The girls deal with worry quite differently – Big Sis often appears fine from the outside, but inside she can dwell on situations and I have to remember to dig a little deeper when she tells me she’s ‘fine’, just to make sure she really is.
Lil Sis, on the other hand, tends to verbalise her concerns straight away but can get panicky when things seem out of her control.
While Bis Sis was utterly thrilled by the huge thunder and lightning storm we had a few weeks back, Lil Sis hated every single flash and bang, and was jumpy for a couple of days afterwards.
‘I’ve got an idea,’ I told them both. ‘Why don’t we make some worry boxes?’
‘A worry WHAT?’ Lil Sis replied. ‘What’s that?’ Big Sis asked, curiously.
‘Well,’ I continued, ‘we could buy two boxes and decorate them, leaving a hole in the lid. Whenever you feel scared, or worried or confused you can write your thoughts and feelings down on a piece of paper and pop it inside the box.
Sometimes just writing them down makes you feel better, but if you still need to, we can open the boxes up at the end of the day and read them together and figure out a way to make you feel less worried.’
‘Yes, please Mum!’ they both replied.
We popped to Hobbycraft and found some decoupage tissue boxes with round holes in the top for just £3.50 each. After stocking up on some metallic paint and glitter shakers, and the girls got to work decorating them (ignore the state of our back garden – that’s the next project on our renovation list!).
Once they’d painted the outside in a rainbow of shiny colours, it was time to add the finishing touches with a dusting of glitter. Finally, they carefully penned ‘Worry Box’ on the outside.
The girls sat, heads bowed, scribbling down all things that had been worrying them and slotting them into the Worry Box.
That evening, we all sat down together and unfolded each piece of paper. ‘What happens if we have a fire?’ One asked while another said: ‘I worry the door will be left unlocked at night.’
I showed the girls all the fire alarms in the house, explaining how even a tiny bit of smoke would set them off, warning us to get to safety. Next, I showed them where to go – either out the front door or into the back garden. ‘If you can’t get down the stairs, you can even climb out your window on to the porch roof and shout until help arrives,’ I explained.
‘Do you feel better now?’ I asked, and they both nodded.
Next, I showed them what I did every single night before going to bed – including checking all the windows and doors to make sure they were locked. ‘Even if I happen to forget one night, Daddy also checks just to make sure,’ I told them, watching them smile with relief.
‘I’m so glad I put my worries in the box,’ Lil Sis announced. ‘Now I feel MUCH happier!’
And those words make ME happy too.
• read about the time aliens came to help Big Sis with her school work