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

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So you’re wondering how I’m feeling about my divorce?

I’ve been over analysing life a lot lately, trying to evaluate and understand the whats and whys in an attempt to understand me and what I do next. I’m playing many new roles right now; The (single) mum, the daughter, the sister, the friend, the business woman and the soon to be ex-wife. These life changes haven’t just effected me and I’m very conscious that it’s not just me that’s analysing me too.

With so much change and so many new experiences I’m taking a baby steps approach to life. Never wanting to plan too far ahead as I float through each week in survival mode. It’s a strange and exciting feeling when your life plans take a sudden change, and that over analysing I’ve been doing is a product of the uncertainty of what I thought the future might be like. That old future is now a stranger to me now and I’m a little scared to dare dream of what the new one brings.

When people ask how I’m doing, I know what they’re really asking. But the truth is you could ask me that question every day and it will be different. Today I’m feeling good, I’m living for today. With a tired fuzzy head my focus is on what I’m doing today and how good my bed will feel when I crawl in at the end of the day,

Today I’m too tired for planning and over analysing.

Today I’m not thinking about the holiday we’re off on next month.

Today I’m not thinking about what to do on my childfree weekend and fretting about being away from my boys.

Today I’m not thinking about the things which are lacking in my life and how I can change that.

Today I’m not thinking about how I’m going to get my new business thriving and bringing in enough money so I don’t lie awake at night thinking about all the bills I need to pay.

Today I’m NOT over analysing.

Today I’m giving my thinking brain a break.

I spent too much time doing that last night and I’m tired.

've decided the best thing I can do is pull up the anchor and see where the wind takes me

Yesterday I spent the afternoon clearing out the messy junk room under the stairs in an attempt to clear my jumbled thoughts. Decluttering and housework seem to help, it’s like osmosis – decluttering my mind. I’m still the optimistic, easy going me, just  a little more distant at times as I fall down the rabbit hole of thinking.

I’m navigating unchartered waters right now so I’ve decided the best thing I can do is pull up the anchor and see where the wind takes me. I can’t plan a future right now, I can’t plan as I have no idea what it’ll look like.  The back pages of my story have been ripped out and replaced by blank ones, the words DIVORCE taking the title of the next chapter.

So excuse me if I’m a little vague in my answer about “How am I today?” or if  throw a question right back at you and change the subject. I don’t always know exactly how to answer and each day is different, and I apologise if I double book you or forget an arrangement, my fuzzy head can’t always see past the end of the day.

I’ve tried planning out my weeks and weekends and it unnerves me when those plans get changed. It sends me into a panic and reminds me that even tomorrow is still a little uncertain. So right now I don’t dare plan too much as recent events have taught me, even the best laid plans have a habit of going astray.

And that right now pulling up anchor and going with the flow is the only way to go.

Everyone tackles a divorce differently, you never really know how you'll be feeling until you're going through it

 

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Why An Al Fresco Holiday In Aquitaine, France Is On My List

It’s time to get my holiday thinking hat on again. With spring in the air, I yearn for far-flung places, stunning sunsets and succumbing big time to the relaxed, holiday vibe. Living in a tourist hot spot it’s hard not to get holiday envy as you see all the families rock up in their over loaded cars ready for a week on the glorious Devon coast. Bizarrely, I’ve used the same reasoning as to why we’ve not been on many foreign holidays.

Who needs to travel to a beach when its right here on my doorstep?

But this year things are going to change.

I’m ready for sun on my skin, sand between my toes and not having to think about house chores and work schedules for a week or 2. 2017 is going to be the year of the holiday and the South of France is on my radar.

Getting there

Flying into Biarritz, a 20 mile car journey will get us to the Al Fresco toddler friendly campsite,  Yelloh! Village Le Sylvamar at Labenne Ocean Aquitaine.  I’ve scoured, pondered and analysed every inch of what would be best for my toddler, tween, teenager and I.

That was no mean feat, believe me!

But if my calculations serve me correct a week sunning it up in the south of France, close to Biarritz’s chic surf vibe should see us right.

