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Dire relationship with ex after family court proceedings... advice please(89 Posts)
Please advise on the following...
After approx 18 months of family court proceedings the acromony between my ex partner and myself has reached breaking point and I'm emotionally exhausted by all that has gone on.
We've been communicating through email (so that there's evidence) only over vital things as my ex was controlling and abusive (the reason I split from him). He now tries to control me through our ds. We split up 7 years ago.
2 weeks ago I sent him a proposal for next years holidays for contact and holidays and also Xmas arrangements etc (as outlined and directed in the court order). Naively I thought he'd come back agreeing with most of the dates and just say a few dates needed to be changed, but he rejected it all. He claimed I was dictating and interpreting the order to suit myself when I wasn't but he did not propose any dates himself. Instead he threatened me with Court action and told a Cafcass officer that he would obstruct me collecting our dc from him on Boxing Day after Xmas if he could not collect our ds from school yesterday.
I contacted the Court and we had to have a hearing to agree the arrangements for Xmas and the next year. It was extremely difficult and he had his solicitor with him. I represented myself. Both he and his solictitor have bullying natures.
The Judge talked to us and confirmed weekends are to be suspended when school breaks up which I found frustrating as this will interfere with the weekends I'm to spend with my son. As part of the Order we alternate weekends. My ex had our dc last weekend. My last weekend with him being the 5th & 6th Dec so I was looking forward to this weekend with my dc as I'm not collecting him until Boxing Day morning. I felt my proposal for Xmas contact was a better split of the time.
On the morning before Court I noticed my dc had a red eye, like the start of conjunctivitis. He has been suffering with an extremely chesty cold for the last 10 days. I therfore made a doctors appointment for after school as over the counter meds haven't shifted it. My ds said his eye was sore so I reassured him by telling him I'd make a doctors appointment appointment for him.
We attended Court and in view of alternate weekends being suspended upon the break up of school, the Judge said his father was to collect our dc from school yesterday. I was expecting him to collect him tom eve (Sunday)). As I thought this was to be the start of his Xmas contact (at the end of my contact weekend). My dc also had a piano lesson arranged half an hour after school and then his Cubs Xmas party 6.30pm - 8pm. The docs appoint was to be sandwiched between the two.
The Judge was made aware of the half hour piano lesson, docs appointment and the Cubs Xmas party. The Judge recommended our dc attend his piano lesson and to see what the condition of his eye was after coming out from school. If still not cleared up he was to attend the doctors appointment but after that it was for his father 'to take the lead' on whether he should attend his Cubs party. I was disappointed that the Judge in view of the arrangements our dc was anticipating attending, that he did not suggest my ex collecting our ds today (eg, split the difference on each of our expectations when contact would start) so I could simply take him to these arranged activities. My exs solicitor actually launched into a very personal attack outside Court accusing me of arranging these activities (including the doctors appointment) as a 'manipulation tactic'!!! His solicitor said my ex could take our ds to a doctor in his contact time. I stressed it was better he see his own doctor and I'd taken the last appointment. I was cross he had no regard towards the best intersts of my dc!
My point to all this in giving so much background is that my ex agreed at Court to what the Judge said but then he did not follow through. This has not been the first time he has gone back on his word and I'm exhausted by his lies, attitude but importamntly how much it confuses and upsets our son.
So, the the Judge ruled my ex collect our ds from school, he attend his piano lesson and the doctors appointment and to the see how much our ds wanted to go to the Cubs Xmas party. I obv knew the answer to the latter and had already told the Judge this. Our ds had baked some biscuits the night before to take to the party. My ex left Court saying contact school, tell them I'm coming (which I did) and that he'd meet me at my house with regard to everything else.
My ex was then 30 mins late so had his gf text me half an hour before school out to ask me to arrange to collect our ds from school and wait at home. 10 mins later still no sign so I cancelled the piano lesson because I didn't feel it would go down too well if I was not at home with our ds when he arrived.
When he did arrive I advised our ds's eye was worse (redder) and on looking at it our dc's eye, he played it down. My ds said it was sore but my ex said 'it will be okay' and he'd monitor it. I said it had already deteriorated since the morning. He would have none of it despite me suggesting we all go to the doctors (in separate vehicles) just for peace of mind and to have our ds's chest checked too. My ex said he would prefer to just get going homeand would take our ds to a doctor in his area. He assured me he would and only because he assured me he would I was pressured into saying goodbye until Boxing Day to our ds. I rang the surgery and cancelled the appointment explaing the situ.
