6 Reasons why your teenager needs a summer job.

Both my children are teenagers and they have both got themselves some work for the summer holidays. I’m really pleased that they have taken this step as it teaches them so much. I remember working on a Saturday and in the holidays to earn some extra money. It was a little different for me because I started working like this from the age of 13. Nowadays, children can’t get many jobs until they are 16 due to employers needing to let the Local Authority know if they take on anyone younger than 16. This is due to child protection issues and makes things tricky for employers. This also makes it much harder for our teenagers to get work during the weekends or during the holidays. My son has some work experience with a family friend and this has worked out well. My daughter is doing some volunteer work this summer which is something younger teens can be involved with. However, whatever summer work experiences your teenager can get, it teaches them really important life skills.

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Meeting new people

1. Meeting new people

I remember working with a whole range of people of all different ages when I was a teenager and I loved it. My daughter worked in a cafe last summer and this meant that she was dealing with the public all day. This teaches teenagers important social skills about how different people communicate with each other. My daughter was quite shy but will now happily chat to anyone. I think dealing with some quite difficult customers has also given her coping strategies when dealing with tricky social situations. Seeing when people are rude can help our teenagers realise that they need to be respectful themselves. It helps to develop empathy and certainly builds character! Having to be away from their phones is also a massive positive in my book!

2. Knowing their own mind and developing a positive mindset.

Let’s face it, most teenagers haven’t got a clue what they want to do with their lives. Having a summer job can help them to decide what aspects of their summer jobs they enjoy and what aspects they don’t! Children can speak terribly to their parents but they wouldn’t dream of speaking in the same way to their employer. I believe this helps to develop a positive mindset in our children. Knowing that they can do a job well helps them to see what skills they actually have and are good at.

3. Developing Confidence

Both of my children have developed more confidence by having summer jobs. Confidence in their own abilities but also confidence when talking with adults. They are naturally quite shy people so learning to cope and being out of their comfort zone has been good for them!

4. Independence

Getting up for work, making their own sandwiches, travelling by bus, making sure their clothes are clean and ready or getting somewhere at certain times. All of these things obviously started at school but having a summer job has really helped my children to become more independent.

5. Developing new skills

There are so many different skills that teenagers learn by having a summer job and it obviously depends upon their job. I think the most important skill that summer jobs provide are to teach teenagers the value of their hard work and this is so important. They are learning that hard work means something and I am hoping that this will encourage my children to keep studying. They are learning about the working world and how hard it is! I hope that this will encourage them to strive for what they love rather than having to take any work to pay their bills.

6. Money Management

This is their motivation! Earning some money. Being a working teen is awesome! You get to spend your own money on whatever you want to. My daughter spent most if her earning last summer on make-up! And why not? You are only young once! My son is eying up some trainers but the difference is that he will look after them if he has bought them for himself as he knows how much they cost in hours worked.

I actively encourage my children to get weekend and holiday work. Do you? Do share your experiences with me.

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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10 signs it is the almost the end of the school year

It’s the end of another school year and everything is rush, rush, rush!

You know it’s the end of the school year when:

  1. If someone asks you for anything, you lose the plot…literally. Do NOT ask me for one more thing! Triple this for teaching parents…..
  2. The kids look like they have been dragged through a hedge backwards. Their shoes don’t fit, trousers up to their ankles and hair needs a cut. If your child is in Year 6 or 11, times this by 10. Then they want your child to look “smart” for the end of term assembly. Hmmmmm
  3. The school send home “stuff.” It seems that every picture and book has been hiding in some drawer has been released and brought home in the customary plastic bag (so that’s what that huge plastic bag was for!)
  4. Talking of drawers….your child tidies their school drawer and finds several pound coins (oops that was the charity hair day money), 20 hair slides, 4 erasers, 16 chewed pencils and a party invitation from Sam dated 4 months previously.
  5. You keep getting emails from Mrs Organised for money for Mrs Teacher, Mr Head and Mrs Lovely the TA. In the end, you forget to give money to Mrs Organised and end up getting chocolates from the garage.
  6. Pack lunches get really, really boring as you haven’t had time to go supermarket shopping for 3 weeks.
  7. Your child’s teacher looks like she/he may pass out with tiredness or has the “I’ve only got Johnny in my class for 10 more days” look of glee on their face.
  8. Even the Headteacher looks like they need a stiff drink or a hair brush.
  9. You have overslept every morning for the last week.
  10. You realise that in less than 2 weeks, you have the children at home for 6 weeks…..and you’ve spent all your extra money on those gorgeous shoes….

So there we have it!

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Happy Summer everyone! I will be taking a blogging break at some point in the next few weeks so have a safe and relaxing break!

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Waiting in the dark for you to come home.

