Tweens, Teens & Beyond #13

Good Morning and welcome to Week 13 of linky Tweens, Teens & Beyond hosted by myself and my fellow Tween and Teen bloggers Sharon at After The Playground and Nicky at Not Just The Three of Us.

Thank you all for joining us for another week and if this is your first time with us, WELCOME and we hope you will join us again.

We are always spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding on a featured post each week, but choose we must and this week's wow goes to Karen at Mad House of Cats & Babies and her post Why we allowed our Tweenager to choose not to do a school entrance exam.....Karen raised some very valid points regarding the undue pressure exerted on our tweens leaving primary school and preparing for the secondary stage.  As parents of Tweens and Teens who have been through this process, we felt it was something that resonated with many of us and for some more recently than others.  If you missed it pop back for a read and give it a like.

Now on to this week's linky, the rules are below for those who are new to our linky and those who may need a reminder.  The most important is to share the linky love and remember to comment.

Linky Rules

Please could you:

  • Grab the Tweens,Teens & Beyond  badge and add it to the bottom of your post or your side bar - if you need help read this Linky Guide from Becky at Cuddle Fairy.
  • Link up one post, old or new (sponsored and review posts are welcome but not other linky's please) that relate to children over the age of 10 years (Tweens, Teens or young adult children) and midlife.
  • Tweet us @motherofteensuk, @DrSharonParry1 and @nickykentisbeer
  • Comment on the hosts' posts and AT LEAST one other of your choice using the linky hashtag #TweensTeensBeyond 
  • Share any posts that you love, we are all about sharing!

What we will do for you:

  • All three of us will comment on your post and share it on Twitter.
  • Your post will be pinned to the #TweensTeensBeyond Linky Pinterest Board
  • Each week, we will select our favourite post which will be featured on all of our sites and shared on Social Media
  • By entering the link you are agreeing to be added to the email reminder list.  (You can request to be removed at any time!)

 

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Guest Post – Potential Effects of Smartphone Overuse Syndrome In Teenagers

Are you or your teenagers addicted to your smartphone?  Do you argue about the presence of phones at mealtimes?  Do your youngsters sleep with their phones in their room?  A ubiquitous accessory nowadays, it is so easy to fall into the trap of constantly checking our phones for news and messages at all times of day and night.  This obsession, however, to always have our phone nearby is reaching epidemic proportions among our youngsters in particular and seriously affecting their mental health.

Dr Martin  Lee is a Consultant Rheumatologist and Associate Senior Clinical Lecturer currently working for Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Hospitals and Newcastle University. He has a specialist interest in Young Adult and Adolescent care and created the concept of No Phone Zone in 2016 based on his reflections that the overuse of smartphones (particularly at bedtime and during the night) was having negative effects on his patients’ sleep hygiene, mental and physical wellbeing, interpersonal relationships, productivity and online safety.

Here Martin shares his thoughts and findings - it is serious food for thought as we move further into an age of increased smartphone usage.

The Importance of Sleep Hygiene and the Potential Effects Of Smartphone Overuse Syndrome (SOS) In Teenagers

Smartphones have fundamentally changed how we live and their functionality has had many positive impacts on our lives. The invention and rapid evolution of smartphones now means that access to the internet, social media sites and a multitude of applications is rarely more than an arm’s length away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, are there potential downsides to this technology that could be having a negative impact within our homes and on our lives?

Smartphone Overuse Syndrome (SOS)?

As a consultant physician working in the UK with an interest in adolescent and young adult care, I witness first hand potential negative consequences of mobile phone technology almost on a day-to-day basis. I believe that smartphone overuse has the potential to hinder relationships within our families and also have a negative effect on our own, and our children’s, sleep patterns and mental health.

Teenagers are frequently referred to my clinic complaining of chronic fatigue, daytime sleepiness, pain and headaches. These symptoms are frequently accompanied by symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, low mood and feelings of anxiety. When taking a history from these teenagers, a key and recurrent theme is frequent access to the internet and social media, often using smartphone technology and often at night.

