Why Children are Not Invited to Our Wedding

 

Why children aren't allowed at our wedding

It’s six months until my wedding day and while I have a few things still on my list to tackle, the large things are now booked and organised. Most of it (despite some of the horror stories I have heard over the years from friends and articles I have read online) has been an exciting experience. However, one thing that I found difficult was the guest list.

Why?

Because children are not invited to our wedding, including my own niece.

The Bloke and I don’t have children of our own. I have a very small family – mum, two sisters, one sister’s long-term boyfriend, a brother-in-law and a niece, who will be 10 months old on the day of the wedding. The Bloke’s family is considerably larger, but don’t have young children – the youngest are older teenagers, so it wasn’t a family issue to consider. However, my friends have lots of them. Continue reading

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Baby Talk

imageI have a very small family of four, just consisting of my mum, two younger sisters and I, with no extended relatives. To say that relationships have been strained over the years is an understatement, but I’m pleased that over more recent times we’ve been able to repair our connections somewhat and are now at the point where we can all get together, have a great time and enjoy being in each other’s company. Both sisters are in relationships with good men – my youngest sister married my brother-in-law two years ago and my middle sis lives with her boyfriend – and this has been a welcome addition to the dynamics of four, strong-minded women.

Five months ago, I received a phone call from the youngest sis… She’d discovered that she was pregnant, which she was delighted about as her and my brother-in-law had been trying for a while. I asked her how far along she was, and her answer made me smile. She was only four weeks gone.

While it’s standard for most people to wait for three months before telling anyone, my sis and I are terrible at keeping things to ourselves if we’re excited about something, so she rang us almost as soon as she had found out. Continue reading

Things Teachers Want Parents To Know

imageThe other day, I attended Parents Evening for a cohort of my students. After nearly ten years and about seventy similar events, I realised that this was my last ever set of parental meetings. It was quite an unusual revelation. Of the thousands of conversations that I have had with parents over the years, there are things that, from a teacher perspective, I and many of my friends and colleagues want them to know.

1. I genuinely care about your child and their well-being. I believe that your child has the potential to become a well-rounded, successful human being and I work hard to help them in their journey.

2. Teacher training days are important and aren’t there for the purpose of inconveniencing you. Most professions require training and professional development on a regular basis and we have them to develop our ability to support our youngsters in every aspect of their lives.

3. Your child isn’t stupid. Even at the age of thirty-three, I still struggle with maths. If you asked me to sprint 100 metres it would probably take me longer than most. My attempts at drawing and sketching real life would make Picasso look like an amateur. None of these make me stupid, I just have talents in other areas. Your child has their own strengths and weaknesses and telling them that they aren’t clever or good at something could possibly result in self-confidence issues that may affect them on a long-term basis. Levels aren’t always everything – if your child works hard and does their absolute best, I can’t ask any more from them.

4. Discipline and manners begins at home. I shouldn’t have to explain to a sixteen year-old why rolling their eyes, tutting, huffing and snapping ‘what?!’ at me is not an appropriate response when I call their name in a lesson, or remind them to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ during their interactions with myself and their peers.

5. Correcting your child when they make a mistake doesn’t mean I dislike them or am ‘picking on them.’ If a child makes a mistake in a lesson, I will speak to them about it and give them the opportunity to change their behaviour. If I have to speak to them more than once, I will issue an appropriate sanction that is consistent for every student I teach. You may believe that your child is an angel, but telling them that they don’t have to do a detention I have set and that I am clearly being biased is teaching them that their behaviour is acceptable.

6. Allowing your child to play on their XBox until 1.00am does not help me. When I’m tired, I lose concentration and motivation and I’m far more irritable than usual, even as an adult. An eleven year-old who has had five or six hours of sleep may as well not be in school – by lunch they have switched off completely.

7. My job is to facilitate learning, not to actually do the work for them. Your child is not finding the work too difficult, they’re simply lazy. I set differentiated tasks in each lesson to accommodate the needs of the entire class and I try and challenge each individual as much as possible. I set weekly coursework catch-up sessions, detentions, I ring home, send emails, I even remind students of impending deadlines as I’m passing them in the corridors. If your child doesn’t complete their coursework to the standard that they are capable of, it is because they haven’t put the work in, not because I am a bad teacher.

8. I am not perfect and I make mistakes. Move on. I treat each new teaching day as a fresh start and if a child has had a bad day we start again with a clean slate in the next lesson. Reminding me of the time I upset your now sixteen year-old when they were twelve is not relevant or productive to their education.

