Sharing the Mental Load this Christmas

Christmas gifts in red white brown bags for blog on mental load a t ChristmasSo, Christmas is fast approaching and, for many women, the extra work involved will prove exhausting.  Yes, I know it seems clichéd but research suggests that women do still do the bulk of the work at Christmas.  Even in households where the tasks are evenly allocated, women often continue to carry the mental load.

The mental load is the weight of thinking and planning and decision making that goes into creating something.  At Christmas this may include choosing appropriate gifts for all the family, planning menus, managing budgets, decorating the house – and the list goes on.

People who don’t do this have no idea of the brain space required for these activities.  For example, buying gifts for all the family requires you to:

  • Plan a budget
  • List everyone who needs a gift
  • Remember what you have bought in previous years
  • Recall conversations had throughout the year to get ideas for gifts
  • Make phone calls to ask what nieces/nephews etc. would like
  • Notice changes in habits/hobbies etc.
  • Balance gifts so spending is fair (e.g. same amount on each child)
  • Generate ideas then narrow them down to a decision.
  • Locate gifts (on-line / in store)
  • Allocate time to shop in an already busy schedule
  • Make sure you have enough wrapping paper, cellotape etc.
  • Make time to wrap.

And buying gifts is just one of the extra tasks involved.

Allocating tasks to other family members will help to alleviate the physical load but, as long as you hold on to the mental load you will retain responsibility for the whole thing.  Asking someone else to buy the turkey will save you a task but if you are still thinking about where it needs to come from, how big it needs to be etc. then you are still carrying the mental load.

Stop and ask yourself if you would do this at work.

My guess is that, at work, you delegate properly.  You probably make sure someone has the skills and knowledge needed to complete a task and then you delegate both the physical load and the responsibility.  This may require a proper briefing and possibly some training but, by delegating properly, you empower people to learn.

You can do the same thing at home.

People expect you to carry the mental load because you always have.  If family members don’t understand the mental load it is because you have never asked them to carry it.  Generation after generation of women have done the same thing.

It is something of a cliché but, “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got.”

This change does come with a warning.  Other people won’t do things the same way you would.  But so what?  You can take a Command and Control approach and continue to carry the mental load or you can accept that other people are capable too.  They may get some things wrong but learning lies in failure.  Just accept their mistakes, (have you never burnt the pigs in blankets?)

If you a reading this with a sense of abject horror I hope it is because you already share the mental load in your home.  If you are filled with fear at the very idea of relinquishing control then please remember that this is a choice.  But with choice comes responsibility.

If you choose to carry the whole mental load and do not delegate to others, you also relinquish the right to feel resentful when they just sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour.  You cannot choose to do it all and then play the martyr.

However you do things in your house – I hope you remember to enjoy it all.

Domestic Abuse Awareness Week

A womans back with the words Love Shouldn't Hurt" used to illustrate blog on Domestic Violence Awareness WeekThis week is Domestic Abuse Awareness Week.  Yesterday was designated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against women.  I do not need to tell you how abhorrent it is that such things are needed.

Statistics

According to recent UN figures:

  • 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner.
  • Only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.
  • Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday; while 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).
  • 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2012; while only 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances.
  • 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited.
  • Violence against women is as serious a cause of death and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than traffic accidents and malaria combined.

Domestic Abuse Awareness Week

All over the world today women are working, raising their children and meeting friends whilst simultaneously hiding evidence of violence.  Women who do seek help are often stigmatised.  But that risk does not mean that you should not seek help.  No one should have to live in fear.

Domestic Abuse Awareness Week is designed to do exactly what its says – to raise awareness.  If you are in a situation which scares you  please understand that you are not alone.  If someone has committed/is committing acts of physical, sexual or psychological violence against you, it is not your fault.  Here are some places where you can get help.

Where to Get Help

Women’s Aid provides advice and support for women across the UK and run secure, safe refuges for women fleeing violence.

First Light support people (including men and children) affected by Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence across Devon, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and Swindon & Wiltshire.

Refuge supports women and children experiencing domestic violence and, in conjunction with Women’s Aid, runs the 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 2000 247.

If you are at immediate risk of harm please call the police on the 999 emergency number.  If the risk is not immediate you can, if you wish to, contact the police for general advice and support on the 101 non-emergency number.  Most police forces in the UK have a dedicated team who are used to dealing with crimes of this nature.  If you do not wish to go to the police any of the other organisations listed above can help and support you.

