Finding My Why

Mark manson quote 1I’ve been carrying around  an unwanted guest for about 10 years, and I’m over it!

The first time I noticed that cheeky hitch-hiker was after my first pregnancy. As a new Mum I was at home full-time, lonely and tired; food was a comforting staple when there was nobody to talk to.

I got used to bigger portions and regular cupboard cruising, and soon I was 7 kilos heavier. That unwelcome guest made itself known by rolling over the top of my jeans, forcing me out of a bikini and forming a spare tyre under my bra.

A second baby, 2 miscarriages and an international re-location invited a further 3 kilos to join the party; they felt right at home snuggling into my belly and thighs. I adjusted clothing sizes, styles and stopped trying things on at the shops; bright lights and multiple mirrors were no longer my friends!

And now here I am, 43 years old, adapting my life to suit that unwelcome guest; my extra 10 Kilos!

Living Together

I make that 10 Kilos feel very welcome, adjusting all sorts of things so she can live with me.

I walk instead of running to avoid jiggling too much, I wear stretch jeans to accommodate her and loose floaty tops to flatter her. In fact, we’ve really become friends; she’s a symbol of all those moments of happiness found in eating second helpings, saying yes to pudding and washing it down with plenty of wine. Why would I even want to get rid of her?

And there it is, the burning unanswered question; what’s my Why?

Changing My Why

Awareness precedes change

Calvin Coyles

I have made many attempts over the years to change, but I never identified my why. What was my inspiring reason to commit, to persist when it got tough and drive myself to achieve change? I’ve been working to discover my why, and it’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be.

My why, my purpose and my inspiration for the last 15 years has been my children. They are the light that brightens every day and the reason I get up in the morning. I am a Mum that has thrown myself into parenting, thriving on being needed. But I’m at a cross roads now; they don’t need me as much!

At 12 and 15 I’ve done my job well and they are confident happy people growing to independence. I’m proud of the young men they’re becoming, but I’m aware of a silence surrounding me. I hadn’t noticed it before because it was filled with children’s voices; asking for a story, clamoring for dinner, laughing with their friends.

In the silence after they go out for the day, I find what’s left of me.  And I’m not sure I like what I see.

I see someone who:

  • Snacks secretly in the pantry
  • Get’s undressed with the lights off
  • Hopes her husband doesn’t catch sight of her in the shower
  • Edits herself out of the family photo album
  • Holds her tummy in when looking in the mirror
  • Is horrified to see her reflection when she forgets to hold her tummy in!
  • Can’t remember the last time she felt good naked
  • Worries about wearing bathers in public
  • Stopped feeling sexy a long time ago

Yesterday an article by Mark Manson brought a new level of awareness to my thinking. He wrote about the lies we tell ourselves and it dawned on me; I can’t find my why until I recognise my lie.

What’s My Lie?

Instead of asking what’s my why, ask what’s my lie?

I spotted mine pretty quickly when I re-read this post.

I wrote that I’ve become friends with that extra 10 Kilos. How can I imagine calling this impostor a friend?

She’s hijacked my wardrobe, turned the lights out on my sex life and made me feel like a victim! I would never put up with that from a friend, and I WONT put up with it from her!

So I’m breaking up with her, we’re finished!

I know she won’t go easily, it’ll be a messy, but I’m determined to find the me I really want to be.

What’s My Why?

My why, my purpose, my inspiration is to lose weight and get fit:

  1. To feel sexy again – I want to feel confident, desirable and passionate
  2. To prove that I can change – I want to prove to myself that I can stick to something and make a change
  3. To feel proud of my photo in the family album – I want to see photos of me laughing, connecting and exploring with my family.

What’s your why?

Have you got a purpose that drives you? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.

 

Lisa is about to embark on a 6 week mind & body transformation, follow her  journey and read her reflections by signing up for weekly email updates.

Cuddle Fairy

Find this article at the Candid Cuddles link-up

Useful Links:

For more information on body transformation follow the link to Advanced Fitness.

 

 

 

Debuting on Ten to Twenty Parenting

I’m excited to share a fist-pump moment with you today; I’m debuting on Ten to Twenty Parenting!

It’s a nerve-wracking experience submitting an article to a popular site with a large following, but the day Ten to Twenty Parenting wrote and said they wanted to publish 15 Moments That Will Change Your Parenting Journey, I was jumping up and down with excitement!