When you were a baby, I would feed you in the dark so that you could learn the difference between night and day. I didn’t want to wake your dad either so would tiptoe across the carpet to get a clean nappy. You would dreamfeed, all snuggled up against my skin, safe and secure in my arms.

When you were a toddler, I would tiptoe across the landing to your baby brothers room in the night to feed him. I would always check in on you. You would often sleep upside down with your bottom in the air! Or you would be smuggled down with your Dutch dolly called “Lovey La-La,” thumb in your mouth. You looked so small in your new “Big Girl” bed. You would often be surrounded by books. I would move a blond curl from your little face.

As a little girl, you would often tiptoe into my room, press your face up to mine and ask me if there were robbers at the door. I would take you back to bed and tuck you in reassuring you that no one could get in. Your little imagination would run riot. You didn’t like the dark and would insist on a night light. Your teddies and soft toys were positioned carefully on your bed so that they could keep an eye on you. Little soldiers guarding you from nightmares and frights.

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Now, I’m waiting in the dark. I’m awake you see as you are not yet home. I know you will always text me to let me know that you are safe. You are a good girl like that. But you are not in bed. You are not home. You are where you should be, out with your friends. But I’m awake waiting in the dark. I offered to pick you up but it’s easier, you said to stay with a friend. It’s all planned. That’s ok. I love that you are organised like that. It’s just that, I will always be your mum you see and I will lie in the dark thinking of you, even when you are not here. Have fun. Stay safe. My little girl.

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How to survive teen driving lessons in 5 easy steps.

Driving home from school the other day and my 17-year-old tells me that I have my hands at the wrong position on the wheel! What?? In fact, after a few driving lessons she is often pointing out various things I’m doing that are technically “wrong.” I remember doing this exact thing with my mum. I feel officially old!

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Both hands on  the wheel mum!

We are now at the stage where she wants to practise her driving with me in my car and I know that this is an important skill for her to have but it is very, very scary!

Firstly, this is my car! I have a cute, little, red Fiat 500 and I love it frankly! Also, it’s  very, very hard to be a passenger in a car with your CHILD driving!

So, here are 5 easy (tongue in cheek) tips to help fellow parents in the passenger seat.

1. Practise your “I am very calm” face. This is vitally important. Even the most patient person should know that the out of control feeling will transfer to your face thus totally annoying your teenager. Oh and do NOT grab the sides of your seat as this may also instill teen anger.

2. Do NOT take your teen’s sibling along for the ride. The moment when your children start fighting in the car when one of them is driving is not one I recommend. Or, the sibling starts to reach forward to plug in their phone so that they can play music. Just no.

3. Try not to make the braking action. You are not driving so this is useless. In fact, your teen will possibly start saying things such as “For God sake mum!” or “Will you stop!” or worse. Mime braking will be a thing but it doesn’t actually work.

4. Do NOT change gear for them. Stalling at junctions will happen and it will terribly embarrassing for your teen. They will be flustered, especially if there is a cute boy in the car behind them. Don’t touch the gear stick or hand brake for that matter. They may explode in rage or threaten to get out of the car. I recommend your calm face at this point.

5. Finally, do NOT let your child drive home from school. Friends watching your teen will encourage “cool” behaviour which, in turn will provoke stalling or the car bouncing. This will instill a fit of hysterical laughter in your teen (especially if the cute boy is passing by the window) or that teen anger that you want to avoid. Oh and don’t wave at anyone that you may know at this point as your teen may then refuse to leave the car and swap places until EVERYONE has left the school grounds. The calm face will not be as easy at this point.

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Fiat 500 in red

On a more serious note, she is doing really well and picking up this driving malarkey quickly.  It’s just I don’t think I am! And I’m not letting my Fiat go either!

OH THE JOYS OF BEING A PARENT OF TEENS.

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How to be a bad parent.

Ok, so have you done any of the following?

  • Locked yourself in the toilet because you just wanted to check your Instagram account?
  • Gone through the laundry basket of dirty clothes looking for that school PE top that you are sure you washed but obviously didn’t?
  • Had “help yourself night” rather than cooking too many times in one week?
  • Been to Ikea just to feed the kids the cheap meatballs?
  • Both pretended to be asleep when your kid comes in at night for the hundredth time?
  • Sent the children to school a bit poorly when really they should be at home but you’ve had to go to work? (Shhh)
  • Let your child go out as Batman because you had no clean clothes?
  • Put that spare T-shirt on your child’s bottom because you forgot the nappy bag?
  • When their breakfast is toast and a water bottle in the car as you were late to get up?
  • Eaten your kids Easter eggs/sweets/party bag cake because they have too many and you needed sugar?
  • Not brushed your child’s hair for a week?
  • Let your child go to bed as Batman because he just won’t change into PJ’s?
  • Hidden toys under anything possible when your mum or mother-in-law is coming for a cuppa?
  • You’ve told your children that the Tooth Fairy must have been really busy as she didn’t come in the night (oops) Then loved the look on their faces when the Tooth Fairy came during breakfast -“yes, you must have just missed her!?”
  • Had a phone call from Nursery to find out where you were and you’ve lied about being in traffic when actually you were asleep?
  • Let your kids watch films back-to-back because you are just too tired?

