My 7 year old thinks bedtime is a personal sleight - Jennifer

What do I do with a stroppy 7-year-old girl who truly believes bedtime is a personal sleight? I let her stay up until 9:30 last night and when I came to tuck her in she said "I wish I knew what I'd done wrong so I know why I have to go to bed." Upon telling her it was just late, she said that wasn't her fault! - Jennifer 

Imagine you're at your best friend's wedding, the whole day has been a wonderful, joyful experience; you're drunk on life and then just before the cake is cut the bride approaches you and asks you to leave. You protest of course, 'I'm just getting started', you say, 'I still plan to do shots and teach all the twenty something's the moves to Saturday Night!' The bride continues to insist that you've had enough and you're forced to go home - you'd be confused, you'd be hurt and you'd be really, really pissed off. This is what children experience every night at bedtime. For a child the world is still an amazing place and every day another adventure and you are the centre of that world. She may never admit it but you are her best friend and so bedtime feels like a loss no matter how you dress it up. I remember sitting at the top of the stairs in my Care Bear pyjamas listening to the sound of my parents laughing and Babycham bottles popping and thinking, how could they leave me out! During the day I was the main attraction and then the sun would go down and I became irrelevant.

I want you to approach this issue from this headspace, it might not change much but it could help you experience the situation with a little more understanding. She's right, it's not her fault that day turns to night and humans need sleep to regenerate. If she fusses a little this is a good thing, it means she loves her life. Just give her a cuddle, keep it light and reassure her you love her. If you really want to try and reduce the sense of injustice why not try these tips.

Focus on tomorrow: Make the main goal of sleep to get to tomorrow faster. Remind your daughter of all your fab plans; promise her a fancy hairstyle upon waking. Think of Christmas when kids want to fall asleep as fast as humanly possible, bring a little bit of Christmas to every day.

Make bedtime boring: Your child needs to get the sense that at bedtime the day ends for everyone. You might want to go the whole hog for a week or two and get ready for bed yourself - let's face it you could probably do with a few early nights. If you don't want to do the pantomime make sure the house is quiet and activities are kept low key until later on in the night. If your kid gets out of bed she needs to find you listening to a podcast on war crimes not watching TV and mainlining chocolate hobnobs.

Say it with stickers: I'm always amazed by how much can be achieved with stickers. It's not the sticker themselves, it's what they represent - acceptance, approval and tangible evidence of how well you've done. Your girl might be a bit old for stickers (although I am of the view that one is never too old for stickers) but I'm sure you can come up with an incentive for a fuss free bedtime and don't forget to reward yourself, can I recommend cake. 

photo credit: Daddy-David After a long weekend of camping... via photopin (license)

How do you limit the amount of time your children spend in front of screens? - Ellen

My older brother went through a stage of being obsessed with Snickers. By the way, this was so long ago I think they were called Marathon but that's by the by. Anyway he would save a bit of his lunch money and wolf down at least two bars on the walk home from school. Inevitably he wouldn't be able to eat the nutritious dinner prepared by my mother (and occasionally not so nutritious - Findus Crispy Pancakes anyone?) which would leave mum, who was working and raising children and trying to maintain a healthy soap habit, annoyed to say the least.

As anyone who's been cheated on by a guy knows - they never hide the evidence; so when my mother found all the snickers wrappers stashed in my bro's school trouser pockets, she realised her corned beef hash had been usurped by nougat and marketing. My mother is a canny lass and she has always believed that revenge is best served cold and the next evening it was. Instead of meat and two veg she served my brother three snickers bars fresh from the fridge. He thought he had won the lottery! The next evening she did the same and he ate his peanut and caramel based meal with a little less gusto; by the third evening he was begging for spaghetti bolognaise. To my knowledge he has not eaten a Snickers since.

You know where this is going right? If you're concerned about how often your kids choose to be parked in front of a screen, pick a period of time you're comfortable with (I'm thinking at least a weekend) and declare it a screen feast. Tell your children you trust them to self regulate and you never know you might find they can.  Our greatest fears are usually only terribly poor predictions, who knows with unfettered access sitting in a virtual world might not be as desirable? Perhaps not, maybe they'll play Minecraft for 48 hours but the beauty of that is when you next impose a cap you can say, 'Darling, when I let you choose you forgot to eat, so I think I'm gonna need to help you with this.' Kids have an inbuilt fairness barometer, nothing sets that thing off more than being told to do something just because adult says so. Being able to give them a tangible reason for denying them what they want can make things a lot easier.

