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

03/12/2017

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

12/08/2017

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

08/08/2017

Senior school subject selection

Pele..success is based on doing what you love

Senior school subject selection is going on in a lot of homes across Australia at the moment. My miss 15 is in grade 10 and it’s that time of her school life. Is it causing your child anguish? You? I hope not.

Almost all of their schooling lives I’ve let the kids decide what THEY want to study and what extra-curricular activities they take part in (within reason otherwise Mr 9 would be doing 10 sports a week!). Senior school subject selection is no different. It’s her choice. And just as with anything choices bring consequences – good, bad and indifferent.

Education is very important in our home, because I know it gives options and opportunities. My main aim with their education has been to get them to a point where at the end of grade 12 they have a variety of choices and are not limited in what they want to do because of grades. We reward effort as much as grades because effort is what gets you places in life. Grades are what open doors. Other pathways offer different doors. I want my kids to have as many doors open to them as possible so THEY can choose – uni, tafe, workforce or a combination. But at least they’ll have choices.

This is where Senior subject selection comes in. Making the right choices and by right I mean the choices that help them reach their goals but also bring joy and fun along the way. One of my favourite quotes:

“Success is no accident. It is  hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, LOVE of what you are doing or learning to do”

Pele (Famous soccer player)

 

Now, having said that there are a myriad of ways to achieve their career paths these days and for kids who want a profession they’ll need university. However, even university has options these days. Currently Miss 15 is wanting to do be a Doctor of Medicine in the Army. Medicine these days is not dependent on an OP 1, although it helps. There are options but there are also pre-requisites which must be met. 

For kids who want to work in a trade, child care, hospitality etc etc etc there are apprenticeships, traineeships, TAFE and trade schools. Just so many options. 

Then there are those kids who will want to go straight into work. So many options there too – private sector, public service etc etc etc.

In my book, Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens there’s a chapter titled To Study or work, or both? In this chapter I talk about encouraging your kids to find their passions early on and try to make a career from that or with elements of it. Not every furniture making super star will want to be a carpenter, but it sure is a good place to start. 

So as you navigate these next few weeks encourage your kids to look at what they enjoy and what they’d like to spend their lives doing. Have them look at what they’re naturally good at – a great starting point for career decisions. Remind them that if they change their mind in two years time that’s okay, just as it is if they change their minds in 10 or 15 years time. Very few people stay with the same careers or jobs their whole working lives these days. You can change your mind at any time. You’re not a tree, you can uproot yourself and move and change jobs and careers. There are many many options and pathways to your chosen careers and jobs these days. But as always do your homework and know what they are. If going to Uni know what prerequisites are required. If going to TAFE know what is required. If going straight into the work force look for work experience in areas that enhance their employability. 

I’ll leave you with the advice I gave my Miss 15:

Choose the subjects you NEED to do,

then make the rest of your subjects ones that are fun for you”

So now she’s busy working out what she really needs and it seems although she needs Chemistry for some Universities, there is the option to do it as a 4 week course at the end of grade 11 or 12, and have that counted. Meaning she can do her beloved Drama class for senior years. Everyone wins. There are options. Dare to dream kids, the world is your oyster. What options are you giving yourself?

Have a great week and happy subject selecting. Would love to know what your grade 10’ers are currently considering for their future selves (how many of us actually ended up doing what we initially set out to do..very few I imagine, and such is the fun and adventurous rollercoaster that is life).

You can pick up a copy of my hard copy book here

Jo xo

 

25/06/2017

The B word … Budgeting – for all types of parents.

The B word.. Budgeting, none of us particularly like it. Most of us cringe at the thought of it. It is however a necessity in getting ahead and not spending your life looking back. I think it was John Maxwell who said Budgeting is telling your money what to do rather than wondering where it went! 

Google, and a host of well meaning Facebook memes tell me it’s just 26 weeks until Christmas 2017. That’s half a year! And the good news is with some small changes in your household, you can change financial direction and have a great Christmas, a great holiday and pay off any debts you have (some will take a lot longer). Great doesn’t have to mean big and expensive. Some of our most memorable family moments have been camping in a National Park that cost us less than $25 a night.