Trends in smartphone use in Teenagers (parents look away now!):

Over the past decade there has been a huge increase in electronic media use in teenagers. In 2010 a survey of over 2,000 American youths aged 8 to 18 found that they spent an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media.

With the increased availability (and reduced costs) of smartphone technology, there has been a rapid increase in both smartphone ownership and smartphone use among teenagers. A recent study found that American college students spent nearly 9 hours a day on their mobile phones!

In 2016, Deloitte published its UK mobile consumer survey. Key findings of this report include the fact that about 91% of 18-44 year olds in the UK own a smartphone. Nighttime smartphone usage was particularly high in the teenage population and about half of all 18-24 year olds check their phone in the middle of the night.

The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) in partnership with Digital Awareness UK (DAUK) recently conducted a published a survey of 2,750 pupils aged 11-18, looking into teenage use of mobile devices overnight and the impact this is having on their health and well-being. The survey revealed that almost half (45%) of teenagers checked their mobile devices during the night. Of these teenagers, 23% checked their mobile device more than 10 times per night. Other findings of the survey included the facts that 68% of teenagers said that using their mobile devices at night affected their schoolwork.

Smartphone use and sleep:

Alongside increases in smartphone ownership and use in teenagers, recent data also suggests a shift towards poorer sleep patterns over the past decades. These changes include going to bed later, taking longer to fall asleep, shorter sleep duration, poorer sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness. Several other studies have demonstrated a relationship between mobile phone use at night and shorter sleep duration or increased daytime sleepiness. There are 4 key reasons why smartphone use in evenings and at bedtime could potentially have a negative impact on sleep quantity and quality.

  1. Sleep stealing (sleep can potentially be displaced by smartphone use at night leaving less time for sleep).
  2. Smartphone use at bedtime can lead to increased mental, emotional or physiological arousal and therefore interfere with time to onset of sleep.
  3. Light emission from smartphones that use LED technology (‘blue-range’ light) may disrupt our sleep by interfering with our body’s melatonin secretion and its in-built 24-hour clock.
  4. Smartphones left switched on at night can disturb sleep and reduce the quantity and quality of deep or ‘restorative’ sleep.

Smartphone use and mental health disorders in teenagers:

It is well known that there is an association between depression and sleep disturbance but studies have also found that sleep disturbance can lead to depression in teenagers. One study of over 17,000 adolescents published in 2012 reported an association between nighttime mobile phone use and poor mental health, suicidal feelings and self-harm. A further study of over 300 teenagers published in 2015 found that smartphone use in bed before sleep was related to shorter sleep duration and higher levels of depressive symptoms.

Conclusions:

There is overwhelming evidence demonstrating that teenagers are using smartphones more and more and that smartphone use at night can have a negative affect on sleep and mental health. I believe teenagers and their families should be educated about sleep hygiene and the potential effects of smartphone use at bedtime and at night. This education should include advice about setting limits on smartphone use or introducing phone free areas of the home or times of the day.

Martin's passion and commitment for pioneering a change in the way families manage their smartphone usage is heartfelt.  He truly wants to make a difference.

If Martin has forced you to question your habits and those of your youngsters as he did me then you can find out more information at  www.nophonezone.co.uk and for those of you who would like to take steps towards creating phone free zones in your own home, Martin is offering a discount on his fun nophonezone bags with the code MOTHEROFTEENAGERS.

It is an unspoken rule in our house that phones are banned at mealtimes as this is when we come together as a family.  Equally iPhones and iPads are left in our home office over night, but for an 18 year old sometimes the temptation can be too great to have it close by. Interestingly, however, my son has been strict with himself during the exam period and of his own volition has been switching off his devices an hour before going to bed.

The result? Well no teenager likes to admit their parents know best but he has delighted in the fact that he is sleeping better, waking earlier and is less lethargic.   Whether he continues it full-time beyond the exams remains to be seen but for now we are all enjoying reaping the benefits.

