Women Who Sweat Together Reach Goals Together!

empowering women in sport

I’ve never been someone who loves exercise. I’d always wanted to be a sporty type, competitive and fit, ready to jump on a surf board or smash it on the netball court, but that just wasn’t me. I didn’t play sport as a kid, my mother considered sport a punishing ordeal and I certainly inherited this aversion!

So it is a huge surprise to me that I’m getting up at 5.30am, before doing a days work, to exercise! If you knew me a few years ago you’d think I was possessed, because wild horses couldn’t drag me out of bed! In fact, I was the only student nurse to ever over sleep for a late shift! What’s changed you may well ask?

The Secret To Discover Motivation

I’ve found a secret ingredient that has changed my approach to exercise. All these years I believed exercise was about the grit, the cardio, the sweating and the active wear!  When I exercised I focused on all those things, got bored pretty quickly and continued to pay for a gym membership that didn’t see any use! If that sounds like a familiar story then maybe you’re a bit like me.

You see, it’s not the exercise that gets me up at 5.30 in the morning, it’s the people! The community of women who encourage, support and sweat together. The women who don’t care what my hair looks like, or whether my active wear is last seasons, last years or last decades! The women who count my 10 burpees, who say ‘just another one’  and push me to hold that plank just 10 seconds longer.

A Sense Of Belonging

All these years I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing when I work out, I’ve been focusing on the exercise, but really I should have been focusing on the people. What I’ve come to know is a sense of belonging in a non-judgmental fitness environment that pushes me harder than I have ever pushed myself before.

I may never love exercise for the sake of exercise, but I love the pursuit of shared goals with like-minded women. Over the next few months I’m going to be introducing some of the women who are part this community, sharing their stories, their triumphs and their reflections on living with passion and purpose.

Next week – meet Brooke, the winner of Advanced Finesses 6 week challenge, and hear the secret of her success!

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


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.

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Do You Have A Vision?

vision board collage dreamsA Vision of Chaos!

Little did I know that a hot hectic day in the middle of January would mark the birth of something so special.  It was just a little thing that became a big thing without me realising it was even happening!


After a disgustingly early start for school holidays, (we already had 2 hours of football training done and dusted before 10.30am) I was foraging under Berry’s bed, discovering missing school hats, dirty washing and random Lego pieces in preparation for the arrival of 3 excitable 12-year-old boys. It wasn’t until sometime later (probably before the tenth pizza and between shouts of ‘Marco’ and ‘Polo’ from the pool) that I realised I had doubled booked myself.


I had been invited to attend a vision board session hosted by Veronica Smith from The In8 Parent,  but had also planned a multiple sleepover for Berry on the same night. Thinking that Veronica probably wasn’t expecting a vision of chaos with my pre-teen entourage in tow, I called Excel-Man to bail me out! Needless to say feeding, entertaining and refereeing the rowdy crowd while I went to a ‘women’s thing’ was an underwhelming prospect!


So that’s how I left the house, harassed, hot and feeling like it was all too much like hard work!


I had not given the vision board a second thought all day, and I was totally un-prepared for what was to come. In a weak effort to show some enthusiasm I’d armed myself with scissors, glue stick and coloured pens, but I was ready for a passive sit-back-and-zone-out session where other people did the talking and I nodded thoughtfully.


But…it turns out that you have to create your own vision!!


Faced with a table of magazines, a blank sheet of card and a bowl of Cadbury’s Favourites I sat back to flick though the pictures, eat some chocolate and chill for the first time that day.


I really didn’t have a clue what I was looking for!


Having just discovered that a vision board was a personal, flexible, visual creation, representing your hopes, dreams and goals I felt a bit brain-dead visionless.


So I decided that I’d just cut out pretty pictures. I way was too tired to think about hopes, dreams and goals.


And then something happened.





very slowly.

I didn’t even notice

inspiration seeping in.

Cutting, sticking and creating

a vision of me and all I want to be.



A Vision of Me


Without realising it, I had started to shed the layers of mother, wife, teacher and friend. Pictures began to form a vision of me.


vision of me


My vision board didn’t get finished that evening, but it began germinating.


I watered it with hope, fertilised it with dreams and I left it in the sunshine of opportunity.

A vision was growing.


For the next few weeks I collected magazines where-ever I went and when I had the house to myself one afternoon I set about completing my vision board. It turned out like this.


finished vision board

My vision of home, heart, health and happiness

And now the vision board sits right in front of my desk, and while I write I look up at it and pause.

It affirms what I want in life.

It reminds me to connect, grow and create.

It inspires me to be passionate in all that I do.

It speaks to me of fulfilment, love and family connections.

My vision board is who I am, and who I will be, and I love it.


Links you may find useful


If you’re interested in creating your own vision board here are a couple of useful links: