7 Budget Friendly Tips To Transform Your Teens Room Into A Sleep Haven

create a sleep haven

Over the school holidays bedtimes get later and it’s easy to forget how important sleep is.  The boys are more active and social, and with the warm weather comes a stream of friends passing through the house. It can feel hard to maintain a sense of calm at bedtime after the frenetic activity of the day! So the concept of creating a sleep haven is very appealing and may help us maintain a bedtime routine while school is out.

The boys bedrooms get messier and messier as the weeks go on; some nights I take one look at the state of Berry’s bed and turn around and go straight back out again! I know he gets this bad habit from me; as I pile all my clothes up on my bed then transfer them between bed and chair for about a week month, before I put them away! This is certainly not the mental picture I create when I think sleep haven!

I visualise a sleep haven as the epitome of tranquility and calm, and often despair at how to bring that to my own bedroom, let alone the boys! But these 7 simple budget friendly tips, allow you to transform any bedroom without creating a DIY nightmare in the process!

7 simple Tips To Creating A Sleep Haven:

  1. Cover up – both the boys do their homework in their bedrooms, which means that they have books, pencil cases and school work spread all over their desks. This is something I can change very easily with a simple piece of fabric (duvet cover, sheet or table cloths are perfect) and cover it all up before bed!
  2. Burn the midnight oil – adding an essential oil diffuser into the room before bedtime with a sleep blend will help to create that sleep haven. Find out more from Kristy at Beach Life Essentials who can recommend a sleep enhancing blend and stocks oils & diffusers from doTerra.
  3. Hide and seek – I’m a big fan of hiding things you don’t want to see! It’s only  a temporary solution, but ideal for a sleep haven transformation. Hide school bags, uniform and general clutter in the bottom of a wardrobe or cupboard – out of sight out of mind while you sleep!
  4. Let there be light – adding a reading lamp next to the bed provides the opportunity to read a book in bed, and adding some mood lighting to the room works a treat for creating sleep appeal. I use a lava lamp for mood lighting, a clip on spot light on the bed for reading and I love the look of fairy lights draped across the curtain pole, (although my boys would ban this from their rooms!).
  5. Tell me a story – I’m a big fan of audio books, if you use Audible you can set a sleep timer and go off to sleep while someone is reading you a story! If your teen finds reading laborious then audio books are a perfect way to engage effortlessly with a story.
  6. Bedtime tunes – create a playlist of gentle and relaxing music and only put this on before bed, it will create an association between.
  7. Cool down time – light bedding, comfortable cushions and a room temperature of 21 oC (70F) are a must to create an inviting  sleep haven. The body naturally cools down during the night so encouraging teens to wear light pyjamas (or even no pyjamas) can lead to better quality sleep.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with some of these tips to create a sleep haven for your teen. I’m going to be implementing some of these tips into my own bedroom, as it suffers from being a duel sleep and office space too! Might have to invest in a couple more sheets to hide all my mess under though!


Image Attribution

Sleeping Cat – Mashael Al-Mehmadi from Albumarium

Other images sourced from Pixabay

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.


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.











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


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

Four Tips To Create A Power Packed Lunch For Teens!

healthy lunch box choices for teens

Variety is the spice of lunchbox life!

Are lunch boxes causing teenage angst in your household? My boys often complain that everybody else’s lunch boxes are so much better than theirs!

Now I know that I’m all about fresh and nutritious wholefoods, but surely I can’t be the only Mum who isn’t including potato chips, lollies and biscuits in lunches?

When it comes to lunch boxes I want my kids to feel as if they have the same treats as everyone else, so I’m on a mission to find ‘look-a-like treats’!

Or in other words, healthy food disguised as a treat!

Less Transparency

Including look-a-like treats was much easier when my kids were under 10 years old, as they were less savvy about what was going into their food. But, now it’s come to their teens I have to be a bit smarter!

Recently I cooked Glazed Chilli and Beetroot Brownies but, I made the mistake of excitedly telling the boys exactly what was in them! They then approached them with extreme caution and expected them to taste terrible. Had I been a bit more savvy and a bit less transparent I think their whole attitude would have been more positive.

  • Tip Number 1 don’t reveal the secret ingredient!


Frame The Argument

Both of my teens are into their sport in a big way and this provides a perfect opportunity to talk about the impact food has on performance. They are keen to eat food that is linked to high performance, and this just happens to be the sort of nutritious food that I want to feed them!

