Tag Archives: Stress

Beauty woman is showing middle finger

No teenagers welcomed here

The final countdown to my son’s departure to University and my menopausal symptoms have a real hold of me.

I’m not sure if it’s depression, or the fact it’s September blues or hormones, either way coping with two rebellious teenagers and one stroppy mother (aka me) is making the house a war zone.Mother With Teenage Son Sitting On Sofa At Home

I would probably have more success negotiating my way out of an Al Qaeda cell than trying to get my two to do ANYTHING.

Three weeks into the new school term and I have my fourteen year old telling me how busy he is with homework now he is in the upper school.

‘So much homework mum, can’t possibly help’, when I asked him to clean the oven hob.

He is grumpy and monosyllabic first thing in the morning and woe betide you touch his crown, that’s his hair to you and me.

My 18 year old finds it almost impossible to stir much before 10:30am, preferring the comfort of his room until the house is empty.

Apparently he IS STILL ON HOLIDAY and so doesn’t think staying in bed until mid-day is unreasonable, after all, ‘Mum when I’m at University…’


Mr M and I actually wonder if he will ever see daylight again and I have it on very good authority that when they go to University they become nocturnal creatures.

In the midst of all of this maelstrom I call my middle age, it dawned on me that whilst my two teens are stuck in puberty I’m spiralling through the menopause.

Two of the worst stages of life for a woman.

After all, she is the one that has to endure pubescent teens coupled with the onset of the menopause.

The hormonal swings are as radical as Corbyn’s policies with each teen managing stress, sex and growth hormones and one woman who is sadly lacking in every area with the exception of stress, that I have in abundance!

While testosterone levels in all of us are as high as the UK debt, this hormonal often volatile mix means we are all angry, h-angry and impatient.

They have too many hormones and mine are all but in the toilet.

I am reassured by well meaning friends who intimate that their ‘niceness’ will come back E-V-E-N-T-U-A-L-L-Y.

I remain unconvinced.

Teenagers work on remote control they don’t think before they speak nor do menopausal women and I often find myself saying things out loud which should really be confined to the comfort of my brain.

I did wonder if you can develop Tourette syndrome during the menopause, after all I seem to share all the symptoms, motor and vocal tic.

I understand why middle aged ladies are depicted as miserable and feisty, it’s because we’ve had to endure the menopause and it leaves us irritable, tired and anxious.

I did not appreciate that I would have to navigate my way through this menopausal maze and cope with teenage mood swings.

I wonder how Mr M has stuck it out all this time?

He deserves a medal.

In truth, he has been very understanding he tells me it is because I have explained every nuance of the menopause, what it feels like, the highs and lows, the fixation with it being too hot or too cold.

The menopause is a bit like puberty in reverse so we women get it at both ends of the ageing cycle.

What I've learnt since reaching my 50sIf we are fortunate, we get thirty years where we are at our peak from fifteen to about forty-five, then it’s all downhill when our oestrogen finally checks out.

The other disadvantage of the menopause is the lapse in memory.

When I am told ‘Mum, I’m out tonight with the lads’, the response is immediate, ‘you never asked me or told me’.

The perfect excuse for my son and I to go to war.

I lose my temper because I swear he didn’t tell me and my son loses his cool and accuses me of having a go at him.

My voice goes up five octaves and he rants at me with the coolness that befits a skilled negotiator both of us throwing tantrums that most three year olds would be proud of.

The smallest thing sends me vitriolic; the landing gear from the planes that fly overhead could fall through the roof and I would shrug my shoulders and say s**t.

On the other hand, my sons can send me off the richter scale just by breathing and leaving their dirty pants strewn on the landing.concept of aging and skin care

It is bad luck that timing has caused this catastrophic situation for the household.

Whilst I am deemed an older mother, I was pregnant with my second child at 39, late by the British Medical Journal standards.

Raising children at any age is hard but as I approach my mid fifties, I am facing the reality of being an older mother with my teenagers and me going in different hormonal directions.

My boys are strong and athletic, lean and muscular and I‘m jealous because their bodies are peaking to optimum hotness.

Mine is beginning to sag and in spite of exercise and good eating you can’t halt the onset of middle age and you certainly can’t stop it marching across your face.

