March is an important month in the Tweens, Teens & Beyond link-up calendar. It is the month Sharon (After the Playground), Nicky (Not Just The Three of Us) and I pressed publish on our very first link-up - March 7th 2017 to be precise and breathed a collective sigh of relief.
It was always our intention to provide a forum for those who wanted to discuss and offer advice on the secondary stage of parenting teenagers and young adults as well as share opinions, thoughts and experiences that affect us all outside parenting into the midlife stage and beyond.
It is a niche area in the blogosphere for sure but we have been delighted with the response over the last year. Yes there have been some drop-outs along the way but generally the link-up has gone from strength to strength. We have a dedicated and loyal group of linkers who have been with us every step of the way; some who have joined us intermittently and others who are new to our weekly link-up.
I know I speak for all of three of us when I say we are proud of our community and value all the support we continue to receive from everyone who makes the time to come back each week, if not to link then at least to read and comment on the posts of others.
Nicky published our first round-up at the end of last year and it is our intention to make it a regular quarterly feature. This first milestone birthday seems like the perfect opportunity to review what has been happening in the Tweens, Teens & Beyond community over the last few months and to pick out a few highlights.
"Loyalty is a privilege, not a right", is something I remind my teenagers of frequently and at Tweens, Teens, Beyond we are honoured to have such an extensive group of loyal linkers, some of whom join us every week without fail.
Top among these is Mary at Maryoms Thoughts who never ceases to amaze us with her tireless enthusiasm for life. Mary really embodies the mantra of living life to the full and constantly regales us with her midlife adventures, which are testimony to the fact that we are never too old.
Kelly at Daydreams of a Mum, is a courageous young woman who left an abusive relationship to bring up her children alone. Kelly's stories never fail to touch a chord. She has come a long way and it is a privilege to follow her on her journey. The sadness and anxiety that tinged Kelly's early stories has been replaced more recently with strength and hope for the future and always with an overwhelming pride in her beautiful family.
If fashion and beauty for the mature woman are your thing then Laurie's blog at Vanity and Me is the place to go. Packed with advice on what to wear, behind the scenes chats with the likes of Trinny Hall and make-up tutorials with Look Fabulous Forever, Laurie is a one-stop shop of valuable information for all us midlifers. Flicking through her blog is like glancing through a copy of Vogue. It is hard to believe that she has eight grand-children.
Every blog has its own personal flavour and Sophie at Old House In The Shires has certainly made her mark over the last 18 months with her useful insights on parenting teenagers; advice on a range of universal child issues gleaned from her years of teaching and valuable tips on gardening, born from a lifelong passion. Sophie's blog is to use her own words, an eclectic mix and definitely worth a browse.
Humour is a valuable commodity in life, helping us through the bad times as well as the good, but making others laugh is a skill and some of our linkers have a real talent for it.
Sharon at Everyone's Buck Stops Here delivers her own unique take on parenting through The Buck Family. Her stories are real, funny and guaranteed to make you laugh and nod along (particularly if you are a parent to tweens and teens) and all are illustrated with cartoons drawn by her own fair hand.
If it's midlife comedy you like then Midlife Dramas in Pyjamas is the place for you. In her own words she is "A big knickers wearer, gin and wine drinker, cocktail lover, reluctant gym member, delusional dancer, teens & hubby tamer and a cantankerous cat owner." She sounds like a grown up Bridget Jones and her blog is the place to head to guarantee a giggle.
Time and cultural differences aside, parenting and midlife, like blogging is a global phenomenon and we have a number of international linkers in our community who deserve a shout out.
Living the expat dream comes with its challenges and Suzanne at ChickenRuby has had her fair share recently. She is, however, not one to let life get on top of her and is on a quest to make improvements, with a daily routine to keep busy and combat the boredom, which includes keeping up her pen pal correspondence and focusing on the positives.