Are you worried about your tweens or teens and their smartphone usage?  Do you have any rules in your home regarding smartphone usage? Did you find Martin's piece helpful?  I would love to hear your views.

 

 

 

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Tweens, Teens & Beyond #12

Another Tuesday and time for another edition of  Tweens, Teens & Beyond.

We marked our milestone link up last week with a quick recap on the ethos of Tweens, Teens & Beyond and it was lovely to read so many supportive comments from our regular linkers.

Our community is going from strength to strength and each week we are always delighted to welcome someone new into the fold.  Please do all keep coming back, we love reading your posts and we couldn't do this without your support.

Our favourite post from last week was a thought provoking piece from OldHouseInTheShires, How To Teach Our Children Kindness which is all the more valuable as it is written from the perspective of both a teacher and a parent. There are some wise words indeed shared here so if you missed it please pop over for a read.

Now on to this week's linky, the rules are below for those who are new to our linky and those who may need a reminder.  The most important is to share the linky love and remember to comment.

Linky Rules

Please could you:

  • Grab the Tweens,Teens & Beyond  badge and add it to the bottom of your post or your side bar - if you need help read this Linky Guide from Becky at Cuddle Fairy.
  • Link up one post, old or new (sponsored and review posts are welcome but not other linky's please) that relate to children over the age of 10 years (Tweens, Teens or young adult children) and midlife.
  • Tweet us @motherofteensuk, @DrSharonParry1 and @nickykentisbeer
  • Comment on the hosts' posts and AT LEAST one other of your choice using the linky hashtag #TweensTeensBeyond 
  • Share any posts that you love, we are all about sharing!

What we will do for you:

  • All three of us will comment on your post and share it on Twitter.
  • Your post will be pinned to the #TweensTeensBeyond Linky Pinterest Board
  • Each week, we will select our favourite post which will be featured on all of our sites and shared on Social Media
  • By entering the link you are agreeing to be added to the email reminder list.  (You can request to be removed at any time!)

 

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Essential Festival Tips For Teenagers & Their Parents

The festival season is upon us again and for many teenagers attending their first festival is an undisputed rite of passage, as they celebrate the end of exams and enjoy some quasi adult independence.

As a parent it can be a testing time but it can be made easier.  The first time my eldest teen went I spent days, (maybe weeks) talking to not only parents of teenagers that had already been, but also young twenty somethings full of festival "know-how".Image result for festivals

Now it is me that friends are contacting for advice so for those who maybe in a similar situation this year with their own teenager here are my top tips for reducing your stress and making their experience a lot easier.

