring

8 Sep

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They say your health is your wealth and that is so true when you consider a well man has many wishes but a sick man has only one.  The world of natural, healthy food seems to have gone mad with the average price of an organic apple now matching that of a hamburger in Macdonald’s; is it any wonder more and more kids are suffering from obesity, diabetes and a plethora of other diseases which just a few generations ago were rare or even unknown in the younger generations.

Since becoming a parent and giving up pursuing a high paid career I have committed to full-time attachment parenting without any substantial added  incomes. I have had to learn first hand how to make a budget stretch whilst maintaining the health of all the family.

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Tip 1: Stop buying pre-packaged and pre-made foods, they are expensive and have poor quality nutrient content. Instead shop mainly in the outside aisles of the supermarkets where most of the fresh food is and watch your shopping budget stretch further. Swap sugary cereals for porridge oats, confectionary for naturally sweet dried fruit and crisps for salty nuts or olives.

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Tip 2: Buy foods from local markets and farms, cutting out the middle man

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Tip 3: Grow your own; maybe you have an allotment, garden, balcony or even just a window sill. Everyone can grow something. Tomatoes, salad leaves and strawberries are all easy to grow and don’t need a lot of space. THis is a great way to connect kids with where their food comes from and inspire them to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.

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Tip 4: Forage wild food for free; go to your local woods, park or even your neighbour’s front gardens where you will be surprised at how much is growing, even in the city. Apple trees are easy to spot, also  try foods you can’t normally buy in the supermarket which are super nutrient dense: rosehips, dandelion leaves (yes weeds are good for you), wild garlic, watercress, chestnuts, hazel nuts, blackberries, and elderberries

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Tip 5: Eat more raw; it’s more nutrient dense, uses less money on the gas bill and helps to cure all sorts of ailments from allergies to diabetes. For tips on amazing child-friendly raw recipes see Raw food 4 kids book at http://www.therawfoodmum.com

Tip 6: Have vegetarian/vegan days; animal products for protein intake are so much more expensive than protein rich plant foods such as beans, lentils and legumes.

Tip 7: Breastfeed your children full-term (usually between 2 and 4 years), allowing them to wean themselves. All financially challenged countries value extended breastfeeding for ensuring optimum nutrition for the child.

Tip 8: Ensure your child gets outdoor sun exposure directly on unprotected skin, all-year-round, to boost vitamin D levels. Even when it’s cloudy and raining, the rays still come through.

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Tip 9: Learn how to get the most out of your whole foods products. Eg. One fresh coconut can provide you with at least three products; coconut milk, coconut water and desiccated coconut. You can also learn easy ways to tun simple, whole food ingredients like raisins, dates and cashews into home-made versions of popular shop bought snacks such as ‘Naked’ bars.

Tip 10: Take advantage of government initiatives to save you money; healthy start vouchers are a great way to save money on your fresh fruit and vegetables in the UK.

Barefoot baby: how shoes are dis-connecting our children from great health

19 Jun

IMG_1104Once your child begins to walk, the next event many parents get excited about is the first trip to buy the first pair of shoes; some parents get so excited about shoes that they put them on their baby’s feet before they can walk and sometimes even before they can crawl!

Shoes that are commonly worn today ,with rubber insulating souls, are a very new invention in the history of man’s evolution. For eons of years men, women and children roamed the earth with their bare feet and slept and sat directly in contact with the earth’s surface. In extreme cold weathers they may have also wrapped conductive animal skin around their feet and under their bodies whilst they slept for extra warmth but the body was in contact directly with the earth’s energy for at least 80% of the time. Nowadays due to insulating shoes, raised beds, synthetic carpets in our homes and artificial carrying devices for children our human race is now directly connecting with the earth less than 1% of the time, 0.025% to be exact or just 10 minutes a month.

So why should this matter? Does your child like to run their hands along a brick wall whilst being pushed along in a buggy? Have you ever wondered why so many children ask to take their shoes off whilst outdoors? Have you ever noticed small babies chewing on the metal chain of a swing and wondered why they find it so appetising?