Please ask for help.

NB – Yellow Dot Women is a blog for and about women and yesterday was designated a day for women.  This does not mean that men are not subjected to violence and I would urge men in this situation to seek help too.

Be Careful what you Wish for

Dandelion clock against pink sky to illustrate blog be careful what you wish forYou will all have heard of the phrase “be careful what you wish for”.  Over the last two or three weeks I have had cause to reflect on it more than usual, so I thought I would share my thoughts with you.

I have been working with a number of women who are contemplating major changes in their lives.  Some of them are motivated away from a source of discontent; for example, a difficult relationship or unfulfilling job.  Others are motivated towards something that they particularly want; starting a business or re-locating.

Part of my job as a coach is to remind clients to “be careful what you wish for”.  It is not in my nature to be negative or to squash a woman’s dreams and I need to be clear that this is not what is happening here.  I would always encourage clients to embrace change.  However, with every change you make in your life, the gains are accompanied by losses.  It is just as important to consider the potential losses as it is the gains.

For example, some years ago we stayed at a little B&B in St Ives.  The owners told us that they were selling up and moving back to their home town of Altrincham.  It had been their dream for many years to take early retirement, move to Cornwall and open a B&B and they were proud of the fact that they had made it happen.  However, what they hadn’t considered was how much they would miss their grandchildren.  The children could only visit in the school holidays and the school holidays were, of course, the busiest time for a B&B.  Quick visits up North in the colder, winter months just weren’t enough.  For this particular couple, the loss far outweighed the gain.

So, if you are contemplating change, please do be careful what you wish for.  Make sure that you consider the losses as well as the gains, and then, when you are sure, go for it!

Help me to get the change I want

The Difference between Confidence and Self-Esteem

You could be forgiven for thinking that there is no difference between confidence and self-esteem.  In many places the terms are used interchangeably, almost as if they are synonyms.  The reality is that they are very different indeed and that difference is important.

Confidence is generally related to a specific activity or domain.  We are all more confident at some things than others.  For example you might be a confident car driver but completely lack confidence as a cyclist.

Self-esteem is a more generalised condition.  It tends to apply to your overall sense of self-worth.  It is the value you imagine yourself to have in the world.

You can improve your confidence by becoming more competent.  Competence comes through learning and practice.  That learning is reinforced when you receive regular feedback from someone you trust and respect.

However, if you already suffer from low self-esteem, you may find that it has a significant impact on your ability to feel confident.  It is possible that you avoid trying new things because you already believe that you will fail.  When you do learn a new skill it is likely that you will find it easier to see your failures more clearly than your successes.  Even when people give you positive feedback, you have the potential to drown it out with your own, negative inner voice.

In short, a woman with low self-esteem is likely to lack confidence in many different areas of her life.

The difference between confidence and self-esteem is of utmost importance when you decide to do something about it.

To become more confident at a particular skill you may need some training or skills based coaching, you will need an opportunity to practice and some feedback that you can trust.  Depending on the skill you want to learn, this may come from a work colleague/manager, from joining a sports team or from attending an appropriate course.

If you want to tackle your low self-esteem you may need to dig deeper.  You would do better to engage in therapy or personal development coaching.  It would be useful to work with someone who can help you to understand why you don’t value yourself highly enough and who can teach you how to silence your inner critic.

Still don’t fully understand the difference between confidence and self-esteem? Try something new and challenging.  If and when you fail, listen to the voice inside you.  Does it encourage you to get up and try again? Yes? Then you do not lack confidence in your ability to learn (and you probably have high self-esteem) – just keep practising.  If it expresses doubt (“I don’t know if I can do this”) you may lack confidence in your ability – ask someone to help you learn.  However, if the voice is scornful and disparaging (“What on earth made you think you could do this? You’re useless”) then you have a problem with low self-esteem.

Please seek help because it is never too late grow into a Yellow Dot Woman.

I want to raise my self-esteem

 

Please stop giving unsolicited advice

View from above down onto rocks and a rough sea to illustrate a blog about unsolicited adviceWhere do you go when you need advice?  Most of us will consult a professional or chat with someone we trust, maybe a particularly insightful friend, or a family member with the relevant experience.  It is unlikely that any of us would ask a random stranger on the bus or someone we met whilst out on a walk and yet that won’t necessarily stop those people from giving us unsolicited advice.

