Proactive V Reactive – The ‘Contrast’ prompt…

So, today I thought I’d try getting two jobs done at once.  I thought my proactive V reactive challenge would work nicely for the ‘Contrast’ prompt from writing 101.  Will try to get some dialogue in here too!

Day 2

Today is going to be an emotional day for me.  MLS’ s first day at nursery.  Unfortunately I am unable to be there and I worry how he will get on.  MLS has quite a big speech and language delay.  He seems so much littler than the other kids!  I know I’m just worrying over nothing and he will probably be fine.

Daddy has a hangover this morning!  He completely forgot the kids were back to school and left the car at the pub (there is a silver lining in their somewhere).  So not only is it MLS’s first day, he is now going to have a half hour walk to get there – poor lad will be completely shattered.  I am very cross about this.

My usual reactive reaction to this would of gone something like this:

‘Are you joking?  Did you leave the car at the pub?  You knew the kids were back at school today’ she said angrily.

‘I didn’t know’ he said, with a confused look on his face.

‘It’s MLS’s first day – he’s going to be shattered.  She screamed.

(Blank look)

‘Do you ever think of anybody but yourself?  She questioned, accusingly.

(Storms out door)

Not good, right?  So this is how I dealt with it today.  I decided to choose my response.  I realised that there was actually nothing I could do.  So I chose to keep quiet.  I said goodbye to the kids, wished MLS luck and went to work. I felt that him having to get the kids ready for school much quicker than usual (due to having to walk) with a hangover was punishment enough.  Other positives I thought of on the way to work were that he wouldn’t of been driving our kids to school under the influence of alcohol.

Very little to report at work today.  I was office bound and didn’t see a lot of people.  A bit sad though as my best friend at work told me she may be leaving in a couple of months.  Again, I chose my response and kept positive.  She is moving on to brighter and better things – and will do very well for herself.  Unfortunately she is moving away so I don’t think I will get to see her very often.

Day 3

Today is my day off.  I hadn’t really been looking forward to it as I messed up the childcare arrangements and Daddy is also off today (which never happens).  That’s bad, right?  I hate that I feel this way, but I rarely get a day to myself and it’s like he’s encroaching on my time (I realise how bad that sounds).  What usually happens when we have the day off together is that I do everything while he has a lie in, sits on the couch all morning then disappears off to the pub for the afternoon, and possibly evening!  But I realise I am being negative so I will stop.

This is what actually happened.  He had a bit of a lie in and then got up to help with the kids!  We took them to school together!  I am now dreading going home because I know what he’ll be after when we get there – with there being no kids home and all.  Again I know making excuses will cause an argument so I decide to go with the flow.  Anyways, I’m glad I did.  We connected!  I think we needed to actually.  I sometimes forget how much I love him.  I forget how much I like him when he’s sober.  He’s just a normal, fun guy to be around and it reminds me of the person I fell in love with.  It reminds me that this is the man I want back one day – on a full time basis.

We watched a funny movie and then picked up MLS from nursery (he’s getting on great by the way!).  We chilled out in the afternoon and then picked up DLP from school together.  He did then go to the pub – but only for an hour and a half and he was back in plenty of time for bath time, bedtime stories and bed.  He also stayed in all evening.  So today has been a good day.  I’m actually still in shock!

Proactive V Reactive

I decided to set myself the challenge of listening to my language and the language of others for seven days.  I wanted to see how much people use reactive language or proactive language and what the result of this was.

Stephen Covey gives us the following examples of reactive languge:

  • There’s nothing I can do.
  • That’s just the way I am.
  • He makes me so mad.
  • They won’t allow that.
  • I have to do that.
  • I can’t.
  • I must.
  • If only.

He gives us the following examples of proactive language:

  • Let’s look at our alternatives.
  • I can choose a different approach.
  • I control my own feelings.
  • I can create an effective presentation.
  • I will choose an appropriate response.
  • I choose.
  • I prefer.
  • I will.

Day 1

A little background.  Daddy as been at the pub all day watching football and drinking so I will be sleeping on the sofa tonight – just so I get a decent sleep.  MLS is currently sleeping in Mummy and Daddy’s bed as he says he is a big boy now and is refusing to sleep in his cot bed (as it’s for babies)!  The sofa is very comfy by the way!

