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More than one in four teenagers – an estimated 866,000 young people in England and Wales – say they couldn’t enjoy Christmas without social media according to a new survey carried out for The Children’s Society.


Almost one in three, more than one million, said they thought it was getting harder to enjoy Christmas, while only 1 in 10 felt it was getting easier.


Many young people are left casting envious glances at their peers and people they follow, with 31%, almost a million, say that social media use at Christmas makes them want more gifts and presents after having compared themselves to others.


One in five children think that friends on social media seem to be having a better Christmas than them.


However, 40 per cent felt that social media made them think more about those who are less fortunate than they are at Christmas time.


The poll of 1,010 13-17-year-olds, conducted by Research Now for The Children’s Society, found nearly a third (32%) increased their use of social media over Christmas, with only 8 per cent saying they spent less time on the online platforms.


Almost half (47%) of all young people said they didn’t spend enough time with friends during the Christmas break, with three quarters (76%) of those who use social media more at this time of year saying they did so to see what their school friends were doing over the holidays. Worryingly 13 per cent said they use social media more at Christmas to help them feel less alone, while 17 per cent do so to escape family stress and 32 per cent do so because they feel bored.


Matthew Reed, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said: “Christmas can be a stressful time for everyone, including children. Many miss their friends whilst not at school and social media can represent an important lifeline to the outside world.


“Although social media can have many benefits, we know that overuse can be damaging to young people’s well-being and may harm their mental health.


“There will however be many children this Christmas, with nowhere to turn, and at The Children’s Society we support thousands of these young people.  It is vital that more of them are able to access the support they need all year round.”


The Children’s Society is calling for tougher regulation and decisive action by social media companies to ensure the online world is safer for children and to minimise risks like cyber-bullying and online grooming.

It wants to see clearer child-friendly guidelines, better advice on blocking people and reporting issues, and quicker and more effective responses to reports of inappropriate behaviour and material.

Mr Reed added: “The Government must do its bit to make sure this happens, and we would urge it to listen to the voices of young people in developing its proposed Code of Practice for social media companies, which we would like to see in place as soon as possible.”

This Black Friday, personalised children’s gift brand My 1st Years are offering 25% off site wide from the 19th November, increasing to 30% from the 24th-27th November. They will also be offering a wide range of flash deals with up to 50% off selected items! www.my1styears.com

Products included in the amazing 50% off flash deals include:

  • Personalised Penguin Robe (RRP £30, Black Friday £15)
  • Personalised Red Santa Robe (RRP £30, Black Friday £15)
  • Personalised Red Santa Booties (RRP £20, Black Friday £10)
  • Blue Ditsy Storage Bag – Adults (RRP £40, Black Friday £20)

Are you looking for a new challenge when the kids go back to school this autumn? Something that allows you to do the school run and have school holidays free? Why not consider becoming the new editor for Reading?

Here are 10 top tips for parents from author of ‘I’m Going To Nursery’, parent and teacher Stacey Turner www.mytinybook.com

From one parent to another…here are some invaluable pearls of wisdom to help you enjoy (and survive) the summer holidays that are just around the corner!

1) Don’t put pressure on yourself to entertain the kids at all times. The summer holidays are for slowing down and spending time together. Take in the blue skies, the warmth of the sun, take pleasure in a slow walk and visit to the park. It’s important to strike a balance between structured activities – whether that be in the home or on days out – and free play. Children are actively learning from the world around them, so it’s OK to keep it simple.

2) As a family, create a summer holiday wish list and from that create a summer holiday calendar, so the whole family feel involved and every child is feeling considered and validated. Unless you’re on holiday, try to leave a day of downtime between each day out. This is also a perfect opportunity to talk about compromise, what it means and the importance of it within the family unit. You could turn this into a creative activity where each child colours or creates a summer holiday picture to bring the summer calendar together as a visual master piece.

Having the calendar reinforces the knowledge of activities and settles any anxieties, as the information is right there as a reminder and together you can plan your days out getting the kids involved. A lovely idea is to give each child a special job, something they can be responsible for. Summer holidays are great fun for most children, but there are those who will miss the structure and familiarity of the school or nursery routine.

3) Get the kids cooking! Sick of sandwiches? Ask the kids to help you put together a summer holiday menu and get them involved. Think finger foods and picnic style such as mini quiches, slices, patties, balls, mini breads and loaf. All of which are quick and easy to grab and take in the car or pack for your picnic. You could try making sushi! Savoury is just as much fun as sweet, so don’t just stick to cupcakes. Dare the kids to try something new every couple of days, offer a reward for their experimentation! Making your own ice lollies from fruit/fruit juice is a real treat too.

