Listen to Episode 13 here

About this Episode

We take you on a behind the scenes exploration of how Nicole and Sophia ended up working with parents and children using the power of play, what common themes have been shared in their lives and what creating this podcast has meant to them!

https://youtu.be/m5VC_tkKr40

About our hosts:

Sophia Giblin

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sophiagiblin/

A creative entrepreneur who focuses on ways to tackle the root of children’s mental health through play and secure relationships. Due to her own challenging experiences in childhood, Sophia went on to establish a thriving Play & Creative Arts Therapy charity to support other children who have experienced trauma. Her focus is on helping therapists, businesses and charities have more of an impact for children and families that they work with through coaching, strategy, fundraising and mentoring.

Nicole McDonnell

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mcdonnellnicole/

Nicole is a mum to two young boys, who also has over 20 years of brand marketing experience. She is a previous Chair Trustee at Clear Sky Charity and has past experience on the Ella’s Kitchen board.  Her roles have included Marketing Director, Head of Ella’s-ness, Global Brand Director with responsibility of creating and building one brand inside and out – including the wellbeing and culture of the team.  Nicole was instrumental in growing Ella’s into a multi-million pound international business, driven by the mission of creating healthy children.

Resources

Treasure Time website 

Treasure Time digital course for parents 

Treasure Time Instagram 

Treasure Time Facebook 

Books referenced: Becoming by Michelle Obama, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Value Bombs and Tweetables:

Treasures Time podcast gave me the push to explore learning with play and definitely calm down my approach. So thanks for the structure. And thanks for the harmony. You’ve helped us massively – Dan, Treasure Time parent

I honestly think more families are the same than they are different. We all seek connection and to be seen and to be understood by each other. And we could all just do with way less stressing and more loving going on – Nicole

I’m so happy that I got curious and was a little bit brave and leaned in to being vulnerable. Because it feels a bit awkward and it feels a bit tough, but… by being honest and doing all those things, they get much better. And that’s like… the rainbow at the end – Nicole

– Everything that I’m learning by leaning into this discomfort and everything that’s brought me, I think it’s something that’s worth being vulnerable for. It’s worth the discomfort – Nicole

– We can aim to be this soft and warm on the outside but with a core of steel which says I’m really firm on my boundaries, and I know where my lines are – Sophia

– Sometimes we just need the words, the tips, and the tools to let children know that they’re seen and accepted for exactly who they are, in all of their imperfection and glory – Sophia

Keywords

Parents children treasure podcast boundaries play experiences feel home helping moved series lovely week playful story nursery

Shownotes

Sophia 

Hi it’s Sophia

Nicole

and Nicole

Sophia

Welcome to the treasure time podcast growing up happy. Today we’ve decided to do a bonus podcast episodes to end our first series and our bonus is just in time for Mental Health Awareness Week. We’ve had such a good first podcast series, we hit number six in the charts for parenting in the UK. We also charted in the top 20 and Ireland and Japan. And we reached number three in Thailand, which is incredible. We’ve also received so many fab reviews and have thousands of listens. We wanted to share with you some of our favourites from the season, favourite moments favourite reviews and our favourite takeaways.

Nicole 

Absolutely. And we’re also taking this opportunity to have a cheeky little drink together to celebrate the success.

Sophia 

Cheers!

Nicole

Cheers! I can’t believe we’ve done a podcast.

Sophia 

Season one done

Nicole

Incredible! Thank you.

Sophia 

We’ve had some really amazing reviews on this podcast and we love hearing reviews and we love hearing what people think about the podcast but what we thought we’d start with in this episode is actually two hear some parents voices because that’s a really lovely place to start. So here is one clip from our first Instagram dad friend called Dan, who sent us this great little voice note about what he thought about the series and how it helped with his son Monty.

