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Archive of ‘Parenting’ category

10 ways teenage boys are the same as toddlers

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‘Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable’ ~Plato

  • They both love ‘crap’ food. Remember those days when your toddler would only eat white toast (with the crusts cut off and cut in neat squares… oh no, I mean triangles…oh no, I mean star shapes…) well now your teen has access to pocket money and a bit of independence, the lure of McDonalds, Subway, and 7eleven is strong and seems to be where most of his (I mean your) money is spent.
  •  They both love to do dangerous things. When my son was little he moonwalked backwards off a brick wall. A little while ago my now 14 year old decided to do a vertical push up off a rock wall with waves crashing menacingly below him.  Same same. Note to self: book into hairdresser for touch up to the new grey hairs that have mysteriously arrived.
  • Take an iPad off a toddler and watch the ensuing meltdown. Turn off the Wi-Fi before they are finished, and behold the fury of the toddler reincarnate as the teenager screams in frustration about not being able to watch some random YouTube video of an American teenager playing Playstation (nb. I will never understand the appeal of this for as long as I live!)
  • Getting out the door on time with a toddler dressed appropriately for the weather with matching socks and shoes is a parenting rite of passage we all go through. Getting your teenage son to sports practice on time with his shin guards, sports shoes, drink bottle and a jacket all accounted for and present, is nothing short of a holy miracle.
  • The toddler and the teenager are both similarly amused with the sounds that emanate from their bottoms. I don’t think this ever changes unfortunately!
  • Toddler speak vs teenage speak. Both moderately grunty, occasionally whiny, and often hard to comprehend.
  • They don’t like being kissed (any kisses that manage to land are soon wiped off the face with the back of their hands) but they love leaning all over you, particularly while sitting on the couch watching TV.
  • The toddler and the teenage boy can both be resistant to bathing and getting clean. A bath or shower may require some long winded negotiations, however when it is time for their hair to be washed or nails to be trimmed, be prepared to use all the bargaining chips in your parenting toolkit!
  • The sleep patterns of a toddler may be more disruptive, but getting a teenage boy to physically go to bed at night, is equally as challenge as getting a toddler to go nighty-night after 25 stories and just one more drink of water!
  • The toddler and the teen can both drive you crazy, cause you grief, and make you want to tear your hair out on occasion, but just sometimes when they look at you with a twinkle in their eye, and tell you that they love you, well then they are the most awesome creatures on the planet!

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The lesson I learned at 10 years old that changed my life

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‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted’ ~ Aesop

When I was in Grade 5 in the early 1980’s life was pretty sweet. I lived in a time where the local neighbourhood was my playground, and the milk bar at the end of my road was my favourite place to visit (how did those milk bar owners not go crazy with our interminably long mixed lolly orders!)

School was fun, and I was a happily engaged student with a big group of friends. I never really considered my standing in my friendship group: I knew I wasn’t the most popular girl, but I was happy with wherever I slotted in.  Like everyone else, I looked up to Stephanie, the new girl who had bewitched us all with her perfect blonde hair and tanned long legs: the photo above may give you an idea as to how she was viewed by all the Grade 5 girls (and a good portion of the boys as well!)

One fateful day, the big topic of discussion was what we were all going to wear to the school photos the next day. Stephanie pulled me aside and informed me that I should wear my bottle-green cords and windcheater (oh yeah, they were as snazzy as they sound!) as that was what all the girls were wearing. Deliriously happy to be singled out and forewarned with this extremely important bit of information, I ran home that afternoon, and implored my mum to wash and iron my cord pants, which she duly did. I woke up excitedly the next day, put them on and rushed to school…only to find ALL the girls in my class except for me and two others were wearing their tartan checked Winter tunics.

BP2463-BottleGreen000104890Yes, these two incredibly attractive items of clothes forever more changed the way I looked at friendships and people that were different to me!

 

“Oh my God, Mel,” exclaimed Princess Stephanie with a delightfully smug yet disgusted look on her face, “you have totally ruined the school photos: what a loser!” and with a flick of her perfect blonde ponytail, that was it: I was done, persona non grata, no longer part of the ‘it’ crowd and decried to be a dweeb, a dork, a Scott Nomates. Did I protest? Did I stand up for myself? No, I thought I had no hope swaying my so called friends away from the golden tyrant who ruled the class.

For while I had been mildly bullied before (you didn’t get through Primary School wearing glasses in those days without copping some name calling) I had never experienced such deliberate meanness. That night I went home and cried my eyes out about how unjust it was, then got up the next day went to school ready to accept my fate as a forever friendless four eyed dork (not surprisingly, I had an active inner mean girl at work in conjunction with the actual mean girl!)

