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sad child

It’s OK to cry – letting our children know they can feel sad

By family, Mental health, Relationships, Special support needs

We’ve all been there: your toddler’s sobbing because their strawberries are being served in a bowl rather than on a plate, or you’re playing in the park and they start crying over a tiny scratch. It’s natural to respond by saying, “Don’t cry, you’re OK.”

It’s a fact of life – babies and toddlers cry. The reasons they cry change as they get older, and so do our reactions. We tend to be more forgiving of infants (although a colicky baby can put anyone’s patience to the test), as we know that crying is one of their only ways to communicate.

Once children start to walk, talk, listen and follow simple directions, adults can become less accepting of crying. Parents naturally want to prepare their children for the world beyond home, and sometimes we react as though expressing negative emotions is a sign of weakness.

Crying can be a way of processing any strong emotion. Toddlers, of course, cry when they’re sad, but they might also cry when they encounter something new, confusing, unexpected, or difficult.

Here are some ways to help your toddler work through big feelings without telling them to stop crying:

Validate and empathise
A simple step is to just say “I can tell you’re upset” or “That looks really frustrating for you and I can see why.” It may help and it shows you care. At this age, your toddler is crying for a reason, even if it doesn’t make much sense to you.

Notice how you are feeling when your toddler starts crying. We may tell our toddlers to stop because we’re frustrated or out of time and patience. Watching our own reactions can be an instructive way to tap into our own empathy.

Finding the patience to listen to your toddler struggle to communicate with you in a difficult moment can be hard, but even with a limited vocabulary, they want to tell you about their feelings. Some of it may come in the form of words, some from body language and other cues.

Circle back
Your toddler is starting to remember more and more. A day after a tough episode, revisit it when your toddler’s in a calmer state by saying something like “Remember when you were so sad yesterday?”

For further information on child development issues please visit

ok not to be OK

It’s OK not to be OK

By Childcare and Nannying, family, Mental health, Relationships
by Katie Gowers Watts
‘Diary of a Warent’ blogger

When maternity leave ends, returning to work is an emotional tug-of-war.

diary of a warentMining for diamonds
As maternity leave draws to a close, I find myself emotionally lost, once again. In so many ways I’m looking forward to the return of my professional self, excitedly daydreaming about super-stardom and frankly, ‘being a somebody’. But on the other hand, it hurts.

We’re all familiar with the autopilot words of independent women, the world over. “I’m so ready to get back to work” and “Bring on adult conversations at last”. As for me, my grit and determination shine brightly, but hidden in the shadows of my ambition, is an undeniable anxiety.

Parenting is like mining for diamonds. On average, you need to move 250 tons of earth to find a single carat of diamond. But when you do, you have something indestructibly beautiful. Raising children, through blood, sweat and tears, you’ll deal with 250 tons of sh*t (literal and metaphorical) but the beauty you unearth is like nothing else. It’s invaluable.

It’ll be over when it’s over
Firstly, when this ‘baby phase’ is over, I know I’ll miss it for all time. It’s why almost every parent in the history of parenting says, “They grow up too fast” and “Cherish every moment”.

Secondly, my husband and I are unlikely to have any more children. And so, when maternity leave ends this time around, it ends forever. I’ve been silently dreading it for months.

I doubt that we can ever have too many diamonds, but we can definitely run out of energy and time for another 250 ton dig.

Run for it
Thirdly, whilst I have thankfully rediscovered my sense of self (which can elude you for a while after having a baby), I’m worried that other people’s perceptions of me may have changed. Like ‘buggering off to have a baby’ makes me seem professionally incompetent.

In the early years of senior school, I was roped into running the 800m race on sports day and you had better believe I wanted to win. On the day, with my friends and school-house cheering me on from the sidelines, I ran like the wind – until the last 100m. I realised that my friends, my confidence in human form, were together, united in the crowd – and I was out on the track, all alone. I felt exposed and vulnerable. I buckled and deliberately dropped from 1st to 4th place, afraid to take the podium alone.

