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Juggling dads

Posted by Mum About Town
Mum About Town
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on Tuesday, 16 September 2014
There’s something about chatting to dads which gives all of us mums some kind of perspective.  Less domestically competitive and certainly less emotional, a dad can make any parenting challenge feel more like a game. So when I was offered interviews with a couple of well-known dads about their work/life balance*, I literally leapt at the chance in the hope that I might pick up some parenting skills at the same time.

First up was James Cracknell.  Having survived a near fatal crash, the Olympic gold medalist probably finds looking after his three smalls a bit of a breeze.  We chatted about ‘those other dads’ at the school gates, home births and the possibility of pressure on the school sports field.

The other dad I met is one of my foodie heroes.  Jason Atherton is a Michelin star chef and, having reviewed ALL of his London restaurants, I was eager to know how he runs his empire whilst juggling being a super dad.

As it turned out, both dads were pretty honest.  Parenting (of course) isn’t a piece of cake nor a row in the park. But the bottom line is being present (both in person and without an iPhone).

*Thanks to Not On The High Street for setting up these interviews for me as part of the dadpreneur campaign.

How do I get my wife back?

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 11 September 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

I am writing as I need some advice on a terrible decision I think I have made. I am a 45 year old man, I had a lovely life, an excellent job, comfortable home and three adorable children along with a doting wife. I met a younger lady and after some time I left everything for her. Six months on, the excitement of being with somebody new has worn off and the grass is definitely not greener on the other side. I have just ended the relationship with my new girlfriend and would do anything to have my old life back, but am so ashamed and embarrassed of what I have put my family through. My wife refuses to answer my calls, and ignores my texts. Her mother drops the children to me when they come to stay, so I don't even get to see her. My sister-in-law contacted me recently to tell me my wife still loves me, but at the same time despises me for what I have done to her and our children.

With your professional guidance I am hoping that I can fix this and my family. Any advice would be highly appreciated.

Patricia Marie says...

The decision to leave your wife and children for another woman would almost certainly have had a huge effect on your family, and you cannot expect everything to fall back into place just because things haven't worked out for you. Wanting your wife to conform to your wishes so soon after the hurt you have caused her would be unreasonable.

The commendable thing is that you have not only seen your errors, but have understood the consequences of your actions. However, you are going to have to do a lot of hard work to convince your wife. I would suggest you initially write her a letter of which she would be able to digest in her own time. Explain that you do not want to put any pressure on her at all, but would love to meet up to tell her in person how very sorry you are for the hurt you have caused.  You've learned a hard lesson, and hopefully you can give some consolation to your wife by accepting and owning your share of the blame, and most importantly, whatever the outcome, be able to continue a positive relationship with your children.

A huge concern and something you need to ask yourself is: why did you feel the need to walk away in the first place?  Clearly something wasn't right between you and your wife and this needs to be addressed before any thoughts of a reconciliation, otherwise, you could end up in the same situation as before. Perhaps before any life-changing decisions are made, you could both benefit from attending Relate (relate.org.uk) as having professional help would enable you to explore any issues that contributed to the breakdown of your relationship. And do remember, sometimes we search long and hard for something that we fail to realise we already have.


Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

1st, 2nd, 3rd

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Thursday, 11 September 2014
"A new study reveals…” These words never fail to grab my attention to discover what learned minds are talking about.

I am both the first-born and a woman so according to the University of Essex, am “…more likely to succeed.”  My alumni includes Angela Merkel, Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton and Beyonce.

We are more likely to be more ambitious and successful than our younger siblings who just happen to be Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Nelson Mandela, JFK, and Michael Jackson (technically the latter two were somewhere in the middle). Yes all men and yet, all successful, but so were/are Jane Austen, Barbara Walters, Jenifer Lopez and Madonna.

What is it about birth order scientists find fascinating enough to study and make bold statements about?

I guess the statistics demonstrate specific characteristics to warrant stereotypes like “…middle children tend to have high degrees of patience, perhaps because they spend so much of their time in childhood waiting their turn”, or “the youngest is often indulged, even spoilt,” says educational consultant, Katrin Schumann.

Is it money in the bank, number of friends on Facebook, or scoring an invite to Kensington Palace that’s the measure of success? Does a teacher’s salary score more points on the achievement scale than being the mum of four delightful children? My two younger sisters, the teacher and the mum (both somewhere in the middle birth order) could both argue their case and have you believe each is ambitious and successful.

