Christmas is nearly upon us, and no doubt many little ones will be waking up to the joy of new tablets and devices under the tree this year. But with extra screen time comes new parenting challenges - how can we ensure that our kids aren't stumbling across inappropriate content while eagerly testing out their new toys?
I hear from a lot of parents struggling over how to agree arrangements for their children with their ex. It is, at the best of times, an enormous strain on most people. It is the nature of our love for our children that we usually miss them when they are not with us.
They're tired, they're shell-shocked and they have a lot to learn and to remember. They will love that their new baby is being showered with presents, and use and treasure these lovely gifts. But do they always need to commit that praise and gratitude to paper?
Some from the club of 'we don't lie to our kids about FC its damaging' say it's a form of control, threatening kids if they don't adhere but letting them believe they could end up on the naughty list. Damn right it is and one that I milk it for all its worth.
Most people's festive experiences require some planning and compromise. Some people will be alone, perhaps for the first time or are having to share custody of their children or tend to ailing relatives
Rewind back to 2013 or any year before and the thought of a nut roast as the centrepiece of my Christmas meal bordered on blasphemy. I would give it similar short thrift as other usurpers like quorn, tofu and seitan (or Satan as I assumed it was spelt).
But snacking shouldn't be labelled as a bad habit linked to piling on the pounds. Making informed decisions when it comes to your office snacking habits can make a big difference, especially at this time of year.
I pop some well washed carrageen into a pan, cover it with water and simmer the pan over a low heat for about 20 minutes until a rich gel is released. I then sieve the gloop into a pot, cover, and refrigerate the resulting gel for up to ten days. I use it to thicken, add sheen to sauces, in marshmallows or as a setting agent in panna cottas and mousses.
We are now half way through this series of 12 days of Christmas dieting. The way I see it there is a lot of spurious information out there that is usually confusing, contradictory or just plain wrong. I've been educating clients for years on how to eat and train properly. Here is another dose of reliable information on how to avoid getting fat at Christmas time.
Most of the weight gain you may see straight after New Year's Eve is water weight from the extra salt and carbohydrate consumed through all the meat and chocolate. Yum! So, some might say we should all stop fretting and enjoy the Christmas period for what it is. A time to enjoy ourselves a celebrate another year!
Whether the shift away from X-Factor winners and campaign releases in 2016 is part of a long-term trend only time will tell. But as the music world has evolved over the past half century, the Christmas Number 1 race continues to do so.
Christmas is a time for families to be together, but families are multifarious things. Like us you may be separated, have half siblings, be step parents. There is no 'one size fits all' festive jumper for families. Except in Stepford.
So, if you're prone to gazing in to strangers windows and wishing you were snuggled up with your partner watching the kids open their presents in front of a log fire (we can all dream, right?), then this advice may help you make it through the festive season without too many emotional meltdowns.
Look, if I had a house worthy of being featured on the real housewives of Cheshire (yes it's a real programme and yes it's definitely on my guilty pleasure list), then I would be taking it all in my stride.
I don't know about you but I'm looking forward to getting cosy on the sofa with candles burning and Christmas movies playing all day... But before that there is lots of work to do. It's not that easy to make your own Christmas.
The wishes made by the women and children Refuge supports are quite different. Women might wish they could wake up safe in their own home. Children might wish they didn't have to leave their school, their friends or their beloved pet to go into a refuge; or that their mum would stop blaming herself for the abuse she has experienced.