Knowing When Your Teenager Needs You

Knowing When Your Teenager Needs You.
Part Four

Knowing when your teenager needs you 1At this stage more than any other, your teen needs you.
Even if they show every emotion and negative body language that they don’t want you near them, they still need you.

It’s not easy to feel as though you are being shut out during a time of such rapid change and growth. To realise that you have to knock on their door before entering. To give them space and ask for a hug, instead of stepping straight in and offering comfort and love.
It’s a strange period of alternating between realising they are no longer children but not quite adults, ready for a world of responsibility.

“Be an influencer in your teen’s life”

Your teen will be asking all those big questions and if they don’t find them at home, they surely will elsewhere. Questions such as,
Who am I?
What do I want?
Who is going to love me?
Who will I depend on?
Whilst their peers and friendships with others are vitally important, you are still their firm foundation, especially when their world seems ever-changing and could easily throw them off course.

Your teen will not only search for the answers but find them. Whether it’s over the kitchen table and a meal with their family, via social media or on the football field, those questions will be addressed in one way or the other.

My encouragement to you as a parent is to be an influencer in your teen’s life.
Walk quietly alongside them, be their silent partner in the waiting lane of life. Just be there.
Sometimes being there means doing nothing and saying nothing, even though you may be aware that your teen is dabbling in areas that you would rather they didn’t, seeing things that are too mature for their eyes and saying words that you didn’t realise they even knew the meaning of.

More than ever, teenagers are being thrust into a world that not only beckons them in an alluring way but forces them to mature rapidly. Too rapidly in many cases.
Your teen will want to know about all of everything but may not be able to physically or emotionally deal with all of that everything.

“You will find that your precious mini-adult,
all arms and legs and awkward conversations,
will one day be a fully grown person”

Knowing when your teenager needs you 2
When I was a teen, my peers were doing all of the usual things that puberty evokes
.
Smoking weed on the school oval, stealing spirits from their older siblings, cheating on tests, practising the vilest of swear words on each other, sneaking into their parent’s room and finding their stash of condoms.
All the usual really.
Except we didn’t have the additional access to information that is available today on the internet. It was more along the lines of coping a gander at adult magazines hidden under smelly mattresses and reading steamy sex scenes in adult novels. That sort of thing. Not necessarily forging a path for a life of smut, deceit, and depravity but for me, it all left me cold.
As I mentioned in Part Three, I was one of the weird kids who just didn’t find all that stuff, all that appealing. Let’s just say, I was a late bloomer in all things worldly.

I do, however, vividly remember thinking who the heck I was (besides awkward, with legs like a giraffe and a flat chest) and what my actual purpose for being on this earth was for?
I worried that as I grew up I wouldn’t be loved for who I was and I was deeply concerned that I didn’t have anyone close to me that truly had my back, should things all head south.

Knowing when your teenager needs you 3

Eventually, I found some of these answers through a spiritual faith, closely followed by deep friendships and belonging. But that doesn’t mean that all teenagers are going to be at all interested in such things. I do know however that they will be searching, and your teen needs you.
And they will find their belonging somewhere
Build that belonging within your home, the safe haven and place of unconditional love. Where the foundation and fabric of a strong family unit are big enough to answer all the big questions.
It is surely what this age group need the very most and sadly, where they often find it the least.

“Tread gently for this seemingly unending
teen stage too, shall pass”

My one advice would be to listen, listen, listen and then listen some more. Be a silent observer, but be there. Turn up, be present, encourage always and let a lot go. Try not to take their mood swings, snappy words and frustrations to heart.
You can’t deal with all of everything all at once and the really important stuff will be dealt with. In time.

Maybe having pink and blue hair isn’t your choice for your teen’s gorgeous blonde locks. Or that nose piercing isn’t what you imagined would sit in your son/daughter’s nasal passages. Quite possibly the dragon tattoo isn’t your preference either. Maybe chose your battles over these. They may go ahead and do it anyway despite your strong opinions.

You will find that your precious mini-adult, all arms and legs and awkward conversations, will one day be a fully grown person and that piercing or tat fades into insignificance. They may tower over you when they wrap their strong arms around yours.
And you will know… that they have navigated the road to adulthood, perfectly imperfect but wonderfully strong and capable of making a huge dent in this world that we have ushered them into.

Because of you, mum, dad, guardian. For being there always.

Knowing when your teenager needs you 4

And you are allowed to be immensely, utterly proud of who they have become. I promise that day will come sooner than you ever realised.
Know I am cheering you on the sidelines of this parenting journey. Some days may feel unbelievably difficult but your presence is undoubtedly a total-life changer in the life of your child.

Tread gently for this seemingly unending teen stage too, shall pass.

 

If you have missed part 1, 2 and 3 of this series click on the link below to catch up.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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How You Can Ease Your Child Into Becoming A Teenager

Becoming a teenager 5

How You Can Ease Your Child
Into Becoming A Teenager.
Part Three

Becoming a teenager 1Do you remember becoming a teenager?
I have a vague recollection of it although it fades by the day.
My memory is a time of feeling the pressure to fit in with my peer group but opposing a lot of the things they were into. Of quite suddenly being interested in the opposite sex. And desperately hating having braces and a fringe, not to mention, looking back, an awful 80’s perm that I thought was the absolute bomb. At the time.
Now I realise I looked like a woolly sheep with a weird straight fringe like one of those highland cows.
Not good. Not good at all.

I was awkward transitioning into a teenager and definitely not one of the cool kids.
I hung out with the misfits, the kids who were teased for their looks or personalities.
One of the three girl’s I hung out with, had the worse halitosis I have ever come across in my entire life and daily my only two other friends and I would discuss the varying ways we could let her know how offensive it was every time she opened her mouth.
And don’t get me started when she yawned. We had to dive for cover.

“These not-children but not-yet-adults are in the waiting lane of life”

My second friend, had pigeon toes and ran like a duck and my third friend lived with just her dad and two brothers after her mother walked out on them after breakfast one day and never came home, which made her a very sad and angry young person, who mainly spoke in grunts and sighs.

We were the misfits, the square pegs in round holes, that the popular kids picked on daily.

Then there was me. Towering above all the boys and girls in my year group and the next, that perm, those braces, hairy legs. Yep hairy legs. Because my mum didn’t want me to start shaving them too early. So I spent years tugging my school skirt lower to hide my unattractive black fuzz.

Now I come to think of it, I do recall quite a lot of my transitioning teen time and frankly it was awkward.

Now I have teens of my own, I view this stage with great understanding and a healthy dose of sympathy. These not-children but not-yet-adults are in the waiting lane of life.
And it’s not easy. They often don’t know where to put themselves or where they fit in within the greater scheme of life.
There is so much pressure placed upon their burgeoning shoulders. Big decisions are expected to be made at such a young age – where to direct their future career choices?
Which doors to walk through. Heck which doors they should even be thinking about entering?
Do they choose the straight path set before them full of expectation from others or the rockier less travelled, slightly risky route, with an unknown destination?

“You may find yourself asking them if they have showered
and how long have they have been wearing that tee shirt?”

 

It’s a tricky time for sure as a parent and soon-to-be-teen.
We have picked up a few things along the way that may help you understand your child during this transition phase:

Becoming a teenager 2

Becoming a teenager

1. They will smell.

For quite some time you may feel as though your home has turned into an animal’s toilet at the zoo. When they are becoming a teenager they will start to smell. A lot.
It will permeate their clothes, their sheets and the walls of your house. Soft furnishings take a hit long after they have extracted themselves from the sofa.
Invest in Febreeze.

You may find yourself asking them if they have showered and how long have they have been wearing that tee-shirt?
Even after washing their clothes, they will still smell. Clothes and child.
Under the armpits is a very dangerous area to venture near. If your child lets you hug them, you may need to block your nose.
This is the time to gently approach the subject of deodorant.
I kid you not, it took us about six months for each of our teen’s to get into a routine of using deodorant every day. We basically left small roll-on bottles all around the house! Just as a reminder that their natural body odour isn’t actually that pleasant.
Eventually, a miracle will occur. They will pick up that little bottle and tentatively roll it under their pits.
And you can breathe in a lovely aroma of spicy eucalyptus hues.