Finally make sure your own house is in order. Are you asking your kids to do something, you can't do yourself - do you send them off to bed  and then settle down for three hours of mindless telly? Are you providing healthy, fun alternatives to screen time? Are you trying to sell homework over Super Mario Kart, coz even I'd rebel with that choice!

If you find a screen feast does nothing to alleviate your tension remember that you're a parent, not a psychic - who knows how your children's passions may shape their future. Perhaps your little addict, is a budding TV producer and what if your boundaries stop them from achieving their dreams and making the millions that will keep your heating on when the government has run the county into the ground? Okay this is very unlikely but the thought might stop you from tearing your hair out.

My Petit Canard

The real reason you're a bitch

I know what you're thinking, I'm not a bitch, I just know a little bit better than everyone else. Get real. If you ever speak negatively to anyone or about anyone and feel a frisson of satisfaction, you're a bitch and that's okay, most of us are. Perhaps bitchiness is an evolutionary advantage preventing us from focusing on our own inadequacies; certainly some people have made quite a success of being a bitch and more power to them. The key thing you have to acknowledge is why you're a bitch and the answer isn't because the world is full of idiots.

You're insecure. And aren't we all a little bit low on stock in the self worth department sometimes? However, if your self esteem is so low that the only method you have to address it is pulling other people down to your sad little level - you're a bitch

You hang with bitches. Lie with dogs and you get fleas as the saying goes, just like biting your nails or leaving the tiniest scraping of butter left in the tub (what is WRONG with you people) bitching can be a bad a habit we pick up from the people around us. I experienced this when I first started reading blogs and discovered the site GOMI. The site was started to call out the of bloggers for their often shady practices. I always applaud a bit of accountability and soon I was logging in daily; before I knew it I was joining in with the commentary and to be honest it felt pretty good. Then a story surfaced about blogger Emily Meyers, who had shared a post about her husbands cancer diagnosis. The GOMI girls accused her of fabricating the illness for cash money and page clicks and the site users became a virtual hate mob. Sadly it was only at this point that I realised that I was not involved in idle gossip but that I was playing a role in attacking vulnerable families and I moonwalked out of that shit. Months later Emily's husband passed away. If you have found yourself in the situation at work or amongst friends where bagging on other people has become par for the course, it might be time for a bitch cleanse.

You don't know any better. The Apple doesn't fall far from the tree and sometimes it just lies there and rots. The people who shape our early years shape it for the good and the bad. Do you remember your mother sniping about the neighbour's front garden? Or feeling gleeful as your grandmother expressed how badly behaved your cousins were? You can end the cycle. Let the next generation know that positivity reigns.

You're bored and you're lazy. If you can't be bothered to shake your booty and create positive change in your life don't make that someone else's problem. I have been known to have a little swipe at people that like long distance running - how boring to spend all that time alone, just putting one foot after another. Of course it's so much more stimulating to watch episodes of Judge Judy that YOU HAVE ALREADY SEEN. If you have an itch to bitch don't ignore it. It probably means there's something in your own life that needs a fixin'. Why not put the energy you would expend being negative into sorting your own stuff out. 

If you liked this you might like this: Accept you have an inner mean girl
photo credit: Hello there! via photopin (license)

3 myths about the little blue pill

The little blue pill, otherwise known as Viagra, is an effective erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment that is used by many men to help tackle their sexual problems. Also sold under its generic name sildenafil citrate, Viagra can help men get and maintain an erection that is adequate for sexual intercourse.

Viagra is a popular prescription-only treatment that has been around as an ED medicine since the late 1990s. Men can be prescribed Viagra by their GPs or by a medical professional via an online pharmacy such as Online Doctor Lloyds Pharmacy. However, despite the fact it’s been around for many years, it can be difficult to decipher what’s true and what’s not when it comes to the little blue pill. So, let’s debunk some of the myths associated with this particular treatment.

The more pills people take, the more effective it is

A major Viagra-related misconception is that the more pills people take, the more effective it will be. In actual fact, men should only take one pill within a 24-hour period, and they shouldn’t take it alongside any other ED treatment. For best results, they should take the pill on an empty stomach about an hour before they intend to have sex and avoid drinking more than two units of alcohol as this can make it less effective.