Only a few years ago I was counting every cent and had to beg friends for help by laying my heart, and our situation, on the line. Fast forward a few years, a few changes (physical and mentally) and a few improvements and here I am having just taken the kids on an amazing overseas holiday, I’m debt free (apart from that pesky HECS debt) and planning on buying myself and the kids a home (yep I regret selling our family home a decade ago). So here’s some of the top tips I’ve learnt and hope they help you too.

 

Oh but first have you joined our Facebook Group: Parenting Australia with Mentor Mumma? If not, click HERE 

Top Tip – Set your intention! Get a goal. Keep it in mind, every, single, day. Write it on your fridge and toilet door.

Tip 1 – Keep a record, even if just for two months

You will be amazed when you start keeping a record of where waste appears and areas you’re spending in that you never realised. By keeping a record of every cent spent you get an idea of where the ‘holes in your bucket are’ and where you can make changes. A 25c exercise book from Woolworths will do.

Tip 2 – Get a water bottle or old coke bottle

From this day forward any $2 coins you get, go straight into this bottle. Cut a hole in the top and super glue the lid shut so you can’t get anything out (nor can the kids!). Just keep filling it until it gets to the top, and when you do you should have close to $1000. Some people put any new $5 notes they get in theirs too. Depends on where your budget’s at. This is your ‘adventure’ money. Money set aside for a family memory making event.

Tip 3 – Plan, Plan and Plan some more

Every year get new prices on your insurances.

Set up a direct debit or credit situation where you automatically make payments to your main bills ahead of time, each fortnight (or pay period) for electricity, phone, internet, etc so that you never have a bill again, you’re always ahead.

Shop wisely by creating meal plans, using what’s in the pantry and avoiding as much wastage as possible.

Simple Savings taught me the $21 challenge which I adapted to the $30 challenge. One week take an inventory of what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Then work out what meals you can make with that. The $30 for the little extras you need to complete a week’s worth of meals using what’s already in the fridge/freezer and pantry. This will save a small fortune when done every six to eight weeks.

Plan, plan, plan.

Tip 4 – DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS

Unless you own your own home and have a redraw facility that benefits your mortgage, and you are also extremely disciplined to pay the card off every month without fail, then do not ever have a credit card. They give you a false sense of security. They teach you bad habits – living off what you don’t have yet. And they 99.9% of the time lead people into financial hardship and a never ending cycle of debt. Instead, only live on what you have and that may at times mean going without, sacrificing and having a few baked beans on toast meals. It’s worth it in the end. You’d also be surprised how many meals you can make with baked beans, just saying.

Tip 5 – Set yourself financial goals

I saw a billboard recently that said most humans spend more time planning their annual holiday than they do their future and retirement. It’s true. Start to set yourself financial goals. Get your superannuation in order. Dare to dream.

Tip 6 – Team effort: Get the kids on board

As a single mum I run my family like a team. Everyone plays their part. That means when we have holidays, everyone saves their own spending money, everyone contributes to the family in some way be that saving their own money or turning off the lights, turning power points off at the wall when not in use (this saves a small fortune too), having cold showers in summer, using a timer for hot showers in winter (cause let’s face it we all want to stay in there for an hour!), etc.

Tip 7 – 60/10/10/20 rule. 

I’m reading a great book at the moment by Scott Pape called the Barefoot Investor.  For it to be any good to you, you have to be above the poverty line and earning a decent income. HOWEVER, some of his basic principles can be applied:

  1. Ensure your bank account does not have annual fees.
  2. Set up four accounts: 1. Spendings/Daily living = 60% of your income. 2. Savings = 10% of your income. 3. Splurge = 10% of your income. 4. Fire Extinguisher (which is used to pay down and off debts quickly) = 20% of your income.

Tip 8 – Christmas bottle

Christmas is what you make it. If you choose to make it about gifts and overspending and getting in to debt, then that’s what you are teaching your children. THIS is the year you get to decide what legacy you want for your children’s future. DO NOT go into debt for Christmas, or anything else for that matter other than a roof over your head. Rediscover family, rediscover connectedness, put balance into your lives, and start the new year without a Christmas debt hangover. Start your Christmas bottle now – start putting $2 coins into it and what’s in there at Christmas time is what you spend. Nothing easier than that.

Tip 9 – Dream.

Don’t be afraid to dream. Work on your mindset. If things are working for you, change yourself first. I have a great ebook to help you do this if you’re struggling. Hat Trick Therapy: Three ways to change your life – Just $4.95 HERE 

There are so many more tips to get ahead financially, but prioritising your expenditure is a key one. I would love to hear your budgeting tips and tricks, success stories, and even failures too because everyone wise knows, failure is a major step in the success process.

Wherever you’re at financially, this is not where you have to live. This is not where your story ends. This is just the beginning.. you get to write the rest of your chapters. YOU get to make changes that change your life, and that of your kids lives. You’ve got this. If I can do it, then seriously, anyone can.

Have an amazing week,

Jo

11/06/2017

Overwhelmed… Disneyland, Dreams and Reality.

I’m overwhelmed. THANK YOU.  Firstly at the amazing response to our recent trip to Disneyland. Seems we appeared in a lot of online media outlet articles and on their pages. Kids were even recognised a few times which has made them feel super special. Then reality hit and we got back, jet lagged, exhausted and my website went missing in action (seems although my domain registrar thought I was paid up I wasn’t and now that’s been rectified we’re back :)).

I have so many articles to write for you I’m a bit overwhelmed with where to start, so thought, I’m just going to start. So here I am, starting.

So here’s a very brief run down of our trip, with much more to come in the next few weeks.

The good

 Dreams DO come true. There were happy tears shed for making this trip happen – at the airport, walking through Universal Studios gates, Walking into Disneyland for the first time, Watching the Disneyland Adventure Park World of Colour Display (I bawled), watching Tinkerbell in the Electric light parade, meeting Fantasia Mickey Mouse!, watching Steve Martin host the 50th anniversary of Disneyland video half an hour before we left the park for good and all of us did NOT want to leave Disneyland on the last day, choking back tears. Dreams came true. New ones we didn’t know were experienced.

 

Another good thing that I did was before we left, a year in advance I told the kids I would pay for most things but they had to pay for their own lunches, souvenirs and extras. This saved me a small fortune and taught them a host of valuable lessons.

We had an absolute ball and would do it all again in a heart beat. I inherited the travel bug from my parents, and my kids are slowly catching it from me – this makes me happy. We travel well together – even after a fortnight sharing beds and being constantly in each other’s space. We’ve even applied for the Travel Guides show on channel 9 – cross fingers, toes and hair follicles for us.

The bad 

Doesn’t matter where you are, you are there, and kids will be kids! So we had meltdowns (mine and theirs!) and what I refer to as teenage ‘resting bitch face’ moments. When you arrive at YOUR Disneyland and then realise you’re sharing it with 10,000 other people in 30 degree heat, it’s a bit of a shock to the system. That and the strollers. OMG strollers. We HATE strollers now. After 16 hour days, hot days, little sleep, and waiting in queues there were a couple of times where it was all too much for one or three of us, and other times where we went Hurricane Harlow hilarious crazy mode to cope hehe. Hollywood was not what we expected and was a real let down – the homelessness (and homeless men blowing kisses to my 8 year old son and waving him over – thankfully he was head down, walk straight ahead due to our prior warning) and state of the place is a shock (apparently no one but tourists, sales people and the homeless go to Hollywood!).  That was really the only bad we encountered so not too bad at all. The bad was outnumbered 1000000 to 1 with the good.

Coming up…

In coming weeks I”ll do some articles with much more specifics on Disneyland, Universal Studios, Travelling with kids, budgeting, budgeting WHILE on holidays (no credit cards allowed), and a host of other things that are on my mind or that you’ve asked for. And I have LOVED getting your messages, thank you so much. If there’s something you’d like me to focus on please send me a message on our Facebook group (and if you haven’t joined, come on over) HERE.

Have an amazing week,

Jo.

PS: If the kids look tired in this photo it’s because this was our one day at Adventureland, we’d already been there 10 hours and they had milked every second on the rollercoasters and rides having a blast. this was very much a DO day. This is about 8pm at night.. after they let me take this pic they raced off for another hour on the California Screaming rollercoaster (the one you see in the background). I waited on a comfy seat and people watched lol.

