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CMS / CSA – Update

Posted on 31st May 2016 in boys/ children/ CSA/ divorce/ ex-husband/ parenting

In February of this year, my case with the CSA was passed on to the new CMS (Child Maintenance Service). This was purported to be the new and improved version of the CSA…

Having still not heard from them, or received any payments, I rang them today for an update. Unsurprisingly, the update is that nothing has happened. You may recall that in March they advised me I would begin receiving payments from the 1 April and that as expected the 1 April came and went without any payment arriving, as did the 1 May and I would imagine the 1 June will be equally devoid of payment.

So today I have phoned them to query what is happening and why they haven’t responded to the two letters I have sent them. The answer is that they sent payment details to my ex and that he hasn’t responded. As to why they’ve ignored my letters, well they ignored that question.

As a result of my phone call the case will now be referred to the direct collections team who will, in their own sweet time, write to my ex again and give him 14 days to respond. They will then write to him again and warn him that if he doesn’t respond with 14 days of this letter that he will be referred to the deduction of earning team.

I can only guess what happens at that point… I would place my bets on it being either a) nothing or b) they write to him and give him 14 days to respond.

So, since transferring to the CMS in February they have established that my ex IS in employment and that he SHOULD be paying but they’ve done nothing to make that happen.

Also, with the CSA a substantial amount of arrears had accrued. When the case was transferred to the CMS I was asked if I wanted the arrears wiped off or if I wanted them transferred to the CMS (yes, I really was asked that question), needless to say I asked for them to be transferred. However, the CMS have no record of the arrears. Apparently they are now a separate issue and will be transferred at some point in the future at which point the CMS will write to my ex and ask him to pay…

Consequently, my advice to anyone who is being transferred to the Child Maintenance Service is to keep on top  of them, set yourself diary reminders to chase them up as they do absolutely nothing without continual prompting.

I am now off to write to the CSA to ask them where the arrears are and why they haven’t been transferred to the CMS!


Routines Make Life Easier; Talk Your Child Through It – #GuestPost

Posted on 20th April 2012 in #guestpost/ parenting/ routines

I’m a firm believer that children need routines and boundaries to make them feel safe and protected. Here follows a #GuestPost from @TheRealSupermum explaining how you can bring routines into in your daily life and make life easier as a result!


Draw up your routine into a plan, an easy step by step guide of what is going to happen at what time each day, then attach your plan to your fridge so it is in clear view of all the family.

Sit your child down and talk them through it, explaining that the plan shows what is going to happen each day, if they are old enough they can follow the plan too, if they are too young then you will need to constantly give warning to what is coming next and refer back to the routine plan.

“Look the plan says we eat lunch at 1pm, we have 15 minutes until then, can you play nicely while mummy goes to make you lunch?”

You can use an alarm clock to time those 15 minutes, when the alarm rings – its time for lunch. You have prepared your child for what is going to happen next.

A routine will only work if you stick to it, be consistent and don’t start changing things, or you will leave your child confused. You may start resembling a parrot as you will need to keep repeating yourself over and over.

“It will be time for bed in 15 minutes”, set the alarm for 10 minutes time.

“It will be time for bed in 5 minutes, when the alarm rings next time we say goodnight” – you are preparing your child for bed, they know when the next alarm rings it is time for bed.

The alarm works a treat in my house, I am not just making them tidy their toys away and scooping them up and saying bedtime, I am allowing them to learn to accept that they have a certain amount of time left, before they are going to bed. They know when the next alarm rings its time to say goodnight, they are prepared for what is coming next and accept it much better.

Talk your child through the day with an excited tone, let’s make every task we do fun, even if it is boring, your child doesn’t think it is.

“If you put your shoes on we can go to the park” – Here you are giving your child the choice, it is not a choice, you are going to the park.

“Can you put your shoes on, so we can go to the park” – Here you are asking them can they do it? You know they can do it, but they may just want to be awkward today and decide not too.

Instead you say “ In 5 minutes time we are going to the park, let’s get your shoes”.

Don’t give a toddler too many choices as you are putting them in charge, don’t you know if it’s a snow boot or sandal day?

Stop bribing your child, if you do this we can go there. You are telling your child where you are going and that’s it, there is no reasoning, it’s on the routine plan, so you follow it.

Organising your day into a routine is a great way to relieve some of the daily stress and you will find your child reacts quicker and easier to tasks. Children know when mum is stressed and they play up even more, when mum is relaxed, calm and in control, the child responds and behaves much better.

Mersea Island – the forgotten beach?

Posted on 2nd September 2010 in bank holiday/ beach/ children/ coffee/ east of england/ family/ free days out/ Mersea/ parenting/ sand castles/ smitten by britain

Bank Holiday Monday in the UK and 4 boys to entertain…..

We took a quick peak at the tide times and drove to Mersea Island. You have to check the tide before setting off as to get to Mersea Island you have to cross a road that connects the Island to the main land and it floods at high tide.

According to Wikipedia: Mersea Island (formerly Mersey Island) is the most easterly inhabited island in the United Kingdom, located marginally off the coast of Essex, England, 9 miles (14 km) to the southeast of Colchester. It is situated in the estuary area of the Blackwater and Colne rivers and has an area of around 7 square miles (18 km2)[1]. The name ‘Mersea’ is derived from the Old English meresig meaning ‘island of the pool’.

We parked at one of the many free car parks near the beach and popped to the handy cafe/shop to buy 2 coffees and 2 bucket & spade sets.

The boys were split into pairs and given the buckets & spades. We hunkered down on a picnic blanket and supped our coffee to keep warm!

Although as a family we do enjoy the excitement of a more ‘touristy’ sea side, we often come to Mersea Island because the beach is so quiet. I have never been  unable to park, or unable to find a nice space on the beach – far from it! We often find that we have an entire stretch of beach to ourselves.

Mersea also boasts a country park where kite flying is virtually compulsory, for some reason it always seems to be windy there! Further inland there are some unique shops and quirky cafes that are well worth exploring and the Marina is a must for boat lovers.

In case you don’t know, Mersea Island is famous for it’s Oysters. If you come along at the right time, the beach is littered with Oysters just waiting to be collected.

The beach is lined by a really cute row of beach huts. People do amazing things with their beach huts, I’ve seen some that are no more than storage sheds, some that are a beach base complete with table and chairs and even one that had a complete bar at the back and a BBQ out front!

We had to leave after a couple of hours as the great British weather got the last laugh and it poured with rain! Just before we left I managed to take a cheeky photo of an elderly couple who had gingerly picked their way across the pebbles to have a paddle in the sea. They had bare legs and feet and held hands all the way down the beach :)

For more UK travel blogs visit @smittnbybritain

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