Should we making our children CV-ready from birth?
IF you are anything like me, you struggle to plan tonight's dinner. Then there's the holiday leave to be able to spend time with the kids - I must get that booked some day soon.
Or what about that night out you said you would organise with the girls, well maybe we'll catch up next year?
In this busy world, it's not easy to keep on top of everything.
But one mother is attempting to put the rest of us to total shame and has taken planning to a whole new level - by organising her children's CVs - before they could even read or write.
Mum-of-four, Anna May Mangan was so determined her children would go places in this world when they were older that she took their resumes into her own hands.
Describing it as one of her "greatest parenting secrets", Ms Mangan says "it's never too early to start working on your children's CVs".
The eager mum claims all four of her little darlings have now achieved their 'dream jobs'.
While she's quick to point out her offspring are smart and have worked hard, she believes it was her dedication to their CVs that helped them on their merry way to becoming high-achieving children.
Now aged in their late 20s and early 30s, with careers ranging from a financial analyst, two doctors and another due to become a commercial solicitor - maybe she has a good point.
So here's how she did it.
She began by tailoring their hobbies to be more CV-friendly in the future "to help them stand out from the crowd".
``It's a teacher's job to help children pass their exams and I think dedicated mums should be ready, willing and able to do everything else to help her children achieve their potential,'' she said in an interview.
So out went the glitter and papier máché at the kitchen table and instead she introduced her children to French conversation classes and junior chess.
Then the ambitious mum packed her little darlings off to stage school to add a bit of pizzazz to their future resumes.
Transferring them from drama class in their local church hall, they travelled to a stage school in London.
Then it was the sports clubs that were subject to change - the children no longer played with their local football team and instead moved to an upmarket sports centre with highly trained coaches.
Before her children had left school, they had all appeared on the West End stage, had roles in television dramas and achieved sports awards.
They were all very CV ready.
Ms Mangan claims that even upgrading their swimming lessons to lifeguard courses helped secure university places, while the playwriting course her daughter didn't want to go to actually made her stand out when potential law firm employers interviewed her for a job.
While many of us might think it all sounds like a lot of unnecessary work - and expense - maybe this ambitious mother has the right idea.
It's pretty tough to argue with her logic.
There's a lot of pressure and stress on children during their academic years, so perhaps this is the way parents can help them.
But are parents not under enough pressure in life too without adding in the new dimension of writing and organising their kid's resume from birth onwards?
Never in a million years had I ever thought of planning my children's CVs.
I agree no-one falls into their ideal job by accident, it takes a lot of hard work.
But I don't believe I should be forward planning their lives from birth to make their dreams come true.
Some over-aspirational parents are pushing children too hard - and blighting their childhoods as a result.
Children need to learn through failure, it can spur them on to get something even better and they also need to realise that life is competitive.
In my view, they have to follow their own paths.
A 'page turner' is how the latest novel Bone by Bone from author Sanjida Kay has been described.
A 'powerful and compelling story about the lengths a mother will go to to protect her child', the novel is based on Laura, who is trying to make a fresh start.
Recently divorced and relocated to Bristol, she's carving a new life for herself and her nine-year-old daughter, Autumn.
But things aren't going as well as she'd hoped. Autumn's sweet nature and artistic talents are making her a target for bullies.
When Autumn fails to return home from school one day Laura goes looking for her and finds a crowd of older children taunting her little girl.
In the heat of the moment, Laura is overcome with rage and makes one terrible mistake. A mistake that will have devastating consequences for her and her daughter.
I have three copies of the book to give away. If you fancy winning a copy, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to email@example.com
Closing date for entries is Tuesday, April 12 at noon.
(Q) What is the name of Laura's daughter in the novel Bone by Bone?
Normal Irish News Rules Apply
The winners of last week's Slumbersac travel wrap competition are May Carson from Bangor, Marian Mitchell from Dungannon and Veronica McConville from Rathfriland.
Pizza time - Check out the recently renovated Pizza Express on Bedford Street in Belfast. We had a lovely family meal there last week where we enjoyed delicious bruschetta and pizza, while the kids tucked into dishes from the Piccolo menu. Great food and service made it an enjoyable dining experience.
Big hair - Structure Glamtex is a new texturising spray that delivers all the glam of a backcomb with little time or effort. The product gives instant volume, dramatic height and stylable grip and leaves hair gorgeously scented. Available from leading hair salons across Northern Ireland and www.xpertpro.ie
Divorce - Actress Drew Barrymore has confirmed she has split from her third husband Will Kopelman. The couple, who wed in 2012, have two children together.
Frozen - Amanda Holden has been criticised on Twitter as looking like a 'waxwork'. Currently filling in for Lorraine Kelly on ITV, viewers said she seemed to have a 'frozen face'.
Easy Peasy Recipe
This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is Colcannon Soup.
You will need:
2 oz butter
15 oz peeled diced potatoes
4 oz diced onions
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 pints chicken or vegetable stock
1 lb cabbage
1 oz butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 fl oz creamy milk
Melt the 2oz butter in a heavy saucepan.
When it foams, add potatoes and onions and toss in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, add stock and cook until the vegetables are soft.
To make the buttered cabbage, remove the tough outer leaves from the cabbage.
Divide into four, cut out the stalks and cut into fine shreds across the grain.
Put 2-3 tablespoons of water into a wide saucepan with 1oz butter and a pinch of salt.
Bring to the boil, add the cabbage and toss constantly over a high heat, then cover for a few minutes.
Toss again and add some more salt, freshly ground pepper and a knob of butter.
Add the cabbage to the soup, puree in a blender or food processor.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Thin with creamy milk to the required consistency.
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If so, then we want to hear from you.
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