  • Ticket PDF: we learnt the hard way!  Make sure they download a PDF of their ticket onto their phone in case they forget the paper version!
  • Tent: Don't send them with your best "family" tent, as it will smell like an underground toilet as people stumble past and pee at will in the middle of the night.  Buy a cheap pop up festival tent from Argos which they can just leave behind. It is also a good idea to buy one slightly bigger than they need so there is room for them to store their kit and still have room to collapse after a day's partying.
  • Tent Finder App: Gone are the days of attaching a flag to your tent to help you locate it amidst the sea of tents, now finding your tent in the middle of the night has just been made easier with the launch of a new app from Boutique Camping that lets you mark where you pitch your tent using GPS and then is saved as a pin on your phone map - genius!
  • Phone+Portable Charger: They will get separated from their friends and will regret it if they don't take their phones. Most festivals have lockers for hire and come with charging sockets which are worth hiring otherwise get a portable charger such as iMuto which they can use to charge their phone several times over.
  • Bum-Bag: To store their valuables when they are partying.
  • Wellies: They are ubiquitous with festivals but there are 2 important things to bear in mind, firstly don't send them with cheap ones or they will return with blisters aplenty after days of sweaty dancing and secondly they will want a change of footwear at some point - wellies 24/7 is really only for the foolhardy or for those that just don't dance!
  • Mac-In-A-Sac: Even if the forecast is non-stop sunshine, remember this is England after-all.
  • Headtorch: For those moments when they may need to find the loo in the middle of the night and want their hands free.
  • Bin-bags: To store dirty clothes, rubbish and stick over any holes that may appear in their tent.
  • Giant Wet Wipes: These are a shower in a bag essentially and as the novelty of being dirty wears off after 36 hours, they will thank you for forcing that extra packet in their rucksack as they head out of the door.
  • Deodorant/Toothpaste: No explanation needed, but make sure it is a roll-on deodorant, our teenager had his spray can confiscated in a bag search at his last festival.
  • Plastic Bottles:  Some festivals are more rigorous than others, but glass bottles are a no-go so decant liquids into plastic bottles to ensure they can keep hold of it.
  • Food: Festival food is expensive and even teenagers have a limit on how many buns they can eat containing a variety of meat.  Fruit in a tin is perfect for those mornings when they wake up wanting something resembling fresh and juicy, plus it will help to get their blood sugar up.  Beyond The Beaten Track is also a good range of hot meal kits recommended by DoE, but they will need a stove.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Festivals are germ farms and anti-bacterial gel is a necessity before they tuck into their festival grub, to avoid spending days huddled in a tent with food poisoning.
  • Loo Roll: They can never have too much!
  • Medical Kit: Neurofen (because they will get a headache!) and blister plasters!
  • Berocca: A high dose of vitamins and energy in a tablet for the days when they are wilting and need a pick-me-up.
  • Sunscreen: All teenagers dismiss it, but sunstroke is not a good look when you are trying to be festival cool.
  • First Aid by British Red Cross: Medical assistance is widely available at festivals but sometimes problems arise that need immediate attention.  When my teenager choked it was the fast reaction of a friend that saved him.  This app from the British Red Cross is full of practical tips on handling everyday scenarios.
  • Water: For re-hydrating and cleaning.

A final word of warning goes to the parents....Teenagers like to think they are invincible but humans were not designed to withstand 3-5 days of continuous drinking, eating rubbish food, jumping and sleep deprivation, they will return smelly, grumpy and exhausted and totally disinclined to answer any questions.  Expect grunting of a disproportionate nature from anything you may have experienced before and for them to sleep for close to 24 hours - yes seeing is believing!

Do you have any top tips to share?  Please let me know in the comments.

Editor's note:  This post was first published last year and has been recently updated with some new tips. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tweens, Teens & Beyond #11

Tweens, Teens & Beyond has passed its first double figure milestone and reflecting over the last 10 weeks we are so delighted with the support we have received so far, but more importantly with the loyal community that has grown with the linky....please. do keep coming back because we couldn't do this without you.

When we first started on this journey together, we all agreed we wanted to create an environment for parents with children beyond the baby and toddler stage ie 10+, where everyone could share their stories and experiences about the secondary years of parenting.

As well as that it was important for Sharon, Nicky and I to have a forum for those lifestyle issues beyond parenting that arise as we embrace mid-life and it has been lovely to read stories about menopause, fitness, gardening, expat life and rediscovering our youth, because we all have a life outside of our children, even if sometimes it is difficult to remember those moments.  Please keep those stories coming.

Together, the three of us are constantly looking at ways of improving the linky to keep it interesting.  Feel free to make any suggestions to any of us as they arise.  We are all ears if it is for the greater good of the linky.  We are also more than happy to give a shout out for any events on your behalf providing they are in keeping with the linky content

An important factor for us in running our linky, however, is ensuring everyone receives support outside of the hosts and that all boils down to comments. We all know that unless we receive the love and support of comments on our posts then we lose interest.

To keep our linky alive PLEASE can we ask that as we pass this milestone and head for the next, you remember to comment even if it means popping back later.

Our featured post from last time is Karen from The Next Best Thing To Mummy talking about how her previous role as a child-minder benefited her own children.  You can read the post here.  Karen is a mother, step-mother and grandparent that had to give up her child-minding role following a stroke.  She is a regular here at the linky and if you have read some of Karen’s posts, you will see that she is a bit of a trooper.

