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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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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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Disneyland 101

 

Disneyland 101 for those who dream of going… tips for the family, the planner and the wallet. This is the first article in a series .. the next one will be called…. Disneyland 102 (genius hey 😉 )! 

Disneyland is the original Disney site. The home of Walt Disney’s dreams and because of this it has a special place in Disney fan’s hearts (make sure you visit the Abraham Lincoln exhibit at the start. .there’s a 10 minute documentary hosted by Steve Martin on how Disneyland came to be.. it was brilliant and will give you an insight into the magic that is Disneyland) Now, Disneyland is not as glamorous or as big as other Disney Worlds. But there is something magical about this place. First thing to note is Disneyland is split into two. One park is called Disneyland, and 100 metres opposite it is Disney California Adventure Park. Your hopper ticket allows you to go freely between the two but seriously it’s exhausting so I’d recommend a one park per day pass and plan well.  To complete the triangle is Downtown Disney which is a compilation of Disney inspired shops where you’ll pay top dollar but have a great time looking at everything and enjoying the upbeat music that makes you want to spend your money there lol.

We loved Disneyland…after the first day!

Choose your days wisely

We chose to go in May as it is one of the quietest months of the year, EXCEPT for the year we went! oops. This year school graduations arrived earlier and whilst we booked our days around grad nights, I failed to consider the extra families that would be tagging along.  Our first day at Disney wasn’t the magical fairytale that dreams are made of. It was ludicrously crowded, noisey and omg if I ever see another stroller again I’ll have issues. The day before our first visit the park had closed as it had reached capacity! The day we went it was close..because for all my research I did NOT think to check when local’s season passes finished. Turns out, the day we went was that day!!! We called it quits mid arvo and headed to the hotel for spas and a swim to return the next day with far less people. 

When planning your trip don’t just check the local weather, look at historically cheaper and quieter times for air tickets and the local area for the year you’re going (that was my big mistake oops).

Disneyland is open from 8am til midnight but you can get in as early as 7:30am and be at the rides ready to go as part of the ‘rope drop’. So plan to get there early because if done right you can get a LOT of rides done in the first two hours before the park fills up. Have a plan of the park, your plan of attack and ensure you have a ‘if we get separated let’s meet here’ spot.

Check Disneyland’s website for graduation nights, and what’s happening on the month you’re going so you can plan your actual days and know days to avoid. If you buy a 3 or more day ticket it will include the early entry pass  .. make good use of that too. 

Where to stay

After walking 15km a day inside Disneyland you won’t want to walk another metre so plan to be at a hotel that has a shuttle to the park or is on the ART (Anaheim Resort Transit) system which costs $5 for adults and $2 for kids per day and is worth every cent (the routes are on their page). We stayed at Super 8 Anaheim near Disneyland because it included breakfast, had a pool and a laundry (important to travelling families) and was on the ART bus line.

Where do I start? 

By setting your budget. Putting savings goals in place. Getting the entire family on board. For more tips on budgeting for big holidays or items check out our article B for Budgeting   

And Don’t forget our article on Chores for kids to get them involved in the budget HERE

THEN, you start researching your optimal dates. What suits your family, your destination and fits with your budget. Start stalking airlines for best ticket prices and then lock in flights. Once you have your flights booked you can then start to fill in the rest of your itinerary by then booking accommodation, then tickets, in that order. Before booking anything though I would highly recommend joining the reward program of the airline you’re about to fly with. Get their travel card, load it up and start paying for things with that card as you’ll then be accumulating points (with money you were going to be spending anyway) and when combined with your flights you’ll find you have a free domestic flight for the whole family when you get back. Score! Use your reward card to book flights, accommodation and park tickets. They also have pretty good conversion rates too. 

 

That’ll do for the part 1 … stay tuned for part 2 in a couple of weeks. We’re moving house (AGAIN) this week.. one of the upsides of renting is a change is as good as a holiday so we’re off to a townhouse complex with a pool, at the kids request (and saves me money so win win). 

Have you joined our facebook group yet? Join us here

 

Love,

Jo

 

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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

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Happy Easter – Forgiveness and Gratitude.

However you celebrate and spend the 4 days of Easter, have the most amazing time. For us we go camping with friends – old and new, and enjoy good old fashioned fun: Movie nights with dress up theme and acting out our scenes; mini olympics for all ages; tug of war; concert; karaoke; pig on the spit; hangover brekky and lots of laughs while the kids run free, meeting new friends, catching up with friends they haven’t seen in a year, getting dirty and being adventurous. We are blessed. Yet, Easter is also a great time for forgiveness and gratitude and reflecting on these.