With regard to the Cubs party he simply told our ds he could not go as it would be too late getting back to his area... but then said it's not a school night so they could watch films until late... My son was clearly disappointed but said nothing despite his counter offer.
This morning, I emailed my ex to see which doctor he'd taken him to and what the outcome was and he told me hadnt taken him and it appeared to be fine. It was not fine yesterday and I'm really cross at myself that I did not insist on taking our ds to our local surgery to the appointment I'd made.
I'm so furious with my ex as he agreed to do this and has not. He was also arrogant towards me in attitude with regards to the agreed contact schedule of which I'd said I'd send him a re-worked schedule based on what we'd agreed... but then he had his gf send one via his email account 30 mins after leaving Court.
Any advise on how to go forwards would be grately appreciated. Thank you in advance.
I'm so sorry you and your ds are going through this. He sounds awful.
Firstly I would get your sons eye photographed when he comes back if it's worse and get him to the GP. As a parent, as you know, their health is paramount and I think he needs to be responsible for this, not just using your ds as a possession. I also think the judge was an arse for not putting your child's needs first. His social life is important to him and I think it's very unfair that he missed his piano lesson and the party and wasn't able to see the doctor about his eye which means he's missed out and could end up feeling miserable all weekend.
I think you need to keep a very detailed diary including the fact that after badgering you about him getting ds from school he failed to show. Every activity your ds misses because ex refuses to take him, every failed pick up, every late pick up or drop off (not 20 mins but hours) and log how your ds is feeling if he says he's unhappy.
I would suggest that you parrot him.
Every time he does something against what he said he would do you email him back "So you didnt take DS to the doctors, despite his eye needing attention" "No I didnt, because it isnt that bad!!!" then when you take DS to the doctors, you note that too.
"so you asked the court to make sure you could pick up DS and you now want me to do it?" "I am running late, make sure he is ready"
Get him to confirm what he is expecting you/DS to do so that you cant be accused of misunderstanding. He had a solicitor for court but he only has his only stupidity day to day.
Do it every time so that next time you have to go to court (and sadly, you will) you have it in his words that he will go back on what he has said he wanted to do. Its a long game and the only loser is your son, but as long as youa re doing the best for him, DS will win eventually.
Keep the faith x
Each time he does this crap, lay it out in an email and print them all for the judge next time. he is winding a noose around his own neck.
Get a solicitor and go back to court. Take evidence of the outcomes since the last time.
I don't really have any advice differing from what has already been said but I wanted to just say I'm am sorry you are having to go through this.
I have an Ex who always did/does the opposite of what has been arranged, just to be awkward and controlling (although it never went to court). At the end of the day it is all being done to spite you and is not being done in the best interests of your child.
I'm not sure what age your DS is but there will come a time when he just won't be bothered about his father. He will realise who always looked out for his best interests and who did not. My eldest DD was about 13/14 when she finally realised what her father was really like. She is 16 now and has only seen him once this year and doesn't want to spend any time with him this Christmas. He made the mistake of for the last few years cutting me out of the loop and going straight to the kids to make all the arrangements whereas I would have stuck to an arrangement of contact, the DC made their own choices and it backfired on him.
Hang in there. I understand it's mentally exhausting and you probably feel like you haven't got much fight left in you. This is what he is banking on, he is trying to grind you down. I would definitely recommend having representation at any further court hearings or at least taking someone with you who can offer moral support and be a witness to any underhand dealings you encounter with your ex's solicitor. Have your mobile on hand if needs be to film any such encounters so you have evidence to show the court.
Good luck x
I would suggest you stick like glue to the order and every single time your exdh messes you about with times, collections, doctors appointments and such like - you write a short letter to his lawyer pointing out his client is in breach of the order which you are both obliged to follow for x reason. Ask for reassurance his client will follow the order.
Keep copies of all these letters and take them to court with you along with your diary.
I do think you need a family law solicitor to help you. You could see one and find out if they will advise you what to do or say in letters/ court which is cheaper than them doing it or acting for you.
