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Mums, you need this more than you realise!

If you’re a mum, you’re a wonder woman! Keep up the great work.

But there’s something a lot of you aren’t doing and it worries me! 

Something you need to do for YOU!

And that is, build your support network! 

No ‘mum’ is an island. It takes a village to raise a child. Many hands make light work. The list of sayings are endless and very true.

I am so very blessed and fortunate to have an extended support network. I’ve had to build one for myself for my own sanity and because as a single mum, I couldn’t do without it.

 

This week I’ve had to go away for work. Well I didn’t HAVE to but the opportunity paid about 3 or 4 times more than a normal week here at home would so obviously with three kids at school I chose to take the opportunity. I could not have done this without my support network. Firstly my 21 year old niece lives with us and does a brilliant job helping out, but she works as an Assistant in Nursing and therefore isn’t available for a lot of the time. In stepped my first line of support. Another single mum, a good friend, who we have shared ‘kids’ and supported each other for the better part of the past six years. She’s the one who taught Dan to swim! Her kids are like ‘step-siblings’ to my kids. We are like family. I couldn’t do life without her, and vice versa. This kind of kindred support is priceless.

There are many many other friends I can call on for one off favours (and I do, THANK YOU) and sporadic favours  and this fills the holes of the primary line of support. These people are priceless. These people are the village that helps raise my kids with me. I depend on them a great deal and am extremely happy when I get to reciprocate the favours. 

And then there’s my social network. That group of girls who it doesn’t matter where they live in the country they are there for me, and I for them, at any time (child related or not). Catching up with them is filled with laughter, hugs, laughter, food, laughter, and they are lifelong blessings. I am so blessed to have a good two handfuls of them in my life. I love them so much.

If you don’t have support networks it’s time YOU started building them. It’s up to YOU to reach out to others. Not everyone will fit into your ‘network’ and that’s fine. Find your tribe, find your people, find your niche support group. Invite other mums out for a cuppa or make play dates for your kids at a public place. Initiating the contact can cause anxiety and stress for some of you, I know, I understand. But you have to do it. It’s for your own sanity, your own welfare and your own happiness.

So my challenge these school holidays.. let your support network know how much you appreciate them, and if you are yet to build your support network, set yourself some challenges:

  • Organise at least three public place play dates
  • Invite another mum or two for a cuppa with or without kids
  • If you get knocked back by the first one or two invites, don’t take it personally many people are super busy and others have issues that aren’t yours. Try another. Look at your neighbourhood, neighbours, class mates of your kids, mums you run into in the shops a lot (this isn’t always coincidence – one of the people I hold dearest in the universe stalked me in a shopping centre and now I can’t imagine life without her).

In addition to help with the kidsitting and mental support, the other aspect to consider is as mums we have an expiry date on being ‘needed’. Sure as kids grow older they still ‘need’ their mums, they just don’t ‘NEED’ their mums 24/7 and what does mum do then? 

If mum has built her own hobbies, career and/or interests she is just fine (well almost fine it’s never easy as they learn to fly and leave the nest which begins around 13 for most of them. .. damn that first year of highschool). If she has built herself a support network it’s a heck of a lot easier.

I can’t espouse support groups enough. They are there in the good times, the hard times, the rough times, the laughter and the tears and everything in between and as parents, they are crucial. Let yours know how much of a blessing they are to you, and if you don’t have one yet go get yourself one. If you’re in mine, THANK YOU I LOVE YOU and I HOPE I show it often enough <3 

 

Now, don’t forget if you’re after a Christmas gift for your teen or a teenager you know then check out Practical Tips for Teens HERE  

 

AND, If you’re looking to book a holiday, check out wotif.com .. I’m now an affiliate which means I get to feed the kids when you book a holiday through them 🙂 

Enjoy the craziness that is the end of year school calendar. 

Love 

Jo

PS This pic is of myself with two gorgeous mumsat a fundraiser we ran together supporting another family.

 

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Dear High School Graduates…

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CONGRATULATIONS!!! Adulations and well done. You made it. Your ran the gauntlet of 12 or 13 years in the formal education system and survived, hopefully having learnt a great deal, having acquired skills you didn’t realise you were developing and with dreams and passions now to pursue. I hope you really  enjoy the last few weeks as a high schooler for there are ‘changes that come around real soon make us women and men’. (Showing my age singing the lyrics to Jack and Diane! But anyhoo)… A new chapter is waiting for you.