So Day 1 I find myself awake at 2 am!  MLS has woken up and is full of beans.  He climbs under the blanket with me and proceeds to fidget for the next three hours, finally falling asleep at 5am.  So, lucky me gets approximately half hour sleep before my alarm goes off at 5.30!  During the three hours DLP woke up also so I sent her in with her Daddy (it really is ‘musical beds’ in our house).  So, not the best start to the day, but I try to remember that the kids were probably wakeful due to me letting them play on their Leap pads before bed and being over-stimulated, so I can’t blame anyone but myself!

Everyone else in the house is up by about 6.  I try to remain mindful that I am tired and not to snap at anyone.  Then, of course the kids start arguing – I admit, I could of handled it better!  But, I realise and apologise to them for shouting and explain that I didn’t get much sleep, and all is well again.  Daddy managed to go unscathed and I left for work.

It is my first day back at work after a week off so I’m feeling a little ‘meh’ anyway.  On my way to work I decide to think positively about going back and all the good things it entails such as seeing the people I support, my colleagues who are also friends, and all the cake which might be left over from last week as there were four birthdays going on!  I try to remember that I am tired and to pace myself today.

I buy fruit and a healthy lunch on the way (this will make me feel better about eating cake).  I arrive at work on time with a smile on my face and pleased to see everyone (which I am).  We sit around the table for (green) tea and breakfast.  My friend asks about my week off and if I’m glad to be back, I tell her about my week and say that I am.  She then goes on to talk about what’s going on with her.  She has had a fall out with a friend (a work colleague), and it is causing tension for her at work.  I hear slot of ‘she did this’ and ‘she did that’.  I try to offer helpful comments but realise I’m just getting sucked into the negativity.  So I decide to keep quiet and just listen.  And as people always do (given half the chance), she came round to her own solution while my integrity remained intact.

Anyway, so much for pacing myself today.  It turns out to be very busy!  I support my residents to get out of bed, have breakfast etc.  I check on their finances and realise no one did their banking while I was off last week, so none of the residents have any money.  I huff about it a bit to myself and then use it as an opportunity to take one of the residents out to town in the lovely sunshine!  I remember to put my problems in perspective and think about what the people I support have been through.  It really is humbling.

I arrive back at the house after some fresh air and sunshine and have lunch (and cake). After lunch I sort out the rest of the finances.  My boss is in today and requests to see me in the office.  I know already what he wants – he knows that I am on  an office day tomorrow so he will give me some of his work load to complete!  Currently he has me writing staff appraisals (really should be his job – how would you feel if your colleague wrote your appraisal and not your boss?)!  I remember that his job involves crazy amounts of work which he just hasn’t got time to do and that he thinks highly of me and spent the last seven years fighting to get me a pay rise and promotion (achieved last month!).  He also knows I spend far more time with the staff team and know them better than he does so will probably do a better job.  He also knows I’m a paperwork geek and I like to have some days when I do office work.  So he talks me round again.  Which is fine!

I arrive home shattered.  I get the washing done, make the beds and finish the paperwork needed for MLS to start nursery tomorrow.  The grocery order arrives and then the children arrive home from nannies.

MLS is shattered and asleep by 6.15, DLP by 7.30.  Daddy calls to say he’s working late so to eat without him.I eat, write this post and am now off for an early night!  Sorry Writing 101 prompt, you will have to wait!

Considering how tired I was today I think I did pretty well!

Stimulus – Response…

th-26When I decided to give up smoking, I set myself a date and organised all the things I needed to get off to a good start, e.g. patches, quitting info, downloading an app.  I was all set.  As the time drew nearer, I started to find myself beginning to make excuses, ‘I can’t do this, my life is too stressful right now’, ‘as soon as my partner upsets me, I’ll give up – what’s the point?’, ‘the kids are stressing me out’.  I seriously started to talk myself out of it.

When dealing with my children’s behaviour, I notice that sometimes I don’t deal with it particularly well, saying things like ‘you’re stressing me out’, ‘Don’t make me shout’, ‘you’re upsetting me’.

When I argue with my partner we end up rallying with each other over who is the least responsive. ‘You never talk to me’, ‘you never listen to me’, ‘you’re not interested in what I have to say’, ‘you never show any affection’.

All of these scenarios have one thing in common.  They all are reactive ways of behaving.  Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say – they believe they have no choice.  I used to be this way, and still can be on occasion.  Reactive people blame things on their circumstances, their conditions and there conditioning.  They blame other people for their situation, they blame the weather for their lack of motivation.  They do not realise that they have a choice about the way they react to things.

