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
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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….
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!