Pen-pal for your mental health!

Pen-pal for your mental health!

For years i wanted a pen pal then all at once i had quite a few, from all over the world. I simply put a call out online and now here i am with new buddies from many interesting and exciting places. I’ve wanted a little something to give me joy and something which allows me to rediscover my love of writing and reading. I have always wanted to write, perhaps a book or write for newspapers but it is my anxiety and my dyslexia that gets in the way. My handwriting is questionable too. But despite my lack of skills in grammar and spelling i still love the allure of writing.

The thing i love about pen palling is learning about others, getting to know someone. Not through social media and through cryptic tweets and photos but threw someones heart, their souls they spill on to paper and send to you with complete confidence of your secret keeping. I have often spilled my life down on paper to a complete stranger turned friend. It is slightly like a therapy sessions at time. Whilst i often talk about emotions, the struggles of me and my mysterious writer i always like learning about their life. Its so interesting finding about what people like and dislike. It’s interesting finding about culture and food from other parts of the world.

The stationary usage is well worth it too. I love buying cute stationary but never have a reason to use it. I love receiving the pretty little notes from another person too. When i write back i always love putting effort into my little notes. I love being crafty and working on my little project. I often make little lists with books my pen pal would enjoy. I also put in some lists of songs/artists i like others will like. I put in mental health promoting cards and positive words and affirmations on sticky notes. I also send over some photos that make me happy and even put a poem in each letter. As well i like to put a little pick me up in the post too so they can enjoy a flavoured tea or coffee or even a sweet.

Life is to short to live behind computer screens. Write to new people, live in someone else’s life and escape reality while you are reading their letters. Talk about you, your life in the purest way. It gives me a short relief when i get too write to someone. I love waiting for and receiving the letters. I love buying bits for my pen pal letter and things to put inside. I love being able to be creative and not being judged for it. So do it! Find a pen pal, send them a letter and make a friend.

Thank’s for reading! Charlie x

Social anxiety about solo parenting in public.

Social anxiety about solo parenting in public.

Sometimes we all have such busy schedules that we never really just spend the day with our child out and about on our own. I am forever guilty of spending lots of time with friends or as a family out and about. This isn’t a bad thing because Elijah loves spending time with others and asks to go out everyday. However normally on days we have no plans we stay at home watching tv and learning. Again this isn’t a bad thing either as we love spending time together at home. But one thing i have always been anxious about is going out just me and my child. When he was a baby it was fine. I loved pushing him around in his buggy and going to community centres and baby groups. However as Elijah got older the tantrums started.

Of course it is natural for children to express their emotions in the form of a tantrum. With the amount of emotion they are feeling and the incapability of explaining their emotions they become upset and warrants a screaming on floor session. However i have always been someone who cares about other peoples opinions whether i like it or not. So a tantrum would cause my social anxiety to go into over board if i was alone because well all eyes would be on me and there would be nobody else to help distract him.

The thing is when a child has a tantrum. It is natural to stare and look, not to judge as so many people do but to see where the noise is coming from. Curiosity always wins, if someone was to scream in a supermarket or shop would you not ping your head round to look for the route cause of the noise.When you have social anxiety if anyone looks at you it is your worse nightmare. Frankly i dislike being in any sort of a attention platform so also don’t really like when we are out and Elijah is being good and many people come to talk to me about him. I don’t mind being nice to others and speaking to strangers but it does make me feel uncomfortable. Especially when people touch him (even before covid) or don’t take the hint the conversation is over.

Because i suffer from a chronic illness as well i sometimes don’t have much strength as apposed to other parents. I can’t always pick him up and carry him long when he flops to the floor. We have also gotten rid of his buggy because he wouldn’t sit in it and also i think he is too old for it. He is sometimes tired which causes more tantrums and because we often go for nice long walks he can sometime get bit touchy. However when i go oit without james i never take him anywhere which will over tire him because of this.

I always panic about taking Elijah to restaurants because when he is bored he acts up and misbehaves. But however i have found that if i take him a bag of toys out with us he is normally quite well behaved. I have been known to take games and even playdough if needed. But being alone again is still stress full.

However i have been trying to go out of my comfort zone a lot more these days . I have been forcing myself to overcome my anxiety and take Elijah out just the two of us at least once a week. I started by taking him to the library, then to soft play and then out for meals and trips into town. I have started to slowly build up my confidence and i just try to keep myself calm if Elijah does have a tantrum. I try to remain calm and speak to Elijah calmly and explain things clearly to him, i try to distract him or structure my day so we don’t go out when he is sleepy or going to get tired walking around too much. I will not let my anxiety control me or my sons life. Lock down affected me a lot in regards to going out because i am so scared of covid but the more i go out the more i journey outside the more i feel a bit more comfortable. I teach Elijah to distance as well as hand washing regularly. I just have to accept this is the world we live in now and it’s not healthy to stay in one place for the rest of our lives, so long as we are careful and i overcome my anxiety then we are able to live a relatively normal life.

