Posted in Gifted, parenting, product review, toys

Mindful Lil Minds Breathing Meditation Buddy Review

Ellie is a child who finds certain aspects of daily life tricky; she struggles to sit still and she fidgets constantly, she gets anxious when we go somewhere new or when she doesn’t know who we are going to see and she finds it really difficult to make a decision. At bedtime she finds it hard to unwind and this means it can take hours to get her to sleep. She tells us her mind is too busy and she has too many thoughts whizzing around in her head.

For a while now we’ve been trying to teach Ellie some ways to help her when she’s feeling anxious or “bouncy” and we’ve found mindfulness and yoga really helps her.

The Benefits of Mindful Meditation

Mindfulness has been shown to increase a child’s ability to regulate their emotions as well as their empathy and compassion skills. It can help reduce a child’s stress and anxiety along with increasing their focus and prolonged attention span. Mindfulness has also be known to improve a child’s sleep.

As with anything Mindfulness Meditation is only going to help a child if done regularly.

Children are being made more aware of their own mental health and mindfulness is being used in schools more regularly as studies show practicing mindfulness from a younger age has a positive effect a child’s anxiety and cognitive performance.

A New Toy!

Toymakers GP Flair have created the Mindful Lil Minds Breathing Meditation Buddy and we’ve had the chance to give it a whirl and write an honest review of what we thought. With Ellie’s quirks I was intrigued to see how it would help her and whether she’d be interested in it at all.

Let’s meet our new friend…

The Breathing Meditation Buddy (suitable from ages 3+) is a super cute, sensory, cuddly koala that is designed to help young children be more present and be able to manage their emotions in stressful situations.

Using a very clever combination of the senses (sight, sound, touch and smell) the toy allows the child a number of different ways to feel mindful, relax and unwind.

How does it work?

Don’t forget to move the switch from Try Me mode for the full meditation experience.

It’s a really simple toy to use – simply press the koala’s paw (it has a green leaf symbol) to begin a 5 minute guided breathing meditation. This was short enough that Ellie didn’t lose interest or get ‘antsy’ but also long enough to ensure she felt calmer and more relaxed when it was finished.

It’s tummy moves up and down as the koala ‘breathes’ and this makes the child more aware of their own deep breathing. It’s tummy is also scented with Eucalyptus which has aromatherapy qualities which can help to reduce anxiety. The scent is subtle so wouldn’t overpower those children with sensory difficulties but can be smelt if held close to the child’s face. The meditation itself is spoken by a calming female voice which is easy for the child to follow.

The arms and legs are floppy whereas the bottom is weighted which allows for further comfort – we’ve found weighted blankets really help Ellie so this was an aspect I was excited about in the koala. This is also great for children who are on the autistic spectrum!

How to use the Mindful Lil Minds Buddy

The koala buddy can be used in four different ways:

1. Sitting Individually.
Sit down alone in a quiet spot with the toy sitting next to or in front of you. Press the right paw and the meditation will begin. Sit with your eyes closed and listen
2. Sitting in a group/classroom.
The cuddly koala is great for classrooms or group meditations. Sit or lay on your back with the toy facing the group. Press the right paw and the meditation will begin. Close your eyes, listen and relax.
3. Laying down with the toy on chest.
Lay down on your back with the toy on your chest. Press the paw to begin the meditation. Place your hand on the koala’s belly to feel it move up and down, move your belly up and down along with the toy.
4. Sit down and hold the soft toy up to your face.
Press the paw to begin the guided meditation and inhale the calming smell of eucalyptus as you meditate.

Why we love it.

Ellie is a huge lover of soft, cuddly toys so this was a hit from the second she saw the Koala in the box – she immediately wanted to cuddle it and name it (Katie the Koala). It’s cute, it’s soft and the perfect size to pack in her suitcase or cuddle up to at bedtime. The meditation is easy for Ellie to follow and she doesn’t get bored half way through. She reaches for it when she can feel herself getting worried and the weighted aspect has helped bring her back down before she has a ‘wobble’.

Of cause, it doesn’t always work – nothing would always work – and it’s still good for her to experience those emotions. It’s just a really lovely ‘tool’ to have under her belt for when she recognises she is finding a situation tricky.