Dan

“So hi to all at treasure time I’d like to thank treasure time for being there when the UK went into isolation due to COVID-19. I went from a business owner overnight to a stay at home parent of my lively three year old son, and guilty of not knowing how the mind of a three year old works and always relied on nursery preschool. My wife and I have a difficult balance of working whilst ensuring a productive time for our little lad. I don’t believe the theory of the three year olds don’t need home-schooling. Treasures Time podcast gave me the push to explore learning with play and definitely calm down my approach. So thanks for the structure. And thanks for the harmony. You’ve helped us massively And we wish you all the best. Thanks.”

Sophia 

I love that one from Dan, thank you so much for sending that to us, Dan. I actually saw a really playful video of Dan and his son Monty on Instagram making frying pan pizzas. So it looks like they’ve been finding the play during lockdown too.

Nicole 

Oh, I love that. Thank you, Dan. And we’ve got another review from Suz, a mum of Joshua and Ella to be great to play that clip.

Suz

“Hi, Nicole and Sophia. I just wanted to say how great your podcasts are. I’ve been listening to them every day when I’m doing my cycles and my runs, and they’re really really insightful and very helpful. It’s a difficult time for parenting. So keep up the great work!”

Nicole 

Oh, I just love hearing how people have been receiving the episodes. Thank you so much, Suz.

Sophia 

It’s so lovely, please keep them coming. We’d love to hear from you all, these podcasts lives on way beyond us producing these episodes each week. And we want to always hear how they’re impacting our lives. So, Nicole, what has been your top highlight of our first series of the treasure time podcast?

Nicole 

Oh, big question. So many. My fave moment has to be that kind of really warm, fuzzy feeling and my tummy when I saw that we’d reached the top 10 in the parenting charts in the UK, it was kind of like “No way. This is too exciting!” so that definitely was my fave moment. And it’s just knowing that what that represented, so it was like, wow, the benefits of treasure time actually going to be sprinkled into families homes right now. And these are the tiny ripples that kind of mark that start of a wave of change.

Sophia 

And then we both sort of text each other where people are already in the charts today! For me, my favourite moment has to be us nearly reaching 3000 downloads in our first 30 days, which apparently, is nearly in the top 10% of all podcasts if you get 3000 in your first 30 days, which is amazing. Oh, and also we received over 100 5 star reviews on our podcast, which is incredible. Nicole, did you have a favourite tip, trick or activity from the series that you’ve enjoyed?

Nicole

My takeaway that would be my favourite would be the ABC exercise from Nikki. Because that was new to me and the yoga breathing exercise that you did on the Facebook treasure time parents group.

Sophia

So my favourite takeaway from this podcast series is it again I suggested really early on, I think it was Episode Two, which is for helping children to feel safe and secure. I have to admit that I actually made myself a den in about the fourth week of lockdown. So I suggested that all parents do this with their children type, safe and secure. But I actually thought I should practice what I preach, I was feeling quite stressed and overwhelmed at that time. And honestly, it changed my state of mind significantly. And I also know loads of other women my age who don’t have children who also made dens for themselves as a place to retreat to, so it’s really cool to see that. If you haven’t done it yet, just know that you don’t need any kids have a little play with the den. It can do wonders for your stress levels and for your mental health if you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed.

Nicole 

So as it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we thought we would share a little bit more about our own stories and explain to you a bit further why Sophia and I are both really drawn to this work. There are some real similarities and our stories growing up as well as lots of differences. But there’s definitely a common theme for us both. We’re both the eldest girls of the family, and both of us in our own way had to grow up really quite quickly when we were kids.

Sophia 

Yeah, I talked about this in our first episode just to give you a little idea about why I trained as a play therapist in the first place. So when I was a teenager, my mum died. And as the eldest of my family, my childhood felt like it ended prematurely. I stopped playing once I lost my mum and I had to take on a lot of grown up responsibilities. It is why I’m so passionate about helping children remain children and giving them the space that they need to process difficult feelings through play and actually us treating them like they are kids so that they can have that lovely time to continue their childhood. In some way, I think I’ve been giving others what I wish that I had had when I was younger. If you’re curious to hear more about my story, you can jump into our treasure time parents Facebook group, where I did a little live about this earlier today, and I’ll tell you the full story there.

