10 Ways to Parent Self-Care

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ feature is about you looking after you. Read on for our ‘10 Ways to Parent Self-Care’.

  1. “I’m not perfect, I’m good enough” (Winnicot): Recognise that you are one person and you are doing the best you can. Give yourself a pat on the back – don’t wait for someone else or your child to or it may never happen!
  2. Routine: Have a core routine for each day of the week and stick to it. Don’t try to get everything done every day, set days out for different chores. Make sure you have time in the routine to play and interact with your children. Parents usually feel better when they have  had a quality connection with their child.
  3. Eat: Remember you must meet your own needs so you can meet those of your children. The basic need to eat is really important as when we are hungry we are less inclined to have patience and the energy to deal with everyday issues and challenges.
  4. Sleep: It is easy to say sleep but it is more important to do it. Try to get children to bed early so you can be in bed early too. Aim for at least 6 hours sleep per night. Those with infants will only achieve this in a number of sessions of sleep so it is really important to try and nap during the day if you can.
  5. Stay healthy: Do not neglect your health – value your own health and well being as much as you do your child’s. Healthy parents are happy parents.
  6. Exercise: This can release the happy hormones and allow you time to think, reflect and make plans, or just breathe in the fresh air and tell yourself it will all work out. You can also use the time to chat with your child. Simply playing in the park or back garden can be good exercise and fun with your child also.
  7. Take time out for yourself: If you struggle with this, begin with 10 minutes for yourself and as time goes on, increase it. Maybe once a week you can plan a couple of hours to yourself. Be creative in how you achieve this – it will be worth the effort.
  8. Socialise: Isolation is a key issue for those parenting alone. Challenge yourself to network with other parents, join clubs or courses. Your self-esteem and confidence and that of your child’s will be enhanced with socialising.
  9. Ask for help: Ask for help whenever you can from family or a friend. They will stop offering if you never take them up on it. Children enjoy being with other people. It is good for you both to have time apart and for children to know there are other people who can care for them.
  10. Be an adult: You are not just a parent so make time for you to be you. It’s good for children to see you as a person with many roles, not just as Mam or Dad.

The One Family parenting skills courses Positive Parenting and Family Communications are enrolling now. Click here for information.

Homework

Parenting | Ten ways to re-establish the school routine

HomeworkSettling back into the school routine can be very challenging. When you are parenting school age children, the best way to make a plan is to do it together with your children, here are some tips to support you.

  1. Call a family meeting. If you have not tried this before, try not to be skeptical as it can be very effective. By bringing the whole family together, you are making a statement – this is our family and our issue to resolve together – which is a really good principle to parent by. If you need extra advice on how to do this, read our ’10 ways to’ run a family meeting
  2. When you have all the family in one place, make your statement – school is back on, how can we ensure a good term ahead for everyone?
  3. Ask each person to say what they need in the next term. You should expect various responses, from ‘no nagging’, to ‘not wanting homework’, to needing ‘time out with friends’. This is normal, take note of all suggestions.
  4. Once you have a list of what everyone needs, then you can start to explore if and how these needs can be met.
  5. If you have older children, maybe they can offer to help meet the needs of younger children, such as supporting them with homework.
  6. Be sure to name your needs and be reasonable. Try to keep them very specific, e.g. “I need to know homework is done every day.” “I need everyone in bed at a reasonable time.” “I need everyone to take a level of responsibility around getting ready for school in the mornings.”
  7. Agree what each person can do for themselves. “Everyone has their own alarm clock.” “Everyone makes their own sandwiches” – once they are over about 7 years old. Your job is to provide the food, agree what needs to be available and to supervise the lunch making, but you do not have to be responsible for filling the boxes.
  8. Once you have agreed on the key principles of what everyone needs to do, allow some space and variation in how each person achieves them. If you have older children and teenagers, try not to schedule every minute for them. Allow them choose when homework will be done, within reason. It is, after all, their homework. Allow them some choice around free time after school before homework starts. Allow them to choose when they eat. You can prepare dinner, but is it reasonable to expect everyone to eat at the same time? You can also agree on family time and when you schedule some time together as a family.
  9. If we try to control everything our children do, we are just setting ourselves up for failure – along with exhaustion! As parents, it is important we remember that our role is to prepare children for life. Allowing them to make choices and have some control is part of this process. If your child is never allowed to plan their own time and make reasonable choices, how will they learn? How will you know what they are capable of?
  10. Look after yourself well. In order to parent our children effectively, we must learn to parent ourselves. Take time out for you. Be creative in how you can get this time. You will have thought of many of your own needs during this process and your children are not responsible for meeting them. You need to find ways to meet them yourself. In this way you will have the patience and energy to listen, understand and engage in positive ways with your children.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips.

