When I had my twins I finally gave in and joined Facebook as a way to connect with other multiple mums. It was ideal, as juggling two babies, and often older kids too, meant we never knew when we would have a moment to connect, let alone pick up the phone, and getting out of the house and meeting in person could be a marathon. What’s app and Messenger followed as ways to have a virtual conversation with limited energy between nappy changes and naps (the babies and mine!).

Stephen Porges, who applies the latest discoveries in neuroscience to clinical work, says that the two key stressors for us as humans are isolation from others and restraint. Both of which can be present for mums caring for young children, and many other groups within our society today. For me technology was a lifeline and enabled much needed support, shared tips and above all reduced this stress through connection and a sense of freedom.

A Wakeup Call

Over time, with more friends on Facebook I noticed that it became an additional ‘relationship’ to manage. As I am naturally enthusiastic, supportive and welcome connection, it followed that I was responsive and quick to like and comment, taking time even though I posted little myself. A while back, my husband shared how he sometimes felt that I was more interested in connecting virtually with friends than with him and occasionally with the kids. That I was often absent to those around me when I was on Facebook.

This was my painful wakeup call – I knew it, but still used Facebook to avoid certain feelings or to try to get me-time as a mum of three. It was time to change.. I experimented with putting my phone into silent mode after 9pm, though this was hard to sustain as it was sometimes the one chance I got to connect with friends too.

I also noticed that I was taking my phone everywhere with me, including when putting my eldest to bed. Yes, there were moments when he was having a shower or doing his teeth and it felt an ideal time to catch up on Facebook, but it started to affect my relationship with him as I wasn’t entirely present. So again, I created some new rules about when I took my phone with me. It’s not easy, but I am choosing the deeper quality of relationship that comes from being more present.

Evolving ‘Technology’ Etiquette

I heard about a new kind of etiquette for young people where if 4 of you are out for a meal it’s OK to be on your phone if 3 others aren’t. So as a society we are already finding new ways to manage the social disruption and integrate it into our relationships.

Managing screen time as Parents 

With three boys, I’m very aware of their relationship with technology and gaming, but I try to focus on supporting their relationships with us as parents, with each other and their friends alongside creating opportunities for play and fun away from screens and buttons. Over the years I’m sure we are going to face challenges in how to parent them around their relationship with technology, but I trust that their experience of real time connection will help them hold a balance. If you are questioning how to manage kids screen time, you might be interested in workshops run by Mette Theilmann, whom I met recently at Maidenhead Business Girls. I might see you on one!


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-technology – I love the sense of ongoing connection I get from Facebook, as well as feeling a sense of belonging and part of something bigger. Like you reading this, I read lots online that supports me in my life. Yet, I am also aware that I am continually learning how to manage my virtual connections so that they enhance rather than damage the core relationships with my family and friends.

Chillaxing Envy

I love the way my eldest son is able to ‘chillax’. I particularly appreciate the care he takes in setting things up with a comfy beanbag or chair, probably a drink and possibly a snack if he’s allowed, so he can have maximum pleasure and enjoy ‘his’ time.002

I am also envious. I can see how well he knows what he wants, takes care of his needs and especially his ability to then actually switch off and relax. As an ex-boarder none of these things are easy for me. I learned to ignore my body and its needs, making do with what was available and hide what I might want. I was kept busy with a full timetable so I could not miss home too much, and quickly extended this with even more music practice. So I didn’t learn the pleasures of doing nothing and down-time, instead feeling uncomfortable and at sea when the opportunity presented itself.

Realising the links to my habits and behaviour has helped me to change things and I am learning. Learning to listen to myself, trust my body and to relax. Maybe in time I will even be able to ‘chillax’, but I might be stepping into ‘embarrassing mum’ territory ;)

What do you envy in others? Is there a way to learn it or give it to yourself?

Freedom 9.9 – Reboot yourself

I was having a rare wander round my connections in LinkedIn and came across a woman who I had not been in touch with for years, but had always rated. I was just in a different place to her.. turns out we’re now very much on the same page and I was stunned by her Ted talk – an incredibly engaging presentation with her own personal story, and a clear message. Why not find out about Freedom 9.9 and hear for yourself:

Carrie Beddingfield on You tube. 


