This can be a challenging time at home for everyone. Trying to juggle your day job while keeping the kids occupied and entertained is certainly going to add to everyone’s stress. What follows are some simple practices to help keep a sense of calm where everyone can co-exist during these uncertain times. Establish a routine Children, young and old, thrive on routine. It gives their day a structure and helps keep boundaries in check. Let young kids co-create a wall chart that details the daily schedules for all the family. This will help maintain quiet times, family mealtimes, and rest times. It might take a day or two to establish these new routines but it will be well worth the effort. Keeping them occupied Small children like to feel useful so giving them simple tasks to carry out will keep them happy. Empty out a kitchen or bedroom drawer and ask them to “sort” the contents out Setting up treasure hunts in the garden or the local green spaces can help with fitting in exercise and fresh air into the day while using up all their excess energy Making a den with old sheets and chairs can create a new magical space for them to play. They can hide out here with their toys and their imagination for hours There are lots of great websites to help with keeping toddlers and kids of all ages educated and occupied: GoNoodle designed to get kids exercising at home. A good way to explain the virus and the importance of  hand washing is to show them this video clip or better still re-create it as an experiment and let them try it out. Marvel artist from Cork, Will Sliney, who has drawn Spider-Man and now works on Star Wars comics set up a new challenge each day on his YouTube channel at 2.00pm WeWilldraw. There are great learning platforms online and one of the biggest is Kahoot which is free to use and gives access to millions of free learning games for the entire family Learning a new skill or language on Youtube is a great way to spend an hour a day for all ages. Lots of museums now offer online tours – what a great way to while away some time while broadening their education.  See this one that covers twelve world class museum visits. Is your local library closed?  No problem, here’s a great elibrary resource which will provide hours of reading and entertainment to kids of all ages. Be sure to check out the full list of resources at the end of the article. Connectivity Connecting with grandparents and other family members, as well as friends, using online technology has never been more important.  Setting up regular “Skype” or “Facetime” chats will benefit all of us and ensure we reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness communities are facing.  Perhaps grandparents can “Skype” at bedtimes and read goodnight stories each night?  Getting groups of young children to connect with their best friends and peers regularly will help maintain the fun elements of each day and has never been easier to set up. Family time Creating a hour or two per day for family activities will be a necessary part of any new routine.  Here are some easy ways to have together as a family: Preparing the family meal – getting everyone involved from the choosing of the meal/recipe, chopping the veg, laying the table, and clearing away. Capitalise on the extra time at home to make meal times count Movie night – have regular movie nights which allow each member of the family to pick their favourite movie Board games – now is the time to dust off the Monopoly and Pictionary.Kids love this time with their parents when everyone comes together and all devices are turned off and put away Getting outside – having regular excursions outside to the park, the beach and any green spaces is a great way to spend quality family time while enjoying some fresh air and exercise! The first few days of this schedule may seem a little awkward as we all get used to our new “normal” but children are so adaptable and will follow our lead.  Before long, when they see us relax into the new schedule, they will too. This structure of activities and routines will help keep us all productive and appropriately challenged. We may even find we all benefit considerably from this extra time together – here’s hoping! Extra resources World Book Online have just made their collection of over 3,000 ebooks and audiobooks available for free for children to access at home. They have books suitable for all ages. Click on the following link to access them. https://worldbook.kitaboo.com/reader/worldbook/index.html… Actor Josh Gad Is Reading Books to Kids Online Every Night During Coronavirus Quarantines. https://chipandco.com/actor-josh-gad-is-reading-books-to-kids-online-every-night-during-coronavirus-quarantines-383789/?fbclid=IwAR2MvdsfU7CKHMUSQw3j84lC83mUus9VWoC-2TrybTAvhgTlOcvguqVsnk8 You can now download over 300,000 books from the NYPL for free: https://www.timeout.com/newyork/news/you-can-now-download-over-300-000-books-from-the-nypl-for-free-031820 Stuck at Home? These 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch (Video) https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours?utm_medium=social&utm_term=59F3F59E-653B-11EA-938E-3D9296E8478F&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=travelandleisure_travelandleisure&utm_content=link&fbclid=IwAR2SKLUqtJ3RwzZN_T72GNWmMdnL_u_VzK-jc8XsJoD4n60qWocvKj_Cs2Y Coding for kids during school closures: https://www.tynker.com/?fbclid=IwAR1YfXhVlHvIcagAg3cE5AR_sfe6pMbvyHujh-prjPEsL_ViaFpMDvHqnUM The San Diego Zoo has a website just for kids with amazing videos, activities, and games. Enjoy the tour! https://kids.sandiegozoo.org/ Tour Yellowstone National Park! https://www.nps.gov/…/lea…/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm Explore the surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover. https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/ This Canadian site FarmFood 360 offers 11 Virtual Tours of farms from minks, pigs, and cows, to apples