What to tell your kids about 2020 with Heidi
Today, we are welcoming Heidi who will share her view on What to tell your kids about 2020 and I really loved her ideas and how she communicates with her kid! I think this is a learning curve for all of us, you know I have been a child myself and went through difficult times but I was lucky to have had a good foundation.
Thank you for listening, feel free to share if you think it might be helpful to someone you know. If you enjoyed this episode, then please make sure to give it a rating and subscribe if you haven’t already. See you soon with the next episode and in the meantime have a lovely day!
Positive Education, positive upbringing, Black Lives Matter, Covid, parenting, improve communication
Today, we are welcoming Heidi who will share her view on what to tell your kids about 2020. And I really love her ideas and how she communicates with our kids. But without further due, let's begin.
Hello, Heidi, how are you today?
Heidi Harrison 1:07 I'm good. Thank you, Julie - How are you?
Julie Pabion 1:09 Good. Thanks. Thank you so much for joining. I'm very excited about this episode.
Heidi Harrison 1:14 I'm excited to I love talking about my daughter.
And how I parent her.
Julie Pabion 1:20 That's perfect then.Okay, so would you mind just introducing yourself to the audience?
Heidi Harrison 1:27 Yeah, sure. So I'm Heidi, I have an 11 year old daughter I seem to be almost will be 12 in January, just finished her junior school journey about to embark on being in senior school, she was very strange to me. I, a I work full time within the tech industry. Love balancing being a full time working mom as well as all the other commitments and fun things I like to do. But I'm also a step mom to a 19 year old and eight year olds, they're both boys. So it's a very different dynamic to having a daughter and understanding what it takes to bring up boys and parent boys. You have to change things in a very different way when dealing with boys. So yeah, we have a really nice blended family. I also have an elder stepdaughter who is 21. So again, it's learning how to deal with an elder child and a younger child. So yeah, it's it's a really nice challenge to have actually learning about sort of parenting your, your actual child and then any stepchildren that you have in the dynamic as well.
Julie Pabion 2:34 Yeah, that must be very interesting. And you must be very busy between your work and also taking care of the kids.
Heidi Harrison 2:40 Yeah, 100%. And I feel like I see my parenting and goes beyond my four walls. It's not just about what do I do at home to help my children? It's about what do I do? How involved do I become within their schools, within the clubs that they want to do, activating their interest. So to make them... the main thing for me is it's about education of children, but it's not just about being booksmart. It's about being worldly, you know, and, and having an awareness of where you fit in that world. It's not just about the academics, it's about having those well rounded individuals. So for me, I always expand my parenting outside my four walls, which makes me even busier. But for me, I will hopefully, end up with very well-rounded children out of it.
Julie Pabion 3:23 Right. That's very impressive. And so how do you get involved? Like, what do you do, you know, to do a little bit more?
Heidi Harrison 3:30 So for when I think about things I do for my daughter, I whatever school she goes to actually she changed schools in September last year to do her final year of junior school at a new school. So but in the two schools that she has attended, because she started school in a preparatory school from when she was just over two. So I always become a part of the parent committee. So it's become part of the parent Council. So really understand the workings of the school what's going on, because for me, it really helps you to understand what could be coming up the environment your child is in. I also become a part of any of the charities that helped raise money for the school. So I get really heavily involved in the school community. One of the things that my parents always taught me is that when a school sees that you are invested into your child, their journey in the school itself, your child has a much more rewarding experience at school. And that has definitely proved to be the case both for myself, my brother, and now my daughter in particular, my daughter is heavily into netball. She'd like to be a professional netball one day so I am very encouraging with her what often outside playing netball together in the garden, I get involved with her netball clubs where I can help raise money, do any volunteering work for them. I also have a passion for netball that I ignited a couple of years ago. So I will also so she sees that you know, actually with this is something we can do together. So I always to try to do those things High School recently off of recent global events in 2020, around door tried her school was started a diversity and equalities commission. So I have joined that so I can really understand the dynamic and the world and what her school is going to do to address and have better awareness amongst the teaching staff and their pupils. Because I think it really does start from a young age and, and the experiences you have from a young age. So yeah, I just really just try to get involved as much as possible so I can understand what things are going to impact her day to day. And then I then know how I can then communicate and talk to her about those things. If I have a little bit of insight myself.
Julie Pabion 5:41 That's amazing. It sounds like you're very busy. But it's so interesting, I think. And so why was it important for you to talk about 2020 with your kids, because you mentioned obviously, the school is also trying to put some work in, like educating the kids. But why are you also doing it on the side?
