By William Gray, editor of the new 101 Family Holidays website (http://www.101familyholidays.co.uk)
Your idea of a great holiday might be a week spent horizontal on a sun lounger beside a pool with a paperback in one hand and a long cool cocktail in the other. Unfortunately, your kids might have other ideas.
Whether they are toddlers, teens or somewhere in between, children rarely like to relax by doing absolutely nothing. They prefer to run around and burn up energy like it’s going out of fashion. Even teenagers who don’t emerge from their rooms until midday will often demand the chance to go surfing or zip-wiring.
So if you can’t beat them - and believe me, you can’t - then perhaps you should join them. A family activity holiday might sound daunting to the overworked, time-poor parents of modern Britain. But it can be great fun and send you home feeling energised and refreshed, rather than needing another holiday.
Here are my top 10 suggestions:
1.PGL (known as “Parents Get Lost”) earned its stripes offering summer camps for kids, but it now also offers holidays for families in 13 bucolic locations including Devon, the Dordogne and the Isle of Arran. These are great value with endless activities on tap, swimming pools and simple but comfortable accommodation.
Book with PGL (http://www.pgl.co.uk/pglweb)
2. Learning to scuba dive is a great family bonding experience and a holiday you will be able to do together for years to come (even grumpy teens will not say no, once they are hooked). Kids can qualify for a junior PADI certificate from the age of 10 and even 8-year-olds can experience the beauty of the deep on a PADI Bubblemaker Course.
Book with Tropical Sky Family Diving Holidays (http://www.familydiving.co.uk/)
3.Budding Beckhams and Mini Murrays should head to La Manga, a handsome resort on the coast of Spain that boasts three championship golf courses, a 28-court tennis centre and junior academies in golf, tennis, cricket, football and dance. The coaching is top drawer and it’s perfect for those tricky half-term weeks in February, May and October.
Book with La Manga Club (http://www.lamangaclub.com/)
4.Unleash your inner cowgirl on a dude ranching holiday in America’s Wild West. Whatever the age of your children, and whether are experienced riders or new to horses, you can saddle up and hang out with the ranch hands, enjoying cook-outs, fishing and hiking trips.
Book with Western & Oriental (http://www.wandotravel.com/region/ranch/north-america/)
5.Head to the Alps for a budget summer activity holiday. Resorts make most of their money during the winter ski season so can afford to drop prices during the sunny months. Stay in a hotel or in a catered chalet, some of which have child care included. The mountains are not humid so you’ll have lots of energy for hiking, biking and white water rafting.
Book with Esprit Alpine Adventures (http://www.espritfamilyadventures.com/)
6.The Caribbean is not just about lazing in the sun. Head to the Cayman Islands, a safe and easy family-friendly destination with lots to occupy youngsters including swimming with dolphins, kayaking through mangroves, kite-surfing plus visits to pirate caves, an iguana reserve and a submarine expedition.
Book with Turquoise Holidays (http://www.turquoiseholidays.co.uk/)
7.If you want warm weather, the great outdoors and lots to occupy the kids, arguably the best bang for your buck is a holiday village in France. Built in beautiful locations beside beaches or lakes, these self-catering parcs offer comfortable accommodation, huge pool complexes, free kids clubs, activities and entertainment.
Book with Siblu Villages (http://www.siblu.com/)
8.If your kids aren’t happy splashing about in a pool all day, take them on a group adventure tour where they can learn a new skill or activity. You could join a photographic tour of India under the tutelage of a professional snapper, or go stargazing in Egypt with an astrologer.
Book with The Adventure Company (http://www.adventurecompany.co.uk/)
9.Staying on a working farm in Italy is a lot more glamorous than its British equivalent. On an agroturismo, you could be staying at an olive farm in Puglia with a huge pool and spa, or in the rolling hills of Umbria with a riding school and tennis courts on site.
Book with Real Holidays (http://www.realholidays.co.uk/)
10.Holiday options for single parents can be decidedly limited, but The Kids and Me provide exciting group adventure trips to destinations as diverse as Morocco and Swedish Lapland. You could try sea-kayaking and bushcraft on the Welsh coast or a more gentle tour of Corfu.
Book with The Kids and Me (http://www.thekidsandme.co.uk/)
William Gray, Editor of 101 Family Holidays website
William is one of the UK’s leading travel writers and authors and a regular contributor to the Sunday Times Travel and Wanderlust magazines, plus other publications. He was voted Travel Writer of the Year in 2002.
