On being a mom to a teenager

This year I celebrated a first birthday and a 13th birthday. Both milestone years. Both with very different emotions. With the first birthday it is sort of a case of “been there done that” but I did pause for a moment back in February and appreciated that that was the last first birthday party my children would have. The thirteenth, however, was a first and totally unchartered territory.

I think I have said it ad nauseum by now, but this teenage thing is super scary. Unlike the wealth of information out there about dealing with sleepless nights and tantrums and what not, there is very little on how to deal with teenagers.

On being a mom to a teenager

In many ways I am extremely lucky that Cameron is my guinea pig child because he has been so easy to parent up until now. I am acutely aware that this could all change with one boost of testosterone which I think is what makes this age so frightening. Its not the cute changes of a toddler that starts talking or dressing themselves, it is the more aggressive changes of boys turning into men and girls becoming women. It is no longer testing the boundaries of wanting one more chocolate but rather staying out an hour later or sneaking a drink in. It is changes that shape where they will go and what they will do.

I am also afraid of becoming a “my child would never do that” parent. Of course we want to believe our children will always make the right choices but just like we did at that age, there are going to be times they make stupid decisions. I don’t want to assume because my child is generally a good child that he won’t try a smoke at a party or have a beer or give in to whatever temptations life throw at him. I also don’t want to helicopter parent, it has never been the way I have done things and I don’t really think it is the right way to go anyway.

The next few years really do come down to the implementation of the lessons I have taught him, the moral compass he has and the character he has developed. (That and regular access to his phone, emails and anything else I think I need to have access to.)

Its tough, I am not going to lie. It’s the best stage of parenting for me but it is also the toughest.

When your child turns 1 you cry because they are growing so fast but when they turn 13 you cry because they are growing away.

Active Kids and Diet – Juniva helps with Foods that Fuel

Diets for Active Kids by Juniva

This is the second in this three part series dealing with the diets of active kids. If you missed the first post you can read it here.

Eating enough

A very active child like your son will have higher nutritional requirements than a sedentary child has, and will need to eat more food to meet these requirements.

If a child is not getting in what they need, they may become tired, which affects sports performance and enjoyment and can make concentrating at school and during homework time difficult. If you do find that your child is struggling with tiredness, one of the possible causes could be nutrient deficiencies – where a child is not getting in enough energy from food, and not eating the correct foods after exercise to promote recovery.

 

Carbohydrates

The most important foods needed for energy are carbohydrates. A child’s diet should include mostly higher-fibre carbohydrates like whole wheat breads, pastas and brown rice. Carbohydrates which are more quickly absorbed, which have a lower fibre content, may be needed during exercise as they can be digested and used quickly when they are needed. It is a good idea to spread carbohydrate intake over the day, so that a child is having frequent carbohydrate snacks to keep energy levels up.

 

Hydration

Being even slightly dehydrated can also make your child feel tired, so encourage him or her to drink sips of water throughout the day to keep energy levels up. Eating small meals regularly will also help to keep energy levels up, as it helps to prevent blood sugar dropping which causes tiredness.

 

Foods that help recovery after exercise

Examples of complete, appropriate snacks are:

  • Wholewheat crackers or bread with peanut butter, cheese (hard cheese or cottage cheese), chicken or tuna
  • Yogurt with fruit and granola
  • Muffins containing nuts and seeds
  • Ricecakes or pitas with hummus and salad vegetables

 

Another alternative to providing a post-exercise snack would be adding a scoop of protein powder to a smoothie. This can be a real help for busy moms so that they can still ensure that their child gets what he needs after exercise to promote recovery and muscle health.

While some supplements that many people call “protein supplements” are certainly not recommended for children because they contain hormones, stimulants and other harmful ingredients, adding a small amount of a high-quality, pure protein product which does not contain these harmful substances can help a young athlete to meet their high nutritional requirements.

 

An example of a complete post-exercise snack for your son, which includes protein and carbohydrates, is as follows: add 1 scoop of pure whey protein (examples of good products include Evox 100% Whey, SSN 100% Whey and Body Logix Natural Whey) to 1 cup of milk and add some fruit such as a banana, apple or pear. Whizz it up in a blender and you have an easy snack to pop into your son’s tog bag.