Life has changed over the last 15 years and although time slowed down during those long teething nights, it sped up during the fun stuff, leaving me shocked to discover that my baby is now 15! I had noticed that he was growing up, but those little daily changes are shocking to behold when they are all added together.

Read more about my parenting journey and the unexpected milestones that I found along the way at Ten To Twenty Parenting.

 

The Narrative Of Motherhood; Letting Go Whilst Holding On

letting go while holding on to teensI’m living a contradiction as a Mother of teens; I’m letting go whilst holding on!

I know that I’m not getting the balance right because there are times when I’m holding on so tight that my children feel like a life line.

How do I even begin to let go?

Holding On

I’m holding on to the threads that I wove during my years as a Mummy. The long cuddles, the kissed fingers, the laughter and tears that have created a blanket of mothering spun from threads unique to me and my children.

As they enter the teenage years that fabric is worn thin; it’s been wrapped around their shoulders as they tossed and turned with fever, it’s cushioned them from hurtful words in the school yard and comforted them in the dark of a sleepless night.

These last few months have found me patching and repairing it, but the blanket is unravelling.  I’m desperately trying to hold it together, while my children are throwing it off, emerging from my maternal cloak of protection. Independent. Separate. Grown.

And in the silence that surrounds me, a question forms.

When did mothering become smothering?

My approach to mothering is fulfilling my need to nurture, hold and protect, but is it still serving the needs of my children?

Letting Go

My boys are becoming young men and their needs are changing.

This change was the prompt that began my blogging journey 12 months ago.

A year on and this journey has led to a defining moment.

The moment when my narrative of motherhood had to change, adapt and grow.

I need to write a new story.

When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.

Viktor E. Frankl

Time is relentless, and the boys are growing up. I cannot change this.

What I can change is my myself.

Transformation

The ultimate culmination of growing up is the move from dependence to independence; the transition from relying on others to relying on yourself.

As a Mother I also need to make that transition.

I can’t continue to create a sense of self based on my children.

I want to grow with my children, in love, connection and independence.  This means discovering and re-forging my own identity outside of Mum, in much the same way that they need to find their identity outside of being my child.

I need to become independent of my children.

Who am I when I’m not Mum?

I’m really not sure yet, but I know I want to find out.

 

Plunge into Change

Follow my journey to discover an identity independent of Mum by opting-in below.

 

 

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Time Is Running Out! Talk to Your Teen Boy About Pornography Today!

protect teen boys from PornPornography is like a bad smell, it diffuses through a room; you don’t see it coming but you know when it’s reached you!

How do we, as Mums, prepare our teen boys to face this sensory assault?

The first and most important step is to prepare yourself! And this is likely to be the hardest part!

You have to take-off those beautiful rose-tinted-blingy-sunnies and take a look at your boy.

Look at him with the glasses on and you’ll see the baby he once was, his sweet little smile and eyes only for Mamma! With the glasses off you see a hormone-driven, pre-pubescent adolescent in place of your baby! Where the heck did he come from?!

Denial is a beautiful thing, protecting us from the unstoppable changes that we don’t wish to see. But to tackle pornography with your teen boy you have to stamp on those glasses for good!

I know how hard this is. Life was so much easier when my kids thought babies were made by ‘special cuddles’ and blow jobs were the finishing touches to my latest hairstyle!

How did it get so complicated?

When I read Em Rusciano’s article Your Need To Talk to your Kids About Porn  earlier this year, I thought she was being a bit alarmist! I mean, really, at 12 and 14, are my boys likely to encounter pornography? Their laptops are monitored by the school, our home computers have privacy settings in place and they aren’t allowed devices in their bedrooms.

So what’s the risk?

Here are the ugly facts from Em’s article

90% of kids aged between 8-16 have seen pornography at least once. Boys aged between 12-17 are the largest consumers of online porn.

Even though I read these facts I still maintained a level of denial. Why?

Because I didn’t want to have the conversation.

And it’s not because I find talking about sex difficult; I was a nurse for God’s sake! It’s in my blood to talk body fluids, flatulence and foreskins!

My reluctance stems from my own feelings of ambivalence about porn.

