“It hurts that I’m not included in the mum cliques”

“It hurts that I’m not included in the mum cliques”

I know it’s  a bit silly and I should have better things to worry about (I do have better things to worry about), but I hate that I’m not part of any of the mum cliques at my kids’ school. For some reason, I’ve just never been accepted by any of them.

I don’t think they actively dislike me, but they definitely seem to have decided that I’m not worth bothering about. I don’t think I’m unlikable, but maybe I am. I have old friends that I love, but they all either live away or are part of their own group of one kind or another, and I’m just not. I don’t seem to fit in anywhere. Not that I’d know. I’m not invited anywhere to know whether I’d fit in or not.

So many groups, but none for me

When I try to make friends with the mum cliques, they are mostly friendly and nice, but they don’t let me in. Sometimes it’s obvious why. The cute group of mums with great bodies and clothes are probably never going to be my gang. There’s the big drinking group, that isn’t for me. There’s also the corporate kind of working mum group who I’m not really suited for. Most of the other cliques just seem to be filled with ordinary mums. They don’t seem to want to hang out with me either.

I wouldn’t take it this personally if I didn’t think it mattered for my kids. They are both in late primary school now and I think they are confused why we aren’t at the barbeques and other family parties that all their friends go to on the weekends. I’ve tried hosting a party or two myself, inviting the parents of my kids’ friends. Not many people were available to come, so it didn’t feel like a ‘party’ in the end. I think they actively avoided coming.

My husband is very social

My husband has also said a few things about my lack of friends that makes me worried. Will he think less of me as a person if others don’t seem to want to be with me? He is quite social, but luckily does a lot of socialising for work, so he doesn’t see how lacking me and the kids are during the week. On the weekends he seems happy to just hang out at home with us because he’s been out so much during the week. He might not even realise that I”m struggling to find a group, and I wouldn’t dream of telling him. I don’t want him to know how unpopular I am.

The thing is, a lot of the groups seem to have formed from mothers’ groups or when the kids were in prep. We moved to town when my kids older, so we’re not really part of any of that. I wish there was room in some of the school groups to welcome a new family, though, but they seem very closed to me. I’ve even tried volunteering at the school in order to make friends, but all that ended up happening was I kept getting more and more jobs piled onto me and no-one was willing to help me!


Related: A simple way to think about friendships


 

Mum cliques are so cliquey

I guess I just don’t understand why mum cliques are so cliquey! Why isn’t their room for my children and I to be part of their friendship group? Why wouldn’t we be welcomed? We’ve lived in our new town for almost three years now and I’m starting to think that there’s something wrong with me.

I’ve been thinking about what makes a person want to hang out with someone new, and I’ve come up with this list.

•  Funny
•  Helpful
•  Optimistic
•  Interesting
•  Fun

I’m trying to be all of these things, but still the mum cliques smile at me then move on to talk to someone else. I’m not the prettiest or most fashionable person, and while I’m trying to do better in this way, maybe this is the reason why I’m so overlooked. I’m also pretty quiet when I don’t know people. I am what used to be called ‘shy’. It’s hard for me to speak up in a group, even though I’m quite the chatterbox once I know people. 

Isn’t that what we teach our kids to do? Does it not really happen in real life?

I need to be rescued

I wish I could walk up to a mum that I admire and tell her how I’m feeling, but I just can’t. It freaks me out that she might think I’m even more odd than people clearly already do. Instead, I just watch the mums I like from afar like some creepy stalker, wishing they would notice how left out I am and come over and invite me in. Isn’t that what we teach our kids to do? Does it not really happen in real life?

I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. Instead, I’ll just keep trying to muster up the courage to be as bright and bubbly as I can in the hope that one day a mum with a group will notice and ask if I’m free on Friday. I’ll try to be all nonchalant, but inside I’ll be squealing with delight. To proudly take my kids to a Friday night mum playdate is something I’ve dreamed of for years.

Are there mum cliques in your life too? What do you think I could do to make friends?

Feature by Suhyeon Choi; 2 by Hannah Busing 

Can you really be happy and busy at the same time?

Can you really be happy and busy at the same time?

While impatiently sitting in my car at a set of lights, after rushing from the supermarket, to pick the kids up from school and then off again to someone’s sports practise, I noticed the registration plate of the car in front of me.  It said “IMBUSY”.