Almost 30 years later, going back to work carries a similar irrationality. I want to win, so badly! But my team, my confidence in human form, is now the family I have created at home. And I find myself back at the start line, feeling exposed and vulnerable once again.

Warenting is a competitive sport
Put your hand up if you’ve ever encountered one of those delightful people who brag about giving birth ‘naturally’, probably without pain relief, in a bid to out-birth others? To ‘win’ at giving birth. A fine example of how unanimously irritating one-upmanship can be. Let’s keep it real – if you have given birth, then your body either (painfully) contracted and stretched in ways that don’t seem humanly possible, was (painfully) torn apart from the inside out, or was (painfully) sliced open and stitched back together again. As my midwife once told me, “There is no easy way to get a baby out”. So, however you did it, ‘fist bump’ to you.

Dads, you are credited with 0.011% of the workload. Thanks for your help. (little in-joke there for my husband!)

Warenting is a competitive sport. I have known plenty of women throughout the course of my career, who proudly flaunt the brevity of their maternity leave. They wear it like a medal of honour. “Oh, I only took (*insert short amount of time) off work. I couldn’t wait to get back to the grind” and, “I was responding to work emails from my hospital bed, like 10 seconds after giving birth”. If that’s you, then good for you, I get it. But it’s not me.

Emotional dumbbells
Why do we view physical pain as strength, yet emotional pain as weakness? Since our struggles are such a heavy weight to bear, perhaps we could think of them as emotional dumbbells. The more we lift, the stronger we become.

So, yes I want a badass career, but no, I don’t want to leave my kids. Yes, I want professional success in abundance, but no, I don’t want to sacrifice meaningful parenting moments. Yes, I want to stretch my maternity leave for a while longer, but no, I haven’t lost my ambition.

What I want to say, to shout even, is, “I don’t want to be at work instead of being with my baby. But also, I do want to be at work, absolutely bossing it”.

It’s OK not to be OK
Some of us are wrongly programmed to feel as though admission of our struggles is an admission of guilt. Like it’s telling people we’re not strong enough, not good enough. And as we all know, there’s only one solution…

I’ve turned it off and back on again, and instead of pretending that I don’t give a hoot about something I find painful at times, I’m acknowledging it.

Because as a mother, it is my right to feel this way. And it’ll be OK. Because it’s OK not to be OK.

You can read the full version of It’s OK not to be OK’ and additional ‘warenting’ blogs

written by Katie, at

Divorce help

Court is not the only way

By family, Legal, Relationships
by Rachael House
Partner, Dutton Gregory

Contrary to what we may see on television, when couples divorce or dissolve a civil partnership, there are not many people who say to their lawyers “I want to take my ex to the cleaners!”. In my experience the majority of people say the opposite: “I want to be fair but get what I am entitled to”. In that circumstance, I commend my client for their sensible outlook and discuss with them the ways that settlement can be achieved without going to court.

We will then attempt to engage the spouse/civil partner in an out of court route such as mediation, the collaborative process, round table meetings, arbitration, a private financial dispute resolution hearing or early neutral evaluation. This list of options has grown in recent years, so there are plenty of routes to keep people away from the overworked and underfunded courts.

Despite all the options, it can sometimes become apparent that each party’s perception of what is fair can differ, or one party is an ostrich and does not engage in any meaningful negotiations. This can result in a stalemate in negotiations. Thus, an application to the Family Court to ask a Judge to make decisions for the couple can sometimes seem the only way forward. This can result in the parties both having an outcome imposed upon them that neither of them is happy with. Furthermore, each person will have spent many thousands of pounds in legal fees and may be stuck in the court system for a number of years.

If the above is not enough to put people off going to court, there is now even more of a deterrent in the form of two new elements being applied to the process in 2024:

1 Parties to court proceedings will need to let the court know what their thoughts are on trying to reach settlement outside of the court process, rather than staying within the court arena. If they do not wish to negotiate out of court, then they have to justify why they should not have to go and try an out of court route. If the Judge is not satisfied with the answer, an order can still be made to send the couple off to try and progress matters outside of the court arena.

