Is your child upset about Zayn leaving One Direction? Our new agony aunt Molly Coddle has some words of advice for you.

onedirection

There is no doubt fans feel a real sense of loss.

What can you say to your child if they are devastated by the One Direction News?

1. Zayn leaving One Direction as a voluntary act. This is what he either wants or needs.

“I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight,” he said in a statement posted on the band’s Facebook page.

If you really care about the band members, wish him well as he continues to his next chapter.

2. The band is staying together. One Direction might now to be Four-fifths direction but the band will play on.

3. It is a sign of strength to express feelings. Crying is an OK thing to do.

4. Seeking support is also a great thing to do in life. Encourage your child to reach out for your support and that of peers.

5. It will be a very lucky parent who has not experienced a loss of some sort in their lives. Empathise with your child and show them that you do understand.

6. Zayn leaving One Direction has led to negative things happening as people respond to the news including encouragement of self-harm. Make sure you are clued up on this and remain vigilant. Don’t be afraid to have a discussion about such issues. The MIND charity has helpful information about self-harm.

7. Encourage your child to find a balance between being online and getting out in the fresh air or doing other things. It could so easily become obsessive to sit taking part in the outpouring of grief online so a good balance now is even more important than usual.

8. Ask your child directly what would make them feel better and how you can help.

9. Ask your child what might happen next? Solo careers, changes of direction (no pun intended)) reunions in time – the world really has not ended. Gently remind them that there was a life before One Direction. Zayn leaving One Direction may in time be shown to be the best thing for himself, the band and others.

10. If the grieving behaviour continues or you have concerns, teach your child the right way to live life by reaching out for the support that is available for your parenting and for their mental health.

When Culture Club split up for the first time, I was a teenager. It was very upsetting and especially as Boy George was clearly not well or engaging in the best behaviours. Decades later Boy George is still alive and the Culture Club dramas continue. Life really does go on.

My next upset was when Freddie Mercury died. I can still cry about this all these years later and that is OK. I celebrate his life and music. I share it with my children. I try to incorporate some of his wisdom into my own life in a very small way.

As for my daughter, she is happy about the One Direction news as she has never liked the group. She has never being one to follow the crowd and I guess in that she is like Zayn although I have no intention of sharing that analogy with her.

How do you help your child cope in situations like this?

Have you heard that a long-term study has pointed to a link between breastfeeding and intelligence?

breastfeeding

The research in Brazil published in The Lancet Global Health traced nearly 3,500 babies and found those who had been breastfed for longer went on to score higher on IQ tests as adults.

I am not against research but sometimes I wish they would tell us why they are researching something in the first place together with who is funding the research and the gender balance in who is coming up with the conclusions.

Day in and day out, mums wake up to these sort of stories often after a sleep-deprived night or where they really are doing their utmost to juggle it all. In my experience, most mums question themselves constantly and make decisions with the basic idea of doing the best by their children. Such stories and the attention they get in the media do little to build self-esteem of the mum which for me is a very good thing for a child to have in their life.

If we are going to say that mums should do something, please can we ensure that funding and other resources are put in place to help them to do so?

I wanted to breastfeed but struggled to do so. I felt very bullied by some midwives. Breastfeeding hurt and I was concerned my son was not getting enough nourishment. Nobody had warned me not every mum finds it easy so I felt a failure.

When I was pregnant with my second child and a midwife told me I had a choice whether to bottle-feed or breastfeed, I felt so relieved and it made for a happier pregnancy.

Having said that, I wanted to breastfeed all my babies. I just did not feel capable and lacked support.

As for myself, I doubt I was breastfed considering the circumstances of my birth but I managed to get into Cambridge University if that is a marker of intelligence.

I have 3 children and only the one who was breastfed has learning difficulties.

For me, these facts prove nothing and I am not sure the research does either.

Apparently experts say that much more research is needed to explore any possible link between breastfeeding and intelligence.

Does it matter? Is it desirable to force every mum to breastfeed so we can have a society full of highly intelligent people? Shouldn’t the research be watertight before the media take it up and beat mums over the head with it?

Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing, Public Health England, said there was strong evidence said “PHE’s advice remains that exclusive breastfeeding for around the first six months of life provides health benefits to babies.

“We recognise however, that not all mothers choose, or are able, to breastfeed and infant formula is the only alternative to breast milk for babies under 12 months old.”

