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family

Separated Reflections

Posted on 29th October 2016 in children/ custody/ debt/ debts/ depression/ divorce/ ex-husband/ family/ money/ only dads/ onlydads

OnlyDadsI’ve been asked to reflect upon the experience of separation, how I handled it and if – upon reflection – I would have done things differently. The whole concept here is along a theme of ‘putting the children first’.

The questions are:

1. What did you do well?

2. What didn’t you do quite so well?

3. If you were to give one piece of advice to a parent going through separation what would it be?

4. How have the decisions you made then affected the life you are living today?

I’ve pondered this for a while. It isn’t an easy thing to look back on, and I wanted to be sure that my answers were honest and that I would only go ahead with the post if I felt it could be useful to someone else.

Here’s the thing, when I found myself in this position (out of the blue), I would have been desperate to read this kind of thing, there was literally nothing around at that point to tell me what to do, how to feel, what to think. And although, obviously no one can do any of those things for you, sometimes when you can feel the floor falling away from under you, you just need something, some shred of evidence that someone else has been through this and that they got through it ok.

So, my answers are:

1. What did you do well? Not much I don’t think. I wasn’t in control of my thoughts and so I floundered for a long while, taking advice from people who were ill-equipped to help. I did my level best to put the children first, in terms of caring for them, loving them, trying to retain some normality (some context: the house was being repossessed, my partner of 10 years had run off with someone he’d known for 2 weeks, I uncovered huge amounts of debt, my parter decided he needed to put his new relationship first, i.e. before the children). So retaining normality was hard, I was an emotional wreck with very little (almost zero) support but I tried to keep up with bedtime stories, walks, collecting leaves, play dates (while I sobbed in a supportive friend’s kitchen), and, I tried to facilitate my ex seeing the children. He would make plans, then cancel at the last minute, but I would still allow for new plans the following week and explain to my confused babies as best I could.

Actually, a better answer to question 1 would be:

It isn’t about you. It isn’t about your bruised emotions, your confusion, your pride or your finances, it is about the children. The innocents who need to be protected from as much of the impact as possible.

2. What didn’t you do quite so well? This little question is deceptively hard. I think I’ve touched upon a few things above so I am going to say that I should have sought better legal advice. I had a trainee solicitor who essentially told me I was screwed. She was no help to me emotionally or practically and as such I lost my home, my children lost their home and many possessions and I ended up responsible for a huge amount of debt. I don’t think I’ve heard of many other people who were dealt such a poor hand in this situation.

3. If you were to give one piece of advice to a parent going through separation what would it be? Time is a healer. Have faith that your personal wounds will heal and that the best thing you can do is invest time (not money/gifts etc) but time with your children. Make them feel loved and secured. If your ex is willing to have regular contact with the children, let them! Do not get caught up with petty arguments, point scoring and playing the blame game, let them feel loved by the two people who should love them.

4. How have the decisions you made then affected the life you are living today? I have a great life now but that is no reflection upon things at that time. If I go back say 6 months after he left, it is a very different picture. Then I was homeless, in debt, with very little support, even from the ‘system’. I was offered a, frankly, terrifying B&B (one room for all 3 of us, sharing a bathroom with strangers, you cannot be in the B&B during the day), which was in a completely different town to our old home, the children’s school and friends. At this point I literally couldn’t afford tea bags and toilet roll.

Now, the children don’t hear from him, he hasn’t seen them for at least 6 years (and the last time was for an hour even though he was meant to have been having them overnight). I still find that I beat myself up about the fact they don’t have a relationship with him – which is the main reason it has taken me so long to respond to the request to answer these darn questions!). I have to remind myself that it isn’t my fault he doesn’t see them, I have to remind myself that no matter how reasonably one person acts, no matter how easy they make it for another person to do the right thing, it doesn’t mean that they will. I am not responsible for his lack of responsibility.

One final piece of advice. When I was going through a particularly testing time, I decided that I needed some independent advice. Initially I went online thinking I was looking for a mums support group, or Homestart or Gingerbread, but I soon came to the conclusion that I needed to hear from a MAN. Someone who would be guaranteed not to be biased to my viewpoint, and that (along with being the reason why I am answering these questions) is how I ended up contacting OnlyDads and subsequently received some reasoned, grounded and sensible support from a man called Bob.

 

Build A Luxury Garden Bench #DIY

Posted on 30th October 2015 in family/ garden/ garden centre

DSC_0823Here is how we built a luxury garden bench for a fraction of the cost of buying one. The end result is bespoke and sturdy, everyone comments on it and asks where they can get one!