I am overwhelmed with surges of hot flushes, they arrive like a tidal wave and I literally have to strip off which doesn’t bode well when one of Mr M’s employees happens to come through the back door to drop something off and I’m standing there in bra and jeans.

‘Hot flush’ he says, like he’s talking about the weather, ‘yes’, I say as I fumble with putting my top back on, face flushed and even redder than it was five minutes earlier.

I managed a wolf whistle from a nearby workman on my run this morning, until I turned around and glared at the man, who apologised, ‘sorry love, didn’t realise…’ didn’t realise what that I’m old, older?

Beauty woman is showing middle fingerIn spite of the riots, the stroppiness and the mood swings, there are moments of tenderness when the boys give me a hug and the home, usually a war zone, becomes Switzerland, for the next ten minutes if I’m lucky.


Time to relax? Are you kidding? Is stress a part of our everyday lives?

Relaxation is now no longer part of our culture
Relaxation a thing of the past?

Are we more stressed than we were 50+ years ago?

The 60’s with its partying, rock n roll, drugs scene, the rolling stones, the beatles a great era to work live and enjoy life the decade I was born in and the chapter of my life often relayed to me in vivid detail by my parents who described the 60s as one of those defining moments in history.

Feminism gained momentum, man landed on the moon, the cuban missile crisis, the JFK assassination and music that truly defined many of us today.

According to The Times [6th November 2013] relaxing has now become a thing of the past.

The amount of time we spend pottering around at home or actually sitting down and relaxing has fallen by half in the last five years. With the exception of sleep, we spend on average 3 hours in our homes every day, down from six hours in 2008.

A survey of 1,000 people in full-time employment found that 42 per cent leave the house as soon as they are ready in the morning and return late at night with many expressing that they had days like these at least once a week as work, business and commuting take up more time.

57 per cent of people in the survey felt they were constantly on the move and 59 per cent had to schedule to make time at home

The increasing use of technology to get more done whilst commuting represented 53 percent of workers who use mobiles, laptops and ipads to get tasks done.

These mobile devices have become intrinsically integral to our lives that people find they can’t be without them.

We spend 11 hours a day staring at screens – laptops, computer screens, smartphones, e-books and TV’s with most of the communication largely done via work on a screen.

I can categorically say that relaxation has become a thing of the past for me. My husband commented recently, I never see you sit down and relax you are always doing something.

He’s right, if it’s not working, it’s picking up the kids, cooking, washing, ironing, writing or doing something that invariably leads to the use of a device to communicate, write and read.

Often times writing emails at night is a great way to catch up on the not so important tasks.

The simple fact is we are ‘always on’.

social media = an always on culture
Our work and lifestyle means we are always on

Our society has become a living and breathing 24/7 organism. I’m sure many of us could process work through the night and still not achieve a zero inbox or complete tasks.

The 24/7 working society may make you shudder but I don’t think we are that far away from it happening and for customers to assume we never need to sleep.

Fifteen years we didn’t have the technology that allowed us to always be on and fear of missing out (FOMO) wasn’t part of our vocabulary.

Many commuters find that by the time they get to work they are ready to go home. One commuter in ten says that their morning journey is so stressful that they want to cry by the time they arrive in work, one in six sit at their desk and want to go back to bed, while one in nine feels totally and utterly miserable according to a study of 2,000 travellers undertaken by Evian. The majority of workers arrive feeling tired and down-hearted.

No wonder we’ve become a nation of stressed out over worked underpaid, self obsessed individuals.

According to psychologist Graham Price british adults are more stressed and worry more about their lives than those who lived through the blitz.

How can you compare the two historical periods?

One dominated by bombings, rations, blackouts the other dominated by the internet, social media, longer working hours and 24/7 always on.

According to Price we are more anxious and stressed than our world war two counterparts, we are consumed with fears of being unemployed, financial and relationship worries.

Stress and worry has become the cornerstone of our lives, stress is endemic.

Do you think we’ve been worn down by the everyday pressures of commuting, unrealistic demands of bosses and the treadmill way of life?

I see a time in the future where we are connected directly or indirectly via social media to pretty much everyone.

social media addict
Bit by bit we are connecting to the universe

The whole universe is slowly being connected up. Social media is rapidly extending our connections, relationships our geography. We can be in touch and always on, make new friends without ever having to meet them, we can have different identities, be different people, we can make our updates fabulously exciting even if we are at home watching the T.V but no one needs to know.

