Life lessons for my daughter as she approaches adulthood.

I look at my amazing daughter and cannot believe that she is in her final school year. How did that happen? I know that every parent says this but just when you get used to this parenting thing it feels like it will change forever. She’s almost an adult and that’s wonderful yet scary.

So here are some life lessons for my almost adult daughter.

The Good

  • You can do whatever you want with your life. Opportunities are there for you. Walk towards them and take whichever path you choose even if it is a different one to your friends. You make your own choices but just remember your mum’s words of wisdom whispering in your ear from time to time.
  • You are amazing. I mean that. I purposely don’t write beautiful as there is more to you than beauty. You are clever, savvy, funny, great fun to be with, calm, know your own mind and beautiful. Your Dad and I love all of you and more. Remember this when other people are not kind to you. You are worthy.
  • You have a warm heart so open it and give yourself to someone you love. Love is the most important thing and one day, you will know when your partner comes along. Don’t let them go thinking there is someone better. There may or may not be but all that matters is that you are happy at that moment.
  • You will never have as much time as right now. Enjoy your own company and that of your friends to do fun stuff.

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The Bad

  • Life chances are there for you to grab but they will not fall in your lap. You will not land a job paying you £30,000 straight out of university or school. You must continue to work hard for everything you want in life. What you want is there but may take small steps….just take one at a time.
  • Boys can be horrid. They can treat you badly but remember that you are a strong and independent woman who does not need their drama. You are not responsible for other people’s crap. Don’t try to change someone who doesn’t want to be changed.
  • Juggling motherhood and work is a challenge. I’m not going to lie. Delay motherhood if possible until you are in a position where you have a choice.

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The Ugly

  • Childbirth is bloody painful but is the most rewarding thing ever. Just don’t enter into pregnancy until you have lived a little first and don’t listen to Nannie; she will put you off for life.
  • Having that last drink at that Club in Ibiza sounds like fun but you will regret it in the morning and perhaps even the morning after that. Have a water instead and walk home with friends (I’m sure you will not do this so my advice….take a paracetamol, eat a fry up and go back to bed).
  • Respect your body. You only have one. So no cliff jumping or swimming with sharks in Australia. There will also be a time when your body doesn’t appreciate you eating trash (about aged 25 btw).
  • Use sunscreen and you will thank me when you are 40.

Good luck…and remember I will always be your Mummy. x

PS I have never, ever done any of these things in the Ugly section apart from the birth part, obviously……..

Life lessons for my teenage daughter as she approaches adulthood.

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Words of Wisdom from Experienced Moms and Dads.

A Guest Post by Claire Adams

I was approached by a fellow blogger and writer, Claire to see if she could write a post for me. Claire is personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. You can find her online writing and giving tips about lifestyle and development as a regular contributor at highstylife.com.

I am thrilled to introduce Claire’s post for my readers and hope you love it as much as I do!

Words of Wisdom from Experienced Moms and Dads

We live in the age of the Internet, parenting books, chat rooms, classes, information wells only a few clicks away, but as disturbingly contradictory or simply different as some of it may be, new parents and parents-to-be yearn for knowledge. And it makes sense – your thirst is driven by the desire to be the best parent you could possibly be, without sacrificing your relationships or neglecting your professional development.

However, few things related to parenting are black and white. It’s a beautiful journey, the adventure of being a parent, but it makes for a stressful one on those who decide to embark on it in this day and age. And as such, you could use some real-life advice from moms and dads who’ve been in your shoes and can help you prepare and enjoy as much as possible.

Let go of perfectionism

Whether it’s a messy t-shirt, a room filled with toys, or the fact that you’re wearing a puke-covered hoodie after 36 sleepless hours – you soon realize that the reality of parenting doesn’t even resemble those dreamy ideals. On the contrary, your baby will disrupt your lives beyond recognition, both in marvelous and less marvelous ways.

Your priorities will change, and so will your sleeping schedule, and the notion of what passes for “presentable” will alter. As they grow up, you will also realize that “she will never throw tantrums in public” or “he will never get hooked on watching TV” are also far-fetched, as every child has their own way of perceiving the world. The best thing you can do for your child’s peace of mind, as well as your own, is to abandon any perfectionist notion you’ve had thus far.

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Go with Frank

Mr. Frank Sinatra has spoken many a wise word through his music, but one universal truth that affects parents as much as it does every other aspect of your identity would be simply doing things your own way. That doesn’t mean rejecting any piece of advice you hear (solicited or otherwise), but still being able to have your own opinion in the chaos of other parents’ voices.

Every child is different, and while one parent will successfully potty-train their youngster with the help of training-pants, another might prefer to try a reward system. This extends to all behavioral patterns in life, so listening to others can sometimes point you in the right direction, while sharpening your own parenting “gut feeling” is equally important. No parent knows you own child like you do.

