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Parenting | How to make Valentine’s Day special in your home

heartMany lone parents hate Valentine’s Day as they feel it is a big reminder that they are on their own and that for some reason this is not considered the best option in society. However, I think it can be a really lovely occasion that reminds us to say ‘I love you’ to our nearest and dearest. Many parents will say that their child knows that they are loved but they don’t often say it. They may not be into hugs and showing affection. Valentine’s Day can be your day to say ‘I love you’ to your children, to your parents, your friends and people in your community.

This year why not plan something for Valentine’s Day with your children and make it special in your family, maybe you can create a family tradition starting this year.

Here are ten ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

  1. Each family member selects a name from the hat and then has to do something nice for that person on Valentine’s Day. At times siblings need to be reminded that they love each other. This can be something that costs nothing and just needs some thought, or you can perhaps set aside a small budget.
  2. Plan a special family meal on Valentine’s Day. Decide together what you could cook, maybe with older children can help in cooking the meal. At a time when life is so busy, we don’t always get to sit and eat together and chat with each other.  Maybe you can invite friends or family over and make it a movie night or board games evening too. Laughter is what you will have and memories will be created.
  3. Make cards together for each other and for special people in your life that you haven’t seen lately. Encourage children to make pictures and be creative.
  4. Visit someone in your community that you know has very few people in their life. It could make such a big difference to them to know that someone cares about them. Maybe you could bake some buns to take with you.
  5. Remember your childminder or people who help you survive the day to day. Everyone likes to know that they are not taken for granted. At Christmas there is so much expense, maybe Valentine’s Day could be a better time to acknowledge how much they mean to you.
  6. Plan a day out together as a family. It doesn’t have to cost money. You can go to the playground, the park, bring a picnic, maybe plenty of hot chocolate! There are so many things you can do that will create fond memories and support your family to have closer relationships with each other.
  7. Or maybe you could simply plan to ‘do nothing’ together, and enjoy a pyjama day! Take time out to spend with each other. Play games, talk, cook and just enjoy being with each other.
  8. Make a date with your child or a family member if you have not seen them for a while. It can be hard to keep track of children when they have moved out and are busy with college, work and friends, but you can be sure they still want to spend time with you. Often at this age they need your support more than ever.
  9. Why wait for someone else to do something nice for you? Do something nice for yourself. Plan your own treat. I know parents find it very hard to spend money on themselves but you deserve a treat too! Maybe you can ask someone to take your children overnight or for a few hours. Take time out, , it doesn’t have to cost much, perhaps go for coffee with a friend. Give yourself a treat.  Think about what a treat means to you and then be creative in making it happen this weekend.
  10. Wish people you meet on the day a Happy Valentine’s Day. We hear ourselves all the time asking people how they are, but how often do we stop to really listen to the response. Why not say hello and stop to listen this Valentine’s Day?

There is so much you can do, talk with your children and make some plans to start loving Valentine’s Day. What a sad world it would be if there was no love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This week’s ’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.

Press Release | End Child Poverty, Get it Right for One-Parent Families in Budget 2016

Press Release

End Child Poverty,

Get it Right for One-Parent Families

in Budget 2016

One Family will state at the Pre-Budget Forum tomorrow that Government has sacrificed lone parents and their children for long enough.

(Dublin, Thursday 2 July 2015) One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating, will be participating in the Department of Social Protection’s Pre-Budget Forum tomorrow where CEO Karen Kiernan will call for an immediate review of Government’s current One Parent Family Payment (OFP) reform process. These reforms, on top of a sustained series of cuts targeting one-parent families – such as the reduction in Income Disregard and discontinuation of the One Parent Family Tax Credit – were implemented without supports including childcare in place, resulting in even greater poverty for thousands of Ireland’s most vulnerable families. Over 30,000 families have been moved off the OFP today.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, states: “Government policy, despite the stated intent to support one-parent families out of poverty, is proving to be a monumental failure. Children in one-parent families are more than twice as likely to live in poverty. The number of children in Ireland living in consistent poverty – meaning they are living both at risk of poverty and experiencing deprivation – has risen to nearly 12%. When you analyse these figures, it reveals that 23% of children in a one-parent family experience deprivation. They have carried the burden of austerity on their shoulders as the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. What we are calling for in Budget 2016 is something that is long overdue. Put simply, it is time for a fair deal for one-parent families.”