2. They will shower. A lot.

The smelly stage will actually morph, fairly quickly, into the cleaning phase.
Your teen may spend an inordinate amount of time in the shower, not to mention, copious after-shower-grooming-and-preening. This will all be done in secret, under the cloak of a locked door, the extractor fan and possibly music from their phones.

Deodorant may still be a problem, as in they may not feel they need it. Keep reminding them daily or thrice daily, that it is very much required.
Aftershave (often cheap), may be liberally applied which will be a welcome scent change in your house but may also be migraine inducing.
Pick your battles on this one. Smell vs head pain? I flitted between the two.

“Those hormones are stoking the fire of puberty and in overdrive”

3. They will become interested in sex.

Whether this manifests as being suddenly acutely embarrassed at any sign of physical affection and touch (on the tv) or in real life, sex will be something that both fascinates and scares them.

When we sat our second son down for the ‘proper sex talk’ as in A & B connect whilst also consider C & D may play a role, his face slowly drained of all colour and he quite literally sat as still as stone.
We plowed ahead, determined to get it out of the way, lest he heard it from his peers. When we had finished he just nodded and said “Got it, can I please leave the room now?”

We have revisited the subject on occasions and it does become easier for both parent and teen to talk about sex. Basically we took a “There is nothing you can’t ask us approach” and tried very hard to make sex something that wasn’t acutely awkward to be discussing.

It’s not easy for sure, but the more you are open and relaxed about it, the more your teen will feel as though there is nothing to hide from or be ashamed about.

“Gently remind them that tomorrow is a new day
and this too shall pass”

Becoming a teenager 34. They will be emotional.

Those hormones are stoking the fire of puberty and in overdrive.
A lot of everything will be EVERYTHING! Sad feelings may feel like the end of the world. Happiness will be elation/mountain top experiences.
Riding those emotions with your would-be-teen is exhausting for you as a parent. Try to hold their feelings and emotions lightly. Gently remind them that tomorrow is a new day and this too shall pass. Often by the morning the said subject doesn’t hold the weight that it did the night before, which is the same for us as adults.

5. They will sleep a lot.

Sleep is a gift for would be teens.
As their bodies are rapidly growing and changing, you will find they need extra sleep at different times.
Our teens began to keep quite late nights and as long as they weren’t exhausted and irritable the next day, we took our lead from them.
Often night-time is a period where they can relax, play games, watch tv and talk to you! We find our teens are at their best at night, so we pick those times, more than any other, to have a conversation.
Basically, take your cue from them and don’t be surprised if on weekends they want to sleep away a good portion of the morning. They are catching up with their growing bodies and minds and sleep is like a natural steroid!

“Watching your once dependant, chubby fingered, adorable little love,
suddenly morph into a mini-adult,
isn’t easy all round”

Becoming a teenager 46. They will eat!

This seems like an obvious one, but I honestly didn’t factor in the extra amount of food we would need for our soon-to-be-teens (not to mention when they do actually reach teenage years!)

A friend of mine once commented that her son would come home from school and eat a huge bowl of noodles, followed by dinner, followed an hour later by cereal and then pudding. I naively thought that this wouldn’t happen to us. I mean, how much food can one person consume? The answer is – an enormous amount!!
Mine were always hungry and on the look-out for sustenance.

Try not to be alarmed at the sheer amount they are eating
. Their bodies need that extra fuel for a whole lot of growing and developing, so feed the looming beast that is puberty and remember they can’t grow up and out at the same time.

When your children are at the stage where they are no longer children anymore, it can sting a little for a parent.
Watching your once dependant, chubby fingered, adorable little love, suddenly morph into a mini-adult, isn’t easy all round.
And as much as you may want to hold onto the innocence of their childhood, becoming a teenager is the tangible fruits of all your hard work since they were babies.

Yes, it’s a time of excitement and letting go but it’s also a time of great satisfaction as a parent to watch your children hone and refine themselves into the people they were always destined to become.

 

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How To Have Fun With Your Teenager.

Teenager fun 1How To Have Fun With Your Teenager.
Part Two

Many parents most probably wouldn’t put the words fun and teenager in the same sentence.
Most teens wouldn’t use the words parents and fun in the same sentence. Fun with their friends? Yes. Fun with their parents? Mmmmm nope.

We have two teenage boys, a 12 year old girl and two tween girls  (plus a 21 year old daughter). If you have followed on from Part One of our teen series about “Why We Adore Having Teenagers And How We Got Here”this is some of the reasons we regard these years as the best.

By focussing on just a few simple practices within your family unit, you will discover that teens can be such a joy and immensely fun.
Our 18 year old son is hilarious!
His quick and witty banter keeps us on our happy toes, especially on days when we are all feeling grumpy. He is our man. Totally able to turn a mood around by saying “Hey Mum want to watch this funny video of a chicken trying to fly with a top hat?”
Mood gone.


“We all have the same amount of hours in each day
and often have to be intentional in setting aside time
for investing into our children’s hearts”.

Our other teen son, who is generally much quieter, comes out with some pearlers of lines that has us doubled over in laughter. Generally, quotes from a movie he has just watched, such as the movie from ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ and the line from a young New Zealand boy saying “He is bit of a bad egg”.
Followed by “Mum are you being a bit of a bad egg because you’re tired?”
I mean you can’t be grumpy when your son says that because it’s too funny. And cute.

Teenager fun 2

These are a few ways we incorporate fun in our home with teens:

1. Spend Alone Time With Them.

We have done this since they were toddlers and made a big deal of mum or dad dates. Once a month we took each child out for one-to-one time with either my husband, Matthew, or myself. And these times have been precious vaults of memories that the children, as they have become older, bring up and reminisce over.
Taking them outside of their home environment, we find, is a lovely way to connect.
Our 18 year old has a breakfast date with me every Monday. Without fail, this is our time together and we both look forward to it so much.
We start the week off in a positive way because we have the space to communicate uninterupted.

2. Spend time with them on their level.

This isn’t always easy for me because my boys love playing Fortnite (like the sole majority of teenage boys all over the world no doubt) and I find sitting still really hard. I also don’t really enjoy playing any sort of electronic games and obviously, my tastes of what I listen to on YouTube, are vastly different to theirs. However, as this is a brilliant way to interact with my boys and share in their fun and joy, I do it, as often as I can.
We all have the same amount of hours in each day and often have to be intentional in setting aside time for investing into our children’s hearts.
I actually find it a privilege that they allow me into their space.

They love, absolutely love the fact that I am in their interest domain, willing to learn the skills that are important to them and stoked that I am giving it a go.
This time that I spend with the boys, is one of the most important ways I connect with them on their level.

Teenager fun 33. Be Silly!

We were silly with our kids when they were small. Reading in funny voices, dancing to nursery rhymes, playing peek-a-boo, pretending to be a tree in their imaginative role playing (somehow I always end up a tree….)

I’m not saying that you start singing baby songs again. Please don’t do that! Your teen will bolt.
Just muck around. Enjoy banter, sharing funny family stories of “Do you remember when such and such did this?”
Play cards together, go for a walk and lark about with them.

Teenager fun 44. Be interested in their stuff.

This follows on really, from spending time with them on their level but also show interest in the general rhythms of their life.
Having conversations, which can range from how their friends are going, which movies are trending, what the latest fad is at school? Showing you are keen to hear about them is a wonderful way of assuring their hearts that you are still there, even though they have changed from babies to teens and soon-to-be-adults.
Your love won’t change but rather grow in different directions with them.

Teenager fun 55. Listen, listen, listen.

This is one that took me a while to figure out. I don’t like it when my children are hurting or someone has been rude or unkind to them and I instantly want to jump in and fix it.
But I have learnt not to do that as it doesn’t teach them that they can indeed fight their own battles.
Let them talk. With your mouth closed. I do a lot of nodding and saying the odd “yep” but keep those words locked away.
Unless – at the end of their talking – they ask for your advice or help, often all they really want is to be truly heard.

