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Hands Daisy

10 Ways to Sensitive Integration of a Stepparent

Introducing a new partner who may be potential stepparent to your children requires great care and patience with the focus on helping children to adapt. As part of our weekly ’10 Ways to …’ series, here are our tips on managing this situation so that, in time, all members of the family can enjoy positive and supportive relationships.

10 Ways to Sensitive Integration of a Stepparent

  1. Be friends: Introduce your child to your new partner gently and slowly. Plan a fun activity for the family and bring your new partner along. Your partner may not love the child on first meeting, this is natural. Allow the relationship to develop and for both parties to become comfortable with each other.
  2. Talk with your child: Involve your child in your life. Tell them you have made a new special friend and that you would like them to get to know your child.
  3. Moving in: It is usually once a new partner moves in that they become a stepparent (not always through marriage as legally recognised). Involve children in this process. Talk in advance about what this will look like and how it may change current family life – be clear about the positives and the negatives.
  4. Talk about behaviour: When there are young children involved, the stepparent must be allowed to manage behaviour if they are being asked to care for the children. It is important to discuss your views on managing behaviour in advance and agree how to handle issues. Work with each other. Discuss parenting styles and how you were parented as a child. What do you want for your child and how can the stepparent support you to parent?
  5. 3 parents: Your child has two parents usually and may not feel they have room for a third. Be gentle in your approach. Don’t get into a situation whereby the child feels the biological parent is being replaced. Always respect the child’s feelings.
  6. Respect: Always respect the biological parent of the child and respect the role the child’s biological parent plays in their life. Do not encourage or permit the child to call a stepparent Dad or Mum. You are just creating confusion and disrespecting the other parent. Make sure to talk with the other biological parent about this new important person in your child’s life.
  7. Couple time: Remember you are a couple and not just parents. Take time out as a couple and also take time to talk about the challenges of parenting with another adult who is not the parent. It is hard for both of you. The stepparent may have to learn how to share you with your child and that you have to juggle meeting their needs and those of your child.
  8. Acknowledge: Both parties need to acknowledge that this may be hard for the child. They may find it hard to adapt to sharing their parent. Maybe they have been hurt in the past. Involve them. Talk about things in the home and plan changes together. Explore issues as they arise and find solutions together.
  9. Have fun: Do fun things together! Also allow both the parent and stepparent have one-to-one time with the child. This will help build the relationship for both parents and child.
  10. Trust: Trust each other. If you cannot trust your partner with your child then you need to think about what is happening. Take everything your child says seriously. They are not out to hurt you or break up a relationship. Hear them.

If you would like to talk about the issues above or have any other concerns or questions, our askonefamily lo-call helpline is available on 1890 662 212 and by emailing support@onefamily.ie.

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is compiled by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Positively Maintaining Contact and 10 Ways to Effective Toilet Training.

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

School Holidays

10 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 weekly parenting tips, and in celebration of mid-term break, here are our 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.

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is compiled by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Effective Toilet Training, 10 Ways to Positively Maintaining Contact and 10 Ways to Sensitive Introduction of a Step Parent.

Remember, if you need a friendly ‘listening ear’, our askonefamily lo-call helpline is available on 1890 662 212.

Parents arguing

10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting

For many parents sharing parenting after separation, one parent is the ‘primary carer’ and the other spends their time with their child at weekends and holidays. As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series of weekly parenting tips, here are our suggestions on minimising stress and helping both parents to focus on keeping the child at the centre of parenting.