I haven’t worked out how I feel about porn, and this is clouding my ability to be able to offer real guidance for my kids.

  • Am I morally opposed to it?
  • Do I feel threatened by it?
  • Is it a rite-of-passage for men?
  • When is porn healthy and when is it toxic?

Today, the luxury of avoiding that conversation was revoked, as the conversation found me!

A Conversation To Remember

A journey home from school can be a series of tired grunts and mumbles, questions about what snacks can be eaten at home or a full blown discussion about pornography! My brain was dead, but instinct told me the moment of reckoning had arrived!  I had to think fast on my feet.

Under normal circumstances a discussion like this would involve Dad, as this is a complex issue that benefits from multiple perspectives. But that wasn’t an option, they were receptive to this sensitive discussion right now!

Acting on instinct I achieved a few things in the 30 minutes that followed: I worked out where I stood on pornography, I reigned-in my emotion and actively listened to my kids and finally I found a rational argument to deter their access to porn.

Knowing that you, my fellow Mum, will have to step out of denial too one day, I am laying bare my strategies for tackling porn with teen boys.

Good luck. It isn’t as bad as you think!

Strategies For Talking To Teen Boys About Porn

Timing is everything

Finding the right moment to talk about porn is essential, because if you dive in Cold Turkey then it’s easy to make everyone feel uncomfortable.

These sensitive conversations need to take place when you are in flow; connecting in an open and honest way. Levelling the playing field happens when you signal you are listening to their concerns rather than asserting your views; it’s a place in which judgment is suspended, and two way discussion is begins.

Starting The Conversation

Ascertain prior knowledge – what do they already know? It may not be as bad as you think, and if it is you need to understand their perception. Hearing about graphic content second hand means they may have snippets of information, but can’t find a context to piece it all together. Your job is to provide that framework within which understanding can happen.

What Do They Want To Know 

Do your home work! This is vital, you don’t want to discover that you’ve given them the low down on going-down when all they wanted to know is whether people really take all their clothes off in-front of each other! Find out what they are curious about? This will help guide the level of detail you need to give.

Focus On The Facts

Teens don’t want to hear that they shouldn’t do something just because you said so, but they will respond to rational argument. I believe that my teens need to understand why they should stay away from porn. If my kids have an opportunity to view porn,  I want them to reason things through, weighing up the pros and cons for themselves.

So What Is The Rational Argument To Convince Boys To Stay Away From Porn?

I am strongly opposed to teens being exposed to porn before they have experienced safe, loving and intimate relationships on their own terms. With this as my premise, I approached the conversation with 5 logical arguments:

1. Experience intimacy on your own terms – if you haven’t had any intimate contact with a girlfriend yet, then porn is not the place to start. It will present you with a warped view of what to expect intimate relationships to be about.

2. The pressure to measure up – men are larger than life in porn movies; it’s their business to make sure size matters! It’s very easy to feel inadequate when you compare yourself. This is damaging to your confidence and sets the bar of sexual prowess too high before you’ve even begun!

3. Women in porn are pretending – women in porn movies are not like the regular girls that you will be dating. They will not teach you how to have good sex, they are simply acting! Intimate relationships are based on honest communication, consideration and tenderness, you can’t learn that from porn!

4. Porn hurts people – porn is often unregulated and can show images of people getting hurt and exploited, it’s upsetting to see this kind of stuff and once you’ve seen it you can’t un-see it.

5. Computer STDs – porn sites are often insecure, request credit card details and entice you to click unsafe links by using tantalising sexual images. A virus on your computer will destroy your work, photos, contaminate your contacts and seriously stuff things up!

My experience taught me that approaching the topic of pornography was all about having a relaxed and open mind, realising that it’s a choice the boys will make in my absence and that I need to give them the tools to make an informed decision.

Have you addressed the issue of pornography with your teen boys?

Do you think its different if you’ve got teen girls? I’d love to hear your views in the comments.

 

This post is shared at #mummy&us

Mummy&us linky

 

The Junctions Of Motherhood; 15 Moments That Will Change Your Parenting Journey

change doesnt care if youre readyThis week I became the mother of a 15 year old!

Excuse me a minute while I pick myself up off the floor! Did I really just write that? I thought that only happened to other people?!