For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Parenting | Father’s Day

man-863085_1280Many children will be looking forward to some special time with Dads, Stepdads and Granddads on Father’s Day, though it is also a day that can bring challenges. In One Family, children are at the centre of our work and we support parents to help children to have contact with both parents where possible, unless it is not safe for a child. It can, of course, often be challenging for separated parents to develop good communication in order to implement a shared parenting plan, but the positive outcomes for children are very much worth the effort that parents put in.

Successfully sharing parenting can seem difficult, especially if parents are experiencing hurt or anger. When two parents can be there for their child, we ask parents to allow each other the opportunity to parent. Children need so much love and time; they can never have too much. There is room in your child’s life for both of you. Developing a shared parenting plan may be challenging, but when you do figure it out and see how your child flourishes, you will know it is worth the effort.

For Dads parenting alone, there may not be anyone to help your child make a card or shop for a little gift. Or even to acknowledge the day at all. Why not acknowledge it for yourself? Own it for you. You don’t need someone else to tell you how great a parent you are. You do everything from braiding hair, to playing football, to helping with homework, to planning your family’s weekly meals. Acknowledge, embrace and celebrate your achievements, even through the tough times. Allow yourself a Father’s Day treat, and plan to celebrate the day with your child.

If your child’s Father has chosen not to be present in their life, or is otherwise absent, you may worry that your child is excluded from the celebrations. Or that your child may feel a little sad, and so might you. Acknowledge this for them; it is okay to feel this way. Maybe it is a day you can talk about it together with your child. Share memories, and talk with them about all the wonderful people that are in their life. Ask them what they would like to do if Dad was there, and then plan something fun to do together with your child on the day.

This year, whatever your circumstances, perhaps you can plan a day out with your child on Father’s Day? Plan for quality time together. Plan a picnic, pitch a tent in the garden, have a barbeque. Invite some friends over and have your own soccer tournament. Children just love being busy and having fun, it doesn’t have to cost much. Make some plans today to have fun and create memories, and if it is not possible to celebrate with your child this Father’s Day, perhaps you can plan to share it on a different day in the future.

Whatever you do this Father’s Day, it is a day that is about children. On Father’s Day, we encourage thought about what your child needs from you. What can you do now to support your child through life, whether this means being physically present in your child’s life on a regular basis, consideration of the financial support a child requires to help them to have what they need to grow, develop and succeed in life, or working to develop a shared parenting plan.

Father’s Day is about valuing children’s presence in our society, and looking at what we can offer them. So Dads, Mums, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Stepparents, Guardians, Friends – everyone is important in a child’s life and we all can help them to grow, to feel loved, and to know they are valued.

This  article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Next you may wish to read:

https://onefamily.ie/training/10-ways-to-successful-shared-parenting/

https://onefamily.ie/training/10-ways-to-explain-an-absent-parent/

https://onefamily.ie/training/10-ways-to-positively-maintain-contact/

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Parenting | Ten Ways to Make the Most of School Breaks

School's outFor some parents the school holiday is a respite time with a more relaxed routine. However, it can be a nightmare for others for many reasons such as not being able to take time off work, lack of childcare options and tight budgets, and so requires a lot of planning and management. As parents we learn quickly that when raising children it is important to develop as many resources as we possibly can.

As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series of  parenting tips and in celebration of the upcoming school summer holidays here are some tips on how to make school breaks enjoyable for all members of the family so you won’t hear the infamous “I’m bored” – hopefully!