Make sure you truly celebrate your successes, your journey thus far and the friendships you’ve made along the way. As Australians we really don’t celebrate our successes nearly enough. However you choose to celebrate, do it wisely, do it making good choices for yourself and your friends and do it with so much laughter and love you remember these weeks as some of the best of your life.

Some of you will be feeling very nervous, anxious and a little scared about the future. For high schoolers this is one of the most stressful times of your life. Leaving the comfort, routine and familiarity of schooling and now being responsible for yourself, responsible for creating a life you love, Anytime we are anxious it’s because we are coming from a place of fear rather than love. When you change your perspective and start to see things as opportunities to be embraced you’ll find it much easier. Sure it gets much harder being an adult, but with that responsibility comes so much more freedom, all choices (and therefore all consequences) are yours and yours alone, the world is totally yours to do with what you will. YOU get to create the life YOU want. If you’re really struggling talk to your parents, an adult or book yourself into Headspace for a bit of counselling (They’re brilliant at that and it really helps and it’s free!).

Parents and teachers will have given you ideas on where they see your future but you and you alone know what’s in your heart. You and you alone know where your true passions and purpose are. If you’re having trouble figuring those out think about where your strengths are and pursue a life down that road. Some of the wealthiest people in the world made their fortunes pursuing what made them happy (and of course that, just like anything in life, took a LOT of hard work, persistence and perseverance).

Some of you will head off to TAFE or Uni, others to the workforce. Whatever you choose, your education has not finished. Education is about informing yourself. Education is a lifelong endeavour. Giving yourself the opportunity to level up regularly. Now it’s not formal education but up to you. Educating yourself helps protect you from those who will try to bring you down, those who will try to rob you without you realising it, and those who want to take advantage of you – and they will come at you from places you’d least expect. Welcome to adult life. It’s also filled with people who are happy to mentor you, happy to pass on their knowledge and who genuinely want to see you succeed and thrive. So where can you get this ‘outside school education’ … Libraries, the internet and gurus in your chosen industries are where you now go for your education – willingly. Some of you will be happy finding a 9 to 5 job and working for someone else for the rest of your lives, others of you will have businesses developing inside you. Go for it! Whatever your passion, go for it. As Gary Vaynerchuk says (oh and you should totally Google him) “Life’s too short to do shit you hate”. But you still have to feed yourself so when starting out find a way to make an income to support yourself, and build your dreams on the side. NEVER be a burden to others, never expect a handout from anyone, and always rely on yourself. This will build resilience and persistence that will see you go places you never dreamed. Do whatever it takes to create the life you love and want. (And no, sitting on your arse playing video games while being waited on by mum is not an option! That’s what boys do, not men!).

Talking of going places maybe you’ve been working and saving and are going to take a ‘Gap Year” .. a year off from life and backpack across the world. If you are, I am SOOOOO JEALOUS. Travel brings experiences and skills you never dreamt existed. Do as much of that as you can.

If you’re feeling a little lost and would like some more help I’ve written a book called Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens… it’s just $20 or ebook is just $10. Ask for it for Christmas.. it really will give you the edge in starting out and help you level up. Check it out HERE  

Whatever you choose to do, do it with all your heart and create a life you love. Far too many live mediocre lives day in and day out. Life’s short. Make it count. Make yourself happy supporting yourself in ways that make YOUR heart sing. I’m so excited for your future, I hope you are too.

Now go celebrate, you deserve too xo

Love Jo
and the Mentor Mumma Team

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12 – that’s all you get! Make them count.

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Twelve Christmas holidays from when they start school til when they finish. 12 magical holiday periods to create childhood memories. Memories that will last you ALL a life time. Sure there are other holidays during the year, and they get 940 weekends between birth and 18, but the 6 or 7 weeks of Christmas holidays during their school years is different. 

Different because Christmas and New Years are also included. Different because there’s an extended period of time in which to create memories together. More hours to fill up in continuous loops. More time together, and always when prices are at their highest – aka peak season.