Nicole 

So Sophia tells her story a lot because her life’s work has been all based around this, but I didn’t even really know what my story was. Did I even have one, and then I’ve kind of recently giving it more thought. And my life’s really been quite transient as I grew up as an expat kid moving from place to place through childhood, and for really long periods of time away from my family. So ill fill you in on when I lived in a jungle and a desert! So first, my very first decade was in Scotland and it was in a little village between Glasgow and Edinburgh called Airthrey and all our family, my mum and dad’s family are from Glasgow, and but my dad worked away from home for really big chunks of time for his job offshore. So at home, it was me my sister and brother and my mum most of the time. And my brother was kind of I guess the man of the house when my dad was away and between us we took on lots of responsibilities at home. And really vividly remember dad would say, Look after your mum for me when he’d leave for the airport. You know reflecting back I took that probably too literally and a bit too seriously. And I tended to mother, my own mother and my baby sister. This second decade then brought me moving to Batam, an island in Indonesia. So it’s this tiny island 30 minutes boat ride from Singapore. And it really was such a jungle you know, no tarmac roads, no shops, no supermarkets, a couple of restaurants and the restaurants literally fish from one side of the sea through the empties back into the river and the other side. And it was off wooden jetties. I mean it I’d never experienced anything like it, it was really basic. No schools existed. So I ended up going to boarding school in Singapore, which I was very happy about at the time, but its a real massive change. So age 11 I found myself one of over 40 different nationalities and junior house with just under 60 children. Absolute melting pot, totally fascinating experience. It was also really hard to adjust to such a big change and even though I completely embraced it I did have to grow up quite quickly in lots of ways. And it played a huge part I think in house fiercely independent I became. And if there’s one thing we know, we can all depend on its change. We’re all living through it right now. So when I was 16, I then moved on to Dubai, from Singapore to join my parents who actually moved there two years before, while I stayed with my friends and completed my GCSE without the disruption of another move. It was then that me, my sister and my parents, we all lived together on a sustained sort of day to day basis for the first time in my life, and it was great, I was meeting new friends. I went to really good school again, everything you know, fab, but actually, I still really missed my friends. My life was really coloured with loads of vibrant experiences, and saying goodbye. And I sustained those close relationships across real great physical distance, which is really interesting. And Sophia recently actually described it to me as the invisible string is that connection between people that you feel even when they aren’t there. And I love the way this invisible string is what we’re helping to develop between parents and their children. So their children can feel really safe and connected to us even when we aren’t together. And I, again, I just think this is so relevant for today’s situation, when you look back on it, the importance friendship plays in our lives, and how to keep them going when we’re not able to hang out and play right now. 11.30 For our children this is tough too, the there’ll be missing a huge part of the connections that make them feel good every day and help build their self esteem. And I can see this in my youngest Harrison who’s really missing the connection with you know, grandparents, friends and, and especially his teacher too, and we are an amazing school the schools reacted really well to this situation they do lots of live lessons and zoom calls every day. But it’s not quite the same is it and so maybe this is why I’m drawn to understanding relationships and places, I studied geography at University of Kent Canterbury, with child psychology modules thrown in. After uni I then worked in marketing and advertising agencies and Ella’s kitchen, which some of our parents mom and dad listeners may know. And I played a really key part in the success of that business and it’s phenomenal growth. I’m really proud of being part of the Ella’s kitchen team. Then when I became a mom to Callum and Harrison, I realized something had to change to rebalance things. Because suddenly I was now too much to too many. And if something didn’t change, I was probably going to break. I could feel it, there was just this just this really uncomfortable feeling. And it wasn’t, it wasn’t a good moment as to change I had to really take a look at my own behaviour. And there’s nothing like having kids to hold up a mirror that you cannot ignore. So some of that was that was kind of tough. And this is where for me, I’m just really, really glad that I met Sophia whose story really moved me to volunteer for her charity, and I ended up in the chair role working closely with Sophia on her trustee board. I really admired and respected how Sofia has experienced the loss of her mother so young during her own GCSEs and yet turned that around into something so incredible to help other children, so I had no idea what was ahead of me on this journey. I just got really curious, I was playful and I was driven to help in the cause. And then it struck me that perhaps my family also needed this kind of help, which I wasn’t necessarily expecting to be the penny dropping moment.

