Category Archives: parenting

Here they come!


8 Tips for non resident parenting – Here they come!

I thought I’d end the month with some posts about being a separated (or non resident) parent. In this first post I wanted to share my check-list for making sure that the boys are going to make it through the weekend alive.

1. Make the call

When I first separated four years ago I didn’t understand the importance of talking to my boys about what they wanted. Like many other newly separated parents I chose activities I thought they would enjoy without thinking to ask them A great recommendation by their mum was to have a regular call with them in between days to pick up ideas about what they were interested in doing.

2. Work from a list

As soon as I hit thirty I quickly realised that the my short term memory wasn’t up to the task for being a parent. Inside my wardrobe door is a list for practically everything. My boys weekends list starts; 1. Chocs; 2. Clean clothes; 3. Charge tablet, and so on… In addition I have a separate shopping list for days that the boys are with me to make sure I’ve got the right cereals and a ready supply of bottled drinks they can help themselves too etc.

3. Stick to the plan

Another mistake I made when I first separated was to fill every weekend with exciting activities; cinema, bowling, or something similar. It was months before I started to realise that a regular routine filled with lots of breaks to relax and chat was much better received. After all the boys only see me at weekends so they’re more interested in having time with me than racing around from one activity to the next.

4. Play dates and mates

As a separated parent it’s much to easy to ostracise yourself from other parents to avoid awkward conversations. I was lucky enough last year to have a fabulous play ground mum approach me and  arrange some play dates for James. This has been really popular with James, but just as importantly gives me more time to bond with George. I can’t recommend this enough.


5. No cure like a good nights sleep

Simple as it sounds, eight hours sleep the night before can really pay dividends when you’re about to have little ones buzzing around you with a hundred and one questions. There is only so much coffee can do after all!

6.  Carry out some recon

A few minutes spent on the internet the weekend before gain produce some amazing finds. Rather than rinse and repeat the same activities, you can find out about local clubs and one of festivals that are taking place nearby, and maybe even find money off entries or refreshments.

7. Become a  subscriber

Following number 6, I found that if i subscribed to distribution lists for local companies I got notified of other local activities, and savings that I wouldn’t normally come across by scanning the internet. Better still many local companies reward subscribers with special members offers.

8. Budget

All important. Consider how far you are from payday and what’s left in the month’s budget buying those theme park tickets, or computer game.

Whether it’s the weekend or a week night you can guarantee that the you’ll always forget something, or you’ll encounter a life emergency! Hopefully something from the list above will help you out, and if so I hope you’ll feedback below.

A taste of my own medicine








This weekend poor George arrived with a chesty cough.

My normal go to medicine is Lempsip hot blackcurrant sachets. When we arrived at the store I could only find Beechams equivalents. A man’s look at the packaging didn’t tell me whether they were appropriate for his age group. Panic!

At this stage James had already started to wonder off into the frozen desserts section and George was having a continuous coughing fit. I made a snap decision and grabbed a medicine that my friend swears by… Covonia.

Covonia is the cold and flu equivalent of electric shock therapy. No soothing painkillers and decongestants hidden in a hot sweet blackcurrant drink. This is a Mentholated Cough Mixture based on liquorice with a distinctive strong taste.
We got home and got busy with homework and before I could serve up the medicine, the cough seemed to have passed. It wasn’t until later that night I was woken by George having another large rasping cough, one after the other.

I gently woke him and offered him the old fashioned bottled. *URGH!* still half asleep he gave me a pained look rolled over and went back to sleep.

The rest of the weekend George tried his best to hide his cough and I caught him looking at me at the corner of his eye,  checking to see if I was coming to poison him again!

Do you give your children the dreaded menthol medicine, or are they’re any other remedies you can recommend?

Photos together: Say Cheese… Please!







Say Cheese. Please!

At the weekend I started to flick through my old photo albums. I quickly noticed that they start off full of lovely pictures of James as a young child smiling happily, but then suddenly they come to a stop.

When George was born he became the centre of attention even though most of his photos are blurred. Photograph such a hyperactive boy has always been more of an art than a science. He just won’t sit still for five seconds, and I’m always amazed when I see him in a school portrait! Occasionally there are some really beautiful pictures of a charming boy with blonde hair, blue eyes, and mischievous grin though.

So where James go? For the last two years James became very photo shy. At first I tried to persuade (bribe) him into joining photographs with his brother, but these never come out as well as a ‘natural’ photograph. As a result he’s either missing, or has a deep frown.

Fast forward again to 2014 and James has started to find some confidence. I’m now allowed to take the occasional photograph, once I’ve cleared it with him first, and he’s check them after! With that in mind I set myself the task last weekend of photographing the pair of them together, side by side, smiles on faces. We went bowling together, to the local park, and sat for an hour in George’s favourite: Costa! More than forty photos later, and I’ve got a phone full of assorted face pulling, frowning, blurred characters, and frantic hand waving… not one single shot of the pair of them looking at the camera, happy, and still.

Without saying ‘Tempest Photography’ can anyone please tell me the secret?!

Stress Free Parenting

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The stress that comes from parenting can sometimes feel overwhelming. This weekend I spent a couple of hours shopping at the Bullring in Birmingham. Almost every shop I went in, I saw very capable parents who looked like they were on the edge of a breakdown as their little darlings ran off into crowds of shoppers, refused to leave a shop without a toy they’d just seen. 

Stress is a very natural human emotion for parents, to make us more alert when are little darlings are in danger. Once the immediate danger has passed are stress levels should return to normal, to prevent us burning out and becoming cognitively impaired. Worse still when stress remains with us for long periods we risk health problems, such as high blood pressure,  heart disease, and depression obesity. 

Here is the weekend parent guide to stress free parenting:

1. Sleep and lifestyle

Recent studies have shown that adults spend at least eight hours a day in front of technology; ipads, smartphones, and television all cut into the time we spend sleeping. When your little darling comes to wake you up at five am for breakfast, or to read a book, you’re going to need all the energy you can get. Improving your sleep, cutting back on caffeine, and eating a healthy diet will make you more alert and improve your ability to make clear decisions without becoming stressed.

2. Take another look;

Step back from the situation and assess why it is you’ve become agitated. Is there a danger to you or your little ones? If it has passed then the stress you’re feeling is subjective, and you need to demonstrate to your darling that you are back in control, just as you would expect them to do if they had lost their temper. If this is something you struggle with then look online for coping strategies to practice reducing your stress levels.

3. Acceptance 

No parent has ever resolved a stressful situation by interrogating their son or daughter about what they should have done differently. Your little darling knows that he or she is not supposed to run off, but repeatedly telling them will only add to everyone’s stress level. Let them see that you accept what has happened is in the past and that you both want the same thing, an enjoyable day together.

4. Think of the Positives

Just as dwelling on a mistake is clinically proven to make us depressed, the opposite is also true. If you don’t do so already you should take a few moments each day to think about things you’re grateful for, or things coming up in your life that you’re excited about. You’ll soon develop a store of stress-free, positive feelings to draw upon then next time you’re confronted with a difficult situation. 

5. Time to Yourself 

Make sure that you give yourself a few dedicated hours each week to do something for yourself away from your children. When you give up all of your own time and interests it becomes difficult to distance yourself from the stress of the situation, and you won’t be able to recharge. Once you’ve got away for an hour or two you’ll have a fresh perspective and things won’t feel like they’re getting on top of you. If this sounds selfish then try doing it in very small periods to start. An hour a week with their grandparents while you and/or your partner do something you enjoy; a dance glass, or just time to update your blog!

What do you do to manage the stress from being a parent?


5 Top Tantrum Tips


5 Top Tips for Tantrums

We’ve all seen experienced them and we’ve got the battle scars to prove it. I’ve lost count of the amount of times George has thrown himself on the floor after being refused an ice-cream or some other injustice. I know that there’s nothing I can do to change his personality (and I wouldn’t if I could), but there are some pitfalls that I’ve learned to watch out for:

1. Count to ten

Unless your darling is in immediate danger then take the opportunity to assess the situation. When I say the first thing that comes to my mind it’s likely to escalate the situation, and prolong the pain.

2. Ignorance is bliss

Giving George attention because he’s thrown himself on the ground shows him that tantrums are a good way to get my attention, and re-enforces his behaviour. Ignore, ignore, ignore!

3. Indoor voices

Whilst shouting at your darling might get a shocked silence once or twice, it will soon wear off. When I decide George is calm enough to talk, then I try to remember to use a controlled tone so that he will have to pause and listen to me in order to hear what I’m saying.

4. Don’t dwell

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen a tantrum end, only for a bewildered parent to try and explain why they were right and their little darling was wrong. Starting a discussion about why we’re not stopping for ice-creams five minutes before lunch, will only remind George what he’s missed out on and likely start things off again.

5. Prior planning prevents poor parenting

Afterwards have a quick think about the situation that led up to the tantrum. Was your darling more hungry or tired than you realised? Is there a different route through the park that doesn’t take them past an ice cream van?

Tantrums are an unavoidable part of parenthood, and there’s no single cause or remedy for them. With experience all these things now start to come to me more naturally and sometimes George realises now that he’s more likely to get attention by staying on his feet.

What other great tactics do you use for calming your little darlings?

Weekend weariness


This is the weekend when I don’t have the boys. Finally I have five minutes to put my feet up and catch up on those world cup games that I missed. Or so I thought.

After spending last weekend catching up with a week’s homework and gossip for them both (Amy Thomas is now playing with Ryan, but won’t share loom bands with Sarah) I suddenly find that I can’t see the bedroom floor for washing and debris. During the week I commute to work and I’m lucky to get time to eat and wash in the same day. The weekend is not long enough to change the beds, iron the shirts, catch up with relatives and sit down to watch football. On the weekend when the boys aren’t with me I find myself busier than when they’re with me.

I always love telephoning the boys at the weekend to find out what they’re up too. It’s usually a long list that includes DVD’s, Hex bugs, top trumps, and I get really jealous. Next I get a list of everything they’ve eaten for 48 hours. This always sounds suspiciously healthy compared to what I’ve let them eat the weekend before.

The boys are always very polite and ask me what I’ve been up to as well.  “Washing, ironing…” and unsurprisingly they struggle to sound interested. I’ve now started dodging the question, or saying something generic “very long run this morning” before telling them how many salads I’ve eaten in the last 48 hours. They know that this figure is also suspiciously high.

At points like this I find wondering what it is I need to do at the weekend to make the calls more interesting for them. Which then leads me to think; will they stop coming to see me if I’m not interesting enough? I know that they enjoy coming to see me just because they love me and I’m their father, but it’s a doubt I have everytime we have our weekend call.

Of course as a separated parent I don’t have a budget that supports a weekend of motor racing, bungee jumping, or wind-surfing. With my new job I even struggle to find the time to go running more than a couple of times a week, and this has to be the most low maintenance hobby any weekend parent can have? My (single) house mate has taken up archery which sounds fun, but the costs are still high.

The washing cycle has finished so it’s back to the housework for me. I suppose I will have to keep bribing them with Dominos for now.

Have you ever taken up a hobby or attended an event just to impress your children?