All posts by Frances Place

Taking your new Partner on Holiday with your Kids


Families come in all shapes and sizes these days and holiday time can mean organising trips with a mixture of children from different relationships, new partners, step parents and many variations. There are many guides and articles online designed to help the parent who has been left behind; with guidance on what do to fill their time and cope without their children as well as not show their anger for the ex’s new partner going away with their children.

But this blog is about the parent that is taking the children away with a new partner in tow. Whilst the parent left behind could be envisaging their children having a glorious time with the new step mum or Dad and feeling jealous, there are just as many visualising their child having a dreadful time away with the evil new partner. The truth be known it is probably somewhere in the middle!

When is too soon to take your new partner on holiday with your children?

Once children are familiar with a new partner and a relationship has been established, you will be in a much better place to judge if you think the children would be happy and comfortable with the idea of a holiday together. It is going to depend a lot on the ages of the children and also on how their other parent reacts and behaves about the holiday plans.

A new partner who gets on well with your children is likely to be a fun addition to the experience and also an extra parental support from your point of view as a single parent.

However, if you are a newly separated parent, dashing off on holiday with the kids and bringing a new partner along for the ride could be a very different story. It is important to remember that if your kids are still adjusting after their parents’ separation, they will be feeling vulnerable and confused. If you are in a very new relationship, where the children are not used to seeing their Mum or Dad with someone new, going on a family holiday in the early stages would be a mistake. Holidays with kids can be stressful and everyone would be stuck in close proximity for the duration.

So to answer the question; ‘When is too soon?’ It will be different in every situation but to judge it you need to think from your children’s perspective. You may be madly in love with your new partner, but your children need to build their own relationship with them and that should not be forced upon them in a situation where they can’t get away. They may feel jealous of attention you give to the new partner and feel even more abandoned.

Tips for making the first holiday together a Great Trip

  • Travelling with your kids (especially the under 10s) can be stressful, so consider the destination and the travel time when you plan the holiday. A long haul flight and long transfers will start things off on a stress filled and tired note for all involved.
  • Make the first holiday, short and sweet so that if it does go a bit wrong, you aren’t stuck somewhere together for 3 weeks wishing you were home. A prolonged period of time stuck with anyone can be intense and from your new partners point of view being thrust into family life whilst off home territory could be enough to send them running for the hills.
  • If you can, make sure you have a kids club or babysitting service arranged so that you can get a little alone time with your new partner. After all you don’t want to kill the romance completely, you deserve some ‘you time’ too and your new partner will also be happy about this.
  • Be sure to involve everyone including the kids, in the process of planning for the holiday, if everyone has been involved they will be much more likely to be excited about it and keen to go rather than apprehensive.
  • Make sure that you have given the other parent plenty of notice about the holiday, and you have spoken to them to make sure they are ok with the fact that your new partner is going along. The last thing you want to have to encounter is an angry ex-partner who may feel that they have not been consulted about plans with their own children.

Tips for the new partner whilst on holiday with his or her kids

  • Don’t try to take over the discipline of the kids if they get unruly, equally don’t ignore the situation, you need to support the parent in their decisions on how to deal with it.
  • Respect the kids’ relationship with their parent and don’t try to come between them by demanding attention and alone time.
  • Don’t try to force everyone to do an activity on the holiday that really is all about you, the children will not take kindly to being forced to walk up a deserted hill to a monument just because you want to. Try to include everyone in the decisions so that everyone feels heard. But if you really want to see that monument and no one else does, go by yourself and give your partner time with the kids, this is just as important.
  • Don’t get upset if the children refer to their other parent by saying things like: ‘When we are on holiday with Dad, we usually do….’ It is only natural for children to want to talk about their other parent and memories that they have with them. It is not a deliberate dig at you, you need to remain positive about any mentions of the other parent.
  • Be natural and be yourself – don’t try to be a super hero replacement parent that is determined to give them a better holiday than their other parent would. Children aren’t daft and they will pick up on this kind of behaviour.

On behalf of all of us here at Progressive Mediation, we hope you have a happy and successful first holiday with your children and new partner! Just remember that nothing will always be 100% perfect and problems or arguments may arise, but it’s how you deal with these situations that will matter the most. Always put the children first – happy children = happy holiday!

Direct Consultation for Children over the age of 10

When parents decide to separate it can be a very difficult time for everyone involved. The age of the child needs to be considered when determining how involved they should be the decisions concerning the arrangements for them.

Babies and toddlers will obviously have little understanding of what is happening and wouldn’t be able to vocalise or even make choices about their situation.