9. Your child is not being bullied, they are a troublemaker. This is perhaps the most difficult element of the profession that I have dealt with in my conversations with parents. I experienced years of bullying when I was at school, and as a teacher it is something that I will absolutely not tolerate. However, I have been in many situations where a child has deliberately gone out of their way to cause trouble amongst their friends because they like to create an element of drama in their lives and have then accused others of bullying them when they have retaliated. Of course, any parent will want to protect their child if they feel they are being threatened and I will always do my best to resolve any conflicts amongst students regardless of the circumstances. However, yelling at me without listening to the whole story first is not going to teach your child that deliberately causing trouble will have consequences.

10. I want us to be a team and I appreciate your support. My job is made much easier with the knowledge that I can share your child’s achievements or my concerns without fear of judgement or blame being placed in my direction. Thank you.

What about you? Is there anything that you’ve always wanted to say in your profession, but can’t?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks and Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks

 

When Parents Get It Right

Being childless, I cannot claim to know how difficult being a parent is, but I have found on many occasions that I have become agitated by the lack of consideration and discipline that children and young teenagers demonstrate when are out in public, and working with teenagers for nearly ten years, I have witnessed numerous examples where parents have made excuses for their children, rather than addressing poor behaviour that the child should have been made accountable for. While I don’t believe that any children are bad, I have judgements in the past, whether rightly or wrongly, when I have observed parents making these excuses. One of my biggest annoyances is the disruption that is frequently caused by children and teenagers when attempting to watch a movie at the cinema, and I have written about this on several occasions.

However, a story appeared on my Facebook feed this morning that made me want to punch the air and shout a resounding ‘yes!’ when I read it.

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Image: Rebecca Boyd

On Friday night, Rebecca Boyd took her 12 year-old daughter to see the new Cinderella movie. Her husband had just been made redundant from his job and this would be the last film that they would be able to see for a while, and they were hoping for an enjoyable time.

Unfortunately, (as I have personally experienced on many occasions), their evening was repeatedly disrupted by two teenage girls who were misbehaving throughout – kicking the seats, talking, giggling – and this continued even when Boyd asked them to stop. At the end of the movie, Boyd sent her daughter to the car and spoke to the teens outside the cinema, explaining how their behaviour affects others and her husband’s situation.

In an interview given with Yahoo!Parenting, Boyd explained that she didn’t blame the teens parents, despite being annoyed by the girls behaviour.

However, the teens mother was furious… at her children. The girls were at the movie with their brother, who told their mom everything. Kyesha Smith Wood, whose daughter and step-daughter were the teens who has caused the trouble posted this to Facebook:

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Image: Kyesha Smith Wood/ Facebook

The post went viral, and the comments that Wood received were hugely positive for making her children accountable for their actions.

The post eventually made it to Boyd, who was touched by the response and after connecting over Facebook they hit it off. Since then, both women have been interviewed on numerous occasions, and have demonstrated the upmost respect for each other. Wood told AL.com “A lot of times people get nervous about saying something to a stranger’s kids. We as a community need to hear this, that there are parents out there who still believe in old-fashioned methods.”

And the teens? In an interview with ABC 33/40, Wood explained that they were embarrassed.”They’re humiliated, but that’s ok. I told them, ‘you know what? You’re never going to do it again.’ ”

Both women should be absolutely applauded for their handling of the situation, for supporting each other as parents and for making the girls accountable for their actions. With parents like these, I’m sure that all of their children will grow up to be outstanding young people.

Bravo!

What do you think? As a parent, would you react in the same way?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Sticks and Stones

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Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Bullshit.

Sticks and stones may indeed break my bones, but words have the power to stay with me forever.

Somebody from my primary school (children aged 4-11 for those of you outside of the UK) must have been in a nostalgic mood recently as they had posted up a selection of class photographs on Facebook, taken about 23 years ago. They appeared on my wall because one of my friends was tagged in there, and they instantly brought back a ton of memories.

Looking at those photographs, I can probably remember about 40% of those names, but there, right in the centre of one of them, was a little boy with tight curly hair, a pasty complexion and thick rimmed glasses. For the purposes of anonymity, I’m going to call him X.

I read through the many comments that had been written underneath by people that I hadn’t seen or thought about in years.

However, one in particular stood out.