Where to buy it.

The Mindful Lil Minds Meditation Buddy is available online at Amazon (£26.49) & in-store in your local independent stores.

Do you use any mindful techniques/apps/toys with your children? I’d love to know so let me know in the comments.

Disclosure – We were kindly gifted the product to review however as always all thoughts, opinions and photographs are my own.

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Benefits of Himalayan Salt Lamps

Last Christmas Luke bought me a Salt Lamp, at the time I knew nothing about them. Apart from the ambient light which I find very calming they are known to have many health benefits. They have quickly become very popular – especially with those interested in natural health. I’ve put it next to the bed as I had read they are great in the bedroom. Since then we’ve added to our collection and purchased another salt lamp which sits on my desk.

Below I’ve written up 5 benefits of owning a salt lamp – these are all things I feel I have noticed. I must add it did take a week or two before I started noticing any benefits to using the HPS lamps, so if you are wanting to try then I’d recommend using them for a longer period of time.

1. Filter and Deodorise the air

This is probably the most well-known benefit to owning and using salt lamps. They are able to filter the air, remove dust, pollen, bacteria and lots of other contaminants from the air. They do this through something called hygroscopy, which basically means it attracts water molecules from the environment, absorbs the molecules into the salt crystals. As the lamp warms up the same water evaporates back into the air but keeps all the trapped particles locked in the salt.

2. Reduce Allergy/Asthma Symptoms and Eases Coughing

This is one of the main reasons we purchased another lamp for the living room. Due to the fact that the lamp removes the contaminants such as dust and pet dander and mold from the air, the lamp can reduce the allergy symptoms. Himalayan pink salt is actually great for your airways so the asthma sufferers in our house have noticed a difference too. (You can even get Himalayan Pink Salt inhalers!)

Himalayan pink salt lamps removes contaminants from the air and helps your body filter air more efficiently meaning any particles that do happen to be breathed in won’t get to your lungs therefore reducing the need to cough.

3. Improves Concentration & Mood

HPS lamps are a super way to naturally enhance your mood, the calming ambience is known to help you unwind and relax. They are perfect to keep by your bedside. They can also improve your concentration. We have touched on hydroscopy above but when the HPS absorbs water and particles it also takes positive ions with them. Positive ions can cause us to feel sluggish. As the lamp absorbs the positive ions it expels negative ions. Negative ions have a great effect on our bodies, they improve blood and oxygen supply to the brain as well as providing a boost of serotonin.

4. Better Sleep

Having an over-exposure to positive ions (usually from electronics!) can reduct your quality of sleep. Positively-charged particles can reduce blood and oxygen supplies to the brain and results in irregular sleep patterns. HPS have the opposite effect on our sleep patterns due to the negative ions it expels. It’s best to leave the lamp on as long as possible to warm up so that it has already absorbed the positive ions before sleep.

5. Environmentally Friendly

HPS lamps can use a low-watt bulb which consumes very little energy while others are usually powered by a lit candle which makes them more environmentally friendly than most light bulbs.

Have you used HPS lamps? Have you noticed any benefits? I’d love to know. Let me know in the comments below.

Posted in baby loss, grief, life after loss, mental health, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, Neonatal Loss, parenting, parenting after loss, Positive Wellbeing

Positive Failure

A while back I shared the struggle I was having with myself. My mental health was taking a right beating and I was finding it hard getting it back to a healthy balance.

It took a while and a complete breakdown for me to realise that I wasn’t failing. I have spent days, weeks, months feeling like I am a failure. Failing at being a mum, a wife and a friend. Basically failing at being a human being. But the truth is I wasn’t failing at all, I was having a hard time and that is okay. Positive failure.

Admitting things arent perfect is okay. It doesn’t mean you aren’t the best person you can be at that particular time.

Since my “breakdown” I’ve felt better. Something in me may have snapped but I’ve found I can make it even stronger. Positive failure.

I’ve made an effort to be calmer, I’ve made an effort to do more things with friends, simple things like talking more but it’s a start and I celebrated my birthday with the most amazing people I could wish for and it reminded me of how lucky I am to have people who care enough to tell me Im not myself.

