Yet Another Anti-Bullying Campaign

It’s true, mum and I have been floating on cloud nine after this happened last night:

A few days after we posted our blog Not Just Another Anti-Bullying Campaign, the boys we wrote it about (Bars and Melody) tweeted a link to the blog. Well we flipped obviously! It’s not everyday you get noticed by someone famous. After we got over the initial shock of being tweeted to over 200,000 people, we got more excited when we considered why we would be tweeted about.

Bars and Melody promote anti-bullying, and they’re famous for it. After their performance on Britain’s Got Talent, they went viral. Since then, they have moved on to travelling the globe spreading the word about how bullying affects so many people daily. The fact that these boys who have made it their life mission to support the anti-bullying campaign think that our blog about the topic was worth reading, is amazing.

These boys are really making a positive difference in the world and it feels really good to know that they think our post might help. Mum and I are so excited to know we have so many new readers who are willing to support Bars and Melody (and us of course) in the movement to stop bullying on a global scale.

As a teenager myself, I am surrounded by people who try and tell us their own bullying experiences and telling us to speak up if we are being bullied. As hard as it is to listen to these stories, there is always the thought that they are older than us and my generation doesn’t do that. However, when you hear a boy who is your age say that he was beat up for being different is a real reality check.

It’s really hard to imagine moving on from something like that but Leondre didn’t just move on, he went on to become a huge sensation that works towards stopping things like what happened to him. Well, I can say it’s working. Listening to all the girls talking after they spoke to us at my school, it was obvious that what they had said really stayed with them and probably will for the rest of their lives.

Bars and Melody are following the leads of other famous people who are taking a stand against bullying too. Some of these stars who feel just as strongly about the issue of bullying are Victoria Justice (star of Victorious), Demi Lovato (star who has faced bullying in the public eye as well as in private) and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark from the Hunger Games trilogy). As well as these individuals my favourite TV cast, Pretty Little Liars, has come out against bullying.

These particular people stand out to me as people that are doing similar work to Bars and Melody. This is because all of the solo people I spoke about have done TV and radio interviews to promote anti-bullying and have joined organisations devoted to the end of bullying. The Pretty Little Liars cast is different. The entire TV series is devoted to bullying and the impacts it can have on the lives of everyone involved. Its a great TV show to show the effects (whilst extreme) of cyber bullying.

After hearing Bars and Melody talk about bullying, sing their self written songs (did I mention they are 14 and 16 and have written their own song. Can you say talent?) and then have them tweet about my blog post, I can safely say that these two boys are doing a great job to stop bullying. If you haven’t already, I would suggest checking out their audition for Britain’s Got Talent, it really is an inspiring video.

Ciao, Ash

Do you parent your children differently?

IMG_3058While I was out this weekend at one of our many sporting commitments, I fell into a conversation with another mother about my youngest child. Being the youngest of 4, he can be very lazy and I find myself constantly either telling him off or justifying why he hasn’t picked up after himself. I am more lenient with my youngest child that is for sure.

Then I began to think about the way I parent all my children. Ashlea is very easy to parent (at this stage anyway) as she seems to understand what the needs of the family are. If I ask Ash to do something around the house, she gets up and does it, no complaining, no whinging, she always helps out. I have very little need to tell her off.

Breanna (my second daughter) likes things her own way or she will let me know she is not happy. I am constantly telling her to hurry up on school mornings as she is very slow and gets easily distracted. She also has a fiery temper and this has a tendency to clash with other members of the family. I need to keep a close eye on her, gently guiding her in the right direction.

Jackson (my eldest son) is at the age where he loves me and wants to be around me but is trying to pull away to become a man. This makes him behave in a way I don’t always agree with, causing an argument. He loves to push the boundaries, testing just how far he can go before I reel him back in. His favourite trick is to stir his siblings, pushing, pushing until he gets the reaction he was hoping for. Then he claims he did nothing wrong. Sometimes I believe him but all too often, I have to trust my gut feeling, knowing he loves getting a rise from his siblings and bring him back into line.

I have the same rules for all my children but I definitely enforce them differently. Sometimes this brings those guilty feelings back but all my children have different personalities and require different styles of parenting to help them learn and stay safe.

Do you parent your children differently?

cheers natalie

Are my children too judgmental?

1496447_10152149039712323_1845298728_oI don’t think I am a helicopter parent as I try to let my children make their own decisions on many aspects of their lives. I always let them know that I have their back but like to push them a little to challenge themselves.