The nearby beach at AQUITAINE - LABENNE OCÉAN, in the South of France looks the perfect location for a family holiday with toddlers, tween and teenagers

Busy Days Al Fresco

With close access to a large sandy beach my older boys can spend their days learning to surf, (I might even join them, I’ve watched Point Break so can count that as the theory test. We might even have a try at windsurfing or buzzing around on jet skis. And while the big boys are playing, a bucket and spade will be enough to keep my toddler happy.

Sand is such a novelty when you’re use to a pebbly beach.

Looking at family holidays, I like the idea of Staying Al Fresco in AQUITAINE - LABENNE OCÉAN

When mooching about on site is on the agenda, then the water-park with a heated pool, lagoon, lazy river with buoys and a three lane water slide will offer enough entertainment for us all. The toddler can make the most of the new children’s indoor play pool with water games to escape the midday sun.

Looking at family holidays, I like the idea of Staying Al Fresco in AQUITAINE - LABENNE OCÉAN

The Icing On The Cake

In an ideal world I’d take along other family, being a single parent escaping to the jacuzzi or sauna would only be possible with some clever childcare swapping as well as biding me some time at the organised workout sessions. I need to get my thinking hat on as to who’d be the perfect holiday companions. I have a few friends in mind.

They’d be welcome company for an evening at the bar, creperie, pizzeria, restaurant or nightclub. Solo holidaying is always a  little easier with other adults I’m sure even a bbq on the decking will be a welcome change for more relaxed nights too. Just to sit outside on a warm evening would be a welcome change from the chilly British ones. Crikey, I’m really in the more now!

And when the kids are all swim, sea and surfed out. We can pop along to Hossegor – Europe’s surf capital, with it’s trendy shops just 10 miles away, to absorb the relaxed laid back atmosphere.

I think it’s safe to say that  Yelloh Village le Sylvama would make the ideal family holiday for me and mine.

This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Al Fresco Holidays and Tots 100.  

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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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Sometimes You Just Need To Hit Rock Bottom 

Yesterday was not a good day.

It started early, 3.27am, the moment I woke with a jolt from a sad dream. The kind which leaves you wondering for a moment or two; was it real or maybe a sneak peak into the future? I glanced at the clock defeated in the reality that I needed to get back to sleep if I was going to face the day ahead without dragging my sorry, tired but around the house. While I lay there trying to force the bad thoughts out of my head and crawl back up to my natural optimism I heard a noise from my son’s room.

Sleepily walking across the pitch black room, I misjudged the door opening and ‘wham’ walked straight into the door frame, taking the full force on my mouth, sending my braces into my lips and my head flying back. I’d done that walk many, many times before and as my mouth filled up with blood I knew, that no matter how hard I tried, it was going to be a bad day.

I’m a positive person naturally, always looking for the good in a situation and tackling obstacles and problems with a “que sera sera” approach. Things happen for a reason and sometimes you just have to let karma do it’s thing. But yesterday I struggled to find any positivity, not a scrap. A big black cloud loomed heavily on my shoulders and with it a niggling worry that it wouldn’t go.

I been warned there’d be days like this as I stepped on the rocky road of the end of my marriage. Shrugging off the mere thought, that I was in full control of the situation and that this was a good thing. But as I wallowed in self-pity with a fat lip and pain in my neck, I realised that I’d already had a few days like this, only this one was much worse. I’d hit rock bottom.

sometimes you need to hit rock bottom to appreciate the good days, read more here

And that was when it struck me,  I needed those bad days to appreciate the good ones.

That when you hit rock bottom it gives you a gauge to all your other days and it’s only when you get that low that you begin to get a real sense of appreciation of how good it feels to see the positive.

And slowly I clawed back some of my natural optimism.

So why am I sharing this?

Why am I spilling out the very core of my deepest darkest days?

Because I wanted to let anyone else who’s struggling to see that positivity I bang on about on here so often. That there will be a rainbow after your rain. That sometimes, just sometimes, when everything seems to be falling apart, they’re actually falling in to place and once those moments are here, you’ll appreciate it so much more and see it for what it is.

when you hit rock bottom, sometimes it's for a reason, read more here

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