Snacking can be a huge issue during holiday periods. It can be caused by boredom, but mostly because kids know that being with you, there is a strong chance of getting hold of some food! One way to combat this is to allocate each child a snack jar. I use glass paint to write the girls’ names on and in goes their daily allocation of snacks. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, but fruit and veg are always on offer! You can easily use this on the road too.

Remember, unless you want to, you don’t need to drag the kids through the supermarket! Get your ingredients delivered by doing online shopping.

4) Create a breakfast area in a low cupboard in your kitchen. Store cups, bowls, spoons, chosen cereals and breads/pastries/mini pancakes in an airtight container. The kids will LOVE being responsible for getting their own breakfast and then cleaning up afterwards; putting bits back in the breakfast cupboard. Maybe they can whisk the eggs or pancake batter? Then, they can start getting creative while you do your bit over the hot stove.

5) Let’s get creative! Look back at your calendar and draw on what you have planned to inspire you. Off to the farm? Draw/create pictures of animals they might see on the farm. How about creating a shoebox farm where you all make little animals from recycled items? A pop-up world on a piece of cardboard is another lovely idea. Simply collecting leaves, pebbles and shells to make ornaments and pictures with can be a lot of fun. Save any recycling for junk modelling. I have a spare box where it all gets tossed into, from which the girls turn various bits of recycling into amazing creations. Emily created a horse recently! A fail-safe idea is paint and play dough – here is my never-fail play dough recipe:

Never Fail Play Dough

You will need:

  • 2 cups plain flour (you can even use gluten free) 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • Up to 1-1.5 cups boiling water (adding in small amounts) food colouring

To create:

*Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl.
*It is best to add the food colouring to the boiling water and stir continuously until it becomes sticky and combined.
*Once cool, knead the dough on some baking paper (to prevent staining and easy cleaning) on the kitchen bench with a tiny bit more flour (if required) until the consistency is smooth and soft.
*You can even add glitter and scented essence for sensory!

Don’t forget an activity bag filled with various stimulus for travel or when eating out to engage children in activity. Don’t just think colouring, include plasticine, nuts and bolts, paper clips, highlighters. The ideas are endless!

6) Leave time for gardening! The girls and I created a herb garden recently and we love integrating it into our cooking and discussing what we like and don’t like. You could arrange to visit gardens to roam and admire such as English Heritage and National Trust sites.

7) Think of ways to reduce the work load around the house such as the breakfast cupboard and encouraging your children to help you around the house; that’s spending time together too! You could give the children age-appropriate daily chores such as pulling covers up over beds and sorting washing into colours.

8) Keep talking. Don’t hide emotions. Lead by example and don’t be afraid to say how you’re feeling. For example, “I am feeling frustrated” and then explain the reason or “I did not like the way you did or said that, it made me feel…” “It would be nicer or kinder to…”.

If your child is on emotional meltdown, don’t be afraid to get close to them and say, “It’s ok, I am sorry you feel this way, how can I help you?” or “What would you like me to do?” or “Do you feel there is a better way of doing this”. This overwhelming feeling is hard enough for adults let alone a young child who has no idea why they’re feeling this way. It could be hunger, being over tired, over stimulated or just feeling overwhelmed.

9) Challenging behaviour. While the summer holidays are lots of fun, let’s be honest…they can be a trying time too! Set out clear boundaries right from the beginning and explain what the consequences will be should these boundaries be challenged. You could discuss this while creating your summer calendar and write a summer holiday list of rules to be displayed beside the calendar. Be very specific about what is acceptable and unacceptable. Ask the children to provide you with the list of rules and you can encourage them to expand. Keep coming back to this list of rules as and when you need to throughout the holidays.

Try to catch your child being good and offer lots of praise and positive reinforcement. For example, “Well done you, that was amazing” and “I really liked the way you did that, wonderful”!

Don’t forget a 5-minute warning before changing activities to help avoid meltdowns.

You could create a small, calm area with cushions, books, fairy lights, music and sensory objects where your child can go to should they feel the need for some down time away from siblings or what’s going on in the household.

It is all about putting in strategies to support and cope with emotional and challenging behaviour. The calendar is a strategy in itself.

