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 

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A Mum’s Defence Of  Pokemon Go! 

Just for the record, I’m in camp ‘yay!’ for Pokemon-Go.

Well, when I say I, I mean us. As in my teenager sons and I, the collective. You see back in the day of huge TV’s and Nokia 3310’s, Pokemon was a simple TV programme with a really cute but kick-ass yellow bunny thing. Let’s call him Pikachu, because that was (is?) his name and along with Buffy The Vampire Slayer and other TV shows which names escape me, I vaguely remember it being part of our viewing pleasure.

So I’m not completely in the dark with this whole Pokemon Go craze.

I didn’t pay much attention at first, not thinking for a moment my skateboarding teen would be interested. But in between teenager mumbles early this summer, I was sure I was picking up the word Pokemon.

Nah, must’ve been wrong, I thought.

But then I heard it again, and again and again. 4 strapping 16 years olds huddled round their phones at the kitchen table mumbling the words Pokemon Go. Then within the blink of an eye skateboards were located, trainer positions enquired and “we’re going out’s” uttered and they were gone.

For hours.

I’m my day, going out for hours involved mischief, often sitting around in parks, there would probably be alcohol and cigarettes, and more mischief. We were bored so we rebelled. I know not all teenagers my age did it, but I did.  (That’s my excuse and I’ll stick by it.)

So in defence to the man who claims that his boy won’t be allowed out Pokemon Go hunting and to his comments that my boy should be kicking a ball in a field somewhere. This is for you;

Technology is here to stay, the golden age of days spent kicking a ball in a field is here to stay. But when your boy is the only boy kicking a ball in a field while his mates are out Pokemon Go -ing. Embracing technology, having fun, challenging each other, discussing their finds and getting out of their insular bedrooms out in the fresh air. Then maybe, just maybe it’s time to admit that it’s not so bad after all.

Parenting is about sharing your child’s passions, showing an interest in what excites them and creating conversations which you know they’ll want to be part of. That’s not always an easy task with teenagers and tweens so you have to adapt to their worlds if you don’t want to be left to limited conversations.

So what if it’s via a mobile phone, that’s the way the world is moving and if Pokemon Go is the reason my boys are getting their kicks, so be it.

That’s my defence statement as a mum to 2 Pokemon Go hunting boys, who now speak to each other about their finds, the media has done a pretty good job or sharing all the horror stories so I’m sharing mine. And who knows, maybe if my washing pile suddenly becomes manageable and the dinner cooks it’s self then maybe, just maybe. I’ll join them.

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So you want to go camping?

The sun’s shining and the living is easy.  You’re yearning to venture out into the great outdoors  every waking hour, get closer to nature and experience a simpler way of life. Summer’s here and you’re in the mood to go camping.

Me too!

I simply hate being indoors during a glorious summer day and I long for weekends sitting under a warm starry sky without the distraction of the everyday chaos which comes part of the parcel as a busy, self employed mum of three. But there’s just one thing stopping me, equipment. Camping equipment to be precise. It’s like having babies, there’s just so much ‘stuff’ you need and I just haven’t got the time to plan, research and shop for everything I’d need for a camping weekend away.

I’d love to admit to a free spirited, carefree parenting style where I  whisk my family away at the drop of a hat but that simply isn’t the case. I’m a planner, I need to be sure that we’re comfortable, fed and safe , where would I start?

So, lets say for arguments sake, that I do want to go camping, what exactly would I need?

Well I could scour the internet for advice (like this camping guide)  or put it out there in an sos on social media. Well I know I need a tent ,  and sleeping bags, an air bed would be nice, a camping stove wouldn’t go amiss so I can still get my early morning cuppa, and some chairs so I wasn’t left with a numb bum, no wants a numb bum on a relaxing break.

so you want to go camping? so do I but i need all the camping tips i can get!

Now that sounds easy enough, not too much to splash out on, but wait, what will we eat? Ok,  I’ll need a cool box, I guess, and some pots and pans. A picnic blanket for a little home comfort and warm clothes, just incase. You can never be too certain of our great British weather.

