A Special Gift For You This Christmas

I’m off on my holiday tomorrow. My boys have set off to see their Dad, so all that remains is to tidy up the house, make another batch of mince pies, deliver some local Christmas cards and then pack for a fun and festive few days with my lovely husband and cuddly pooch in beautiful Warwickshire, near Stratford Upon Avon.

Christmas Wreath card design 2015Today there is only one thing for it, and that’s to give one of you the gift of some 1:1 coaching with me – to set you up for a wonderful 2016.

Your coaching will be via Skype or telephone and consists of four sessions, plus written assignments in between to help you get the best results possible. I can only give one of these packages away, so to be in with a chance of winning this final prize (worth £300), please email me with your answers to the following three questions:

Please don’t be shy: make sure to email me if you want to be in with a chance of winning. Somebody has to win – and it could be you!

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.  With all best wishes from Vivienne  www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com

Forgiveness Is a Gift You Give Yourself


Single Mum's Survival Guide CARTOON NUMBER 11 001There was a time a few years ago when I started to have terrible dreams about all the people in my life who have hurt me or let me down. The plots changed and became a changing cast of characters over successive nights. These ranged from my first and second husbands, childhood and college friends, a scary ex-employer and a dear friend from schooldays who now has a new life and interests and no longer makes time for our friendship. The one thing they had in common was that they were all people who had left me with unresolved feelings of sadness, hurt, loss and resentment. It may well have been that writing my book and going over painful old ground had dredged up all these old wounds and brought them up for me to look at and resolve once and for all. You may well find that at a time of great stress and emotion in your life, such as the events that caused you to find yourself starting out again as a single mother, you have a similar experience of introspection. This can be a very uncomfortable process, but one thing I have learned in my own work as a transformational coach, hypnotist and Beyond NLP practitioner (not to mention in my own life) is that emotions will continue to resurface until you deal with them, so this can be a liberating and cleansing time for you if you only let it. Forgiveness of yourself and others and the process of letting go of these emotions and thoughts that no longer serve you can finally free you from the shackles that would otherwise hold you back and impede the fantastic progress that you are making with your new life.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” —Lewis B. Smedes

“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” –Suzanne Somers

“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” —Marianne Williamson

As you move towards the end of this year, how good would it be to move on feeling happier, lighter and freer, without the burden of resentment and bitterness? My gift today is a guided meditation to help you do just that. Find somewhere quiet you can listen to this session, close your eyes and enjoy the journey.

Click here to listen: The Forgiveness Process

If you would like my help and advice, do visit my website www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com, where you can find a free audio on Coping with Christmas or sign up for a free one to one session with me. single mum's survival guide logo

You Can’t Enter Your Destination Until You Have a Start Point!

Single Mum's Survival Guide Illustration 16 001It’s hard to set a course for where you’re going without a starting point. Just imagine typing a location into Google maps and asking for directions, without entering a start point! In the next few days I’ll be sharing an excellent goal setting process which will set you on track for a happy and productive 2016 but before deciding where you want to go, you must first look at where you are now. This doesn’t need to be a depressing task – in fact we often forget all the many achievements we have accomplished because we are so busy focusing on what we still need to change or get done. Try this on your child over Christmas. You could find out what three things they are really happy with from this last year, three things they didn’t like and three things they liked and what they are most proud of. Celebrating successes is a fantastic tool to enhance your child’s self esteem – and yours!

Today’s gift is the gift of reflection as we approach the end of the year. It comes in the form of a video from author and coach Ben Brophy. You might want to have a pen and paper handy and pause the video whilst you answer the questions, like I did!


If you would like my help and advice over the Christmas period, do visit my website www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com, where you can find a free audio on Coping with Christmas or sign up for a free one to one session with me. single mum's survival guide logo



Clear out Your Wardrobe Clutter Before You Hit The Sales!

t shirtsThis year some clothes shops have begun their sales already but it’s traditional for retailers to discount after Christmas and then millions of women will be pounding the pavements in search of that elusive treasure – a complete bargain that not only fits and suits you perfectly, but is also good enough quality to last more than a few washes! Here’s my suggestion – why not de-clutter your current wardrobe to make some space for all your new clothes?