When Biscuit was a baby I would meet Mum’s who said they had a 15 year old child. Child!? I would think, that’s not a child, it’s a dependent adult!  I would foolishly think –

I’ve come a long way since then (15 years to be precise!)! And I can assure my 28 year old self that I am no less a Mummy just because I’m called Mum and don’t have to wipe anyone else’s bum!

Surprising Significance

Parenting is full of surprises (beginning with the birth), and it’s those unexpected moments that are most deeply imprinted on me. Unexpected tenderness, surprise laughter, fleeting connections with my children in our chaotic schedule. These are the moments that catch me off-guard;  full of raw, unqualified emotion which leaves its mark in memories.

If 15 years of parenting has taught me anything it’s this;

Meaning is found in reflection, and moments of significance gain focus with hindsight.

Children change all the time, reshaping like wet clay, but there are moments when the clay hardens and sets; these changes form the new shape of your future together.

Junctions of Motherhood

Change represents the junction points of motherhood; the moments where your journey together will take a new direction. To plot this journey of change I map backwards; retracing my steps to a certain junction and reflecting on its significance.

Some time ago I missed a junction; the last time I carried my boy in my arms. Like the many actions of parenting I did this without thinking; holding him tight, straining with the weight of him, never realising that this was the last time I would carry him. The change in his size reached a tipping point when pitted again my strength, and suddenly Dad carried him or he had to walk.

It’s a practical progression, but when I reflect on it I see it’s significance; one phase of motherhood has drawn to a close.

Would it have made a difference if I had seen these junctions approaching? Probably, by bringing my awareness to the small moments of everyday parenting, and cherishing their fleeting nature knowing they wouldn’t last.

 So here are my 15 junctions of motherhood.

1. The day toys were off the birthday list

I never thought I’d hear this sentence leave my sons lips, but as Biscuit’s 11th birthday approached he declared ‘I’m too old for toys’! If I had known this one was coming I’d have paid more attention to the last toy I ever bought him!

2. The last kiss in public

If you’re anything like me you’ll love that little hug and kiss goodbye at school each morning. There are warning signs with this one, kissing begins to be scaled back; removed from the classroom goodbyes get briefer and briefer until suddenly its a; ‘See ya later’ over the shoulder as they stroll off with their mates. You can expect this one to start anywhere between 5 and 9 years old.

3. The day an Ikea meatball record was broken 

One of our family traditions is to visit Ikea once a year, spend huge $ on home-improvement fantasies projects, stock up on enough tea-lights to live in a cave for the next ten years going home stuffed with meatballs and chips! There is a certain amount of kudos according to how many meatballs one can consume, and we each have a ranking. This week saw an shock win in this annual tradition, Biscuit stole the title of Champion Meatball Eater from his Dad, eating a massive 23! Look out for this one at around 15 years old (and carry a vomit bag with you)!

4. The day he washed and dried his own clothes

This is one that you need to nurture; since he was 10 years old I have shown Biscuit how to work the washing machine, at first he just packed it then slowly progressed to adding detergent and setting it. But it was still a wonder and a marvel to come home and find that not only had he sorted his school uniform out, he had washed it, dried it and had even thrown a few of my lights in for good measure! You can expect to see this from 10-14 years.

5. The day I relied on him to cook for the family

A bit like the washing machine, I suggest you encourage cooking skills to develop early, and build to independence with small steps. On this occasion it was a stressful night, with Dad home late from work and me dashing off to soccer training with his brother. Someone had to feed the family, and that someone was Biscuit!  Read the soul searching this junction prompted here in Mother’s Contradiction; Nurturing Independence In Teens .

6. The nightmare that didn’t wake me

‘I had a bad dream last night.’ This matter-of-fact statement bellied a significant milestone; my boy had soothed himself back to sleep after a bad dream, and didn’t need reassurance from Mum. Teaching strategies for self-soothing after nightmares are essential foundations to achieve this one, but it happened for us about 10 years old.

7. The day that briefs were outlawed

My boys wore briefs without question until a couple of years ago, when they were outlawed overnight! A reward went out to anyone who gave information about their hiding places, existing briefs were rounded up and mercilessly destroyed. Meanwhile their successors, The Boxer Shorts, colonised the underwear draws until total domination was complete! Expect this one from age 9 -12.

