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.


Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Sisterhood-AwardThank you to Reflections from Me for nominating me for this awesome award. This is a blogger nominated award where you can get to know others by answering some light hearted questions.


Here are my questions and answers:

1.What has been your biggest pleasant surprise about starting your blogging career?

My biggest pleasant surprise has been that people who are not duty-bound to read my writing (ie my Mum) seem to engage and enjoy it!

When I first started blogging whilst travelling I was amazed to find that my friends were avidly waiting for the next instalment. But it was after the kilometres were clocked up that my personal journey really began. I had been a Career Mummy and I don’t mean I had a career while I raised my kids – my kids were my career! I baked, played, created, socialised and immersed myself in being the best Mummy I could be. But before I could blink my babies were 12 and 14, they refused to call me Mummy, rejected my helicopter parenting and sought independence! So it is exciting when mummy2mum strikes a chord with readers and they comment, subscribe and share my work.


2.If you could sit down with one person alive or not, who has influenced your writing who would it be and why?

If I could sit down with one person it’d be my Dad. He has been the greatest influence on my thinking, and as my writing reflects my thinking it is his presence that I feel when I write. Dad died in 2009, but we shared a deep desire to find meaning and truth through our lived experiences. On my 12th Christmas he had an astrological natal chart drawn up for me and inside the front cover he wrote the ancient Greek quote

‘Know thyself’.

He inspired me to become a deeply reflective thinker, and I write with a desire to ‘Know thyself’; including the good, the bad and the ugly!


3.Describe your fashion style or lack there of.

Undoubtedly Quirky!

Fashion sense

A picture speaks a 1000 words!










4.Pearls, Gold or Silver?

Silver every time.

I like pearls on other people, but they are too conservative for me. My wedding band is rose gold and I have some gold on my Pandora bracelet, but that’s about the extent of my gold collection!

5.Favourite children’s author past or present?

J. K. Rowling is my favourite author, although technically she writes for ‘children’ I think she speaks to the inner child in all of us. I have read and re-read the Harry Potter series many times, and both of my children share my passion for her writing. I have also been lucky enough to share her work as a teacher and many of my students  have been enthralled and inspired by the world she weaves.


6.Five foods or dishes you can never say ‘no’ to?

  • Salted Red Rock Deli chips – my favourite thing with a glass of wine.
  • Strong cheddar cheese – eaten with dates and crackers.
  • Chilli-con-carne – made by my husband with lashings of guacamole, sour cream and jalapeno.
  • Crispy bacon – with BBQ sauce and hash browns yum!
  • Fruit flavoured jelly sweets (lollies for my Aussie readers) – especially lemon flavoured jelly dinosaurs!


7.The album or singer you are embarrassed to admit you love?

Lets put it this way, I’m not embarrassed to admit to loving Leonard Cohen, but I don’t exactly advertise it either! Why? Because people just don’t get it!! His music is soulful performance poetry at it’s best and it’s mine to know and nobody else’s to share!
8.Are you a party girl or a homebody? And you have to pick one over the other here ladies.

I’m a homebody, although that ‘home’ could be a tent hundreds of KMs from civilisation!! I love spending time with my family, whether it’s sharing a home cooked meal and then curling up on the sofa in-front of a movie, or lighting a camp fire and watching the embers glow. My home is where my heart is and my heart belongs to them!
9.What inspires you to keep blogging?

Five things that inspire me to keep blogging:

  • Personal fulfilment – I simply enjoy it!
  • Purposeful reflection – it gives me a reason to purposefully explore the complexities of family life.
  • Making connections – I’m a social butterfly and I love to connect with my readers and talk to other bloggers.
  • Achieving a dream – writing for a living is my dream and blogging is the first step towards achieving it  
  • Discovering myself – as a Mum I hear the voices of my family, as a Writer I find my own voice.


10.Final question. If you published your dream novel, what style would it be? Fiction, non fiction, romance, murder mystery, self-help, advice, horror, or other?

