The ritual every parent should do with their kids before the age of 7

Do all new parents have that ‘better do this perfectly so they don’t complain about me to their shrink’ paranoia? Though I’m gradually learning to accept that I’ll mess this stuff up, here’s my interview with a few people with more wisdom than I on what all parents can do to raise emotionally stable and happy kids. (and if you have any other tips, let’s hear ’em!)

How to deal with a well-meaning naysayer

The well-meaning naysayer is here to help. They are here to ensure you don’t put off having a baby (‘If you leave it too late they’ll come out deformed or not at all!’), or a wedding (‘I know he’s not perfect, but you don’t want to be left on the shelf, do you?’), and don’t even think about upgrading or switching careers (‘be realistic, competition will be tough, there’s no security!’). “I’m just saying it because I care,” is their motto and heaping fear is their method.

What pregnant women don’t tell you (and a temporary goodbye)

I wrote this column at the start of my pregnancy when I felt freaked out, like I was playing host to Sigourney’s ALIEN, and guilty about not having any maternal feelings. If this is you, THIS IS NORMAL. Maternal feelings DO come in their own time (sometimes six months after the birth), and I’m happy to report that I’m now quite bonded with my little alien. Which is fortunate, as his foot is lodged somewhere round my liver, and is due to come out literally any minute.  I’ll be taking a little break from the blog while I figure out food/cuddles/poo/keeping-cats-off-baby’s-airway, but I look forward to coming back when normal brain function returns. 

Before getting pregnant, I viewed pregnancy the same way I viewed the gluten-free: something other people did and were smug-annoying about.

Things I wish I’d known:

What your doctor is really thinking

As a writer (and human) I’ve always been fascinated by the private thoughts of those I make myself vulnerable to.

(And have even confessed my own now not-so-private thoughts as a yoga teacher.) What’s really going on in my doctor’s mind when I peel down my pants? How do they really feel about people with addiction, obesity, things up their butts and other so called “self-made” health issues?

My favourite interviews always yield something surprising. After speaking with ER doctor Peter (not his real name) I was struck by how very real he was, struggling with workplace bullying (as many of us do) and trying to find the balance between professional detachment and the very human response many of us would have when confronted with certain cases. Who knew doctors—the demi-Gods of our society—were just as fallible, vulnerable, and struggling to do their best within their limitations, as the rest of us?

Here it is, in Peter’s words:

Inside sex addiction treatment

As a writer, you don’t always finish a piece and think ‘Jeez, I’m glad I did that one’. But was fascinating and humbling to talk to these three lovely people about their experience, and I hope some readers get something out of it:

WHAT comes to mind when you think of sex addicts in recovery?

Sleazy men in trench coats trying to have sex with nymphomaniac Girls Gone Wild? Platoons of strippers who love their jobs more than is healthy? Or perhaps it’s the image of yet another celebrity caught in a cheating scandal, vowing to “get help”?

The fashion tip that makes us look fabulous & doesn’t cost a thing

We all have those “old reliables” in our closets we turn to on our fat days, our “don’t have anything to wear” days and our “can’t be arsed but want to feel presentable” days.

They’re rarely the most expensive items in our closets, nor the most on trend. But they fit like a glove, and highlight our assets while minimising our…”crap-sets.”

But finding those pieces in the shops is as rare as a Donald Trump good hair day.

Why ‘good manners’ disadvantage women

If the foundations of good manners are caring for others’ comfort, listening more than you speak, and glossing over the poor manners of others, “good manners” actually grossly disadvantage women.

Two days after I moved into my house, our new handyman Pete came to fix the windows. After showing him the problem, I made a polite retreat to my home office. Pete called out a regular commentary on all things window, and when he was done making them worse (“I’ll need to come back and take the whole frame apart!”) I got up to politely see him out.