Should You Make Your Child Learn To Drive?

As someone who wound up learning to drive in her late twenties and only passed once she had two kids, I really wish I’d done it sooner. It’s given me so much more freedom and made family life much easier. However, I found scheduling lessons around childcare and adjusting as a new driver with a screaming newborn (and sometimes a screaming two-year-old too) in the backseats more than a little stressful. I kind of think I should have done it when I was younger, with less responsibilities and inhibitions. It’s made me think I’d really like to encourage my girls to get their licenses as soon as possible, when they come of age. With that in mind, this guest post hit an interesting note.

In many cases, teenagers can’t wait to start driving lessons, study for their driving theory test and get their driving license. It’s a key rite of passage and is one way eager teens can gain a degree of independence. Access to a car potentially means the world – or at least the whole country – is a teenager’s oyster.

What if your teen isn’t so keen to learn? Perhaps their seventeenth birthday is coming up and there’s no real interest in booking driving lessons, buying the latest Highway Code, preparing for the driving theory test and taking to the open road? If this is the case, should you make your teen learn?

Motivation

You shouldn’t make them do anything, instead support them and help them to make the best decision for their circumstances. When there’s no interest or motivation, no one does anything very successfully. It would probably be a waste of money, effort and time – not just your teenager’s effort and time, either. As a parent you’d likely spend time helping them learn such as practising between lessons and helping with revision for their driving theory test.

Instead of forcing them into these sessions you should spend your time going through the pros and cons and looking to offer reassurance and assistance if that’s all they need to find that all-important motivation.

Learning to drive takes concentrated effort – some 45 hours of driving lessons backed by just over 20 hours of work between lessons according to the AA Driving School. It’s too significant to be done half-heartedly.

Why doesn’t your teen want to learn?

It’s important to understand why they may not be keen.

Apathy – Possibly they haven’t thought of the implications of not learning, and can’t drum up much enthusiasm because they don’t feel they’re likely to drive once they’ve got their full license? Perhaps you can diplomatically help your teen understand it’s an ‘investment for the future’ even if they may not be driving in the short term and will greatly enhance their job prospects.

Maybe they’ve heard so much negative information about how expensive insurance and car running costs are? Perhaps they’ve got ‘a conscience’ about the effects of cars on the environment? Perhaps you live in a city and they’re used to taking buses everywhere and think driving is a ‘waste of time’.

Whatever the reason – or reasons – try to have a constructive discussion about it. Above all, don’t try to lecture them or point out the error of their ways. People are different – even one’s own offspring – and they may decide in a year’s time they’d like to learn. It’s really about being at that ‘point of readiness’.

Mental blocks – perhaps they have a fear of driving? Some teens are very gung-ho about learning
to drive, others possess some trepidation but are otherwise keen to learn, while others are genuinely fearful.

Perhaps their fears can be talked through sympathetically and you can try a ‘softly softly’ approach? Maybe offer to drive them around quietly somewhere such as a disused airfield and invite them to have a try at driving under no pressure.

If their fears are more deep-seated, then professional help may be worth considering. Care is needed here, though – it’ll be a lot easier if your child is keen to overcome their fear and remove it as an obstacle. If they’re resistant to the idea, then demanding they ‘get help’ may not be wise. Maybe reassurance from you is what they need in the long run.

It may not be for everyone

There are many examples of people who never learnt to drive, and others who took their tests later in life. Your teen will learn as and when they’re ready – just be prepared to help them make the decision if their lack of confidence is holding them back.

This is a collaborative post


Taking a child to the Rugby World Cup

Last week, Laurence took Talitha to a Rugby World Cup game. Of course, I couldn’t resist asking him to blog about it here…

I was lucky enough to get a couple of tickets for Fiji vs Australia last week. I’ve been wanting to go to an England game for years, but the prices are reeee-dunculous, so I was quite pleased with the prices for the Rugby World Cup… I thought I’d take the 4yo.

A few folk, including Adele, where a bit worried about taking a kid so young. I think they’re imagining football fans and worried for her safety. The only thing I was worried about was whether I would be able to watch the whole game, as I’ve been gradually exposing her to sports on the TV and she’s not shown much interest. She’d rather we change the channel to CBeebies.

I wanted to make a day of it, and also not have any travel hassels, so I decided to drive. I reasoned that I’d rather she was asleep in a car than standing on a busy train. So we headed over to Cardiff from Bristol quite early.

The Daddy date started with fish and chips, followed by a ride on a merry go round.

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The highlight in the weeks leading up to the game for Talitha was the idea of getting her face painted.

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I think she was delighted I did too.

Then ice cream followed.

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A few selfies around Cardiff.

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And then we headed to the ground quite early. Probably a bit too early, but again I just wanted to get settled early. We made friends with some people sitting next to us and in those conversations Talitha made it clear she wanted Fiji to win the cup. I’m trying to help her to understand the difference between the game and the competition as a whole. I’m not sure she’s quite there yet. The crowd at rugby tends to not be segregated, and banter between supporters is never aggressive and always done with a smile, so it’s perfect for young-uns.