Furthermore, if the Judge is not satisfied with a party’s engagement, they can make that person pay towards the other person’s legal costs. The court has long been trying to get couples to engage in out of court processes, and so is formalising the process from April so that couples will need to be much more alive to the risk of paying even more money to their ex if they show no interest in trying to move their disagreement away from the court.

2 The press will be allowed to report on court hearings. Initially just in proceedings concerning disputes over children – but this is expected to extend to financial proceedings in due course. This will be subject to strict rules on not naming the parties. There has been a pilot in place across a number of courts in England and Wales, but as from 29th January it has been extended to include 16 more courts including Guildford.

Imagine feeling nervous already about going to court but then having a journalist gawping at you as they type every word on their laptop, hoping for a juicy snippet of detail to entice their readers about the way the relationship has failed.

If your relationship has broken down and you are wondering what the difference is between the out of court routes, here is a summary:
Mediation – a third independent party helps couples reach a negotiated agreement.
Collaborative process – negotiations face to face with lawyers and a firm commitment to try and stay away from court.
Round table meetings – negotiations face to face with lawyers.
Arbitration – a jointly appointed arbitrator makes a decision that will be binding on the couple and become a court order but is more flexible and much quicker than court.
Private dispute resolution hearing/early neutral evaluation – the assistance of a specially trained person acting as a judge identifies and seeks to resolve the issues in the case, with the aim of limiting overall legal costs and time delays.

I know there will still always be situations where court is unavoidable. However, I hope that more people will become aware that going to court to resolve their issues is fraught with risk as to the uncertainty of outcome, speed, cost and privacy.

Rachael House is a specialist family solicitor at Dutton Gregory so if you want advice, then please contact Rachael House on 01483 755609 or

smiling tween

Parenting tweens

By family, Relationships
by Kelly Cox
Parent Coach & Trainer at Connective Family

The transition from childhood dependency to adult independence – it’s scary stuff!

We often think of teenagers appearing in our homes the morning after their 13th birthday, like the scene from Kevin and Perry. But actually pre-teens or ‘tweens’ develop from about eight to 12 years of age.

During this time our tweens often start to worry more about what other people think of them, they may become more self-conscious, keen to fit in with peers and even confident children can become more insecure. This can be a time where we start to see bullying.

So, what can we do as parents to stay connected with our children while they navigate these years?

Our parenting journey is an ever-changing landscape of rough roads, smooth country lanes and mountains, which is why being able to adapt to our child’s needs is crucial if we want to create a calm and connected home life.

Prioritise self-care
The most important thing we need to remember is that we cannot pour from an empty cup. Parenting leads us to pour from our cups constantly throughout the day, so looking after ourselves is crucial.

When we practise self-care, we allow ourselves to self-regulate more often and to allow ourselves to be less reactive to stressful situations. For some, self-care is small daily acts and for others is weekly or monthly acts. It’s whatever works for you, find what you need to help you to stay connected and calm.

Remember, it takes a village to raise a child
It’s important that, as parents and carers, we are connected with others who have a positive impact on us and our families.

Some examples of this might be:
• Maintaining positive relationships with teachers and support staff at your schild’s school.
• Encouraging positive relationships between children and sports coaches.
• Having positive relationships with friends and wider family.
• Asking for help when needed from appropriate people.

Keep up the parental presence
Being able to maintain a positive connection with our children is key to making them feel safe and supported, which in turn has a positive impact on behaviour and wellbeing.

You can increase parental presence in a number of ways to suit you and your child. Some simple ways you can do this include:
• Watching a movie of their choice with them.
• Popping your head in to see if they want a drink or a snack.
• Being in the room with your child.
• Going for walks or drives in the car together.
• Giving them a lift somewhere or picking them up.
• Spending time one-to-one with them doing something they enjoy.
• Taking an interest in a hobby or interest that they have.

Think connection over correction
We’re not saying that we should never correct our children but if we think and practise connection first, we often don’t need to correct.