 

 

15/05/2017

This is how an Aussie single mum took her kids to Disneyland…

So how did this Aussie single mum take her kids to Disneyland! Here’s How….

Just 14 months ago I realised that my eldest daughter’s childhood was almost over! So I decided to make one of her (and her siblings) childhood dreams come true -Disneyland Anaheim (that’s the only one that counts in her books). So I surprised the kids (their beautiful reactions are in the vid link attached below, worth watching..still brings tears to my eyes) with a family trip to USA to visit Disneyland, Universal studios, Hollywood, Vegas and Grand Canyon. We leave tomorrow!!!! A concert to Miss 15’s favourite Youtuber has been thrown in, along with Dodgers games, Santa Monica etc etc. So, how did I, a single mum who just a few years ago was on the poverty line, make this happen for us? 

Watch the moment I told the kids ‘via a storybook’ they were going to Disneyland HERE 

Intention setting

We’ve approached this trip like we do life, worked as a team and set our intentions. I saw Oprah Winfrey a few years back and as a ‘comper’ (someone who enters multiple competitions) in the past I’ve always been a part of the set your intentions, affirmation and positive vibe ‘thing’. But seeing Oprah she reiterated to me the importance of setting your intentions, every day. It’s like adjusting your sails and setting course. I love it. I love her. So we set our intention to visit Disneyland as a family without financial issues in 2017. And as we did that the universe conspired to make it happen. I started getting more work than I’ve ever had ( I’m a sub contractor (Disability and Aged Care Assessor, and Relocation consultant) so a mega thank you to APM and Nuss Relocations for the extra clients and work – great companies to work with), miss 14 got a job, the kids started earning money from outside sources and we researched intensely for good deals. So step one, was set our intentions and continue to do so each day.

Team work

It meant we all got on board. As a single mum there is no back up apart from the support network I’ve put in place, and I’d be lost without them. So my little family, works and operates like a team. This meant we had two no spend months. Other than rent, set bill money, food and petrol for the car, we spent nothing else (I always prepay my bills – put money in weekly ahead of time so I never actually get a bill). You’d be amazed how much you actually fritter away when you’re not looking. Having NO money to spend once the weekly shop and petrol is in the car saves a heap over the course of a month. We also had a few $30 shop weeks where we did an inventory of the pantry, and then worked out our meals with what was already there and what we needed to get to make a meal out of what we already had. This was an idea I got years ago from Simple Savings – thanks guys. You’ll be surprised what you find in that pantry and freezer! It’s about working smarter, not harder. This again saves around $120-$170 a week (our normally shop for 4 is between $150 to $200 a week). We tried to do one every six weeks (some weeks I got so busy we inadvertently did it lol). If you can avoid late fees on bills, reduce your shopping and incidental spends you’ll be amazed that you can save $100 a week, which is $5200 a year!!!. Take care of the cents, the dollars take care of themselves 🙂 Go Team Harlow.

 

Planning

Intention setting is all well and good, so is having dreams but at some point the practical has to step in and that’s where the planning happens. Working out the budget and working to get as much value as we could from each dollar. The conversion rate is a real party pooper however we managed to pay for all our accommodation while the dollar was at 79c, Disney and Universal tickets bought at 77c and cashed converted around 75c (which is really 72c when you buy it .. OUCH!). I also put a shout out to anyone else that wanted to join with us and while a few families put their hands up lifelong friend Feliesha said yep and she, also a single mum, who I used to babysit when she was 3, is coming along with her now 4 year old son Zavia, which has been fantastic as she is brilliant at finding bargains and getting good deals too, so between us we really did get value for money. And that’s important to me. I’m a strong proponent of the, WHEN you take care of the cents the dollars will take care of themselves” philosophy. We worked from our budget, worked out where we wanted to go and then worked out what we could do within those boundaries – a LOT it seems lol. Dreams need plans and goals.