I’ve been thinking about unsolicited advice a lot over the last few days.  At the weekend I was walking along the coast path near Land’s End.  I had already walked about ten miles and I was hot so I had put my jacket in my rucksack  The T-shirt I was wearing was perfectly adequate.  And yet an elderly man took it upon himself to accost me, saying (somewhat grumpily), “It’s not as warm as you think, you need to put a jumper on or you’ll catch a chill.”

I’m basically quite a polite person so I simply nodded and smiled and continued on my way.  But, you know what?  I’m 54 years old, I’ve got this!  And unless you have lived in the body of a middle aged woman you cannot possibly understand that there is no correlation whatsoever between the weather and my body temperature – I haven’t been cold for at least two years!

I mentioned this episode to my daughter, who, as the mother of a three month old baby, had her own stories to tell about unsolicited advice of the “that baby needs feeding/is too warm/too cold” variety.

I’m not talking about the sharing of information.  I’m walking a lot at the moment and I love all the little conversations and shared moments along the way.  I love it when someone says “I’ve just seen seals in the next cove”, or “there’s a loose plank on that next footbridge”.  That’s different.  That’s helpful.  That’s a basic human connection that says “we are here separately but doing the same thing and isn’t it great?”

The difference is that unsolicited advice so often sounds like criticism.  It doesn’t matter whether the giver intended to criticise or not, even with the best will in the world they are essentially saying “I know better than you”.  There is an arrogance in the giving of unsolicited advice.  In a recent blog I talked about the difference between sympathy and empathy and there is a strong connection here.  The man who told me I needed a jumper probably thought he was being helpful but he was judging me based on his experience not mine.

It’s not just strangers who offer unsolicited advice, friends and family are often the first to tell you what you “should” be doing in any given situation.  Too often the love and understanding we are looking for will be met with advice on how to fix a situation rather than with the empathy we desire.

So why do people feel the need to offer unsolicited advice?  Well, the reasons vary and range from a well intentioned desire to help, to a less well intentioned need to control others.

People are often surprised to find that, as a coach, I rarely give advice.  It is not my job to tell people what to do.  My role is to help people look at a situation dispassionately, to work out what they would like to happen and to find a way to make that happen.  Along the way I may offer information or training if it is appropriate but only ever with the express consent of the client.

If you find yourself giving unsolicited advice, please stop.  Ask yourself why you feel a need to tell someone what they should do.  Try to work out what need of your own you are trying to meet.

If you have an area of your own life (home/work/relationships/goals etc.) that you would like to improve, and you would like someone to help you find the right path with empathy and without ever telling you what you “should” do, please get in touch.

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Empathy v Sympathy

Empathy Two blue wooden chairs sitting on the sand facing out to seaThe words “empathy” and “sympathy” are often used interchangeably and yet their actual meanings are very different.  The problem comes when people try to explain that difference.  I use empathy all the time in my work but I try not to use sympathy at all.  There is nothing at all wrong with showing sympathy but empathy requires a greater level of understanding – let me try to explain.

Earlier this week I was talking to a friend who had hurt her back – she was having difficulty bending, lifting, and even getting dressed.  I was less than helpful.

My first response was to say “oh no, poor you”, which is ok as sympathy goes (although a bit patronising and slightly tinged with pity).  But then I followed it up with the dreaded “I twinged my back this morning too.”  I was a bit cross with myself and couldn’t quite work out why I had said it – the conversation was not about me.

On reflection I realised that I was offering a fairly common (but not entirely helpful) type of sympathy.  I was trying to understand by putting myself in her position – in this instance I had twinged my back and it was, fleetingly, very painful so I was, somewhat clumsily, saying “I have experienced your pain and I understand.”  I was looking inside myself for understanding of her situation.

But the truth is I haven’t experienced her pain, I have experienced mine.  If I was to show empathy rather than sympathy I would have to try to understand what it is like to be her in her particular situation, only then could I truly understand.  This also applies to both positive and negative emotions.

Imagine a situation where a friend’s father has died.

Sympathy requires you to understand that your friend might feel sad and bereft.  You express your sorrow for her, maybe hug her and allow her to cry on your shoulder.  This is sympathy at its best and is a loving and appropriate way of responding.  Sympathy stems, in part, from understanding how people might generally feel in such a situation and acting accordingly.