“Those little people who now fill a room with their presence
and big characters
and are big people, are still yours”

6. Share an interest or hobby.

It could be anything. We love to cook together. Harry our 14 year old, enjoys being outside with his dad mowing the lawn or building things for the house. George, our 18 year old, loves taking photos, so as a family we are getting used to him taking a tonne of pictures all the time (usually from strange angles, like above!)
It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are all together and having fun.

7. Give them space to sort out emotions.

Teenagers have big emotions. Their bodies are changing – rapidly. We are talking hormones here and they are, of course, as real as yours and mine.

It can be a confusing and frightening time for teens.
We have adopted an open-door policy of questions, ie we would prefer the kids come to us with those awkward questions, rather than finding them elsewhere. Yes it’s a bit uncomfortable at first, but my husband and I try to be as transparent as we can with our teens. Don’t shy away from these talks but give them space to come to you in their own time. Once they begin to open up, you will be amazed at the weight that you can literally see lifting from their shoulders.

8. Eat together as often as you can.

We eat together as a family every night of the week and have made it a priority for us ever since they were babies. I realise for many families this just isn’t possible, such as those who work away for weeks remotely and/or have increasingly busy schedules with after-school commitments but any space that you can carve out to come together over a meal can be so beneficial.
For me, I think it stemmed from always wanting a large family and in my mind, that family were sitting around a kitchen table, over food, enjoying being together.

9. Watch tv programmes that they like.

My husband and I love to find programmes or tv series that we can watch with the boys after the younger ones have gone to bed.  Not every night, but a few nights each week.
At the moment George and I are working our way through the ‘Castle’ series and Harry and I are watching ‘LEGO Ninjago’.
Basically, it’s another way of saying I want to spend time with you. And they say these are their very favourite nights of the week.
Chilling together on the sofa at the end of the day feels like a privilege, especially when spent with these soon-to-be-adults.

Remember when you had little ones and they would run about the house, dressed up as a princess or superman? Or flying through the house as a dragon or bird?  Little children have such big imaginations and even though when they mature, they obviously won’t want to donne a dress-up costume, I do still want my teens to embrace life with the same spirit of imagination, creativity and spontaneity.
Because those little people who now fill a room with their presence and big characters and are big people, are still yours. Just grown up and needing their parents more than ever.
Even if they don’t show it.

You will have your own family’s unique footprints of what fun looks like and once you find that rhythm, embrace this season of teenagers, stepping into their world, rather than trying to pull them back to yours.

It’s there you find the magical word, fun.

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Why We Adore Having Teenagers And How We Got Here.

teenagers 1

Why We Adore Having Teenagers
And How We Got Here.
Part OneTeenagers 10

We are working on a series of living with teenagers in the house and how to enjoy every stage (yes it is possible).
Part One, is how we started out on our journey of raising teens from infancy.
Confused? Stick with me.

When our babies were born, we were hugely congratulated, swiftly followed by what I now call, ‘The Waits’.
Which, come to think of it, sounds a bit like a line from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, straight from Gilead – The Martha’s, The Commanders, The Waits…… It certainly felt as wrong as the Gilead world because ‘The Waits’ permeated our family with a mindset that the years ahead would be tumultuous.
However, I am here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be.

So, ‘The Waits’, went a bit like this:

“You think your baby is quiet now! Just wait until he truly wakes up and becomes a real person” (I thought they were already human, but ok).

“Wait until she starts teething, or having a growth spurt. You will be feeding every hour and feel like a cow” (Hello, I already am a feeding cow).
And ‘The Waits’ continued….

It was the ‘terrible two’s’, the meltdowns and tantrums.
Followed by school and peer pressure and bullying and Lord – I won’t even mention about the evils of social media and electronics.

“It’s a powerful statement when a parent comes before a child
asking for their forgiveness”.

Teenagers 8Basically, ‘The Waits’, followed us for years.
Until one day, with our fourth child strapped to my chest and in total exasperation and unnecessary frustration, I snapped.
At a poor old lady in the grocery store aisle, who caught me mid-yawn rubbing my eyes, and truly thinking she was displaying an understanding heart, said “Aww you think you are tired now love? Wait until she is a teenager and she has her driver’s licence. You won’t sleep a wink for worrying.”

I twisted my head around and snapped,  “Can’t I just enjoy her now! She is only 3 weeks old!”
Then I felt immediately guilty and apologised.

“Don’t worry dear, I can see you are exhausted. Tiredness is the life of a mother forevermore.”
Aghhhhh!

So whilst ‘The Waits’ plagued us, we decided to change tack and take the higher ground.
Basically ignore them.

We had also heard a smattering of  positive comments from experienced parents with teenagers, who spoke of how much they enjoyed this so called minefield-of-an-age and that they were indeed best friends with their teens.
These, we decided, were our peeps.

So we made a plan, a very long term plan. And given my husband and I are not long-term thinkers, at all. Not even beyond what we are having for dinner, this was an impressive move for us and the only one we have ever stuck to for years.
Our kids obviously mean a lot to us, given our flaky, aversion to long-term tendencies.

Teenagers 7
How did we grow our children into lovely teenagers?

1. We modelled respect to them.

Right from the time they were babies. My husband and I displayed respect to the children by showing each other respect. Which means we speak to each other with kindness (as much as we can – we do fail but as failing is learning, we are ok with that) and we speak the same to the children.
We don’t accept non-verbal communication as a response. No eye-rolls or grunts. We wouldn’t appreciate that from our peers as adults, so we taught the kids this from an early age.
If children aren’t shown how to be respectful, they surely can’t model it without a firm foundation, ie you as parents modelling it.

Teenagers 6

“You, mama and papa, are their anchor
within a world that can be wobbly without secure gates”.

2. We preserved their dignity.

When they were little and making wrong choices (being disobedient) we always took them aside, to a quiet room or corner and spoke to them about it. But we paused first.
Sometimes we left it for hours before gently coming back to the situation in question.
And we did it because being told off in front of anybody, even another member of the family, is belittling.
Nobody likes to be disciplined in front of people, their shortcomings pointed out – with an audience before them.

A few years ago I worked in a large fancy department store here in the UK. We were not allowed phones on the shop floor. The first day I started working I left my phone in the staff-room lockers. My daughter had the sickness bug and the school were unable to contact myself or my husband. I felt the worst mother’s guilt.
So as I was always behind the till, I would leave my phone on the shelf under the till counter. On silent. I didn’t want the school to not be able to contact me again.
I was a mummy first and an employee second. Simple as that.

As rotten luck rolls, I whipped to the toilet for two minutes during one of my shifts and you guessed it, my phone went off. Except I had forgotten to put it on silent and it rang and rang and rang. When I returned back to base, the store supervisor was fuming at me, her face crimson with anger. I actually looked behind me thinking she was giving the death stare to someone else.
But no, it was me. She was furious.
Right there on the shop floor, in front of a team of employees and many, many customers she flew into a rage of how disrespectful I was to bring my phone to the shop floor Did I know the rules? Was I aware that I was disobeying store policies? Etc etc etc.
Once she had finished, I very quietly apologised and went back to work (turning my phone onto silent and hiding it better. Needs must)

However, less than 20 minutes later, she came back for a lap of round two.
Again with a huge audience. Halfway through, I put my hand up and told her I had heard her the first time and was it necessary for the customers to hear of my insolence? Adding, by the way, it might be wise to check the rest of her staff as to where they hid their mobiles. That last comment wasn’t entirely necessary by me to be fair. No perfection here.

I was so mortified that she had chosen to admonish me in public. It wasn’t necessary and certainly wasn’t kind. I was in the wrong for sure but if we as adults, are speaking to each other like this, it’s no wonder teenagers do the same.
Giving them space to talk (or listen when they were little) allowed their dignity to remain and that little pause gave us space to be calm, as well as allow them to be settle and be more able to interact.

“Raising lovely teens is a mindful parenting practice,
rather than an overwhelming task”

Teenagers 53. We let them make mistakes.