Article by Astrid McCallum

My first thought was to smirk, laugh a little and say to myself – “Aren’t we all honey?” My second thought was “No way – that is so sad.” Has it really come to this? Is a kinda-boasty number plate the epitome of the glorification of busy? 

If you really want to be happy, you can, in spite of all the crazy happening around you. 

At some point in life, we’re all going to face difficulties, challenges and hard situations – difficulties that make us feel busy and rushed are a part of life. They could come from trauma, friendships, kids, or just having everything happen all at once. So many people believe that happiness is directly related to having pleasure, it shouldn’t require any work to achieve and if you don’t have anything or you’re not working really hard to get it, you’re not going to be happy.

Commuting - can you be happy and busy

However, even though I ride the same roller coaster, I struggle with this philosophy. I don’t want my life to be this way and I certainly don’t want my kids to think that having everything go well, at a pace we can handle, is what being happy depends on.

Happiness can depend solely on you! 

Say what? I mean, if you really want to be happy, you can, in spite of all the crazy happening around you.  You can be happy and busy and even overwhelmed, all at the same time!

So, here are some tips to find YOUR happy.

How to be happy and busy at the same time

Appreciate and embrace the moment.

If you’re living in the present but you’re constantly thinking about the past or worrying about the future, you won’t be able to enjoy this very moment you’re in right now. This is a biggy and sometimes when you’re constantly rushing, you don’t actual appreciate the here and now. This is with all things. Family, friends, kids, self-care, food. When was the last time you sat and really tasted the amazing meal you just cooked? Or live your real Heartfelt Life? Learn to enjoy the emotional and physical pleasures before they are over.

Adjust your perspective.

Difficult situations are just going to happen. I think we all realise that, but you don’t have to be completed influenced by these circumstances. You have a choice. Adjusting your perspective and attitude about what is happening can have a huge impact on our stress levels as well as our happiness.

+ Related: Can you actually choose happy? +

Be thankful.

Many people who are not so happy, often have forgotten, or don’t know how to be thankful or grateful. They’re always wanting something else. 

Now I’m not going to tell you that you need to sell everything you own, join a commune and sing kumbayah to be happy, but always feeling unsatisfied is one sure way to grumpy town. That can affect your whole family – the ones that love you most? Why not accept the reality? Accepting everything about your already-amazing life will set you free from stress, worries and doubts.  It will bring you a true happiness in whatever circumstance.

I’m not going to tell you that you need to sell everything you own, join a commune and sing kumbayah to be happy, but always feeling unsatisfied is one sure way to grumpy town.

Happiness requires a little effort.

Happiness depends on you, no one else, just you. The way you approach life has a lot to do with your own happiness. When you’re busy, your mind can easily go to the negative of every situation. Slow down and really think about how this is setting you back.  Is there another way to look at the situation? This is also true when teaching our kids or allowing them to learn their own lesson.

+ Related: We need to stop being so available to our kids +

It takes effort to stop and challenge the default response though. But it’s so worth it when you strive to live happy every day.  You’ll become strong enough to calmly face any storm that comes your way.

Happy and busy at the same time

Stick to your belief system.

This is a good one.  You need to apply and live to your own expectations.  Not anyone else’s.  It’s easy to take on other peoples’ views, those of our partner, parents or peers.  Find your belief: it will be your guide on how you feel happy in your life.  It will give direction and purpose.

Find your belief: it will be your guide on how you feel happy in your life.

Being dragged into the latest food fad, exercise regime (when you know it doesn’t work for you), or doing something you really don’t want to, puts too much pressure on you and/or your family  and can lead to resentment, discontent, disconnect and a whole world of unhappiness.  Learning to say “no” can change the way you feel about yourself and your beliefs.

Nourish your body.

What you put in your mouth has a direct relationship to your brain and how you feel.  Get the good stuff in and you’ll find that you can deal with so much more of the ups and downs.  Our thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, hypothalamus, pancreas and sex glands – are all involved in helping us to feel calm, metabolise our food effectively, our coping ability and happiness through hormone release.  Keeping these hormones balanced can be one tricky act when we’re constantly on the go, stressed, not eating well and always giving.

You might not be able to control everything that happens in your life, but you can control how you feel and respond to them.  Be kind to yourself and work through these tips to find your happy.  So yes, you can be super busy and happy.  It’s just the way you look at it. 