10 Ways to Make the Most of School Breaks

  1. Time off: If you work outside of the home, plan your leave in advance for school holidays. Get the list of days off from the school at the start of each term and use this to plan your time off. If this is not possible, try to finish early over a few days during the mid-term.
  2. Plans: Make plans with children prior to school breaks. Making plans in advance for the days off will ensure that children are clear about what will happen. They will cooperate more if they are involved in making the plans.
  3. Family: Engage the support of family as much as possible at school breaks. If you share parenting with your child’s other parent, agree a system for the school holidays in advance. Grandparents and other family members can love having the chance to have some extra quality time with the children, maybe even a sleepover. Make sure to involve children in any plans and give them the information they need in advance.
  4. Friends: Make plans with other parents for play dates. Maybe you can set up a shared rota?
  5. Fun: Even if you have to work, try to have fun with children during the break. Fun doesn’t have to mean expense. Activities such as cooking, arts and crafts or having a picnic at home are really enjoyable things to do in the comfort of your own home. Plan fun activities out such as going to the park, feeding the ducks, a walk on the beach or going swimming.
  6. Library: Libraries often hold events for children on school breaks and are also a great source of information about what is taking place locally, such as nature walks or music workshops.
  7. Clear Out: Children can really enjoy helping at home. Take the school break as an opportunity to do a spring clean. Get the children involved in planning what needs to be done, make a colourful chart together. Maybe they can clear out their wardrobes and bring some clothes, toys or books to the charity shops. You may find hidden treasures as you go along, to have a dress up day when you finish!
  8. Socialise: Take school breaks as an opportunity to meet other families. There are lots of websites supporting families to meet up and do activities together. If you are feeling isolated, check out the One Family Social Group for starters. It provides a supportive environment for parents to enjoy a day out with other parents in similar circumstances, and is great fun for the children. Email us or call us if you’d like more information.
  9. Routine: It’s important to try to keep the bed time and meal time routines in place while children are on short school breaks. This will ensure that they will not get over tired, and as they are still in their routine when school begins again, the transition will be easier for everyone.
  10. Enjoy: Most of all, enjoy the break from homework as this allows time for other things in the evenings – don’t dread the school breaks.

Next you might like to read more about establishing routines.

‘10 Ways’ parenting tips is written by Geraldine Kelly, One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

Parenting | Ten Ways to Incorporate Outdoor Play

outdoorsResearch tells us over and over again how valuable the outdoors is for us all. However how often do we really go outdoors, other than just getting to the car or catching a bus? Although the Autumn/Winter seasons can be a little harsh, children still love the outdoors at this time of year.

Children learn so much from being outdoors. They can climb and jump much more freely; they can get dirty and have fun! Outdoor play can really support a parent’s wellbeing too. Most adults would acknowledge that going for a walk increases their wellbeing and helps them deal with any challenges they may face.