Now onto this week's linky, here is a reminder of the rules and we look forward to reading your posts.

Linky Rules

Please could you:

  • Grab the Tweens,Teens & Beyond  badge and add it to the bottom of your post or your side bar - if you need help read this Linky Guide from Becky at Cuddle Fairy.
  • Link up one post, old or new (sponsored and review posts are welcome but not other linky's please) that relate to children over the age of 10 years (Tweens, Teens or young adult children) and midlife.
  • Tweet us @motherofteensuk, @DrSharonParry1 and @nickykentisbeer
  • Comment on the hosts' posts and AT LEAST one other of your choice using the linky hashtag #TweensTeensBeyond 
  • Share any posts that you love, we are all about sharing!

What we will do for you:

  • All three of us will comment on your post and share it on Twitter.
  • Your post will be pinned to the #TweensTeensBeyond Linky Pinterest Board
  • Each week, we will select our favourite post which will be featured on all of our sites and shared on Social Media
  • By entering the link you are agreeing to be added to the email reminder list.  (You can request to be removed at any time!)

 

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How Do We Prepare Our Children For Failure?

Our house is a hotbed of exam anxiety at the moment as our eldest is in the final throes of preparing for his A'levels.  I have followed all my own advice and even that of others about managing his stress but it is tough - he is worried.

This is it, the culmination of years of hard work and as he sees it the end of the road if he gets it all wrong.

"Is this what panic feels like?" " I am not going to get those three A's." "Who was I trying to kid applying for the Russell Group Universities?  I am just not clever enough. "  "I am going to defer and do it next year."

As the days pass  this is the conversation that repeats on loop at varying intervals from morning until night.  There is no respite.  True to his revision timetable he appears like a parrot on my shoulder at 40 minute intervals to either discuss what he has learnt, what he is about to learn or his heightened anxiety.

There is nowhere to hide.  I am hunted from dawn until dusk.  Such is the plight of the SAHM of a teenager taking exams.

My youngest teenager meanwhile sits in the neighbouring room diligently preparing for her own Year 9 exams and living in constant fear of being shot down in flames if she so much as mentions one syllable of the stress word in his presence.

It is no surprise that our teens are susceptible to moments of self-doubt and anxiety when under so much pressure to succeed. As parents we evidently adopt all the strategies of reassurance at our disposal in the hope that we can allay their fears long enough to get them to walk through the door of the exam room and turn over the paper.  I have dug deep this week to placate and reassure him not only of his own ability but of our confidence in his ability. He was worked tirelessly and deserves to be rewarded.

The truth, however, is there are no guarantees.  Despite thorough revision, every year some pupils do fall short of what they need to go to University and the scramble for clearing places through UCAS commences.

What's not often talked about, however, is that upwards of 60,000 students use the system every year to find a place at university, and for many of these, it's a positive experience and out of initial failure comes success.

More than 30 years ago I was one of those students.  I can still remember the moment like it was yesterday.  Waiting patiently for the postman to deliver the scrap of paper that would deliver the verdict on which course my life would take next. The shock.  The disappointment of my parents.  The "oh shit" moment, followed swiftly by "what next?"

I phoned my first choice university, they agreed to defer my place if I boosted one of my grades.  I did that in the next academic term and then secured various work placements and went travelling.  My academic journey took a different pathway but it wasn't a bad one.  It was the best time of my life and benefited me in so many ways.

Personally I don't want that for our son.  I want him to succeed first time around.  I was studying humanities.  It could be picked up at any point.  He on the other hand is a mathematics whizz and in the debate over the gap year option, he was advised to keep at it and surge ahead on the crest of his wave.  If, however, like me he doesn't deliver what he needs we will obviously turn to Plan B and make it work.

In the meantime, the message is clear.  "You can only do your best."  