8. The day the tooth-fairy was fired

After furtive glances between Biscuit and I, (keeping up appearances for his little brother’s sake), he placed the tooth under his pillow and said goodnight. Unfortunately, in the morning the tooth was still there! After one too many glasses of wine the Fairy had forgotten she was on duty! She was promptly fired! Teeth are now bought and sold in cash deals without wands or glitter!

9. The day he bankrolled me

Biscuit has an uncanny knack of being the only person in the house with cash! I have a running tally of IOUs to him, which he records in his little back book (luckily he hasn’t thought of applying interest yet!). Look out for an increase in your debts at around age 8!

10. The day I came up to his shoulder

It’s very strange hugging your child when they have to bend down to you! Obviously you should see this one coming, but in-case you’re in severe denial, expect it anywhere between 12 – 14 years.

11. The last time I put him to bed

If you’re anything like me you might not see this one coming! I take satisfaction in a job well done when I put my boys to bed; tucking them in, knowing their snug and safely deposited for the night with a kiss and a whispered ‘I love you’. It’s a bit like my clocking -off card, my job is done for another day and out comes the wine! But at 14 Biscuit decided that he’d see himself to bed! I didn’t like this one little bit, but you can’t stop the tide of independence, and after much protesting, he gets a kiss goodnight and I stay in the lounge. Expect this one anywhere from 12 -14 years.

12. The day his home work became too hard for me

I knew this one was on the cards, math has never been my forte, but now I’m officially redundant from helping with Math homework.

13. The last day he was small enough to carry in my arms

As a parent I’ve been concerned with weight and growth since the day they were born, but it never really dawned on me that my baby would literally get to big to carry!  I remember gently lifting him out of the car, careful not to wake him, and carrying him to bed, his soft face resting on my neck. This milestone comes with a warning; you never know when Your Strength V His Weight will reach the tipping point, but you’ll find your empty arms will ache with longing the day it does.

14. The day he said ‘ Mum’s got PMT, again!’

Grr! Need I say more? The annoying male habit of dismissing a grumble constructive criticism as PMT started at 14 years old! I reminded him that the female of the species is more deadly than the male, and comments like that are likely to prove it!

15. The day he locked the bathroom door

Unless we have visitors in the house, bathroom and bedroom doors remain open and unlocked, conversations continue regardless of whether we’re on the toilet or in the bath! So the first time that the bathroom door was shut (and locked) we all knew that a new chapter had begun. Privacy, a need never previously considered, is now a norm.

Acknowledgements

Quote from www.livelifehappy.com

 

How To Turn Off Your Busy Brain (& help your teen do the same!)

mums and teens with busy brains not sleeping

Dear Brain, will you please just shut-up!

Last night my brain woke up as I went to bed!

I was struggling to keep my eyes open on the sofa, but as soon as I put my head on the pillow a flood of thoughts fired up my synapses and that sleepy feeling evaporated.

These thoughts aren’t worries, they’re creative ideas, posts for the blog,  teaching goals or travel plans for the family. I’ve always been at my most creative at night; I nurtured this habit while studying but now it ‘s much less welcome when I have to get up at 6am and go to work!

So How Can You Combat Busy Brain at Bedtime?

Consider this;

Why do active thoughts rush in as you lay down to sleep?

Maybe because it’s the first opportunity for them to be heard all day!

I know that I am so busy with work, shopping, school runs, exercise and pets that my brain is overwhelmed each day with a running commentary of practical thoughts‘What am I cooking tonight? oh no, I hope the boys put their soccer kit in the wash, will I have time to dry I? did anyone feed the dogs? Oh s**t! I forgot to buy toothpaste, again…’

When I lay down to sleep the commentary of ‘life as busy mum’ is paused for the first time that day. What ensues is a tiny space.

A moment of stillness.

These thoughts have been queuing all day, possibly all week!

Teens Need A Quiet Mind Too

Teens can struggle with getting off to sleep, just like the rest of us, and although you may have created a calming bed-time routine, their minds are filled with thoughts that come racing-in as soon as their head hits the pillow! Mackenzie from Reflections from Me commented on my last post that her 11 year old daughter has a great bed-time routine, but just can’t sleep till about 10pm, leaving her short-changed on sleep.

What’s keeping her awake?

A Busy Brain!

