Parenting In Tough Times

We all go through tough things sometimes – from a  prolonged period of unemployment to death of someone close to us, bad things happen. For parents, that can be especially hard.

parenting-in-tough-times-cover-jpegAnyone paying attention will know that the last few years have been incredibly hard for me. A bad pregnancy, tough things happened in my marriage, terminal illness, death, isolation – it’s been a tough few years. I don’t often talk about it, but when I do, people always ask me how I’ve made it through, and when I tell them, they all say the same thing:

You should write a book!

Well, I have. It’s a short book – only 51 pages, because I know that when you’re going through hard things, and you barely feel able to breathe, the last thing you need is a book that that’s heavier than the feeling in your chest. What you need is practical, simple, step-by-step hand holding. And Parenting in Tough Times is that – I see it as a guide to setting out buoys in a stormy sea. Buoys are invaluable when you’re trying to keep afloat.

This book – currently only available as an eBook – is available for Kindle from Amazon or as a printable PDF from Gumroad

If you’d like to be notified when the paper version is ready for sale, pop your email in here – don’t worry I won’t use it for anything else!

5 Ways Busy Parents Forget to Take Care of Themselves

We take care of our little ones and in doing so we forget about ourselves. Sound familiar? It’s true. And it manifests itself in some funny and not so funny ways. Half of UK parents polled said they often forget to apply sunscreen on themselves, even while they remember to apply it on their children.

But parents neglect ourselves all the time, not just when it comes to sunscreen application. The following are five ways that parents frequently put ourselves on the backburner, and the harm that can come about as they do so.

Put personal friendships on hold

You used to hang out every week, but now times with friends seem more like a distant memory. Some extent of this is natural and can be expected as a new parent, but be careful that this doesn’t turn into a habit. Friendships provide you with emotional support to weather difficult life events. In all the busyness of being a parent, hold on to those friendships that matter to you. Even if you need to take it down a notch for a while, don’t shut that door entirely. Explain your current situation to your friends. Don’t let them guess at why you aren’t hanging out anymore.

Forget to go to the dentistdentist-1025338_960_720

Read more: 5 Ways Busy Parents Forget to Take Care of Themselves

Six Family Friendly Winter Activities In Tenerife

If you’re anything like me, the idea of snug snowy winters is a lot more appealing than the reality of grey days and rain. There’s so much hope in knowing that come the worst of January, you have a little mini escape planned, and with a little foresight and planning you won’t even need to fork out too much for it after Christmas, since you can book and pay for it well before!

But where to go? Well, there are many choices, obviously, but a good one for families is a sunny break in Tenerife. With January temperatures around 18C or 19C, it’s pleasantly warm and an ideal destination that’s not too far away.




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The Feel Brave Series – Helping Children Cope With Big Emotions {Book Reviews}

We’ve recently been reading The Feel Brave Series, a series of books by Avril McDonald that deals with the big emotions and experiences of childhood in a friendly, kind, but honest way.

There are a few things in this series of books that I would just repeat if I said them about each book, so let me first say this about the series as a whole:

The books are beautifully illustrated. I’m new to the work of Tatiana Minina, but I do hope we see her in more stories. The bright, bold images really bring the story to life – scary characters aren’t frightful, and little touches like a wolf surround by hearts as he runs up the hill feeling loved gives it a game-like feeling of movement through the images. Absolutely lovely.IMG_20160705_133949

The Feel Brave series by Avril McDonald is a collection of five picture books for children aged 4-7 but I’d wager there’s movement around that and that even older and younger children will be drawn to the images, the hypnotic rhyming langauge and the themes covered in the stories. The books are designed to help children explore positive psychology and emotional intelligence in a safe and non-threatening way and all the while reading them I kept thinking about this quote:

Fairy tales do not tell children that monsters exist.
Children already know that monsters exist.
Fairy tales tell children that monsters can be killed.

The Wolf is Not Invited

In the first book, The Wolf is Not Invited, we are introduced to the characters Wolfgang and Catreen who are best friends. A new friends comes along and Catreen is lured away, leaving Wolfgang broken-hearted – a moment every parent has experienced their own heart break! Catreen soon realises that her new friend isn’t all she thought she was, and comes back to find Wolfgang, but he, in the meantime, has met another friend. Tears fall, forgiveness comes, and soon all three are playing together, before Wolfgang’s new friend leaves, and Catreen and Wolfgang are back together again.

It’s a sweet story with a hopeful ending, though not always how things work out in real life, so it does lend itself to further discussion on how we can handle it if our friends don’t come back!Read more: The Feel Brave Series – Helping Children Cope With Big Emotions {Book Reviews}

A Letter To My Children After The Orlando Shootings

Dear Girls,

Sometimes really bad things happen in the world. Things that can hardly be explained among grownups, never mind being explained to  young children.This weekend one of those bad things happened. A bunch of people were in a nightclub in Orlando, dancing and having fun, when a man walked in and started shooting. He killed 49 people that night, simply because he didn’t agree with some of their choices. It wasn’t any of his business, really, but he felt they deserved to die. And ended up dying himself, leaving behind his own wife and child.

The whole situation is terrible, but there’s one story I want to tell you about. One person who really touched me. It was a young man by the name of Eddie Justice. He was 30 years old, and while he was pinned down in a bathroom, held hostage by the gunman, he was sending texts to his mother. When I read that, I cried. Read more: A Letter To My Children After The Orlando Shootings

Mothers Need To Become Selfish

Mothers need to become selfish. No, I’m not talking about those people who are already selfish, and also happen to be mothers. The world has enough selfish people. But good mothers – mothers who prioritise their children always, mothers who put their families first, those mothers, they need to become more selfish.

