How To Help Your Teen Achieve Revision Success! Part 1

Help your teens to revise

Revision can be a lonely journey without Mum’s support

Many families with teens may well be feeling the strain over the coming weeks as schools begin their examinations.

If you’re anything like me, these are the first exams that my 14 year old has ever sat! They mark the beginning of his next step in education, the path through to the senior years and his future direction.

And they introduce a new word into our family vernacular…REVISION!

What is Revision?

Although there have been numerous emails from teachers and dinner table conversations about revision, none of us have actually asked the million dollar question.

What exactly is revision ?

When I asked Biscuit this question, he was pretty vague, mentioning reading his notes and ‘stuff’!

Now it’s the Stuff of revision that I’m interested in!

Revision often takes place behind closed doors. We encourage our children to find a ‘quiet space’ to revise in, which is great, but that means revision is a hidden, subterfuge activity. When they emerge from revising you may ask how they’ve got on, but the chances of receiving more than a monosyllabic response are slim!

So what are the goals of revision?

  • To Understand – do the concepts make sense?
  • To Synthesise  – can you make links between topics?
  • To Recall – can you remember the information from 1st term?
  • To Consolidate – can you see where you’ve come from and where your going?
  • To Reflect – can you identify the gaps in your learning and plan to fill them?

The Journey

Your child’s experience of revision is like a journey; with good planning and directions they can reach their destination in the time allowed with minimal anxiety.

Unfortunately, many children don’t have this experience!

They often can’t visualise their end destination, have minimal directions on how to get there and no idea how long it will take.

If they don’t know where they’re going how will they know when they’ve arrived?

That’s why talking about the goals of revision is a critical first step.

Print them out, stick them above their desk, keep them in sight.

This is their destination. 

 13 Steps to Successful Revision

So now you and your child are on the same page. Everyone knows where they’re going. Great! Now what?

The 13 next steps are about getting that journey underway.

I’m a great believer in a joint planning phase. This gives you and your child time to build a shared vocabulary, to realistically discuss what can and can’t be achieved, and positions you as a key figure of  support on what can be a lonely road.

Together you need to:

  1. Make a plan – identify the hours available for revision and create an achievable timetable
  2. Know the assessment – know what areas are being covered in the exam so you can focus your revision
  3. Identify priority areas – all subjects are not equal, if you struggle with Science then allocate it more time
  4. Be time specific – allocate set times for revision and use a timer to create accountability
  5. Aim for  20 & 2 – revise for 20 minutes break for 2 minutes then repeat.
  6. Move about – when you have a brain break get out of your seat and move around to get the blood flowing again.
  7. Agree to turn off social media – distractions are death to revision, don’t get tempted.
  8. Include Rewards – treat social media as a reward after completing a session of revision.
  9. Ask questions – identify questions and ask teachers for clarification about exam format/timetable etc
  10. Reduce chores – delegate chores & pull together as a family to support the individual
  11. Include down time – ensure that revision stops at least an hour before bed, busy brain is a sleep drain!
  12. Prioritise sleep – bedtime may need to be adjusted to get enough sleep!
  13. Use a range of strategies -these are the directions to your destination, find out more in Part 2 of this series.

This discussion is about give and take, some of the suggestions may be met with resistance (#7 & #11) but the sweeteners (#8 & #10) often persuade your teen that you are working for their greater good!

Demonstrate that you’re on the same side; your actions will speak louder than words!

Part 2 of this Revision Series will explore the different strategies for revising and discuss which ones will benefit your child most.

Don’t Miss Part 2

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Forget Tomorrow! Appreciate All-The-Little-Things Today!

Child painting black & whiteAre we are so preoccupied with the next milestone for our children that sometimes we forget to stop and appreciate how far they’ve come?

Recently I watched a class of 4 year olds perform their first assembly item ever! Assembly items are dear to the hearts of many Australians, but if you’re not familiar with the concept, let me explain.

Assembly Items

Which 2 words bring a teacher out in a cold sweat?

Which 2 words fill a parent’s heart with joy?

Which 2 words fill children with either love or loathing?


Primary school children around Australia are made given the opportunity to perform an ‘Item’ in assembly once a year. They take to the stage for about 20 minutes to sing, share their learning and generally entertain their peers and parents. During the week of an assembly item the classroom is transformed into a production line of painting, sticking and rehearsing.

