I can’t say that I am! Or even school-ready in general. But that’s another blog post entirely! Tomorrow is Omi’s first day at school and in a bid to distract myself from the emotional implications, I am choosing to focus on the more pleasing aesthetics of wishfully becoming the ideal school-run Mum.

 

 

best rains mac + waterproof bag / bike of dreams / on the way to school breakfast top-ups / my fave MAC primer + studio fix super fast mum make-up / fancy bobo kids umbrellas / hunter mum wellies / quickest morning coffee.

The 11am hunger curbers, the 3pm get-me-through-the-afernoon snack and the 9pm end-of-the-day-i-deserve-something-sweet nibble. Collectively, these things have come to be know, in our house, simply as ‘mamma treats’. There isn’t a chance in hell that my week will run smoothly if there aren’t at least two varieties of mamma treat in my kitchen at one given time. I usually crave something cakey or biscuity, along side something chocolatey or fudge-like. It really has become a weekly necessity for me to invest some time into stock piling sweet treats, that have become the life-force to keep me upbeat and balanced (or as close to) during a busy week managing children, work and general family life. Luckily for me, the kids are not always temped by my healthy treats – and although Owen has the occasional dabble, he’d really just prefer to be eating crisps. So favourably for me, these mamma treats have become exclusively mine. The conditions upon my treats are simple – they must be refined sugar free, preferably refined wheat flour free, and quick to whip up. I’ve honed my weekly treat repertoire to a few simple recipes, so I thought I’d share them with you here as they are well-tested and really easy to incorporate into a busy world.

 

MY FULLY LOADED SUPER COOKIES

A friend naughtily passed on this ‘secret’ recipe to me, after being given it to from her health coach. I’ve adapted it over the years by loading them up to full cookie capacity with added superfoods, and they remain a firm staple in my kitchen. For a more indulgent treat, I omit most of the extra seedy healthy ingredients and stir in 100g of dark chocolate pieces.

 

1 cup of almond or peanut butter

3cup of coconut sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp chia seeds

handful of seeds (I use pumpkin & sunflower)

handful of dried fruit (I use cranberries, chopped apricots & sultanas)

shelled hemp, bee pollen, more seeds as topping

 

Blend together the nut butter, coconut sugar, egg and baking powder. Mix through the chia seeds, seeds and fruit. You can pretty much add anything to the nut butter, sugar, egg and baking powder part so just cram in as much as you can (dark chocolate is very good!). The mixture is very stiff and oily, so spoon tablespoons on to lined baking trays, and press down with the back of a fork. Top with more seeds and stuff. Bake at 150°C for 8-15 minutes, but no more than that if you want to keep them lovely and chewy.

 

 

THE MINIMALIST BAKER’S RAW (BRAZIL NUT) CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

I’ve already raved about these raw brownies. So quick and easy to make, super nutritious and the perfect indulgent after-dinner treat. I adapt Dana’s recipe to use brazil nuts instead of walnuts, for a creamy dreamy chocolate fix. I love the Minimalist Baker’s blog, you can find it here. Recipe here. (I swap walnuts for brazil nuts) (The ganache is insanely good but definitely not necessary if you want to keep it simple).

 

 

FOOD FIX UP’S CHAI SPICED WHITE CHOCOLATE BARS

I have also raved about Stef’s Food Fix Up recipe app several times on the blog – but really, I go back to it on a weekly basis for meal ideas and for my Mamma treat inspiration. Stef’s philosophy incorporates refined sugar, gluten and dairy free recipes, with physical health and compassionate wellbeing. Her recipes always inspire and remind me to enjoy the indulgence of eating good food, with good ingredients and amazing tastes. So let me tell you about this chai spiced white chocolate! I don’t share my treats very often and I am particularly cautious when it comes to parting with even a crumb of these goodies. However, the friends that have sampled these super chai treats have been blown away. They contain rich cacao butter, coconut, cashew butter, spices and salt – and you can find the full recipe and many many more by downloading the Food Fix Up App here. It’a the best couple of pounds you can spend, promise.