Underlying this however is the fact that he isn't prepared for disappointment or failure.

"I haven't failed at anything yet.  I wouldn't know what to do."  These were his words yesterday.  I reminded him of my own plight at his age.   I wasn't ready for it either.  Nobody is.

So how do we prepare our children, our teenagers for disappointment and for failure?

Simply, you can't.  I certainly wasn't prepared.  I knew after my exams that my chances of achieving what was necessary were slim but I hoped I was wrong.  Isn't that what we all do? Hold on to hope.  Even if our son messes it up, he will rage for a bit, get hysterical but until the verdict is delivered on the morning of 17th August he will still hold onto hope.

Nothing can prepare you for that punch to the stomach that says "You fell short this time."

Three years ago our daughter faced disappointment when she didn't secure a place at her first choice secondary school.  In hindsight it was a blessing in disguise but at the time she was beside herself.  She has come out a stronger person and unlike her brother is far more balanced in her approach to stress and the possibility of failure.

My mantra in being a mother of teenagers is communication, honesty and sharing.  There will be some things that as maturing teenagers they don't want to disclose but I hope that over the years I have developed a level of trust that guarantees them the assurity of at least one thing and that is my support, our support - that regardless of the outcome we will be there for them in the same way my parents were there for me and still are.

The world may feel like it is ending but it won't and they will survive.

The truth behind all of this is that you can't be prepared for failure until  it happens.  Failure itself is the only thing that teaches you how to cope with it.  It doesn't matter how much we say as parents to reassure our children the harsh cold reality of failure is the only teacher but it doesn't make them a failure.

An exchange with Alison at Unique Minds Counselling reminded me that persuading our teenagers to "Believe" in themselves is paramount. I know that as a parent I am not alone in that quest and Alison was spot on in her advice "The stress they put themselves under often engulfs them and they can only see life in one direction.  I try to encourage them to see that life has many pathways and whatever the outcome of exams - doesn't define them as a person." 

 

As featured on HuffPost

 

 

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Tweens, Teens & Beyond #10

Welcome to Week 10 of linky Tweens, Teens & Beyond hosted by myself and my fellow Tween and Teen bloggers Sharon at After The Playground and Nicky at Not Just The Three of Us.

It is a solemn day with the tragic news of the horrific incident in Manchester and like everyone else my thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost a loved one or are still waiting for news, as well as those who are injured.

Our favourite link from last week was Suzanne from Chickenruby with her very pertinent post on social media and whether we as parents are actually setting a good example to our young Tweens and Teens with our own use of social media. I am sure we have all asked ourselves that question many a time.

This week the linky is open as usual until Thursday 25 May at midnight and then it will close for the half-term period, re-opening on Tuesday 6 June at 10.00am.

Now on to the less exciting but nonetheless important part of the linky - the rules - PLEASE give them a read before you head off to link up and as always we look forward to reading your posts.

Linky Rules

Please could you:

  • Grab the Tweens,Teens & Beyond  badge and add it to the bottom of your post or your side bar - if you need help read this Linky Guide from Becky at Cuddle Fairy.
  • Link up one post, old or new (sponsored and review posts are welcome) that relate to children over the age of 10 years (Tweens, Teens or young adult children) and midlife.
  • Tweet us @motherofteensuk, @DrSharonParry1 and @nickykentisbeer
  • Comment on the hosts' posts and AT LEAST one other of your choice using the linky hashtag #TweensTeensBeyond - it is only polite after all!
  • Share any posts that you love, we are all about sharing!

What we will do for you:

  • All three of us will comment on your post and share it on Twitter.
  • Your post will be pinned to the #TweensTeensBeyond Linky Pinterest Board
  • Each week, we will select our favourite post which will be featured on all of our sites and shared on Social Media
  • By entering the link you are agreeing to be added to the email reminder list.  (You can request to be removed at any time!)