We seem to have less time than ever before and most of it is taken up with working, so much so that the LSE (London School of Economics) found that those that were in paid work are unhappy and this is closely related to work anxiety. Paid work has a slightly larger negative impact on being relaxed. How unhappy or anxious while working depends on your circumstances.

always on and always on the go
We are constantly on the run to be somewhere, there’s never any time just to think

Wellbeing at work depends on where you work, whether you are combining work with other activities; whether you are alone or with others; the time of day or night you are working; and your personal and household characteristics.

Work appears to have such an adverse effect on individuals’ well being, as if we didn’t know this!

Even though people are so positive about paid work when reflecting on the meaning and value of their lives, actually engaging in paid work comes at some personal cost to them in terms of the pressures and stress they face while working.

During periods of relaxation, working continues to be negatively associated with momentary well being in other words even when we don’t think of work, work has a negative impact upon us and we would rather be doing other things.

Is there time to relax? Or has it become a fleeting moment in our ever transitory lives.

As one aged gentleman said to me recently: “I feel sorry for your generation, you never stop, you never rest, you never seem to have time for fun. We did but we had less than you and there wasn’t the pressures on us like there is on you today. We wanted things but we had to wait until we could afford them. Your generation has everything almost, but none of you seem to enjoy what you have or enjoy life”

Makes me wonder what our children’s generation will face over the next few years?

What do you think? Are you always on? How do you make time to switch off from your job or life for that matter?

Is there a solution to all this if so please do share.

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Why are holidays fraught with stress?

Why do holidays cause tension and stress?
Holidays are suppose to be relaxing, stress free and tranquil?

What is it about a family holiday that makes it fraught with tension and stress leaving you worn out at the end of it?

I know I am not alone because many of our friends reveal that they too come back feeling they need another holiday to get over the one they’ve just had.

Following a recent vacation to Spain I reflected on the aftermath of the holiday which went something like this.

We were so tired that when the Easter term holiday finally arrived the four of us practically through our luggage on to the plane so desperate were we to head for some sunshine, warmth and rest.

The day we arrived the weather at our destination was warmer than the snow and ice we’d left at London Luton Airport early that morning and as we went to collect our hire car and set off on our journey to the apartment I could feel that tension start to melt away.

The kids were snoozing and listening to their iPods in the back of the car and my husband and I chatted about the last few weeks and reflected upon how nice it was to actually have some time together instead of seemingly passing each other in the house like two ships leaving a port.

And that’s where the tension started.

Silly things like driving the car whilst checking the mobile phone.

At home our cars have hands free although I condone the use of using mobiles whilst driving after all what is so life threateningly important you have to use the mobile when driving.

As the journey continued I became increasingly annoyed with him every five minutes checking the mobile phone for emails and text messages.

And, as any good woman would do, I offered to drive.

Back came the answer “aren’t I driving properly then?”

“No!” came the retort.

Holidays and families = frustration
Holidays result in a high concentration of time with family members. Their habits become very irritating.

Having had an exhausting seven weeks leading to this vacation and having left home at 3:45am naturally I was concerned for the safety of us all and this was in no way being disrespectful to my husband who is a good and responsible driver.

But for god sake what is so crucial that the mobile had to be checked so often.

That was my first disgrace and ‘rebuffment’ for bad behaviour.

When we arrived at the apartment it was clean and in an excellent state we usually have a number of chores that we give our children to do including washing hands, unpacking their cases and carry ons and putting their clothes in wardrobes.

I have a very specific job that is to delegate the tasks, unpack and get the linen and beds made.

Simple right?


Here lies the start of the holiday stress.

Children by their very nature have a selective hearing problem they are excited and want to get out and about they don’t want to stay cooped up in a flat when the sun is shining let a lone listen to a list of orders being barked out by tired parents.

Simple jobs become a marathon and a challenge to complete especially if you are a pubescent 13 year old, an irritable tired 9 year old, factor in a 45+ short of patience, quickly irritated father.

Mr M (my husband) has a short fuse when it comes to patience and is easily irritated.