You know it’s the morning of an assembly item when:

  • Children are seen in the playground with furry ears and tails
  • Teachers develop twitches and can be heard humming ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ obsessively
  • Parents with large cameras are spotted jostling for pole position in the assembly area
  • Girls get very giggly and let out high pitched squeals
  • Boys take to meeting in the toilets to avoid their Mum’s attempts to wipe their faces or flatten their hair (again)

The Moment of Glory

The anticipation is high as your child takes to the stage. He walks (slowly) towards the microphone with a face serious enough to deliver the SBS News and declares:

I’m Travis and I like hot chips.

Your camera is snapping like mad, Dad’s got the video rolling, capturing every doleful syllable for eternity. This is Travis’ moment of glory, to be replayed at his 18th, 21st, 40th, and 60th! If only he knew!

Proud Mummy Moment

My children’s assembly items have all been adorable Proud-Mummy-Moments that I treasure, but they are equally hilarious for their droll delivery and absolutely un-smiling faces!

But on this occasion I was not watching my own children, so didn’t have the distraction of taking photos, or competing for the best view.

I just sat back and enjoyed the show.

From ABC To Algebra

It was somewhere between the shapes song and the alphabet recital that I had a light-bulb moment!

It was only 6 years ago that Berry had been that small…how had I forgotten so quickly?

Only 6 years ago Berry had just learned to name a square, count to 20, and remember the letters of the alphabet. How amazing is it that now he’s learned to calculate the square root of a number and is using his ABC in equations!

Am I so busy looking ahead to the Next-Big-Thing

that I’ve forgotten to appreciate All-The-Little-Things?

All The Little Things

As a Mum of an emerging teen I am more conscious than ever of the speed at which time is passing. And I don’t want to miss a minute.

I want to appreciate my children and all they’ve become every. single. day.

Today I’m opening my eyes with new wonder on All-The-Little-Things:

  • How he ties his own shoe-laces
  • Makes his own lunch
  • Says please and thank you
  • Can ride a bike
  • Asks how my day was
  • Hugs me in the morning
  • And sleeps through the night!

So close your eyes and open them afresh today and see,



Would You Take Your 11 Year Old To A Pink Concert?


teens first concert

Is Your Teen Ready For This?

It’s a question I hadn’t considered till I saw the recent story of a Mum in the US who has been taken to court for taking her daughter to a Pink concert!

Are we making appropriate choices as Mum’s when we take our kids to rock concerts where the lyrics are explicit and the dancing is highly suggestive? Although in this case the New Jersey Judge ruled in favour of the Mum’s decision, it raises the question of when we feel it’s right to expose our emerging teens to the raunchier side of music.

What do You Remember About Your First Concert?

My first and only concert was in 1989 when I saw REM live on their Uk tour when I was 17. I don’t remember how my Mum felt about me going, but I do know that if she had tried to stop me then it would have been even more exciting to rebel against her!

What I do remember is

  • feeling shocked by the sheer number of people who were crammed in the venue together
  • feeling worried about being separated from my friends
  • feeling nervous about of being crushed and trampled by the crowd

I don’t remember loving the experience, and that is because I was totally unprepared for the magnitude of the event. I had never been exposed during my family life to anything like a rock concert and maybe if I had I would have been more relaxed and able to enjoy it.

How Can You Prepare Your Children For Their 1st Concert?

Maria Mora has some great ideas in her article School of Rock. Her suggestion to chaperone their first few concert experiences is a great idea, and one that may have a pay-off for you too!

As a Mum for many years you’ve been doing everything for your kids, driving them to sports practice, cheering from the sidelines come rain or shine, coordinating sleepovers, birthdays and cinema outings.

But, at last, something exciting is on the list of ‘Things-I-Do-For-My-Kids’…you get to go to a concert!

Who you get to see is really about how convincing you can be, but a word of warning, our kids are very savvy at persuasive arguments (thanks Naplan) so be prepared!

Some pre-concert discussions should include:

  • what to expect in-terms of behaviour from adults attending the concert  (discuss what it looks like when adults let out their inner wild-child)
  • strategies for re-grouping if you get separated (choose a central landmark to meet at if you are separated, identify staff and officials who can assist and put mobile phones on vibrate and keep them in your pocket)
  • what the budget will allow for purchasing merchandise at the concert to avoid disappointment on the night
  • what’s expected in the way of singalongs (get the whole family to learn the songs, if nothing else it will be an embarrassing story for them to recount later in life!)

