My parents separated when I was in my teens. From a selfish point of view, this felt like bad timing. I was studying for my exams, having friend dramas, having boy dramas and worrying about 5,098,968 other things. The last other thing I needed to worry about was where I’d live, where I’d keep my stuff and how I’d navigate Christmases (that’s a word, promise!) and important events with both my mum and my dad.

Over time we worked together as a family to figure things out. I realised that both my parents were going through a lot of different emotions themselves. We came up with arrangements: I’d live with my mum and see my dad some weekends. We came up with Christmas plans: I’d spend Christmas Eve with my dad and Christmas Day with my mum. We came up with ways of talking about everything going on that felt natural and lots more.

Four years later, I was happy and so were my parents and my little brother. But then I got a boyfriend who also had divorced parents. This was great because it meant we really understood what it was like to be in each other’s shoes. The difficulty around birthdays. How to spend Easter. Who to call first in an emergency. But nothing prepared me for how tricky it would be to plan FOUR Christmases.

We both really wanted to spend Christmas together. But then realised that meant we didn’t just have one big Christmas to plan, but four. One at my mum’s, one at my dad’s, one at his mum’s and one at his dad’s. To make matters worse, everyone was really keen to see us on Christmas Day. Now, this is a nice problem to have. Lots of parents, lots of Christmases, lots of love. But it meant we had to be really smart about what we did and how we planned it.

First up, we decided to see my family because they’re both in the same town. We spent Christmas Eve with my dad, his wife and my little sister. This was lovely because we were all feeling fresh and Christmassy. My little sister loved being able to open some presents a day early because it felt exciting – not to mention a bit cheeky. Of course it felt sad to say goodbye to them, but they were excited about their Christmas Day together. So we left them in good spirits. So far so good!

Next up we travelled to my mum’s house where my brother was also staying and had Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day morning with them. This felt really special. The big day! We did all the little traditions we did as kids, like putting out our stockings, having mince pies outside looking at the stars and a whole bunch of other silly, festive things. It was nice to include my boyfriend in all of them too. Christmas morning was a lot of fun and we opened presents nice and early. But then we had to leave to travel to my boyfriend’s mum’s house. It really didn’t feel good leaving my mum and brother behind. AND my little sister called me to wish me Merry Christmas, which really pulled on my heart strings. But I pushed through the emotions to be there for my boyfriend and his family.

Luckily travelling only took a few hours and we were greeted by my boyfriend’s mum and brother who were so excited to see us. By this point we were feeling a bit tired, but tried our best to lift our Christmas spirits. A great way to do this was to play games, like Monopoly and Charades. This way we got to spend time together but didn’t end up eating and feeling too full or talking about the same conversations over and over.

We spent a night there with my boyfriend’s mum and woke up fresh the next day to travel to his dad’s house. When we first arrived we were feeling surprisingly energised. My boyfriend hadn’t seen his dad in months, so it was really special for him. They really appreciated that we’d had so many ‘Christmases’ already, so they made things different. We had a steak and veggies rather than Christmas Dinner! Hot chocolates rather than Christmas Pudding! Then played lots of silly games before giving smaller gifts round the fire instead of big ones round the tree.

Overall it was really fun and really exhausting! If you’ve also got a Christmas to spend with lots of parents or lots of friends or lots of relatives, here are some handy tips I think really helped me:

Decide if you’ll give presents – and what they’ll be

If you’re going to spend Christmas with a lot of different relatives or friends, you’ll need to think about a budget. You can’t buy loads of gifts for everyone – even if you want to. What we did was agreed to buy my little sister presents, then set a £10 limit with everyone else. This meant we had to get creative with gifts too, which is always more fun!

Make a plan and try your best to stick to it

Having a strict plan isn’t nice over Christmas, but you’ll need a rough idea of where you’re going and how long to spend in each place if you want to see everyone. Give yourself room on either side of your plan too. That way if you want an extra round of Scrabble or an extra mince pie or three you won’t be panicking.

Enjoy the moment, but keep in touch with selfies, photos and chats if you want to

I’m not recommending you spend your whole Christmas on your phone. BUT if you’re really missing a friend or relative or sibling or partner, then keep in touch with them in ways that feel easy and fun. Like sending a mince pie selfie to your mum or make a silly audio message of you singing a Christmas carol to your dad.

Take a breather for yourself

At Christmas time it’s easy to think you have to be a perfect, exciting shining star all the time. But we all know that’s not possible, especially if you have lots of different Christmas celebrations to attend. Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself by going for a walk, having a breather or helping out with cooking and chores so you don’t get tired of talking and socialising.

Have fun

The most important advice is to have fun. Christmas always seems overwhelming for me, but it’s over so fast. I often wish I’d spent more time enjoying the present moment rather than worrying about whether my dad really liked that tie or whether I should have stayed to have another mince pie with my gran.

