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How to deal with the water wobbles via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I’ve always been a little bit neurotic about making sure that I get time with each of the kids individually, special time where they get the opportunity to enjoy one on one parent time and the opportunity to miss their siblings. It has become a bit of an impossibility with Roo at the moment with school (I really must work on that) but swimming with the kids has been one way that I have been able to ensure a bit of special one on one time – especially with Toby. I always resent the implication that, being the middle child, Toby will feel left out and neglected (I wrote about it here) so I really value the one to one time I get with him during swimming. It is one of the most special times for me, especially as Edith is such a clingy baby, I don’t really get time with the boys alone anymore.

I was really upset and I started to think that this might be the end of our swimming journey as it’s something that I have never wanted to push swimming on the children, I want them to relish getting in the water and they have such a passion for swimming that I would be devastated to take that away from them. I remember going to class one day and I honestly felt drained before we even started. It felt like I was fighting an uphill battle of frustration and irritation on both sides – I ended up getting cross with his silly behaviour and, in turn, was just as silly! I think because Reuben came to the end of his water babies journey about the same time that this new attitude came from Toby I was worried that we were all going to have to hang up the flippers (no we don’t wear flippers really) and move on.

It turns out that I wasn’t alone in this feeling or experience, in fact around the age of two to three most little ones start to get frustrated with their swimming lessons, even if they have been the most confident swimmers in the past. It’s not uncommon for them to suddenly decide they don’t like going under water (even if it’s never bugged them in the past), don’t like diving, being on their backs and refuse to allow you to hold them during the lesson, instead preferring to mess about and ignore every request you make. Like I said before, this is so common that Water Babies gave it a name – water wobbles. It’s nothing more than a case of testing limits and finding feet, the best thing to do, in my experience with Toby and the other little ones in his class who had the same sudden, inexplicable attitude change towards swim class, is just to persevere. I thought it might be helpful to jot down a few tips:

Do keep going! Keep going to your swim class, the very worst thing you can do when a 2 – 3 year old starts getting water wobbles is stop, it only reinforces the current state of mind that swimming is a bad thing and they are correct to dislike it. Keep. Going.

Do remember swimming is meant to be fun! I made this mistake with Roo all the time – being heavily pregnant and experiencing all these things for the first time, I just lost my temper with him – which made us both feel dreadful and really sucked the fun out of his toddler swimming classes. Try not to get cross if your little one isn’t participating how they should, it’s only a toddler swim class after all.

Do roll with it. Toby despised being on his back, we’re only just coming out of this phase, a few weeks away from turning three and it can still impact our lessons. I’ve learnt you’ve just got to roll with it, they don’t want to be on their back? Fine, do the exercise on their front or just swim them along – chat to your swim instructor and tell them that you suspect the good ole’ water wobbles and you don’t want the lesson to be upsetting so you’re going to try it on the back and if they get upset, flip them over. Same applies with under water or other wobbles – just do as much as they are confident with, once they see all the other kids doing it and coming out the other side, they’ll get over it.

Do try to remember it’s not just swimming classes for your toddler, but it’s valuable time with you. I *wish* I could go back and re-do my swim classes with Roo. I really do, I was so frustrated so easily, I would frequently storm out and say to Adam (after the kids were in bed, obviously) “It’s so much money and he’s not progressing because he won’t do what he should!!!” That’s true – it’s a lot of your hard earned cash, I get that, but who cares if they aren’t Tom Daley yet, they are toddlers learning the basics of swimming and water safety FOR KIDS, not passing the lifeguard challenge. More importantly you can’t put a price on one to one time.

I really hope your water wobbles are easy going if you get them, you can always have a chat with your instructor or maybe talk to your little one before class. Just don’t let it put you off, it’s such a wonderful skill to learn and take it from someone who has already come to the end of one Water Babies baby swimming journey, you don’t want it to end too soon!


How to make Apple Brandy via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Earlier in the week a big bag appeared outside our school with a note from the head teacher to say ‘Help yourself’. In the bag were some rather Autumnal looking apples, all freshly picked ready for the kids to make some jam with during class later on in the week. Needless to say us parents immediately started to divvy up the spoils, there was more than enough to go around and I’m pretty sure everyone who wanted some got some.

I came home with thoughts of apple pies and apple crumbles, but when I came across this recipe on Pinterest (not that I was pointlessly browsing Pinterest during the middle of the day, what are you implying?) I had to have a go at making apple brandy. Not only is it an alcoholic substance, which makes it popular with me, but its already the perfect gift for Christmas and will be a delectable winter warmer for Christmas eve, Christmas day, Boxing day, 15th January… anyway, I’m digressing (and making myself sound like a paid up member of alcoholics anonymous) you want to know how to make this bad boy.

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 lbs apples, chopped
  • 1lt brandy
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Place the sugar and the water into a saucepan and bring to simmer, stirring until all of the sugar is dissolved. Don’t let it over heat past the syrup stage. Pour over the apples, add the cloves, cinnamon and brandy. Seal into an air tight container (think kilner jar) and leave to mesh together for at least two weeks. I usually make something like this in September or at the latest the beginning of October with the intention of gifting it to family and friends over Christmas. Yum!