 

Regardless of your religious persuasion (or lack thereof) forgiveness and gratitude are fantastic tools to teach our kids and teens, and to use ourselves (not just at Easter but all year through, it’s just more prevalent at Easter time in this household).

Gratitude

Firstly, gratitude changes perspectives and lives. Being grateful for what we have in our lives, truly grateful, brings more of the good things into our lives. Our mindsets change.  Our perspectives change. Our outlooks change. Our lives change, for the better,  and we as human beings grow.

Forgiveness

Secondly, forgiveness is crucial for life. I don’t think a single person has walked this planet that hasn’t been hurt, betrayed, wrongly done by or upset by another. In those times we can either harbour anger, growing more more and more bitter on the inside, OR we can forgive. Not for the other person, but for ourselves. Forgiveness frees up our minds, our emotions and our lives for better things, and we as humans grow.

Is there anyone you need to forgive? Maybe it’s yourself? Right now, forgive them… not for them, but for you! For your growth. For your freedom. (I love the saying that unforgiveness is like giving free rent in your head to someone you dont’ even like! #crazy). For your sanity. For your future.

Happy Easter

Have a great Easter, if you’re driving – drive safe.  If it’s about Jesus then celebrate in style and reflection. If it’s about getting away – then do so with loved ones (friend and/or family). And if the Easter bunny comes to your place may he bring an abundance of the good chocolat. 

Before you go, have you joined other parents on our Facebook group yet? You can do so HERE

Love,

Jo

Mentor Mumma

 

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Bully proof your kids…

Here’s Ten tips to help bully proof our kids.
Unfortunately, bullies and bitches still exist in the playgrounds (and real life).
They’re a fact of life.
So rather than pretend it’ll never happen to our kids we need to prepare them on how to deal with those who would treat them badly, harass or even hurt them.
We need to teach our kids it’s okay to ‘dob’, it’s important to tell mum (or Dad). We need to encourage conversation (There’s a saying that goes along the lines of “Listen to all their stories so when they’re older they’ll tell you the important stuff because to them it was all important”).

Here’s some tips to help your kid/s navigate bullies and bitches:

1. Teach your kids NOT to be a victim. Bullying says everything about the bully and nothing about the person being bullied. Teach them that them being bullied is about the bully having issues, and is not their fault.

2. Teach them to have the confidence to speak to the bully if they feel safe enough to. Often times calling out a bully and their behaviour is enough to stop it. Making the bully accountable for their actions and words helps. Teach them to speak up, to seek help and call the bully out for their horrid behaviour.

3. Remove the reaction. Bullies thrive on reactions, fear and intimidation. If you can teach your child not to react, not to enter into bully banter, not reply to any communication from the bully then the bully has already begun to lose ground. This is especially so for social media. Teach your kids to block bullies on all forms so they can’t message your child.

4. If bullying moves to physical abuse or sharing photos of your child/teen online then it’s time to involve the authorities. Teach kids about the difference between teasing, harassing, bullying and criminal activity. If it’s happening at school that should be your first port of call but if there’s no resolution there then contacting the local police is paramount.

5. Being bullied is extremely stressful. Teach your child de-stressing techniques such as meditation, journalling, deep breathing etc.

6. Most importantly listen to your child. Hear their fears and equip them with the right arsenal to counter bullies and bitches. For some it might involve learning self defense, for others it might be about teaching them to speak up and to the offender, for others it might involve changing classes.. every situation is different. Whatever you do don’t ignore it and hope it will go away, be proactive and teach your kids to do the same.

7. If the parent of the bully is known to you you can try talking to the parent. Usually best if on neutral territory with a third party if you think there’ll be denial or issues. We all want to believe our kids are the best in the world and at times finding out our child is causing others pain can be hard to comprehend and process. ALWAYS verify facts first. This is crucial. Kids lie. Even mine. Even yours. Verify facts first.

8. Instill confidence, a good sense of self and positive body language such as posture and eye contact.

9. Have mock rehearsals where you let your child practice things they’ll say or do to defend themselves and practice various interactions, role play outcomes.

10. Let your child know they are not alone. This is not normal and they do not have to put up with it. EVER!

What do you do when YOUR child is the bully/mean child?

There is a great article here by Linda Stade: HERE

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Here’s to a great year for everyone in 2017.

Have you joined our Facebook group yet with like minded parents? Come on over we’d love to have you: JOIN HERE

Love

Mentor Mumma
aka Jo

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Back-to-school anxiety

Some kids can’t wait to get back to school, some drag their feet but enjoy it and others suffer anxiety at the thought of anything new, especially back to school.

