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P Plater teenage drivers and their cars

P Plater Teenage drivers are deemed competent to drive on the road, however, they are STILL learning and there are sooo many things for them to learn. It’s an exciting time. It’s also a time for learning road safety, road rules – legal and the unspoken.

Last month my Miss 17 passed her driver’s license test and received her Provisional License. I was excited for her and filled with dread at the same time. Every parent of teens has felt it. They’re off, out there, on the roads, on their own, at other driver’s mercy. I’ve had my share of P plater ‘close calls’ too, and I won’t stereotype, however all have been roughly the same age and species. I’ve also driven with my Miss 17 when she was on her L’s and had a red P Plater ‘harass’ her on the highway (lesson, slow right down and let them disappear into the distance but memorise their rego first).

If you’re on the roads, remember P Platers are still learning – give them space. If you have a P Plater teach them respect and road courtesy along with the road rules.

Her first car – she paid cash for it

Then they save hard and buy their first car, organise their insurance and roadside assistance and are out driving around. We live on a peninsula and so Miss 17 is parent/self restricted to driving locally until she has completed a Defensive Driving Course. I’ve had good friends lose loved ones in car accidents in the blink of an eye and I will do whatever I can to never ever have to live that heart break. Anything I can do to prepare her a little more for life on the road, protecting herself and others, by driving defensively is a must, in my eyes.

Despite having driven in a car for around 17 years, most teens do not have a clue about the workings of a car (nor do a lot of adults for that matter). So many things to teach them (some from my mistakes.. like the time I FILLED the oil up in the car and had to drive it up and down the street for weeks to get the smoke to subside!). In addition to showing her physically where everything is and what to do I drafted the below list for her in case of times when she may need to be reminded or be too stressed to remember. It also has all the important details on it. I’ve attached it below should you wish to personalise it and print it out for your driving teens. The first one seems overprotective, but a few years back a friend was carjacked in Indooroopilly in Brisbane – probably one of the safest suburbs you can think of! The list is written with my Miss 17 in mind and female security, you should amend according to your P Plater.

It is the most exciting of times – all that freedom, for them and their previous parent taxi! It’s also the most worrying of times – and learning to trust that they will be okay and that they’re prepared for anything that might happen out there on the open road. My Miss 17 was previously a scout and their motto is: Be Prepared. And isn’t that our job as parents, to prepare them, and as they take flight, ensure they have as much knowledge and preparation behind them as is possible.

Drive safe everyone – my baby is now out on the road with you,

Jo.

The List

Tips for driving and owning your own car

  1. Always lock the car once you’re inside and always drive with the doors locked.
  2. Before heading to your car, always have your keys out ready to go.
  3. This goes without saying, phone in the glove box so it’s not a distraction but so you can reach it if you need to pull over and use it without having to get out of the car.
  4. Fuel: Unleaded including E10. Fill up on days when it is cheapest, usually Tues to Thursday. Never let the fuel tank get below a quarter, lest you get dirt in the pipeline. There are free fuel apps to tell you where the cheapest petrol is nearby.
  5. Should you break down. Pull over to the side of the road, as far off the road as possible. Put your hazard lights on. If someone stops to help wind the window down just enough to tell them that you have RACQ on the way, thank you anyway.
  6. Call RACQ if you break down or get a flat tyre 13 11 11 and always stay in your car with the doors locked until they arrive. They’ll ask your rego number: xxx, xxx. (Most tyres are machine tightened these days and you’d be hard pressed to loosen them let alone get them off).
  7. Tyre pressure: This will be written on the tyre or in your manual in the glove box. Your car is 32 in the front and 35 for the back tyres.
  8. Accidents:
    1. Should you ever have an accident ensure you drive the car off the road if you can, hazard lights on, then swap details with the driver of the other vehicle including: Registration; Full name, phone number, license number and their insurance company. If they don’t stop, try to remember their registration plate. They can be traced that way.
    2. If the car is not able to be driven, then call RACQ for a tow.
    3. Insurance: You pay the excess (general $600 PLUS age excess $400 = $1000 when you’re at fault or the other driver does not have insurance). So, drive carefully, focussed and being observant leaving plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. Regardless of why, if you run up the back of someone, you’re at fault, vice versa if someone runs up the back of you. ALWAYS get the rego of the person in front of you if you do have an accident.
  9. Carry a bottle of water in the boot (or if the car uses coolant then spare coolant too) and oil in case the light comes on for oil or overheats.
  10. NEVER EVER open the radiator cap until the car has cooled down – hot coolant can explode out and burn you if you do. Ouch.
  11. Filling the oil does not mean FILLING the oil. If the oil light has come on put about a litre in then check the dipstick. Do this until it is at the right level.
  12. The lights on the dash mean something needs filling up or fixing. Look in your manual to see what it is referring to. Do not ignore the lights.
  13. Lights use fuses which you can buy for very cheap from Supercheap and replace yourself.
  14. Headlights and brakes will need replacing occasionally. Go to Supercheap, you can pay them to put them in for you (Usually costs you about $5 to $10 for the bulb and $10 to $15 to put the light in).
  15. If the brakes start to feel soft or not stop as quickly as they used to you will need to get them replaced. These are usually around $200 and need replacing every couple of years.
  16. Mechanic: We’ll find you a good local one for you to continue going to to build up a working relationship with. Try to get your car serviced as close to the suggested dates or kilometres as you can. This will help your car run better and for longer.
  17. Your P plates tell other drivers you are still learning. It makes them aware to give you space. Unfortunately, it’s also a red flag for dickheads – don’t let them rattle you. Stay focussed, give plenty of space and don’t be afraid to slow right down and let them disappear into the distance.

