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teens

I’M NOT OK, BUT I THINK IT’S OK

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I suffer from mummy guilt.  Heck I suffer from all kinds of guilt to be honest.  There are days when all I seem to do is work extremely hard to gain perfection, even if it runs me in to the ground.  I often chase my tail with this quest for perfection.  I berate myself for not doing enough.  I wonder why I can’t be the perfect parent, have a spotless house, redecorate the house.  And so the list goes.

 

Not surprisingly, research has shown that beating myself up doesn’t work.  It has also shown that perfection doesn’t work either.  These might seem obvious but when I’m in the middle of feeling these things, I often dismiss everything else.

 

In my attempt to move away for this guilt I am trying to work on it.  I am trying to acknowledge the guilt when it raises its ugly head and then let it go.  I have started to work on this and it is tough.  Making a conscious decision to even acknowledge the guilt is so difficult but I know so much will improve if I continue to do this.

 

 

 

I honestly don’t know why I try and be a super-parent.  Do you?  I guess acknowledging that I’m not ok, acknowledging the guilt and releasing surely will have a positive impact on my parenting.

 

Giving myself permission to make mistakes is something I’m not used to but it’s something that I know must be continued.  I need to let go of trying to be perfect.

 

I need to get back to appreciating time spent with my family and stop worrying about the little things (like untidy bedrooms!).  After all, my family means so much to me, being with them is a pleasure.  Things go much more smoothly when I’m in a happier mood.  My kids also feel the benefits.

 

I know dealing with guilt will be an ongoing exercise but I’m sure over time it will become easier.

 

 

Do you suffer from mummy guilt?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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CAN I BRING CALM TO SIBLING CONFLICT?

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Just when I thought most things with my tween and teenager were going well the sibling conflict and fighting escalates!  I am exaggerating but it does seem to happen all the time!

 

I’ve researched a little and wanted to share with you the approach which I am going to try to use to try and sort it out.

 

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I know it’s a normal part of growing up for my sons to fight.  They fight over all kinds of things.  There’s the ‘Get out of my room’ fight.  The ‘Stop looking at me’ me.  The ‘Did you take my…’ fight.  And so, it goes.

 

As a parent, it can be stressful at times for me but I know it is part of growing up and I also know that it is also positive because if I handle it correctly they will be able to solve problems, deal with different opinions and learn how to compromise and negotiate.

 

It’s so funny how some days go.  They can be fighting all day then the next they are being supportive and protective of each other!

 

I am trying my best to leave the boys to it and let them try and resolve the issue by themselves.  While this may take a bit longer than if I stepped in – and less stressful – it’s not really teaching them anything.  If they can come up with solutions themselves all the better.

 

It’s also an issue for me not knowing who started it.  So, I guess if I focus on what the conflict is about perhaps I have a chance to help them solve it.

 

Another problem is that I don’t want either of them to think I am taking sides.  One of them will probably feel they have been unfairly treated or worse, think I’m showing favouritism.  So, my go to strategy will to see if I can motivate them to resolve the issues themselves.

 

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6 TIPS FOR DISCIPLINING YOUR TEENAGER

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Disciplining is difficult as a parent at the best of times.  It becomes even more difficult with teenagers.  Having a balance between instilling independence in your teenager to setting boundaries means as a parent we have a fine line to tread.

 

Below I’ve listed some ways to help you with discipline for your teenagers.

 

Stay calm & don’t overreact

In the heat of the moment this is the most difficult thing to do but it’s also important.  If you need to give yourself time to calm down, remove yourself from the situation for as long as you need.  Also, do you need to say anything at all?  For example you may not agree with your teenager’s haircut or fashion so let it be.  Of course talk to your partner but some things are best left alone as saying something can cause more problems.

 

Be clear & precise

If you have rules make sure your teenager knows about them and they are clear and fair.  This means if your teenager breaks the rule they know exactly what the consequences are.  I would also suggest you make the ground rules together and talk about what is fair and unfair consequences.

 

Listen first, act second

Don’t go rushing in to a judgement or a punishment without listening to what your teenager has to say.  They may have a valid reason for something but you won’t know until you listen.  Hear what your teenager has to say and then take time to respond in a calm manner.

 

Appropriate punishment

Be fair with your punishment and let the punishment fit the crime.  Of course it will depend on the seriousness of what they have done but again have in your mind what kind of punishments would be suitable for different situations.

 

Follow through

I find this is tough, not just for me but for most parents.  Believe in the ground rules you have set and always follow through.  If you don’t then your teenager will start to take advantage.  Consistency is key to this.   Ask for your partner’s help with this.

 

Don’t forget to praise your teenager

If your teenager has done something good or has consistently kept within the rules, praise them.  This will help your teenager’s self esteem.

