Creating our happy place

Creating our happy place is one practice that helps you step towards your next season. It's an upgrade without losing function.

Dear Creative and Sensitive Mom,

Lots of times other families look happy and fancy. It’s true there are happy and fancy families around. Just because your family or mine isn’t happy and fancy at this point in time, doesn’t mean family can’t be happier.

I can be happier. You too.

At this time of year probably more than any other we’re feeling the burn out of the summer holidays. That’s not to say we didn’t have good and great times. The times were just different and with difference there’s struggle. As the children are settling into new routines we start to look at our own routines and often feel a little lost. What happened to our dreams? Will life always be like this?

I want to tell you this feeling is for a season but truthfully a season can last a long time, if we let it. We have to begin planning our next season but it’s hard if you feel stuck. There’s been times when I’ve been stuck and like childhood tag I needed something or someone to free me. We don’t always have the right people around us lift us up or encourage us. We see others and we see ourselves and there’s a big gulf between us.

It’s more than- what shall I do now the kids have gone to bed?

Creating our happy place is one practice that helps you step towards your next season. It’s an upgrade without losing function. It’s a change in your operating system. It’s the you way through to the next stage.

Essentials for creating a your happy place

Having a plan for you. What do you want to be? do? Do you want to go back to college or uni? Change jobs or careers? Start working? Work differently? Work at home? Be your own boss? Research a little and don’t be afraid of long time frames. Enjoy the process of reconnecting with you.

Have a plan for hobbies. Those things you used to love doing but somehow fell by the wayside. What do you want to learn, try, experience? You may have liked them 10 years ago, feelings perspective has changed. Embrace new ideas whether in a new team or by yourself.

Have a place for your thoughts. Do you have a place where your record your positive, exciting happy thoughts. Is there a place you can look back and be reminded during the darker days?

Have a plan for your mind. What new practice will make your family/you/ your writing/your running/your health/ fill in the blank, better? Have you tried a 30 day challenge recently? When did you last finish that book or article? Fill your commute times with podcasts that nourish and encourage. Words are powerful. Let the right ones reach you regularly.

Cultivate authentic relationships. Find your few people that you can share any of these. Someone who will hold you. Smile with you. Cry with you and encourage you. It might take time but keep moving until you find them. There’s not one and only way of doing things. There’s not one and only one type of person. Find new people.

Creating our happy place is one practice that helps you step towards your next season. It's an upgrade without losing function.

Summer was hot and humid as it was may have zapped our strength but Autumn is coming. There’s a small gradual shift as we cool down and appreciate a difference in the Autumn colors, moods and atmosphere.

Creating our happy place is the start of changing your season.

See you there.


2 Simple Steps That Reduces the Stress of Leaving the House

Just on our way out of the door is the time I notice.

We’ve worked on getting everyone out the door without shouting too much. It used to bother us as parents that rounding up the kids and getting into the car to go anywhere would be so hard. Stressful. Why do they want to play now?

By the time we were all in the car, we all needed a lie down and a time out. We were mad at each other and blamed each other. No one really wanted to do whatever it was we were planning to do with such a cloud over us.

2 Simple Steps That Reduces the Stress of Leaving the House


So we developed the pause.

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TED talks for parents – Grit

TED Talk for Parent-Grit

We want our children to have good character, succeed and have the staying power to keep going. We want them to have grit. The hard thing is trying to do these things without becoming the overbearing and pushy parent.

Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED Talk about Grit really struck a chord. She raises the issue and starts the conversation around staying power and success. Sometimes we have things around backwards because we’ve picked it up from popular media or sweeping generalizations. I especially love the comment that- well doing it this way never was a problem for me. I turned out okay!

This talk challenges us to think differently and so does the work that Carol Dwek has done on Praise and the impact it has on our young children setting them up for failure if we stick to certain scripts.