This Winter, see if you can introduce some outdoor play to your children’s lives. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Go for a nature walk. Every part of Ireland allows you to access a field or park of some sort. Take yourself and your children for a walk to see what nature has to offer. Collect leaves and berries, nuts and cones. Make a project of it, if you wish, when you return home. Help them identify the different leaves and the nuts and cones that match each tree. Talk with them about what berries you can eat and which ones are just for the birds.
  2. Bird Watch. There are many lakes and water ways around the country which are great for bird watching. You can join an organised group or just visit the library and get some idea of the birds in your area. Make it a treasure hunt to see how many you can spot in the one afternoon. Most children are fascinated by nature. Bird Watch Ireland has great resources and often organise free family-friendly events around the country, as do Bat Conservation Ireland and many other wildlife and environmental organisations.
  3. Take a picnic and practice some mindfulness. Having hot chocolate while sitting in a field or near a lake or river is very healing. Children again can feel very relaxed and often talk more openly with you about any challenges they may have. Home offers a lot of distractions to you both.
  4. Visit a local forest. Children love the leisure of walking through forests and not having to hold hands with an adult all the time. Children enjoy their freedom and it is crucial they have these opportunities as they grow. Allow them climb up hills and roll back down. Allow them dig and collect treasure. The things that fascinate them most are likely to have arose the same feelings in you once upon a time.
  5. Make it social. Often when we plan days out and play dates they involve indoor activities which can cost a lot of money. Why not take a ball to the park? Go cycling? You can hire bikes in many forests and parks. Take a kite, the weather is here! Blow bubbles.
  6. Become an artist. What could be more therapeutic and fun than taking the sketch pads and markers to a lovely spot outdoors. Ask your children to draw what they see. It doesn’t matter what age they are, they will attempt this. You can then talk about what you see and maybe have some new art work to pass onto family for Christmas or to hang in your home.
  7. In the garden. How many gardens are left idle all winter? Once the grass stops growing we can feel our work is done till next spring. If you have access to a garden, encourage your children to spend time outside there every day. When children go outside and run about freely they can burn off vast amounts of energy. If you keep them indoors all day you may have more troublesome behaviours, as they find it hard to use up the stores of energy indoors. Often when they come back in, they settle into some quiet time and things can run a lot smoother.
  8. Walk. Do you really need to take the car or bus so much? Look at where you can introduce some extra walking, even simply getting off the bus one stop earlier. Try it out for a few weeks. Children will become more energetic as they get used to it. You may have to allow some extra time to get to where you are going, but it will be worth it. Children will become healthier and fitter, and most likely will have fewer colds over the winter months. Just wrap up snug and warm.
  9. Make it social. Organise to meet up with friends in the park. You can have a chance for a chat with other adults while your children enjoy being with some other children. And you won’t have to tidy up the house when  go home. Surely this is enough of an incentive to meet and play outdoors! Visit a pet farm together and maybe see Santa outdoors this year, as opposed to crowded shopping centres. Even if your child is terrified of Santa, as some can be, they will enjoy the outdoors.
  10. Finally, mostly my experience is that adults don’t like outdoor play and generally feel that the outdoors poses a risk. I would ask you to challenge this concept this coming winter. Winter can be the most fun time to be outdoors. Try it and share with us on Facebook what you discover.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Join our new One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that everyone is welcome to join. You could post questions and share your experiences, and take part in a live weekly Q&A with Geraldine.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 / 01 662 9212 or email support@onefamily.ie.

One Family’s Christmas guide for one-parent families

Christmas can be a wonderful time. It can be a time when we come together to celebrate the passing of another year and to look forward to beginning a new year full of potential and possibility. It can be a time of re-connecting with our family and friends and remembering those who are no longer with us. Yet for all that, it can be a time of enormous stress and for some people tremendous loneliness. Images of happy faces and perfect families in media ads may not match the sadness and pain we may be feeling inside.

For some one-parent families, Christmas can be particularly difficult. It can be a time when painful feelings are magnified. Financial strain, complicated access arrangements, and spending lots of time with relatives can further add to feelings of anxiety and distress.

Becoming aware of and acknowledging the immense pressure you may be feeling during the run up to Christmas is an important step in managing. Planning ahead is critical. Above all, remembering your own values and remembering what’s most important to you and your family is probably the ultimate stress buster for the season.

Some general points to consider

  • Abandon perfectionism! There is no such thing as the perfect Christmas
  • Plan Christmas as early as possible. You may find yourself resisting this idea, however, planning early means you can foresee any potential problems, organise your finances more effectively and ultimately lessen the stress. It may also mean that you have more time to find enjoyment in the season itself when it finally does come
  • Keep things simple
  • Negotiate and finalise access arrangements as early as possible. This will help avoid last minute confusion, stress and fighting
  • Remember, Christmas is often not the time to challenge a person’s behaviour. Christmas is too emotionally charged. If a behaviour is tolerable and does not endanger another person’s wellbeing then it may be better to wait until the Christmas period is over
  • Parents should avoid competing with each other through giving expensive presents. Expensive presents are a poor substitute for telling your child you love them and spending time with them
  • Reassure your child that it is okay to talk about sad feelings at Christmas time. Acknowledging your own feelings without laying blame can be helpful to both your child and you. However, be careful not to use your child as a confidant or peer
  • Try to reach out to those you trust for support
  • If you’re finding it really tough try to find a little joy in each day and write it down in a journal or diary

Christmas Alone

For some members of one-parent families Christmas may be spent alone. Children may be spending their holidays with the other parent this year, or a parent may not have access to the children etc. For some people being on their own at Christmas is enjoyable and can be a time to do things that they wouldn’t normally get done. However for others, being alone at Christmas increases feelings of depression, loneliness and isolation.

