Tag Archives: kirri white

Why you should never compare yourself to anyone (especially your husband!)

2 Jul

Some of you already know that in early September, I am competing in the Bridge to Brisbane fun run this year. I am NOT a runner. I love to dance, zumba, box and pump it.  Running, not so much.

However, I enjoy challenging my personal fitness goals in an effort to stay motivated and shake things up.  Running, even 5 or 10km, is that challenge.

I have been training over the past month or so and steadily increasing my P.B (that’s ‘Personal Best’ for you non-running folk).

What you may not know is that hubby is also competing, but until yesterday, had not run anywhere other than from the car to the beer store.

So…given it was his first time, I hoped expected him to suffer and thought I would need to take it easy on him.

So not the case. At all.

He killed it out there! His basket-baller limbs propelled him forward effortlessly while I ran alongside like the proverbial energizer bunny on speed. I kept pace but only just, and by the end of our run, I was beet-faced and breathing ragged.

He looked like he was just warming up. (He sucks, right?)

At that moment, standing by his side – I felt quite disheartened and a little aggravated.

It didn’t matter to me that he plays soccer and is younger with a 6ft.1” stride compared to my (almost) 5.6”

I had worked hard to be able to run that far and there he was blitzing it on his first go.

It was a slapping reminder why it is never good to compare yourself to others.

Caz Makepeace from Mojito Mother recently did an in-depth podcast on the subject.  She surmises that we should be comparing our achievements to our own personal goals  rather than the successes of other people.

  • Comparisons only shed light on what is lacking in your life.
  • Comparing your own achievements to others can make you feel unhappy, less than, or resentful.
  • Every time you do it, you are automatically highlighting your shortcomings

In summary –

No matter what you do or how long you learn or master a new skill – there is always going to be someone who can do it better.  Furthermore, you are at risk of comparing your whole worth with their one superior skill-set.

No good can come of this!

Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on yourself

  • Look at your own personal strengths and values. Appreciate them.
  • Increase your own game.  Compare yourself to yourself.
  • Love yourself with all your imperfections.

As long as you are doing your best – your best is good enough. What more can you do?

*Finally, if all else fails…run twice as hard and twice as often and put itching powder in your opponents shoes in the day of the race.

~Kirri

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How being a mum can lead to highly successful habits

24 May

Written by Kirri White.  Follow me on twitter or facebook.

You can also contact me by email –  kirri@happymumsathome.com

A couple of weeks ago, I had an Oprah-esque ‘Aha’ moment while watching Australia’s Masterchef.  One of the top 24 contestants, Kate – occupation ‘mum,’ was taking part in a team challenge which involved being woken (after two hours sleep) to bake artisan-worthy bread for eight hours straight.

A lot of the contestants emerged bleary-eyed and cranky, but not this Mumma!  She cheerily narrated that parenthood had more than prepared her for this type of challenge:

when you are a mum, you get used to having to work hard,
whether you like it or not, whether you feel like it or not.

Damn straight, I thought. This woman’s going to bake some killer bread!

Becoming a mum is fraught with experiences that can lead you to a whole new level of learning. From the very first moment you gingerly claim your newborn …your life is no longer yours.  You are officially ‘owned’, required to be on call 24 /7 and have orders communicated to you in a cacophonous language not yet fully understood by either parties.

Days and nights blend into the same monochrome and for many new parents, the outside world can seem like an alternate universe.

I know that some mums allegedly give birth to “sleepers” *dislike* but for most of us, becoming a parent is an exhausting exercise comparable to the effects of sleep deprivation-torture-tactics used in war-fare.

And no, you don’t get to call in sick….ever.

I have had to lay, vomit bucket at head-level while my three-year olds whined and pulled my hair in an effort to “stop mummy being boring”.  Fortunately, I also had my life-saving five-year old at hand, who was able to make lunch among puddles of juice and vegemite smears.

While many childless couples look forward to engaging in some serious ‘lounging’ on the weekends, mummies have forgotten that it is in fact the weekend.

No down time for you sistah!  It’s business as usual, 365 days a year.

Such is the nature of the unwritten job description.  You may not realise that ‘this’ is exactly what you signed up for but you step up and you do it.

Not to say that it’s all hard work and tears.  There are many positives to having your world shaken sideways by mummyhood. After a while, you catch your groove, and inadvertently find you have adopted a few habits of the ‘highly successful’.

For example:

You now have the permanent built-in alarm of a serious go-getter that wakes you up early no matter what. You may even morph into a healthier version of yourself, given that you no longer go out partying every weekend till 5am.

Establishing routines, organising schedules and planning events are things that have now become second nature. Household supplies and food are dutifully replenished, budgets micro-managed and a multitude of other tasks accomplished every day.

You get used to working diligently without being pushed, asked, thanked…or sometimes even noticed.

