Category Archives: Teenagers

My eldest teen dealing with disappointment this week.

Before I start, I want to put this into perspective. No-one has died, or divorced, or left etc. It wasn’t to do with grades or uni or even a relationship. But this week my eldest son had what they see would  as a huge disappointment. He was due to go on holiday with his girlfriend and her family on an early flight on Saturday morning to Tenerife for a week. He had been invited over the Christmas holidays and we agreed that it would be his gift for his 19th birthday which is on Easter Sunday this year. A lot of money was spent on flights, insurance, passport and proper summer clothes that he was going to need.

Last week there was things to sort for him everyday leading up to picking him up from uni late on Thursday evening so we had Friday to sort all the packing and money exchanging. It was a busy week for me as it’s not every day I can be up and around and active due to my illness, however, by Friday morning we were fairly relaxed thinking we were ahead of ourselves.

conors-holiday-pic

Then came the message that was to change it all. His girlfriend messaged to say her younger brother had been rushed into hospital that morning as he had become unwell without any warning signs or symptoms. When he told us my hubby and I knew right there and then that they would not be flying out to their holiday,but wanted to allow him to process what was happening and come to his own conclusions without us being instantly negative. However, as the morning went on I received a call from the mum to tell me what was happening and that they would have to cancel the holiday! Having never spoken to her before other than a phone message I felt so sorry for her when she was getting upset telling us they have to cancel. As an adult we can look at the whole situation and know that the most important thing was that their son was going to be OK. But we then had to break the news to my son, yes he’s 19 years old and should be able to process the initial disappointment and be able to know that it was more important that their son was well. However, throw in the fact he hasn’t been on proper holiday abroad for around 10 years so he was definitely excited about going, also the fact he was going to spend a week with his girlfriend ( who he doesn’t see every week because she lives in Norfolk and he’s at uni in Brighton) and then add on that the fact he has Aspergers (mild traits)!!

Surprisingly, he took it well, but he was playing his guitar at the time ( a stress reliever for him) and we could see that his eyes were welling up but he was trying not to show it. He obviously was concerned for the brother as he has got to know him quite well now and they both get on. He knew it was more important that the son was in hospital and no-one knew what was happening to him (initially we heard it was possible appendicitis, then possible pancreatitis and he was due to have scans and more blood tests) but it was still a huge disappointment for him to process. So, we agreed that if he still wanted to have time with his girlfriend that because my husband was off work for a day or two we would be able to drive him up to stay with her as I know she would want to be at home to see her brother. So, that’s what we did and in all fairness he was quite happy in the end with the outcome of a few days with his girlfriend rather than not see her at all.

I think teenagers ( even the older ones who are more independent) still live in that moment or that day rather than look ahead or plan ahead as most adults would do, in that respect they are still like young children and therefore we have to remember they might not take the same approach to disappointment that a fully grown adult, who has experienced a bit of life, would. Things that happen along the way in life like this situation help us deal better with any future disappointments in life. They put things into perspective, they make them see that things do not always work out as you planned it and it’s still our job as parents to help them through these things and make them feel normal for having these feelings.

The main thing overall is that their son is OK, although he is still in hospital having scans and pain relief until they source the real cause of the problem, but I still think it’s natural to feel a little disappointment when it comes to these situations too. It’s not selfish providing you do not lose sight of the bigger picture. This certainly would have been much, much worse if this had happened on the plane or even when they were out at their holiday destination, there will be other holidays and other times to do things.

So for now we hope he has a great time this week in Norfolk and we just look forward to celebrating his birthday on Easter Sunday.

How have you had to help your teen deal with life’s little disappointments? I am generally interested to know how others cope.

 

 

Jump In, Tonbridge- Review

I have seen more and more of these style of trampoline parks popping up all over the place taking over (almost) from the generation of kids indoor playcentres, with the difference being that us adults can also now ‘pay and play’!

We were invited along to Jump In trampoline park Tonbridge in Kent over the half term,  which has just recently opened in fact. This one was on an industrial estate ( which most of these places are anyway) and although there was a decent sised sign on the outer gate we really had to look hard to make sure we were in the right place as this was the sign on the building itself….