Important phone numbers in case you need it if phone goes flat etc:

Support person 1

Support person 2

Support person 3

Support person 4

RACQ road side assistance:  13 11 11    My rego number is:

Police/Ambulance/Fire: 000

Police Link (non-emergencies): 131 444

Insurer:

Insurer Phone number:

Policy Number:

Rego due:


The list does not cover everything but tries to cover the basics. Anything important I’ve forgotten or that you would add?

Have a great week, and enjoy being chauffer driven around by your P Plater – even if you’re relegated to the back seat by excited siblings (#justthisonce).

Jo



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Tips to do a No Spend Month: $1k here we come.

One way to raise money quickly is to do a no spend month. Budgeting and saving money comes in many shapes. This is just one. Won’t you join us?

For the Month of May our little family of four will not spend any money on anything other than what has already been budgeted for (Food, bills, petrol, mortgage/rent) – no entertainment or social budget this month, no eating out, no coffees, cokes or maccas, no socks, jocks or million other things we ‘need’, no extras at all. (As a disclaimer I do have a 3-day cruise this weekend and have already budgeted and saved up my spending money (aka booze money) for that #priorities!!).

And, Yes there’s Mother’s day this month – if you haven’t already purchased a prez or budgeted for it in another account you’ll have to get creative. We had an early Mother’s Day dinner while Mum was in town kid sitting for me while I worked away. Meanwhile let me tell you, vouchers for massages from kids are THE best prez us mums can get, seriously better than diamonds if the massages come to pass! We also love hand written poems from the heart and who hasn’t still got a macaroni cup or equivalent on their desk! Get creative.

Below are some tips to help you and yours embrace a No Spend Month.

Tip 1.

Know your why. Why are you doing a no spend month. What’s your goal?

This month I need to boost our emergency fund by $1000. The purpose of an emergency fund is just that, for emergencies. Things you don’t see coming, so you’re prepared and won’t have to go into debt, hopefully. Ours took a beating with me needing to dip into it for car repairs I wasn’t expecting to be so high, time to top it up again so I have a buffer. Anything we save above that will go into paying down a HECS tax debt I incurred last financial year #oops. Holiday fund needs a top up too. What’s your why and your goal? Write them down and display it prominently on the fridge or back of toilet door, or both. Keep it in the eyes and minds of everyone.

Tip 2:

Get the whole family on board. Set the expectation. Let them know why and what and for how long. Turn it into a game if you can. Let them help you come up with creative ways to not spend money. Make up charts if you have smaller kids. If you have teens put up motivational money saving quotes around the house. Teach them the life lesson of sacrificing now for safety in the future (or a holiday or whatever your goal is). In a generation of ‘give me now’ delayed gratification can be a brilliant life lesson.

Tip 3:

Ensure you have budgeted correctly. You should already have your budget planned for the year – how much each pay you need to set aside for the bills, education (which seems to increase every year lately!), petrol, food, and mortgage/rent. Not another penny gets spent (and let’s put it out there no emergencies occur this month!). Having budgeted correctly, stick to it. With food and petrol, I find it good to get that amount out of the bank which reduces the risk of overspending. I get paid fortnightly, so I plan to shop and fill up with petrol each week (So it feels like I’m spending some money and so it’s easier to manage the sticking to budget – this is what works for me).

Tip 4:

Reduce food bill on top of no spend month. Our normal food bill (for myself, Miss 17, Miss 15 and Mr sporty 10, and the cat) is normally around $200 per week. For this month I’m reducing it drastically to $125 per week! #gameon

a) Meal preparation is the key to this one. Plan what you and yours are going to eat for every meal for the week, including snacks. What home made snacks can you make. Account for every dollar spent in the shopping by tying it to a meal (or household need – e.g. toilet paper, cleaning items etc).

b) Pantry challenge. Using what’s already in the fridge, freezer and pantry may seem logical but have you emptied the pantry to see what’s in there that can be used? Simple Savings have a $21 challenge where all you spend on food for the week is $21 to top up bread, milk, fruit and veg then everything else for the week comes from being creative with your pantry, fridge and freezer supplies. I haven’t shopped a full shop in a while so not sure we can do that, but we’ll certainly be inventorying our pantry and freezer. Over the next week I’ll do a post on our pantry and meal preparation and how I went sticking to $125 for the week. Wish me luck!

Tip 5:

Make sure you still have family outings.

Get creative. Perhaps sit down as a family and come up with some free family outings or social things you can do. Some suggestions:

  1. Invite friends over for a BBQ – everyone brings their own food, drinks and eating utensils.
  2. Organise a play day in the park if you have smaller kids – take your own snacks and sangas.
  3. Family beach day with a picnic.
  4. If you have petrol left over for the week take a drive somewhere you can go for a family walk/hike.
  5. Have a family games night/day at home. If you’re game invite friends and ask them to BYO snacks.
  6. Local museums are usually free entry. Check out what other local attractions are free and visit them – play tourist in your own region.
  7. If you’re so inclined and have the equipment, go fishing and get creative with bait (or budget into the food shopping!). If you catch dinner, that’s a savings!
  8. Visit relatives you don’t see often, especially elderly ones.
  9. Get out into the garden and do some gardening, potting, planting or tidying up.
  10. Declutter the house and look for things to sell to make some extra cash. You could make it a family challenge – whatever we sell this month we put towards eating out, going on a holiday (even if it’s just an overnighter somewhere) etc to inspire the kids.

