Teenagers, Don’t Judge your Parents. It’s Tough on Us Too

I’m all over the shop in the parenting race right now, with 2 teenagers and a preschooler I’m pretty much at each end of the journey. That’s 17 years of putting other people’s needs way in front of your own, 17 years of guilt trips, wondering if you’re doing it right? And 17 years of small victories. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never found being a parent stressful, never once had that panic that I’ve messed up by adding to the human race, if anything my kids have been the making of me.

The pros have far out weighed the cons, one thing I’ve found though, is you can never quite predict what’s next.

2012 was the year I really had to consult the books, the year I realised that we were about to hit the turbulent years and I was loosing my grip and confidence on knowing what I was doing. Truth be told, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I’d trained in early years, the 0-8 age range, and that knowledge game me the gumption that I pretty much had a handle on the whole parenting thing. I oozed 0-8 years confidence and that confidence saw me through to the end of the primary years.

Then it hit me, my boy was going to secondary school, my boy was entering a whole new world where I had very little control. Not that I was ever a controlling parent, I prefer to describe as very much hands on in every aspect of his life. Not anymore though, now I’d done my thing and my little boy was about to be released into a big bad world of swearing, violence, sex, drugs and alcohol. A world where he would have to make his own choices, sensible or not, and all I could do was sit back and have confidence that I’d instilled some of my gutsy, don’t be a sheep ideologies and be your own person, make your own choices. 

Which probably quite amusing to my parents who had watched me fall prey to many of the teenage temptations and learn the hard way. Was I going to be hypocritical and say how bad those temptations were? And would I get my parental payback for all the strife I’d caused?

raising teenagers is hard, here's how I'm doing it

photo taken by The AMP Photo Co

My siblings and I often analyse our upbringing, we’re very close and open like that, testament to my parent’s treating us all equally and with honesty and respect to make our own way through life. Sure, we messed up, but we learnt from it and they never washed their hands of us when we did.

Whether that was ever a conscious decision brought about by a “how we gonna raise our kids?’ type discussion I’ll never know. ( I doubt very much though, I think my folks had very different out looks on life.)  We’ve all done alright though, all pretty emotionally secure. It was a pretty boss childhood. A few  blips, that’s life though; we probably could’ve done with a little more support through the teenage years when our parents were busy getting divorced. But that was just it isn’t it? They were only human and had to rein it in for a little while while they got their heads around what was going on.

And there is it, that one little negative, that one little human trait we all fall prey to. Which is why I guess I lost it at the thought of raising a teenager. What if my kids look back on their upbringing and say “yeah, she did all right. Up until I hit teens and then it all went a little belly up” ?

raising teenagers is hard, here's how I'm doing it

photo taken by The AMP Photo Co

But my upbringing showed that kids are pretty resilient especially if they have the best possible start in life, that sometimes throwing a curve ball, mixing things up and cutting back a little, getting your kids to start taking some initiative in life builds character. I loosed the Protective Mum reins, made our house a welcome place for all their friends and chauffeured them round. My thinking; teenagers are going to do what they’re going to do. All I can do is try to make things as safe as possible without helicopter parenting them at a time when they want to be free.

It’s a mind field and leap of faith I’ve had to talk myself through many a time.

Yet we’ve got there. I say we, there’s very little co parenting going on these days now I’m single parenting it. Which is a whole different thing to throw in the mix. But in some respects, doing it solo can be easier, there’s no conflict of ideas. I do my thing, I get back up and mull things over with my friends and family when need be.

So yes, I do feel I’ve got there; A 17-year-old who’s doing ok, actually I’m pretty damn proud of the man he’s morphing into. And my 13-year-old, my beautiful work in progress is showing great potential to go the same way.

But don’t ever let it be said that raising teenagers is easy. There will be tears, there will be moments where you think you’ve lost every ounce of control and there will be times when you think they don’t need you anymore.

But they do. And while you may get very little back, you just have to look for the signs of appreciation, sometimes with a microscope.

Raising teenagers just takes guts, trial and error and negotiation.

A bucketful of negotiation.

raising teenagers is hard, here's how I'm doing it

photo taken by The AMP Photo Co

Follow:
Share:

Pomelody launches to give children the gift of learning through music

It’s Launch day for Pomelody! These guys are promising to give children the gift of learning and development through music and I thought I’d weigh in with my tuppence to let you know why I’m rooting for them and the value I place on music throughout the early years (and beyond.)

You may or may not know that prior to being a blogger and social media manager I worked with children, clocking up 13 years in total. During those years I studied and pretty much immersed myself in the amazing concept of child development. Towards the end of this career stint I ran classes for parents and their babies and toddlers where speech and language was the main focus. While singing may not be my strong point, especially when your class co-host sings like a Disney princess, I did have a firm belief that singing and rhyme had a huge effect on a child’s language development.