Go with Frank

Finance wisely

On a more practical, forward-thinking note, parenting could use some financial structure that will ensure your own, as well as your children’s security later in life. While a majority of employers often carry a family friendly health plan that includes various types of insurance, new parents could also think about writing their will, and a college fund that can be re-purposed if needed.

Keeping an eye on your retirement policy and other related plans for the future may seem over the top while you have a baby to care for, but the sooner you reach for the reins, the safer you’ll be if any problems crop up. The same goes for choosing the right guardian for your kids and setting up a contingent trust that allows you a reasonable amount of control over the funds when your kids finally come of age.

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Invest ahead

Some kids learn fairly quickly and adapt easily to new environments, both socially and cognitively, while others struggle with different challenges. As parents, we can sometimes be prone to misjudging our kids’ abilities, either perceiving them as flawless, or underestimating their potential. In both scenarios, it may seem impossible to relinquish some of our parental power over to teachers, psychologists and other professionals, but it could be necessary for the sake of their success later in life.

Sometimes that means tackling a speech impediment early on, or ensuring tailored high school tutoring for improving their performance in those subjects that are particularly problematic. Either way, there is no shame in recognizing a problem and handling it with the help of professionals.

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Don’t forget you

As soon as you become a parent, your children occupy almost your every thought. At first, this may serve as a mechanism to adapt to your new role as a parent, or anticipate and solve problems along the way. But if you continue neglecting your own needs, and pushing aside your identity, your parenting enthusiasm will also dwindle.

New moms and dads should work on learning to remember their preferences, nurturing their relationship and tending to their needs. As Elizabeth Silk, a New York psychotherapist working with moms put it wisely: “The happier you are, the better parent you will be.”

Adams, Claire 2017
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6 Teen Sayings of the Summer

I read an excellent post by Four Princesses and the Cheese Here

A brilliant post about the things Kirstin’s little children have repeatedly said over the summer. It made me laugh as I thought about what my teenagers have been repeatedly saying over the summer. So here is my version….. thankyou Kirstin for the inspiration!

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1. I’ll do it in a minute…..

Well you clearly won’t though will you?? Whether it be chores (my kids get chores each day) or taking your dirty dishes to the kitchen you won’t “do it in a minute!” You will leave it until I remind you and then get cross because I am apparently nagging you to do your chores! Sometimes your chores need to be done so that I can get on and do mine. For example, I would like you to walk Dottie dog so that I can mop the floors when she’s out….actually hang on, you don’t walk Dottie because that would mean getting out of bed before lunch. Doing it ‘in a minute’ means doing whatever the ‘it’ is when you are ready to do it. Perhaps you should say, “I will do it when I want to?”
2. Is that what we’re eating??

Yes, clearly this is what we are eating! Actually, I’ve decided to lay the table with food that I think you may like to eat but if you don’t I’ll just go and prepare something else…….obviously. We have actually eaten this before as I’m not a cook and I have about 3 things that we eat in rotation. Dad cooks more than me and you know that so yes, this is what I am eating and this is what is being offered to you. Eat and be happy.

3. There is never any food in this house!

Clearly as I let you both starve. Let’s look in the cupboards…..oh look! There is lots of food in there. In fact, there is also lots of food in the freezer. No, we haven’t got any treats/snacks/cereal left as you have eaten all of that in 2 days since I went to the supermarket. Why not eat an apple? No? Try toast then and why not drink more milk! I only bought 6 pints yesterday and I will have to go later to buy more bread and milk.

4. Where is my blue top/black jeans/clean sports socks?

I have no idea. Perhaps the clothing fairy has taken it?? The clothing fairy takes all sorts in this house and will sometimes wash and dry clothes too if she feels like it. Or perhaps it is in the washing basket having been already washed by the washing fairy aka me, and needs to be put away? Oh, that was your chore was it? Ok, well that’s where it will be unless……oh look it’s stuffed at the back of your wardrobe where you stuffed it!

5. You are so annoying!

Yeap. It’s my life ambition to be annoying. I love to be annoying so much that I go out of my way to be annoying, just for you. I’m not particularly annoying to your Dad or friends or even work colleagues. I leave that especially for you. Call me annoying mum! Do all of the things you need to do and I become not annoying mum. She is much nicer and less annoying apparently.

6. It’s only like £50…..

Yes. I also love that top/jeans/makeup brush for “only £50.” It doesn’t mean that I’m going to buy it for you. You’ve spent your allowance/earnings by August 1st? Oh! sorry to hear that! Yes, it’s only £50…a bargain apparently. And no, I won’t lend you the money until next month because you already owe me money and I told you not to buy that make-up/pair of ridiculously expensive socks. Yes, I know I’m annoying, you already said that!

