A Mother’s Pain Over A Lost Toy

An anxiety I never anticipated before children, never understood, really, was that of THE LOST TOY.

Of course for the child, it’s the stuff of nightmares, and having lost things I care about, I totally get that. But what has caught me unawares was the anxiety, the pain, that I as mother would feel over a toy that I have no personal attachment to.

Ameli never had a security blanket or a dummy or even a toy that she favoured above others, until last August, when my sister bought her a stuffed elephant at The Rain Forest Cafe in Disneyland Paris. “Rainy”, as he was dubbed, quickly became a new member of our family, and while he might end up in the toy box from time to time, he is still the preferred bed time buddy.

Yesterday we had to take our car in for a service, and despite my protestations, Rainy came in with us. Come bed time, of course, we realised that Rainy hadn’t come home, so we assumed that he had stayed in the car – there were many tears, but after assuring her that Rainy was probably loving his sleepover in what must feel like a campervan to him, all snuggled up comfortably in the car seat, Ameli finally succumbed to sleep.

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Two Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Day

“How was your day today?”


“What did you do today?”


“Learn/see/do anything exciting?”


Sound familiar?Two Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Day

This is pretty much what every conversation with my daughters was like, till about a year ago.  Whether they’d spent 3 hours at nursery, or spent the whole day with a friend, they pretty much couldn’t remember what they’d done an hour ago, or they couldn’t really tell me much about their day at all.

I found this really frustrating, and after a while, I stopped asking. Not because I didn’t care, but because I found ‘nothing’ or ‘I don’t remember’ to be too infuriating.

But this didn’t sit right with me.

want to know about their days. I want to know what they’ve been up to. And even if we spend the whole day in the same house, their days often involve different experiences to mine.

About a year ago, I decided to give up on questions that weren’t getting answers, and to instead, change the questions.

While I will still ask loose questions about the time we spent apart, I don’t have feelings one way or the other if they don’t answer fully. What we do now is this:Read more: Two Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Day

The Importance Of Writing Love Notes To Children

I’ve been thinking a lot about a dying-out medium, that of letter writing, and specifically, writing love notes to children.

My mom and I had what I remember as a difficult relationship during my teen years. Not an uncommon story, I know, but still something that impacts into your adult life.

A few years ago, my mom’s cancer took a terminal turn a few weeks before Christmas. On Christmas eve, the UK was deluged in rain and our garage flooded, along with many parts of the country and some of our neighbour’s homes. On Boxing day, my mother died, and all flood debris was ignored until a few weeks later.

I was going through a trunk full of old photos, cards, letters, and other things I had at one point deemed important enough to keep, when I came across letters that I had quite honestly forgotten about. Discovering them was shocking to me, because I had forgotten their existence. But it was powerfully affirming of my mother’s love for me. I mean, I knew she loved me but seeing those letters reminded me of the days I’d come in from school and find a letter from her on my bed. Love Notes To ChildrenRead more: The Importance Of Writing Love Notes To Children

8 Ways To Not Lose Your Mind When Moving House

Moving to a new places is fun. I should know. I’ve done it a dozen times in my adult life. Moving to a different house in the same area lacks a lot of that excitement because, well, all that’s new is the place you’re moving to. Moving house with children however, is a whole new ball game. You’ve heard those jokes about tidying up with children being like making a smoothie with the blender open? Or brushing your teeth while eating an Oreo? Those apply to moving house with children too.

And add to that home schooling children and it’s like being caught in an episode of a really bad slap-stick comedy. I can just visualise it. Pack a box of toys, go make dinner, come back to those toys all over the living room floor. Repack the box of toys, sit down to check your emails, telling the kids to get ready for bed. Go to put them to bed and find that same box of toys all over their room!

Yeah, it’s not funny when you’re living it. So here are some things to consider doing if you’re moving house with children.

  • Find somewhere else to stay

I’m not kidding. I grew up military and whenever we moved we’d have two weeks in a hotel on our exit destination and a week in a hotel near the new house. I thought it was a nice gesture from the army. As a parent I realise that it was the military’s way of keeping military wives from mutiny!

Find a hotel or a holiday park, spend four or five hours a day packing, then leave. Have somewhere comfortable to sleep, cook healthy food without having to think of what to pack and what to leave out. Get to your accommodation, have a swim, relax, get to bed early, start fresh the next day. It’s for your mental health!

  • Get one room completely finished first

If you can’t stay somewhere else during your move, or if you still have children around while you’re packing this is especially important.

Get one room packed up and cleared out as your first priority. The temptation might be to get the biggest job done first, but by getting one room done you either have a place for the children to ‘be’ without being surrounded by boxes, or you have a place for all the boxes to go once they’re packed, making the room out of bounds. (We weren’t able to do this this time, and it showed in the constant unpacking and repacking of not-yet-sealed boxes.)Moving house

Read more: 8 Ways To Not Lose Your Mind When Moving House

I’m A Freakin’ Parfait {Or The Many Layers Of Mothers}

I’ve had an odd week.

Things have happened, I’ve connected with an old friend, taken a walk down memory lane, had totally unusual conversations, and you know what – I’ve been fully there with it all.

Does anyone remember this scene from Shrek? About the layers?

See. Layers. Like a parfait.

