Let’s just say the ‘D’ word that no one wants to talk about. No, not discharge, or diarrhoea, or double denim.

It’s death. Not a fun subject, but a significant one that no doubt a handful of pupils at your school – and maybe even you, lovely reader – have been affected by.

I was nine when my Mum died (breast cancer, in case you want to know – which of course you do, we all always want to know) and being the bereaved kid in school was really hard. Actually, it wasn’t hard. Hard was the death part. It was just super, super annoying.

I remember feeling like a celebrity whose nude photos had been leaked; a mix of embarrassment and strange popularity, the day I went back to school. Everyone stared and whispered. Teachers kept squeezing my shoulder, the kids in my class – including one who’d previously founded the Helena Hater Club (an annoyingly fabulous use of alliteration) – suddenly wanted to be on my team in rounders. A friend’s mother pulled me to one side to tell me that apparently my Mum was dancing in a meadow – a meadow – with my dead grandparents now.

But there was something that helped, and it wasn’t strangers telling me I was ‘brave’ or ‘strong’ because something happened to me that I had absolutely no control over – I was just getting up every day and putting one foot in front of the other, despite the fact that it felt like I was walking through sticky black treacle. That thing was my mates.

Here are the sad statistics; according to children’s charity Winston’s Wish, over 41,000 children in the UK are bereaved of a parent each year. That’s 100 every day. So, if that’s you, know this: you are not alone.

Death is the worst kind of goodbye, but it is inevitable, and if my experience taught me anything, it’s that there are some really great ways that friends can help. Grief feels like you’re stuck in one of those goody grabber claw machines, but instead of goodies you’re buried deep in the dark beneath bad thoughts and someone is playing a sad song on repeat. Friends are the claw that help get you the hell out – it might take a couple of goes, but eventually you will end up escaping.

How? For starters, friends can listen. Chances are, if someone is bereaved of a family member, they’ll be bearing the weight of enormous emotional support back at home. Friends can help relieve it – everyone needs to have a go at being the crying one. It’s healthy.

Patience is important too. The fact of the matter is death changes you. It just does. It might be a temporary change – your bereaved friend may not care about school for a while, or previously chilled friends might become anxious. They might even want to shut you out and be inside their own head for some time. Be patient while your friend works through that and let them know you’re ready to help if and when they want to ask for it.

Sensitivity – have it. Not too much, don’t treat your bereaved friend like a baby chick with a broken wing. Small things can sting though. I remember, a couple years later in secondary school, faking illness because we were learning family vocab in french and I just couldn’t deal with Madame Bernard asking us to repeat after her the french for “I live with my Mum”. Try to find out the date of their parent’s birthday, and remember the date that they died; it’s likely your friend will be having a bad time when it comes around each year.

Finally, bereavement will make a person crave normality like a packet of chocolate Hob Nobs on a bad period day. Make them laugh, distract them, remind them of the person that they were before this happened.

I won’t tell you that losing someone you love gets easier. Time can’t heal that, but you will get used to it. You’ll replace tears at the thought of them to laughter and a sense of comfort when retelling memories. It’s been 17 years since my Mum died and, cards on the table, I miss her just as much as I did when I was nine. But the shock has gone, which helps prevent the sense of loneliness, which helps you realise that you are not in this alone.

The dead parent club has many members. It’s a subscription none of us asked for, but we’ve got the badge and we wear it anyway. We’re puffy-eyed, determined and worth every second our mates spend standing at that claw machine.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Being the youngest child in your family isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be… it’s so much more. Yes, there’s plenty of jealousy and incessant teasing to deal with, but once you get past that it can be pretty glorious.

With that in mind, here are all the things you only know if you’re the youngest child – sorry, eldest and middle sibs, but we definitely got the sweet end of the deal.

Your birth was met with a mixture of jealousy and relief from your siblings

Another kid to share toys and hugs with, but thankfully you were the last new addition to the fam.

For the first five years of your life, you were probably meaner to them than they ever were to you.

Because when else can you get away with biting, scratching and nipping without landing yourself in serious trouble with your parents?

But then the tables turned

You quickly became the butt of all their jokes and they would never let you hang out with them and their friends during school lunchtime.

God forbid anyone join in with their teasing, though

They were allowed to call you any names they wanted, but if their friends joined in there would be hell to pay, because “THAT’S MY LITTLE SISTER!”

Somehow you still desperately wanted to hang out with them

If everyone at school saw you hanging out with an older crowd they’d think you were so cool.

And occasionally they’d let you

If only to get your mum off their case and make a little extra pocket money in the process.

You resented them for their hand-me-downs

Prints that went out of fashion four years ago and busted elastic waistbands were par for the course.

But you were (and still are) definitely a little spoiled

Even if not materialistically, your parents let you get away with so much more than your elder sibs, and because of that you were never grounded nearly as much as them.

