Savouring the holidays

Savoring the Season: How to Get Through the Holidays


This fab article was written for you by Daniel Sherwin.

Parent is challenging, and the holiday season can feel out of control for many families.  

You have special shopping, cleaning, cooking, and events on top of the usual commitments and obligations.  

The season can feel like utter chaos, and sometimes you might wonder how you will get through it.

With some thoughtful planning, you can not just survive the holidays, but savor the season with your children.  

Don’t overcommit.  Of course there will be some things you will have to do, and many things you want to do.  But be sure to set some time aside that is free from commitments.

Cut back on some of the parties and rushing to family obligations, especially if you have very small children.  Clearing space on your calendar will help lower your stress level.

Make room. The holiday season comes with a lot of extra stuff. For many people, especially those who already struggle with anxiety, a mountain of new toys, clothes, and electronics can equal overwhelm. Before gift-giving commences, clear some space by sorting and organizing your belongings to make room for more. Start by cleaning out your closet. Take an afternoon to empty everything out, categorize it all, organize and purge. Once you’re done with your clothing, you may be motivated to make more difficult choices, like kids’ toys and electronics. Even though they are old and out of date, they likely hold sentimental value or were expensive, making them more difficult to give up.


Quality time.  Spending time at home with your children, making memories and enjoying each other is a key to being happy during the holiday season.  Set aside the electronics and do some things you all love, like baking cookies or watching holiday movies.

Self-care.  Take time out every day for yourself.  The holidays can be hectic, but that makes it even more important to maintain a self-care routine and embrace coping skills.  If you feel your stress level rising, step away from busyness and settle your mind.  A few minutes in meditation can help reframe your attitude. Get plenty of sleep and don’t neglect exercise.  Go for a hike or practice yoga for a few minutes before you start your day.  Doing something physical will be good for your overall well-being.

Simplify shopping.  Many of your family members and friends would enjoy a handmade gift from your kids. Plus, it saves money and reduces time spent running to stores.  It also provides an activity your children will enjoy. Think along the same lines for holiday decorations. Handmade items are one-of-a-kind treasures that reduce spending, and you get the bonus pleasure of quality time with your children.


Daily routine.  Establishing a solid morning routine and maintaining it through the holidays can help minimize holiday stress.  According to experts cited by Fox17 West Michigan, “We all know that kids do best when they’re on a regular routine, and allowing kids to keep that routine during the holiday season is very important.”  


If you’re struggling with how to make that happen during the craziness of the holidays, here are some suggestions from experts:


  • Rise every morning before your children.  Even if it’s just 10 minutes early, it will provide you an opportunity to sip some coffee or tea and feel like you have some control over your day.
  • Talk with your significant other and exchange who gets up first in the mornings.  Trading off will give you each an opportunity to sleep in regularly.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast with the family daily.  In addition to giving you all a good meal, it’s an opportunity for everyone to connect and get started on the day together.  
  • Stay positive.  No matter how your morning starts out, even if the toast burns or the youngest is grumpy, remember it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
  • If you have an event planned early in the morning, experts recommend doing some things the night before.  Set alarm clocks, lay out clothing, and organize any items that are going with you, such as gifts or baked goods.  


Lower expectations.  When we attempt to create picture-perfect holidays, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.  Be realistic while focusing on traditions your family enjoys together, and do things that make it feel special.  If certain family members add to your stress level, give yourself permission to limit time with those people.


Savor the season.  If the holiday season feels daunting, take control over your commitments and set aside time for your family and for yourself.  Start your mornings out right, simplify your shopping list, and keep a realistic, positive perspective. With the right tools, you’ll be able to enjoy the holidays and create wonderful memories to treasure for years to come.

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Nobody is perfect

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Finding work after addiction

Sometimes life throws you dark times to get through.

I remember when I worked for The Salvation Army and was chatting to a homeless guy.

He lost his wife, couldn’t cope and turned to alcohol to get through it.