 

We know that during exercise, protein (in muscle) is broken down – and if protein intake is insufficient, muscle isn’t replaced and our bodies don’t recover adequately. Therefore, the general expert consensus is that protein intake after exercise is important. This is when our muscles are most sensitive to the protein in the food we eat, and therefore this will boost muscle and body recovery.

 

Glycogen is the storage form of glucose (the most important carbohydrate used to fuel exercise) and is found in the liver and muscles. In a young athlete, capacity to store glucose as glycogen is more limited than in adults, which means that young athletes especially need to consume carbohydrates throughout the day to maintain good glycogen stores.

 

This means that taking in enough carbohydrates before, during and after exercise is important. Just as important is eating a protein-containing food after exercise, to promote muscle health.

 

Very active children may need nutrients during exercise so packing in appropriate snacks and drinks is recommended so that your child has what he needs during sport.

 

It is recommended that these carbohydrates are combined with protein so that your son has a post-exercise recovery meal that will both replenish his glycogen stores and ensure healthy muscles.

 

Stimulants

It is best to avoid foods or drinks containing stimulants like caffeine as these are not healthy for a child’s growing body.

 

References

American Academy of Pediatrics

Today’s Dietitian Magazine

American Dietetics Association

 

Lessons from hosting a 13 year old’s party

It was party central at our house this long weekend. Jack celebrated his fourth birthday and we held Cameron’s 13th party on Monday evening. Both parties went off well and both boys were very happy.

I am very comfortable hosting kids parties, you chose a theme, Pinterest it to death, print out all the pretty things, buy a cake and Instagram the whole thing. When Cameron said he wanted a party at our David mom’s house (her house is a lot bigger than ours), I was a little thrown and when he said he wanted to invite 40 kids I actually started twitching nervously! I can handle 40 four year olds because they all come with their parents, so they aren’t really my responsibility but 40 13 year olds get dropped off and collected and for the duration of the party are my responsibility.

Cameron turns 13

Despite my nerves the party was a huge success, the kids (all 30 of them) had a great time, Cameron was super spoilt (obviously with 30 guests comes 30 presents) and also had a really great time. I know some of you are approaching this age, so I thought I would share a few things I learnt from hosting a teen party.

  • It was a lot less fuss. There wasn’t really a theme so I didn’t need to stress about finding themed stuff. Even with a theme I think it would have been a lot easier to manager.
  • Don’t over cater. I didn’t put out a lot of food at all and they didn’t even finish it all. I basically just did chips, a few sweets and cupcakes. We did serve wors rolls which were a hit and disappeared in seconds.
  • Kids will arrive who didn’t RSVP – plan for it, accept it!
  • If you are going to host this many kids make sure you have an outside space for them to run around in and entertain themselves. I think this is one of the reasons the party worked so well. There was a little outside pool room that we set up for them and the garden is huge so they didn’t have to come inside much and they could spread out.
  • Don’t get involved unnecessarily. I was so worried about what they were going to do for 4 hours. Cameron organised a ping pong table and we had music that was pretty much it. At 16h00 on the day I just let it go and you know what? They were not bored for a second. They just got on with it. They danced, ran around the garden, sang, sat on the grass and chatted. It was so great to see them just making fun out of “nothing”.
  • Pay attention. We didn’t really walk around checking dark corners but we did make sure we were aware of what was going on. Your kid may be a good kid but put in a group situation you never really know what they will do, so just keep your eyes open for anything suspicious.

Organising this party was new experience and I am not sure we could host such a big one each year but it was great fun and nice to see that despite what the media says, kids are still able to be kids.

Party packs and school – a cool idea

Jack received a party pack this week. It was basically fulled with everything artificial and laden with as much sugar as they could squeeze in between the MSG and lumo green food colouring. He loved it, of course. The big kids begged, bribed and stole from it.

Party Packs

I was a little annoyed. We have received so many party packs like this this year. All very pretty and clearly not cheap but all jam packed with as much crap as is possible. The school obviously don’t allow the kids to get stuck in at school so we get them, usually eaten in the car on the way home unless I get to the bag first, but I don’t always know.

I have never sent actual party packs to school. I have always sent a cupcake for each child. Doesn’t that make more sense? Cupcakes are less effort, less expense and enjoyed a lot more (or at least I like to tell myself that). Maybe it is because I simple can not afford to make party packs for 20 kids plus for all the kids at the actual party that I find this rather excessive but is it really necessary?

