Chronic illness/ Chronic pain code for what we say and what we actually mean!

Most of you will know by now I have ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), Fibromyalgia ( widespread musculoskeletal pain) and more recently Joint Hypermobility ( in hands- when joints can dislocate!). I have had chronic illness and pain since 2009 and even with high levels of pain medications including morphine I still experience pain 24hrs a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks of the year. In truth, I cannot remember certainly in the last 7 yrs or so of a time when I have been pain free. I read recently that the full list of symptoms of an ME or Fibro patient is the same as a patient with AIDS around 2 months before death! The most frustrating thing about my condition is that it is completely INVISIBLE. There is nothing to see, no bruising, no swelling of joints in my case, no identifying marks on the skin………….NOTHING. BUT MY BODY IS WRACKED WITH PAIN DAILY.

Now that may be hard to believe – how can someone be in pain all of the time even with very strong medications? A normal person’s brain is not equipped to understand chronic, consistent pain at all. Yes they can totally empathise if someone breaks their arm, or has the flu or even something like appendicitis because naturally our brains can understand what’s seen as danger or acute pain –  pain that will be there until that body part has healed itself…………short term pain. They can imagine from past experiences how painful those things could be, but the normal brain is not equipped to understand a pain that does not go away! It’s just how we are made- and therein lies the problem.

Therefore, as you can imagine this can be the cause of all misunderstanding around consistent pain. People think it’s actually not possible to be in pain for that long or believe that it never goes away. They see us ‘spoonies’ up out of bed and dressed and dare I even say it, possibly even with make up on and possibly even smiling and chatting!!! I mean c’mon if you are in pain would you even be doing that?………………..ERM…………..actually yes sometimes you would! Not because the pain is reduced that day or any less severe, but more so if you didn’t make the effort ( and believe me you have no idea how much fecking effort that actually takes when you feel like death!) you would never leave the house or see anyone!

Then once you have a chronic condition like that when anyone asks how you are- they aren’t fully listening or really wanting to know simply because most of the time they don’t understand it, think you are exaggerating or even lying about the severity of the condition. As time goes, on I can tell you, that you definitely find out who your true friends actually are. Having to cancel going on a night out does not go down well once you’ve done it more than once. The invitations to go out or do anything start drying up because if the venue is somewhere where there’s dancing to be done no one wants to be the one stuck at a table keeping you company! If its a day out with a fair bit of walking your invitation gets ‘lost’ as no one wants to be lagging behind walking at your speed rather than be with the crowd. Believe me it happens………………………………I’VE BEEN THERE AND GOT THE T-SHIRT ON THAT ONE!

You learn very quickly that when people ask how you are they are generally being polite and I can tell you most spoonies will answer ‘I’m fine’ (which generally means I feel like death but with a pulse!) and the conversation will quickly move on to what they’ve been up to.

So, I thought I would do a quick reference to what we say and it’s translation to what we actually mean- you know just for the laughs!

I’m Fine!

Like I said above this is the general term for I feel like death but with a pulse- but I have made the effort to get up and dressed to either meet up or go somewhere.

I’m a bit tired!

I literally cannot hold my own body weight up, it feels twice it’s normal weight but I also feel as though I’m wearing a pair of lead boots walking through a swimming pool of treacle whilst someone is pressing down on my shoulders with their own full body weight!

I’m a bit sore!

Feck me I think I’ve just done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson then been thrown out of the ring to be run over by 2 double decker buses and then been set upon by a pack of feral wolves…………..DON’T FECKING EVEN TRY TO TOUCH ME (OR EVEN LOOK IN MY DIRECTION)!

I had a rough day!

ALL OF THE ABOVE…………but now I feel sick, have a migraine and cannot even swallow food or fecking blink……………so I’m unable to get out of bed, the blinds are closed, earplugs are in as noise sensitivity is through the roof. Just check me occasionally to make sure I’m still actually breathing!

So if you have a friend or a family member who has a chronic illness and suffers with chronic pain, then PLEASE recognise the above standard phrases and REMEMBER what they actually mean. It could make all the difference to our day. If you look closely enough you will probably notice that  our smile we plaster on our face is not reaching our eyes…………..look closely next time.