Your ex being nasty about Cubs parties etc will just mean your ds won't want to spend time with him. If your ds wanted to see a doctor he should have been allowed to.
Thank you everyone for your messages.
I think I am going contact Cafcass tomorrow to report the fact he was half an hour late despite being adamant he wanted to collect from school, which resulted in the piano lesson having to be cancelled/missed as I followed the instruction from the text received from his gf. Importantly the fact he did not seek any medical attention for our ds after agreeing to do so.
I might also email the Court to report it too... but I'll have to be careful as the Judge will get to read it. I feel like I'm moaning and that I should accept things as there are other children in far worse situations needing the Courts time... but then I think why should he be allowed to behave like this to the detriment to our ds.
I am keeping a detailed diary and my ds has one too for feelings. I learned to do that last year.
I like the idea of 'parroting', I'm just afraid I may antogonise matters further although I do feel I have every right to say how I feel to him as he has gone back on his word and against the Judge's recommendation. It's a fine line between what I think you should openly say (in an email) and what you secretly document (in a diary). I don't want to have to keep going to Court and there is actually a section 14 in place (which restricts this).
I dread opening emails from him and the purpose of the court hearing on Friday was meant to sort contact out so we won't need to communicate. I'm always afraid of what any emails from him will contain and as he currently has our dc with him....I'm thinking this over carefully.
I too agree that our ds's social activities are vitally important to our ds, especially in view he was going to be playing Xmas piano music and there was a lot of hype over the Xmas party at Cubs which our ds had naturally got caught up in with the other children. I explained this verbally to his father at Court too as there will be other activities potentially cropping up on weekends he isn't at home with me and he agreed but then he agreed to the piano lesson and doctors!!! it's exhausting.
Thank you too Laverhoney, I was originally represented and have a legal bill I'm chipping away at so I'm trying the common sense approach :-)
Once again thank you everyone.
Baking biscuits with him for the purpose of taking to a party he might not be able to go to, if his dad is collecting him in the afternoon, gives the impression of you being manipulative. Better to put less emphasis on this sort of thing, so if he can go its a nice treat and if he can't, he can't. [this will change as your son gets older and becomes less tolerant of having his social life messed about with]
Booking the GP appt for after school, when you knew you were going to Court and you knew your ex was saying he wanted to collect him from school, gives all the appearances of being highly manipulative. If you'd been that worried about his eye, it would have been more sensible to have taken him to the GP during the day (health far more important than the last day of the school term) and have it seen to immediately, given how serious eye conditions can be and how fast they can deteriorate. It looks like a minor condition you are exaggerating for effect. Now you know he can't be trusted to keep to an agreement to seek routine-ish medical treatment, you know any moderately serious matter arising on a day when he's due to collect him needs sorting out by you first.
And a piano lesson after the last Friday of the school term reads as a bit pushy for a younger child - though I get that there may well be good reasons why he currently has piano lessons on Fridays.
Fairness between adults - which is what your "he wanted to collect on Friday, I was expecting him to collect on Sunday, so why don't we go for Saturday" reads like, isn't child focused.
Your aim here is to organise yourself so that his machinations don't/can't affect you. If that means he gets collected some Friday afternoons, then don't let your son have fixed Friday afternoon commitments for the moment. Move piano lessons to another weekday evening, so it makes no difference if he turns up on time/somewhat late. If he can't wind you up by messing about with times etc. the chances are he will stop.
In your dealings with CAFCASS don't be petty. Stick to facts. How you feel isn't really important. How your child feels (or is behaving) is much more important.
This is going to be harsh and hard to read.
I have experienced similar, and just so you understand that I'm not preaching from the pulpit, I had a triple guard situation.
As lavender said you follow all court orders to the Nth degree. No personal interpretations.
Here (France) parents have an hours leeway for pick ups. He let you know via his gf that he would be late. That is reasonable.
You have to step back massively and lower your expectations. Your child will suffer a bit but that is just the way it is, and your DC will have to suck it up. NOT YOU. He will have to do less activities unless they take place during the week.
My kids could never do weekend activities because my ex just wouldn't take them, never paid a penny for them for anything either. My DSC have never done any activity outside of school at all - because there parents cannot sort it out between them. The children are fine, perfectly happy, self entertaining souls. You are making this into a far greater drama than it really is.