What do you do? Do you send party packs? Cake? Cupcakes? Or nothing?

One of the teachers had a great idea and  I will be doing that on Friday for Jacks party. She suggested I send the cupcakes with no icing on, give the teacher a tupperware of white icing, some colouring and some smarties and jelly tots and then the kids can decorate the cupcakes themselves. Isn’t that just a lovely idea?

Fiery Fours – what not to do.

I wish I could competently title this post “Fiery Fours and 10 tips to tame them” but unfortunately David and I are wading in a swamp of tantrums and defiance with our four year old (well almost four) and the light seems very very dim right now.

While I can’t, with any confidence, tell you what to do to deal with  toddler, I can tell you what not to do.

High Five

Do not give in. If you do you will find your four year old running around the lounge wielding a steak knife wearing only 3 day only underpants in freezing temperatures. Stand strong! Do not allow them t skip bath time every night or jump like a bunny rabbit on the back seat of the car or run Flash Gordon like across the parking lot. However tempting it is, do not do it. Drink if you must, inhale chocolate if need be but do not give in.

Do not suggest anything! Even if the child does want the suggestion, he will let out a shriek of resistance that will break the windows of the glass and rouse your deaf neighbour from their daily slumber! Rather wait for them to ask for something. Even if it means they don’t eat for a few days, the aftermath from suggesting the wrong meal/drink really can leave lasting psychological effects on you.

Do not underestimate the strength of a four year old. Do not feel like a failure because it takes two of you to dress the child. One to hold him down and one to force clothes on. You are not. They have super human strength when they are determined.

Do not shout. Your four year old has a set of vocal chords that really are second to none and when he feels hard done by he can shout louder than you ever dreamed and the fear that sound instills in you causes you to consider giving in (see no 1). So do not shout, do not let the beast out of your child’s mouth.

Do not negotiate. You will loose if you try. Trust me! Really you will, so avoid all negotiations unless they are in the form of bribery (Go bath and I will give you a chocolate or a car for your 16th just please for the love of all things special GO AND BATH). Four year olds may not be able to wipe their own bums yet but they have mad negotiating skills and before you know it you agreed to let your child watch another movie while the rest of the house goes to sleep.

I don’t know what your four year old was like but mine is like a walking, talking ball of tears, determination and defiance. He fights us every single step of the way. We are exhausted. He is exhausted. It feels like a battle field of wills over here in our world!

 

Sunglasses that won’t break if you sit on them!

Cameron wears glasses. His first pair were a nice pair, the second pair were a little more budget than the first but still nice. By the fifth pair we were pretty much buying the 10 pairs for R100 at the Chinese market and getting them to fit his lenses. He is a smart kid but is such a scatterbrain. I say to him daily ‘PICK up your glasses off the floor” or “Emma has your glasses, don’t leave them where she can reach.” If he isn’t leaving them in the path of a toddler impersonating Flash then he is leaving them anywhere he takes them off, gym, soccer, cricket, swimming, friends houses – if he puts them down, he will probably leave them. It is super infuriating because glasses aren’t cheap and he can’t see properly at school without them. He does has contacts which he wears for his sports but this means…..leaving glasses somewhere when he is wearing them.

At our #momblogmeetup we had the ladies from O-V Optics join us. Not only did they give each of us pair of their sunglasses but they also spent some time chatting to us about their sunglasses. Initially I was skeptical – I have avoided sunglasses for Cameron because they aren’t cheap but these sunglasses changed my mind.

Our kids spend a lot of time outside, especially kids like Cameron who do a lot of sports. According to founders of O-V optics Tanya and Zule, “Children have larger pupils and clearer lenses, so more light enters the eyes causing irreversible UV damage. We all make sure our kids have sunscreen on but few of us are making a effort to actually protect their eyes, which is very short sighted.

OV Optics Sunglasses for Kids

O-V Optics have a solution – there Swag or Sport kids sunglasses. Both designs offer 100% UV Protection and are able to bend and twist, making them virtually unbreakable (which I thought was inspired in children’s sunglasses). They are also shatterproof and impact resistant – the lenses are designed to pop out of there is an impact. The sunglasses come in three sizes suitable for children from 4 to 12+. The glasses retail for R400 – R450 which really is pretty affordable and you can purchase them online at the O-V Optics website.

