A story about vulnerability for kids

I wrote this short story with my nearly-7 year old after we saw a jacket hanging abandoned on a fence.  It reminded me of the work on the importance of vulnerability by Brene Brown and within U.Lab.


Under the Armour


The boy was late for school.

His bag had broken and he lost his homework, his snack for break and…



His armour stops him from getting hurt.

Like when someone throw 26 boxes in under 2 seconds at him.

Or if they shout mean things at you.  The words just bounce off.


But then the boy remembered.

The armour doesn’t always work.

Sometimes a mean word can slip under the cloak and pull your pants up!


And the boy might donk someone first because his armour protects him.

He might say a mean word and a friend does something mean back.

Then he does something MORE mean and it goes on and on.  Until a grown up steps in.

FullSizeRender (1)


The boy sits on the bench and sighs.

He sees the Big Boy picking on another boy.

If he had his armour on, he would feel brave and go help.


He loves his armour, even if it gets him in trouble sometimes.

It’s blue and shiny and hard and makes him look cool.

Now, all he has on is his… “Oh no! My pyjama top with the kittens on it?!”


The Big Boy spots him and starts to laugh and point.

Lots of kids crowd round and start to laugh and point.

But a few sit next to him and one girl holds his hand.


“I didn’t know you like cats,” she said. “I do too.”

Another boy says, “One time at school, my trousers fell down!”

And the other kids tell their stories.  The boy feels much better for sharing something he would normally keep hidden.


“Who wants to play Tig?!” the girl shouts.

“Me!” the boy says and he runs like the wind.

No one can catch him.  He doesn’t have his clunky, heavy armour on to slow him down.


All the way home, the boy is smiling.

He finds his protective armour hanging on a fence.

The boy gives it a fond pat and leaves it right there.



How to create your own manifesto for life: Step 1. Involve the kids

This week, the kids, Steven and I started creating our family manifesto, firstly by asking the kids what they think their life will be like when they’re grown up.

As I’ve said here before, I really want to find out how to support the kids to be happy and successful (in whatever they choose) as they grow up and to develop the traits, attitudes, outlook etc that will put them in the best position when it comes to supporting themselves in the future.  I had started writing an ebook on this for my 30 day challenge but got a bit bored with just writing.  I wanted to do something a bit more hands-on and so hope that through creating a manifesto instead Continue reading

Manifestos for life – some inspiration for what’s really important

“This is your life. Do what you want and do it often.
If you don’t like something, change it.
If you don’t like your job, quit.
If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV.
If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.
Stop over-analysing, life is simple.
All emotions are beautiful.
When you eat, appreciate every last bite.
Life is simple.
Open your heart, mind and arms to new things and people, we are united in our differences.
Ask the next person you see what their passion is and share your inspiring dream with them.
Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.
Some opportunities only come once, seize them.
Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating.
Life is short, live your dream and wear your passion.”

― Holstee Manifesto, The Wedding Day

Sounds simple right? On paper, yes, but we all know how difficult it is to live and breathe words like these. We know what’s right for us but we don’t always (if ever) do all of those things. Life somehow gets in the way.

Part of the reason I signed up for the 30 day challenge with Screw Work, Let’s Play is because I wanted to give myself the space (with a deadline and 250 people to hold me to account) to find out what it is that I’m trying to achieve through this blog.

I’ve only been doing it for a week and have changed my challenge twice. I see this as a good sign though. I’ve being “doing” stuff, testing it out and then monitoring my responses. And what I’ve found is that I am still very much at the beginning of this journey, trying to figure out how I can support my kids to be ready for an amazing future (while enjoying the ride). In the process, I want to be a good role model for them by trying it out for myself – to show them it can be done at whatever stage you are in life.

