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.

 


 

It

began

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:

 

 

 

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.

Miserably. 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why PMT is my new BFF!

trickle[1]For a long time I thought that my emotional pre-menstrual week was my enemy.

PMT was the thing that caused me to bite peoples head’s off, cry uncontrollably and take my husband  to task over the  minor details in life! I couldn’t understand how it served any purpose; it put my emotions in the driving seat and I went careening off at top speed through red lights stop signs!

But, just recently I’ve come to welcome PMT as my new BFF.

Why?

I have always battled with the dominance of my head over my heart. I am primarily a thinking person, and much of my emotional activity is analysed, rationalised and sanitised before it is unleashed on the world. However, during PMT there is a dominance switch; and I become a bitch speak my mind!

Bring out the Bitch!

PMT  creates an emotional circuit from my heart to my mouth, and that cuts out the crap!

I am guilty of diluting what I really think to ensure that I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, or make anyone angry. I strive for harmony and reconciliation and as a result carefully phrase everything I say to avoid confrontation. So for my family, friends and work colleagues my PMT week is quite a shock!

For example in my family everyone asks me everything, and I don’t just mean my children! My husband is one of the worst offenders!

Where are the sultanas?  What’s for lunch? Where are my pants? Do we have any more milk?

No-one looks before they ask the question, and my husband’s questions are like a running commentary of his thoughts, an internal monologue with volume! The trouble is (and I know I’m my own worst enemy for this) I can’t help but answer! So when he habitually asks ‘where’s the salt?’ the normal response would be ‘middle shelf in front of the oil’. But during PMT week he gets my internal monologue on full-bore:

Why are you asking me stuff you already know! Open your f***ing eyes and find it yourself!

Needless to say harmony and reconciliation can go and take a run-an’-jump!

The things that flare me up during PMT week are the little things that I usually ignore but do grate on my nerves a lot of the time. PMT week gives them an airing, gets them right out there in people’s faces, and gives rise to a healthy release – either a good-old-fashioned slanging match or simply a few choice expletives!

Everyone knows where they stand at the end of PMT week and I’m reset ready for another month of harmony!

How is PMT my BFF…?

Now, an essential quality of any BFF is to provide you with a shoulder to cry on. But my new BFF can do even more than that…

At the moment I am  hurting inside most of the time, but I just don’t feel it yet. That’s because I am watching while cancer destroys the life of someone dear to me. Again.

But I don’t cry. I get down and dirty with the action of assisting in any way I can. Like a moth drawn to the flame, I can’t keep away. And the closer I get the more it burns, and the more my tears dry up.

My BFF knows this, and knows that it’s not good for me to carry unshed tears. She re-opens the connection to my heart so I can find the time to cry. Like the most nurturing friend PMT heightens my emotional response to everything around me, and generates the very tears that soothe the soul.

So I wouldn’t be without her, she keeps me sane (while driving my husband insane)!

PMT is the best friend a girl could have!

 

 

 

Ten Tips to Kick Worry-Brain into Touch!

Blog wordle feel the fearSo I’ve admitted it, I have been a Helicopter Mum and I’m sure that I will be again! But it could be a whole lot worse if I didn’t kick Worry-Brain into touch!

Here’s my top ten tips for calming the mind when embracing your teenagers new-found independence: 