Every moment that we have in our lives provides us with a new choice.  We can choose to make it a positive one or we can choose to make it negative.  We determine what happens in our lives by the choices we make.  When circumstances are beyond our control, we choose how we react to them.

Everyone should take responsibility for their life and stop blaming others.  We all have the freedom to choose. Proactive people understand this.

“Between stimulus and response, you have the freedom to choose.”  Stephen Covey

As a human being we have four qualities which allow this- self awareness, imagination, conscience and independent Will.  Covey says this is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

 I did manage to give up smoking.  I told myself I could do it regardless of what my circumstances were.  I wrote a post about it, you can read it here. https://patchworkrainbows.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/habits/

I’m beginning to deal with my children much better too.  I lose my temper much less now.  I remind myself that I need to be a role model and their behaviours are a direct response to what is going on around them.  They are not at fault for our situation, so I remember to take it easier on them.  I learnt about child development stages and they are no longer reprimanded for what is ‘normal’ for their age.  I no longer sweat the small stuff.

As for our relationship, it is steadily getting there.  I admit there is a long way to go and much resentment that needs forgiveness.  I try to remember he can’t help the drinking – he has an addiction.  I need to read more about this to help me understand.  I need to be more supportive.  I need to remember that I can choose my response when things go wrong instead of flying off the handle.  I’m getting there slowly… but I will get there.

Room with a View…

th-32If I could be anywhere in the world right now, I would choose to be home.  Home is where the heart is.  Home is where I am at my most comfortable.  Home is where I can be myself.  Home is definitely not wherever I leave my hat!  I am a home bird.

You may think that ‘home’ for me would be where I currently dwell, but this is not the case.  I still feel that my real home is the house  I grew up in.  My parents still live in that house and I am most grateful for that.  It holds so many memories – good and bad.  It is the place where I went from child to teenager to adult – my transformation from caterpillar to butterfly.

It is a very simple three bed council house.  My parents never could afford to buy even till this day.  We lived simply and always just had enough to get by, which in those days was enough.  We learnt about being grateful for what we had and never wished for more.

My sisters and i had a few toys each but we were happy making up our own games, playing outside and making stuff out of boxes!  We didn’t watch much Tv and never had such things as computer games – we couldn’t afford them.  We read books, wrote stories and used our imaginations!

My Mum worked as a cleaning lady in a local school and my Dad was a landscape gardener, so our house was always clean and our garden immaculate.  We were bought up with a strong work ethic and taught to help out others before ourselves.

We went through some very difficult times in this house.  My Mum has Bi Polar which was undiagnosed for many, many years, this was very difficult to deal with as a child and teenager.  It was like living with a ticking time bomb.  None of us knew what was wrong – mental health was not talked about much in those days.  No one ever thought to tell my Mum to see a doctor.  It was just a private incidence in our family.  To everyone else my Mum was just the ‘crazy’ lady who lived down the road.  My dad also couldn’t cope with all this and suffered terrible depression.  We would often find him at the bottom of a bottle of Whisky.

My sister’s moved out during this time as they found it hard to cope.  Both had there own relationships to pursue, they needed to get on with there lives.

I still love the house though.  It is the place that my parents healed and got better.  It symbolises strength and their unity, there ability to work things through.  I admire that so much and it is the main reason I am taking my family through the journey I’m currently going through.

I was the last of the three children to move out.  As we flew the nest one by one, my parents really began to struggle financially as we had all been contributing to the house keeping as soon as we became employed.  I stayed with my parents much longer than I needed just to help them out.  The last two years I was there I paid there rent for them.  I felt I needed to repay them for the period of time when they took care of me, despite their struggles.  Believe me, there were times when I hated living with them and I wanted to walk away but family is family and you support them no matter what.

They came through the bad times and my relationship with them is all the better for it.  They still struggle financially so I now pay my Mum to look after our children whilst I work.  My Mum is much better now but she still has off days, but it’s great that my children are growing up with an understanding of mental health issues which is spoken about openly in our family, (along with Daddy’s addiction and Mummy’s work with PMLD, they are going to be very worldly wise).  I am very proud of that!