I have always loved the escapism of the fantasy genre so my dream novel would be a fantasy adventure, following in the footsteps of writers such as Tolkein, Robin Hobb and Christopher Paolini.


I will nominate:

Kamille at Skinny Jeans Mum

Liz at The Connected Life

Sami at Craven The City

Glowless at Where’s My Glow?

Mariet at Practicing Normal


The Rules

Here are the rules:

  1. Link to the person who nominated you.
  2. Add the award logo.
  3. Answer the questions your nominator has asked.
  4. Nominate up to 7 other bloggers and let them know via messages or comments.
  5. Ask your nominees 10 questions.


Your 10 questions:

  1. What’s the most challenging thing you find about blogging and how do you overcome this challenge?
  2. What is your favourite quote and why?
  3. Name one piece of technology that you simply can’t live without.
  4. What is one thing that really annoys you?
  5. Describe one of your most embarrassing moments?
  6. What’s your favourite website and why?
  7. Name one thing that you’ve never done but would love to try.
  8. If you were stranded on a desert island with one book what would it be and why?
  9. If you could travel back in time what period in history would you visit and why?
  10. On your blog, which post is your favourite and why?


Autumn benchYou


You are the anchor that holds me tight

When I am adrift in the night.

Your are the harbour that shelters me,

When the storm rages, it’s you I see.

You are the light that pierces the dull day

My inspiration to find a way.

You are the warmth that curls over my skin,

Calming the tension that tightens within.

You are the roots that spread far from the tree,

Steadfast and strong, holding me.

You are the earth, moon and stars of my world,

Side by side out lives have unfurled.

You are the silence that is all around,

Filled with beauty waiting to be found.

The story behind this poem:

I wrote this while I was travelling in the Northern Territory in Australia in 2014. I had just received the devastating news that my friend’s husband had been diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. When I thought of them, I thought of his strength and how he was her rock; I couldn’t imagine how she would be strong enough to cope with the thought of losing him. As their journey progressed this poem took on a new significance, as she found courage and strength to become the ‘harbour’ that sheltered him.

He lost the fight with cancer on Saturday 28th March 2015. Rest in Peace my friend.

In loving memory of Gary Purmalis.

Where Love Grows

treeWhen I think of a holiday now I imagine lazy days where time is my own, the thrill of not knowing what each day will bring and the opportunity to have some down time.

Rewind the clock by 28 years and I’m 16 with the thought of a holiday raising my heart rate in excitement. Is it the down time or the lazy days that I anticipate so breathlessly?


It’s the possibility of romance.

That elusive little spark called love first flickered into existence in precisely this setting. In my fantasies I was holding hands with a tall dark stranger under the stars on an exotic beach. In reality I was holding a mop bucket for a muscled blonde stranger on a heaving boat in the middle of the North Sea!

Now that’s what I call a reality check!

First Sight

This blonde stranger was one of twelve 16-18 year olds crewing on a 72 ft yacht as part of the Ocean Youth Club program in the UK. I had convinced my parents that it was very safe to send me away for a week at sea, bunking down in mixed gender cabins and going without a shower for longer than is sanitary!

Five school friends and I set off on our adventure of a life time at the tender age of 16, waving anxious parents goodbye on the dockside at Ipswich. Feeling excited and giggling with nerves we chose our bunks and met the rest of the crew.

And that’s when I saw him.

Taller than the rest, obviously the oldest amongst us, he carried himself with a swagger that claimed ownership of anything he graced with his presence.

 I detested him immediately.

Swearing, smoking and cocksure, I found every opportunity to challenge his innate sense of authority. I wanted to put him in his place.

And it wasn’t long before I did.

Sailing across the North Sea is a dirty business. A heaving boat leads to heaving stomachs and after two days at sea we arrived in Holland and were promptly given the task of cleaning the vessel.

Now I had a face that looked like butter-wouldn’t-melt and nobody believed there was an evil bone in my body. For these angelic qualities I was rewarded with the important job of allocating the cleaning amongst the crew. And allocate I did.

