Dear Fiona: Looking after my toddler is driving me to an early grave

Picture: Tina Franklin/www.flickr.com
Picture: Tina Franklin/www.flickr.com
The Rev Canon Bob White with representatives of the groups involved in our Christmas campaignh run with churches in Portsmouth - Comfort and Joy

NEWS COMMENT: Dig deep and help to spread some comfort this Christmas

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Advice for readers from Fiona Caine

Q My son is two and permanently on the go. I’m exhausted and none of the local play groups will take him until he’s six months older. I’ll be dead by then!

There must be some active way of keeping toddlers like him going surely? How do other mothers cope?

A It’s worth contacting your local health visitor or social services to see if there isn’t something you’ve missed.

There are probably a number of groups where you could go along with your son that would help to keep him occupied.

If there aren’t, consider setting something up yourself – a card in a local shop window might attract other mums in a similar position and perhaps you could meet in one another’s homes?

Organisations like the National Childbirth Trust (nct.org.uk) run groups like Bumps and Babies and tea parties where you could make friends while your son is having fun with others.

If it does all get too exhausting, speak to your doctor who may be able to help in case you are run down.

Q I’ve been promoted to manager over people that used to be my colleagues.

I know I should be pleased, but I’m finding it hard to be the boss and sometimes I feel it’s them bossing me. How can I learn to take command more?

A First, talk to your line manager and ask about training courses for first-time managers.The fact so many of these exist means you’re not alone with the problem.

Your company has obviously recognised something in you otherwise it would not have promoted you and it will be glad you’re taking your new role seriously.

There’s more to being a manager than bossing people around though and ‘asking’ rather than ‘telling’ people what to do usually produces better results.

Your colleagues may be finding it awkward to adjust to your new role too, so, if you come across as too bossy rather than just authoritative, you may lose their respect.

Discuss ideas with them, but don’t be afraid to make your own decisions – and once you have, take responsibility for them.

Q My husband seems to have gone off sex completely and I feel terribly rejected. He says there is nothing wrong and that he’s simply just getting ‘past it’, but he’s only 55 and I’ve heard of plenty of men making love when they’re much older than that.

He denies it’s anything to do with work, but I think it is as he’s recently had his job down-graded. It was either that or redundancy, so he chose the lesser role, but with the same salary.

Do you think he’s more upset than he’s letting on?

A There are, potentially, all kinds of reasons for his reaction – some could be medical. I suggest you try to encourage him to talk to his GP just in case. For example, a common concern among men as they get older is prostate problems, so this should be checked.

While there are medical treatments that can help, they won’t necessarily get to the cause of the problem if there are psychological issues and I suspect your theory may well be right.

A dent in self-esteem can often affect libido. Encourage him to understand there is more to him than his work role. He needs to know you still love him and you miss the intimacy you once had.

Try and do this without putting him under any pressure though, as that could make him feel worse.

Hopefully, with patience and understanding, he will come around but, if things don’t improve, consider contacting Relate (relate.org.uk) for further help and advice.