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We were advised to register everyone in our group that were actually going onto the trampolines and those under 18 need to be signed in by an adult on the waiver form.

As my eldest was home from uni we decided to all go on and try it ( yes even me!) but unfortunately for us we were restricted on our time that week and so were there around 3pm, and obviously at those times it was full of young children from toddlers up to teens. Thankfully we are not a family to be put off and we went on anyway. I am sure the later you go the older the kids/teens would be ( it is open until 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends -Fri and Sat) but like I said we were a little restricted that week working around my eldest.

The venue itself you could tell had not been open long, the walls were a clean crisp grey and everything had that newly painted/ decorated feel. Once you register and book in and pay, you are given your grip socks which you need if you are going on the trampolines. The sessions are one hour long at £12 inc your grip socks with a second hour available for £6 (prices for under 5’s are reduced ). So at £12 a child it could be kind of expensive with more than one child- however, I guarantee you they will come off totally knackered…………… so worth it if you think about it! We were also given a coloured wrist band as it was peak time in half term and very busy, but I imagine this is the only way to actually keep a restriction on how many people they are allowed on at any one time. Then we were sent into a holding room to view a 4 minute ‘Do’s and Don’t’s’ video before entering the trampoline area itself.

There are small lockers available if you are all going on for you to pop your phones/ bags/ valuables etc into which you get your money back from each time.

As you walk through you are into the seating/ cafe area on the same level (think normal playcentre and you will get an idea of what to expect) and then if you are going on the trampoline area which is completely raised there is a ramp walkway to get on there. It is still easy to see your children from the cafe and there is a small walkway all along that you can go up to check on them if you want.

Like I say we all went on and had a ball. I lasted about 20-30 minutes before I was completely shattered and went for a coffee from the cafe ( ladies be warned Tena ladies would be very handy if you are jumping!! Just saying). Our 2 teens stayed on there the whole time! There was an area unfinished in the top corner which was bordered off from the rest of the park, it was set in lower and looked like it was going to be used for a dodge ball area ( I could be wrong on that but it did look like it). They also have a small 2 hoop basketball area which you queue for to go and have a try- using the trampolines to get the bounce and height to help you get the ball in the hoop- looked good fun. There is also an under 5’s small area bordered off near the cafe area. There is also an area at the top end where you have obstacles to get past over a pit filled with sponge blocks- string ladders to climb up and ‘gladiator’ style jousting on a slim walkway were you are given head gear to put on and bash your opponent with a large soft paddle to knock them off into the pit.

All in all we had a fun time, next time we would definitely book an evening slot so the age group would be older and more suitable for teens and adults alike without worrying that when you jump you are going to unknowingly fling a young child about 10ft in the air! They also run exercise classes which I imagine would be amazing fun and great exercise- my hubby and I can confirm our legs felt like lead the next day so this would be a great form of cardio exercise! It’s definitely something we all enjoyed and said e would do again……….and lets face it most teens don’t want to do anything with their parents so were pleased they said they would go back again.

Unlike normal playcentres though it is advisable to pre book your slot online before you go as once they reach their maximum amount of people at that time the slot will no longer be available for obvious health and safety reasons. You also get to keep your grip socks after the first time so a 1 hour slot reduces to £10 an hour when you bring those socks back to re use them each time.

If you fancy trying it then just check out their website here for more details on pricing/ times/ classes/ parties  etc.

 

Phobophobia, The Ventriloquist Nightmare Show at the London Tombs

Last week I had the bizarre pleasure of visiting the opening of the Phobophobia , The Ventriloquist Nightmare show at the London Tombs. I hadn’t been at the tombs before and to be honest I wasn’t sure of what to expect, however, this show has been put together especially for the half term and in particular the run up to Halloween.

Now I love my ‘jump scare’ horror films and to be honest any sort of horror film, as does my teen son, but that does not mean that I wouldn’t be scared. My husband does not ‘do’ horror in any way and looking back I cannot believe I actually got him to go first in our group when we entered!

The evening started with drinks ( which were definitely needed before entering the show) and socialising with large reptiles, so look away now if you do not like snakes……….

This is me after a glass of wine pretending to be brave!