  1. Get some perspective – use Rational-Brain to counter argue with Worry-Brain. Look at the statistics – and remind yourself how important it is for children to get outdoors on their own to learn resilience and problem solving skills.
  2. Create a dialogue – talk to your children about your feelings and explain that you want to work with them to enable them to enjoy their new independence.
  3. Set reasonable limits – work together in consultation to agree an achievable goal that you can both stick to. For example, I set a time that Berry has to contact me to touch base and this reassures me he’s ok and give him the flexibility to change plans.
  4. Welcome friends – encourage your children’s friends into your home, stock the freeze with goodies to encourage them to stay for lunch, facilitate entertainment like using the pool, x-box or games room. This has a triple benefit – you to get to know the friends they’re hanging around with, gain a reputation as a ‘Fun-Mum’ and you get to supervise them at your place so Worry-Brain really can take a break!
  5. Network – link into the parenting community in which your child is circulating. Get one another’s mobile numbers, this helps everyone to feel supported. Send a communal text as the children leave or arrive at your house, then everyone is a linked into their activities whilst refraining from obviously keeping tabs on them!
  6. Plan for risks  – help your child to think through some risk scenarios and discuss how they would handle these situations. Remember to allow them to do most of the thinking – you’re there to prompt, encourage and question!
  7. Build confidence – theirs and yours! Stay positive, focus on the good things that happened  during their time away from you. If you are a nervous wreck every time they leave the house an unhealthy cycle of guilt and dependence is created. The message you are unconsciously sending says ‘I don’t believe you are capable of this’ and plants the seed for future self-doubt.
  8. Lead by example – be a positive role model, believe in yourself and them. Talk about times when you take risks in your life, how you assess the potential dangers and take action. The bestselling classic ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers is a good start to reflecting on what makes you feel fear and how to break through the paralysis this can create.
  9. Celebrate – in the new-found freedom that your children are achieving, congratulate yourself on having taken a step towards parenting an independent teen and enjoy the new ‘me-time’ that you will have while they’re out having fun! Do something positive for yourself and enjoy your own new-found independence!
  10. Re-connect – Spending time engaged in independent activities adds a new dimension to your relationship with your children. Enjoy hearing about their adventures and re-connect with them as developing people in their own right.

 

When is a Mum not a Mum? When She’s a Helicopter!

Worry Brain saves the day?!
Worry Brain saves the day?!

Am I a Helicopter Mum?

Recent events in the pre-teens department have led me to question whether I am mother or machine!

Twelve year old Berry has suddenly discovered the joys of independence. Friends on bikes come knocking for him and off he goes for several hours. During my childhood in the 70’s this was normal practice for me and my friends, my mum would expect to see me again when I got hungry. But Berry doesn’t even return when he’s hungry; lunch is forgotten and I just have to hope he remembers dinner!

How can I be so relaxed about all this? Well it wasn’t always this easy to sit back and watch him go.

My first glimpse of helicopter hell!

A few months ago Berry asked if he could cycle to his friend’s house one Saturday morning. Excel-man and I exchanged a look of pleasure, as this is the day we had hoped would come. Our children have always been extremely self-sufficient, enjoying one another’s company to the exclusion of friends. This has led us to worry that they don’t have a broad enough social circle and that the day will never come when they go knocking for their friends!

So the answer was  a resounding YES, go and knock for your friends!

Berry dutifully put on sunscreen and hat before opening the garage up and waving as he pedaled off.

But wait!!

Suddenly Worry-Brain woke up to the situation and screamed ‘STOP! You don’t know where he’s going, you don’t know when he’ll be back, and you have no way of contacting him! How do you know if you’ll ever see him again?’

Worry-Brain was right, and without further ado I jumped on my bike and pedalled after him!

He wasn’t far away so it didn’t take long to catch up and explain that I was coming with him – to his friend’s house at least. His crest-fallen face said it all; the sense of freedom and adventure had evaporated and been replaced by embarrassment and disappointment.

To compensate for his loss of street cred. I agreed to ride at least 100m behind him and he reluctantly set off!

However, to Berry’s delight we turned the corner and saw his friends cycling towards us!

‘You can go home now’ he called over his shoulder as he cycled away with the group.

Relief flooded though me. Great, he’s with his friends and all is well.

Worry-Brain didn’t agree…

‘You haven’t arranged when he should come home, he hasn’t got a watch or phone and you still don’t know where he’s going!!’ she whispered furtively.

‘Go away! Next time I’ll agree a time for him to come home and make him wear a watch,’ I retorted smugly.

‘But what if there isn’t a next time…’ Worry-Brain said as she played her trump card.

 

Now that got me moving! I started pedalling as fast as my legs could go, desperate to follow the direction that I had last seen Berry’s group heading in. As I glimpsed them in the distance, I hurtled along, breathing as if I was gasping my last!  Waving frantically the closer I got, one of the boys noticed me and tapped Berry on the shoulder. He looked round and waved, then pedalled away even faster!

A few seconds later he looked back again and waved his hand at me. It wasn’t until I waved back that I realised that he wasn’t at me but waving me away!

As they sped up I ramped up into full pursuit mode!

The group sensed the chase was on and wove their way towards the shopping centre to blend in. Drastic action was needed, and I began to shout,  which was harder than it sounds considering how close I was to needing a respirator!