What these studies do show is that parental attention makes children feel safer and loved. Spending time with your offspring may not be a guarantee for their success in life but it will hopefully bring joy and smiles and wonderful memories for all…and maybe save you money on therapists if you are so inclined.

I think tomorrow I will start my own study on how scientists come up with studies they feel worthy of their superior education and our valuable time to read them.

Royally sick

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Thursday, 11 September 2014
Being sick is so dreadful.  I’m not referring to lying in bed nursing a slight temperature while sipping hot lemon and ginger tea, lazily flicking through a glossy fashion magazine.  No, the actual act of feeling sick, being sick and smelling of all that sick.

So right now my heart goes out to our Princess and her not-yet-swollen tum.

Actually my sympathy goes out to her all the more as there is only one thing much worse than puking.  It’s the fact that the ENTIRE world knows you are puking.

Pregnancies pre the 12-week threshold are notoriously kept under wrap but as the Duchess of Cambridge is toilet/bedridden, she has had, once again, to let the new baby secret out of the bag.

As far as I am concerned, morning sickness is just the beginning of that fallacy called pregnancy.  It certainly isn’t just confined to mornings as nausea can sweep over the whole day.  But this princess is suffering more than the common people’s morning sickness.  Her royal version is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum and, affecting around 15 per cent of all pregnancies, it can go as far as causing dehydration.

Either way, I don’t envy her at all.  My baby making days feel like another world ago and, while I’ve got an image in my head of the Duke holding back all that wonderful hair, I do hope she milks it enough to get though a stack of magazines and several tea runs.

An eventful weekend

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
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on Thursday, 11 September 2014
And another Young Lady ventures out of town, this time to Lincolnshire for the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials – and an excuse to wear my tweed cape. It is a key highlight of the international equestrian calendar, but a carefully curated shopping village, displays including military working dogs and a contagious party atmosphere mean you needn't be horsey to enjoy it.

Eventing, a taxing combination of dressage, cross-country and show jumping, evolved from the training of cavalry horses, where speed, stamina and agility were of the essence. Today, it is a thriving international sport with a huge following – especially after Team GB's 2012 Olympic silver. And nowhere better to watch it than the magnificent surroundings of the Burghley Estate.

Out on the cross-country course on Saturday, I joined the cheering crowds lining the four-mile, four-star track. Designed by Capt. Mark Phillips and incorporating fences from the London 2012 Olympics, it is one of the world's most challenging. And visually stunning too, running over undulating parkland and woodland, with the backdrop of Burghley House.

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As I watched New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson and his home-bred grey Avebury powering over the imposing fences, I found myself in the unusual position of rooting for a foreign competitor. The pair had won Burghley twice, and I really wanted to see them make it a record-breaking three. 'I rode him like I stole him,' Nicholson said later, referring to his daring shortcuts that had the crowd gasping. Avebury thrives on this bold approach.

And that's just the world-class sport. The social scene is second to none, too. On my way back to the car, I stumbled into the Dubarry stand. Yes, the one where impossibly handsome chaps stand in a bucket of water (to show their famous country boots are really waterproof) and flirt outrageously. Filled with antiques and a well stocked bar, it felt like a particularly jolly house party in an Irish stately. Next thing I knew, I'd been kitted out in their clothes and drafted into their legendary after-party. The tipple of choice was the Galway cocktail, made by salesman-turned-mixologist Keith Kenny.

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Dangerously delectable (the cocktail, but yes Keith too), its magic ingredient is marmalade vodka. Good things happen at Burghley. Finding my car in the dark afterwards was another matter. I should have brought a torch.

Onwards and upwards for the show-jumping finale on Sunday. With only a few points between the top three competitors, it was an edge-of the seat affair. I actually yelped with joy when overnight leaders Nicholson and Avebury crossed the finish line, nailing their third consecutive Burghley victory. It was a privilege to witness eventing history in the making.

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With some of the world's best horses and riders in a beautiful setting, shopping heaven and a contagious party atmosphere, this is a truly unique event – and the most sociable of its kind. I pitched up on my own, but by the time I left I'd bumped into an old friend and made several new ones (including Capt. Phillips's yellow lab). Put it in your diary for next year –and remember to pack a torch.

Burghley Horse Trials 2015 are from 3-5 September www.burghley-horse.co.uk
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