HOW ARE YOU TODAY?

Parent tips for prepping your teen for their first year at uni

My son is now in his 3rd year at uni ( he still has another year to complete) and I have picked up a few helpful tips along the way, first of all dealing with moving into halls and then moving into shared accommodation after that.

I was in your shoes a few years ago worrying myself to death about how he was going to cope with uni, cook for himself, budget his money and ultimately not get himself into any awful situations or get hurt!! ( I know, I know but c’mon they are our little babies after all).

So having learned some things along the way I thought I would share my wisdom to either save you a crap load of money ( no they really do not need everything AND the kitchen sink) or reassure you that your little baby will be just FINE!

This was his first car load when he left for the 1st year……………we had to go back the next day with his guitar, keyboard, amp and desk chair!!!

 

So here goes………..

!. They will NOT starve!! My son could really only cook basic things and wasn’t interested in learning before he went. But guess what? He didn’t starve or get food poisoning either. He is a very plain and repetitive eater ( that’s the Asperger’s affect – he’s always been the same) so this actually made his shopping cheaper and more manageable. Pizzas, pasta and pesto, chicken, bacon, sausages, eggs, Shreddies, chocolate croissants, milk and cartons of orange juice saw him through most weeks with a cheeky takeaway or two along the way.

2. They will not do any washing! It does not matter how particular they are with their clothes at home with good ‘ol mammy doing their washing………………no, they literally all turn into dirty skanks when they move away and have to do it themselves……….honestly, just you wait. ‘ Do you know how much it is to use the washing machine and dryer in the laundry room?’ was my son’s drivel of an excuse. Yep their picky ways will go out of the window when they have to physically wash their own stuff……………………………….and don;t get me started on the bedding! URGH!

3. They will learn to budget their money! We actually found that having had very little spare cash when the boys where growing up as there was only one wage coming in, although frustrating in so many ways, it was actually a hidden bonus as my son was bloody brilliant at managing the little amount of money he budgeted for each week! Silver linings and all that.

4. They will grow up fast! So they may still be your little babies but I tell you a few months away thrown into the real world will result in changes you never thought was possible. They learn to manage their time, get to lessons, deal with finding their way around new towns and ultimately meeting lots of new friends. So beware, when they do come home and you happen to casually ask where they are going to or who they are going out with you will get the Paddington #hardstare!

5. They will actually appreciate you more! Seriously, when they have cooked all their own meals for months and their clothes and bedding are crispy and rank ( I kid you not!)  then they come home for Christmas and all their washing gets done and smells nice, and you serve up a proper mum’s roast dinner………………..the Thank you’s will come flying at you!

6. Do NOT bother with cleaning products galore! Seriously they will NOT clean their rooms. So just pop a couple of packs of anti bacterial cleaning wipes in there and that will cover most things.

It’s hard as a mum not to think of every eventuality and buy accordingly sending them away to uni with everything but the kitchen sink ( only because you couldn’t physically fit it in the car!). So here’s a few few tips that could save you some money that I had to learn the hard way……………

**They do NOT need every cooking appliance. A couple of pots, a frying pan and I would advise a small George Forman grill. My son literally wore his grill out in the first year and I had to replace it. He said he used it every singe day- think bacon or sausage sandwiches, grilled chicken breasts etc all cooked easily, quickly and with very little mess or washing up. Equally if they love a toastie then a sandwich maker is a great addition.

**As far as plates, cutlery pots and pans etc are concerned I have a top tip. Stay away from the run of the mill black and grey and go for a bold colour. That way they know exactly which one’s are theirs! I got red plates, cutlery and pots from Wilkinsons when my son first went and he always said it was great as he could easily recognise his own belongings ( due to his Asperger’s he takes little notice of and does not immediately recognise what’s his…………only recently he came down wearing his brothers jeans and didn’t even notice!!). Equally most lists will say 1xplate/bowl etc – NOPE……….. send them with 2 of everything, plates, bowls, glasses and mugs (if they like their tea and coffee) as I guarantee you they will NOT wash up every time they have eaten. Also its the real world and other students will use their plates if theirs are dirty! Be warned.