Words are powerful in this journey.  I have come across a number of Manifestos for Life that I want to print out (if I ever get my printer working) and put up all over the house! I’ve included my favourite quote from each of them. They are well worth a wee look:

– Live your Legend’s The Creed of Living Legends– “Realise Freedom is a state of mind”
– Catharina Bruns, (a German-born designer and illustrator) of Work Is Not A Job. – “When you do what you love every day, if you get up and you’re excited about what you do, it’s good for everyone”
Do What You Love For Life – “Because magic happens when we follow our dreams” 
Passion for a Living – “Live now” (I don’t think I’ve very good at this so it has gone on the list)

Go on – have a look and get some inspiration in your lives!  Thinking back on inspirational advice I’ve had over the years that has stayed with me, I remembered Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen.  This has the best advice in it and I was even more excited when I found out that it was a woman, Mary Schmich, an American columnist for the Chicago Tribunal, who wrote it.  I think I might stick it on a loop as the kids grow up.  The link is to a video but if you’re short on time, you can find the lyrics here.

But the most iconic advice I ever got (and which I have only just started to follow) was from the kid’s TV programme “Why Don’t You” who suggested quite forcibly that you shouldn’t waste your life watching the programme you should “Switch off the television set and go out and do something less boring instead”.  I found this on YouTube which made me feel old but brought back very happy memories of the school holidays (it also includes a “short public information film” about stranger danger – I totally remember this!)

So the kids and I are going to write our very own manifesto about what we think is important for us in this journey and what we are trying to achieve. I have no idea how we’re going to do this as it’s difficult to explain to a 6 and 4 year old but we’re going to have a go and hopefully have a lot of fun in the process.  I can’t wait to hear what they’ve got to say.

If you know of any other amazing Manifestos or pearls of wisdom to inspire us along the way, please leave a comment below.   

What will the world of work look like for our kids?

This is a question I have become super excited about.  The financial crisis really hit while my kids were still in nappies and so I could barely stay awake long enough to realise other things were going on in the world, never mind pay attention to them.  But as it stretched on and youth unemployment became big news, it began to filter into my addled consciousness.  In a moment of fear that came along with the realisation that the responsibility for these two small people really was primarily mine and my husband’s, no one else’s, I blurted out to my husband, “What if this goes on and on and there are no jobs for our kids?!”

Having worked in research about children and families, I knew the long lasting affects unemployment has had on young people who experienced it during the Thatcher era.  Not only did it increase the chances of them being unemployed and earn less later in life, it also had negative effects on their life satisfaction, physical and mental health and job satisfaction, more than two decades later.

This scared the hell out of me, hence my question to my poor, ever-patient husband who told me not to worry.  If this happened, he’d give up his job and start his own joinery business with the kids as his apprentices.  Weirdly, this made me feel better instantly.  The idea of setting up my own business was something as alien to me as Nutella on boiled eggs but I found the idea of taking your livelihood into your own hands very appealing, if a bit scary and out of reach.  Since then, I’ve been trying to find a way to help my kids see this as a viable option for their future.

And so, in true researcher form, I did some research… This is just a flavour of the initial results but a few messages were clear.

There is a growing body of writing that suggests that the financial crisis has affected social change as well as the obvious impacts such as people losing their jobs or not being able to put their life onto their credit cards any longer.  Authors such as John Williams, James Altucher and Markus Albers propose that our trust in big institutes like the banking sector (and I’d add the BBC following a number of high profile sex abuse cases) has been severely rocked to the point that it’s unlikely to be restored to the same extent again.  What were once secure, permanent jobs are now under threat (even those in the public sector) and so, the authors claim, this is the prime time to take your future into your own hands and start a business.  And it’s not as crazy as it might sound.  Some of today’s biggest brands – like Walt Disney Productions, IBM, Microsoft and Apple – were started during periods of recession.

Relating this back to what the future of work might look like for our kids, it’s impossible at this stage to even dream about what these future businesses or jobs might look like.  Research by Karl Fisch, captured within this video, suggests that the ten most sought-after jobs of 2010 didn’t even exist in 2004.  I’d recommend watching it when you’re fully awake (rather than late at night like I did) as it has some big, amazing numbers in it.  We do indeed live in exponential times.  Our jobs as parents therefore can’t be to work out what this all means so we can figure it out for our kids.  We have to equip them with the skills to figure it out for themselves, and also to see the opportunities, not the scariness, of it all.