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.
Here is part two of our two-part Christmas Guide for One-Parent Families.
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
Financial Management at Christmas
It’s a really good idea to make a commitment to yourself that you will not over-spend this Christmas. The next step is to budget. The earlier you sit down and budget for the holiday the better. Here are some sample categories which might help:
|Category||Items listed in detail||Estimated cost||Total cost|
|Regular food shopping for 2 week period|
|Food and drink for specific days i.e. 25th, 26th, 1st|
|Decorations – Lights, Christmas tree etc|
|Gifts for children|
|Gifts for other family members and friends|
|Christmas cards and postage|
Be very realistic – Remember the presents are only the start. Making a realistic list of the expenditure will make it easier to see where you can economise.
Be honest – Can you really afford to fund such a sum? If the answer is no, you must cut back.
Be wary of credit – If you find that you need short-term credit to bridge the gap between normal income and abnormal expenditure at Christmas, decide how you will fund this. Your main options are credit cards, bank or credit union loans or authorised overdrafts. All have advantages as well as disadvantages. Whatever you decide, make sure you can afford to meet the costs of the credit, including interest, after Christmas. Avoid unauthorised lenders.
Dealing with Pressure from Children and Young People
Talk to them – It can be really helpful to talk to your children early on about Christmas and explain that you all have a tight budget to work with. If Santa is coming to your house explain to children that Santa has a lot of children throughout the world to visit on Christmas Eve and he has asked parents to tell children to list their top three presents but to expect only one of these, and to understand that he has a budget. It is better to explain to your child that you cannot afford very expensive presents rather than overstretching yourself and getting into debt.
Get them involved in planning – Planning the Christmas with children and young people can help them better understand the pressures of Christmas. It can also be fun working together and help children gain a sense of responsibility.
Self talk – Remind yourself that you are not letting your children down by not getting them exactly what presents they want. Value the love you give them every day of the year. In years to come it will be this they remember rather than how much you spent on them.
Expectations – Remember for many younger children it isn’t the cost of the item that interests them but what they can do with it. Children often find the box more exciting than the gift itself!
Don’t give in to pressure – Children and young people often make demands of their parents. Parents may fear that if they don’t give the child the present they want, then he or she won’t love them. Remind yourself the value of saying “no”. Saying no can help a child understand choices and disappointments. It is far worse for the child or young person to see you upset and anxious about financial difficulties.
Fun Things To Do with Children
Whether you’re with your children for all of the holiday period or have access at certain times, finding fun activities appropriate to the season that don’t cost a lot can be a challenge. Here are some ideas:
- Christmas carols
- Christmas lights – Take your child into your nearest town or city to see the lights at night or take a tour of your locality
- Decorate your tree together
- Feed the ducks or swans, or put out a bird feeder together. Animals can find it hard to get food this time of year
- Check out your local library for details of free activities held for children over December and January
- Bake a cake together
- Make homemade sweets and cookies to give out as presents
- Make a jig saw together
- Visit your local art gallery, most galleries have free activities and workshops for children with materials provided
- Go swimming
- Visit your local park, or the botanical gardens in Dublin to watch the squirrels
- Have books and DVDs ready to entertain
- The national concert hall in Dublin hold a range of events for children
- Visit museums – our national museums have free admission and offer many family-friendly tours and activities
- Wrap up well and get plenty of fresh air
- Winter picnics can be fun too – bring a flask and check out adventure playgrounds in your area
- Make Christmas decorations – it’s easy and fun to string together pop corn to hang on the tree, or paper chains
- Visit a pantomime – matinees are usually offered at a reduced cost
Part one of our Christmas Guide includes advice on Taking the Stress out of Christmas, Christmas Alone, and Coping with Sad or Painful Memories. Click here to read it.
For help and advice
One Family askonefamily Lo-call Helpline | 1890 662 212 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Many children I know have advent calendars. They are in many shops ranging in price from one euro to about four euro. Children love the chocolate, perhaps eating it for breakfast every day in December, wild with the excitement of Santa.
A parent in our Facebook parenting group came up with a great idea for an alternative Advent calendar. For each day of the Advent calendar, your child and everyone in the house has to do a kind act or deed. This means that everyone has to do 24 kind deeds before Christmas Day.
It will support your children, and everyone in the home, to think of others at this time of the year. It is not just about giving, it is about trying to be kinder, more caring, more thoughtful and giving to each other in the days leading up to Christmas.
If you agree to carry out the Good Deed Advent Calendar why not write down all the good deeds and place them into a box each day. There could then be a special celebration on Christmas Eve.
