How NCS Can Help 16 and 17 year olds Better Themselves
 So here’s the thing, I’m mum to 2 teenagers age 13 and 17,  and when you scroll through the back pages of Mum in a Nutshell, it’s soon become apparent that I’ve navigated the teenage years on a wing and a prayer rather than cruise happily. It’s a little like raising a giant, hairy toddler which pays you back with grunts of appreciation rather than those big, sloppy I love you’s which toddlers give out so freely. And those grunts are sometimes a little hard to gauge whether you’re getting it right or not. I’m 5 years in and still not sure if I’m getting it right or not.
Then there’s that other thing, the whole single mum thing, fretting about her boys not having a regular and accessible role model to guide her precious cargo in the right direction. I dearly hope I’m painting a positive work ethic to my kiddos but with social media being the key influencer in their lives, there are moments when I worry over how they’re being prepared for the big wide world.
So you can kinda see how I’m all for the government-backed National Citizen Service programme which aims to
help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens. 
I’m relatively new to this but after spending some time on their website  I can really see how this would have a really positive effect on my teenagers. 
It’s is open to 16 and 17 year-olds across England and Northern Ireland running as a two to four-week programme, which takes place in school holidays. Activities include outdoor team-building exercises, a residential for participants to learn ‘life skills’, a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event.
 
Their key message is that at a time of huge political uncertainty, where division is more evident than togetherness, NCS is a powerful tool to ensure the next generation see more in their similarities than differences. I live in a small village in Devon, btw, where division is much more small scale and there’s less opportunity for my boys to experience it first hand. I’m won over by the ethos of togetherness alone as a preparation for the day my boys head off to university. 
7 in 10 16 & 17 years olds who completed the NCS (national citizens service) are more confident about getting a job
 
In a nutshell, the programme:
  •  Puts young people through a series of challenging activities to take them out of their comfort zones and develop their strength of character
  •  Provides a progressive journey that hands over more responsibility to young people as the programme progresses and develops leadership skills necessary to succeed in the workplace
  •  Enables young people to connect with their communities through social action. 
  • Almost 400,000 young people have taken part
  • More than seven million hours of community action have been completed
  • For every £1 spent, NCS’  2016 summer programme delivered between £1.15 and £2.42 of benefits back to society
The whole experience, including food, accommodation and travel costs is only £50 (bursaries are available on a case by case basis and support is also provided for young people with additional needs.)
7 in 10 16 & 17 years olds who completed the NCS (national citizens service) are more confident about getting a job
 
My only stumbling block would be getting my teens to sign up, peer pressure is huge for them and I can guarantee it’ll take a lot of persuading to get them to do this alone but that’s where a rite of passage for all collective message in your community would work amazingly, safety in numbers and all that.
I’ll be having a chat with my 17 year old this week and suggesting he puts the feelers out to his friends and I’d love for you to help me spread the word. If you have a year 11 child there’s still time to sign up for this once in a lifetime experience this summer where they’ll have fun while building their confidence, making new friends and learning life skills that can’t be taught in a classroom.
Just register your interest and signing up for further information, no matter what your commitments or summer holiday plans this year, as NCS will endeavour to get them a spot on a programme at a time that suits.
I’m already looking ahead a couple of years for my younger teen.
Disclaimer 
This is a collaborative post with NCS
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40 Years since the release of Star Wars – A New Hope!

Over the years the joys of motherhood have ensured I’ve become well equipped with certain things which passed me by in my own childhood. Computer games (I’m talking the early Atari type thing) Choppers and Star Wars being a few. Whilst I was knee deep in Cabbage Patch dolls and Snoopy, I can only vaguely remember watching a snippet of Star Wars at a friends house before we resumed practising for our own version of Thriller.

The ironic thing is I CAN tell you where I was and the exact scene I watched ( Trash Compactor moment in A New Hope if you’re wondering at a girl called Gemma’s house )

So I guess that’s my earliest Star Wars moment, funny how you remember these things, isn’t it?

Fast forward 20 something years and my children are still loving the films, and with each one we watch and every book they read, I learnt more and more about the epic which never seems to age. There was a time when Star Wars consumed every room in our house as the Lego mini figures and sets lurked in every corner along with various other paraphernalia.

And while it’s not so much the case these days, I know my boys will look back on their childhood and that the iconic movies will be a part of it, as will my Star Wars mad nephew. My youngest teenager is ploughing his way through the books right now. Historically a reluctant reader, he’s decided that maybe my suggestion of reading before bed isn’t completely bonkers after all.

The set he’s got are aimed at younger readers of approximately 8 and up, my 13 year old is more than happy to get stuck in as it’s not an intimidating size. He knows he can get through it relatively quickly and not bore or get bombarded with words. In short, it’s an easy read for a reluctant reader, it’s familiar and still captures the imagination. Plus his mates think it’s really cool!

 

The set includes the A New HopeThe Empire Strikes Back,   Return of the Jedi as well as the The Force Awakens so he’s got plenty to keep him occupied for the summer.  He’s also got the Galactic Atlas, an impressive keepsake in his Star Wars collection no doubt!

And to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of A New Hope Egmont UK Ltd are offering a set of the junior novels consisting of all 4 mentioned above.

 

Star Wars Book Set
Disclaimer

This post is sponsored and all prizes are provided by Egmont UK Ltd 

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Why A Jord Watch Is The Perfect Gift For A Teenager

I personally find men really hard to buy for; my go to list is usually made up of the usual run of the mill socks, boxers, smellies and whisky. There it;s out there, I’m completely rubbish and lack all manner of imagination when it comes to presents. Not great for a mum of 3 boys is it? So gift guides are my absolute god send at this time of year,as I scour the inter web and magazines for inspiration. But what do you get a man / boy for christmas? That’s my real puzzler.