She loved the singing (national anthems) and the Fiji version of the “Haka”, the “Bola” I think it’s called.
She spent a lot of the game on my lap, and during the game I was commentating into her ear. Asking her to tell me who caught the ball at the line out. She would get very excited and wave her flag if Fiji won the line out, exclaiming, “Did they win?” In fact, if anyone from the BBC is reading this, maybe there should be a Kiddies Commentator option on the red button for all sports?

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Just before half time she did get a bored, but the second half was a lot more fun for her as there where lots of Mexican waves, which she got really excited about.

She asked at some point in the game why no girls are playing. I think the exciting thing is that the women’s game is getting bigger and bigger. I can’t really imagine what it’s going to be like when she is older.

All in all I think it worked out, and she had a good time. I love taking them on daddy dates, and will definitely do it again. I enjoyed the game too, and loved it when the crowd started singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot, which says a lot about who was watching the game.

Oh, and download the Rugby World Cup kids activity printable we made here.

If you’d like to see more of what Laurence and the girls get up to (especially if you’re into outdoor adventures), check out his blog Chasing Wilderness and follow him on Instagram.


iCandy Raspberry review and a wander around Castle Drogo

On our way for a weekend in Dartmoor, we stopped off at Castle Drogo. We try to plan stops at destinations rather than service stations when we’re going on longer journeys and our National Trust membership has helped perfectly with that. I also thought it would be a good time to photograph the iCandy Raspberry pushchair that we’ve been trying out for the past few weeks.

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The main reason I agreed to review the iCandy Raspberry is that you have the option of making it parent-facing. In fact, it’s really easy to turn the seat around either way in just a few seconds. I’ve even done it with Ophelia in the seat, though it’s definitely easier to sort it beforehand.

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We are a babywearing family. Even now that Ophelia is nineteen months, we wear her in a sling or she walks most of the time. However, I’ve found that she naps so consistently in a pushchair and will stay asleep in there for longer than she will the sling these days, so the iCandy Rasberry is a good addition, especially as it reclines flat, completely and easily. It also has a very generous sunshade which Ophelia pulls down herself, which is great when she needs a dark space to just shut off from everything.

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Also generous is the shopping basket. I’ve never come across a pushchair with such a roomy basket. I can easily fit my bag and then some in there and it’s separated into compartments too.

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I found putting the iCandy Raspberry together a breeze, taking it out of the box but it just wasn’t that intuitive figuring out how to collapse it. Once I’d worked it out from the instructions, though, it was incredibly simple and quick. That’s been fine off and on buses and trains.

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It’s been a dream to push around, steering comfortably and accurately. Laurence and I both love that the handle extends quite a lot.

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The only downside for us is that the seat is too small. Ophelia is a big nineteen-month-old, granted, but there’s no way it’s going to last her until three without taking the seat liner out.

But all in all, I’ve really enjoyed using it and it’s a no-brainer passing on the last pushchair we had, especially as this one fits so well in the tiny boot of our Skoda.

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Thanks to iCandy for sending me the iCandy Raspberry. If you’d like to know more about this pushchair, check out the Pushchair Expert review.


Things to think about when getting your family a cat

When I was heavily pregnant with Talitha, I was mad on the idea of getting a kitten. We ended up adopting Hero and Bojangles from a local family. Laurence kept saying that it was a lot of responsibility but I figured we were having a baby so we weren’t alien to the idea of responsibility. In retrospect, it has been a much bigger undertaking than I appreciated at first. For those of you thinking of taking the leap, here are a few things to think about when getting your family a cat.

This is a long haul venture
Cats generally live at least 13 years. Sometimes they live to over 20. I don’t think this is something that fully sank in with me when I got ours a couple of months before our first baby arrived. It blows my mind that our two may be with us until our kids are teens or beyond!

Weigh up the cost
Responsible pet ownership means considering all of your cat’s needs before bringing them home. One of our cats has a sensitive stomach which lead us to research cat food a bit more and we’ve wound up buying a brand that’s a little more expensive but is grain-free and a lot better for both of them in the long run. We also signed them up for pet insurance and got them registered with a vet, booking in their vaccinations, microchipping and spaying/neutering surgeries right away. Then there are regular flea and worm treatments to consider. We missed a flea treatment once and believe me, after having to de-flea our house, we never will again! The biggest single cost has probably been putting in a cat flap in our glass door!

Consider your lifestyle
Cats are extremely sociable. They love being talked to, need lots of stroking and can get lonely. We’re really glad we got two kittens from the same litter as they play a lot, even as adults, but they do need a lot from us and whenever we’ve been in the throes of new baby, they’ve definitely suffered from not enough human attention. We’re also aware that if we were to travel much we might have to consider rehoming them because it’s just not fair on them. At the moment, people are around most of the time so they do get a fair bit of interaction.