**Send them with a made by you medicine box. So paracetamol, Ibruprofen, plasters, hayfever tablets, Imodium, cough mixture and anything else that you would normally have at home. Within the first month they will definitely get ‘Freshers Flu’ from late nights, drinking, not eating their 5 a day etc etc. My son is in his 3rd year and I still do this now and he loves it as he has everything we have at home so if he doesn’t feel well he has something to hand without having to go to the shops.

**Buy 2 sets of bedding and towels! That way if they do decide to wash their bedding ( wishful thinking of course!) or their towels, they do not have to worry about getting it washed and dried in one day.

**Buy them lots of extra socks and underwear, like I say they don’t clothes wash very often so I would rather my son have LOTS of spares than him get 4 days from one pair of socks or boxers!! I did warn you earlier they turned into dirty skanks.

**Do NOT waste lots of money on loads of stationary. It will be a waste of time. My son studies Law and we thought he would need loads of file blocks of paper………..WRONG! Most of their lessons can be watched again online, and most of their work in all done on computer and emailed. They will not need loads of pretty paper and stickers and higlighters!

**Send them with a full term’s supply of wash kit supplies. Extra shower gels, shampoo, toothpastes, wipes, deodorants etc as they will not want to spend their already budgeted weekly allowance on these…………so refer back to the ‘dirty skank’ observations………….at least you know their personal hygiene will not be a problem!

**As far as the bank accounts go I got my son to open 2. First one was his student account that their grants etc get paid into and an overdraft is arranged. The 2nd one is a normal current account. I got my son to work out all his money with his grants and sort a weekly amount he was going to live off. That amount was set up as a direct debit/ standing order type payment from his student account with the bulk of his money to his current account. That way he found it easier to track his weekly living budget rather than inadvertently dip into the main bulk of his student loan and then not have enough money to see him through his uni year. So he started with a £70 weekly amount and after a month or two he reduced it to £60 as he was finding he didn’t actually need it all. That allowed him a more responsible control over his full student loan.

So there you have it my lovelies, its a tough time for us mum’s letting our babies go. It’s definitely strange at first and is a sign of things to come when they start going off into the big wide world making their own lives. I have seen huge changes in my son since that first year he went away, I think until they actually do go off and venture into their own things it’s difficult to see them as anything other than children! My eldest son is now 20 and I can tell you it’s been the best thing for him, I do see him as much moire capable now rather than instantly worry when he does something new.

If you’ve had a teen go off to uni I would love to know the useless things you wasted money on that they never used, so drop me a message in the comments.

Student Lets and Landlords

This year has seen my eldest returning to uni but this time he will be house sharing with four other students, friends he has made while living in student halls last year. They have had a year of independence, almost sheltered in a way, by living in a corridor with 11 others and sharing a kitchen and a couple of bathrooms. They work out differences on their own and gravitate towards other students that they get on with or become friends with. As parents, although it breaks our hearts to see them go, it feels like they are still being supported if they are living on campus with all the facilities around them. My eldest goes to Sussex university and it was well equipped with a large Co op, a large cafe, launderette, bar, pharmacy and a GP surgery! I know not all uni’s are the same and some are spread around towns on different areas instead. Read more

Fibromyalgia pain management help on the horizon at last

Any of you that have been following me for a while will know that I have ME and Fibromyalgia, which in lay mans terms means I am permanently exhausted and have constant chronic pain (with lots of other symptoms but the list is too long to mention!).

I was diagnosed in 2009 and after being initially referred for a 12 week management program in London at the start my Borough decided they would not pay for me to go out of borough for treatment even though there was nothing similar in my area. So, after being diagnosed  I was then left with no input apart from pain relief from my GP. I spent years on Tramadol until my body totally adjusted and they were having absolutely no effect. Last year when the pain became to difficult to handle my GP switched me to Morphine (slow release) and Oramorph for breakthrough pain during the day. Again as my body adjusted they had less and less effect and the dosages where increased to a point where my GP could not authorise another increase without referring my to a Rheumatologist.