 

Related posts

Tips on How To Talk to Your Teenager about Alcohol

How 30 Minutes A Day can help you stay connected to your teen

Ways to Keep Your Children Safe Online

 

I hope these tips will help you with disciplining your teenager.  Remember teenagers will want to do different things from what we want them to.  They will also want to find their own way in the world and will rebel against you.  It’s a normal part of growing up.  Before you do discipline your teenager, remember to ask yourself if the situation warrants it.

 

Good luck, let me know how you get on.

 

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TIPS FOR HOLIDAYS WITH TEENAGERS PLUS OUR HOLIDAY PICTURES

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We are just back from a family holiday to France and Germany with our teenagers.  I wanted to share with you some tips I have come back with!  It wasn’t all plain sailing to be honest but I do believe we all had a good time.

 

Below are some suggestions if you are planning a holiday with teenagers.

 

EVERYONE NEEDS SPACE

Of course they are still young but we opted for some of the trip to have the teenagers in their own hotel room.  It seemed to work well and not just for our boys but for us too!  Having the space after dinner certainly helped us and them.  As we all know teenage years are difficult, so having space for them to go to their own room is a great solution.

 

IT’S ALSO ABOUT SPENDING TIME TOGETHER

It doesn’t have to be an expensive holiday or you don’t have to fork out a small fortune to keep them entertained.  The majority of our favourite things on holiday were spending time talking and going for walks in the forests and taking pictures.  It also helped one of the hotels had a swimming pool for the boys to go and get a good work out!

 

 

GUIDE YOUR TEENAGER

Just like at home you will need to guide your teenager.  We found that being allowed to have free reign over the buffet was not the best thing we could have done!  This resulted in an upset tummy!  It might be helpful to guide your teenager through the food options and while they may wish to be adventurous, hopefully they won’t feel too bad after eating something they don’t normally eat!

 

BE PREPARED

The key to our success on holiday was being prepared, packing together, talking about what everyone should bring and allowing the boys to take responsibility for their own items and luggage.  My advice is to be prepared but also involve your teenager in the decisions – including times and places to visit!

 

HAVE A GOOD TIME

Your teenager will be free from all the usual pressures they normally have at home.  They will also be without their favourite games console so be prepared for a little grumpiness!  Having said that being on holiday with teenagers is a great time to reconnect and talk about things without the pressures of home life.

 

If all else fails you can console yourself that soon you will be able to holiday without your teenagers!

 

 

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A GAME PLAN TO HELP YOU PARENT YOUR TEENAGER

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I don’t know about you but there are days when I need a little bit of help parenting.  I try my best to have a great relationship with my teenager as it seems to help with everyone in the household being happy and content.

 

I’ve pulled together what I’m calling a game plan for anyone who needs that little bit of support parenting a teenager.

 

Game Plan Priority 1:  Eat dinner together

Meal times, especially dinner is a great opportunity to catch up with my teenager and talk about what has happened during the day and whatever other things are going on in his life.  It’s also a great opportunity to spot any problems that might arise.  I find this connection to be an important part of staying connected to your teen.

 

Game Plan Priority 2:  Establish together time

As well as meal times, I try and check in a few times a day.  I find that open communication seems to help especially if my son has any issues.  Of course there are times when he doesn’t want to talk but I try and go with the flow on that one!  Also, there are times when I go for a walk with him.  This is a great opportunity for a chat but I just wish he would walk slower!  You can find more ways of communicating with my blog post here.

 

Game Plan Priority 3:  Appropriate Parenting

This has been the most difficult aspect of parenting a teen.  Having an appropriate way to deal with the issues which are sometimes presented.  Understanding that you teenager is growing up and needs more freedom is the first step to being able to parent in an appropriate way without over-reacting.  An example of this was when my teenager wanted to dye his hair – I decided to let him and also help him do it!

 

Game Plan Priority 4:  Keeping the communication going

No matter what is going on in our lives, I try my best to keep the lines of communication going with my teenager.  It’s an important tool to know what is going on – after all if you know then you can help them.  At the moment I am trying to be a better listener and ask open ended questions to encourage my son to continue engaging with us.

 

 

 

I hope the game plan helps you parent your teen.  This is an exciting and challenging time for us as parents.  It’s especially challenging when teens shift their focus from us as mummies and daddies to their peers and other passions.  It is critical then to ensure we remain connected to them and continue to guide them.

 

I’d love to know what challenges you are facing as a parent of a teen.  Feel free to get in touch.

 

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5 MISTAKES I’VE MADE AS A PARENT OF A TEENAGER

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I know my son is no longer a child but it’s difficult sometimes to catch up as a parent when they enter the teenager phase.  That is true of both my teenager and my tween!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing!  Below are some of the mistakes I’ve made.