Now that I think of it, it doesn’t sound too complicated, let’s do it, come on boys, mummy’s feeling adventurous, we’re going on an adventure and campings on the agenda.

First stop, the front garden.

Baby steps, boys, baby steps.

what a funky way to liven up your garden and keep your children safe,

Disclaimer

This is a sponsored post 

I’m linking this one up with THE LIST over at Mr and Mrs T plus Three

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How to support teenagers through exams

I’m the lucky parent to a teenager (don’t scoff, some of you baby mummy and daddies will be here too one day) and as I’ve said many times before, bringing up a teenager is tough. Where my safety worries were once confined to determining the correct size of a grape & teaching road safety, I now find myself caught up in the giddy world of spots, safe sex & exam stress. It’s scary stuff I’m telling you. Scary, scary stuff.

As a teenager,  I always pictured myself being a cool, carefree mum that let their kids make their own choices & never interfered with school work or friendship choices. That philosophy changed virtually the day after I found myself on the other side of the fence and became a real life parent.

In reality, teenagers need as much support, guidance and coercion than toddlers. What no one warns you about is that while their brains go through a massive pruning process that leaves them unable to do things that we, as adults, find relatively easy.

Unfortunately teenagers don’t always see the bigger picture, not all are like this, I’m not generalizing every teenager, just my own experience in parenting one and being one. They can, at times, make the wrong life choices, like playing the Xbox for 6 hours straight instead of completing their homework or being influenced into doing things that could prove dangerous, like drink, drugs or showing off immature driving skills. (Not had the pleasure of those 3 yet, luckily)

Scary stuff, like I said.

And while I’m not being a helicopter parent, I am keeping a watchful eye. I issue constant homework reminders and bed time ‘suggestions’ (usually via Facebook messenger as you can see if they’re online when they should be asleep!)  I will say that safeguarding your teenager should never be undervalued. It’s how you do it though that makes the difference to how successful you are.

So when it comes to exam times, teenagers are under considerable stress, whether they put pressure on themselves or if parents and teachers are doing it and this is not great for their mental or physical health. As a parent there are a few things you can do such as;

theres so much you can be doing to help teenagers during exam time. heres some examples

  1. making sure they are eating properly, no one learns anything on an empty stomach. healthy breakfasts in the morning and sending them to school with snacks will get them of to a good start. Vitamin supplements are always a good idea too and and good quality ones, like these Teen Boy vitamins from Wild Nutrition which my don takes are specially tailored for the extra nutrients they need while their bodies are still developing. 
  2. making time for them to talk and offload,
  3. encouraging them to get lots of fresh air and take breaks if they are cramming in revision,
  4. Helping them see the bigger picture (what you put in you’ll get out.) and how there is light at the end of the tunnel.
  5. Letting them off some of their chores
  6. and keeping the house as distraction and noise free as you possibly can.
  7. I even helped tidy my son’s room and rearranged his revision notes into subject piles so he can access the right information without ploughing through a mass of stray bits of paper and books.
  8. Printing the timetable out and putting it on the fridge, with seat number and room helps you know which subject is coming up.
  9. And remembering to leave any negativity and nagging to weekends. The worst thing you can do as they leave the house in the morning is to tell them off for leaving the milk out. They really don’t want to be worrying or cross.
  10. Try creating a learning rich environment, allow them to put mind maps, revision notes around the house – on the bathroom mirror, the fridge and the bedroom door. There are even aromatherapy oils you can burn or sprinkle on a tissue to leave in their pocket which help calm nerves and aid concentration, Frankincense and rosewood are 2 I’m using. (this blog post will tell you more)

I remember all too well cramming in revision for my Degree,  living and breathing mind maps, scribbled notes and spider charts. It’s such an important time of their life right now so making everything else at home a little easier for them is the least you can do.

 

How to support teenagers with exam revision using an online revision course by Mum in a nutshell

 

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