If he isn't actually abusing the child then you are powerless and you are never going to win this. The judge is only interested in relative fairness, and not what you judge to be the welfare of the child.
Will the eye kill him or cause permanent damage? Almost definitely not.
Does it matter which doctor he sees? No, it really doesn't matter at all.
Does it matter if he misses a piano less? No it doesn't. Either he knows his part or he doesn't. And if he isn't going to cubs anyway it really isn't important at all anymore.
Yes it's shit, it's frustrating etc. But you must work within the constraints put on you by the situation. You now know the rule in terms of working out weekends and holidays. So use it in future, don't add your own personal version of fair. You get more time with your kid than your ex, so try and be the bigger person, however much it stings.
How old is your kid that these social activities are so vital? Really they aren't are they. You are just adding your own coat of drama to the proceedings. And probably making it worse for your DC in the process.
Next time this comes up, don't say yes to shit - say we'll have to see what daddy/the judge says. That way you avoid disappointing him more than strictly necessary.
Sorry this must seem harsh, but you seem to be your own worse enemy.
Her own worst enemy? Really?! I'm pretty sure her abusive ex is her worst enemy!
I am sure this has all been exhausting and dreadful for you. However, I can't help feeling sorry for your son who is caught in this tangle of times and appointments and disagreements - which seems to have lasted for 7 years? I understand that you must be worn down trying to manage the situation - however this does read a bit as if the battle with your ex has become the focus for both of you, rather than your son and his needs. Children with separated parents will always have conflicting demands in terms of their commitments and wishes and for young children, it really is up to both parents to try to put aside their fury with each other and to try to make arrangements that are as stress free as possible for the child. Independentfriend has made some really constructive suggestions ^ above.
I am sure that your son loves both his parents and he must find the arguments very difficult.
"it really is up to both parents to try to put aside their fury with each other"
The problem is that the OP's ex was abusive and he is using the child contact arrangements as a way to continue bullying her. He is certainly not putting aside his "fury" and considering the child's best interests. I am sure that's what makes it so difficult for the OP. She doesn't sound furious to me, she sounds worn down and frustrated by the whole thing.
to you OP.
The most important thing to learn is that you cant change him or control his actions all you
can do is change how you react.
Stop trying to micromanage the situation. Let him parent during his contact and you the rest of the time.
Its really not unusual for EOW to be suspended during school holidays.
Totally agree Emma - her exhaustion comes through clearly. BUT - at the centre of this is a young child - and no matter how difficult it is, his needs need to be at the centre. Unless the ex is actually abusing his son, then the other parent has no alternative other than to try to manage the situation with her son's wellbeing at the centre.
Emma if the dynamic doesn't change the same thing will keep happening. It's working for the ex, but it's not working for the OP, so she needs to change the dynamic. Really she is not helping herself. Obviously this is harsh, and horrible to hear. I have lived through the same type of situation - endless trips to court, but never instigated by me.
Understand the court order and apply it correctly. I appreciate this is not necessarily easy - our court order was very sloppily written which was the cause of endless anguish.
No activities organised at weekends. If it is activity that only occurs at weekends then the child cannot do it or can only do it half the time.
Birthday parties on the others time. Give the details to the other parent, or give the other parents details to the birthday child's parent and leave them to it.
Never say yes to stuff on the other parents weekend.
Thanks again everyone and especially AnotherEmma who has grasped the situ correctly. Thanks for the flowers :-)
I am a reasonable person who is being messed around.
My son goes to Cubs on Fridays and also has his piano lessons on Fridays. This is because it's my day off work.
My sons eye complaint appeared on Friday morning the same day of the Court which was approx 80 miles/1.5 hours drive away. I had to leave home at 7.30am in order to make the hearing in good time or face having contact arrangements set without me present. I did the responsible thing as it looked like Conjunctivitis and that doesn't go away by itself.
Attendance at Court was ordered as the Court Order was open to personal interpretation and my ex had threatened to not make my son available on Boxing Day.
All along I had said to my son his father may be collecting him on Friday and unfortunately Friday turned out to be the day of the hearing so there was no way of confirming anything sooner with regard to whether he could attend activities or not.
I did what any responsible parent would do which was make an appointment because my child had a sore eye - not to be manipulative. My ex could have taken him to the appointment I had made? He chose not to do that either.