Yeah, well, I think 2020 and, you know, for anybody who has been on any form of COVID webinars or quote, I think the term is unprecedented times these 2020 has been a year unlike no other for so many reasons, actually. So I think for me, it's been really important, even more so to stay very closely tuned to the children and what they're going through, because they're going through things that we have never experienced as an all of us are, actually. So I think it's important that for me, mental health and mental well being is key. So actually, it's been my level of involvement or understanding or just pausing and taking that time to stop and think, which is what I think 20 has given us all has been even more crucial. Because 2020 has just been a strange year, and a lot has happened. A lot of changes in the world. And I would always say they're not all negative, there's been some lots of positive things. I think there's lots of families, reconnecting, actually children, being at home with their parents, I remember reading something at the beginning of the pandemic around, you know, children are eating less takeaways, they're with their, their with their families, more parents are actually parenting their children. And as I read, it was like, you're assuming we didn't do it before we did. But you know, I think there are lots of positive and one of the things that I think about 2020 that I've noticed, as we've all become a little bit more humane, we've slowed down. So when you ask somebody, how are you, you actually genuinely asking them? How are you and waiting for a response? Whereas before, you'd say, how are you? So anyway, I need to get to this report or get to this document? So I feel like we've all remembered were humans and not machines. Yeah, definitely a positive thing that obviously, did you feel your kids were feeling stressed out? Or? Or like feeling their parents stress? Do they feel the need to talk about COVID? And the virus? Yeah, so in our house, in particular, actually, it was a very, it was a slightly different dynamic. And for me, just in our house, particular and everything I mentioned, I'm going to not relating just to our home, because every home is different. And every child is different. In our home, it showed in two different ways between the boys and the girls in our home actually, and, and for me, Amber joined her school in February, in September, sorry, in February, unfortunately, one of her school friends died unexpectedly. So we had that dynamic of 2020 to understand that, you know, speaking to 11 year old around, mortality of losing someone your own age, at that age was, you know, really trying to get her to understand that and work her through that. And then soon after that, we then had COVID. So for my daughter in particular, it was very much she was very much aware of COVID but it bought her a little bit of anxiety because her her thinking of mortality had been heightened because she just lost a friend as well. Okay, so I had to handle it very differently with her but she's very mature, very logical, very methodical, and her thinking you can and I have always had very, I've always spoken to her not like she's an adult, but I didn't do baby talk. I've always encouraged her to ask why, if she's not sure on something, had that very open relationship that we could sort of talk about anything and everything. And we talk a lot about our feelings, which I think is really important. So for her, we definitely had to be sort of very understanding and go into a lot of detail around COVID what it meant, what changes in the world. Her school was great though, because they came up with lots of mini projects, and they always had like a, when they set their homeschooling, they had their well being paid as well and they had wellbeing tasks that they had to do. And they did a wellbeing week in a day where the children literally sat on zoom calls, just talking or coloring together orYou know, so getting that balance was really why. For the boys, it didn't appear to be as a parent, but how it showed in the boys, for example, was in homeschooling. So I think about my eight year old set son in particular, you know, he'd wake up and he'd be completely bright and happy in his day. And then the second you'd mentioned, okay, now we have to do schoolwork. Oh, oh, like it just because they, yeah, and then just his whole demeanor, his whole response. And he struggled a little bit more with homeschooling, because he also felt like he was doing more at home than at school, my daughter had a similar experience, but she sort of adapted more, but I don't know if that's an age thing. I don't know, if it's a girl boy thing, it's just something that we noticed in our home specifically. So it was, we had to take very different approaches with the my 19 year old steps on, we had to sort of handle the whole COVID pandemic, from our understanding of you now cannot be as free like you've, you've had freedom, you understand what it is to be able to go there and be out and about and do your own thing and go meet your friends. And now that world is going to change because now you have to be at home and dealing with the challenges around, you know, having a 19 year old that has their freedom taken away, but not quite being a full adult to and be very understanding to it.
Yes, another challenge for sure.