One lesson I have taught my children is you can do anything in life you wish, as long as you do everything in moderation. By this I mean, if you feel like eating chocolate, go for it, as long as it is in moderation. This applies to all aspects of life – food, drinks, exercise, homework, socialising and resting. If your body and mind get a little of everything, then you will never miss out, but not too much of anything, then it remains healthy and happy.

Recently I was out at the shops with Ashlea and child No.4 and I bought them lunch. ‘Healthy lunch’, I suggested as they searched for what to eat. Sushi and Subway were their choices, which secretly put a smile of my face. Both wanted a frozen drink to accompany their meals, so I happily agreed to one from Hungry Jacks. What astounded me was Ashlea’s comment when she returned to the table with her drink.

“Mum, it’s very off putting when you go to a place like Hungry Jacks and the manager is overweight. It makes you realise just how bad the food is for you.”

Have I turned my children into judgemental people? Yes, we talk about having everything in moderation as there is usually a consequence if you over indulge (like gaining weight). And yes we talk about the consequences of over eating, over exercising, over studying  and over doing anything in life. I love the fact that this lesson has been accepted by them and thought about. However, it never occurred to me that my children would begin judging others. There may be many reasons why this manager was over weight (one being what they eat) but there maybe other reasons for the weight issue.

Have you ever had a life lesson backfire on you?

cheers natalie

 

Am I too judgmental? Maybe. Personally, I just think I am highly opinionated, but to others, I may seem a tad too judgemental. I struggle to look at some people and not think ‘How?’ because I have been raised with the mantra “everything in moderation” and sometimes, I forget that not everyone has had the same upbringing as me. As much as I don’t want to go around judging people, I can’t help but compare myself to people who have clearly ignored the ‘moderation’ rule.

cheers Ashlea xxx

Guilty Parenting

 

Photo on 13-02-14 at 5.57 PMThere are two emotions I cannot remember feeling very often before I had children: Guilt and Anger. Now these two emotions seem to enter my body more often than I like.

Guilt – what is there not to feel guilty about? If I over parent, I feel guilty. If I under parent, I feel guilty. If I say NO, I feel guilty. This emotion has crept into my daily living and I can’t see it leaving for a long time.

Times I feel guilty:

  • When I am so busy trying to remember everything that I forget something.
  • When I pretend to listen (because I am actually reading or emailing or staring into space).
  • When my child misses out because I haven’t taken enough notice of what is happening around me.
  • When I say NO to something they really want to do.
  • When I make the children help clean the house.
  • When I make the children have an early night because I need some time alone.
  • When I tell my children off for misbehaving (especially Ashlea as she rarely does) but scream too much.
  • When I get annoyed of something little.

Anger – I don’t recall feeling angry as I grew up or in my early 20’s (except maybe fighting with my siblings). Somehow though, this emotions has crept into my life and stubbornly is here to stay.

Times I feel anger:

  • When I am tired.
  • When my children argue or fight.
  • When my husband is lazy (or maybe it’s me being OCD about cleanliness)
  • When my children won’t listen to each other (and me).
  • When I feel like I am the only one in the house who does anything.
  • When I AM the only in the house who does anything.
  • When I am simply in a mood.

Reading my lists, I realise that most of these things are ‘small stuff’ and I have been taught not to sweat the ‘small stuff’. I understand this in principle but putting into practise on a daily basis can be difficult.

I am going to try, from now on, to control these emotions I will let all other emotions run wild) by not letting the small things in life get to me. I will get back to you in a week and tell you if I have been successful or not.

cheers natalie

Are team sports important for children?

Being part of a team is definitely important, especially growing up. I’ve always played basketball and just recently started netball. I think that being a part of team boosts your confidence and socialising skills. It also lets you have fun playing your sport with other people.

I love playing in teams because it means all the pressure isn’t just on me like sports such as swimming or skateboarding. In sports such as basketball, netball, soccer, cricket and so many more, you have the opportunity to play with other people who enjoy the same sport as you.

When I play in a team, I always feel as though I have to perform better. Without a team you could play at any level you what’d because no one relied on you to be good. With a team you almost get pushed by your team mates into doing the best you can. Having encouragement makes things so much easier in sport.

Playing a team sport helps you become more social and confident a round others. It helps you to interact with people who like the same things as you. When you play, you are forced to talk to your team mates so you are bound to become friends with people who you may not have been friends with before.

Basically, team sports are really fun. They have everything to make great memories as a child or to keep fit as an adult. Sports are a huge part of Australian culture, as is competition. Competition is a great way for kids to learn how to win and loose. Team sports are definitely a very important thing to be a part of.

Ashlea..