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: Mean Girls

There’s Christmas music everywhere, loads of festive ads on TV and mince pies now seem to be part of everyone’s staple diet. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, right? Except for some reason you just can’t get into it. You know it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and you know there are lots of things to be excited about, but you’re still feeling meh about it all. Here’s how to fix that – you’ll be feeling warm and fuzzy in no time.

1. Make a Christmas playlist

Whether it’s a classic like Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You, a cheesy tune like Wizzard’s I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday or just a nice choral take on traditional carols, organise your faves into a playlist (or search other people’s playlists for some inspiration) and play it in the background while you’re doing some of the other things on this list.

2. Watch a Christmas movie

You’ve probably seen them all a hundred times, but no-one ever really gets tired of cheesy festive films. And there’s one for every mood, from magical classic Home Alone to old-school action thriller Die Hard. And let’s not forget the ultimate Christmas film, The Snowman, which is guaranteed to thaw even the coldest Christmas heart!

3. Get decorating

Even if your family have hard and fast rules about when the Christmas tree goes up, you can still decorate your own space. Grab a stack of old newspapers and magazines to make your own paper chains, or collect holly to make a wreath. And don’t forget lots of lovely twinkly fairy lights.

4. Bake mince pies

Christmas and mince pies go together like Biebs and Selena. These sweet festive treats are delicious however they come, but homemade ones taste the best and they’re so easy to make – plus they’ll make the house smell amazing. Not a fan? Bake them anyway and give them to someone who’ll like them – it is the season of giving, after all!

5. Do something charitable

While we’re on the subject of giving, let’s not forget that Christmas is a time of goodwill and compassion for others. Even if you’re not fussed about the holiday, there are lots of people out there who’d love to celebrate it but aren’t able to because of personal circumstances. You can make a difference by volunteering some of your time to an organisation in need, by making up a shoebox gift for a charity appeal, or simply by dropping a few coins into a collection jar. Giving feels good!

6. Go to a carol service

Or your younger sibling’s nativity play, or even better, a cheesy pantomime! It’s a Christmas cliché, yep, but you won’t find that much festive cheer in one place anywhere else.

7. Give yourself a festive manicure

Grab your nail art stickers and your gold, red and green nail polishes and go to town, as gaudy as you like! Instagram and Pinterest are full of Christmas nail art inspiration right now, so put on your playlist and get to work for a wave of Christmas cheer every time you catch sight of your festive fingertips.

8. Cosy up with a hot drink

Whether it’s a hot chocolate (with whipped cream, obvs) or a flavoursome spiced tea, make yourself a holiday-themed cuppa and feel the festive cheer warm you up from the inside out.

9. Make your own Christmas cards

Get creative with ribbon, washi tape, stamps and stickers to create your own Christmas cards, and then write a personalised message inside them for each of your friends. You’ll have made something really cool and had the chance to reflect on your brilliant friendships, so that’s double the warm fuzzy feelings!

10. Visit your town’s Christmas lights

Even if you can’t make it for the official turning on (which will no doubt feature one or two Z-list celebs), choose an evening to wrap up warm and go for a wander underneath your town’s Christmas lights. And hey, if it doesn’t help you feel more festive, at least you’ll have loads of pics for Instagram where you can at least pretend to be full of Christmas cheer.

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Image: Amber Griffin

Plaid has never been our colour, pattern or style. Yet, there we are, Monday to Friday, dressed like a little Scotsman in an oversized kilt. With a blazer, some ‘smart’ shoes (which frankly, are just plain ugly unless your mum is cooler than mine) and a just-about-acceptable school bag. Not in summer though. Finally, we’re freeeeeeee! Here’s why not wearing school uniform is one of the best things about the summer holidays…

You can express yo’self…

Whether you’re more My Chemical Romance or Malibu Barbie, you can wear your style with pride, without getting told off by your grumpy headteacher.

…And not look like every other person in the room

This is not Despicable Me. We are not in Gru’s lab, and we are not Minions. (Even though they are freaking cute).

You can even experiment with your look

Want to dye your hair peachy blonde or try a fierce plum pout? The holidays are the best time to play around with your style because you can actually see what works in the safe haven of your bedroom. Grab the Colour Switch lippie from this month’s bettybox and try all the shades under the sun before you step out to reveal your brand new vibe.

You’ll actually have clothes to wear in the morning

We’ve all experienced the wait by the tumble dryer in the morning, in hope of a nice, crease free white shirt. Your wardrobe is full of possibilities when uniform isn’t a thing!

You can rock the cutest accessories

Since when is a tie a must-have accessory? FYI teachers, it isn’t. We’ll be flashing about the Stylondon henna tattoo from this month’s bettybox instead, thanks.

