Friday, 28 December 2012

Setting achievable New Year’s resolutions

2013 is fast approaching and we probably all have some goals that we wish to achieve in the next year. However statistics show that only 12% of us actually stick to our New Year’s resolutions. This is largely due to our tendency to set unachievable goals that undoubtedly lead to failure. This year follow our five top hints and tips to setting your goals and you can achieve success.

  • Don’t go too big. Realistically, are you going to be able to go to the gym five times a week? Instead aim smaller, such as trying to cycle to work or going for a jog at the weekends. Setting achievable goals will keep you positive. 
  • Don’t restrict yourself, having broad goals allows for more personal evolution and growth. 
  • Break your resolution into manageable steps. Rather than trying to lose a stone over the whole year, set yourself a target for the next three months. This will keep you more focused and make it seem less daunting. 
  • Don’t only choose resolutions that are chores, such as giving up smoking or losing weight. Pick goals that you’ll enjoy doing such as fulfilling a childhood dream or doing something that inspires you. 
  • Think long and carefully about what the negative areas of your life are. Choose small changes that will help to stop any behaviours/situations that cause them. For example if you seem to be constantly in debt, try avoiding looking around the shops in your lunch break. 
  • Make sure you pick something meaningful to you. If you set your resolution purely because you feel as if it is something that you should do rather than want to do, it is unlikely you will achieve it. 
Setting these goals is the first phase of a great 2013. Come back next week for advice on how to maintain these resolutions.

Friday, 21 December 2012

How to keep the peace at Christmas

Christmas is often depicted as a time for the family to all come together, sitting and laughing by a huge log fire after a perfectly cooked Christmas feast. In reality, however, Christmas provides a unique combination of family politics, judgemental in-laws and over excitable children, making it one of the most stressful times of the year.

However, it is possible to have a truly merry Christmas with a few simple adjustments and some forward planning. Here are our top tips to keep Christmas peaceful.

  • Look for problems that cropped up last year and work out how to avoid a repeat. For example, if your mother argued with your partner’s father last year, make sure they're seated at different sides of the table. 
  • Plan the day, going for a walk together or playing board games can keep everyone amused and avoids the awkward small talk that comes with sitting around all day. 
  • Choosing which side of the family to spend Christmas with can be one of the biggest stressors. Don’t feel guilty if you cant please everyone. Instead invite the other side for casual drinks a few days before to show you care. 
  • Staying with parents can return us to our childhood ways and ignite old problems or insecurities. Don’t rise to the bait. Take a deep breath, count to ten and you should hopefully feel calmer. 
  • Watch how much you drink. Alcohol magnifies every problem and will cause you to react in ways you otherwise wouldn’t. 
  • If your mother-in law thinks she knows how to cook the turkey better, or is all too quick to give out parenting advice, just smile and don’t let it get to you. She will be out of your hair in a couple of days. 
  • If an argument does arise, calmly say, “lets just enjoy today and discuss this tomorrow”, and try not to dwell on it. 
  • Pick your battles. Realistically you are not going to change Aunty Carol’s political views over dinner, so keep things peaceful by keeping your opinions to yourself. 
  • If it does get too much for you, make an excuse and go out for half an hour. Walk the dog or nip to the shops, you’ll feel a lot better if you can find some alone time. 
  • Don’t place too many expectations on your self. If the potatoes burn and the carrots are too raw, just laugh! People are more likely to remember the company and atmosphere than what they ate. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Relatives will like having something to do and the kids will enjoy playing 'waiter' handing out nibbles. 

Christmas has a habit of never going quite according to plan, but if you can relax, smile and appreciate the family time you can still have a merry Christmas!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Negotiating Christmas when you’re divorced with children

Traditionally, Christmas is a time for families to come together and spend quality time with one another. However, modern families are becoming increasingly complex and the prospect of negotiating a happy Christmas can be daunting. This year, 9,453 people filed for divorce in Scotland alone so sadly it is all too common for Christmas to be consumed by family politics and custody arguments.

If you're divorced with children, it is unlikely you'll be happy to spend Christmas with your ex, but who should get the children? 

If you're fortunate enough to be on good terms with your ex partner, plan access as early as possible and try to be fair. Perhaps one of you could have them in the morning and swap for the afternoon? Or if you live far apart, one of you could have them on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day and swap next year? 

If you and your ex are not on speaking terms, involve a third party (such as a solicitor) to arrange access agreements and have them written down. Alternatively, a relationship counsellor is not just for those currently in a relationship, they can help you negotiate an amicable break-up and assist you in discussing arrangements, such as access.

Christmas is a time for children, so their happiness is the most import thing. Consult with them about what they would like to do, but be careful not to pressure or guilt them in to choosing to spend Christmas with you. 

Christmas is likely to be a difficult time for them as well as you, so make sure you talk to them about their feelings and reassure them Christmas will still be magical. Divorce is a big change for any family, but it is also a chance to create new and amazing experiences that can become family traditions for years to come.

If your partner has the kids over Christmas and you find yourself alone, use the time in a positive way. Have some 'me' time - do those things you're normally too busy to do. Alternatively if you really dislike the idea of Christmas alone, call your local hospital or charities to see if they need some extra help. Did you know that giving your time to help others can have some really positive benefits for your own health and wellbeing? Or perhaps look around for single events - you’ll be surprised how many others are in the same boat as you and Christmas might end up bringing you some new friends.

The most important thing is to enjoy the time you have with your children - your experiences with them now will form your memories of the future!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Mind the age gap

You've managed to navigate yourself through the difficult world of dating and have finally found 'the one' to share your Christmas with, but can it last forever if there's a large age gap between you?

Large age gaps can be a big issue, whether it's because you're at different stages in life or feel under constant scrutiny from family and friends. However, there are couples who have successful and happy relationships despite this. Here are our top tips for dealing with age differences in relationships.

  • Be confident with your relationship. If other people see how happy you both are they will be less likely to criticise you. 
  • Do not modify your own behaviour to act your partner’s age. 
  • Do not expect your partner to change their behaviour. 
  • From the beginning be aware of future difficulties. For example if only one of you wants children you need to figure out if that is a deal breaker. 
  • Use the age gap to your advantage. The older partner probably has more life experience which the younger partner can benefit from and the younger partner can bring a new outlook and energy into the relationship. 
  • If your older partner has achieved more than you, (e.g. at a better stage in their career) do not let them overshadow your accomplishments. Be proud of the goals you've reached and continue to go for them. 
  • Remember, age really is just a number. If you feel a connection and both want the same things… just go for it!