and eggs. https://www.farmfood360.ca/ Indoor Activities for busy toddlers https://busytoddler.com/2020/03/indoor-activities/… Play games and learn all about animals https://switchzoo.com/ Play with fave show characters and learn too https://pbskids.org/ Travel to Paris, France to see amazing works of art at The Louvre with this virtual field trip. https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne This Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China is beautiful and makes history come to life. https://www.thechinaguide.com/destinati…/great-wall-of-china Math and Reading games https://www.funbrain.com/ Phonics skills https://www.starfall.com/h/ This iconic museum located in the heart of London allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/ Read, play games, and hang out with Dr. Seuss https://www.seussville.com/ 300,000+ FREE printable worksheets from toddlers to teens https://www.123homeschool4me.com/home-school-free-printabl…/ Geography and animals https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/ Math practice from counting to algebra and geometry http://www.mathscore.com/ Fave kids books read by famous people https://www.storylineonline.net/ Crafts, activities, mazes, dot to dot, etc, https://www.allkidsnetwork.com/ High school chemistry topics https://www.acs.org/…/hi…/chemmatters/articles-by-topic.html Math and reading games https://www.abcya.com/ Math and language games https://www.arcademics.com/ Hands on Elem science videos https://www.backpacksciences.com/science-simplified Voice based learning... learn through Alexa https://bamboolearning.com/resources Fun games, recipes, crafts, activities https://www.highlightskids.com/ ClickSchooling brings you daily recommendations by email for entertaining websites that help your kids learn. https://clickschooling.com/ Math as a fun part of your daily family routine http://bedtimemath.org/ Games to get "into the book" https://reading.ecb.org/ Online history classes for all ages preteen through adults https://school.bighistoryproject.com/bhplive Biology https://www.biologysimulations.com/ Elem Math through 6th grade https://boddlelearning.com/ Educational games K-12 https://www.breakoutedu.com/funathome Digital archive of history https://www.bunkhistory.org/ Test Prep for SAT, ACT, etc. https://www.bwseducationconsulting.com/handouts.php Geometry https://www.canfigureit.com/ Resources for Spanish practice https://www.difusion.com/campus/ Chinese learning activities https://chalkacademy.com/ Music is for everyone https://musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/Experiments Science, Math, Social Studies https://www.ck12.org/student/ Grammar practice for middle grades https://www.classroomcereal.com/ Daily free science or cooking experiment to do at home.http://www.clubscikidzmd.com/blog/ Chemistry https://www.playmadagames.com/ Reading passages for grades 3-12, with reading comprehension and discussion questions. https://www.commonlit.org/ Vocabulary, grammar, listening activities and games in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Korean, and Latin. https://conjuguemos.com/ 35,000 pages of online content on the cultures and countries of the world. https://www.countryreports.org/ K-5th Science lessons https://mysteryscience.com/ Tons of free classes from leading universities and companies https://www.coursera.org/ Free printable K-8 Reading and Math activity packs (available in English and Spanish) https://www.curriculumassociates.com/supporting-students-aw… Digital learning content for preschool through high school https://www.curriki.org/ A wide range of math content from middle school through AP Calculus. https://deltamath.com/overview Day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing. https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/…/learnathome.html 3 Free Weeks of Maker Stations to keep your children creating at home! Each challenge includes simple instructions using materials around the house, QR code video resources, and a student recording sheet. bit.ly/freemakerstations Classes for older teens or adults https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/lp/t1/freemo… Online homeschool platform & curriculum for Pre-K to 12th grade. All main subjects are covered, plus extra curriculum courses. http://discoveryk12.com/dk12/ Printable board games, activities and more for phonics and reading all using evidence-based methods. Can be customized to any student's needs including creating flashcards for other subjects. https://dogonalogbooks.com/printables/ K-8 online math program that looks at how a student is solving problems to adjust accordingly and build a unique learning path for them. https://www.dreambox.com/at-home Engaging reading game for grades 2-8 that combines strategy, engagement, and imaginative reading passages to create a fun, curriculum-aligned literacy game. https://www.squigglepark.com/dreamscape/ Higher level math series... online video series with detailed solutions to more than a thousand publicly-released College Board SAT Math, Subject Test Math Level 1, and Subject Test Math Level 2 problems.https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbQoCpvYRYRkRRvsObOPHaA… Foreign languages https://www.duolingo.com/ Interactive video earth science based curriculum supplement. https://www.everyday-earth.com/ A safe research site for elementary-level readers. They are offering -- free 24/7 access USERNAME: read (case sensitive) PASSWORD: read (case sensitive) https://www.facts4me.com/ Resources for AP students including live reviews, live trivia, and study guides! https://app.fiveable.me/ Educational brain breaks to help students review essential literacy and math skills, while getting in some exercise. Find over 900 videos to help your child keep learning at home and burn off some extra energy. Our site is best used for ages 4-8. https://fluencyandfitness.com/register/school-closures/ Movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. https://www.gonoodle.com/ 7,000 free videos in 13 subject areas https://hippocampus.org/ Carmen Sandiego videos, stories, and lessons for all subject areas https://www.carmensandiego.com/resources/ Math Videos with lessons, real life uses of math, famous actors https://www.hmhco.com/math-at-work Entertaining & educational videos for all levels and subjects https://www.izzit.org/index.php Online education program for toddler through high school... https://www.khanacademy.org/ Free Printables for PreK-2nd Grade https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/…/Lite…/Price-Range/Free Free printables library with activities for children 0-6 https://www.littlesparkcompany.com/printables-library Free at-home kids yoga lesson plans https://littletwistersyoga.com/online-store/ Magic Spell is a carefully crafted spelling adventure. https://brainbox.games/ Resources for AP students https://marcolearning.com/ Enter your math problem or search term, press the button, and they show you the step-by-step work and answer instantly. 2nd grade through college. https://www.mathcelebrity.com/online-math-tutor.php Elem Math games, logic puzzles and educational resources https://www.mathplayground.com/ Poetry and music https://www.thewell.world/mindful-mu…/mindful-poetry-moments 3D printing projects and Coding projects, involving math and other K-12 subjects https://www.instructables.com/…/EdgertonCent…/instructables/ Introductory and intermediate music theory lessons, exercises, ear trainers, and calculators. https://www.musictheory.net/ Scads of free resources, games, learning resources, and lesson plans for teaching personal finance https://www.ngpf.org/ Improve your typing skills while competing in fast-paced races with up to 5 typers from around the world. https://www.nitrotype.com/ Illustrated recipes designed to help kids age 2-12 cook with their grown-ups. Recipes encourage culinary skills, literacy, math, and science. https://www.nomsterchef.com/nomster-recipe-library Online curriculum that builds better writers. https://www.noredink.com/ 80+ do at home science activities https://elementalscience.com/…/n…/80-free-science-activities Daily lessons and educational activities that kids can do on their own https://www.superchargedschool.com/ Adaptive curriculum in Math and ELA for Grades K-8 https://www.scootpad.com/ Novel Effect makes storytime a little more fun for kids (and grown-ups too!) As you read out loud from print books (or ebooks!) music, sound effects, and character voices play at just the right moment, adjusting and responding to your voice. https://noveleffect.com/ Quick & easy at home projects curated for kids 2 and up https://www.kiwico.com/kids-at-home Teaches students how to write a paragraph through interactive online tutorial http://www.paragraphpunch.com/ PreK-12 digital media service with more than 30,000 learning materials https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/ Curricular content hub specifically designed for K-3 students. https://pebblego.com/free-pebblego-capstone-interactive-acc… Science and math labs and simulations https://phet.colorado.edu/ An online physics problem and video bank designed for conceptual, standard, honors or AP1 physics. https://www.positivephysics.org/home Prodigies is a colorful music curriculum for kids 1-12 that will teach your kids how to play their first instrument, how to sing in tune & how to understand the language of music! 21 for free https://prodigiesmusic.com/ Free videos from around the world from grade 3-12 https://www.projectexplorer.org/ QuaverMusic is offering free access to general music activities to all impacted schools, including free student access at-home https://www.quavermusic.com/info/at-home-resources/ For students to practice and master whatever they are learning. https://quizlet.com/ ReadWorks is an online resource of reading passages and lesson plans for students of all levels K-12. https://www.readworks.org/ Critical Thinking resources for K-6 students https://marketplace.mythinkscape.com/store/redtkids Music Based Spanish Learning https://rockalingua.com/ Science simulations, scientist profiles, and other digital resources for middle school science and high school biology https://sepuplhs.org/ The Shurley English program for grades K-8 provides a clear, logical, and concrete approach to language arts. https://www.shurley.com/ Sight reading and sight singing practice exercises. https://www.sightreadingfactory.com/ Music practice transformed https://www.smartmusic.com/ Spellingcity is free right now with code VSCFree90 https://www.spellingcity.com/ Kid-friendly workouts — choose from Strength for Kids, Agility for Kids, Flexibility and Balance for Kids, Warm-Up for Kids, Cooldown for Kids, Stand Up and Move for Kids, OR create your own custom kid workout. https://app.sworkit.com/collections/kids-workouts A collection of hundreds of free K-12 STEM resources, from standalone models and simulations to short activities and week long sequences of curriculum materials. https://learn.concord.org/ Course sets (Levels 1–5) that combine and thoroughly cover phonics, reading, writing, spelling, literature, grammar, punctuation, art, and geography—all in one easy-to-use, beautiful course. https://www.goodandbeautiful.com/ At home OT, PT, and ST resources designed to build skills in children through movement and play. https://www.theottoolbox.com/ Science projects that can be completed with or without Internet access https://sciencespot.net/Pages/classhome.html Keyboarding practice https://www.typingclub.com/ or https://www.typing.com/ Next Generation Science video game focused on middle school where students directly engage in science phenomena as they solve problems. https://www.tytoonline.com/ Short videos and readings that answer various burning questions for students. There are vocabulary challenges and comprehension questions. http://wonderopolis.org/ Math practice