I forgot that we went to school with Napoleon Dynamite.

Someone else had written something below about feeling guilt, but laughed about it all the same. My heart sank. I remember him, I remember his name and I even remember a cruel nickname that we called him. This skinny little boy was quiet and shy, and was bullied mercilessly to the point where he left the school because of the abuse that he suffered from so many. While I never considered myself to be a mean girl (although I wasn’t perfect), I remember one incident that still makes my stomach churn a little, all these years later.

Our primary school didn’t have a canteen, so we had to walk up to another building further up the road for our lunch, during which we were expected to hold hands in pairs. Nobody ever wanted to be near him, so he was forced to hold the hand of his sister, who was equally ostracised. I remember that they were walking in front of me once, and he turned around and looked at me.

“Eww, you’re kissing your sister,” I said to him, laughing with my friends and backing away so I wouldn’t have to walk near him. Even at that age, I knew what I had said was wrong, and I have no idea why I felt prompted to join in with everyone else. To my recollection that was the only thing I ever said to him during my entire school life with him. He didn’t say anything, he never said anything, he just turned around and carried on walking. I had no reason to dislike him – he never did anything to me at all, but I didn’t talk to him, I didn’t include him, I didn’t invite him to any of my parties. Almost nobody did – in my own little bubble he simply didn’t exist.

Karma came to bite me on the ass when I started high school. I was what my students would describe as a ‘boffin’ – I worked hard, was in the top sets for everything, played in the orchestra and band, was on the badminton team, and to my recollection received only one or two detentions throughout my five years at the school. Looking back, I was a bit of a know-it-all, I wasn’t considered to be as attractive and didn’t possess the same social skills as some of the more popular girls, but aside from getting involved in silly girly politics, I didn’t intentionally go out of my way to hurt anyone else and I had some friends.

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One boy in particular despised me almost from the first moment he met me, and he and his cronies tortured me for almost the entirety of my teenage academic life. He learned how to flick spit with the end of his tongue and he would frequently spit in my hair when stood behind me in a line. If I did or said something in a lesson he would go out of his way to tell the teacher to try and get me into trouble. He would concoct lies, spread rumours, and tell the older girls that I had said things about them to try and get them to beat me up. On several occasions, it almost worked, and being surrounded by lots of students while an older girl threatened me, screamed at me and pulled my hair because she had been told I’d been mean to her sister by this boy still remains one of the most terrifying moments of my entire life. He and his friends used to take great delight by repeating my name over and over whenever I would walk into a room, or would call me fat or ugly. When my friend tried to stand up for me, they did it to her too. Unfortunately, I was in most of my lessons too, and so it went on all day, every day.

At one point my father, who was a governor at the school, intervened, and this made it far worse. The boy started to use him as a way of trying to wind me up. However, what he didn’t know was the way my very angry and violent father treated my sisters and I when we were growing up, which was something I didn’t tell anyone until years later, so I couldn’t tell my father any more after this for fear of what he would do, both to me and to him. My father expected me to ignore it and would get angry and lash out at me when I got upset. It wasn’t as easy as that.

Looking back, many of these incidents were silly and childish, and nowadays wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, but I’ve always felt that my teenage years, while successful, were lived in fear. I cared so much about what my peers thought and adapted my behaviour to try to be accepted, and then spent many hours hiding in the music room during breaks and lunch times to avoid contact with people. I even attempted to befriend some of them, to be told “don’t talk to her, she’ll grass you up if you say anything about her.” Worse still, my self-confidence was on the floor. I believed that I was ugly. I believed that nobody liked me. I used to feel physically nauseous whenever I walked into my form room every morning because I knew what was going to happen. I was so stressed that I suffered from nose bleeds. I pretended to be ill so I didn’t have to go to school. I was the ultimate victim, feeling sorry for myself and constantly repeating different instances in my head until I had made myself feel anxious and depressed. I didn’t help myself in the slightest, but I didn’t deserve what I got. My saving grace was the fact that I worked hard, I got good grades and was able to get away from them as soon as I possibly could – while others were all crying and hugging on the last day, I happily skipped down the school drive knowing that I was going to be attending a performing arts college and would never have to see them again.

