Being a parent carries a lot of mental load: “I must remember to make an appointment at the dentist for Joe”“Mel needs to wear red socks to school tomorrow”, “It is Sophie’s birthday next week, I need to organize the balloons”, “ I need to leave work early on Thursday because it is Peter’s parents’ evening” and on and on it goes. The to-do list is never ending! This is the mental load of being a parent. It is described as the thinking, planning, scheduling, and organizing of family members, and the emotional labour associated with this work. 

I am talking about the mental load of parents but to be fair, in most households this mental load is carried by mothers. It is not me saying this (don’t shoot the messenger), research shows that even when women work similar hours and earn the same or even more than their male partners, they still have a second shift taking care of the house and the children. Because usually when fathers help, they are doing just that: Helping. The woman is still the one that needs to keep all the balls in the air and ask for help. 

I don’t want to sound like the grinch, but the reality is that during Christmas our mental load increases. And depending on how ‘seriously’ you take Christmas it can increase by a lot! Decorations, visiting family (and negotiating family politics and dynamics), organizing (and cooking) meals (considering dietary requirements of half the family), present-buying (don’t forget the wrapping), attending school nativities (for which you have hand-made the perfect shepherd’s costume all on your own and from scratch), organizing Christmassy plans, card-writing, and volunteering at the school’s Christmas fair … And you must do all these while juggling work, taking care of the kids (while they are on holidays), and don’t forget to enjoy yourself and be utterly happy and charming! For many families, financial issues can be an extra concern. It can be a lot, right?

If this is how you feel every single Christmas, my proposal to you for this year is to stop and think about your priorities. It is great that you want to create a special holiday for everyone around you, but you also need to enjoy yourself and if possible, get some rest. How do we do this?

  • Learn to say NO. And say no without feeling guilty or bad. If you are asked to take things on that you simply don’t have the time for or don’t want to do, say so. Learning to say no is a skill that we all need to develop. The more you say it, the better you become at it!
  • Think what is important for you and what is not. Ditch things that are not important. In my case, I totally refuse to write Christmas cards. Have never done it. I don’t want to spend hours on end writing, sticking, asking for addresses … 
  • Share the load with the rest of the family. And I mean sharing the load, not just simply asking them to help. Delegate tasks to other members of the family. However, this means that if you don’t like how they do it, you need to keep quiet!
  • Stay away from social media. If you are feeling stressed those impeccably curated images of Christmas perfection will only make you feel worse. They are part of what makes us feel overwhelmed in the first place. 
  • Finally, the most important one: your children don’t need the perfect Christmas organized by the perfect but tired and stressed mum. Your children want to spend time with you, they want to laugh and play and chat. They don’t care if the decorations are absolutely perfect or how many Christmas cards you wrote. They won’t remember that. They will remember the good times they had with you during Christmas and that you made them feel loved and special. That is the meaning of Christmas. 

Whatever you are doing over Christmas, we wish you and your family a wonderful time. At REC Parenting we will be here to support you, should you need it. You can always get in touch with us at

Much love, 

Ana and the REC Parenting Team

Our new report examining how working parents are doing is out and people are talking about it! We have recently been featured in Benefits Expert and Workplace Insight.

Earlier this year, we asked 2,000 working parents with children aged 18 or under to tell us how well they are managing work and family. Our findings are worrying. To give you an example, almost half of working mothers and a third of working fathers have considered quitting as juggling work and parenting responsibilities feels too much to cope with.

Based on our findings, we strongly believe that employers must consider how they can enhance the support they offer to their employees who are re parents. Having an effective wellbeing strategy that offers a range of support that can be accessed easily when employees need it, will help reduce working parents’ stress levels and improve their family life. At the same time, it will help employers to attract and retain talent, increase productivity and save money. Everybody wins!

To find out more, download the full report here.

Photo: Mimi Thian via Unsplash

To mark the end of Black History Month we would like to reflect on why we should talk about race with our children and how to do it. 

We are all increasingly living in multicultural societies and therefore we must give our children the tools to understand, embrace and celebrate different races, cultures and religions. One way through which children learn about these issues (and many others) is through conversations with their parents

I feel a bit uncomfortable discussing race… Am I the only one? 

You are certainly not alone! It is mostly white parents that do not discuss race with their children, indeed only about 10% talk about it. In contrast, about 60-80% of non-white parents discuss it with their children. 

Why? Some parents feel anxious because they are worried they may not do it ‘right’, others want to shield their children, whereas others think that it is not relevant for their family. Some parents think that if they never discuss it, their children will never show racial biases. 

Some families favour a ‘colour blind ideology’. This is the idea that we shouldn’t pay any attention to race because we are all the same. This may be problematic because children don’t know what their parents think about it, and they may end up thinking that they are racist or that it is a taboo topic that shouldn’t be discussed. There is also evidence showing that when parents don’t discus race, children begin to think that racism doesn’t exist. 

It is important that we talk about racial differences with our children because as we are going to see next, children perceive race differences from a very early age. So, we are not doing them any favour by simply ignoring it. 

When and how do children perceive race?

Children pick up on racial differences from a very early age. Indeed, 3-month-old babies prefer to look at photos of white babies if they are white and black babies prefer to look at pictures of black babies. This is because they prefer to look at what they are used to. Interestingly, babies raised in mixed communities don’t show this preference. This preference continues through development. Three- and 4-year-olds prefer to sharetheir resources with children of their same race than with children who don’t look like them. White children show this in-group bias more strongly than other race children. 