The beauty of designing and building the bench yourself is that you can get it exactly how you want it to be. My ideal was for a large bench that someone could relax on with a good book and a cup of tea – with a roof in case of rain showers and plenty of places for wildlife.

The end result far surpassed the simple seat I had in mind and we now have a weather proof seat that is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. It is just as good for whiling away a few hours on your own or for four or five people to snuggle up on during a BBQ.

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Start with a rough plan and then build it up into the structural posts needed to support the bench and roof if you are having one. This will enable you to plan out and see how many wooden posts you will need.

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Once you’ve got your rough plan it is time to start construction from the base upwards.

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As you build upwards, once you’ve got the seat in pace, you can start focusing on the roof supports.

This simple ‘p shape’ (below) works well to start off a sloped roof but the option of having no roof or a flat roof would be easier!

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We then chose to dig out a section around the bench to fill with gravel and create an alternate patio style part of our garden. With a future plan to insert a fire pit at a later date along with some simple, sleeper, seats.

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The eagle eyed among you will notice that we’ve also added electricity and some solar lights.

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Free Money? Yes, really…

Posted on 26th June 2015 in children/ debt/ family/ money

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 18.41.14Free money! Yes, literally and yes, really… I have been using KidStart when I buy things on the internet – M&S, Amazon, Sainsburys, Expedia, Mothercare, Boden, Disney, Boots, Wickes, Debenhams, for tickets, furniture, clothes, hotels, trips, gifts, shopping, clothing, comparision sites etc etc etc. So long as I click through to the site via KidStart then they pay me a percentage straight into a bank account for one of the boys.

It is literally that simple, you just need to remember to go via the KidStart website first. At Christmas and holiday times you can receive quite a lot of FREE money – it makes it kinda rude not to :)

Take a look for yourself

Homework

Posted on 17th June 2012 in family/ homework

10 year old has been asked to make a drum for homework…

He somehow managed to enlist our help and then slope off while the hard work was done! We’ve adapted an old tin do you think that’s cheating?

We’re hoping for an A+

😉

New blog!

Posted on 17th June 2012 in Blog/ family

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear in the office at work is “so what’s for dinner tonight then?” and as I’m utterly obsessed with food (just ask my ever expanding arse!) I’m starting a new blog which will be daily dinner tweets!

You can find it here.

And follow it on twitter here.

I hope you like it :)

The Eden Project – June 2012

Posted on 8th June 2012 in days out/ photography/ review/ The Eden Project

The only thing on our ‘must do’ list when we visited Cornwall was The Eden Project.

I have to make a teensy confession, before we went I did wonder just how interesting plants could be…

But, I am so glad we went as it was a fabulous day out for all of us and we are all really pleased to be able to say that we’ve been.

I definitely preferred the Rain Forest dome to the Mediterranean dome but both of them were amazing and filled with huge plants, trees and wildlife. I loved this flower which looked like a giant white spider!

In addition to the obvious attraction of the domes, there were several interactive areas suitable for all different age ranges, my boys (aged 10 and 12) had a great time on the velcro walls!

We stopped for sandwiches at one of the many cafes and found them to be incredibly fresh and tasty. They also offer a lunch deal for younger children which was excellent value. There were lots of areas where you could stop off for coffee or ice-creams or full on dinner and it really felt as though every need had been catered for.

Above is a photo of a giant egg like sculpture that was concealed behind a wall!

In the Rainforest Biodome we were lucky enough to see a huge Titan Arum which was just about to flower – pretty special as not only is it the biggest flower in the world, but it only flowers once every six years! You can see more about it here. I am secretly glad it didn’t flower on the day we were there as it apparently smells of rotting meat with a hint of vomit…

One of the indoor areas had lots of interactive exhibits in it where the children (and indeed the adults) could get hands on with levers, pulleys and fridge magnets!

 

Including one whole giant wall of fridges!

There was a trail that young children could follow to find salad and edible items and then get their card stamped at each point to win some seeds at the end. There was a trail for older children with clues to be followed which helped lead you around parts of the project which you may otherwise have missed. There was an ‘easy’ route for wheel chairs and push chairs and there was a more challenging route with more steps and steep climbs.

A family ticket to The Eden Project set us back around £65 which I was hesitant about spending but we all agreed that it was worth every penny. As you can probably tell from the photographs, it was raining on and off on the day we went but that didn’t spoil our enjoyment as a great deal of it is undercover.

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