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I left school nearly seventeen years ago, and I’ve moved on – we all have – but I haven’t forgotten. Of the hundreds of people that I shared my lessons with, I am still very close to just one, and communicate regularly via Facebook with just two or three. I have a life that I am proud of, a supportive family, great friends and a wonderful bloke. While I don’t harbour any ill feelings towards them, I don’t wish to get in contact with any of those people I knew so many years ago ever again, and the photographs, and some of the comments written below them, served as a reminder as to why. I’m very sure they feel exactly the same way about me.

I take bullying extremely seriously as a teacher and am quite open in sharing my own experiences whenever I have had to deal with it. What I tell my students, and will continue to tell my students for as long as I am their teacher, is that the opinions of others don’t matter, especially those which have no connection to our lives and how we choose to live it. Some children are thoughtless and cruel and often they will continue to be just as awful in their adulthood. That’s their problem, not ours.

What matters is that we don’t allow ourselves to be the victim and, more importantly, allow those opinions to dictate what we do, who we are and how we act. What matters is that we can go through life being successful and happy, as kind and as generous as possible and be able to look at ourselves in the mirror at the end of each day and know that we have done our best. What matters is that we like what we see in our reflection. Karma will often take care of the rest.

To X, and anyone else I treated unfairly along the way, I’m sorry. I hope he doesn’t read those comments and that, wherever he is and whatever he is doing, he’s happy.

What about you guys? Have you experienced bullying at any point in your life?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

I Quit My Job Today

I quit my teaching job today

Throughout my life I have done everything that I felt was expected of me. I worked hard in school, achieved good grades in my GCSE’s and A Levels, went to a respected music conservatoire and then was lucky enough to find myself in a full-time job as a Learning Mentor almost immediately after graduating. Within a year, I was offered an opportunity to train as a teacher, and I’ve worked as a qualified music teacher for nearly ten years. I’ve always played it safe, followed the expected path, and never taken any risks. I can say that I’m happy to an extent, but not as much as I know I could be.

At the beginning of 2015 I made one promise to myself: if things were going to change, it had to be now – I was going to take the risk.

For some, teaching is a vocation. It isn’t mine. I’m a good teacher. In fact, according to my last three years worth of lesson observations, I’m an outstanding teacher, but I never set out to join this profession – my personal circumstances and being in the right place at the right time meant that I fell into the role rather than actively working towards it as a career choice.

I’ve been lucky to spend the last three years in an outstanding academy, with an excellent and well-respected principal, a great management team and a lovely faculty. Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with thousands of teenagers, most of whom are wonderful and who I have always had excellent working relationships with, and I feel like I’ve done it all. I’ve attended every parents evening, open evening, celebration evening and awards evening and I’ve hosted or participated in hundreds of concerts. I’ve supervised the day trips, evening performances, week-long UK based residentials and visits to France and America. I’ve played the role of teacher, parent, therapist, doctor, personal banker and seamstress to my students. I’ve laughed with them, cried because of them and mourned the few that I’ve lost. I’ve returned home at the end of a day on a huge high after brilliant lessons, and had endless sleepless nights after bad ones. During times when heavy deadlines have been looming, insomnia and I have become good friends.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that total career satisfaction is unattainable for most; some days will be good, some days will be bad and others will make you question every career choice you have ever made whilst glugging on a bottle of wine and crying on the cat, but I’ve always presumed that as long as the good outweighs the bad then you’re generally doing the right thing.

The good has not outweighed the bad for a long time. Today, I took the risk.

Today, I quit the teaching profession…

Despite the amazing opportunities I have been offered from my headteacher and support I have received from some of my colleagues over the years, I genuinely can’t remember the last point where I had a consistently positive period of time in teaching. To put it quite simply, I can’t cope with the pressure, and it’s making me ill.

In an ideal world, a teacher’s role is to teach, to support and to guide their students. It is our job to offer advice, to ensure progress is made, to make learning interesting, to inspire and to listen to their needs.

Unfortunately, in the real world, I’ve found that many teachers work far harder than lots of their students. Modern day teaching, even for those that are employed in effective schools, is not about fostering and encouraging a love of learning and a passion for a subject, it is about getting students to pass an exam or a course using criteria that is set by an exam board whilst being bombarded by data and outcomes, none of which the students will be held accountable for if they fail. It has now become a teacher’s job to almost do the work for the lazier kids because they’re scared of how the results will look. The kids know this too – I was even once told ‘you’re not allowed to fail me‘ by a smug student when I informed him that his grades weren’t good enough – and one of my biggest worries for them in their future lives is that when they do fail for the first time, it will be at a much higher cost and there won’t be an adult to step in and make everything better. Our lessons and the ability to do our jobs effectively are decided based upon a twenty minute observation and the data that demonstrates our students progress, our wages now depend on it, and I have seen accomplished and respected members of staff reduced to tears at the mere mention of OFSTED.