Count Chris via Unsplash

Children as young as ten years old do not like to talk about race. In a study, researchers asked children to play Guess Who. They found that 10- and 11- year-old children did worse than 8- and 9-year-olds because they did not ask about race even when asking that question was the key to win the game.

As you can see, children perceive racial differences almost from birth, so it doesn’t make sense to ignore it. We must consider race as a ‘normal’ topic of conversation.  

OK, so I get that I should discuss race with my child… But how do I do it? 

First, consider that how you approach this topic is different depending on your background. White and non-white children have very different experiences with racism, so conversations need to be different. 

If you are white and live in a mostly white community, your child will be noticing others who look different to them from a very young age. They will notice different skin colours, and different ways of dressing. When your child asks questions about why someone is black or Asian or why a woman is wearing a head covering, try to answer them by celebrating and embracing differences. Be factual about why we are different: “That child has dark skin because a long time ago his family came from a place where the sun was strong and dark skin is more resistant to the sun” or “She is wearing a hijab because of her religion; she is a Muslim”. Celebrate differences and note that the fact that we are all different makes life and our experiences much more interesting. 

Reframe what children may consider as “weird” as being different and interesting. Doing this will help your child to understand other cultures and other perspectives. As much as possible try not to ignore or hush your child when they make these comments (even if they happen at awkward places like the bus or the supermarket queue). Remember that if your child senses that you don’t want to discuss that topic, they will perceive it as being taboo. 

Another good idea is to expose them to stories about people from different backgrounds. Read books about people who look different and are friends. Draw attention to these differences (e.g., “Look, these children look different and they are friends”). Be explicit about it. Take the opportunity to talk about it when you are listening or watching the news. 

For non-white families it may be a good idea to discuss your own cultural strengths and resilience. Help your child to develop pride in their background. 

Don’t ignore the fact that we are all different. Discuss it with your child. Be factual about why we all are different, celebrate and embrace those differences.

This masterclass is based on Professor Harriet Tenenbaum’s masterclass. Have a look at it for more information and resources. At REC Parenting we support ALL parents and children. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at Also, don’t forget to contact your REC Parenting therapist should you need support. 

Much love,

Ana and the REC Parenting team

All families face struggles, but families formed through adoption often face challenges of their own. In this article we are going to focus on children who are adopted and some common struggles they may face. 

Adoption is a lifelong journey. All adopted children will think at some point about their birth parents: “Why did they give me up for adoption?”, “What kind of people were they?”, “Would I have been happier with them?”, and “Do I have siblings?” are frequent questions. However, it is important that we do not generalise and think that all adopted children are the same. Some may have hardly any issues whereas others may find it more difficult. Adoption issues can affect adoptees at any age and at any point in their lives. It depends on their circumstances before adoption, their genetics, the age of adoption, the circumstances of their adoptive family… However, it is important to remember that all adopted children have experienced trauma or at least serious challenges, and these won’t go away just by being adopted.

Here are some common issues faced by adopted children: 

  1. Loss: Whatever the reason explaining why a child ends up being adopted, that child has been separated from their birth parents. Some children may have lived with many foster families and so have lost multiple families. 
  2. Rejection: Adopted children may feel rejected by their birth parents as they did not want them or could not take care of them. 
  3. Guilt or shame: Some children may feel that there is something wrong with them that explains why their birth parents didn’t keep them. 
  4. Grief: Adopted children may grieve over their lost parents and family.
  5. Identity and Self-esteem: We all develop a narrative of our life. We start to create our narrative based on the stories that our carers tell us (e.g., the story of your birth, your first day of school…). As we grow up, we continue developing our personal narrative adding our own experiences. Adopted children may have issues developing an identity because they are likely to have gaps in their narrative that they cannot fill. Questions about identity are particularly important during adolescence.
  6. Intimacy: Adopted children may find difficult to establish intimate relationships with family members, especially if they have lived with a few different families or if they have been victim of abuse.
  7. Mastery and control: Depending on the age of the adoption and on the circumstances leading to it, some children may feel that they have lost all control over their lives. 

Here are some suggestions to deal with these issues for parents of adopted children:

Be honest and open

Adopted children may have identity issues, so it is very important that you help them create a solid identity and personal narrative. Make adoption a normal topic of conversation. If they have questions that you don’t have the answers to, just say so. When possible, have as much information about their birth family as you can. Don’t lie to your child about the fact that they are adopted or the circumstances of the adoption. Amanda Baden who has been examining adoption for 25 years, published a study a few years ago suggesting that it is best to disclose the information before the child is three. Baden found that those children who could remember being told (aged 3 and older) reported higher levels of distress than those children who did not remember ever having ‘the conversation’. One of the hardest things about being told later in life is realising that everyone else (grandparents, uncles, friends) knew the truth and didn’t tell you. 

Some people may argue that it is best to wait until the child is old enough so they can really understand the ins and outs of the adoption process, but the reality is that we talk all the time with young children about things they cannot fully understand (e.g., space, the extinction of the dinosaurs). When they are little, they understand the basics of the adoption and as they grow, they will understand it fully, while knowing all the way that they were never lied to. If you lie to your child and they find out, say when they are 14, they will have to rebuild their own identity, which will damage their self-esteem and their relationship with you. If they find out that you lied to them about something so important, they will find it difficult to trust you again and they will question everything they have ever been told. 