Sometimes ‘spoiled’ stretches into ‘overprotected’ territory

Cue your fam vetting all potential suitors who dare to even look in your direction. You probably won’t date until you’re 30, but you’ve learned to accept that fact.

Yet you love your big sibs and all their weird ways regardless

They just ‘get’ you like nobody else.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

Disclaimer: I have always loved (loved, LOVED) my grandparents. Blessed with an IRL Santa Claus and the working class answer to Mary Berry, I have never once suffered that foreboding sense of gloom some of my peers confess to feeling upon being told they’re off to the ageds for lunch.

From the age of 0 to an age well beyond what is deemed to be cool, our lives as grandchildren were a halcyon dream of homemade forts, homemade swords and homemade dolls houses interspersed with homemade millionaire’s shortbread. Yet while not everyone’s forefathers can be as legit as ours have been, there will always be some merit in hanging out with them — if only for the brownie points, and actual brownies.

For one thing there’s the food. Sure, it might not be home baking, but if your grandparents are anything like my grandparents, you’ll never go hungry. Set free from the burden of parental responsibility for your teeth/mind/waistline, they will quite happily cave to your various cravings and desires.

If they’re good cooks, you can learn from them: many a happy hour I’ve spent watching my grandmother crumble pastry, knead bread, whip up a meringue and reduce a chicken carcass to rich, hearty stock. All that I have learnt in the way of using (and reusing) leftovers or in successful cake baking, I have leant at her apron strings while sucking on chocolate eclairs, mint crumbles or some other exotic sweet to be found in Marks and Spencer’s.

Yet the lessons to be learnt from your elders can (and, in the case of those grandparents who prefer their meat cremated and their vegetables soggy) should extend far beyond the kitchen walls.

There’s the art of saving: of making and mending and other techniques which, in our post war age of consumerism, are at serious risk of dying out. Some work better than others: my grandma’s insistence on storing her money under a mattress has its flaws, for example, but if you can master some of the arts of darning, wiring, hemming, patchwork quilting and bargain hunting you’ll be literally quids in.

Not only are they well worth learning, they can prove a fairly entertaining bonding exercise. My cack handed attempts to darn moth holes in my jumpers may not make my grandma proud, but they certainly make her crease up. Next month, my grandad is teaching me how to make elderflower wine with his ancient wine making kit. Coming as they do from an age pre-internet – pre-mobile phone, even – our grandparents capacity for survival, self-sufficiency and entertainment is boundless in comparison to our own goldfish brains. Even if you don’t learn how to make your own lipstick from beetroot juice, those are some pretty solid life lessons right there.

Then of course there’s the stories: stories of childhood escapades, first jobs, first loves and — a classic — how your grandparents got together, pre-internet! How, Where, Why etc. In my case, my grandad’s father was a landlord, my grandma’s father was a drunk, and romance blossomed over many years of her rocking up at the pub to persuade him to come home. Bear that in mind next time you assume things were sweeter back then.

In all seriousness, though, your g’folks are a gold mine of tales just waiting for you to spare the time and the patience. Listen closely. They won’t always be in the mood to tell you — and you will, on occasion, have to suffer laments on Sainsbury’s price of washing powder while they warm up — but stay with them. Not only are these nuggets the footnotes of history, they are your own family glue.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

The only thing worse than having a little sister who adores you and constantly copies you, is having a little sister who has recently decided that you’re less cool than a school assembly about litter.

When I was 11, my 10-year-old sister Beth was my one-girl fandom. I’d dread school break times, as she’d rush towards me in the playground and wrap her arms around my waist like a rubber ring – I’d wriggle and struggle, grumbling as she slowed me down and stopped me from finding a dinner lady to complain to. She made up songs, stories and secret worlds, searching out the weirdness in everything, always spotting something magical amongst the small and unseen.

She filled our shared bedroom with ice cream cartons full of snails, which she ‘raced’ across our garden – and she treated her tiny friends with intense tenderness. When I complained about our new roommates and said it was “disgusting” to sleep with snails, she’d say “Shhhh! They can hear you!” She was passionate, she was sincere, and she always wanted to join in.

But I was horrible to her.

I didn’t want her playing with my perfume or reading my magazines, because she was a ‘baby’. I was too busy talking about boys (not to boys, let’s not be crazy) to be bothered about her snails.

Then, as we both headed towards our teens, something shifted. I guess I got what I deserved.

Beth became cooler than me – and suddenly, I became the annoying one. She found new friends. We started listening to different music. While she’d once begged to be involved when I went on about which song was number one, she started bragging about being a fan of alternative bands, and told me that I was pathetic for listening to what was in the charts. She used to say I looked like a princess when I wore a pretty dress. I was “way too girly” and “clearly had no personality or any individuality”.

I would have given anything – the £57 in my Halifax savings account, my best nail polish, the pale pink Topshop aviator jacket I’d spent months saving up for – to get babyish Beth back. I would have taken her to every single party I was invited to, and she could have held onto my waist all night long. But she’d rather wear a dreaded princess party dress in public than be seen with me.