If a child behaves in a way that we do not approve of, then it’s important that we try and think why they may be behaving in this way.
What are they trying to tell us or what are they trying to gain from this?

We often hear adults saying that children are just ‘attention seeking’. However, if we reframe this and think of it as though they are ‘attention needing’ or ‘attachment seeking’, it leads us to think more about connection rather than correction.

Tweens or teens will often push away from their parents (remember your tween and teenage days!?) so it’s important that we maintain a connection but also allow them to have a little more freedom. This transition between childhood dependency and adult independence can be a scary process for many children, particularly if they do not have the skills to navigate this.

And finally…
We so often hear so much negativity around teenagers, but if we stop and think about what they are navigating in life and the changes in their adolescent brain, then we realise how truly amazing they are!

They’re finding their way through education, friendships, relationships with teachers and other adults, handling intense emotions, changing bodies and external pressures such as social media. And they’re told, often daily, that choices they make today will affect the rest of their lives – despite the fact that their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for planning, prioritising and making good decisions, is the last to develop.

The tweenage brain is a wonderful thing!

Kelly Cox is a parent coach and trainer at Sussex-based Connective Family,

an organisation supporting parents, carers and their families.


trampolining fun

The surprising benefits of trampolining

By children's health, Exercise, family, fun for children, Mental health, parties, Playing, Wellbeing
by Sandra Zerr
Head of Marketing, AirHop Group

Trampolining isn’t just fun, it’s good for you too. Exercising regularly not only improves physical health, but mental health as well. And, unlike most other forms of exercise, it doesn’t feel like hard work yet it’s still effective. Bouncing on a trampoline or in a trampoline park can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour! Read on to find out more about some of the surprising benefits that visiting an indoor trampoline park can bring to both your body and mind, whatever your age.

Exercising on a trampoline is three times more effective at burning calories than jogging whilst being lower impact on your joints and limbs. Just ten minutes on a trampoline burns as many calories as half an hour of jogging. The bouncy surface of a trampoline is much kinder on the joints that experience a lot of stress and impact when running, such as your knees and ankles. Stop plodding along the pavement and start bouncing instead, it’s a low impact activity that provides you with really good high impact results!

Research has shown that there is a positive link between physical activity and improved mental health, and what better way to exercise than in a trampoline park!

Exercise can help to reduce stress in the body and release endorphins. These are your body’s feel-good chemicals, so you’ll happily come back for more bouncing! So take a break from your screens and social media and go for a bounce! A couple of hours in a trampoline park will tire you out whilst having fun at the same time, helping to improve your mood and your sleep.

Bouncing is a great way to improve your co-ordination and balance, as well as increasing your spatial awareness. Trampolining requires balance and adjustments of the body to stay in the centre of the trampoline and get a good bounce! The other activities found in trampoline parks – like the wipeout zone, battle beams, assault course, or reaction wall – all challenge your reaction times, physical ability, balance, and strength in different ways.

Every jump uses multiple muscle groups. Bouncing requires the muscles in your glutes, legs, back, and core to be tensed and relaxed repeatedly, giving you a full body workout, and increasing your strength over time. It’s also an aerobic exercise, so your circulation is greatly improved. As you jump, your muscles contract and help the heart push greater quantities of oxygen around the body. So you’ll feel fitter and better in other areas of your life after time spent in a trampoline park!

We’ve found the cure to growing older! Or slowed it down at least – because jumping works in unison with your body’s natural detox system, better known as the lymphatic system, the system responsible for removing dead cells and toxins from the body. Exercising in a trampoline park stimulates lymphatic circulation, promoting a healthy metabolism and helping to burn fat more effectively.

Visiting a trampoline park isn’t just for children, it’s the perfect active day out for the whole family! It’s a great way to spend time together and there are activities for all ages and abilities, not just trampolines! Indoor trampoline parks often have obstacle courses, airbags or foam pits to jump into and practise tricks, battle beams to challenge your friends and family, or reaction games to test your reflexes. Whether you are four or 54, there is an activity for you that will leave you with a big smile on your face.