Your legs can actually breathe…

The combo of an oversized skirt and knee-high socks mean our legs never actually see the light of day during term time.

…And your arms can wave wild and free too

No constricting blazer holding you back from dancing to the summer bangers. Result!

Stylondon henna tattoo and Saturated Colour, Colour Switch lipstick are available in August’s bettybox. If you haven’t subscribed already, don’t worry! You can sign up for a bettybox here.

Going away without your parents for the first time is weird.

My first experience was a weekend away with the Brownies. We shared a large room in an old house, somewhere wet and cold in North Yorkshire.

It was also my birthday, something I’d been excited to celebrate with my new friends. That was until I overheard a girl whispering, ‘I could never spend my birthday away from my family’.

I felt a sudden pang of guilt and panic. I counted down the hours to getting home, snuggling on the sofa with a cup of tea and birthday cake, and watching Coronation Street with my mum and the dog.

Even writing that now makes me wonder why I ever left home again. But I did. I went to Spain with my new high school friend’s family, and rode the emotional rollercoaster all over again.

Whether it’s a school trip, a holiday with a friend’s family or a summer camp adventure – it’s likely that you’ll travel through a similar journey of the following highs and lows.

I can’t wait to get rid of the ‘rents for a whole week

Finally, I can shake off my parents and be the strong, independent woman that I am. No more sad camping trips in the rain and sharing a tent with my annoying brothers. And no more stupid games like rounders or Scrabble. This is my moment to be a proper grown up who sunbathes, acts aloof behind giant sunglasses and wears a two-piece swimsuit.

Mum please stop crying, I’ll see you in a few days

She is SO embarrassing. Why can’t she be a cool mum, instead of a regular mum? I hope Hayley didn’t see her squeezing Mr Teddy into my hand luggage. She needs to know that I’m totally mature.

I want my mum!

*Sobs while clutching onto Mr Teddy*

Why would she let me go through such a dangerous journey of passport checks, turbulence and lost luggage without her? Why did she send me off on my own? Why hasn’t she replied to my WhatsApp messages? Will she get on the next flight out here? Or has she already got used to life without me?

This. Is. So. Cool.

So last night’s drama was a blip. Today I made friends with six other girls and they all have belly button piercings. We discussed the importance of feminism and listened to Lorde while chilling in the sun. These are my kind of people, this is my type of holiday.

Oh great, my period has come along too

What brilliant timing! Thank you, life! Period blood polka-dots are the perfect pattern for my yellow bikini anyway. And I’m sure tummy cramps won’t be totally unbearable in this heat… Thank you mum for packing the maxi pads and super tampons! Can I get my period deported?

My family NEVER has this much fun on holiday

We walked around the local village today. Usually, I would have to wait around the souvenir shop for an hour while my mum stocks up on incense sticks and magnets for her friends. But here, we were allowed to go off on our own for a full hour! We got a cola at the cafe, bought friendship bands and stalked Hayley’s crush on Instagram.

I wish my brothers were here

We went kayaking today and it reminded me of the time my brother tipped mum from a boat into the lake. He sacrificed two weeks’ pocket money for that comedy gold moment.

And I got quite sunburnt today because I’m incapable of putting on sun lotion without my mum repeatedly telling me to do it. I wonder if the girls fancy a game of rounders. Oh no, maybe I do miss my family?

I never want to leave

I cannot be expected to go back to my normal life. I want to go swimming with these girls every day and have midnight feasts through fits of giggles with them every night. No one can tear me apart from my holiday crush, even though I have barely said two words to him – I won’t let them!

Take me home, now!

Hayley is so annoying. In fact, everybody here is so annoying. Even my crush is annoying. I’m going to give my mum the biggest hug ever at the airport and get the Scrabble board out when we get home.

NONONO, why is it all over?!

Mum’s shouting at me for getting sunburnt, school starts again next week and my brothers are ignoring me for not getting them a present. Bring on next year!

@hlouiser89

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Image: Hailey Hamilton

School holidays are great. You don’t have to set alarms. You can wear anything you like. You can eat lunch whenever your hunger strikes. But sometimes, every so often, they can get, um, a bit… er, dull.

I know! I know, it’s not what you’re meant to say. You’re meant to be grateful and thankful and brimming with holiday-induced joy. But, well, sometimes you can end up sitting on the floor of your bedroom, completely out of episodes of Stranger Things to re-watch and with no idea what to do next.

Well, fear not! We have come up with some ideas for how to keep the boredom at bay.

1. Make face masks

Mrs Doubtfire

I’m not entirely sure what it is that I find so soothing about face masks, but pretty much as soon as I apply that first slather, I feel myself relax. You can do it on your own, pop some cucumber on your eyes and listen to soothing music or you can get together with a bunch of friends and experiment with different types. I particularly love this banana face mask. Plus, if any of it ends up in your mouth, it’s totally delicious.