Beth seemed so tough and together that I was stunned when I walked past her room one morning and heard muffled sobs. I thought she said my name. I must have been imagining things. Then she said it again. I gently pushed the door open.

“Don’t tell Mum,” she murmured, and my brain immediately exploded with terrifying thoughts about what might be wrong. “But I’ve started.”

My first reaction was relief that nothing horrible had happened. But when I looked at Beth’s face, I realised that to her, it was horrible. Her body was changing, and it had frightened her.

I’d started my periods over a year ago, and was starting to find the rhythm of my body quite comforting, from the familiar ache in my lower back, a couple of days before I was due, to that feeling of prickly tearfulness that disappeared the moment the period arrived.

“It’s OK.” I held my arms out to her. “At the moment, it feels like nothing in the world will ever be OK again. But this is the worst part, I promise.” She stayed stiff for a second, then hugged me back.

“You really do have to tell Mum, though. She’ll know exactly what to do.”

We weren’t exactly BFFs again – and as we grew up and got older, we became even more different, and even better at antagonising each other.

But from that moment, we were in a conspiracy of two. A slightly awkward tag team who knew exactly how to wind each other up, but who would always share hot water bottles. Even on the occasions when I was barely speaking to Beth, I’d always offer her my last two Nurofen.

Sisters are strange, and even though we’re both grown up, I’ll never stop being thrilled and bewildered by the fact that Beth can be simultaneously so similar and so different from me. When we were on the brink of our teens, those differences seemed like a huge divide. But learning that our bodies worked in the same way, even if our minds didn’t, brought us back together again.

@NotRollergirl

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: 10 Things I Hate About You

When my mum and dad split up, it felt like there was a LOT for me to deal with. Where would I live? Where would I keep my things? Who would I see on weekends? What if I just wanted to hang out with my friends and forget about it all? Sure I knew it was tough for them… but it’s difficult not to get all me, me, me when stuff gets scary.

But, like everyone told me it would, a few months in and things started to feel more normal. I had a routine. Live with my mum, see my dad on Sundays. Keep all my things at my mum’s place, keep a few things at my dad’s. Feel ok to say “I don’t want to see either of you today” and go to the park or beach with friends instead. Simple. Who said this parents-getting-divorced-thingie was so hard..?!

But fast forward to a year later and my dad shook everything up again. He told me he was getting re-married. It hadn’t come as a huge surprise, he’d been seeing Linda for a few months as friends and I’d assumed they might be more. But it still didn’t seem quite right. The mixed feelings I had about it were confusing. Yes, I wanted him to be happy. But who was this new person? Did she really love him? What would our weekends together be like now? Would she get in the way? And what about Christmas? Would she be here at Christmas?

There were so many new challenges and questions to deal with, it felt like the worry and stress of the divorce all over again. But this time there was another person involved. A person I couldn’t help but feel I just didn’t like. A person who, let’s face it, was just getting in the way.

Whether your parents are separated, divorced or one of them has passed away, it can be really challenging when they start to go on dates, find a new boyfriend or girlfriend and, cringe, then even marry them further down the line. And you know what? It’s allowed to feel challenging. Or upsetting. Or just plain bloody weird. Yep, we said it. You don’t have to be happy and accepting of stuff all the time. Sometimes the best thing to do is say, “I feel sad about this”, own it, and then move on and figure out the best way to not feel sad anymore.

We spoke to some friends, experts and people who have dealt with a parent’s new partner in good (and bad) ways over the years to bring you some advice about how to deal with all the emotions, figure out how you really feel and then get over it so your mum or dad can be move on their lives with someone new — because as tough as that is to swallow, they want to be happy too. Just like you.

Talk about stuff (and then go ahead and talk some more)

Sarah told me that she was really wary about meeting her dad’s new partner when her mum passed away. She found it challenging, because it kept feeling like her mum was being replaced by someone new. In fact, when we spoke to a lot of people who’d lost a parent, they all said it felt like this when their mum or dad started dating again.

She got through it by talking really honestly with her dad. Telling him she was happy he had found someone, but the thought of forgetting her mum scared her.

“I made a point of sharing a lot,” she says. “It felt hard at first. Telling my dad when I felt scared or uncomfortable was really the key to us getting through it. I feel that if he’d just assumed I was okay, it would have felt like I was a bit trapped and couldn’t express myself.”

Of course, parents do somethings make mistakes too. And if there are any serious reasons (not just, like, their accent) for you to dislike their new partner, they’d want to know about it – which is another reason it’s important to keep talking.

Accept it feels sad and weird (especially when it gets really sad and weird)

We don’t want to get all doom and gloom, but sometimes it can all go really wrong. That’s because there are so many people involved when a new partner comes on the scene — and so many difficult, icky feelings to contend with.

