Final Exams

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Nerves, trepidation and anxiety are all hallmarks of the students who have finished their senior schooling and are now faced with their final exams.

As my eldest daughter sits her HSC (Higher School Certificate) I’m filled with pride at her tenacity but also worry about the pressure she is putting on herself to do well, which in all fairness is probably a manifestation of all the expectations her teachers, family, friends and peers have all put on her.

She told me that given her timetable, with her four hardest exams in the first three days, she worries that she can’t live up to everyone’s standards. Her head is swimming with information that realistically is probably irrelevant for her in the future.

As I’ve said to her time and again, as long as she tries her hardest, she can be proud of her effort.

What has surprised me is how exhausted she is from sitting her exams. She is truly fatigued from trying to remember and recall so much information.

There is so much weight given to these last exams, but they are not the be all and end all of the life she is planning. Even if she bombs out in these exams, there will be ways forward either through further education or work experience. Life has a way of working things out.

As each exam passes she gains relief by throwing out all her study notes and practice essays for that subject. It’s like a visual representation of the weight being lifted from her shoulders.

This time in three weeks she will be free of her exams and will have a chance to let down her hair and party. When she is at her most stressed I keep reminding her that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I remember being in her shoes and also stressing beyond belief but when I received my results it seemed an anticlimax because by then I had the clarity to realise that your results don’t define you nor do they limit your potential. Life is what you make it!

(Image courtesy of inus12345, freedigitalphotos.net)

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SCHOOL WORK ETHIC

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I have watched all my kids address their homework and study needs in differing ways. One of my kids has always left her homework until the night before it is due, believing she works better under pressure, whilst another does her homework and assignments as soon as they are given. The job gets done either way, however when they reach more senior years of schooling, leaving things to the death knock brings about unnecessary stress and under preparedness.

I try to suggest (okay I nag) my kids to do revision of the work they have learnt that day so that the information sinks in. Then when exams rear their ugly heads, it’s not so daunting to have to revise months worth of work. Similarly, I recommend that they chip away at an assignment as soon as it is received, so the end result is more thorough and therefore scores higher.

Although the school and I try to drum into the kids this form of study work ethic, it seems to me that a child’s nature is the over-riding factor in the way they approach work. In my experience, the kids who have always been crammers remain to work that way and the methodical plodders continue that way too.

As a parent, how much should you interfere with your kid’s study? After all, the only one that is affected by their preparedness or lack thereof is your child. Should they be left to sink or swim? Having said that, as a parent you really want to see your child reach their highest potential, so I’m sure there wouldn’t be too many parents that don’t encourage their kids to study and work hard.

It’s a fine balance between being an inspiring and supportive parent versus creating conflict that may stress out an already frazzled kid.

As with everything in life, finding that balance is the key! What are your thoughts?

(Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net)

FIRST CAR

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Our eldest daughter is about to get her driver’s license and was less than impressed that we didn’t buy her a car for her seventeenth birthday, as many of her friend’s parents did. Although we can afford to buy a car for our daughter, we feel that it is more important that she learns a life lesson of earning money so she can appreciate the hard work that goes into paying for things. We also believe she needs to learn to save for a goal and in doing so hope that she will take better care of a car that she has had to work hard to earn. Kids need to learn that not everything in life will be handed to them on a silver platter!

We did however offer to match her dollar for dollar to help her save enough money to purchase a half decent car. Our bare minimum requirements for her car were that it had to have the safety features of ABS and airbags and that it mustn’t have an excessive amount of kilometers on the odometer.

Initially my daughter’s sole condition was that the car had to be black. After searching cars in her price range her criteria widened to become anything with wheels!

After a lot of searching, my husband located a car he felt fit the criteria (although silver not black). The owners were relocating overseas and were desperate to sell (always a good sign they are keen to negotiate!). When my husband and daughter saw the car in the flesh it was grubby but ran smoothly as it been serviced regularly. My husband made it his own little project to detail the car by washing, polishing and waxing the car until it looked as close to new as it ever will.

So now my daughter has a cute little silver hatchback car that gleams and she is beyond excited about being able to take advantage of the freedom that comes with owning a car. I just hope she will treat it with TLC and keep it shiny and clean.

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitialphotos.net)

ARMED HOLD-UP

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Last night I watched a ‘60 Minutes’ story on the siege at the Lindt Café in Sydney in December 2014. What struck me was the heroic and brave actions of the younger hostages held in this siege. These uni students, who were part-time workers at the café, were able to make clear decisions in a time of extreme stress and on the whole seem to be coping well in the aftermath.

It reminded me of a time when I was 17, working part-time at the local Pizza Hut. One night after closing the restaurant for trade, two masked gunmen held the staff at gunpoint, whilst our Manager was taken out the back of the restaurant to empty the safe. The older people I was working with were shaking and sobbing, whilst I was trying to memorise the clothes worn by the armed robber who had his gun pointed at me. I then tried to work out his height by counting the number of tiles on the wall behind him. Whilst I was obviously terrified, I kept calm and tried to think as logically as possible, wanting to give the police the most accurate account of events as possible.