Within the space of a few months, he’d become an alcoholic, lost his job and family.

So, when Rufus Carter got in touch with his story about his own recovery, I knew it could help some of you.

This is Rufus’ article about getting a job after rehab.

For people new to recovery, it may take some time to find a new job.

Time to work

While waiting, you still have to make ends meet, but how can you do that?

It’s time to take one of the many contracting or temp jobs available.

The number of people who are working these short-term freelance jobs is growing. Side jobs have increased by 27 percent over standard payroll jobs, according to CNBC.

The good thing about finding temporary and contract work is that you can be flexible with your time, giving you time for job hunting and interviews.


Finding the Right Work

The first thing you need to do is decide what kind of work suits you. Answer the following questions to discover what you can do:

  • What sort of skills and expertise do you already have?
  • What talents and personality traits do you have that fit those?
  • Can you make money with this skill?

Here are some ideas for you to consider:

  • Pet sitter
  • Selling handmade items on Etsy
  • Teaching musical instrument lessons

Read these tips from Believe in a Budget on how to find the right opportunity for you.

Keep in mind that not every option has to be a job. For example, you could take a survey and earn money from it, try  affiliate marketing, or rent out a spare room through Airbnb. Here are some more ideas in this article from Side Hustle Nation.

Remember that whatever you try is a great opportunity to enhance your CV.

Living Frugally While Waiting for Work

It’s also helpful to use and manage your money wisely.

You’ll need to live frugally, cutting out every expense you can think of.

mojo your emotions

You can haggle with certain companies, like your internet provider, to get monthly bills reduced. Learn how to do just that in this post from Five Cent Nickel.

You can – and should – use both coupons and rebate apps as much as possible for groceries and other items. Here are 40 more ways to save money on monthly expenses from The Simple Dollar.

Another way to save is by working from home. When creating a home office, make sure that you minimize distractions so you can stay productive.

Taking Care of Yourself

It’s important to remember this is a difficult season in your life, but it will pass.

Keep focused on your priorities, especially maintaining your commitment to sobriety.

It doesn’t cost anything to take care of yourself with these adjustments.

  • Get support with the right meetings and care groups, as well as making friends who have had success with sobriety.
  • Make a balanced diet part of your life. Eating healthily will support good physical and mental health on your journey. Learn how to create and maintain a balanced diet from Healthline.
  • Incorporate fitness into your daily life. It doesn’t have to be challenging – even a daily 20-minute walk can improve your health. Talk to your doctor about which exercises are best for you.
  • Take care of your mental health. See a counsellor or therapist, particularly if you suffer from mental health issues, such as depression. A dual diagnosis may be helpful for you.


Getting in Shape to Return to Work

Nurturing yourself is not only important to keep up with your recovery. Your state of mind will impact upon your job interviews, so take good care of yourself!

Hopefully, your treatment program will have skills and employment coaching to help you get back to work.

However, please don’t leave your current program if they don’t offer that.

Instead, ask them where you can find these services, or if they can help. Read these 10 tips about navigating job interviews after addiction recovery.

  • Finding interim work while you get back on track will boost your confidence and keep you afloat. Investigate your options and take care of yourself in the meantime.
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Self worth

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Life lessons from my dad

I’ve just spent time with my lovely dad, celebrating his 70th.
He’s a kind, creative soul and I’ve been thinking about what he’s taught me over the years.

So, I thought I’d put together a list of 7 key things I’ve learned from him, in the hope it helps you too.