I spoke to Alexa who told us that her mum had been struggling with her divorce, so quickly re-married. The problem? She hadn’t even told her new husband she had a daughter! Alexa says: “She asked me to meet Steve and I felt kinda excited about it — I just wanted my mum to be happy! It wasn’t until just before we were meant to meet she dropped the bombshell. She hadn’t told him about me. SHE HADN’T TOLD HIM ABOUT ME!”

“I’ve realised now my mum was just really sad and confused. She didn’t want to hurt anyone, but had really hurt me. I told her I felt angry, but we worked through things. It took some time, but we’ve learnt to trust each other a lot more now.”

Obviously this is quite an extreme case. But when things feel really bad, it’s important to take a deep breath. Accept that things feel bloody awful sometimes. Try not to get upset in the moment. And talk, talk, talk about how you’re feeling.

Think about what not liking someone might REALLY mean

It’s very easy to make quick judgements about who you do and don’t like. If you’re anything like me, you can decide someone is a bit annoying based on the way they wear their hair alone (I’m sorry, I’m only human).

I spoke to Dr Jane G. Goldberg, a psychoanalyst who recently published her eighth book called My Mother, My Daughter, Myself, and she told me sometimes it can be really good to think more when you say you don’t like someone:

“Actually, it’s probably more accurate that you don’t know whether you like him or her. It’s probably more true that you simply don’t like the role he or she is playing in your mother’s or your father’s life, and thus you don’t like the role that you are afraid he or she will be playing in your own life.”

When you think more about what “I don’t like them” means, it stops being this huge, annoying thing you can’t bear. Instead you can ask yourself what it is you don’t like. Like Jane says, you might find it’s not them you have a problem with at all – they, or the whole situation, just scare you a bit! 

Or maybe you do have a real problem, in which case it’s good to figure out what it is so you can talk about it properly.

Separate them from you, a little

We know, we know. You love your parents. You want them to be happy. They’re a huge part of your life and you’re a huge part of their life. But remember, you’re separate people. What you want right now isn’t what your mum or dad wants, and vice versa.

Molly Goldberg, daughter of Dr Jane G. Goldberg, shared some wisdom about what it was like when her mum found someone new:

“When your parent takes a partner that you don’t like, it’s important to remember it’s not your life, and if it were, you would hope that your friends and family would be supportive. Keep an open mind, be kind, be accepting, and be there for your parent regardless of the outcome of the relationship. What matters the most is your relationship with your parent, and you want to nourish it with lots of love.”

It can be hard to put your feelings aside. Especially when your mum or dad’s new partner drives you up the wall. But you know what? Maybe they’re really happy! Or maybe the relationship won’t last very long – either way, keeping your relationship with your mum or dad strong will only make things easier in the long run.

Feel your feelings! It’s ok to feel weird – like, REALLY weird

It’s important to put on a brave face when you’re meeting your parent’s new partner for the first time. But don’t worry if it feels weird — it’d probably be weird if it didn’t feel weird. Telling yourself you should feel certain things is only going to make you angry, resentful and a bit bitter, too.

For many of us that seems scary. We’re so used to ‘being good’ and ‘being brave’ that to feel angry or express sadness seems kinda, well, wrong. But Dr Goldberg thinks that getting all up close and personal with your feelings is really important. Just don’t let them run the show.

“I value feelings. I love feelings,” she says. “But I don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are facts. They are NOT facts. Feelings and emotions don’t define reality. They are not always accurate. They don’t always predict the future. In fact, feelings are usually fairly unreliable predictors of the future.”

“We can understand the nature of our feelings: that they are changeable … and that they are not meant to be held on to for too long.”

The dealing with icky new feelings checklist

1. It’s ok to feel weird, or sad or angry, or did we mention weird?

2. Talk about how you feel — even if the main thing you feel is really bloody scared.

3. Remember this is about your mum or dad, not you.

4. Try to avoid just saying “I don’t like him/her/them” and instead think about WHY.

5. You’re doing fine, promise. This is really tricky. But it won’t be forever.

@BeccaCaddy

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Manjit Thapp

IIIIIT’S CHRIIIIIIISTMAAAAASSS! OK, not really, but if you’re the kind of girl who’s as festive as Mariah Carey then it might as well be.

Sure, some people might think you’re being extra by talking non-stop about December 25th when it’s only August, but who are they to judge your enthusiasm for mince pies? In fact, they better not pout and you’ll be telling them why…

Here are all the things you only know if you’re on that Christmas countdown already:

All your friends rolled their eyes when you wished them a merry half Christmas

What else is there to celebrate on June 25th?

Since then, you’ve been counting down the days ’til the big one

Someone should really invent an advent calendar to bridge the gap between December 25th and… well, December 25th.

Once X Factor starts it’s basically Christmas Eve

Everyone knows the drill: X Factor stars, X Factor ends, CHRISTMAS!