I’ve got my eye on some Robbie William’s tickets for October…let the education begin!

I’d love to know if your teen has been to their first concert yet.

Do you have anything to add to the list of things we can do to prepare our kids for this experience?





Why I Don’t Love My Kids The Same (and nor should you!)

love siblings differently

Love expressed through touch

How many times have you heard the comforting, guilt alleviating phrase: ‘I love my kids the same’?

Once baby number 2 arrives it’s a Mantra-To-Live-By. But is it true?

What does it mean to be the ‘same’?

Not different

Exactly like someone or something else

Not changed – exactly like an earlier version

(Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary)

Am I the only mother that found Baby number 2 was not the same as baby number 1?

He was not exactly like his brother, he was not an unchanged version of the first baby, and I do not love my children the same! They are different and I love them differently.

To do anything else would be my failure as a mother. My children are individuals, not cookie-cutter kids!

Discarding the Mantra

When did I bravely discard the Mantra-To-Live-By?

I’ve been paying lip service to this mantra for 14 years, but it wasn’t until I went into hospital last week that I realised that I don’t have to keep pretending.

Routine surgery is the best description I can find for my hospital stay, but it was only routine for the surgeon! For me, I’ve been attached to my Gall Bladder for 42 years, and although we’ve had our differences lately, I didn’t relish the thought of it being deflated and removed!

However, removed it was, and when my kids came to visit me they’d be excused for thinking I’d been out partying all afternoon! I was slurring with bad-hair, vomit crusted at the corners of my mouth and the attention span of a gnat (and all without having had the pleasure of several bottles of wine!).

The boys approached cautiously, trying to plant a kiss between the oxygen tubing and the IV drip. They looked nervous and unsure of themselves. Somewhere in the recess of my be-fuddled brain I remembered it was my job to put them at ease, so the Mother-Gene kicked in and I asked them about their day, their homework, their dinner.

The trouble was, I couldn’t stay awake long enough to hear their answers. When I woke they’d gone.

Installments of Love

So the next day I tried harder.

I stayed off the serious brainkillers painkillers and stuck to paracetamol so that my head would be clear. They arrived in installments that night.

Biscuit was first, dressed and ready to go to footy training straight from the hospital. He sat in the chair opposite me and we talked. We talked about Naplan, lunch time soccer, Dad’s cooking and how Arsenal were performing. With each passing minute he was re-assured that I was his ‘normal’ Mum and our connection was in flow.

Berry was next, he came after footy training. His small hands couldn’t get the footy boots off quick enough before he – carefully – snuggled under the hospital bed covers. Stroking his face, we looked at my stitches, talked about his day and enjoyed the close proximity of touch. He left re-assured that all was well in the World Of Mum and our connection was in flow.

How did I connect and re-assure both children of my love for them?

By treating them differently.

 Sensory Priorities

How do our children know that we love them? They hear it when we ask about the things that matter to them, they feel it through a soft caress before bed, they see it in our eyes when we watch them play, they taste it when we make their favourite food and they smell it in the soft fresh towels waiting for them after a shower.

Love is sensory, but we don’t use all senses equally!

Do you know which is your child’s prioritised sense? When do they feel most loved?

Prioritising Senses

Knowing which sensory expression of love your children need from you is critical to meeting their needs as individuals.

Don’t be afraid to love them differently.

My children are not the same:

  • One needs to feel understood, listened to and cared for through thoughtful words and deeds. His priority senses are hearing, tasting and smelling.
  • One needs to be cuddled, encouraged and trusted through reassuring touch, and encouraging words . His priority senses are feeling, seeing and hearing.

I don’t love my kids the same, I love them individually.

Which Language Do You Speak?

To find out more about what sense your child prioritises visit Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages and take the fascinating free online questionnaire to see which of the 5 Love Languages you and your child speak most fluently. I loved the opportunity to complete the questionnaire for your child from a mother’s point of view, and then get them to complete it and compare the results!

A great way to start the conversation about how we meet one another’s emotional needs.

My primary Love Language was Physical Touch followed by Words of Affirmation.