 

 

HEALTHY DIGESTIVE BISCUITS

Since I quit sugary shop bought treats, there has been a noted (by Owen) lack of biscuits in the (now non existant) biscuit barrel. During my Ayurvedic training, I was told that dry foods like crackers and biscuits are “no good for my airy vata body type” and I’ve kind of been put off ever since. However, when the craving for a crunchy sweet something does strike, I tend to make these healthy digestive biscuits and everyone in the house is happy. Plus the boys love decorating them (thanks to The Lunch Lady for the inspo!)

 

100g whole spelt flour

75g light spelt flour (or plain flour)

150g oat bran

pinch of salt

150g coconut oil (or butter)

4 tbsp coconut sugar

milk (whatever you usually use)

 

Mix the spelt flours, oat bran and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter to form a breadcrumb like consistency. Stir in the sugar. Using your hands, add some milk a little at a time, until the dough comes together in a ball. Pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough out (around 4mm thick) and press out circle shapes with a cutter. Add a face at this point if you wish!! Bake at 180°C for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and dip some dark chocolate hair / facial hair if desired.

 

 

SARAH BRITTON’S COZY BANANA BREAD

I think everyone needs a go-to banana bread recipe. I used to swear by an old weight watcher’s recipe that my Mum gave me years ago – and although it only added a little honey to sweeten it, it was full of refined flour and low fat margarine. I stumbled across Sarah’s recipe online, way before I fully developed my foodie crush on her and her blog, My New Roots. Everyone that has tasted this banana bread has asked me for the recipe. It is full of nuts, seeds and banana goodness – with the most moist texture – aaaaaand you can pretty much make the whole thing in a blender. Banana bread recipe here. My New Roots blog here. App here. Do it. Sarah I love you btw, just saying.

 

A WORD ON BUYING INGREDIENTS

I realise that baking or making healthier sweet treats, almost always involves switching up many of your usual store cupboard ingredients. This can be costly and confusing if you are not used to buying health and whole food staples. It has taken me years (and I still have lots to learn) to figure out how to economically cook better food. I think it comes down to making an investment. I will particularly invest money and time into my ‘treat’ foods as after all, putting something good in my body is what makes them a treat in the first place. I buy nearly all of my ingredients in bulk on Amazon by comparing prices and working out what works best per gram. I usually use the Sevenhills or Biona brands. If you have an Aldi near you, their raw nuts, pure maple syrup and coconut oil are some of the cheapest I’ve come across. And if you have a Costco card, you will find so much bulk goodness there too.

Ever since watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (1 and 2), Omi has wanted to be a Scientist. He’s only four years old, but is already very interested in lots of things like what’s inside of his body, what makes a plant grow – and even electricity.  As you can imagine, he was delighted when a DIY electro dough kit from Technology will Save Us arrived on our doorstep to play with. I have to say, I was a little hesitant – it’s been a little while since I took my GSCE in physics! However, the kit couldn’t have been easier and better set up for young children (and under confident parents) to get started with.

 

 

The DIY kit contains everything you will need to bring homemade salt dough, or playdoh to life – using electric currents to create light and sound. This kit helps to teach children how electricity flows through a circuit using electronic components.

 

 

If you have the time, you can make your own salt dough at home. You will need a saucepan, water, flour, salt, lemon juice, vegetable oil, cream of tartar and food colouring. The full list of ingredients and the method is drawn out on the kit’s box. We went down the easy route and bought in a few tubs of playdoh. Either work for the kit and I imagine if you children are a little older and you have plenty of time, they will love making the dough too.

 

 

The DIY electro dough kit contains; a user manual, dough cutters, a battery pack, crocodile clips, a buzzer, LED lights and input wires. Extra bits you will need to pick up are; dough ingredients or playdoh and 4 x AA batteries. Technology Will Save Us has several videos and tutorials online to help you get started – from making your dough to creating circuits and exploring how and why it is the salt in the dough that conducts the electricity. You can check them all out, here.