We all make mistakes, every single day. Children make them often because they are still working out where they fit in this big world of ours.
When they were little we spoke to them often about the consequences of their actions but also realised mistakes were learning platforms, that even adults struggle to accept. Not many adults view mistakes in a positive light and instantly turn it around and think, “Brilliant so glad I stuffed up there. I have learnt from that”.
Nope, we normally beat ourselves up, try to cover up the mistake or blame someone else. Call it a default of human nature but we all do it. Me included.

For example, one birthday morning, our daughter excitedly blurted out to her sister, that she was receiving a soft toy. Before sis had unwrapped it.
She basically stole her sibling’s joy, even though it was most likely unintentional, as she was just so excited about the presents.
Later when everything had calmed down, we chatted with her and asked her how her heart felt about what she had said and she immediately responded with “I took her joy away”.

Rather than yell at her instantly and create an even bigger scene than necessary (because it wasn’t necessary), she simply hugged her sister and said sorry. End of story.
Modelling kindness, respect and moral awareness starts so early.
It is a baseline mindset of kindness.

“It is entirely possible and absolutely worth every second
of instilling simple,
small gestures into your days when your children are younger”.

Teenagers 44. We gave them boundaries.

When our children were little, they had tight boundaries.
Think of the shape of a funnel. Small spout at the bottom, wide at the top. When they were tiny, their boundaries were like the bottom of the funnel, narrow and contained. But as time went on and they matured, their boundaries also widened as they learnt how to deal with responsibilities and choices.

Most people parent the other way round.  They allow their children lots of freedom and choices that they are unable to cope with when little. When they become teenagers, they suddenly realise that those boundaries need sucking in – which causes conflict.

Guess what that achieves?
Angry, frustrated teenagers and parents who pull their hair out, trying to deal with these sudden surly, young adults.
And frankly, I don’t blame the teenagers one bit. Of course they are going to be mad! And confused.
They have basically grown up with little boundaries, only to be restricted at a time when they should be given more responsibility, not less.

Training is key when they are younger, so by teen years, they have a whole tool kit of strong and sound responses to situations.
You, mama and papa, are their anchor within a world that can be wobbly without secure gates.

By the time our children turn 13, that funnel is wide. They know how to make sound and safe decisions and don’t need us as their parents to be placing strict rules upon them. And we still don’t because it’s not required.

Teenagers 35. We apologised to them.

A lot. Just because we are the parents doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes. And we showed the kids this many times. When we had misjudged a situation or been curt, we would say sorry.
Our firstborn is now 21.
She says we cut our teeth on her and I think she is right. We made mistakes along the way as parents will do and we said sorry to her more than any of the others!! She, out of all of them has the most compassionate and forgiving heart. I like to think it’s due to our honest and authentic apologies, showing her that parents don’t know it all and we learn alongside our children.

It’s a powerful statement when a parent comes before a child asking for their forgiveness. It says we are in this together and although we do have a certain sense of authority over them as their parents, our foundation is one of learning and adjusting through our mistakes.

Teenagers 26. We started from day one.

Raising a lovely teen, starts from day one, which can feel daunting, especially for us. Remember our acute inability to think long term!
But it’s a mindful parenting practice, rather than an overwhelming task.

It’s all the tiny, little things that happen in every day that build the bigger picture and grow a beautiful teen’s heart.
As I mentioned above, we didn’t accept our children grunting at us, when they were little and could communicate properly, so our teens well know that grunting in response isn’t acceptable. That doesn’t mean they don’t do it from time to time but it’s not the norm. And generally they realise straight away that they are being rude and apologise.

Rolling eyes or shrugging shoulders were never an option, as when they were little we would ask them to give us eye contact so they understood what we were saying to them.
They replied with “Yes Mummy or Daddy”.
Simple enough.
As teens, they still give us a response to show that we are being heard and we do the same to them.

These are but a few ways we committed to growing teens who truly were to become our friends, like they are now.
It is entirely possible and absolutely worth every second of instilling simple, small gestures into your days when your children are younger.

Soon, we will have three teens in the house and two tweens.

What would I change? Nothing.
Except, on a personal note, I wish I had been more confident, parenting our children in a world where we didn’t follow the norm.
I wish I could tell my younger self that parenting inside the funnel would be totally worth it. And when people jokingly commented (and there were many) that we had just been dealt a lucky hand of kids, I wish I hadn’t just laughed and agreed with them, even though inside my head I was screaming, “We had to work at it!”.

We love having teens in our house. Their big, bright and loud characters fill our home and all the spaces we didn’t realise even needed filling.
Our 18 year old son, who was such a teeny, skinny baby, is now 6ft 3 and has the most booming loud voice on the face of the earth. And even though I’m always asking him to use his inside voice (“Mum this IS my inside voice!”), I wouldn’t change a thing.
Not a single thing.

Bring on the rest. This friendship stage of parenting which doesn’t feel like parenting at all.

 

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Don’t Linger On The Past.

5 steps to positive days 4

Be The Person You Needed As A Child ..
But Don’t Linger Too Much On The Past.

5 Steps To Positive Days

5 steps to positive days

“Everything has changed and yet I am more me than I’ve ever been”.
-Iain Thomas-

When I was a little girl I used to dream of having a sister. Begged my mum and dad for one in fact.
I had an older brother but he was often irritated by my following him around, used to give me sneaky chinese burns, taught me some awesome swear words and often smelt of fish.
You know, he was a boy. A bit crunchy on the outside (with a soft centre, I was later to discover), kind of rough (as boys are), not very complimentary to his annoying little sister (don’t blame him) and not at all interested in my girlie games.
Obviously.

“There is an element in my formative years
that I have carried through to adulthood”.

When it became clearly apparent that a sister wasn’t coming my way any time soon, I changed tack and pleaded for a kitten.
This too, was met with a firm ‘no’, despite my constant and consistent pressure.
No baby and no kitten.

Not the sort of trauma that destroys one’s childhood for sure, but one I nevertheless remind my parents of to this day, even in my mid 40’s.
No baby sis and no little furry friend.
Ouch!
They feel I should let it go and I tend to agree. Sometimes, on my good days.

But in all seriousness, there is an element in my formative years that I have carried through to adulthood.
Call it wishful thinking or childish naivety but it was the type of person that I desired and longed for as a child, which in this present day, inspires and encourages me to become a better mother, wife, friend and basically all round person. On good days.

On the not so good days, that person can taunt me and regret seeps into my bones and I find myself lingering in the past.
And disappointment weighs heavy on my shoulders
Call it a longing for something I can’t yet claim, or a sense of failure hovering in my mind, but looking over my shoulder, even when it’s a fictional figure, doesn’t bode well with my heart.

So, along the way, I have learnt a few simple practices to be mindfully positive daily, instead of sitting in the space of regret and wishing for something that isn’t yet fully there.

Here are a few of them:

5 steps to positive days 11. Acceptance.

We all know that we can’t change the past, no matter which angle we look at it. The past is just that, the past.
You may have missed a brilliant opportunity, for example, or let a close friendship go, but once you accept that it has happened and loosen your grip on it, the stronghold of regret will eventually fade.
Maybe that opportunity wouldn’t have worked out in the end, or that friendship would have become a train crash? Through focussing on the life that you have now, you are letting go of the niggles of regret from the past, which aids you in becoming the sort of person you want to be in the present.

2. Tread Gently.

Or in other words, be reflective but not introspective.
We have all been hurt by others (and we ourselves have hurt people), which causes feelings of unforgiveness and bitterness. It is a natural emotion and not one to run away from.
Look at these big emotions and break them down each day.
For example, our family are journeying through being hurt by our church community, which has had an enormous impact on our tribe. The ripples reaching so far across the pond, I still can’t see where they start or end.
Each day I choose one emotion, write it down, establish its importance and validity, then burn it. Literally set fire it on fire (safely outside!)
If that feeling still surfaces, I do it again and again, until gradually it lessens. I say lessen because feelings don’t magically disappear overnight.
It is a process, hence tread gently and be kind to your soul.