If you know that you are spending Christmas alone and know that this will be difficult for you it is really important to devise a coping strategy as soon as possible. Don’t wait on the hope that someone will ask you over and don’t put off thinking about what you will do.

  • Try to encourage yourself to make contact early with distanced family or  friends and explore with them the possibility of sharing Christmas with them
  • If you know other people spending Christmas alone, think about inviting them over for Christmas. “Pot Luck” dinners, where everyone brings a dish, can be an interesting way to break from tradition
  • Tell yourself you are worth it and prepare a special meal for yourself
  • Plan each day well in advance – try to know exactly what you will be doing. A structure can be really helpful during the holidays when you have a lot of time alone
  • Some people find that volunteering or getting involved in local activities can help them re-connect with other people and put meaning back into the season
  • Attending a religious service or communal celebration might also help to give a sense of re-connection with others
  • Get out of the house and go for a walk. Many people go walking on Christmas day
  • Try to avoid things that make you feel worse such as alcohol, recreational drugs, over eating
  • Remind yourself that this is a difficult time and that it will pass
  • Try to plan one outdoor activity each day
  • Write down what you are feeling
  • If you are feeling really lonely, depressed and cannot find a way to reach out to others think about contacting the services below

Coping with sad or painful memories

Christmas is a time when we can become painfully aware of the losses in our lives, the people who have gone from us through bereavement, family separation, past traumas etc.  If you are trying to manage painful feelings at Christmas, here are some ideas that might help:

  • Try not to hide your feelings. Try to find someone you can talk to over the holidays
  • Reassure children and young people that it is okay to feel upset and encourage them to talk about how their feeling
  • Identify one friend that you trust and know you can call on to talk over the holiday. Ask them to be your “listening ear” over the holiday
  • Light a special candle for the person who is missing or for the painful secret or memory you’re trying to cope with. You don’t need to tell anyone the significance of the candle. Candles are an acceptable part of the Christmas décor
  • Keep a diary over the holiday and really use it to write down how you are feeling
  • Drink a toast to absent loved ones, name them
  • It can be helpful for children to remember people who are no longer in their lives through making a special bauble for the Christmas Tree that represents them

Dealing with Conflict

Many of the worst arguments happen at Christmas. Bored children, being cooped up with relatives, the availability of alcohol, and a sense of claustrophobia can create an environment where tensions are high.

  • Try to pre-empt possible arguments by planning access arrangements in advance
  • Try to communicate in a direct, open and honest manner
  • Don’t meet another person’s anger with your anger
  • Respect yourself even if the other parent shows you none
  • Get out for a walk with the children – tire them out
  • Have a bath or take a nap to get away from everyone
  • Be prepared to let some behaviours go over the Christmas period
  • Be willing to compromise if necessary
  • If your child complains about the other parent, try encouraging them to talk directly with that parent
  • Keep adult communication directly between adults. Refuse to use your child as a go-between.

For help and advice

One Family askonefamily Lo-call Helpline | 1890 662 212 | support@onefamily.ie

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service | 0761 07 2000 | www.mabs.ie

Citizens Information Helpline | 0761 07 4000 | 9am to 8pm from Monday to Friday

The Samaritans | 1850 60 90 90 |  24 Hours service

Aware – Defeat Depression | 1890 303 302 | 10am – 10pm from Monday to Sunday

Parenting | Sharing Parenting and Keeping Your Children at the Centre of Planning this Christmas

It may seem a bit early to talk about Christmas but when it comes to making a plan for sharing parenting at Christmas the earlier you talk about it the better. Sharing parenting can be a very positive experience for children when parents are able to do it well. However, as a well renowned Psychotherapist, Gary Neuman said, ‘Out of the countless studies conducted to measure children of divorce, from their  academic performance to their self esteem, one truth emerges repeatedly: it is parental  conflict, not divorce itself that places children at risk in virtually every area of their life.’

Now is the time to plan how you will share parenting this Christmas and to ensure your child is at the centre of your agreement. Communication is usually the cornerstone of effective shared parenting or any relationship we have in life. For many parents sharing parenting, communication can be the area that you have not been able to master since separation. However it is never too late.

Assertive communication, also known as clear and direct communication, will support you to build a parenting relationship with the other parent of your child, allowing you both parent your child and ensure positive outcomes for your child as they grow and develop.