If you are feeling anxious about going out solo with your toddler remember you are not alone. Baby steps can help at times and things do get better. Things are not always as bad as our head makes it out to be. Yes there are times i take him out and his naughty but sometimes he can be a complete angel. He will be the best behaved little boy ever. It is rare he is naughty but when he is the odd time it makes me still feel anxious and stressed but i try to remember this is just a bad day and we will get through it.

Thanks for reading, charlie x

How to improve your child’s vocabulary from a young age.

How to improve your child’s vocabulary from a young age.

One thing i always hear from other people is how they are so impressed with how well Elijah speaks. People have always been shocked when i tell them Elijah’s age. I am proud of his language skills and how they have came along. Elijah at 6 months old could say hello. Lot’s of people didn’t believe me and then where shocked when i would show them a video or Elijah spoke to them and said hello. From this point his language grew and he could say many things by a year. At a year old he could count up to ten himself and by two he could count backwards and improved on to twenty. He can say every colour and speak in full clear sentences. He still has times he struggles as he is still learning but it is incredible how far he has come. I think it is so important that we spend time concentrating on vocabulary with a child because where else will they learn it?

I’ll be honest i’m no expert or anything but one thing that i have always insisted on is speaking properly to Elijah and not making up knick names for objects to make words easier. I don’t want to say my advice will help but you never know, my advice has helped friends. I also want to state children grow at their own rates, they will learn to speak when they learn. There is nothing wrong with your child taking longer to learn certain things then another and do not compare your child to others. If you are ever at all concerned just pop along to your health visitor!

So my first tip is to well, speak to your child as if they are an adult. Yes the appeal is there to coo, speak in baby talk but their is a difference to calm, loving tones of voice to talking gibberish. For example if someone spoke to you like a baby and making up random words you’ve forgotten how to say would you be able to repeat that word? I’ve also never shortened words. Although Elijah has as he was grasping words i would still always say the whole word even though i knew what he meant. I would never refer to a object he has named something different to what he says it is or he then learns that his word is the correct word. I would also always speak in slow clear sentences when talking to him. I would speak short sentences at times but always in sentences. I know some parents say thing like “bottle? “Shortening the sentence” would you like your bottle?”. If you teach them to shorten sentences they will only learn to shorten the sentence. I taught Elijah to count by counting everything we do since a baby. I would count 1-2 putting his legs through clothes and socks and shoes on. We would count walking downstairs. Count the toys, count anything we could. A few friends have told me their children have learned from this.

Another thing i use to teach vocabulary is use physical images and letters/numbers/ items to teach the words. Flash cards are your best friends. You can grab a box of first words cards for about 3 pounds in some shops like tkmaxx. I also used picture books too. I would tell Elijah what was on every card each day and as he got older i’d ask him to tell me what was on the cards and he would tell me. You can also teach colours and sound animals make too. I would pick up a card with a pig on. I would say it was pink and then i would make the noise of the animal. This really helped elijah to recognise animal sounds to the animal and helped so much with his colours.

Magnetic and wooden letters numbers/ these are fantastic for learning. Elijah recognises all his letters and we are starting to build up to words. Visual aids are so helpful too. Just incorporating letters and numbers into play helps too. Putting them in a tuff tray or putting in slime or anything worlds. I try to add anything i can into play so we learn more.

Read to your child, children can benefit from being in the womb. It forms a emotional connection as well as helping to learn. Elijah now reads a few books in full with us and recalls most of the gruffalo in different voices too. Pointing to pictures and explaining what things are helps too. As they get older ask questions about the book.

Let them have tablet time! Let them only watch things they learn from.. Put reading eggs on, watch videos where they talk. Even blippi has some educational bits to his shows. Children are sponges and love to learn so let them watch films and videos that teach them things and sing even if they are annoying. I’m not saying all day but a little a day helps.

Be around other people. Take your child out for dinner, take them to see friends, to play. Social skills and being around others all help to teach both confidence in using language but also allows them to pick up language.Elijah has many times said things hes picked up from others and i am all for it if it helps him to learn.

Anyway hope some of these bits of advice help! They may work for you or may not but they have worked for me and others! Thanks for reading! Charlie x