I sang to youngest every day, even now we have a sing off most bed times and I have no hesitation in saying that it influenced his talking and understanding. Sometimes to my detriment, usually at 5.30 am when he can articulate, very vocally, what he wants. On repeat.

So if we’re singing on the sang hymn sheet (see what I did there?) read on as this Pomelody kickstarter sounds fantastic.

Home-based e-learning music platform for pre-schoolers aims to unlock a child’s innate musical talent and potentially increase IQ by 18% –

Pomelody is a comprehensive online music education system for children 0-6 and their families. It’s the world’s first music education e-learning platform for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. It’s designed from the ground up to stimulate a child’s music potential while giving parents (even those with no music ability) an opportunity to bond and have fun. Every quarter, Pomelody delivers an online (via PC, laptop, tablet) series of music.

The idea came from professional musicians Adam and Anna who, whilst raising a young family and knowing how powerfully music impacts on a child’s development, tried to find musical content that they could use in order to interact with their children.

There was very little musical content available and what was available was unstructured. They set about designing, testing and recording a series of specially recorded songs, music theory tutorials for parents and animated stories for kids. The result is the first simple to access (online via PC, laptop or tablet), fun and engaging platform for parents to embrace music along with their young children. Indeed, the first music-making classes for families ever put on video.

The production of content (season one is finalised) and building the platform is nearly finished. Pomelody is now turning to Kickstarter to secure funding of $30,000 to help develop further seasons (delivered quarterly) and to finish the platform build.

 

Pomelody are promising to give children the gift of learning and development through music and this is why I think thats great!

What do you get as a series backer of Pomelody? (earlybird discount $69)

  • Collection of 25 songs – composed, recorded and produced with 12 different bands/artists
  • 10 Pomelody classes recorded
  • One songbook
  • 3 animated lectures with music theory for parents
  • Animated stories

Importantly, Pomelody also has a of $55,000 on Kickstarter which will enable the development of an institutional version of the platform, giving free access to orphanages around the world.

Adam, Weber founder of Pomelody, said:

“Music is such a powerful medium to stimulate a child’s imagination. Its benefits stretch way beyond childhood with many reports suggesting that it can boost an individual’s adult IQ by up to 18%, compared to children with no early years music exposure. Whilst this is motivation in itself, it’s the sheer joy and bonding between a child and its parents that makes interacting with music so magical. With Pomelody we have a created a unique opportunity for families to bond, to learn, to have fun and to stimulate the next generation. We are very excited to bring this project to market and, fingers crossed, we can achieve our stretch goal and give free access to underprivileged children around the world.”

You can always watch the video below to see it in action;

 

Disclaimer

I received compensation in exchange for writing this review.  Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

Follow:
Share:

What’s your mantra? Healthy body – healthy mind is one I try live by these days, being a self employed solo mum, I mentally, physically and financially can’t afford sick days, so I do the utmost I can to keep in tip-top shape. Not so much obsessive ‘my body is a temple’ and all that malarkey health freak stuff, consciously careful is probably the best description of my lifestyle.

Wondering what that means exactly? For me I guess it means balancing out sitting at a desk with trips to the gym and occasional runs, I’m a pescatarian and eat healthy yet happy eat pizza on those days when I’m not in the mood for cooking, and my end of the day treat is a glass of wine, sometimes more if its night out but I always keep 3 days alcohol free.

It’s not a difficult lifestyle to maintain and so far so good, all’s looking pretty ship-shape. But that’s only one side to feeling good, as it’s also about what’s going on mentally. Many years ago, I’m talking like 25 ( crikey, did I really just say that out loud?!) gripped by the doom and gloom of being a teenage goth, my mum bought be a self-help book on positive thinking. While I admit, it probably took a few years to sink in and understand, it did set the path for me being an optimist  and to this day, I’m a huge believer in P.M.A – Positive Mental Attitude.

It’s a stance which has seen me through many a tough moment and was tested to the core in the first few months of my marriage ending. For a while, like a few weeks, I hit rock bottom as reality of failing at the basic task of being married set in and I realised the enormity of raising 3 kids on my own, trying to study, run a business and start divorce proceedings. Overloaded was a word bandied around quite a lot. But stubborn me didn’t want to succumb to the black cloud trying to drag me down so on the suggestions from a friend, I tried some alternative therapies.

I called it my first aid kit and it all started with a belief that it would work.