Zule and Tanya are busy trying to get sunglasses to become a part of school uniforms with their Sunglasses at Schools program, which I think is a really great idea.

Do your kids wear sunglasses? Is it something you have thought about?

This was not a sponsored post. I just really like this product!

 

Tiger Moms in action and some wise words from my 12 year old

Wise words from my 12 year old

Cameron is busy swimming a Level 2 Regional Gala this weekend. It is 3 days of pretty intense swimming. It is basically what they train for, I think there are 2 of these galas a year so it is a big deal.

Some days I do feel maybe we are a bit hard on Cameron but I saw a Tiger Mom in action today and it was not pretty. I actually felt rather uncomfortable watching her in action.

Disclaimer pause – her child seems happy and loved so this is not a judgement on how she is choosing to raise her child.

Her aim was to get her child to win (which they did and convincingly). Everything she did and said was done with that goal in mind – winning. The child was separated from their team, they were fed the right foods and energy drinks, they were reminded of times they were swimming for. There was no joking around with the other kids, no playing iPad games with them, no walking around for no specific reason.

The goal was a gold medal and they achieved that but when they did there was no real fanfare, which I think got to me the most. We praise all the kids if they tried, they don’t have to win but we are always there giving them a high five, even when Cam’s time isn’t what he hoped, we still make a big deal about it. Again this does not make a better parent than her, just different.

I did realise though, that we are not really putting that much pressure on Cameron and after a conversation with him I am actually ok with that.

A young girl passed out during the gala and a second had to be taken away on a stretcher after her race. We don’t know the details but I mentioned to Cameron that sometimes the pressure just gets to some kids. Do you know what he said?

“Why though? If you train properly and know what you need to do then you just do it? There’s no pressure”

Wise words from my 12 year old don’t you think?

I also did a small high five to myself because he swam so well. He made the final in a race that isn’t really his race so he doesn’t focus on it in training and I think has swum it once (when he qualified for this gala). He knew what he had to do, knew he had trained hard enough for it and just did it.

I hope that he maintains this outlook. I think it will stand him in good stead the older he gets if he can manage his pressure and stress this well.

Also it is in moments like this that I am a little in awe of this child. He just has his head screwed on right, sometimes it feels like he is more together than I am.

Did you have a good Friday?

Our High School search and the lessons we have learnt

I have previously mentioned how stressful Cameron’s high school search has been. I was completely unprepared for just how much of a challenge it would be to get him into a good high school.

Our search is not over but it is now a lot easier and we have a few proper options now. It has been an exhausting few months but we have learnt a lot and hopefully when it’s Jack’s turn I will be more prepared!

Lessons we learnt applying for high school

A few of the things we have learnt;

  • If at all possible get your child into a school that goes from Grade 00 to Matric – this is obviously the easier option and is, ideally my plan with the younger two.
  • Do your research early! When choosing a primary school, do your research on high schools at the same time. Find out what your options are. Find out what sports they offer, when are their holidays (this is important if you have other children). What high schools will you be guaranteed acceptance into (St Albans automatically offer spots to boys from WPS and St Peters and obviously old boys, same with Pretoria Boys – old boy kids are in)
  • If you want to enter a school at Grade 8 that goes from Grade 00 – get in early! Chances are there will be a waiting list because their Grade 7’s will generally move up so you won’t necessarily get a spot.
  • Get your child’s input. We attended an open day recently and the Principal and head boy both spoke about the Robot system when deciding on a school – so basically a green is yes, orange is unsure and red is a no. Do this exercise with your child. Take them to the schools open days and then do the robot test. By 12/13 your child is old enough to form an opinion on a school so ask them!
  • Ignore everyone – sort of! This has been the hardest thing for me. Everyone (and I mean EVERY ONE) has an opinion on all schools. Even if they have never been there or done any research, they have an opinion. The problem with schools is that they are so subjective. It is possible for a child to have a terrible experience at a well known school. It is also possible the parents don’t feel they fit in but the child is extremely happy. So asking people their opinion on schools has actually created more pressure for me than provided answers. This doesn’t mean you mustn’t ask though because I have found out things I didn’t know through many of these discussions, just be selective in what you ask and make sure that person has had first hand experience.
  • Get your application forms as soon as the school will allow. So far only Pretoria Boys haven’t allowed us to even collect forms but the rest have been very accommodating. In hindsight, I would have actually fetched all the forms last year, so that this year all we had to do was drop them off. Most forms require 2 ID photos – work out how many you need and have them all taken at the same time with 2 to spare.
  • Find out what the financial impacts are. I am not talking about the fees but rather the registration fees – at private schools these can be high and if not paid in time you may loose your spot. Most schools require an application fee – it seems to be around R300 – R350 per application – keep this in mind. January is always a tight month, so maybe start a small “school application” fund as well as a “registration fee” fund. (Basically just say goodbye to ever having anything nice every again.)
  • Do not take anything for granted. Do not assume your child will get in somewhere, even if you check all the boxes. Do not assume you won’t get in somewhere, even if don’t check any of the boxes.

