divorce mediation

Why mediation could be the answer for couples who are separating

The breakdown of a relationship can be one of the most stressful life events someone can go through.  Even if you know it’s the best thing for everyone involved it’s still incredibly hard.

There are so many different emotions involved with divorce and separation; from anger and confusion, to sadness and fear for the future.  And when there are children involved it all gets that bit harder again.

When you’re trying to work out how to move forwards, how to split all your possessions and how to manage custody arrangements it can be really hard to keep a clear head.  This is where mediation comes in.


Mediation is where a professionally trained mediator works with both sides to help them work out arrangements for their children and for their finances, without the need for the couple to go through the courts.

Keeping the separation out of the courts means that the couple can take their time and come to a decision that they can both agree on.  Otherwise a judge can end up making these decisions for them, which can lead to even more negative emotions and bad feelings as the relationship comes to an end.

With mediation the outcome is often a lot more amicable, which is so important when there are children involved.

Using a mediation service can also help resolve disputes more quickly, especially at the moment with the family courts being delayed due to the pandemic.  The service is already generally cheaper than going through the family courts, and at the moment couples can apply for £500 of aid from the government towards the costs.

If you’re still not sure if mediation is the best option as you go through divorce and separation, then here are some of the main benefits:

  • it helps protect your children’s well-being, as the whole process is less stressful for everyone involved
  • you remain in control, with the mediator’s help you can reach an agreement that both parties are satisfied with
  • in most cases mediation leads to a solution more quickly than if the couple go to court
  • it can set a good foundation for maintaining a positive relationship for the future.  Mediation encourages open communication, which is really important for a positive co-parenting relationship.


Whatever the circumstances are for a couple breaking up, when there are children involved the most important thing is to keep things as civil and friendly as possible.

You need to find a way to move forward, to start to build new lives apart while still being involved in these new lives as you find a way to co-parent your children.

Mediation can be a great tool to help you get there.

Working through all your disputes with a trained professional can help you both leave the relationship on your own terms, without the need for a judge intervening and making decisions for you.  If you want to though you can take your agreement to a court and ask them to look it over and make it into a legally binding and enforceable court order.

This way you can both feel protected and in control as you move forward with your new lives.


Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Studying in the pandemic_ Tips and tricks to help you ace the exams

Studying during the pandemic: Tips and tricks to help you ace the exams

Studying can be a challenge at the best of times, and even more so during the coronavirus pandemic. Many of the channels students of all ages rely on have been taken away, such as study groups, quiet library space to work and one-to-one time with a teacher or lecturer.  

If you are feeling overwhelmed in your studies, then you are not alone. Read on for some top tips on staying productive and getting the most out of your education during the pandemic.  


Start with your study space 

No matter what level you’re studying at, from primary school to further education, a clear, uncluttered study space is essential. If you haven’t already, set aside an area that will be solely dedicated to studying.  

Ideally, this will be a desk set up where you can lay out all of the materials and stationery you might need. If you don’t have a desk, then you could consider using the dining table or a kitchen counter set aside for that purpose. Ensure that your study space is clear of any clutter and anything that may pose a distraction, such as books or items related to hobbies.  


Invest in houseplants 

Having a couple of houseplants dotted around your workstation can do a lot to help improve productivity and ease stress. Houseplants will give you something attractive and soothing to look at while studying without posing a distraction.  

Houseplants can also be particularly beneficial if you live in a built-up area. Plants can help make your air quality better and your surroundings a happier, more productive place to be. You could start with a low maintenance plant such as a succulent or evergreen. These plants don’t require specialist skills to care for, and you can water some succulents as infrequently as once a fortnight.  


Set a schedule 

One of the biggest challenges posed by the pandemic is the total disruption to our regular routines. Many people have had to study and work from home over the past 12 months, so carving out a study schedule and sticking to it is crucial to stay ahead in your studies.  

You might consider starting at a set time every day to get yourself into the habit of waking up and getting to work. Ensure the rest of the people in your home know when you’ll be studying so that you won’t face any disruptions, and ask noise to be kept to a minimum where possible.  


Incorporate exercise into your routine 

It has been harder for many of us to stay active over the pandemic. Thanks to lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and restrictions on travel, many of us have found ourselves living a sedentary life. A healthy body is as important as a healthy mind when it comes to studying. Exercise helps to boost your mood and keep you energised throughout the day. 