+ Related: 5 ways to be more kind to yourself +

Feature image by Matthew T Rader; 2 by rawpixel.com; 3 by bruce mars 

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Astrid is the founder of Ryett Healthy Habits and is a qualified Nutritionist (Adv.Dip/Nut.Med) and Life Coach. Focusing on women finding their healthy body, mind, healing from burnout through food, exercise, and mindfulness practices. Balancing the “business” of life so they can live in their most happy and comfortable self.

She is a passionate advocate for getting back to whole foods, nutrition education and believes that physical and mental wellbeing can all start on your plate. As a wife and mum of two boys, she understands taking small easy steps and just keeping life real.

Astrid offers programs and services including individual consultations and coaching, grouping coaching and speaking engagements.

Find her at Ryett Healthy Habits, on Facebook and on Instagram.

A teacher’s plea: Parents, please allow children to fail

A teacher’s plea: Parents, please allow children to fail

Our guest today is a teacher who has become increasingly frustrated with how quickly parents swoop in to save their fledglings. She has a very clear message: we must allow children to fail, or we are doing them a big disservice.

This generation of parents would like to believe they love their kids more fiercely than any other generation before them. The success of their offspring is proof of that love. Any blunder is considered an indicator of a failure to parent well. 

Sacrifice is just a part of modern parenting. Bending over backwards to ensure that childhood is magical and carefree – and that their offspring receive nothing but positive reinforcement – is part of the package. Successes are collected and celebrated in some misguided notion that this will result in a generation of healthier, happier adults.

Crippled by success

I have been working with children and their families for many years, and I know the opposite to be true. We are currently raising a generation more fearful, more anxious, more unsure than ever before. The reason? I’d speculate that it’s because they have never really tasted failure. Failure provides benefits that can’t be gained any other way. 

We are destined to make mistakes, and privileged to learn from them.

Along with many other educators and coaches around the world, I want you to know that when you step in and save your child from every misstep, and never allow them to fail, you shortchange them. You think you are protecting them, but you are actually disadvantaging them.

“Mistakes are the essence of learning‘” says Mandie Sheanv, a Lecturer at the School of Education, Edith Cowan University, in her article for The Conversation. “If failure is held as a sign of incompetence and something to be avoided (rather than a normal thing), children will start to avoid the challenges necessary for learning.”

Failure helps kids win

Remember that old Irish adage, “I wish you enough rain to enjoy the sunshine”? Without failure, success is just life. And when success is life, then failure can be fatal. When you deny your kids the chance to rise from the ashes of defeat, you only allow them to see part of what it means to be human.

Please, I beg of you, allow children to fail. In fact, allow them to sometimes fail in a spectacular fashion. They will soon know your love is not conditional on their success.

When success is life, then failure can be fatal.

Don’t excuse or explain your child’s poor behaviour. Accept it. Let them learn from it – it’s a valuable part of growing up. As humans, we are intrinsically flawed. We are destined to make mistakes, and privileged to learn from them.


Read this one too: Parenting teens: ‘I was part of the problem’


No judgement here

We know that your children are not an extension of you, they have agency in the world and make their own decisions. We don’t hold you accountable for their actions. We know that you want what’s best for them, we do too!

When an educator or coach disciplines your child, consider backing us! Please don’t take our criticism personally. Instead, make it an opportunity to tell your children that while they will occasionally do the wrong thing, there is dignity in admitting mistakes and making things right. Praise kids for their honesty and help them to make a plan to do better next time.

Show pride in your children’s courage, in their humility, in their very humanity… and watch them grow into confident, resilient, and caring human beings.

Feature image by Priscilla Du Preez; 2 by Sean McAuliffe

A teacher's plea - we must allow kids to fail

How to financially prepare for divorce (even if you think you don’t need to)

How to financially prepare for divorce (even if you think you don’t need to)

Divorce isn’t a subject we like to talk about, especially at this time of year. But the reality is that the festive season puts additional stress and strain on broken relationships, so the d-word creeps in more now than ever. While you can never really prepare for divorce, understanding your financial position is vital, but not widely understood.

Sponsored by Stockspot

Cathryn Gross, a member of ASIC’s Financial Advisers Consultative Committee, and the founder of Twelve Wealth, a boutique financial advice business committed to helping women achieve their goals in life, talk us through what you can do from a financial perspective, to prepare for divorce.

I was forced to confront a future raising three young kids, with half the assets and cash-flow our family had always had.

Cathryn shares what you need to understand about your joint finances before getting married and the steps to take to financially prepare for divorce or separation.