After leaving Durham University with a zoology degree, William worked as a volunteer on Heron Island, a coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef. It was there that he had the idea for his first book, Coral Reefs & Islands – The Natural History of a Threatened Paradise, published in 1993 and commended in the Conservation Book Prize.
William went on to become a prolific wildlife and adventure travel writer, then with the arrival of the twins, Joe and Ellie, turned to family travel writing. His family travel guide books include the award-winning Travel with Kids – the definitive guide to family holidays worldwide. In 2009, William scooped both Travel Photographer of the Year and runner-up Travel Writer of the Year at the British Guild of Travel Writers’ Awards. The following year he was voted 4th in the Press Gazette’s Top 50 Travel Journalists.
William’s favourite destinations include South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Cornwall and Iceland and he enjoys sea kayaking, cycling and walking Holly, the family Labrador.
We thought we'd let you know about a fantastic campaign by M&S and the Leukaemia & Lymphoma cancer charity.
The ‘Putting Childhood Leukaemia to Bed’ campaign, running in-store and online, will see M&S donate 10% from all sales of Kids nightwear for two weeks starting on Monday 27th June until Sunday 10th July.
M&S has chosen leading blood cancer charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research as official Plan A charity for Kidswear. It is hoped M&S customers will get behind the campaign and help as much money as possible for research to find better, safer treatments for childhood leukaemia.
Thanks to continued investment in pioneering research by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research 90% of children now survive the most common form of childhood leukaemia. But treatments are still very aggressive and can have long-lasting effects. And sadly some children still die from this terrible disease.
The ‘Putting Childhood Leukaemia to Bed’ campaign will be supported by in-store promotions in every UK department store. The campaign will feature four children who have survived leukaemia modelling M&S nightwear.
There is no excuse not to take part - it's a chance to treat your little ones to lovely pyjamas and do good. To take part, please go to M&S: http://bit.ly/il3J68
To find out more about the campaign, click here
Parents I visit are often totally frustrated by having to feed their baby twice or more times a night...
Just last month I visited Sarah, mum to 10 week old Tom. She was following a four hourly feeding routine during the day, putting Tom to bed each night by 7:00pm and waking him each morning at 7:00am to start the day. However Sarah explained that she felt exhausted as Tom was waking each night at around midnight and then again at 4:00am for a feed. She said it felt like each time she just got to sleep Tom woke again or she had to wake him to start the day.
Sarah had been told she should nap while Tom had his day sleeps. However with two other children to look after, this was impossible. So I explained to Sarah that in order to encourage Tom to sleep longer at night, we should introduce a dreamfeed. We put Tom onto my routine and introduced a dreamfeed. Within days, Sarah was feeling so much better as Tom was now only waking once a night at 3:30am. To Sarah’s surprise after 12 days of introducing the dreamfeed, Tom was making it through to 7:00am without a feed.
The reason I recommend the dreamfeed is to help parents like Sarah avoid having to get up more than once at night to feed their babies. I normally introduce the dreamfeed when babies are about six weeks old. If you followed my routine but didn’t have the dreamfeed, your baby would go to sleep at 7:00pm - like Tom - but wake for feeds at around midnight and 4:00am like Sarah described Tom doing. With the dreamfeed, your baby will wake for his first feed at around 2:30am and then he is more likely to sleep until 7:00am. This means you have only had to get up once at night. As your baby gets older he will wake later and later for this feed until he is sleeping through to 7:00am.
How to Dreamfeed
To do the dreamfeed, you gently pick up your sleeping baby, place the bottle or breast on his lower lip and allow him to drink, taking care not to wake him. When finished, sit him upright for a few minutes to allow wind to escape. Babies are usually so relaxed at this feed, they don’t gulp air and so don’t have much wind. Your baby will not choke during the dreamfeed if you are holding him in your normal feeding position. Babies often sleep while feeding at the breast or from a bottle.
The dreamfeed is a good feed to get your partner to give your baby from a bottle. If you are breast-feeding this would be a good time to give your baby a bottle of expressed milk. The best time to express is just before the 7:00am and 11:00am feeds as this is when your breasts are at their fullest.