I have spent the afternoon looking at the contact/holiday schedule and my ex has missed off an activity (relating to Cubs in Spring he also told the Judge he'd get him to). I am just trying to do the best for my son and if it means I have to change his Cub pack so he goes another night I will give it serious thought, the same with the piano lesson now contact is to start for school hols on Fridays. I think that would be a shame though as he has made friends at this Cub pack attending since May this year and it's the same one I went to.
I'm not trying to be my own worse enemy... I think if anything I am expecting my ex to value the things our ds holds dear the same as I do and he clearly doesn't. As the plans were confirmed he was meant to collect from school, I had actually then said he could come to the piano lesson as it was to be like a little Xmas concert and also that his partners dc may enjoy the Cubs Xmas party as the leaders would not have minded him joining in. They frequently have children thinking of joining trying out and staying occasionally.
Also, my ex had told our ds he would be bring his partners son with him when he came to collect him and that he was excited to see our dc's school. My ex also said he was going to use the opportunity to meet our dc's teachers and talk to them. He did not bring his partners dc. Instead he was late when he'd left Court before me, not even making an effort to go up to the school in an attempt to see staff. I could argue our ds was doubley let down by his father.
The important point here to me is that his father assured me he would get our ds's eye checked out and he didn't and it's not the way I do things. Medical matters should not be ignored.
Forgot to add my ds is 9 and the Court proceedings lasted 2 years ending recently. I split from my ex when our ds was one.
Wallywobbles, thanks for your last post. I understand what you are saying from a going forwards point of view and can see that should work.
Currently I'm trying to establish what to formally do with regard to the hearing on Friday as to what was actually said to us both -- and what actually happened.
Surely after being offered assurity to take a child to the doctor someone cannot behave with such disregard for a childs health and nothing be said?
I'm afraid you can make a note but it won't produce a result that is satisfactory to you.
It's very difficult to let go in this situation but the reality is you have to. I stopped seeing certain friends because it made me sick hearing what went on at their dads house.
You have to give your DC the tools to deal with this. At 9 he is old enough to say to DF and GF he needs a doctor. He needs to understand about manipulation etc. you need to remove yourself from this as much as possible and scream privately.
I said to my DDs that I wouldn't take their father to court because I wouldn't win but I would support them to the full. 18months ago he went too far and they chose to go to court. In reality I went to court for them but the judge heard them at 8&9. But it was their choice.
You really need to try and get away from court as its so stressful and impacts terribly on you and your stress impacts on your child.
Hard isn't it and hard if as you say your children at their ages chose.
I think you're right in that distancing from Court is the only way and that obviously if you're stressed as a parent your child senses it and it affects them.
Hard too in that my 9 yo would have to learn fully about manipulation although to a point he already does (from a child's perspective (to get his own way)), but he won't stand up to his father as he's intimidated by him. He feels completely caught in the middle.
I've been trying to phone to see how my ds is (3 calls yesterday eve between 7pm and 8.15pm and 3 times today between 10am and 2.30pm) but no-ones answering.
Also on looking at the new schedule closely (with the EOWs falling out when school breaks up)... the weekend split equate to:
19 with his DF / 15 with me...
am I supposed to suck this up too?!
I really really feel so bad for you!
It sounds like he is being purposely awkward, this is his way of still controlling you.
He agreed in court to pick up his son, take him to piano and then the doctors and then didn't actually do any of these things, how is he getting away with this?!
Surely a judge can see what he is doing, I really don't understand. I think email is a great way of recording the conversations and I think its a good idea like someone else said to "parrot" him and get him to admit his broken promises.
If you don't agree with his new "schedule" that he's sent over then you need to knock it back because otherwise he is just calling all the shots! Your son will one day be grown up enough to decide he doesn't want to go to his dads house and that will be a weight lifted from your shoulders that you no longer have to battle his dad, stay strong and don't back down.
He is but I am going to have to educate myself myself to distance myself!
I rang Cafcass this morning as after 10 attempts since Sunday eve - this morning trying to speak to my son. This was in addition to being told not to email (as no internet?) but to phone.
I only expressed my genuine concern regarding the doctors appointment to the Cafcass officer. They understood my anxiety and stress caused in not being able to make contact with my ds. They phoned my ex to find out how my ds was and then called me back.
