Mentor Mumma

13/10/2018

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

 

 

 

17/06/2018

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.

07/01/2018

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

 

29/12/2017

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