Giving up the Dreamfeed
Once your baby has been on solids for eight weeks and is sleeping through every night, it’s time to drop the dreamfeed. The first thing you should do is bring the dreamfeed half an hour earlier for five night if your baby continues to sleep all night bring it half an hour earlier again for five nights. If this again has no affect for bottle fed babies, reduce the amount each night by 20mls and for breastfed babies reduce the breastfeed by 2 minutes each night. When you are at the 30mls or 2 minute mark, don’t do the dreamfeed again. If at any stage your baby wakes earlier in the morning go back to giving the amount of milk you were giving at the time you were giving it before the wake happened. Then try and reduce or move it again five days later.
Frequently asked questions and answers.
We often get asked the same questions, so for your convience we have included the most requested below.
1. What do I do at night if my baby wakes up before the dreamfeed?
If your baby wakes within half an hour of the dreamfeed you should feed him. If there is over half an hour to the dreamfeed when your baby wakes you should resettle your baby. This means if your baby is on my 10 week to solids routine and he wakes at 9:40pm you do not feed him the dreamfeed until he has gone back to sleep. You need to wait until he has gone back to sleep even if this is not until 11:00pm before you give him his dreamfeed. Once your baby has gone back to sleep if it is before the normal time for the dreamfeed you wait until this time to feed him. If it is after the normal dreamfeed time you wait for ten minutes and then give him his dreamfeed.
2. We often go to my parents or a friend’s house for dinner, but with your 7:00pm bed time we are feeling quite restricted.
It is alright to still have a life when following a routine. I would suggest you go to the house where you are going to spend the evening early enough, so you can feed and settle your baby or child to sleep there. Put your baby or child down at 7:00pm as normal and try to leave for home, so you get home just in time to give your baby the Dreamfeed or 10:00pm feed. Then put your baby to bed in his own bed. If you have an older child or toddler explain to them you will be picking them up half asleep and taking them home.
International baby whisperer Tizzie has helped thousands of parents get their babies to sleep during the night. She’s talked about her methods on TV, and written a ‘Save Our Sleep’ book range.
Here are some really useful answers to frequent questions on patertnity rights, answered by the team at Working Families, the charity supporting parents and carers.
What does ‘OPL’ and ‘APL’ mean?
OPL is Ordinary Paternity leave: the two weeks that many men can take off around the time of the birth. APL is Additional Paternity Leave: this is the new scheme where some men can have some of the mother’s maternity leave transferred to them. APL can only be taken once the mother has gone back to work, and only once the baby is 20 weeks old.
Who can take APL?
People who qualify for OPL also qualify for APL. Broadly this means the father of the child, or the spouse, civil partner or partner (including same sex partner) of the mother as long as they are employees and have been working for the same employer since approximately before the woman got pregnant. In addition to this, the woman must be entitled to maternity leave and/or pay and have brought her maternity leave and/or pay to an end (see below)
Can I take APL while the mother is still off work?
The woman must bring her maternity leave to an end, and the government advice is that this means a physical return to work for at least a day. She should have also used up all of her ‘Keeping in Touch Days’. If you want to take APL while the mother is on holiday or off sick get advice from the Working Families helpline as the position is complicated.
Will I be paid?
Most men who qualify for paternity leave will get Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) for Ordinary Paternity Leave, and Additional Statutory Paternity Pay (ASPP) for any Additional Paternity Leave where the mother would have been getting Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance had she have remained on leave. You must have earned at least the Lower Earnings Limit for National Insurance (£102 per week).
I’m adopting, can I use APL or is it just for births?
Ordinary Paternity Leave and Additional Paternity Leave can be used for adoptions as well – the rules are slightly different so get advice.
I no longer live with the mother, can I take APL?
If you are the father of the baby or the spouse or civil partner of the mother, you can take Ordinary Paternity Leave or Additional Paternity Leave even if you don’t live in the same house as them. If you are taking leave as the partner of the mother you must live with her. Note that although more than one person can take OPL for the same baby (for example the biological father and the mother’s new partner as long as they both expect to have responsibility for the child) only one person can take APL.
I’m self employed, is there any paternity pay for me?
No, unfortunately both the Additional and Ordinary Paternity Leave and Pay provisions only apply to employed earners (paid through PAYE); there is no equivalent for self employed men.
Mywife is self employed, but I am an employee, can I take APL?
Yes, as long as she is entitled to Maternity Allowance and she brings the Maternity Allowance to an end, and you meet the other conditions.
What do I need to do to take APL?
You need to give notice at least 8 weeks before you wish to take APL. HMRC have a form SC7 for you to do this. You must tell your employer of when you want the APL to start, how long you want and if you wish to claim Additional Statutory Paternity Pay. If you wish to change the date your APL starts or finishes you must give your employer at least 6 weeks notice.