2. Got some leftover bananas?

If you have any bananas left over after making your face mask, it’s NBD because you can make banana popsicles!

3. Learn the Parent Trap Handshake 

One rainy afternoon, my best friend Georgia and I decided we would learn the handshake from Parent Trap. Because I have very little coordination, it took a ridiculous amount of time, but it was totally worth it when we showed our routine off to all our friends at school the next week.

parent-trap

4. Or if you’re more musically inclined…

You could learn “Cups” from Pitch Perfect, which will have the same effect.

5. Learn to face paint

Look, I’m not entirely sure when this life skill will come in useful but I promise you that if you learn how to paint your face so you look like Scar from the Lion King, a situation will arise. Halloween? Why not. A circus themed party? Sure. Next mufti day? I’m game if you are.

6. Marie Kondo your room

I wish I knew the words to describe the look I got in the betty offices when I said I didn’t know who Marie Kondo was. According to her Wikipedia, she’s a Japanese organising consultant and author. My friend Lauren told me that after she read Marie’s first book, ‘The Life-Changing Art of Tidying,’ she actually re-organised her wardrobe and it did, in fact, change her life. As someone who spends about five minutes every morning trying to locate the top I have in mind, I have to admit, I’m tempted.

7. Head to your local library

Holidays are always a great time to get on top of your reading list. If you’re feeling a little uninspired, why not check out Zoella’s new book club reads or some of our betty book reviews?

8. Or… get crafty with books

If you’re not that into reading or have got a lot of old books lying about, you could try some of these DIY projects that re-purpose old books into beautiful new accessories.

diy-inspiration-smashbook

9. Stage a tribute to Bey

What better way is there to spend your hols than learning all the words to Bey’s, ‘Hold Up’? Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, why not try and get the whole Lemonade album down? Put on your yellow-est dress and get crackin’.

Boredom, BE GONE. Bey-dom awaits!

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Image: The Diary Of A Teenage Girl

School’s out! Six weeks of freedom. No more lessons. No more uniforms. No more trying to hide in the toilets when you see your crush coming towards you because you’ve got the world’s biggest spot.

Now’s the time to laze around in the garden, sunbathe at the pool and cruise along the seafront in a convertible sports car. (Except if you’re chilling in the garden, your parents will nag you to tidy your room 263 times a day. Also, the whole of the UK only has 4.5 outdoor lidos and cruising the seafront in a convertible sports car only happens in American teen movies.)

There’s also this: although the break from school or college is fab, by the time you go back in September you’ll have forgotten everything you’ve learnt – and that means weeks or months trying to get back up to speed before coursework and exams kick in.

But there are things that can help. Eight things to be precise. Pick-and-choose activities as you go along or make a plan for what you’d like to achieve (colour coded timetable anyone?) because a couple of hours each week can make a big difference. Come September, the return to class won’t be such a shock to the system. It won’t make your PMS spots disappear though, sorry.

Take your cue from school

Let’s start with the basics. Boring, I know. But the best place to start is your school. That’s if you’re not already reading this from the side of one of Britain’s 4.5 lidos.

Do your homework: if you’ve been set tasks to complete over the holidays, then actually doing them will tick the box for mental activity, plus give you the satisfaction of being able to hand them in when you go back. No ‘dog ate my homework’ excuses required.

Ask your teachers: it may sometimes be hard to believe, but those people at the front of the classroom are experts in the stuff they tell you. They have certificates and everything! Pick their brains for advice. What one thing do they suggest would be useful to keep the subject fresh in your mind?

Visit the websites

The Internet is full of amazing things. Instagram. ASOS. Videos of cats. It also contains loads of useful resources to support your learning. Check them out during the holidays then return to the same sites for help when you’re revising. You’ll thank me for that tip, honestly.

For subject specific sites, there are webpages dedicated to all the subjects, with lots of interactive options. I wish I’d known about Study Maths! BBC Bitesize: every subject at every educational level is covered here, appropriate to wherever in the UK that you live. Bookmark it now!

Get the apps

As well as websites, there are many apps out there dedicated to helping you learn. Anyone would think education is important or something! Two brilliant ones are:

TED: Ted Talks cover every topic under the sun and they get the best people in each field to share their thoughts under the banner ‘Ideas worth spreading’. Warning: it’s a completely fascinating time suck. You may spend the whole of August watching talks.