The list is endless. Would love to hear what you’ve done with yours that was free or budgeted from the food budget.

That’s my top tips. Will check in with you all later in the week to see how you’re progressing. Don’t be shy…the only thing you have to lose is unnecessary expenditure. It’s amazing once you take out all the ‘wants’ as opposed to needs, how much you can save and how quickly.

Show us a photo of your goals/whys posted around the house.

Love,

Jo

Mentor Mumma

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7 Tips to help your teen through exam time

Helping your teen through exam time doesn’t have to be a mine field of walking on egg shells and tip toeing around. It’s about being practical and helping them identify their own responses and showing them how to address these issues. Ensure you’re not adding pressure by setting unrealistic expectations or standards on them, and they’re not doing the same to themselves. Their lives, their choices, their consequences.

Some students will mask their stress and anxiety with a complete shut down of “I don’t care” and take themselves out of the game by just not trying, or taking part. Making out they don’t care about their grades (if a child in senior is doing this either they’re doing the wrong subjects or they’re not equipped to cope with real world stressors’ or aren’t worried about the future which is another topic for another time).

Some will take on board every little thing and react with either emotional or angry outbursts or both! 

Some aren’t academic and may or may not stress over upcoming exam times by getting depressed at their perceived lack of achievement.

Some kids will breeze through exam time, knowing they’ve done the hard work and their best is all they can do (for this group, a huge kudos to you as parents for teaching them these amazing life skills).

But what can I do?

   1. Help your teen recognise some stress is okay.     

 Stress is a natural response. It’s a healthy response. It can motivate, drive and keep you focused. But there comes a point where too much stress turns to anxiety and causes mental health and/or physical issues. Everyone’s stress levels differ. Help your teen identify when they’re moving into unhealthy stressing and give them some coping mechanisms such as the one’s listed below. If it gets too bad it may be time for some professional intervention such as school guidance counsellor, seeing a psychologist through a GP Allied Health Plan or Headspace etc or helping them learn meditation and breathing exercises.

   2. Check in with them regularly

You can check in with them regularly – not when they’re studying but on the drive to school, at breakfast or dinner time – it’s important during exam times to have family meal times – no devices, no study notes, no headphones, just family time to offload, talk things through, to keep a bit of normality in their lives. 

     3. Give them their space

You can give them their space. Ensure they have a quiet, suitable study place in the home where younger siblings will leave them alone and they can concentrate. 

   4. Spoil and remind 

Spoil them: My grade 11 daughter has her study desk in her bedroom which at the start of study period I plaster with positive and encouraging post-it notes for her, reminders to take a break, breathe and hydrate etc. I also stock it with bananas, fruit and nut mixes and her favourite chocolates – Lindt.

   5. Prioritising study over work

If they’re working part time help them to manage this with study and deadline expectations. For student’s going for university entry scores now is not the time to be getting as many hours at work as possible, now is the time to prioritise study. Teach them how to liaise with their boss to get required time off. Short term losses for long term gains. It’s also a great life lesson to teach them.

   6. Prioritising tasks

One of the greatest skills teenagers can learn is time management. Teach them how to prioritise tasks can help reduce stress and help them feel more in control. Having assessment pieces handed in prior to due dates teaches them not to leave things to the last minute, reducing a lot of stress. It also then clears them up to focus on exams.

   7. Teach them all your study tricks

Teach them all the tricks you learnt or if you weren’t very academic or scholarly ask someone you know who was, for their top tips. As someone with 3 degrees, mine are:

  • Eat properly during study and exam periods, it makes a big difference to mental state and memory
  • Magnesium is natures chill pill – most of us are deficient in it, and if your student has a lot of acne it could be a magnesium or zinc deficiency. Grab a bottle from the chemist and have them take one of a morning, if taken at night it can cause sleep disruptions for some people.
  • Teenagers get less sleep during exam times but it’s important to encourage them to get adequate sleep, to go with their healthy eating to get optimal results.
  • Each day during term recap what was taught in class. Learn it as you go along – a lot less time consuming and a lot less stressful than leaving it to a few days before the exam to learn and understand.
  • If you can’t explain something in under 3 sentences, you don’t understand it well enough. Study to understand, not remember.
  • Hydrate regularly
  • Set an alarm on your phone and get up every 45 minutes for a 5 minute stretch and walk around to get the circulation moving in your body.
  • Record your notes during the semester onto your phone and listen to them as you go to sleep. You’ll be amazed at what gets into your conscious and sub-conscious that you can recall when required.
  • The mark you get on this assignment or exam is not the definer of future success and careers. There are so many different avenues to so many different careers and jobs these days. Do your best but don’t let it affect your mental health.
  • Set realistic expectations. If you haven’t put in 2-3 hours of study each night after class for most of the semester (remember we’re talking to OP/ATAR seniors here) then you can’t realistically expect to fly through your exams. Recognise the effort you’ve put in and be realistic about the outcome you can achieve.
  • Remember, failure is a crucial step on the path to success. Worst case you fail, and learn from the mistake. 
  • Post-it notes around the house are under-rated – use them, everywhere.
  • “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right”. Henry Ford. The mind is amazing, teach your teens to think positively. Teach your teens of the plasticity of the brain and how they can change their lives by changing their thinking.

Remember, if stress gets beyond the normal, seek professional counselling and services.

Good luck seniors, school holidays are so close.

Good luck parents, empty nest is far too close now (and that’s a whole other article).

