Looking after elderly relatives in your own home is something more of us will be doing as we have an ageing population. As many families struggle with financial pressures, often it makes sense to pool resources and live in a multi-generation household. Whether due to frailty, loneliness or bereavement, many older people would love to live with their loved ones. My advice would be to think about the emotional and practical implications before making life-changing decisions. Honest communication is key along with practical stuff such as deciding if you need to install a stairlift in your home and working out which welfare benefits may be available to your family.

Looking After

Role reversal

There are certain times when it really hits us that we are actually adults. When your parents need you to care for them, you start to realise that you will be doing some of the very things they did for you when you were growing up. Tasks might range from offering a listening ear to more intensive care such as helping with dressing, toileting and personal hygiene. You may have to accompany your parent to medical appointments and ensure they take their medication at the right time.

Juggling it all

The very time when your parent needs to live with you often comes whilst you are bringing up your children and also trying to make a living. It can be a very stressful time and it is vital you recognise yourself as a carer and seek support. You may feel isolated but there are lots of people out there who can help from your local authority to a wide range of charities. It is a sign of strength to say that you need help and to seek it. Only by looking after yourself well can you care effectively for those around you so never think it is selfish to say you need support too.

My experience

When my mother died, I knew I wanted my father to come to live with me. He was adamant that whilst he liked the idea he would need his own personal space. It took me a year to find the perfect accommodation with an annexe attached to the house. We had some amazing years of memories together before he passed away. He had such quality time with his grandchildren treating them, reading to them and laughing with them. In turn, they learned so much from him and treasure their memories of him. I supported Dad as his needs became greater and he was lovely to have around for me too. We had fun trips out together with a regular Tuesday lunch date and also fish and chips on Fridays. He shared stories that he had not told me when my mum was alive. It was a very precious time for all of us.

Things that can help

You can meet other carers in person or online. You can ask your local authority for the assessment of your elderly relative’s care needs and also your support needs. You may be able to claim welfare benefits or to apply for grants. Depending on the individual, your relative may need special equipment which might be anything from mobility aids through to a specially adapted vehicle. Ensure you look into things like Meals on Wheels and laundry collection services that just might make life a little simpler for you all.

I would recommend looking after elderly relatives in your own home wholeheartedly so long as you have the right support in place. Of course, individual circumstances differ but with a little goodwill and imagination, it is possible to live together and thrive in a multi-generation household.


Looking After Elderly Relatives In Your Own Home

3 Little Buttons

Cuddle Fairy
Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Sodium valproate (also known as Epilim, valproic acid and Depakote) has been used as an epilepsy treatment for decades, being affordable and highly effective for dealing with a range of seizures associated with the condition.

However, there has been growing evidence in recent years that sodium valproate can be a danger to unborn children if taken by their mothers during pregnancy.

Use of the drug by expectant mothers has been connected with a range of issues in their children, including reduced intelligence and autism, however, the most serious health effect associated with the drug is the potential for a child to develop foetal valproate syndrome.

The advice from The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is that sodium valproate should no longer be prescribed to pregnant women of women of childbearing potential.

What is Foetal Valproate Syndrome?

Foetal Valproate Syndrome (FVS), or Foetal Anticonvulsant Syndrome (FACS), is the umbrella term for birth defects caused by exposure of a foetus to valproic acid while in the womb as a result of the mother taking sodium valproate while pregnant.

It is often not immediately obvious when a child is born that they have the condition and it sometimes take months or even years for some of the effects to be picked up on.

Common symptoms of Foetal Valproate Syndrome include:


  • Facial characteristics – including a small upturned nose with a wide bridge and epicanthic folds (where skin from the upper eyelids covers the corner of the eye)
  • Cardiac problems – due to malformation of the heart
  • Spina-bifida – where the spinal cord does not develop properly, leading to issues such as weakness, paralysis and incontinence
  • Cleft-lip/palate – usually requiring surgery to correct, resulting in life-long scarring
  • Genital abnormalities – such as the urinary opening being on the underside of the penis
  • Skeletal abnormalities – including contractions of small joints, long overlapping figures and deformity of the feet

Treating Foetal Valproate Syndrome

There is no cure for Foetal Valproate Syndrome, but there are a number of treatments that can alleviate the symptoms and dramatically improve a child’s quality of life.

These treatments will generally focus on dealing with the individual symptoms associated with Foetal Valproate Syndrome and may include one-off treatments, such as surgery, as well as on-going treatments for issues such as speech problems.

Typical treatments for Foetal Valproate Syndrome include:

Surgical intervention – May be required to correct issues such as a cleft palate, heart defects and those connected to spina bifida.

Speech & language therapy – Is often used where a child has issues with communication, including the effects of a cleft palate.