His impatience was further exacerbated by our apparent lack of speed we were applying to our tasks, myself included.

The best way of describing this scenario is liking it to Vesuvius – a slow eruption emanating a sticky froth building to an almighty explosion.

UN flags depicting diplomacy for mothers who keep the peace on vacation
If the UN gave out medals for diplomacy I’d definitely be up there along with millions of other Mothers who lay claim to keeping the peace on vacation.

If the U.N. were handing out medals for family diplomacy going above and beyond then I’m pretty damn sure I’d be up there I suspect with millions of other mothers for the sheer effort I show gritting my teeth and calming the situation.

I watch in frustration at the way this relationship between my two boys and husband deteriorates into a war of words and a constant nagging to get a move on.

Invariably the tension escalates into a riot of words. Then I ask or rather request Mr M should chilax, ease off and actually leave the apartment and get a beer.

My 9 year old steps in showing overt diplomatic skills and I see a career in the diplomatic service beckoning as he shouts”shut up everyone and just stop moaning!”

I, on the other hand follow Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people and I strongly recommend you read it.

Habit 2: begin with the end in mind and habit 3: put first things first, both seem to strike a chord with me at this point.

By all working together as a team the quicker we get jobs done the quicker we are on the move.

In simple terms it means if you help me I help you and everyone wins.

No one’s time is compromised and no one misses out because we all get to finish and get out at the same time.

This in my house-hold along with the 4th habit “win win” is my utopian ideal. But we are long way from that.

Like many working house-holds in the UK when faced with this large concentration of time, 24/7 suddenly becomes a real challenge to get through each and every day without some part of the holiday home becoming a war zone and maintaining peace and harmony is the equivalent of finding gold.

During a normal week, if anyone has a normal week step up here please and tell me or better still show me now.

Families are on an invisible treadmill of school, work and routine.

The majority of house-holds during school/working week will have some perceived routine. Ours is no different in fact it starts when we leave home at 7:30 with my husband often leaving much earlier than us.

A family holiday means a massive concentration of time together and for the majority sharing accommodation significantly smaller than our own homes.

Factor in accumulated tiredness which seems to manifest itself when you grind to a halt at the start of your holiday = no patience or time for each other so naturally irritability escalates like the national debt.

You really get to see and experience first hand each other’s foibles which during a normal working week don’t appear to be quite so annoying.

Picture depicting a happy family enjoying themselves
Families are on this invisible treadmill of work, school, routine that when a holiday it all grinds to a halt leaving tempers frayed.

My 13 year old tries to take on the role of adult by scolding his younger brother mostly to get him into trouble.

There’s my nine year old who considers winding up his 13 year old brother and getting him in to trouble a national sport.

My husband who just gets irritated when anyone of us talks and god forbid someone speaks when he’s on that mobile phone again.

Finally there’s me. I think I’m the only sane and patient person in our household. (Debatable)

The working school week combined has to run like clockwork in order for the majority of us leave to be able to leave on time in the morning.

Working lives have become a grinding treadmill one that has become increasingly difficult to jump off. Factor in the economic climate and many are working longer and harder than ever before leaving the majority of us exhausted.

When a vacation finally arrives we simply are devoid of giving to each other anything that remotely resembles human decency.

In fact I’m exhausted reading this!

Therefore using my infinite wisdom, I came up with some top tips for great family holiday’s.

  • a successful family holiday should involve going to the same destination but each member of the family staying in different hotels
  • invest in a serious decent set of groovy noise reduction headphones that way you switch off and tune out to any arguments, shouting or abuse
  • make alternate holiday arrangements for the kids like PGL or a kids adventure holiday, that way they can’t be blamed for anything or get in the middle of anything. Better still book yourself into an adventure holiday and learn sky diving or mountaineering
  • leave spouse at home or get him/her to stay in alternate accommodation
  • book the kids into alternate accommodation
  • ban holidays altogether and stay at home that way you can make several day trips and if war should break out only one day is ruined rather than several whilst the family take sides as to who did what to who and when!
  • Finally, leave them all at home and go on your own holiday my preferred choice!

What do you think? Are holidays a necessary evil? Do they give us more grief than rest?

Share with me your thoughts don’t be shy.

Tell me about the worst or the best vacation you’ve ever had?

Was it with the family or on your own?

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