10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting

  1. You will always be parents: no matter what happened in the adult relationship you will both still be the parents of your child. Allow each other to parent.
  2. Move on: get support to deal with what happened in the adult relationship and move on to a relationship which is focused on parenting your children.
  3. Communicate: it is not possible for you both to parent unless you work out how to both feel safe in communicating with each other.
  4. Parenting Agreement: work with professionals (such as our trained staff at One Family or other professional organisations) and get support to develop a parenting agreement.
  5. Respect: respect each other as parents of your child. Talk positively about the other parent to your child.
  6. Support your child: listen to your child, support them to have a relationship with both parents. They have a right to safe contact with both parents.
  7. Talk: allow your child to talk about how they feel. What is life like for them? Just listen and acknowledge what they are saying and how they are feeling
  8. Involve family: with very young children it is hard to let them go on contact visits. Try to have friends and family support you both until you feel confident the parent can manage. They may just need experience.
  9. Conflict: do not get into arguments in front of your child. Don’t talk about maintenance or other issues at handover times. Plan a time to talk when the child is not present and the impact will not affect your parenting later that day.
  10. Keep your child at the centre: it’s your child’s contact not yours. Support them to have it and to own it. Seek professional support to help with your feelings and anxieties over contact.

In cases where there is addiction, domestic violence or other similar challenges, please seek professional support before engaging in contact.

One Family offers a course to help people sharing parenting which you can find out about here. Yesterday we wrote about Coping with the End of a Relationship. You can also find additional One Family supports here or call our askonefamily helpline on lo-call 1890 662 212.

This episode of ’10 Ways to …’ was compiled by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Enjoy School Breaks and 10 Ways to Effective Toilet Training.

 

10 Ways to Establish a Bedtime Routine

Many children find it difficult to settle down at bedtime which can lead to challenges. For this week’s ’10 Ways to …’ post offering parenting tips, we look at how to establish your child’s bedtime routine. Here are some tips that should help:

  1. Adequate Sleep: How much sleep does your child need every day? Use the guide to help you choose an appropriate bedtime: 1-3 years: 10-15 hours including naps / 4-7 years: 10-13 hours with no naps.
  2. Reduce naps: Once children reach preschool age, naps are no longer necessary. It is best to get your child to bed early and get adequate sleep at night time. Early to bed and early to rise!
  3. Routines are crucial: Develop a clear routine around bedtime with your child and stick to it. The bedtime routine should start no later than 30 minutes prior to your child being in bed.
  4. Snacks: It is important to ensure your child is not hungry going to bed but be careful about food choices offered late in the evening. Too much sugar will not aid sleep.
  5. Consistency: Children are consistent in how they sleep and wake. If you let them stay up late, they will generally still get up at their usual time meaning that you’ll probably have a day ahead with a cranky child – and parent.
  6. Quality time: As part of your routine, plan relaxing, wind-down activities for the hour leading up to bedtime. Too much activity close to bedtime can keep children from falling asleep. Think about what play is good to help children relax and calm down.
  7. Share time: Parents and children need to relax together and reconnect after the day. Share stories from your day and talk about what is happening the next day. Children will sleep better when they have had time to tell you about any worries they might have and to share their stories, and they feel safe knowing what tomorrow brings.
  8. Behaviour: The right time to change behaviours is not when everyone is tired. Think about what is problematic and plan changes. Involve your child in the changes. Make sure they know about this prior to bedtime.
  9. The bedroom: Keep it quiet and calm. Make sure the lighting is just right and ensure your child feels safe. Baby monitors are great at all ages as they reassure a child that their parent will hear them if they call out.
  10. Support children in developing self soothing skills: Encourage your child to soothe themselves back to sleep.  Talk about what might help them to do this during the day, not at night time. Agree in advance what the child can do – can they come to your bed or do you go to them?

This ’10 Ways to …’ feature is compiled by Grace Mulligan, Crèche Team Leader, One Family.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Successful Toilet Training and 10 Ways to Happy School Breaks.

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

 

Girl playing

10 Ways to Understand the Value of Play

For our ’10 Ways to …’ feature this week, we explore why play is important. Read on for our ‘10 Ways to Understand the Value of Play’.

The importance of play in a child’s life cannot be underestimated. Play is a child’s work and is “serious stuff”.