I’d love to hear what your primary Love Language is, post it in the comments below! 


The Definition of Mothers Day?

This morning I laid in past the alarm clock.

Children on Mothers Day The bedroom door was closed and I wasn’t invited to join the family.

But a cup of tea did miraculously appear next to my bedside!

Then the call came…and I got to leave the bedroom.


The house has been transformed, it was cleaned, polished, tidied and shining. Breakfast was all set out of the table: croissants, jam, fruit with napkins. And then the time had come for my favourite part of the day…

…the cuddles!

For all the focus on presents, cards and days out, #MothersDay for me is simply about the warmth in your heart after a cuddle from your child.

The warmth of connection.

The warmth of contact.

The warmth of love between a Mother and Child.

This is the definition of Mothers Day.

21 Lessons I Don’t Want My Children To Learn From Me!

 Funny lessons for Mother's DayI have just read the perfect Mothers Day post by Ben Kubassek; 20 Life Lessons I Learned from My Mother.  A wonderful idea, and perfect for a Mother’s Day Tribute.

What lesson’s have I learned from my Mother? 

What would my children would say they’ve learned from me?

One thing I hope my children have learned from me is how to laugh at yourself! Don’t take yourself too seriously, admit your faults and find humour in them.

So here is a light-hearted look at the lessons I don’t want my children to learn from me, before I insist that they put on their rose-tinted -glasses and celebrate my amazing mothering on Mother’s Day!


Don’t Pass Everything On!


Although we have very little choice about the genetic material that we pass on to our children, we can hope to pass on our values and good habits.

But can we avoid passing on the bad ones?


Here’s 21 lessons that I don’t want to pass on:

  1. Hiding dirty dishes in the oven – don’t hide your problems, you only get found out in the end! For me it was an amused Gas Man who informed me that my oven does not have a dishwasher setting!
  2. Turning the toilet roll around toilet paper orientation is an issue for me, it has to be over the roll and if it’s the wrong way around I correct it, whether it’s in my house or not!
  3. Making ‘to do’ piles that don’t get done – I feel so organised when I sort things into piles; the ironing pile, the bill-payments pile, the take-action pile and the filing pile. Piles upon piles until it all comes tumbling down!
  4. Keeping tissues up your sleeve – although a very handy little hideaway for tissues, it does have its romantic draw-backs; when removing clothing seductively snotty tissues come flying out and tend to ruin the mood!
  5. Washing tissues (’cause their up your sleeve) – these little suckers sneak into the laundry and create a snow globe in the machine!
  6. Doubting yourself – believe in yourself and others will do the same;  follow your heart and live your dreams.
  7. Peeing in the shower – it’s convenient and warm, but I’m sure my mother wouldn’t sanction, it so neither should I!
  8. People pleaser – stop trying to keep everyone happy, because the only person who loses out here is you!
  9. Underestimating PMS  – don’t ever underestimate the potential impact of PMS! I’ve been ready to move out based on a comment about the way I eat crackers. Work with it or against it but ignore it at your peril!
  10. Lip smacking (especially while eating crackers) – I don’t have a problem with this, in fact, I don’t even know I’m doing it, but it seems to be very annoying to other people (namely my husband)!
  11. Eating when happy, sad, stressed or bored – don’t fill your stomach when you could fill your brain or heart instead!
  12. Emptying the rabbits water down the sink and leaving the rabbit poops in the plug hole – need I say more? I was young and rabbit poop just didn’t seem offensive, until the person picking them out of the sink threatened to make me eat one! Then they seemed a bit more offensive.
  13. Taking undies off and leaving them where-ever they land – now this can be really embarrassing, especially when your husbands friend’s come round and find your undies lurking like cobwebs in expected places!
  14. Never being able to remember trivia – this is such an annoying one, as I’m sure I must know loads of stuff, but can’t remember a single thing in a quiz!
  15. Running late – I have taken to setting my clock 5 minutes fast so that I’m less late.
  16. Clothing chaosMorning routine: try a few things on, no time to re-hang it all, put clothes on the bed. Evening routine: go to bed and find it covered in clothes,  too tired to put it all away, move clothes from bed to chair. Repeat. After a week there are no clothes left in my wardrobe. Not good.
  17. Never making the bed – this is not technically true, as I make the bed when I get into it each night!
  18. Over active imagination although this can be great when channelled creatively, usually it’s a pain-in-the-butt as it keeps me awake at night imagining monsters!
  19. Breaking dishes – I don’t have a single complete set of plates or bowls and those that I do have are chipped. It annoys me! I wish my peripheral vision was better, then I wouldn’t smash the plates into the tap so often!
  20. Fear of conflict – conflict can be productive and cathartic, it can exorcise bubbling discontent so embrace it without fear!
  21. Leaving washing on the line for a week – I’m always so proud of myself when I hang the washing out instead of using the dryer; it takes longer and is more hassle but I’m doing my little bit for the environment. Go me!  But then the washing gets forgotten. The spiders build little houses in it. The rain re-washes it. And it becomes a whole lot more work. Boo.


