HAPPY MOTHER HAPPY BABY

The Duchess of Cambridge at Stockwell Gardens Nursery and Pre-SchoolThe duchess appeared on the podcast after visiting children at a nursery in south London

The Duchess of Cambridge has said her parenting inspiration is her “amazing granny” who involved her as a child in arts and crafts, gardening and cooking. In her first podcast interview, she said she wants to replicate experiences with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. The episode of Five Big Questions On The Under Fives is survey launched by Catherine starts debate on early childhood has 200,000 responses so far. Speaking on Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast, Catherine told author and host Giovanna Fletcher the survey aims to ask people “what is it that matters for them in raising their children today.” I had amazing granny who devoted a lot of time to us, playing with us, doing arts and crafts and going to the greenhouse to do gardening, and cooking with us,” she said. I incorporate lot of experiences she gave us at the time into experiences I give my children now.” The duchess said her priorities include providing her children with a “happy home” and “safe environment” she enjoyed as a child. So she is “passionate” about the children spending a lot of time outside is “great for physical and mental wellbeing to lay foundations for a healthy development. The Duchess of Cambridge and Giovanna FletcherIt is the first timeIt’s a great environment to spend time in, building quality relationship without distraction of ‘I’ve got to cook’ or ‘I’ve got to do this’. And actually, it’s so simple,” she said. A generational change starts from seeds sown in early years throughout family. Even if not ‘highly educated,’ one can invest time and resources in simple way to help children to be happy. Its possible to help children to progress beyond the parents by preparing them in the early years. Choices and priorities of focus to include learning materials from nature found free outdoors on walks to create opportunities for children. So it is the responsibility of the parents to help the children early not to depend entirely on schools for all learning experiences in life. A month-long online poll conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of Catherine’s Royal Foundation is to “spark a national conversation” on early childhood as the Kensington Palace has said. Launched in January, it is thought to be the biggest survey of its kind and the results are intended to guide duchess’ future workIMG-20200307-WA0002Its the first time duchess is interviewed on a podcast. “It takes family a long time for generational change but hopefully is a first small step: to start a conversation around importance of early childhood development,” Catherine said. “It’s not just about happy, healthy children. This has lifelong consequences of outcomes.” Ms Fletcher, married to Tom Fletcher from McFly has said Kate is “passionate” about the subject. Its ‘beyond wonderful to sit and talk further about the survey, and her work for she has so much real knowledge, and her own experiences of being a mother.” “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have, or where you come from we’re all try to do our best with our children while continuously learning from decisions and wondering if we get it right. Talking helps unite us all,” she said on the ‘five big questions.’The Duchess of Cambridge at Stockwell Gardens Nursery and Pre-School1. What do you believe is most important for children growing up in UK today to live a happy adult life? Rank from most important to least important:

  • Good physical and mental health
  • Good friendships & relationships
  • Access to opportunities
  • Access to a good education

2. Which of these statements is closest to your opinion?

  • It is primarily the responsibility of parents to give children aged 0-5 best chance of health & happiness
  • Primarily responsibility of others in society to give children aged 0-5 best chance of health & happiness
  • Shared responsibility of parents or others in society to give children aged 0-5 best chance of health and happiness
  • Don’t know

3. How much do you agree or disagree with this statement? Mental health or wellbeing of parents, carers has a great impact on development of child(ren).

  • Strongly agree
  • Tend to agree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Tend to disagree
  • Strongly disagree

4. Which of the following is closest to your opinion of what influences how children develop from the start of pregnancy to age five?

  • Traits child is born with (nature)
  • Experiences of a child in the early years (i.e. nurture)
  • Both nature and nurture equally
  • Don’t know

5. Which period of a child and young person’s life do you think is the most important for health and happiness in adulthood?

  • Start of pregnancy to five years
  • 5-11 years (primary school)
  • 11-16 years (secondary school)
  • 16-18 years (further education)
  • 18-24 years (young adulthood)
  • Don’t know
  • All equally important

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More on this story

  • Kate launches childhood survey to help under-fives
    22 January 2020
  • Duchess of Cambridge tours farm on Northern Ireland visit
    12 February 2020
  • Duchess of Cambridge’s teachers delighted at royal reunion
    6 February 2020 