We’re past Lego kits and computer games, he buys his own clothes and works and saves up for anything other frivilous things his heart so desires. I’m stumped.

Or at least I was stumped.

Then it struck me, my boy was taking more and more pride in his appearance. He’d gone form scruffy skater boy hiding under his hood all the time to a smart, image conscious, quality loving young man. So what does a mum get her son who’s wanting to impress his friends and other girls.  A super cool watch from the  Frankie  mens range at Jord.

I think this Jord wood watch will be the perfect present for my teenage son
A watch, which by pure coincidence is also his nick name!

Simply put, these are  hand crafted Watches Made From Wood coming in a variety of styles and colours. I’ve chosen  Vibrant emerald green and intensely hued sandalwood, from the more minimal range ( I’ve had my eye on the more delicate Cora range of womens watches for some time, although the Frankie range can suit a man or woman due to it’s minimalist style, I just found the size a little too big for my wrist so something smaller would be better for me.)

I think this Jord wood watch will be the perfect present for my teenage son
And what I know my teenager will love more than anything is that a Jord watch is exclusive in it’s design, that you can tell straight away what make it is and that he’ll be a trend setter amongst his peers. It’s a step away from the more mature leather straps and yet more modern than any metal chained watches on the market. No, the Jord style is simply perfect for an older teenager wanting to stamp his style within a generation where by you can’t have the same as your friends but you share the similar taste. This is the individualistic style which many teens yearn for.

Presented in a solid wooden box, oozing quality and class, there’s no mistaking you’ve got something special.

So that’s settled then, I’m pretty dead set that this is going to be the perfect gift for an older teenager 

(and if you’re looking too, here’s a discount code for $25 off any watch (world wide shipping is free so if you’re not US based, there’s no added delivery to worry about) If you’re local to me I also have some $50 discount cards to hand out)

I think that this Jord wood watch will be the perfect gift for a teenager
Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post, all words and photography are my own

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Facing Fears At Hangloose In Cornwall

Holidaying with teenagers often requires careful planning so they don’t get bored and hopefully leave you all with happy memories which they’ll hold dear before they fly the nest and embark on their own urge to travel with friends. So on a recent mini break to Cornwall we broke away from the surfing and spent the day at Hangloose on the outer skirts of The Eden Project.

Quite a new development, Hangloose gives you the promise of an adrenalin fuelled day for all the family providing you’re above 8 years and up for flying Superman style along the 660 metres  of England’s longest and fastest zip wire. Set at 97 metres high, you glide over The Eden Project reaching speeds of up to 60 miles an hour!

I didn’t actually tell the boys all this until afterwards, not that the oldest would’ve minded in the slightest, it would’ve given him serious bragging rights, but I knew the tween would be a little nervous. But  knowing that the adrenalin rush would set him up for the rest of the adventures on offer, I thought holding back on the full details was the best thing to do. And I was right.

 

getting ready for the zip wire at Hangloose, Eden

Booking In To Hangloose

The warm welcome from Snuggles *not his real name, obs* and Chelle, booked us / them all in, where I signed they’re lives away on a dotted line and hired some gadgets to hold their cameras to the helmets so they could film the whole ride. I bowed out of the fun for the day as chief in charge of the camera and Toddler, truth be told I get wobbly on a bridge and was in no rush to face my fears, I’ll leave that for my 50th bucket list maybe.

After lots of stringent checks and tension building waits, my boys and man were whisked off in a red van to the starting line, just viewable in the distance from the viewing platforms where the Toddler and I waited. The next time I would see them they would be exhilarated and buzzing from a well-earned achievement under their belts.

The Tween’s face was my favourite part of the whole day as he uncontrollably beamed at me from the finishing line. He’s in the crux of teendom moods where he practices nonchalance and ‘am I bovered? whenever he remembers that he’s only 11 months away from the big 13. So to see him smiling and wanting to join in with the other activities was an absolute pleasure.

Up next; Gravity, The Drop, and Big Air

Once all my adrenalin junkies were helped out of their harness’ it was straight over to Big Air when they climbed a 115 foot tower and jumped out of it on to a giant air bag. Not having seen them at their highest on the zip wire, it was a somewhat nerve biting experience seeing your nearest and dearest doing something so dangerous. My only coping mechanism was to watch it all behind a lens and distract myself with a wandering toddler. The boys counted this as the next best thing after the Zip wire.

jumping out of a 115ft tower at Hangloose

 

After a quick lunch stop at the cafe situated by the shop in The Eden Project ( you don’t need to buy an Eden Project ticket for the cafe) it was back up to Hangloose to queue up for Gravity; a giant swing taking you 9 metres in the air above the cliff edge with a 50 mph free fall back to earth.

Enjoy the view if you can, because before you know it you’ll be leaving your stomach behind in a breath-taking 50mph free fall back towards the Earth. This was the one activity where you’d hear the odd scream throughout the day.

It was a quiet journey home after an amazing day and the professionalism and friendliness of all the staff was to be commended and I’m sure is what took the edge off any nerves my guys had. If you’re holidaying with teenagers in Cornwall this is must do attraction.

Disclaimer

We were given complimentary tickets for the activities at Hangloose for the purpose of this review. All words, videos and photos are my own. 

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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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