They are not interested in why I think fibre is good for their digestive system, but they sit up and listen when I tell them that whole grain carbohydrates  build up stores of energy that help optimum performance in soccer! It’s all about framing the argument to suit their needs!

  • Tip Number 2 focus on how healthy foods will work to benefit their interests.


Deal Breakers

If I want my teens to eat the contents of their lunch box then variety is the spice of life! In primary school eating times are usually supervised, but in high school independence and self regulation are the order of the day, which means that unappealing lunches are often dumped, sold or swapped! This makes negotiation the key to avoiding wasted lunches; teens need to have some say over lunch box decisions!

For our family this comes down to a frank discussion about what they want to see in their lunch boxes, what I want to include and what the deal-breakers are! Compromises have included a canteen day (where they can buy what they like), Friday chips and chocolate day or daily ‘treat impersonators’.

  • Tip Number 3 negotiate the deal breakers and be prepared to compromise!


 Think Quantity

Sometimes the boys and I have very different objectives when it comes to lunches! They’re impressed with quantity, and I’m all about quality! But it is important to remember that for teenagers size matters! So the more high quality snacks that I can pack into their lunches the better.

  • Tip Number 4 never under-estimate the importance of quantity!


Next week I’ll be sharing a round-up of the best lunch box recipes out on the web, and giving you our verdict on them! In the meantime, if you want to pick up some great lunchbox tips take at look at Nicole Avery’s Planning With Kids. She has five kids and offers loads of practical advice about making family life simpler by doing a bit of advance planning.

I’d love to hear any of your success stories or tips to negotiate those deal breakers for your kids lunch boxes.

Have you got any lunchbox wisdom to share?

How To Help your Teen Achieve Revision Success! Part 2

Revisions strategies for teens 1This week our family have hit another parenting milestone; our 14 year old is about to sit his first exams! This has left me puzzling how I can best support him to accomplish revision success, without heading into the minefield of teenage resistance!

In Part 1 of my revision series I discussed how to identify the goals of revision and engage in a joint planning phase with your child. Today I’m looking at the how to of revision.

What does your child need to do to achieve revision success?

 What The Research Says…

As parents it’s easy to feel alienated by the technology that our children are using to study with. I know that when I was revising I created hand written notes, read paper versions of books and created colour coded index cards!

When my children are revising it often looks the same as when they’re relaxing – laptop open, headphones on and a glazed expression!

These strategies for revising have been popular for years:

  • Re-reading notes
  • Highlighting sections of text
  • Re-writing notes

These are certainly strategies that I have used, but it turns out that trying to memorise information is NOT the most effective revision strategy!

Research shows that the key to retaining information is to become deeply engaged with the material, in educational terms this is called a ‘depth of processing’, and helps the information get deposited for the long term in your memory bank.

My Favourite 5 Strategies For Engagement

If engagement is the key to revision success, how can we find activities that create this depth of processing for our children?

Here are my Favourite 5 strategies that increase engagement whilst addressing the goals of revision (understanding, synthesis, recall, consolidation and reflection).

  1. 3 Qs (Quick Quiz Questions) – create questions using your notes, write out a corresponding answer sheet then put the quiz away and test yourself in a couple of days. Research shows that repeated testing is a successful strategy for raising engagement, and leaving a few days between revising and testing is the most effective way.
  2. Quizletquizlet is an awesome online tool that allows you to make flash cards which you can then use in  activities against the clock such as pairing, questioning and testing. Research shows that practicing retrieving information is one of the best ways to retain it.
  3. SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) – SWOT Analysis is a great revision tool to encourage you to re-think ideas and make new connections, especially good for humanities and English. You can download a template here .
  4. Mind Mapping – this creative tool increases engagement by  finding connections and practicing retrieving information. Mind maps can be colourful and elaborate or simple and streamlined, Tony Busan (the father of mind maps) has some inspiring examples of mind maps here.
  5. Fishbone Diagram – this is a great tool to summarise multiple ideas and can form the basis of an essay plan for written subjects. Check out my example of a fishbone diagram based on this revision series below. You can download a template here.

fishbone diagrams ansucccesful revision strategy

So good luck to all the Mum & Dad’s out there supporting their teens through the exam minefields over the next few weeks!

And remember…

Hold on to your teen during adolescence