I am attending BritMums Live in a couple of weeks.  It is my first ever blogging conference so it is quite a big deal for me. What are my feelings before going?

I live in Yorkshire and have 3 children so a fair amount of juggling has taken place to make my attendance possible.  I am still undecided on how I will get there but my wonderful step-daughter is taking all three children off my hands for a couple of days.  Yes, she is a total superstar.

I can remember reading all the tweets and so on about last year’s BritMums Conference and being so sad not to have summoned up the time and money to go.

I was determined to attend this year but may well have bottled it had it not being for the wonderful impact Groovy Mums has had on me.  So when Susanna from BritMums got in touch to ask me to moderate one of the workshops,  I said yes.  Of course, that was months ago when it did not seem scary as it was so far away.

So, here we are just two weeks away from the Big Event.

I am looking forward to time away from home and to meeting some people who I have known in the cyberworld for weeks, months and years.   I am a little nervous that I will not live up to people’s expectations but I guess I can only be myself and see what comes of that.  It is easy to blog openly and have your say from the comfort and safety of your sofa.  It is a very different thing to meet people up close and personal particularly when you are overweight and feel like you are on a huge climb-back to the person you used to be.

So how do I feel about BritMums Live?

The first thing to say is that I am really impressed with the diverse content of the various sessions.  I do believe there is something for everyone and how the BritMums team are managing to sleep whilst co-ordinating it all, I have no idea.

I am looking forward to hearing Ruby Wax on the Friday and Sarah Brown on the Saturday.  I admire both women for their individuality and their commitment to helping others.

As I want to pursue my writing of fiction and non-fiction, I am keen to attend the “Getting Published” session.

Then, through some mircale, I am going to the Brilliance in Blogging Awards Party.  I am a finalist in the Change category.  I am not expecting to win and am fine with that as I have seen the other wonderful finalists.  I even have a favourite but better not say who it is.

I am not sure what I will do on the Friday night but quite fancy having a lovely meal somewhere without the usual rigmarole of  “Sit down”, “Use your knife” and so on that accompanies meals with children.  Then again, I have never dined out with bloggers so who knows?

Saturday will be busy for me as I am moderating the “Blogging for the Greater Good” session.  The speakers are really strong though so that has reassured me a bit.  Plus I imagine delegates who attend the session will have plenty to say and I hope to faciliate a good discussion.  I am hoping the session will inspire new bloggers to get involved in supporting charities via their blogs and through participation in the Charity Connections – Blogging It Forward group on Britmums.

Having survived that session with a “Phew!” or two I am hoping to attend the session on e-books.  I keep intending to find out more about this topic so it will be wonderful to hear from the experts.

After lunch, I am involved in the discussion about “Blogging for Happiness”.  I am with two well-known bloggers so may well hide behind them.  Having said that, blogging has always made me happy otherwise I would not do it so much.  That might mean I have something valuable to say.

I imagine by 3pm on the Saturday, all the excitement will mean I am flagging a bit so I think I will not plan that bit of the day too tightly.

So with two weeks to go I veer between blind terror and total excitement.  I suppose I should start thinking about what to wear and quite fancy wearing something more feminine than the usual trousers or pyjama bottoms uniform.  For those cheeky folks who have asked, yes I will be clothed at the conference and promise not to flash my boobs with the sheer joy of it all.

I will probably be OK with the workshops and so on.  My scariest bit will be when I am hanging about during the more socialising bits of the two days.  I will be clutching a cup or a glass, analysing what I should say and why I always end up sounding so dim and wondering whether the loos provide a convenient hiding place at times of crisis.

Ah well, I guess it will all work out in the end and at the very least, provide some excellent ideas for future blog posts.

I suspect I might come across very much like Victoria Wood in that sketch where she said “Has anybody seen my friend?”

How are you feeling about BritMums Live?

 

 

Who helps children when a parent or sibling dies?

This is a guest post from Phonenix Bereavement Support as part of my promotion of charities for free on my blog during June 2012.

Ben* was devastated when his Dad died. It was so sudden. He went out in
the morning to work, but didn’t come home. His motorbike had skidded off
the road. Ben’s Mum couldn’t stop crying, and his little brother kept asking
him, ‘When’s Daddy coming home?’

None of us like to think about death, especially our own, but for some children
and young people death comes into their family very unexpectedly and very
suddenly, like in the story above. What happens to children if one of their
parents or a brother or sister dies? Their whole world is turned upside down.
Their sense of security is lost. How many fairy stories are there, where a child
loses a parent? This is because it is one of our worst fears, our most primal
fears. Even when we are adults and a parent dies we can feel abandoned,
lost and alone. We can feel angry, bitter, sad or all of these at the same time.
For children and young people, this swirl of emotions is very confusing. They
wonder, ‘Am I normal?’ ‘Why do I feel like this?’ And often, the surviving
parent or carer is so lost in their own grief that they find it very difficult to
support their child.

Back at school, Ben*discovered that his teachers didn’t know how to talk to
him. They had told other children that Ben would be very sad and might not
want to talk about it. Ben found that no one spoke to him at all, because they
didn’t know what to say.