Let us know if you try it and what changes it had on you and your family. Here are some suggestions for your children of kind acts they could do:
- Simply give hugs to each other more often.
- Help each other with tasks without being asked.
- Offer to help parents and grandparents.
- Put coins in the poor box at the shops.
- Gather toys and clothes that are no longer needed for a charity shop.
- Befriend a child at school who has no real friends.
- Help an elderly neighbour.
- Older children could prepare dinner once a week for the family.
- Older children could also play with a younger sibling that they don’t usually make enough time for.
- Think about others’ needs and not just their own.
This article is part of our weekly parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.
For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email email@example.com.
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 make Halloween safe and fun this year:
- 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.
- 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). Click here for more games ideas.
- 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.
- Experiment with face paints until you get it right. Let children practice on you, they’ll really enjoy that. You might like to test a small area of your child’s skin for allergic reaction in advance, follow the instructions on the packet.
- Try making Halloween treats together – children enjoy supervised cooking. Making things together will support good quality relationships. Here are some good Halloween recipes to get you started.
- If you are going trick-or-treating, encourage children to learn ‘tricks’ such as singing a song or reciting a poem. People like to see children make an effort in order to get the treat. In fact, performing a song or poem on the doorstep was expected in most parts of Ireland until recently. Children feel very proud of themselves when they actually do it.
- 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.
- 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.
- Be conscious that young children may be anxious or scared at Halloween. It’s dark, there are lots of scary figures about.
- Finally, just have fun!
This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.
For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ feature is about you looking after you. Read on for our ‘10 Ways to Parent Self-Care’.
- “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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
As summer winds down, it is time to start thinking about school again. For parents with young children, that means looking into preschools for your children. Sending your child to preschool for the first time is a big step in both you and your child’s life, and it is important to make sure both of you are prepared to take that step. There are many ways to see if your child is ready for preschool, and in this week’s edition of parenting tips, we look at 10 ways to prepare your child for preschool.
- Sit back and look at how much your child has grown in the past 3 years. Ask yourself if you are really supporting them to be more responsible, allowing them make choices and have more control over what they want and how they do things.
- Ensure your child is toilet trained and able to manage in the toilet unaided.
- Ensure your child can use a spoon to feed themselves, that they can recognise their belongings, get out their lunch and tidy away by themself.
- Support your child to learn the rules of friendship, taking turns, sharing, asking for what they want and being inclusive of all children.
- Play school with them at home. Help them act out their fears around school and through role play help them understand what will be expected of them in preschool.
- Explore with them how they need to behave in preschool and what will happen if they misbehave.
- Talk with them about the other children who will be there and how they will be very friendly with some and may not really like some children. Encourage them to have time for everyone and to aim to be friendly with all the children.
- Visit the preschool in advance. Understand the policies and procedures in advance as a parent and help your child know what their day will look like in preschool. There are great differences between many preschools.
- Keep preschool fresh in your child’s mind over the summer time. Help them be ready for school. Help them be confident by preparing them well and encouraging them to practice at home asking questions and resolving small disputes in a positive manner
- Don’t put any pressure on your child. It is not university, so relax about whether they know their colours and numbers. They will learn if they are happy and feel supported to do so.
This week’s ’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.
For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email@example.com.
Image credit: Pixabay
With a young child, one of the most trying times can be night time. We all expect to be awake with babies and infants, but what if your child is 3 years of age and still waking you at night? Parents and children need their rest after a long day of work, school, or play, although sleep is often interrupted by a cry for help from another room. As parents, it’s impossible to ignore our children, yet we all need a good night’s sleep and we want the same for our children as well. Not getting enough sleep can affect how we parent and many other aspects of our lives. We explore 10 Ways to Survive Sleepless Nights.
- If you know to expect that your child might call you during the night, it’s best to just accept it rather than dread it, as children will pick up on your anxiety.
- Try to get to bed yourself very early at least 3 nights a week – even if you don’t really feel like it – so you can get hopefully 4-5 hours of continuous sleep before the first call from your child.
- Stay calm during the night. Remember that it’s okay to forget the rules at times. If they will sleep well in your bed take them in, or get into bed with them if you can. A double bed for young children can be great if you have the space; at least you’ll have room then!
- Talk with your child during the day about sleeping. Praise them if they sleep well and try to encourage them to call you when it starts to get bright, not when it is dark. Encourage self-soothing such as cuddling up with favourite teddy bears. Be extra generous with praise for any attempt they make to sleep better in their own bed without calling you. Talk to them about how sleep fills them up with energy for the next day and how they need it for the busy day ahead of them. Help them to understand and like the idea of sleeping, and talk with them about why parents need sleep too.