You could consider incorporating small chunks of exercise into your routine by starting each day with a ten-minute workout or quick yoga practice. When it’s time to take a break, you could go for a walk or do another mini-workout.  


Make use of the technology available 

There is a lot of great tech available to help us achieve our best in 2021. The technology out there has allowed students to keep learning from home and connect with their classmates and teachers. You should consider researching the tech available and see how you can incorporate it into your studies.  

Assistive technology for universities has gained massive popularity among students and is ideal for anyone who struggles with remote learning. Caption.Ed is an industry leader in providing automatic transcription of live and pre-recorded learning materials, which will allow you to get the most out of lessons and lectures and keep the transcript for your future studies.  


Connect with your fellow students 

It is essential to stay connected with the world around you during these trying times. While in-person study groups may not be possible for some time yet, you could consider organising virtual study groups through a virtual meeting platform. This will allow you to talk with your peers, give advice and air concerns.  

You could also consider organising a regular social event to help you all unwind after a long week of studying. With unessential shops and pubs reopening over the spring, you could plan some in-person activities to look forward to as well.  


Give yourself a break 

Incorporating breaks into your study routine is essential. You could consider rewarding yourself for an hour’s work, such as a healthy snack or reading a book for pleasure. This will also help to break your study time up into manageable chunks and prevent fatigue.  

It is essential to take breaks away from screens regularly to prevent eye strain, so you might consider getting outdoors whenever you can. Connecting with nature is also a great way to de-stress and energise you for the studying ahead.  

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Practical guide for caring for someone with dementia

A practical guide for caring for someone with dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term for disorders in the brain that cause memory loss, personality change, and impaired intellectual functions. Compared to normal memory loss from old age, dementia will have a profound effect on a person’s relationships and other elements of their day-to-day life.

Dementia comes on slowly, but at some point, the person affected is likely to need some level of care. Some of the most common signs of dementia like memory loss, impaired judgement, confusion and faulty reasoning can cause difficulties and dangers in that person’s life, meaning that they need someone to keep an eye on them.

If you’re faced with the task of caring for someone with dementia, then you may be feeling a little daunted. Like anything in life, the more you do something, the more natural it will come- and it always helps to be as prepared as possible beforehand.

Here are some tips for caring for someone with dementia: 


Find available support

Caring for someone with dementia can be an emotional experience, and it’s easy to overlook your own feelings when you’re focused on being responsible for someone else. It’s completely normal to feel guilty, sad, angry, confused or any other emotion- but you don’t have to sit with these feelings by yourself.

While you might not be able to talk to the person you’re caring for about how you’re feeling, there are many different support groups online where you can talk to other carers who are going through the same thing as you.

If you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed with the task of caring for your loved one, then you should never feel guilty about asking for help. Most people find that bringing in an at home carer helps to put their mind at ease. You should consider a home care service like this specialist, who will care for your loved one from the comfort of their own home. Abney & Baker will be happy to provide an experienced carer who will help to make both you and your loved one’s life much easier, removing a huge weight from your shoulders. 


Managing finances

It’s a difficult conversation to have, but making future plans while the person still has the mental capacity to do so helps to make you feel more relaxed about the future. A person with dementia may be okay with managing their finances when it comes to direct debits, but if it starts to get too much for them, then it may be worth you taking over.

If it’s possible, then set up a third-party mandate to give you permission to manage your loved one’s bank account. Usually, if you contact banks and explain that you’re caring for someone with dementia, then they will be happy to help.


Be realistic

Finding out that your loved one is losing their memory is a hard pill to swallow, but it helps to be realistic about the disease. Do your research so that you’re aware of the facts, and try not to feel downcast if the person you’re caring for has a bad day. Dementia comes with good and bad days, and once you’ve accepted that, things can be a whole lot easier to cope with. 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Ways to reduce the stress of working from home

3 ways to reduce the stress of working from home

Before the pandemic came along I think most people used to think of working from home as ‘the dream’.  Everyone had these images in their heads of working from their sofa, staying in their PJs all day and generally feeling pretty relaxed while getting things done.

After the past year though, with so many people suddenly having to make working from home their reality, a lot of people have realised it really doesn’t match up to that dream.

There are loads of benefits to working from home, and it can be the perfect solution for getting a better work/life balance, especially if you used to have a long commute to an office every day.  But it can also bring a lot of stress for a lot of people.