Do you have a favourite apple brandy drink, or maybe a homemade Christmas gift that you make every year? Share with us!

Harriet x

You can't stop smoking during pregnancy without undermining the pro-choice ethos. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.


Today is going to be a controversial day for the blog I think. I want to talk about something that usually comes with a barrel of controversy and people get very… passionate about.

I want to talk about the rights on an unborn child.

This post was sparked off by the above picture (which states that fines should be implemented for women who smoke during pregnancy, as the new law that prohibits smoking in the car with kids should extend to protect unborn children too) which a friend posted on Facebook with the caption “Agree or Disagree?” Firstly, let me make it clear, I detest smoking. My husband used to do it, and I remember being horrified when a friend at work told me that smoking in the car while a child was there, even with the window down, was still bad for their health. I didn’t know, and after we got better educated it NEVER happened again (even though it was only on two occasions, it still curls my toes). Adam never smoked in our home, and as Roo grew he cut back and cut back until eventually 2 1/2 years ago, he quit. It’s a source of great pride that I have a husband who has given up smoking for his children, I think quitting an addiction is incredibly difficult, but parental love prevailed here and I’m immensely proud of him.

Back to the photo though, I have to say I disagree. I disagree because I am staunchly pro-choice, and to agree with this principle, in my eyes, makes you hypocritical if you are pro-choice. To believe that a woman’s body is her own, and as such a foetus has no rights until it can and does live independently of its mother, makes you pro-choice – whereby a woman can choose to have a termination, smoke, drink etc. To say that she should be fined for smoking during pregnancy, undermines that very principal. To agree with this would mean that you would support fining women for eating consistently unhealthy foods during pregnancy as that can have a similarly dangerous effect. Where does the buck stop? What about drinking too much alcohol, not taking proper precautions during driving or playing sports? What about working in a high risk job? To agree with this, in my eyes, sets a dangerous precedent, whereby a woman’s body is no longer hers once she has conceived and she becomes an incubator for another person. That is not a society I believe in, and it sure isn’t democratic.

Now, I’ve seen the argument that we have social intervention when a woman is shown to be a drug abuser, so why not with smoking or other unhealthy habits, but the truth is, I believe you have to weight up whether or not the ‘bad habit’ that the woman is partaking in is directly going to affect her ability to parent, and as such, can you help her to give up said habit, will it possibly endanger her child POST-pregnancy and is it right to intervene. To me, a heroine addict falls under incapable and likely to cause damage so social intervention is necessary but a smoker? Nope.

Smoking during pregnancy is not something that should be the business of anyone but the mother in question, the same as moderate or binge drinkers. Is it abhorrent? Yes. Is it something that people have the right to feel appalled by? Yes. Is it something that someone can tell you that you physically can’t do because you are sustaining and growing a new life? Sadly, no. Loving, caring mothers would strive to stop anyway, but by fining them you are infringing on their human rights, a principal I can’t support.

I’d love to know your thoughts, even if you totally disagree – I know this is emotive so try to be respectful too!

H x

Brilliant sleepover accessories that are a must have for kids everywhere via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Reuben is four now and as he is in reception he has a whole host of little friends. He’s already been invited to his first sleepover, and I have no doubt that soon the time will come where he will be having little friends over to stay too.

I recently received the catalogue from The Great Little Trading Company and I found these wonderful sleeping bags and roll up sleep over mattresses. What a superb idea! Absolutely genius, a roll up mattress that can be easily stored but is super soft and comfortable, in delight patterns that look cool whilst being practical. As for the sleeping bags, don’t they look so much nicer than the big puffy outdoorsy ones? I think so.

They are made from super soft cotton and envelope your child just like a traditional sleeping bag, so there is no loosing the cover over night.

I’m not looking forward to Roo going off to sleepovers, my baby will be growing up even faster, but I would like to know that he had had a good nights sleep, and I think other mums and dads feel exactly the same – these are definitely on my investment list.

H x

Medela Swing giveaway via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

As you will know if you are a long term reader of the blog, I’m a medela mum and so proud to be so. I’ve loved using my Medela products to help me with breastfeeding and now I’ve teamed up with the brilliant brand to help one lucky mama win a Swing breast pump worth over £120.

If you aren’t sure whether the swing will suit you, you can read my review of it here, but I can tell you, after working in the baby product retail industry for the last ten years and now having children of my own, it is one of the best pumps on the market for a reason. Not only is it easy to use and clean, but it is one of the most effective pumps at helping you to maintain a natural milk production and helps you to pump in a way that mimics your child, making it less painful and quicker.

How do you win? Simple. All you need to do is share your breastfeeding story here – it can be funny, heartfelt or whatever you choose. You can include pictures, videos or just words. Every entrant will go into a random selector and the winner will be contacted via email on Wednesday 14th October 2015.

Good luck everyone!

H x

P.s – Medela have asked me to limit this competition to my UK readers, hopefully something for those over the pond will be available shortly!