This was probably the best thing that could have happened. I had an appointment in February and she confirmed 18 tender points of Fibro around my body alongside all over body tenderness ( that means my body feels bruised so wearing clothing/ shoes etc all hurts as though someone is pressing directly on a bruised piece of skin!). From there she referred me to the Fibromyalgia clinic and I had that very long appointment yesterday. It takes all afternoon as you see three separate specialists in different areas who all work together to approach the illness from different angles.

I came out feeling amazingly positive after speaking to three separate specialists who not only believed I was in pain but understood how it affects my daily life and had input in how they could, together as a team, help me manage my pain better and help me restore some normality back to my life.

THIS IS HUGE!! For years I have been left to cope with only inadequate pain relief ( turns out opiates are useless in treating the pain I have-typical!) with people finding it hard to actually believe I am in CONSTANT pain. I know I am my own worst enemy as I do not allow anyone to see how it affects me. If I go out no-one would even think for a moment that my body is screaming out in pain, I will smile and chat and completely mask it ( hence some people think it’s not possible to be in pain ALL of the time). My only visible show that something is wrong is that I use a walking stick, not because I bloody enjoy people looking staring at me but because the pain in my ankles is sharp and knife like and can literally knock you off balance when out walking around.

This denial, or masking my issues seems to be part of the problem. If people think I am OK I will carry on as normal doing things I know will knock me off my feet the next day just so no- one sees I cannot cope! Apparently I need to learn to say ‘No’ and totally understand how to pace activity. This is new to me too as I totally live my life the ‘boom and bust’ way, that means on days where I am more able I will do WAY too much just to catch up etc which then pays me back with several days not able to do anything at all.

So, after an extremely long hospital visit to the clinic yesterday they offered to put me on a 7 week pain management course which looks at all these issues alongside getting a combination of medications that actually work with a routine of pacing.

This is the most help I have had in all the years I have been diagnosed. I feel positive with everything they were telling me and I now have to just wait to hear when the course will be starting. Although it is 7 weeks long it is only 1 day a week at reasonable times with lots of breaks etc. I will meet other people in the same position who actually live in my area too which could end up being a bonus socially.

I have been on support groups online throughout having the illness but I tend to find they become quite depressive with people venting every little aspect, pain, new symptom and bad day they are having. I too have those days where it can bring you right down in mood, but that is not how I want to live my life- it is restricted enough without wallowing in what’s wrong instead of concentrating on what is going well. So, although I remain on these groups I tend only to comment on positive posts because I do feel that sometimes when I am feeling OK they can have a draining affect on your mood as you start to think ‘Oh God is that how I am going to become’. I am not running these groups down they do provide people with daily contact and reassurance and generally are a good thing, however, it can become a bit of a pity party some days and that’s not how I want to look at my illness. I know some people will say they have been on the course I have been offered and it did nothing for them and that’s fine, but because a lot of how you manage pain can be down to mindset as well I do not want to go in with any negative attitude- otherwise what is the point?

So, I will keep you updated when I do start and let you all know what happens. But for now I am very happy I am getting any help at all and we have to be prepared to help ourselves as well as the illness is complex and cannot just be fixed with a particular medication or procedure. So send loads of positive thoughts please, I am feeling that my outlook is going to be rosy.

 

Eating Out- without breaking the diet

Over the years whenever I have started a diet or healthy eating plan I find myself extremely determined and aggressive at the beginning, meal prep and enthusiastic organisation takes over when the determination is strong. Inevitably along the way, like most of us, life catches up and we find ourselves at the office without lunch as the kids were running late for school and there just wasn’t enough time, or getting home late from work with no dinner planned. This is usually the part where we give in to ordering takeaway, allowing the cravings for pizza and carbs to consume us. If we look at eating out in a different light, perhaps those crazy days of no meal planning won’t result in diet ruin.

  1. Know Before You Order

Practically everything is available online these days, and this includes calorie information for your favourite go-to takeaway restaurants. Before placing your order, quickly check out the portions and the calories in order to make an informed decision.