Father’s Day – The Secret of Appreciation

So what is important for dads when it comes to Father’s Day? It’s easy for it to be reduced to gifts with few words - the classic cards and pressies on the usual masculine themes of sport, beer and gadgets.

Refreshing the Parts Beer can’t Reach…

But what refreshes the parts that beer can’t and that dads yearn for? How do you acknowledge your dad, and potentially help your kids acknowledge their dad, to bring the best out in this father bond? Having shared in my ‘Mother’s Day  – Mens Eyes Only’ post about the importance for women to feel special, I imagine some of you were left wondering what I see as the equivalent for men?

To Feel Appreciated

Men yearn to feel appreciated.. for who they are and what they do. It means so much to my husband when I say “I appreciate you for X” rather than “I appreciate it”. When I truly appreciate him rather than the task or action.

If you are a man reading this, check it out – is it what you yearn to hear? How would it be to explain the value of hearing this to the women around you - whether your mum, your partner or children? If you are a woman, try saying it to your father or partner or son, and see what it creates in your relationship. Naturally, if we are already experiencing tension in a relationship it is very hard to give first, especially if we feel resentful or angry, but this can be just the way forwards if you are ready for a first step.

dad n baby

Our Power as Sons and Daughters

Steve Biddulph, a psychologist who supports men and families, has a few pages specifically on ‘What Fathers Wait to Hear’ in his book ’Manhood‘. He speaks of how, whatever his style of fathering, a father waits all his life to know that his son loves and respects him. He names the enormous power we have as sons and daughters to acknowledge our parents. He also encourages us to talk honestly about how we feel about our relationship with our parents, talking through any negatives to be able to see and share the positives too and find a place of healing.

As many dads are less available for emotional discussions, a lot can be left unsaid and this is a loss all round. So risk a few more words alongside the gifts this fathers day. Consider a trip in the car where you have a captive audience without eye contact, or chatting as you do something you enjoy together without the intensity of ‘having a chat’.

Take the lead and give something unique this Father’s Day - greater connection.

Origins of Passion

The other day I was asked the origins of my passion for my work and realised my answer also links to the age old question of how to sustain passion within a relationship.

In 2003, I’d been a life coach for a few years helping individuals to identify and create more of what they wanted in their lives. I began to see the hardest part for clients was usually in their relationships. From my own personal experience I also knew how hard relationships can be and I wanted to know what would help.

It’s normal to struggle in relationships

When I started my couplework training, it was such a relief to hear that much of what my clients and I were going through was not only normal but an essential part of the journey to move towards a deeper and more intimate relationship, however painful and hellish to live through at times.

Ending of a phase not the entire relationship?

It’s a frightening and tough stage when you really don’t know if your relationship can last especially when you have kids who depend on you both, whatever their age. My passion comes from the opportunity to support individuals and couples at these times of crisis, wherever they are. To help them talk about what often feels unspeakable and unsafe and explore what is possible. There is no magic wand, but there is a magic and transformative power that comes from daring to face an ending within your relationship. To see if it’s the ending of a phase of relationship rather than the relationship itself, and if so staying to explore what is potentially beginning together.

Rediscover passion

Where sex might have died, new intimacy and passion can grow from this honesty and deepening understanding.

iStock_000011576002Small spark

Mother’s Day – for Mens eyes Only

What does ‘right’ look like?

I imagine up there are many men trying to get it right for mother’s day, whether for their own mum or for their partner who’s a mum, where the children are too young to do it all themselves. So what does ‘right’ look like? Of course it depends on the woman and the budget, but I want to suggest there is a bottom line that is true for all women that doesn’t have to cost a lot.

Women want to feel special

At the heart of it as women we want to feel special. It’s really that simple. At this point many men would argue that that’s far from simple! So what might it look like?

Perhaps its looks like a gift that reflects her passions or something that shows you have heard her dreams and future ideas as a mum and as a woman. Or words in a card that acknowledge her qualities and what makes her unique both as a mum and as a woman. The key is that the thought and focus outweighs any financial spend.

Shhh… Mum’s the word…

Notice the theme is about showing that you see the woman she is. I’ll let you into a secret.. as women we want to know we are NOT our mothers, however much we may love them and may be like them. So we need our individuality to be seen and cherished.