And when it starts, so does your Christmas shopping

One for them, two for you.

You’re the only person you know who loves wrapping

You’ve definitely considered applying to work in the Selfridges gift wrapping department.

As soon as Halloween’s over you begin eating allllll of the Christmas snacks

We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

And you would never risk leaving your advent calendar shopping to 30 November

Why would anyone leave their chocolate choice to chance? You NEED the Maltesers one, obviously!

You completely lose it the first time you see the Coca-Cola Christmas advert

And the second… and the third…

And let’s not get you started on Mariah Carey

Ooooh, baby!

Every Sunday in December is spent watching Christmas movies

Yeah, you watch The Holiday all year round, but it doesn’t really count. Miracle On 34th Street, The Santa Clause, Home Alone – THOSE are Christmas movies.

And every party calls for allll of the sequins

Glitz is to Christmas what animal ears are to Halloween: 100% necessary.

You can never sleep come Christmas Eve

No matter how old you get, you can’t shake the excitement.

But the Boxing Day comedown is real

Until you realise it’s only 364 days until Christmas!

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

In Partnership With Girlguiding

So you didn’t get V festival tickets, your mum wouldn’t let you trek to the Isle Of Wight for Bestival, and Glastonbury was a big fat no. (Tbf you can barely pack for a sleepover at your bestie’s without forgetting your phone charger and a spare pair of knickers.) But even if your parents are as strict as Harry Potter’s house mistress Professor McGonagall, there is one festival we’re almost sure they’d let you go to.

Well, what is this magical festival?

Give a big fat Gryffindor wave to Girlguiding’s annual event, Wellies and Wristbands! The only catch? You’ve got to be a member of Girlguiding to get a ticket – and you’re going to want to sign up if you’re not a Girl Guide already as this camping extravaganza has serious cool factor. Not only is there tons of live music so you can pretend you’re dancing at V festival anyways, but there’s a pamper zone to get your beauty fix, hot tubs to chill with your mates in, cinema screenings, an amazing inflatable obstacle course, abseiling and even zip-lining! So, a) you won’t have to worry about getting bored and b) your mum and dad will get serious value for money without having to worry about mosh pits.

Amazing! Tell me more…

The weekend of fun takes place at two locos; Foxlease in the New Forest and Waddow Hall in Lancashire, so it shouldn’t even be a total mission if you beg your ‘rents to drive you there regardless of where you live. You’ll hit the festival with your Girlguiding group and will be looked after by your Girlguiding leader, so you’re covered when it comes to getting that all-important helping hand in putting up your tent. Phew. Plus, it lasts from Friday night ’til Monday lunchtime which means maximum gal-pal time with your mates, not to mention the whole new group of friends you’ll make over the weekend.

How much will it cost?

The festival ticket costs £105 for the whole weekend. That includes all your food, campsite fees, activities, music, transport from a local train station and your wristbands. All you need to bring is your own wellies! If your ma and pa think it’s pricey, just tell them that a day at Go Ape, a ticket to a gig, the cinema, a manicure, and a shiny new hot tub cost a helluva lot more…

Happy camping!

For more information, please visit the Wellies and Wristbands homepage.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Girlguiding

Same strop, different day. Not that we’re predictable, or anything…

1. The Ignition

Jelly wobble spoon gif

It might be something as small as not being allowed a packet of crisps before dinner (despite the fact you’ve been at school ALL DAY and need to get your energy levels back up for all that Instagram scrolling you need to catch up on), or something bigger like not being allowed to extend your curfew despite your friend’s parents allowing HER to be out until 10pm… but your parents have wronged you.

The heat inside you has begun to bubble…

2. The Decision

Now you have mere seconds to weigh up the situation and decide whether to implement Strop Central. Is it worth it? Can this be reasonably sorted out instead? Do you have the energy? You’ve been at school ALL DAY, remember…

3. The Storm

Little girl storming out gif

Of course it’s worth it! DING DING DING, off we go. You narrow your eyes, take a deep breath, dislocate your jaw for maximum impact and give an almighty HUFF before sassing your way out of the room.

If you’re going all-out, you choose a phrase to shout as you leave. Something like “THIS IS RIDICULOUS”, “YOU DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND” or the timeless, “UGGGHHHHH.”

4. The Stomp

Joey slamming a door on Friends

A strop must always involve stairs. That is the law. If the Ignition occurs downstairs then you’re set. You can stomp, stomp, stomp up to the bathroom or bedroom. If it occurs upstairs, you can stomp your way to… the garden shed? Just make sure you slam a door on your way out.

5. The RIGHT THAT’S IT

Angry little girl

Well, everybody in the immediate vicinity knows you are in a strop. Good. You’re fuming. You’ve had enough and this is the final straw. Nothing will ever be the same again for this family. They will regret their decision until the end of time itself.