Memrise: this app contains tons of courses to help you remember stuff. The language ones are particularly useful for keeping up knowledge of vocab. Repeat after me: ‘i bastoncini cinesi’*

Watch the videos

This is the moment when I tell you that YouTube is an educational resource. Yes really. If there’s something that you’ve never quite understood no matter how many times it was explained in class, get on YouTube and you’re sure to find an alternative perspective that might help it to make sense. It’s like having Professor Brian Cox as your own personal physics teacher.

BBC I-Player, Netflix and Amazon are full of documentaries that feature the best minds and important concepts so have a browse to see what’s available. Look for relevant films too. Of course The Devil Wears Prada totally counts as revision for Textiles.

Read the books

Go old school while you’re not at school and read real books. They don’t have to be course related, although the hols might be a good time to actually plough through any that you’ve skipped or skim read. Just reading *anything* is good for your brain!

Go to the library: as well as being able to borrow books for free, lots of local libraries offer summer reading challenges with events and rewards. Or join a book club: there are loads of these around, including ones dedicated to teens such as Zoella’s collaboration with WH Smith and the online one offered by the Guardian newspaper.

Have a break

Because it’s worth a reminder: holidays are for having a break. You’ll learn better in September if you go back rested and refreshed – but you can keep your mind active over the time off too.

*Chopsticks in Italian.

@rae_ritchie_

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: St. Trinian’s

You will apply it too late

This is, by any means, a piece of advice — you really shouldn’t do this — but if you’re anything like me, the moment SPF flits across your mind will be the moment someone says helpfully, “you’re looking a little bit red on your face, love. D’you want some cream?”

You will apply too little

Leaving four perfect little finger lines where you slapped it onto your back, moved your hand around a bit, then got distracted by a beach ball game.

You will apply too much

Leaving you wandering around like Casper the Friendly Ghost, holding out your sticky paws and asking “suncream anyone? Anyone for some some cream?” in attempt to literally palm the stuff off on your mates.

It will get on your favourite top

Leaving a greasy, blotchy, sunproof souvenir of Tenerife ’17 you neither wanted nor needed.

Someone will slip on it

Because it is, let’s face it, nigh on impossible to succeed in the thorough application of suncream without leaving a little oil slick around where you’ve creamed your feet.

The spray nozzle will clog up

Either it will spurt out in unexpected directions (probably into your eye), or it won’t spurt at all; it will just dribble feebly down the sides of the bottle. This means that in order to access the cream, you’ll have to open it — but you can’t do that because it’s too greasy, and you can’t wash it off because it’s waterproof suncream, so in the end you just have to resign to creaming up, splurty dribble by splurty dribble, until the sun goes behind a cloud and the whole sorry exercise comes to nought.

Somebody will have the smart remarkably stupid idea of writing their/their crushes initials in suncream on their chest

Not that this doesn’t work guys — it really does, and all too well — but the burning pain slash shame of having CF 4 PT tattooed across your torso will almost certainly outlive its comedic value.

It will get in your eyes

Think you’ve washed the bugger off? Well think again, maestro! Because you can bet your bottom Euro that the moment you go to scratch your eye will be the moment a searingly painful droplet of SPF 30 will appear out of nowhere and leave you in an unreasonable amount of pain.

You’ll be covered with sand

Sand on your hands, sand behind your knees, sand in your bikini, sand in your ears: where there’s suncream, there’s sand, just as where there are picnics, there are flying, stinging creatures. It’s just one of those things.

You’ll taste it

A faint, sour tang of SPF in every post-application mouthful or sip.

You’ll leave an oil slick in the pool when you dive in

Rendering it slightly less attractive for all other users, to whom you feel compelled to point out it’s suncream, not your own sweat and dirt. Then, when you get out, it gets out, running into your eyes/mouth again.

After the pool, you’ll have to re-apply it

And you’re back to #1 again. *face palm*

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

Avocado

Thought our passionate affair with the avo had peaked? Well think again, girlfriend. There’s a blow up avocado coming soon to a pool near you, and the only downside we can think of is that it doesn’t come with sourdough toast. It’s on the expensive side (aren’t avos always) but it does come with the stone removed, so the only risk of injury comes from your brother — who will inevitably capsize you the minute he claps eyes on your fruity float.

£21, Urban Outfitters

Doughnut

Doughnuts are to avocados what Taylor Swift is to the 1975: they are the sweet darlings of the food world, while avocados are the savoury stars. They are also — as is key for any food, fashion or float item if it is to be in vogue— instagrammable to the point of nofilter. No wonder they made it  into the swimming pool.

£20, Boohoo

Pineapple

Another p-cool food, and for good reason, for with it’s mohawk and jazzy yellow diamond, it is a fruit you can’t help but want to be friends with. It’s too cool for school. It’s not too cool for the pool though: in fact this fruit float is so mainstream, even John Lewis are selling it. Which means you’ve an even better chance of persuading the ‘rents to buy it for you the next time they’re shopping for bedside lamps.