I loved my husbands response when I told him about my 21 bad habits;

Only 21?!

I’ll let you into a little secret:

(there are only 21 that I’m prepared to publish!)


How many would you be prepared to reveal?

Beyond the Bunny

256px-The_Velveteen_Rabbit_pg_25Is There More To Easter Than Chocolate?


Shiny pink foil, glittering around a perfect oval shape. It’s appealing. Tearing the foil and cracking open the smooth surface of the egg reveals…nothing. It’s empty.


So what’s the message here? Aren’t eggs the promise of new life, new beginnings? The excitement of all that packaging only to find nothing at the centre of it all. Disappointing.


So what’s my point?  If you celebrate a secular Easter (as we do), what’s the message you’re sending to the kids?  Is there more to Easter than chocolate?


Beyond the Bunny


Now it’s always struck me as a strange accident of interbreeding that Bunnies deliver eggs, but I’m not going there today. I’m diving into the heart of why my Easter message has been different this year.


For one thing, my kids are no longer BELIEVERS – that is, they know that I hide their eggs and they are outsmarting me with their detective skills in finding them! This means that the Easter Egg Hunt is now a family tradition a bit like playing a boring lengthy game of Monopoly! It demands ruthless skill, unrivalled treachery and old-fashioned luck!


For another thing, one of my kids is on a health kick the other is chocoholic! So I agreed to a ‘trade back’ on eggs, because the choice not to eat chocolate for health has to be ENCOURAGED!! I traded eggs at $5 a piece even when I only paid $2!! (Now you can see why I’m such a failure at Monopoly!)


And finally, this Easter my kids can see that you CAN’T BUY HAPPINESS; another chocolate bunny might sweeten your life for a moment but it can’t fill an empty space in your heart.


Ripples in a Pond


This Easter my children are learning about loss.

They are witnessing first hand the pain of losing a parent. It’s not one of their parents, but it’s close enough.  Close enough to witness the ripples in the pond as their friends, family and school communities grieve.

Close enough to remind them that nothing is forever.

So this Easter my message has been about being REAL. To stop getting distracted by the sparkly packaging of life and to concentrate on the REAL stuff that matters.

The things we can’t live without.

Once you have witnessed the pain of living without the one you love, it’s easy to see what is real:

  • love
  • laughter
  • cuddles
  • warm touch
  • shared emotion
  • family

I read The Velveteen Rabbit again today and this is an extract from it:

 “Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. “it’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time…”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”


The Velveteen Rabbit was a book that my Mum used to read to me, and I remember loving it, but we both felt a bit choked towards the end. I tried reading it to my kids but got too emotional to finish so I left the story for another day.

And another day has come.


This is the message I’m sending to my kids this Easter:

Love without heed of appearance, for those that love you will always see your beauty.

Love without fear of loss, because love will transform your life.

Love because you can, all things will pass and fade, but you can be made new through love.

We are all toys in the nursery of life, some of us are sharp and pointy, some of us boastful, but love can transform us all.


Not Waving But Drowning.

hand of drowning man in sea asking for help

Not waving but drowning


I was much further out than you thought

And not waving but drowning.

This Stevie Smith poem just sprang into my mind when I started to muse about this weeks post. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

Waving? Drowning?

That’s what it felt like this week, as I watched my youngest son  start to drown in the relentless tide of homework.

Berry started secondary school 4 weeks ago and has been metaphorically waving at me for a while.

I waved merrily back, but in hindsight there were clues that his waving might well have been a last-ditch attempt to save himself from drowning. But having been a helicopter mum once too often, I know that jumping in too soon is counter productive.