We hadn’t gone through a trauma like some of the experiences that clear sky children’s charity were helping. I was frazzled from parenting and trying to do it all, whatever that means. But I’m proud of how we got curious and learn the importance of healthy boundary setting and a look back in realization that basically, I didn’t have any boundaries between home and work. I just worked a lot and it over spilled into most of the hours in the day. And some of that was driven by passion. I truly loved the work I was doing and I was good at getting results and that drove me further. But being completely honest with you, some of it was just perfectionism wrapped in a big people pleasing bow, sitting in room with really, really poor boundaries. And you’ve just got to laugh like it was it was such a Oh dear, this is actually what’s going on. And then couple that with the feeling of real stress when I’d be leading say a new product meeting at Ella’s kitchen, everyone’s round the table, and then the nursery that dreaded call would come through on their mobile saying Callum had conjunctivitis and could I collect him and he has to stay home for two days, and the stress levels they just went through the roof. And I’m sure loads of you parents listening can totally relate to that. Perhaps except, you know, today in these situations, yes, we’re a home with our children. There’s not the nursery call, but we are doing super tricky work of home-schooling, cook-a-thon, eat, sleep, repeat. And it’s totally exhausting. And the boundaries on all levels are blurred, and they do need to be reset. And it’s really, it’s really hard. But there’s also this absolutely wonderful opportunity to connect with our children once we can see the wood from the trees. And I actually the irony as I went through this last night, and we had to reset lots of boundaries last night, and today. I’m so pleased today it’s been a really good day, but the past the past week has not been a good week. So it’s really you know, we’re constantly having to adjust all these goalposts that keep moving so I think it’s really important that we can come out of behind our TV laptop, you know, is it the ipads, is it the phone? All these screens are creating a literal barrier to our children feeling seen, heard and important to their friends, their teachers and their family, you know that this is the reality we’re dealing with. So, you know, we’re spending time with our children. But I’d question if it’s quality time, you know, what message are we giving them and how are we behaving in lockdown? If I take it away from children I know loads of parents who crave date night and you know, they talk about date night even though they see the other half every night of the week and I’m “Why is date night a thing?” But it’s a thing because quality time is a different way of being together. So I’m so happy that I got curious and was a little bit brave and leaned in to being vulnerable. Because it feels a bit awkward and it feels a bit tough, but it does require you to be honest and by being honest and doing all those things, they get much better. And that’s, that’s like the, you know, the rainbow at the end. So yeah, I just loved it you know, my story so far is where it is today managing to create treasure time with Sophia. This new and simple, fun way of being with our children that’s just so calming and so rewarding, and me and my boys absolutely love it. We get to see each other truly without distraction. And it does feel safe, calm and really comforting. I honestly think more families are the same than they are different. We all seek connection and to be seen and to be understood by each other. And we could all just do with way less stressing and more loving going on.

Sophia 

Yeah, definitely. Thank you for sharing your story, Nicole. What really strikes me about your story is that it must have been incredibly hard as an 11 year old to go to school in a different country on your own. I went traveling earlier this year, and I had a breakdown almost every time I had to get on a flight alone, and I’m in my mid 30s! But I know you get used to overtime, but as an 11 year old, were you really very, very brave for being able to do that. And I can see why you grew up so fast, really, at that age, but also why you keep your playful spirit into adulthood as well. Like you never really lost that.