While standing morosely by myself at lunchtime, watching my ‘friends’ hanging off the monkey bars perfecting their backflips, I saw my fellow outcasts sitting close by. I had always dismissed these two girls as nerds, girls that didn’t quite look right, say the right things, eat the right sandwiches (yes, this was actually a thing!). The quiet larger girl named Pam shyly looked at me, and said ‘you can come and sit with us if you like’. Grateful for anyone to talk to, I moved closer and the three of us started to talk.

I soon discovered I had much in common with these so called ‘nerds’. We loved the same books (The Hobbit was a revelation to me at this age) and TV shows (M.A.S.H) and had lots of interesting things to talk about.  I soon moved on from my hurt and eventually moved into a different class and life was carefree once more. However, I never forgot the kindness that two young girls I had been so quick to judge and dismiss in the past had shown me.

I very quickly realised that being popular doesn’t necessarily equate to being nice, and that everybody has something to offer, if you simply give them a chance to show you. I learned that I wanted to be the type of girl (and woman) who looked beyond the clothes, the hair and the sandwiches, and took the time to ask questions of people, and most importantly: be kind. This early lesson has held me in good stead throughout my life, and it has led me to meet some amazing and interesting people over the years.

As I now watch my own daughters prevail the slippery slopes of tween friendship (BFF’s one day, on the outer the next) I tell them my own stories so they know that it’s not what you look like or what you have that makes you ‘cool’, but how you act. Because kindness truly does matter.

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it-is-cool-to-be-kind-30x40-11563Do you have a story from your childhood that has helped shape the person you have become? Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments below 

Sanity Savers for Surviving the Silly Season

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Less than two weeks from Christmas…

Have you completed all your Christmas shopping  and lovingly wrapped your gifts in delightful eco friendly paper and matching ribbon?
Have you RSVP’d to the Christmas drinks at the neighbours/the local sports club/Aunty Beryl’s house?
Have you bought those $10 Kris Kringle gifts that are witty, fun, and not too cheap looking?
Have you lovingly made the organic Christmas Pudding by hand (and don’t forget you have to buy a Gluten Free one for Aunty Beryl)?
Have you hand written beautiful messages on gorgeous Christmas cards for your closest friends/relatives/Facebook acquaintances and put then in an actual postbox?

Have you dreamt about hiding under your doona until December 26 with a large box of Christmas Lindor balls and a Ryan Gosling DVD marathon in the hopes that no one will ever find you?

If you answered yes to only one question on that list (and I’m pretty sure it was the last one if you are like me) then welcome to the Silly Season: a crazy construct of society that forces us to eat with, drink with, and buy presents for just about every single person we have ever met. conversed with, or walked by on the street in the past 5 years.

Now before you go and call me out as a scrooge (I say ‘bah humbug’ to that), I’ll have you know that I really do enjoy socialising: I love a drink or two or three with friends, I enjoy eating home made rum balls, and I will even happily sing along to “All I want for Christmas is You (and you, and you, and you)”. But why oh why does it always have to be all crammed into 2 weeks when the kids are still at school and exhausted, work is winding up but still busy, and there is a godforsaken concert of some sort every second night!

However, even at this late hour I truly believe there are some sanity savers that can help you cross the line on December 25 feeling (mostly) in control and ready to put your feet up, relax and enjoy the dregs of a champagne bottle and some of the kids leftover mince pies (because as any Aussie kid will tell you, ‘yuck, there is fruit not meat in these pies mum!’)

So without further ado here are my top Sanity Savers for Surviving the Silly Season (saying it with a lisp is optional!)

Take One Day at a time

It is very easy to let overwhelm sink in at this time of the year, so for me I focus on simply taking one day at a time. I plan my weeks like a mother (literally!) and have everything I need to do written in my daily planner which is my bible (amen). I don’t sweat the small stuff at this time of year (clean laundry lives in laundry baskets in December) and takeaway comes a little more often than usual. Most importantly, at the end of each day when I roll into bed, I let the day go: no going over incomplete to do lists in my mind: my positive affirmation is ‘I am doing the best that I can’ shortly followed by ‘There are gin & tonics by the pool in my near future: keep on going girlfriend.”

Just Say No

This holiday season say goodbye to FOMO and hello to JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). You do not need to go to every single event you are invited to, and nor should you feel guilty for simply saying, sorry I won’t be able to make it. Put your mother guilt out with the reindeer’s carrots this Christmas, you do not need that sack of drama in your life!