So, at the moment I don’t feel like the place I have lived in for coming up seven years is ‘home’.  I actually don’t like it much at all.  I feel guilty about that as it is the place I am bringing up my children.  I then think back to my family home and all the hard times we had there and there is still a sense of nostalgia.  I hope my children will feel this about their home and I hope one day I will feel that way too.  At the moment there are so many bad memories, but I feel hope as I plan to replace them with good ones!  That is what my blog is all about!

Note:  I absolutely realise that I have gone off on a tangent.  The prompt was supposed to be a descriptive place, whereas I’ve gone on more of a nostalgic journey!  I hope you enjoyed anyway! X

Spring…

th-12Here is my 20 minute stream of consciousness for Writing 101.

Today is a beautiful Spring day.  The sun is shining and the sky is blue.  The weather is finally warmer…for now.  Today was also the day I chose to take the children for their Spring walk!  An Easter holiday tradition!

I love Spring, it is my second favourite season next to Autumn.  If I could have my way the New Year would be in Spring, it would make so much more sense with all the new stuff that is happening.  Who has ever managed to start anything new on January 1st?  Those New Year resolutions never seem to work out do they?  In my opinion this is down to the time of year, the cold weather and the fact that many of us may still be a little bit hungover from the night before!  Never a good start to anything except maybe spending the day under a duvet!

The start of Spring gives us all a little hope and motivation for the warmer weather to come and everything is just starting to look beautiful.  The trees are blossoming, the birds are chirping and the sun warms our faces and hearts.  We all feel brand new and rejuvenated!  We all get warm and fuzzy over baby animals!

We plan the Spring cleaning, we clear out, de-clutter and detox.  New beginnings are happening all around us.  The days are getting longer so that we have more daylight to do all these things in.  Whenever I’m planning a big change, I always start it in the Spring.  I started this blog in the Spring, and it is helping me step by step to transform my life and my family.

All the R’s are at work – rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and re-growth.

So with all my ramblings I bid you all a very happy New Year.

5/4/15 – Building Rome…

Over the last week I challenged myself to complete the following goals:

Write a ‘Family’ post

I wrote a post reflecting on how my life is like an aeroplane flight.  I talked about what things make my family off course and what things make us stay on track.  I looked at the things which affected us in both positive and negative ways.  I looked at the things I have already done to improve our situation and I looked to the future to find ways of improving things further.  You can read this post here: https://patchworkrainbows.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/destination-anywhere/

Have a family meeting with my children

Daddy’s LIttle Princess (DLP) decided that she wanted to call our family meeting ‘Planning’.  This is something they have in reception class at school where they decide on the activities they want to choose for the afternoon.  It seemed quite fitting so we are going to stick with it!

We started off with a little game.  I blindfolded DLP and lead her to a place in the house where returning to the starting point would be a little difficult but not unsafe.  I spun her around a few times for good measure.  I then told DLP that it was now her job to find her way back to the starting point.  DLP tried to return and seemed very nervous and worried.  After a moment I asked her if she would like some help or clues, she said yes.  I then directed her back to the starting point with instructions such as ‘move forward five steps’, ‘turn right’ etc.  When she was safely back I asked her if it was hard to find her way when she couldn’t see and had no instructions, she replied yes.  I then let Mummy’ s Little Soldier (MLS) have a turn.

Afterwards we sat down together and talked about us going through life together as a family and how sometimes we can’t see the future.  We talked about how we sometimes need assistance or clues to help us get to our destination.  We talked about how wonderful it was to have a family to rely on.  I helped them to understand how this was related to the game.

After the game we sat down and brainstormed some ideas for activities for the next week as I am going to be on annual leave.  We came up with the following list:  going on a train trip, a Spring walk, Making chocolate Easter nests, going out for lunch, going to the toy shop, going to the park, visiting Nanny and Grandad, Zentangling, buying new school shoes, school work and reading and arts and crafts!

I have also set the children and myself a little challenge.  We all have to think of one helpful thing and one kind thing we can do for each member of the family daily.

A fun bonding activity

This week we decided to make fairy cakes.  Both DLP and MLS really enjoyed this.  So much measuring, weighing, stirring and seiving was done and a great big mess made.  So much fun!

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Liebster Award no 2

I was nominated again by the lovely https://bekitschig.wordpress.com/

You can read my post here: https://patchworkrainbows.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/liebster-award-2-2/

My goals for next week are:

  • Continuing with our ‘Planning’ and bonding activities and complete as many of the activities the children chose as possible.
  • Complete the ‘Love in ten sentences challenge’.  Nomination by the lovely Edwina at http://edwinasepisodes.com/
  • Make a start on Writing 101
  • Write at least two posts on the first habit – Be Proactive.