6. The Reflection

Glowering girl gif

It’s been 10 minutes and you’re still sitting on your bedroom floor. The dust has settled, the bubbling anger has subsided. You realise that maybe this strop isn’t sustainable and maybe you could have tried to compromise and… NO. No, you must stick with the strop. You chose this path, you are entitled to the strop. Right?

7. The Hunger

How I Met Your Mother food gif

It’s been 45 minutes. You’re called for dinner. You hear your brother come out of his bedroom and run down the stairs. It does smell good and your stomach’s rumbling. You were at school ALL DAY, remember? There’s nothing in your room to eat… maybe this was a rookie error.

8. The Return

Beyonce strutting

Ok. You’ve built yourself up and will go downstairs for dinner. You realise that you can’t stay up here (or in the shed – too many spiders) forever and dinner really DOES smell good. You open the door, hold your head up high, and walk down those stairs with great confidence.

9. The Dignity

Dignified girl

You won’t mention the strop. You’re over it. But they must still know that you’re not happy with their parenting, so you’ll take on a silent protest. No eye contact. No conversation. You will sit and you will eat. Nothing more, nothing less.

Apart from asking for the ketchup.

10. The Pretending Like Nothing Happened

I'm Fine Ross gif

Screw it. You can’t be bothered to be quiet and you’re getting a headache from looking down so intently. The strop is over, the silent protest is over, and you just hope that no one mentions it…

“Stopped stropping now, have we?”

HOW DARE THEY.

See stage 1.

@louisejonesetc

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Sisters get all the glory. They’re in-built BFFs and take turns being bridesmaids. They borrow each other’s clothes and the older sister always teachers the younger one about periods and sex. Apparently.

I don’t have a sister. Instead, I have a lot of brothers. I always liked that about myself, as if I had anything to do with it.

I didn’t understand sisters; didn’t understand the way they could be screaming at each other over a pair of jeans one second, cuddling on the sofa the next. I would watch my friends fight with their sisters, hatred streaming out of their mouth, their faces red and vicious, completely unembarrassed by my presence. I would watch them storm out and slam the door, only to reappear ten minutes later and ask if they could borrow a phone charger, like nothing had ever happened.

People with sisters know how to fight. They know how to speak their mind. To let their emotions fly out of their mouth, rather than swallowing them whole.

Instead, I had three older brothers. Mostly, we conformed to stereotypes: they played lots of sports and I wore pink and complained when I was made to watch aforementioned sports. We never fought. Well, we did. But our fighting involved them tickling me until I cried or holding me, fully clothed over the pool while I screamed bloody murder. I wasn’t a defenseless kid, I would bite down until my entire dental records were ingrained on their skin, or pinch them until they let go of me. Our fighting was physical and fast and playful and almost always ended with our mother telling us to be nice to each other.

I liked our way of fighting. Actually, I still like our way of fighting, but it got harder as we got older and it became unacceptable for adults to throw each other in the pool or bite each other’s forearms.

monica-and-ross

These days, when we fight, our tactic is avoidance. We screen each other’s phone calls or let texts go unanswered until we’ve forgotten what we were cross about in the first place. We stew, wait for it to pass, put it aside. My family don’t work ‘through’ things, we work around them. I am always semi in awe of the people who are able to express their feelings. Those who deal with conflict head-on rather than running around the back and checking to see if the coast is clear before reemerging.

To be honest, my brothers and I rarely fight anymore. Mostly, they feel like my team mates. People who look like me and sound like me and remember the time our dad got airlifted out of the Australian desert because he had a headache that he was convinced was a tumour (it wasn’t).

We aren’t close in the way sisters often are, we don’t talk about relationships and we are perfectly content to let our mum collect and pass on our news, like some sort of loving, all-purpose media outlet.

But we are close in a different way. They call every so often just to make sure I’m doing ok. They are protective whenever I introduce them to a boyfriend. They randomly send me texts littered with emojis that I take to mean, ‘Hey, I’m thinking of you.’ They let me go halves on a birthday present for my dad if I can’t think of anything good to buy him. Having three older brothers feels a bit like having three bodyguards who each call you by a different childhood nickname.

Maybe, if I had had a sister, I would have been better at speaking my mind. I would have learnt how to deliver that verbal blow that sisters seem so adept at doing.