  • Find a partner who loves you and is the Yin to your Yang. My parents complement each other and bring out the best in each other. They share some interests they enjoy together, but have fun pursuing their own hobbies too. Even after everything they’ve been through, they still hold hands and let each other know how much they mean to one another.
  • Always expect the unexpected. This used to make me a bit paranoid, since my dad and I share a love of watching horror films. Nowadays, I use this motto to always expect miracles. Life is full of miracles, but we don’t always see them. Remember that even when ‘bad things’ happen, we don’t know what it’ll lead to. The pieces of the jigsaw will fit together in time and you may realise that the ‘bad things’ helped you grow more, learn more and discover something wonderful.
  • Be creative. My dad was a fab art teacher and still teaches art in the community. Art is a great tool to help you feel better and switch off from the craziness this world can be. Make time to do a hobby you love and know that it’s not selfish, it’s a case of self care. I believe that creative thinking is what’s needed to thrive in this world.
  • Follow your passion. This follows on from my last point. My dad still gets messages from former students telling him how he helped them, or that something he said still sticks. If you follow your passion, you can really help others. Life isn’t meant to be rubbish, where you’re stuck in a job you hate. Use your own gifts and talents to earn an income and see what difference you can make to the world.
  • Don’t let obstacles stop you. My dad is disabled and has been in pain for most of his life. Yes, he can’t walk long distances, he can’t swim and he can’t run. But he walked me down the aisle, he’s travelled and he’s overcome his own obstacles to live a life that’s fulfilling. Focus on what you CAN do. Let go of what you can’t.
  • Look after those who love you and your neighbours, because you reap what you sow. My parents will do anything for anyone. They should probably say ‘no’ more than they do, but they are always willing to help others. Over the years I have seen for myself just how connected we all are. If you see someone in trouble, help them. If you can offer a neighbour a lift somewhere, do it. Show kindness to others and it’ll come back to you tenfold.
  • Do your best. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but if you can do your best in any given moment, that’s good enough. You don’t need to compare yourself to others. See your own worth and honour it. There’s only one of you.
I’d love to hear which one of these lessons resonated with you.
If you’d like some help to see your worth, my series of fun books can help. They’re made up of my own key life lessons and life coaching exercises. I’ve got one for kids, teenagers and women. 
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Rainy Day Fun for Kids Stuck Indoors

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What is education?

I’ve been working in education with children in care, or those who aren’t doing well in the current education system.

It’s been my job to help them get back into education.

I focus on helping them find their passions, seeing their worth and helping them realise that they have control over their thoughts, emotions and beliefs.

There’s been many times when I’ve felt like a total failure.

For example, if I’ve had it in my lesson plan to teach them fractions and haven’t, I’m aware that I haven’t met my targets. Yet, in reality, that child may have had an issue to deal with that day and needed lots of support to deal with their anger or upset. So that’s what I’ve given them.

The minute I pick the child up, my lesson plans are literally ripped up and thrown out of the window.

All of this has led me to question, what is education?

The powers that be favour formal education. The leading party decides what kids need to learn, they set targets and then ensure that the teachers jump through hoops to meet those targets.

education isn't fit for purpose

The current education system is lifeless

There’s informal education, where kids can try out more vocational activities and find out what it is that makes them tick.

At school, I was a swot. I soaked up everything that I had to learn and I was proud of my exam results.

However, looking back I now question why there was so much focus on the topics I had to learn. I’ve never really used all of the maths equations I did at GCSE. In fact, I’m not sure that the facts that I learned at school have helped me in my day-to-day life.

The key things that have changed my life are learning about my thoughts, emotions and beliefs.

The psychology behind why I can feel the way I do and that I have the power to change it.

Knowing how to make good friends and let go of the people who weren’t truly there for me, learning how to like myself and appreciate my worth, managing finances, being a parent and finding my gifts and trusting that I could follow them are the lessons that have meant the most to me.

Yes, school gave me a passion for learning that has carried on through to University and my life.

To me, that’s what education is – inspiring people to find their passions and continue a lifetime of learning.

The current system is so formulaic, it’s zapped the fun out of learning.

Teachers aren’t being given the chance to use their creativity to show their passion for their chosen subjects.

They spend more time doing lesson plans, marking and risk assessments than they do sharing the passions that got them into teaching in the first place.