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The pressure of the job has intensified every single year that I have been in the profession, and eventually it started to take a toll on my health. A year ago I was hospitalised with a severe kidney infection and a virus for nearly a week, followed by a further five weeks off in order to recover. This was caused because I ignored a urinary tract infection, mainly because of how busy I was. I can’t and don’t blame the school for this, but it is a common part of the job that members of staff within a school environment will work through illnesses because of the workload and worries about the detrimental impact that time off will have on their students.

My school and colleagues were very supportive and I returned in reasonable physical health, but that didn’t change the fact that the workload was there, and mentally I was sinking. I missed deadlines left and right. I had so much to remember that I forgot everything. However, what I found to be most frustrating were the pressures put on me with the older students and the achievement of their target grades, pressures that were not set by the school, but by government based targets. I started to feel constantly anxious and suffered from minor panic attacks, something that I had never experienced before. My mindset changed. I found it increasingly difficult to tolerate the laziness and apathy that some of my students demonstrated on a daily basis. I bent over backwards and exhausted myself hosting further coursework catch up sessions almost every night after school, repeatedly remarked coursework that was substandard due to the fact that some of my students didn’t bother to listen in the lessons and as it got closer to exams I became a verbal punching bag for stressed out teenagers. I rang parents, got other members of staff involved, praised, sanctioned and gave up a lot of my personal time to drag them (often kicking and screaming) to the finish line. Worse still, I started to take it personally and really dislike some of my students attitudes, particularly when they threw my hard work and support back in my face during their moments of stress. This is a common problem throughout the British education system, and is one of the biggest issues that all of my teacher friends have experienced in their careers. I remember that one friend in particular remarked that one of her most difficult classes was more focused on crowd control, not teaching.

At Christmas I realised that I simply couldn’t do it anymore. I had no idea what I was going to do instead, only that I knew that this was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my working life. Perhaps I am looking at life through rose-tinted spectacles, but I believe that happiness is more important than most things, and I was desperately unhappy. I was doing myself, and the students, a huge disservice.

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I discussed it with The Bloke. We’re not married, we don’t have children or a mortgage and my only financial responsibilities are for my half of the rent and bills, the cat’s medication and vet treatments and a small loan I took out a few years ago. We’re not rich, but I have enough in savings to cover everything for a few months. At the age of 33, if I was going to do anything, it was now, and while I could see that he was (and still is) nervous about it, he has been steadfast in his support. Having witnessed what I’ve been through in the last few years, he wants me to be happy, and I’m grateful.

I am going to work until the end of the academic year, which is July and then that’s it, giving me about six months to find another job. No more data analysis and unrealistic targets, no more reports, no more relying on the performance of demotivated teenagers to prove that I am good at my job. However, I’m going to miss the school, my wonderful colleagues and most of those fantastic cherubs that I have been privileged to work with over the years. Taking such a huge risk is terrifying, but not nearly as terrifying as the thought of having to do another year in a job that could potentially destroy me both physically and mentally. I need to be happy. I’m walking away from a secure ten year career with an excellent salary, a brilliant boss and a strong pension, without another job to go to yet…

… and I couldn’t be more excited!

What about you guys? Have you ever taken a huge risk?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

An Adult? Me?!!

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When I was seven or eight years old I was asked by a school teacher the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’

It was perfectly timed – I had contemplated this just a few weeks before and had made my decision after watching the film ‘Splash’ on the television.

“A mermaid,” I replied.

I don’t remember the teacher’s response, but I knew at that point that I had it all figured out. All I needed was some salt to put in my bath water, and after my tail had formed I would swim around in the ocean and eat fish. I wouldn’t have to answer to anybody, be told what to do – my life would be my own.

However, there were a few things in my carefully crafted plan that I hadn’t taken into consideration:

1. I was a proficient swimmer, but hated swimming in sea water of any kind.

2. I was (and still am) desperately afraid of a particular sea creature, to the point where pictures of these things will send me running and screaming from the room.

3. I don’t like raw fish.

Admittedly, it wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had in my life.