Duchess of Cambridge says ‘amazing granny’ inspires her parenting

UK

DEALING WITH LONELINESS

wp-1578499253965.jpgI lifted my windshield wiper to retrieve a frozen pink rose on a cold Valentine’s Day years ago. A freshman in college, I stopped by my car to eat a snack after a morning class. And excitedly wondered who sent me this surprise as my heart pounded in anticipation. Starting up the engine for warmth, I rubbed my palms together and opened the attached card. The rose was from my mother and her words in the card is kind, encouraging, so why did I still feel empty inside? The truth is, I wished the rose was from a secret admirer, a young man, not my mother. My last date spaced far after a previous one I longed for romance to fill me up. My loneliness combined into a frustrating mixture like a cup with no bottom. No matter what I put inside the cup, I didn’t feel full. Roses, chocolates, books, TV shows, fantasies relationships couldn’t fill it. Loneliness seemed to be the only thing filling a bottomless space, and I am weary of its constant haunting presence. My parents divorced when I was 4 years old, the day my daddy left was a day loneliness took up permanent residence in my heart and mind; though I wished it will go away I had no power to push it out the door loneliness lingers on every time I crave love and attention from people’s love its in short supply.wp-1578512659626.jpgIn high school, I developed resentment over flowers and gifts I saw lined up in the cafeteria every February 14. None of them were for me. I believed the devil’s whispered lie, None of them will ever be for you. You’ll always be lonely. About 15 years after that frozen-rose morning, I sat in a counselor’s office. Listening to my stories of constant loneliness, he said, “Relationships are very important to you, aren’t they?” It was his simple, judgment-free question that became a pivotal point in my spiritual journey. A few days after counseling session, God nudged me with a new idea: Perhaps its relationships too important to me yet I was a wife, mother of three and a friend to many, I still felt lonely. God showed me truth to learn from HIS Word: “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people” says Psalm 118:8. For far too long, I looked to people to fill me up. My husband, children, best friend, small group companions couldn’t remove my loneliness. They were never designed to completely fill my needs and I realized only God can be my refuge and my safe place and my salvation in lone times.wp-1577904684292.jpgThough people are wonderful, they are not infinite so are not always available when we need them, and none of them provide perfect understanding. God is infinite Revelation 1:8, everpresent says Deuteronomy 31:6 and all-knowing says 1 Chronicles 28:9. As we study His ways, we learn God is ready, able and willing to fill us with HIS LOVE. We learn this best by hiding in HIS place of refuge so the more time I spent in God’s presence, the less I depended on relationships to meet all my needs. My time with loved ones became bonuses on top of loving intimacy I enjoyed with Jesus. No longer required evident proof of a human love on Valentine’s Day or any other day. God is our refuge in lonely times so is more than enough proof He LOVES us. Some inherit loneliness from their mothers. Angel KissiAngel Kissi says she has struggled with loneliness since she was a child she has inherited loneliness from her mother. A parent in the same way affects emotions inherited like hair and eye colour. Two women explain loneliness played a part in their lives and relates to their parents as children. “Loneliness is constant. No matter where I it just does not go away. It’s like you feel it in your bones a deep feeling of wanting to fit in and wanting to be around people you know and love, but you can’t. “So thinks inherited it. It’s been passed says Angel Kissi from her mum Hayley who struggles with anxiety depression and loneliness. Her mum’s spark by severe post-natal depression in Angel started when she was a child. “My family stood out in Peterborough. They all knew who we were because we look different. I’m tall and mixed race and I stood out,” says the 20-year-old. “When I went to university, things were good but still felt didn’t fit in. I thought moving to London would change it but it didn’t. “I felt I was quiet and awkward, struggled to connect with people or make friends straight away. Some go out for drinks after class but never invited. I felt like I did something wrong. I stopped going to lectures, got up, ready to go but back to bed. Avoids going to shared areas of my flat, shut myself away isolated. I went into the loneliness and let it take over.”Angel and HayleyHayley struggle with anxiety depression and loneliness after Angel was born. So unable to cope, Angel left the university before first year was over. She felt then a strong desire to go home and be close to her mum rented a room close-by. “It’s good we don’t live together because we bring each other up, down all the time. She helped me with some aspects of my mental health but at times I didn’t want to speak to her because I didn’t want to make her worse. “If she was different, I will be different. I don’t blame her at all, she didn’t choose to be like this, it’s not her fault. It’s something I have got from her. Personality traits or attitudes I have learnt from her without meaning to.”Angel Kissi struggled with the loneliness from a young age According to Age UK, loneliness is defined as feeling a lack of affection, closeness or social interaction with others.The charity Mind says it is not a mental health issue but research says its associated with increased risk of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and stress triggered by major life events of bereavement, relationship break-ups or retirement, changing jobs and moving. Dr Rebecca Nowland, who researched the subject of loneliness said it can be passed down in families. “I don’t think we will find a gene for loneliness but it’s response to an experience of loneliness that may be genetic,” she