Well I must be a bad parent because I’ve done all of these. My children have survived. It’s ok! Be a “bad” parent once in a while and your children may actually thank you for it. Being perfect is just too exhausting!

Have a great day!

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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Do you EVER sit still? How sport and exercise can help your child.

I have a very active family. We never seem to just “Be”. We are always busy. Busy with work, sport, hobbies….just busy! I remember my mum asking me when I was younger, “do you EVER sit still??” And now I ask the same of my own children!

Here’s an example….

My son went to Dartmoor this weekend for his Ten Tors practice. Ten Tors is an annual weekend hike in early May, on Dartmoor. Organised by the British Army, starting in 1960, it brings together teams of four to six young people each, with the 2,400 young participants hiking to checkpoints on ten specified tors. He’s not entirely sure he’s made the team yet as his teachers will decide now after this last weekend practice. He came back yesterday absolutely shattered but still had to get ready for cricket today. I think he plays some kind of sport every day!

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Son jumping off a wall.

So what’s it like having such active children?

I remember when my children were both young, they must have been 4 and 2 years old and I hurt my back. I sat on the stairs and just wept. Wept because of the pain but wept more because my children just wouldn’t watch TV! I just wanted 5 minutes to sit down and relax my back but they were so busy! “Mummy, can we make biscuits?”Mummy go park?” I would hear my name being called in my sleep! We were an active family though and I possibly didn’t help myself because I liked to be out of the house too in the fresh air or meeting with friends. It was for my own sanity I expect but also because I wanted my children to enjoy being active as my hubbie and I did. I needn’t have been worried though!

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Daughter pushing niece on the rope swing at the park.

Once they started school it did become easier as they were being busy at school all day. They would come home shattered and learnt to watch TV for more than 5 minutes! But we also took them swimming every Saturday morning and then to hockey on a Sunday morning. They also tried mini rugby, archery, trampolining, gymnastics, judo and ballet. They loved to climb trees, eat picnics on the trampoline, play in the mud, go for walks and play in the park.

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Son bodyboarding in Cornwall.

Being at secondary school they both began to play competitive sport and oh how this has helped with my busy little people! They are teenagers now and of course they do all the usual teen things like sleep in, eat pizza and watch movies until the early hours but they are still active. Sport has been one of the most influential things in my children’s lives and I am pleased that they have both been given such wonderful opportunities.

So why has sport been so beneficial to my children?

  • Sport in schools is beneficial to a child’s physical health. It’s obvious really isn’t it but in an age of such advancing technology I am worried that more and more children do not go outside as much as they need to. Physically being able to run, jump and move our bodies is part of being human. I see more and more children in schools who can’t run aged 8. That is super scary! All children should be able to run around the playground or park for half an hour and not be out of breath or tired. At 17, my daughter still plays school hockey and netball but is not so competitive as she once was. But she enjoys her sport because it keeps her fit and active and she enjoys being with her friends.
  • Sport is vital for mental health. Again, we all know this but being involved in some kind of sporting activity really helps us to feel alive. It doesn’t have to be a competitive sport. Finding what sport or activity children love will help them return to this when they are adults. They will need an outlet in times of stress and sport allows this.
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Son covered in mud after rugby.
  • Winning and losing. My son has definitely benefitted from winning matches when playing a competitive sport such as rugby or football. However, he has learnt more when he has lost. I find that boys are so competitive as tweens and teenagers and losing is an important like skill. It’s part of life to have defeats but we can pick ourselves up again and try our best. That’s the life lesson that sport has given both my children.
  • Being part of a team.  Playing sport in a team helps children to listen to others, play cooperatively and build character. They can practise moral and mental qualities that will transfer into other settings. Both my children have developed both friendships and leadership qualities through playing sport that will transfer into their adult lives. They were both very shy as toddlers and young children and would cling to my leg throughout whole parties or at toddler groups! Now, they will talk to unfamiliar adults or in front of their classmates without a second thought.
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Son playing hockey
  • Sport builds self-confidence and resilience. Playing sport helps your child value themselves. “I scored a goal! I can do it!” That feeling of winning makes us feel like we can do anything. Be cautious not to make everything about winning though as we can’t always win! Contributing to a team or playing against other children can make a child feel valued and belonging as they are with children who like the things that they do.
  • Meeting other adults who make an impression. We all remember that one teacher/adult who made a positive impression on us when we were growing up. When I was growing up, it was my Primary school PE teacher who encouraged me. Positive relationships with other adults has helped my children immensely and helped to guide them to make good decisions.
  • Staying connected with their friends. In this age of social media it is easy for teenagers to stay connected with their friends via their phones. However, it’s important for teenagers to connect with their friends in the real world too and sport helps with that. I love that my children have different friends in their sporting team than perhaps at school. They are meeting other teenagers from different schools thus increasing their social circle.