Schedule some Me Time

It will come as no surprise to hear me say get your self care on this silly season. If you are super busy then schedule looking after yourself like you would anything else: block out an hour in your diary to have a bath and read a book, or go for a 20 minute walk listening to some uplifting music before you hit the shops to get those last minute purchases. You are just as important as anyone else at this time of the year so look after number one first, the rest will follow.

Lower Your Expectations

This one is easy actually. I want you to repeat something out loud after me…ready?

“Christmas does not have to be perfect.”

Ah, doesn’t that feel better! No one expects you to be Nigella Lawson, so focus on being in the moment and the blessings you have in your life rather than all that you could have done better if only you had more time/money/patience/helper elves…

Finally, if all else fails, I leave you with these wise and immortal words…

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I wish you and yours a joy filled Christmas and a safe and relaxing start to 2016

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If you would like to start 2016 getting clear on your goals and what you want to achieve, then don’t just make a new year’s resolution, make a booking to see me! I am opening up some limited times in January for some one hour goal power sessions, so email me at melissa@melissajeffcott.com to find out more x

 

How to move on when you get it wrong as a parent

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I recently did something that I am not proud of: I lost my temper at one of my children. Big Time. I screamed at my teenage son when he wouldn’t do what was asked of him. Not only that, I followed him upstairs continuing to yell at him as I sent him to his room. Inexplicably, I even kept it up as he complied with me and went to his bed in a flurry of tears. It is not easy for me to sit and write these words, and acknowledging my uncontrolled anger makes my stomach feel sick and tears spring to my eyes.

It doesn’t really matter what it was about. Like most 13 year olds, my son is certainly good at pushing my buttons and viewing the world as solely revolving around him. He was in the wrong, and wasn’t doing what was repeatedly asked of him, but really there are many other ways to deal with this sort of (admittedly common) behaviour.

Because I am the grown up. I am the mother. I aim to live every day in alignment with my core beliefs of connection, joy and love. I even did a Masters in Child Psychology for the love of God! I certainly know better than this. I know yelling doesn’t work. I know that all I proved to my son on that fateful afternoon was that I can yell louder than him and make him cry.

Maybe you have been here too. Maybe like me, you have walked away from an altercation with your child with your heart hammering in your chest, tears streaming down your face, and thought to yourself, ‘I am a terrible mother, this is so hard, I have no idea what the hell I am doing. Why on earth did I just do that?’

So how do you move on when you get it wrong?

First up is space. My son needed space from me, not more words, and I certainly needed space from him. We both needed time to calm down and process what had happened before we talked about it. I also needed to have a good cry in private, make a cup of tea, and quietly reflect on my own behaviour.

I acknowledged to myself that I make mistakes. I am an emotional person. I can be hot headed. I am less tolerant when I am tired. I am less tolerant when there has been lots of bickering going on in my household. I know these things about myself. I am definitely not perfect: as a mother, a wife, a friend, or as a life coach. I am only human.

But you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t beat myself up. Well, maybe I did a tiny bit, but then I quickly moved on. Does one parenting fail negate all the times I am a good mother, or dare I toot my own horn and say, a freaking awesome mum most of the time? Of course not, yet this is often what we focus on: the one bad story, instead of the myriad of good experiences we have with our children.  We are so quick to point out our own flaws and fixate on them, instead of congratulating ourselves when we get it right, and giving ourselves a pat on the back for doing a damn good job nine times out of ten.

So what did I do that afternoon after I wiped my eyes, drank my tea, and took a few deep cleansing breaths? I treated myself like I would my best friend in the same situation. I forgave myself. I thought of some strategies for how to better deal with frustrating teenage situations (of which no doubt there are many more to come!) I gave myself love. I gave my family my love. I hugged my daughters, and told them how much I love them. I explained that mum had made a mistake, but like any mistake, you learn from it and you move on. I upped the self care, and treated myself to an early night to bed with a good book.

And to my teenage son? I wrote him a heartfelt letter, and left it on his nightstand to read when he first woke up. I acknowledged what had happened, apologised for it, and emphasised that we are both always learning, and when we get it wrong, we forgive each other and come back to our core truth: that we love each other, and no matter what happens in his life, I will always have his back.

How did he respond? No words, just a lanky body that woke me up early the next morning by slipping into bed next to me and wrapping his long arms around me and burying his head in my neck. I know I am a good mum doing the best I can, and the proof was lying right next to me squeezing me tight.

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This post was hard for me to write, but I know I am not the only one to get it wrong as a parent on occasion. How do you move on after you get it wrong?

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