How to prepare for divorce - just in case #divorce #money

How to financially prepare for divorce

About five years ago my own relationship broke down. I was forced to confront a future raising three young kids, with half the assets and cash-flow our family had always had. To say I was daunted is a MASSIVE understatement.

At the time I was running a sales team that distributed products to over 600 financial advisers, I knew I needed help to get my own finances in order and plan for a new future. But none of the 600 advisers we spoke to ran a business with a service model that I wanted to pay for!


Further preparations: 10 important conversations we need to have with our daughters


Drawn to help women

I sat down and brainstormed the list of services the perfect financial adviser would provide for me. Then created that business. I was drawn to helping women because I was building a service offering what I, as a woman, could not find. Also, I had worked for a number of years as an executive coach and facilitator for women on a leadership journey. This gave me the frameworks I needed to coach women to get clear on their goals and then work with them to achieve these goals.

At a base level, in order to plan for the future you have to understand where you are at right now.

I also know the majority of women put themselves last and put their “financial chores” at the bottom of the to do list. This causes a persistent low level of anxiety. I want to get women more engaged in their finances, and improve the financial confidence so they can thrive in all areas of their life!

Financial audit of where you stand

An understanding of your partner’s assets, liabilities, income and expenses is crucial before you commit to a life together. At a base level, in order to plan for the future you have to understand where you are at right now.

More specifically, on the asset and liabilities side you need to understand: is there credit card debt? Tax debt? Personal loans? Car loans? These sorts of loans are usually what I call “bad debts” and need to get paid down as fast as possible,as they are not funding assets that could grow in value.

As a couple it will be hard to move forward to grow your wealth with these sorts of debts, so you both need to know about them and focus on getting them paid down ASAP.

For income and expenses, do you know what your cost of living is and whether you could afford to live on one salary if you plan to have children, or if one of you got sick? Do you know what your borrowing capacity is based on your joint incomes? This will help you work through where you can afford to buy your first home and what changes to make to your lifestyle to live off a tighter budget?


Further auditing: This SWAT analysis for parents might be a game changer


What should people do to prepare for divorce?

Some people might think being prepared is cynical or underhand, but in my opinion being prepared is pragmatic. By removing some of the fear associated with not understanding the financial consequences of divorce, you are more likely to come to an agreement outside the court system and that should save everyone money.

1. Gather your financial documents

Your file should include bank account details, mortgage and credit card statements, tax returns, details of shareholdings, etc. Gathering this information together now makes all the difference if you have to start negotiating finances during emotional times.

2. Create your own annual report

You are your own greatest asset so understand your worth (and your potential) by creating a balance sheet and profit and loss overview for you and your family. This is much easier than it sounds. List all the assets your family owns and all of the debt. Then work through your family’s income and expenses. This means creating a budget, which will give you a real feel for your cost of living in your marriage. It will also provide the first step towards drawing up a budget to live on outside your marriage.

3. Establish your own bank account and credit card

Many married couples share all their finances. Come separation, you will probably want financial independence and might also decide you do not want your soon-to-be-ex to know how you are spending your money.

4. Set up private ways to communicate

Once your divorce is underway you will want all of your correspondence with your advisers to be private. Consider setting up a new email address and perhaps a private post office box, so all your official documents are not sent to your home.

Achieving financial independence

For me financial independence is about confidence. It’s about not being afraid to make decisions around money, and not abdicating responsibility to someone else, be that a parent, husband or a financial adviser! By understanding our finances and being financially independent we are more in control of what our futures might look like which allows us to worry less and dream more.

If you have your head in the sand about finances, it is never too late to start. It could be paying $20 a week of credit card debt, or not buying new clothes for 6 months and saving that money in an emergency fund. Lots of small steps made now will make a HUGE difference in two, five or 10 years time. Just do something!

Saving and accruing wealth

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve read, that will help you further prepare for divorce, is to “spend what is left after saving, not save what is left after spending”. This is a Warren Buffet quote and the one true way to build wealth. Practically speaking this means setting up an auto-payment every month into a saving or investment account, so that you save before you even see the money.

The other great piece of advice I got early in my career was never to grow your spending as your salary grows. This means you save more and more as your salary grows. It also highlights the importance of ensuring that you use your ‘human capital’ well. We are, ourselves, one of our greatest sources of wealth, so make sure you are pushing for pay rises and negotiating a great salary for yourself whenever possible!

And finally, don’t put all your eggs in one basket! This means not putting all your wealth in one share or all your wealth in one asset class like property. It might also mean saving a little piece of yourself outside of your marriage… just in case.