Dr Colin Michie, chairman of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s nutrition committee, said: “It is important to note that breastfeeding is one of many factors that can contribute to a child’s outcomes, however this study emphasises the need for continued and enhanced breastfeeding promotion so expectant mothers are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding.”

Janet Fyle of the Royal College of Midwives said new mothers needed breastfeeding support.

Very interesting how it is a woman and a mum who highlights the need for support.

In conclusion, I am not a big fan of the parenting police particularly when there is still a woeful lack of support for some women who are trying to be the best mum they can be.

I like to take time out as things settle down on Christmas Eve to write a message for bloggers. You see bloggers are a bit of a special breed who take time out to share goodwill online throughout the year. If you are lucky enough to meet them in person, they tend to be rather awesome, even if quietly so.

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So instead of sending Christmas cards when bloggers more often than not don’t have each other’s addresses or naming names and perhaps forgetting someone, see if you recognise yourself amongst the folks that are in my heart this Christmas.

1. The gorgeous and blushing young woman who sends me tokens which keep me going through the tough times. A special card stay in my handbag at all times. I hope we get to meet in 2015. You are such a generous spirit and far greater than you know.

2. To the sassy one who makes me laugh with her kick ass attitude and from whom I learn a lot.

3. The woman with the beautiful smile who helps me throughout the year and is always ready to lend a kind word. Her face is so stunning that I never actually notice her legs! I would invite myself to Christmas dinner at her house as something tells me she will produce the most tempting food.

4. My Fairy Godmother who I feel so blessed to have in my life. She changed my life so powerfully and I will be forever grateful. A beautiful relationship that works.

5. My heartfelt friend who I feel such trust in and I love our connection. Over the years we have learned we do not need to be in each other’s faces but we are always there when it matters. Love you for your campaigning spirit and for your naughty but nice streak.

6. The poet who does not know it who I got to meet this year for the first time and all too briefly. You looked amazing at BritMums Live and I know you did not realise quite how stunning at all. You are an inspiration as a mum and I am pleased you are taking more care of you too.

7. Lucky 7, one of the bloggers who gets me and who I go to bed with every night. I feel safe with you and that is not something I feel very often. I like your wicked sense of humour, a brain that does not know quite how exceptional it is and just the fact that get me and are you, real and true.

8. The warm, wise and impressive lady who is such a lovely spirit. We bonded initially having lost our very special mums and I like to think we connect on a deep level. Beautiful lady, gorgeous eyes, special soul.

9. A cheerful host who I am enjoying learning to know more this year. You make single parenting look mighty fine and carry life off with such aplomb.

10. To my constant support who seems to be in my corner all the time. You have faith in me when I waver and you don’t let me take any nonsense. You also show me just how a woman can take control of her life and shake things up a bit.

11. I think of the mums who have lost. I think of you so often and how random and cruel fate can be. You all take time out to help others when you have such challenges on a daily basis. I am delighted to see new hope for many of you this year. Special mention for the one whose hug at BritMums Live was a highlight of my year.

12. To the girl who is so like me that perhaps things go awry sometimes. Pleased that we both touch base still and hope we can get closer again in 2015.

13. To the teacher and spirited lady who helped me think that perhaps I am doing OK at home education.

14. To the force of nature who made it quite clear that of course I was capable of educating my own children. Said in such a matter of fact way that I believed it and this has changed our lives.

15. To a kindred spirit who wants the best for women and mums and has a crafty way of achieving that. Hope to connect more and more as the years go by.

16. To the lady who was so supportive when my husband was looking for work. I want to know more of you in 2015 as I think I neglected you a little once we started to get on our feet. You question yourself whilst others see that you are amazing.

17. To the one whose daughter I want my son to marry. You face such challenges and yet you care for others so well. You are a true giver, willing to go that extra mile even for an online friend.

18. To the woman who fears appearing on vlogs and yet should feel the fear and do it anyway.

19. To the woman with the hugest smile and stunning looks who always welcomes me and who perhaps gets me more that I thought at first.

20. To the blogger with the beautiful eyes who I would most like to buy me a Christmas present because I know it would be quirky and probably from a charity shop. You have made things so much easier for me on more than one occasion.

21. To the traveller who I feel a bond with even when we tend to only get about 10 minutes to talk to each other every year. That 10 minutes always means a lot.

