Our windows onto the world

VELUX window in snowSpace isn’t just at a premium in London: I should imagine most families across the country feel they could do with more of it. I’ve written about Scrip’s box room nursery before, our storage areas feel like they’re already bursting at the seams (my mum said just today she didn’t understand how I fitted everything in – and the fact is, I don’t) and that’s before we’ve introduced another little person who’ll be followed by a deceptively huge array of accessories (one word: Jumperoo).

Just over two years ago, on a space-enlarging mission, we went up into the loft to create an extra bedroom and bathroom. We’re lucky we were able to do this and we’re really pleased with the results. We quickly moved our bedroom up there and Scrip loves the amount of room she has to play in when she ventures upstairs. In fact, her balance bike and trike seem to have found permanent parking spaces underneath my dressing table. Continue reading

Who really inspires you?

MmWho inspires you? That was a question I was asked this week. Specifically, which amazing women inspire you? Everything would be much tougher without inspiration and many women inspire me – from female politicians (yes, some of them really do, to my colleagues’ surprise), charity workers, talented women in all walks of life, hard grafters, women in the hardest circumstances. I draw inspiration from them all.

But the first thought that came to mind was my mum. She’s worked hard throughout her life and has achieved so much. From a working class background she became head girl at her grammar school and then went on to study at Oxford University (after also being offered a place at Cambridge) – an amazing achievement. She became a brilliant, natural teacher (many times I’ve thought I would like to follow in her footsteps) and then a great headmistress.

She’s passionate about history and instills that passion in others, and has always been creative – most recently writing children’s stories for our local museum and painting lovely watercolours. Now retired she’s studied French and Italian, acing her A-levels in both.

Family has always been an important part of her life and she’s supportive and loving without being overbearing. She’s also a wonderful Grandma. In short, I’ve learnt so much from her and my father, about life in general, about marriage and more recently, about mothering. She’s an inspiration – and I hope my daughter feels at least some of what I feel for my mum, for me, in time.

The brand I was asked by was Atterley Road, the up and coming fashion brand and retailer, whose clothes are simple and elegant. Definitely my style, as soon as I’m back to my normal self again! They’re running a #ARWOMAN campaign. Their goal is to get women openly celebrating other women, which is something I wholeheartedly support.

So who do you think is worthy of the #ARWOMAN hashtag? They’d love to see your picture of an inspirational woman on Instagram, tagging Atterley Road and using #ARWOMAN and maybe nominating Instagram friends to do the same.

My London Bucket List

London Bucket ListWe always used to say, quite assuredly, ‘we’ll never have children while we’re in London’. Yet here we are, living in a maisonette in the capital with an almost three year old and another little one shortly to arrive. I’ve actually found London a great place to have small children and I couldn’t think of a better area to spend my maternity leave. In our part of the leafy West we’re spoilt for parks, independent coffee shops, cinemas for babies to scream in and restaurants for adults to escape to (all too rarely).

So now the rule has changed and we say we’re not going to be here for when Scrip goes to school. Which means we’ve probably got just around a year left. After my fourteen year stay in the capital, that’s a pretty scary prospect. Of course it’s also exciting – we want to go for more green space and fresh air, somewhere at least a bit closer to my beloved Cornwall and somewhere where we’re not faced with a climb upstairs as soon as we get through our front door. Imagine having a proper garden and a bigger kitchen – more room for Scrip (and the littler one) to roam around and get messy.

Faced with the prospect of not living here anymore there are suddenly so many things we realise we haven’t done. So here’s my London family ‘bucket’ list. We might not manage all of these, but we’ll Continue reading

Going back to work – 6 tips I’ve learnt

Toddler spilling pensBeing 31 weeks’ pregnant (it still doesn’t seem real – even when it’s there in black and white) work should be something I’m thinking about winding down rather than starting afresh. But a few things recently have made me cast my mind back to when I started again post-mat leave just over two years ago. I had a difficult time back then, partly down to issues that I hope I don’t ever have to face again. And that’s without factoring in missing your little one, parental guilt etc. etc.