 

 

Even for a four year old, who may not fully understand the nature of conductivity or circuits – Omi absolutely loved using the  dough kit, with our help. We explained each step and demonstrated how removing the crocodile clips from the salt dough would disconnect the circuit we had made and turn off the lights, or stop the buzzer. It really was fascinating to see the children engaged in this type of play, and electro dough has certainly added a new level to our playdoh sessions!

 

 

If you are ready to engage your little ones in some making and inventing, then I seriously recommend checking out Technology Will Save Us. From electro dough to DIY synths, to monitoring thirsty plants and creating a portable speaker at home – TWSU has several kits for children of all ages available to buy at their online store. There are also plenty of online resources available. Each kit has a selection of great videos via the TWSU website to get you started and guide you and your children through playing with and deeper discovering what each kit can do. You can find all the online resources here.

 

We had so much fun playing – thank you Technology Will Save Us! Ps) You get 10% off your first order!

I love Christmas shopping. But I like to get it finished at least two weeks before Christmas – so I can concentrate on actually getting excited about the festive season, rather than stressing about getting everything done on time. I do all of my shopping online, and have done since having the children. There are so many great shops, small business and artisans who sell online now, that it’s easier than ever to find unique gifts for your loved ones. When it comes to the children, we try to consider buying toys that they can enjoy and play with now – but that they also can hold on to for the future. I love the idea of keepsake presents for children and at Christmas I feel particularly sentimental about this kind of gift giving. Here are some of my favourite things for young children.

 

 

1/ ‘Here you are adored’ by LH Design

2/ Stickers! From Knot & Bow and Mogu Takahashi for Fine Little Day

3/ Bamboo Hoops from Ikea

4/ Safe Harbor Mittens by Misha & Puff

5/ Cookie cutters for Christmas holiday crafting

6/ Balance bike from Early Rider

7/ Maileg doll (from Archies Boutique)

8/ Paper Pets (from Studio NL) & Home, by Carson Ellis

9/ Sylvanian Families 

10/ Hay spinning top (from Studio NL) & Areaware Balancing Blocks (from Abacus Kids)

I’m going to keep this simple. Because the idea of cloth nappies can be very daunting and confusing – and I want to share some easy instructions for anyone that might be thinking about giving them a try. We’ve actually stopped using cloth nappies now – so whilst I’m still fresh on how we did it – I hope to share some of the ways that we kept it straight forward.

 

 

Firstly – people chose to use cloth nappies for many reasons. For me, I wanted to give them a whirl because a) they’re more ecological b) using them reduces land fill c) they look and feel so lovely d) it saves money and e) I just wanted to try everything out as a new parent. It wasn’t until Omi was over 1 that we bought ours, and I was already pregnant with Orion, so I figured I’d get enough use out of them over both children. It was never my intention to fully cloth nappy, and we never did! (big respect to full time cloth nappy parents). I only used them during the daytime and not every day, but mostly when we were around the house. I found that the more I used them, the more I got in to a routine with the cleaning and drying – and I was more likely to use them the following day.

 

 

So, what you will need.

 

1. Disposable Nappy Bags – always handy for any type of nappy, either for binning or sticking in your bag until you get home. My favourite are Naty eco corn-based nappy bags.

 

2. Cloth Nappy Liners – These are to provide extra bulk for your cloth nappies. Basically to catch more wee! You can stuff them inside your nappy or lay them on top for added thickness. I bought mine second hand on ebay for a big pile of mismatched liners. It doesn’t matter too much as they aren’t seen and most cloth nappies will accommodate any cloth liners. You will also find these for sale on the same websites that sell cloth nappies, and some cloth nappy brands have their own liners that will provide the best fit. You will need twice the amount of liners to nappies.