Heidi Harrison 11:24 Yeah, I mean, and there were lots of positives. I speak to the challenges around COVID. But then, as a family, we spent a lot of time like we implemented things like weekly family meetings, just to sort of because we were all in the same house. At the same time, it was know what went well, last week, what things do we want to achieve in the coming week? different ones of us hosted the meeting different ones, you know, different members of the family made snacks for the meeting? And, and actually, the children really liked it. It was, surprisingly enough. I overheard my daughter and one of her zoom phone calls. And her teacher said, No, what's been the best bit of your week this week, and she's like, Are my mum's introduced family meetings. And then what we did was because we, we were very aware and conscious that all of a sudden, we were gonna, were in the same house together, locked in for that same amount of time, lots of feelings and emotions. We also did part of that family meeting. That sounds a little bit silly, but actually, it worked. We did kind of did a recognition, what did you really appreciate and everybody in the family had to recognize somebody else in the family for something that they had done - for either the family or the individual, that the person really appreciated. And to call that out, because we sort of felt like everything that the children or we were seeing was, you know, the rise in the numbers and you know, freedoms being takeaway, it was all a lot of negative messaging coming in. And obviously, any negative feelings you would have inside, how do you then flip that and start thinking about actually what positives have come out of it? And we used our family meetings to really enhance that and have conversations about that and show the people in the house that, yes, we may get irritated, we might find it frustrating, because now you know, work, school, fun, eat, everything is within the four walls of your home. Actually, there are lots of there was a lot of appreciation that can come out of that, too. Yes. And so you also like to attend to get closer the family and just also probably remind them that they can come to you whenever they have any doubts or questions or the communication is open. Yeah, definitely. 100% and it's one of the things I would always say 2020 is definitely made that even more of a focus is that open communication and, and and at times, I will sit down and communicate to the children and especially my daughter, because you know, we'll have lots of set of one to one questions and time to say to that sometimes mommy's not okay, mommy struggling to because one of the things that I've always found it really important is to not teach the children that they need to be happy all the time. As humans, we have a whole source of emotions we need to learn to embrace the more we will get angry, we will be sad, we will get frustrated, we are not always happy. And I've always encouraged the children and especially my daughter to embrace the fact that you are not always going to be happy to be able to own it, communicate it and work out what you want to do about it. So you know, sometimes I would let because it teaches them that they're only human, I don't want her to think I always have to be happy. And if I show her that mommy is always happy. She's gonna think I always need to be happy. So I'm very much. You know, sometimes we'd have conversation. I was having a tough day today. You know, mommy has worked nonstop. And you know, homeschooling wasn't easy for me either, just so that she can understand that we as adults have challenges too and that the world isn't all rosy and wonderful. And you do have to it's a very fine line between not traumatising them, but making them have their eyes very wide open, I'm always want the children to grow up with the fact that we don't live in a perfect world. There are lots of great things about it, but it's not perfect. So then when they come into those situations where they face something that isn't perfect, they have a coping mechanism. They know what they they know, it's not it doesn't hit them out of nowhere, like, Oh my gosh, but I thought everything was wonderful.
Julie Pabion 15:25 Exactly. And also remind them that they're not the only ones feeling that way. They're not bad people for feeling frustrated, or anything that it's normal. And we all do.
Heidi Harrison 15:38 Yeah, definitely. And one of the things that I did always encourage the children, so my daughter being a little bit older than my youngest steps on, she had a mobile phone, I'd always say to her, you know, check in on your friends have a video call, have that downtime, do a joint video call, remember to you know, make sure everybody's doing okay. Or, I mean, they will see dealing with the loss of a friend as well as COVID. And the change of dynamics chooses, you know, just just do that check in time and, and then with my youngest stepson, he'd always be on his Nintendo Switch. And that when you're paying, go reach out, play your games with your friends and have that that interaction. And, you know, so for me, it's that communication that reaching out. And also for me, it was just reminding them that yes, we are all stuck within these four walls, but we do have a support network, friends, family, teachers, you know, coaches, everything outside of that us that are going through what we're going through to we're not, this isn't just us.