https://xtramath.org/#/home/index K-5 curriculum that builds deep understanding and a love of learning math for all students https://www.zearn.org/ A quick start resource to help families pull together a plan for surviving the next 1-2 months at home with their kids, but it can also be a time of slowing down and enjoying kids as they learn. Preschool through 8th grade https://abetterwaytohomeschool.com/learning-at-home-everyth… 450 Ivy League courses that you can take https://www.freecodecamp.org/…/ivy-league-free-online-cou…/… Spelling 1-4 grade https://www.spellingtraining.com/ 2,500+ online courses from top institutions https://www.edx.org/ 22 languages to learn https://www.memrise.com/ Learn to code https://www.codecademy.com/ Miscellaneous games for all subjects k-8 https://www.funbrain.com/ Phonics and learning to read https://readingeggs.com/ PreK - 5 games for all subjects https://www.turtlediary.com/ Online digital coloring pages https://www.thecolor.com/ Every course you could possibly want to homeschool preschool - 8 https://allinonehomeschool.com/ Every course you could possibly want to homeschool for high school https://allinonehighschool.com/ Phonics worksheets for kids https://www.funfonix.com/ Free stories online ages 3-12 https://www.freechildrenstories.com/ National Geographic Young Explorers is a magazine designed specifically for kindergarten and first grade students. Children can listen to the magazine being read to them as they follow along with the highlighted text. https://ngexplorer.cengage.com/ngyoungexplorer/index.html Learn all about earthquakes https://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/kids/ Learn all about the periodic table https://www.chemicool.com/ Farmer's almanac for kids... Date, weather, moon phase, etc. https://www.almanac.com/kids Guide to gardening for kids https://web.extension.illinois.edu/firstgarden/ Website allows students to play basic games to reinforce math skills and compete against the computer or others https://www.mangahigh.com/en-us/ Space science for kiddos https://www.nasa.gov/kidsclub/index.html Math Games, Logic Puzzles and Brain Builders https://www.mathplayground.com/ Games, quizzes and fact sheets take kids on a journey through time. https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/forkids/ NGAkids interactives offer an entertaining and informative introduction to art and art history. https://www.nga.gov/education/kids.html News and more for kids https://www.youngzine.org/ Randomly generates 356,300,262,144 story starters https://thestorystarter.com/ Immerse yourself in cryptography https://www.cryptoclub.org/ Math games galore https://gridclub.com/ Tons of science experiments that you can do at home https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/ An interactive way to learn history https://www.mission-us.org/ Just explore, have fun, and learn some science along the way. https://thehappyscientist.com/ Interactive games based on the book series https://www.magictreehouse.com/ Work on the 8 parts of speech https://www.grammaropolis.com/ Learn all about cells https://www.cellsalive.com/ All sorts of learning here if you dig in https://www.google.com/earth/ Scratch draws students of all types into coding and lays a foundation for future learning. https://scratch.mit.edu/ A wonderful, endlessly detailed way to get kids engaged in the world of art. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metkids/ Tests kids’ geography skills. Using images from Google’s Street View, it plops players down in the middle of the street and asks them to figure out where they are. https://www.geoguessr.com/ Allows students to type in any city, state, or country to view an archive of historical photographs and other documents. It’s a unique way to help them learn about history. http://www.whatwasthere.com// Short videos about numbers that help kids explore complex math topics and make math more fun. https://www.numberphile.com/ A human visualization platform that allows students to explore the human body in really cool ways. https://human.biodigital.com/login?returnUrl=/dashboard Helps kids learn to appreciate the arts by providing them with the opportunity to play games, conduct investigations, and explore different forms of art. https://artsology.com/ Lets kids play instruments online. Instruments include the guitar, piano, pan flute, drums, and bongos. https://www.virtualmusicalinstruments.com/ Crafts, activities, bulletin board designs, and finger plays for early education teachers and parents to use with kids. http://www.preschoolexpress.com/ A large selection of fun songs to help teach preschool and kindergarten students https://www.songsforteaching.com/preschoolkindergarten.htm Resource section includes free flashcards, coloring pages, worksheets, and other resources for children, teachers, and parents. https://supersimple.com/ Life skills curriculum for students in grades K-12. Their resources include strategies for teaching social and emotional skills. https://www.overcomingobstacles.org/ Coding for ages 4-10 https://www.kodable.com/ No need to travel to one of the Smithsonian’s zoos or museums — this website brings your child everything from live video of the National Zoo to the Smithsonian Learning Lab right to their screen https://www.si.edu/kids Cool Kid Facts gives your child access to educational videos, pictures, quizzes, downloadable worksheets, and infographics. They can use these to learn about geography, history, science, animals, and even the human body. https://www.coolkidfacts.com/ This interactive website, hosted by the U.S. Government Publishing Office, allows your child to see the ins and outs of the U.S. government by taking a series of learning adventures with none other than Benjamin Franklin. https://bensguide.gpo.gov/ This NASA initiative covers a wide range of topics including weather, climate, atmosphere, water, energy, plants, and