The mood of a small child can easily dictate how your day will play out from moment to moment.  As such you learn to adjust plans accordingly.  You become far more resilient and capable at handling the downright ugly and seemingly impossible. Even in public.

As your child’s first role model, you become more adept at building and maintaining positive relationships, promoting perseverance and cooperation.  With kidlet eyes now taking in your every move, you try to emulate ‘goodness’.  You become a leader without a title, far more responsible, self-contained and polite.  You become better at controlling and managing yourself and your emotions….most of the time anyway.

Flippancy to the side…being a mum can lead to strengthening all of the skills you gained as a singleton, with the addition of a few more.  In my humble opinion.

All learning has an emotional base ~Plato

Being a mum may not always educate the intellect but it does educate the heart.  The emotional intelligence I have gained in seven years of parenting remains unparalleled.  Coincidentally, emotional intelligence has been widely reported as one of the strongest indicators for success in life and directly affects ones psychological well-being (ref).

I read somewhere that the brain gives knowledge but the heart gives direction. As a mum even though your heart now moves independent of your body – the sense of purpose, passion and direction you feel can spur you on to achieve greatness in all areas of life.

Sidenote: Some of you may be thinking that this particular blog is biased and a tad dismissive of non-parents or even daddy’s.

I would concur.

But sometimes a mummy needs to hear that she is valued, competent, resourceful and freakin’ fabulous!

She needs to understand that the skills and experiences acquired through parenthood hold relevance in any environment and that she is a successful contributing member of society right here and now.

Nuff said!

~ Kirri

The 30-day happiness project

16 May

Written by Kirri White.  Follow me on twitter or facebook.

You can also contact me by email –  kirri@happymumsathome.com

Happiness lies less in our circumstances than in what we make of them (Author unknown).

Last week, I wrote about gratitude and how it can be a powerful tool for helping relieve depression (see here).  Coincidentally, for the past month, I have been involved in a “Happiness Project”, initiated by Naomi from Seven Cherubs.

Over 100 bloggers participated, keeping a one sentence record of our happiest moments for 30 days.  The aim was to heighten awareness of the types of things that promoted happiness and to see if keeping a daily record held any lasting effects.

My personal list is as follows, recorded from 10th April-10th May:

Today, I had an early morning combat class and experienced a rush of feel good endorphins instead of pain!

A rare solo drive today and as I rocked out to Stanton Warriors “Get up” the big blue sky smiled with me.

Pure joy=a cup of freshly brewed java and a moment of solitude watching the sunrise.

Parent-teacher interviews; so reassuring to learn that my baby girls are settling well into their first year at school.

My girls and I created our own less skillful but way more-hilarious “Thriller” dance tonight and are now all MJ lovers!

So happy that my youngest has stopped throwing up and the rest of us remain well….fingers crossed.

A weekend of kiddy birthday parties – too much squealing and junk food, but so much fun!

Don’t ask me why I have been up at 4.30am every day this week, but as for the amount of work I’ve completed…yeeyah!

Today I was given a handmade card from darling-heart daughter letting me know how ‘greatful’ she is to have me in her ‘live’!

My hubby looks super fine today and is smiling….at me.

Super hyped to wake up this morning and discover I had been acknowledged for my writing skills by a complete stranger.

A long overdue skype catch up with one of the most spectacular friends equals huge smiles for rest of day!

Today my big girl turns seven and apparently it is the Biggest.News.Ever.

I know that Easter is not all about chocolate but sheesh, I love nibbling on easter bunny ears!

Caught up with beautiful Lucy today and felt more invigorated than ever about living life hard.

Remember how much fun it was, being able to ride your new bike round the neighbourhood?

Cool morning, hot day, magical sunset.

Teaching kids new stuff can be so much…..messy fun!

Sharing in someones vision is great, helping them achieve it in three months, fantabulous.

New dress and an opportunity to get glammed up…yay!

I miss dad extra today but am so grateful for all that he taught me and all the love he shared.

So many exciting possibilities forming on the work-front…butterflies anyone?

It can be daunting meeting new peeps and making new friends but I think I did just that today.

Gym time is my time is good time!

Cool enough this evening to enjoy a warm bowl of spicy pasta and a gorgeous glass of Beaujolais.

I can’t even tell you why I am flying high today.  It’s a secret but just know I am…flying high.

A blanket, my lap-top and working in sunshine.

My dinners always seem like rubbish compared to cheffy hubbys; lucky he has cooked the past three nights!

Learnt today that my mum and big sister are still there to pick me up when I most need it.

When neighbours become best friends…so happy we landed right here.

From my list (and the many others I have been reading), it is often the simple things that impart the most pleasure -family, friends and meaningful connection.  Acts of service, being outdoors, good food and keeping active were also highly relevant factors for promoting positivity.

For me, the project highlighted the fact that personal happiness is rarely related to material pleasures.  Happiness can easily be observed in the small moments, and for me, committing to record these happy thoughts on an ongoing basis, increased my happiness quotient.