Julie Pabion 16:33 Yeah, very interesting. And do you have some kind of preparation before you go and tell them about a subject, right? Like, if it's COVID? or black lives matter? Do you kind of prep before she talks about it? Or is it them who come to you and ask questions, and you just have a conversation,
Heidi Harrison 16:52 It can be either or...in our house, it's a real mix. There's some things that I really want to drive. In our homes, there's some things that I want to make sure I bring to the forefront around Black Lives Matter. I want to make sure that the children have an awareness of how they may be seen in the world. But what they can do about that and how they can actually use it to empower themselves and find a solution. make them aware of the problem. But what do you do as a solution rather than staying in that moment of the problem? I'm very much on the recognise the problem exists, but then drive for a solution. And it doesn't have to be a you only solution. It can be like with your friends or a group or you know, just kind of turn your outlook on. My daughter said to me the other day, Mummy, they do always say every cloud has a silver lining. Even a thundercloud has a silver lining. I sort of sat back and I thought I kind of granted that. Why are you smiling? I said, because I'm really glad that you understand that there is there is that thundercloud, but then how do you kind of have that flippant thinking to look for that silver lining that positive outcome? So that was great. So there is there is some prep time depending on what it is. It might be, you know, I sit and talk to my partner and we have conversations and decide, okay, well, this is really sensitive or something happened today? And do we want to talk to the children about it? How do we want to talk about it? Do we want to? Is there podcast? Is there you know, some form of Instagram Live? Or is there some form of external thing that we want to bring up the topic? Has it come from the books that children read, and I remember my daughter was reading the book, and she came to me She's like, Mommy, is the use of the word Negro negative? And you know, and having that conversation, so it could it can come from both directions, and it can take prep. And sometimes when they do ask the question where they bring it, I don't always address it there. And then as well, sometimes I do and sometimes I say, okay, we will come back to that one. And we're my mommy to come back to it. Because if it's something that I feel, requires prep, and it's, you know, they've arcs, but I think I need to do a little bit of prep, or think of how I'm going to message it. I will say, actually, that's quite complicated, or Mommy needs to think about how we have this conversation. But then one of the things I do is I always make sure I go back and have that conversation.The children in our house, make sure we do too. So my daughter art something being of her age group, they started to discuss in science and you know, sex and how we make babies. And she asked some questions, and I was a little bit like, hmm, not sure I want to handle that. We will have this conversation, but not give me give me a minute. And if the next day, I mean, remember I asked your question for the day. Remember, I actually have questions that okay, yep, I get it.
Julie Pabion 19:37 Yeah, so you always try. So if you're not sure you try to educate yourself first and think of the best words to use, because I think there's always a thin line between educating and traumatising when it's about sensitive subjects. Don't be afraid to say I don't know I think
Heidi Harrison 19:58 100% I sometimes.. it happened in the world of homeschooling, I'm sure lots of parents who are homeschooling like me would feel exactly the same way. Sometimes you looked at some of the homework and the questions. And I actually don't know the answer to this one. Let's call your uncle who is a real mathematician, or let's speak to your, no, my partner has said that he's a real he's really great at math. I'm stronger in English. You know? I just there'll be, you know, I'm very comfortable actually, both in work and at home to say, I don't know, but I'll go and find out or Let's go find out together. So some things. I'd say, Okay, well, let's go let's do some internet search. Can't go to the library. Let's have a look. And let's work together on some of it, which has been great. So yeah, I always say to I'm, I don't know everything. But I do say to I see everything.
Julie Pabion 20:49 Yeah. And also, you don't know that. What do you do about it? Yeah. And get the info. You don't just say, Oh, I don't know. That's a good example. I think also you can set for them.
Heidi Harrison 20:59 Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And for me, that comes back to that, you know, when the children grow through that, wastage, not stopping them, encouraging them to ask why. And I am very sure that as they grow to be teenagers, especially my daughter, I can see already that it's going to be challenging when she is a teenager, the why I might ask her to do something, it'd be wise, it needs to be done like that, or she'll give me her opinion. But I encouraged her to have that opinion. And for all the children in our house, I encourage them to have an opinion. I'm not either I don't come from the school of thought that children should be seen and not heard. They are humans, they have feelings. I have introduced the concept of and I had to do this for my daughter, because she pushed back quite a bit very strong, determined, young lady, so she pushed back quite a bit on. But I think it should be done like this. And this is my opinion. And I've had to say to sometimes there are times when you just have to do what I say. And we'll give it a name so that you know that there is no back and forth at that time, by large Mommy will allow you to have that back and forth. But there will be occasions where we will say whatever this, you know, special word is that you know, you just have to do it. And it might be just because mommy doesn't have time, it might just be because it's a safety thing. You know, that you just need to do as I say, rather than question me. And then where you can, I will allow us to have that conversation because it's more important. I want her to grow. And I focus a lot on my daughter. See, she has spent more time with her. But then it's actually extends out into the stepchildren, my stepchildren I want them to grow, where they're inquisitive. And they always ask why. And they feel like their opinion matters. I always introduced the concept of not just being a voice in the room, but being a heard voice in the room. So you know, listening, to hear not always to speak. So make sure you're observing the room, listening to people in the room. And then when you do speak, you speak clearly you speak well, he thought out what you're going to what you're going to say. So people in the room want to listen to what you're saying. So be heard, not just someone in the room that just talks for the sake of it. And I want them to be able to challenge in a healthy way. When someone says they can't do something like they can't be told, my daughter may be told you can't do that. Because girls don't do that. Well, why don't they it's something I want to do. Why can't I do I want them to continue to have that. And I recognize that for the teenagers, it's going to be a struggle, because they're going to push back. But then as adults, they will learn to fine tune it and know when and where to use it.