animals. https://climatekids.nasa.gov/ Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education project from Washington State University. Kids can send Dr. Universe any question they may have about history, geography, plants, animals, technology, engineering, math, culture, and more. https://askdruniverse.wsu.edu/ Your child can play games, learn fun facts, and find out how to turn coin collecting into a hobby. https://www.usmint.gov/learn/kids From rainbows to tornadoes and winter storms to tsunamis, meteorologist Crystal Wicker breaks down the fascinating world of weather. http://www.weatherwizkids.com/ Kids Think Design explores careers in fashion design, graphic design, interior design, book design, product design, film and theatre, architecture, animation, and environmental design. http://www.kidsthinkdesign.org/ This educational website hosted by the Smithsonian Museum takes a deep dive into ocean life. https://ocean.si.edu/ Brainscape offers over a million flashcard decks for every subject, entrance exam, and certification imaginable. https://www.brainscape.com/ The Theta Music Trainer offers a series of online courses and games for ear training and music theory. https://trainer.thetamusic.com/en Banzai exposes students to real-world financial dilemmas to teach them the importance of smart money management. https://www.teachbanzai.com/ Innerbody explores the 11 bodily systems in depth. With interactive models and detailed explanations, this website will help them learn more about the internal mechanics of the amazing human body.https://www.innerbody.com/htm/body.html Related article Coronavirus - Top tips to stay healthy and happy while working from home

Mar 20, 2020

This summer saw the introduction of the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019, extending unpaid parental leave from 18 to 22 weeks with a further extension to 26 weeks parental leave in 2020. Recently, the Government has published the new Parent’s Leave and Benefit Bill 2019, providing parents with an optional two weeks paid leave. Michael Doyle explains what employers need to know. The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Bill 2019 introduces paid parent's leave for employees in Ireland for the first time, building on existing statutory entitlements to paid maternity, paternity and adoptive leave. Subject to an employee having made the requisite PRSI contributions, a relevant parent will be entitled to take two weeks of paid leave within the first 52 weeks of a child's birth. This will be paid by the State at the same rate as the current State Illness Benefit (€245 per week). However, the Bill does not oblige employers to pay employees while on parent's leave. It will be up to each employer to decide whether to top up an employee's parent's benefit and by how much. What is the difference between Parental Leave and Parent's Leave? Earlier versions of the Bill referred to this new paid leave as Parental Leave and Benefit. The newly published 2019 Bill has changed the name to Parent's Leave and Benefit to distinguish parent's leave from parental leave, which is a separate and distinct entitlement under the Parental Leave Acts 1998–2019. Parental leave in Ireland remains an unpaid entitlement for employees. It is important to note that parent’s leave is separate and distinct to the two weeks' paid paternity leave entitlement introduced via the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016. Key provisions of the 2019 Bill There are a few key provisions of the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Bill that employers should keep in mind: All relevant parents will be entitled to this leave, including: parent of a child, a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the parent of a child; a parent of a donor-conceived child; adopting parent or parents of a child; the spouse, civil partner or spouse of the adopting parent of the child and each member of a married couple of the same sex, a couple that are civil partners of each other, or a cohabiting couple of the same sex. Parent's leave can only be taken within the first 52 weeks of the child's birth or the day of placement of adoption. Parent's leave can be taken in a continuous period of two weeks or in separate blocks of one week each. An employee will be required to give six weeks' notice, setting out the expected date on which the leave will begin and the duration of the planned leave. A parent will not be entitled to claim parent's benefit more than once where there are multiple births or adoptions. Parent's leave cannot be transferred between parents other than in specified circumstances, such as the death of a parent. Employers are entitled to postpone parent's leave where it would have a substantial adverse effect on the operation of the employer's business. For example, seasonal variations in the volume of work or the number of employees who are also taking parent's leave. Employers cannot postpone the leave for more than 12 weeks. Absence on parent's leave will not affect the employee's rights (other than the right to remuneration). Employees are entitled to protection from penalisation, including dismissal and unfair treatment for exercising their entitlement to parent's leave. The employee is entitled to return to their normal job and to the same terms and conditions of employment before they commenced the parent's leave. The Workplace Relations Commission can order the granting of the parent's leave and/or compensation of up to two weeks' remuneration where there is a breach. For example, where an employer postpones an employee's parent's leave but doesn’t permit them to take it within 12 weeks. What should employers be doing? Employment handbooks and family leave policies should be updated to cater for this new statutory leave. A key consideration for employers will be whether employees' State parent’s benefit will be topped-up. In practice, many employers will mirror the position adopted for topping up paid