Puberty needn’t be embarrassing and confusing – that’s the message from two Berkhamsted mums who make online life advice videos for young teens.
Writer Ali Cronin, 41, has teamed up with beauty therapist Nell Sparks, 30, and their YouTube channel - Not Your Mum - is a haven for teens who would rather not ask their parents.
Embarrassing subjects are broken down and made clear by the duo who want to become the go-to channel for teens embarking on puberty.
“I first thought about the idea because of Lola (12),” said Ali who is also mum to Eve, 10, and Martha, seven.
“She was starting on this road and was really quite scared by it all. We spoke to our children about it first – we wouldn’t have done it otherwise.
“But they seem to be quite proud. They like the videos, and tell their friends about them.”
The pair, who met at the gates of Westfield School, set up the channel last year.
Ali, who previously worked as producer of the BBC’s website for teens, came up with the idea but needed someone to help bring it to life.
That is where Nell, mum to 10-year-old Noah and seven-year-old Belle, came in.
“I sat on it for a while and began talking it over with a few people,” Ali said. “Could I be filmed? Would I be any good?
“Then I spoke to Nell and I thought she would be really good. She’s younger than me, great on camera, really funny, and she was pregnant as a teenager with her eldest.”
The pair describe the clips as ‘straightforward, non-judgemental, non-embarrassed, non-embarrassing advice’ on puberty.
But they are seeking some assistance through a Kickstarter to take the channel to the next level. They currently borrow equipment from their husbands but would like to get their own.
“No subject is off-limits and we promise that everything we say will be either scientific fact or stuff we’ve experienced ourselves,” Ali said.
“Feedback has been amazing. But we need to step it up a gear. We borrow a camera to film the episodes and a computer to edit them.
“Simply having our own laptop and camera would make a huge difference.”
The pair said teen magazines such as Sugar, Bliss and J17 previously made puberty something to discuss as easily and openly as celebrities and fashion – but none of those magazines exist anymore.
And yet, they think it has never been more important for children to access trustworthy advice.
“Porn is a mouse-click away,” they said. “‘Gay’ is still used as a playground insult. Racist incidents are on the rise. Anxiety in children is on the rise.
“But kids don’t talk about the physical and emotional changes of puberty in the way that they used to. We want to change that.”
The pair hope to raise enough cash to improve lighting, upgrade the microphone and create a school pack.