said. “There is a number of studies that loneliness is hereditary so runs in families and there might be associations between parent’s loneliness and a child’s loneliness. The parent who has been lonely for a time may transmit some the negative feelings happening share loneliness experience.”Kirsty and sonKirsty McGrath fears passing feelings of loneliness to her children too. So Kirsty McGrath said her loneliness problem is after her son was born five years ago. She tried going to the mother and baby groups to make new friends, struggled to organise play dates so found herself increasingly isolated. Her husband does support her in the evening but she finds daytimes difficult because she is alone with no-one to talk to. The 33-year-old teacher, lives in Eltham, south London says she is worried of not being able to socialise her children will have an effect on them. She might pass own feelings of loneliness of “grey cloud.“I am paranoid of passing it on to the kids, I wouldn’t be surprised if I did. I am aware so I want them to feel comfortable around others not to feel like they don’t fit in. “My son came home from school and said to me he didn’t have friends so hasn’t played with anyone. I’m worried he is like this because of me didn’t put him in enough social situations to know how to mix in with others.” Loneliness is the common experience among new parents finding groups with shared interests to focus on new parenting skill way to cope says Dr Nowland. Dr Faruq Fazal a GP worked in mental health services on loneliness sats people lack a support network and believes teaching coping skills in school could help. “Nobody really teaches you how to cope through life’s challenges if suffering from loneliness. Its not about physically having people around you, it is when you feel you’re not able to talk to people without an emotional support. People need a support network so their coping strategy is better.” Do not isolate yourself from family or friends unless it is absolutely necessary to prevent virus.Child and parent holding handsExperts say parents may transmit their feelings to their children. Mind suggests a number of ways to manage loneliness, includes peer support talking therapies. Dr Nowland says seeking professional advice can help those stuck in a cycle of behaviour brought about by loneliness. “Loneliness leaves you with emotional feeling quite painful and distressing. If someone is lonely and they felt it for a long time but realising it’s not ok helps overcome developed negative thought patterns. “You need help with cognitive behaviour therapy to help you think and reframe things.” Angel’s counselling helped with anxiety but not helped with her feelings of loneliness. She returned to university but decided to focus on her mental health, work, and learning to drive. “Loneliness is different from anxiety and it’s different from not being able to make friends,” she says. “Anxiety isolates but loneliness felt at university separate from people in your own little world. I’m in a relationship and close to my family but loneliness is still there. To overcome loneliness of Covid-19 in UK children drew rainbow picture put at a window to support each other. Its a fun idea but God is surrounded by rainbows so its appropriate to remind HIM of HIS BIBLE PROMISES to save HIS creation.Rourke and Quinn are seen with their rainbow in CoventryRourke and Quinn are seen with their rainbow in Coventry. Children in UK are placing rainbows in windows of their homed to help keep others entertained during the coronavirus outbreak. These youngsters have been asked to colour in templates of rainbows or to draw their own and display them by their schools. The rainbows are then used as a tool to entertain children as they go on their daily walks with their parents. So this movement dubbed “The Rainbow Trail” helps share common ground interest to deal with corona virus staying indoors.Cllr Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor for Leicester, has displayed two rainbows in his window.Cllr Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor for Leicester, has displayed two rainbows in his window. And Donna Corcoran, 40, from Coventry, praised this movement and said it was a real highlight for her sons, seven-year-old Rourke, six-year-old Quinn and two-year-old daughter, Pearl. So public is warned to respect the personal space to limit spreading virus. Most parts of the world is on lockdown to try to contain the virus. Things to get worse but improves a lot, don’t know if it’s going to go.” Mayor inundated with many lonely citizens appoints specialist councillor. ‘Bureaucracy dehumanises so becoming living robots,’ says a mayor of a small Italian town before the virus.Antonella Argenti, mayor of Villa del Conte in the Veneto region.The mayor of a small town in northern Italy appointed a loneliness councillor being overwhelmed by citizens calling to discuss their problems. So Antonella Argenti elected mayor of Villa del Conte, town of 5,400 people in Veneto region, in May last year noted some inhabitants struggling to cope “You wouldn’t believe it,” she told La Stampa. “In the first few months of my mandate, so many people came to see me. All, young, old, wo/men, complained about problems of the same type of loneliness, the lack of a support network. “Alone with phone take care of bills talk to the automated switchboard refers you to yet other recorded voices. Relationships are missing. Bureaucracy dehumanise all becoming living robots. The Pescueza village in Spain with 130 people with two thirds over 65 years old is adapted to care and provide for their needs. Rails attached to walls to hold on to while walking out and about, slipfree floor to ensure the don’t slip and fall. Its said they are given phones to press red button for emergency needs urgently attended to. They are fed, their clothes are washed for them and transport sent to those who find walking challenging. They meet at daycentre to socialise and a gym tailored to their needs to exercise daily but isolated during corona virus. 20200215_113722