Katy at Experienced Bad Mom shares the good, the bad and the serious stories of parenting from the other side of the pond. Never one to shy away from her parental responsibilities Katy is a keen supporter of her children whether on the hockey field or off; she is organised in the kitchen and always in tune with the best movies to watch on a night in with mom.
Mental health and wellness are no longer taboo subjects for discussion thanks to brave bloggers like Michelle at Rockin Random Mom who among other things lifts the lid in her blog on the issues, and offers advice on combating the challenges.
Nadia at An Introverted Blogger lives in Doha, Qatar and as well as being a fitness fanatic and keen baker is also an avid reader. Her blog is a valuable resource if you are looking for recommendations for yourself or your children, believing as she does that a passion for books should be nurtured at an early age.
The blogging community is an eclectic mix of experienced and fresh voices and that is what makes it so refreshing as there is always a new blog to discover and follow. Some blogs can be easily pigeon holed and do exactly what they say on the tin, offering practical advice and guidance on any manner of subjects, but then there are those that fall outside the box and excite and stimulate their readers with controversial opinion and debate.
meandminimees is one such blog. A single adopter of two teenage boys, Matthew's blog is brutal in its honesty and at times difficult for those of us outside his world to read, but life is not perfect and it is this exposure to the difficulties faced by others which gives us all a different perspective on the world. Add to this the fact that Matthew is an inciteful writer and a dab hand at verse.
Celine at Bell From Bow is another blogger not afraid to stick her head above the parapet and say out loud what others may only think. Her posts are real and touched with humour, that all important ingredient again.
Where would we be without some pontificating? None of us want to bring our children up in a world without questions, it is after all what makes it interesting. We are lucky in our community to have some bloggers who are particularly talented at doing just that.
Australian blogger Mac at ReflectionsFromMe is never shy of challenging perceptions on a range of issues, but is particularly passionate about helping others reach their full potential. She frequently speaks up for our young girls and women, raising questions and offering opinions surrounding their treatment in this modern world.
Liberty at libertyonthelighterside is a multi-faceted writing talent. Her posts frequently incorporate humour, but there is also a more serious side to her writing that forces us to step outside our comfort zone and take notice of the world around us.
It is always nice to welcome new linkers to Tweens, Teens & Beyond and we have been lucky to start the year with some fresh voices in our community.
Ren at BluebellandMarigold joined us early this year and has really made an impression so far with her direct and poignant posts on managing insensitive comments on sexual abuse as well as a subject dear to many of our midlife hearts the menopause.
In addition Dan at izitsocial has joined us with a selection of nostalgic posts which encourage us to blow off the cobwebs from our memory cells and think back. We look forward to reading more from both Ren and Dan over the next few months.
In our midst we also have some very experienced bloggers who we are always delighted to have join us when they can.
First among these is Alex at My Lifelong Holiday who has made it her mission to find the life and soul of travel even with her kids in tow. Her posts on where to visit at home and abroad are both thorough and inspiring.
Janet at Falcondale Life is a passionate photographer and shares tips on her blog to inspire families with older children and amateur photographers to go on beautiful adventures. As well as this Janet also likes to share posts about life as a parent of a tween and a teen and things close to her heart.
Maflingo is the blog of Jane a woman with a variety of passions including homes and interiors, money-saving tips, family life and creativity. Jane's blog is awash with useful tips and most importantly serious advice on things that really matter.
Last but not least, no round-up would be complete without a shout out to the man with a foot in both the primary and secondary parenting camps as well as a wealth of blogging experience beneath his DIY belt, Nige at DIY Daddy. Nige offers a range of parenting and DIY advice on his blog and is never shy to express an opinion on a range of issues or fly the Welsh flag. It is always an honour to have him join us.
All that remains is to thank everyone who has supported us thus far. We really do appreciate it and as we move towards the next Tweens, Teens & Beyond milestone we hope you will all continue the journey with us.
Jo, Nicky & Sharon xx
Editor’s Note : The round-up is intended to be a highlight of the linkers who have joined us, it is by no means an exhaustive list.