This is me after a glass of wine pretending to be brave!

Everyone had been given a group number when they came in and we ended up in the last group of the night………………..possibly not the greatest thing as our anticipation grew seeing others coming out looking less than calm.

Anyway, when it was our turn we were ‘welcomed’ in by this rather interesting ‘doctor’….

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Then after his little welcoming chat where he talked about ‘The Master’ a lot we were left to navigate the route on our own……………………yes that’s when I totally pushed my husband to the front and made him go through first! We only had six of us in total in the group which meant that whenever anything happened, or when someone jumped out or chased us ( I kid you not!) it actually meant we were all affected……………………………….. and take my word for it the fear is definitely contagious.

I could tell you everything that happened but I do think that would ruin the experience. It is all about the not knowing that creates the anticipation and fear. Needless to say, you may come out sweaty, dishevelled and weighing half a stone lighter than before and unable to talk because you have lost your voice by screaming ( or that could have just been me). It is not a 5 minute experience, we tried to work out how long it lasted and we reckoned around 20- 25 minutes in total, which may not sound long but believe me in the dark, with people scaring you and chasing you it is a VERY long time!

We also took our 16 year old son ( who also loves his jump scares) who went round with a young lady we didn’t know clinging to him for safety which he found hilarious. However, I will say now this show is strictly over 16’s and having done it I can see why. It’s intense to say the least and your teen will definitely need to be into this sort of thing before you decide to go.

We all loved it, like I said at the start the fear is contagious, you will definitely be kept on your toes, and it is best not to be claustrophobic either as there is also a short walk  ‘squeeze through’ that could cause your already panicked self to freak the hell out………….just saying.

If this sounds right up your scary street then take a little look at this video they have put together to get a feel for the experience, you can also book tickets here but you will need to be quick as this particular show is only available this week and runs until 31st Oct 2016.

Go on try it if you dare……….

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My tips on preparing your teen for University

My eldest baby left us on 12th September this year to start his university adventures. I didn’t want to write about it straight away ( or before) as my head was literally all over the place with a huge mixture of emotions. Yes I was unbelievably proud of him, but I was, as most mum’s would be, absolutely terrified that he wasn’t going to cope! It was so hard to leave him there on his joining weekend although we are lucky enough to be relatively close enough to go there for a day visit- which we did the next day to take him for a final family meal before leaving him properly.

last-meal-pic-with-conor

Almost a month into his new independent life and I am super pleased to say that he is not only coping very well but he is also loving his new found freedom. He has done several weekly shops now ( he loves the fact that he has an Aldi near him) and also done a few clothes washes too…………….this probably amazes me the most. He has also got himself a part time promotions job as well so is now earning a few extra pounds here and there to boost his weekly spending amount.

We had discussed the importance for him to maybe look for a part time job to subsidise his money as we as parents are not in a position financially to heavily subsidise him on a weekly or monthly basis. He is a sensible boy money wise as both my boys have been taught to save for the more expensive things that they have wanted over the years, but they also are shrewd enough to buy dvd’s/ older video games pre-owned from places like CEX and Game to make their money go further.

When my son initially discussed going to uni my husband and I did worry hugely about the financial side of things until it was explained at one of the uni talks that he could apply for possible bursary and loans etc that were means tested. Thankfully my son fell within that particular category however, I know other parents have had to look at other methods of supporting their child such as personal loans, savings and even equity release in order to support and subsidise their teen as necessary.

In a very short period of time I have come to realise that:

  • they will not starve!
  • they will eventually find the launderette
  • they will learn very quickly that their money does NOT last
  • they will cope because they have too

So here is a few of my top tips that you can help prepare your teen for living away at uni

*Teach them a few simple dishes to cook. My son is a very plain eater but he could at least cook pizza, cook eggs and bacon, cook chicken breasts properly and make sure he wasn’t going to get food poisoning!

*show them which of their clothes can go into the washing machine together and that their precious white t-shirt does not go in with their black jeans.

*one of the best things we did when setting up his student account was to keep his normal current account open so he could agree a weekly amount he could transfer on a weekly Standing Order from his student loan account into his current account. That way he has an agreed weekly amount he needs to manage on without the fear of dipping into his loan unnecessarily and whittling away at the money without realising.