A Facebook group had been set up for the people who want to help others and offer their services to neighbours who might be confined to their homes as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19. They volunteer to fetch their groceries, walk their dogs and pick up prescriptions or have a chat over the phone or Skype if they are feeling lonely or frightened. A young people’s chatroom also discusses people’s feelings and fears. And how to help prevent virus spreading by staying indoors at home. Not to meet in groups, or gather in large groups helps to deal with the virus to protect themselves and others. People are encouraged to try to be active indoors by being busy doing a favourite hobby or sing, dance, exercise write poems, be creative, draw, dribble use crayons, pens, paint with brushes to keep the mind occupied. Ask for help if in need, don’t be shy to suffer in silence people alone. Its said no one cares what you know but KNOW IF YOU CARE in a such a time as this. Actions speak louder than words so it is the time to be there for each other emotionally or physically in extreme cases for intervention by the experts. And for believers in God faith is shared to uplift with word of God in the Name of Jesus with texts, hymns, songs, music, prayer from Bible texts or verses.

Lord, thank You for never abandoning me in my lonely times. I confess I have tried too hard to fill up my lonely spaces with relationships or things that never fill me up. Remind me when I hide away in a safe place with You I will experience Your perfect peace. Meet me in loneliness with Your loving presence. In Jesus Name Amen. Thank you God as your words say I am not alone for Father God is always with me. Jesus you said I am with you in Spirit so will never leave or forsake me to the end of the age. Thank you God. Thank you Jesus. Thank you my comforter Holy Spirit. Thank you for your love and care for me, you supply all my needs in Jesus Name and through people helping bless them all and protect their families too. 

TRUTH FOR TODAY FROM THE BIBLE:

Psalm 118:8-9 Its better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people so put your CONFIDENCE IN GOD.

Jeremiah 17:5-8, Thus says the LORD God cursed is a man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength so he heart departs from the LORD God.

Psalm 59:17, “O God my Strength, to you I sing praises, O God, my refuge, shows me unfailing love”

Psalm 142:5, “I pray to you, O LORD. I say, ‘You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life above all things”

RELATED RESOURCES:
If you need help to overcome lies satan whispers to you? Grab a copy of Sarah Geringer’s book, Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus.

CONNECT:
Sarah writes about loneliness, healing, and finding peace in God’s Word at sarahgeringer.com.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Which days cause loneliness to haunt you most? How can you turn to God as your refuge in those lonely times? Share your ideas in our comments section.

Reblogged with images

© 2020 by Sarah Geringer.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100sdfsdfd
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