Julie Pabion 23:37 When to speak up.
Heidi Harrison 23:38 Yeah. 100%.
Julie Pabion 23:40 That's very interesting. I really like that. And so do you have any advice that you would like to share?
Heidi Harrison 23:49 Yeah, I would always say, and this is gonna sound really, I don't need to be cliche, but it really depends on your child, and everybody knows their child, they know what works best for their child, some children, you can be sort of much more direct. But I always have a thing as I go with my gut to one of the things that not just with the children in general, I feel like my gut very rarely stares me wrong. stares me wrong. And and I think just know there are times you're going to get it wrong, you're not always going to get it right. I think we strive to as parents think, you know, we're always going to get to and I know as a parent, I can be quite hard on myself, there are going to be times that you get it wrong. And in those instances where I do get it wrong, or I made an error. I am actually that parent that will apologize to my child and say I'm really sorry, I got that wrong. Because actually it teaches them that humility of you're not always going to get things right. You're not going to be perfect, you are going to get things wrong, but again, it's what you do about when you've done something wrong. What do you do about it? How do you make the other person feel? So you know, if I've homeschooling with my daughter, there was an instance where she was doing a piece of work and I asked her to change it and she said, Mommy, is what I've done not good enough? And I realized that as much as I know, I can be a perfectionist, I realized that actually what I thought I was doing was encouraging her to just add a little bit extra. But actually, for her what she would the message she was getting was, what I've done is not good enough. And I sort of had to look at it from Libya. And I realized, actually, no, that's not the feeling I wanted to have. I apologize. My daughter love flowers actually went and bought her a bunch of flowers, just to say, I'm really sorry, I got it wrong. And to another parent that may seem really extreme. But what I'm trying to teach my daughter is, is that you're not always going to get it right. But when you do get it wrong, it's what you do about it.
Julie Pabion 25:37 Exactly. I really like that. Because it's not about Oh, I'm the parent, you do what I say? It's also like, you're allowed to make mistakes, but what do you do about it?vTry to make it better?
Heidi Harrison 25:49 Yeah, totally. And for me, that's one of the you know, the advice I would say is, you know, go with your car, and you know, recognize as a parent, we will get it wrong. But what you are teaching your child in that is that actually, they're not always going to get things right. And I think for them, then as they grow, they become a bit more comfortable with themselves being able to go and make choices, I was referred to choices rather than decisions, because decision sounds so final, that they will make choices and those choices may not always be the right one. But, you know, actually, there isn't. I always also teach children about you either win, or you learn. So actually, what can you learn from that? And what can you do differently.
Julie Pabion 26:37 And they will know also how to rectify and identify when probably it's a mistake, and they'll know how to actually react.
Heidi Harrison 26:46 And that concept of trying to make it better and recognizing and for me, it's being mindful of other people you know, and mindful how your actions can impact somebody else. And then if you know, if you have upset somebody to address it as well have a conversation with the person, I encourage the children all the time. And I even encourage them to have it read. I say to the children all time, if I've upset you told me I've upset you. Let's have that conversation. And it might be that I've upset you because I've told you how to do your homework. And it is what it is because you have to do your homework and I can't change that. But if I've upset you, you can tell me Don't shout at me though. Don't be rude, but communicate to me that you are upset. And if I've upset you communicate to me why I've upset you, and then we can have a conversation about it. So I would just say, you know, go over your car, go with the child go with how you're feeling and just always try to talk and know when not to talk though because sometimes it is time just to say let's just pause on this and come back to have a clearer head or, you know, with more information.
Julie Pabion 27:46 Yes, I really like that one. That's That's great. Well, thank you so much, Heidi. It was very interesting. I really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you again for joining.
Heidi Harrison 27:56 Thank you for asking me I hope it will be useful.
Julie Pabion 27:59 Definitely. Thank you so much.
Heidi Harrison 28:01 Thank you.
Julie Pabion 28:06 Thank you so much for listening. Feel free to share if you think it might be helpful to someone you know, if you enjoyed this episode, then please make sure to give it a rating and subscribe if you haven't already. That's it for me this in the next episode. And in the meantime, have a lovely day.