Saving

The kids had to work and save their own spending  and lunch money. I find that when you feed them a buffet breakfast (which I chose accommodation where this was provided) and a large dinner, lunch is fairly give and take. If I’m paying they’ll want lunch and a lot of it. If they’re paying, they’ll be happy with $5 sangas. So that was the deal, I pay for flights, accommodation, Disney, Universal, breakfasts and dinners. Everything else they have to pay. Miss 14 found a job and started working and saving. Miss 13 and Master 8 started finding ways to earn pocket money at home and elsewhere (which also helped me as I was working a lot – thank you Universe). We were also blessed by awesome grandparents who put in $70 spending money for each of them and their gorgeous Aunty Jarxxi gave them U.S. spending money – that made it a bit more real too, so now they’re set. I set them a goal of saving $500 each, they all surpassed that in 14 months. Way to go kidlets. Already they’ve paid for their hop on hop off bus tour at $80 for the girls and $55 for Dan. It’s been a pain having to pay adult fairs for teens but that’s life it seems. Set the budget then get to doing what it takes. Don’t say I can’t afford it, ask HOW can I afford it <3 

 

Staying focused (Focus + Effort)

This trip has been in the forefront of our minds for just over a year. Their savings goal was put on a Disney inspired sheet and plastered around the house (toilet door, bathroom mirror, fridge – all their home hang out spots 😉 ) as a reminder of what we were doing as a family but also what THEY needed to do to help make it happen. For me I have done a daily intention setting “It is my intention to take Kit, Charz, Dan and I to Disneyland and surrounds in healthy and whole condition, without financial issues in May 2017″ (I set the May date about a year ago – one of the cheapest times to go, one of the less crowded and fitted in with our lives). Also, my favourite celeb on the planet, Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson has a saying: “Success at anything will always come down to this: Focus and Effort. And we control both”. His Baywatch premier is in LA the same time we are so, yes, I’m setting my intention to meet him!!! Focus and Effort style.

Practical 

Besides working, working and working. Finding ways to save money and tighten the belt by resetting priorities. Finding ways to save on the actual holiday by getting bargains. My highschoolers went to their teachers, found out when assessments were due and worked with the staff to get ahead on their school work and make sure things were handed in on time or ahead of time, or extensions granted where needed. (Kudos kidlets #soproud). I also had to improve my fitness. I’m 46, and fat – that’s life. I’m happy with me but the reality is I’m not currently built to walk 15kms a day, so that had to improve so we started getting up earlier and going for family walks. This did two things. Improved my fitness, and got us closer to LA time, and also gave the kids a few laughs at mum TRYING to jog and keep up. It also identified a foot injury I didn’t know I had and was able to rectify before we left. I also decided we would only take hand luggage therefore we had to get the kids the right sized bags (I chose that as less stress and hassle with checking in, arriving, possible missed bags which I’ve experienced in the past, etc etc etc). And the hours spent the past two days printing out all our bookings, setting the itinerary and earlier in the year checking passports (getting passports that was a drama but that’s another story!), getting visas etc etc. We’re even catching up with an old friend of mine June over there #awesome timing. Today I’m crossing the I’s and dotting the T’s 😉 It’s great having dreams but at some point the goals and planning needs to have action to make it happen.

A Dream + Focus  + Effort + Intention Setting + Goal setting/planning + Action  has resulted in this becoming a reality for us. Me and my three. And the good news is, anyone can make it happen!!!

Gratitude

We teach kids to say thank you but so few adults do these days. I have tried really hard to impart not just the generic thank you into the kids lives but also true gratitude for the experiences they have, the things they have and do and for all parts of their lives – because everything can teach us something. They dont’ always see it that way but they’re learning to, slowly 😉 I think gratitude has a lot to do with achieving goals and dreams. I am soo very grateful for everything coming together (including the mindsets, the actions, the extra work , and the actual initial thought to do this trip) so we could make this trip happen for ourselves. We did it. So proud. So grateful.

What’s your family’s dream?

Join us in our FACEBOOK GROUP to share in our journey, and others parenting teens and preteens.

Now, please Watch the moment I told the kids’via a storybook’ they were going to Disneyland HERE 

Love,

 

Jo and Co

xo

(Jo has been a single mum for almost a decade now, and has had a rollercoaster of a ride. With a passion for helping others achieve their dreams, she created Mentor Mumma – for those who want to enjoy the ride together, learn from each other, and use the village to raise our kidlets <3 )