Cathryn Gross is the founder of Twelve Wealth, a boutique financial advice business committed to helping women achieve their goals in life. For more information about being financially prepared for the future, visit Stockspot.

Do the words ‘prepare for divorce’ make you shudder? Or rally you to action, just in case?

Images: Deposit Photos

How to adapt your parenting to support tweens and teens

How to adapt your parenting to support tweens and teens

Parenting is a BIG job. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, suddenly your child is moving onto the next stage and you’re frantically trying to read the road map. Once we’ve finally mastered parenting young kids – all those nappies. sleepless nights, big school angst, resourcefulness and creativity – we find ourselves having to adjust our parenting to support tweens and teens.

Article by Suni Sánchez

We’ve passed the first couple of stages of childhood… congratulations! We’ve advanced to the next level.

Now what?

Where do we stand after we’ve laid the foundation? What are the crucial elements and skills required to support tweens and teens? In my new book, Welcome to Parenthood, I provide a blueprint for growing your family in a connected, self-aware way. From these foundations, our understanding of ourselves as parents of older kids can grow. Here are some thought starters to help you parent and support tweens and teens…

1. Take stock

Yes, we have yelled, lost it and said things we regretted, but what about when you supported your child through a big emotional outburst and you stayed calm? Did you give yourself a pat on the back for that?

How about when you overcame your fear of travelling with young children so you could show your child the world?

How to parent and support tweens and teens

Whether being a parent felt ‘natural’ to you or not, I can assure you there are things you have done and are doing you never thought would be possible and/or you never imagined doing. As your child grows and moves through each development stage, make sure you take stock of the positives.

2. Get to know your child’s next development stage

From the first seven to the second seven years this means:

•  Our seven and eight-year-old child will enjoy having more independence, they will want their primary carer to counsel them and offer suggestions, rather than directing or commanding them.

•  They need to do things their own way.

•  Their strong will is more easily flexed.

•  They will be more venturesome, daring and brave. More coordinated in their physical activities and also in their thinking.

•  They’ll have an increasing awareness of their emotions; they will persevere in the face of challenges and stay ‘with it’ even when things get tough.

•  Increasing appetite and energy, yes! As well as better sleep.

•  They will not like to fail but they will try, which means they might be hard on themselves. They will be more aware of themselves as individuals, some may feel unease as they compare themselves to others.

These adjustments will take a toll if we don’t feel confident and competent in our role as parents. We can only parent and support tweens and teens when we feel supported and valued ourselves.

How to support tweens and teens

3. Go back to basics

Embrace parenting fully. And that means seeing it as a pathway to growing and enriching our lives, rather than resenting it. How?

Human-to-human relationships

Remember, a child is a full, complete human being from day one – they are not second-class citizens, nor in this world to be ‘shaped’ by someone else or to be controlled. This will reduce the power struggles you may have with your child.

When we see our role as a guide, a mentor who uplifts, when we become our child’s advocate, we enter into a relationship where there is less pressure and more connection.

Family living is not just about the child thriving or the parent thriving, but about the whole family having a special bond and experiencing positive mental health

Honest communication

I’m all in for building open communication with our teens, but why wait?

Learning to communicate with our young children – listening and understanding their side of the story, fully, truly, without judging/assuming/belittling them/punishing them – about their broken toy, for instance, means our kids will trust us and will have the confidence to come to us about their broken hearts too.

Preparation is key

In my decade as a family dynamics researcher, I have come to realise that a lot of the problems families experience are entirely preventable.

What are some ways we can prepare?

•  Knowing where our child is at developmentally

•  Learning to self-regulate our own emotions so we can raise emotionally healthy and strong kids

•  Teaching kids about safety, assessing risk and self-protective strategies (e.g swimming if you live by the ocean, books and talks about sexual abuse prevention, etc)

Our task as guides is not to hold our kids back, but to educate ourselves and give our kids the appropriate skills for them to enjoy life’s opportunities.

Family living is not just about the child thriving or the parent thriving, but about the whole family having a special bond and experiencing positive mental health, peace of mind and yes, happiness.

Have you felt a shift in the way you parent as the kids have grown?

+ + +

Suni Sánchez is the mother of Teo and Lui, author of Welcome to Parenthood and founder and CEO of Human HQ™. One of her favourite things is to be a fierce champion of parents and children and dancing.

Image by edsavi30

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