~ Thanks for reading and have a happy day!

The power of gratitude

13 May

Written by Kirri White.  Follow me on twitter or facebook or email me  kirri@happymumsathome.com

There have been times in my life when I have found it next to impossible to be happy. Dark lonely days, where smiles and hugs from family members failed to penetrate my blanket of despair.  A pervading sense of disconnection, apathy and complete inability to experience gratitude….

Yup, that was me.  I’ve suffered from depression and I’m ok writing and talking about it.

I know I’m not alone.

Depression is the third largest individual health problem in Australia after heart disease
and stroke. (ref)

1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of depression during their life. (ref)

Each year, approximately 1,000,000 adults and 100,000 young people in Australia experience a depressive illness. More than 50% will not seek treatment. (ref)

For me, one of the most challenging facets of this illness is the fact that there are many people who would prefer not to hear about it, or acknowledge it as a real illness.  Depression may not be as taboo as it was twenty years ago but “mental illness” of any sort is still stigmatized.

How bad does it feel when you attempt to share your pain, only to be told over
and over –

You’ll be ok, you just have to try harder.

Don’t cry – we don’t have to talk about it anymore, ok?

Come on, snap out of it! Think about how this might be affecting your babies!

Helpful, no.  Hurtful, yes.  Understandable?  Yeah, I get it.  If you’re depressed, you are a definite fun-assassin!

But that was then and this is now.  That part of me has faded into the background and a newer version emerged – genuinely smiling, appreciative and happy.

Most of the time.

So what if that black dog comes round for another visit!  I’m far more resourceful and resilient now and the knowledge that I have beaten depression before is both comforting and empowering.

 

The power of gratitude

Believe it or not, expressing gratitude on a daily basis was one of the most effective weapons in my arsenal for defeating depression.

I was fortunate that even in my most depressed state – I never gave up. I knew that I could fight my way back to wellness even when the actual experience of being happy seemed as far away as the moon.

I took to recording my ugliest thoughts and fears on paper, in a hopeful effort to have them disintegrate into the harried scrawls of ink.

I also began a daily gratitude journal.  Maybe I couldn’t feel those sunshine thoughts, but surely I could find a few things to be grateful for?

Writing one or two sentences every day was something I knew I could commit to.

Some days it was being thankful for nothing more than a great cup of coffee or a two-hour stint of uninterrupted sleep.  Other days, observing the melodic babbling of my babies or the stoic way my Canadian family braved the brutal winter elements; were enough to keep my feet planted in the realm of possibility.

I also noticed that the act of recording gratitude accumulated to the point where I could soon find five things instead of just one to be genuinely thankful for.  My list began to grow and flow with ease and eventually I started to feel the gratitude rather than just write about it.

After six months of committing to this practice and combined with counselling, exercise, medication and the loving support of a few family members and friends – I was able to reclaim my passion for life.  Damn, it felt good!

I’m not saying that this daily practice of being grateful was a cure for my depression but I do believe it was a crucial factor for recovery.

How can gratitude increase happiness?              

The power of gratitude and its positive effect on mood and well-being has been widely documented (see here).

Being grateful moves your focus from a mindset of scarcity to abundance.

Appreciating and noticing the small blessings leads to a focal point of more – more positive things to take note of and a heightened awareness of the miniscule details that bring pleasure.

Moreover, like many habits – the longer you do it, the easier it becomes and the more powerful the effects can be.  Gratitude helps you maintain a more positive outlook and contributes to emotional well-being.

It also has social benefits – we all prefer to hang with positive people, right?

Creating an atmosphere of gratitude in your home

It can be challenging trying to instill an ‘attitude of gratitude’ in your home.   Children are notoriously self-centred and unappreciative, particularly when it comes to their own family members.

I have found that the most effective way to increase an appreciative atmosphere is to model the behavior.  Children get annoyed when you constantly tell them to thank every person they meet but if they notice you always make a point of giving thanks when called for, they are sure to follow suit…eventually.

Writing small notes or sending emails of Thanks in a timely manner is also an effective way to teach gratitude.  Thanking
Grandma on Skype for a birthday gift, or writing a note to a teacher for a fun lesson well taught are recent examples of gratitude my girls have initiated.

Nature provides endless opportunities and spectacles for inquisitive minds to marvel at. A rainbow or butterfly on your walk to the park.  Eating lush tropical fruit on a hot summer’s day.   Observing natures gifts together is not only fun for kids but also reminds us big kids to take note of the things that we so often take for granted due to years of familiarity.

My favourite, most effective display of appreciation in our household is the ‘Gratitude Prayer’.

We take turns at dinner time to have a prayer of gratitude – a practice that the girls enjoy and add their own flavour to –

I’m thankful that my hair was pretty today and I got to see ‘Barbie in a Fashion Fairytale’.