Now I only have a few years left watching my children play sport at school but I will be there! Even though I’ll be huddling in my huge coat and boots as it’s cold and windy, I’ll still be smiling and shouting words of encouragement! I love it now as a parent almost as much as when I played competitive sport myself. Oh! and I expect I won’t be keeping still either!

PS He made the team….looks like a trip to Dartmoor! Whoop Whoop!

OH THE JOYS OF THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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What do I miss?

I have amazing children who are now almost grown. I started this blog because I found that although I was working part time, I finally had time to do something else. My parenting days are far from over but my teenagers just don’t physically need me as much and it happened quite suddenly. It crept up on me when I found myself alone one Saturday afternoon enjoying a cup of tea and realised that I didn’t need to be anywhere! It got me thinking about all the things that used to drive me nuts that I was actually now missing. It’s as if my “parenting routines comfort blanket” has been removed and I am now thinking about how I should replace it. I’m feeling sad and possibly hormonal (ahh the menopausal brain) so bear with me!

  • Being up early

Oh how I craved a lie-in when the children were tiny! My hubbie and I used to try to take turns having that extra hour in bed at the weekends but it often never worked out that way. The baby would need feeding or we would take the children swimming early to fit in with naps. Having any extra time to sleep became a bit of an obsession! But now we have teenagers who think sleeping is a national sport I just don’t seem to need to lie in! I wake up naturally at 7.30am on a Saturday and although it’s great to be able to take a cup of tea back to bed, the children are asleep for half the day! If we plan to do anything it has to be after lunch really. I miss the early morning snuggles reading that book over and over… There, I said it!

  • Children’s TV

This is going to sound bonkers but I miss CBeebies with Tinky Winky, Iggle Piggle and Peppa Pig. I even miss the theme tunes! In my job as a teacher I was always knowledgable with what the children liked when I had small children at home. “Oh yes I did see that episode when Daddy Pig slept outside in the car!” Now, I don’t have a clue and think the fact kids watch some Japanese woman opening Lego on YouTube slightly disturbing! I certainly don’t miss iCarly or some of those tween programmes that my children used to watch but I do miss Good luck Charlie. Charlie was just too cute!  It’s now Ex on the beach, Prison Break or Indian cricket (sorry, not for me).

  • Buying Children’s clothes

It’s such a chore shopping with babies and young children isn’t it but at least they don’t have a say in what you buy. If you want them to wear that cute piglet suit then they will. If you want to dress them in an old-fashioned sailor suit then so be it! Tweens and teens have a very definite idea of what they like and dislike. I remember trying to persuade my    son that shirts that he had been happily wearing for the past 3 years, were smart but no, he just wouldn’t wear one. My children have a monthly allowance for clothes now that we gave them when they turned 14. It saves the aggro to be honest and if they want that Supreme T-shirt that costs £60, then they have to save for it. But, I miss the cute children’s clothes you can buy and having a say on what they wear.

  • Going anywhere!

I’m not sure if this is just my children but I miss going on day trips. If I ask my two what they would like to do during the holidays, the only thing we agree on is to go to the cinema or to London. Well, going to London for a day or longer is not really a day trip for us because we would have to find someone to check on the dog. It’s also an expensive day out as we would go on the train and they want to shop! Days out in the ‘Big Smoke’ are therefore, not going to happen often.  They also don’t mind being driven to see friends of course but that doesn’t include me or Hubbie! It may also be because I have a girl and a boy so my son may want to go ice skating for example but my daughter would want to go out for a meal. But I miss farm parks and soft play (For little kids). I miss going to the beach (too much sand apparently) or walking in a nearby beauty spot (too cold/wet/boring). Often, we just don’t go anywhere or we eat out. They then complain that they are bored! Hohum.

  • Having evenings “off”

I love having my teenagers watching TV with me (especially CSI or Americas Next Top Model) but sometimes I would like an evening “off”. I would like to watch what want to watch and not have to fight to watch Broadchurch or Gardeners World! With small children they are, hopefully, asleep by 8pm so you can relax and spend some quality time with your hubbie. Well I miss that. Often, my teens are still up when we go to bed.

So there you have it. I love my teens but I miss my babies. Perhaps it’s nostalgia that protects us from the hard times we had with young children? There are many times that I remember feeling tired, overwhelmed and fed up but I still miss it. So, enjoy the times that make you feel tired, over whelmed or fed up because those times don’t last. In fact, they are over in a blink of an eye and then you’ll be looking at the next stage in your life whether you like it or not.

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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