In a time when so many are living in poverty, how can you raise a child to just expect a whole hoard of anonymous gifts from some mysterious man in the sky? I love giving presents, but I want my children to know where those things came from, and that they are lucky to have them, as some people have nothing.
Six months passed and the cot was reassembled in my son's bedroom. I was ready to stop breast feeding at and wanted to move onto a night bottle. I thought it was going to be perfect. I was wrong.
My whole four years at university have been marked by one constant question: "How is she?" It has been one constant worry - would today be the day I got the phone call saying she was in hospital? Would today be the day she became another statistic? A third of anorexia sufferers die from their disease - and my biggest fear is my sister becoming one of them.
If you begin to type "being a middle child" into Google, your first three suggestions include "being a middle child disadvantages", "being a middle child syndrome" and "consequences of being a middle child". How very optimistic. So what are these disadvantages?
I am passionate about raising my children as best I can. I want to give them the best chance in life to be happy and healthy. I want to promote positive thinking and encourage their imagination and creativity as much as I can in our daily lives.
When it comes to forces families, family breaks and holidays can prove even more crucial, as long periods of separation mean family dynamics can change and it can become stressful for service personnel and those left behind affected by the rigors of operational deployment on return...
The amount of times people have said to me, "Are they all yours?" is untrue. I was crazy and didn't take up the government's 15 hours of free childcare when I had the third one (apart from my daughter had three mornings at Pre-School), so the majority of my maternity leave I would always be out with the three of them.
Most of my conversations now revolve around being a dad, occasionally unusual topics such as is it OK to have a sit down wee if you're tired pop into conversation, but ultimately everything ends up circling back to parenting as if every road leads there. 'I love the new Ferrari......' 'its amazing, I wonder if you can get a buggy in?'
I hate the word HARD. It's so uninspiring, so meaningless. It gives me chills down my spine and reminds me why I never seemed to achieve anything worth shouting about until I had children. I always thought life was hard.
Few things trouble a foster care more than having to refuse a child placement. It is one of the most difficult decisions we face and is never taken lightly. We are committed to providing a safe haven to vulnerable children.
Walking along the Tube platform I noticed an elderly couple. The woman was on the train, and, through the open doors, she was holding the hands of a man. They were gazing at each other. The emotion in both their faces was palpable. Something was being said between them, unspoken.
This piece is all about the quiet heroes in my life; the ones that stood by me through the indescribable horrors of my condition. They saw a boy cry himself to sleep, a teenager fall apart and a man's fight for recovery but the consistent correlation was they stood by me.
My mother grew up near the poverty line and has maintained a sense of lack or overspending her whole life. My father grew up with plenty of money but in an environment that bred a heightened sense of frugality.
On Thursday night, I watched the Channel 4 documentary My Son The Jihadi with my mother. We watched a lot of the programme in silence , listening to the dignified words of a mother in clear anguish...
We take so much for granted. At our grandson's first birthday party we meet some of our daughter's friends. Now parents themselves, they gather with their babies and toddlers, sharing stories about broken nights and nappies, first steps and playgroups. Our home fills with the laughter of children and the accompanying chat of watchful parents. As hosts, our role is to make sure there is plenty of food and drink, so we spend a frantic, if joyous, couple of hours on the go.
Over the past couple of years, a combination of chronic pain, work-related stress, feeling miserable and all the associated medications have destroyed my libido. Obliterated it even, like sexual napalm.