paternity leave. Employers will need to outline the application/notification process and employee's statutory rights while on parent’s leave. In circumstances where an employee’s parent’s leave needs to be postponed, employers would be well advised to consult with the employee prior to confirming the postponement in writing. Time to prepare When introducing the Bill, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection said: "in both 2017 and 2018, almost 25,000 new fathers availed of the newly established two-week paid Paternity Leave scheme". He further hopes that all new parents will do the same for the new parent’s leave once established as “it will provide working parents with a further opportunity to spend more time with their new baby during its first year which is of particular importance." We expect the Minister's aspiration will become a reality once this new statutory leave is introduced. We recommend employers familiarise themselves with the Bill now and take appropriate measures to ensure they are ready to process parent's leave applications, which could be received as soon as within the next few weeks. You can read the Parent's Leave and Benefit Bill 2019 here. Michael Doyle is a Partner in A&L Goodbody.

Oct 17, 2019

Starting a family is one of the most exciting things you may ever do. But it can be challenging too, and bring lots of changes – even before your baby is born. From the time you find out a baby is on the way right through to the birth and the years that follow, you’re likely to experience a wide range of emotions – from joy, happiness and love right through to anxiety, self-doubt and frustration. In fact, it’s safe to say your life will never be exactly the same again. If you’re having your first baby, you may find it difficult to adjust, as you’ll be learning lots of new things as you go along. Indeed, according to one survey by baby products manufacturer Munchkin, it takes almost five months for new mothers to adapt to their new lifestyle after the birth of their baby, with many admitting they were overwhelmed by the prospect of becoming a parent. Learning to stay emotionally healthy at this time will help you to form a good and strong bond with your baby. So here are a few of the challenges you may encounter – and a few suggestions on how to cope with them. Sleep disruption  Lack of sleep is common during the first weeks and even months of being a new parent. Plus with the endless round of feedings, nappy changes and washing baby clothes, it’s no wonder many new parents claim they’re permanently exhausted. During the night, think about taking turns in feeding your baby (if your baby is breast fed, fathers can bottle feed using expressed milk). Having some quiet alone-time with their baby at night can give fathers another opportunity to build a strong bond with their baby.  Also try to catch up on your sleep whenever your baby is asleep, which may mean being more relaxed about things like cooking and doing chores around the house. Most importantly, remind yourselves that this period of sleep disruption won’t last forever, and that you’ll probably settle into a routine when your baby is around six to eight weeks old. Isolation  If you had a hospital birth, you may feel isolated and anxious when you first take your new baby home. Suddenly you’re both on your own with no one to help or give you advice, which can be daunting to say the least. But if you have friends and family nearby, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many may choose to initially stay away because they think you need to have time on your own, but you’d be surprised at how happy most people would be to give you a hand. Also try to get out and about as much as possible with your baby, as being stuck in the house can make you feel even more isolated. The change of scenery will boost your mood, and your baby will feel better for getting out into the fresh air too. If you made friends with other parents-to-be at antenatal classes, why not arrange to get together with some of them? You may well find they’re having exactly the same experiences as you are, and talking about your feelings with others who know what you’re going through can make you realise you’re far from alone. Relationship problems  Many new parents feel there’s little time for their relationship as a couple when a new baby comes along. Studies suggest many parents feel less happy in their relationship after having a baby, and many fathers may feel left out, which can make them feel jealous of their partner’s closeness with the baby. Make sure you’re both involved with caring for your new baby – new dads need to build their confidence and their relationship with their child as well as new mums. Talk to each other about the way you feel, and let your partner know if you’re struggling to cope. Also start planning to do some of the things you did together before you had your baby, so you can enjoy time doing things as a couple, not just as parents. Negative feelings  A baby can turn your life upside down, so don’t be surprised if you have negative feelings from time to time, especially when everything seems more daunting than usual. These feelings are perfectly normal, so don’t be afraid to talk to someone about them. Also try to remember that it’s fine for mums and dads not to fall in love with their baby immediately. Forming a strong relationship with your baby can take a while, especially for mothers who had a long or difficult delivery. And having negative feelings towards your baby doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. If your partner is affected by negative feelings towards your baby, it’s more important than ever to reassure them that their emotions are normal, and that they will pass in time. Meanwhile, if a new mum shows a continuing lack of interest in her baby, it could be a sign of postnatal depression. If there’s a possibility you or your partner is affected by postnatal depression, it’s very important to speak to your GP about it and get treatment. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Aug 20, 2019