It’s a fact that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. This means that 80% of your clothes are just hanging in your wardrobe or closet taking up valuable space. To avoid making those mistakes again, let’s look at what made you buy them in the first place. Perhaps they seemed to be a bargain at the time but when you got them home you realised that it was a false economy because you didn’t actually like them. Or after a few washes they shrank or behaved strangely when you wore them (twisting, slipping or riding up when you least wanted them to!) Maybe the colour was draining to your complexion, the style too prim or outrageous, or the cut actually did make your bum look big. Or perhaps they were just too uncomfortable to contemplate wearing more than on just the odd occasion. Every item in your wardrobe should be a flattering shade for your colouring, a perfect style for your personality and the right shape for your shape. Above all, clothes currently hanging in your wardrobe should be the right size for the size you are now. Don’t buy for the size you will be once you’ve completed your diet and exercise regime – and don’t leave them hanging in your cupboard as a silent daily reproach that this toning and tightening of your body has taken you longer than hoped because they’re still a size or two too small. When you are assessing which clothes to evict from your wardrobe, bear this in mind: (unless it a balldress, a hat or ski wear), if you haven’t worn it for the last year, chances are you never will. Store it in the attic if you must, but otherwise: dump it, donate it, sell it or swap it.

If you would like more help with creating that ideal capsule wardrobe, today I have two gifts for you (UK readers only).

Find out your most flattering colours for clothes, hair and make-up. This fascinating 2 hour session will give you the knowledge and confidence to choose the right colours to look your absolute best. Email me at vivienne@thelifeyoudeserve.co.uk and tell me why you think it’s time to bring colour into your life. The best answer wins a free Colour Confidence session at my studio here in West Sussex.

If you already know what suits you: to fill in the gaps in your wardrobe and make it a colourful Christmas, check out this website: www.kettlewellcolours.co.uk Then call me on 07811956146 to order your garments, as I can get you a 5% discount, plus free Postage & Packing.single mum's survival guide logo

Worried About Overeating This Christmas?

TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS FOODHow many times have you heard people say “After Christmas, I’m definitely going on a diet”? At Christmas we are bombarded with food temptation – everywhere you look, everywhere you go, everywhere you turn,  there’s an opportunity to see food, buy food or eat food. Boxes of chocolates, canapes, nuts, nibbles, cakes, pies, puddings, turkey or beef with all the trimmings – where will it all end? I still remember my first experience of  indigestion. I was quite young – around ten or twelve – and we’d just finished our Christmas dinner. Yes, at the time I’d enjoyed the turkey and roast potatoes and Brussel sprouts and chipolatas wrapped in bacon and gravy and bread sauce and cranberry sauce and Christmas pudding and mince pies and brandy butter…but now I felt ill! Really ill! I felt so stuffed that I had to lie down to recover from stuffing myself with all that food. My eyes were bigger than my stomach, as the saying goes. I work with a lot of women who would like to get their eating and their weight back under control, so here are some of my top tips for enjoying food over Christmas, without it all getting out of hand.

It’s all about being mindful. Wait until you are actually hungry to eat. Have a glass of water first (you might actually be thirsty). If you are suddenly overcome by a craving for a particular food then you are probably not hungry, but feeling the need to do some emotional eating. Ask yourself: “What’s eating me? What emotion am I trying to stuff down?” then express that emotion in a positive way, or do something totally different. This could be something from your practical to-do list (wrapping presents, cleaning, tidying the kid’s bedrooms etc.) or something from your list of things you like to do that don’t involve eating (going for a walk, phoning a friend, reading a book, having a hot bath, listening to some uplifting music). If you really are hungry, follow these steps: unless you’re at a drinks party, always put your food on a plate and eat it sitting down, with a knife and fork or spoon (unless it’s a sandwich). Snacking while standing up or on the go will often lead to mindless overeating because you’re too distracted. When you’re choosing what to eat, think about how it will feel as it slides down into your stomach and how it will make you feel for the next few hours. Instead of piling your plate high, take a moderate portion, knowing that you can go back for more if you need to. Eat slowly, savouring every mouthful, chewing the food well and getting maximum enjoyment from every bite. Put your cutlery down between bites. The minute you stop being aware of the taste of the food, stop and ask yourself if you are actually hungry or whether you are now just eating because it’s there. Stop when you have had sufficient and before you are full. You can always have more food later, when you are hungry again. This way of eating has proved liberating for many people – it’s the way that most naturally slim people eat.