Balm For A Busy Brain

Knowing why teens and Mum’s alike experience busy brain is the first step towards finding strategies to calm it.

If thoughts are rushing into the stillness just before sleep, then they are likely to be things that are clamouring for your attention and feel neglected.

Why are they neglected?

Five thoughts that get neglected:

  1. Ostracised thoughts: these are the ones you’ve been avoiding because they make you unhappy, uncomfortable or sad.  You’re hoping they’ll go away if you keep ignoring them!
  2. Heavy weight thoughts: these are the ones that open up the proverbial ‘can of worms’; they start a snowball effect, the consequences of which seem too far-reaching to contemplate.
  3. Crystal ball thoughts: these are the ones that try to predict what will happen in the future; playing out scenarios for you to watch, re-casting characters and making plot changes like your own personal movie.
  4. Detective thoughts: these are the ones that encourage you to do a post mortem of an event, message or word; magnifying every detail looking for clues to explain why…why aren’t I invited? Why didn’t he remember? What did that smile mean?
  5. Dare-to-dream thoughts: these thoughts give you permission to dream, they light your creative fire and  inspire you to take action to achieve personal happiness and fulfilment.

These neglected thoughts deserve your attention and acknowledgment, and without it they will continue to find opportunities to fill the spaces at the edge of your consciousness.

How To Make Friends With Neglected Thoughts

Great ways to do this are:

  • Re-home your worries – write down worries and post them in a shoe box. This allows you to acknowledge and articulate them, but deal with them at another time.
  • Visualise your dreams – create a vision board to see your dreams come to life, read how I created a vision board here.
  • List your longings – those crystal ball thoughts belong on a list, whether it’s a bucket list or a To Do list, write it down and deal with when you’re not trying to sleep.
  • Can your ‘Can of Worms’ – wash out a used can, label it ‘Can of Worms’ and drop your unsolvable thoughts into it. Once a week you & your Can of Worms  can together and sort out what’s really giving you busy brain.
  • Magnify your mind – go crazy with a mind map and let that over-analytical brain connect the dots; soon you’ll have enough material to start writing your first detective novel!

Representing your neglected thoughts in words or images will give them permission to rest.

They have a place to be. Which will give you a place to be without them.

Breathe, shut your eyes, notice the silence. 

 

Goodnight Busy Brain.

 

 

Is Your teen Getting Enough Sleep?

is your teen get enough sleepIt’s back to school for us this week, and as holiday bed-times draw to a close, I’m starting the conversation with the boys about what a school night bed time looks like!

My goal is to keep bed-times in single digits, but is that realistic?

For a 12 and 14 year old am I being too restrictive?

 

Bed-time Negotiations

I regularly re-negotiate the boundaries on bed-times, and I thought I’d cracked it at the beginning of the year when I proclaimed that the boys would go to bed at the same time as the school year they’re in!

This seemed so simple and worked beautifully for 14 year old Biscuit who’s in year 9, but is less achievable for 12 year old Berry in year 7!

Good Sleep Habits

The key to drama free bed-times lies in establishing good habits early on, and anticipating the potential challenges to come:

The earlier parents can start helping their children with good sleep habits, the easier it will be to sustain them through the teen years.

Dr Mary Carskadon (Director of Sleep Research)

So before you address the issue of bed-times with your emerging teen know the facts, and reflect on what you want and why!

I Just want Some Peace & Quiet!

There are times that I want the kids to go to bed for my sake not theirs!

I just want a bit of peace and quiet to watch something inappropriate on TV, (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead etc) all by myself!

In this instance I’m setting a bed time to suit me, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Except that it might be a bit too early for them!

But knowing that the bed-time I set is about creating an adult space, rather than their need for sleep, means I can bring something alternative to the discussion. If my aim is not sleep, I can ask them to go to their rooms to read, listen to music or watch TV in another area.

This gives me the adult space I need, whilst allowing them a bit more time to wind-down before bed.

 

So How Much Sleep Does A Teenager Need?

The optimum amount of sleep teens need is 9-10 hours per night!

That’s more than the amount an adult or child needs, so it’s no wonder they may not be getting enough; they need more than everyone else in the family!

Many teens aren’t getting enough sleep, and that might be because we assume that 8 hours is enough, but hormone & attitude changes and social/sporting commitments are often the number one offenders!

I know that my boys schedule is packed out with soccer training, after school clubs and homework, so getting to bed at the ideal time can be a challenge. Recently they were both training for cross country before school; we were leaving the house before 6.45am!

Did they want to go to bed earlier to compensate? No way!

Does Less Sleep Really Make A Difference?

The National Sleep Foundation and Better Health Channel report that lack of sleep in teens can contribute to:

  • Poor school grades
  • Reduced concentration
  • Pimples and poor skin
  • Grumpy and aggressive outbursts
  • Over eating sugary and fatty foods
  • Increased susceptibility to illness

Although I don’t get too hung up on a short period of sleep deprivation (as in the cross-country training),  I am focused on helping them become the best that they can be, and in the long term that means getting enough sleep.

Been Here Before; establishing sleep routines

Sleeping: when they were babies that was the only word that mattered!

Day time sleeps, sleeping through the night, soothers and controlled crying were some of the torments of establishing that nebulous sleep routine.

During the toddler years it all started to fall into place and I used routines like bath-time and bedtime stories to cue my children into sleep routines.

Now, at 12 and 14,  I don’t feel as if I do much in the way of a sleep routine! But you’d be surprised!

When you start to actually think about what you do to promote healthy sleeping habits it’s amazing what you’re not giving yourself credit for!

Here’s a list of what I do most nights:

  • I get dinner on the table at least an hour before bedtime
  • I get them to turn off their devices about an hour before bed
  • I negotiate a time for bed
  • I police and enforce that time
  • I encourage them to shower each night (not always successfully)
  • I build-in 10 minutes reading time in bed
  • I say goodnight (sometimes I’m even allowed to put them to bed)
  • I check that devices are not in their rooms
  • I check-in on them before I go to bed

Lets Talk Sleep Hygiene

Promoting sleep as a priority in your house is a key thing to establishing ‘sleep hygiene’.

I love this buzz word, it makes me feel very important: ‘Sorry I can’t take your call right now as I’m attending to some sleep hygiene issues!’ 

What it refers to is actually very simple, common sense, healthy habits that promote sleep:

A series of habits and rituals that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep’.

How awesome that we can make sleep more hygienic!

So clean sleep is what teens need; a series of patterns that help them wind-down to bed-time. Simple bed-time routines send the message that sleep is a precious resource that your family values.

Sleep is a balm to the mind, body and soul

  • What are your teens bed-time routines?
  • Do you need to reflect on your own sleep hygiene before addressing your teens?
  • How do you promote healthy bed-time routines in your family?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these issues.

Don’t miss next weeks post where I’ll explore how you can create a sleep haven for you and your teen.

 

7 Words A Mum Of Teens Should NEVER Use!

you are too old for cool mumRecently I’ve been given an education in what it’s cool okay to say; some of my usual vocab words are totally off-limits now, attracting eye-rolling, huffing and immediate correction.

Who is imposing this dictionary dictatorship?

My 12 year old son!

The 7 Deadly Sins of Speech (from my 12 year old):

  1. Defo – you can only be definite, not defo!
  2. Cool – it’s not cool to say cool at your age!
  3. Sik – don’t even go there!
  4. Avo – it’s an avocado and no amount of abbreviation will make me eat it!
  5. Devo – you can never be devo, only devastated!
  6. Cute – I’m NEVER cute, nor are my friends or my choices!
  7. Vocab – just stop abbreviating. Now.

So there it is.

The etiquette on how to avoid embarrassing your 12 year old.

My bubble of cool may finally have been burst!

words teens hate hearing mums say

A Mother’s Contradiction: Nurturing Independence in Teens

Teens independenceWhy is it that every step your teenager takes towards independence leaves you feeling that little bit emptier? Often the pride I feel in seeing my child’s milestones is tinged with a sense of loss.

Why does each new phase of growing up feel like a step further away from me?

Teenage Milestones

Last night I witnessed another Teenage First, my 14 year old son Berry cooked us dinner!

He’s cooked before, muffins and brownies, usually under my watchful eye and ‘just for fun’. But last night was different. I was rushed and had to get his brother to soccer training, his Dad was home but working and so cooking was about dividing the labour of family life.

Someone needed to cook, and the only someone available was him!