- Try to ensure that during the day (not at bedtime), that you talk over things that are happening with them too. All kinds of things can play on your child’s mind that you might not be aware of: new home, new baby, getting in trouble, starting school etc. Dreams can wake them with anxiety.
- If you live with another adult take turns to get up to the child – take every second night – then at least you are both getting a good sleep a few nights every week.
- What if you have two children waking in the night? If safe to do so, and you have a big bed and side rails – and you have not been drinking alcohol or are impaired in any way – it can be good to take them on a sleepover into your bed on occasion. This could mean you all get to sleep till morning, or at least the early hours.
- Try not to focus on how little sleep you get. Remember that a lot of parents are in the same situation. Think about how you might be able to incorporate opportunities for sleep into your own routine. If you travel on public transport, perhaps take a nap on the bus or train; or have one in the morning at home if your child is at creche or school. Explore if anyone can mind your child once a week for a few hours during which you can look forward to some sleep; for example, arranging rotating play dates with another parent.
- Build some positives into your day. For example, look forward to some nice breakfast to give yourself a boost to get going. Something like fruit and yoghurt doesn’t have to cost much or take a lot of time to prepare. When we are really tired, we can feel somewhat low, especially if we’re parenting alone without many opportunities to plan for some sleep for ourselves; so it’s very important to actively build in these little positives to our routine.
- Support your child to sleep well by following a bedtime routine and providing them with a restful space. What is the room like that they sleep in? Do they like it? Do they have cuddly teddies they have a good bond with during the day? Have they a night light? Is it a calm, secure, peaceful area?
Along with this post, you might like to also read ‘10 Ways to Establish a Bedtime Routine.’
’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.
Image credit: Pixabay
The Quarterly National Household Survey released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveals the most recent employment statistics for the period April-June (Q2) 2017. One Family has analysed the findings in relation to people who are parenting alone.
- In Q2 2017, the employment rate of lone parents (aged 15-64) was 58.5% (up 2.1% from 56.4%). This compares with 73.9 % (up 0.9% from 73.0%) for the adult members of couples without children and 76% (up 3.9% from 72.1%) for the adult members of couples with children.
- The employment rate of lone parents (aged 15-64) whose youngest child was aged 0 to 5 years was 46.8% (up 0.8% from 46.0%) in Q2 2017 compared to 59.8 % (up 2.6% from 57.2%) where the youngest child was aged 6 to 11, and 65.6% (up 9.2% from 56.4%) where the youngest child was aged 12 to 17. This indicates that, as children get older, the prohibitive costs of childcare are reduced and lone parents are more likely to engage in work.
- There were 6,400 (down 1,400 from 7,500) lone parents classified as long-term unemployed in Q2 2017, compared to 22,400 (down 12,000 from 34,400) adult members of couples with children classified as long-term unemployed in the same period.
- On average, 55.3% (up 1.2% from 54.1%) of lone parents were participating in the labour market in Q2 2017. The participation rate of males in couples with children was 87.1% (down 0.7% from 87.8%) while the corresponding participation rate for females was 64.2% (down 0.2% from 64.4%). This dispels the myth that lone parents are not engaging in, and seeking, work outside the home.
One Family remains acutely concerned about the numbers of lone parents in precarious and low-paid employment, particularly since the reform of the One-Parent Family Payment that has pushed many lone parents into employment that has kept them and their children living in poverty.
The Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2015 results released in January 2017 showed that 58% (almost three in five) of lone parent households with one or more children experienced enforced deprivation. This compares to 25% of the general population who experienced deprivation. People in lone parent households continue to have the lowest disposable income out of all households with children in the State.
The Indecon Independent Review of the Amendments to the One-parent Family Payment since January 2012, released last Monday, showed that 63% of the respondents in full-time employment stated that they cannot afford 3+ items on the deprivation list, meaning that they are most definitely experiencing deprivation daily, and in-work poverty.
Further Quarterly National Household Survey information from the CSO is available here.
Yesterday was an emotional day for us and our guests who joined us for our Open Day, and for our evening Reception, as we wish farewell to our beloved home for over 40 years, Cherish House, in advance of our move to Smithfield next month and also celebrate 45 years since the founding of Cherish/One Family.