3. Shift Your Focus.

We are all guilty of being stuck in the mud. Whether it is a job we dislike, a relationship that has stalled, the location where we live. Focussing on how stuck you are can make you more stuck. Crazy hey!
I believe there is no circumstance that can’t be dealt with, no matter how impossible it seems. If you have given serious thought to a decision, then go for it. There is also no wrong decision, other than indecision.
So many people become paralysed in one spot, waiting for the writing on the wall and too afraid to take a step forward, in case it’s wrong.
Guess what?
If it’s wrong, just change tack. Make another decision which will take you closer to your happy place or happy person.
Don’t complicate the process.
Simplify life. Your future is created by your choices. So start choosing. You will be amazed at what happens!!

4. Life Is A Series Of Changes.

Life changes all the time.
Embrace change rather than digging your feet in the mud and refusing to budge, because all that will happen is you will be dragged along anyway. And besides the fact that it’s uncomfortable, being dragged through the dirt, hurts your feet and makes you filthy, it takes a lot of energy to resist.

Change can be super exciting!
Take positive action when you see change ahead.
Believe in yourself. As author CS Lewis said: ‘You are never too old to set another goal or dream another dream’.
So when you see change on the horizon, start dreaming, visioning and planning.
It is a gift to accept, not one to be frightened of.

5 steps to positive days 2
5. Live An Authentic, Brave And Full Life.

I want to live my life to the full! And to embrace my quirky, flawed and often fiery self.
I want to be seen as the slightly weird and quirky mama, who loves deeply, laughs often and has a wild ride of a life, ushering in everyday as a new beginning.
Also I want to touch many with compassion and kindness, despite my numerous flaws and failures. I hope to honour God in voice and deed and be content with who I am right now, whilst acknowledging that the builder hasn’t quite finished with me yet.
And when I am knocked down I want my children to see me get up, dust off my shoes and keep walking.

Which makes me smile, because I think a little of all of that, is a lot of the person I longed for as a child.
And maybe she is more me than I give her credit for.
Which makes me very, very happy.

5 steps to positive days 3

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Guilty Parenting Secrets.

Guilty Parenting Secrets

Mothers guilty parenting secrets holding arrows 1A Mother’s Guilty Parenting Secrets.


Everyone has them, the guilty secrets. We just don’t talk about them, very often or not at all.
Oh we talk about the practical and safe ones. The ones that we feel we can share at mother’s group, with our mummy friends, on social media.
The acceptable conversation pieces.
The ones that give the illusion that we have it all together, or at least some days we do.

Such as:
Breast or bottle?
Co-sleep or cot?
Cuddle or cry-it-out?
Swaddle or free range arms?
The list goes on. I asked these and about a thousand more questions, in the 21 years I have been a parent.

“The expectations are there, hanging heavily in the air
of perfect mummy’s and parenting dialogues”

But what about the tricky ones?
The questions that you are too afraid to bring up because they will make you look like a bad mother?
You imagine a stunned and hushed silence amongst the group of mummy’s as you whisper, “I don’t always like my children”.
The lady next to you shifts uncomfortably in her chair, another nervously plays with her hair or holds her little cherub closer to her breast. You know she is thinking “don’t listen to that awful mummy sweetheart, you are safe with me, I am not one of them”.

Of course this is just a made-up scenario, but the fear is real and the expectations are there, hanging heavily in the air of perfect mummy’s and parenting dialogues.

So, in order to smash this perfection to the kerb, I will share some of my guilty parenting secrets. I say some, because there are many.
However, as I don’t want to shock you all at once, I will ease into my top six.

Mothers guilty secrets holding arrows 2
1. I don’t want to be around my children all the time.

My hand is up, waving high in the air.
This is me. I admit it.
I do not want to be around my children 24/7, I don’t even want to be around them for half of that, and I home-school, so that’s a challenge I can tell you.
Of course I love them and would give my life for them, that’s a given. All mother’s feel the same.

But the truth is, that I need constant and regular breaks from my children.
I have many hiding spots that they are still unaware of.
They are one of the sole reasons I took up running – just myself and the road ahead of me – for miles.

I used to feel incredibly guilty for needing time out from my children, especially when they obviously didn’t feel the same way about me, meaning more was better.
However, I know that I am a much more patient and tender-hearted mummy for having time away from my children. It doesn’t mean I love them any less. It means I love them so much that I want them to see the best of me and not the leftovers.
Because my leftovers are quite simply, not at all nice. They are scratchy, snappy and curt. Plus I sigh. A lot.

So embrace some time for yourself in whatever way builds back into your soul – a candle-lit bath, a walk when the kids are bed (yes that might mean 10pm at night- take a personal alarm), hiding under the bed with a book and popcorn (my personal favourite), or crawling under the duvet with ear plugs (don’t underestimate the power of ear plugs – they have literally saved my life).

2. I switch off when they talk to me.

Perfect scenario this morning – one of the twin’s had made up a care package for a friend of hers, consisting of a piece of screwed up paper with her name on, a rusty hair-tie with her tangled locks wound around it, a melted square of chocolate and a long story explaining their worth and deep meaning.
She lost me after 20 seconds.
My legs started to feel twitchy and I began calculating how long I would have to listen before I could make my getaway. I find myself saying “good job” and “awwwww” a lot.

However, just because they are my children doesn’t mean I will find everything they say enthralling.
Let’s be frank – we don’t hang on every word that comes forth from our partner’s lips. In fact I am very good at nodding and saying “aha” with my “I-am-listening-face”, whilst planning what I will eat for lunch and questioning when I last had a bowel movement.

It is an art form that I feel many, many women have mastered
, without actually knowing how skilful they are.
And one not to be ashamed of.
Call it preservation, or a necessary mental-health break. If you need to put on your “I-am-listening face”, a hundred times a day to get through the day. Do it.
But do it with pride.

“I have always been such a moral and upright person, who kept a clean and holy mouth.
Then I had children”.

Mothers guilty secrets holding arrows 33. I have lied to my children about bed-time.

Admittedly, we are past this now, given our youngest (twin’s) are nearly 9 (such a downfall of children getting older), but I had a jolly good run for a decent chunk of time.
It was utterly blissful when they couldn’t tell the time.

However, in the spirit of ingenuity and preserving my sanity, I have, on some very, very long days, altered the hands of the clock and exclaimed it is 7pm – already!

I did in fact do this just last week.
It was utterly necessary and completely wonderful to send them off to bed. At 6pm.
Even though the sun was high in the sky and other children were still playing happily outside, who obviously possessed parents who are totally honest and decent human beings.

I am not always one of those people.

Also, I may have used this technique on people who have overstayed their welcome at my house, especially if their children are wrecking my home or piddling on my floor.

I may have done this once or five times. I hope if you are reading this, you are not one of those people.
If you suspect you are, I apologise for my lapse in honesty, but I had to do what was necessary at the time.
You understand and I hope we remain friends.

4. I only started to swear when I became a mother.

This is my dark secret.
I have always been such a moral and upright person, who kept a clean and holy mouth.
Then I had children and was horrified to discover terrible words enter my head. One’s that would require my mouth to be washed out with copious amounts of soap.
Worse still, I find myself annoyed at mother’s who used the word blessed – a lot.
It’s overused and I am so tired of hearing it.

I know I should feel blessed that I have enough washing every day to clothe a small country, because that means I have lots of precious children in my fold, but I don’t necessarily feel blessed.

You know, when said washing is endless and I am tired and fed up.
I even get annoyed at seeing the same clothes in the basket and find myself saying “bloody hell -you were just here. I physically saw and touched you. What the heck are you doing back here again. We see too much of each other. Buggar off! I don’t want to see the likes of you for at least another 14 days”.

Much of my swearing takes place in the laundry.

Let’s unite in motherhood instead of tearing each other apart
in judgement and misunderstanding”.

5. I can’t remember the last time I physically saw my children brush their teeth.

They are now at the age where I trust them to do a good job but that doesn’t mean they actually are.
Sometimes I feel guilty and send them back for another lash – just to make me feel like a better mother.
I reason because they don’t drink juice and have very few sweets that their teeth won’t rot but this may backfire on me in a very big way.
Note to self – check their teeth.
Another note to self – bad breath is a sign of poor brushing.
Buggar.