I really liked the chocolate easter egg I ate and I hope I get some more tomorrow.

Every now and then they also delight with their thoughtfulness and an inkling that they are beginning to grasp the power of gratitude-

Thank you for my daddy who works so hard….my sister who is an angel from the sky cos she plays with me at school…. and my uncle who I miss lots and lots.

That’s it from me today.

Let me know in the comments how you like to ‘get your grateful on’?

~Kirri

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea 2011

5 May

Cancer.

An ugly disease. It has the power to instill blind fear and insufferable pain.

Cancer also leaves many survivors in its wake. Those who fought and won. Everyday people with amazing stories that deserve to be celebrated.

I have even read reports of people who are thankful to have ‘tussled’ with cancer. Battlers’ whose lives have now become so precious that they live every day with wonder and gratitude.

In my personal experience though, cancer is a thief. It crept into my life without warning and stole my dad years before any of us were ready to say goodbye. Ten months from prognosis to ashes.

Who hasn’t been touched by cancer? I guarantee that if you are reading this, you will know someone whose life has been irrevocably altered by cancer. A family member, friend, or someone you once went to school with. Cancer is everywhere.

Sorry to be a downer guys, but I do admit to possessing a bit of a hate-on for cancer!

This is why I feel truly honoured to have been asked to promote Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea by the NSW Cancer council’s media office.

It’s a way of joining the fight – increasing awareness and helping raise money to fund vital cancer research, prevention, information and support services.

Officially held on May 26, you are invited to switch on the kettle, register now and invite your friends, colleagues and family to join Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea in May and help reduce the impact of cancer in Australia.

Who: Get together friends, family, school mates, work colleagues, or anyone who wants to help beat cancer in your community.

When: The official date is Thursday 26 May, but you can hold a morning tea any time during May (or June).

Where: Anywhere! You can hold your morning tea at home, at work, at school, or in your local town hall. The possibilities are endless!

How: Hosting a morning tea is easy. Register here

On the website, you can also access some yummy recipes from the likes of Callum Hann and Adriano Zumbo

It doesn’t matter how big or small your morning tea is. Invite your friends, family or work-mates and encourage them to donate to the cause.

Finally, if you don’t have time to host a morning tea yourself, you can make a tax deductible donation right here.

Get your cake n cuppa on!

And the winner is….Me!

21 Apr

I woke up this morning to find out I have been honoured with the Versatile Blogger Award by fellow blogger – LifeAsMummyMax from daddy, mummy and kiddie max.   Just so you know – I had never heard of her prior to this auspicious occasion and no money has exchanged hands….But of course I think she totally rocks!

Have to say, that along with my early morning caffeine, I’m feeling super hyped and happy right now.  Funny how an unexpected dose of acknowledgement from a complete stranger can do that.

The rules are that I have to share seven somewhat unknown and presumably interesting facts about myself and also pay it forward by nominating 15 other newly discovered bloggers for the same award.

So, seven random facts about me….mmmm….tricky:

  • You know how you read about those weird little kids with imaginary friends who actually believe they are real, talk to them and have a place set next to them at the table?  Yup, that was me.  Her name was Jane and she was my side-kick for approximately two years of my life.  She was cute, funny and way more kick-ass than me.  Jane helped me through some of my more awkward moments from the ages of 5-7.  I still think of her fondly sometimes.
  • I am always puzzled by people who arrange their drinking glasses ‘rim down’ in the cupboard.  Ok…more than puzzled. I do not like. Think about it – you may clean your glasses every day after use but then you put them rim down in a cupboard that most likely has not been cleaned in 6 months??  Just stop it and let me breathe again.
  • I’ve visited many countries and enjoyed living in New Zealand, Canada, England and South Korea but I’ve always been fiercely in love with Australia.  The burnt landscape, endless beaches, crazy unaffected people and resounding buzz of cicadas are deeply entrenched in my heart.  I just love my country.
  • I’ve always liked my feet.  They’re small, strong, nicely shaped and for the amount of dancing and high-heels they have endured; they remain suprisingly soft and un-calloused.
  • Okay, speaking of attractive body parts…While all my friends were checking out boys with sparkling eyes and bulging biceps, my eyes gravitated to an area much lower…no not that low – to the HANDS…(tsk tsk)!  If you were to see my hubbys’ hands…you would understand exactly why I married him.  Nuff said.
  • I never wanted to get married or have kids – especially the kids part.  My first baby girl was an “accident” and I now view her birth as a serendipitous event.   She gave me a reason to keep living when my dad died, the opportunity to discover that I could be a great parent and the desire to have more babies.  Lucky me!
  • Finally…..I’m a firm follower of ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’. I will always prefer one cup of freshly brewed coffee than 3 instant; one row of handmade quality chocolate over a whole bar of factory made. You can put me in any store and by pure chance, my favourite item is usually going to be the most expensive. Champagne tastes on beer money?  That’s me folks 🙂

Now the extra fun part –  to pass the award on to 15 other newly discovered (to me at least), deserving bloggers.  They include mummy bloggers, photography and style fanatics, eco-conscious devotees and people with a huge social conscience.  Check them out!