CHILDREN SIGNS&WONDERS

1556533286134-1635185667.jpgChildren are for signs and wonders from God to Glorify God and to help in society. Families need to understand Jesus loves and values all children in all nations. Children are the gifted assets to parents and women do what is beyond comprehension as childbearers. Women are absolutely celebrated as co-creators with God contributing to life cycle and replenish earth. Fulfil God’s command to mulitiply and bear fruit from seed of man and egg of woman is the gift of life. Adults love their children and children love their parents. God’s word says train and teach children Godly values of love, selfrespect, good manners and etiquette for appropriate interaction with others. The value of life is priceless and preserved with dignity even if differences exists by diversity or perspectives. Children are precious to God, Jesus loves little children allowed in His company with their parents and in meetings to learn about God. This is priority in life highly endorsed by God for salvation in the Kingdom of God. 1557243794465-1635185667.jpgSimeon dedicated Jesus to God in the Temple and blessed Him. Simeon said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for a fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign about a sword piercing Mary’s soul. Hidden thoughts from many hearts will be revealed in Luke 2:34-35. Jesus brings changes to all who accept Him. Simeon’s prophesy is Jesus will be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for GLORY to God’s people Israel in Luke 2:32. Jesus brings ruin in Israel of people like Simeon who worship in the Temple destroyed. Mary is told of literal piercing of her soul due suffering and pain of Jesus she endures. John wrote of the piercing of Jesus’ side after His death in prophesy fulfillment. So emotional turmoil Mary experienced are all treasured things pondering them in her heart in Luke 2:19, 50-51. Messiah Jesus arrived as Simeon was waiting all his life to see the “consolation of Israel.”1557243187090-1635185667.jpgJesus in the Temple during the Passover impressed the learned Synagogue and priests while doing the business of His Father God. But has created upheavals disturbing people in Israel, including mother of Messiah. Her pain is thought losing Jesus unmarried, compassionate son executed for the crimes He did not commit in His life brings Mary pain. A mother to all and His brothers standing outside desiring to see Him, answered, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do in Luke 8:19-21. Simeon’s prophesy comforts her like all mothers who embrace all children as their own. Jesus is a child destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel and a sign so that thoughts of many hearts are revealed.” Peter denied Jesus three times as Judas betrayed him, Pharaseees, Saduccees lied about Him and, people healed and helped voted crucify Him. These are the some thoughts of many hearts revealed.1556578915698-1635185667.jpgToday’s society needs to build a sound foundation from an early childhood like Jesus to grow and apply good values. A child without sound foundation in God is at the mercy of any man-made ideas that do cannot fulfill the void reserved exclusively to be filled only by God. The strong bond created in child connects to God and great reward to bless the child. Father God is the patent owner creator of humans with privileged access in the hearts and minds of children. They are never too young to understand agape LOVE of God for them at any level. The Sunday schools and school assemblies are essential for nurturing their spirit and minds in God in Christ if Christians.1557234117641-1635185667.jpg Placing emphasis on only the academic achievement at an expense of wellbeing lacks growth and the deeper hope for a meaningful life. Focus on only aesthetic external physical appearance or looks, price tag designer labels and superficial ideas deprive them of inner peace and inner strength in God. Some think they are worth the price tag, under pressure to be the first to be seen in those latest most expensive clothing. And gadgets to show off to get ‘street credit respect’ is the cause of competition to impress. A child worries more about external label than contents of character and effects of behaviour on others. Playing games are other sources of addiction they resort so buy the series to play without focussing more on academic excellence. These are some of the challenges facing a society desperate to create the perfect utopia of an academic achievement league table. pictures-jesus-photos-images-jesus-christ.jpgChildren are stressed in the class system society which thinks some are of higher value so deserve better treatment than others deprived. Children bear brunt of doing without a proper meal or sleep to their detriment. Peering children early to socialise them creates us versus them postcode society with a lack of trust for adults separated from them. Parents are too busy chasing money to provide for children often emotionally and socially retarded. Such explosive children feel a right of entitlement without a common sense of the due diligence and care for other people. They are not allowed to be corrected by parents so grow up with an attitude of disregard for Authority and the significant others in charge of them. Some feel like victims despite the privilege compared to other children all over the world. 1556578302852-1635185667.jpgAnd permanently angry, ungrateful and unthankful to the parents who sacrifice time, effort and resources to make their lives better than previous generations. So never content want more and more even if they have abundance beyond an average child globally. Not allowed to be part of family work ethic are made lazy by addiction to games or substance abuse to numb their perceived pains of life. Unrealistic demands to be perfect to fit in with friends causes damage to children growing mimicking adults yet without adult maturity and experience. Jesus warned about these behaviours during the last days of unruly children out of control and a menace to society. IMG-20190409-WA0005.jpgThere is need for rewriting foundation for early years to develop children like Finland to nurture and to protect them from vultures of society. Each time the children hurt each other or the others, accusing fingers are pointed at them without recognising the root of these problems created by society. Parents are treated as lazy for spending quality time with their children. Schools are so understaffed short of budgets education has become position on league table. So naming and shaming them than proper training to prepare children to become self-sufficient to have good success in life. Education, academic performance is only 20% of life so the rest 80% must be taught to prepare people to cope. It’s deception to make education end in life because of billions of educated people unemployed, exist on debt in the world.IMG-20190329-WA0000.jpg Their miseducations deprives children of practical survival skills and essential spatial knowledge. It frustrates young people without ability to farm, garden, do practical hands on life work due to misconception that is a blue collar job beneath them. Older generations piggy back them for life to help them make it but unaware of sacrifices involves and unwilling to support them in old age. So feel too sophisticated to live within their budget to give back to parents seen as a nuisance to their luxury pleasures of life. Honour parents and adults to bring blessings and so it is well with you to live long. A wise person receives good advise to be a wiser person in life but the Bible says the fool gets angry and hates you for advising them. Be kind in all you do towards others because it is seeds sown God sends back to you years later when you do not remember those past years. Life is beautiful and simple to understand because God creates all things beautiful in HIS OWN time. You came individual in this world and will face God alone to give an account of yourself no matter who is backing you in life. The ideas children have must be guided with patience to educate them about the real world. Their perspective may seem superficial but with support and guidance helped to develop better as audacious, bold, confident, resilient people with good success. Some want good things of life not understanding the years behind the scenes preparing through hard work. The end result seen is after years of toiling, sacrifices and sweat. It is necessary to teach children value for time, value for life to be who they truly are with humility, selfrespect without ego attitude problems. Children need incredible encouragement of hope.IMG-20190427-WA0000.jpgIMG-20190428-WA0000.jpgChildren are part of a bigger society that expects the best from them. Investment of quality time spent with their family is essential to bond with them. Above all is to teach them to love themselves first, to have agape love for all others. Kindness, Mercy is far better than cruelty, anger and hatred which destroys person. The society’s excuse is to blame government for lack of funds for youth centres but a need exists to talk to children at home as individuals too. They need their love and support that makes them trust their family more than naive friends. God is LOVE so Spirit of God’s LOVE POWER in you enables you to help children to feel loved and part of society. Abandoned by the system many rely on themselves to make wrong choices and decisions. The fact that they are clothed, fed, have own bedroom, latest gadgets is not enough to meet their emotional needs of peace, joy acceptance if adults too busy to interact one to one with them daily. There is no excuse for not helping them young and consistently with their hobbies at home, music, piano lessons. Parents can afford other things but complain of inability to invest in future of their own children. It is time redesign educational foundation to include interests of children not force them to study subjects they hate. Most are under stress or pressure to perform take their anger on others. Society plays part in responsibility for how they turn up as adults. 