My 7 year old is a very intelligent boy. Yet, he’s already told me that ‘school sucks and is boring.’ He’s at a good school, with great teachers, but he’s not interested in what he has to learn.

He’s already found his passions.

Reading, drawing and working out how things function. He completes maths homework in five minutes and questions why it was given in the first place.

He showed great insight into what life should be like, when he commented that homework isn’t needed and that children would be better off if they had time to play and spend time with their parents.

Education is about questioning.

Education is about questioning

It’s good to question why things are the way they are. But I fear that the powers that be are using the current education system to create robots who don’t question anything and just go with what they’ve been told to do.

The masses are easier to control when they don’t question the status quo.

Children often have a natural curiosity for things and this should be encouraged, instead of viewed upon as an annoyance, or disruption.

Education is about role models sharing their passions.

The best teachers are those who are passionate about their subjects. They still want to learn what they can about their interests and their enthusiasm shines through.

And the subjects that make the most difference to the kids I work with? Art, music, dance/exercise, emotional awareness and the opportunity to get outside in nature.

Unfortunately, these are the subjects that are seeing the biggest budget cuts.

It’s crazy.

What I’ve also found is that kids know what they need. They seem to know their passions and what makes them happy from an early age. It’s us adults that talk them out of it and tell them that they ‘can’t do this or that’.

The current education system is stifling, old-fashioned and not fit-for-purpose.

Let’s hope that the people in power will start to listen to the creative minds we have within education – both the teachers and pupils. That’s where the creative solutions lie.



If your child needs help to be happier and confident, my books can help. Check out ‘The Happy Child: Fun Book’, ‘The Happy Teenager: Fun Book’ and ‘The Happy Child: A Little Book of Happiness and Positive Affirmations.’
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Helping your child through bullying

Bullying is so hard to deal with when it’s happening to your child.

You wonder why them? Are they treating people kindly, or are they doing things that annoy others?

Then you realise that it’s not them, it’s the bullies.

You spend hours on Google looking for ways to help them. As always, there’s conflicting advice and you’re left feeling stuck.

My eldest has been bullied twice.

The first time, the Head dealt with it immediately. The second, the bullies told my son to go and kill himself because no-one loved him. Despite the Head knowing this, she told him to stop being ‘crabbie.’

I moved my children to a new school and I’m pleased to say that they’re happy. My eldest still has days where his self esteem is low, but overall he’s much happier and has friends who appreciate him.

Here are 5 tips to help your child if they’re being bullied.

  • Children need to be heard. Don’t jump in with advice, or judgement. Listen and then work on solutions together. You could role play how they’ll respond to the bullies. You could prepare comebacks. Listen to how they feel about everything and how they want you to handle it. They often have the answers you’re looking for.
  • Get them involved in activities outside of school. Join other clubs/activities and set up play dates to help them strengthen the friendships they have, or start new friendships. That way they’ll feel supported. I signed my children up to ju jitsu, so that they can feel confident protecting themselves.
  • Give them as much love and praise as you can. My eldest displayed very difficult behaviour when he was being bullied. It would have been easy to hand out punishments, but I knew it was his way of coping. I praised him for the behaviour I wanted to see, helped him through the difficult times and chose my battles.
  • Fight for them. I had to see the Head on more than one occasion. I was the nagging mother who upset a lot of people. Other mothers in the village fell out with me because of what I did. But, I knew what I needed to do to keep my son happy and I did it.
  • Get help. When I felt that we weren’t being heard, I got help. CAHMS is a good place to go, as well as MIND. We went to the local authority’s prevention team and they sent a lady out to watch my son in school, as well as coming to chat things through with us.

Whatever you’re going through, take it one day at a time.



P.S. I wrote my series of fun books after my eldest was bullied. There’s one for children, teenagers and women. They’re made up of fun life coaching exercises to help build confidence and self esteem. They could really help you through this.



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