 Physiotherapy – To deal with issues with movement caused by spina bifida and skeletal abnormalities.

 Behaviour therapy – Which can be helpful where the condition has a cognitive impact.

 Occupational therapy – To help a child develop strategies for dealing with specific tasks they have problems with as a result of their condition.

Claiming compensation for Foetal Valproate Syndrome

There is increasing concern that there was a failure to warn women of the risks of sodium valproate, resulting in a Parliamentary debate and calls for a public inquiry.

If your child has been affected by Foetal Valproate Syndrome, claiming compensation may be essential. It can be used to ensure your child has all the right support in place to deal with the consequences of their condition for their health and lifestyle, giving them the best chance of living a full and happy life.

Sodium valproate claims can be complicated, especially where the claim is being made many years after your child’s birth. It is therefore strongly recommended to work with a solicitor specialising in these types of claims, ensuring they have the necessary expertise to help you secure the compensation your child needs.


I worry about the impact of what I see as the over-use of technology in our family. I never really wanted my children to play video games and so on at all. That decision was taken out of my hands when my parents turned up with a games console one day for my oldest son. More followed and all my children spend a lot of time on screens with the boys particularly keen on video games.

In my childhood, I think some children did have games things but I was not one of them and did not miss them. Now, they are a part of our everyday lives. Parents have always struggled to find reliable ways of pacifying a child when they are upset, but now more than ever, many appear to be counting on smart-devices to entertain their children. I think this is a worrying turn of events. A smart device can distract but it can not provide the listening, counselling and hugging skills of a parent or other loved one.

Children now own their own smartphone by age 7; based on a survey of 1,500 parents – Opinium found that children also owned an iPad by age eight. This makes me feel our family is not so bad. My children were much  older when they got phones and quite basic ones at that. I am not attached to my phone and so my children seem to have phones in their right place too. I am also never keen to buy the latest or more expensive item partly because I can’t afford them and also because I like children to value things and know that price is not always what matters most.

Have I used smart devices to calm my children down on occasion? Have I just wanted some peace sometimes and accepted that smart devices can act as babysitters allowing me to get to the  loo or make a cuppa? Yes I confess I have done this. Sometimes juggling work, home education and  housework means I have to hope the children can entertain themselves from time to time. At times like this, I can almost work up a love for smart devices.

If parents continue to use smart devices to entertain children, then in the long-term, it is unclear how this may impact a young child’s social and emotional development. As opposed to using more traditional methods, digital devices appear to be more convenient than human interaction, but only time will tell how much of an impact this will have on a child’s cognitive learning.

Infinite Playgrounds, specialists in creating wooden canopies and natural playground equipment, investigates just how much of an impact this is having on our children, and how we can return to more interactive forms of play in the future.

The problems with smart technologies and child development

Before the age of two, a child’s sensory play with objects or other people helps them to develop their problem-solving skills within unstructured play. A person’s capacity for empathy is derived from social interaction with others, so when a child plays with an inanimate object – such as a smartphone – this limits their ability to gain an understanding of others, as they don’t solve problems with others constructively. However, I  know my children would argue that some video games involves team-working skills and that friendships can form online.

Every person has their own thresholds for sensory information; for example, someone who has a high threshold finds it harder to register sensory information, whereas others have a lower threshold – thus finding it easier.

Studies have suggested that smart devices compromise the extent to which these thresholds can be developed – limiting a child’s cognitive ability to register external stimuli that allows them to understand the world around them. However, more traditional forms of play, such as using building blocks, can ignite a child’s imagination and basic maths skills through interaction with physical stimuli. This is opposed to digital forms of entertainment that the child can’t touch. I think some of us parents have lost touch with the play we enjoyed as children. When I step back into traditional play the children love it whether den-building, crafting items for an imaginary desert-island or Lego which has always stood the test of time.

Can smart technology benefit a child’s understanding?

The simple answer is that there is no proof that smart technologies encourage or compromise a child’s learning. Studies have suggested that in children who are close to school age, children’s television programmes and smart technologies can help to improve vocabulary and reading comprehension, but this is only when children have already acquired the basic cognitive behaviours and skills attained from human interaction.

Parents can help by testing smart applications before they are given to a child, to establish whether they are worth handing over to their children for play in the first place. It strikes me us parents are facing huge changes and could do with far more support in this area.

The benefits of sensory play

The five senses, taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing, allow a child to evaluate and weigh up the world around them. These senses help build stronger cognitive abilities, whilst human interaction improves language development, gross motor skills, and teach children the basic principles of social interaction.

As well as producing cognitive benefits, traditional forms of play also produce physical benefits within a child. Heightened bodily awareness within the space they are in, and balance, are improved when children interact with the world around them, not a screen.