Students can take a break from the books; swap times tables for trampolines, algebra for airbags, the whiteboard for wipeout, and enjoy a much-needed study break at an indoor trampoline park! They are also the perfect venue for sober socials and even corporate team building events, with a range of different activities to suit everyone and the physical element and fun environment helping to break the ice. Ice breakers without the cringe!

Some of these benefits may have surprised you but they certainly show that the pleasure of going to a trampoline park shouldn’t be restricted to just children; all ages will benefit whilst having a huge amount of fun!

AirHop Adventure & Trampoline Parks run 17 parks throughout the UK providing a fun and active day out for the whole family with sessions for all ages and capabilities.


defiant toddler

Teaching your child boundaries

By Childcare and Nannying, children's health, Education, family, Mental health, Relationships, Special support needs
by Michelle Elman
Author, How to Say No

You will remember a time in your child’s life when “no” was their favourite word but as a child hits three to four years old, saying “no”, getting their needs met and communicating how they feel, gets a little bit more complicated. They start to develop Theory of Mind which means they start to get an awareness of the fact that not only can they think, but other people think too. Over time, this realisation turns into the knowledge that if someone can think, then they can think about you and they can also think badly about you.

As adults, you will understand that your own boundaries are usually in conflict with caring what people think, and children also suffer with the same issue, especially when popularity, fitting in and being liked by their peer group is such a high priority. This is where it is important to emphasis the need to keep boundaries in their vocabulary, starting with the simplest and first boundary we all learn – the word ‘no’.

As we all know, children don’t do as you say, they do as you do and therefore practising boundaries yourself is the best place to start to be an example to your children. Learning boundaries isn’t just something you should do for your children though, it can positively impact your life in many ways – from self-esteem, to protecting yourself from burnout, to reprioritising your need for rest and looking after your body. As much as children might struggle to do what you say, if you create an environment where everyone feels listened to, they often start to listen to you more too, if they feel heard themselves.

The word “no” is crucial to understanding how you feel, what you want and it also means that your “yes” has more power. If “yes” is the only word you can use, then that’s the default and your life becomes filled with meeting everyone else’s needs and demands. As much as a child using the word “no” may make your life more difficult as a parent, it’s important to understand that it’s a crucial skill as they grow up and become adults.

We want to foster a sense of independence and knowing how to communicate well, even if they still need to comply with the rules of the household or school. When they set a boundary that is simply not feasible, for example, staying at home alone because they don’t want to attend a family friend’s party, then you are still able to congratulate them on communicating their needs, expressing their boundaries and making them feel heard, listened to and respected.

If you lead with empathy, you are treating them with the respect you would with any adult who has their full autonomy and freedom to make their own decisions. I’m sure you’ve had evenings where you’ve not wanted to attend an event that you previously were looking forward to or there are times as an adult, you just want to be left at home alone to enjoy your solitude. For your child though, that might be unsafe and therefore communicating that to them, not only gives them respect but understanding as to the decision making process.

Saying something like “I know you don’t want to come tonight. I know you are tired and I wouldn’t want to come too if I had as long a week as you have. I can’t find anyone to stay with you last minute though and I do not feel comfortable leaving you at home alone so for your safety, you will have to come with us”. When you come from a empathetic standpoint, you can understand why a child wouldn’t want to go to a grown-up party where they have little in common with the people there, and it is easier to come up with a compromise, for example, “If you would like some alone time though, why don’t you bring a book and we can find a room where you can be by yourself while all the adults are talking?”

Teaching boundaries is also about teaching your children to respect other people’s boundaries so when you set rules about behaviour, make sure you echo the reverse. For example, if they don’t want their siblings barging into their room, then they also have to lHow to say noisten when their siblings say no to them entering their room. Emphasising that we also want to respect other people’s boundaries and giving them the language around boundaries is also really helpful. A boundary might not always sound like the word “no”, it can be “That doesn’t work for me”, or “I don’t like the sound of that,” and when you understand that this is someone conveying their boundaries, not only do they have phrases to listen out for but they have the same phrases they can use themselves.

