School holiday-proof your relationship

do216genres-relationships1200The kids have broken up and we’re heading of on that holiday we’ve been slogging towards since Christmas. We’re looking forward to a rest, being with family and long hot lazy days.

But the reality for most of us is that often we work harder in that last week before a break, the weather will be unpredictable, travel will be problematic, kids will whinge, getting out of our routine is stressful and drinking more alcohol than usual can make us more reactive and more tired and grumpy the next day.

Holidays are great for kids, who grow both physically and emotionally over the long summer holidays, but what about us?

It may be first time you’ve been with your spouse for a while, particularly if you work shifts or on a rota. Take a tip from school teachers, who often take the first week of the holidays to flake out and depressurize. That two week holiday abroad might look restful on the brochure, but how about taking a week at home, with nothing planned, to get to know each other again and destress, before heading out on a shorter adventure?

For those of us who parent with an ex partner the school holidays can feel even more stressful and it’s worth starting to negotiate your child’s schedule as soon as possible. Some parents might have a tried and tested formula for holidays, but remember as your child grows what you agreed for them at three years old might not work at age 13. As kids grow their peers become more important, so taking this into account and building in time to catch up with friends can be really helpful.

Whatever you choose to do this summer, be thoughtful, curious and kind to yourselves, and enjoy this wonderful season.

Advertisements

Birth Trauma Awareness Week 2018

Birth Trauma Awareness Week starts today until July 8 2018.

I have a personal and professional commitment to helping people recognise and manage traumatic birth experiences having been through a traumatic birth.

I often ask my clients about their birthing experiences and have heard their surprise at being asked. A common response is ‘Well you just get on with it don’t you ..’ Partners say ‘Well she went through it, I just watched’. In reality the trauma of emergency intervention or seeing the person you love in peril and feeling powerless to help can stay with you and cause flashbacks, ongoing panic or depression.’

Just talking things through afterwards and in a safe space can be hugely helpful for men and women alike. It’s also worth considering ante natal counselling for future pregnancies.

The Birth Trauma Association says on its website: “Each year, up to 20,000 women and their birth partners go through a traumatic birth experience and suffer the often long-lasting impact this has on their physical and mental health, their ability to bond with their baby and their relationships with their family and friends.

Many women and their partners who have been through birth trauma are left feeling isolated, unable to share their experiences and talk openly about what has happened to them. “

Last year, Birth Trauma Awareness Week brought the subject of postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder out into the open and gained widespread media attention. The Association will be holding Twitter chats each evening from Monday July 2 to Friday July 6 on subjects relating to birth trauma as well as launching new videos of women talking powerfully about their traumatic births.

Other resurces

Unfold Your Wings . Hope, Support and awareness for Birth Trauma and Perinatal PTSD

Sands . We operate throughout the UK, supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby, working to improve the care bereaved parents receive, and promoting research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.

Email Counselling

I’ve just completed a fascinating course in using digital technologies in counselling and therapy.

Some of it was a refresher as I’ve been offering telephone and webcam appointments for some time, but it’s always nice to take a full day to work with new and existing colleagues on our clinical practice. There were Relate counsellors in our group from as far south as Devon. Luckily I didn’t have to travel as far.

I’m excited about reaching people who can’t schedule appointments at specific times by offering email counselling. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and now I have some practice under my belt this way of working is available to all my clients.

People who can really benefit from this way of accessing support are those like new parents, carers, people who work away, or maybe those who just don’t feel comfortable speaking with someone for any reason.

There’s a £40 charge for each email you write, and I spend an hour reading and responding to your email. I guarantee that you will receive a reply within 3 working days.

Get in touch if you would like more information.

The Wonder Down Under

I’m always keen to share books and other resources that are useful to people and having read The Wonder Down Under I’m mentioning it to friends, colleagues and clients who I’m sure will all find it useful.

The book, published in 2018, is written by two Norwegian medical students and sex educators who aim to ‘bring genital elightenment to the masses’. So far so good, but in practice I find books about sex tend to be quite dry (take it from someone who’s waded through Schnarch and a lot of Masters and Johnson research, I know, I’m weird!)

This one is written very much with the reader in mind, sentences are punchy and the tone is conversational. There’s no judgement, instead a lot of practical advice and information about what a healthy body and sex life looks like and how to keep it that way.

Books about sex and our bodies do tend to date very quickly as our understanding develops, for example I’d never read anything more than 5 years old about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as the information is very likely to have been overtaken by more up to date research. This book includes up to date information about STIs which is great but once it’s aged a bit I’d recommend reading it in conjunction with a bit of research.