*get them used to normal security measures ie: make sure before they go away they are used to always taking house keys with them everywhere-even if you are going to be home when they get in. If they are used to always taking their keys when  going out they stand less chance of losing/ forgetting to take keys when they are at uni…………..sounds silly but uni’s charge the students a fortune to replace lost keys!!

*take them with you when buying all their essentials to take with them, that way they know exactly what they have with them and they don’t waste money buying things when they get to uni that they already have tucked away in a cupboard!

* teach them to self medicate when they feel unwell. My boys have been doing this since their early teens and have a very sensible approach to over the counter medications. They know how and when they can take things like paracetamol/ ibruprofen and how often, cough mixture, hayfever tablets etc. YOU WOULD BE VERY SURPRISED HOW MANY TEENS DO NOT KNOW THE BASICS!

I could go on but those are a at least a few of the basic necessities to getting your teen ready for their independent uni adventure. If you have boys they will tell you that they wont be calling everyday, but what they don’t realise that they will find themselves texting you to check things about the cooking, the washing machines, their food shopping without actually realising that they are doing it………………………………………so do not fret THEY WILL KEEP IN TOUCH!

How to Prepare for Your Driving Test: Top 5 Tips

Having been a qualified driving instructor ( until my illness took over) I know how difficult it can be for anyone to transition from a provisional to a full driving licence, the driving test itself can often be a very daunting prospect. Both the theory test and practical test are actually very straightforward, but the pressure often makes these tests more difficult than they should be. My son has recently passed his theory test and hopefully will do his practical test quite soon ( when he gets a break from uni).

So, If you’re taking a driving test soon, these next five tips will help you prepare better in no time.

Take Advantage of Online Mock Driving Tests

There are many ways you can prepare for a driving theory test. You can read one of the available books on the UK driving test and learn more about the highway code and other knowledge. You can also use the tests at the end of those books to practice. The best way to prepare for the actual test, however, is to take a mock test online. I always advised my pupils to do what they think will be enough ( especially with teenagers!) and then do lots more!

There are a lot of sites that offer mock driving theory tests for you to try. Taking the online tests will help you prepare for the actual test mentally too, which is why it’s the best way to get ready. You can learn from your mistakes more effectively this way.

Timing the Test

Never take a driving test at a time when you feel stressful. For instance, you shouldn’t take a driving test on the same week as a school exam or any other stressful events in life. You have all the time in the world to get the driving license you need, so time your test correctly.

Get Enough Sleep

As mentioned before, it’s the pressure of taking the test that often make you fail. The test itself is very easy to handle. It is very normal to be nervous, but do not allow the nerves to take over, think of all the people already driving on the road they have all had to pass the test! To avoid feeling stressed on the day of the actual test, get enough sleep the night before. You should also avoid drinking too much coffee (or worse, energy drinks) before the test. The high level of caffeine will make you feel more agitated than usual.

Get There Early

Arrive at the test centre early. There is nothing worse and more off putting than rushing through the test centre doors with only minutes to spare.  Give yourself at least 20 minutes to get used to the test environment and catch your breath. You will feel so much better when the test starts and you’ll have no trouble at all passing the test with flying colours.

Getting to the test centre early will also help you prepare for the test mentally. Take deep breaths and visualise completing the test. Be positive about it and you’ll feel so much better – and so much more prepared – for the driving test. The examiners are normal people ( I know it’s hard to believe!), they are not there to fail you I promise.

Take the Necessary Documents

Last but not least, make sure you have the right documents with you. Most of the time, you need your driving license and your theory test pass certificate. Don’t wait until right before you leave for the test centre to prepare these documents. Have them ready the night before. If you do not have the appropriate documents you will not be able to take the test, so please be prepared.

You are allowed to bring someone to the test. If your child is taking their driving test, it is always a good idea to go with them and sit in the back of the car during the practical test. You’ll be providing a lot of moral support and your kids will have an easier time in general.

If you have a specific tip that helped you on the day of your test please share it with us as it could help someone else who is feeling very nervous about their upcoming test.