Lone parents want to work and to access education so that they can create positive outcomes for their children, yet Government consistently implies that they need to be compelled to do so. This conveniently ignores the reality that barriers such as lack of accessible, affordable childcare/out of school care have yet to be removed. Lone parents already working part-time are those who are being most affected by the current process of reform as they are experiencing income decreases of up to €100 per week on already minutely managed budgets. Rather than giving away tax breaks or giving a miserly €5 per week in Child Benefit, Budget 2016 should be radical in its approach to investing in services for our poorest children and families.

Karen continues: “We are expressing loudly and clearly that Government must invest in Budget 2016 in a coherent package of supports and services for parents moved off the One-Parent Family Payment and to Job Seeker’s Allowances if it is serious about supporting lone parents into sustainable employment and out of social welfare. Quality, affordable childcare and out of school care; access to quality and assured housing; and family-friendly employment opportunities require significant government investment and cross-departmental collaborations. Without this, the Department of Social Protection’s reform process will continue to fail and families will continue to suffer.”

Budget 2016 must demonstrate a firm commitment from Government in working towards resourcing one-parent families rather than penalising them, and to work towards ending the shameful spectre of child poverty in Ireland.

One Family’s Pre-Budget Submission 2016 can be read/downloaded here.   The Pre-Budget Forum takes place in the Printworks, Dublin Castle on Friday 3 July from 9am-2pm.

/Ends.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

End Child Poverty 343x230Budget 2016 Submission

One Family’s recommendations for Budget 2016 are simple, low cost and cost effective; and provide a social and economic future which is based on investment and opportunity.

A package of supports for OFP recipients being transitioned must include:

  • The Income Disregard to remain at €90 for all OPFs regardless of their payment.
  • Equal access to all activation measures and in particular MOMENTUM.
  • Access to free fees for part-time education options.
  • Allow JSTA CE participants to have an additional payment of €50/week equalising it with JobBridge in recognition of family costs.
  • Provide specialist bridging programmes for lone parents such as New Futures and New Steps.
  • Raise the Qualified Child Increase to help reduce child poverty by tailoring it to the poorest families.
  • Recognise the value and costs of shared parenting by providing the Single
    Person Child Carer Credit to each parent.
  • Adjust the Family Income Supplement so that it makes work pay for lone parents by reducing the qualifying hours to 15 hours per week and taper payment.
  • Provide a high quality accessible Childcare and Out Of School Care system.

Previous Budget Cuts

Previous cuts that have targeted One-Parent Family Payment recipients since Budget 2011 include:

