We were privileged to catch up with the very lovely Hayley of Southwood Living recently, for a chat about her years parenting teens. Hayley is most definitely someone who can give hope to anyone struggling with teenagers! Thank you so much, Hayley, for sharing your story and advice with us.
Tell us a little about your family.
I got married to my childhood sweetheart when I was 20. We had our first son when I was 21 and our second 20 months later, when I was 23. My boys are now 21 and 23 and I have no idea how we did we did and raised two amazing humans so successfully. I look back and now think how young we were and things were so tough and yet so simple!
The teenage stage – how was it for you?!
I have really enjoyed every stage of my boys but the teenage years were by far the toughest – managing education choices, hormones, friendships. I used to tell them if they could get through being a teenager they would get through anything!! I knew I wanted to give our boys choices we didn’t have growing up. We sold cars and moved to smaller houses to allow our boys to have a better education than we ever experienced.
What was your worst ‘parenting teens’ moment?
The day my eldest got his first year A-level results and I had to go into the head teacher’s office was one of those moments we all laugh about now but felt pretty grim. My eldest had always been really academic and went to a great grammar school but totally flunked his first year of sixth form. I was so used to him getting great grades, I had driven him to school in my joggers and Ugg boots only to be called into school to receive the bad news! I am not sure who was more mortified, him or me that day!! He’s now following his dream pathway and studying a PHD in Biochemistry, so it all worked out in the end.
What would your top tips be for parents of teens?
I think between the ages of 13 and 18 we were the most embarrassing parents on earth and I remember they pretty much only grunted at us. But they got through this stage, returned back to us when they left school and emerged once again as beautiful humans!!
I think some of what we got right was:
- We were always big talkers, we really encouraged our boys to have an opinion and say how they felt.
- Our boys have always had Saturday jobs; learning the value of money has been a good lesson for them both.
- We wanted our boys to make their own decisions. I feel like we offered advice and held them when they fell but ultimately they felt like they had freedom to decide. We talked everything through as a family!
- The car was always the best place to have awkward conversation, no eye contact but a safe secure space!
- Be as open and as approachable as possible!
How old were your boys when you started your own business?
I opened my first business when I was 25, I couldn’t find good childcare for my babies and we wanted to move to a better area to bring the boys up. My business journey has always been about creating more opportunities and a better life for our family. I opened a day nursery when Jake was 2 so he could come to work with me and have the best early years education. Our nursery school was always ‘outstanding’ and that business continues to thrive 23 years on, now owned and run by my dear friend Sally.
What advice about balancing work and parenting would you give to mums starting their own businesses?
I think it has been brilliant for our boys to watch me grow as a woman and a business owner! They have witnessed first hand that if you work hard you can change your life. They are both very driven and ambitious young men!
For me I have always worked around my family – I made work fit around the school drop off for years. I made sure I was able to be at all the school events I wanted to attend like school plays and sport’s days.
Your wholeness business just oozes calm, serenity and joy. What would you recommend for a teen bedroom?
This really made me laugh… My boys’ bedrooms were definitely a NO GO AREA when they were in their teens. Hahaha, just thinking about it is bringing back memories of stinky socks and damp towels on beds! The reality is they needed their space and I didn’t want to look at it. I would highly recommend leaving a little room spritzer in their bedroom for them to use and maybe a diffuser if they are up for it. Essential oils are great for all of the above!!!