 

Reading too much

Since my children were born I’ve read many, many parenting books.  To the point I thought there was something wrong with me!  Sometimes it is best to go with your instincts then you can follow this up with having a look on the internet.  You can do this to arm yourself with more information – but don’t overdo it!

 

 

Expecting the worst

You hear so much and read so much about how difficult teenagers can be.  I started off expecting the worst until I realised that I would be a complete and utter nervous wreck if I continued on this path.  So now, I expect the best and if that doesn’t happen then we deal with it as a family.

 

 

Being anxious over small stuff

I would often be concerned about my son’s choice of hair cut or what he wore until I realised that I had to let him make his own decisions.  In fact, that’s why I decided to let him dye his own hair.

 

 

Forgetting about the big stuff

I recently discovered my tween has seen porn, it was a reminder to me to continue to focus on the bigger picture of guiding and protecting my sons as they go through what is a difficult time for them.  It also reminded me to stay involved in their lives – even if they don’t want me to.

 

 

Not too much and not too little

Too much or too little of anything with a teenager is tricky.  In terms of discipline, a fine line is required.  I don’t want to push my teenager way so balancing discipline with guidance is key.  There are times when I get it wrong but at least I will know for the next time.

 

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WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO STEP BACK AND LET YOUR TEENAGERS TAKE THE LEAD?

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It is a fact of the parent/teenager relationship there comes a time when your role as a mother or father changes.  I must say for me it was something I have found hard to cope with.  My feelings were ones of not being needed or wanted.  Of course, the reality is that my teenager is growing to be an independent loving boy who while he still wants a connection to us, he also wants to find out where his place in the world is.

 

Recently I have been wondering what the next stage will be in our relationship and at what point he will be taking the lead and I will be the one following?

 

I can see some of that now and then at age 14 when he isn’t that interested in chatting for long periods of time.  However, I constantly remind myself that it will ebb and flow like this until such times he heads off to University or work.

 

What I’m saying now is that I miss him and he isn’t at that stage yet!  I guess as I see my teenager growing in confidence and independence every day I am trying my best to navigate the changes and the separation as he becomes more independent.

 

The truth is that letting go of our children at whatever stage of development is extremely hard.  I know with my logic head on it has absolutely nothing to do with him not loving me as a parent.  The reality is that my mother isn’t that central in my life today, of course she is part of it but not as much as when I was young.

 

At the moment I’m finding it difficult letting my teenager take the lead.  But I know that it is part of being a parent, after all we successful got through to the teenager journey by allowing him to take the lead.

 

It is only right that I continue to follow his lead no matter how difficult it is for me as a parent.  It’s just that it all seems to be happening so fast.

 

Is there a ‘right’ time to let your teenagers take the lead?  What are your thoughts?

 

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THINGS YOU CAN DO IF YOU CATCH YOUR TEENAGER LOOKING AT PORN

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I am writing this as a parent who has experienced this lately.  Despite my best efforts, my teenager gained access to pictures.  To say I was shocked was an under-statement.  I was alarmed that with all the safeguards I had put in place, in this internet age it’s getting increasingly difficult to protect my teenager all of the time.

 

Of course, my first reaction was panic, anger, annoyance, shock, and a sudden urge to rant and rave at my teenager.  Being a mummy to a teenager I had to harness all my strength to sit calmly and decide how to deal with the situation.

 

First port of call was my husband to chat about the situation.  Together we came up with a solution we were both happy with and which I wanted to share with you now.

 

Normalising the situation

Before approaching our son, we talked about how we both wanted to normalise the situation.  Sex and curiosity about sex is a normal part of growing up and an important part of relationships.  While we didn’t want to endorse the behaviour, we didn’t want our teenager to feel there was any shame or anything dirty about being curious about sex.  So rather than making him feel shame, we talked about his curiosity being expressed in another way.

 

Getting our emotions under control

This was the most difficult part for me.  Of course, having distance from the problem was great, in that it allowed me to calm down.  Having strong feelings about what our teenager had been looking at brought in to question my skills of being a parent.  I realised that being angry was not going to get my son to listen, having the time to calm down certainly helped me to formulate what I had to say.

 

Explaining porn

We felt it was important to talk about our reasons for not wanting our teenager to view porn.  Let’s face it porn sites are not about sex between a loving couple, they contain content that no-one would want a teenager to learn from.  We talked about the exploitive nature of porn and how it isn’t a portrayal of real life.  We also talked about loving relationships.

 

What next?

After the process of normalising the situation, getting our emotions under control and explaining our reasons why we didn’t want our teenager looking at it, we emphasied again what the boundaries were in terms of looking at porn.

 

Of course, we also refreshed and increased our internet controls too!

 

 

Have you had to deal with this issue?  Are there any hints or tips you would like to share?