So don’t give your mum and partner the same mother’s day gift (or to be honest ever), or something to do with housework or her functional role. Don’t just speak about the things she does as a mum, speak about how she does things and the difference that makes.

I could share the psychological reasons why we differ in what we yearn for as men and women, but the real key is knowing it and choosing to act on it. Good luck with all those Mother’s Day cards and gifts. Trust your intuition to know what makes the women in your life happy and if you really don’t know why not make it your mission to find out.. It will make a difference in your relationship.

Father’s Day isn’t far off..

So if you are wondering what men yearn for look out for my father’s day post..

More articles with relationship tips.

Your Emotional History

A while back I spoke about feelings giving important information and feedback about what we personally need and don’t need. Here I am going to help you reflect on your emotional history – what has been passed down the generations, what you might have learned about emotion growing up and what this might mean for you today.

Emotional Generational Blueprint

It is not so long ago that the Victorians generally believed that “children should be seen and not heard” and in essence taught emotional suppression. Associated with this was a high level of control and discipline within parenting that continued in different ways until the 1960s, which inevitably tended to value the parents emotions over those of their children. It is really only fairly recent then that as a society we are considering and valuing the feelings of children, and in turn being supported in this as parents.

Your Emotional History

Ideally, as children all our varied emotions are heard, acknowledged and regulated in relationship with our mum and dad so we learn to express, value and manage our feelings in ways which allow us to create intimate relationships and be part of a healthy society. In my post What’s your Parenting Blueprint I explored more about how we can end up sounding like our parents and what it takes to parent with choice rather than react or repeat our own childhood experience. It’s hardly surprising given the generational history that we are still working out how to embrace and teach our children about emotions and healthy expression.

Understandably our emotional parenting varies greatly and so for many of us as we grew up we might have learned that certain feelings are considered ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or even that it is safer not to be aware of what we are feeling. If you wrote a list now, are there emotions you would automatically put down as good or bad? As children we are dependent on our parents or carers to look after us and therefore we quickly learn what their rules are around what emotion is rewarded, and in some cases punished, and adapt so we get the care we need or in some cases to survive.

Hatred can be Healthy

Another thing that we might learn is specific associations or stories linked to specific feelings. An example I came across recently was around ‘hate’. The parent I was talking to saw hatred as something destructive that needed shutting down quickly. I get this fear, but hatred is only another valid feeling and its important to see that it’s the behaviour that could follow that could be destructive rather than the emotion itself. Hatred is a natural emotion that children feel at different stages as it is the antithesis of love.

As parents, what children need us to hold is that its natural and OK to both love and hate someone (typically us parents initially). Holding this duality creates safety for the child as initially hating their parents is scary as in that moment they still need the parents to care for them, and may not be able to access feelings of love alongside. Hating and rejecting the parent is part of how a child realises that they are separate and learn about ‘self’, so an essential step. Behind the hate they are expressing a need to separate. If as parents we overreact to the hate and reject or hate them back or try to shut the hate down then our children will struggle to know what to do with feelings of hatred. They may get stuck in the feeling and need to act it out and be destructive as they can’t express it or feel safest turning the hatred inwards on themselves.

So whilst it may go against your emotional upbringing, my advice is to learn to embrace the hatred our kids express. As a parent myself I know this is easier said than done as it can feel so personal, but try asking your partner or a friend to support you with your own hurt or feelings of rejection rather than react to your child. As they get older this will look different as tweens and teenagers need different feedback on the impact of their emotions and boundaries around their behaviour. It helps to pull apart the emotion and the behaviour, so you might say “I hear how much you hate me right now and that you did x because of these feelings. I am happy to hear why you hate me (in your head remind yourself – as I know you also love me) and see what you need here, but I am not Ok for you to act out and do x”

Emotional Diary

One way to notice what rules we might have around emotions is to keep an emotional diary for a day and every 15mins or half an hour notice what we are feeling in that moment and why and how we feel about that feeling. Notice whether you have judgements about certain feelings or certain behaviours you link inextricably. If you are a parent you will notice your children will naturally push your buttons and you will be learning all the time! By being more aware we can consider what emotional rules we still live by that no longer feel right and that stop us creating the relationships we want in our lives.