So there you have it! The 6 teen sayings of the summer thanks to my lovely children. They are great really and I have enjoyed the summer with them but they can go back to school now please. Thank you. 😉

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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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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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Questions for my teenagers. June 2017

My children are 17 and 15. One is in the sixth form studying for A’ Levels and the other is just finishing Year 10 and the first year of GCSE’s. I have a daughter and a son and they are both really great people.

They have agreed to help me with this blog post! I thought it would be a fun idea to get their views on certain things. I can be quite opinionated with some saying I have a “strong” character but I’d like to think that my children have their own voice and we encourage discussion and differing views in the Old House. I would also like to think that they can talk to me about anything as that is really important.

I asked the children separately to see what their opinions apart from each other.

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1.  What is your greatest fear at the moment?

Daughter: Getting my mock English Literature result back! Terrorism could be something but honestly, if it’s my time it’s my time.I don’t want to stop doing the things I like because of stupid terrorists. It doesn’t worry me and nothing scares me except those scary mazes in you get in horror movies!

Son: Being alone. I don’t worry about anything really.

Me: I fear for my children in this ever turbulent and unsettled world. It’s interesting that they do not worry about that really. Then I think back and remember that when I was a child there was unrest and acts of terrorism in Northern Ireland. I didn’t even consider what this meant to me until I was an adult. Perhaps youth protects us from the harsh realities of the world around us or perhaps age opens our eyes to it? I don’t know.

2. What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

Daughter: Having a job, living alone with a cat. (My son thinks she will become a crazy cat woman from The Simpsons!! My daughter just really loves animals and thought she would grow up to be a cat until she was 3. She’s a very caring person.)

Son: Travelling.

Me: I hope to be travelling too but with Uni fees looming I expect I won’t be!

3. If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Daughter: Socrates. He had such developed ideas about the world; he talked about such amazing ideas such as particles. He was killed because people were frightened of him. (My daughter is studying Classics A Level and is really enjoying it. I wonder if she will study this at University?)

Son: Joseph Goebbels because he was an interesting character. He was obviously crazy but he would be interesting to talk too I think and see how his mind works.

(My son is studying history GCSE and loves it. It will be interesting to see what he chooses for A Levels.)

Me: I’ve often pondered this question. I think it would have to be someone like Elizabeth the first who got me interested in history in the first place or Shakespeare. I would like to meet Elizabeth as she comes over as such a strong woman in a man’s world. Shakespeare, there is some thought that he didn’t write all of his plays, that perhaps a woman did, I would like to see and meet him.

4. What makes you angry and why?

Daughter: People who think they are better than others. Cruelty to animals.

Son: People who think that they know everything.

(They were very similar in their answers here)

Me: I have to agree with my children! Especially cruelty to animals. I would add environmental issues too but, as an adult, I’m more able to see that just “don’t cut down trees to save the orangutans” is too simplistic. It is a much wider and complex issue. That’s why I champion local environmental projects and ways of living. Help your local wildlife first.

5. Do you believe in having a soul mate and true love?

Daughter: Because of my parents! (Ahhhhhh…..x)

Son: No, I don’t think I do. (He didn’t know why….)

Me: yes I do. x

6. What is the best and worst part of being a teenager?

Daughter: The best bit is not having to pay any bills. The worst is having bad skin when I was about 14. I hated it but it cleared up with antibiotics.

Son: The best bit is having no worries. The worst but is some other teenagers who are annoying. (My son is quite mature for his age and gets cross with others that are “like little kids.”)

Me: When I was a teenager, the best bit was the freedom I had, especially with money. What I earned went straight into my pocket! The worst was friendships or boy issues although I can’t remember a specific issue interestingly.

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7. What would be your perfect day?

Daughter: Going to a festival or concert.

Son: Playing sport all day and then being with my friends in the evening.

(This sums both up pretty well! My daughter was upset at not going to Glastonbury this year but may go to Reading.)

Me: time with my family or in the garden.

8. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

Daughter: I would put it in the bank so that it can earn interest. I would pay for my university fees and then buy a house. I would go on a brilliant holiday. I would give some to charity and share it with other family members.

Son: Spend it and not tell anyone!

(I can tell that my daughter is sooo like her dad when it comes to money and my son is very, very like me! I laughed so much at his response here!)

Me: Pay off the mortgage, put it in the bank. Pay off loved ones mortgages and spend some on Uni fees, holidays and lives pleasures! I wouldn’t go and spend loads on houses and cars. I would set up an Educational Foundation to support Special Needs in schools. I would also like to give money to various environmental charities such as Wiltshire Wildlife.

My son is very mature for his age but interestingly, he found answering some of the questions tricky and wanted to find out what his sister had said.

You may want to ask your teenagers questions too. It’s really interesting to record their answers. I wonder what they would think of these answers in a few years time!

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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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