Berry pulled away from the group and cycled back towards me asking angrily why I was following him? He looked mortified when I explained that he needed to come home to get his watch and agree a time to be back.

At last I breathed a sigh of relief, although I felt a twinge of guilt for humiliating him in front of his friends, I was thankful that I had listened to Worry-Brain.

I took off, but this time I didn’t have to pedal as the transformation was complete…

I’d officially become a helicopter mum!

Dream a Little Dream…

dream-tranquil-reflect-identityOver Christmas my Mum has been staying with me, and it’s been a great opportunity to gather perspective and get back to my roots. I like it when Mum comes, because I get a bit spoilt and indulged as I’m her little girl again! She always brings ‘arrival’ presents and I got a cute sleep set (she has very good taste)! The slogan on the pyjama top reads

“Follow your dreams…”

Sounds like a cute little cliché, but I read it each time I put it on and wonder…what are my dreams? The embroidered dot, dot, dot, at the end of that statement has a lot to answer for! It assumes I can fill that space with my dreams!

With the exception of sleeping, I don’t feel as if I’ve had any dreams of my own for a while. In fact when I think about it, I’ve been too busy to dream at all!

Dreaming inadequately?

When I think of my ‘dreams’ I think they should be larger than life, ethereal visions that inspire, lofty goals that speak of my character and beliefs. I imagine knowing my dreams means knowing who I am and what I want from life.

So you can see why I’ve been feeling a bit inadequate when all I’m dreaming of at the moment is getting five minutes on the computer to write another blog post!

What is a dream anyway?

In reality a dream is a vision, a goal, something just out of reach that tempts you with the possibility of making it real. The quotes for dreaming are highly romanticized, but I like this one by the influential feminist speaker Gloria Steinem:

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

Gloria Steinem.

This is the kind of dreaming I do – planning with a dash of imagination thrown in for good measure! I see lots of new possibilities every day, whether it is for exciting school holiday fun with the boys or simply ideas for this blog! The ideas give me a buzz of excitement and a feeling of possibility. So maybe the ‘Follow your dreams…’ directive isn’t so hard after all. When all is said and done, dreaming is simply getting excited about something new and acting upon that feeling to achieve it.

Look at me go! I’ve just achieved my dream today…and you’re reading it!

Keep dreaming little dreams each day.

 

 

 

 

 

Zombie Mum!

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‘Mum where would you go if there was a Zombie invasion?’

Berry asked me this out of the blue last week. The ‘Mum Brain’ kicked into gear and I ran through a few options for responses: –

  1. Reassure Berry that there’s no such thing as Zombies
  2. Ask him why he’s asking
  3. Tell him where I’d go

Option 1 seemed irrelevant to the question, which was hypothetical, option 2 can be saved for later and option 3 is much more fun, so I went with it!

 

Escaping a Zombie Apocalypse

‘I’d get a massive yacht and sail away from all land and stay self-sufficient until it was all over! Can zombies swim though?’

‘They might be able to walk under water,’ Berry informed me seriously. And that’s when I opted for response number 1 – ‘You know there’s no such thing as Zombies don’t you?’

Well it turns out that there could be. And I suppose that I have told him that anything is possible!

But regardless of the fact that I recounted to him that there has never, in all of history, been a case of the living dead eating people, he still holds to the possibility! Quoting Ebola as an example, he thinks that a disease-causing Zombie like symptoms could lead to mass infection and invasion (although I was at pains to add that victims of Ebola do not eat each other!)!

Oh dear…I thought watching Zombie Land may have been a mistake!

 

So If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them!

When are zombies most scary? When they’re chasing you! But what if the tables were turned?

It just so happens that my gentle, kind mother, who has spent her entire adult life terrified of the memory of a Zombie movie my Dad took her to in her 20’s, arrived from the Uk with some gifts yesterday.

And guess what?  She bought Berry Zombie Dice!!

Perfect timing lol!

But…I am here to tell you that they’re great! You are the Zombie, so it’s not remotely scary. The aim is to eat as many brains as possible without getting shot too many times!

I’ve never aspired to be a Zombie, but Zombies-R-Us, so watch your backs (or your brains)!

Merry Christmas from mummy2mum!

The End of an Era

It’s really happening. Today confirmed my suspicions. They are growing up.