Once the thieves left the restaurant, I called my parents to let them know I would be late, telling them I had been ‘held up’. Due to the nuances in the English language my mother took that to mean I had been waylaid, not that I had been actually held up at gunpoint.

I was able to give police a clear description of the thieves and then went home, to live my life with as much normality as possible. I kept working at that Pizza Hut for a few months, but found that any time we closed the restaurant I began to feel anxious. Eventually I gave that job away and worked in a boutique, which was both a blessing and a curse. I enjoyed the work, but never had money because I spent all my wages on clothes that I could buy at staff discount!

I haven’t thought much about that armed hold up for a long time, which I guess shows you how resilient kids can be! I now reflect that my eldest daughter is the same age I was when that incident occurred and I fervently hope that none of my kids ever have to experience the stress of wielding to the demands of an irrational thug.

Obviously my experience pales into insignificance in comparison to the hostages in the Lindt Café siege that lasted hours. I just hope they can all move forward with their lives knowing that they did what they had to do in that situation and that they bear no responsibility for the actions of the deranged terrorist who was accountable for the death of two innocent people.

(Photo courtesy of Pong, freedigitalphotos.net)

THE REAL PRICE OF BEING A SAHM  

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As much as being a stay at home mother (SAHM) is a privilege for those fortunate to be able to afford this luxury, there is a greater cost of being a SAHM than just the wage that the mother used to earn.

Choosing to be a SAHM of course means sacrificing a wage, but it also means losing out on superannuation (pension savings). It also translates into missing out on working experience, the ability to keep up with changing technology, it means missing the promotions that may have come your way had you stayed working and leaves you with a big blank space in your resume, making returning to the workforce challenging.

There is a wealth of experience, education and intelligence locked into a group of women where there is little opportunity to return to the workforce. Ideally there needs to be better working prospects that offer flexible, family friendly hours that allow a mother to be there to raise her children whilst still remaining relevant, useful and well remunerated in her chosen career.

Interestingly, becoming a parent doesn’t seem to affect the career prospects of a father, as he usually continues to reach new professional heights, gains added experience and in turn wage increases.

In the unfortunate case where there is a marriage breakdown, the man often has higher capacity to earn, better superannuation savings and better job security, whilst the woman struggles to find work and make ends meet, after sacrificing her career in order to raise their joint children.

In an ideal world, I think both parents should work part time, so they can each earn independently, can each be hands on parents to raise and bond with their children and can each have the ability to continue to feel relevant in their chosen career.

At the end of the day, someone has to take on the responsibility of raising children – whether it is the mother, father or a paid caregiver. The individual financial circumstances usually have a large role to play in deciding how this care is provided.

The cost of being a SAHM is often underestimated, but the pay off for this role can’t really be counted in dollars and cents, rather in hugs and kisses.

 

 

(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

CHILD LABOUR

All too often we wrap our kids up in cotton wool and do too much for them. The way to make your children responsible is to give them responsibility. As such, I think it character building for a child to help around the house. It’s not like I have my kids working in a sweatshop producing black market garments, but my kids all have chores.

I used to have a rotating schedule where one would pack the dishwasher this day, unpack it another day, set the table another and sweep the floor another. This was so confusing to keep track of whose day it was for each chore. One of my kids suggested that it would work better to have a chore day where they are responsible for all the chores for that whole day, but then have a few days off chores. We have adopted this system, which is great because now we all know who is responsible each day. I also added a clause that stipulated if the person on chores didn’t do all their chores on their day, then they would become responsible for the next day’s chores as well.

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The chores my kids do aren’t that taxing. They unpack and pack the dishwasher (although each individual is responsible for putting their own plate in the dishwasher after use); they set the table and wipe it down after meals; they keep the bathroom tidy; replace bin liners and pick up dog poo. They are each expected to keep their rooms tidy and hang up towels after use, which you would think is easier than the other chores, but seems for them to be the hardest thing to enforce!

They get 20 cents per chore, which means at the end of the week they should have a few dollars pocket money if they have done everything set for them.

Discussing chores with friends, I’m always shocked to find out that most people I know do everything for their kids. Considering children make 90% of the mess in the house, shouldn’t they contribute with at least 10% of the cleaning? 

I think when everything is done on your behalf you learn to expect that and have no appreciation for the effort outlaid to do the chores.

For example, on average I will do 10-12 loads of washing a week. My kids have no gratitude for the hours I spend collecting dirty clothes, sorting, washing, hanging out washing, bringing in washing, folding and putting clean clothes back in their wardrobes. The only time that I’m aware they know that I do this for them, is when they can’t find something they want to wear. I then have to draw upon a photographic memory to recall if I washed that item and where it is currently residing (more often than not, in a wash basket awaiting folding.)

I recently suggested that one of my daughters might like to earn $10 pocket money to fold up and put away the week’s washing. She was really keen, until she had folded about 6 items. She then declared it wasn’t worth it and left the washing to be folded by me. She didn’t persevere with the chore, but I hope it gave her an insight into what is involved in making sure she has clean clothes to wear.

There are so many years we do absolutely everything for our kids from wiping their bums to blowing their noses, so just as we relinquish these tasks to them, we should also include other jobs that assist the family as a whole.

Don’t underestimate the workforce you have bred!