Consider keeping in touch with the birth family

A growing body of research shows that having some contact with the birth family can help children deal with the feelings of loss and grief associated with leaving them, as well as to develop their sense of identity. In addition, being in touch may help your child access important medical information, have more supportive adults in their lives, understand their cultural and ethnic heritage, and relate to the birth family as real people rather than denigrating or idealising them. Of course, each family is different, and you need to consider what works best for your child. This can range from talking about their birth parents to spending time with them. 

Provide a loving home with a consistent routine and positive discipline

Research shows that all children do better in warm, affectionate, and stable households. This does not mean being lax or not having rules. The idea is to be very loving and caring but at the same time establishing clear limits. This will provide the child with a sense of safety. 

Having a consistent routine is key for all children but even more for adopted children who have often experienced unstable and unsafe environments. Depending on the child’s age, they may have experienced a loss of control, so allowing them to make some decisions (e.g., which extracurricular activities to take, how to decorate their bedroom) will help them to build confidence and gain some sense of control. 

Being too punitive in how you discipline your child may not be a good idea because it may deepen their low self-esteem. Instead, try to use praise (e.g., ‘You have tidied up so well!”) and rewards (e.g., “If you have a bath now, you can watch some tv later”) rather than punishments. 

Photo credit: MT Elgassier on Unsplash

Work hand-in-hand with your child’s school

Children spend around 15,000 hours at school, so it is so very important that your school knows the circumstances of your child otherwise they won’t be able to support them effectively. Adopted children are more likely to experience school exclusions and leave school with lower-than-average educational attainment. However, provided children are well supported by their adoptive families and their schools, there is no reason why they cannot thrive academically. It is important that school staff undergo specific training, so they can support adopted children effectively.

Be careful with praise and avoid comparing your child to others

Some adopted children have low self-esteem and a deep sense of shame. If your praise is too exaggerated (e.g., “You are the cleverest boy ever!”), they may not believe you. Further, it is always better to praise their behaviours (e.g., “Look at how much effort you put in that test, you got an A!”) rather than their personality (e.g., “You got an A, how clever are you!”). In addition, try not to compare your child with their biological siblings or other family members as it can make them feel out of place. 

Focus on your child’s mental health

Adopted children are more likely to experience significant emotional, social, and mental health difficulties than children who are not adopted. Most adopted children have experienced trauma, and they need time and support to work on it. Early negative experiences such as neglect and abuse alter the child’s brain structure and functioning, as well as the systems that deal with responses to stress. You can help your child by providing them with a stable and predictable environment both at home and school, so they start seeing the world as a safe place. Some children may need professional support at some points in their life. 

Know what support is available to you

Some families may need a lot of support whereas others need little. Or they may need different support at particular life stages. Whatever your case, it is good to know what support is available out there in case you need it. Services like one-to-one support, mental health services, support groups, parenting classes, and mentoring can be helpful. 

We hope you find this article useful. If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics for us to write about, please email us at

If you need one-to-one support, do not forget to contact your REC Parenting therapist. They are waiting for you!

Much love, 

Ana and the REC Parenting Team

We’ve all been there: You are at the supermarket with your 2-year-old. He eyes the chocolate chip cookies. You are late to react and knows what is coming: A full-on meltdown in aisle 31 of the supermarket begins when you tell him he cannot have the cookies. After all, it is almost dinner time. Your fellow customers alternate between giving you the look of “What a bad parent” or “I totally get you, don’t worry”. What do you do? Do you carry your child kicking and screaming out of the supermarket or do you let him cry out for what seems like the longest time of your life?

Let’s look at the science behind tantrums. 

What is a tantrum?

They are brief episodes of extreme and sometimes aggressive behaviours in response to frustration or anger. They usually include: Crying, hitting, throwing items, biting, pushing, going limp and breath-holding. 

Why do tantrums happen?

They happen because at this stage it is very difficult for your child to control their emotions. And at this age when they are happy, they are VERY happy and when they are angry, they are VERY angry. At this same time, children become more independent. Most of them can now walk around and with this newly gained physical independence, they want to be allowed to DO things. And when you tell them ‘NO’ the frustration begins. And because they cannot control that frustration and they don’t have the ability to tell you how they are feeling, the tantrum begins! 

So… Can I prevent tantrums to happen?

Good news- Yes! Tantrums happen because of hunger, tiredness, illness and frustration. Therefore, prevention is the best way to avoid them. 

Some useful tips are:

  • Establish a consistent routine so the child knows when it is time to go to bed, have a bath, eat, and play. 
  • Take snacks with you when you are out and about to avoid your child getting hungry.
  • If possible, avoid ‘boring’ activities like going to the supermarket or to the post office around nap time or lunch time when your child is more likely to be cranky. 
  • Have toys at the ready so you can distract your child if he starts getting frustrated. 

The theory is great but I could not prevent it and I am now facing a massive tantrum: What do I do? 

There is not much you can do once the tantrum starts. The best thing to do is to wait it out. Make sure your child is safe (they sometimes bang their heads against the wall or the floor), stay close but don’t do anything. Once they finish, wipe their tears and redirect their attention to another activity. 