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The answer lies in the earth’s natural medicine that can bring health and happiness back to us all. The earth acts like a giant, constant, self regenerating battery, re-charged by lightning storms with a never-ending supply of free electrons also known as negative ions. For those of you who are scientifically minded check out this interesting study (http://electromagnetic-pollution.com/attachments/EFX_science_Ober_chronicInflammation1.pdf).If you’re confused then stay with me and I’ll break it down…

Our bodies are full of cells which all have an electrical charge to keep them functioning effectively. The movement of nutrients and water into and out of the cells is regulated by these electric fields. The atoms that make up our cells each have a pair of electrons whizzing round them in constant orbit. When our bodies are attacked by stressors such as electromagnetic pollution from mobile phone masts and domestic appliances, a process known as free radical damage takes place. Free radicals are solo electrons which want to pair up with a second electron; in the process they rob an electron from the next stable pair that they come across. To understand this better consider a single person running off with someone else’s partner and breaking up their relationship. This then results in a domino effect for surrounding coupled electrons. The single electron becomes unstable, without a partner, and in search of a new mate then steals off the next pair it comes across….quite the home wrecker!

This process is how inflammation and disease is created. “A build-up of free radicals over time will wreak havoc with your immunity by causing a cascade of cellular destruction; all because these little molecules are electrically unstable and require a ‘donation’ of an electron to stop the damage from continuing.” (http://www.bdlive.co.za/blogs/health/2013/05/29/earth-yourself-the-benefits-of-barefoot-healing)

Fortunately for us planet earth has created a way to help guard against the body’s damaging attack on itself. Much like plugs and electrical devices have a grounding wires to stop any interference in the signal occurring, we humans too have the ability to directly re-connect to the earth which provides us with a constant flow of free electrons. These free electrons act like speed daters; they will happily pair up and prevent those free radicals from interfering and breaking up the healthy relationships by donating them a flow of new partners to satisfy their pairing needs.

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The higher up from the earth we travel, the more positive charge we experience. This is often noticed as static charge in our hair or an electric shock when touching a door handle; something we experience more in the winter time when we are least connected to the earth and the air is artificially heated, creating friction and more positive charge. The earth has an abundant supply of negatively charged ions which neutralise the effect of electromagnetic pollution in the atmosphere around us.

Grounding or earthing is a process which not only aids in decreasing inflammation (which is the root to most disease) it also improves immune function and helps to regulate body temperature and circadian rhythms (sleep wake cycles). As a result, the more grounded you can become the better you sleep, the less cold you feel, the less you will ‘catch bugs’  and the less pain, inflammation and depression you experience.

The key to connecting back to this vital healing source is to allow yourself and your children to go barefoot on the earth and touch it  directly with the skin as much as possible. It’s important to realise that only natural materials conduct the earth’s free electrons, not man-made insulating materials.

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Natural Materials:

grass, mud, metal (unpainted), cotton, linen, bamboo, trees and plants, human and animal skin/hair (e.g. leather), glass and sand, marble, concrete, stones, tiles and brick, natural bodies of water such as lakes, sea, rivers and even running water coming directly on to the skin from taps and the shower through metal pipes.

Man-made synthetic materials which insulate and therefore do not conduct:

plastic, synthetic rubber (incl. souls of shoes and pushchair wheels), polyester and acrylic (clothing and fabrics), carpets, dead and treated wood (decking and flooring), tarmac, chemical coatings in paint, bath tub, lined paddling and swimming pools.

In addition to the numerous benefits of grounding, going barefoot also enables healthy development of the muscles in the feet and creates correct spinal alignment. If your child has collapsed arches or balance and postural problems one of the first things a chiropractor will encourage is to take off their shoes and give your child more barefoot time.