Today was the end of primary school for my ‘baby’ Berry and the beginning of a new chapter.

 

It’s been an emotional day for us both, but for different reasons. He’s saying goodbye to some good friends who are leaving to go to different high schools, and I’m reassuring him that as one door closes another opens! I’m sad to leave the lovely nurturing environment of junior school where you build a relationship with just one teacher, for an impersonal high school where multiple teachers barely remember the kids names.

 

Berry thinks this may work in his favour though; if they don’t remember his name they might not remember his misdemeanours! I think it may too! I will no longer receive the Red Note informing me of an impending detention after a water fight in the toilets!

 

So going to high school means not everything gets back to mum, is this an opportunity to conceal bad behaviour? Or is it a lesson in personal responsibility? If he’s not accountable to me at the end of the school day, then who is he accountable to? The obvious answer is – himself! That most important person who will regulate his behaviour and choices throughout his life!

 

Independence, love it or hate it, it’s coming our way!

Finding the Me in Mum-me!

quote-mother-kids-independenceEveryone says that blogging is addictive, but this is going too far! On Friday I was so absorbed in writing the post The Kiss Goodbye that time stood still – well at least for me it did!

Cyber Kids v Real Kids

When I did look at the clock to my horror it said 3.25pm, and I should leave for school at 3pm!! So I was like a crazy thing tearing around the place and charging off to school. Biscuit and Berry were happily kicking a football around with their friends, unfazed by my lack of punctuality.

However the irony of the situation does make me smile. I was so busy thinking about my cyber kids ‘Biscuit’ and ‘Berry’ that I forgot to attend the real life versions of them!

Something Missing?

So having learned my lesson, the next day Berry was at a friend’s place and Biscuit was at sailing. With tough conditions on the ocean he was cold and tired when I collected him at 6pm, and looking forward to the promise of a warming dinner and a movie.

But…while he was out I had been absorbed in completing my About Me page in the blog and guess what…I remembered to collect him (Yay!) but forgot to cook dinner (Boo!).

So what can I take away from all this? Set a phone alarm!!

What’s so addictive about blogging? When I write I find a place that I haven’t visited for many years.  A place within me.

A Place Within Me

Writing is like taking a new lover; absorbing, enthralling and consuming. I long for it when I’m not able to get away from other things, I anticipate it while doing those things and I feel it’s pulse in my body all the time.

Although the dinners and the school runs may have been missed recently, I think something deeper has been missing for longer. Me. And my connection to self.

Strange really, that by reflecting on my role as mum, I have started to discover me! But I guess that’s a symptom of the children getting more independent, they’ve left a space where mummy used to be. Now they only need mum and so that leaves more time for me!

The Kiss Goodbye

Elephant on a bench in the skyI was so sad to hear the news that Phil Hughes had died yesterday. Seeing the weight of grief on all those close to him touches my heart.

In her shoes

The loss resonated deeply with me as I imagined myself in his mum’s shoes, watching her son proudly from the grounds. I imagined her shock at seeing him injured and the increasing worry when he did not get up. It is as if the universe unravels as the realisation descends that he will not be waking up again.

The fabric of our lives

News like this chills the hearts of all those parents who regularly support, encourage and deliver their children to the multitude of sporting activities around Australia every week. I am one of those parents, taking Biscuit and Berry to soccer and sailing week nights for training, and weekends for matches and racing. It is the fabric of our lives that weaves us together as we work for a common goal, championing our children to be the best they can be.

But this sort of news reminds me that all sport carries some risk, that no matter what protection is put in place, freak accidents do happen. And that scares me.

Small acts of sentiment

When I drop Biscuit at sailing I can’t leave without kissing him goodbye. It takes me a while to prise my eyes away from his busy little form setting up the boat. These small acts of maternal sentiment belie a darker fear; that I may not get to hold the warm animated boy again. That fear has just been realised for Virginia Hughes.

It is this knowledge that makes me want to hold my children tight, to wrap them up in cotton wool and protect them from the world. But that’s not living, it’s suffocating.

Life without risk is no life at all

So I encourage my kids to take risks (little well-managed ones) and experience the thrill of sport and adventure. I bury the fear that tightens my throat when they sail off into the unknown, and say a little prayer that they will come back brimful of stories that bubble over with laughter and excitement.

Life is for living so I let them live it to the full.