  1. My green picket fence
  2. Nicole Hastings Photoblogging
  3. Axxentor
  4. Gina Smith Photography
  5. Ofthenow
  6. A buddhaful journey
  7. An Aussie Mums Guide to Eco-friendly Babies
  8. The Grasshopper Foundation
  9. Maid in Australia
  10. Sunny Mummy
  11. Seven Cherubs
  12. Romantic Flair Original
  13. Styling You
  14. Martyr-hood
  15. Planning with Kids

Thanks again LifeAsMummyMax!

~Kirri

Is it the pursuit of excellence or the journey that matters most?

12 Apr

Written by Kirri White

When I received my first report of straight A’s at the tender age of eight – I recall my dad reacting with pride and jubilance.  In some way, the diminutive column of letters reflected his own achievement and were unanimous proof that I had been listening to all of his routine pep talks:

“Practice makes perfect.”

“The early bird gets the worm.”

“Whatever the mind can conceive, man can achieve.”

“Never give up.  Embrace the positive.  Whatever you resist will persist.”

“No matter what, you are a survivor.”

These are just some of the quotations that my dad used to regularly impart to me and my three siblings from a very young age. Sometimes they would come off the back of something celebratory such as when my older sister won a school cross-country run and dad firmly decided that she was now a professional athlete in the making.  Occasionally, they would also come when one of us had a less than stellar performance and were in need of assurance or a virtual shove to persevere.

Most of the time, I soaked up these references with the typical adulation of a true daddys’ girl.  As a teen, I occasionally resented them.  Whatever the case, I soon had his favourites firmly committed to memory and used to find it extremely amusing to mimic them back in silly voices (in my head only of course!)

From what I could ascertain, my fathers’ sayings seemed to follow a similar vein.

Life was all about striving to do your best, reaching for the stars, and never ever giving up.  I learned early on, at least in the metaphysical sense that I could excel at just about anything through sheer hard work and determination.

The problem lay with my dad being equally fond of referencing quotes that were fixed at the opposite end of the spectrum

“Life is all about the journey.”

“It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.”

“This is your journey and you will carve your own path.  Just don’t forget to notice the signs and rainbows along the way.”

It all got to be a little bemusing after a while.  I felt like he was telling me to strive for excellence but to also ensure my life was one big yoga retreat!

This philosophical puzzle was further compounded by my reading. Some books would have messages about giving life your all, reaching for the stars and striving to be your best and then others would recommend slowing down to smell the roses and living life purely for the moment.

So which one is it?
Is life, in essence, the dogged pursuit of achievement and self-actualised potential?  Or is it about the meandering trail of memories and special moments that we, as individuals are required to pause and suck up?

Robin Sharma, who speaks on success and leadership refers to ‘“ambidextrous leadership” as a way of explaining the need to effectively balance the sometimes opposing roles of a leader.

For example – A great leader is rational and logical, making sound and sometimes difficult decisions. But a champion leader is also a humanitarian – someone who understands and celebrates the heart of people.

Sharma espouses the same approach to life.

The essence of life lies not in the execution but in the balance.

Now, maybe I’m a bit of a slow learner, but this was my ‘Ya-ha’ moment for the week.

Life is all about balance and the complex symmetry of making it happen with letting it happen.

How do we balance work with family?  How do we strive to afford ourselves and our families the material luxuries in life while also living lives with greater connection and meaning?

How do we be the best that we can be while at the same time appreciating each step on our climb?

How do we counter moments of playfulness and frivolity with the seemingly endless and often burdensome responsibilities of being an adult and a parent?

How about the desire to be a decent and dare I say ‘nice’ person, without being taken advantage of or seen as lesser or weaker than?

My message for today and the advice my dad was trying to instill in me all those years is simple –

Make your plans, strive to achieve all your goals but don’t be so busy striving that you miss out on the climb.  Work hard AND play hard.

Always give it your best shot but don’t forget to capture those precious Kodak moments.

Play your best game and have fun doing it.

Be nice but firm.

Be someone your kids want to hang with but also know how to instill boundaries and make some of the less popular decisions.

Look at your life and aim for balance.  I know, it’s not particularly profound but often the beauty really does lie in the simplicity.

My only wish is that I had the opportunity to tell my dad that I finally get it.

He was a legend.

What valuable lessons have you learned from your parents?

How do you practice achieving balance in your life?

~ Kirri

The dangers of multi-tasking (or how to be less crazy and more productive!)