  1. Substitute More Greens

Most restaurants offer a standard side dish that includes carb-driven chips, rice, or potatoes. Although alluring, next time your main entrée includes a side, opt in for a greener vegetable instead. If you are getting Indian cuisine delivered to the office, perhaps a side of curried spinach or a house salad with your lamb Dhansak to complete your delivery order.

  1. Portions Are Everything

It is not rocket science; the portions you receive from most takeaway places are much more than what you would prepare at home. This is particularly tricky when a restaurant posts calorie information “per serving”, which is often half of what is in your container. If you are given a mountain of food, immediately portion it out and put the other half away – out of sight, out of mind.

  1. Eat Slowly

Listen to your mother – don’t wolf down your meal! We get it: you are hungry. The faster you shovel in the food, the slower you have time to digest and “feel” how satisfied you are. In obvious terms, this results in overeating. Another useful tip is to stop for a glass of water here and there – not only does water play a vital role in your diet, it also fills you up!

  1. Modifications Are Your Friend

Most restaurants allow order customisation in order to accommodate diet and allergy requests. This can include ingredient substituting or omission, preparation methods, and sauce selection. If possible, ask your restaurant if they are willing to swap the double cream for a lighter dairy or the sodium-based sauce for a lighter dressing. Simple switches can help more than you know!

Since I started my Slimming World journey in August this year I have learned that it is all about making the right choices. You can have the takeaway or dine out in a nice restaurant but you do need to be aware of what is on offer and what is the best option while still treating yourself at the same time. Do not be afraid of asking for the dressings to be separate, or asking for a salad instead of the normal carb filled sides. Eating out with friends and family, or even a weekend takeaway needn’t be the end to your healthy eating plan. Look at the menus beforehand so you are aware of what is going to be available and know what you are going to order before you get there. With takeaways such as  Indian or Chinese opt for plain boiled rice instead of fried rice, order a side of vegetables and have a smaller portion of anything that is seriously going to knock you off your diet and help you stay on track.

Eating out should not be the death sentence to your diet goals. Following these few simple suggestions will rid you of any takeaway or dining out guilt and keep you on track.

My tips on preparing your teen for University

My eldest baby left us on 12th September this year to start his university adventures. I didn’t want to write about it straight away ( or before) as my head was literally all over the place with a huge mixture of emotions. Yes I was unbelievably proud of him, but I was, as most mum’s would be, absolutely terrified that he wasn’t going to cope! It was so hard to leave him there on his joining weekend although we are lucky enough to be relatively close enough to go there for a day visit- which we did the next day to take him for a final family meal before leaving him properly.

last-meal-pic-with-conor

Almost a month into his new independent life and I am super pleased to say that he is not only coping very well but he is also loving his new found freedom. He has done several weekly shops now ( he loves the fact that he has an Aldi near him) and also done a few clothes washes too…………….this probably amazes me the most. He has also got himself a part time promotions job as well so is now earning a few extra pounds here and there to boost his weekly spending amount.

We had discussed the importance for him to maybe look for a part time job to subsidise his money as we as parents are not in a position financially to heavily subsidise him on a weekly or monthly basis. He is a sensible boy money wise as both my boys have been taught to save for the more expensive things that they have wanted over the years, but they also are shrewd enough to buy dvd’s/ older video games pre-owned from places like CEX and Game to make their money go further.

When my son initially discussed going to uni my husband and I did worry hugely about the financial side of things until it was explained at one of the uni talks that he could apply for possible bursary and loans etc that were means tested. Thankfully my son fell within that particular category however, I know other parents have had to look at other methods of supporting their child such as personal loans, savings and even equity release in order to support and subsidise their teen as necessary.

In a very short period of time I have come to realise that:

  • they will not starve!
  • they will eventually find the launderette
  • they will learn very quickly that their money does NOT last
  • they will cope because they have too

So here is a few of my top tips that you can help prepare your teen for living away at uni

*Teach them a few simple dishes to cook. My son is a very plain eater but he could at least cook pizza, cook eggs and bacon, cook chicken breasts properly and make sure he wasn’t going to get food poisoning!

*show them which of their clothes can go into the washing machine together and that their precious white t-shirt does not go in with their black jeans.

*one of the best things we did when setting up his student account was to keep his normal current account open so he could agree a weekly amount he could transfer on a weekly Standing Order from his student loan account into his current account. That way he has an agreed weekly amount he needs to manage on without the fear of dipping into his loan unnecessarily and whittling away at the money without realising.

*get them used to normal security measures ie: make sure before they go away they are used to always taking house keys with them everywhere-even if you are going to be home when they get in. If they are used to always taking their keys when  going out they stand less chance of losing/ forgetting to take keys when they are at uni…………..sounds silly but uni’s charge the students a fortune to replace lost keys!!

*take them with you when buying all their essentials to take with them, that way they know exactly what they have with them and they don’t waste money buying things when they get to uni that they already have tucked away in a cupboard!

* teach them to self medicate when they feel unwell. My boys have been doing this since their early teens and have a very sensible approach to over the counter medications. They know how and when they can take things like paracetamol/ ibruprofen and how often, cough mixture, hayfever tablets etc. YOU WOULD BE VERY SURPRISED HOW MANY TEENS DO NOT KNOW THE BASICS!

I could go on but those are a at least a few of the basic necessities to getting your teen ready for their independent uni adventure. If you have boys they will tell you that they wont be calling everyday, but what they don’t realise that they will find themselves texting you to check things about the cooking, the washing machines, their food shopping without actually realising that they are doing it………………………………………so do not fret THEY WILL KEEP IN TOUCH!

How to Prepare for Your Driving Test: Top 5 Tips

Having been a qualified driving instructor ( until my illness took over) I know how difficult it can be for anyone to transition from a provisional to a full driving licence, the driving test itself can often be a very daunting prospect. Both the theory test and practical test are actually very straightforward, but the pressure often makes these tests more difficult than they should be. My son has recently passed his theory test and hopefully will do his practical test quite soon ( when he gets a break from uni).

So, If you’re taking a driving test soon, these next five tips will help you prepare better in no time.

Take Advantage of Online Mock Driving Tests

There are many ways you can prepare for a driving theory test. You can read one of the available books on the UK driving test and learn more about the highway code and other knowledge. You can also use the tests at the end of those books to practice. The best way to prepare for the actual test, however, is to take a mock test online. I always advised my pupils to do what they think will be enough ( especially with teenagers!) and then do lots more!

There are a lot of sites that offer mock driving theory tests for you to try. Taking the online tests will help you prepare for the actual test mentally too, which is why it’s the best way to get ready. You can learn from your mistakes more effectively this way.

Timing the Test

Never take a driving test at a time when you feel stressful. For instance, you shouldn’t take a driving test on the same week as a school exam or any other stressful events in life. You have all the time in the world to get the driving license you need, so time your test correctly.

Get Enough Sleep

As mentioned before, it’s the pressure of taking the test that often make you fail. The test itself is very easy to handle. It is very normal to be nervous, but do not allow the nerves to take over, think of all the people already driving on the road they have all had to pass the test! To avoid feeling stressed on the day of the actual test, get enough sleep the night before. You should also avoid drinking too much coffee (or worse, energy drinks) before the test. The high level of caffeine will make you feel more agitated than usual.

Get There Early

Arrive at the test centre early. There is nothing worse and more off putting than rushing through the test centre doors with only minutes to spare.  Give yourself at least 20 minutes to get used to the test environment and catch your breath. You will feel so much better when the test starts and you’ll have no trouble at all passing the test with flying colours.

Getting to the test centre early will also help you prepare for the test mentally. Take deep breaths and visualise completing the test. Be positive about it and you’ll feel so much better – and so much more prepared – for the driving test. The examiners are normal people ( I know it’s hard to believe!), they are not there to fail you I promise.

Take the Necessary Documents

Last but not least, make sure you have the right documents with you. Most of the time, you need your driving license and your theory test pass certificate. Don’t wait until right before you leave for the test centre to prepare these documents. Have them ready the night before. If you do not have the appropriate documents you will not be able to take the test, so please be prepared.

You are allowed to bring someone to the test. If your child is taking their driving test, it is always a good idea to go with them and sit in the back of the car during the practical test. You’ll be providing a lot of moral support and your kids will have an easier time in general.

If you have a specific tip that helped you on the day of your test please share it with us as it could help someone else who is feeling very nervous about their upcoming test.

The benefit of a bedroom upgrade

With the summer season now well and truly here, (although no sign of any summer weather yet) there is no better time to refresh the bedroom and it makes sense to ensure ultimate comfort for those nights when it is too humid and nothing but the window and fan will let you get some sleep. My bedroom is up two storey’s in a Dorma loft conversion so when the weather does heat up it can get rather humid and uncomfortable.

bed pic for post

Clearly, the main attraction of the bedroom is the bed itself, so this should be at the forefront of any update ideas. It is the type of purchase that only needs to be undertaken every few years, so getting it right is everything, although in all fairness once you have invested in a good bed frame it would normally be only the mattress you change unless you are having a decorative overhaul.

One way to make your bedroom classier and more elegant is to change to a leather bed. Leather beds are some of the best looking bed frames around, and add a look of sophistication to any room. Not only eye-catching, but it is also incredibly pleasing to touch – leather really gives a sense of luxury at any time of the year. Bedstar offer a great range of leather beds, and with a range to fit a variety of budgets, upgrading is cheaper than you’d expect. Their range incorporates numerous different styles and sizes, including single leather beds, small double leather beds, double leather beds and king-size leather beds. The variety on offer at Bedstar is also impressive. For those who want to spend less money ( or are on a budget), the faux leather option is very stylish, it’s the same quality and presentation is available at a lesser price, using high-quality materials for luxury on a budget.

As well as traditional beds, they also offer modern luxuries such as the TV bed. This clever piece of technology means that the television is hidden until it is called upon – at which point a remote control or push button means that it is revealed at the end of the bed to be used. Now I know for certain that both my teenage boys would love a bed with a hidden television, however, I know for a fact they would never get out of bed if we actually had one!

There are numerous other techniques available for a good-value bedroom upgrade. One simple trick is to add plants. Adding plant life to any room adds personality, whilst being a natural air filter all year round. Also, certain types such as the peace lily are easy to care for and can reduce stress. Another way of adding a personal touch to a room is to add some artwork, it doesn’t have to be expensive and could be by a favourite artist, or even an attempt by yourself but it really can add some real character, making the room feel homely and gives a chance to show off your unique taste style to any visitors.

I love to see how others choose to decorate their homes and looking online is a great source of inspiration. Some people can be so creative and ingenious when it comes to styling their homes and can give some of us less bold types the chance to see and maybe try some new and fabulous designs we may never have thought of ourselves.

So where o you get your home decor inspiration from?

 

*Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

 

 

 

‘Papa Don’t Teach’ – Would you teach your teen to drive?

Now if you asked me this a few years ago my answer would have definitely have been yes, that would have been because I was then working as a qualified Driving Instructor as a job and obviously had a suitable car which had duel controls. In fact it was something I was really looking forward too. I no longer work as a driving instructor due to my long term illness and so I am now looking at it purely from a parent’s point of view.

Therefore,if you ask me that question today, the answer is a resounding NO! In fact, just today I have booked him to start his lessons with a reputable company and instructor. Many of you will think this is madness to throw all that money away on lessons even though I feel I could teach him no problem but I would only do so in a suitable car with duel controls, believe me I speak from experience that learner drivers  try to kill you on a daily basis when they are only starting.

Then throw into the mix that you are the parent. You know, the parent who see’s that they live like a slob, cannot cook for themselves and that they NEVER do as you ask them to do. Then you expect them to listen to you just because you are going to teach them to drive in your precious family car…………….RECIPE FOR DISASTER RIGHT THERE PEOPLE.

As a previously qualified instructor, I went through rigorous training so that I learned very quickly that a teen learner driver will take everything you say literally, so do not be shocked when you tell them to turn right and they end up in someone’s driveway ( because they didn’t realise you meant ‘the next right’), or that they cause you whiplash as you told them to slow down so they slam the brakes on because they thought they had to stop right there and not at the give way at the approaching junction. These mistakes are easily dealt with when you, as an instructor can take control of the car to ensure you do not get whiplash or cause an accident and therefore have the patience of a saint!

As a rule instructor DO NOT shout at their students however, as a parent driving my family car with my learner teen at the wheel I can see where parents teaching their own teens is a much more stressful situation. Instructors have a certain way of explaining things, we have been through our training sessions where our ‘instructors playing trainees’ will take everything you say literally and believe me as an instructor you learn VERY quickly what NOT to say to a learner. Come on most of you will have seen Sky’s Driving School of Mum and Dad where they draw on Sandra Dodson’s experience, who also is former deputy chief driving examiner at DSA, Driving Standards Agency to point out how things should be done.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of how much driving lessons cost and I can see as a parent I can see how you could question how or why they cost what they do. Then just look at it from the other side, that instructor has undertaking the rigorous training programme ( and believe me not everyone is cut out for the job!). They are also providing a suitable learner car complete with dual controls for the safety of your teen, themselves and other road users ( something that you could not even contemplate pricing on insurance). Your teen learns in the correct way at their own pace ( as everyone can learn differently) and then they have the same car to take their test in so everything is also familiar to them. The instructor will have visuals to explain any manoeuvre they need to learn  and teach them the safe way of completing it ( don’t forget a parent may have been driving for 20 years and have an huge repertoire of bad driving habits that they could automatically pass on).

So before you take the plunge just take a look at this video produced by Carfused.com after a recent survey of how a stressed learner is a very distracted learner. Also look at how the Dad instructs his daughter as opposed to how Sandra does……

Papa Don’t Teach- Carfused

So take it from me, someone who has been trained to actually do the instructor’s job and just think twice before letting your little prince or princess into your precious family car with no dual controls and then expecting them to A) listen to you and B) not misinterpret what you actually want them to do. Look at the cost of the lessons overall, and then the cost of possibly replacing your car (if they are unfortunate enough to cause an accident) and then the insurance premiums afterwards………………………..I know which I would prefer!!

Have you taught your teens to drive? I would love to hear about your experience.

My teen gets an ASD diagnosis at 17

This is what we have been going through recently. My eldest has always shown Asperger traits throughout his growing up, but has been very high functioning that it has never been a major issue to him or us as parents. He noticed himself after being at secondary school for a year or so that he ‘seemed’  different to his friends, that’s also when his lack of management skill came into play big time and and we had a discussion with him then to see if he wanted to pursue it further and get a diagnosis. At that time he said no, he didn’t want to be labelled different or have any spotlight put on him and so we helped him along with the school to get him more organised. It has also not hindered him in any way with friends, he has some great friends in the last few years that just accept him and his sometimes ‘odd’ ways and in fact it was one of those friends who encouraged him to go to his GP for help.

However, as he got older and then headed through the pressure of his GCSE’s it started to take it’s toll resulting in high levels of anxiety (which we were totally unaware about as he hid it very well under a laid back exterior) which led to a secondary period of ‘low mood’. This is when he as a 16 yr old then made an appointment with his GP and went off to discuss his ‘depression’ before telling us that he had gone and they were going to follow it up with a referral to our Children’s and Young Adults Mental Health clinic. We have supported him in his decision fully and have found out from our consultations that this high anxiety and low mood is very common in undiagnosed, high functioning, ASD cases in teens. They get to a certain age and then start to feel socially awkward and uncomfortable in a time that is turbulent for most teens anyway! This leads to the high anxiety resulting in a secondary ‘depression’.

We have since then been through the necessary assessments and he got his official diagnosis over the half term. I have emailed his Head of Learning at school to inform him of the diagnosis and arrange a meeting to see what help ‘if any’ he can get in his last year of A levels. There is an urgency to this meeting from my point of view as he has his UCAS forms to send off very soon and they need to know his requirements from school.

What I need to know is what sort of things he could be entitled to from others who are in this situation. If, at the very least, it would be nice if he qualified for some extra exam time, as his writing is atrocious and that could take the pressure of time off him as 2 of his subjects are essay based and he struggles to make his handwriting legible!

I would love to get some ideas from people in the same situation so I have an idea of what I should expect or not when I do get a school meeting.

Can you help?