If it’s looking like you’ll still be working from home for a while, and you’re finding it quite stressful at times, then these 3 tips should help make life a bit easier.


Set clear boundaries

One of the biggest issues people face with working from home is finding that your work life and your home life sort of blur into one another.  It can be hard to make a clean break from your working day when your office is the kitchen table.

So do whatever you can to start creating boundaries between your working day and the rest of your time at home.

Set clear times for when you’ll start and finish work each day, and then stick to them (no more ‘quickly’ checking your work emails from your phone in the evenings!).

If you miss the way that your commute gave your some down time to move from work mode to home mode, then try popping out for a walk round the block when  you sign out for the day.  Or create a new habit like popping the kettle on and having a particular type of tea at 5pm to mark the end of your working day.


Get everything in good working order

If you’re going to be working from home for a while yet, then it’s about time to deal with any little niggly issues you have with your home working set up.

Most of us rely on the internet to be able to get our work done, and a slow or unreliable connection can make things really stressful.

If you don’t think you’re getting the internet speeds you should be from your provider, then try using a company like SpeedCheck to see what speeds you’re actually getting.  If you’re not getting what you’re paying for then have a chat with your provider and ask them to sort it out for you.

You can also look into getting a signal booster to make sure your wifi reaches all the different corners of your home, so you can still check your emails on days you want to work from the bedroom.

Now is also a great time to look into getting a decent desk chair and making sure your desk is set up properly to look after your back.


Manage your time

Chances are you’re being left a bit more to your own devices while working from home, without your manager wandering round the office and checking in quite so much throughout the day.

So take a bit of time to properly plan out your day and make sure you’re managing your time as best you can.

This could include things like using the pomodoro technique to work in timed blocks and then making a point of taking a quick break to stretch your legs, get a drink, or have a chat with a friend.

It’s also really important to make sure you take a proper lunch break each day.  Move away from your workspace to eat and, if you can, get a little bit of exercise.  Just a 10 minute walk after you’ve eaten can make a big impact on how good you feel.


It might not always be easy, but planning out your day, setting clear boundaries around your working hours, taking regular breaks, and sorting out your kit can really help ease some of the stress of working from home.

Do you have any other top tips to make working from home easier?


the things that every foster carer needs before they get started

Here are the things that every foster carer needs before they get started

Becoming a foster carer is a one of the most rewarding things that a person can do. You are stepping in to make the life of a vulnerable child in need better, and that is a truly remarkable thing.

Given how much uncertainty there is the world right now, and how difficult things have been for people in the most vulnerable areas of society providing a safe and supportive space for a young person is a tremendous way to help create a brighter tomorrow. All over Great Britain, people are stepping up to help.


As we’re sure you’re aware, becoming a foster carer is not something that occurs overnight, and it’s not a step to be taken lightly. If you have made the decision that this is something that you want to do, then it’s time to start thinking about all the things you’ll need to create a happy secure home for the young person who will be in your care.

Here are a few things that you will need to make sure that you progress through the assessment process smoothly and to ensure that your home is ready for your foster.


Get ready to answer a lot of questions

We know that you aren’t expecting to be matched with a foster child overnight, but you should be prepared for the fact that becoming a foster carer is a process that can take between four and six months.

You are going to need to be comfortable with being assessed by a social worker, who will ask you questions about your childhood, your life experiences, your relationship with your parents, and more besides.

You should also make sure that you have people who can provide you with character references and who are happy to answer questions about you. 


If you are starting to feel like you’re being put under a spotlight, remember that it is not only important that you are equipped with the right home and structure for a foster child, but that you can offer the kind of emotional support they need too.


Get a spare room ready

It’s a fact that anyone who wants to become a foster carer will need a spare room that can be just for their foster. Some people ask if they can become a foster carer without having that spare room but being able to provide a foster child with that space for privacy and security is absolutely crucial.

You do not need to own your home to become a foster carer (although you will need to have permission from your landlord or landlady if you are renting) but remember that foster children can be coming from all different kinds of circumstances where trust and safety may not have been in big supply. If you want more information about how to get your home ready, fostering agency Calon Cymru has a wealth of resources to help you learn more about fostering in Wales


Get your support structure in place

Becoming a foster carer is a big deal for both of you and it’s important to remember that there will be times when you will need to ask for help. The good news is that foster care associations don’t abandon you as soon as you bring the foster child home.