unhealthy foodHowever, there may be a “trigger food” for you – something that causes you to lose all control. For some this is cake, while for others it’s chips, or crisps, or chocolate.

Whatever your thoughts, hopes and plans this Christmas, I’d like to help you to make it as stress-free as possible, as well as passing on a few treats just for you. I’ll be sending you a little something every day between now and Christmas Eve. 

Today’s gift is a free telephone or Skype session with me, dedicated to changing the way you think about that trigger food forever. Imagine how helpful it would be if we changed that like (or love) for the out of control food to a dislike or even hatred of it? How good would it feel to remain totally in control around that food, with no desire to even taste it? To win your free session with me, fill in your name and address in the form below and tell me what food you’d like to give up, and why.

single mum's survival guide logo



Peace on Earth this Christmas?

keep calmPutting aside the twinkly lights and the tinsel, the presents and the food, Christmas is often the time of year that highlights our relationship problems. Statistics show that most families succumb to the pressure of this enforced jolliness and togetherness – it’s when the cracks can show in even the most happy households. One survey I read claimed that the average British family will have at least five arguments on Christmas Day – with the first row taking place at 10.13 am! There is certainly evidence that Christmas puts a strain on couples. Statistics show that January is the busiest month for divorce lawyers. For single mums, it’s a time when many find themselves feeling nostalgic for a past relationship or feeling bitter that they are alone at such a poignant time of year. Anger and sadness can come to the surface and spill over just when we’re trying to be the very spirit of Christmas cheer for our children, friends and extended families and try as we might, once the emotions have come up it’s tough to put them neatly back in the box and seal the lid again.

Whatever your thoughts, hopes and plans this Christmas, I’d like to help you to make it as stress-free as possible, as well as passing on a few treats just for you. I’ll be sending you a little something every day between now and Christmas. 

Today’s gift is an exercise to help you let go of your past relationship and all the unresolved feelings you still have about it. This is a letter you never have to send, yet it enables you to express exactly how you feel about your ex – even if you have mixed emotions. Just go through each question, giving your answer or finishing the sentence – either in your head or on a piece of paper. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards!


  1. When your name comes up or I think of you I feel …
  2. Something is important here; otherwise I would not be feeling this negative emotion. What is it that I want?
  3. I am still angry with you for….
  4. I am sad because I think you should have …..
  5. I wish we could have…..
  6. The things I didn’t like about our relationship were….
  7. In future relationships, I want less….
  8. I want to acknowledge me for…..
  9. I enriched your life by…..
  10. I need to forgive you for …..
  11. I want to acknowledge you for …..
  12. The biggest benefit of having a relationship with you was (if there was a benefit, what would it be?)……
  13. The things I liked about our relationship were….
  14. In future relationships, I want more….
  15. Through knowing you I learned…..
  16. This has given me…..
  17. I am angry with myself for …..
  18. Sometimes you reminded me of …..
  19. And I reacted by…..
  20. I am sad because I think I should have …..
  21. I am sorry for…..
  22. I need to forgive myself for sometimes…..
  23. I want to acknowledge you for …..
  24. I wish for you…..
  25. I wish for myself…..