Who else is going to high school next year? Are you ready?

Lets talk about this baby led weaning thing

I love the idea of baby-led weaning. It makes a lot of sense to me and in some ways I have done it with all the kids when they were babies and it has gone well, then came Emma (talk about dancing to their own tune, this child makes up the tune she dances to).

She is not really an eater, she is definitely not a sit in her chair and eat eater. She is more of a I will take all the food, take one bite and then feed the dog, kind of eater. We have at least now managed to get her off eating  only Purity, thanks largely to my veggie sauce. Even though she does now eat a pretty wide variety of food  and will try pretty much everything you give her, she never finishes anything! EVER! It does my head in.

Baby Led Weaning Emma

I know this is one of the principles of baby led weaning but I really would like to know what percentage of the food I put in her bowl ended up in her tummy versus the pile of food on the floor, in the dogs bowl, thrown in the bath etc. Obviously I can see that she is not under nourished but that is largely due to the fact that Jane spends ages following her around to feed her and maybe even the fact that she eats Lucy’s pellets!

Every night as soon as David sits down to eat, she is at his chair begging for food. When he lifts her up, she smashes her hands into his meal, causing chaos. She is happy to eat from his plate but if I try the same food in a bowl with her spoon, she refuses. So yesterday I decided to put her food on a plate and feed her with an adult fork. It worked for 2 mouthfuls, so I put the dog out and let her feed herself!

This brings me to the other issue with baby led weaning – the mess! Please tell me how do you deal with the mess? I am finding noodles all over the place and the rice! There is rice possibly in ever corner of my house! She won’t sit in her chair, she climbs out and stands on the tray, so she walks around with her food sharing her joy! I can’t deal!

Baby Led Weaning

This way of feeding her does actually seem to be working, she does eat relatively well when we do this but I may have to put the dog inside and her outside at meal times because I can not deal with the mess. I don’t mind an untidy house but not a dirty house.

How do you guys get your kids to sit in their chairs? (It seems a thing with my girls)

And how do you deal with the mess all over? (or is this just happening in my house?)

 

Sports Days creating pressure for kids and parents everywhere.

Despite what it may look like from Cameron’s sporting achievements, I have never put pressure on my kids to do sport BUT I do expect participation from them all.

It was Kiara and Jack’s sports day on Saturday. It was the first athletics day for the school so it was a big deal for everyone. Kiara was very excited, she was made a cheerleader and was running (she actually enjoys running) in a few races she knew she would win.

And win she did, she really ran so well. We were very proud of her.

Jack was another story completely!!!!!

They started with the sac race, he started off so well but then fell over (like most of them did) and that was Jack done. He cried, clung to David or me or his granny, whoever would have him and refused to race again. Not one’s to give up, David and I actually carried him over the hurdles, he cried the whole way. Not really our finest moment but we were hoping that once he got going he would enjoy it, we were wrong.

Sports Day

Long story short after some heavy manipulation, negotiation and the promise of a sucker, we did get him to run the last race, willing and happily. He loved it.

I am so torn about the way we handled it. On the one hand I understand that it was the first time he had experienced something like this and there was a lot of noise and people.

Sports Day Race

But on the other hand all his friends were there, there was absolutely no competition. The teachers stood at the finish line, giving each kid a hug and a high five. David was running with him.

I don’t expect him to win or even take up running but I do feel he has to learn to try!

We focused on the medal he got from the last race (everyone got one) and he was very chuffed so overall I think he had a good day.

Sports Day Medal

How would you have handled it?