I try keep onto top of my health by eating well and exercising, as well as taking a holistic approach to my mental well being with a 1st aid kit of vitamins, homeopathy and Bach Flower Remedies Number one in this kit was a bottle of Bach Flower remedies. I’d used Rescue Remedy to get me through my driving test and the kids SAT’s and GCSE’s (them not me, I should add) so reaching for an alternative remedy was nothing new. This time though, I sought out some specific formulas tailored to my state of mind. I needed something to help me balance my emotions and get me back onto my positive outlook on life. Sweet Chestnut was my first choice, 2 drops every few hours with the promise of serenity

 Embrace optimism and peace of mind. The positive potential of Sweet Chestnut is having hope

And while life’s pretty god damn fabulous right now, I just need a little reminder to follow my gut feeling now and then when making decisions. There’s been moments when my heart and head have clashed so those days, when things are a little foggy, Cerato is my go to;

Trust your inner wisdom and don’t doubt your own judgement. The positive potential of Cerato is shown in those who trust their own inner wisdom and follow it.

And finally, it’s not all about my mental wellbeing. I come as a unit, and as any parent knows, your  children’s happiness has a massive effect on your own. So when my son was struggling with some negative thoughts, we tried a couple of drops of White Chestnut in a bottle of water.

Don’t let those repetitive thoughts get in the way. The positive potential of White Chestnut is peace of mind.

Knowing that I’m willing to listen and can offer a gentle solution was the first step in helping him retrain his thoughts. Along with a hope that by the process of osmosis, my PMA will filter through to my little hormone fuelled teens.

This is where a supportive, holistic lifestyle has helped us all with our transition through rocky waters. Rather than waiting until you have to treat something with a ‘top down’  approach, I’d rather the boys and I live a preventative take on life, keeping things in check, looking after our wellbeing by getting outside as much as we can, keeping fit, eating healthily and looking for signs when things are slipping. Sort of a nipping it in the bud stance I guess.

Meaning we’re free to indulge, now and then, with the odd lazy day or, my own personal trait of burning the candle at both ends, without it impacting on our health.

Give it a go, if you’re not already, it’s ace!

How to maintain wellbeing with a holistic approach to healthy body and healthy mind

Pin me

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post with Bach Flower Remedies, and they’re available to buy from www.amazon.co.uk

Follow:
Share:

Today I’m choosing not to be a shouty mum

Choosing is the most important action in that title. I should probably start by explains that it’s not that I never get cross or live on a bubble of zen with my legs crossed and rose-tinted spectacles, ignoring EVERY misdemeanour with a smile and a nod

 they’re just expressing themselves

type thing. I know when my kids have stepped out of line and that they do things which need pulling up and stopping. I just choose not to shout.

It’s a parenting style which evolved through understanding and looking at things from their point of view rather than my own. Once I realised that life can be just as complex and downright wobbly for them, the light bulb moment came that yelling (and smacking) was more about releasing my frustrations than teaching them right from wrong.

Need that clarifying? Here goes;

When I’m stressed my brain and my patience goes gaga. Little irritating things turn into big irritating things. All that cortisol and adrenalin rushing round my body stops my rational thoughts like a huge boulder on the track. for example, when I’m stressed and my toddler’s wiping my favourite hand cream all over the bathroom wall instead of washing his hands. That really pisses me off. I WANT to shout and ask him wtf does he think he’s doing? Does he not think I’ve got enough to do. (of course he doesn’t, he’s 2 and it’s perfectly natural to be egocentric)

But I know that’s my fight response taking charge. I’m cross and I feel like shouting to release that frustration. You still with me?

Sure it’ll make him realise that I’m fuming, it was wrong and maybe he shouldn’t NEVER do it again.

But here’s the problem.

I need to be showing my kids how to show some self-restraint

By nature I’m not that shouty, stressed person. Most of the time I’m rational and would talk to my son in a calm but stern voice when he’s done something wrong. Explain why it’s wrong and give him an understanding not do it again (not just an it’ll make Mummy scary) Those moments when I want to yell are the hardest by far. Those are moments are the ones when I’m exercising every level of restraint not to lose my parenting cool.

But those are also the moments when I’m modelling to my sponge-of-a-son how not to loose your cool and alienate people. When I yell (it has happened in the past, I’m not Mary Poppins!) my kids glaze over, they shut down OR they get angry back. THEIR brain stops working as it should & they go into a fight or flight situation, where any chance of rational understanding goes out the window. In short, they stop listening, instead consumed by their own feelings rather than understanding what they did wrong.

