Ask Fiona: I'm exhausted looking after my two-year-old

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: miscarriage, low libido and management skills

I'm finding it difficult to deal with my staff in work

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

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


FIONA SAYS: It's worth contacting your local health visitor or social services to see if there isn't something you've missed.

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

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

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

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


I've been promoted to manager over people who used to be my colleagues. I know I should be pleased, but I'm finding it hard to be the boss and sometimes I feel that it's them bossing me!

How can I learn to take command more?


FIONA SAYS: First, talk to your line manager and ask about training courses for first-time managers.

The very fact so many of these exist means you're not alone with the problem.

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

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

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

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


My husband seems to have gone off any intimacy in our marriage and I feel terribly rejected.

He says there is nothing wrong and that he's simply just getting on in years, but he's only 55.

He denies it's anything to do with work, but I think it is as he's recently had his job down-graded.

It was either that or redundancy, so he chose the lesser role, but with the same salary.

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


FIONA SAYS: There are, potentially, all kinds of reasons for his reaction – some could be medical.

I would suggest you try and encourage him to talk to his GP just in case.

For example, a common concern among men as they get older is prostate problems, so this should be checked.

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

A dent in self-esteem or confidence can often affect libido.

Encourage him to understand that there is more to him than his role at work; he needs to know that you still love him and that you miss the intimacy you once had.

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

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


I feel so alone at the moment – no-one seems to understand what I'm going through.

I have just had a miscarriage in the fourth month of my pregnancy and, as it wasn't a planned pregnancy, everyone seems to think it's a good thing.

My boyfriend had seemed really pleased when we found out and we had even started planning a life together as a family.

He says he is sorry, but I feel in some ways he is actually relieved.

My family keep telling me it's all for the best and even the hospital doctors just made nice noises and failed to really appreciate what I was going through.

The best they could manage was, "You're young, there is plenty of time".

I know all that, but nobody seems to understand why I feel so miserable now.


FIONA SAYS: People often make light of bereavement as they find it hard to cope with the feelings it creates – not just in them, but also in others.

This may explain why some of the people around you are acting as they are.

It's not that they don't care or want to help – it's simply that they don't know how or what to say for the best.

It may be that only someone who has experienced the same loss as you can ever really appreciate how you are feeling.

I suggest you contact the Miscarriage Association ( where you will be able to speak to a counsellor.

Miscarriage is a special kind of loss and people react to it in different ways – whatever you feel is perfectly normal.

Don't let people try and persuade you that there is something wrong with your feelings or that you should be "over it" – you need to give yourself time to grieve.

Finally, if you do find that, even with help and support, it still seems too much to bear, then please talk to your doctor.

The loss, combined with the hormonal changes your body has gone through, can trigger depression and you might need help dealing with this.


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