I’d recommend this book to parents of teens of both genders, all educators of children, counsellors, women and the people who love them.

Christmas-proof your relationship

“Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace.” – Edward Hays

xmasdisasterTomorrow is the start of December, and it’s so easy at this very special time of year to get caught up with the chores of Christmas: the cards, the gifts, the cooking .. and put our couple relationship on the back burner until the New Year.

Christmas is a wonderful time, but sometimes the stress can take its toll on our relationships, with many couples seeking counselling from me after the holiday season, when stress, the family, disappointed expectations (and one too many Baileys) have resulted in relationship melt-down.

December is a great time to take stock of our relationships, and to make sure loving each other is part of the run up to Christmas. Those of you who read my posts regularly will know I’m a firm believer in the power of small sustained actions to build and sustain loving relationships.

So for the third year in a row I invite you to follow my new and improved Relationship Advent Calendar Challenge, a great way to build acts of love into each day from December 1st, as my seasonal gift to you.

And if you haven’t met your sweetie yet ..  you’re still warmly invited to take part .. use this time to practise the actions I suggest on your friends and family.

So, what’s a “Relationship Advent Calendar?

A lot of advent calendars are about getting, but this one’s all about giving, because in a relationship we give to receive. Every day in December until Christmas, I’ll reveal a new action to build and sustain your couple relationship.

Subscribe to the blog, follow me on Twitter or Facebook and & get 25 acts of love delivered to your inbox each day, starting tomorrow December 1!

I’ll be doing all of these right along with you .. I’d love to hear how you get on ..

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Are you excited about this advent project? Do get in touch using the Comments box below or my Contacts details to the right of your screen .. happy adventing!

We’re Separating .. Help!

Separation and Divorce are tough, whatever the circumstances surrounding them. Sometimes a couple come to the decision to part ways together; more often one person makes the decision, and in some cases the other person has no idea their partner is unhappy in the relationship until the point at which they make the announcement they want to leave.

separation .. get support

Usually, adults are trying to make important practical decisions that will impact their future while also managing the strong emotions that are completely normal when we go through big changes in our lives.

You might be okay with your decision to leave the relationship but be confused because you’re finding the other changes around the separation a challenge. Things like the loss of your home, a dual income, your pets, seeing mutual friends, or the status of being ‘a couple’. And when other factors like affairs and looking after children are added into the mix sometimes it can feel like being on a rollercoaster.

When we go through any change there are stages we have to navigate. In the example above someone may have reached the end stage of Accepting that for them the relationship is over but still be right at the start of processing the other changes. Their ex partner on the other hand could be in Shock and Denial that the couple relationship is at an end, but be further ahead in coming to terms with the more practical aspects of the separation. People need different kinds of support as they go through the different stages, and if you feel you’re stuck in one of these stages it’s a good idea to ask for help.

losscycle

When ex partners are at different stages in this Cycle of Change practical negotiations can often get stuck, as one or both people bring their hearts to the table as well as their heads. This is why I hear often that mediation has been tried early on and failed because one or both partners just aren’t in the right place emotionally.

The challenge is to get to a place where although a couple relationship has ended, a productive relationship as exes has begun.

Making decisions around your children

In an ideal world parents will still be able to communicate together to make important decisions for their children. The Parenting Plan created by CafCass is a really useful tool that maps out most of the important choices parents have to make during childhood. Printing one out each and considering what choices you would like for your child can be a great way to prepare in advance for parenting discussions. Particularly consider WHERE those beliefs are coming from:
Is it because I had/didn’t have that?
Is that choice relevant/appropriate to MY child’s situation?
What can I compromise on and where can I give ground?

iStock_000026753240Medium

Mediation can be a good next option when both parents are willing to negotiate but talking together might still feel tricky. Agreements made in mediation can be court stamped if parents believe this is necessary.

Collaborative Law focusses on working together with specially trained solicitors for a mutually beneficial result, and acknowledges that often people need to work through their normal emotional responses to the separation in order to move forward. It avoids the expense, disruption and emotional distress of going to court.

And never forget that however difficult things may be, the best way to look after your children during any kind of stress and disruption is to LOOK AFTER YOURSELF. Talk to friends, family and / or a counsellor, get exercise, eat well and rest when you need to. Put limits around the emotional energy you give to the situation.

And never forget to hold HOPE for the future. One day the storm clouds will part and you will see the good work you’ve done paying dividends.

More Resources

Sorting out Separation is part of the Government’s help & support for separated families initiative  . https://www.sortingoutseparation.org.uk/

The Parent Connection . Information about parenting after parting . https://theparentconnection.org.uk/