10) Be kind to yourself. Try and take time out, keep up your exercise and healthy eating. Drink plenty of water and try to socialise as much as possible. Be happy, enjoy the summer holidays and try not to over commit yourself.

New Study: 42% of children feel ignored by parents on Holiday

As peak holiday season fast approaches, a new study by villa holidays specialist  www.oliverstravels.com has uncovered a shocking statistic regarding how many children say their parents spend too much time glued to their mobiles and how it makes them feel.

Oliver’s Travels polled over 400 families across the UK to lift the lid on Britain’s holiday habits. When they polled parents to ask their children “Does mummy or daddy use their phone too much when on holiday?” an enormous 40% said yes. Asked how this makes them feel, over 42% said they feel ignored.

When parents were asked if their children complain about their mobile phone usage on holiday, over 51% of parents said No. However, when Oliver’s Travels asked parents “how do you feel about using social media on holiday”, 40% of parents responded with “no problem” yet over 20% said they “absolutely hate it” on holiday.

Oliver Bell from Oliverstravels.com said “it’s a fairly disappointing set of results to uncover during our family survey. It seems these days we all spend our working lives in front of some sort of device; to then go away and use a mobile phone so much that 42% of children are feeling ignored, that’s sad. Holidays are where memories can be made for a lifetime and it’s unfortunate to think this special time is being lost to the pursuit of likes, shares and other type of digital engagement”

Oliver’s Travels also caught up with a selection of families for a video to ask whole families about their guilty pleasures and naughty antics on holiday. VIEW VIDEO AND MORE STUDY FINDINGS

A recent study by UK shopping portal Find Open discovered that more and more high street retailers are moving their maternity ranges exclusively online – and many have dropped maternity altogether.

The research, which took place in June this year, focused on 6 major high street retailers in 20 of the UK’s largest cities, and found that:

4 of the retailers did not stock maternity in any of their stores

  • The other 2 retailers had a total of just 15 stores (combined) which stocked maternity clothes suitable for a special occasion
  • 3 of those 15 stores had just one dress in stock

The study was triggered by the experiences of Find Open team member Lindsay McSweeney (26) who recently attempted to source a maternity dress for a wedding.
I was invited to attend a wedding in May this year. At the time I was a little over 5 months pregnant and when I tried a few outfits from my wardrobe, I realised that I would definitely need a new dress for the day.”
Lindsay was unable to find a suitable dress in either Inverness or Glasgow – with the latter being Scotland’s largest city and considered one of the UK’s premier shopping destinations.
I live in the Scottish Highlands, and the closest town to me is Inverness. I spent a frustrating day trying to find a dress without any luck – there was only one store that had any maternity clothes, and nothing was suitable for a wedding. A trip to Glasgow a few days later was equally uninspiring, and in the end I had to borrow a dress from a friend.”
Find Open contacted 6 major high street retailers currently stocking maternity fashion online – New Look, Topshop, Next, Marks & Spencer, Dorothy Perkins, and GAP.
New Look and Topshop were the only 2 retailers who stocked maternity wear in any of their stores.
Researching further, they contacted 74 New Look stores and 37 Topshop stores directly, and discovered that:

  • New Look stocked maternity wear in 22 of the stores contacted (30%), while Top Shop stocked maternity wear in 24 (65%)
  • 8 New Look stores had dresses suitable for special occasions, while the rest stocked casual wear only
  • 7 Topshop stores had dresses suitable for special occasions, while the rest stocked casual wear only

2 of the Topshop stores, and 1 New Look store had a single dress in stock, while many other stores commented that they had ‘two or three dresses’ available.
While completing the research, Find Open gathered online feedback from some of the UK’s 750,000+ expectant mothers.

Find Open CEO Francisc Osvald reports that “Many commenters lamented the poor availability of maternity fashion on the high street, while others stated that not being able to try on clothes prior to purchase was a particular inconvenience due to their changing body shape.”
We also discovered that several major high street retailers, including Primark and Zara, appear to have completely discontinued their maternity ranges – both in store and online. This appears to have been a recent move.”
According to Francisc, New Look and H&M received the most positive feedback for their in store maternity ranges.
New Look and H&M were the most recommended retailers for maternity shopping in store. There were also lots of positive comments about ASOS’ online range of maternity wear.”
Find Open approached each of the retailers included in the study for comment. A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer stated that:
Our maternity range is online only, as we have found that is how our customers prefer to shop the range.”
The full details of the study can be found here.