Motherhood changes you. You go from spreadsheets and workshops (if you were an adult educator and project manager like me) to nappies and breastfeeding in a blink of an eye. Unless you make an effort to stay current in your work place, you can quickly be left behind. It’s just how it is. World news has to be big to even break through the fog and haze of sleepless nights, sore nipples, and the mind-numbing awareness that you’re probably doing something wrong.

It’s just how it is.Read more: I’m A Freakin’ Parfait {Or The Many Layers Of Mothers}

Children’s Bed Options After Cosleeping

I’ve been cosleeping for over 6 years. When Ameli was born, I had a nursery set up on the other side of the house, where her crying wouldn’t disturb us in the night. Did she spend a single night in that room, once she was born? Not a chance. Within an hour of her birth, my baby and I were asleep in the king sized bed her daddy and I shared. And now, six and a half years on, with a dabble here and there in other beds – especially when a new baby joined the fold, we are still cosleeping – Ameli, Aviya and I, still in that king size bed.

But the time is coming where my girls are going to have to sleep on there own, because this mama, while I still love the cuddles, clings to the edge of the bed at night, dreaming of a time when I too, can be a starfish on my own again.

I keep going round and round the bed options in my mind – two single beds? bunk beds? or a small double bed?villa-885936_960_720

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Teen Beauty: The Heavy Pressure On Young People

Whenever there’s a discussion on beauty, people talk about ‘youth today’ and the pressure they are facing. I don’t believe that’s a new thing that applies only to ‘youth today’ – I remember the horrible emotional swings of teen years and the pressure to be noticed, or not, depending on the day and place! And that was in life before the internet and celebrity culture, Facebook and being ‘on’ 24/7. I can only imagine the world my daughters are growing into, and I won’t lie: it terrifies me.

The media is partly to blame. American teen dramas like Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill depict teenagers as impossibly gorgeous, coiffed to within an inch of perfection. Adding to this is a magazine culture which delights in showing the failures of A-list celebrities, from cellulite to spots. Think about it: Society pressures society to look the way no one in society can!

Redtop newspapers feed off the imperfections of celebs like a vampire sucking a neck – and the more we buy into their spite, the more we indulge insecurities about appearance. But don’t think for a moment that this only applies to teenagers! Ameli is only 6, but she is more fashion conscious than I’ve been in all my life! Aviya is only 3 and today she told me she couldn’t wear her muddy shoes because ‘people will laugh at me’! Read more: Teen Beauty: The Heavy Pressure On Young People

Higher Education: What Path Will You Take?

When you look at your baby, the idea of them growing up seems almost impossible. But as we know grow up they will, and all too fast and we only want ‘the best’ for them.

And, when they’re old enough, many of our children may want a university education.

But attending university isn’t the ideal option for families on a low income. Tuition fees are costly (most will set you back around £9,000 at this point, not to mention 18 years from now), and living expenses are high. The idea of sending a child to university can feel like putting your life savings on one colour at a roulette table!

The costly situation at universities doesn’t look like it’s going to improve any time soon– Russell Group universities are actively campaigning for higher tuition fees – and it’s making many parents search for a viable alternative.

It’s the capitalist ideal that something new will come along to counter the problems of the old – and education is no different.

Beyond these old institutions, a number of other educational forms have gained traction, and they could help you trim your budget while still giving your child the finest possible education.

Education – going the distance

The first has technically been in existence for a century, although in a variety of forms.

Distance learning used to be considered the inefficient and impractical counterpart to a university education. To get the most from a course, you’d have to stay up late watching Open University programmes on BBC2, scour libraries for textbooks they might not even stock, and communicate with your tutor via snail mail. That’s how I started my correspondence degree!

When the internet began making waves, however, distance learning took on a more efficient form. Nowadays, it’s improved on the core aspects of university, allowing people with full-time jobs to study whenever they’ve got a few spare minutes – I know! I was working full time while I gained my degree!

Although generally vocational, online degrees can offer a variety of career paths. Anglia Ruskin University, for instances, offers a football degree, accounting degrees, managerial qualifications and much more.

So it’s a broad area, and will cut down on living expenses and tuition fees.

Making a decision

What if your child doesn’t know what they want to do when they leave school? Again, the internet has all the answers.

Free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have become the in thing in the educational world. Essentially, they’re taster courses which allow you to dip in and out of short modules, providing you with a foundational knowledge of a subject – just enough to decide if you’d like a degree.

Fortunately there are years yet before most of us have to worry about our toddlers knowing what they want to do with the rest of their lives, and perhaps in that time the face of education – along with that of much of the rest of life as we know it right now! – will have changed, but it’s never a bad idea to know what’s going on and what the options are.


Simple Christmas Decorations For A Child’s Room

I don’t know about you, but my children are worse than any cat I’ve ever had when it comes to Christmas decorations, and fiddling with things on the tree! They simply can’t leave well enough alone. Of course Christmas is a family affair, but when you’ve spent hours putting it all together, it can be soul destroying to have little hands pull it all apart again – especially when they do that to everything else all year round anyway!

There are a few things you can do give children their own creative space for Christmas – preferably in their own room.

If you’re lucky enough to have an amazing room for your child already, like one of these nursery ideas, then you’re off to a good start:Read more: Simple Christmas Decorations For A Child’s Room