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All my children play team sports as I think it is essential to learn to be part of a group effort, the highs and lows included but feeling integrated within a small group.

Once a commitment is made to join a team, children need to learn to stay committed. That includes participating in training as well as game day festivities. There is no pulling out of a team sport mid season just because you have tired of the sport. The commitment has been made to be part of a team and as a parent, it’s my role to ensure my children understand this commitment and stick to it.

Teams rely on each to succeed. Teaching children that a team involves other people relying on them and visa versa (yes shock horror – it is not always about you) can be a lesson that helps them succeed when they get older.

Being part of a team also involves the coaching staff. In many children’s sports, the coaches are the parents of team members, devoting their time to the team. Out of respect for the coach, turning up on time to training sessions and game day, is an important part of being in a team.

cheers natalie

Easy tips for starting school

I, as well as hundreds of others, started back at school last week. I had my first official day of year eight and I can safely say I survived. In my family my brothers went back on Wednesday and then my sister and I started on Friday. It was a really busy week in our house but I think that we all had fun on our first day back at school.

The first day of high school was really daunting for me last year but this year it was as if it’s as just a normal day of school. I don’t know whether it was the fact that I had done transition last year for year eight or whether it was because I was ready for school but my first day of year eight was entirely stress free.

I think the most important part of having positive thoughts about going back to school is to look at the bright side. I thought about all the friends I would get to see after nearly two months of being apart. I thought about how by starting year eight I am one year closer to finishing completely. I also thought about how I would get six hours a day away from my siblings.

With only good thoughts in mind going back to school can be easy and even though many of us don’t want to leave the holidays behind, all you have to do is think of the weekends where you can have twice the amount of fun that was lost from school. School can be fun if you put your mind to it and remain positive.

Despite everyone saying that they don’t want to go back to school, I think everyone deep down wants to go back. Whether it’s for friends, learning or even to be one step closer to finishing, there is a reason to want to return. Personally I’m glad to be back at school because learning and socialising are two things I love the most.

💕ash

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It’s probably a little wrong for me to talk about my first day of school, so I won’t bore you. This year was a special year as number 2 daughter started High School. Her first day was Friday and we left the house feeling a little nervous, excited and confused as to what to expect.

The morning began with a breakfast so the parents could meet and the children could ease into the idea of going to High school. I think it was a success as I watched my daughters face glow when she saw some familiar faces, some friendly faces but most of all many faces which appeared to be just like hers.

When it was time for me to leave, my daughter did not hesitate and left happily. I was a little anxious but she managed to put my nerves at ease. On picking her up at the end of the day, her face was still glowing, smiles all round and definitely what I would deem a success.

My sons both started on Wednesday and happily ran off in the playground as we entered the school. Neither came back to me to even say goodbye when the bell went (even though I asked them to) so I can put that down to happily adjusted boys.

Some children struggle a little more with school, leaving parents, the idea of being away from home for such a long period of time. Here are some easy tips on helping your children settle into school over term 1.

1. Its more important for the parents to stay calm and relaxed. Children feed off parents emotions, so if you are stressed, they will sense this and think there MUST be something to be worried about.

2. Have lunch, snacks and drinks all separate and labelled. School children make the decision what to eat at recess and lunch time. Having plenty of food and the right healthy choices keeps their energy levels up all day and stops them from getting hungry.

3. Keep bedtime early, especially for the first term. Spending 6 hours a day at school is exhausting (even for High school kids), so having a strict routine at night which involves plenty of sleep can only make the following morning easier.

4. Remember every child settles into school life at their own pace. Some kids leave you in the playground, not looking back. While others stand close by, making sure you are not leaving without saying goodbye.

Hope everyone enjoys the school year.

cheers natalie

5 tips for first time campers

A few weeks ago our family went camping. As our family is bigger than others with six people, camping has always been a great way for us to go away but not have it cost an absolute fortune. When we go camping we usually go with our cousins which means that everyone can have even more fun than with us.

I like to think of our version of camping “glamping” because mum refuses to camps anywhere without a toilet and shower. I know that many people think of tents and the bush when they think of camping but our version is always much more fun.

We go places that have a pool or beach  and usually has a jumping pillow or trampoline. The best part about camping though is being able to spend time with your family in an environment that limits use of technology and the Internet.

As hard as it is for some of us to part with things such as our phones or iPods, especially for teenagers like me, I know that sometimes it’s good to take a break and just relax. I’ve been camping since before I can remember so it’s always been something that I’ve been used to. However, I know many people have never been camping so I’ve decided to give you five helpful tips for surviving your first camping trip.