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Perhaps the biggest obstacle to achieving this may be the fear of your little one treading on something sharp or undesirable. My little one walks barefoot on seemingly sharp and rugged surfaces all the time including pebble beaches and wood chips; due to the lack of tension in his legs and body he does not feel pain like we adults might do. If you do still want them to have some layer of protection there are now leather moccasin slipper style shoes for ALL ages to give protection to the feet when the weather is dry/cold. Don’t forget that even these wont keep your kids grounded if they aren’t wearing natural cotton fibre socks underneath. (http://www.star-child.co.uk/)

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It can also be difficult to ground if you live in a particularly cold or wet climate; it’s much more appealing to take your shoes off and jump in a lake or the sea to have a grounding swim when it’s warm outside. The cheapest way to combat this is to encourage your kids to go climbing and touching the living trees more often, rolling in the grass and playing in the sand pits getting their hands dirty. For young babies you can wear them in a sling and through touching your skin and connecting to your electron flow they will also be grounding. At least 30 minutes a day of making direct contact with the earth can make a huge difference to your child’s health, try it and see for yourself!

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If you have a little more cash to splash there are some great products which allow you to sleep grounded in bed using a cotton and silver threaded sheet connected to the earthing prong in a plug socket. This increases your connection to the earth to nearly half of the time. There are also handy conductive grounding mats, also plugged in to a socket and are especially useful for putting under little feet whilst playing the computer or watching a film. (http://www.earthing.com/)

Next time your kids ask to take their shoes off instead of worrying about the dirt and the cold think of it as a nutritional supplement boost of free electrons which will help to calm, regulate, restore and re-balance them…..and after they’ve finished there’s always wet wipes for a quick and easy clean.

For more information on going barefoot and its benefits, read the book ‘Earthing’ by Clinton Ober.

Mental invitations, the real root of childhood illness

6 Jun

grumpsHave you ever noticed that your child becomes unwell during times of major changes, trauma and emotional stress? Maybe they’ve just started nursery, a new sibling has arrived or they’ve got a test coming up. Perhaps there’s an unwelcome visitor who creates feelings of awkwardness and judgement or an appointment coming up such as the dentist.

Disease has many triggers: poor nutrition, environmental allergens, lack of exercise and toxin overload; the real root cause to why the disease has manifested in a particular way may lie far deeper in the troubled mind.

Shamans and ancient healers have long believed that all dis-ease originates from disturbances in the mind/ psyche and they treat their patients through techniques such as chanting and invocations to access and ‘release’ the negative energies causing disruption.

Humans are energetical beings affected by everything around them that has its own energy field, even that which we cannot see or touch; whether it be mobile phone radiation or a domineering person exerting their forces of control.

Have you ever notice how some people uplift you and others make you feel drained and depleted? This is due to how our energy fields interact with others, some build your energy higher whilst others deplete it. If it becomes too depleted, disease will manifest in the body. As children are under the guidance and control of the adults surrounding them, the adults issues will have a direct affect on their well-being whether we accept it or not.

Below I have taken a selection of common childhood imbalances from Louise L. Hay’s book ‘You can heal your life’ and given their mental invitations/thoughts that have helped to manifest that particular illness.

Try not to discredit or take this information too personally; as the Buddhists teachings say, we all come here with our own karmas and the only certainty in life is that all humans will endure suffering at some level.