This is because this type of play refines their thresholds for understanding the five different types of sensory information that they will process. By making stronger connections with the brain, a child is able to retain more and learn more as a result. I have looked into how I might incorporate the five senses more when it comes to our home education adventures.

Although smart technologies have become part of an adult’s everyday life, this doesn’t mean that they need to be part of a young child’s one too. Research is beginning to reveal that smart technologies, as opposed to traditional interactive forms of play, can do more harm than good. Perhaps limiting a young child’s exposure to smart devices will allow them to make the most of their early-years learning, improving their cognitive understanding and the world they live in.

I may be old-fashioned but I still really do not like seeing babies and very young children on screens at all. Let’s get back to traditional forms of play and bond with our children rather than use the screen as a babysitter.





My Random Musings

Keeping the kids entertained over the summer seems easy enough at the start of the school holidays. A few weeks later and social media is full of parents worrying that their children keep complaining that they are bored. Boredom can actually lead to your children coming up with their own creative ideas for learning and play. However, on the days where you are tearing your hair out, here are some ideas to put the smiles back on your children’s faces.

Get outdoors

Getting  outdoors is good for us and boosts our mood with that wonderful Vitamin D magic. Go for a nature walk picking up items of interest and discussing them. I used to love doing this with my Dad when I was a child and learned so much. Even if you are not particularly sporty, there are fun and affordable ways to get more active whether splashing in a paddling pool or checking out the fun-filled items from  SkateHut or supermarkets.

Cook up a storm

My tween is easily bored and going through puberty which does not help his mood one bit. However, he will always respond positively to spending time in the kitchen and has ambitions to be a chef one day. We used to just bake sweet treats but these days I am showing him the joys of cooking family meals from scratch. Yesterday we made the most luscious turkey burgers for tea.. Activities like these are great for relieving boredom but also teach essential life skills.

Old favourites

Think back to what kept you entertained as a child. Was it building Lego creations or colouring in?  Increasingly as children spend more and more time on screens, they are disconnected from the old pleasures of school holidays. It doesn’t have to be that way! Might I suggest you disconnect the screens instead and indulge in the pleasures of the real world for a change. Get to the seaside to build sand castles, to skim stones and to paddle. Build a den outdoors using natural resources or make a duvet fort on rainy days.

Finally check out what is happening in your local area by visiting your library and council offices.

Happy Holidays!

Keeping The Kids Entertained Over The Summer


Twin Mummy and Daddy

Change is tough for anybody to get to grips with, especially children. Even the smallest of transitions can cause them to question their standing in life, and those that are genuinely life-changing can have the potential to make or break them.

You can help your children when it comes to these sorts of changes in life, though, by preparing them for them. For advice on how to do just that in regard to certain situations of change, read through this article.

Preparing them for moving school

Whether it’s through choice or whether the decision was made out of their control, there will come a time in their lives where your child will move school. Some take it better than others, and some make it far more challenging than it needs to be.

If your child challenges their school move, it means they are not ready or prepared to make the change being asked of them. If you feel your child might challenge you, then you need to prepare them beforehand. You need to take action by discussing the move with your child well in advance of it happening, you need to show as much enthusiasm as you can for the move yourself, and you need to discuss with your child everything about the move that is making them uneasy. By listening to them, you can understand exactly what they are concerned about, and you can counteract this by talking about the positives of the change. If it is moving from lower school to upper school, this will be a particularly emotional upheaval, and there will be opportunities to work with the schools involved, as well as other children and pupils, to help deal with the transition.

Preparing them for moving house

Moving home is stressful for adults and kids alike, but it’s the latter that are likely to suffer the most with this change. It can make them feel powerless as their whole world is flipped upside down, and it is for these reasons why you need to prepare them as best you can.

You should visit your new home with your kids long before you plan to move into it, just to get them accustomed to it and to give them something to look forward to in the venture — you could even allow them to make tentative plans in regard to their bedrooms. Focusing on the positives in this manner will make your kids look to the future, something that is much better than holding onto the past.

Preparing them for a divorce

 The divorce of their parents is a life-changing time of transition that more and more children are facing these days, and those that face it need to be prepared for it.

Should you ever find yourself in the situation of negating a divorce with your partner, first, you would have to get in touch with a solicitor, attaining a family law solicitors London free consultation from them quickly when you do, in order to nip any arguments in the bud — the fewer arguments there are between the adults, the better protected the kids will be. After that, you would have to sit your children down to have a frank and open discussion with them, whether you or they want to or not, to ensure they are fully aware of what is happening, as well as to gauge how they are taking it all. You should also seek to answer all their questions clearly and honestly.

Even the sweetest of relationships can turn sour, and it’s not good for anybody involved when they do, least of all the children.

Children do not always take to change well, but they will take it to it better with a bit of preparation.

Cuddle Fairy