Strange how he answered the phone to the Cafcass offficer and then within half an hour I also received an email from him so it obviously angered him.
The email basically turns everything around on me... It say our ds is fine, yet he goes on to say he's tried to get to get a doctors appoint but couldn't (as the surgery was full) so will try again tomorrow... then it goes onto to say if I contact Cafcass again 'can you tell them the truth'! So my ds is fine but he's trying to make a doctors appointment?
He actually had the cheeck to say in the email that I should have made one sooner than leaving it to the day he was due to collect our ds for Xmas (except this had not been confirmed until we'd been to Court) and my ds did not have a red eye prior to that.
Then this evening, with phonecall attempt number 12 I got through to my ds who said he was 'okay'. He sounded tired and said he was and coughed very chesitly whilst on the phone to me. I asked how his eye was and he said 'fine'. It is trully exhausting all of this and I feel I need to reply to the sarcastic email but in a way that doesn't make him reply... Think I'm going to put some parroting in it... but want to 'close him down' at the same time and then note everything going forwards not wanting to have to communicate again as the order has been clarified. Any thoughts please?
Do you know what, I deal with a really difficult ex, who refused to ever go to mediation, or set up a contact order, or in fact see his kids much. He is however an expert at buggering up arrangements and being as bloody awkward as he can, especially gifted at doing the exact opposite as to what is needed.
I think you need to try and get piano on another night? (I'm a music teacher, so I understand the rushing around after work) but it's one less thing to have to organise and fight over, or give him reason to fuck about with....I'm assuming you have to pay for a cancelled lesson.
And then, I'd do a big big sigh, hand over your son and walk away, and leave him to make whatever parenting decisions needed, including medical ones...which frustratingly won't always be ones you agree with. ( I have a disabled child, so it can be particularly challenging at times!) Since leaving me, my ex has found religion, with a deep committed interest in Welsh language church services, despite not being a Welsh speaker, and he and his wife (ow) regularly drag the kids to church. I'm a committed atheist, couldn't be more opposite, but there's little I can do, if I kick up a fuss, they love it....so I ignore it, and then ensure I have a good discussion with the kids about their beliefs must be theirs and no one else's!
I don't try and contact my kids much either when they are with him, mainly as he blocks contact, and complains if I do. So I use the time wisely to get stuff done, relax, and relish the peace and quiet. Making 12 phone calls is crazy, over an eye....really. I know that's hard to hear, but it really is.
However, I think if I was constantly dealing with court, cafcass and all this other bollocks I'd be as utterly drained as you sound.
Also, create a new email address for yourself, and the only open the one he writes to when you're feeling strong and you're not going to respond with anything other than a business like reply. Don't invest any more time worrying about what this big shit has to say, really. And don't invest any of your precious time composing a response any longer than "thank you for your email, I refer you to the court order now that it is clarified, for future contact.
I'm writing you this with massive kindness, as I was you a few years ago. Str seed, upset, angry,frustrated and so outraged that his enormous sordid affair ruined our lives and forced me to share my children and have to bag pack every weekend and deal with the emotional fall out and heartache. It's heartbreaking you don't get to be making all the parental decisions, and having to share your child. However, they know who has their best interests at heart. Mine are older now, and wiser, they know who actually does the parenting. My ex is constantly spiteful and vindictive, awkward and controlling. There are times when it gets to me, but I've learnt to laugh, use time away from my kids to recharge and I never ever fire back an email longer than one line. Do yourself a favour, get some distance, learn to shrug off the small stuff, don't give him the satisfaction of seeing your anger and frustration. I can tell you, since I've done this, I've been happier, hard though it is x
Try to keep all the emotion out of your email and stick to truths. Ignore all the digs. Also as Fiddlerontheroof says, keep replies really brief. I would reply "I cancelled his appt Friday as you requested. He now sounds quite chesty as well. Please let me know if you are still unable to make an appt with your own GP and I will rebook here if necessary. Mummytippy."
Don't get into arguments. Ignore it. Just stick to facts. My own experience is that being brief, polite and simply not responding to digs or accusations makes it less stressful. Just stick relentlessly to what's best for your son. In this case he needs to see a doctor, and this reply is basically saying, make an appointment and if you can't I will. He can't really argue with that, try as he might.
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