 

Mother of Teenagers


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It’s That Time Of Year – Muck Up Day

For many teenagers across the country, this week includes one of THE most important dates in the school calendar, Muck Up Day.  For those sitting their A'levels this is officially their time to let off some steam before the start of the exams, but also to celebrate the end of an era as they say a fond farewell to their school days and head off into the big wide world.

What constitutes Muck Up Day varies from school to school.  Some simply opt for a themed dress up day. For others, however, this is a little bit too "sensible" and instead involves weeks of planning and preparation akin to a Mission Impossible movie as the students seek to surprise and outwit their teachers with something a bit different - classrooms filled with balloons, sellotape over staircases, marbles strewn along hallways, teachers' cars wrapped in clingfilm - the stuff of logistical precision and creativity.

For those leaving school, Muck Up Day is the opportunity to leave a personal impression beyond the classroom or the sports field.  From the schools' perspective, however, the impression they leave has to be the right one.

They want their departing students to remember that not only are they setting an example to those pupils left behind but also representing the school in the local community.  They want them to do themselves and their school proud and leave with their heads held high.

There have been reports over the years of some Muck Up Days getting out of control and as a result some schools have put in rules limiting what can be done, which goes some way to defeating the whole point of the harmless fun and chaos that the day is supposed to create.

Harmless, however, is the operative word here. Everyone has to enjoy the joke and the fun needs to be conducted within certain parameters.  No one wants to be confronted by anarchy, but a little bit of chaos is to be expected.  

Of the parents I have spoken to about the guidelines from their teenagers' schools, the general rule of thumb seems to be that any pranks should not cause serious damage or endanger anyone - all of which seems perfectly reasonable, but may of course be open to misinterpretation by a bunch of lively teenagers.

There are some iconic Muck Up Day stories that do the rounds, the most popular being the three pigs that were brought into one school and numbered one, two and four resulting in the teachers wasting their whole day looking for the pig wearing the number three that of course didn't exist - pure genius some might say.

There is also the infamous story of the school whose leavers' put up a series of posters for several weeks prior to Muck Up Day saying simply "They Are Coming", until almost every noticeboard in the school was covered.  The night before Muck Up Day the signs suddenly disappeared and when the school opened the next morning every classroom, corridor, changing room and broom cupboard was full of hundreds of garden gnomes - a costly prank for sure but no doubt worth it for notoriety alone.

I have also heard of a story closer to home that involved a cow being left in a school hall which was on the second floor of a building.  Unfortunately whilst cows are quite happy to be led up stairs they are less keen on being led down, so it had to be airlifted out of the building at great expense to the school and presumably great distress to the cow.

Jokes and pranks aside, however, there is of course the more official aspect to Muck Up Day, it is actually Leaver's Day and a chance for the school to celebrate their pupils' journey from child to adult with awards for their achievements.

Pupils leave clutching medals, cups, a leaver's book full of pictures, personal anecdotes from friends and teachers as well as the obligatory "Year of..." hoodie!  Yes it would seem you are never too old!  Where would we be without a summer of spotting fellow school leavers at home and abroad?

With my own teenager leaving school this year the stress of exams has taken somewhat of a back seat as the excitement mounts in anticipation of Muck Up Day.   My son's school has arranged a full day of activities starting with a leaver's breakfast and including performances from bands, magicians and comedians before moving on to the formalities of prize giving and the leavers' photograph.

The school has issued the customary "plea for support" email to parents asking us to reiterate the need for exemplary behaviour along with a reminder from the local police that there should be no significant disruption by way of carnival style marches or parades in the immediate area.

In terms of specific plans, we like many other parents no doubt are in the dark.  There has been discussion of a need to meet with friends at 6am on Muck Up Day and lots of covert whispering but nothing that will risk any best laid plans being foiled.   Secrecy is paramount, so like everyone else we will have to wait and see.

One thing is sure though, it will be an emotional day for our country's school leavers in more ways than one and however they choose to celebrate and leave their mark, for them at least it will be worth it as to quote my teenager  "You Can't Put A Price On Memories".

 

This Mum's Life

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