They should have round the clock social care support available in case of emergencies, as well as plenty of opportunities for continued learning to make sure that you continue to develop your skills, senses and awareness. But it’s also important to remember to keep your friends and family updated as to what’s going on with your progress.

This is a big step that you’re taking, and it will make a big difference to have some support in your social circle. 


Get ready for anything

While there is a lot of practical preparation you can do for becoming a carer, from getting their room nice and ready for them to getting a driver’s license if you don’t have one, one of the most important things to remember is that this is a process with a lot of emotions involved.

If there’s some negativity or hard times early on, don’t take it personally. If this seems like a big step for you, consider how strange and unsettling it can be for the child. 

However, it’s also a process that can be full of joy and love. This can be an opportunity for you to learn from them as much as they learn from you, and you’ll discover strengths that you never knew you had.


Get ready for this to be the start of something more

Some people take on a foster child and that’s it for them, they’ve helped one child feel safer, more confident and more loved. However, if you’re expecting this to be a one and done kind of deal, get ready for a surprise.

There genuinely is nothing like the feeling that comes from giving a vulnerable child the support and safety they need, of stepping in and helping them take that first confident step into their future.

So, is it any wonder that a lot of carers make it their life? Some carers have helped more than 300 children. This could be the first step on an amazing journey.

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Setting up a perfect home office

Setting up the perfect home office

With so many of us working from home in the last year, it has never been more pertinent to make sure that your home office space is as ideal as it can be.

To help you create the perfect place for productivity, we’ve had help from a green print solutions company to offer you tips on what to consider when setting up your home office! 


Dedicated space 

Be it a particular room or a particular wall for the desk to go by, make sure that the office space is just that, a space all its own.

Keep away from distractions, and keep the office space separate from the areas at home that you like to relax and kick back in. Not only will it help you feel more organised in your day, it means you don’t bring bad work vibes into the lounge when you’re done. 


The right equipment 

Many of you may be finding that as you work more at home, you need different pieces of equipment to help you adjust.

This can be anything from a wireless mouse, to needing a second monitor. Many workplaces will often help set you up with the equipment you might need, so keep in mind the kinds of issues your setup has and how a new addition to your home office tech might help solve it. 


Desk & monitor height 

Keeping an eye on your posture when you’re working is something we should all pay attention to. Not only will it help your body in the long run, being comfortable also goes a long way to making the space feel that much more productive.

Your work surface is at the correct height if, when you sit up straight, your forearms are parallel to the ground and your wrist is not bent up or down when you type or mouse. Your monitor should line up so that  when sitting straight ahead, your eyes are at a height just below the top of the screen.

This will help maintain a healthy and comfortable posture, away from dreaded hunched shoulders!



This one is nice and simple, but is an easy one to forget. Make sure you’re not working in a space that’s too dark.

Daylight has been known to help with productivity, so keep this in mind when setting up your space, and let the sunshine in! 


Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Tips for choosing a school for your child

Top tips for choosing a school for your child

Picking where your children go to school is no easy decision. There are many factors to take into consideration, making the process potentially quite overwhelming.

To help ease some of the pressure, we’ve worked with an independent school in Hertfordshire to bring you some top tips for choosing a school for your child. 


Make lists 

It may seem simple, but writing down what you want from a potential school in a list is a great way to start making sense of everything.

Not only will it help you organise your thoughts, but it will make you stop and think about exactly the type of education you would like your child to receive, leading you on the path to finding the best school to match your needs. 



There is of course the very practical question of location to deal with when choosing a school. Once you establish whether you would like your child to be close to home or open to boarding school education, you can begin to think seriously about the location of the school.

It is a top priority to consider when it comes to managing the practicalities of how your child will get to school, and what time out of your schedule that journey may take. 



Once you’re starting to get to a shortlist of the place you like the look of, go and get a feel for the place by paying a visit. Seeing the environment of each school before you make your final decision can have a big effect on which school you end up leaning towards.

You’ll be able to get a first hand experience of the type of facilities the school has, as well as be able to meet and talk with some of the staff there, giving you a fuller picture on the kind of atmosphere the place has. 


Ask questions 

Be it when you’re paying a visit or through email and phone calls, never be afraid to ask any question that you may have.

Those at the school should be more than happy to answer any queries; they know that this is a big decision and they will want to help you put your mind at ease over any burning questions that you may have on the brain.


Disclosure: this is a collaborative post