Destination Anywhere…

th-24The last week has been a bit up and down for me.  I have found myself reflecting on the concept of life being much like an aeroplane flight.  If you missed the post you can read about that here : https://patchworkrainbows.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/family-planning/

I am starting to have a much better idea of what I would like my final ‘destination’ to be – although I’m sure my thoughts and ideas will change along the way as I grow as a person.  Also ‘my’ destination will have to become an ‘our’ destination at some point as I slowly start to involve other members of the family.

There are going to be plenty of times when we are going to be ‘off course’.  Just this last week I have had two evenings when Daddy has come home at 2 am extremely drunk when he is supposed to be looking after the kids the next morning (I leave for work at 6am).  So that’s two extra days off work – which I won’t get paid for, not only that I only received a promotion a month ago – so it’s not exactly a good start.  I am also currently sleeping on the sofa because I just can’t cope with his alcohol sweats, snoring and flatulence!  So I’m getting a lot of flack for that.

Other times when we are off course include times of stress.  These are usually for me when I am tired – taking too much responsibility for kids, not sleeping well due to the above, coping with his drinking, sleeping on the sofa!  For Daddy stress mainly boils down to having a bad time at work or dealing with me after he has been drinking! (He says).

Periods of stress then generally lead on to periods of conflict.  We have been snapping and back biting at each other since the drinking episodes, things are just finally starting to ease down again, and everything seems to get forgotten about and we carry on – till the next time.  Really stuck in a rut with this one…

I also worry about the future.  What effect will all this tension have on the children?  What am I going to do once they have flown the nest?  Are we going to make it?

On a more positive note, I have had some great ‘on course’ moments this last week or so.  On the days when Daddy has been able to look after the kids, he has not taken them to the pub with him which is his usual course of action (he doesn’t have more than a pint, but I still don’t like the associations that the kids will think this is a normal everyday activity).  On three occasions recently he has actually taken them to the park!  Three different parks at that.  This is a huge improvement and I hope he keeps it up.  I guess some of my being more positive and supportive is getting through somewhere, particularly surprising as it’s been such a dodgy week.

I have also brought up the idea of a family meeting with the kids and they are very excited about it.  Daddy’s LIttle Princess (DLP) wants to call it ‘planning’.  They do this in nursery and reception class.  So DLP has been drawing lovely pictures all week of the activities she would like to do over the Easter holidays.  Even Mummy’ s Little Soldier (MLS) has come up with an idea!  I know DLP has also mentioned it to Daddy and he seemed to be going along with it!  So more progress here.

Our biggest issue is dealing with the 2 am drinking binges.  Sometimes I deal with this well, sometimes not.  Overall I deal with it much better than I used to.  I used to go crazy – shouting and screaming, ringing him until he had ridiculous amounts of missed calls and him eventually turning his phone off.  That was when I had serious coping problems and most likely depression.

Since those days I decided to calm down.  I learnt about the Circle of Influence and the Circle of concern.  I realised I had more control than I thought.  I realised I could not change him.  I realised that only he could change his addiction – it was out of my circle of influence.  Instead I made him aware of the following ground rules for him and myself:

  • When I’m looking after the children the next day, he may do as he pleases until whatever time.
  • When he looks after the children the next day, he needs to be back by midnight. (He does this more often than not.)
  • He needs to get his priorities straight.  He can be back at a reasonable time when he has to work the next day.  His children should be more important than this.
  • If I have to miss work due to him.  I will take my lost salary from his bank account. (I control the finances as he once got us 27k in debt.)
  • I will not constantly ring him.  It does not help.
  • I will not confront him when he gets home drunk.
  • If I take too many days off work,I may eventually lose my job, he will then be the breadwinner (which he can’t afford).  He will need to accept this.

These things have actually reduced the incidences, and I’m extremely lucky I have an understanding boss.  If anyone else has any ideas, I would love to here them as I need all the help I can get!

th-15I have to keep telling myself it’s never too late.  It has been encouraging to see improvements at this early stage.  I keep trying to remember the story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree.  At first you see just a little shoot – maybe even for many years, then all of a sudden you will see great growth and strength.  I just have to keep trying.