  • Budget 2014
  1. The One Parent Family Tax Credit was discontinued and replaced with the Single Person Child Carer Credit, which only one parent can claim, whereas the previous credit could be claimed by both parents sharing parenting.
  2. Maternity Benefit was standardised at €230, an increase for some but a decrease of €32 for others.
  3. The FÁS training allowance was discontinued for those in receipt of some social welfare payments, including those receiving One Parent Family Payment.
  • Budget 2013
  1. Child Benefit was reduced from €140 per child to €130 (for 1st, 2nd and 3rd child) in Budget 2013.
  2. Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA): Reduced from €250 to €200 for children aged 12+, and from €150 down to €100 for 4-11 year olds.
  3. Cost of Education Allowance (paid with Back to Education Allowance, BTEA) cut completely from €300 down to €0 for all new and existing BTEA recipients.
  • Budget 2012
  1. BTSCFA, from €305 reduced to €250 for 12+, and from €200 down to €150 for 4-11 yr olds; age eligibility also increased from 2 to 4 year olds in 2012.
  2. Ongoing cuts to OFP include Income Disregard cut from €146.50 down to €90.
  3. The half rate transition payment of OFP was cut for those who were going into work and stopping payment.
  4. OFP recipients lost access to half rate payment for Illness Benefit and Jobseeker’s Benefit, where applicable.
  5. Fuel Allowance was reduced from 32 weeks to 26 weeks.
  6. Cost of Education Allowance (for BTEA recipients) reduced from €500 to €300.
  7. CE Scheme participants, many of whom were lone parents, had their training and materials grant cut from €1,500 to €500; and new CE participants from 2012 could not get ‘double’ payment, just €20 extra allowance.
  • Budget 2011
  1. Cuts included the main rate of social welfare payments reduced from €196 down to €188.
  2. Child Benefit was reduced by €10 for 1st and 2nd child / €150 to €140; 3rd child / €187 to €167; 4th and subsequent child / reduced to €177.
  3. Christmas Bonus was discontinued (half-rate partial reinstatement for some last year).

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and 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 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival 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

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511

One Family 10 Solutions

More Children Live in Poverty Because of Lack of Quality Childcare to Enable Lone Parents to Work

Press Release

More Children Live in Poverty Because of Lack of Quality Childcare to Enable Lone Parents to Work 

European Commission Highlighting of Childcare Provision Failure
for One-Parent Families Welcomed by One Family

(Dublin, Tuesday  3 June 2014) One Family – Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families in Ireland today – welcomes the highlighting of the need for quality affordable childcare for lone parents which would increase existing low levels of female participation in the workplace, ultimately reducing poverty levels and social exclusion for children, by the European Commission this week.

There has been a significant shift of emphasis in social policy to early years interventions targeted to help children from poorer backgrounds. In many respects this focus is welcome: it acknowledges, for example, that disadvantage starts from birth and needs to be corrected for from the outset of children’s lives. Government fully recognises the value of an accessible childcare system and now needs to deliver it.

Yet despite the widespread recognition of the critical importance of the early years, our Government often seems to fail to acknowledge the reality of child poverty in Ireland today and to design interventions that truly tackle the hardships that poor children encounter. Those living in lone parent households continue to experience the highest rates of deprivation with almost 69% of individuals from these households experiencing one or more forms of deprivation (EU-SILC 2010).

Childcare is particularly expensive in Ireland and, coupled with a ‘low pay premium’ for part-time work, this plays a significant role in whether or not the financial benefits to paid work outweigh the costs for lone parents – the often referenced ‘welfare trap’. We have heard from parents who desperately want to return to work to improve the standard of living for their children and future outcomes, but who have been forced to turn down opportunities owing to a lack of affordable, accessible childcare.

Among One Family’s many services for lone parents and those sharing parenting, we support parents to be able to access work, including good quality part-time/flexible opportunities. Without good quality childcare many lone parents remain simply unable to take up employment opportunities.

Success in achieving such a childcare system would provide a significant boost to the economy. Parents who currently stay at home to care for their children would be able to work if they wished to do so. This would increase family incomes, improve living standards and reduce dependence on benefits, as well as lifting children out of poverty and improving their learning and development outcomes.

One Family reiterates its call to Government to enact its 10 Solutions campaign, with an immediate focus on childcare.  All children deserve the best start in life.

For further information on One Family’s 10 Solutions, click here.

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to those 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 622 212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes the Family Day Festival, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

Available for Interview

Stuart Duffin, Director of Policy & Programmes | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 062 2023

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511

 

 

10 Ways to Parent Self-Care

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ feature in our weekly series offering tips for parents, 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. One Family has a social group, check it out. 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.

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

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Understand the Value of Play and 10 Ways to Make Bed Time Better.

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