Nicole 

Yeah. Oh, thank you. Thank you. It’s funny because it was just part of my normal experience. But I can see know how all those experiences really shaped me. It’s really interesting. Michelle Obama talks in her book “Becoming” about how children will invest more when they feel they’ve been invested in Miss Lajam did this for me. Miss Lajam took her register when I was 12 and I wasn’t there in English. And I had appendicitis and I’ve been rushed to hospital on the Sunday night at school for this emergency operation. So Miss Lajam found this is from Anne, who was in my dormitory at boarding school and also in my English class and she’s actually one of my closest dearest friends still today living in London. Back to Miss Lajam, this teacher was so creative, she took risks she knew when to bend the rules. She basically said, Well, okay, let’s take the lesson to Nicole. And she got the class into taxis, and arrived at the hospital in Singapore. And everyone in the class squeezed into this tiny little room. And she didn’t have you know, a school trip permission slip to do this. But she followed her heart, her passion and she taught us all a lesson about togetherness and kindness to each other, about inclusion and about helping our friends when they’ve gone through something difficult. And she always just made us feel so special and listened to and heard. I’m sure that was for many, many people in my class. She would do things like invite us all for different local festivals to experience her culture and the authenticity of her home setting, beautiful food. And she was really down to earth. She just had this massive heart and was a bit of a maverick. She was so brave and she did what she believed in and I remember I just decided I wanted to be like her age 12 sitting in that hospital room.

Sophia 

She sounds lovely. I bet she’s one of those teachers that you have that invisible string with you know that she made you feel safe?

Nicole

Yeah, totally. Yeah, totally right.

Sophia

Bless. That must have been really hard for you to be in 12 in hospital.

Nicole 

I did milk it, actually. But yes, it was also difficult haha! Think I managed a whole week off school, great!

Sophia 

Well, thank you, Nicole for sharing your story. It’s the first time that you’ve really talked about this. And yeah. It’s funny telling your story. I mean, I’ve done it a lot over the last 10 years. And when I started the charity, I kind of realized that I had to tell my story again and again and again. And I feel like after 10 years, I can walk the line between emotional factual when I talk about my experiences, but very early on, it was really, really hard for me to talk about these sort of things without really tearing up sometimes, but we learned a lot about ourselves who, through telling our stories and through being honest about our experiences and recognizing them for what they are. So you’ve been talking a lot as well about your experience of being a mum to Callum and Harrison, I’d be really curious to know what’s your biggest learning been by doing this podcast and talking so openly about those experiences?

Nicole 

It felt really vulnerable during this Sophia, like for me to be sharing so honestly, and being able to, you know, say yes, I struggle at times I struggle a lot. But the thing is, I know I’m not the only one. And I’m so committed. I feel so passionate about helping other parents and everything that I’m learning by leaning into this discomfort and everything that’s brought me, I think it’s something that’s worth being vulnerable for. It’s worth the discomfort. There’s one book that actually has really changed the way I see things is Brene Brown Daring Greatly. And it was it was recommended to me by my friend, who also went to school with me in Singapore. And she said it was great for her work. She’d learned a lot, and I might like it and gosh, she wasn’t wrong. I fell big time for Brene. She’s a storyteller and she’s taught me so much about leaning into vulnerability. And being a recovering perfectionist and good enough-ist, and I can’t recommend it enough. All her books are great. I really, really recommend Brene Brown. I’ve now read the full suite of her books, currently completely and utterly hooked on her podcast “unlocking us”, which she started just as we started ours, so I’m like, “Oh, we’ve got a connection with Brene!”

Sophia 

She is amazing. I absolutely love her wholehearted parenting manifesto, which is from Daring Greatly, which as an activity for you guys this week, we recommend that every parent prints out and frames this parenting manifesto for the wall. I know you have this framed up in your house, don’t you Nicole?

Nicole 

I do. I framed it up. I framed it as soon as I read it, I was really taken by it and reading it, actually, I just found it really, really powerful as a reminder of the kind o parent I wanted to be

Sophia 

Yeah, definitely. So everybody should go and have a look at this and either type it up or find a print and put it on the wall. But at the end of the manifesto, it says I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you, truly deeply seeing you and the type of seeing. It’s just it’s just lovely.

Nicole 

It’s so beautiful. And it’s, I think it’s, it connects so perfectly. Brene has got such a good way with words, but that I think every parent feels that instinctively and it’s innate in all of us. But to practice it, is not always easy, right?