At the end of a lesson the other day, one of my student’s, who usually likes to keep me on my toes by asking me random questions, was complaining to a friend of his about the fact that his mother had taken his XBox as punishment for not doing his homework. He turned to me and said “Miss, I’m sick of being told what to do – I can’t wait to be an adult.” I smiled and informed him that being an adult doesn’t mean that you stop being told what to do by others. He looked a bit confused and thought about it for a while.

“So when do you get to be a proper adult then?”

Truth be told, up until that point I hadn’t genuinely given it much thought. I don’t actually see myself as being in the ‘adult’ category – I tick the 25-40 box on forms, I’ve gained all the qualifications I need to for a while, I have a full time job, I maintain my own house, I’m in a long term and committed relationship, but mentally my mind doesn’t feel like it has changed since I was eighteen. However:

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I now eat dessert even if I haven’t finished my main meal… and then some. I have my cake, and I eat another one too, because I can!

Evenings are spent wearing sweat pants and hooded sweaters – maximum comfort is needed after a long day at work.

My mother, while still offering advice when I ask for it, is no longer my legal guardian, and has her own life in which she can make her own plans without having to consider us. I can do the same.

I can have an alcoholic beverage without worrying that somebody is going to yell ‘have you been drinking?!’ at me.

I used to almost enjoy being ill as a child because my mother would look after me and I got to miss a few days of school. Now, being ill sucks – I have to look after myself. I still get to miss a few days of school, but now I return to several hundred emails and have to catch up on everything that I missed.

I’m always a little envious when I see a child walking down the street in their favourite Disney princess or superhero outfit. However, they don’t make Iron Man outfits in my size. I checked. 

Shopping for items for my house is now an exciting experience, as is buying new kitchenware.

I teach children that have mothers that are younger than I am.

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My wages used to be spent on really good things that I wanted. Now it’s spent on bills. And bills. And more bills. And cat food. 

Loud music from my neighbours annoys me.

I use specific brands of toiletries, washing detergent and fabric softener, and have been known to have discussions with my friends about it. 

I spent most of my childhood trying to extend my bedtime to a later point in the evenings. Now, the earlier I get to bed, the happier I am.

I used to constantly watch the clock during outings so as not to miss my curfew. Now, I don’t even wear a watch – I’ll get back when I get back.

I have suddenly developed an appreciation for music by The Smiths.

I worry about my credit rating.

The cupboard fairy that kept our cupboards stocked with food at my mothers house must have run away – my cupboards seem to be endlessly bare. Similarly, the laundry and ironing fairy disappeared many years ago too.

I don’t have shop assistants giving me ‘beady eye’ glances when I buy cigarettes or a bottle of wine anymore, except for one man who still asks me for I.D. even though he’s seen my passport on several occasions now.

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I suppose, looking at the evidence, I am an adult. However, I don’t think that there is an age that can be associated with adulthood, more a mentality. I’m not exactly the mermaid that I wanted to be, but I’m happy, so I’m grateful. And being an adult doesn’t stop you from occasionally participating in childhood indulgences.

So, if anyone sees a slightly overweight, 33 year old woman dressed as Iron Man and happily swinging on the swings at the local park, then that may possibly be me…

What about you? At what point did you start to realise that you were an ‘adult’?

 

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

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Image 1 Credit: Imgur

 

Want to Increase Your Traffic? Join My #SundayBlogShare Twitter Party!

imageI have received quite a few new followers over the last few weeks and wanted to get the message out about my #SundayBlogShare Twitter parties – I started it about two months ago and I’ve been delighted with the enormous response that it has received, with hundreds of bloggers participating each week, sharing over 1,100 posts. At the end of December I decided to be a bit more serious about it and registered it with Twubs to my Twitter handle, so the hashtag is now mine! Last Sunday was the busiest yet, with lots of new bloggers joining for the first time.

It’s a simple process – post your blog links to Twitter using the hashtag #SundayBlogShare and enjoy! If you include my Twitter handles (@suzie81blog or @SundayBlogShare) in your post I can retweet it for you too! Your posts can cover any topic and you don’t have to follow my blog or any associated social media accounts. You can participate if you have been blogging for days, months or years and it’s a brilliant opportunity to develop your social networking skills and boost your traffic and following. I have received hundreds of messages from people that saw their traffic increase immediately.

I will remind everyone again each week but here are a few rules for everyone who wishes to participate.

1. #SundayBlogShare is a happy place. Racist, sexist and homophobic propaganda will not be tolerated, and if you disagree with the content of a post it should be done in a polite and respectful manner.