It’s so easy to get lost in the end of year school chaos, the pre-Christmas chaos and the getting all your work done so you can take the time off to enjoy with your kids. I’d like to encourage you to start planning these holidays lest they slip by for yet another year.

You could even incorporate part of their Christmas present into it. The calendar idea I mentioned two blogs ago where you give them a calendar for Christmas and put future events, outings, and memory making time together in it. Using services such as Groupon.com to buy discounted activities and outings, even family meals. Amazing memories do not have to cost money – but they do require imagination and getting out and about.

Of course the best memories are made in the unexpected adventures such as getting lost enroute to somewhere, or while doing something complete different. The point is that memories are made while you’re actively doing something. Couch days and what we call lazy days at home are also great and much needed for down time but rarely do they create the kind of lifetime memories you’ll all relish.

Whatever you’re planning for you and yours these upcoming holidays (four weeks time for state school kids) have the most amazing memory making times, and enjoy the chillout lazy days too. If your child is entering high School you’ll have just a few more of these Christmas holidays to enjoy together because soon they’ll have part time jobs and friends that will occupy their holiday period. Make the few you have left count.

And if you haven’t bought your teen or the teens in your life a gift yet you must check out Beyond School: Practical Tips for teens available in ebook or book  HERE

The photo above was taken 6 years ago. Two of them are now teens and the other is an 8 year old WWE, footy loving, never stop dude. It was one of the cheapest weekends away we’ve ever had. I used an online booking service that had a mega special, and we took packed lunches every where and created our own fun. Such fantastic memories made on a limited budget. I have a friend her mum was telling me that one of the best memories her family created, and the grown kids all agreed, was one Ekka show instead of taking them to the show she gave them about $20 each to go to the shops and make their own sample bags. This was about 20 years ago. They all had an absolute ball and still talk about. Memories can be created anywhere.. if you just get up and do something, anything.

Four weeks until school’s out. Six weeks until Santa arrives. 7 Weeks until the New Year. 8 Week’s until my birthday (just had to throw that in hehe). Make the holidays count. Make them a part of your child’s memories. They get one childhood. What will yours remember?

Some ideas for memory making holiday fun:

  • Road trip (anywhere!)
  • Day trips to local free areas you don’t normally go
  • Be a tourist in your own city
  • Get the kids to plan, organise, and execute a day or five each during the holidays where they are soley responsible for making it all happen. Make sure you give them a budget to work with too.
  • Train trips or other public transport to somewhere out of the way
  • Geocaching
  • Beach adventures are one of our favourites – invite friends.
  • Rainy weather is great for couch movie days with popcorn and treats.
  • National Park hikes and waterfalls (perfect for summer) and so many adventures.
  • Grab a deal on scoopon, groupon or spreets and take them somewhere you’ve never been be it a cafe, restaurant, water park, etc.
  • Camping. So many adventures and memories to be had.
  • If funds are okay then how about a flight somewhere for a surprise weekend away.
  • Just so many options to create life time memories. Let us know in the comments some of your tips for low cost fun.

Love 

Jo

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Kids can be arseholes!

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Only a parent understands the “I love him/her but today I don’t like him/her very much at all!” Be they 2, 10, 15, 18 etc our precious offspring who we would take a bullet for, twice, can at times be complete arseholes! Temper tantrums, sibling rivalry out of control, swearing, being abusive, stealing, lying, refusing to do chores, refusing to bathe, refusing peas on the same plate as corn – which yesterday they loved, hating the red cup even though yesterday they loved it, hating you because you got the wrong phone (or whatever), running away, harming themselves, harming others, bullying, keeping secrets, taking their stress and frustration out on you in painful ways, and on and on it goes. They’re amazing human beings with this tendency to occasionally push our buttons or do something that makes us think, you arsehole!!! And the reason it hurts us so much is because we love them so deeply. But they’re still being arseholes!

Few are the kids that are exempt from this classification during their childhood. No parent is exempt either.. doesn’t matter how great a human being and parent you are, you will at some stage encounter an arsehole child.. one you gave birth to! Why? Because they feel comfortable taking their frustrations out on you. Making you the scape goat. And because you love them the most in the world it hurts you the most. 