  1. Importance of play: Play fosters a child’s development in every way imaginable. Play helps develop self-esteem and social skills, motor skills, and aids physical development and a child’s intelligence.
  2. Different forms of play: There are many ways in which children play.  Play can be inside or out, using toys or using household items. The imagination can be very active or the child may be focused on a puzzle or constructing a tower. It might be with water or sand, paint or dough. They may love dolls and playing house. Whatever it is, they are learning. Add things in for children to play with which will extend their learning. Such as water in the sand, bubbles in the water etc.
  3. Language: Through play, children are learning new words every day. They are playing with parents and others and have to use language to communicate and play the game they want.
  4. The 20 minute tool: By sitting with and playing with your child every day for 20 minutes, you will not only learn a vast amount of information about your child, how they think and how they see and feel the world but you will also be supporting them to play and helping them learn.
  5. Value play: Allow children time to play. Give them notice of when play time is up, as it’s time to eat or sleep or go out. Respect their time to play and notice when they are playing well with others.
  6. Social skills: Children learn how to socialise and be with others through play. Initially children like to play alone but as they reach school age they see the value in playing with others as opposed to alongside them. Sharing and taking turns can be hard work and play supports children to practice this.
  7. Emotions: You will often see children play the same role play game over and over and then one day it stops. Children will act out what they see important adults in their lives do. This helps them to learn and to understand what is happening and the roles we are playing in the world.
  8. Physical well-being: Outdoor play in particular is so important for children. They get their exercise through playing in the park, running, hide and seek, ball games etc. Children will be happier and more confident when they are fit and healthy.
  9. Aids learning: School can be difficult for some children. It is important to remember when they get in from school to allow play time. They need this to process what has happened in school, with teachers and with friends. They can feel energised after some play and then homework will usually go a lot smoother.
  10. All ages play: Children from birth onwards play, it just changes as they grow and develop. Play with your child from day one. Get comfortable with playing with them and you will be creating a solid foundation for your life together.

This ’10 Ways to …’ feature is compiled by Grace Mulligan, Crèche Team Leader, One Family.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Make Bed Time Better and 10 Ways to Successful Toilet Training.

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

10 Ways to Build and Maintain a Close Relationship with your Teenager

As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series which offers tips for parents on a variety of topics, here are our ‘10 Ways to Build and Maintain a Close Relationship with your Teenager‘.

  1. Talk with them: Talking to your teenager, not at them, is the key to good communication.
  2. Listen: Listen to what they have to say and ask questions to help you understand their thinking. Sometimes you need to just accept that they see things differently to you.
  3. Empower them: Help your teen find their own solutions to their issues. Don’t give so much advice – let them think it out.
  4. Let them make mistakes: We all learn from making mistakes. Stop trying to make the world perfect for your teen, they need space to learn. You can be there to support them when times are hard.
  5. Share with them: You may hate watching the Kardashians or football on TV but if your teenager loves them then make the effort to sit and watch it with them. This can be a bonding experience and you will get great insight into how their mind works by doing this.
  6. Make dates: Life is busy as a teen. Make a date with your teenager to do something together and don’t break it – keep it a regular thing.
  7. Forget about their bedroom: Most teens can cause havoc in homes over untidy bedrooms. Try setting some rules that washing must be placed in the wash basket and dishes and food all brought to the kitchen. After that forget it. Public spaces within the home must be respected by all but allow them keep their room as they like it.
  8. Like their friends: and boyfriends/girlfriends. You may not particularly like another teen but try to get to know them and be respectful of them. It’s better to have your teenager hanging out in your home than their friends as then you can know more about what’s going on.
  9. Taxi time: It’s horrid but has to be done. It’s only for a few years but it’s necessary. At least if you bring your teen somewhere and collect them you may have more peace of mind than worrying who they are getting lifts with.
  10. They are teens not babies: Teens from 12 years old onwards want to be treated as young adults – with the exception of when they are sick or tired and want to be babied again. Give them responsibilities, trust them and expect them to follow rules. Don’t judge them too quickly as they are only learning.

The ’10 Ways to …’ series is compiled by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Enjoy School Breaks and 10 Ways to Improve Listening in the Home.

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

10 Ways to Healthier Eating

As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series which offers tips for parents on a variety of topics, here are our ‘10 Ways to Healthier Eating‘.