There are four key steps to clear and direct communication.

  • Say what you see happening with the other person’s behaviour. Do this in a factual and neutral way.
  • Say how you feel underneath it all. It may take some time to check in with yourself and identify how you are feeling. If needed ask the person you are talking to for a pause or to discuss things later instead of getting into a discussion when you are not sure what you are feeling.
  • State what need is behind you feeling the way you do.
  • State what you would like to see happen in the other person’s behaviour. What is it you would like the other person to do to resolve the situation and address the underlying need?

When it comes to planning Christmas for your child, an example of clear and direct communication is, ‘I heard you tell Jack you would see him on Christmas Day. I feel annoyed when Jack is told things before we have talked about them. I need us to talk about the plan and then tell the children when we are clear what is happening.’

When you communicate in this assertive way, the hope is that it will support the other person to engage in a conversation with you. A conversation where you can over time find a compromise to an issue. If you communicated this message in a different way such as, ‘Why did you tell Jack you would see him Christmas day, you always do this? I am so sick of it.’ You can imagine what would happen. Most likely conflict, a breakdown in communication and finding a positive way forward would be hard as it would take time for both parties to recover from the upset of the communication that took place.

The following are some tips to support you to communicate more assertively going forward:

  • Take time to figure out how you are feeling. Put a name on the feeling.
  • You do not have to justify why you feel a certain way. Keep your response short and to the point.
  • Be sure you know what change you want in the other person’s behaviour before you talk to them.
  • Be willing to hear what the other person’s interpretation of events is and to the option of finding a change in behaviour that suits both of you that might be different from what you both had in mind.
  • Say ‘I’ when talking about feelings and needs. In a confrontation it is tempting to say ‘you made me feel’ but others do not make you feel anything, you feel something in response to a situation.
  • Do not talk about the person, talk about the behaviour.
  • Be open to the idea that the other person may not be able to meet your request and that you may have to look elsewhere to meet the need.

The earlier you start to communicate and plan Christmas the more likely you will be to reach a compromise. There are many ways you can look at Christmas that might broaden you view on how that compromise can be reached.

  • Remember as parents you are creating memories for your child. Children usually don’t just recall one day when they think of Christmas, it is normally the whole holiday period.
  • This allows parents to take at least 10 days and work with that when sharing time with children over Christmas.
  • Ask children to visualise what they would like Christmas to look like. Do not make promises; just tell them you want to hear what they have to say, so you, as parents can keep this in mind when agreeing a plan for them.
  • Remember time with parents is a right of your child, not the right of the parent. (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child).
  • When children have a good relationship with both parents it is vital to find a way to support your child to spend valuable time with both of you over the holiday period.
  • Explore, if you can, putting your feelings aside and step into the business of sharing parenting by sharing joint time at Christmas. Can you both visit Santa with your child? Can you both be in the one home on Christmas morning to open the gifts?
  • Create your own traditions. It doesn’t matter what you did as a family at Christmas, this is your time now to create your traditions for your new family form. What would you like to create for your child? What memories do you want for your child? What would you like them to take forward in life with them from Christmas?
  • Present your ideas in plenty of time to the other parent. Be open to their ideas. Negotiate and compromise. Ask yourself if you can live with the plan. You don’t have to love it, but can you live with it knowing your child’s needs are being met?
  • Try to separate out your needs. A lot of the time when parents are trying to agree a parenting plan they confuse meeting a child’s needs in the plan with also trying to meet their own needs. The parenting plan is not the place to have your needs met. You need to find another way to meet your needs.

If you find it very challenging to communicate with the other parent seek the support of a Parent Mentor through the Irish Association of Relationship mentors (IARM) or Mediation. Finding your assertiveness will have a ripple effect on the other parent’s behaviour.