£14.50, John Lewis

Seashell

Okay, so it’s well over the £25 budget, but LOOK AT IT. Remember that scene in the Little Mermaid where the shells open up to reveal Ariel’s sisters, singing and swooning prettily? Well, that could be you: minus the fish tail, and with the added benefit of being able to ‘be where the people are’ — and the ice cream is — whenever you fancy. Prince Eric isn’t included, but with a pearlescent seashell to display yourself on, it’s only a matter of time…

 

£45, Debenhams

Mermaid Tail

Turns out you can have the fish tail after all! Team this one with the seashell for a truly immersive Little Mermaid experience. We can’t say it will be easy to wear the mermaid float while riding the seashell one, but it’s something to aim for. We’re not going to discourage float on float action — not when the integrity of a Disney classic is at stake.

 

£25, Boohoo

Egg

Because where WOULD an avocado be without a poached (well, fried) egg floating alongside it? Not on Insta, that’s where. Grab your favourite brunching bestie, and get involved.

£15.52, Ebay

Ice cream

Adding a whole new meaning to the word ice cream float. All it needs is IRL ice cream, and you’ve the sundae of dreams.

£21, Urban Outfitters

Pizza

The inflatable to end all inflatables: a stuffed crust, eight slice pizza float topped with pepperoni and all your favourite people. The pieces come apart, so you can float as a whole pizza or float away, as it were, by the slice. Sure it looks gimmicky — but at £19.19 for what is essentially eight separate floats, it’s a bargain. If you’re anything like us, you’ve spent this much (if not more) on a single Dominoes.

£19.19, Ebay

@clare_finney

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

I was 12 and wearing cream Eeyore pyjamas when I got my first ever period.

I really loved them – comfy, cropped shorts with a frilly seam and a matching strappy top embroidered with my favourite moody A A Milne character. But even Disney wasn’t enough to keep adulthood away, and on a hot summer night during a family holiday in which I discovered my love of French petrol station hot dogs, it came.

Being 12 is so great, but it’s a time when everything changes, and that can be disorientating. That summer I’d just finished my first year at secondary school and it felt as if everyone expected me to behave both as a kid, and an adult. And that’s how I saw myself too.

On the adult days I practiced walking in heels on the driveway and couldn’t wait to start earning my own cash so I could buy my friends amazing birthday presents, instead of relying on my parents for a fiver every month.

On the kid days, I wanted to roll like a human sausage down every grassy hill I saw, and watch cartoons next to the biscuit tin after school.

Being 12 – and most of your teen years, let’s be honest – is an age when you’re on the cusp of adulthood, but then childhood sneaks in and pulls you back like an elastic band. You want to buy your favourite chocolate on the way home from school, but the law says you’re too young to earn money. You want to hang out all night with your friends but your parents have set a curfew.

You want to wear your favourite cream frilly pyjamas, but you get your first period.

Back to that morning in France. The story of my first period actually starts the day before, at a market near the villa my family and I were staying at. I was checking out the anklet options when a rush of nausea came over me really quickly, and I fainted. I was prone to fainting during my teens (something I eventually grew out of, though that doesn’t stop me carrying a packet of chocolate digestives everywhere I go ‘just in case’).

My Dad and stepmum – one by the arms, the other by the anklet-less ankles – picked me up like a table and carried me across the road while I wet myself, leaving a humiliating trickle of urine as we went. I was a human wee snail.

It sounds scary but, in reality, I came around about 30 seconds later. Other than the fact that my favourite denim miniskirt now smelt of wee, and my sister wouldn’t stop moaning about how the sarong stall was going to close any minute, I felt fine. My parents and I put the faint down to the hot weather and we all trotted back to the car.

The day continued as planned; we got back to the villa, jumped in the pool and my siblings and I proceeded to make up a water-based musical inspired by The Little Mermaid, complete with a crab dance that we still sometimes crack out at Christmas. The faint was forgotten.

Until the next day when I woke up and went to the loo as always. That’s when I pulled down my PJ bottoms and saw it; my period had soaked into the pyjamas and was all over my inner thighs, making them sticky (but not a spot on the white bed sheets – must have been beginner’s luck). There was a lot of it. Some was bright red, other patches were brown and dry. I was one of the first among my friends to get their period, and neither of my three sisters had started yet. I began to panic.

Without thinking, I whipped the PJs back on and wrapped a towel around my waist. Palms sweating, head spinning, I began racing – thighs glued together to keep the period in, using only my lower legs to move, like a cartoon – around the villa to find my stepmum. I’d seen her pack sanitary pads before we left but had no idea where she kept them… I mean, I’d never even owned pads before. Like a menzies detective, possibilities filled my mind. Did she keep them in her handbag? Knicker drawer? THE FRIDGE?!