My master 8 was one such child. Those who know him are confused and shocked by this, but that’s what used to happen. Still does to a much lesser degree the older he gets. The past three years it’s been the start of any school year, footy season or ongoing event with his anxiety manifesting as acting out and and saying he hated whatever the event was!!!

So what did we do and what can you do?

1. It’s important to understand what your child is really saying. For Dan him saying “I hate footy I don’t want to play” (Despite being obsessed with it) for the days before season was him saying I’m scared of the unknown, I’m worried about *insert any number of things*. Before school started what he was really saying was “I’m worried about no knowing what to expect” etc. Once you know what their real fear is you can address it one issue at a time. If you can’t read them and aren’t sure, ask them in a non-confronting way.

2. Know what works with YOUR child. For Dan he doesn’t like talking about the issues so I made sure not to talk directly to him about whatever the upcoming event was, HOWEVER, his older sisters and I would make sure he could hear us when we were ‘talking’ about THEM going back to school (or soccer or Scouts or gymnastics) and how excited they were, we’d use key words that work with Dan such as ‘grown up’ ‘independent’ ‘big kids’ ‘other people feeling exactly the same’ etc. If your child is an avoider then avoid until the last minute, if your child does better with talking things through for days do that. What works for each child will be different. Find THEIR thing and meet them on their level, always with confidence. Often children will pick up on your anxieties and fears.

3. We started the back to school routine a week before they go back. They start going to bed at school night hours. They start making their lunches. They start discussing what they’ll make for school lunches etc. A few days before they wash their uniforms and we go shopping for what they want to make themselvs for lunches.

4. If possible have your child meet their new teacher before the school holidays and find out who is in there class they already know. For older kids talk to them about their entire grade being in exactly the same situation, feeling the same as they are.

5. Teens with anxiety can often be a symptom of something more serious such as nutrient deficiency like magnesium (google magnesium deficiencies, anxiety is one of the top symptoms). It can also be related to bullying, issues with friendships, fearing workload, feeling overwhelmed or ‘dumb’ or stressed about workload. The list is endless! This is where keeping communication lines open from a young age come in to their own. If you can’t get them to open up to you Headspace offers great counselling and you can also get them a mental health plan through your GP to talk to someone on a professional level. Whatever you do, don’t ignore their concerns.

Do you have any other tips you use that work?

Love
Mentor Mumma
aka Jo

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Back to School Lunches

Have you watched the movie Bad Moms yet? I absolutely love it. One of the premises is that if you give a child responsibility they will learn life skills, they will launch into responsible and grateful humans. And, school lunches and mornings will be so much easier for you! No more morning stress (well only the missing socks, the missing shoes, the lost hair bands etc etc etc until you get them to prepare EVERYTHING the night before).

Pics of Kit (aged 12 then) and Dan (aged 8) preparing food and doing the dishes because I can’t find the one of him as a preppie making his first ever school lunch like a big boy. He was so proud, I’m sure he grew ten foot that day.

Here’s some tips on how to make it happen for you and yours.

1. Even prep kids can make their own lunches, therefore any school student can! (If they’ve never done it before you will have to show them how for the first week or so, don’t do it for them, but supervise them doing it. Younger kids you will need to do the cutting of fruit and sandwiches but they can get it all ready).

2. They can only pack what you have put in the cupboard and fridge. Have the talk about nutritional needs, protein requirements etc.

3. Get them in the habit of putting freezer blocks in the freezer at night and lunch containers in the sink etc. Teach them to wash their lunchboxes out with disinfectant regularly.

4. Include them in the decision making process of what they would like you to get at shopping for THEIR lunches. When they pack their own and make decisions about what they’d like (with your guidance on nutritional requirements) then they’re more likely to eat their lunch.

What happens if they won’t make their own lunches?

I’ll give you one guess!
Under 9’s get a chunky, sandy, multigrain vegemite sandwich and piece of fruit. That’s it. But they also get to do chores when they get home. Do that for a few days and they’ll get the message.
Over 9’s get nothing. They’ll go hungry. Consequences for their laziness.

Hold to your expectations and they will rise to them. Most kids really enjoy it. Be warned when they are first learning it is messy, and it does take a few weeks for them not to need your help. Have patience. Help them clean up after themselves. Make it fun for them and you. If you’re resistant to them learning to make their own lunches ask yourself why and work on that.

respons

For those with kids and teens not already making their own lunches you could start this week before school goes back.

You’ve got this. #lifeskills breed independence, confidence and responsibility which will become evident in the classroom and playground too. You’re both worth it.

Love
Mentor Mumma
aka Jo

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Mums, you need this more than you realise!

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

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

Something you need to do for YOU!

And that is, build your support network! 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Love 

Jo

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