WHEN mother of five, Yvonne Welham, from Cobh, was stressed to the hilt and found herself totally burnt out, she decided to take time out.
“I had to change my mindset,” says Yvonne, who is a qualified Mindful Parent Coach and understands the many challenges we face at home and the difference a little support and help can make.
“I needed to take a step back to work internally on myself.”
“I had four children under the age of seven. Rhys, Ben, Alex and Evan,” says Yvonne.
“My daughter, Jessica, came along later. I was tired and I was wondering what it was all about.”
In order to find the answer to her question, eight years ago Yvonne took herself in hand. Her first port of call was to a psychotherapist who helped her to look at her mind-set.
“I looked at how I am with myself. That was when my journey began,” says Yvonne.
“My second son, Ben, who is spirited like me, turned out to be my biggest teacher. He taught me a lot. We don’t teach our kids; they teach us.”
She learned a very important lesson too.
“A happy you equals a happy home.”
Yvonne agrees that nurturing the healthy growth of a child into an adult is one of life’s most important roles. But we don’t get enough preparation for this role.
“There is no manual. There is no guide,” says Yvonne. “There are no tips or tools. Looking back, I was winging it a lot. We have to ask for help.”
So when Yvonne found herself unable to cope, that is exactly what she did.
“And I started to care for myself,” says Yvonne. “The effect was life-changing and it had a positive knock-on effect for all the family.”
Yvonne continued her journey, undertaking a life coaching course in 2009/10, as well as qualifying as a fitness instructor. Then she decided to go further afield in a bid to assess her situation as a parent and to better it.
Yvonne, determined to finish her journey now that she had come so far, headed off to a two-week Educo Mind Seminar run by Tony Quinn in the Bahamas.
“I was lucky that my husband, Gary, minded the kids,” says Yvonne.
“It was the best thing I ever did. I came back calm and relaxed; my search over.
“I was always rushing, racing, getting the kids in the car, cooking, cleaning, washing, going to parent teacher meetings, over-seeing homework. I did nothing in the moment. I wasn’t communicating with my children. I learned to be more mindful. I found out that the more I gave myself; the better I was as a mother.”
“I began my day earlier,” says Yvonne. “I did meditation and I was thankful in a positive way. I began a journal, writing down what I wanted. I realised that chasing my tail didn’t work. I took things more slowly. I told my kids to take things more slowly. I got more organised, getting things ready the night before.”
She changed tack.
“The rushing, the ranting, the screaming doesn’t work,” says Yvonne. “Nobody wins.”
She had more time.
“When the kids were asleep I put on a fitness DVD. Exercise brings up the life-force,” says Yvonne. “I went running.”
She didn’t find perfection.
“Parents strive for perfection,” says Yvonne. “There is none.” But she found out something else.
“There are tools to strive for better,” says Yvonne.
“One of today’s woes for parents is that they seem to be constantly saying “No.” They are looking for a solution.”
What is it?
“You must give your children time,” says Yvonne. “You must take the time to ask them what is going on?
“Sit with them. Look into their eyes and communicate fully with them.”
What about children who constantly fight?
“When children fight or argue, they know they are getting your attention,” says Yvonne.
“They want you to react to the situation. Give them your attention at other times. When they are together, maybe colouring or playing; tell them that you love when they are all getting on. Always catch the good behaviour. Soon the children won’t fight to get your attention. They already know that they have it.”
How can we deal with bad behaviour?
“Always tell your children what you expect of them,” says Yvonne.
“When we are going out for a meal, I tell each child beforehand what I expect of them, step by step. In the morning when everybody is getting ready to go to school, I tell them what’s happening. I am putting on the toast, I am making the lunches. We are getting in the car and driving to school. It makes life a lot easier when you tell each child exactly what is going on. Tell them what is happening next. Then there is no melt-down.”
Diet is important.
“Two years ago I eliminated sugar and processed foods from the children’s diet,” says Yvonne. “Nutrition and healthy eating are of great importance.”
So is monitoring the time spent on technological devices.
“Yes, I limit use of technological devices to one hour each evening,” says Yvonne.
“Then the devices are left in the kitchen where the chargers are. That way there are no barriers. We can all talk together around the dinner table. And there are no TVs in the bedroom.”
Is there ever a row in the Welham household?
“Being a calm parent has a really positive knock-on effect on everyone,” says Yvonne.
“My inner peace and no turmoil created energy. From that energy comes effortless energy.
“There is a good vibe in the house. When I was in a good space myself, the fighting and vying for attention stopped.”
“Children love choices,” says Yvonne.
“For instance, I might say; if you tidy your room then we can go to the match. All the children have scheduled jobs. I can’t do it all myself!
“I don’t wrap my children in cotton wool. I let my nine year old walk to the shop with his pal.”
What should we do when the dreaded tantrum is thrown in the supermarket?
“Don’t react,” advises Yvonne. “Remove the child from the situation. Some parents are afraid the child might explode. So what? Learn to stop caring about that. Everything is learnt behaviour.”
Yvonne works with parents to help them become the parents that they want to be.
“My approach is holistic and is to help parents create a more enjoyable, positive, relaxed and fulfilling family life.”
Yvonne says that she is not for everyone.
“I teach parents tips that work in my house,” she says.
“Memories are created by spending time together doing very simple things. The memories won’t be of the fancy gadgets, the expensive trips, or the elaborate birthday parties.”
Yvonne learned that from her own mother.
“They won’t remember the colour of the wallpaper in the living room,” says Yvonne.
“Investing in yourself is more important than investing in cars and houses.”
Yvonne is holding workshops in April for parents. She can travel to other areas to hold work-shops or give talks as well as one-to- one coaching. See www.positiveparentlifecoach.com for details.