After turning the cutlery drawer upside down and finding nothing, I turned to plan B: find an adult. I went to see my sunbathing sisters – chilled and enjoying their period-free lives – who told me that our parents had gone to the supermarket and didn’t know when they’d be back.

So I did the only logical thing I could think of. I grabbed a snack from the kitchen (Lays crisps, holiday staple), locked myself back in the bathroom and sat on the loo, waiting for my period to slowly drip into it. Like the olden days, when women simply had to sit on buckets until it stopped.

Now, I’ve never bungee-jumped off a 100ft bridge in the middle of a snowstorm wearing a short dress and no knickers, but I imagine the feeling when it’s over isn’t dissimilar to the relief I felt when I heard my parent’s keys in the door. I called for my stepmum and summoned her to my period throne.

She wasn’t scared. In fact, she was super calm. It was all going to be ok – she gave me a hug and a pad, and stroked my head while I cried about not being able to swim for the rest of the holiday.

Later that afternoon I’d held a welcome party for my period cravings by polishing off my third cheese and ham baguette, and was sat with my legs dangling in the nice cold pool. I felt like everything was going to be ok.

And it really was totally fine. Fine. When my brother pushed me into the pool, oblivious to the fact I was wearing the second sanitary towel of my life, the pool didn’t turn into tomato soup. The landlord didn’t try to kick us out the villa because I’d unsuccessfully flushed a sanitary towel down the loo (don’t try it, never try it). And I didn’t even leak through the white linen trousers I wore to get ice cream at lunch. I survived.

Now, when I’m expecting my period, I either sleep in black knickers so that I don’t stain another fabulous pajama set, or wear a pad to bed. What was the lesson my first ever period taught me? That there’s nothing that can’t be solved by switching your Eeyore pyjamas for the toy instead.

And always go to the sarong stall early.

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

It’s been a long ol’ 11 months of blood, sweat, tears and furiously trying to learn your French oral presentation about all the fake pets you had, have, and will have in future. But, friends, the time has come: SUMMER IS HERE.

No, you don’t have to tell us in French what your plans are for the next six weeks. Mostly because, let’s face it, you haven’t got a bloody clue what you’re going to do in English, let alone French. Your friends are all helpfully going on their family holiday at the SAME TIME, you’ve run out of stuff on Netflix to watch without going deep into the weird documentaries, and if your parents tell you to “tidy that state of a room if you’re that bored” once more then you’ll pack that state into a bag and go and live at the end of the garden.

So, we’ve collated a bunch of cheap ideas to help you bin the boredom this summer. Repay us in Soleros.

1. Sign up for a 16-25 Railcard

Yes, it costs £30 for a year (£70 for three) BUT your third off (off-peak) rail fares will soon make it a worthy purchase. Get yourself to the beach, or go and explore a new town. You’re only 16-25 once! … Or 10 times?

2. Enjoy the outdoors!

If you have a park nearby, USE IT. Have a picnic, read, gossip with friends, go for a chilled walk, play a bunch of games. The opportunities are endless, even if it’s not sunny. Don’t rely on the sun for a good time. C’mon, it’s the UK.

3. Lay on your own festival

If you don’t have a park but you (or one of your pals) have a garden then USE THAT INSTEAD. You can organise your own festival (because damn those real ones are expensive) with loads of different playlists, facepaint, glitter, tents, and disposable BBQs. Much cheaper. Maybe just warn your neighbours first.

4. Look for restaurant offers… or say it’s your birthday

Restaurants don’t have to be expensive. So many decent chain restaurants have their own rolling offers on their website, or they’re involved in offers with Tastecard or Gourmet Society, etc.

Or just say it’s someone’s birthday, tbh. You might get free dessert.

5. Have a cinema marathon at home

Ok, so sometimes the weather is just too bad for the outdoors. Instead, each of your friends can bring over a film that none of the others have seen and you can have an all-night marathon, just like they do in the fancy cinemas. But with more pizza.

6. Take up a new hobby or skill

You know on The Sims where they can learn a new skill and the little blue bar goes up as they learn, and it’s really satisfying? Well, do that on yourself! Use the free time to learn something new. Try a new sport, learn to cook new meals, learn how to code or use html, or just finally learn how to do French plaits on yourself, damn it.

7. Sign up to audience websites

SRO Audiences, Applause Store, Lost In TV, and BBC Shows all offer free tickets to be in the audience of your fave shows. Bargain night out! If you’re a film buff then sign up to ShowFilmFirst, too. They offer free film tickets to films that haven’t even come out yet. What a privileged little sausage you can be, eh?