Sophia

So the type of seeing that Brene talks about that truly deeply seeing is exactly what we want for parents and children doing the treasure time course. Sometimes we just need the words, the tips, and the tools to let children know that they’re seen and accepted for exactly who they are, in all of their imperfection and glory. They are after all children, and they will make mistakes when they’re learning. They will not be perfect, far from it sometimes, but neither are we. So we can role model what imperfectly perfect looks like by showing our children that we’re human by apologizing when we do things wrong. And by explaining to them when they don’t understand something, as people that’s kind of what we owe each other right? Just because they’re little people. We don’t know them any less. Audiogram 26.50

Nicole 

There is a lovely quote that they use at our school Sophia and Callum and Harrison say it a lot, which I really like, which is mistakes are the first stage in learning.

Sophia 

Oh, I love that.

Nicole 

It’s really good, isn’t it? So that’s really helped have a different attitude mistakes and say I had when I was when I was younger it was I didn’t want to make any mistakes.,

Sophia 

So using our treasure time skills, we can flip this notion that we need to rule an iron fist on its head a little bit. I think sometimes we talked about it before. You can worry or there’s a fear that if you allow children too much control that they’ll run riot or they won’t be well behaved. But actually, we’ve talked about why the opposite is often true. And we know that children feel respected by us when we show them respect. It works in turn and some of the best therapists that I know, children’s therapists, they’re soft and warm, like you would expect therapists to be on the outside when you meet them, you feel like you’re bathing in sunshine or you’re getting a warm hug. But they have this – I know it’s so lovely. There’s a real special quality about therapists that I mean, they do lots of training for lots of years, right, expert. But on the inside, they have a core of steel that says, These are the boundaries. And I trust that you know where they are, and you know not to cross them, if you do cross them I’ll very clearly lay out the options and the consequences for those boundaries. And this is what we can take as parents from therapy and from therapists. And we can aim to be this soft and warm on the outside but with a core of steel which says I’m really firm on my boundaries, and I know where my lines are. And I’ll explain it to you as a human being in language that you understand.

Nicole 

I really liked that image Sophia, and I really They like when I’m doing treasure time. I’m working on my core. It’s kind of like a workout for your boundaries for your relationship. But one that feels really fun and enjoyable 29.03. And you know that once you’ve done that 30 minutes a week of treasure time, the benefits are then seen for the rest of the week. I love that, really love how it just plays out in our house. But I just totally Wish I could do 30 minutes in the gym each week and continue to see all the benefits for myself like the actual gym.

Sophia 

Yeah, you could create a program core of steel in 30 minutes!

Nicole 

Yeah, totally buffed abs.

Sophia 

Thank you so much, Nicole, for sharing your story today. It was really fascinating to hear it and I just appreciate you leaning into that vulnerability too. And I’m sure all of our listeners do as well.

Nicole

Thank you.

Sophia

So that wraps up our bonus episode of the treasure time podcast. And we are saying a fond farewell from us on our first ever series of the podcast and we’ve had so much fun making these episodes. And we hope that they continue to have a massive impact beyond this series, come back, listen to them all. Again, share them with your friends, this will continue long after this weekly production is going on.

Nicole 

But it’s definitely not goodbye forever from us. We’ll be back later in the summer with our second series, so do head over to iTunes or Spotify. Make sure you click on subscribe so you get notified when we next go live with season two. And while you’re there, if you could pretty please remember to give us a five star review and some lovely words so that we can help reach more parents.

Sophia 

And if you’re looking for your treasure time fix in between series one and series two, you can actually go and get more content from us over at our treasure time parents Facebook group where I’m live each week, you can ask me any questions you might have about your child, about treasure time and about anything that might be a challenge right now and you can get my take on it, which is obviously very helpful at this time. So head over to our website to join the group www.treasuretime.co.uk/resources, and you see a button on there to join.

Nicole 

Thank you so much for joining us today and for this series. We are so grateful that you’ve all joined us to listen and come on this journey with us. And we’ll see you again in the next series where you can expect more hints, tips and activities and special guests and lots of playfulness.

Sophia 

We’ll see you next time.

Nicole

Bye!

Sophia

Bye!