Author Natalie Savvides has been called ‘the real Bridget Jones’ on many occasions and her past life experiences have inspired her mission to help every girl, teenager and woman feel less alone, and happier, by living their life their own way and being true to themselves. A self-confessed observer and contemplator of life, we asked Natalie to share some of her words of wisdom, for all ages, on how to be happy…
My advice for children as they grow up
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? If only we knew then what we know now! As a girl who’s been through her fair share of ‘growing pains’ this is what I’ll be telling my children as they approach the tricky teens. Of course, whether they listen or not is another matter!
- Try not to compare yourself to others, it’s fine to be inspired by your peers, but don’t compare or copy – it’s far better to be individual.
- There will be ups and downs. Teenage years are full of change; internal (hormonal) and external (increased freedom and awareness). It’s normal. Try not to over-think it; everyone is going through the same thing even if they don’t say so.
- Things are not always what they seem. People often mask what’s going on inside so don’t be fooled. Remember, we never really know what is going on in someone else’s life. Count your blessings.
- You will fall in and out of love … both serve a purpose. You may experience difficult emotions and feel like you can’t cope. You can. You will eventually realise that everything happens for a reason and you will learn from it. Time heals.
- Focus on what you like about yourself, not what you don’t like, it will genuinely make you feel happier and more confident.
- Don’t get overly absorbed by social media – it can be both your friend and your enemy. Whilst there are good aspects, there are also bad ones. It is not always real.
- Try to find time to read, draw, rest, talk and not be wholly consumed by modern technology. Practice a bit of ‘old school living’. It will nourish your mind and help keep you grounded.
- Don’t take things to heart. There will be times when you will get upset by people or circumstances – remember you can only be as upset as you allow yourself to be. Take it easy, don’t get too consumed by it. Life is much easier when taken lightly.
- Enjoy your teenage years, you are still young, so don’t get overly caught up in its complications or try to grow up too fast – you’ll miss out on all the fun.
10) Be Yourself! Love Yourself!
The importance of teaching children to be kind at school
I acknowledge that most schools are very aware of the importance of kindness amongst its pupils. However, I fear that with the strong focus on academic performance in the high achieving society we live in, ‘kindness’ doesn’t get all the attention it deserves and requires.
Yes, children know they need to be nice and good – they repeat those words in parrot fashion – but they don’t always know how to apply it, especially in the heat of the moment.
I believe there needs to be greater emphasis on educating how to live, breathe and sleep kindness. We need to train children from the youngest age to nurture the right, positive attitude to encourage love and care towards each other. This ultimately makes for happier, more confident and tolerant individuals, builds strength, and is essentially a way of being that can manifest purely good outcomes. We need to love each other more in this world. We need to compare, envy and judge less. We need to accept more, to generate more powerful love and happiness amongst those around us. Only by doing this will we wipe out pain, bullying and anxiety amongst children, which are growing problems in schools today. This kindness training must start as early as possible to instil the right habits before the wrong ones set in. This is why my next books are children’s books aimed at 3-7 year olds. Watch this space!
Top 10 tips for happiness for Mums and Dads
- Accept that you won’t always get it right – life is a constant learning curve. Don’t beat yourself up! Pick yourself up!
- Don’t feel guilty about making time for yourself. Children can be all-consuming and whilst our role as parents is a serious one, so is that of looking after ourselves. Happy parents equate to happy kids. Find a way to take time out when you need it.
- Plan and be organised. Our lives are busy at the best of times, so when the unexpected occurs, or things get a little derailed, the more organised and in control we are the better we manage.
- Treat yourself! Perhaps it’s going to a fancy restaurant, wearing your best dress or getting your hair done. Don’t wait for a special occasion, treat each day as the blessing that it is and treat yourself too – you deserve it.
- Be mindful. Try to quieten your mind by taking deep breaths, slowing down and absorbing the beauty around you. Try to relax in the way you used to before your life stepped up a gear and the kids arrived. It’s remarkably refreshing.
- Take time to consider doing something unrelated to the children. It’s good to have an interest to revert to when it all gets a bit too much: A healthy balance.
- Comparing is a killer to any generation, it’s the thief of joy. Don’t do it. People can be clever at appearing to be superwoman or superman. Take things with a pinch of salt – everyone tackles life differently, we all have our strengths and weaknesses.
- Be happy with what you have. Being a parent is a blessing – ups and downs included. Parenting is a huge privilege, so remind yourself to enjoy it! Focus on the good parts and cherish them.
- Smile and get on with it. It really works. Don’t over-think or over-analyse. Just do it. Follow your gut and go easy on yourself. Being there for your children is the most they ever really want.
- Tell yourself it’s going to be all right. It will be.
Natalie is 41-years-old, lives in SW London with her husband and two children under six. Her book, Full Circle (2016 Pegasus), is a refreshingly honest and raw account of growing up, and includes a series of unedited diary extracts taken from her journals from the age of 13 to her late 30s.