The acronym R.I.D.D. can help you handle tantrums (easier said than done, we know):

Remain calm 

Ignore the tantrum

Distract the child as soon as it is over

Do make sure your child is safe but don’t give in to demands. 

Do not give in. If you give into the tantrum, you are reinforcing the behaviour and your child will know that if he throws a tantrum, he will get what he wants. We know it may be painful to watch, but the best thing for your child is for you to wait until he is done.

My child is approaching two: How often can I expect tantrums to happen?

Tantrums happen between the ages of two and three but may occur as young as 12 months. They happen in 87% of 18 to 24-month-olds, 91% of 30 to 36-month-olds, and 59% of 42 to 48-month-olds. They tend to occur once a day for around three minutes. There are no differences in the prevalence of tantrums by gender or ethnicity. 

As the child grows and they learn to put their feelings into words, the frequency, length and severity of the tantrums decrease (don’t despair! -There is light at the end of the tunnel).  

What about tantrums in the case of neurodivergent children?

Neurodivergent children may experience more frequent and aggressive tantrums because they usually have more difficulties expressing their feelings. 

In the case of children with autism, it is important to differentiate between tantrums and meltdowns. A meltdown is more emotional, bigger, lasts for longer, and is more difficult to manage than a tantrum. A meltdown happens because a sensory or emotional overwhelm. It is a sign of distress that cannot be controlled by the child. Meltdowns may last for as long as 20 minutes and can happen at any age. 

Like tantrums, meltdowns can be prevented by recognizing the triggers and using techniques like distraction and keeping a consistent routine. The most important thing to do in the case of a meltdown is to make sure your child is safe and cannot get hurt while it lasts. 

Ok, I understand how to take care of my child during a tantrum or a meltdown but what about me?

Tantrums and meltdowns can really push you to the limit. We are with you. 

Try to remain as calm as you can. If you think you are going to lose it, make sure your child is safe and leave the room for a few seconds to calm yourself down. Another useful technique is to ring a friend and have a chat to distract yourself while making sure your child is safe. Or ask a neighbour to come in. 

Toddlers can really push your buttons. Try to remain calm and not lose your patience. And remember, this phase won’t last forever even if sometimes it feels like it. 

We hope you find this article useful. Remember to contact your REC Parenting therapist if you need support. For any questions or comments, do drop us an email at We are here to support your and your family. 



Photo credit Arwan Sutanto on Unsplash

Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world in different ways. Being neurodivergent means having a brain that works differently from the ‘typical’ person. The key is that these differences are not viewed as deficits, rather they are seen as well…. differences, nor better or worse, just different. 

Neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of issues, including: ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, Down syndrome, epilepsy, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, tics disorders, ODD, giftedness… 

Approximately 1 in 6 children can be considered neurodivergent. We know that being a working parent may be challenging but the challenges for working parents of neurodivergent children may seem unsurmountable. These parents have to address frequent and intense crisis-driven care needs for their children, experience stigmatisation in many areas of life, and are concerned about their job security because of their demanding child care responsibilities.  

It is no surprising that parents of neurodivergent children drop out of the workforce at very high rates. Burnout, unpredictable schedules, and the varying levels of care required are some of the reasons. Yet we know that 60% of parents don’t disclose the fact that they have a neurodivergent child to their employer.  

Knowing how to support parents caring for neurodivergent children is imperative. These parents do face extra challenges but they are also likely to develop very valuable skills from their experiences in an atypical parenting situation, such as resilience, negotiation, time management and flexibility.  

Photo: Austin Diestel on Unsplash

Here are five strategies to support your employees who are caring for a neurodivergent child: 

  1. Support them with specialized resources: When a parent suspects or is told that their child may be neurodivergent, they face the very daunting and time-consuming task of understanding what to do, how to find the right specialists, and where to find support. And they must do all this while dealing with their own mental state. Offering dedicated resources at this time may be life-changing for a working parent. Parents of neurodivergent children need the right set of skills and tools so their whole family can thrive.  
  2. Support their mental health and wellbeing: Parents of neurodivergent children are 2.4 times more likely to have mental health issues than other parents. They suffer from high stress levels that contribute to depression, anxiety and other poor health outcomes. Easy access to mental health support services will help parents to take care of themselves in turn allowing them to take better care of their child.  
  3. Flexibility must be a policy not a perk: Be prepared to offer them some control over when and where they work. A meeting at 9 pm rather than at 4 pm may work better for them because the child is already in bed. 
  4. Train line managers: Line managers cannot be expected to know about everything. Training them so they have the tools to know how to accommodate and support parents of neurodivergent children is a must.
  5. Create a truly inclusive workplace: Parents may not tell their employers about their situation because of fear of not being seen as completely invested in their jobs or fearing that their co-workers and managers will think that their children are ‘odd’ or ‘weird’. Actions such as creating a dedicated employee resource group, celebrating a ‘neurodiversity day or week’, or a ‘bring your family to work day’ will help to create an inclusive family-friendly working culture. No matter how families look like. Initiatives should be ongoing to increase engagement and awareness.  