This was tough love, sink or swim! It looked like swimming, for a while.

When asked, ‘Do you have any homework?’ responses have varied from ‘yes’ in week 1, to a ‘probably’ in week 2 until last week it was a ‘I have no idea’!

That’s when I knew he wasn’t waving, but drowning.


I threw him a life line in the form of early bedtimes and removal of distractions at home. But soon it became clear that I was going to have to swim out to him and use survival stroke to bring him in. He was drowning in a sea of forgotten emails, missed deadlines and general confusion.

The transition from primary to secondary school is as much about self management as it is about an increasingly academic curriculum. Berry was used to receiving a weeks worth of homework on a Monday, and working steadily to complete it throughout the week. Now he was faced with the challenge of checking a school messaging system that was updated with homework on any given day. On top of that teachers gave verbal messages about homework in class, and for those students prone to daydreaming lapses in concentration, these were easily missed!

Although I’d like to say that I was immediately supportive and sympathetic, it just isn’t true!

I spent a few days stamping my feet and ranting about paying attention, making notes and checking messages. It seemed that Berry’s take on homework was simple – if the deadline had been missed then that work didn’t need to be done anymore and it went off his radar! Now I was starting to see where the problem had begun.

How do I help my 12-year-old without taking over?

How can we work together so that ultimately he can manage the work by himself?

These were the questions that bothered me, so I made a plan!


Tips to Win the War on Homework:


  • Know your enemy – I tacked down every piece of homework that had been set since week 1
  • Speak the same language – I made sure Berry and I agreed on what homework included (all set homework tasks, unfinished classwork, revision and reading)
  • Identify the stakes – to motivate my boy I made sure he knew that there would be no X-Box or socials until homework was finished!
  • Plan the offensive – I created a weekly homework planner that is on the fridge that clearly identifies the hours available for homework.
  • Prioritise your treatment – I worked with Berry to triage the homework like a Field Hospital, those that could be saved from over-due penalties got treatment first, hopeless cases we  dealt with last!



homework planning

Weekly home work planner

We used post-it notes to add each new piece of homework as it arrived. Berry took great satisfaction in screwing them up and throwing them away once he’d completed them! The system is teaching him to plan, prioritise and face the challenge head-on, whilst I am able to stay informed and assess if he’s on track with a glance at the number of post-its!

Each evening I ask him to rate how he’s feeling about his homework on a 0-10 score, 0 = drowning 10 = waving.

Monday night it was a 3, two days later it was a 5.

He’s getting there. We’re getting there. Together.

Sail Your Own Course

PicMonkey Collage sailingBefore I was a mum I imagined that my new role would be about teaching my kids stuff, like telling the time, tying their shoe laces  and good manners.

I saw myself as a provider of knowledge, hoping that my children could learn from my mistakes. I could give them a precious heads-up on what not to do (like don’t try to adopt a dog without your mum knowing)!
In some ways I was right, the parenting journey has been about learning.

But I’ve been learning from them!

I was recently reminded about the power from learning from my children at a sailing regatta a few weeks ago. My 14-year-old has been competing in dinghy racing for the last couple of years and like most parents we are his greatest supporters. Regattas run over 2 or 3 days, and are a gruelling affair of rigging, racing and recovering!

This was Biscuits first anniversary regatta, exactly a year ago he’d sailed at the same place (Royal Perth).  So it was a sizzling weekend full of potential and following a promising first day of racing Biscuit was keen to get back on  Sunday to push forward. There was an expectant buzz in the car as we drove that morning; today was all about getting a top ten position.

With the first race delayed it was a slow crawl to the start line, with little breeze to help. When racing did begin Biscuit got a good start, but quickly lost speed and finished at the back of the fleet. Disappointed, but determined he could recover it on race number two he was upbeat and optimistic.

But the second race did not go the way he’d imagined either, and he placed in a similarly inglorious position. Wondering if yesterdays successes were simply a fluke, demoralization stated to set in. He crossed the finish line of the third and fourth races with one boat behind him and his face was set in grim disappointment. He just wanted the whole thing to be over!

But to add insult to injury they announced a fifth race and he realised that he was going to have to do it all again. My heart sank, it felt like groundhog day. Poor kid, exhausted, despondent and destined to come in at the back of the fleet.