22. To that feisty lady who has every reason to ignore me and yet always proves so helpful to the opposition. Glad we got to know the real us after that online hiccup.

23. To all the home-educating bloggers who give me hope, support and great ideas.

24. To the woman off the telly (no not that one, the other one!) who always seems to be watching when I wobble. Fond memories of 2013.

25. To someone who I hated for telling me I needed help and now I have the help I can see why she said it. Sometimes the messages we hate are the ones we need to hear most of all.

26. To all the grooving, groovy and striking mums. I enjoy our little online journeys together and love seeing how your lives change over the months and years.

27. To the mum in Glasgow who I love seeing happy and admire so much for showing that sometimes things are not good enough and that taking a leap of faith can bring wonderful things.

28. To all the bloggers who help me with my weight loss efforts. Often it is something you said that keeps me on track.

29. To the cocktail queen who made such brave choices this year. I sense you are still finding your way but I hope the destination is a fabulous one and I will be here backing you all the way.

30. To someone who described me a guru this year. I am pleased to know you and still find you a bit of an enigma.

31. To the bloggers who encourage me to take photographs. I swear those Sunday linkies can be almost like a meditation as I glimpse into the beauty of other people’s lives. I look more closely now so that I really see what is out there.

32. To a kindred spirit who was there all the time and I never knew it. So pleased to get to know you this year. Thanks for the huge parcel. I owe you one in 2015. I find you fascinating and want to get to know you more and more in 2015.

33. To the warm-hearted blogger who really does expect me to be vivacious. I promise to try harder to do this in real life in the New Year.

34. To the one who speaks her mind and who shares some of my *let’s not go with the crowd” views.

35. To my jacket buddy (the other one off the telly) because it is not all about her as she well knows but weirdly she comes in at number 35 which just happens to be my lucky number. You are a bit of the stunner on the outside but that is nothing compared to what is going on inside. You make me laugh a lot, you make me cry a little too, you inspire me to be a better me and what you don’t know how to do with a pillowcase really ain’t worth knowing.

36. To a lovely lunch companion who I understand a little better. Well done on having your say this year and for really making me think – always a very good thing.

37. To my tech rescuers – amazes me how people are so willing to help when you are friendly or not.

38. To the blogger who is no longer a blogger but still a very special friend. We will meet in 2015, we will, we will, we will! Your emails are a tonic in a mad world.

39. To my “first” blogger – they do say the first is always special and you are. I love your depth and wisdom.

40. To the lady who I would probably most want to go to church with on Christmas morning. Little did you know it but years ago I think you started the process of me putting myself together again. I love watching where your life takes you.

41. To the young blogger who has faced such enormous challenges. You keep having your say even if others don’t appreciate that you have the right to do so.

42. To another one off the telly (what is it about bloggers and telly?!) who I am pleased to have met and who is so not up herself – always a very good thing.

43. To the talented lady who made me blog look so pretty this year.

44. To the unique, feisty, witty and intelligent lady who I am determined to get to know better in the coming year. What you said to me at BritMums Live meant the world to me. No award is better than those words. Thank you.

45. To the photographer with the hugest smile whose soul is even prettier.

46. To another beautiful smile lady who is so giving sharing vital information with me this year and inspiring me to move forwards in terms of putting myself out there.

47. To the blogger who is so very different from me yet we share the joys and challenges of parenting tweens and teens. Would love to spend time with you as I think the conversation would be good.

48. To the bloggers who encouraged my creative writing and took time out to read an extract of my novel.

49. To all the bloggers where I got all shy or daunted when I was in the same room as you. Sometimes it all gets a bit too much for me. I stand. I try to work up the courage to speak to you and I bottle it. I bottle it less these days and things can only get better in 2015.

50. To the bloggers I have lost sight of a bit this year. It is so easy to do with so many blogs to read and other things that need my focus. Thinking of you at this special time of year and trying to work out a system so that I connect more with the people that matter in 2015.

51.. To the many bloggers who realise it does not actually cost you much at all in terms of time or effort to support good causes via your blogs.

52. To all the bloggers who I do not know well. You are all important because you are using your voices powerfully to express your truths and often help others whether you know it or not.

53. To the bloggers who I engage with via BritMums whether on social networks, at BritMums Live as I try to find your badge or welcome you to a room or as I read your competition entries. Apologies for the times I get things wrong and thanks so much for not picking up on my cringe worthy moment of the year when I tweeted “Great willies!”