 

3. Cloth Nappies – I tried a few brands and my favourite hands down was Bum Genius. I preferred the Free Time version as they have built in liners so that the nappy can be worn without extra stuffing. You can easily add one or two more liners underneath the fitted liner for extra weight. They also have several snap fastenings, so are easily adjustable from birth right up to potty training age. Ideally you should need around 20 nappies per child, though we had 20 between the two boys and it worked out fine with part-time cloth diapering. We purchased ours from thenappylady online, though do check out ebay as there are some great deals on second hand nappies.

 

4. Disposable Top Liners – You can buy these easily from cloth nappy websites, ebay or amazon. They come in long rolls with perforations for easily ripping off single sheets at a time. They are to lay over the top of the cloth nappy before putting it on to your baby. Essentially it creates a top layer to keep moisture away from baby’s bottom – but most importantly it catches poo and can be easily folded up and thrown down the toilet.

 

5. Disposable Nappies – Even if you intend to fully cloth nappy, please please have a stash of disposables! They are so handy for being out and about, or for those days where nothing goes to plan. If you want to stay as eco as possible, perhaps try Naty disposable nappies. They are as biodegradable as possible, latex-free, bleach-free, fragrance-free and are hypo-allergenic.

 

6. Nappy Creams – I always have something to hand for the first signs of any nappy rash or redness. We used Burt’s Bees talc-free powder & nappy ointment and Lansinoh (left over from early breast-feeding days)

 

7. Wipes – I’m afraid I can’t give any advice on cloth or reusable wipes as we never used them. I love Water Wipes as they’re the purest disposable wipes on the market.

 

 

Now, how to prepare a cloth nappy.

1. Open up your cloth nappy. Depending on the brand or style that you have chosen, either stuff the nappy with a cloth liner, or lay the liner inside the nappy.

2. Fold the nappy over to secure the extra liner.

3. Place 1 or 2 sheets of disposable liner on top.

4. Good to go. Some parents like to pre-stuff their nappies for the following day, so that you have a stash ready for the day ahead.

 

How to change a cloth nappy.

1. What worked best for me was to change the boy’s cloth nappy every 2-3 hours (non-poo) but to keep an eye out (for example if they had drank a bit more water) for any heaviness. Just like disposable nappies, you can give them a squeeze at the front and if they feel full or heavy, they are probably ready for a change.

2. If the nappy is completely wet, remove the top liner and throw that in the bin. The rest of the nappy can be stored away for washing.

3. If the nappy is completely wet and soiled, remove the top liner (and poo) by folding the liner up and around. If your top liners are flushable (most are) and your toilet system can handle it – pop the poo and liner in the toilet and flush it away. The rest of the wet nappy can be stored away for washing.

4. If the nappy is soiled but recently changed (and not wet), you can remove the poo like above, replace with a new top liner and re-fasten the nappy.

5. If the nappy is a complete mess and poo has leaked past the top liner (arghh!) flush the top liner and what poo you can down the toilet and either soak the dirty nappy before washing, or try to shake off any mess into the toilet before soaking or washing. You can also buy nappy sprayer attachments for your bathroom taps, to jet wash off your dirtier nappies pre-wash. This is a worse-case scenario when it comes to cloth nappies, but  promise not all changes will be like this!

 

 

How to clean your cloth nappies.

I think this is the bit that puts most people off. But it’s really not that bad, as long as you are prepared. Ideally you want a odour-free nappy bin (like this one) by your changing station. That way, you can chuck your nappies in that over the day, and deal with the washing later. You can also buy waterproof liners for nappy bins, that can be thrown in the wash along with the nappies. It’s also handy to have a designated old washing-up bowl or bucket that you keep under the sink, for throwing heavily soiled nappies into (and clothing) for a pre-wash soak. I washed my nappies every 1-3 days, using a non-bio liquid detergent. You can also try mixing about 4 tablespoons of laundry bleach in with your normal nappy wash once a month to help with stains and odours. A 40 degree wash always worked fine for us. Weather permitting, it’s great to dry your cloth nappies on the line as this will help deodorise them. Failing that, we tumble or radiator dried our nappies and cloth liners. Soap nuts are also worth a try if you are interested in a more ecological and natural washing method.