‘How To Say No’ released by Puffin, is available now.

work from home parenting

Success wears many hats

By family, Mental health, Relationships, Work employment
by Katie Gowers Watts
‘Diary of a Warent’ blogger

As a parent, your definition of success can change entirely.

Despite being a complex person emotionally, I didn’t take my first pregnancy very seriously – until it ended in a silent miscarriage. We had been for an ultrasound scan the week before and reassuringly seen a tiny, beating heart on the monitor. Sadly, one week later we saw nothing but a static, grey image.

In that moment, my version of success pivoted entirely. The only thing I really wanted, was to be able to successfully carry my child.

It’s embarrassing to confess, but in the past, I didn’t respect women who chose not to go back to work after having children. I thought of it as a cop out. I’m ashamed of that now. For those who subscribe to ‘stay-at-home stereotypes’ like I did, WOW, looking after children all day long is hard. Really hard.

Being a perma-entertainer and safe-keeper, never EVER switching off, and the sheer monotony and thanklessness of housework is so much harder than ‘work work’.


Even playing is arduous. Fumbling around in the attic of your adult mind for the dusty old imagination you stored away many years ago. The definition of child’s play is ‘a task which is easily accomplished’. I’m here to tell you that playing with children is not child’s play. It’s exhausting!

Importantly, being a stay-at-home parent comes from a place of love (or financial necessity because childcare can break the bank). It’s not laziness or lack of ambition. It took me 36 years to figure that one out.

My two children are without a shadow of a doubt, my greatest achievement. So, having recently welcomed baby number two who brings me unadulterated joy, why don’t I feel successful anymore?

Many of us define our success based on what others think of us. Or more specifically, our assumptions of what they think. Will people be suitably impressed by my accomplishments, my job title, my salary (or indeed envious of them if one’s ego needs a stroke)? If yes, then bingo, we feel successful.

Success wears many hats.

Something we all need to acknowledge is that actually, success wears many hats. Professional success, financial success, parenting success, relationship success, family success. Sometimes it’s just ‘keeping your sh*t together’ success. What matters is how we define our own success, and in turn, respecting each other’s unique versions. If I’m wearing a baseball cap today, that doesn’t mean you can’t wear a trilby.

Right now, rudely interrupting my marvellous motherhood moments, is the fact that somehow my sense of accomplishment is diminished.

I question myself ALL the time. Am I adding enough value – to my family, to our bank balance, to my employer? I feel like I’m in debt.

As a bona fide warent (working parent), I cast aside all the other hats in my success wardrobe, in search of my ‘professional success hat’. The hat that people admire the most. But it doesn’t fit me right now.

Despite having fire in my belly and craving professional success once again, I’m scared. I’m not ready to leave my baby yet; I want to be a present mum – but, I’m also afraid of the alternative. Of having already stunted my success, of being left behind and of missing out on opportunity to be professionally brilliant. I really want both. But we can’t wear two hats at exactly the same time, can we?

My heart tells me to focus solely on our chubby little bundle of joy. Somebody recently told me, “You will never regret spending more time with your kids”.

Surrounding myself with love and this unbelievable family we have created is a HUGE, everlasting success. A hat that I’ll never outgrow. I know that.

But, my (annoying) head tells me I need to get back to work and back in the game. My professional success hat has been sitting around in the wardrobe so long that it’ll be moth-eaten by the time I take it out and shove it back on.

So, I’ve taken a step back to properly look at myself. To open every drawer of my mind and rummage through my collection of hats.

I tried my ‘stay-at-home success’ hat on for size, and I like it. It’s one of those understated, comfortable pieces of clothing that you’ll never throw out, so I’ve been wearing it for a while – but it’s not in vogue. From time to time, I put my more impressive ‘professional success’ hat back on and walk around the house in it to make myself feel busy and important (I’m wearing it as I write this). And when I get bored, I try on every single hat in the wardrobe and end up with nothing but ‘hat hair’.

It seems obvious now, that my ‘family success’ hat will never, ever go out of fashion. The others are perhaps more seasonal.