1. Don’t over think it. Camping is just like going on any other holiday as longs as you think it is.
2. Make it a challenge. If camping is an idea that frightens you then just think of it as a challenge you have to overcome.
3. Choose somewhere comfortable. For families with kids it’s always easier to go somewhere with a playground or anything that can entertain us kids.
4. Go somewhere familiar. I’m not saying you should go to the caravan park around the corner but I am saying go somewhere where you know there are things in the area like Lorne or Wilson’s Prom.
5. Have fun. Holidays are only as good as you make them so put in the effort and I can promise you’ll have a blast.

💕ash

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I was never a camper growing up. In fact, we didn’t go on many holidays when I was a child as being one of five, money was tight and my Dad worked too many hours. When I met my husband, he had grown up camping every Christmas at Shoreham with his parents and brother. That’s where our camping passion as a family began.

Before children, we use to free camp at Echuca every Easter with a group of friends. No showers, no toilet, open fires and lots of partying. Since having children, I refuse to camp with all the basic necessities like toilet, showers and coffee shop. I have camped when Ash was 10 months old while pregnant with number two. I have camped with four children when the youngest was only 8 weeks old. I think I can proudly say my kids have grown up with camping in their veins.

One of the main reasons I like camping is it forces me to slow down. The atmosphere when you camp is very different from staying in a hotel. Don’t get me wrong, I love resort holidays too but with 4 children and the costs involved, we can’t do this style of holidaying all the time. When camping you mingle more with others, relax with an afternoon wine in the outdoors, actually play with children and learn more about your family as conversations are a big form of entertainment.

As camping is not for everyone, I will give some tips to those who would like to give it a try… it can be an eye opening experience:

1. Don’t over pack. I still get this one wrong but essentially, if everyone has a simple bag with a few changes of clothes, you should be right. It is important to pack something warm for the nights as we have been caught out a few times when the weather is hot during the day, forgetting that night times can be extremely cold.

2. Camp with the essentials. If you are a first time camper, make your life a little easier by camping where there are toilets, showers, BBQ’s and a little entertainment for kids. If find if my children are in water, they have no time to argue and the entire experience is enjoyable for everyone.

3. Food, food and more food. I always have enough food so that the kids ( and myself) are not searching for sugary snacks throughout the day. When we camp, we are pretty active, especially hanging out in the water, so everyone tends to eat more. Being organised with meals and snacks means Mum (and Dad) can sit and enjoy the holiday too.

4. Take time for yourself. It’s not always about the kids. They tend to rule the time spent at the pools or beach or trampoline etc, but it is important to take time to sit and read your book (or trashy magazine), go shopping on your own, sneak off to the pub with Hubby for a quiet drink for an hour. As camping involves sleeping, eating and staying in a small confined space, time out is essential. This way everyone enjoys the holiday.

5. Enjoy the kids. I have never been a Mum who plays with her children. However, when we camp I actually play with them. It’s at night time that we all cook together, play UNO, cards or Rummikub, talk about the day and catch up on each others lives. With no television to distract us (like in hotels), we bond again as a family. I cherish these times.

cheers Natalie

Precious memories

Precious memories

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I’m here to back you up

I am a little emotional this week as my second child is off to her Yr.7 school orientation. I am proud of her and know she will succeed in what ever she wishes to do with her life.

As a mother of four, I know how difficult life can be just trying to keep up with everything. One child has training of some sort, while another has an important project. The same time one is upset with friends at school and the other child has head lice. It is a never ending battle just trying to stay sane.

When my children were younger, I thought parenting was like a cruise down the coast on a Sunday afternoon. Yes there were a few pot holes but overall, as long as they were fed, bathed (all in the bath together many nights) and had a cuddle with Mum and Dad, it wasn’t too difficult.

As my children are getting older and into the teenage years, I am finding this parenting caper a challenge, an emotional challenge. My children no longer need me physically like they did when they were younger, however they need me emotionally and each child needs me for something different. Every day I try to assess each child, understand what they are feeling and if they actually need me today (a big sign when I think one or two are doing well). It’s the little things with children this age that can develop very quickly into BIG things before you have even finished the first page of a good novel.

My job over the next few years is to be their voice. My children are strong and healthy kids but they are still often unable to voice what they really think, need or want. So this is where I come in, ready to he their voice, to be their words until they tell me to ‘back off’. I am there to back them up, no matter what they have or have not done, I will be there.

I don’t remember signing up for this in the maternity ward…

cheers natalie

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Never Underestimate The Unselfish Love of a Mother

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