Coming back after a cold night at soccer the house was warm with the smell of dinner. Berry had cooked his first family meal – Brown Lentil and Chorizo Soup with warm crusty French stick. Delicious.

Full Belly: Empty Heart

It was as I was clearing up that I realised that my pride in his achievements was tinged with a note of sadness, of loss, almost.

Where was this coming from?

Mulling this over as I packed the dish washer, I realised that feeding him had been my job from the first moment I held him in my arms, 14 years ago. And now we’d shifted gear again. He could do it without me.

Like so many other achievements throughout the years, he was growing into wonderful and heart-breaking independence.

They’re changing and growing away from us everyday. And it’s true that this, in itself, is a wonderful thing.

Catherine Naja  The Grief in Growing Up

The Double Edged Sword of Independence

The move towards independence is inevitably a move away from dependence. It’s a spectrum along which all children are travelling, and one in which parents fluctuate between celebration and desperation.

I know that every step my children take towards independence is a good thing. But it’s a contradiction too;  I’m nurturing the very thing that I’m dreading; the day they don’t need me any more!

It’s a battle at times, wanting to hold them tight and make time stand still. A wise friend was able to sum up her feelings as her boy grew to adulthood:

I’m so proud of the young man you’re becoming, but I really miss the little boy that you were.

Anne Gates.

And it’s true.

I really miss that little boy who thought I was his whole world, who would snuggle up on my lap for stories and sleep in my arms.

But I love the young man who wraps me in his arms, who cooks me dinner and asks how my day has been.

That young man is here right now, and that little boy is just a memory.

So I’m cherishing the young man, reflecting on who he was whilst anticipating all that he will become.

A New Chapter

Each stage of growing up is amazing, each new milestone brings different connections, exciting opportunities and new adventures.

Growing to independence signals the close of a chapter.

But like any good story, a new chapter begins, enthralling us in the same way the previous one did.

independence in teens

Words Of Wisdom For Your 16 Year Old Self

teenage  girl mums wisdomDear 16 Year Old Self,

You are beautiful, slim and amazing.

I know you don’t believe this yet, but I want to show you why you should.

Body Talk

That body you constantly criticise, and think hateful thoughts about, looks pretty damn amazing to me! I’d swap my lumps and bumps for yours any day of the week!

If I could share a single piece of advice it would be this;

Stop comparing yourself to other women.

Your body is yours to love, cherish and nurture.

It has the power to bring two amazing people into this world; and they will change your world forever!

Be present in the moment of your 16 year old form and relish all that it can do for you!

Now Lets Talk Boyfriends

I know you’re having fun with your new boyfriend, but he’s got to go!

Those harmless requests that he makes will become a series of toxic controls that will seep into your psyche.

It cannot be a happy relationship if you have to;

  • Ask his permission to see your friends
  • Report back on who you spoke to after a night out
  • Justify why you were speaking to other men
  • Apologise for wearing sexy clothes when he’s not there

If you would only believe that you are worth more than this, you will blossom.

Begin to love yourself more, and you will stop settling for less.

Do you remember that boy you met on the boat? Well, he may have broken your heart last Easter, but he’ll mend it again in a couple of years.

He’ll be back and he’s a keeper!

 Own Your Own Choices

You have 2 fantastic parents, and before you say it, I know they annoy you!

But you’re the first teenager they’ve ever had, that makes you the test subject! Believe me, parents are making it up as they go along!

Do you remember when you were arguing with Mum about sleeping at your boyfriends house? When she said;

Where did I go wrong?

You took that so personally, thinking that she thought you were a disappointment. But she wasn’t seeing you as her failed child. She was blaming your short-comings on herself.

That’s what Mothers do. They love, nurture and hope for the best for their child, but sometimes that child seems to deliberately obstruct that process.

I wish you’d listened to Mum, she had news for you;

Don’t base your self worth of your ability to be desirable to men.

She knew it then, and I know it now.

You’re worth more.

So my lovely 16 year old self, let me leave you with these words of encouragement;

Love wilfully, pursue truth stubbornly and dream wildly but,

know your own heart before giving it to someone else.

With love,

L.

 

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This post was created in response to a prompt from the Friday Reflections link-up, hosted by Janine Ripper at Reflections from a Redhead and Mackenzie Glanville from Reflections from Me.

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