  1. Menu: Plan the menu for the week ahead and make a list of the ingredients you will need. When you make a trip to the supermarket, stick to the menu created.
  2. Bring children shopping: Include children by bringing them to the supermarket with you. Tell them you have a list of what to get and that you are only buying things that are on the list. Show them all of the interesting fruit and vegetables on display. Try to buy a new vegetable or fruit each week.
  3. Get children an apron: Involve children in cooking – children from 2 years upwards can help with family cooking. The more children are involved in preparing healthy meals the more eager they will be to eat or at least taste what has been prepared.
  4. Visit a vegetable farm: Let children see how things grow and maybe plant some vegetables at home. Go fruit picking and try making some homemade jams.
  5. Educate children. Talk to children about their bodies and about all the things that our bodies need to stay healthy. Introduce food as one concept. Talk about the different types of food and what they can do for our health. Try Google for lots of ideas or look to the 1000 Days Campaign for inspiration which explores the profound impact the right nutrition has on a child’s ability to grow and learn.
  6. Role model: Be a role model for your child. You must do as you say and eat your own veggies. Find ways to make them taste nicer by looking up some new recipe ideas. Try to get over your own childhood horrors of eating vegetables.
  7. Days out: Get into the habit of bringing healthy snacks as treats. Grapes, melon, dried fruit, wholemeal crackers, yogurts etc are all nutritious and delicious.
  8. 3 meals: Encourage children to have 3 healthy meals each day and if possible sit at the table together to eat them. Don’t make meal times and eating a big issue however. Children need to get positive attention for good behaviours. Forcing children to eat and making them sit at the table for long periods will cause poor eating habits and lead to poor health.
  9. Involve children: Ask children what they like to eat and involve them in making lunches and planning the menu.
  10. Reward: Reward children for trying new foods. They don’t have to like the food but trying it is what you want to see. Never only offer a new food to a child once. From weaning onwards, offer a new food at least 20 times over a period of weeks before you resolve to the fact that your child really does not like it.

The ’10 Ways to …’ series is compiled by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Enjoy School Breaks, 10 Ways to Improve Listening in the Home and 10 Ways to Build and Maintain a Close Relationship with your Teenager.

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

 

10 Ways to Survive Working and Being a Parent of Young Children

As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series which offers tips for parents on a variety of topics, here are our ‘10 Ways to Survive Working Outside of the Home and Being a Parent of Young Children’.

  1. Be organised: Over organise everything – lunches, dinners, clothes.
  2. Cook and freeze: At the weekend, cook some favourite meals and freeze them for during the week – the children can help, they love helping!
  3. Stop washing: Keep the laundry for Friday evening and finish it on Saturday. Most children have enough clothes to last the week.
  4. Sleep: Go to bed as early as you can and forget about the telly. Record your favourite programmes instead and watch at the weekend. If this isn’t possible then ask your friends what’s happening in soap land.
  5. Eat: Eat at work! Don’t go home hungry with hungry children, homework and whatever else you may face. Try to be ready for the onslaught when you get in the door.
  6. Public transport: Use it if you can as this way you can get some extra sleep, read, check texts, emails and have some ME time. If in your car, try to listen to some nice music and relax on the journey.
  7. Exercise: Do it on your lunch break as it will help keep the happy hormones alive. Just 15 minutes of fresh air will help you feel you are looking after yourself.
  8. Stay calm: Breathe and remember it will all be okay. Everything takes longer when you have children so expect the process of getting out in the morning or getting anything done to go slowly.
  9. Play: Allow time to play with your children in the evening. Quality time is as crucial as good nutrition – they will sleep better if they have time with you and share your day.
  10.  Enjoy: Your children are little and life can be hard but they will grow up so fast so enjoy the pleasure they can bring you. Try not to worry so much about getting everything done, just try to get done what must be done.

The ’10 Ways to …’ series is compiled by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Enjoy School Breaks, 10 Ways to Improve Listening in the Home, 10 Ways to Build and Maintain a Close Relationship with your Teenager, and 10 Ways to Healthier Eating.

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