Reddit discussion with comments https://www.reddit.com/r/BabyBumps/comments/6hf6aj/lack_of_maternity_wear_on_the_high_street/

Strepelle – take the test not the risk!

Spread the word in July, GBS awareness month, and save lives.


July is Group Strep B awareness month, Group B Strep is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia. Most of these infections could be prevented, but around half of pregnant women haven’t heard of Group B Strep. (Group B Strep Support. Charity No 1112065)

Up to one in five of all pregnant women will be carriers of Group B Strep in the birth canal and the bacterium can be passed during labour to their baby. One in five newborns who are infected with Group B Strep suffer from serious, life-changing illnesses which can have life-long effects such as brain damage, hearing loss and sight loss. One in ten babies with the infection will die from it.


Strepelle is a home-to-laboratory Group B Streptococcus (GBS) test which can be bought at www.strepelle.com or at independent pharmacies from £39.99, it simply allows pregnant women the opportunity to test for this devastating infection from 35 weeks, with the highest accuracy ECM testing. If positive they are sent a letter to give them access to the potentially life-saving anti-biotics during labour.

The UK is currently one of the only developed countries in the world which doesn’t offer routine screening for GBS. In the UK, 70 babies a year die from Group B Strep infection

The only way of knowing if a pregnant woman is carrying the bacterium is by having a laboratory test. The highly accurate and easy to use Strepelle test (www.strepelle.com) will determine whether the pregnant woman is carrying the bacterium.

Strepelle was created in partnership with midwives and is designed to make laboratory testing for GBS more available and convenient, save babies lives, and prevent heart-breaking devastation in families. The home-to-laboratory test contains everything that is needed to provide a sample to the laboratory; instructions, two swabs and a pre-paid envelope; the results will arrive within 3 days of receipt of the sample, either by letter, text, or email (whichever is best for the receiver).

Brendan Farrell, CEO of Strepelle, said: “The launch of Strepelle will significantly reduce the many risks associated with Group B Strep in newborn babies across the UK. Once GBS is detected it will enable healthcare professionals to tailor a care plan to expectant mothers, ensuring that the correct treatment is administered during labour which will prevent babies from becoming exposed to the potentially harmful bacterium.”

You can read more about Group B Strep on the NHS website here: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/2037.aspx?categoryid=54

Boys, across the globe, regardless of their ethnicity or socio-economic status, are consistently underperforming in reading tests compared to their female counterparts. Could parents be doing more to close the gap?

OnBuy.com, a British marketplace for books and other products, compiled data from OFSTED, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as well as putting together their own independent research, to assess the gender gap in literacy.

There were some interesting discoveries:

  • In the UK, according to OECD, the largest disparity in gender performance at school is in reading.
  • 29% of parents have admitted to reading more often to their daughters
  • 39% of fathers ‘never or very rarely’ read to their children (compared to only 4% of mothers)
  • There is a 58% increase in google searches for ‘books for teen girls’ than ‘books for teen boys’

OnBuy’s survey results also show that even when we are reading to our sons, we are reading to them less regularly. This is a claim backed up by the Department for Education and Skills, who wrote in a report on gender and education that “parents are more likely to read and teach songs and nursery rhymes with their daughters than their sons”.

This is despite a Scholastic report asserting that 83% of kids ages 6-17 love being read aloud to.

Infographic provided by http://www.onbuy.com

Baby on board ballet is the perfect ballet class for both pregnant and post natal mums. You will be dancing and toning as well as strengthening the mother/baby bond.

Classes are 45mins in length and are designed to provide gentle exercise, as well as working on the proper technique required to execute classical ballet. From six weeks to any baby wearing age. Class starts at the barre, moves to the centre. The class finishes with some pilates based post natal exercises.

Come and visit us in Summertown soon!

Mondays 12:45-1:30pm – Summertown Church Hall, Portland Road, Oxford


[email protected]

07802 531459

Pregnancy, birth and parenthood can be intensely joyful and incredibly challenging, often at the same time. As a psychologist, doula, and mother, I am passionate about the mental health of parents. I offer confidential support to mothers, fathers, and parents-to-be: my aim is to help you cope with emotional difficulties, prepare for and adjust to parenthood, and understand your choices for birth.


Whether you are dealing with a specific problem or just need to talk to someone, please don’t struggle alone.


[email protected]

07522 120689