8. Create your own self-care project 

We’ve already given you our beginner’s guide to self care, and practicing it can be even more important in the summer when you can get bored, think too much, struggle with body image, and feel quite lonely. We totally get it. So, write down just one thing you’re going to do each day to look after yourself. Do your nails, make your own bath bombs, read for an hour with no social media distraction. Anything.

9. Take on one of #100days tags

Scrolling through social media doesn’t have to be aimless. Find one of the many #100days tags on Instagram or Twitter, do it, and stick to it! It’ll do you good to achieve a little goal every day, and it’ll keep you happy and motivated too.

10. Be a tourist where you live 

You don’t have to travel to experience new things. Go for long walks around your town and go down streets you’ve never even noticed before. You could make it into a photography project or take everyone on Instagram stories with you. You’ll be surprised how much of your hometown you don’t actually know.

11. Volunteer!

Happy Wednesday! ☀️🌟✨

A post shared by Do-it.org (@doitvolunteering) on

Volunteering is underrated. Charities and your local community are always looking for people to help them out, and they all have different roles. Sometimes you don’t even have to leave your bedroom! Have a look on do-it.org to find the best role for you. Help others and feel good at the same time. Win/win.

12. Have a charity shop fashion day

Speaking of charity, charity shops have some serious steals for way cheaper than your high street stores. Go out with your friends and play the ‘who can find the best outfit for the cheapest price’ game. We feel a changing room Insta-montage coming on.

13. Get active and go to parkrun

The brilliant parkrun organises free 5k runs every Saturday morning all around the UK. Once you’ve been to one, you’ll be obsessed. Trust us. The community and encouraging spirit is SO GREAT. You’ll get fit, make friends, and tick off number six on this list too.

14. Give your room an overhaul 

Spring cleaning doesn’t just have to happen at the start of the year. A tidy room is a tidy mind, as they say, and you could turn a clearout into redecorating your room, adorning it with Pinterest projects… or just moving your bed to the other side. You’ll feel so prepped for the next school year with your room fresh and fancy, we promise. Maybe your parents had a point…

15. Plan NEXT summer 

Right, so you’re skint, underprepared, and all the summer jobs were gone by the time you looked. That’s fine. So how about you plan for NEXT year? Set some goals. Plan what you want to do, whether it’s travel, write a book, get a job, and put a plan in action for it. The best plans don’t just happen, they take a lot of work (and maybe a few beautiful journals). Chop chop, you’ve got a bangin’ future to create.

@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: Pexels

 

Some people think summer begins on the first day you don’t have to wear tights underneath your fave dress. Others think it’s when train announcers start reminding everyone to carry water with them. More still think it’s on the summer solstice or whatever – but those people are (respectfully) wrong.

Summer truly begins when you see the first novelty inflatable pool toy on Instagram. So in the spirit of summer, we’re grabbing this unicorn pool toy from New Look (flamingoes are over, hadn’t you heard?) and hunting for somewhere to use it. Lidos of Britain, watch out. We’re on our way.

White Unicorn Inflatable Pool Float, £19, New Look

School is officially back in session.

For the Hermiones of this world, this is amazing news. For everyone else, the disappointment is similar to when you remember that JK has said that she’ll never write another book about Harry *sob*.

Either way, to help you keep that summer holiday feeling alive a little while longer, we’ve put together a playlist of our favourite holiday tunes.

DNCE – Toothbrush

Baby, you don’t have to rush. When school goes back and the homework starts mounting up again it can be hard to hold onto that summer feeling. Thank god for Friday night sleepovers.

 

Madonna – Holiday

The lyrics say it all:

“If we took a holiday/ Took some time to celebrate/ Just one day out of life/ It would be, it would be so nice.” It WOULD be nice, wouldn’t it? Nicer than GCSE algebra.

 

Maggie Rogers –  Alaska

Maggie Rogers’ voice sounds like what we imagine a woodland elf might sound like. Let her beautiful voice sooth your back to school woes.  

 

Metronomy – Night Owl

This might be the weirdest video clip in the world but this song is perfect for the bus ride to school and reflecting on how many new freckles you picked up this summer. 

 

Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling

We know you’ve all heard it a thousand times but don’t tell us it doesn’t want to make you get up and dance. Ok, but you’re lying. Holidays might be over but JT isn’t going anywhere, which is a pretty good thing to dance about.

 

Closer – Chainsmokers ft Halsey

Arguably the song of the summer. We have had this song on repeat for the last few days and haven’t been able to resist the nodding dog head-bop that goes along with it.

 

Stooshe – Let it go

Nope, we’re not talking about the one sung by Elsa. The perfect song for when you’re getting ready for school or dancing around the field with your friends. 

 

Destiny’s Child – Survivor

You might be back at school, but like Queen Bey says, you’re a survivor. You’ve totally got this, girl.

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: Getty