With Christmas and Graduations just around the corner, get in early and pick up some of our last remaining copies of Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens which is 16 chapters of tips to help your teens navigate the real world. Pick up a copy for just $10 HERE

Love,

 

Jo

 

 

 

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Why my 9 year old does his own laundry: Kid’s chores

My 9 year old does his own laundry, because …. he can!

He CAN carry his washing basket to the washing machine.

He CAN put the washing in, turn it on and put the detergent in (because I taught him).

He CAN take it out of the machine.

He CAN reach the clothes line.

He CAN use pegs (most boys learn this at age 5 when they put pegs on their lips, eye brows and ears!).

He CAN get the clothes in when dry.

He CAN take them to his room.

He CAN put them in their right drawers.

 

Now, just because we can do something doesn’t always mean we should, but in this case, if he CAN he should.

He SHOULD learn life skills that instil independence.

He SHOULD learn the value of his clothing by taking care of them including washing them.

He SHOULD learn work life play balance by scheduling in ‘boring’ chores in his week.

He SHOULD see mum as someone other than his maid.

He SHOULD carry his age appropriate share in the household lest he grow up with a sense of entitlement.

He SHOULD have responsibilities that directly affect and benefit him.

 

I work 38 hours a week plus. I take care of the shopping, mum taxi (omg sooo many hours clocked up as mum taxi), running the household, most of the cooking (he also cooks one night a week as do his sisters, but that’s another story) etc etc etc.

He goes to school for 30 hours a week. Spends 4 hours a week in after school curricular activities (all sport focused because that’s how he rolls) and spends most of the rest of the time playing (trampoline, xboxing, getting fit (he’s obsessed at the moment), practising magic, watching WWE, watching the NRL, watching America’s Got Talent, Running, hanging out with mates etc etc etc – therefore half an hour for putting the washing on, getting it in and putting it away leaves ample time for all the ‘kid’ stuff.

His footy team have a parent roster where on a rotational basis the families take responsibility ever 12 or 13 weeks for providing the fruit for half time and washing the jerseys. For the past two years Mr 9 has been responsible for collecting the jerseys from the coach at the end of the game, responsible for washing the jerseys, hanging them out, folding them up (still perfecting that but we go for progress, not perfection) and putting them in the jersey bag and returning to the coach. Why, because he can. Because it’s his team. Because HE plays footy not me (I pay registration, I pay for the new boots, the new shorts, the shocks, the mouth guard, the headgear, the chest pads, and I”m the mum taxi and biggest fan/cheerer). This teaches him to contribute outside himself. This teaches him to give back. It teaches him it’s awesome to have fun, but works often goes into fun. Ultimately it’s my hope that this teaches him gratitude for what others do for him.

And if he wants to earn pocket money the Bank of Mum pays $5 for a load of towels, $5 for a load of my washing amongst other chores he and his siblings can choose to do for spending money for holidays, events, going out, or saving.

That’s why my 9 year old does his own laundry.

Have an awesome week and stay warm.

Two weeks until holidays for we Queenslanders’ – hoping for snow within driving distance for ours. 

Love,

Jo.

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Reflections ….. aka It’s my birthday

One life- many lives lived

Reflections usually happen around the start of the year which also coincides with my birthday – good timing! This year I’ve been focusing on what I want to be when I ‘grow up’.  Contrary to what our kids and teens think, most of us adults are just winging it, and the decisions we make as seniors in high school rarely see us in the ‘career/job’ we thought we’d be in 30 years later. It’s important to keep reiterating this to your senior schoolers – it helps take the stress out of things that your decisions now, are it! They’re not. We get so many goes at creating our own lives and we get so many lives within our one life. As part of my work in the Aged Care Industry one thing that is common in across all conversations with 80 and 90 year olds is that we have so many different lives within our one life.

Choices + Consequences = Creation

The good news is if you make bad choices in one part of your life, that doesn’t have to reflect in your next chapter. We get to decide. We get to make choices that change our ‘destinies’ and we get to create our own lives. Another amazing thing to teach our kids. Our choices, lead to consequences that create our life = awesome. One of my favourite sayings goes something like this “If you’re not happy where your life is, get up and change it. You’re not a tree!”. One bad choice may result in some pretty bad consequences but that doesn’t define who you are or who your teen is. Next choice can be better, and so on and so on. Same goes for us and our budgets.. just saying 🙂

Goal Set – Vision Setting

But just like anything in life once you’ve made the choice to go in another direction, start a new career, start budgeting better, plan a holiday or whatever your new dream is you need to set yourself achievable and measurable goals. Teach your kids how to set goals. Maybe do some as a family this week before school goes back. Talk about what making the choice to achieve a particular goal will look like in the form of the consequences .. short and long term. And as always I promote doing vision boards. A page with pictures of your dreams on them… then setting your goals, mini and mega, on how you’re going to get there. Eg. Family holiday that will cost $10,000 in 18 months. Well that’s X amount per week we need to save, so in order to do that we will cut x from the budget, declutter our home together then hold a garage sale or Ebay to get rid of it and bring some extra cash into the home (or find extra work, or take on extra clients or shifts, or teens getting jobs or or or the possibilities are endless). Your life, your choices, your consequences remember 🙂 

Happy birthday to me – what next

Since I was little I’ve wanted to be a writer. I still do. That hasn’t changed at all. So I write where I can. I get paid to write reports after my assessments. But ultimately my absolute passion is in researching and writing articles, ebooks and books that improve other people’s lives (usually because it improved mine first through learning the hard way). So with that in mind I’m still writing my blogs, I’m still promoting my book Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens and beginning my next one “How to raise independent, responsible and resilient humans’ (or something like that… haven’t got the exact title yet), and have another venture or two up my sleeve that I won’t jinx by talking about it before it happens. Stay tuned…..

It’s still the first week of January.. first week of the new year.. a clean slate still before us..  what choices will you and yours make this year that require goals to bring about the desired consequences that create the lives you want? Go for it.. you’re all worth it and what a great thing to role model to your kids and teens.

If you haven’t joined our Facebook private group, come on over HERE 

The kids spoilt me as always for my birthday… all with their own money and minds. Miss 15 got me a massage voucher, Miss 14 a spa pedicure voucher, and Mr 9 a scented candle with diamonte heart band, and Choccies.  We went to the movies to see Pitch Perfect 3 and then Chinese Banquet dinner nom nom nom. Have felt the love with all the texts, calls, and posts xo xo xo  I’m 35..with a ‘few’ years experience 😉 Thank you for the love, I’ve definitely felt it.

 

 

Love 

Jo

 

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Mindful Parenting for 2018…

This photo was taken almost 40 years ago!  And when looking for a suitable photo for today’s blog on Mindful Parenting I came across it and thought it illustrates perfectly what I want to say today. The older child, is me.. almost 40 years ago! When I turned 21 my Dad said from now on you’ll find time goes so much faster. He was right. This parenting caper we think will never end when they’re toddlers and primary school kids, goes at lightning speed once they hit the teen years. For my parents they don’t just wonder where the 18 years of our childhoods went, but where that last 40 years went! And as our own kids near their teen years or enter them we begin to think have I taught them all they need to know, there’s still so much more they need to learn for the real world, have I prepared them enough.

 

In Australia we have 25% of our population living in poverty! (Oh wow this blog took a hard core turn! Did not see that coming!). The Poverty In Australia Report (2016) states that 17.4% of all children (under 18) were living in poverty in Australia in 2013-2014. For single parent homes that rose to 40%! And that was an increase from the 2003 to 2004 period! 

 

“More than 730,000 children live in poverty
(one child in six). In single-parent families,
four children in ten now live in poverty.
After 25 years of uninterrupted economic
growth, we can do better than this!”
David Morawetz, Australian Communities Foundation (Social Justice Fund)

One major way this stops and corrects itself is to break the cycle (you may have seen me use #breakthecycle a fair bit, it’s so close to my heart). And how do we do that?

It starts at home.  It starts with making different choices for ourselves and our kids. We can blame the education system all we like but the harsh truth is real life lessons should be learnt and taught at home. Sadly,  many adults do not know how to get themselves out of poverty or are unable to and therefore are unable to role model and teach this to their own kids. (Obviously I”m not talking about people with significant disabilities (mental or physical)).

HOW? – Mindful Parenting

Mindful parenting is the idea of raising your kids in a purposeful way. On top of all the extra curricular activities and being a ‘kid’, it’s about implementing things in the home that teach them life skills and more importantly money skills and strategies that will help them stay out of poverty.

What? Ten top mindful parenting tips to help your family #breakthecycle

  1. Teach them real life skills such as how to cook and make them responsible for planning, preparing, cooking and serving a  meal and cleaning up from it once a week (From 9 years onwards with lots of guidance and teaching from you to start with).
  2. Have them earn money from a young age and teach them the value of money. One of the things we do is when we go out for a day my kids buy their own lunches with money they’ve had to earn. This teaches them the value of hard work, the value of a dollar, the value of spending wisely, the value of saving so you can spend it in the future (and as they get older teaches them about saving so they can invest in the future). Find something for your family.
  3. Become financially literate. Teach your kids to budget. As they enter the teen years show them the household weekly and yearly budget and help them do the budget for the week/fortnight/month including the shopping list, shopping, paying the bills etc with your guidance. Help them set savings goals. As parents I highly recommend you read Scott Pape’s book “The Barefoot Investor”. I promise you will thank me.
  4. It will not kill your kids to do their own washing (after about age 9 – when they can reach the clothes line and washing machine). In fact it will teach them mum is not a maid, they are responsible for themselves, and a life skill. 
  5. Do your future son and/or daughter in laws and grand children a favour – teach your kids how to be great role models for their own future families with money, relationships, goal setting, dreaming, working hard and having purpose. For some of us we need to learn these skills ourselves. Education is not just 12 years it’s life long. Teach them to educate themselves – this is a vital life skill. Some kids don’t know how to research on line, show them, some kids don’t know how to get a book out of the library, show them….
  6. There are plenty of online financial courses you can do – everything from budgeting 101 to how to invest to make your money work for you. If you are Centrelink recipient with a little bit of income coming in from somewhere even cash in the hand jobs, the Benevolent Society has a great course which teaches you to budget, tips on savings and at the end of the 10 months the $500 they have had you save (which is surprisingly easy when shown how even though you think no way!) is matched by ANZ and you have $500 to spend on educational expenses.. well you spend your $500 and get $500 back!
  7. Mindful parent – it’s hard not to get lost in the busy-ness of everyday life with kids and teens, but a little planning at the start of the year can make all the difference. Think about the things you’d like your kids to learn this year and set about thinking of ways you can teach this to them. Just one example I hear so often is “the school holidays cost me a fortune!” well why not plan for next Christmas for the kids to be paying for their own outtings and fun by setting a boundary/purpose/goal that each child will try to earn X amount per month so by December 2018 school holidays they have enough to fund their own entertainment. This is obviously for kids over 9 (but many adaptions can be made for younger kids – perhaps they can fund their own treat at shopping etc), and there’s always room for parents to treat their kids to movies, bowling etc on top of what they pay for themselves. Find what works for you and yours around what you want to teach them. Another complaint I hear from parents of teens is the laziness issue – this is sometimes due to parents doing everything or most things for the teens. Just stop it and let them bare the consequences of their own actions or lack thereof. No one said parenting is easy in fact it’s 18 years of fun, laughter, love and adventures but also of guidance, role modelling, boundary setting, boundary relaxing, teaching, learning (them and us), advising and letting go so they can soar on their own.
  8. If you lack the information/tools/capacity to educate your kids in the ways of the real world and making money work for them, there are plenty of online resources to help. Libraries are full of books and magazines. Self education is possible – you don’t just owe it to your kids, but to yourself!
  9. When doing up the kids chore lists for the year, think about what it is you want each of them to learn. Not just the basic skill, but going above and beyond, taking pride in their work, the value of hard work and it paying off, being part of a family (we all live here we all help) etc. Our latest thing in this household is “Are you proud of the job you’ve just done?”. Especially with Master 9 and his sweeping skills. He has the ability to do a good job, he just often chooses not to do a job he’s proud of so for the past week or three when he finishes his chore I’ll ask him if he’s proud of his effort and the result? And I don’t ask in a condoning tone but a questioning one, getting him to evaluate himself. At the start, about nine times out of ten he’d say no and go back and redo it. He now does a better job and it’s only every so often he says no, most times he looks over his work, smiles and says yes. Of course if he says yes and I know he’s not and he’s done a crap job he gets to do it again AND another one and I tell him good try mate.
  10. Words – are extremely powerful in mindful parenting and in life. We become what we think and say we are. Help your kids and teens choose their words carefully. Redirect negative talk and thinking. Some of us might need to retrain ourselves in this regard. Regular routine dinner times with all the family are vital (this gets harder as teens start working outside the home but most nights can be sit down family meals with a bit of preparation and retraining the family, and while you’re all there this is where your mindful parenting comes into play – think about what you want to teach them for the week, weave it into conversations and teachable moments.

Your kids only get one childhood. it goes by so fast. My parents look at the above photo from almost 40 years ago and wonder where the years have gone, let alone the 18 or so we had as our childhoods. Parents, we’re all doing our best to make them memorable, but we also need to focus on making our kids childhoods and teen years purposeful and ready for real life so they can not just survive, but thrive. THIS is how we break the cycle, together.

Of course I can’t let the opportunity go without plugging my book “Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens” which may have some great information for parents too who perhaps had parents themselves who couldn’t pass a lot of real life skills and knowledge on to you. Sixteen chapters of guidance, advice and tips on succeeding in the real world. Only $10. If you know someone who’d benefit why not buy a copy and gift it to them, maybe even anonymously if you’re worried how they’ll react. TOGETHER we CAN break the cycle!

 

You may have also noticed a name change from Mentor Mumma to Parenting Australia. I felt the latter was more encompassing. If you haven’t joined our online group yet please do so HERE

Happy New Year. I have such a great feeling about 2018. Let’s make it fun and full of adventure for our kidlets and ourselves but most of all, let’s make it purposeful for them, and ourselves – we all deserve it. Together, we WILL break the cycle!

Love

Jo

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How to save money on Christmas or ‘Tis the season to be.. .freaking out about our budgets!

I didn’t know what to call this article, How to save money at Christmas or ‘Tis the season to be freaking out about our budgets! So I chose both!  For many Christmas is a decision on not what we want to get the kids for Christmas but what we can afford. Sadly for some they have it the other way around which sends them into the new year in debt.

So let’s share our top Christmas budget tips with each other so we can all enter 2018 debt free (or at least no new debt from Christmas 2017).

Top tips to bring in 2018 without a financial Christmas hangover: 

  1. Set your budget, know your budget, don’t spend more than you budgeted. And make a list of all the gifts you need to buy, fit them into the list and stick to your list.
  2. Start early (Bit late for that THIS year but after Christmas get saving for next year). Get the $2 coin bottle or Christmas account or buy your $5 gift card each week at shopping, or open a Christmas savings account or whatever your strategy is, happening stat.
  3. Make a choice RIGHT NOW that you won’t go into debt for Christmas. This changes your future. It changes what you role model to your kids and teens. It sets the standard to live within your means and this changes your financial future for the better.
  4.  Set a new trend in 2017 to show your children you value their futures and yours rather than instant gratification on things that will put you into debt or financially cripple you.

So with just 3 weeks to (AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!) what do you do if times are tough. Improvise! 

Top tips for improvising when times are tough (AKA How to do Christmas on a budget):

  1. The calendar. This is my go to.. you buy a $2 calendar for each of the kids, and write in it future events that you WILL honour such as 1 on 1 kid dates, family movie outtings, concerts, whatever your family and kid’s things are. What this does is gives them experiences over ‘things’ and you don’t have to fork out prior to Christmas, but instead can budget throughout the year for events. Some do vouchers instead of the calendar and wrap individually in a gift box.
  2. Share the cost: Is there something expensive they’ve asked for that you really want to get them but just can’t afford? Then perhaps you can give them half or a quarter or third of the cost so they can choose to add their own money in or buy something less expensive. Eg this year a lot of teens are asking for iphone 6, 7’s and 8’s. The iphone 6 is around $600 give or take. You could put $250 into a box with a note saying toward your new phone if you choose one more than this price, or you can use this to purchase a new phone. Help them contribute to larger ticket items.
  3. Relatives: Ask your kids, even the teens, to write a Letter to Santa, that you can keep in your handbag and when rellies ask what can they get them you can pull out the list and let them choose one of the items from the list. This spreads the blessings and the burdens.
  4. Charity shops have some amazing bargains. I have noticed that more affluent areas have a lot better things so have a shopping day with friends in a richer suburb’s charity shops. The Gold Coast has some fantastic ones around Harbourtown.
  5.  Shop around. It really does pay to shop around and if you find it cheaper in one store mention it to the store closest to you, they may just match the price.
  6. Help your children re-evaluate what’s important at Christmas.
  7. Start new family traditions that don’t cost the earth.
  8. If you have a large extended family and it’s stressful buying for everyone, instigate a Secret Santa style gift giving for adults (or everyone) with an appropriate budget limit.
  9. It’s still not too late to sell off any unwanted things around the house on Ebay, Gumtree or in a garage sale to make some last minute money.
  10. Shop on Ebay and Gumtree! So many bargains to be had. 
  11. Are there other ways you can earn some last minute cash in the next fortnight? Babysitting so other parents can go shopping in peace? Working extra shifts at work? Taking on an extra client or two? Doing some pet sitting for people going on holidays  early? I overheard two working mums discussing how good it would be to be able to give someone a list and have them go shopping for you! (Not a bad side business idea for someone). What’s your thing? What can you do to earn a bit extra in the next fortnight?
  12. If looking for electronics check out EB games etc they do reburbished items at much cheaper prices.
  13. Check your Woolies, Coles and other rewards cards. You might be surprised to find you have enough to trade in points for some gift cards.
  14. DO NOT go to the shops without a list because impulse buying will send you broke quicker than a teen uses their data!
  15. Make Santa Sacks the ‘practical’ items bag including new pyjamas, school supplies like coloured pencils, specialised pens and pencils and colours, underwear, snacks.
  16. Do you have a friend or a friend with a teen who works at a shop that has items you want to buy? Ask to borrow them so you can get a 5% discount. It all adds up and friends help friends.
  17. Get creative with younger kids at Christmas time. Google is your friend for a whole heap of super cheap presents and ideas. I remember when Dan was 2 I was pretty broke that year so his main present was a large box filled with blown up balloons. He and the girls played with that for weeks after Christmas and a restock of balloons was about $2 until the novelty wore off.
  18. Shopping online can save you money – you only buy what you need and impulse buying isn’t as dangerous (for most of us, I know some of you are click happy but you can control that 🙂 ).
  19. Make a list, check it twice. Who are you buying for? What are you going to get them or what budget do you have for them? Stick to your list and don’t detour, and you’ll be just fine. Sometimes combining gifts can save you money for example rather than buying your sisters family of four a $30 gift each why not a family gift for $100 – such as a trip to the local movies, outdoor cinemas, is there a drive in close by to send them to, family restaurant voucher, local sporting event, how about buy all their favourite snacks and make a hamper with instructions on a hike or picnic or whatever they’re in to ..maybe it’s a sports event.
  20. Think experiences more than ‘stuff and things’. The memory lasts longer.
  21. When shopping stick to your list only and make sure you don’t touch items – I was reading an article that said if you pick something up you are much more likely to buy it. Tell yourself the same mantra you’ve been yelling at your kids for years ‘Look, DON”T touch!”.
  22.  Shop earlier rather than later to avoid the crowds, the stress and overspending because ‘they’ve run out’ of whatever it is you’re looking for.

 

What would you add to the list? 

If you’re looking for a gift for teens then check out our $10 book Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens. You can pick up your copy HERE

So my top tips: Work out your budget and stick to it, make your list, don’t deviate from it and get creative. 

Happy Christmas shopping everyone. I’d love to hear your tips? and how you and your family do Christmas?

Love 

 

Jo

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Hang on.. school holidays are nearly here!

Tis the season… to batten down the hatches parents. School holidays are fast approaching, but first, the last two weeks of school need to be survived! We can do it. Hang on!

We all know what I”m talking about. That last two weeks of term. The tireds. The tanties. The “I just can’t be bothereds” and that’s just us let alone our kids.

You are not alone. Almost every parent of school kids is on the same journey.

5 tips to get you through the next fortnight:

  1. Pick your battles.

    This is the time of year to let a ‘tude or two slide, the time of year to cut your kid some slack, but not if they’re being disrespectful. It’s okay for them to lose their cool, but not at you. You are not a punching bag. Let them cool off in their own way – often hiding in their room or jumping on the trampoline for two hours! Let them know it’s okay to lose it occasionally, but not at others. Teach them how to handle the ‘meltdowns’ of life. They’ll need it as adults too!

  2. Don’t micro manage.

    This is the busy time of year. We’re in a hurry. Nothing sets teens, and primary school kids off more than having their every move controlled, planned, manouvered and checked. Give them some space. 

  3. Prioritise.

    You don’t have to do everything. There will be carols nights, fireworks nights, award ceremonies, concerts, mini concerts, parades, tree lightings, break up parties etc etc etc You don’t have to attend everything you’re invited to. It’s okay to prioritise what’s important to you and your family, and let everything else slide.

  4. Relax. Chill. Destress.

    Kids pick up parent’s anxieties. Take an extra 10 minutes at night as you collapse into bed to meditate. Try getting up 10 minutes earlier and meditating of a morning. Long. Deep. Regular breaths are crucial as is remaining grateful – keep that gratitude list replaying in your head. When you’re stuck in traffic, running 10 minutes late for your child’s “insert any activity”, and all the mummy guilt in the world is running through your head and heart.. take a big breath, relax your shoulders and think of some things you’re grateful for. You’ll be late. That’s life.

  5. Have something to look forward to.

    Over dinner one night get a piece of paper and have each child come up with a school holiday FREE event that you can all do as a family. Their answers may surprise you. Set a date that you WILL do each. Write these on a sheet of paper, put them on the fridge. This gives you all something to look forward to, and reminds you just two weeks to go, you can make it! 

Enjoy as much of the last two weeks as you can – swimming carnivals, school discos, carols nights, performance nights/days, awards days/nights, parent teacher interviews, excursions, break up parties etc etc etc.

HANG ON..we’re nearly there, then the real fun begins 😉 

Have you joined our Facebook group yet? You can do so HERE

Looking for a book for your teens for Christmas? Check out Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens HERE

Love

Jo

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The power of a ‘thank you’… and why it’s important to teach this to our kids and teens.

 

Thank you. We teach it to our kids from an early age, and often times it can get lost along the way. But why is it so important? Below are just three of the many reasons to say thank you, expect it to be said to you and if you’re a parent, make it a standard response in your life and your kid’s lives.

  1. Gratitude

Saying thank you shows the recipient you are grateful, you appreciate their effort and what they’ve done for you. 

Gratitude is a virtue that benefits both sides of the table. When children, teens and adults say thank you they are showing their gratitude, out loud. When they don’t it can leave the giver feeling resentful. Teaching kids and teens to be grateful opens up a whole world for them. Check out our chapter on Gratitude in our book Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens

2. Personal engagement

Saying thank you engages the recipient and the giver. And when I say recipient and giver I”m not talking just of gifts, I”m talking of actions, of gestures, of thoughts, of the little things we as humans do for each other every day. In an age where eyes are down on devices far too often, engagement is something we need to hold on tight too. A thank you makes you stop and take stock of what was done for you and how appreciative of that you are (or should be).

3. Respect

Saying thank you is also respectful. Show respect, get respect. When we say thank you we are giving a verbal sign of respect, a nod to the giver. If you want your children to respect others, teach them to genuinely be thankful for the things others do for them, the ‘things’ they get etc. and most importantly, role model the thank you.

 

Let’s bring thank you back.

You’re welcome xo

 

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Where are all the mums?

Where are all the mums?

Where are all the mums? I see photo after photo of family outtings, kid’s achievements, school excursions/discos/sports days/fun runs/dress ups, family adventures, husband and partners, sunsets and bush scenes, food omg sooo many food snaps, and yet there are very few mums turning up in photos, still. I know someone wrote an article on this topic a few years ago and yet mum’s you are still not putting yourselves in the picture.

 

This photo above had us in stitches. Led to sooo many family jokes and hysterical laughter outbursts as we named our chins, worked out who had the most, worked out who had the best arms for selfies, discussed if nose hair or chins were more embarrassing and all agreed, both together would! Yep, we are crazy at times but geez it’s fun. The point is, kids don’t care what YOU look like, it’s fun for them for you to be in them, and should be important to you to be in them for your kids future selves.

Why do we take photos?

Memories of course. And social media. But whose memories? Not just ours but our kids as well. There will come a day, hopefully in another 60 years or so when we parents will no longer walk this earth and all our kids, grandkids and great grandkids will have are their memories, and these are embelished by ………. yep you guessed it, photos. (I’m sure technology will create something else in the future but for the past 100 years and even now, photos are still the main thing).  So put yourself back in the picture, as often as you can. How about for every three photos of the kids you put yourself in the fourth? And if you are putting yourselves in heaps of family pics, yayyyyyy #soproud #gogirl #awesome

But I hate my … *insert any body flaw*

Can I let you in on a little secret? Your kids don’t care that you are X amount of Kilograms under or overweight. They don’t care that your hair is ‘too curly, too straight, too dry, too oily, too … ‘, they don’t care if you’re short, tall, in a wheelchair, on crutches, fat, skinny, old, young, got a pimple, having a bad hair day, etc etc.  Or that you take a family selfie showing your three chins.. okay maybe they care about that because they can do it sooooo much better, apparently 😉 They love you unconditionally! #mindblown and when you hand them their childhood photos and they’re looking at them when you’ve moved on in life or they’ve moved away from home and are missing you and their childhood, or any number of reasons we find ourselves looking at old photo albums, or online albums or whatever, they will ask “Where’s Mum?” “Why is she not in any or many of these photos? Teach them about self love by loving yourself enough to put yourself in the picture. Do it for your kids, put yourself in the picture. 

But it’s about them, not me

You might THINK it’s all about them, but really it’s about your journey too, and for them, their journey WITH you.

Put yourself in the picture, for THEM. 

My kids laugh at my inability to take a decent selfie. It’s become a family joke, so often we’ll take a really crappy mum family selfie then the kids with longer arms will do the ‘decent’ family selfie but guess which one we bond more over, laugh more over and usually choose as our social media or canvas (for the wall) photos? Yep, mum’s crazy family selfie that has us ALL in it.

Get creating memories you can all look back on and enjoy together, laugh at together. 

Now, I have to work out how on earth I’m going to manage my 283gb of photos I have stored on Dropbox and about another 70gb on my hard drive. Any suggestions? 

Have you joined our Facebook group? If not, come on over and join likeminded parents HERE

Have a great week and start putting yourself in the picture more, for you and for your kids.

Love,

Jo