2. Blog posts only. NO Amazon book promos, company promos, music promos, inspirational quotes, newspaper articles, random selfies of you drinking coffee, Justin Bieber fan promotion etc… you get the idea.

3. No pornographic images are allowed.

4. Do not use it as an opportunity to demand follows and retweets from others, but feel free to retweet posts that you like. Be generous with this – the more you retweet, the more likely you will get them in return!

5. Don’t go overboard with the amount that you post… If the Twitter feed is just a list of your own posts, you’re doing it too much. Post a few, spend some time reading and retweeting others and then come back later to post again.

6. Hashtag spamming is not allowed. For those of you who participated last week, you’ll be aware that because of the popularity of the hashtag, there was a high level of spam from people who used it as an opportunity to post hundreds of links within an hour, clearly using the hashtag to spam potential clients. I have contacted Twitter and Twubs, and hopefully the matter has been resolved, but if this sort of thing appears tomorrow I would really appreciate it if you would block and report them. Don’t engage with them, just block and report.

It starts each Sunday morning and will end at midnight. I’m in the UK, so you will need to work out times for whichever country you live in. This may mean that some of you may be participating on Saturday, or going into Monday, but please use the same hashtag…

Looking forward to seeing you there!

You can find me on Tumblr @suzie81blog and I’d love it if you would hop on over to my Facebook page and give it a cheeky ‘like.’ http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

If you would like to follow me on Twitter, my account is @suzie81blog.

#SundayBlogShare: The Final Sunday Twitter Party of 2014!

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It’s Saturday night, which means only one thing – tomorrow is my #SundayBlogShare party on Twitter! It’s the ninth consecutive party and I’ve been overwhelmed by how quickly it has grown, with nearly a thousand posts being shared last week! However, it’s also the last one of 2014, and I need your help to make it go out with a bang! 

Everyone is welcome to participate – you don’t have to follow Suzie81 Speaks or its associated social media accounts, there are no limits on the amount of posts that you share and you don’t need to have a specific theme to your blog or the links that you share. Simply tweet your link with the hashtag #SundayBlogShare and enjoy! Meet hundreds of other bloggers, retweet their posts and build your own Twitter following!

The rules are simple and easy to follow:

1. #SundayBlogShare is a happy place. Anything that contains racist, homophobic and/or sexist material will be removed and reported.

2. Blog posts only! No inspirational quotes, links to book promotions on Amazon or porn.

3. Share the #bloglove! Follow, retweet and enjoy lots of posts from blogger all over the world. However, don’t be desperate enough to beg for or demand retweets and follows from others.

You can also include my Twitter handle @suzie81blog and I can easily retweet you!

The party is on all day – you are welcome to join us at anytime throughout Sunday!

Here is where I need your help my lovely bloggy friends. The more people you invite, the more of a success it is going to be… I’ll get the drinks and the party hats, you share the hashtag with everyone you know.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

2014: A Blogging Review

2014 is almost over, and it has been a roller coaster of a year. My blogging endeavours began in April 2013. I was experiencing a difficult time in my personal life and as I have always found writing therapeutic, starting a blog seemed to be the perfect solution.

Twenty months later, Suzie81 Speaks has grown above and beyond all expectectations and has become the most effective form of therapy that I have ever received. I have built up a community of over 9,000 followers and hit the 300,000 view mark earlier this month. This year in particular has been wonderful – I have been featured on Mumsnet several times (which I find amazing considering the fact that I don’t have children), I was lucky enough to be invited to a blog community meet up in Birmingham a few months ago and #SundayBlogShare, my weekly Twitter party that I started in October now has hundreds of participants every week. Above all, I have been able to communicate with a truly amazing group of people from all over the world, some of whom are now email and Facebook friends.

The process has been a huge learning curve, predominantly because I knew nothing about blogging when I started. Suzie81 Speaks does not have a theme or a niche – I like to have the freedom to write about whatever topic I am interested in at the time. Consequently, I have created a collection of varied and eclectic posts. I like to take the opportunity to review these regularly, deleting and editing where necessary, and recently I have created buttons for some of my favourites which you can see in the sidebar. I wanted to be able to share with you some of these with you – you are welcome to click on the images that take you directly to the post.

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What about you? What have been your favourite posts from your blog over the last year? If you wish to share a link, you’re welcome to do so in the comment section below!