The ‘Heads’

The nautical term for a toilet is a head.

With a bit of imagination you can imagine how these minimally equipped facilities fare when being frequented by 17  people. Add to that the disturbing lurching from side to side, the chronic sea-sickness and the lack of a toilet brush and you’ve pretty much got a watered down version of how appealing they are!

Using the heads is like trying to pee in a potty on bouncy castle. There’s a lot of room for error!

So it was with great satisfaction that I allocated this job to Swagger Boy. Of course I wasn’t a complete bitch – I offered to supervise him!

It turns out that Swagger Boy had never cleaned a toilet, so I taught him! And it was somewhere between passing the disinfectant and wringing out the cloth that our eyes met across the mop bucket and something flickered between us.

Well, maybe it didn’t happen quite like that but indulge me, there has to be a place for fantasy somewhere in this story!

What did I discover while cleaning the heads with Swagger Boy?

That  we shared a sense of humour, that we loved to challenge convention, that we had a chemistry between us that made me breathless.

His slightest touch was electric and my senses were super-charged when I was near him.

What did he see in me? Well I like to think it went beyond the fact that out of the 6 girls on board I was the only one who wasn’t sea sick!

There’s nothing quite so unattractive as the whiff of last nights dinner re-surfacing during a kiss!

We were kindred spirits. Adventurous. Rebellious. Carefree.

Swagger Boy was my first love and I light up from within when I remember these times.

He was also my adventure of a life time.

first love holiday romance



And we are still living that lifetime together. 



Love 24 years on


It’s Funny How Things Begin…


Find your open road and just go wherever it takes you!

Comfort zones, what wonderful things they are! Warm, soft and safe, you know just what to expect and nothing ever changes. I enjoy being in a comfort zone, but it doesn’t take me long to feel the need to stretch my wings and push the limits of that space.

It often begins with a luxurious feeling of contentment, rolling in like ocean waves on a calm day.  I relax, breathe and enjoy it.

My comfort zone.

But it isn’t long before I feel fidgety here. My fingertips begin to tingle, my mind starts to look beyond the present and I start to imagine something more.

That’s why I’m here today. Pushing myself out of the comfort zone of my once-a-week blogging, and into this awesome link-up Friday Reflections. Leading the way are two amazing women who open my eyes to new possibilities and encourage me to raise the bar, Janine Ripper and Mackenzie Glanville.

When I think about why I started blogging, I can’t help but think about those comfort zones.

Last year my family and I decided to travel Australia off-road for 3 months in a camper trailer, I quit my job and started blogging! I left behind 3 of my bread-and-butter comfort zones for challenge, adventure and freedom.

This was not gentle shift …I went ‘cold turkey’ overnight!!

  • I loved my job, finding it totally absorbing as a full-time primary school teacher, considering the 30 children in my class like my extended family. Although I left them as their teacher in July, they didn’t leave me until September! I dreamt about them and constantly thought about things I should have passed on to their new teacher!


  • Leaving the house and working from a camper trailer was not so hard, I love roughing it without electricity or showers, but leaving my phone reception behind was painful!  Because we had such limited internet access and opportunities for phone calls were scarce I starting to write about our travels in my blog Speedykniebe.


  • The blog was a way to keep friends and family updated and I thought my children would enjoy writing posts for it too. It’s funny how things begin, they don’t always lead where you expect! I should have known that writing is not considered pleasurable by many teenage boys, especially when there are campfires to be built and fish to be caught! So I took on the job of the blog.


Just Writing

I just wrote whenever the laptop had charge (which wasn’t that often), jotting down exciting new discoveries, unexpected break downs (mechanical and emotional) and stories about crazy characters who spoke to crows. I found that I was starting to look forward to writing, and prioritized it above other things, such as washing clothes or feeding the family!

But there is one moment I remember that particularly stands out as a turning point for me.

I hadn’t figured out how to enable comments on Blogger so although  I posted every couple of weeks I never got any comments on my blog. While enjoying the luxury of a phone connection in Cairns my gorgeous friend Karen asked me impatiently ‘when are you going to put up another blog post?’ She told me with some irritation that her family had been reading them all and were waiting for the next post.