Coaching is like a Good Book

I was touched when a client recently shared that they felt our sessions together were like reading a good book. On exploration it was not any great aha moments or particular chapters, but more the quality of the relationship where they feel heard and responded to, where there is hope and where they feel they are at least trying to work towards a happy ending. At the same time, they acknowledged that whilst they desperately want me to have the answer they know that’s not possible and that in essence they have to find their own way to write the ending for this book. Hard when you have no experience or confidence in writing the chapters you most yearn for.

Being with the gap and the not knowing is where I find many of my clients need the most holding and support. It is scary to be with the unknown and to reflect and delve into understanding more of ourselves, even if we want to in order to create different experience and relationships in our lives. Hence the value of having a companion on that journey who can be alongside to witness our exploration, reassure us we are OK and our experience is normal, and to bring a different perspective, context or explanation. In time we do reach the end of the book and find our way, even if as we reach a new stage in life we realise it was only the first in a trilogy.

For more relationship articles and tips.

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Hating Valentines Day?

Are you hating Valentine’s Day or loving it? Maybe it doesn’t feel like something to celebrate for you right now? Perhaps you’re single and wondering when you will share in this pleasure, or perhaps you’re in a relationship but feel far from a Valentinesque paradise.

It’s great to have a day that focuses on love and relationships, but I don’t think it’s easy for many people as the focus can be on the ‘in love’ phase of relationship and doesn’t allow for the normal – yes, normal – phases beyond. Trying to recreate the ‘loved up’ or ‘being lost in one another’ phase from the start of a relationship is impossible - sorry to break the bad news if you hadn’t realised this yet. Valentines day can create enormous expectations and a hope that romantic gestures (which can of course be lovely) might be the answer to deeper relationship issues. It’s normal to feel disappointed when the initial ‘in love’ attraction changes, but the good news is that there is more beyond. It is possible to experience a different sense of love, deep feelings of intimacy and sexual connection if you are willing to go on a journey in yourself and with your partner. Along the way it’s natural to struggle with moving into new phases in your relationship alongside evolving individually, although both are essential for a healthy relationship.

So my valentine invitation today is to embrace wherever your relationship is, including the one with yourself. Know that the really tough, painful places that relationships naturally take us, can lead to the possibility of more.  If you feel on the edge of a cliff or on the verge of separating, explore what new phase might be next together if you dare to be really honest, rather than avoiding or delaying conversations assuming it’s the end of the relationship itself. Otherwise, you risk leaving relationships whenever they have the chance to become something richer and better than just ‘being in love’ or limited by your fixed image of what you think a relationship should be. There is most definitely something beyond that’s worth exploring further.

Reducing Christmas Stress and Bah Humbugishness

I know Christmas is supposed to be a lovely, happy time of year, but I tend to get a bit bah humbug in the build up to it, as it just seems to add lots of extra things to do and stress when I am already busy enough. This year felt like no exception with the addition of twin toddlers underfoot, though it is hard not to smile and keep things in perspective when one insists on wearing his Santa hat all day, including mealtimes.

I decided to stop and notice the thoughts that were creating the stress I feel. Many were about doing the ‘right thing’, not offending anyone, showing others how I feel through cards and gifts, and in some way meeting others expectations. Of course this is not new to me, as I have had similar thoughts every year, but as I continue to work through things in myself I am freed up to make new choices. Initially, I felt incredibly angry with everyone for having expectations and felt a desire to rebel, but then I stopped and realised I was making these expectations up and any possible consequences if I failed to meet them. My anger was actually with myself as I was ignoring my own needs and boundaries in the process. So, I let go of doing cards, emails and presents from a place of ‘having to’, choosing instead to do it from my ‘wanting to’. It has been odd not experiencing the daily pressurized countdown in my head and I genuinely wondered if I would actually bother to send any Christmas cards or emails, and whether this would be an act of rebellion or one of taking care of myself. Well, suddenly this morning I had the energy and desire to create something with photos and a few words and its ready to go. I’m even looking forward to thinking of family and friends, and taking the time to email and post it.

Of course I’m human and I still get hooked into my pattern of wanting to please, but I keep catching myself and seeing choices. Naturally there are stressful moments as I juggle 3 kids and work, AND getting ready for Christmas, but I’m happier about the way I’m being with it this year. And so is my husband who has to live with my feverish ‘doing mania’ when I’m in countdown mode! Here’s to lots of relaxing, enjoying the twinkly lights and the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of my children.