54. Finally to the bloggers who just don’t “get” me. I am now growing older and wiser and realising this is perfectly normal and not a reflection on you or me. Wishing you lots of love and laughter this festive season.

55. To all those who comment on my blog – every one still means a huge amount.

Well, did you recognise yourself in that lot?

You may appear once or more.

I like to think this is my little Christmas celebration of blogging.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Christmas filled with life, love and laughter.

If Christmas cannot be fabulous this year, remember it is just a day, as long as any other and you will get through it. There is support out there as you know both from organisations and from lovely souls down the road or online. It is a sign of strength to reach out for that support.

If things go wrong, so long as you are breathing, giggling and with loved ones, you are blessed and will use the mishaps as blog fodder in the New Year.

If I have missed anyone out, blame the mulled wine or much more likely the fact that you don’t see yourself as quite the amazing person you are. And we all are, each and every one.

Mum Muddling Through
Cuddle Fairy

shortlist banner_FINALDo you think mums deserve to be recognised for their efforts?

I had no idea of the challenges that come with parenthood when I embarked on motherhood 14 years ago and I know compared with a lot of mums I have had it very easy. Parenting can be hard work and so many mums dig deep and also make a difference outside their immediate families.

Mums have a great habit of keeping on keeping on whatever the issues life throws their way. Mums get involved in their communities and when faced with overwhelming odds, try to make a positive difference in the world. I have worked in the charity world and it is often mums who are fundraising so effectively or even setting up good causes from scratch.

Tesco have announced their shortlist for the 2015 Mum of the Year Awards. It is the 10th anniversary of the awards promising to be even bigger and better than ever. Thousands of mums from all over the UK were nominated, and I can’t wait to meet some of the 26 inspirational women shortlisted for the final. Each of them will receive a £1000 donation from Tesco to the charity of their choice. They will also attend a star-studded and glitzy awards ceremony.

I know mums who win these awards really appreciate how the publicity sheds light on some amazing charities and causes over 80 to date since the awards began.

If the mums are like those recognised last year, you can bet they will be self-effacing about their remarkable achievements. That is why it is important to highlight what they do and to help them raise awareness of the things that really matter. When a mum does great things for her community, she inspires others to do the same and that has to be a very good thing.

To find out more, and to follow the progress of the Tesco Mum of the Year Awards 2015, follow the hashtag #MumoftheYear on Twitter. I’ll be bringing you news of the finalists very soon!

Disclosure: I am a Tesco Mum of the Year blogger ambassador for 2015. In that capacity I have been compensated for all my #Mumof theYear posts, though all copy, opinion and editorial remain my own.

This post was supposed to be written on Halloween but ill health kept me away from creative blogging. Better late than never and if anything, the whole Striking Mums concept says it is OK to take a break when we need to and to forgive ourselves if things don’t go entirely to plan.

So do you fancy playing Trick or Treat for Mums with me?

Here are this week’s questions to inspire you. You can answer one of them, all of them or none at all. The trick of Striking Mums is that it is your very flexible linky friend. So let’s first consider tricks for mums.

trick

Tricks

1. How do you outwit people or circumstances who prevent you getting the life you want?

2. What clever parenting tricks do you pull off regularly?

3. What is your top time-saving trick?

4. What is your top housework trick?

5. Have you ever carried out a practical joke? How did it go?

6. If there was a trick of the light what would you like to see?

7. Have you ever been tricked and how did that feel?

8. If you designed your own coat or arms what colours, images and words would you include in it?

Actually that is quite a lot of questions so I will post about treats next week but this week, I will pick my favourite post that is linked up and a little mystery treat will sent to you.

I would love to have your comments and if you blog in any way about yourself and how you are taking steps tiny or otherwise to change your life, please link up below. I will comment on every post, promote them on my social networks and include links in a round-up post next week.

Please use the hashtag #strikingmums on social networks.

Please grab the rather attractive Striking Mums badge in the sidebar and display on your blog.

Most of all, please visit the other people linking up to lend them your support.

I have set up a Facebook group for Striking Mums – you don’t have to be a blogger to join this. You do have to be a mum.

I have also set up a Pinterest board for Striking Mums

Have a lovely week and I look forward to hearing about your mums and your tricks.