As you would expect there’s not one answer to character building and teaching grit. This makes it hard for us to pick up that book, article or paper- read it and do it. In our time pressed family lives we want action. How are we going to move ourselves forward? How are we moving our kids forward? It goes on that lofty to do list of ” I’ll get to it” but we don’t often do.

What can we do to start sharing and showing the character traits we want and see grit in action with our kids?

1. Ask questions when reading stories. Allow them time to talk through their answers. Why did he do that? What would you do? What would you do next?

2. Find better scripts. Sometimes we get the reaction we deserve because we don’t think of the impact of our words. I’m guilty. We’re tired or pushed for time. Things are said in the heat of the moment. When our children are not sharing. When our children need to resolve an argument or having a temper tantrum. We can add fuel to the fire. We can get the same response we had the last time or we can try something different. Taking time at a different time to learn some new scripts for dealing with common problems will help. Yes they feel forced and wooden but you learn to adapt, tweak and make them your own.

3. Help the kids from when they are young learn about Growth Mindset. ” belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort. Dr. Dweck has shown that when kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re much more likely to persevere when they fail, because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition.” TED talk- Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED Talk The key to success grit.

4. Spend time focusing on what we want to see happen in our families. Point out good examples in books, real life examples. Catch them doing good. Often we spend a lot of time talking about why did they do something……they don’t know they just did. Lots of hot air. We’d be better off most times talking about what we’d like to see then they can try and do it.

I have much to learn about grit and working on character. Each of our families throws up new challenges. Getting the fundatmentals right matters though and starting the journey with coneversation and information helps.

For more information:

True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach It

The KIPP framework for excellent teaching has some hidden gems for parents,. Download the pdf at the bottom of the page

Seven Keys for Implementing Character in Your School – all just as useful for parents

For older children try the grit test

Example of failure and way to deal with it

After you’ve had a watch let me know what’s your favourite TED talk. I’ll be adding a few more. If you can’t wait then check out the TED talk board on Pinterest.

Instagram tags on playful parenting

Clearly I’m late to the party with Instagram  and Instagram tags but I love it!

With the Instragram app on my smartphone wherever I am with my little ones I can snap a picture and share it. I love looking at my friends pictures and discovering new people.

We’re all about intentional play so I particularly like the playful parenting side of things like you, since you’re here 🙂 There are lots of tags or hashtags on Instagram that instantly connect you with virtual communities of likeminded folks.

I’m sure you have your favourite ones too.

No matter what time of year Instagram is great for capturing the season but during the summer it’s like a special secret weapon. During the summer most of our usual routines are completely different whether that’s blogging, working, and the kids. It’s easy to keep in touch with our playful sides and share our fun.

Here are some of best most well used Instagram tags on play and kid activities

Go find some fun friends and me on Instagram and have a fantastic summer!


How to find and use tags on Instagram?

  1.  Go to your profile page. See the yellow arrow in the picture below. Note the magnifier at the top.
  2. Click that to search.

Instagram profile for playactivities
3. You’ll come to a screen like the one below.

4. Select tags

5. You can see which tags I have used in the past or search for some new ones ( Hint: Use the tags below 🙂

search tags on instagram
6. I clicked #playmatters on my screen
No.1 is a thumbnail of all the photos at the moment. My phone said there were 5864 photos. That’s a lot of inspiration. ( current view)

No.3  Click to see more pictures.

anatomy of the tag

No.2 is the feed for this tag. This is really neat. Just like a twitter list or facebook list. It’s easy to track everyone. Toggle between thumbnails and lists. With the list function you can like as you scroll. ( see below)

Follow a #playmatters user Now here comes the list. I asked friends and looked around for the active tags. Those with lots of photos. Here the are in a handy graphic.


instagram tags kid activities


What are your favourite tags to see or use on Instagram to do with play, kid activities and parenting? Share them below along with your link to your instagram page.

Ten ways to give back to ourselves as parents

10 Ways to give back to ourselves as parents

Let’s talk about us for a moment.