Here’s the most important thing I’ve figured out. Self-deprecation is the opposite of success. It has literally no useful purpose. It’s a paper hat when you’re out in the rain. Self-respect is success in its purest, most impressive form. It’s a frickin’ bejewelled gold crown, sparkling in the sunshine.

warentingFor those of us ‘warenting’ our way through life, impossibly striving to be perfect parents AND perfect professionals, remember that success belongs to YOU. It’s yours to define. Own it.

For now, I have redefined my version of success. Because it’s not a static, grey image. It’s a beating heart.

You can read the full version of ‘Success wears many hats’ and additional ‘warenting’ blogs written by Katie, at

family christmas

Giving children the best Christmas

By Christmas, family, Legal, Relationships, Toys

For a lot of people, Christmas is about spending time with family, but what happens when children have more than one? If not handled carefully, talk of Christmas can descend into conflict and arguments about where children spend the festive season.

In this article, Family Law Specialist, Rachael House, from Dutton Gregory Solicitors in Woking gives her tips on how to establish a Happy Christmas for all.

Top tips for child arrangements over Christmas:
1. Plan ahead
Discussions should be had as soon as possible. That way, if there is disagreement, there is time to resolve it.
2. Child first
A good way for parents to try and reach an agreement and overcome the desire to spend as much time as possible with their children, is to focus on what the child needs or wants.
3. Compromise
It is always best if parents, who know their children and what is best for them, can find a solution between themselves.
4. No point-scoring
Parents shouldn’t try and outdo each other, either in terms of time or presents.
5. Keep records
Arrangements are best confirmed in writing, (an email conversation will suffice) so there is a clear record of what has been agreed.

If you need help
If they cannot agree, a lot of parents find benefits in using mediation. This is where an independent, neutral third party assists in discussing and negotiating through a situation.

The process is voluntary, and a mediator cannot make a binding decision, but if parties can reach a solution, a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ can be drawn up to record what parties have agreed to. In certain circumstances this be drawn up in to a Court Order, but only if it is deemed of benefit to the child.

There are alternatives to mediation. Collaborative Law is where parties sit around a table (or in different rooms if they don’t want to meet face-to-face) and engage in negotiations with the support of their solicitors providing legal advice. This too is a voluntary process and any decision is not legally binding.

A couple can also choose to undertake Arbitration where the decision of the arbitrator is legally binding on both parties. The parties jointly agree an arbitrator (a professionally trained and qualified expert who effectively performs the role of the Judge), prepares paper evidence and the arbitrator then hears from each party before making a decision. Arbitration is often a very effective way of resolving a dispute where the issues are limited or narrow, such as arrangements for Christmas.

If you want advice about Christmas, or any child contact, then contact Rachael House on 01483 755609 or

sun safety

Sun safety

By environment, family, Health, Playing, Safety, Summer, sun safety

Take extra care to protect babies and children in the sun. Their skin is much more sensitive than adult skin, and damage caused by repeated exposure to sunlight could lead to skin cancer developing in later life.

Children aged under six months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.

From March to October in the UK, children should:
• Cover up with suitable clothing.
• Spend time in the shade, particularly from 11am to 3pm.
• Wear at least SPF30 sunscreen.

Apply sunscreen to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands.

To ensure they get enough vitamin D, all children under five are advised to take vitamin D supplements.

When buying sunscreen, the label should have:
• A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVB
• At least 4-star UVA protection
• UVA protection can also be indicated by the letters ‘UVA’ in a circle, which indicates that it meets the EU standard.

What are the SPF and star rating?
The sun protection factor, or SPF, is a measure of the amount of ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) protection.

SPFs are rated on a scale of two to 50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with 50+ offering the strongest form of UVB protection.

The star rating measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection. You should see a star rating of up to five stars on UK sunscreens. The higher the star rating, the better. Sunscreens that offer both UVA and UVB protection are sometimes called broad spectrum.

How to apply sunscreen
Most people do not apply enough sunscreen. As a guide, adults should aim to apply around six to eight teaspoons of sunscreen if you’re covering your entire body.