If you would like my help and advice over the Christmas period, do visit my website www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com, where you can find a free audio on Coping with Christmas or sign up for a free one to one session with me.single mum's survival guide logo

The Secret Recipe For Christmas Happiness


Xmas webinar slide 1 001Many families have their favourite recipes at Christmas, handed down from one generation to the next. I know that I was lucky with learning to cook and appreciate food because my mum was a stay-at-home mum who not only came from a proud line of Yorkshire women renowned for their culinary skills but had also done a Cordon Bleu cookery course when she was first married. Even today you could drop in to see my 86 year old mother and guarantee to be served a home made delicacy appropriate for the time of day. If it’s lunchtime it might be a mouthwatering roast with her home-grown vegetables and famous Yorkshire puddings or one of her East African curries. If it’s coffee or tea time it will be a melt-in-the-mouth Ginger Thin or during the Christmas period, a freshly-warmed mince pie. Many of us don’t have the time or the energy to bake these days – I know I often don’t. However, despite the potential sticky mess, it is well worth making the effort to cook with your children. You can involve them with age-appropriate tasks, from choosing the ingredients at the supermarket to preparing, mixing and decorating the finished result; it also pretty much guarantees that they will eat the finished result, which is a sneakily effective way of dealing with a child who is a fussy eater! Moreover, you are creating togetherness and fond memories and developing their skills and confidence.

Whatever your thoughts, hopes and plans this Christmas, I’d like to help you to make it as stress-free as possible, as well as passing on a few treats just for you. I’ll be sending you a little something every day between now and Christmas.

mince piesToday’s gift is the recipe my mum and I always use to make mince pies at Christmas time. In my opinion they are far nicer than anything you could buy and well worth the effort and time spent in the kitchen. Children love to help assemble these and for a fussy eater you could substitute a spoonful of jam for the mincemeat filling.


560 g mincemeat (the sweet variety with chopped fruit, sold in jars)

350 g plain flour

75 g lard

75 g margarine

a pinch of salt

For the top:

a small amount of milk

a small amount of granulated sugar

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).

You will also need one (or two) trays of 6 cm pie tins, one fluted 7.5 cm pastry cutter and one 6 cm cutter.


Make up the pastry by sifting the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and rub in the fats (bring them to room temperature and then cut them into small cubes first, to make it easier to blend). The trick with pastry is not to overhandle it or get it too warm at this point, so mix it quickly with your fingertips by lifting the pieces of fat up high over the bowl with the flour (so you are letting plenty of air in) and rubbing it gently and lightly through your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Use a knife to begin with and then your hands, then add just enough cold water so that the ball of dough leaves the bowl clean but is not too sticky.

Leave the pastry to rest covered in clingfilm (Saran Wrap) in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, then roll half of it out so that it’s as thin as possible but not breaking and cut it into twenty four 7.5 cm rounds, gathering up the scraps and re-rolling.

Then do the same with the other half of the pastry, this time using the 6 cm cutter.

Now grease the pie tins lightly and line them with the larger rounds. Fill these with a good spoonful of mincemeat, but don’t overfill as they split in the oven. Dampen the edges of the smaller rounds of pastry with water and press them lightly into position to form lids, sealing the edges.

Brush each one with milk and make three snips in the tops with a pair of scissors. Sprinkle with a small amount of sugar. Bake near the top of the oven for 25-30 minutes until light golden brown.

Cool on a wire tray and when the mince pies are cool, store them in a Tupperware or airtight tin. To serve: mince pies are best eaten when they’ve been warmed in the oven, either on their own or with cream or brandy butter.

If you would like my help and advice over the Christmas period, do visit my website www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com, where you can find a free audio on Coping with Christmas or sign up for a free one to one session with me.single mum's survival guide logo

A Nativity Nightmare?

single mum's survival guide logoA colleague was telling me about her niece’s Nativity play; apparently it was a little confusing because it was totally non-religious, so there was a Mary but no Baby Jesus! In fact, she wasn’t entirely sure it was called a Nativity play, but she couldn’t think how to describe it otherwise! However, the kids did brilliantly and acted and sang their little hearts out, so it was very heart-warming. I still have a photo of my eldest dressed in his costume as…a camel. He was about three and a half at the time and though I say so myself, the costume was a triumph of ingenuity. I’d cut up one of my Dad’s old dressing gowns and made him a hump and a tail and a pair of camel ears on a headband. In the photo, the headband has slipped too far down over his eyes but he is squinting manfully at the camera and putting on his cheeky grin.