As children get older their awareness becomes more mature and due to the now very complicated arrangements that can be made for children after separation, it is more important for their views to be heard.

Continue reading Direct Consultation for Children over the age of 10

Insecurities in Children with Separated Parents

This is obviously a massive topic and a very complex one. It is very important to point out that children can react very differently to situations and no two families are the same either. It is also important to emphasise that children become stressed in any situation where they don’t feel secure, so it can happen just as often in families where the parents decide not to split up.

What I am trying to say is that whether you have decided to separate or stay together as a couple, children pick up on everything, even if there are not raging arguments, silence and a lack of demonstrative affection between parents will still affect your children.

Continue reading Insecurities in Children with Separated Parents

Children Back to or Starting School – Tips for Separated Parents

Going back to school in September can be a tough time for children, as it marks the end of the long care free summer holidays. There will be new teachers to get to know and possibly new class mates too.

It could be that your child is starting school for the first time, going into reception class or perhaps they are starting a new school, leaving old friends behind to adjust to a new school and new peers. All this is plenty to deal with, but if your child is dealing with the break-up of their parents over the summer on top of these stresses, it can be a very difficult time.

Here are some top tips for newly separated parents of school aged children who now face an emotional time coupled with new routines between two households or maybe just one with one parent.

Continue reading Children Back to or Starting School – Tips for Separated Parents

What to do in Bristol this Summer with the Kids 2017

The Summer Holidays are nearly upon us and if you have kids you know only too well that keeping them entertained is important for your sanity, whatever their ages. To help you, we have pulled together a diverse list of events, festivals and campsites to appeal to families in Bristol and the surrounding areas.

Festivals and Events

Always great fun for the whole family, Bristol and the surrounding areas host an amazing mix of events, festivals, fairs and carnivals. Here are a few of them to check out this summer:

Bath Carnival 2017 – 15th and 16th July – FREE

A huge free party celebrating Carnival arts in the centre of Bath. A vibrant procession including South American drumming, Caribbean steel pan, Mardi Gras style brass, a range of traditional and contemporary dance choreography and crazy colourful costumes!

Corston Country Fair – 15th July – Adults £1 – Kids FREE

Corston Fair has been running for 100 years, a traditional fair with dog show, classic cars, bouncy castle and a good community vibe.

The Bristol Harbour Festival – 21st to 23rd July – FREE

A massive free event at Bristol Harbourside. If you are a fan of arts, circus, dance, music, boats, nautical capers, good food and drink and general enjoyment – this is a great event withplenty going on for younger children at the Castle Park area with Cirque Bijou. There’ll be things to make and do, inflatables, singing, storytelling, dancing and acrobatic performances. Read more information here.

Upfest 2017 – 29 to 31 July – FREE

Europe’s largest, free, street art & graffiti festival which takes place in Bedminster and Southville. 300 artists from 30 countries will paint at 35 venues live on 30,000sqft of surfaces in front of 35,000 visitors! This is delight for all ages with plenty of opportunities for hands on experience with children’s workshops including Morph making with Aardman. Find out more here.

Thai & Multi Cultural Food Festival – 29th to 30th July – Adults £4, Children £1

Held in Millennium Square, this will be a colourful and cultural event with stalls, Thai food, Thai boxing demo, fashion shows and entertainment for children. Read more about the event here.

Weston Dairy Festival 2017 – 3rd Aug to 6th Aug

A celebration of Livestock, Agriculture and Local Producers of food and crafts taking place on the Beach Lawns in Weston-Super-Mare. Expect everything from sheep shearing and milking to Shire horse displays and a dog and duck show. Find out more here.

Gloucester Road Summer Street Party – 5th Aug – FREE

Street Party hosted by Nailsea Electrical. Expect live music all day, food & drink stalls, free Gin & Wine tasting sessions, Fully Licensed bar all day and extended into the evening. Don’t miss Mr Whompy, the UK’s only DJ ice cream van!

RedFest 2017 – 5 Aug – 6 Aug – FREE

Redfest Bristol is a Community Interest Company which exists to provide a free community music and arts festival based in the Redfield and St. George areas of East Bristol. So much to do and see including an eclectic range of acts including folk, rock, dance, jazz, reggae and world music.

There is also film screenings, cabaret, photography exhibitions, street art demonstrations, children’s entertainment, workshops and storytelling. Find out more here.

South Gloucestershire Show 2017 – 5th and 6th Aug – Adults £10, kids £6, under 5s FREE

This year will see everything from motorcycle stunts, dog displays and pig racing! A huge line up of local bands, fabulous food, BMX area, kids zone and loads more. Find out more here.

Islamic Cultural Fayre – 6th Aug – FREE

Eastville Park! One of the local calendar’s largest free festivals, pulling in 12,000+ visitors each year, expect to find more than 100 stalls in the bazaar, large funfair, 5-a-side football tournament, glorious food, live stage and general family fun. Find out more here.

Hoo-Ha! 2017 – Tue 15 – Thu 17 Aug – FREE Activities (ticketed shows from around £10)

Held at the Colston Hall, the children’s shows which are ticketed include Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dino School. But there is loads of free fun in the foyer, including: Ready Sheddy Disgo, Explorer Dome Inflatable Planetarium, Singalong Band, Lets Make Art craft activities, Boris the Bookworm and Face painting. See what’s on here.

Educational Exhibitions

If you are looking for something a little more educational or perhaps it’s raining, have a look at these exhibitions:

Skeletons: Our Buried Bones – 8 April—3 September 2017 – Pay what you think

M-Shed. This will possibly be of interest to older children. A fascinating exhibition of twelve human skeletons from Bristol and London, each with a unique story to tell. Find out more here.

Pliosaurus! – 17 June 2017 – 7 Jan 2018 – Pay what you think

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Come face to face with a Jurassic beast if you dare! Discovered in Westbury, Wiltshire in 1994, this is the world’s only example of a new species of pliosaur on public display for the first time.

Pliosaurs are so big that it took ten years to prepare all the fossils that were found! Aimed at 3-11 year olds, this exhibition offers a range of activities to investigate how this special creature lived and died. Find out more here.

Family Friendly Campsites near Bristol

If you want to get the family out of town for a few days and back to nature, consider these campsites which all have playgrounds or facilities for kids:

Brook Lodge Farm Camping & Caravan ParkNear WringtonAll the facilities for a comfortable camp including wifi, washing machines, fridge, play areas all set in 4.5 acres of lovely countryside.

Greenacres Camping – Near Glastonbury – simple, clean and well looked after facilities with all the basics covered for some wholesome family fun. Showers and toilets but no loud club house or entertainment. Just proper camping in an idyllic setting. They do have fridges available for guests to share.

Netwood Farm – East Harptree – Small and friendly site for campers to come and enjoy all the countryside has to offer. Lake and woodland view fields with children’s play areas and lots of attractions and activities close by.

Petruth Paddocks – Cheddar – Very family friendly with all the facilities you need. Farmer will deliver logs and a fire pit to your pitch and sometimes local meat and sausages. If you are lucky the kids get given a ride in the link box around the field when it’s empty.

Beeches Farm Camping – Chepstow – lovely traditional camping with amazing views over the Wye Valley. Lots of space for children to run around and an ideal place for groups of families to camp together. Fresh laid eggs available too!

Have an amazing summer, whatever you decide to do!

From all of us at Progressive Mediation.

Shared Parenting after separation – The Highs and Lows

This month’s blog post is written by a Mum in Bristol who has followed the route of shared parenting for over two years now since separating from her husband.

Of course, all separated couples will have a different experience of shared parenting and the way they choose to do things but the following insights are true experience and will be useful to anyone considering shared parenting or any couples who are experiencing it for themselves.

Continue reading Shared Parenting after separation – The Highs and Lows

Father’s Day – How can this be handled for separated Parents?

Father’s Day is on the 18th June this year (2017), this can be difficult for separated couples to manage and possibly distressing for the children if the situation isn’t handled well. Here are some top tips to keep everyone happy and ensure in particular that the children don’t suffer:

Continue reading Father’s Day – How can this be handled for separated Parents?

Attachment Bonding in Parent and Child Relationships

Attachment theory has it that an infant’s first main relationship is significant in moulding personality, self-esteem, future relationships, stress management and coping abilities in later life.  The emotional bond formed with our primary care-giver matters hugely and recent research has emphasised the importance of multiple-influencers and supportive parenting relationships.

Whether the primary care-giver is mum, dad, grandparent, foster parent, child-carer, adoptive parents, or single sex parents, responsiveness and sensitivity to an infant’s needs contribute massively to who we become in the future.  Let’s have a closer look at the importance of secure attachment between parents and children and how these relationships are formed.

Continue reading Attachment Bonding in Parent and Child Relationships

How Court Proceedings can Damage Children of Separating Parents

In many of our blogs we have looked at the emotional effect of parents’ separation on the children involved. Fighting and involving the children in the disputes will cause stress and anxiety, putting unnecessary  psychological burdens on to young shoulders.