At REC Parenting we are committed to support the needs of parents of neurodivergent children. For any comments or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch at  

Ana and the REC Parenting Team 

With the start of the academic year, new friendships are formed, others are left behind, social groups reshuffle and sadly, bullying may happen. Because let’s be honest, bullying happens in most schools. I am very weary when schools say that it doesn’t happen in their establishments. It does happen, the important thing is how the school community tackles it. 

What is bullying?

Bullying happens when a child hurts another on purpose. The bully has more power than the victim, they may be stronger, bigger, or more popular.

Bullying is not a one-off quarrel. It happens repeatedly over a period of time. It is more frequent between the ages of 10-13 but it can happen at any age. 

Types of bullying

  • Emotional: Socially isolating the child, calling them names, laughing at them… 
  • Physical: Kicking, punching the child, damaging their property…
  • Cyberbullying: It is a form of emotional bulling using electronic devices. The issue with cyberbullying is that the victim cannot escape their attackers. They get no rest from the bullying. Not even when they are home and are meant to be safe. 

Who is at risk of being bullied? 

Everyone is at risk, but the reality is that some children are more likely to be bullied than others. Children that are perceived to be different in any way, for example, because they are new to the school, are from a different country or a different religion are more likely to be bullied. Children with low self-esteem, those with disabilities or special needs are also at a higher risk. In general, children who are thought to be “weaker” or “different” are more likely to be bullied. 

How to know if my child is being bullied?

  • A sudden loss of confidence, the child becoming very withdrawn, moody, aggressive, throwing tantrums, being angry
  • School achievement falling
  • Not wanting to go to school: Finding excuses in the morning, complaining of feeling unwell in the morning
  • Coming back home without their materials or broken materials
  • Saying that they did not have lunch because maybe the bully took their lunch or took their lunch money
  • Having bruises or cuts 

What to do if my child is being bullied?

  • Explain what bullying is and focus on behaviour rather than labelling other children (“They are mean”) or your child (“You are weak”).
  • Make it very clear that it is not their fault in any way. 
  • Reassure your child that action can be taken.
  • Encourage them to be assertive. This doesn’t mean that they must be aggressive but calm and firm about their feelings. Practice role play at home so that when they face the bully, they have the tools to respond to them.  
  • NEVER tell your child to sort it out by hitting the bully back. It rarely works and it can get your child into deeper trouble. 
  • Explore ways to extend their friendship groups, for example by joining new clubs.
  • Encourage activities that encourage self-esteem such as drama or sports.
  • Explore ways with them to approach the school even if they don’t want to. You can maybe propose that you talk together with their favourite teacher. 
  • DO NOT dismiss it as banter. If your child comes to you because they are being hurt or threatened, try not to say things like “Oh toughen up, it is just a bit of banter” or “Don’t be overdramatic, that has always happened and here we are”. Bullying can have dramatic consequences especially when the victim thinks there is no way out. 
  • Keep a bullying diary in case you need it in the future.

Why do some children bully others?

The answer to this question is a rather complicated one. There is not one simple factor that explains a child becoming a bully. Bullying behaviour is influenced by a wide range of home, individual, school, neighbourhood, and societal factors. 

Children bully others to gain status in their peer group. They seek out approval from their peers by being tough, cruel and powerful or by gaining reputation. Bullies often lack empathy, and their need to belong to the group overrides any other feelings they may experience.

It is important to remember that bullies themselves tend not to do well across many aspects of life. They tend to have problems at school, and show high levels of aggression, depression, and anxiety. They also have difficulties managing their emotions, particularly their anger. 

Photo by Obie Fernandez on Unsplash

What if my child is the bully? 

No parent wants to think that our child is a bully but when bullying happens someone is doing it! Let’s start by saying that is it NOT your fault if the child is the bully. 

If your child is indeed the bully, you need a plan of action with the school. Together you need to find the motivation for your child’s behaviour. Why are they doing it? Professional support may be a good idea in these cases.  Consider that many bullies continue to behave that way all their lives, so it is very important that you tackle the issue as soon as possible. 

Finally, it is important to consider that bullying rarely happens in isolation. Usually, the whole class or the whole peer group know about it. Some children may encourage it, others may think it’s wrong but they may be afraid of saying something and risking being next, whereas others may defend the victim. It is really important that all parents have a chat with our kids about this issue, encouraging them to confide in us or other adults around them if them or others are being bullied. Stopping bullying is not only the responsibility of schools or of those directly involved in it, but of all of us. 

This article is based on Professor Helen Cowie’s masterclass: The complete guide to bullying. Do watch it to find out many more resources and information. If your child is struggling with bullying do not hesitate to get in touch with your REC Parenting therapist. Do also drop us an email at for any comment or question. We are here to support you! 

Much love,

Ana and The REC Parenting Team 

The summer holiday is a good time to reflect on what worked and did not work during the previous academic year, allowing you to start the new one feeling refreshed (hopefully!) and with new goals. Doing so will help you to achieve work-life balance. This means giving equal importance to your career demands and your personal life. Work-life balance is more than a catchphrase: it’s a necessity. 

Here are some tips to achieve work-life balance:

  1. It’s OK not to be perfect 

There is no such thing as the perfect parent. It is important that we let go of that idea. You are not a superhero. There will be times when things won’t be perfect. Accept that this is fine, you are not failing, you are doing the best you can. And remember that for the most part, the idea of parenting we see in social media is not real. Don’t fall into the trap! Perfection is an unrealistic goal, trying to achieve it will only lead you to feeling stressed and unsatisfied. 

2. Ask for help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Remember the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”? It is true! And even more in the case of working parents and single parents. We all need help sometimes. Coordinate with other parents and family members. Take turns accompanying children to and from school, share birthday parties, and coordinate playdates so you can all have some free time. 

3. Be flexible

Understanding that there may be moments when your family needs you more and other moments when your work demands your full attention is essential. Be flexible and be ready to re-prioritise when things change. 

4. Do not neglect yourself

If you want to be able to take care of others, you must take care of yourself. If you are not feeling strong, you won’t be able to do well at home or at work. Remember to sleep and eat well, and exercise regularly. Many of us feel guilty when we have some ‘me time’, but we must learn to ignore that feeling! Think that taking care of yourself is the first step to take care of everything and everyone in your life. 

5. Do not feel guilty because you work

Use the time that you have with the kids to enjoy them, do things together, and support them. Do not waste your time wishing that you didn’t have to work. Those thoughts are not helpful, especially if you have no other option but to work. You can be a working parent and a fantastic parent, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! 

6. Learn to say “no”

For many of us saying no is difficult. Maybe for you saying no is packed with guilt, you are a people pleaser, or you are afraid of disappointing others.  However, think that your time and resources are limited, and you should put your energy and effort on the things that are important to you and your family. Whenever a request that you don’t want to do or can’t do comes your way, say no. The sooner you do it, the better so that you avoid unnecessary stress. Some ways of saying no are: ‘Sadly, I have something else going on’, ‘I wish I were able to’, ‘I don’t have the bandwidth to do it right now’, ‘Thanks for thinking of me. However, I am not able to’, or ‘I’m sorry, I’m not able to fit this in’. The more you do it, the easier it will become!

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

7. Set expectations at home and at work

The start of the academic year is the perfect moment to spend some time alone and decide what you want to achieve in the coming months. Similarly, it is a good time to hold ‘expectations meetings’ at home and at work. At home, establish with your family what will be expected of each one of you, the rules and the organisation of the household for the Autumn months. 

At work, depending on your role you can have a similar discussion with your colleagues and team members. Doing this will reduce the likelihood of having to say ‘no’ as well as reduce disappointments, frictions, and arguments. 

8. Change one unhealthy habit 

Many of us have habits that are not the best for our physical and mental health. Perhaps you drink a bit too much, don’t exercise enough, eat too much processed food, or spend too much time on Instagram. Whereas it is not realistic trying to change all our bad (or not that good) habits at the same time, it is realistic to try to change one. Decide one habit that you would like to change, and go for it! 

We wish you and your family all the very best for the new academic year. If you feel you need some extra support, remember to contact your REC Parenting therapist. You can also get in touch with us at We are here to support you and your family! 

The first day of nursery is a big day, not only for your child but for the whole family. In this article we give you seven tips to help you prepare your child for their first day. 

1. Talk positively about nursery: Walk past the nursery, attend an open day or an induction session. Establish that this is their nursery and talk about when they will join. Take some photos or look at the photos on the website together. Doing this helps your child to achieve a sense of familiarity with it. If your child is excited about it, keep on talking about it regularly, for example, you can count the number of sleeps. If in contrast, your child is anxious it is better not to discuss it too much to avoid building the anxiety. 

2. Talk about others’ experience at nursery: As a general rule, sharing your own or other family members’ experience helps your child understand that they are not alone in whatever they are going through. Ask them how they are feeling and validate those feelings. Try to avoid saying things like: “You will be fine”. Instead say things like: “I understand this is tough. I remember it was tough for me as well. Let’s see how we can help you to make things easier”. 

3. Organise playdates with future classmates: This is a great way for you and your child to build some relationships. 

4. Practice relevant skills: Sharing, turn-taking, putting their coat on (watch this video to learn the best method), taking shoes on and off, drinking independently from a cup…

A common question is whether children need to be potty trained before starting at nursery. This varies from nursery to nursery. Some will ask for your child to be trained before starting whereas others will support you in this transition. In general, it is best to wait for the child to be ready. If possible, do not rush to do it in the last few weeks before nursery starts. Consider that when they start nursery, children may feel uncomfortable asking a new adult to help them in the loo and may not ask, leading to accidents that will most likely upset them. Also, at the beginning they are more likely to miss the signs because they are in a new and stimulating environment. If your child is not potty trained at the start, allow them to settle at nursery, and once they are happy you can agree with their teacher on the best time to do it. 

Photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash

5. Engage in role-play: If the nursery has a uniform or a bag, practice wearing it and role play going to school. This can be a great activity if another child you know is also starting at the same nursery. 

6. Remove their dummy or comfort object for periods of time: Try to remove them for the part of the day that they will be at nursery. Working on language and communication will be a priority at nursery, and this will be difficult using a dummy. Similarly, your child will be working on their fine (e.g., cutting, sticking) and gross (e.g., throwing a ball) motor skills and this will be difficult if they are holding a comfort object. Explain to your child that they will be kept safe at home or at nursery until they are finished. 

7. Work on separation: Arrange to leave them even for a short period of time with a friend or a family member. Be confident when you leave and reassure them that you are coming back. Depending on how they feel, start with a few minutes and build up to an hour or two. If they are sad, tell them it is OK to feel that way and remind them that you came back as promised. Stay positive, discuss the great things they did while you were away.