 

 

Storing cloth nappies.

We stored all of our cloth nappies, disposable nappies, cloth liners, top liners, wipes, nappy bags and creams together on our changing table. The nappy pail was kept by the washing machine in the utilty room and the extra nappy bucket was stored under the sink. Luckily we had a downstairs toilet for poo disposal – but if you don’t have a toilet close to your changing station – either decide to change your baby closer to the bathroom for soiled nappies or try putting the poop and top liner inside a nappy bag, until you can dispose of it. Also, be aware of rolling babies on top of changing tables, if you are running off to the bathroom during nappy changes!

 

 

One of the most important questions raised about using cloth nappies is; does using them actually save families money? With the rising cost of electricity, all the washing and drying can at first seem to offset any actual money saved – not to mention to big initial outlay of money invested in buying your first set of cloth nappies and accessories. I did a bit of research and found this article, which seemed to explain it best – and found that on average, by switching to cloth nappies, you can save your family around £1500 during your child’s early years.

 

However you chose to use nappies with your baby – the most important thing is that you are happy and comfortable with your decision. Using cloth nappies is a great way to save money and help the environment, but if the extra work is putting pressure on your parenting day – consider giving it a break for a while and perhaps coming back to it when the time is right for you. Or like us, just stop when you’ve had enough!

Little Orion turned two last week. We decided on a very low key / low stress birthday – which turned out to be just perfect. A slow morning with visits from friends and family, followed by an afternoon at the swimming baths. I really hope that the boys will always appreciate a birthday spent with their nearest and dearest, and a few gifts to treasure. I certainly enjoyed the pace and vibe of the relaxed day.

 

 

Ori’s cake was a tonka bean & vanilla sponge [just add half a grated tonka bean & one vanilla pod to this cake recipe]. topped with a white chocolate ganache. His wooden camera is from Fanny & Alexander.

 

Apologies for the lack of blog action of late. I blame it on the summer holidays. Despite being a whole year away from Omi starting full time school (maybe), we’ve still fallen well in line with the traditional summer-break mentality. Lots of slow mornings, double breakfasts, dilly dallying days away without really achieving much – and letting the boys watch far too much ninja turtles on youtube. I feel like we all need a break. And it feels good to let ourselves off the hook over these few weeks.

 

I’ve got lots of things lined up to post on here over the next week or so. There are some photos from Ori’s 2nd birthday, a blog about how to start using cloth nappies in a simple & straight forward way, some breakfast inspiration and also some ideas for what to do with a glut of courgettes (if any of you are harvesting your plants at the moment).

 

Come September, both the boys will be starting a playgroup for two mornings a week, as well as having a bit more structured childcare with my Mum & Step-Dad and my Dad & Step-Mum. I’m really excited, as this will be the first time ever since having the children, that I will be able to create a regular (part-time) working week. I’m hoping to strike a balance between seeing my holistic therapy clients and also putting time aside to hatch out some creative ideas that I’ve been working on (in my head!) for the last few months (years)!  I can’t wait to share them with you.

 

I hope you’re all having a great summer.

 

ps) I’ve been obsessing over this Pattie Boyd picture, featured here on Anna Cate’s blog & also again this week on Bleubird’s 10 things post. It reminded me a bit of this film shot I took of my good friend, Nadia in summer 2008.

 

Just when I thought I’d simplified enough. I was so wrong.

 

It’s funny how quickly the complications of life creep back in. There’s the never ending to-do lists, the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, the personal goals, the emotional strains, the creative targets, the work pressures, the wishlists (oh the wishlists!), the relationship maintenance, the motherhood pressures, the pile of books to read, the blogs to follow, the fashion, the fads and of course, that all important time for yourself. All of these things will no doubt feel cyclical (or never ending) to most people – it’s no wonder that life feels exasperating sometimes. I know it does to me.