I need to be showing my kids how to show some self-restraint, so they can do the same when faced with similar situations. By not shouting at every annoying or naughty thing they do, they also know that if they do do something horrendous, then they’ve really crossed the line. But even those moments when I have to whip out the big Mummy voice, we still regroup and talk about why it was wrong. Like I said, I’m not perfect but I am the role model and trying my arm hardest to raise level-headed kids.

But the no shouting thing, that’s normal me, that’s what my kids expect and that’s how my kids learn right from wrong and go out into the world with little inner voices reminding them how best life works. Don’t always jump in with both fists.

That’s why today I’m choosing not to be a shouty mum.


 

Follow:
Share:

Will Your Presence Be The Present This Christmas?

I’ve long been a believer that children need your time more than material things. It’s a great life lesson to learn at an age when everything is so new and impressionable. I’m also a single mum with 3 kids (one who is a toddler yet to start pre school) working from home around my family needs and everyday chores.

Anyone see the problem there?

If the answer is no then read on while I share exactly how my day pans out;

The alarm goes off at 6.30am every morning but more often than not I’m awake before then, the constant niggle in the back of my mind that I have lots to do in a short space of time. I reach for my phone and check emails, Facebook alerts for my blog page, my social media management clients and my social media community campaign. Then it’s over to Twitter and Instagram to do the same, replying to comments, engaging with others who have taken the time to like, retweet or comment.

I use my phone to create posts, editing photos, creating graphics, scheduling social media updates to Buffer and then reply to personal messages. There’s a lot going on in my personal life right now and my support network of family and friends keep me grounded and ticking over.  Then my toddler wakes up and we go grab a glass of lemon water, coffee for me and smoothie for him. By now I’m in full work mode but I also have to keep my mind and body healthy so while the house is still quiet, I put my son’s favourite TV show on the iPad while I mediate for 10 minutes using an app on my phone followed by my daily 5 minute planking exercises which I time using, you guessed it, my phone.

ditching the smart phone to make sure i am fully present with my kids this Christmas is the best present I can give, will your presence be the present this year?
I’ll put my hands up, my phone is never far away and is in use pretty much constantly from the moment I get up, throughout the day and before I go to bed, I even wind down to sleep using the mind clear setting on my sleep monitor app which then monitors my sleep pattern throughout the night and reports back on my progress and how I can improve it. 24/7 my life is digital. Be it working on the computer from home or using my phone, I’m hooked up most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, there are always  moments when I’m out and about with my son and I try to stick to work times throughout the day. He’s far from being a TV toddler glued to the screen, but I’m well aware that it’s normal for him to think that adults need to have their phone on them at all times from the times he says

Mummy, you’ve left your phone in your bedroom

as we’re walking down the stairs.

So while switching off isn’t an option, I need to work, I need the support of the phone calls and messages right now, I do owe it to my kids to have some set time, undisturbed or tempted by social media and emails. So this Christmas, my present to them will be my presence. I’ll be switching off on the 25th and 26th for complete mindfulness with my boys. And I have a tool kit to make it achievable.

ditching the smart phone to make sure i am fully present with my kids this Christmas is the best present I can give, will your presence be the present this year?
This tool kit was given a test run recently as I logged off 2 smart phone free days. 2 days of focusing wholly on my children and not on the digital world on my phone. I’m not going to lie to you, it was excruciating but with a Punkt phone, which reminded me of a modern and classy version of my first Nokia 3310, it was do able.

Popping my sim card into the slot (it came which a handy sim tray which could accommodate my micro sim card, I fired it up and could still receive calls and texts. The moments when my itchy fingers ached to check in to my emails, I calmed my mind with some colouring. Man that is so therapeutic! Kids really know what they’re doing and why the chuff do we stop as adults?

ditching the smart phone to make sure i am fully present with my kids this Christmas is the best present I can give, will your presence be the present this year?
And when I found my thoughts wandering, mulling over the storm which has taken over my personal life, instead of reaching for the web for inspiration or solutions, I wrote it down. I forgot how good it feels to lose your self in written words and then look back at the page, I forgot how much I loved making sure each letter was positioned on the lines, each loop and letter a unique window into my personality. Handwriting is so personal and reveals so much about a person and it felt good to get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper.

With Christmas and Boxing day less than a month away now, my next smart phone detox will soon be here and this year is so different from the rest and as much as I’ll be tempted to escape the reality of the elephant in the room as lose myself in other people’s worlds, it won’t do me any good to see all the social media posts of families enjoying their day so a smart phone free day, with all focus on my boys and making it a special one for them is a must.

I think you’d be mad not to join me in giving your presence as the present this year.

ditching the smart phone to make sure i am fully present with my kids this Christmas is the best present I can give, will your presence be the present this year?
Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post 

Follow:
Share: