MOVIN' TO MARBS BY JAZMINE BRAMHA
Imagine being at your best mates house, in the middle of practicing wedding hair styles, to then receiving a text from your husband saying there is a possibility we might be moving country, to then realise a week later it’s a definite and 2 months after that you would be arriving at your new destination, in the same year you had your first baby...
Hello and welcome to my life!
One year, two countries, a baby turned toddler, a career put on the back burner, new surroundings, two different languages; neither of which I could string a sentence together with, plus driving on the opposite side of the road... Oh, and of course trying to keep some ‘normality’ to everyday life in the midst of all of this.
Yes, this is me, Jazmin, my life, my family and our current year having moved abroad for a new life, living out our dreams and doing so before our little boy grows to old to do so, allowing us time to adjust and hoping enough time to get settled.
I love that word, ’settled’ I mean, are we ever?
When I first arrived in Switzerland (our first location) I knew this was it and I had to make it work. Otis was 8 months old and from the day he was born, even before that when he was growing in my tummy, I was determined to be that ‘mum’ who loved to socialise and took her kid along everywhere she went. I was determined not to ‘hold back’ on doing things, seeing people, going places just because I now had a mini human to look after, so I kept this thought through the whole experience.
I suddenly had...
No comfort zones
No history with the place I was living
A different language to learn, pick up on and understand
And even a new kind of supermarket that felt alien!
So I took to social media and used it like a new dating app for ‘mamas who wanna be mates with me’ and started scrolling through and finding groups!
Groups within groups, pages of group activities, language groups based around mums having kids, groups who went to soft play, groups who met in the parks, you name it, I found it.
I introduced myself every where I became a ‘member’ of online. I became a name that would pop up, be commenting on posts I found interesting, to a point I had a few girls say ‘hey’ on a long lake walk I used to do (again to try hang at cool places and find friends; oh, that so makes me sound weird! Honestly I’m not! Ha!) until one day I had a message from another girl hoping to find a new friend too.
We hit it off, our kids hit it off and jackpot, I had a friend. The summer became one to remember, our kids grew together, we explored more groups, made our own groups and tried new cool ways to bring mamas together across Switzerland.
From here I created More Than Just Mothers - Inspired from MM of course! Sonny my husband, being a kick-ass graphic designer created me a look, image that attracted a vibe I was after. This then attracted a new bar with the what I can only describe as the best go-to parent and kids bar everrrr, who wanted us to hold our weekly meet ups there. Wow, they had started to ask me?!?
From here, Fridays were ours!
A morning, day, we all came together, kids played and mums chatted away over coffee, the best homemade chocolate chip cookies and on many occasions prosecco and wine!
In and dated with new mums wanting to connect, More Than Just Mothers became a hit not just for expats, but local swiss mums also! Suddenly I found a new life in a town I classed as ‘boring’, yet it was me that just hadn’t met the right ‘group’ yet!
My name is Maria Evans and I coach and mentor teenagers. My Instagram account is @theteencoach.
Is there anyone talking about teenagers on the ‘gram?
Just shout if you need anything else!
There is no doubt that Instagram is a life-line for parents of young children, There is so much support for the challenges that parenting little ones throws at us. Whether you are looking for tips on breastfeeding or how to wean a dairy-intolerant infant, you only need to search the right hashtags and there will be a whole hosts of accounts waiting to support you through the next step on your parenting journey.
This is not always the experience for parents of teenagers. It can be difficult to find people talking about the challenges of parenting teens on these squares. There are many reasons for this; teenagers aren’t always that ‘instagrammable’, teenagers are also online themselves, and would quite rightly object to you broadcasting your parenting woes to the rest of the world.
My account @theteencoach is all about parenting the teen years. When asked about the one thing we can do to make this stage in parenting manageable and even joyful, I always reinforce the importance of finding their spark.
Find their spark – what does that mean?
Your teen’s ‘spark’ is the one thing they have that they care deeply about, that fires them up. If teens have ‘it’ then everything else falls into place. They have a reason to be motivated, they find a sense of purpose and belonging, they care deeply about something, they show up and are committed.
Having a spark can also provide opportunities for kids. Recently ran a workshop on healthy relationships with social media to a group of teenage girls from various local dance schools. It didn’t take them long to figure out what their spark was-they had been dancing since they were little. When I asked them what this provides for them that social media could not I was inundated with answers; working with young children, starring in productions, traveling the country, keeping their body and minds healthy. These girls have had a wealth of opportunities because of the joy they have found in dancing.
When I worked in secondary schools I would often come across kids who did not have any hobbies, interests or strong beliefs about anything. These were the kids who watched too much TV and spent hours on games consoles. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe kids should be allowed to watch TV and spend time gaming, it’s important for kids to keep up with their peers and have cultural capital. Most young people want to fit in as it makes them feel safe in this often vulnerable stage of life. But when too much time is spent on screens there is little time for anything else. What’s more, there is little desire to DO anything else.
How has my experience with teens impacted myself as a parent?
I am on a mission to give as many opportunities to my kids to enable them to find their spark. It’s difficult (but not impossible) for teenagers to take up a new hobby. They often start to feel shy and self-conscious when starting something new. However, if you catch them when they are younger they are often bolder and don’t really consider being the new kid as a problem.
So yes, I am a chauffeur for my kids. I take them to various clubs and activities after school most days. We subscribe to First News, a weekly newspaper aimed at young people, to help our eldest get used to reading and learning about current affairs (a year’s subscription was a birthday present from his grandparents). He doesn’t always read it willingly, and would be happy to skip to the puzzles at the end, but we have it built into our routine now that when we are waiting for his brother and sister at their ballet class we read through the articles together. I do strongly believe that kids just want our time and there are so many ways we can give it to them.
I have 3 children so it does require a lot of ferrying about, and it is expensive. I am very aware that we are in a privileged position to be able to do this; I work from home and we have the resources to be able to make this part of our rhythm. But there are loads of things parents can do that don’t cost anything.
Cost effective ways to find their spark
Helping your kids find their spark does not have to be expensive. It could be that a strong belief about something is the thing that fires your child up. It could be that they really love animals and care deeply about animal welfare. How can you keep that spark alive? Talk to them about it, help them do some research. Perhaps they could get involved in an organisation that campaigns for animal rights.
Other things we do include taking them places at the weekend and we always try to keep costs low. We go to our local beach to play football, swim if it’s warm, and we always try and encourage them to do a five-minute beach clean and talk about why that is important. They love doing various arts and crafts projects. They love helping me and my husband cook. I struggle to keep my cool with these sorts of activities because of the mess that it inevitably involves, but I try my best to keep calm (this doesn’t always happen) and let them carry on as it is all part of the bigger picture- finding their spark.
This may sound like we are the perfect parents. We are not!
I am aware that this post may sound like I am a super parent. I assure you I am not. It has taken us a long time to get to where we are with this, and it hasn’t been an easy journey. There are many days in school holidays for example when I know my kids have had too much screen time because I have needed that break to just get through the day. My kids watch TV and play on the iPad every day when I am cooking dinner. They often have TV in the mornings when my husband and I are getting everything ready for the day ahead. Our culture likes to make us feel guilty about all the things we are doing and not doing as parents. When something goes wrong with a young adult, the parents are often the ones we blame. The guilt we feel about getting it right can be overwhelming; we can all be super hard on ourselves. All we can do is what is right for us and our families. Time away from screens and being shown other ways to pass our time is always a good idea.
Life is always better offline
Providing opportunities for our kids to see that life does exist outside of social media and screen time will show then that actually life is better offline. So if you have younger children then think about how you can lay those foundations in the early years in a way that fits best for your family. And if you have teenagers and you are still unsure of whether they have a spark then don’t lose heart. Keep insisting on that family time and talk to them about the things that matter to them. The spark is there, it just might need a little oxygen and fuel from you to get it burning brightly.
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