 

I felt like there must be a better way to manage all of these life issues (first world ones no doubt), but issues all the same. I thought I’d simplified as much as I could. But modern life still doesn’t feel like a simple thing.

 

Then I discovered the concept of deciphering my priority.

 

I read a brilliant article on Kinfolk online. An interview with Greg McKeown, author of ‘essentialism, the disciplined pursuit of less’ (which I can’t wait to get my hands on). He said lots of interesting things (you can read the article here), but what resonated with me the most was the the language history of the word priority. “It came into the English language in the 1400s, and it was singular, because that’s what it means! It means the first thing, the prior thing, the most important thing. Then ostensibly it stayed singular for the next 500 years, and only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term to priorities. What!? What does this word mean now? Can we really have a dozen first most important things? You need to take on whatever that priority is and do it. If you try to do 24 different things simultaneously and treat them all as equally important, you won’t get any of them done. And so in that little language change, we can see a lot of how this madness has taken over. It’s changing the way we think. It’s warped reality.” [quote from Greg McKeown]

 

Of course I feel that I have several (or more) priorities going on at once. But when I stopped to think it over, the idea of a priority as a singular construct really welded with my ideals of mindfulness and living presently. If you truly are living in the moment, you really could only deal with one task, or priority, at one time.

 

So instead of constantly trying to regroup my priorities, put them into categories and orders of importance or commit them to limited time frames, delete all my to-do lists (they make me so stressed out!), before rewriting them (because I feel disorganised)(and that makes me feel so stressed out!) …. I’ve been trying to take things one step at a time. I’ve been asking myself; “what’s my priority right NOW?” Sometimes it’s washing up, sometimes it’s silence. Sometimes it’s getting the children to sleep, sometimes it’s phoning a friend in need. Sometimes it’s weeding the garden beds, sometimes it’s stretching my achey back. But the realisation that really you can only deal with one thing at one time, has been quite profoundly calming for me and my busy mind.

 

Sometimes things get done. Sometimes they don’t. More often than not my priority is not myself. But there is always space to find a little time for me. And I’m happy that that priority does get met from time to time. I could list a hundred things that are important to me, but right now, in this moment, my priority is to finish writing this blog.

 

What’s your priority in this moment?

Let me be honest with you – being a stay at home mum was not something I’d ever planned to be. Having two children in two years also wasn’t something I had planned on doing. But life happened that way, and before I knew it, I had a new born baby and a 19 month old to care for – 24/7. I’d always felt like a maternal person; I nurtured my friends in need, loved a lot and felt directed towards a caring profession. But I hadn’t really had much hands-on experience with children, or babies. I always knew that I wanted to have a family of my own someday, but I hadn’t really thought much further than that. I guess what I’m trying to say is, there was an element of shock towards the situation that I found myself in when I realised that I had two very young children to raise at home. I found the transition from single-person to mother-of-two, both extremely rewarding and gratifying, yet desperately difficult and confining. I found myself completely driven to care for the children at home by myself, no matter how hard I found it. It felt like a very strange catch to be in. I wanted to do it all by myself – yet at times I doubted my ability (or wish to) to actually do ‘the job at hand’. The days felt very long and I felt very much on survival mode for weeks after Orion was born. One day, I remember a kind of light bulb moment occurring, when after many weeks of complaining about how hard it was to look after two children all day, and wondering how I was going to cope for the long duration ahead – it suddenly hit me that this was now my job. And my job was to be a Mother. It was a job, like people had – like a real job with responsibilities and deadlines and goals and perks ….. and lousy workmates(!) It just seemed to clarify for me exactly what I needed to do, and it validated the seeming non-achievments of my previous days. I remember saying to Owen; “As long as the boys are entertained, fed and rested – that’s good enough. I’ve done my job. Anything else achieved in a day is a bonus”. And that’s just what I did, one day at a time – and it has got easier. After three and a half years of being a full time Mum, I’m feeling pretty well practised now! I enjoy what I do, I feel validated by my role as a Mother and I’m developing a balance between giving up myself to the children, and giving time to myself.  A lot of my friends ask me how I cope with being a stay at home mum to two young boys – so I had a think, and I feel about ready to share some of my survival techniques for taking on motherhood at home, one day at a time.