Instead, I had brothers. So I know exactly the spot on someone’s arm to pinch that will cause a bruise the next day and I know that there are a million ways to say ‘I love you’ without ever using the words. And who knows, maybe that’s just as useful.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Personally, I love family gatherings. Always have, ever since I was kid and family gatherings meant running amock with my cousins. Yet there’s no denying that with the onset of teenagehood, en mass family time becomes harder to bear. You don’t want to run amock with your cousins. You don’t want to run, period. But nor do you want to be grilled by your great uncle Pete on your GCSE, A level, degree and career choices when your whole brain is currently engaged in weighing up the relative merits of mum’s trifle versus aunt Anne’s cheesecake.
You need some survival tactics — some coping strategies you can employ when tensions are high and the conversation is low. Listen closely then, to the following advice. Because if anyone knows how to ride out an awkward family situation, it’s the girl with two stepparents, six step siblings, 10 cousins and more uncles, aunts and step uncles and aunts than you can shake an angry stick at…

Find a safe space

There will be moments when the atmosphere in the room is tense enough to tightrope on. These are the moments to find yourself suddenly and urgently needing the loo. You don’t actually have to go to the loo: in fact it’s probably best if you don’t, as you can bet your bottom penny you won’t be the only one with that escape route— but do, before you get stuck into the family time, scope out a quiet hiding place to which you can retreat when the going gets sticky. Mine was my grandad’s workshop — but I can also recommend attics, garages, large cupboards and the upper branches of an easily climbed tree.

Go armed with life choices

These do not need to be set in stone. They don’t even need to be real, in fact — but they need to be delivered with conviction. If it’s sociology and biology A-Levels followed by a stint on Love Island, you need to be as confident and positive about it as you might be a degree in law. See each family gathering as a dry run to a meeting with your careers advisor — we’ve loads of excellent betty guides here — and once great uncle Pete has dredged your entire future, turn the tables on him: nothing stops the Spanish inquisition like another Spanish inquisition.

Consider it an act of charity

For Pete’s sake, if no one else’s. You might not be living for the family do, but for the older members it’s probably the highlight of their social calendar: they’ll be dining off these memories until the next one comes around. Make them worth their chewing on – out of loving duty, preferably, but if it is easier to consider it your good deed of the week, then sure. Show them some affection, tell them your stories, ask questions and pay attention when they reply to you. What is the smallest sacrifice on your part – time – will be rewarded many times over by the pleasure you’ll give them – and besides, you may find you learn something. You don’t get to their age without racking up a fair few experiences, and, having grown up in a very different time to your own, their old tales are quite literally portals to another world.

Initiate games

My family are big game players: cards, Boggle, Pass the Bomb, Pit, Chinese Chequers, Rummikub, rounders, cricket: if it involves fighting each other to the death via the medium of a board or a pitch, we’re all over it. It makes for the perfect failsafe should conversation take a turn for the awkward, and – whisper it – it’s actually pretty fun. If your family don’t have any go-to games yet, initiate some. There’s plenty to choose from, and you can bend the rules to accommodate age and ability. Sure, you’ll be at each other’s throats by the end of it – but at least you’ll be arguing about spades and aces rather than the inheritance from your great aunt.

Help out

If all else fails – and there is a certain arm of my sprawling family for whom I have as much tolerance as I do a bluebottle trapped in a strip light – throw yourself into helping clear dishes, wash up, set tables and stir gravy with all the enthusiasm of those little mice in Cinderella. You’ll get brownie points AND you can minimise all unwanted contact with the fam.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds

Whether your dream bedroom is pretty and pink like Betty’s in Riverdale, or sleek and chic like Serena’s in Gossip Girl, we’ll bet there’s one thing you definitely don’t want in it – your sister.

But sometimes you don’t have a choice when it comes to sharing a room, and it can be pretty frustrating. No privacy, conflicting sleep schedules and having to live among all their junk does not make for harmonious sisterly love!

Sharing a room is not ideal, but it’s also not impossible. These top tips will help you keep the peace.

1. Remember it’s not forever

First things first, no matter how annoying your sister is and how much you feel like screaming every time you’re in your room together, remember it’s only temporary. One day you’ll have your very own room and you can do what you like with it. You could start a Pinterest board to plan exactly how it’ll look – it’ll give you something to focus on when she starts snoring again or after you’ve tripped over her shoes for the millionth time.

2. Don’t be petty

It might be tempting to literally draw a line down the middle of the room but that just makes things awkward for everyone. Agree that you’re both allowed to move around freely – within reason, of course. Sprawling across her bed because yours is covered in laundry isn’t cool.

3. Schedule some private time

Privacy pretty much goes out the window when you share a bedroom, but it’s important you get some time to yourself occasionally. Try striking a deal for some regular ‘me time’; perhaps she could watch her favourite TV show in the lounge each week, while you could take the dog for a walk on a designated evening?

4. Share and share alike

Set some ground rules for sharing your stuff. It’s probably a bit unreasonable to flat out refuse to lend her any of your clothes, because chances are she’s got something you’ll want to borrow, too. Agree that any borrowing requests must be made with plenty of notice – no sneaky pinching!

5. Keep it clean

Living with a slob is a clean freak’s worst nightmare – but it’s not much fun living with someone who has tantrums over mug coasters, either! Try to keep your mess to a minimum, and schedule some time once or twice a month to give your room a good clean together, so you feel like you’re putting in equal effort.