It gives an instant erection

Another common misunderstanding about this treatment that it instantly gives an erection until it eventually wears off. In truth, it’s only possible for men to gain an erection after taking Viagra when they are sexually aroused. Without stimulation, the penis will remain flaccid. The effects of the treatment can last between four and five hours. It’s important to note that this does mean an erection will last this long - it simply means men should be able to gain an erection within this time frame. Also, Viagra is not immediately effective - it can take just under an hour to work if taken on an empty stomach.

It can affect fertility

It’s assumed by some people that using Viagra can damage sperm and lead to infertility. The reality is, the little blue pill has not been proven to harm a man’s fertility. In fact, it’s more likely for Viagra to have a positive effect on fertility due to the fact it can make sex easier.

While this post may help bust some of the most common myths about the little blue pill, it’s important that anyone planning to take this treatment reads the instructions carefully before use or speaks to a medical professional if they have any further questions about it.

This post was in collaboration with Online Doctor Lloyds Pharmacy
photo credit: Viagra mit Lupe via photopin (license)

Litter your home with joy - Peach Perfect Happy Hopperz

One of the most devastating effects of becoming a parent is the fact that your home is always, always littered with crap. You feel like you're stuck in a never ending cycle of picking up Lego. Being pretty housework averse I have come up with a cunning solution to this - buy, toys that you like looking at. This is where Peach Perfect comes in, they have loads of toys so cute you'll actually want them strewn all over your floor. 

They kindly sent me one of their Happy Hopperz. This toy comes perfectly packed in a slim box and takes a minute to assemble with the handy pump provided. Not only is the hopper a lot of fun but it helps strengthen core muscles and develop coordination. It's a perfect complement for my sons physiotherapy and I've loved watching his confidence grow as he uses it. 

It's currently available at £21.50, which I think is great value and more to the point - look how cute it is! He's become part of the family. To get your hands on a Happy Hopperz and much more visit Peach Perfect.

Should we pay towards her wedding? - Diane

Our eldest adopted daughter doesn't want anything to do with us. She is jealous of her younger sister, thinks we are awful parents and slates us to everyone. Should we still pay something towards her wedding next year to prove we were bothered about her and so others realise she is talking nonsense? She is good at lying and exaggerating. We wouldn't give it to her until her wedding day via post - Diane

I keep rereading your first sentence. Maybe you're just someone who favours accuracy. Are you one of those people that actually takes stuff to the dry cleaners rather than chucking it in the wash and keeping your fingers crossed? I love you people! You keep the world turning. 

I ask this because the fact that your daughter is adopted isn't really relevant, or it shouldn't be, but on some level it always is. Even with the smoothest of transitions adoption can raise questions about abandonment, self worth and belonging that can last a lifetime. I wonder if your daughter's hurtful words and actions are her way of processing some difficult feelings she hasn't yet addressed? 

Could this be something your daughter is going through and is there anything you could say or do to help alleviate that? I'm going to ask this to be your focus because the cold, hard truth is people are gonna think what they wanna think and no amount of cash is going to change that. If the gossipers don't know you and your family well enough to understand that you have been good parents, it really doesn't matter what they believe. Tell yourself (until it becomes true) that their thoughts, however hurtful, do not effect your actions. 

That being said weddings are a wonderful opportunity to bring people together and this is an opportunity I would seize. I'm not sure I would send money, a wad of cash arriving on the big day could be characterised as dismissive. I would reach out to your daughter in some way and say you want to contribute, to pay for flowers, a mariachi band, a flock of doves - whatever's en vogue at weddings these days. This could provide you with a way to reestablish contact and have direct involvement with your daughter around something joyful. If she resists this, you tried and you can always send a cheque. Having recently separated I know a marriage is not about a day but creating an extended family. Perhaps your daughter will have children, your grandchildren, whose lives you will want to be a part of. By the way if this happens I can guarantee your daughter will reflect very differently on your relationship but it would be beautiful if the healing could start before such a time. 

One last thing and I'm going to ask you to put on your big girl pants and take a shot of brandy for this - you probably were awful parents. Not abusive or absent or neglectful but awful in the way that most parents are, because all parents are human and by definition fallible. I'm sure you did your best but maybe sometimes your best was just not enough. If you can accept this, acknowledge this and maybe even apologise for it, it could really unburden you and/or your daughter.

Good luck with your journey and best wishes to your girl. If she has got to the place where she is mature enough and secure enough to take the significant step of matrimony, then you have given her the world. 

Relate are the UK's largest provide of family support. As well as couples therapy they provide family counselling
photo credit: IMG_6871 via photopin (license)
My Petit Canard

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

My Random Musings