 

 

1 / PLAN … BUT NOT TOO MUCH

I remember life at home with the boys slotting more in to place when I began to treat monday to friday like a working week – and I started to create a schedule that the boys and I could follow. It made getting up and getting out of the house easier, and it boosted my sense of achievement throughout the week. Since then we always have a morning activity planned; be it a series of paid and pre-booked groups like baby sign, dance classes or gardening group – or more casual things like local stay and play groups or gymnastics – for every morning of the week. Most of the time this is great; the boys respond well to a routine, I feel like we all know what we’re doing, we have a plan to stick to and we all enjoy getting out and about – no matter how tired we are. Sometimes, things go wrong and for whatever reason, we don’t make it to the place we’d planned to be at – or a better offer comes along and we go elsewhere. I guess the key is staying flexible, and not give yourself a hard time if your original plans don’t pan out.

 

2/ BREAK YOUR DAY IN TO MANAGABLE SECTIONS

The days (and weeks!) can feel very long when you have children to look after and keep entertained. I’ve always found it easier to work our day out around the children’s nap times – the short period of the day that can recharge their batteries and mine – and a time I have come to depend on! These breaks have changed quite considerably over the last year as we went from juggling three nap times for Orion (and one for Omi) down to just one current nap for Orion and no naps for Omi (I’m still coming to terms with this!). Ori needs a nap around midday, so we head out by 9am and take a packed lunch, and aim to head back in the car just before nap time. Whilst Ori is napping upstairs, Omi has his quiet time and watches a film whilst I catch up on things around the house, and try and squeeze in a little cuddle time with him on the sofa. Although returning home for this nap time can sometimes feel restrictive – any doubts I have over it are fast outweighed by the quiet break in the day that we have all come to rely on so much. By 3pm Ori is awake and we are ready to face the afternoon – where we never stray too far from home – perhaps the park, or we do some baking or painting until it’s time to get dinner ready.

 

3 / ALWAYS HAVE A BACK UP OF IDEAS

Like I said before, things don’t always go to plan and even with the best intentions -some days just feel more difficult than others. I like to have a little back-up of activities or ideas to pull out when the children need distracting, or for those days when you just want to laze around the house. My favourite things at the moment are; threading cheerios onto strawberry laces, dipping pretzels into melted chocolate and decorating them with chopped nuts, building forts, hide & seek, an endless back up of good children’s films, making & icing mini muffins, building train tracks, painting, water play, play-doh, making towers, reading books, popping to pets at home to see the rabbits, feeding the fish at the garden centre, feeding the ducks at the canal a trip to the post office, and food shopping (enticed with treats along the way). It’s always handy to have a back up of ideas, as it’s not always easy to think up activities on the spot for restless children.

 

4 / BREAK THE RULES NOW & AGAIN

You are in charge after all! Schedules and plans are all great, and keep a sense of structure to a stay at home parent’s week – but you don’t always have to stick to them. Sometimes we just blow the routine; let the kids nap where they can, camp out at my Mum’s house for the day, stay in our pyjamas, eat cereal for lunch and shut the world out for a day. These are my sick days, my bank holidays, my time in lieu and my holidays! You don’t always have to be doing the perfect job looking after your children – and I find that the boys always appreciate these little rest days when we have them.

