Category Archives: Articles

Two teen girls lying on grass playing phones with paper cups - one talking into cup, and one listening with cup to ear.

Listening Partnerships with our Parenting Partners (and other friends)

Listening Partnerships have been my parenting saviour. They have meant that I have had somewhere to take my feelings, work through confusions, and think through my parenting challenges without fear of being judged, given “helpful” advice, or have it taken personally or brought up again by my listener.

However, it can sometimes be a challenge to find someone to form a Listening Partnership with, and it can be an option to ask a friend, relative or your parenting partner if they are interested. This may have the advantage of convenience, but there a few things to be careful about when you are setting up a Listening Partnership with someone so close to home.

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Man and Boy sit on bench with arms around shoulders https://wp.me/a5jd3o-qVm

Setting Limits on Holidays – Part 3: Stepping in

Our kids were playing happily in the pool, but suddenly things get nasty and one child is hitting another.  In Part 1, we talked about why this happens: for some reason, feelings have taken over the play and your child has lost their sense of connection.

How can you prevent this from happening, and what can you do to help your children get along with one another?

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Man delights in child in play

Setting Limits on Holiday – Part 2: Connection Plan

In Part 1 we were pool side on holiday, and three siblings were happily playing, until suddenly, without much warning, the bigger boy was pushing the younger into the pool. They have lost their sense of connection (for whatever reason) and their behaviour is now driven by difficult feelings which are not “thoughtful”, caring or workable.

For the holiday to go well, you’ll need to develop a Connection Plan. This will help keep your children in good shape, and will give you room to step in, when necessary, to set limits to help resolve unworkable behaviour. Continue reading

Woman sitting by pool with legs in water, looking away distracted

Setting Limits on Holidays – Part 1

Family holidays can be a special challenge for us parents. It’s good to spend time together. But often getting to the holiday destination can be stressful, and by definition, everyone is tired and worn out to begin with. We parents are often really, badly, in need of some down-time.  And at times like these, things don’t always go well between our children.  Happy play quickly turns to trouble.  What can you do? Continue reading

Mini toy Santa under cocktail umbrella in the sun

All the best for 2022

Dear parents, wishing you the best for this time of year.

I doubt you’ll be altogether happy – we’d be disappointed if we undertook this venture in pursuit of happiness. That may come, on occasion. But deeper is the worthiness of this work, is our integrity as we work through the barriers that get in the way of connecting with our children.

This is where we discover our own goodness in the face of a task almost impossible. And in reaching for our children, we discover the goodness of the little people we once were, and reach for ourselves, rather than leave our own little ones behind. Because we need company.

So my wish for you in this journey, over which, in the end, we don’t have much control, is company. Strong, solid, wise, generous company. Thankyou for accompanying me this year. Here’s to more company, whatever this next year brings.

~Madeleine

Christmas greeting with photo of santa under cocktail umbrella in the sun

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The materials on this page are free for reuse as long as you credit the author. See our copyright page for details. Please take note that photos may carry additional copyright conditions.
©2021 by Madeleine Winter.
The featured image above is “Christmas in the Heat” by Ivan Diaz
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Starting School Part 2: How to Unpack the Backpack

My daughter’s first day of school was one of the hardest days of my life.  Although we had  some times in the past when separating from one another had been full of feeKindergarten girl sitting on mat in classrooom looks at the camera. She looks happy.lings, we  worked through them together, and things, up to then, had been pretty smooth.  Cheerful up to that point, on this day she started to wail and cling to me as she lined up at the doorstep of the classroom.

The teacher looked increasingly alarmed, and then more and more annoyed with me.  Other children were beginning to waver in their confidence, considering joining my daughter in a serious cry.  Heartbreaking as it was, it just was not going to work for me to stay.  I walked away, my nerve ends on fire.  Over time it got easier, but I had to work hard at it. Continue reading

Starting School Part 1 – How to Pack the Backpack

Young boy walks along path with big red backpack

Starting school – for the first time, or at a new school, or even after the long summer break, can be a challenge for both our children and ourselves. We carefully pack their school bag with the things that will help them through their day – a nutritious lunch, a spare pair of pants and pencils. But it’s easy to forget our children carry an emotional backpack as well. Our special role, as parents and carers, is to help them pack and unpack that bag. It’s at least as important as a healthy lunch or a good night’s sleep. Continue reading

Special Time is Always about Something

Bull and close up of head with pincers.My friend and I were doing Special Time together with her 4-year-old son, Cameron, at the local park. There were a lot of bull-ants (a large and very aggressive kind of ant) on the ground.

Cameron told us that ants were very dangerous, and scary, and that we should get out of their way. Continue reading

It’s hard, and it’s not our fault

Covid-19 virus with crowns of hearts.

We need to keep a steadfast perspective: this is not our fault. What is being asked of us is necessary, but unreasonable. It is hard because of that, not because we have somehow not figured out the trick to doing it well. We are good. Our children are good. We want to come out of this holding each other close, if not physically, then emotionally. That is the most important thing. We all need to be held close.

A lot is being asked of us as parents at the moment. Managing school-at-home and work-at-home, working parents are running the risk of being “ground up in the gears” as the world of work and the world of schooling collide in the privacy of our home.

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Burning out

Mother pays attention to her child

This is fascinating. My own experience of all this is of a vague sense of displacement, discouragement, sadness, disconnection. Hard to put a finger on. Then I meet someone – today, the young GP at the local medical practice who I’ve never met before, and may not meet again.  And I feel better. We weren’t meant to be isolated from one another.

I’m not suffering trauma – illness, loss of work, serious financial stress – like so many are. But I’m suffering the loss of what was normal, predictable, finely balanced to keep me just on the right side of hopeful. 

This short news segment is worth a listen. He studies burnout, and says in the current environment, women are particularly vulnerable, as they shoulder the majority of the burden of managing work and children at home. So if you are feeling a little overwhelmed, take heart: it is overwhelming and impossible to do well enough. Its ridiculous to expect to be able to supervise young children and be employed at work at the same time in the same space. Be kind to yourselves, conscientious mothers.

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/will-i-suffer-burnout-thanks-to-covid-19/12226002