 

MOTHERING DAY’S FLOWERS

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MODERN CHILDCARE NEEDS

Andy Shelley and babyAndy Shelley says his time on parental leave was “eye-opening.” Following the release of a poll which suggested 27% of mothers did not enjoy their maternity leave as much as they thought they would, parents have been sharing their experience of parental leave – both good and bad. Some people got in touch after following BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Emma Barnett’s open and honest account of her time away from work looking after her baby son, a time which she described as being “bloody hard and at times, lonely.” So what’s it like to be the one who stays at home and looks after the baby? Three parents share their very different experiences. The good, the bad and unexpected child care needs. ‘I thought my partner was just off work.’ Andy Shelley’s girlfriend gave birth to their daughter in March and the couple decided to take shared parental leavePrior to making choice, Andy’s partner had been looking after their daughter while he worked 12-hour days. “It was difficult because I felt like I wasn’t doing enough,” he says. Thirty-year-old Andy took over full-time care for two months in July, but admits he was not aware just how much work was involved in staying home and looking after his daughter. “Initially I thought parental leave would be a nice break from work but it wasn’t easy. “Some days she would be upset and I just didn’t know what to do. Your entire day revolves around feeds. It becomes a full-time job in itself. “I would be happy when my partner came home from work as it meant I could have a break.” The Stoke-On-Trent resident says his experience of parental leave was important as he realised how much his girlfriend had been doing when he thought she was “just off work.” “It made me appreciate everything she had done and ultimately cemented my relationship with my daughter. “It’s a shame more fathers don’t take parental leave as it really opens your eyes and you realise what your partner deals with.”‘I made sure I kept busy’Sandrine Charpentier and her two daughtersSandrine Charpentier said “clear vision” for her maternity leave and made sure its “wonderful experience.” Sandrine Charpentier, from Hayes in Kent, says her maternity leave with both of her daughters, now aged six and nine, was a “really positive experience.” Despite not knowing many people where she lived, Sandrine made sure she wasn’t isolated by booking a different activity every day. “We would do baby swimming, yoga, singing and play groups. It motivated me to get dressed and get out of the house. “The whole time I was really tired but I thought that was just part of the job. “It was great to meet people, be social and talk about our experiences. I was really happy during that time and it was great for my daughters.” As much as she enjoyed her maternity leave, the mum-of-two admits it was nice to return to work. “Being at work was like a holiday because I was free to do what I wanted. I didn’t have somebody glued to me all the time. “It was good to do something different, to meet people and not talk about nappies and babies all the time.” ‘It’s difficult to be accepted as a stay-at-home dad’Child playingPeople were shocked when Craig Smith said he was going to be a stay-at-home father Craig Smith, 42 in Staffordshire became stay-at-home dad to daughter, Matilda, in January when she was eight months old. His wife has a high-level job so they decided that it would be best for him to give up work and focus on their daughter’s early years. “I was very up for the challenge as I’ve always wanted children, but I didn’t really think about what was involved in being a full-time dad. “Sometimes it’s hard because all Matilda wants is her mum.” Craig says his experience made him realise there is not enough support for stay-at-home dads. “I tried to integrate with local playgroups, but the mums can be quite cliquey and it’s very difficult for a dad to be accepted. “A lot of mum-and-baby groups say fathers are welcome but in reality it’s not like that – the mums can be quite cold.” Craig is planning on going back to work part-time when Matilda starts nursery, but says he feels anxious at the prospect of returning to normality. “It feels like my brain has been conditioned to sing to Peppa Pig or nursery rhymes. The thought of carrying out serious and responsible tasks within a role kind of scares me.

Good, bad, unexpected childcare needs

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ASHAMED OF POOR PARENT?

Mother with empty piggy bank

“Wondered what it’s like to live in poor area,” the girl from a posh part of town whispered across classroom table. Even at a small comprehensive in Yorkshire, the divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ was clear. At 10 years that time we with two older brothers living in house with mum knew exactly what it was like but said nothing. That night after school burst into angry tears on the mum’s lap. Both parents from working class back grounds: one from family where seven siblings shared two beds; the other started out in one of Leeds’s roughest estates. They grew up wanting a better future, and gradually worked their way up together to become homeowners. At

five parents split up with siblings lived full-time with mum. Suddenly became very aware of money because we just didn’t have any. Our family home was sold to pay off debts. For my mum, the life she’d spent years piecing together, moving away from the estate she grew up on, crashed down around her and it all seemed to happen overnight. The first piece of furniture in council house living room was an old sofa bed that we all crammed ourselves on, given by a kind family friend. So with little money spent evenings by candlelight when the electricity meter ran out, borrow money to top up pre paid card next morning. If

it means poverty according to standard of the time were officially living below the poverty line as a child. By today’s measures, a couple with two children need to earn at least £18,900 (£363 a week) each to achieve the minimum income standard. Since I’m one of three and mum was on her own, this means if I was growing up now and my family was in the same situation, we would still be in poverty.Housing differencesWhen 13, mum started privately renting a house on more affluent side of town, in order to send us to a good secondary school an hour’s bus journey. Mum had a new job, which helped, but she was starting over again after several years of looking after us all at home and her wages barely covered our rent, bills and food for three young kids. Renting is unstable your landlord calls the shots – so lived with constant fear of losing our home if our landlord put the rent up or decided to sell up. It was difficult at my new school, I felt like I didn’t belong at first. I had one friend who had a similar background; she was the only person who I confided everything in. Everyone else received edited versions of my life – nobody knew my uniform was bought with tokens. I dreaded the obligatory McDonald’s pit stop when we went into town, because I just couldn’t afford it.