That was my watershed moment.

Somebody was waiting, impatiently and expectantly, to read my writing.


Reflecting on this now I think it really captures everything that makes me passionate about writing. Cliché though it may be, I love writing!

It takes me to a place within myself that I didn’t’ know existed, and something creative just flows.

I get such a buzz from the process of refining and expressing ideas in words, that to find someone else who enjoys reading those words is pure joy. It’s like seeing friends enjoy a delicious meal you’ve created, it nourishes the soul and connects people though a shared pleasure.

So the blog has grown from a travel journal to a journey of personal growth. It’s constantly growing and changing, therefore so am I.

Comfort zones are easier to recognise once you’ve left them behind, so my advice is don’t stay too long in places where nothing changes.


In Celebration of Friends #friendsday



After bemoaning the fact that I was lacking inspiration on what to blog this week, I put the phone down to my Bestie and thought about what she’s said:

I love reading your blog posts, you always write something amazing, I don’t know where it comes from!

Don’t under-sell yourself.

That was just what I needed to hear – support, encouragement and belief.


And that got me thinking about friends.

What are they and why are they so important to us?

Most people seem to have at least one, some have more than a dozen.

There is definitely an invisible compass that measures the degrees of friendship, letting you know when you cross the line between good friend and BFF. Female friendships are more tricky than boyfriends, primarily because you (usually) only have one boyfriend at a time, but you can have multiple friends. Unlike multiple boyfriends, you can introduce your friends to each other and although it’s not necessarily a ‘match made in heaven’, a punch up isn’t guaranteed either!

I have shared my life with many friends from different countries, continents and cultures, and this week I’m reflecting on the complex beauty of those relationships.

My five favourite friendship quotes and how they define my friendships:


Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends.

Shirley Maclaine.

I’m a big believer in opening your heart to people and diving in! Fear of rejection, feelings of inadequacy and over-thinking things holds too many people back from making friendships that could change lives. Don’t make strangers of people who could bring you inspiration, joy and adventure!


I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod, my shadow does that much better.


Well said Plutarch! I did not choose my friends to humour me, they are there because I value their opinions, individuality and originality! When I ask my friends what they think, I know I can expect honesty sweetened  with a measure of compassion when necessary! Because I respect my friends I work hard to be honest in return, even if that means having the difficult conversations when things aren’t quite going to plan.


Men kick friendship around like a football, but it doesn’t seem to crack. Women treat it like glass and it goes to pieces.

Anne Morrow Lindberg.

Wow, this one rings true! The simplicity of male friendships is enviable at times, but it’s the complexity of all that emotional investment that makes my female friendships so intense! I have had friendships that are like delicately blown glass, they are beautiful and absorbing, but so easily broken! Sometimes it’s a clumsy word, a miscommunication that shatters it, but the fall-out is usually messy and leaves more than a few scars.


One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and be understood.

Lucious Anneaus Seneca

These friends are the BFFs of my life. When I’m with them I feel like I’m on the same page, the same wave length in mind, body and soul. These friends understand my passions, pains and petulant moods! They are the cornerstones of my life and although they number few, they are as essential as breathing itself.


A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often – just to save it from dying out completely.

Pam Brown.

‘Little and often’ is my personal motto; I thrive best when I receive regular texts, random acts of kindness and quirky birthday cards. I strive to give the same back but I confess that my long distance friends do suffer neglect at times. Those friends who depend on me finding the time to write an email, send a photo or make a phone call have had to survive in some very thin soil! And that is why I thank Mark Zuckerman for creating a tool that enables the lazy busy friend to connect and comment, share a photo and never have an excuse to forget a birthday! Thank you Facebook!

You help me to mulch, water and grow my friendships around the world.


Lets turn today into a day to celebrate a friend.

Mark Zuckerberg  #friendsday!


This post is dedicated to MJP my BFF with love x


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