This kind of selfish isn’t a bad thing. It’s the kind of selfish that they ask you to be on an airplane. You know? “In case of a loss of air pressure,  please put your own oxygen mask on before you help others with theirs”. It’s a life-preserving selfish and I know many, many women who could do with adapting that philosophy into their – our – own lives.

Mothers Need To Become SelfishRead more: Mothers Need To Become Selfish

A Mother’s Pain Over A Lost Toy

An anxiety I never anticipated before children, never understood, really, was that of THE LOST TOY.

Of course for the child, it’s the stuff of nightmares, and having lost things I care about, I totally get that. But what has caught me unawares was the anxiety, the pain, that I as mother would feel over a toy that I have no personal attachment to.

Ameli never had a security blanket or a dummy or even a toy that she favoured above others, until last August, when my sister bought her a stuffed elephant at The Rain Forest Cafe in Disneyland Paris. “Rainy”, as he was dubbed, quickly became a new member of our family, and while he might end up in the toy box from time to time, he is still the preferred bed time buddy.

Yesterday we had to take our car in for a service, and despite my protestations, Rainy came in with us. Come bed time, of course, we realised that Rainy hadn’t come home, so we assumed that he had stayed in the car – there were many tears, but after assuring her that Rainy was probably loving his sleepover in what must feel like a campervan to him, all snuggled up comfortably in the car seat, Ameli finally succumbed to sleep.

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Two Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Day

“How was your day today?”


“What did you do today?”


“Learn/see/do anything exciting?”


Sound familiar?Two Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Day

This is pretty much what every conversation with my daughters was like, till about a year ago.  Whether they’d spent 3 hours at nursery, or spent the whole day with a friend, they pretty much couldn’t remember what they’d done an hour ago, or they couldn’t really tell me much about their day at all.

I found this really frustrating, and after a while, I stopped asking. Not because I didn’t care, but because I found ‘nothing’ or ‘I don’t remember’ to be too infuriating.

But this didn’t sit right with me.

want to know about their days. I want to know what they’ve been up to. And even if we spend the whole day in the same house, their days often involve different experiences to mine.

About a year ago, I decided to give up on questions that weren’t getting answers, and to instead, change the questions.

While I will still ask loose questions about the time we spent apart, I don’t have feelings one way or the other if they don’t answer fully. What we do now is this:Read more: Two Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Day

The Importance Of Writing Love Notes To Children

I’ve been thinking a lot about a dying-out medium, that of letter writing, and specifically, writing love notes to children.

My mom and I had what I remember as a difficult relationship during my teen years. Not an uncommon story, I know, but still something that impacts into your adult life.

A few years ago, my mom’s cancer took a terminal turn a few weeks before Christmas. On Christmas eve, the UK was deluged in rain and our garage flooded, along with many parts of the country and some of our neighbour’s homes. On Boxing day, my mother died, and all flood debris was ignored until a few weeks later.

I was going through a trunk full of old photos, cards, letters, and other things I had at one point deemed important enough to keep, when I came across letters that I had quite honestly forgotten about. Discovering them was shocking to me, because I had forgotten their existence. But it was powerfully affirming of my mother’s love for me. I mean, I knew she loved me but seeing those letters reminded me of the days I’d come in from school and find a letter from her on my bed. Love Notes To ChildrenRead more: The Importance Of Writing Love Notes To Children

8 Ways To Not Lose Your Mind When Moving House

Moving to a new places is fun. I should know. I’ve done it a dozen times in my adult life. Moving to a different house in the same area lacks a lot of that excitement because, well, all that’s new is the place you’re moving to. Moving house with children however, is a whole new ball game. You’ve heard those jokes about tidying up with children being like making a smoothie with the blender open? Or brushing your teeth while eating an Oreo? Those apply to moving house with children too.

And add to that home schooling children and it’s like being caught in an episode of a really bad slap-stick comedy. I can just visualise it. Pack a box of toys, go make dinner, come back to those toys all over the living room floor. Repack the box of toys, sit down to check your emails, telling the kids to get ready for bed. Go to put them to bed and find that same box of toys all over their room!

Yeah, it’s not funny when you’re living it. So here are some things to consider doing if you’re moving house with children.

  • Find somewhere else to stay

I’m not kidding. I grew up military and whenever we moved we’d have two weeks in a hotel on our exit destination and a week in a hotel near the new house. I thought it was a nice gesture from the army. As a parent I realise that it was the military’s way of keeping military wives from mutiny!

Find a hotel or a holiday park, spend four or five hours a day packing, then leave. Have somewhere comfortable to sleep, cook healthy food without having to think of what to pack and what to leave out. Get to your accommodation, have a swim, relax, get to bed early, start fresh the next day. It’s for your mental health!

  • Get one room completely finished first

If you can’t stay somewhere else during your move, or if you still have children around while you’re packing this is especially important.

Get one room packed up and cleared out as your first priority. The temptation might be to get the biggest job done first, but by getting one room done you either have a place for the children to ‘be’ without being surrounded by boxes, or you have a place for all the boxes to go once they’re packed, making the room out of bounds. (We weren’t able to do this this time, and it showed in the constant unpacking and repacking of not-yet-sealed boxes.)Moving house

Read more: 8 Ways To Not Lose Your Mind When Moving House