6. I don’t enjoy playing with my children.

Let me clarify. I LOVE watching my children play and ADORE seeing them immersed in their own special imaginary games or DELIGHT in the small things.

I just don’t necessarily want to be a part of it. All the time. 

Yes I know there are some mother’s who love playing with their children and I do play with them.
Just in small quantities. In 5 minute periods, with an hour’s break.

I don’t really like board games, playing cards makes me want to cry (there is so much arguing as to who’s turn it is) and I’m not keen on playing pretend with the kids because I always end up being a dog who is naughty, sheds loads of hair and smells.
If I am to partake in a game, I want to be the pretty fairy, with golden spun hair, who rules the planet and has hundreds of servants waiting on her.
But I never ever get that part. Ever.

These are literally the tip of the iceberg of guilty mummy thoughts. More will follow to ease you in.
Do let me know that I am not the only parent who thinks these things? Please.
Or else, I am going to have to be at peace with playing a dog for the rest of my life, use the word blessed more and forgo some of my awesome hiding spots.

And I am not sure I am capable of giving that all up. Yet.

Holding Arrows is a parenting, slow-living, country located family blog and I adore being a mummy to my six children, however, my aim is also to be real and authentic in the daily struggles of motherhood.
And to show that parenting isn’t all plain sailing and roses and we all struggle with guilt, feeling overwhelmed, overtired and cranky.
It comes with the job but we just don’t much care to talk about it.

If you are one of these mother’s, you are my new friend and you are in close and safe company.
Let’s unite in motherhood instead of tearing each other apart in judgement and misunderstanding.
It is my aim to dispel these myths and create less of a false perception of the perfect mother.

Starting with me.

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Starting Over Again.

Starting Over Again

“For though I fall, I will rise again.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light”.

Starting Over Again.

When we moved from Australia to the UK we knew in our hearts that there was unfinished business here in this glorious, lush island of rolling green hills and abundant history. This beautiful British country that was to become our forever home.

“Until we realised that the jacket we had been
trying to pass off as a good fit,
felt truly uncomfortable and awkward”.

And in many ways we were the misfits, the renegades, the square pegs in round holes. The Australians who felt out of place in their home country.

A bit like wearing a jacket that needed re-sizing. No matter how much we tried to make that jacket fit – take it in here, add some pleats there, fancy it up a bit. It just never sat properly across our shoulders. It was too baggy under the arms, sat heavy on our chests and scratchy to wear for long periods of time.

We knew that we weren’t planted in Australia for long seasons, as much as we tried and tried to force those roots, deep down in the dry Australian soil.
They just didn’t grow, didn’t stick and most certainly didn’t thrive.

We tried moving, hoping that the ground was more fertile in other places, prettier suburbs, better schools, even better paid jobs. And that did work for a while, until we realised that the jacket we had been trying to pass off as a good fit, felt truly uncomfortable and awkward.

 

So we did it.
We upended our entire family, our lives, home, nearly all of our worldly possessions.
Sold everything and with our most precious cargo, our six children, we relocated.
To England.

We broke hearts, friendships and fractured family relations, through this move to the other side of the world.
It hurt us and it hurt others. So much confusion as to why living in the great south-land of promise and opportunity, just wasn’t enough.
Wasn’t us. If it ever was in the first-place.

“It took much longer than we ever anticipated”

And for some, the thought of making a new life in a cold climate, grey, drab and wet, was unfathomable. But I guess that depends on which side of the coin you look at it. Like everything and everywhere, there are pros and cons.
We decided to look at the pros.

You would think that once we had made the momentous decision to move, it would be all smooth sailing.
I sure did.

But that was far from the way it panned out.
Our new jobs were challenging, making connections, time-consuming and exhausting. Everything was a starting block.
We felt lonely at times and displaced. Setting up home all over again was expensive. Heck even getting a mobile phone contract was nearly impossible.

“I eventually realised that I was here all along”

However, just because something is right, doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult.
To adjust, settle, face reality.
Like the couple who long to have a child without success and finally, their dream has come to fruition.
Except being a parent is hard but that doesn’t mean their child wasn’t meant to be or they truly didn’t deserve to be parents.
It just means that ‘right’ can also be challenging.
Or the couple who are perfectly suited for each other and marry. Do they never face hardship or sadness? Of course not. Marriage is hard work. For all of us.
Even for the most loved-up, cute couples you see on social media.
Happiness isn’t without struggle.

We knew it would take time. To settle, find friends, breathe a little easier.
But it took much longer than we ever anticipated.
Five years much longer.
And there were many, many times throughout those years that I couldn’t find myself anymore.
Where had I left me? Where was I to be found? Was I to be found?

And I eventually realised that I was here all along. That our new path was really a journey that was to twist and turn, like all other life journeys.
Some points would be magical and others devastating but we are building a life based on purpose, not perfection.

Of course there will be ups and downs, sickness and trials, hardship and rejection. For this is life, despite what country you live in.

 

However, the one thing we do know, is that our jacket now fits.
Snug in all the right places, with space to move and freedom to stretch out our arms and fly.

In this new place that isn’t so new anymore and one we call home.

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My Top 3 Oil Diffuser Picks On The Market.

My Top 3 Oil Diffuser Picks On The Market

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oil diffuser

We have all heard about the essential oil revolution of the 21st century. No doubt you have a friend who sells them as an Ambassador or Partner of doTERRA or Young Living. The big guns of the oil industry. 
You may have been to an in-house essential oils class and I wager, you have definitely been approached by someone telling you all about the benefits and miracles of this hugely popular industry, encased in small amber bottles of therapeutic, oily goodness.

“At the time, I really loved Sudocrem and Vaseline
as a general fix-everything, go-to ointment.
They were my trusty peeps”.

I may sound a bit skeptical here and initially I was.
A friend of mine was a doTERRA Ambassador and carried around tiny vials of oils in a zip-up case, literally attached to the outside of her handbag, like a visiting locum’s briefcase.
If her daughter fell over, brushed a stinging nettle, had a headache or sneezed, one of those potent little bottles would be silently whipped out of the doctor’s bag and applied to the offending area.

“The oils proved to be more than a fad
and firmly cemented their worth,
not only in our home but also our hearts”.

And here is the honest part.
It kind of annoyed me. It felt a bit over-the-top. A tad too much.
I’m not a fad person or someone who finds alternative health options that appealing and I mean, at the time, I really loved Sudocrem and Vaseline as a general fix-everything, go-to ointment.
They were my trusty peeps.
We had been through a lot together – six children and their various scrapes, bruises, red bottoms, cracked nipples. I wasn’t ready to change camp just yet.

However, as I have mentioned here before, the proof of their worth and viability eventually won me over.
I am a result’s girl and using oils produced results, like healthy children, minimal bugs and a whopping 90% reduction in doctor’s visits and no more antibiotics.
I couldn’t argue with the facts, as stubborn as I am.
The oils proved to be more than a fad and firmly cemented their worth not only in our home but also our hearts. Our very healthy hearts, lungs and chests.

And of course, I did my research and realised that essential oils have been used for thousands of years, from cultures as far-reaching as Ancient Egypt and India. And that there are a significant number of modern scientific studies that support the theory that essential oils can be beneficial in a number of very real and quantifiable ways, as we discovered on our personal oil journey.

We began incorporating oils into our home about three years ago and we are still going strong with our love of the powerful droplets of nature. And whilst I don’t think I will ever be the sort of ‘visiting-locum’s-briefcase-kind-of-mama’, I adore diffusing oils in my home as well as wearing oil blends on our bodies.

Every day my home is filled with the therapeutic goodness of natural disinfectants and antimicrobial type oils that clean our air and protect our bodies. I have learnt along the way that certain oils such as tea tree, have been used for centuries to create the ambiance of a calm and safe space. We diffuse lavender for relaxation, peppermint and eucalyptus for a decongestant and even pain relief can be found in rosemary (who knew it had such potential other than just the Sunday lamb roast?)
By diffusing these oils into the air, we reap the benefits for hours without needing to reapply them onto our skin.


However, that said, I haven’t had the best of luck with oil diffusers and after spending quite a bit of money on ones that just didn’t last the distance, through trial and error and finally a lot of research, I can confidently say, these are my top three, all-time, fail-proof, best diffusers for the home.
It’s one thing to look at a product page on Amazon and read the reviews (like I did), but something entirely different to actually hold and use a diffuser in the home.

So to start us off, what exactly is an essential oil diffuser?

Essential oil diffusers are devices that are used to disperse essential oils into the surrounding air, as well as to add fragrance to a room without synthetic chemicals. They are also used in aromatherapy for a variety of therapeutic purposes.

My choice of diffusers is the ultrasonic type as they not only offer a chemical-free way to scent your space, but they provide the spa like atmosphere that goes hand in hand with the aroma.
Often ultrasonic vaporisers are equipped with colourful lighting and a variety of timer options and they are generally very quiet.

With ultrasonic diffusers, the majority of the mist is a water vapour, which means the scent does have a limited healing capacity. For our family however, we have seen such a marked difference in our health and immune system, I am confident in saying that the limited healing capacity hasn’t affected us at all. In fact, it has been the complete opposite.


Throughout my quest to find the top three, these were some of my considerations:

Firstly, I wanted to make sure that my diffuser was large enough to effectively cover the size of my open-plan kitchen/diner/lounge room. Most (high quality) diffusers include an estimated room size they are most effective in, so pay attention to this in the description.

Secondly, I realised that water capacity was important, along with the estimated operating time. I found with some of mine that I was constantly topping up the water level each hour or so, which was inconvenient. The operating time informs you of how long you can expect the oil scent to last in a room. Basically, bigger is better here.

Lastly, I wanted a diffuser that was super easy to setup (water, oil, done) as well as clean up. Plus I wasn’t keen on a noisy new house-member so that was another consideration for me when I researched. For me, quiet was a key factor.

There are a lot of essential oil diffusers available online. In fact, there are more than 32,000 essential oil diffusers available on Amazon alone! No wonder I purchased a lot of lemons before we struck oily success!

Here they are! The final three and my best pick of essential oil diffusers ever.
TOP PICK:

Coosa Glass Marble Diffuser 

SECOND PICK:

doTERRA_Petal Diffuser_web

dōTERRA Petal Diffuser

My second choice, as it has the backing of a multi-million company and the quality is undeniably excellent.

It is a simple two-piece design, a lavender bottom and pale top, that is made even easier by the fact that the top can be placed on the base piece in any direction, so it’s super easy to handle.
Whilst it is certainly not as aesthetically appealing as the Coosa Glass Marble diffuser, this little guy has strong merits to make it to my number two.
As ultrasonic diffusers release a cool mist into the air, this can help to add some humidity to the room. Brilliant if you have dry and painful sinuses, like me.

The Petal has a soft white light, which you can choose to have on or off whilst it is running. Once it has finished diffusing, the light will automatically turn off. I love this option and use it in the girl’s bedroom which doubles as a night light whilst they are falling asleep, however as they don’t require one all the way through the night, this works really well.

Again, the Petal is very quiet (perfect for sleeping times!!) when in use and the oil scents linger for around 30 minutes after it has been turned off.  It’s super easy to use with just two buttons on the front – one for the light and the other on/off.

The run time is four hours as opposed to the Coosa’s three.
The price is substantially more than the others and the warranty is only 90 days as opposed to other more extensive guarantees, however I would still recommend this as a solid starter diffuser, given its ease of use and good track record of operation.

FINAL CHOICE:

 

 InnoGear.

My final product and also Amazon Choice’s, highly recommended, well-priced product. At only £13.99, it sure is a very solid, budget buy.

I purchased three of these in August 2017 and can honestly say they have not missed a beat. Given they are very well used and pump out the oils and lovely soft mist for approximately 6-8 hours a day, I am super impressed with this product.
It is an excellent buy, especially for the customer who wants to dip their toes in essential oil use but not outlay too much money, because let’s be honest, those tiny brown vials are expensive!

The InnoGear has a working time of 4-5 hours under continuous mode and 11-12 hours under intermittent. Very impressive run time.
The mist will run continuously until the water barrel is empty.

It has seven different coloured lights, not my most favourite feature but I keep mine mainly on white, so it suits everyone.
I do love the fact though, that it doubles as a night light once again for the kid’s rooms.

This one is a really, really solid purchase and whilst I would also invest in the more flashy and pretty diffusers, for practical workability and affordability, the InnoGear is an absolute winner.

So friends, these are my top three and all winners in my book.

I would confidently recommend them to a first-time oily buyer or those who feel they want a change from their usual diffusers.
Happy shopping!



 

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How Not To Fail As A Parent.

How Not To Fail As A Parent.

How not to fail as a parent




How not to fail?

Now I have your attention – let me assure you that failure is not an option in parenting.
How could it be?
The sheer miracle of growing a tiny human being in your own body, is in itself a phenomenon that to this day, I can’t believe actually occurs.

From the time that a baby is only one-sixth of an inch long, the backbone, spinal column and nervous system are already forming and the kidneys, liver and intestines are beginning to take shape.  At just 20 days old your baby’s heart begins to beat and will continue to do so until the end of their life.
Also by the 20th day, your little one has developed the foundations of the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.  Taste buds are beginning to form and milk-teeth buds are present by just over six weeks.

“Motherhood is an apprenticeship, with very poor pay, long hours and
constant learning from your mistakes”.

All that happens within a woman’s body without her actively doing anything at all.
This human incubation is quite simply a miracle.

I saw a quote recently on a mummy Facebook page I follow and initially I was eager to read it, believing it would be an encouraging and uplifting start to my day.
It read like this:
How to be a mum in 2018…
Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional and social needs are met, whilst being careful not to overstimulate, underestimate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free, two-story, multilingual home, preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard.
Also – don’t forget the coconut oil.




You may need to lie down for a bit after reading that. I surely did.

After reflecting on these words, it made me think about the pressures that parents face in the 21st century. Even though we have more gadgets, faster technology and superior knowledge at our fingertips, it hasn’t slowed life down any.

We are to be constantly present and available
, owing to smart-phones and international connectivity.
Communication has never been faster. Or more draining.
The seemingly unrelenting pace, the choices we face and the pressures to keep up, are keeping us all on our toes. And rest can appear impossible.

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And motherhood? It’s a maze of choices and indeed information, that can feel overwhelming and more than a little bit frightening.

Let’s be honest, motherhood is hard.
Don’t let anyone infer that it is a breeze. Precious adults are a result of years of time spent shaping and moulding humans from a base note of love and patience.
And also making mistakes. Often.

I have yet to meet a mother who has never once in her entire lifetime made a single mistake.
I am positive, absolutely 200% sure she does not exist.
However, similarly, I am 300% confident that a tonne of mother’s like to pretend they have all their ducks perfectly placed in a row, alphabetised, on-time, on-trend, politically correct, genius-brained, colour-coded, on-point, flawless bringing up of humans.

These are not my people.

I mean, I made my first parental mistake, oh, within approximately 120 seconds of birthing my first child.
She was duly placed on my chest, beetroot red, which one can understand, given that she had been squeezed like a watermelon for the past two hours, waiting in the small confines of my birth canal.
Given her puce colour, I immediately enquired whether she had a giant birthmark on her entire face.
“No”, said the midwife, “she is just taking her first few breaths of life!”
Number one of millions of mistakes I would make as a parent, had begun.

But, we all know that parents grow in their skills, just like babies grow and develop. When we are handed our little one, they don’t come with a manual, dvd, matching mummy tee-shirt and baby onesie.
Parents become parents but not instantly.
It is a lifetime of learning, together.



In this space of encouragement, here are some things I have learnt along the way of my own parenting journey:

As mothers, we are all doing our very best but we all do it differently and different isn’t wrong.