I remember feeling upset when one of my closest school friends said she was fed up of having to ask her mum to take us places and always inviting me round to their house. She wanted to know why my mum never gave us lifts anywhere and why she was hardly ever invited to mine after school. The truth was I was embarrassed. Despite living in the ‘nice’ side of town, never had enough petrol in car, and friendsallowed round on payday, when there was food in the fridge and enough electricity on the meter. How could I tell her the truth? I imagined my friend’s parents gossiping about my family “not pulling their weight” and looking down at us. The reality was my mum didn’t invite her own friends into the house because she couldn’t afford the extra food.Shabby school uniformFor a long time after leaving school, I continued to try to hide the truth about my background. I can dial my Yorkshire accent up or down depending on my audience. But, the fallout of being such a class chameleon is that I feel ashamed about not being proud of my roots. This follows me no matter where I go or what I do. And it seems I’m not alone in having grown up feeling like being from a poor background is something to be ashamed of. The number of children living in poverty is on the rise but conversely the number of kids claiming free school meals (excluding the universal infant free school meals) is in decline according to a government report. How does that work? Now, I’m ashamed to say that, despite being eligible, I never took free school meals and mum and I regularly rowed about it. I didn’t want to be shamed or, worse, pitied. I knew full well that it would have helped my mum out massively. Instead, she scrimped to put together a packed lunch or dish out the last 50 pence in her purse. Looking back, it makes me cringe. So may think I sound like an ungrateful brat who refused the help offered, just a kid who wanted to be like everyone else. As older, going to uni was something I never considered. At school, I felt like it was just assumed that most people would go but I was scared we couldn’t afford it. A teacher explained the grants and loans that were available and suddenly it seemed like a possibility. I liked studying – I dreamed of one day being a writer and my mum was really excited for me so I applied to study Journalism at Leeds Metropolitan University and got in.

I felt overwhelmed by the amount of money I could borrow from the Student Loan Company. I took loan of £24,000 to cover course and received a grant of just under £3,000 a year. Paying my loans back felt like a lifetime away, so it was easy to ignore the reality that I was getting into serious debt. It seemed like we were all on the same level in our student halls, regardless of where we’d come from. Every time holidays rolled around my new friends disappear back to their family homes or head down to London for exciting-sounding but did unpaid internships. By this point, my mum was renting a house that didn’t have a spare room. If I went back, I’d be on the sofa. I couldn’t afford to do an internship so instead I worked in the local branch of a shoe shop, selling trainers I could never afford, so I could keep paying rent on my student house.

After graduation, I got a lucky break. My shoe sales job led to a full-time role editing the company’s website at their head office in Edinburgh. I found a really cheap flat share and moved there. I was nervous about how I would pay my rent but I felt like I was, at least, making progress because I was getting away from my upbringing and all the stigma and shame that, in my mind, came with it. The sad truth, though, is that not everyone from a background like mine gets a break. A Prince’s Trust report from 2016 found 44% of young people from poorer backgrounds don’t know anyone who can help them find a job, compared to just 26% of their more advantaged peers. Anyway, if you do manage to go to uni and get a graduate job, your social class doesn’t change overnight. In fact, the advantages of other people’s privilege only become more apparent. I was so excited when I got my first job, but underlying that was a constant sense of unease that if something went wrong and I got fired or was made redundant I had no safety net. There was nothing to fall back on and that thought would often keep me awake at night.Bank of Mum and DadSoon after we graduated, some of my friends started buying their first flats, with help from their parents. Last year in the UK, for the lucky ones able to get on the property ladder two thirds (62%) of under-35s received help from family and friends to buy their first home. Around the same time that they were getting on the property ladder, I began earning a bigger salary than all my family members and even helped one of them to pay their rent. When my mates talked about raiding the fridge full of food when going home for Christmas, I quietly set aside money to pay for the supermarket shop and the repairs for my mum’s battered old car. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m privileged in some ways. I’m white, for a start and I know that gives me certain advantages. But, conversation to start somewhere and, with 51% of journalists being part of the 6.5% of the nation who receive private education, it’s important to listen to anyone who doesn’t fit in that statistic. You see, being poor isn’t just having no money it’s lacking a basic confidence in who you are and what you deserve. Considered self ‘lucky’ to land a graduate job rather than putting it down to having talent and working hard. When I went into my first work meeting and felt like I knew less than the guy with 10 unpaid internships under his belt. When I met a nice guy who invited me to meet his posh parents and I cancelled because I was worried about what they might think of me. These days, I make a living doing a job I love. I rent a small but cute flat share with two friends and I can even afford the odd trip to the seaside.

I make sure I always have a little pot of money to fall back on, because my only alternative is sleeping on my mum’s sofa if things slip. After years of skirting the issue, I’m finally talking openly about our situation with my mum. I can’t imagine how horrible it must be to wipe tears away from daughter’s face after she’s told you how embarrassed she is of the life you’ve always worked so hard to make better for her. The real shame is neither of us will ever be able to gloss over. So do not let shame stop you to say  no to free school meals and starve or not invite friends over. Life is not made up material things according to Jesus it is your heart for loving others that counts most. 

 

Hollie Richardson

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This article was originally published on 2 October 2018.

3 SINGLE PARENTS UNITED

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Family & Education

  • 4 October 2018