That was a hard one to hear, I could sense it in myself but no one has ever said it so plainly as someone I have known pretty much my whole life. I’ve spent so long pretending I am okay, smiling as is I’m not broken inside and hoping others accept it that actually I’d forgotten how to show my true feelings when I needed help.

In the past few weeks I really have noticed a huge change in the way I feel. I feel happier, I’m not as stressed out over slight things. Ellie’s tantrums aren’t taking me to breaking point when actually they aren’t that bad and in return Ellie has been happier. We’ve had more good days than bad days and was able to enjoy our half term off as a family. We made memories that I hope I will never forget and my heart is full of complete love and happiness.

I know this feeling may not last as long as I would like, saying Goodbye to a lovely February means saying Hello to March. To a month that starts off so happy with Hubby’s birthday celebrations but once the 4th is over it turns in to a countdown until Jason’s birthday. The day we should be celebrating his 4th birthday and yet a day where I am reminded of everything I gained and lost within moments. The day he died and I had to say goodbye.

Please be mindful that if I seem distant and off, it is not intentional. I am just grieving for the life of my son who I can’t hug and who I miss so much every day. My heart breaks with every memory we make as a family because he will always be missing but I am also grateful we can make these memories with Ellie, she saved me in ways she will never know and I will always try to be better for her. She is the reason I breathe and for her I will try and make March as gentle as I can.

Posted in baby loss, grief, life after loss, mental health, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, Neonatal Loss, parenting, parenting after loss

Breakdown

Do you ever feel like the world is spinning so fast and you start to feel so dizzy and there’s no way of slowly it down?

As much as I am putting in to life and being present, my own mental health is taking a huge bashing. I am constantly worried about everyone else, about work, about everything that my head feels like it is going to explode. I am usually quite good at sensing when I need to try and rest, I can feel my body become exhausted and drained. I know that carrying around so much extra baggage isn’t good and for my own sake and my families sake I should take a step back, let someone else deal with it for a change but that’s not who I am. I have spent my entire life focusing on someone else and I am a parent and focusing on someone else is so much more important.

I am not proud of myself, I am not really sure how I feel or even who I am sometimes. Today I had a meltdown, a screaming, toddler-like tantrum over a pair of trousers. I could see the wrong; I wanted to stop, hug E and take a step back but I couldn’t. I could see the rage inside me and I hated myself. I would NEVER hurt her, I know that much, but in that moment I really scared myself. There were lots of tears, mostly from me and it wasn’t even 7:30am!

I don’t want to be that parent, the one of shouts at the smallest things. I don’t want E growing up to resent/hate me. I don’t want her to feel like I have failed as her mum but right now that is exactly how I feel. I am so scared of losing her, of something happening to her that the guilt is immense. I should be more easy-going, able to just be in the moment and remember the heartache we went through to have a living child but this is so difficult sometimes. I often wonder whether I get like this because of Jason’s death, could it be linked to grief, PTSD, losing a baby fucks things up, or am I really this bad of a mum? Would I be struggling this much if Jason had lived? His needs would have been much more demanding, I’d have needed far more patience and I wonder whether I’d have coped with him. I just don’t know. I hate thinking I’d be better for Jason because that makes it sound like Ellie isnt as important but that couldn’t be further than the truth. Everything I do is for her, I want her to grow up with the childhood I never had, to choose who she wants to be and to have the relationship with her to spend time together and have fun.

I have no idea what’s going on right now, hormones, grief, I’ve even questioned whether I have PTSD or postnatal depression, I am unsure of whether after 4 years of trying to be strong and hold it all together that Jason’s death is actually hitting me like a tonne of bricks and I am finally feeling like Luke does. I’m scared that if I talk to someone they are going to prescribe and that’s it. I don’t want to forget the pain or never feel it again because that’s the only way I know to be his mum and parent him. The grief and the sadness is a huge part of remembering him and as horrible as that is to endure that is parenting a baby who isn’t here.

I’m not sure whether I’m looking for clues or answers here just hope that in time I will reread this and see how far I have come.