But there are definitely also positive learnings to be made from my experiences and if I could help my younger self to cope and can also remind myself for next time, here’s what I’d say. Continue reading

Pink or blue? Our toddler colour clash

Pink and blue footprintsThere’s a colours theme in my home at the moment. Much of it revolves around pink and blue. It’s not all about the new baby – although we don’t know if it’s a boy or girl – it’s more about Scrip and her sudden insistence of which colours are her favourites and which are appropriate for her and her friends.

Starting at the end of last year she’s very clear that her favourite colours are pink and purple, and her  nannyshare buddy’s favourite is blue (he’s a little boy). I’m asked if I like pink and purple, as are most females, and same with blue for Daddy and males.

I’m not quite sure where this has started. Maybe it’s the drip drip effect of cartoons and clothes and toys (particularly those advertised on TV). We’ve never deliberately set out to buy her lots of pink things but she has ended up with her fair share. But by no means is her room a frilly, pastely assault on the senses. And we’ve actively tried to buy a mix of ‘girls’ toys’ and unisex ones.

Of course it might be a phase, as most things are (or at least we tend to reassure ourselves they are). Or it may be that her favourite colours are genuinely pink and purple and may continue to be. But what started with requests for a pink teddy and pink vests just before Christmas has now turned into pink everything (‘can this Lego cat be pink?’, ‘can muzzy be pink?’, can I have pink play doh’).

In the meantime I have a feeling I’ll have to learn to love the colour. After all, blue is for boys.

Sew Pretty: courses for complete beginners to seasoned pros

Sew Pretty sewing coursesBack in November I spent a great few hours refreshing my sewing skills at Sew Pretty, a sewing workshop in a purpose-built garden studio in Wimbledon. The owner, Katya, has created a lovely, relaxed atmosphere for those who want to start from scratch, those who are keen to dust off their sewing machines and learn some new skills (like me) or those ready to tackle more complex projects.

I’d really recommend a Sew Pretty workshop or course – they would make a great, original present (as mine was) and they’re a good way to learn something new whilst also creating something to take away: from PJ’s to bags to dresses.

Here’s my review for West London Mum to tell you more.

The Chokeables by St John Ambulance: how to help a choking child

St John Ambulance The Chokeables advertWould you know what to do if your child was choking? Four out of five parents don’t – me included. I roughly knew that I should turn a child over and slap them on the back but had no firm ideas about how many times, how forcefully or what to do next.

A new ad by St John Ambulance is tackling our knowledge gap, following research that says that for almost 60% of mothers choking is a major fear. I was lucky enough to get a preview of it last week (it’s great).

Designed to be entertaining as well as informative, it’s not one of those terrible, hard-hitting (excuse the pun) ads that try and shock parents into action. It’s actually more like the memorable Stayin’ Alive/Vinnie Jones ad from the British Heart Foundation a few years ago.

In case you haven’t yet seen it, here is The Chokeables. See if you can recognise some of the famous voices, too:

After seeing the ad we were able to have a practical session and try the technique for ourselves, guided by a St John Ambulance trainer. Obviously you should learn from a qualified person but in a nutshell, here’s what you should do (and here’s a video to show more):

  • For a baby, place it across your knee, supporting the head and give up to five back blows, between the shoulder blades (the same for a child, but they can stand and bend over after about 12 months)
  • Follow this by turning it over and giving up to five chest thrusts, compressing the chest about a third of the way in for each one
  • Repeat these up to three times before calling an ambulance, checking the mouth in between to see if there’s anything easy that can be hooked out. But don’t try and get something that’s too far down – you risk pushing it down further.

I’ve been thinking about taking a baby and child first aid course for a while, so it was great to try this myself and see the best way to hold the child, how hard to hit and where exactly. We also learned about resuscitation for if the child suddenly gets unresponsive – something I felt I knew the basics of but it was great to learn from an expert.

I came home and shared with my husband and he’s looking into courses for himself – there’s a 3-hour St John Ambulance course for around £30, which I think is really reasonable, or a longer session for around £100.

I hope you like the ad enough to pass it on – please share to help save lives.

St John Ambulance website
St John Ambulance first aid courses
More first aid advice videos


Mami 2 Five