They are far too old to be doing one now, but when it came to the annual school nativity play in their primary school I used to take a wad of tissues in my bag, as it always brought our family situation home to me in a very poignant way. Christmas and other holidays can sometimes present a problem; there are events, occasions and rituals that have a special significance or sentimental attachment for everyone and I have found at times like these that memories and emotions can still knock me sideways–even now. Even when you think that you’re all sorted and reconciled to the way your new life is these days, don’t beat yourself up or feel embarrassed if you occasionally find it’s all too much to cope with. You’re only human after all and you’ve been so brave and worked so hard to get to where you are now. However: not only do our kids have two homes, but they also have two Christmases and for children this can be quite a bonus! So there are always different ways of looking at it.

SMSG webinar pic 1If you’d like my help to sail through Christmas, I am offering a free hour’s Strategy Session via Skype or telephone. It might just give you the strength and the strategies to make it through the holidays in one piece and at peace with your situation. Click here to book your hour with me FREE SESSION.

You might also like to listen to my free audio, “Coping With Christmas”. Click here to gain access to your FREE AUDIO GUIDE.

Are You Feeling Less Than Festive This Christmas?

single mum's survival guide logoThe countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun. Whilst shopping one day (and walking past row upon row of Christmas “bargains”) I overheard a woman talking to her friend about trying to get into the festive spirit for her children’s sake; it was obviously proving to be a struggle, because she herself wasn’t feeling full of Christmas cheer. Remembering past years when life was a struggle and I wished that Christmas could either be cancelled altogether or at least put on hold, I really sympathised with her sentiments.

I know that many parents – single mums in particular- feel under tremendous pressure at this time of year. Will the tree be sparkly enough? Will the meal be delicious and served on time? Will everyone get on? Despite the budgetary cuts suffered by Father (and Mother) Christmas in recent times, will the stocking at the foot of the bed and all those gifts under the tree be amazing enough to satisfy this new generation of technology-hungry children? For a time that’s meant to be merry and full of goodwill, Christmas certainly comes at a price in more ways than one.

Whatever your thoughts, hopes and plans this Christmas, I’d like to help you to make it as stress-free as possible.

Click here to access your free audio guide to Coping With ChristmasSMSG webinar pic 1

Secretly Dreading Christmas?

lonely slide 001

It’s not quite December, yet already the customary Christmas madness is creeping in. Here in the UK it seems like every other advert on TV is showing happy families gathered around the Christmas table, tucking into a festive feast – or snuggled up and cosy around a Christmas tree, a small child squealing with delight at the perfect gift, whilst its proud parents hold hands and smile indulgently.

But what if you can’t see any chance of achieving that happy scene? Christmas can seem like an especially cruel way of reminding you that you and your little family don’t fit in to those idealised ideas. I still remember my first Christmas as a single mum and how very bleak that midwinter was for me. Despite the valiant attempts of my mum and dad and my two sisters to create some Christmas cheer, it was hard to come to terms with the fact that it was my baby’s very first Christmas and his father wasn’t there. I had no home of my own, very little money – even to buy presents – and the future looked anything but rosy. Then later on (and still to this day) came the challenge of Christmas without my children, as their dad claimed his turn.

If you are secretly dreading Christmas then please know you are not alone. Through my own 13 years’ experience and by talking to many other single mums, I’ve gathered together a treasure trove of tips and tricks to help you to not only survive Christmas this year but make it memorable for all the right reasons.

This audio recording will provide you with a host of encouraging tips and tricks for not only coping with Christmas as a single mum but making it memorable for all the right reasons.

Click here for your free audio guide