Our first President, Mary Robinson and our current president, Mary Henry, joined our founders, Board members, current and past staff, clients, friends and colleagues to view an exhibition, “Letters from our Mothers”. It features a selection of letters we received from women all over the country who were pregnant or mothers and unmarried, and their mothers, throughout the 1970s.
It was wonderful that women who lived in Cherish House from the 80s up to 12 years ago with their babies returned home accompanied by those same babies, now adults, to share photos and memories across the decades.
We celebrated our journey and acknowledged all that we have achieved since we formed in 1972, including the abolition of the status of illegitimacy and the introduction of the One Parent Family Payment. We remembered friends and colleagues central to that journey who we have lost. We committed to continue our work towards a society where all children are cherished equally, where all families are recognised, where lone parents are valued, and where no child suffers as a result of poverty.
Most of all, we celebrated our founders whose spirit, grit and sheer humour inspire us every day!
We thank our founders. We thank Sinéad Gibney for her powerful performance of her poem that captures the truth of being a lone parent, Enda Reilly for the beautiful music, and everyone who joined us throughout the day yesterday to give our wonderful building the farewell it deserved. Thank you to FX Buckley Steakhouses who supported our celebration with provision of wonderful food and wine, and their great staff team.
We look forward to being able to provide more services to parents and their children in our new premises in Coke Lane, Smithfield, Dublin 7 when we open our doors there on Tuesday 1 August 2017.
A photo album from our Farewell and 45th celebration can be enjoyed on this link.
Cherish/One Family Celebrates 45 Years of Achievement for Lone Parents Including Abolition of Status of Illegitimacy
Reiterates that Government Action is Needed Now to Stop Rising Rates of Child Poverty
Organisation moves to Smithfield, Dublin 7 in July
(Dublin, Tuesday 27 June 2017) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone and sharing parenting – celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2017. One Family was founded as Cherish in 1972. In that year, Maura O’Dea Richards placed an ad in the paper in the hope of reaching other women who were unmarried with children. A small group of brave, determined women soon banded together and went on to provide supports and services and to campaign for change despite widespread societal resistance. One Family relocates to a more accessible and larger building in Smithfield, Dublin 7 in July to be able to offer services to more parents and children in one-parent families.
Two of the organisation’s most significant achievements were the introduction of the unmarried mother’s allowance in 1973, as the One Parent Family Payment was then called, and the abolition of the status of illegitimacy in 1987. This work has continued and expanded. A name change to One Family in 2004 recognised the new diversity of family forms headed by one parent. Today, while society has progressed, many of the same barriers that must be overcome by people parenting alone as they attempt to access employment and education remain; and the Constitution, far removed from the reality for today’s families, still only recognises the married family form.
Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “Tomorrow we will also release our Annual Review for 2016, highlighting that child poverty rates continue to increase and that one-parent families remain those most at risk of consistent deprivation. This is a direct result of the barriers that prevent people who parent alone from accessing sustainable employment and education opportunities, such as lack of affordable childcare and secure housing. We saw an increase in 2016 of clients becoming, and at risk of, homelessness. We also saw a significant increase in calls to our askonefamily helpline from parents who are separating, particularly in requests for supports for children experiencing parental separation.
Karen continues: “We are proud to celebrate our 45th year and all that has been achieved to date. Our history inspires us to never give up. We will continue to fight to ensure that Government takes urgent, real action to stop the rising rates of child poverty in Ireland today and to ensure provision of the services and supports that lone parents and separating parents and their children need.”
Tomorrow, Wednesday 28 June, Cherish House and its decades of history will be celebrated with an exhibition featuring photographs, documents, letters and other items from One Family’s archives. An Open Door Day runs from 10am-4pm and members of the public with connections to Cherish/One Family are invited to visit 2 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2 to share their memories of Cherish House.
One Family’s Annual Review 2016 is available to read here.
One Family is fundraising for refurbishment of its new headquarters in Smithfield. Information can be found here.
About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and celebrates its 45th year in 2017 when the organisation will also relocate to Smithfield, Dublin 7. It is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.
These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie).
For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191
Valerie Maher, Policy & Programmes Manager | t: 01 662 9212
Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 622 9212 or 087 414 8511
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Trading as One Family, Cherish CLG is a company limited by guarantee not having a share capital, registered in Dublin, Ireland with registered office at 8 Coke Lane, Dublin 7 and registered Company Number 45364. One Family is also a charity (Charity Regulatory Authority No. 20012212 and Charity No. 6525).
Directors of One Family: Helen Hall, Jennifer Good, Nuala Haughey, Rosemary Wokocha, Donagh McGowan, Eimear Fisher and Jack Eustace.