We’ve had friends whose kids have run away.. Imagine horrifying hours passing, not knowing where your child is. Why the run aways? Most recent was over homework! Others have been because they didn’t want to do the dishes, didn’t like sharing his bedroom with his brother and my own ran away because they had to clean their rooms! Then there’s the little arseholes who lie for a multiple of reasons and excuses… sooo many examples of this from 2 year olds to whoppers by teens who cover for self harming friends which then sees the parents being questioned by police.  Another friends teen daughter decided to leave home at 16 and sever all ties with her family, choosing instead to live with a man almost 3 times her age (yes the police are involved) why? Because her dad wouldn’t let her date the man!!!!. I’ve got friends with adult children who just cut them out of their lives for the most ridiculous of reasons. We’ve known kids who have self harmed and others who have harmed others, intentionally. The list goes on and on and on. Some arsehole acts are small and insignificant that just muck up our hour or our day, others are gut wrenching, soul destroying acts that cripple us emotionally, while most of our darlings arsehole acts lay somewhere in the middle. The point is, you are not alone. Kids can be arseholes! And let me just add, these are everyday people. Every day normal families (whatever normal is!). No one is exempt. Don’t think your family will never encounter these arsehole acts. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Of course there are asehole parents too but that’s whole other issue and blog.

And I sit here typing this at almost 8pm and my darling son is throwing a hissy fit because he’s mega tired after a friend slept over last night and now he’s beyond tired and it’s all my fault, everything is MY fault. Yep, kids can be arseholes. If you want to join like minded parents come on over to our FB group – Parenting Teens and preteens (and any kid really) with Mentor Mumma here

We love them more than our hearts can take sometimes and this is what makes their behaviours seem so arseholey. If we didn’t care, if we didn’t love them with every fibre of our being we wouldn’t care, but we do. That’s parenthood. Loving another human more than you could ever have imaged, putting another human above yourself and willing to sacrifice everything and anything for their wellbeing.

You see kids and teens are human too. The thing is their amazing never sit still brains are firing on all cylinders and many just don’t have the inclination, time or thought process to stop and think how will my actions affect others. They don’t stop to consider how their actions will rip the heart of another human being out of their chest, and render them breathless. They don’t, and I think this is because until you have your own children can you possibly grasp just how much love another human being can have for you and just how far another person will go to protect, nurture and empower another.

The actions of the kids mentioned above are from amazing individuals with their own gifts and personalities that contribute to our world. They just don’t see it in themselves yet. They haven’t developed the emotional capacity to deal with issues in a way that spares those who love them the most heartache and pain. They are yet to realise how their actions can affect others in the most horrific ways. But they’re learning. With each ‘adventure’, with each act of defiance or fear or rebellion or withdrawal comes an opportunity for us as parents to face the behaviour front on, call it for what it is .. an arsehole move, discuss it with our kids in depth, let them see our pain, our fears our love laid bare, and then all move on together.

This is mentor parenting. This is parenting from the heart. This is not perfection in a bubble. No parenting endeavour ever is. Parenting is messy. Sooo soo soo messy. So heart breaking. So emotional. So rewarding beyond words.

If you find yourself with an arsehole child know that this too will pass. Reach out for support and help where needed. Love them through this period and phase, speak openly and honestly to them about your fears, your deepest darkest fears for in that they will begin to see your humanness, and your love.

To all those going through tough patches at the moments with your kids know that whatever it is it’s just a phase. Phases end. Some phases will need your 100% attention, focus and support, others will require you to reiterate time and time again that you are there and have your child’s back anytime they need. They don’t warn us when we give birth and take these bundles home but rather than a beautiful Sunday drive through the country with the occasional pot hole, parenting for the most part is a rollercoaster of laughter, screaming, highs, lows, pain, disappointment, pride and the predominantly euphoric free fall of happiness… interladen with our kids being arseholes!

Wherever you are on the journey, sending a tonne of love. You are NOT alone.

Remember if things are really tough your GP can provide you and/or your child with a mental health plan, Headspace is great for psychological counselling for teens, build up your support network for you will need it more than you can ever imagine and always always be open and honest with your child for this is where love shines brightest.

Don’t forget if you’ve got a teen check out Beyond School Practical Tips for Teens book for them for graduation or Christmas, and our other resources HERE 

Love 

Jo