6. Respect each other’s sleep schedules

Sleep deprivation is horrible, and if you’re not getting to sleep early enough or you’re being woken up too early, you’re going to be tired, cranky and miserable. Decide on ‘quiet hours’ – say 10pm until 7am – where you both make the effort to keep noise to a minimum. Ask your parents to pick up some low wattage light bulbs the next time they do the weekly shop too so you’re not blinding each other if you need the light on in the night.

7. Make your space your own

You’re probably never going to agree on a décor theme, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put your stamp on your area of the room, whether that’s draping fairy lights around your headboard or putting a funky rug down beside your bed. There’s loads of shared-room interiors inspo Pinterest to get you started.

8. Get your parents onside

Chances are, your parents aren’t super happy about you having to share a room either, simply because they know it’s going to result in arguments now and then. But at times it’ll feel like they don’t care about your situation – after all, they chose to share a room. But if something is really bothering you and you’ve already tried talking to your sister, speak to your parents about it. Keep a cool head and explain that you’d like their help in sorting out the problem. It’s much harder for them to say no to something if you’re reasonable about it.

9. Remember it’s no fun for them either

It’s easy to focus on how much it sucks for you to have to share a room, but your sister probably isn’t that happy about it either. Next time you’re about to lose your temper with her, take a deep breath and try to remember that you’re probably just as annoying in her eyes. You’re both in this together, which means sometimes just letting things go.

10. Enjoy it

Sharing a room with your sister can be a right pain, but it can also be a lot of fun. You’ve got someone there when you’ve had a bad day, someone to chat with late into the night and someone to have a giggle with 24/7 – you’ll never feel lonely. Make the most of it – you might miss it one day!

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

I remember vividly the quivering sense of excitement I felt when my parents told me I was going to have a brother or sister. A playmate, I cried! After six long years of solitude, I was finally being rewarded with a partner in crime; a bad guy to my good guy; a fellow cast member with which to share the makeshift stage. For nine months I dreamed of all that we’d do together. His Action Man could save my Barbie — or, if he was a girl, her Barbie and mine could fight for Ken’s affections!

Looking back, my doll games were fairly limited in their plot lines, and in their depressingly conformist gender roles. More ambitious plans included reaching the top of the apple tree (I’d stand on their shoulders), forming a secret club of secrets (I’d be Club Captain), and reenacting the Little Mermaid in the paddling pool.

His arrival did not disappoint me. Sure he was small, but that was surely a temporary impediment. Patiently I pushed toy cars at him, placed Action Man in his tiny hands, and dressed him up in dresses, tiaras or dog masks according to the stage production or my mood.

Often I lost patience: WHEN would he just grow up! I’d shout, as he poked his tongue through the holes of the tennis racket I’d given him, picked up the ball and chewed it obliviously — and really, by the time he really was of Action Man playing age, I’d almost lost interest. I was 13 and had more important things to think about than dolls with contourless plastic for genitals — until an idle moment, rain and a sudden urge for silliness showed me the error of my ways.

You’ll be hilarious (simply because you’re older)

Whatever you do or say will be automatically far funnier than anything their minds can even conceive of (caveat: this only works up to a certain age — then they’re funnier than you).

There is no pressure

You don’t have to do or be anything other than their older sister. You can have a face like a slapped arse and be wearing your gran’s body warmer and they’ll still think you are the coolest thing in the world.

They’ll laugh you out of your moods

Either because they’ll do, or say something stupid, or because it’s actually impossible to run around the garden ‘riding’ a cane with your dad’s sock stuffed full of plastic bags tied to the end, with a horse’s face drawn on, and not crack a smile.

They will love you for it

In world in which people are increasingly hard to please, the simple offering of half an hour of your time will earn you no end of devotion from them, and your parents praise.

You don’t have to be cool

In fact, the more silly you are, the better. Hoover their foot. Shoot them with a banana. Steal their hat and run off with it. Make farting noises or, better still, actually fart at them — then run out and shut the door.

You can abuse them

See above. Obviously don’t punch them or anything. At least, not hard. Or too near their eye area. But by and large, when it comes to siblings, you can metaphorically speaking go for broke.

You’ll be good with kids

Being able to entertain the younger members of your family is the best possible preparation for being an adult who can speak to children without sounding like a simpering idiot — and ultimately, for having a good relationship with your own kids.

You’ll help your parents

Spare a thought for the ‘rents. They’ve only just got you to the feeding, speaking and walking stage, now they’ve got to go and do it all again in what must seem like a never-ending carousel of childcare. Take them off their hands for ten minutes or so and you’ll earn some serious brownie points — not to mention bargaining power when it comes to your next big night out.

You’ll be friends forever

Yeah, it’s taken some time — but 20 years later that that tiny, wailing, flopping thing was worth the investment. My brother has picked me up when I’m down, shot me down when I’m up myself, ferried me from parties, airports and train stations and built various bits of furniture. They may be as irritating as eczema, sunburn and hives all rolled into one, but trust me: in every sibling there lies a potential best friend.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton