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Where Is The Help? #WMHD2015 #MentalHealth

Posted on 10th October 2015 in child/ child abuse/ childline/ children/ depression/ family/ swearing

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 14.08.55It’s impressive to see so much focus on mental health today as part of #WMHD2015, how we can help others and how we can help ourselves.

I have seen several posts online from famous people in support of this day and the message behind it, which is an important step towards ending the stigma and shame that so often goes hand in hand with the words ‘depression’ and ‘mental health issue’.

But where do you go for help if you currently feel like even getting up out of bed or out of a chair is like wading through porridge. How do you ‘go out and make new friends’ if you don’t find anything likeable about yourself and therefore can’t imagine for one second why anyone else would enjoy your company. How do you put yourself out there if the previous end result was that you stood in a room wrapped in a cocoon of fog while everyone around you was vibrant and engaged and fully embracing that elusive casual happiness that seems as unattainable as a lottery jackpot?

This post is focussing on children and teens as if we don’t start reaching out to change their attitudes and improve their self-confidence and self-worth then this situation is only going to keep on growing and self-perpetuating.

So for children and teens in the UK, where can they go for help? If the generation above them is full of people with no tolerance and no understanding then they will be met with a wall of ‘don’t be so pathetic’ and ‘oh for god’s sake, just get on with it’ not forgetting ‘man up’.

I personally think there needs to be a new programme throughout schools put in place to deliver grass roots help and support to children and teens, building their confidence and self-esteem in such a way that the earliest niggles of self-doubt may well never develop into anything further.

I’ve seen that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are championing #WMHD2015 and I hope that with their backing and support there might finally become a time for our children and our children’s children when mental health can reach a parity with physical health. A time when children will grow up with a sensitivity to others so that they are an inbuilt peer support system for each other.

You don't have to hit to hurt

However angry you are with a child, shouting and using abusive language is never the answer.

I have found it fascinating on #EducatingCardiff to see how the teens change their behaviour once the adults change theirs; the commitment and patience shown by several of the staff at Willows High is a joy to observe and surely should serve as an example to others in the profession. This ties in with the quote ‘You don’t have to hit to hurt.’

It can’t be coincidence that shouting, punishing and belittling students makes their attitude and behaviour deteriorate (along with their self belief and sense of safety and wellbeing), whereas praise, encouragement, trust, friendship and support makes them flourish and re-engage with their work, friends and the world around them.

If children were built up and nurtured at home and at school then they would stand more chance of growing up to be strong, confident, caring adults who would in turn build up and nurture their own friends, family and children; there is a great quote by Frederick Douglass ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’

So what is there in terms of support for this age group? The local mental health services are all suffering cut backs and only the more severe cases are getting through to access care. (Needless to reiterate if children were loved and nurtured appropriately in the first place this would vastly cut the numbers who would need to be referred.)

For adults there are many services available, like Blurt.org

For children and teens there is of course Childline, our local YMCA runs a free counselling service for this age group and there are several Facebook support groups out there but it is important to check that it is a supportive one as there are also several very scary pro suicide groups too.

There is also Big White Wall which offers an interesting take on support and is well worth looking into, I believe they have an app too. Speaking of apps, here is a list of apps that may help with wellbeing.

With support it is a case of finding what works for you. Joining a club or an evening class may be the solution for some people, but having secret online peer support is what works for others. Don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t work.

If anyone can suggest other support options in the comments that would be really helpful.

With love – and remember – you are worth it, you are a good person and you are doing fine x

Do YOU have to reapply to the CSA?

Posted on 20th March 2015 in child/ children/ CSA/ money

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 19.16.04From June 2014 all new applications for child maintenance are processed via the Child Maintenance Service.

However, a representative of the CSA has confirmed to me today that ALL existing CSA cases are going to be closed.

ALL CASES.

She advised me that this process has commenced and that within the next six months to two years ALL cases with the CSA will be closed and anyone wishing to use the service will have to reapply to the CMS (Child Maintenance Service), for which there will be fees.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 18.55.34

It has rules, like Fight Club, the first rule of the Child Maintenance Service is that you must talk to the Child Maintenance Service before you can talk to the Child Maintenance Service…

Fees

There will be a £20 fee to apply to the CMS and then there will be a deduction of 4% from the maintenance paid to the person receiving the payment and there will be a 20% fee charged to the person making the payment.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 18.55.45

So a little example for you – if the person making the payment has 2 children and therefore pays 20% of their salary, they will then pay and extra 20% of that amount in fees to the CMS. If that person is already in arrears, the CMS will endeavour to capture those arrears as quickly as possible, often increase the amount taken by a further 20% – leaving the person making the payment with virtually none of their salary!

I queried this with her and she said it is meant to encourage people to make family arrangements rather than use the service. That’s fine, except that most people using the service do so because the absent parent refuses to pay and is often out of contact entirely. So this system will penalise those who actually need it most.

This is utter madness.

Below is a list of what this new service will do for its money. Yes, it is exactly what the CSA does now.

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For further information please see this article by Gingerbread.

Or visit the Government information page here.

My Son Had A Stammer

Posted on 16th February 2011 in child/ son/ Speech Therapist/ Stammer/ Stutter/ The Kings Speech

I haven’t seen the film yet, but all the hype about The Kings Speech has reminded me of the time when my son had a stammer.

He must have been about 3 or 4 when I could no longer ignore that fact that DS1 was stuttering. He would often seem to get stuck on the first letter of a word or he would repeat the first few words of a sentence over and over.

I admit that I was guilty initially of committing the cardinal sin of speaking for him. I would guess at the word, or phrase, I would finish his sentences for him – sometimes with impatience.

I mentioned it to my Health Visitor and remember being really upset when she immediately referred him to a speech therapist.

My brain was flooded with worries of whether there was something wrong with him, he’d had quite a traumatic birth – had that caused a problem, would he have a stammer forever, would that affect his whole life, would it get progressively worse?

The speech therapist was amazingly reassuring.

She told me that stammering in a child of that age was often an indication of intelligence. Apparently some children stutter because their brain actually works faster than their mouth can!

She gave us some verbal exercises to do, and we saw her 2 or 3 more times. To be honest I think the stammer would have gone by itself just as mysteriously as it arrived, but I don’t doubt that the exercises sped the process up.

DS1 is now 11. He is a very bright articulate boy – looks like she was right!

Happy Birthday DS1

Posted on 21st December 2010 in birth/ birthday/ child/ diabetes/ fainting/ family/ gestational diabetes/ pregnancy/ SCBU/ shadow of the moon

Happy Birthday DS1

My boy is 11 – 22nd Dec, officially at 10.12pm – but he assures me it’s ok to have presents in the  morning!

My boy is wonderful, I know we all love our children but he really is! He has a depth of maturity that still shocks me, yet he has a playful sense of humour and is a happy, sunny boy.

He is clever (cleverer than me most of the time), he questions things that I just take for granted and seems to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Yet he isn’t superior or smug, he is gentle and self effacing. It was he who prompted my post about the shadow on the moon – a question he asked at age 5.

He likes reading, drawing, building amazing things from LEGO, making paper aeroplanes (often balancing them on one side to ensure they fly how he wants), playing DS/PS3/Wii games, watching The Simpsons, comedy in general and CHOCOLATE!

He is also a complete pedant, which I just adore.

I did good with that boy :) *beams with pride*

 

His life didn’t start smoothly, the birth ‘went wrong’, after finding out late that I had Gestational Diabetes they decided to induce me on my due date. I clearly wasn’t ready to give birth and despite them trying 3 times to induce me Monday, 3 more times Tuesday and a membrane sweep first thing Wednesday, there was still no action! I was 3 cm dilated by Monday night and pretty much stayed there.

Wednesday ended for me as he was placed in my arms and the last thing I remember is someone shouting “She’s 80 over 50″

I didn’t see my son again until the Friday afternoon, Christmas Eve.

I’d lost so much blood that I couldn’t sit up without passing out. For my own reasons I refused a blood transfusion. Because of the diabetes DS1 had been taken straight down to SCBU, then because I was ill they kept him down there.

I did try and get down there once (2 floors away, might as well have been on Mars) but I passed out.

I can remember laying on the ward, the only ‘mother’ there who didn’t have a baby. I felt so confused. So alone. It was like I was being punished. Until on the Friday afternoon a nurse breezed in and said jokingly “oh haven’t you got a baby?” and I said “I don’t know.”

She was horrified that I hadn’t been taken to see him, she was horrified that no one had given me a photo of him.

When my husband (who had been down to see the baby every day) showed up, she was with him, with a photo and a wheel chair and I finally got taken to see him. Sitting upright that long was a struggle, but it was worth it.

He looked a bit of a fraud in SCBU though – at 8lb13 he looked big enough to eat the other babies!

I was terrified that the separation would affect how I felt about him. Or how he felt about me. But it didn’t. I love him so much, I’m so proud of who he is and I’m so proud of who he’ll become.

Eczema friendly washing liquid

Posted on 17th August 2010 in child/ children/ eczema/ Itchy & Scratchy/ son

A quick post, it’s a review but I want to stress that it’s a review because it’s a product that I wanted to try.

One of my sons has quite severe eczema, this is worsened by almost everything and means that finding suitable laundry products are a bit of a nightmare. Please see The Itchy & Scratchy Show for details of our battle with eczema.

I recently tried a laundry product from Alma Win which claims to be completely safe for people with eczema.

I have tried several other washing products that weren’t meant to be skin friendly and in general have either found them to be completely ineffective at washing or in some cases, actually make his skin worse.

But, I have to say that this stuff actually got the clothes really clean! And he has shown no effects from it.

The bain of my life (well, one of them!) is the kids school polo tops. They seem to be dirt magnets and almost never come clean. But, this liquid detergent got them clean!

Before washing:

After washing:

The only downside to the product, and it’s an obvious one really, is the smell. It has a very subtle aroma of herbs. I quite like it now but found it unusual to start with. It honestly is quite subtle. They do also sell a lemon concentrate that you can add to scent the wash but I was scared of trying it as one of the major things that upsets his skin is citrus.

Product retails for £6.06 for 750ml and is available at www.almawin.co.uk


To eleven plus or not to 11+?

Posted on 17th August 2010 in 11+/ child/ CRGS/ eleven plus/ grammar school/ son

What do you think about the 11+?

My oldest son is quite a clever old sausage and always does very well at school.

We had to move schools recently (1/4 of way through year 5) for 2 reasons, 1 because we weren’t happy with the head teacher at the old school (long story, more of a politician than a caring head teacher), and 2 because we wanted to move nearer to a better comprehensive school. The one we were near was getting around 46% in the league tables which we didn’t feel offered the boys a good enough chance.

The subject of the eleven plus had come up at the old school and the head had said #quote “he hasn’t got a hope in hell”. So, much as I disliked the man I did accept that he probably had a better idea about that sort of thing than me and we forgot all about the 11+.

Fast forward to new school – after 2 weeks the class teacher asked to speak to me and asked me how he was getting on with his eleven plus tuition. I explained that he wasn’t sitting the eleven plus (and why). She was horrified. She said that she was very sure he would have a really good chance of getting into the grammar school and literally said that she begged me to reconsider.

Extra dilemma here is that the grammar school near us is Colchester Royal Grammar school – one of the best grammar school’s in the country. That should be a good thing, BUT, it means that the curriculum is massive and very intense.

From a pressure point of view, it is only acceptable to get As.

Oldest stepson lives in Kent, near him there are 3 grammar schools all of varying degrees of excellence. If we lived in Kent I would be very happy for oldest son to do the 11+ as he would almost certainly pass (nearly 500 boys get in there as opposed to 96 here) and the 2nd/3rd grammars aren’t as intense.

We discussed this with oldest son who said he DOES NOT want to go the the grammar school. He did do 11+ tuition for a while but was incredibly unhappy so after a lot of conversations we agreed to stop the tuition and let him go to the comprehensive.

505 boys sat the exam last year, only 96 got in.

This is a quote from the local gazette (by James Calnan):

TOP selective schools in Colchester are attracting parents who cannot afford to go private.

A “Migration Monitor” used by home move website moveme.com finds the town, which has two of the country’s top five grammar schools, is the third most attractive destination for people looking for a new home.

Chelmsford, with two more grammar schools in the top ten, heads the list and experts believe one reason is that parents who cannot afford to send their children to a fee-paying school are instead paying for private tuition in a bid to get them into a grammar school.

Colchester Royal Grammar School (CRGS) saw the numbers of youngsters hoping to gain entry in September this year increase by nearly ten per cent.

Last November, 505 children hoping to join CRGS sat the 11-plus exam, compared to 464 the previous year, while Colchester County High School has seen a smaller rise, from 485 to 499.

Roseanne Bullen, sales and marketing manager for Linden Homes Eastern, predicted this trend could become more marked in the next few years.

“As a growing number of families shun private schools and their expensive fees in favour of some of the UK’s top grammar schools, Colchester is set to benefit from a surge of families moving into the area,” she added. Read more in the Gazette

I discussed this recently with a lovely lady on twitter – who suggested that I was insane for not putting him in for the 11+ as passing it would mean that he would be educated at one of the best state schools in the country.

Since this conversation, and because I am the queen of indecision, I have discussed this again with oldest son. I also shared with him the aforementioned lovely lady from twitter’s opinion. “No” he said “I don’t want to go”. His reasons are pressure, losing friends, too many languages to learn (he prefers maths and science stuff).

Fine.

Next day, at bedtime, oldest son says “Ok, I’ll go, but can I do the tuition at home?”

EEEEK!

So, with just 3 months to go we are now planning an emergency 11+ tuition programme…. fingers crossed!

But what do YOU think about the eleven plus and about grammar schools? Let me know?

K is for… Kids’ Kitchen

Posted on 18th July 2010 in child/ children/ cooking/ masterchef/ son

Today my boys have taken over the kitchen!

They have made their breakfast (cereal and brioche), made their lunch (grated cheese sandwiches) and for the finale they have made @DhruvBaker1‘s ‘Easy peasy chicken curry’ and some chocolate muffins!

Here is how they got on in Kids’ Kitchen

To start with, need to thank MasterChef 2010 winner Dhruv for his recipe and hope that we’ve done it justice! The recipe (and many more) can be downloaded from The Big Lunch website


This is youngest son, who turned 9 last week, he has expressed an interest in becoming a chef, so let’s see how he gets on! We don’t have a whizzy blendy doodad so this is him using a mezzaluna to chop the garlic and ginger.

Ok, so now he is adding some chopped chicken. As mummy is a bit squeamish with bones we’ve gone for just chicken breast, although the recipe does suggest that you can use whole chickens that you’ve cut into pieces. The onion is a bit rougher than the recipe suggests as again I don’t have a whizzy blendy thing, we’re hoping it won’t adversely affect the overall result.

Seems like an awful lot of fluid! Fingers crossed it will reduce ok and make the ‘thick sauce’ alluded to in the recipe – find out in 40 mins! One thing that you can’t convey on a recipe or indeed a blog is the smell – it smells amazing!

It has reduced beautifully, sauce is quite thick now and tastes gorgeous. Nice one Dhruv!

And so, dessert

This time we have the 10 year old, he has no interest in becoming a chef, but a LOT of interest in chocolate cake!

His only questions during this whole process were “Can I have the bowl?” and “Can I have the spoon”

These babies taste as good as they look! Have a feeling they will be to die for if warmed slightly in the microwave and then served with some cornish ice cream. Mmmmmmm.

Corny #WordlessWednesday

Posted on 14th July 2010 in child/ children/ corn/ garden/ pieris/ plants/ wordless wednesday

This is growing, in my garden, next to it’s twin. In the same little bed there are also peppers, strawberries and tomato plants – oh and a pieris (it just looks nice ok). Nothing monumental except that I normally kill everything, I am the opposite of ‘green fingered’ maybe ‘black finger of death’ or ‘plant murdering fingers’ but defo not green. Yet these corn plants stand tall and sturdy and the children and I are watering them everyday and waiting for the day when they give us corn.

K is for… Kreativ Blogger

Posted on 16th May 2010 in 1932/ Blog/ child/ grandparents/ KidAround Magazine/ meme/ Mother/ New York/ son/ wedding
Damn and tarnation, I have been tagged by @himupnorth to do a photo version of the 7 things meme. Actually, sorry – the rules say you have to THANK the person who passes the Kreativ Blogger award on to you, so, ahem, thank you @himupnorth for passing this to me… To try do this justice, I am for once going to attempt to use as few words as possible and let the images do the talking….

Picture 1.

I was quite a cute baby…

Picture 2.

But my mum was cuter!

Picture 3.

I have 2 boys. My DH has 2 boys. The picture below is from a day out at Bewilderwood in Norfolk – we built the den that they are sitting in. And yes, I may have buggered about with the pic in photoshop just a little!

Picture 4.

My grandparents 1932.

Picture 5.

My job – I make this.

Picture 6.

I have lots of amazing pics from New York, and couldn’t decide which was the most iconic – the Empire State? The Algonquin cat? Central Park? The Chrysler building? The Statue of Liberty? In the end I settled on something that surprised me – a black squirrel!

Picture 7.

Last but not least – 3rd April 2009.

And so, to pass the Kreativ Blogger – photo version – 7 things meme onto 5 others…

1 – @1chicmama

2 – @Jon_Stead

3 – @Metajugglamum

4 – @christinemosler

5 – @supersinglemum

So guys – I pass the Kreativ Blogger award on to you – have fun!

V is for… Volunteer

Posted on 2nd May 2010 in Blog/ cats/ child/ divorce/ self esteem/ writing workshop

Am a bit late with my entry for Josie’s Writing Workshop. Like most people (have been reading through the entries!) I have gone for ‘5. Pick an emotion that best represents your state of mind right now and write creatively on that theme.’

The emotion that represents my state of mind is ‘meh’, yes yes, meh is definitely an actual emotion – don’t bother checking the dictionary, it’s there ok!

Am feeling ‘meh’ because sometimes I just don’t feel that I give enough.

I’ve always said that if I ‘won the lottery’ I would:

a) buy my dad a house with a big garden

b) put ‘a chunk’ of money in the bank for my children

c) buy colchester cat rescue

d) buy myself a house

e) do volunteer work for charities

But then it occurred to me that I could actually do volunteer work without having won the lottery. Ok, so I don’t have the time or money to devote my life to it, and I can’t change the world even a teeny bit but I could do something.

So, for the past 6  months I have been a volunteer for a charity called Cat Chat. Now, in my head this should involve baskets of kittens – each of a different colour, but sadly it doesn’t :(

It does, however, involve lots of pictures of cats which is nearly as good! What I do for them at the moment is make their quarterly newsletter, which helps to spread the word about their good work and lets people know about rehoming success stories, as well as highlighting those poor kitties who just can’t seem to find a home. If you do happen to be looking for a feline family member their rehoming pages are a good place to start.

If I ever did win the lottery and could afford devote more time to volunteer work I’m not sure what I’d chose to do. I’d like to help poorly children, or children affected by sadness whatever the cause. Having experienced the shock of having my world turned upside down – I’d like to help support women who find themselves in a scary world after a partner has left them. Today, after reading the article about single dads in Stella magazine, I’d have to say that I’d also like to help men who find themselves in that situation too. I wish I had the brains or the cash to help find a cure for cancer. I wish I could stop bullying. I wish I could cure depression. I wish the world would share it’s money so that we don’t need action aid, or water aid, or even band aid! I wish I could make paedophiles – JUST BLOODY STOP IT. But in the meantime, I’ll settle for cats cats and more cats!

And squash the feeling of ‘meh’ as best I can.

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