What happens if your child cries a lot when you leave them at nursery? By the time your child starts nursery, they will have established a strong attachment with you and other caregivers. So, leaving you will most likely upset them. Parents usually ask if it is better to stay with their child while they settle or to leave straight away. Consider that your child needs to establish a bond with their new teacher. Why should they even try if you are there, covering all their emotional needs? The best thing when you get to nursery is to explain to your child that you must leave to go to work or run errands and explain that you will return soon. Usually, there will be tears, but your child will eventually settle. The teacher will be able to support your child better once you are gone through fun and engaging activities. Do not however sneak off, it is much better to be honest and say you are leaving. Your child will develop confidence in you that way. 

If your child cries a lot, it may be a good idea to start with short sessions and gradually build up the time, keeping the separation routine consistent each time. For some children, it may take a long time but if they see that you are becoming anxious, it may be harder from them. Remember each child is different!

We hope your child has the best time at nursery! The information on this article is based on our masterclass: Choosing the right nursery for your child. Watch it here to learn more tips and useful information. If you have any questions, remember to contact your REC Parenting therapist or email us at: We are here to support you and your family!

Should children keep on doing schoolwork during the summer holidays or should they be given a break? This is not an easy question to answer and depending on who you ask, you will most likely get different answers. 

Educators who advocate for children doing work during the summer do so based on research showing that when children do nothing at all in maths and reading, they lose two to three months of learning. So, it is basically as if they ended the school year in March. This is a reasonably well-documented phenomenon called summer learning loss or summer slide. 

It is important to consider that summer learning loss does not impact all children equally. It seems to be worse for neurodivergent children as well as for children who don’t speak the same language at home and at school (e.g., in our case, we speak Spanish at home but my children attend a school in English). Not only may these children forget the academic material, but they may also need to refresh the language in which they are taught. Summer learning loss has also been shown to be worse for children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. 

Before you rush to buy workbooks for your child to do at the beach, however, it is important to note that other educators are not sure that summer learning loss is really a thing. This is because researchers have recently tried and failed to replicate past studies on this topic and therefore, the guidelines are not entirely clear. 

So, what to do? We have carefully examined the research and our conclusion is that doing some work on maths and reading during the summer is positive for children’s learning. The key is how you approach it. 

Consider that work does not have to be formal, especially in the case of the little ones. Support your child’s reading skills by taking them to the local library or bookshop and getting books, comics, or magazines they enjoy. Remember that the aim is not to learn new content but to keep up their reading skills. So, if your child wants to read about a topic that you don’t consider important or ‘serious’, let them!  And even better, discuss their reading with them to show you care and that you value their interests. At the same time, you will be supporting their reading comprehension. 

You may also support your child’s reading skills by reading signs when in the bus or the car, cooking together and asking them to read the recipes, or asking them to look for certain items in the supermarket. 

To support your child’s maths, you can add car number plates when out and about, cook together asking them to calculate quantities, give them pocket money so they need to count coins, and play board games together that involve counting. 

Other educators advocate that children should not do any work and just rest and have fun over the summer. We totally agree that the summer is the time for children to relax, have fun, and engage in activities they enjoy. However, there are plenty of hours in the day to allow for some reading or some of the maths activities we have mentioned. Having said this, summer work fails its purpose if it causes stress on kids and families. Resentment will most certainly not help your child’s learning. If engaging your child in any kind of schoolwork is damaging your relationship, it is probably best to leave it. 

Whereas academic skills are very important, children’s socioemotional skills are also incredibly important, and the summer is an ideal period to practice them. Make the most of their free time by seeing friends and family, have conversations with them, and do things together. Allow your child to have free time when they can choose what to do. And remember that being bored sometimes is not a bad thing. Indeed, it can help develop their creativity!

Finally, the summer can be the perfect time to strengthen the relationship with your child without having to worry about schedules, music practice, or homework. Whatever you do this summer, have a great one! We hope that by the end of the summer you and your children feel refreshed and ready to start the new academic year.

I hope you find this article helpful. For any comments or questions, drop us an email at We are here for you!

Much love,

 Ana x

With many children already on holidays and many others about to start, parents are facing the challenge of how to deal with having them at home while you still need to work. This can be a tricky and stressful moment, especially if you cannot rely on your extended family, summer camps, or friends to lend you a hand. 

Here are some ideas that you may find helpful:

  1. Set up expectations and limits

Setting up expectations is helpful so that everyone is clear on how things are going to work. Have a family meeting to decide the rules. Discuss expectations (e.g., organise your room, load the dishwasher, going out rules…). Decide the structure of the days so that the children know what to expect. Explain to your children the hours that you need to work each day or the specific times. For example, “I need to be at my desk and not disturbed between 9-12. Once I am done, we can go to the park”. Doing this everyday helps your children to manage their expectations and gives them stability. 

You also may want to set up rules about when it is OK for your child to disturb you while you are at work (e.g., “You can only come into my study or wherever you are working if someone rings the bell, or if you have hurt yourself”). Avoid telling them to come in when there is an emergency, because you and them may have different ideas of what an emergency is! Clearly define what counts as an emergency. 