1 Apr

Written by Kirri White – Follow me on twitter

I’m going to go out on a limb today and assume that most readers are familiar with the meaning of the term “multi-tasking’ and also with the general consensus, that women are more effective multi-taskers than men.

However, I wonder how many of us view multi-tasking as a necessity for modern living? Is it something that you employ in your daily routine to ensure you get as much done in as little time possible?  Furthermore, just how effective is it?

I used to pride myself on being a fabulous multi-tasker and becoming a mum is what pushed me into this seemingly fine habit.  I would whip up a double batch of muffins while making breakfast, so that I only needed to do the dishes once.  Then, I would start the dishes with the telephone on speaker or cradled awkwardly between neck and shoulder, attempting to catch up with a friend or family member.  In the background, the washing machine would be whirring its way through the first load of many and my then twin babies and toddler would all be vying for my attention – frantically clapping, choir-screaming or cleverly foraging for breakables and potential choking hazards.

Fun times indeed.

It wasn’t until two or more years of living this way that I noticed Ms. Multi-tasker was not the benign smiley faced companion I had initially thought.  Bouncing between doing five things at once had its drawbacks – valuable snippets of conversation missed or forgotten, white clothing items permanently stained pink, important mail thrown into the rubbish and ultimately, scrambled eggs for brains!

My attention to detail was compromised, thought processes scattered and ultimately I seemed to be changing from one task to another and not completing anything in a manner I was satisfied with.  Did I also mention that it was damned stressful at times!

What happens when we multi-task?      

The impact of everyday multi-tasking on performance has been explored in numerous studies.

Findings indicate that multi-tasking may impair short-term memory and concentration, elevate levels of stress hormones and reduce our social skills, creativity and overall sense of wellbeing. (Silvercloud consulting, 2009).

Spend three or more hours with a baby or small child, attending to the immediacy of their physical and emotional needs and I would argue that there will be days (many days!) where you experience complete mental exhaustion.  You may find it difficult to follow adult conversation, feel overwhelmed by dealing with daily bouts of crying and temper tantrums, or be confused and fatigued from having to change task mid-way ten times in one hour.

The bottom line is that while we may think that heaping as many things possible into our day creates more ‘free time’, there is pretty good evidence to indicate we are actually less productive, less effective, less healthy and certainly much less fun to be around.

So, what to do?

As a mum of three young children, I’m not sure if it is possible to completely eradicate the need for multi-tasking. However, it is possible to reduce the negative side-effects of doing too many things at once.  Try employing some of the following strategies when you find yourself careening towards multitasking mayhem:

1)       The first step is to be aware of your multi-tasking habits and ask yourself if what you are doing right now is really necessary.  Focus on managing and directing your energy more effectively and keeping energy renewed rather than focusing solely on ‘clock’ time.  Use your internal ‘stress-o-meter’ as an indicator to whether you are tackling too many things at once.

2)      Complete one task at a time. You can achieve much more in a 30 minute chunk of time if you are completely committed to task, than when you are attempting to cram in as many things as possible into the same time frame.  Choose one task and concentrate on completing it in full before you put your mind to anything else.

3)      Do difficult tasks first.  If you have something that requires a certain level of concentration – do it first thing in the morning when you are relatively well rested and alert.  You will gain a sense of accomplishment that will set a positive light on the rest of your day.  Additionally, if things start to go pear-shaped (which happens from time to time with kiddlywinks) – you will have completed at least one important job that day.

4)      Learn to ignore unnecessary distractions.  Turn off all electronic distractions when not in use. Don’t answer the phone if you are in the middle of making dinner and when you do answer the phone, concentrate on your conversation rather than trying to browse the internet or fold the laundry at the same time.

5)      Set some boundaries and guidelines for your children so that they learn there are times when it is not ok to interrupt.  As rude as it may sound, in our house when we hold up one finger (no, not the middle one!) – the girls know that means that they have to remain quiet for a minute or two, until we are off the phone or finished our conversation.  We started doing this when they were about two years old and they started adhering around three.  It works like a dream now! 

6)      If you are running an online business from home you may want to allocate specific time intervals in which you deal with emails or paperwork.  File electronic or paper mail immediately after you have finished rather than shuffling bits of paper to and fro and having an overloaded inbox.  I check my emails once in the morning and again in the afternoon, responding to emails immediately wherever possible, then filing or deleting old emails so that everything is dealt with then and there. The same applies for all forms of social media  (facebook, twitter etc) – check them once a day at the most.

7)      If you are returning to the paid workforce or starting your own business and find that an addiction to multi-tasking has impacted your ability to concentrate on one task for long – consider some ‘brain exercise’ such as crosswords, Sudoku or, my personal fave –  luminosity.   Such games are hugely beneficial for improving memory, concentration and agility and I’m not embarassed to admit that I have needed a lot of help in this area!!  I can also personally attest to the benefits of regular exercise and taking quality marine oil capsules.