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Involve your kids
Our children are growing up with our cats but if you’re thinking about getting a cat for yours, some of this will be worth chatting with them about before hand. Our four-year-old helped me to choose a jar and a spot for keeping the cat food. Feeding them twice a day and giving them fresh water is her job. She’s on it but I do keep an eye in case she forgets as the cats need a routine. She brushes them about once a week though we should probably do this more frequently. Both girls understand that they need to be gentle with the cats because we talk about it all the time.

Managing your cat’s stress
When we moved house, I was concerned about making the experience as stress-free the cats as possible. In the end, we put them in a local cattery during the move and let them explore the house, room by room, once we brought them into the new home, keeping them indoors and letting them hide as much as they needed to. They also find it stressful when kids who aren’t used to cats come over and get a bit rough with them, so I let them out and they can disappear into the wilderness behind our house, which is where they’re happiest anyway.

You will probably fall in love

I’ve been known to have a little moan about our cats, especially when one of them wakes up a sleeping baby or brings dead prey indoors, but there is nothing like giving a cat a good long stroke and ours are so affectionate. Both of our girls have said “Meow” before they could say anything else and Ophelia said “Hero” before she could say any of our names. They are certainly part of the family.

This is a collaborative post


Finding “balance” and letting it go

I’ve had the word “balance” on my mind a lot recently, probably because the concept has felt elusive for a long time.

I try to grab hold of it by making the most of naptime and planning our days the day before, making sure we have a good mix of days in and days out, parent initiated activities and free play.

I sometimes successfully edge closer to it by going to bed on time.

I strategise for balance by sending my kids to a childminder (both girls for three hours one day and just the toddler for three hours another).

I’m pushing for balance by taking up running – I’ve been twice so far with a local group of mothers.

Yet I’m beginning to think that balance isn’t an achievable goal. Not for me, anyway. Not in any sense that’s total. There are days when the toddler doesn’t nap but clearly needs to nap. Days when I didn’t plan because…so many reasons…I just didn’t. Days when we don’t go out because I can’t face the effort of getting out and talking to other people. Sometimes that’s OK. Other times I end up wishing I had taken us all out.

Too many nights I lack the discipline to make myself go to bed when I should. Or I do but can’t shut my brain off. Sometimes I feel like falling apart just looking for that hole punch or that glue stick. I look around at all our stuff and want to throw it all away because I can’t find anything.

My children seem happy with their new childminder (a local friend from our church) but I worry every time I drop my nineteen-month-old off, just like I worried about her sister at that age. But I need the time and she’s so obviously happy there. So in a sense this gives my life some balance and in another it doesn’t.

It’s hard for me to tell whether balance skirts away because of something I’m neglecting to do or whether it’s, even at least partly, beyond my control. I find myself blaming myself for not feeling settled, for not always being happy, for not being all the things that it looks like good mothers, good people, are.

When I take it to God, I know that “balance” has become in my soul another word for “perfection”. And if I cling to it, I will end up beating myself with it. But that if I give it to Him, I can be free.


Find exciting reasons to get better at dealing with money

I mentioned in my last post that Laurence and I have been a bit stressed this week and, as usual, our money situation has factored in that.

I find thinking and talking about money a struggle because it’s so abstract. I actually just find it a bit boring. Which is ridiculous and childish. When talking about a budget or ways to improve your credit score, I find it easier to knuckle down and work things out if I visualise what looking after money means to my real life.

I could say until I’m blue in the face that I want to be debt-free but I’m actually a lot more motivated by the idea that by putting steps in place to sort out my finances, I’m moving away from anxiety. That’s probably why I find blogs like Man vs Debt that make the emotional connection with money in an effective way really interesting.

And while I’m concerned about the future, I find it easier to restrict spending if I think about what being in control financially could mean to our present life. We could spend more time together as a family. Laurence could potentially work less and I work more. We could give more to others with a bit more freedom. We could think about going traveling, maybe WWOOFing.

We’re at that point again where we need to sit down and getting some practical bits sorted in terms of canceling some things, changing providers and that kind of thing. But I’m so aware that for me to properly participate in that, we need to start with re-envisioning and taking the time to see the big picture, to figure out, once again, why we want to work harder in this area.

This is a collaborative post


Support breastfeeding help for refugees

So many times this blog has been a place to talk about breastfeeding; about what it can mean for mothers and children, and about how we can protect it. As more and more Syrian refugees make their way to the Greek islands of Kos and Lesvos, we’re faced with a situation in which supporting breastfeeding is absolutely vital.

UNICEF states “artificial feeding with breast-milk substitutes in an emergency carries high risks of malnutrition, illness and death and is a last resort only when other safer options have first been fully explored and deemed unavailable.”

I think of the breastfeeding support I received when I struggled for months to get things going with Talitha. I can’t imagine hitting difficulty when the stakes are this high.

La Leche League Great Britain (LLLGB), is raising £5000 to help LLL Greece send accredited breastfeeding counselors (volunteers) to Kos and Lesvos to help refugee mothers with information, support and resources to feed their babies safely.

Please consider donating. I know many of us have been moved by what is happening across Europe as Syrian families try to find safety. This is one way we can genuinely help.