The Working Families helpline team answers the most frequently asked questions on new paternity rights. New and expectant parents can call the charity’s helpline for advice on 0800 013 0313.
Working Families is the UK’s leading work-life organisation. The charity supports and gives a voice to working parents and carers, whilst also helping employers create workplaces which encourage work-life balance for everyone
The Working Families Freephone helpline for parents, carers and their advisers gives advice on employment rights and benefits. The charity’s helpline is run by a team of solicitors and advisers and has a Quality Mark from Community Legal Services. Call Freephone 0800 013 0313, text 07800 00 4722 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Advice is also available on the charity’s website:www.workingfamilies.org.uk
Mums Like You has teamed up with Tippitoes, the retailers of quality baby products, in our search for the star babies on this network.
Five winners will get the award-winning swaddling blanket Yellow Star Wrap for their little stars!
To enter the competition, post a picture of your baby on our Albums area between 16th and 30th June (register or login first) and ask your friends and family to support your entry by leaving comments.
The five entries that get most comments will win the competition.
The winners will be announced here shortly aftwerward.
Best of luck to all and we look forward to these cute photos!
Mums Like You
Here’s something that may really surprise you: As much as we may want our babies to sleep through the night, our own subconscious emotions sometimes hold us back from encouraging change in our babies’ sleeping habits. You yourself may be the very obstacle preventing a change in a routine that disrupts your life.
So let's figure out if anything is standing in your way.
In this article
- Examine Your Own Needs and Goals
- Reluctance to Let Go of Those Nighttime Moments
- Worry About Your Baby’s Safety
- Belief That Things Will Change on Their Own
- Too Fatigued to Work Toward Change
Examine Your Own Needs and Goals
Today’s society leads us to believe that “normal babies” sleep through the night from about two months; my research indicates that this is more the exception than the rule. The number of families in your boat could fill a fleet of cruise ships.
“At our last day-care parent meeting, one father brought up the fact that his two-year-old daughter wasn’t sleeping through the night. I discovered that out of 24 toddlers only six stayed asleep all night long.” …Robin, mother of thirteen-month-old Alicia
You must figure out where your own problem lies. Is it in your baby’s routine, in your management of it, or simply in the minds of others? If you can honestly say you want to change your baby’s sleep habits because they are truly disruptive to you and your family, then you’re ready to make changes. But if you feel coerced into changing Baby’s patterns because Great Grandma Beulah or your friend from playgroup says that’s the way it should be, it’s time for a long, hard think.
Certainly, if your little one is waking you up every hour or two, you don’t have to think long on the question, “Is this disruptive to me?” It obviously is. However, if your baby is waking up only once or twice a night, it’s important that you determine exactly how much this pattern is disturbing to you, and decide on a realistic goal. Be honest in assessing the situation's effect on your life. Begin today by contemplating these questions:
- Am I content with the way things are, or am I becoming resentful, angry, or frustrated?
- Is my baby’s nighttime routine negatively affecting my marriage, job, or relationships with my other children?
- Is my baby happy, healthy, and seemingly well rested?
- Am I happy, healthy, and well rested?
Once you answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of not only what is happening with regard to your baby’s sleep, but also how motivated you are to make a change.
Reluctance to Let Go of Those Nighttime Moments
A good, long, honest look into your heart may truly surprise you. You may find you actually relish those quiet night wakings when no one else is around. I remember in the middle of one night, I lay nursing Coleton by the light of the moon. The house was perfectly, peacefully quiet. As I gently stroked his downy hair and soft baby skin, I marveled at this tiny being beside me—and the thought hit me, “I love this! I love these silent moments that we share in the night.” It was then that I realized that even though I struggled through my baby’s hourly nighttime wakings, I needed to want to make a change in our night waking habits before I would see any changes in his sleeping patterns.
You may need to take a look at your own feelings. And if you find you’re truly ready to make a change, you’ll need to give yourself permission to let go of this stage of your baby’s life and move on to a different phase in your relationship. There will be lots of time to hug, cuddle, and love your little one, but you must truly feel ready to move those moments out of your sleeping time and into the light of day.
Worry About Your Baby’s Safety
We parents worry about our babies, and we should! With every night waking, as we have been tending to our child’s nightly needs, we have also been reassured that our baby is doing fine — every hour or two all night long. We get used to these checks; they provide continual reassurance of Baby’s safety.