These days most people are juggling their job and their family life. Indeed, as you get older, it’s likely you’ll have more commitments compared with your younger days. And that could mean you don’t have a lot of time left for your friends. So even if you have every intention of staying in touch, it’s easy to neglect your friends and even lose contact with them altogether when life gets hectic. But having good friends is important say experts, who believe strong social ties can keep you happy. Some studies even suggest having the support of friends, family and neighbours could boost your chances of living a long and healthy life by up to 50 per cent. Thankfully, there are ways of maintaining your friendships, no matter how busy you are: Connect via social media  Social networks such as Facebook may not be a substitute for real friendships, but they can help you keep in touch with people you don’t see very often and even reconnect you with friends you haven’t seen in years. But try to avoid posting mass status updates all the time – leaving personal messages for individual friends is much more meaningful. Make a regular commitment  When you were younger, seeing friends was something that came naturally. Now, finding time to get together seems so much more difficult. But just because you can’t see your friends as often as you used to, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your friendships altogether. Try to figure out how often you and your friends can meet realistically – once a month, once every six weeks or once every eight weeks, for instance – and make a firm commitment (even if you decide to meet up once a year, it can help to keep your friendship alive, especially in the case of long-standing relationships). If you have sets of friends who know each other, making plans to meet up as a group instead of trying to see each individual friend on their own can be helpful too. On the other hand, if you can’t get together in person, try organising regular Skype dates with friends who live far away. Make it a regular commitment and it will soon become a worthwhile habit. Do the little things Few people with busy lives have the time for leisurely chats with friends on the phone. But it takes seconds to send a note by text or email; and most importantly, it lets your friends know you’re thinking of them. So whenever you come across something you find interesting on the internet, forward it to a friend who shares your views or your sense of humour. And remember, your friends may well appreciate a few words sent on a frequent basis than longer updates just once in a blue moon. Be good at remembering  If you don’t check in with your friends that often, it’s easy to forget things like their birthdays and other anniversaries. You may think having a busy life is a good excuse, but others may view forgetting big dates as thoughtlessness. So aim to remember the important moments in your friends’ lives, including their birthdays, anniversaries, children’s birthdays and so on, and send them a card or a message on each occasion. To make remembering easier, keep an up-to-date list of dates in your diary or use a anniversary/birthday reminder app on your smartphone, computer or digital device (try Digital Anniversaries, a free app available for Android and Apple devices). Apologise for losing touch  We all know life can get in the way of our plans from time to time. So if you’ve been neglecting one or more of your friends, instead of letting the friendship fizzle out, call or write to them and tell them you’re sorry. It’s better to admit you’ve let things slip than to lose your friendship altogether. Similarly, if you feel a friend is neglecting you, try to understand how easy it can be to lose track. Instead of waiting for them to get in touch with you, make an effort to contact them yourself. You could end up healthier and happier as a result. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 09, 2019

"I look back on her teenage years as being the loveliest stage of her childhood" said no parent, ever. Living with teenagers can be stressful, exhausting, sometimes fulfilling and certainly unpredictable. Here’s some thoughts on how to help your child transition to a happy and healthy young adult, whilst keeping your own professional and personal life on track. These are based on my own experience and feedback from other parents. Remember you are the expert on what’s right for you and your family, these are only ideas. Be a role model for a happy, healthy and meaningful life Teenagers don’t appear to listen to what we say, but they certainly copy what we do. Pay attention to your own diet, exercise, sleeping habits, alcohol consumption, over-work and other life style choices. That includes letting them observe you having fun and making time for things you enjoy, as well as working and being a parent. It’s not selfish to have outside interests and let your children see that life is for living. Don’t pretend to be a clean-living paragon when you are not. It’s much better for them to see you balance a few days of healthier living to make up for a period of excess, whether through work or play. That’s real life. Turn off the digital devices Teenagers are notoriously critical of their parents so don’t make it easy for them to call you out on double-standards. You can’t expect them to make conversation with you if you are checking your own emails at the dinner table. Try to make some family rules about screen time and stick to them Talk, don’t bottle up your emotions It’s normal to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and tired from time to time. It’s also normal to feel frustrated or angry with your teenager sometimes too. Reach out to people who will support you. At work, advice and feedback is usually helpful. In our personal