Continue reading How Court Proceedings can Damage Children of Separating Parents

Putting The Children First After Separation

Deciding to divorce or separate when you have children can be a hard decision to make. Depending on your circumstances and the reasons for the break up can mean a very different experience for different separating couples. Some will dither over the decision for years, wracked with guilt about what impact the split may have on the children. Others may be in an impossible or dangerous situation where a quick clean break is the best option.

Continue reading Putting The Children First After Separation

Family Mediation Week 2017 – 23-27 January

This year Family Mediation Week is the 23rd to the 27th January (2017). The aim is to raise awareness of how mediation can help separating families resolve their issues in a collaborative way. January is often a time for reflection and new beginnings and this can mean couples realising their differences cannot be overcome and so decide to separate. Sometimes families have already decided to split but want to wait until after Christmas so as not to disrupt the family festivities where children are involved.

Continue reading Family Mediation Week 2017 – 23-27 January

Inheritance Act or Will Dispute Mediations

The Inheritance Act 1975 provides a route where someone can make a claim against the deceased’s estate on the basis that the deceased’s Will or intestacy does not make any or sufficient financial provision for them. It is designed to help spouses, children, civil partners, cohabitees and other surviving dependents that have not been provided for sufficiently in the will.

Continue reading Inheritance Act or Will Dispute Mediations

Understanding and Helping Teenagers through Divorce or Separation

In our last post, we talked about how to understand and help younger children through their parent’s separation. In this post, we will look at how to understand and help teenagers through a family break up. Teenagers are already at a difficult stage in their lives, with emotions up and down and the pressures of reaching young adulthood. Continue reading Understanding and Helping Teenagers through Divorce or Separation

Children Under 11 – Understanding their Confusion after Separation

Divorce or separation is a difficult time for everyone involved, including extended family and of course the children. Whatever the age of the children, they will feel a great sense of loss, confusion and uncertainty. Although to a certain extent this can’t be avoided once the decision to go your separate ways has been made; there are many ways that you can make this time of upheaval a much less painful and traumatic experience. We will look at ways to understand and recognise issues for the under 5’s and also children aged between 6 and 11. Continue reading Children Under 11 – Understanding their Confusion after Separation

Grandparents Rights to see their Grandchildren after Parents Separate

One of the things that can be easily overlooked when parents split up, is that the relationship the children have with their grandparents can be disrupted. It may be that one parent no longer wishes the children to have contact with their ex-spouses parents, or perhaps they move a long way away – this can be a very sad and painful situation if all ties are cut for both the children and the grandparents. Continue reading Grandparents Rights to see their Grandchildren after Parents Separate

10 Free Things to do in Bristol this Summer

free things to do in Bristol with ChildrenThe summer holidays are upon us and for most parents this means a lot of juggling of childcare if both parents work. Holiday clubs and activity days are expensive and not really a viable option to cover the whole six week holiday. So, for separated or single parents who have work commitments, the holidays can be really tough. Last year we wrote a blog illustrating a couple of examples of how some separated parents worked out the childcare cover between them, you can read it here. Continue reading 10 Free Things to do in Bristol this Summer

The Challenges of Becoming a Step Mum or Dad – How to Bond with Step Children

After divorce or separation, one of the most challenging things for the children to deal with is when a new partner comes onto the scene. Not only is their world turned upside down by the separation, but any hopes they had of their parents getting back together will be dashed. We posted a while ago about introducing new partners with some suggestions of how it can be done, but here we look at how someone can integrate into family life and become a new step parent.

Continue reading The Challenges of Becoming a Step Mum or Dad – How to Bond with Step Children

Parental Alienation – What is it?

I thought it might be helpful to write about parental alienation, because in some form or another it comes up fairly regularly in mediation.

At its worst parental alienation is the deliberate manipulation of a child by one parent into fear, dislike and hostility of the other parent. It can result in a child refusing to see the other parent.

It often occurs when parents are in dispute about arrangements for their children, and tends to be alleged by the non-resident parent against the resident parent. Continue reading Parental Alienation – What is it?

Tips on how to Prepare for Family Mediation regarding Children’s Arrangements

Family mediation sessions for separating parents are a good way to discuss and resolve arrangements for the children. This could be working out a rota or timetable of when each parent will spend time with the children, how school holidays can be managed between the parents, as well as any financial disputes for maintenance payments. It is important to remember that children will be affected negatively if parents argue and cannot agree on these arrangements. Working with an experienced mediator in a safe and managed way that will avoid the conflict that can often arise between separating couples.

Continue reading Tips on how to Prepare for Family Mediation regarding Children’s Arrangements