This year will be my fourth year as a single parent to teens, juggling a dual career of writing and photography and for the very first time, I have a plan to make sure this Christmas is the one with the least stress and the most joy I've ever experienced.
So, as I write this, two years in to being a full-time dad, I am as determined as ever to provide the best upbringing for my child, and through Dads Unlimited to boost the chances for other children like him by support, care and understanding for this growing population of single dads.
In 2008 when I separated from my children's father I didn't really give becoming a single mother a second thought. It wasn't a choice, it was just something I was going to have to do. I don't recall feeling any stigma at the time, and I certainly haven't ever received any abusive comments from any one that I know. Unless I was just too busy 'getting on with it' to notice.
Often there is a slow and natural drifting apart that takes place as the relationship comes to an end. There are three stages in the semi-separating process before the final decision to divorce is made.
Becoming a single parent was the worst and the best thing that has ever happened to me. At the time, it was devastating: I felt I had screwed up my life and my children's lives fundamentally, irreversibly, unforgivably.
Doing all this as a single parent - with the potential financial penalties for travelling as the sole adult - can seem like a huge challenge. But now there are around two million lone parents with dependent children in the UK, more travel companies are waking up to the demand. Here are my trips on booking a holiday for single parents, whether it's your first or fifth, and whatever age your kids are.
One of my son's favourite phrases is 'I need milk'. After a particularly hard day I want to reply, 'I need sleep'! But I don't. I give him his milk, from my breast. I've been doing this for two years (and counting). It's been agony, annoying, boring, enjoyable, exhausting, peaceful and many things beside.
My son's giggles are the best sound ever - fact. We often have a boogie. Or tickles before bed. If I had a partner I'd have less time for this. What's more, because of all the things we are missing out on I make extra effort to fill the house with laughter.
Many divorcing parents struggle to identify the best approach for the children. It is a roller coaster at the best of times and when you throw children into the mix it becomes a minefield of emotional management.
If you're a single parent, or if you grew up in a single parent family, you'll know that mothers and fathers who parent alone
So we went to visit Father Christmas in his grotto (Knightsbridge outpost). A lovely day out for my daughter and her best friend, were it not for the terror.
My roles have shifted unexpectedly and quite dramatically, but it is my responsibility to make the best of the situation in which the boys and I now find ourselves. It's a responsibility I intend to take very seriously.
The day-to-day support that children need during the grieving process is extensive and is required at a time when the other parent (in this instance, me) is at their lowest ebb. One thing that I have learnt in the last six months is that the grieving process is a very individual thing.
The last six months have been a steep learning curve in so many respects. One of the first things I realised was that while my world might have temporarily stopped turning, the world in general had not...
I am learning fast that dealing with bereavement is very definitely a marathon, not a sprint. With many things in life, I expect to be able to 'carry on regardless' in a week or two. I wasn't naïve enough to put the death of my gorgeous husband in that bracket.
Sam, Thomas and I have just returned from a week's holiday on a farm in Cornwall. It was a big step for all of us. Dunc and I had booked it in January, in a moment of being unusually organised. When he died in April this year, I quickly realised that the holiday was looming.
I know that there are friends who would have done their utmost to come to our aid, but ultimately they all have families to attend to, and places to be. Dunc's unconditional love for all three of us is irreplaceable and its loss immeasurable.
The UK has one of the highest rates of family breakdown in the Western world with just two thirds of children living with
The teenage years, a little like the 'terrible twos', are a stepping stone in the individual's development: from baby to toddler, and from child to young adult. They each indicate the transition from one important stage to a very different one: but why is it often so challenging to deal with teenagers?
Last week David Cameron unveiled his master plan to cut 10 billion from the Welfare budget by 2016. How? By forcing the under 25's to seek refuge with their parents until they turn 25.