Final thoughts….

Practice being ‘present’ in your daily life.  Stop reacting to every demand for your attention – be more aware and choose what you will attend to right there and then and if it is really necessary to do so.

If, like me, you can’t quite kick Ms. Multi-tasker to the kerb, you may at least be able to effectively micro-manage her before she deals you a punch to the shins!

What’s your take on multi-tasking?  Share with us in the comments.

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A special shout out to all my loyal subscribers!  I really appreciate your support and will do my best to keep learning and sharing work that leads to a more balanced, successful and happy life for us all!

Have a Happy Day

~Kirri

The importance of filling your bucket

9 Mar

My identical twin daughters turned five years old on Sunday and I’m sitting here wondering how on earth that happened?

It really was just yesterday that they appeared surgically, as bundled up baby rats in the operating theatre. I know – comparing them to vermin is pretty harsh, right?  It’s just that they were super tiny, with little body-fat and skin that was transparent in certain areas. They looked like they needed more time before they could be considered ‘fully cooked’ and yet, at 38 weeks, they were apparently perfectly Al dente – just slightly scrawny.

Still…I learned to love them, feed them and teach them cool stuff and now…. they are five.  

The twins recently started attending prep year at school and after a somewhat shaky start, have been making friends, learning new skills and becoming more independent.  It’s an observation that, for me, is both encouraging and alarming.

One day last week they had their first encounter with a substitute teacher and when hubby and I picked them up after school, she approached us and said:

“These are your girls?  They were wonderful today.  You’re very lucky. You won’t have any problems with these two.  I see many happy years ahead in the future – for all of you”

With her tight braids, chocolate-brown shiny skin, and commanding voice – she reminded me of Mama Odie from “The Princess and a Frog”.  Yes, it is sad that I now use Disney Princess movies as frames of reference, but I’m telling you there was something majestic and magical about her!    

Of course, her kind words mirrored back what I often think to myself anyway. I love my girls and am the same as any other parent who thinks their children are special and fabulous and every other adjective likened to wonderful.   But when a virtual stranger affirms these biased thoughts, it is very edifying.

The substitute teacher may have already forgotten that she offered these words of acknowledgement, but I carried them round for several days like precious stones in my pocket.  Those words, I will never forget.

Then, a few days ago, I received a profound and heart-felt email from a friend, thanking me for my support during a particularly dark time in their lives.  He noted that while I must already know how much it had meant to him, he wanted to remind, and thank me again.

Funnily enough, until that exact moment, I did not know for certain, how significant my actions had been.   Sure, I believed our friendship was real and meaningful, but we haven’t seen each other in many years and recent contact has been sporadic.  I was unsure if the value of our friendship and esteem was felt on a mutual level and to have that confirmed, was both reassuring and touching.

On both aforementioned occasions, the emotional impact of words was considerable. I felt acknowledged and assured that my actions mattered – that I mattered. I also noticed that for the rest of the day, my general demeanour was lighter and brighter!

It made me think – How often do we hold back from offering words of acknowledgement or thanks to the people we share this planet with?   How many times have I failed to thank, or taken for granted, my friends, family and connections?  More than I would like to admit.

In 2004, Donald Clifton and Tom Rath published a book titled “How full is your bucket”.

Based on more than 50 years of research in the area of Positive Psychology, they employed a simple metaphor of a bucket and dipper to explain how our daily interactions either improve or diminish other people’s lives.  The basic premise is that saying something positive to another person can fill someones ‘bucket’, resulting in renewed energy and a positive outlook for both parties.  Conversely, negative comments undermine, sap energy and lower the levels in our emotional buckets. 

The book effectively illustrates the important choice we are faced with every day – to fill someone’s bucket with positive words or say and do things that dip from another’s bucket, thereby diminishing their lives and our own. 

My thought is this…let people know that they matter, remind them of their good points, thank them for their efforts; acknowledge them for their time.   Our connections and relationships have the power to join hearts, minds and countries together in a collective consciousness of unity.

I can’t tell you how much my heart leapt with love and pride when that teacher took the time to acknowledge my girls.  Similarly, when my friend contacted me, it really bought home how a small display of gratitude and affection can effectively impact someone’s day from miles away.

My little girls are now one year older. They are far from being babies or even toddlers and are old enough to remember every sentiment that falls carelessly from my mouth.  I intend on ensuring, every day, that they will also be showered with love, smiles and affirmations. 

They may not listen to me as much as I would like, but I figure that if I make more time to fill the emotional reservoirs of others, they will learn by modelling and become fabulous bucket-fillers by the time they reach adulthood.

Happy Birthday beautiful girls!

Why thinking and living like a kid can lead to a happier, more successful life.

25 Feb

Last week, I was confronted by the identical challenge I face every time I attempt to make pasta sauce. 