“The first time my baby slept five straight hours, I woke up in a cold sweat. I nearly fell out of bed and ran down the hall. I was so sure that something was horribly wrong. I nearly wept when I found her sleeping peacefully.” …Azza, mother of seven-month-old Laila
Co-sleeping parents are not exempt from these fears. Even if you are sleeping right next to your baby, you’ll find that you have become used to checking on her frequently through the night. Even when she’s sleeping longer stretches, you aren’t sleeping, because you’re still on security duty.
These are very normal worries, rooted in your natural instincts to protect your baby. Therefore, for you to allow your baby to sleep for longer stretches, you’ll need to find ways to feel confident that your baby is safe—all night long.
Once you reassure yourself that your baby is safe while you sleep, you’ll have taken that first step toward helping her sleep all night.
Belief That Things Will Change on Their Own
You may hope, pray, and wish that one fine night, your baby will magically begin to sleep through the night. Maybe you’re crossing your fingers that he’ll just “outgrow” this stage, and you won’t have to do anything different at all. It’s a very rare night-waking baby who suddenly decides to sleep through the night all on his own. Granted, this may happen to you—but your baby may be two, three or four years old when it does! Decide now whether you have the patience to wait that long, or if you are ready to gently move the process along.
Too Fatigued to Work Toward Change
Change requires effort, and effort requires energy. In an exhausted state, we may find it easier just to keep things as they are than try something different. In other words, when Baby wakes for the fifth time that night, and I'm desperate for sleep, it's so much easier just to resort to the easiest way to get him back to sleep (rock, nurse, or replace the pacifier) than it is to try something different.
Only a parent who is truly sleep deprived can understand what I’m saying here. Others may calmly advise, “Well if things aren’t working for you, just change what you’re doing.” However, every night waking puts you in that foggy state where the only thing you crave is going back to sleep—plans and ideas seem like too much effort.
If you are to help your baby sleep all night, you will have to force yourself to make some changes and follow your plan, even in the middle of the night, even if it’s the tenth time your baby has called out for you. So, after reading this section and you’re sure you and your baby are ready, it’s time for you to make a commitment to change. That is the first important step to helping your baby sleep through the night.
This article is a copyrighted excerpt from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002
This article was supplied by expert advice service Greatvine. To speak with baby sleep experts and other parenting experts, visit Greatvine.com. Greatvine offers live, individual specialist advice by phone to members of the public in a variety of issues and topics including breastfeeding & weaning, behaviour, nutrition, postnatal depression, weight loss, fitness & relationships.
With the summer holidays just around the corner, many families are already packing sun creams, swimsuits, passports and hire car documents. But if you are going to drive abroad this summer, here are some great tips on staying safe on the road:
Matthew Tomlinson, who heads up the Foreign Claims division of RJW’s Road Traffic Accident Unit recommends a simple check list:
- If you’ve arranged a hire car, no matter how tired you are spend at least ten minutes familiarising yourself with the car’s layout: indicators, lights, windscreen wipers etc.
- If you’re in your own car, you MUST have the full quota of European driving essentials, including a reflective warning triangle and high visibility vest. Hire cars should supply the full kit
- If you’re in your own car, make sure you’ve got a GB sticker on your car and you’ve fitted a headlamp beam adaptor, and
- Stick to the main carriageways. In a right hand drive car, you’re sitting in the wrong place to spot potential hazards when you’re driving on picturesque, winding roads. Ditch the view, stay safe
- Plan your route and don’t rely on Satnav to get you to your destination. There are plenty of tales of people ending up hundreds of miles away from where they wanted to go because they didn’t bother to look at a map but just did as their Satnav told them
- If you don’t speak the language of the country you’re visiting, at least learn a few key phrases. In an accident, time is of the essence and you shouldn’t assume everyone else speaks English
If you are unlucky enough to be in an accident caused by the other party, many people mistakenly believe they must file their claim for damages in that country. “You can bring your claim back to the UK,” said Matt, “and you’d be well advised to do so, as in the UK, the insurers of the person liable for the accident will pay you damages and your legal costs. If you bring your claim abroad, yes you get damages, which are assessed in accordance with local rules, but your costs may well be paid out of that sum”.
Russell Jones & Walker employs over 440 staff (over 229 lawyers) and is renowned as the leading national firm of solicitors in protecting the rights and legal interest of individuals and those who represent them. RJW has a network of regional offices and includes those in the following centres: London, Birmingham, Bristol, Wakefield, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Cardiff and Edinburgh.