 

5 / SEE OTHER PARENTS

Being a stay at home parent can feel very lonely and isolating at times, especially if you are not getting out and about enough. My first stint of maternity leave was luckily in-sync with several friends also having babies at the same time, and we got to spend lots of time together mulling over the newness of parenthood and generally keeping ourselves company. Over the following year many of my friends returned to work and I found that I had began to really rely on time around other families to keep me feeling connected. It’s not always easy to meet other parents who you will instantly find a genuine connection with – although it’s definitely not worth ruling out. I always try to keep an open mind whenever we are. It’s always great to feel united with other parents; as long as they make you feel supported, understood and good about yourself.

 

6 / TREAT YOURSELF

There’s not often a lot of time for yourself when you are caring for children all day. It’s important for me to feel rewarded for all my hard work – and although time is most certainly of the essence, I choose little gifts to myself that are quick fixes to keep my spirits lifted. Things like new music, a new book or a new bit of make-up are just enough for me to feel treated and act as a form of self-appreciation for having so much of my time focussed around the children.

 

7 / DON’T FEEL GUILTY

However you choose to parent your children at home, one day can feel like a lot of hours to fill – and it is! I try not to feel guilty about the days where we watch too much youtube or films, or for zoning out on my phone, or for wishing I was somewhere else. Some days I feel like super woman; dashing from place to place, getting loads done with happy children in tow…. and other days we seem to drag ourselves out of bed, nobody wants to do anything and everybody cries at least once over the course of the day! The experience of a stay at home parent can feel like a complete roller coaster – and that is no understatement. Try to be kind to yourself; you can’t be a super-parent every day.

 

8 / BE HONEST WITH YOUR CHILDREN

When times are difficult with children at home, it can be hard to take a step out of the situation to catch a breather and regroup your head. My children seem like little emotional sponges and I’m sure when I’m feeling most stressed, they become even more needy and demanding, as if to say “c’mon mummy keep it together! we need you!”. Unfortunately they’ve not yet developed an understanding that this can just make everything feel a whole lot worse! My way of dealing with difficult times now, is to be more honest with the children. After all, they are part of the team whilst we are at home – and although I will ultimately always be in charge – I’ve found it useful to be more upfront with the kids when it comes to explaining my feelings. Even something as simple as saying; “mummy’s really tired right now and I just need you to sit quietly for a minute whilst I figure out what we’re going to do next”, seems to really work.  I want the children to understand that, although I will always hold responsibility for them, I am not always perfect and that adults do struggle sometimes too. Teaching the children to develop a sense of compassion for others is really important to me – and as a stay at home parent – it’s sometimes what we need the most.

 

9 / DANCE

We have a good boogie in the kitchen at least once a day. I often wonder if the neighbours have spotted us yet. I really miss the time to listen to my own music, so I put on something that I love, and encourage the children to dance along. It’s a chance to let our hair down, get our hearts pounding – and its always a great distraction from any tears and tantrums.

 

10 / ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS

And it won’t last forever, that’s for sure. It can be very tough, tiring and demanding – and you can feel stretched and strung out and selfless. But these early years certainly do fly by, and I remind myself of this every day.

Time has really flown since Mother’s Day last year. There’s been so many new developments for us all; individually and as a family – yet my sentiment for Mothering Sunday stays very much the same this year. I quote from my blog post this time last year: “all I want to do on Sunday is spend some time with Owen, stay in my PJs all day, cuddle up with the boys under a cozy blanket and cook my Mum a yummy dinner.” That’s pretty much the plan for this weekend. I’d also like to add ‘get a photo of me and the boys’ (I don’t care how long this takes and how many eye rolls I have to sit through) and ‘grab brunch at my favourite Turkish bakery’ to the list. Oh and, obviously I’d like to receive everything from the list below (ahem ahem). 

 

 

 

1/ black pendant cord set by Merci. 2/ hydrate & nourish creme by earth tu face. 3/ books = how to be parisian, eat drink nap & worn stories. 4/ blanket by fine little day. 5/ no.5 jumper in emerald by babaa. 6/ coat by zara. 7/ boots by aldo. 8/ basket by zara home. 9/ cushion by liberty.