  • Accidents – Inability to speak up for the self. Rebellion against authority. Belief in violence.
  • Aches – Longing for love/to be held.
  • Allergies – Denying own power.
  • Anemia – Lack of joy. Fear of life. Feeling not good enough.
  • Adenoids – Family friction. Arguments. Child feeling unwelcome or in the way.
  • Anxiety – Not trusting the flow and process of life.
  • Asthma – Smother love. inability to breathe for oneself. Suppressed crying.
  • Baby asthma – Fear of life. Not wanting to be here.
  • Bedwetting – Fear of parent, often the father.
  • Childhood diseases – Childish behaviour in the adults around them.
  • Colds – Too much going on at once. Mental confusion.
  • Colic – Mental irritation. Impatience. Annoyance in the surroundings.
  • Pink-eye – Anger and frustration. Not wanting to see.
  • Eye problems – Not wanting to see what is going on in the family.
  • Earache – Anger. Not wanting to hear. Too much turmoil. Parents arguing.
  • Eczema – Breath-taking antagonism. Mental eruptions.
  • Fevers – Anger. Burning-up.
  • Overweight – Represents protection. hypersensitivity.
  • Hay fever – Emotional congestion. Guilt. A belief in persecution. A fear of the calendar.
  • Headaches – Invalidating the self. Self-criticism. Fear.
  • Infection – Irritation. Anger. Annoyance.
  • Inflammation – Fear. Seeing red. Inflamed thinking.
  • Influenza (Flu) – Response to mass negativity and beliefs. Fear
  • Jaundice – Internal and external prejudice. Unbalanced reason.
  • Motion sickness – Fear of not being in control.
  • Nail biting – Frustration. Eating away at the self. Spite of a parent.
  • Nose bleeds – A need for recognition. Feeling unwanted and unrecognised. Crying for love.
  • Polio – Paralysing jealousy, a desire to stop someone
  • Stuttering – Insecurity. Lack of self-expression. Not being allowed to cry.

(extracted from ‘You can heal your life’ by Louise L. Hay)

Only you can figure out how best to help your child once you have identified their emotional imbalances. The most important remedy is nearly always to bring back a sense of security and love in to the child’s life. Allow them to talk with someone who will act as a sound board rather than offering solutions and judgements on the issues.Make them feel loved, giving them quality time and showing affection through physical affection, no matter what their age.

Sometimes a bit of TLC along with offloading their emotional baggage in a safe space is all kids need in order to feel heard and understood and begin to heal.

Don’t cut the cord: A lotus, free birth story

3 Jun

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The words ‘natural birth’ often conjure up images of a relaxed home birth with a birthing pool, homeopathic remedies and few interventions from midwives, sometimes even a doula is present. To me natural birth means a whole lot more than just birthing in the comfort of your own home without forceps and drugs.

To truly understand how nature intended women to give birth we must look to the wild animals who are untouched by man. When animals are near the end of their pregnancy they instinctively know when to retreat and allow their offspring a safe passage into the outside world. They choose a quiet and peaceful place without too much stimulation from light or noise and begin their labor alone. Nothing else intervenes for this would cause the mother stress, contracting her birthing muscles which must remain relaxed in order for the labor to progress successfully. Once the offspring have arrived there is no weighing, measuring or wrapping in blankets; the young mammals simply find their way to the breast to suckle and to connect to the vital touch of the mother’s skin who will help regulate their body temperature and provide a feeling of safety and comfort. This closeness with a familiar smell and touch also provides a much-needed buffer against the shock of the transition from a warm, dark and quiet womb to a harshly over stimulating outside world.

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The placenta is the baby’s life source delivering oxygen, food and also expelling waste for a lengthy nine months in most cases. It has grown with the baby, constantly present. Even after birth the placenta continues pumping oxygen to the baby for at least five whole minutes whilst the baby learns to transition to breathing fully with it’s lungs. For as long as the cord pulses, not only oxygen but also other precious nutrients such as iron and stem cells are also being delivered to the baby’s stores, providing an optimal chance for survival and growth.

When we clamp and cut the cord too soon we risk loosing this precious fluid and gas exchange. Some wild animals such as our closest relatives, the chimpanzees must know this instinctively as most of them continue to carry around the placenta with the cord attached to their babies until it naturally drops off and is returned to the earth; what we otherwise refer to as a ‘lotus birth’.  Other animals do chew the cord off shortly after birth but as a vegan this option did not appeal to me.

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Just recently there has been much concern amongst the medical profession of Obstetricians regarding the potential danger of cord non-severance possibility of causing Septicemia. Interestingly even though this subject is talked about with much concern there does not exist any evidence/cases of actual Septicemia or deaths of newborns caused by a mother opting not to sever the cord. There does however, exist many cases of Septicemia in instances of cord severance.