Empathy needs a deeper level of understanding.  It requires you to understand what it is like to be this particular person in this particular situation and not to make assumptions – not everyone is sad when a parent dies, it can often be a confusing time full of mixed emotions; guilt, anger, sadness, relief etc.  It requires you to listen deeply and to feel deeply too.  If you are being empathetic you will feel sad/confused etc. with your friend not for her.

Empathy is not about cheering someone up or helping them to feel better, it is simply about joining them in their world and working hard to understand and share that experience and, in some instances, holding their hand until they feel ready to move.  Quite frankly, it is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is struggling.

So, next time you are tempted to say “I know how you feel”, remember that you probably don’t.  If you don’t know what to say try listening instead of talking.  And yes, I will be taking a big, healthy dose of my own medicine this week.

This is the third blog in a series about the Core Conditions of Counselling and follows on from earlier articles about Congruence and Unconditional Positive Regard.

Congruence – Why being Genuine Matters

Back at the beginning of this journey I explained why I chose the name Yellow Dot.  In it I talked about Rogers’ Core Conditions; Congruence, Unconditional Positive Regard and Empathy.  This is the first of three pieces I will write to expand on those concepts – starting with congruence.

In a therapeutic sense to be congruent is to be genuine, to be consistent and honest inside and outside the relationship.  It is the counsellor’s job to be congruent at all times rather than to put on the cloak or mantel of “a professional therapist”.  By being genuine you allow the client to see you and trust you and, therefore, to risk being open with you.

Of course a therapist has to behave professionally too, I have trained and qualified as a counsellor and a coach, I strive to use the skills carefully and appropriately and I adhere to a code of ethics.  At a behaviour level counselling is what I do, in terms of congruence a counsellor is who I am.  “Being” a counsellor (as opposed to just “doing” counselling) stems from believing completely in the Core Conditions and incorporating them into all aspects of my life.  It is precisely because I hold these conditions as a core belief that I also bring them into my coaching and training work too.

So, perhaps an example would help.

Some years ago I worked with a client (X) who was experiencing difficulty in building and maintaining relationships.  X was lonely and friendless and unhappy.  Whilst working with X I found that my attention kept drifting – not a good thing in a counselling relationship but, frankly, I found X to be quite boring.
I had a choice.  I could pretend not to find X boring and just focus more or I could be congruent and share these feelings.  The general rule is that any persistent feelings should be shared and, as these feelings persisted over time, my choice was already made.  If I found X to be dull, the chances were that other people did too and this was probably the main cause of X’s loneliness. 
I reflected on why I found X boring and tried to analyse the specific behaviours so that I could give some helpful, supportive feedback.  X took the feedback really well (partly because I also work with Unconditional Positive Regard and Empathy) and we were able to work together to improve things.

Congruence is not just for counsellors, it is an essential part of any meaningful relationship whether that is personal or professional.  We can only hide behind a facade for a short time before the cracks begin to appear.  A friend once (half jokingly) commented that she wanted to sue her husband under the Trades Descriptions Act because she thought she was marrying someone who loved participating in sports (the early part of their relationship was spent surfing and windsailing)  but it turned out that he mostly liked watching sport on TV – preferably in the pub.

Being congruent can be a risk.  By being open and genuine we risk hurting people and we risk being hurt in return.  This is why the Core Conditions always need to be used in conjunction with each other rather than in isolation.  Demonstrating empathy stops congruence from being blunt.  Showing Unconditional Positive Regard ensures you always treat the other person with respect.

If you would like to work with someone who will always strive to be open and genuine, who will always be honest with you and who only has your best interests at heart, please get in touch.  The first session is always free of charge.

 

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The Camino de Santiago – A Personal Journey

View of mountains in Galicia along Camino de SantiagoTen years ago this week I completed one of the greatest challenges of my life – I walked 500 miles along the Camino de Santiago from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

I walked through fields and vineyards, through villages, towns and cities, along secluded footpaths and busy N roads.  I slept in peaceful monasteries, municipal halls and hostels, I shared dormitories with snoring men and tutting women, sat down to eat with strangers and left the table with new friends.  It was all wonderful – even when it wasn’t.

But this is not the story of my walk along the Camino de Santiago, this is the story of the personal journey I took before I even stepped foot on the walk itself.  I regularly wax lyrical about personal development and this is a story of how I began to really live everything that I preach in this blog.