No, not the fact that I would need to bury the empty jar deep in the recycling bin, to avoid the meaningful looks directed my way by cheffy husband – who can never understand why I don’t just whip up my own sauce.  Pfft.It is the dance of trial and tribulation that ensues every time I attempt to take the top off the jar.  Bloody impossible!! 

I twist it both ways, wringing until my hands are as pink as my face. I then use a tea towel in an effort to assist sweaty sore hands, run the jar under cold, then hot water, bang it on the granite bench and as a last resort mutter a few not-so-niceties about the jar making machine having been designed by some puny-female-hating mean man!

As my efforts become more desperate, I notice one of my darling twin daughters silently observing me.  Approaching me quietly, she places a reassuring hand on my leg (being far too mini to reach my shoulder) and speaks to me with knowing calmness –

“It’s ok mummy. You can do it. I know you can. You just have to believe in yourself.”

How cute is she?  The cutest. Of course.              

I couldn’t help but recognise the familiar words of positive persuasion, borrowed from Winx Club.  Winx Club is an animated Italian television series which we discovered in Canada two years ago.  It follows the adventures of a girl Bloom and her fairy friends, on earth and the Magical Dimension.  Our whole family loves it.  We have taken on individual fairy personas (yes even daddy) and like to spout the theme song, regularly –

Close your eyes,
and open your heart.
Believe in yourself,
that’s how it starts.
Dreams will come true,
just wait and see
Cause the Magic’s in you,
and the magic’s in me!

 Anyway, it got me thinking (in addition to the fact that I really must increase my weights in pump class); about the magical way children view the world.  More specifically, the manner in which their behavior is a timely reminder on how to be more relaxed and present in our lives. 

And so, I present you with the following list of tips for successful living that I have garnered from my children.  Yes, although my girls are aged 4 and 6 – they are budding experts in the area of positive psychology.  Just ask them.   

The list is in no particular order but I dare you to live like a child for a day, or a week, and see how things pan out.  If you don’t feel like you are experiencing more fun, passion, learning and connection with the important people and priorities in your life, you are quite welcome to come and kick my ass!  Well, not mine actually, but my girls.  This is their list after all and I am merely the messenger.

  • Believe in yourself.  Children don’t place limits on themselves the way adults do. They live in a world where anything is possible and nothing cannot be conjured up with a little imagination.  They are fearless and like to take risks.  Tell them they can’t do something and you know they will attempt it, just to prove you wrong.  Don’t doubt yourself before you have even started. Just do it! 

 

  •  Children are passionate, curious creatures.  Be hungry for knowledge and learning like your children.  Ask questions and research the answers in books or the internet. Learn something new every day. Even if it’s a new word or an idea you have been pondering for years.  Knowledge is power and just imagine how powerful your brain will be in a year after absorbing 365 new words or ideas.  You then get to share that knowledge with your kids – plus you will feel a whole lot smarter.

 

  •  Be authentic and genuine.  Children generally see the best in you. They love you unconditionally.  The only masks they wear are those adorned by princesses and super-heroes.  Be yourself. Like yourself.  Respect yourself.  Easy to say and sometimes difficult to do but in the long term, you will feel better inside and people warm to what’s real.

 

  •  Children are open to, and great at, forming relationships. Take them to the park and when you leave 30 minutes later, they are frantically waving farewell to their new ‘bestie’.  Be friendly to the people you meet. Chat with the cashier at your local supermarket and mean it when you say “Have a happy day.” Make eye contact with the other parents at school and smile at your neighbours or people you pass on the street.  Yes, some will think you are a bit of a weirdo but so what….Even if they don’t smile back the first time, I guarantee they will have a better day. Smiles are infectious and they feel good for all parties involved.

 

  • Start your day early and with the gusto of a kid!  Exercise and be energetic. You are allowed to have a cup of coffee first but as you do, smile and ponder over something fun you intend to do today and then make sure you do it!         

         

  • Persist!  Kids are persistent and tenacious. They don’t give up easily.  “Mummy can I have this? “Mummy can I have this? Now can I have it?” Yes, it’s annoying sometimes, but also valuable in a world where after a while, we just start accepting “No” and stop asking for what we really want.

 

  • Children like to touch, explore, observe every detail and inspire connection.  Stop seeing things from the same old and tired perspective.  That’s how our work and personal lives get in ruts – we only see what we are accustomed to and ignore the rest. Remember how you took in every aspect of a new building or face the first time you saw it as a child?  Try and do that as much as possible. You will undoubtedly feel more alert and alive. You may even regain appreciation for something or someone you have been taking for granted.

 

  •  Finally – Celebrate your successes no matter how small.  Every step you take towards learning, creating a positive environment, or mastering a task that has been eluding you for months, indicates growth and progress.  “You learnt how to catch a ball today?  That’s freaking fabulous.”  Tomorrow, world domination!

It’s not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself.  ~Joyce Maynard

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