The physical benefits of not cutting the cord include optimum immune protection and reduced risk of infection as no open wound is created. Other benefits are, in my opinion, of a more spiritual nature.

I decided to opt for an unassisted birth without any intervention. I felt strongly to allow my baby to be born at the exact time and in the way that I felt most comfortable. Even though I had emergency numbers on hand, I chose not to have any midwives or medical professionals present as I felt I could not trust them to respect my wishes and follow through on my birth plan. After hearing numerous stories from other women who had birthed with the medical profession I did not feel reassured that I would be fully supported. For these reasons I chose to only have my husband present at the birth.

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We adopted a child-led parenting approach to raise Ulysses, which allows the child to take more control of what happens in their life. Child-led parenting involves raising the child with freedom alongside guidance, without force and punishment. In allowing children to take life at their own pace they learn to trust their own instincts and develop a set of morals and values based on their own experiences rather than the parents interpretation of the world. Such practices as baby-led weaning, non-violent communication and unstructured play form part of a non-forceful approach, much like lotus birthing where the baby’s body decides when to let go of the placenta rather than a third-party.

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Growing up as a conventionally parented child I often felt a sense of powerlessness that in turn created a dependency on others and lack of self-confidence. Natural birth and child-led parenting provides ways you can show the most precious person in your life that you respect, trust and honor their innate wisdom.

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The lotus flower is a symbol most widely recognized from India. Many times I get asked from where does lotus birth originate? I am not entirely sure how it became named, but I would guess it has something to do with the placenta resembling the flower. If you have ever observed a placenta with the cord attached it has a beautiful network of veins running through it as the leaves on a flower have, the cord also bears resemblance to the stem.

Central to all spiritual paths is the concept of ‘letting go’; everything in nature takes its cycle and in it’s own time transforms into the next phase. Just as the mother’s body knows instinctively to release the placenta after it has received the chemical messages released from the baby suckling on the breast, so does the baby’s body know exactly when to release the cord from it’s point of attachment without any intervention.

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During my lotus birth, a lovely six-day period of bonding and closeness was established. We washed and wrapped the placenta everyday to keep it clean and placed it in a waterproof pouch. As the placenta did not release until five hours after the birth this provided for a special bonding period in a close embrace, without separation. During this vital period of bonding between us I felt strongly that it was important that no one else take the baby away and having the placenta still attached to the cord helped to ensure this.

Shortly after the birth, the cord dried quickly into the texture of an electric cable. During the nights we slept with the baby on the bed and the placenta was placed next to the bed. Transporting the placenta with baby around the house was made convenient by using a stretchy wrap, which had a pocket in the front to hold the placenta.

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After six days of healing and bonding we woke up one morning to find baby Ulysses had gripped hold of the cord and detached it by himself, leaving a neat and healthy looking belly button. For the 6 days the placenta was still attached he was very peaceful and slept extremely well. Due to the damp environment where we lived and also choosing to wrap plastic around the cloth, the placenta did not dry out as well as it should have and did leave a musty smell for the last few days however, as the cord had already sealed off and we kept the rooms well aired, I didn’t feel this posed any threat to Ulysses. Despite the minor inconvenience of learning to maneuver around the cord for 6 days and dealing with the cleaning of the placenta I feel the potential benefits of lotus birthing far outweigh any cons and will definitely be having a lotus birth for my next child. With regards to the unassisted part of the birth I’d like to say most likely yes.

In cultures where they maintain their placenta after cutting the cord, a tradition exists for the placenta to be buried to the right side of the front door for a male and the left side for a female. We lived in a block of flats at the time so did not have this option and decided we much preferred the idea of returning the placenta back to the land through the sea rather than burying it. As we love to travel, the sea is a symbol of adventure and freedom, a life I hope Ulysses has the opportunity to experience.