lives, you don’t necessarily need advice, just someone to listen to you non-judgementally. It’s ok for your teenagers to see that you can feel vulnerable or overwhelmed from time to time. They will learn how to deal with stressful situations from observing how you cope. Avoid comparisons Other people’s children may appear to be coping much better than yours, and other parents appear to be managing their life and career better also. That may be true, or it may not be. Surround yourself with a supportive network and don’t judge your own family life or other people. Life is a marathon not a sprint. If your children are facing difficulties now, then they will learn from their mistakes and build resilience. Don’t beat yourself or them up for not being perfect. You may even have to relax your high standards – maybe one relaxed, home-cooked meal with all the family round the table each week is enough to aim for? Create an easy space to talk As teens become increasingly independent they often spend more time with their friends than their family. This can feel like a rejection. Try and keep the lines of communication open. It is essential to invest your energy in maintaining a good relationship, even when they have trouble communicating. Talk to them about what you are up to, and perhaps they’ll reciprocate. Find the best time to get them to open up. Many parents say that their teens talk to them when they are taxi-ing them around. If your children are more relaxed in the early evening, then grab a cup of tea and chat to them when you get home, rather than rushing to do chores or doing work. Ditch the guilt Some days you simply have to put your professional life first to cope with the demands facing you. That’s modern life and that’s how you pay the bills. Don’t beat yourself up about it. They’ll respect you for your achievements, even if they don’t show it right now. No one says it is easy to balance work and family life. Smaller children are tiring but they are easier to control than stroppy teenagers. It’s hard for many of us to let go, particularly when we are usually in the driving seat in our personal and professional lives. Pick your battles carefully. Like all childhood phases, this won’t last for ever. Written by: Zena Everett Zena Everett is an executive coach and speaker on productivity and career strategy. An organisational psychologist, she has trained in cognitive behavioural coaching and coaches on the Executive MBA programme at Oxford University’s Said Business School. She is a speaker for the London Business Forum. Zena is the mother of two teenagers and a well-mannered basset hound. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 09, 2019

We use it to network with business contacts, keep in touch with friends and family, find and share information, express our opinions and even for entertainment (comedy cat video fans, you know who you are).  But there’s evidence to suggest many people who use social media fear they’re addicted to it. Should you quit? Quitting social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may have a number of benefits, including the following: Your mood may improve Research suggests that the more time you spend on social media, the greater your risk for depression.  You’ll feel less isolated While you may have hundreds (or possibly thousands) of Facebook friends, if the only time you spend with them (or at least the ones you actually know) is when you’re online, chances are you’ll end up feeling disconnected rather than connected.  You’ll have more self-esteem    Constantly comparing yourself to other people on social media who appear to have the perfect job/relationship/house/body/family is hardly going to be good for your confidence. Indeed, studies have shown people who spend a lot of time on social media experience low self-esteem as well as increased anxiety. You’ll feel more positive    With so many people using social media as an outlet for their anger and frustrations, there’s a risk all that bad feeling could rub off on you. Getting things off their chests online may help many people feel better, but in reading their comments you could risk absorbing some of their negativity. You’ll have more free time Everyone knows how time flies when you’re engrossed in social media. Even when you promise yourself you’ll spend just 5 minutes checking out your Twitter feed, chances are you’ll still be scrolling an hour later.  You’ll be more productive All that extra free time you could have by quitting social media can be put to good use. Instead of being glued to your smartphone for hours on end, imagine what you could do? Realistic approaches Quitting sounds tempting, doesn’t it? But giving up social media altogether may not be the answer.  Set some boundaries Instead of swearing off social media for good, there are other, arguably more realistic options. You could for instance make it a rule to stay off social media when you go out to dinner, when you’re spending time with other people or before going to bed and when you’re in bed. You could also give yourself a time and a time limit for checking your social media, for instance 20 minutes at lunchtime and resolve to stick to it. Give yourself a timeout But it may be simpler to make a habit of staying off social media for 1 day a week. You could also take things a step further and take a 1-day-a-week break from all your digital devices. Unplugging has become a real trend these days, with many people taking breaks, not just from social media but also from the internet and their smartphones on a regular basis. At the very least, an entire day away from your computer or smartphone screen each week could help you remember how good life was before you became a slave to those annoying beeps and alerts. Find out more about taking a break from technology by reading our article Smartphone addiction – do you need a digital detox? Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jun 25, 2019