Children and young people who have lost a parent or sibling can find school
a very difficult place. Thought it is hard to believe, some are bullied precisely
because of their bereavement. Many of them find it hard to cope, and start
behaving in ways they would never have done before. They get in trouble at
school, and can even be excluded. They may try drugs, early sex and alcohol,
because it is a way of forgetting or of feeling close to others.

Eventually Ben heard of somewhere he could go for help. He was beginning to
think that nobody understood, that nobody felt the same as him and that he
was alone. So when he heard about Phoenix Bereavement Support he got in
touch.

Phoenix Bereavement Support helps children, young people and their families when someone close dies.

We offer group support and social events to help
bereaved children rebuild their confidence and learn how to face the future
with hope. We also offer one to one support for those who need it most.

Phoenix Bereavement Support receives no financial help from the government
or local council so we depend on our community to support us. To donate and
help children like Ben* please call Tina or Lorraine on 01432 264555 or email
info@phoenixbereavement.org. You can also like our page on Facebook or
follow us on Twitter @linda_phoenix. Thank you for your help.

*name changed for illustration

Here is a summary of our experiences of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Weekend, a mixof good and bad.

1.  My youngest son and daughter dressing up as a knight and a princess and parading through the local town.

2.  Joining my children for a special sausage, mash and yorkshire pudding lunch.

3.  Watching the flotilla on the television with the whole family

4. Lots of buffet meals because I went a bit mad at the supermarket.

5.  Carnival in the local town with the whole community coming together and having fun

6. The rain meaning I could not attend a picnic party that I had not wanted to go to anyway

7. The Jubilee concert especially Kylie, Robbie, Annie Lennox and Tom Jones.

8. Watching the Jubilee Service, lunch and balcony coverage on ITV.  Loved the focus on dedication and charity work.

9.  Seeing Him Indoors finally getting round to laying carpet in the boys’ bedroom

10.  Feeling a new and improved connection with another blogger via support received and hopefully given.

 

Bad Bits

1.  Husband getting himself in deep water by lying to me about what he did on Friday afternoon.

2. Teenager in training son throwing a strop at approximately 15 minute intervals throughout

3.  Darling daughter telling me she was bored in no uncertain terms

4. Elderly father complaing our cat had peed on his bed.  It hadn’t but he was not to be convinced otherwise.

5. Argument at carnival leading to me wondering if I could just run away and be myself once again.  Am I the only wife and mum that feels like that sometimes?

6. Having to take out a mortgage to pay for face-painting for the children and also long queues.

7. That terrible moment when Lenny Henry cut off Rolf Harris and “Two Little Boys”.  Terribly disrespectful.

8.  My Dad saying he was not really bothered about the Jubilee anyway when I had tried to make it special for him.

9. Not being at Hyde Park for the Jubilee event due to trying to fit in with other family member plans.

10.My Dad walking in this morning to announce he had chopped his finger off.

So great things and not so wonderful things but life here is never dull.

Hope your Jubilee was wonderful.

Are you looking for a charity that helps people get jobs?

In the current climate we all know how difficult it is to get a job and stay in employment. But if you are facing additional barriers or may need extra support it is even harder.

 

Apex Works changes people’s lives through jobs and training. We’re a charity based in Leicester – a small organisation with big ambitions. Since 1982 we have helped thousands of people from vulnerable and marginalised groups gain skills and jobs.

 

We were set up initially to help ex offenders get jobs after leaving prison and we now work with a wide variety of people who face barriers including those with disabilities, carers, lone parents, young people and homeless people.

 

Often those who come to us for help have been turned away or not been given any support from other recruitment and job agencies.  We give one to one advice and personalised services including help to look for and apply for jobs, prepare a CV, go for interviews and continue to support people when they start work. We also offer training and deliver a range of courses from literacy and numeracy to IT.

Our newest scheme, Apex Enabled, was launched to help people with learning disabilities prepare for the world of work. We offer a personalised package of support tailored to individual needs. We help service users gain skills and training and get real work experience. We’ve opened a purpose built café at our headquarters, Apex House in Leicester city centre. Here service users can gain confidence in a safe work environment, learning a range of skills and supplying a great service to everyone in the building. We’re now looking to expand Enabled to support people with other types of disabilities too.

From July we’ll be marking our 30th anniversary, a time to celebrate our successes, reflect on changes and focus on the future. We are having a year of events, research and campaigns to raise the profile of what we do and who we help – some of the most vulnerable and least heard members of society. We’ll be kicking the year off by publishing research we’re currently carrying out with employers. We are looking into their attitudes towards giving people from marginalised groups jobs and what support we can give to help overcome any barriers, which are often just due to lack of understanding or misconceptions.

 

We are a charity and funding from contracts, local authorities and other bodies has reduced at a time when there is a greater need and more demand than ever before for our services. We are now expanding our fundraising efforts and aim to go from strength to strength so we can keep helping to change people’s lives for another 30 years.