..As parents we are hard on ourselves.

Childhood is such a short period of time we can look back on some aspects and really not remember the joys.

Why is that?

Sometimes it’s because it was just hard work, tiredness and lots of general difficulties all robbing our joy.  We need to nurture ourselves along with our children. Today that’s what we talking about giving back to ourselves as parents. [Read more…]

Abundant Mama Project

When I was a teenager it helped to keep a journal where I could keep my thoughts. As life got busier and my time limited I gradually came to a place where I had a small journal book where I only wrote highlights.

These were short notes on the day.

Not just any notes but positive things that had happened or good memories thoughts.

Each time I remembered I would put something down in my book. I have no idea where I got the idea from now but it must have been from somewhere.

During the hard times of teenage life…… amazing how time and distance alters that perspective, it really made a difference getting me out of that terrible downward spiral.

Reading that journal got me out of the funk.

Righted my ship. [Read more…]

10 fun places to read aloud with the kids

10 fun places to read aloud with the kids

Cuddled up on the sofa is our best place to read aloud together. But as they get more wriggly and jiggly we’ve discovered some other fun places to read aloud.

  1. Bathroom– got to love the echo and the chance to ham up your story telling. Whether clothed and bringing in chairs or a bathtime treat.


    • Local park– sitting on the rug surrounded by openness and a good book. Beware you’ll attract new curious listeners.
    • [Read more…]

How do I find a read aloud for my multi aged children that will work with them all?

Reading aloud is one of those precious moments that many of us reserve for the end of the day when we’re putting the children to bed. This week on Wednesday 7th March is World Read Aloud day a global movement of literacy and reading aloud by LITWorld founder Pam Allyn.

Reading aloud is probably one of the most squeezed activities in our household because of the time pressures. It doesn’t benefit from enough time and thought. The amount of reading generally gets smaller as new siblings arrive and older children learn to read. It doesn’t need to be that way!

In this short extract we hear founder, Pam Allyn tackle this problem When you have more than one child how do you choose the right book that fits them all without giving up on Read alouds?

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27 Parenting Podcasts for the 21st Century parents

You can’t have failed to notice how many ways we can find information. Podcasts have become a really important way that you will learn, are entertained, inspired, take action and grow. Podcasts are produced by enthusiastic hosts passionate about their subjects. The parenting world has a range of podcasts which are a perfect way to listen to information and be part of a community connected without boundaries. They offer comment on current issues in a way that leaves you thinking long after the show is over and urge you to take some action.

Podcasts in general take a huge amount of time to produce and in the parenting world this coupled unpredictable nature of it with more kids coming along, new directions, maternity leave over and normal life there is a tendency to see your favourite show on hiatus or podfade.

The podcasts listed here are in no particular order. They were all current for 2012. Visit the website or better yet download a show and let the host know what you think. They will appreciate it.

Podcasts of 2012

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Solutions for tackling tricky toddler emotions

Solutions for tackling tricky toddler emotions

Strong emotions are a big bug bear when you’re in a playful home or are they really? Our aim as parents surely is to train, teach and allow opportunities of growth. We allow ample unstructured playtime to build creativity; structured activities to encourage skills and further learning; outdoor skills to connect with nature and so on. However, since our children come with varied temperaments, there is that potential to clash. This power struggle of who wins and who loses is a big problem in most of our playful homes. Mostly because we rely on previous experiences and default scripts we are often surprised that really come out of our mouths.

Full-on temper tantrum cry session
{Image Credit}

We can all think of a sticking point in our playful experiences at home and wish we had a tool or trick to just fix it, and fix it forever. Tricks don’t last over time. Although they can get you through situations they often start you down a path that leads to more problems. A better solution is to arm yourself with ideas, tools and solutions that you marinate with overtime and gradually introduce into your family.

Remember, you only have to succeed the last time. 
Brian Tracy

What we know to be true with toddlers

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