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In other words, be proud of your journey. You may skip, whilst others run. Or hop when your friend prefers to amble. We all want happy, healthy and successful children.
There are many paths to choose from to reach the destination. Enjoy your ride without worrying if your neighbour is doing it better.

In the realm of motherhood and perfection, I’ve also realised over the years that my house is a home, filled with little moments that become rich memories. Don’t believe the lie that other mothers keep tidy and clean homes. LIVE in your house. I think it is almost impossible to maintain a perfect home with little people (or big people) to run after.

“Mothers are masters at faking it!”

And whilst I do love myself a bit of social media, I have to remind myself that Facebook and Instagram generally only paint a rosy picture and not always the gritty in-the-trenches moments of reality.
Whilst they are brilliant ways to connect with others and glimpse the lives of people whom I admire and/or aspire to be more like, I have realised if the perfect photos and well-laid out grids are pulling my heart down, causing me to feel like a failure, I put the phone down.

Similarly, regarding what we feed our families, whilst some live on take-outs a few nights a week, others may never grace the sliding doors of the golden arches. Many children need to be on special diets due to illness, allergies or culture and every mother has differing views of nutrition which is right for their family.
If you choose to feed your children green, protein, kale smoothies every morning, whilst your friend’s kids eat only pop tarts, it’s not a sign of failure to be different.

Remember different is normal, not the other way round. No matter what society tells us.

Some days my children eat cake for breakfast (generally when I am Face-timing my best friend in Australia and they know I am a pushover!).
Other mornings we eat whole-wheat oatmeal with dates and thick greek yoghurt.
Both is ok.

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“We are the gate-keeper of our children’s hearts”.

And remember mama’s, just as your children have their own personalities, so do you, as a person and a mum.
Don’t berate yourself for not being able to handle it all. Nobody can, despite what you think you see in others.

Mothers are masters at faking it
because we don’t want to appear as though we aren’t equipped for the job.
Nobody on this earth is 100% brilliant at everything and neither do you need to be as a mum.

Motherhood is an apprenticeship, with very poor pay, long hours and learning from your mistakes
. This is what makes a great mother!

So do I agree with the complexities of the quote? Yes I do. I really do.
I think mother’s of 2018 have very, very full plates.
But from those weighty plates we give, nurture, love, sacrifice, compromise, juggle (how we juggle!), cheer, devote, support and encourage.
Every single day.

We are quite simply the gate-keeper of our children’s hearts.

And you know what? We are enough.
The perfect balance of imperfect and the only person in the whole wide world that our children can call Mummy.

You only get approximately 18 summers with your offspring at home with you.
Enjoy your unique ride and take your hands off the steering wheels and free-ride some days and embrace different.

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Are Your Kid’s Weird?



Are Your Kid’s Weird?

Are your kid’s weird? 

Nobody has ever asked me that question to my face but that doesn’t mean they haven’t thought it. It’s certainly a phrase I have heard thrown around the internet and home-school groups.

We home-school four of our six children and have done so for a few years now. Not only do I hear these words but also, the inevitable, “Is your child socialised?” query.

Ok, so let’s talk about home-schooling, socialisation and weird kids.

For sure, socialisation is the ONE question that home-schoolers will be asked time and time again. And whilst I do inwardly sigh when I hear these imminent words, having been asked it at least 3457 times over the past few years, I do understand the genuine reasons behind the concern, from someone who chooses mainstream education.
Because to be honest, I was one of those people who asked that very question before I home-schooled my children.
Nothing to hide here.

Interestingly, in the UK, the number of children being homeschooled has risen by about 40% over three yearsAcross the UK 48,000 children were being home-educated in 2016-17, which was up from about 34,000 in 2014-15. The main reasons cited were mental health issues and avoiding exclusion.
These figures are staggering and more than a little sad for the mainstream education system in England but a win for home-schooling groups.

But firstly, are home-schoolers weird?
Maybe, I don’t know.
There are weird kids and adults in the world right?
I guess it depends how you define weird. I think weird is quirky, individual, sassy, unique, stand-apart, butt-kicking, non-conforming awesomeness.
All of the former, or just one. Weird is cool.




Are my kids weird? They might be. Because I am their mother.
But as weird is cool, who really cares?

I remember when I was in high school in Australia, there was a ‘weird girl’, who wore only black, including black lipstick and blue-black hair – all matted and wild, with (gasp!) a tongue pierce, very edgy in those days.
I thought she was soooooooo weird and for years I solely judged her on her outward appearance – simply because she was different.
But the truth was, I was afraid of her, because she wasn’t like any of my friends or myself.
I didn’t realise at the time, that different was ok.
And she turned out to be a gorgeous-hearted, beautiful soul. A dear friend to me in the latter years of my schooling.
And I felt so ashamed for my judgemental heart towards her all those years prior, even before I had bothered to open my mouth and make any effort towards getting to know her.

However, the biggie, the glaringly obvious, huge elephant-in-the-room constant question for home-schoolers is, of course, “whether daily interaction with peers is necessary for a child’s positive social and emotional development”?

Some, many, would argue, yes. Absolutely, categorically a huge, big, fat, yes.
With the absence of a large group of peers, many believe it would be a challenge for their children to develop essential social skills. Some of these may include working together as a team, listening to other people’s opinions, learning to compromise, fostering compassion, problem-solving when faced with a difficult situation such as a fall-out of a friendship group, disagreeing respectfully and understanding appropriate ways to communicate with others – to name a few.

And all of this does happen in a school environment.
It has to really because when you place 20-30 children together in the one class, this different mix of personalities, emotions and characters will teach your children these skills, whether it is a positive or negative environment.
They will learn in a group-based situation. Which is totally ok.

Let’s face it, a large percentage of society choose to educate their children in main-stream schools and many, many children leave school very well-adjusted and educated individuals.
But also, many don’t.

Whilst for us, teaching at home, we obviously don’t have that constant mass environment for the children to learn these skills, they do however, learn in other unique ways.
And different isn’t wrong, as I have said above, it’s just different.

Take my 17 year old son for example, who is in Sixth Form. He makes decisions every day in a social setting, some which he would rather not face.
No, he doesn’t want to walk near the oval where some of his peers are smoking weed. And thanks for the offer to attend a rave and sneak in a six pack of beer but that’s just not his scene.
However, yes, he would love to go to the movies and a pizza with his crew of homies.
So many choices, every single day.


We find our rhythm in other ways, which may slide against the social-grain. But guess what? We still have happy, healthy and well-adjusted, social children.
At home the kids won’t have to make a call as to whether they will join their peers on the oval for a few drags of hash, but they face other situations that many schooled children won’t.

Such as they are on first-name basis with at least five homeless people in Norwich. They have worked alongside them in the community.
They have witnessed first-hand how dangerous drink and drugs can be, how damaging to the body and soul. They know how to keep safe and personal boundaries. To not reveal where they live, play, work. And they sure know how to show love, compassion and acceptance.
They sit with the guy who lives under the same bridge in the city and has a heart of gold but nowhere else to call home.

They have learnt to share what they have, with each other. We are a large family and sharing is as necessary as breathing and they do so without missing a beat.
Daily, our lifestyle is a learning curve of developing hearts. Maybe it is ingrained within them because they have not known any different, but they haven’t learnt this in a classroom.
They live it each day and don’t view it as a sacrifice, rather a lifestyle.


These sorts of things can be learnt in other ways, outside of school and peers. Sometimes it is stepping into the grimy, hidden places in society and being church to the un-churched.
It can be uncomfortable but it sure teaches the children how to relate, communicate and be kind, which they own – in spades.



The children have friends their ages whom they catch up with in the school holidays, meet at the movies or for a meal. They chat over Skype or Facetime and some of them still keep in touch with pals from early school days in Australia. They share their hearts with friends of all ages, all places and all over the world.
And whilst the internet can be a scary forum, it’s also a brilliant way to connect and we do so, often, forging new connections and embracing friendships of old.

We love because we are loved and that’s all that matters in this crazy hectic world of normal, which isn’t at all normal really, but what you can mould and shape into normal.
And remember, my normal isn’t yours.
Embrace your path of normal, with great confidence.

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