And now I have to confess to a shameful thought – I thought about skipping that last race.

I was so sure that he would continue to hold his position, that there wasn’t much point watching him claw his way round the course, knowing that he would be getting more and more despondent.

I was so sure that I knew the outcome I almost forgot to believe.

To believe in change.

To believe in him.

I say almost because a little voice in my head questioned me – what message does that send to him? That there’s no hope? That you’re not interested in watching unless he’s winning? That you don’t believe in him?

So it was with humility and admiration that I watched him turn his day around in that single race.

He fought back hard,  held an early lead, broke away from the fleet, and sailed his own course. What did I see written on his face?




He crossed the line in fourth place. From 18th to 4th. On the last race.

My amazing boy, teaching me.

I asked him later ‘what did you do differently? This is what he said:

I sailed my own race and stopped following what everyone else was doing

And therein lies the lesson about self-belief from my 14-year-old.

Believe in yourself, make your own decisions

and don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.

Maya Angelou quote amazing






Scream Time!


electronic games controllerScreen time discussions often feel like scream time in our house! It seems to be about wanting more and getting less! I always want the boys to have more time actively engaged in conversation, more time chatting with friends and more time playing sport.

They always want more time playing X-Box, chatting with friends whilst playing X-Box and  playing sport on the X-Box!

So this holidays I was determined to negotiate electronic media time and avoid the nag factor! Armed with information from a local parenting group  I started to put into action the advice from their workshop.

Top of the list was the ‘Acceptable Use’ agreement. The key here was to negotiate with the boys, and get their input. Doesn’t sound too hard really…?

I started my campaign for less screen time by extolling the virtues of keeping active, meeting friends and getting outdoors. The trouble is that these kids could read me like a book! They were so savvy at recognising a persuasive argument (thanks Naplan!) that they listened impassively and waited for their cue to counter argue. 

And they counter argue they did! The crux of which was comparison. Comparing our time limits, comparing the types of games and comparing where they could play.

In the comparison test we failed.


So it seems that the boys are hard done by. Hmmph.

After talking to their friends during the holidays, and reading lots school holiday recounts over my teaching years, I think they are probably right. We are a bit restrictive with the time they get on electronic media.

So should be we change to get in line with the social shift in screen time allowance?

This one is a tough call.

If we’re too out of touch, then the boys will head over to the houses of their friends whose parents are more relaxed and spend their time gaming there. This raises some potential issues –

  1. That the problem has just been shifted onto someone else’s doorstep.
  2. They have unlimited screen time.
  3. I have no-idea what content they’re accessing.
  4. The potential to egg each other on to engage in less appropriate activities online.

My boys are not only limited to the amount of screen time they have but also where they can use the internet in the house. We don’t have TVs in the bedrooms (ours or theirs) and the internet has to be used in shared areas. Devices are also stored in a central location overnight so bedrooms are  device free zones.

These decisions are based on common sense, in the hope they increase the boy’s accountability, to themselves and to us! But of course, if these limits drive the boys away to play elsewhere, they are worse than useless. So it’s a dilemma…

But is there any evidence to back up my so-called common sense assumptions?

Well today on Twitter I found some…

(and yes the irony of finding it on social media is not lost on me!)


We have been keeping devices out of the bedroom overnight over concerns about the impact of WiFi on sleep. New evidence has confirmed what common sense had already told us, that intense electronic activity before bed is linked to sleep disturbances in teenagers.

Well, duh, that sounds obvious! But maybe that’s because as adults we have learned that having a highly active brain before bed makes it hard to shut-down or switch-off. But do our kids know that?

Our kids are growing up in a device centred world, which offers amazing opportunities for them. However, it’s up to me as a parent to get up to date knowledge on how to tackle critical issues and recognise the potential negative impacts of screen time.

I must have the courage of my convictions,

(but it helps if my convictions are based on evidence).

So these holidays I kept some of my critical limits in place, but relented on how much time could be spent in-front of a screen. The boys thought it was great, they had more freedom to play and less embarrassing rules to explain to friends,  which led to more friends gaming at our house.

Screen time had its moments but it didn’t always turn into scream time! Now to re-negotiate that ‘Acceptable Use’ agreement for term time…ahhh!


moulding minds quote