They’re Flying My Nest!

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I know it’s a cliche, but where does the time go? It only feels a short while ago I was excitedly stocking up on nappies and baby lotion.

As we sat nervously in the Nursery School welcome meeting, I still remember tearing up as the head made her speech about how excited she was at welcoming her new ‘gifts’ in the September, and spending the next three years ‘unwrapping them’.

And now we’re taking it in turns to view halls of residence and universities all over the UK. Two of my fledglings are off to uni already!

I seem to be a constant walking mix of two emotions at the moment – overwhelming pride, and complete anxiety. Reading up as much as I can so I am completely armed with knowledge for anything the events might throw at me, I came across a wonderful piece in The Huffington Post, by Marshall P.Duke, Professor at Emory University,

“It is a moment that comes along once in a lifetime. Each child only starts college once. …Such moments are rare. They have power. They give us as parents one-time opportunities to say things to our children that will stick with them not only because of what is said, but because of when it is said.

Here is what I tell the parents: think of what you want to tell your children when you finally take leave of them and they go off to their dorm and the beginning of their new chapter in life and you set out for the slightly emptier house that you will now live in. What thoughts, feelings and advice do you want to stick? “Always make your bed!”? “Don’t wear your hair that way!”? Surely not. This is a moment to tell them the big things. Things you feel about them as children, as people. Wise things. Things that have guided you in your life. Ways that you hope they will live. Ways that you hope they will be. Big things. Life-level things.”

I am really lucky with my eldest. Meg will be renting a house with her boyfriend, who is an absolute hero and I know she will be well taken care of.

And my second is extremely independent and mature for her age. But as we concerned parents know, it’s doesn’t always matter how you conduct yourself.  If you’re anything like me, you will have conjured up images of everything from getting lost on the way home, and ending up on the Orient Express, to aliens invading and choosing only my baby to abduct.

We’re also lucky that thanks to SafeGirl, we know an awful lot about personal safety, so not wanting to be selfish, here’s a few tips to put your mind at ease a little:

I am actually a  huge advocate of the ‘why should women be told to act differently , dress differently, not wear earphones etc, and we should be telling men not to attack women’ philosophy, but the sad truth is that I personally would rather ensure my babies are a little safer, and we can all sleep a little better at night.

Make sure your mobile is charged and able to make calls when you go out, in case of an emergency or if you lose the people you are with.
Try to leave a pub or club with friends, keep money you need to get home separate so that you don’t spend it, and pre-book a licensed taxi or know the locations of official taxi ranks.

When you do go out, know how you will get home, and plan ahead if you’re going somewhere you don’t know. Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
If you have to walk alone in the dark, try to avoid badly lit areas, parks, alleyways and underpasses. When alone on public transport, sit near the driver on a bus, and in an occupied carriage on a train or the underground. Avoid using your phone in isolated places, as it can distract you from your surroundings.
Carrying a personal alarm with you is a good idea – many men see these as female accessories, but figures show that male students stand a much higher risk of being attacked in the street.

Watch how much you drink
It’s easier to do something risky or foolish when you are drunk, and you’re more likely to lose your belongings. Eat before you drink alcohol, and drink plenty of water to help you not get drunk. Keep track of what and how much you’re drinking. Drinks do get spiked with drugs, so never leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from a stranger. Think about carrying some rape drug testing coasters.

Consider taking a student safety kit with you. Filled with a safety tips book, a door wedge alarm, a personal alarm, and much more, we can’t take away the tears as your baby birds flee the nest, but we can alleviate some of the worry….

 

 

 

Baby Driver

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Meg, 19, and my eldest of four daughters, bought her first car just before Christmas.

As with so many things I have been realising of late, I only now am beginning to appreciate the anguish I put my own mother through as a young new driver.

Every time I left the house, keys to my fourth-hand, battered but beloved Austin Metro in hand, I heard the same phrase yelled out after me,

‘It’s not just you but everyone else on the road you have to worry about!’ a sentence that has actually  gone through my mind pretty much every time I have attempted the North Circular as a responsible 30+ year old driver and all the years since.

Of course, for the thirteen or so years prior to any fear or safety awareness dawning on me, I was blissfully unaware of anyone else on the road. Sounds blaring from my one working, if extremely crackly speaker; ciggie in hand; no seatbelt; 8 or so mates crammed into the back of ‘Cruella’ (named by said mates as my driving style apparently bore more than a slight resemblance to Cruella Deville – my mother never knew this!).

Ambling in at 2am, after night whizzing up and down the Southend Arterial, chucking my keys on the table, smoke still in hand, I sometimes asked why mother was still up, as I headed to the kitchen for night time snacks.

Now I get it! Looking back, how on earth did she remain sane at all in those days before smart phones and family RAC membership?

Luckily, Meg is a lot more conscientious than I ever was at that age. And of course, I am hassling her constantly by text – berating her if she doesn’t reply immediately, then lecturing her she’s not texting while driving!

At then end of the day, if our young drivers are as careful as they can be, and abide by the safety rules, many dangers are out of our/their control.

We’re only 5 months into our new regime of me sleeping even less than usual, and Meg pulling over every 5 minutes to tell me to stop texting her, and we have already had 3 breakdowns. The first being a rookie error of leaving the lights on and draining the battery.

Ashamedly, despite being with Meg when said incident took place, and being the retailer of booster cables for young drivers and women, as well as lots of car safety products and gifts. And having ensured the car was stacked full of every one of these products before we had even left the car showroom forecourt, neither of us knew how to actually use the jump lead booster cables. 

There’s a story for another time. But needless to say, we do now!

The good news is the cables are now only £8 a set. That’s an extra 20 minutes sleep for you and me!

 

Do Personal Alarms Work?

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Personal Safety Alarms are designed to emit a loud noise when triggered. This alarm is a high-decibel noise that’s meant to warn other people that someone needs help.

The noise can register at up to about 130 dB. That’s a lot of noise if you consider that a train whistle only registers to about 90 dB.

Using this much noise against a potential attacker and you will cause panic or momentary confusion, as well as alerting others within earshot.

Crimes such as mugging and individual attacks are mostly  committed after dark, and given the natural curiosity of people, the attacker is immediately faced with the chance of being confronted by the public or a police officer.

Therefore, the chances of being left enough time to complete the attack are drastically cut.

As well as the practical safety reasons for carrying a personal alarm, most women report feeling safer and more confident just knowing they have one on their person. Because of this, we at SafeGirl have come up with some beautiful, stylish safety products any fashionable female would be proud to show off.