If sunscreen is applied too thinly, the amount of protection it gives is reduced. If you’re worried you might not be applying enough SPF30, you could use a sunscreen with a higher SPF.

If you plan to be out in the sun long enough to risk burning, sunscreen needs to be applied at least twice:
• 30 minutes before going out.
• Just before going out.
• Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin, including the face, neck and ears, and head if you have thinning or no hair, but a wide-brimmed hat is better protection.

Sunscreen needs to be reapplied liberally and frequently, and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

This includes applying it straight after you have been in water, even if it’s ‘water resistant’, and after towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off.

It’s also recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours, as the sun can dry it off your skin.

Taken from

happy families

Why accepting ‘enough’ will lead you to a happier life

By family, Mental health, Relationships
by Becky Hall
author of The Art of Enough

So many of us in everyday life feel that we aren’t enough, or that somehow we don’t do enough. We move between feeling that we lack what we need to meet the challenges of life and feeling that we have too much to do or to cope with in our busy, busy lives. Which is why I think that it’s time to re-claim the idea of ‘enough’ – re-claim it from its association with mediocrity and instead thinking of it as something to aspire to. Learning to accept ‘enough’ will lead you to a happier life.

Let’s start by asking the question, “What is happiness?” We find happiness in the moments when we are aware that we have what matters most to us. When we find ourselves noticing and really appreciating what we do have. It may seem strange but the very act of appreciation and feeling grateful for what we have actually makes us feel happier. Because we realise that what we have is ‘enough’.

Accepting that you are enough is a really practical idea – here are some tips for things you can do to make friends with ‘enough’ so that you can be happier.

1. Focus on what you have and not what you don’t have.
So often in our lives we can find ourselves coming from a place of lack. We don’t have what we want, or things aren’t going as well as we wanted. This automatically tips us into a place of scarcity and triggers our defensive systems. We feel we have to protect ourselves, we hoard, we worry. Happiness comes when we are able to really turn our mind to what we do have. Whether we’re talking about our own inner confidence, or our abilities, or even what we have – finding your way to the feeling that who you are, what you do and what you have is enough is a great route to feeling happier.

2. Notice how you are really feeling.
We are emotional beings. All of us have feelings whether we like it or not. When things are tough, so often many of us just plough on and ignore our emotional reality. But this doesn’t mean our emotions go away – they just fester, ready to burst out when we don’t want them to. So instead of pushing them down – learn to notice your feelings and acknowledge them. Talk about them – let them out. The reason that this is a key to happiness is that when we bring things to light we can deal with them and make choices about how we can re-set.

3. Stop comparing yourself with others.
Have you ever had that feeling that you’re just going about your everyday business, perfectly happy with your lot, and then you see someone you know who, in your mind has just a little bit more of what you have? All of a sudden, your happiness turns into dissatisfaction, and you can get disgruntled – you’ve gone from being quite content to feeling that you don’t have enough. Happiness lies in turning this on its head. Focus on what you have, focus on how it makes you feel and resist the temptation to compare with others. You do you – it’s enough. Getting content with what’s enough for you is a great way of moving away from the magnet pull of comparing with others.

4. Zone in on what matters most to you.
Often we can get so swept up in the busy-ness of our lives that we forget to take a step back, pause and ask ourselves the question, “What really matters most to me?” So stop and ask yourself that question. When you do, it gives a really important perspective on life. Focusing on what matters most to you is a great habit – because again, you are putting your energy into what’s important and what makes you happy.

5. Get good at noticing the small stuff.
Happiness, like any emotion, is transitory. It’s not a fixed state, nor is it a magic wand that will solve all our problems. Happiness lives in the small everyday moments – if we take the time to stop and notice. That first cup of tea in the morning, the smile from a loved one, the sky on the way to work. Getting into the habit of not just noticing but really appreciating the small things is what helps re-set our emotions to feeling positive.

Becky Hall is an accredited life coach, leadership consultant and is the author of The Art of Enough