 

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HOW TO HELP YOUR TEEN WITH HOMEWORK

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When our boys went from primary to post-primary I was staggered at the sheer volume of homework.  Did anyone else notice this?

 

Teens have so much to cope with and added to this homework and it can end up a recipe for disaster!  So, I’m passing on some of the things I’m doing to help my boys:

 

A Place to do Homework

For us it’s the kitchen table.  They are free from distractions – like their consoles and phones and I’m there if they need help.  We keep the TV off so it’s a distraction-free zone!

 

My supporting role

I often ask what they are working on and if I can help.  Most of the times they don’t need help but it’s always good to ask – even if they just tell you what they have to do.  This part is a routine which I’ve got in to and it seems to work well.

 

Organisation

With so many homeworks and different topics we discuss what they should do first and what they can leave for another day – depending on their calendar. This is a great way of instilling some organisational techniques which comes in handy for exam time!

 

When they don’t know and you don’t know either!

While it doesn’t happen every day, there are times when the homework has not been made clear by the teacher or my son hasn’t quite understood it correctly.  We often discuss this where I encourage him to go to school the next day and ask the teacher to explain.  It’s a great way of getting kids to ask questions and to ask for help without feeling inadequate.

 

Do your kids have homework issues?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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6 SECRETS EVERY PARENT SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TEENAGERS

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Teenagers can be a mystery at times and as a mummy to two lovely boys, one is a teenager, the other a tween, life can be fun!

 

Approaching the teen years my hubby and I were a little scared to say the least but we have found that friction between teens and parents is not inevitable.

 

If you take time to read up on what your teenager’s body is going through and why they act the way they do then you too can take courage knowing it doesn’t have to be scary.

 

Of course, we are not perfect parents but we have tried our best to be honest, open and loving so that the teenage years allows our son to find his way in the world and define his own path with the honest answers to questions he asks.

 

We let him know how much we value his opinions, how much we respect his views even when there are times we don’t agree with them.

 

I hope the following 6 ‘secrets’ help you on your parenting journey as your child reaches the teen years.

 

A teenager looks grown-up but they are not

The part of the brain to do with planning and organising is very much unfinished during the teen years.  This is the reason so many teenagers become distracted or forgetful during this period.  Knowing this will give you as a parent the empathy to guide your teenager during this time rather than shouting at how forgetful they are being – truth is they really can’t help it!

 

No matter how much you feed them, it is never enough!

The teenage body is developing more during this period than at any other stage of life so this growing and developing requires a lot of nutrients, hence more often than not teenagers eat more during this period.  Of course every teenager is different but this has been our experience.

 

Teenagers are messy

What can I say; it is a fact of teenage life.  This often goes for both girls and boys in my experience.  Again this is emblematic of the teenage years and is a personal disorganisation brought about by the growing and as mentioned about the part of the brain to do with planning and organising being unfinished.  Of course the untidy room will drive you as a parent nuts but my advice is to relax – it is not an affront to your own personal domestic prowess nor is it about disrespecting you as a parent – it is simply a fact of teenage life.  My advice is not to allow the messy room to become a power struggle between yourself and your teenager.  Instead make it part of earning extra money for extra chores but remember – give them one task at a time!

 

Teenagers want to be understood

There are times when teenagers want to be left alone, they throw out words such as stay out of my business or leave me alone.  While there are times your teenager does need space they do however want their parents to know how they are feeling and what drives them.  Teenagers will continue to challenge you as a parent but remember this is all part of them growing up and finding out who they are.  My advice is to stop and listen to your teenager, be patient and you will learn more about your teenager than you ever thought possible.

 

 

Teenagers are under a lot of strain from peer pressure

There are times when I laugh this off but it is serious for teenagers. Peer pressure is a big thing in their life – from school, from friends.  It is important to steer your teenager through the peer pressure but do it with a bit of sensitivity.  I’ve found involving your teenagers in a club or sport will divert their attention at times.  I would also encourage you to praise your teenager as much as possible which will encourage them to continue to do the action they are being praised for.

 

Teenagers are night owls and not early birds

There are times when teenagers won’t go to bed at a reasonable hour and of course you can’t then get them up in the morning.  Did you know there is a biological basis for this?  During the teen years the circadian clock is programmed differently from adults – it is usually about 3 or 4 hours difference.  So don’t worry about this it will pass but as a parent you should be aware that your teenager may be grumpy and sleep deprived so perhaps if they argue with you it has nothing to do with you at all just the mood your teenager is in.

 

I do hope you have found these tips helpful.  There is no manual on how to raise children, but as parents we try our best to understand how our children act as they do.  We also try to guide, love and cherish them through all stages of their lives.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on raising teenagers.

 

Lisa x

 

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