Setting up expectations will help your children to be less upset if you are not with them, and you are less likely to get frustrated if they are not respecting your needs. Sometimes parents end up being ‘entertainers’ because we think that we need to fill every moment of our child’s life with ‘valuable’ experiences. We end up constantly organising plans for them. Remember that there is also value in children getting bored because that way, for example, they are more likely to develop their creativity. Similarly, it is good for children to be able to decide what they want to play with and how they want that play to look like. We all need to learn to be with alone with ourselves and this is not something children will learn if we are organising every single moment for them.

And remember, do not feel guilty if you are working over the summer holidays. You are doing what you have to do and the best you can!

2. Adapt your schedule to your child’s needs and routine (if at all possible)

If you can work flexibly, try to adapt your work to suit your child. For example, if your teenager sleeps until midday, use that time to work and when they wake up you can have lunch together. Or if you have a baby that naps in the morning and afternoon, use that time to get on with work. 

3. Have a space only for you (if at all possible)

Working while the kids are at home may be tricky but working in the same room as the kids is definitely not easy! If possible, have a space in the house that is only yours while you are working and make it clear to the children that they cannot come in unless there is a real emergency. If possible, avoid working in the kitchen because someone is always likely to come in to get some water or a snack. 

If you have to work with the kids in the room, encourage them to do activities that are not too loud, like reading, making a puzzle, building with Legos… Another option is for you to wear ear plugs!

4. Loosen up the rules

The holidays are a good moment to loosen up a bit. We are not saying to go totally crazy because children still need rules, consistency, and a routine (especially the little ones) but we can perhaps relax them a little. You may, for example, allow some extra screen time, let your teenager sleep in a bit longer, or let your 10-year-old go to bed 30 minutes later than usual. However, remember to make it clear that rule-relaxation only applies during the school holidays. Otherwise, your troops may rebel come school-time!

If you do relax the rules, start to go back to ‘normal’ a few days before school starts again so that your child has time to adjust. 

5. Find your village 

They say that ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child because it is true! If you have friends or family around with children, offer to organise a rota: you take their kids some afternoons or mornings and they do the same for you. Or if their children are doing the same activities as yours, organise a rota for drop-offs and pick-ups. Ask other parents how they organise themselves, they may give you useful tips and ideas. 

6. Prioritise

Decide what your priorities are for the summer regarding work and family life. You probably will not have time to do everything, so planning ahead and deciding what needs to be done and what can wait will help you avoid frustrations and disappointment. Try to be realistic with your time. I don’t know about you, but I am way too optimistic with mine!

Plan ahead and be flexible. If things are not working out as you had planned, be creative and work out other solutions or strategies. 

7. And above all…Enjoy your child!

The holidays are a time when we don’t have to follow a strict timetable and children have less obligations. Therefore, we are less likely to argue with our children about homework, sleep time or music practice. Use this time to chat with them, have a laugh, do things together that you both enjoy. 

Sometimes, as parents we fall in the trap of thinking that we need to be always doing something valuable with our children. While this is great, remember that there is also value in ‘not doing anything’. Spending a lazy morning in bed, watching a movie in the afternoon, or playing videogames together, are all valuable moments. During these moments, you enjoy each other’s company and strengthen your bond. Now, that is valuable! 

However your summer is looking, we hope that you have a great time and you and your family have time to recharge and enjoy yourselves.

Much love,


Photo credit: Nappy on Unsplash

As Pride Month comes to an end, we would like to talk about the development of children living in same-sex and transgender families. 

To do this, we are lucky to count Professor Susan Golombok as one of our experts. A pioneer in the subject, Professor Golombok has been studying since the 1970s if children living in lesbian mother families and gay father families are as well-adjusted as children growing up in different-sex families. More recently, she has also been studying children living in trans families.

What does her research find? All her studies demonstrate that children living in same-sex families do as well (as sometimes even better) than children living in different-sex families on a wide range of health, social, emotional, and academic outcomes. Children living in trans families tend to show the same outcomes, although it is important to note that research on these families is still quite limited. 

Why might children living in same-sex families sometimes do better than children living in different-sex families? The path to become a parent is usually more difficult for same-sex parents because they often have to go through IVF, surrogacy, or adoption. The process is long and hard, and couples must be highly determined to have a child to persevere. Consequently, researchers believe that these parents tend to be very invested in their children. They give them a lot of time, dedication, and love, and these are the ingredients necessary for a child to thrive. 

A question that often arises is whether children living in same-sex families will grow up to be gay or lesbian because they will identify with their parents. The evidence shows that children growing up in same-sex families are not more likely to be gay than children living in heterosexual families or those living in single-parent households.

Therefore, it seems that a child’s development has little to do with their parents’ gender identity or sexual orientation. What matters then? What matters is what happens within the family: Children need stable, loving, and harmonious families. Whether they are gay, transgender, or heterosexual. 

There is, however, one important risk for children living in same-sex families: social stigmatisation. Although overt bullying towards these children has decreased in the recent past, low level stigmatisation is still quite prevalent. For example, using the word ‘gay’ in a pejorative way can be upsetting and harm children. 

If you are interested in this topic, have a look at Professor Susan Golombok’s REC Parenting Masterclass, which gives lots of useful tips. If you have any comments, do not hesitate to drop us an email at: We love hearing from you! 

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