I didn’t do “adventure” when I was growing up.  No one in my family did.  We went for walks in the countryside but that was about it.  I developed an unconscious and unchallenged belief that adventure was for other people.  So when Mr. Yellow Dot bought a kayak I didn’t even consider going with him.  Instead I quietly (and pointlessly) resented the time he spent out on the water with our friends.  Eventually, after a holiday with those same kayaking friends where I sat on the banks of lakes and watched, I decided to have a go.

In order to “have a go” I had to challenge multiple beliefs about myself.  I hadn’t realised how strong some of those beliefs were.  “I’m too old to start this stuff”, “I’m not the kind of person who goes kayaking”, and “I’m too fat”.  “I’m too fat” carried a whole range of sub-beliefs with it: “I will look ridiculous”, “I’m not fit enough”, “people will laugh at me”, “the kayak might sink”, and “I can’t wear a wetsuit” (I didn’t and it didn’t matter).  Somehow I believed that it’s ok to fail if you are young and slim but not if you are fat and forty.

I can’t tell you how anxious I felt just carrying the kayak down to the water, convinced that people were judging me.  But I also managed to start a calm, authoritative voice of reason to counteract the anxiety.  I regulated my breathing, ignored all the other people on the beach and I got into the boat.  And I loved it.  I didn’t sink, I didn’t fall out, I (very nearly) stopped caring if other people were judging me and I just got on with enjoying the feeling of gliding across the water.

I loved it so much I bought a kayak of my own.

Having reflected for a while I realised I had developed a default response of “no” when I was invited to do anything that took me out of my comfort zone – I started to wonder what else I was missing out on.  I made a decision, there and then, to start saying “yes”.

The universe took me at my word and decided to test me.  Within an hour of making this decision the phone rang, it was my friend Joy calling about some completely unrelated issue.  In the course of our conversation she mentioned that she had just been looking at an advertisement for a charity trek – her question floored me: “Do you want to go to China?”  Of course I said “yes” (without really knowing what I was saying yes to).

Fast forward to 2005 and (having spent a year fund-raising and walking sections of the Cornish Coast Path to train) we found ourselves heading off on a trek along The Great Wall of China.  It was wonderful.  It was challenging but I discovered that I loved being way out of my comfort zone.  Challenging myself made me feel more confident.  I came home and decided to plan the next adventure – and this time I was going alone.

I planned and trained, I got fit and I got strong although I was still overweight.  The point is, I didn’t let that barrier stop me, I didn’t put off living until everything was perfect, I accepted that life happens now, every day and life can and should be an adventure.

I got stronger mentally too, I set myself confidence anchors, I examined and challenged a whole host of self-limiting beliefs, I explored my fears and faced them head on.

In July 2008 I flew to Biarritz, caught a train to St. Jean Pied de Port and started walking.  I finished 500 miles later in Santiago de Compostela.  The journey in between was full of geographical and emotional highs and lows.  I struggled physically at the start (day one was 17.5 miles, 15 miles of that was up a mountain) and I struggled emotionally in the middle when I unexpectedly experienced strong feelings of homesickness.  This was the longest I had ever been away from my husband and family and I was used to sharing experiences with them.  Those feelings were exacerbated by a broken phone charger and some complicated (and ultimately flawed) arrangements to replace it but we still communicated via Facebook whenever I was near an internet café and I kept on walking.

I anchored my feelings of success (somewhat cheesily) to the Proclaimers song “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” and even now I only have to hear that song to get an incredible surge of euphoria and a sense that I can do absolutely anything I put my mind to.

So, why have I written this blog?  Was it just a nostalgia trip?  A chance to revel in my own success?

No, although that was nice too.  I wrote it for you, just to tell you that you don’t have to put life on hold until the conditions are perfect, if you plan, and prepare and work hard, if you challenge your own self-limiting beliefs, you can be or do anything that you put your mind to.

You don’t have to walk 500 miles to be a success but doing so changed my life.

click here to find your road to success

Raising Daughters

girl on a swing slightly silhouetted against a blue skyThis week I am in a celebratory and yet reflective mood.  I have had the privilege of becoming a grandmother to a brand new, wonderful, baby girl so I have been reflecting quite a lot on the awesome but terrifying responsiblity of raising daughters.

I have some previous experience – Martin and I have raised two daughters , and we are proudly connected to our other granddaughter, a funny, kind, intelligent six year old who makes my heart sing with her thoughfulness.