 

To find out more go to www.apex-works.co.uk

 

Or get in touch

Telephone: 0116 261 6510

Email: info@apex-works.co.uk

 

Dogs are great companions for people of all ages and sizes. They’re goofy, lovable and give you sweet licks when you’re feeling down. Even more, there are breeds that are absolutely great with kids!

Still, when it comes to our youngs, they need a few guiding lessons to interact the proper way with dogs. And, as a parent, it’s your duty to teach your child to love animals and be comfortable around them. You want to teach your child how to be safe around dogs including those they know and don’t know. That way, they can grow up to really appreciate dogs to the fullest.

Given the fact that even parents need guiding from time to time, we put together a small guide to walk you through the process.

 

Make sure you supervise each interaction

If this is your family dog, then you won’t necessarily have to be there for every moment your child is around them. In fact, you’ll want to focus on teaching you child from a young age on how to interact with the family dog. However, if your child is around your friend’s dog or an unknown dog, then you’ll want to supervise the interaction.

 

Always ask for permission

Kids easily get excited when they see a dog, so they’ll run up to it and try to pet it. This is a big no-no. They may intimidate the dog or make it feel that it needs to protect itself. So, if your child wants to approach the dog, always ask the owner for permission. If the owner isn’t around, do not allow your child to pet it as the dog may feel the need to protect its territory.

 

Approach slowly

Your child needs to approach the dog in a calm and slow manner. With a closed hand, they can extend it out to allow the dog to sniff them. If everything goes well, which it usually does, the dog can be patted under their chest or under the chin. You don’t want to let your child pat them on the head as the having a hand reaching over their head may make the dog nervous.

 

Play the tree game

You want to have your child comfortable around dogs. If they’re jumping around or if they’re yelling, this is going to make the dog scared which could lead to your child getting nipped – especially if the dog is not your family pet. So, teach your child how to act around dogs by playing the tree game. When an unknown dog comes up to your child, they should be standing still like a tree. Their arms should be by their side with their eyes down, without making any noise. You can pretend to be the dog while you crawl around them, sniffing them.

 

Let your child give them treats

What dog doesn’t love treats? Exactly! Let your dog build a positive association with your child by letting them feed the dog treats. If the dog is unknown or a new family pet, you want to show that your child isn’t a threat but rather a part of your pack.

 

No hugging

Children love to give hugs which in any other situation, is great. However, the same doesn’t apply to dogs, especially unknown dogs. Though many people think dogs like to be hugged, they don’t. Hugging a dog can make them feel uncomfortable placing them in possibly a threatening state. This could lead to the dog becoming scared enough to nip or bite which is an issue since the head is very close to the dog’s mouth.

 

Show them what makes a dog angry

Dogs aren’t that different from humans. Do we like it when someone puts their hand on our dinner plate while we’re eating? No. Of course, dogs don’t like having their ears and tail pulled, being yelled at, disturbed while sleeping, and having their toys stolen from them. You’ll want to make the connection that your child and dog are similar in that sense so that they understand what they shouldn’t do.

 

Show them positive and negative body language

You want your child to know the difference between a happy dog and an annoyed dog. This will be useful for both unknown dogs and your family pet.

 

Positive body language

  • Natural or wagging tail
  • Relaxed facial expression
  • Isn’t holding eye contact with you
  • “Smiling” mouth
  • Relaxed, floppy earsNegative body language
  • Intense, direct eye contact
  • Lips pulled back, exposing teeth
  • Growling, aggressive barking
  • Ears are pulled back
  • Tail tucked in between their hind legs
  • Hunched and/or tensed body
  • Pacing
  • Raised hair down their backs or shoulders

Include your child in activities with your dog

If you want to ensure that there’s a bond developed between your child and the family dog, then you’re going to have to make sure you include your child in day-to-day activities. Go on family walks, let your child give them water (you should be the one to feed your dog), and allow your child to be a part of grooming. Now, if your dog isn’t a happy pooch when bath time rolls around then it’s best your child isn’t there. However, if your dog likes to get shampooed and massaged then let your child join in but make sure you’re using the best dog shampoo that’s safe for dogs.

 

Is your child not following the rules?

If your child isn’t following anything you’re saying and disobeying these very important rules, then you need to remove your child from the dog. Give them a clear reason why they’re being removed from the dog so that they understand that these rules are in place for a reason. If they follow the rules, give them positive reinforcement to show that they’re doing a great job! Your child has to learn that dogs and all other animals are living creatures that are emotional just like you and me.

 

Now that you know what you need to do to have your child comfortable around dogs, the sooner you introduce this, the better! Depending on your child, they make need some time to warm up to dogs and get used to being around them. Also, your dog may need some time to get acquainted with their new tiny friend! Make sure your child knows the rules and that you supervise a positive friendship developing between your child and their dog.

 

 

 

Author Bio:

 

Anna Smith resides in beautiful Santa Monica, CA, where she works as a Pet Nutrition Expert in a leading retail pet store. She is responsible for nutritional strategies for different breeds and development of new products on the market in compliance with Association of American Feed Control Officials. Anna’s passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her dog Max, who is always well-fed. She also helps curate contents for DogsAholic.com