Written by Geraldine Kelly, One Family Director of Children and Parenting Services. Read more parenting tips here

Parenting | Enjoying Safe Halloween Fun

Halloween, having its roots in the Gaelic Samhain Festival, is a wonderful time for family fun and games. As parents, we need to take precautions to ensure the safety of our children without taking away from the fun. Here we offer tips to help make Halloween safe and fun this year:

  1. Consider having a party in your own home for your children and some friends. Trick-or-treating can start about 4pm and a little party from 6-8pm.
  2. Play some games at home such as biting the apple from a string or finding coins in green gunk. Wall paper paste mixed with green food colouring makes excellent, low-cost goo that’s fun for children to squelch their hands in. Click here for more games ideas.
  3. Try making costumes at home which can be great fun and cost effective. Use flame-resistant materials and if you plan to go out to trick-or-treat in the evening, you might want to attach reflective strips to dark-coloured costumes.
  4. Experiment with face paints. Let children practice on you too, they’ll really enjoy that. You might like to test a small area of your child’s skin for allergic reaction in advance, and always follow the instructions on the packet.
  5. Try making Halloween treats together: children enjoy supervised cooking. Making things together will support good quality relationships. Visit Bord Bia for Halloween recipes to make together.
  6. Carving pumpkins to create ‘jack-o-lanterns’ is lots of creative fun but never let a young child do the carving. If you are allowing an older child to pumpkin carve, give them age-appropriate tools only, follow a simple design, and supervise them carefully. And of course, never leave children unsupervised in a room or area with candles lighting.
  7. If you are going trick-or-treating, encourage children to learn ‘treats’ such as singing a song or reciting a poem. Performing a song or poem on the doorstep was traditional at Halloween in most parts of Ireland until recently. Children feel very proud of themselves when they actually do it.
  8. Be vigilant and aware of safety at all times. Agree a route (for trick-or-treating) in advance and what doors they are allowed to knock on. If you are driving anywhere, remember to slow down and watch out for other excited little trick-or-treaters.
  9. Never allow children under 14 years old out on their own. Children should never be allowed into the homes of strangers. Always be very close by, watching the engagement and ready to intervene if necessary.
  10. Be conscious that some children may be anxious or scared at Halloween. It’s dark, there may be the loud noises of fireworks, there are lots of strange figures about.

Most of all, enjoy the celebrations. Happy Halloween!

Parenting Programmes Survey – Help Needed!

One Family is conducting a survey to analysis its Parenting Programmes. Currently running in various locations and online, this survey will help evaluate the programmes as they are and be informative in planning of future programmes.

Whether you have done a course with us before, are thinking about doing one or have not contemplated doing one we would love to hear from you. We will use this information to plan future courses and try and ensure we are offering what lone parents, parents sharing parenting, or separating need. Your help is valued and much appreciated.

Please forward this survey to anyone you think would be interested.

Click here to be re-directed to the survey

Parenting Tips | Creating Christmas memories

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Christmas is about creating memories with our children. Regardless of what our parents did, or what our families and friends expect, it is about creating your own traditions.

If you are sharing parenting of your children and it is impossible for both parents to be with their children on the Christmas Day, why not spread Christmas out and make the most of the two weeks of Christmas. Children see the two weeks they are off school as Christmas. This gives us two weeks to create traditions with our children.

Here we offer tips for making the most out of Christmas:

  • When it comes to planning, think simple, not extravagant.
  • Try baking a cake to leave out for Santa. Children love baking and it can be a very relaxing activity. Or you could consider buying a good value ready-made cake that has not yet been decorated. You can allow your creativity to flow and decorate it together. Your children will be very excited to share it with Santa.
  • Use some money that perhaps was allocated for present shopping for a day out at the Christmas panto. It shouldn’t break the budget. From local community halls to the big stage, children will enjoy them all. These are memories that will stay with your child for ever.
  • Plan Christmas Eve in advance. Does it need to be so busy? Can part of the day be spent relaxing? There are lots of things you could do. Go for walk in the local park, enjoy the atmosphere. Visit the Christmas markets and enjoy the smells, sights and sounds. Have breakfast together as a family, think back over the year and look forward to the next.
  • Try to avoid doing things because just others – whether family members or friends – expect you to. Do what suits your family and enjoy the time with them. Christmas will be over very fast and you will wonder what it was all about otherwise. Christmas is what you make it.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist. There’s no need to stress if it does not work out exactly the way you envisaged and planned.  Things go wrong sometimes. A sense of bonding between the family  is still created.

This article is part of our weekly series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

We wish you and your family a Happy Christmas and New Year from all at One Family.

For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.