My own daughters are (and I admit to some bias here) strong, intelligent, warrior women and I am proud of them both as well as being slightly in awe of the way they face the world.  They are warriors, not because they have been set a perfect example, but because they have faced demons, fought battles and are winning more often than they lose.  When they were born, 30+ years ago, I knew nothing of the rigours of motherhood but I learned, the hard way, the way we all learn – by making mistakes, by getting it spectacularly wrong, by trying again and by getting better at it over time.

Now that each of my daughters has a girl child of her own, I thought I would break the cardinal rule of grandmotherhood (eek!) and offer some unsolicited advice on raising daughters.

Trust your instincts

Read books, ask for advice/help from family, friends or professionals but ultimately trust your instincts.  People have general views on raising babies, toddlers and teenagers but you are the only one(s) raising your unique daughter.  Trust your instincts.

Find a balance

Try to find a balance in all things.  We are all a mix of yin and yang, we are essentially good people but we all have a darker side, we are mind and body and they cannot be separated, we each have masculine and feminine attributes.  It is important to accept all sides of ourselves and of our daughters.

Let them embrace the cult of pink if they choose to but discuss it with them, help them to discover how odd it is for colours to be gendered.  Balance this stereotypical feminity with opportunities to get dirty or to engage in rough play.

My favourite 4 year old girl can often be seen in a tutu and wellies, blonde curls flying wildly, as she climbs onto her dad’s tractor to help bring in the sheep.

Be a role model

Demonstrate the qualities you want to foster in your daughter.  Never let her hear you say you feel fat, or you look awful.  Talk about healthy eating not dieting.  Go outside, engage in sports, demonstrate resilience, push yourself from time to time, be caught reading books for pleasure, work hard, talk about success (whatever that means for you) make time for yourself, challenge inequality when you see it, stand up for the underdog.

A friend recently posted on Facebook that she had won the mum’s race at her daughter’s primary school sports day for the second year running – despite going straight from work and doing it barefoot in a pencil skirt.  She received a couple of negative comments (mostly from men) suggesting that it is somehow wrong to try to win.  I (and most of her female friends) applaud her for being a great role model – being fit and trying hard are great qualities to demonstrate when raising daughters.  The look on her daughter’s face when she, in turn, won a race was all the recognition needed.

Take time out to be quiet

We all need quiet time – every day.  Time to stop, to reflect, to be at peace.  Take this time for yourself and encourage your daughters to take quiet time out too.

You may need to teach your daughter how to reflect.  After she has had some down time on her own terms try asking questions about her day.  Most parents will already know that there is no point asking “how was your day?”  You will probably just get an unengaged “good” or “fine”.  Instead, try asking something more specific “what was the best thing you learned today?” or “who did you sit next to at lunch time?”   Friends of ours do this every evening over dinner, as a family they take it in turns to discuss the three best things that happened that day giving their sons a focus on positivity and reinforcing the importance of talking about feelings and listening to each other.

Have a space to call your own

Everyone (including you) needs a space to call their own.  When raising daughters you will sometimes need to go to your space to cool off, reflect, plan how to move forward or just “be”.  So will your daughter.  If she cannot have a room of her own, give her a corner with a bean bag, a spot in the hall or an arm chair that is just for her.

Nurture the yellow dot inside her

When raising daughters it is really important to nurture the yellow dot inside them.  Love them unconditionally (especially when you have to tell them that their behaviour is unacceptable).  Try to join them in their world and see things from their point of view before judging their behaviour – we all need to be understood.  Be honest with them, hypocrisy breaks down trust faster than anything else.

Stop trying to be perfect

Accept that you are going to get it wrong – often.  You are not perfect and, when raising daughters, it’s important to admit that.  When you fail (at anything) admit it and talk about what you have learned from that experience.  Your daughters will learn how to be resilient by watching you fail, pick yourself up, learn and try again.  And let’s face it. they will need to be resilient.

Enjoy it

Raising daughters will be a fabulous, exhilerating, terrifying roller coaster ride – make sure you take some time to enjoy it!

A Footnote

This is a blog about raising daughters.  I suspect that much of what I have written is also true about raising boys but I have never done that.  If we are to see a world where women are valued as equal, are valued for their differences and their similarities then we also have to think carefully about how we raise boys.  If any of you wonderful Yellow Dot Women would like to write a guest blog, a companion piece about raising boys, please get in touch.