The last two weeks have been up and down for me, filled with stress and not enough sleep to cope with it all. I feel like things are settling down a little bit now – the pessimist in me frets that it’s the calm before another storm, but I do prefer my optimistic side that senses a bit of a break from trouble now. Over the last few weeks I’ve felt a little bit isolated… Well actually, that’s a lie, I’ve felt very isolated, to the point of feeling lonely and from what I can gather that is an all too common feeling for a stay at home mum, or a work at home mum.

I’ve always been someone with a few close friends, I have an abundance of lovely acquaintances and people who I would feel comfortable chatting to, but true friends who I feel I could talk to about anything are a rarer breed to me. Maybe it’s because I’m quite a closed off person, I’m not sure, but that’s the way it is. Most of my very close friends either don’t have children, work full time or are in the position where they are doing both. This really isn’t an issue when you are also working, have children back and forth to school and you have a busy schedule yourself, but what about when you are on maternity leave?

For me, things aren’t any less busy. I’m still working, but it’s from home so I have no companionship from co-workers, my friends are often at work when I’m available and I kind of feel that I am being left behind. On the odd occasion that friend’s are available, I’m not able to join in because I can’t leave one very clingy, breastfed baby behind and it isn’t kosher to take her into a nightclub yet – those glowing dummies aren’t for her apparently (who knew!). Friends know this fat as well, eventually you stop being invited because they don’t want to rub it in your face that you CAN’T come and then they stop inviting you because it’s been so long since you spoke you have drifted.

It’s not a nice feeling to feel like you are being forgotten, especially when you really feel you need your friends to be by your side through tough times. It’s not a nice feeling, but it’s an all too common one for new mamas. It’s also an issue for mamas with more than one child, as making new friends is impossibly difficult as your time gets spread thinner and thinner. Joining the mum and baby group becomes impractical because you have more than one child to look after, and who wants to terrify all the new first time mamas with sweet little babies with their over tired, hyperactive toddler who makes ISIS look like friendly people?

I think with friendship, even true long lasting friendship, out of sight out of mind is more applicable than absence makes the heart grow fonder.

H x

My beauty routines in under 2 mins that is realistic for mums from Sk:n via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I’ve written before about how hard I find it to maintain any form of decent skin care routine. I almost always just use a wet wipe to take my make up off at night and then head off to bed. The reasons I give for this is that, on a morning there is so much to do I don’t have the time to faff with my face and at night I always intend to do something but Edie will start to cry and it’s a case of falling asleep in bed with her instead. I feel like I don’t treat myself anymore.

I was sent some products by the brilliant Sk:n, who are the UKs leading skincare brand. At first I really didn’t think I would get to use the stuff, my usual excuses were primed, but guess what, I did!! I love the cleanser, I use it in the shower or just after and it’s not faffy at all – no cotton wool buds or particular ways to wipe, just use it as you would a face wash and your done. Then I put the blemish cream on (with my fingers) before I whack on some make up to make myself feel reasonably presentable – I even find that it helps my foundation stay on longer, so there is no frightening the natives with my actual face or putting people off having kids by revealing the bags under my eyes.

I love it! On a night I use the anti-aging cream after I’ve been in the shower, just to help pep my face up a bit and ward off those frown lines. I’ve actually found getting back into the routine of doing this so helpful, it just means I don’t feel like I’m neglecting myself as much, you know? I’m not doing the full facial every morning and night like I did when I was 20 but I can actually say I’m making some form of effort to treat myself! To me, that is what beauty routines are all about; treating yourself and feeling special.

H x

Atissu! Atissu! Snotty kids get a touch of cute fun with stylish tissue boxes. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Atissu! Atissu! Snotty kids get a touch of cute fun with stylish tissue boxes. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

The weather has started to really changed now, we’ve hit that frustrating time of the year when it’s freezing cold in the morning and then hot in the afternoon. Either that or it’s raining all day and miserable. It’s also known as cold season because one minute your bundled up, the next your sweating and then you get cold again. Did you know that Doctors call October/November dying season?! Morbid I know, but it’s because of all the colds during September and early October that then develop in the old and frail into pneumonia. Anyway, I’m way off track.

Last week I was sent some wonderful tissues from a new brand called Atissu who make super soft tissues for kids. The reason they are different is their adorable boxes are designed to engage children, with several sweet animal characters that bring a smile to the face of even the snottiest child!

Atissu! Atissu! Snotty kids get a touch of cute fun with stylish tissue boxes. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Atissu! Atissu! Snotty kids get a touch of cute fun with stylish tissue boxes. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

The brand is wonderfully British, so they totally get the way that September weather gives our children a complete snot-down, and the designs come from Sam Dumont, who is also a mama and knows how fed up parents get with the ugly tissue boxes that loiter at this time of year. Even better, all the materials for the tissues are sustainably sourced, so you don’t have to worry about your impact on the environment using them.

I have a box in Edie’s room and the boys room (which has worked really well as Toby and Edith are recovering from stinking colds) and they are just the most delightful tissues for kids.

Add a little bit of lovely to your home with atissu, even if it is to combat snotty kids!

H x

Mini toffee apples via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.
Mini toffee apples via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Toby loves apples, so I was itching to try this with him, and it didn’t disappoint, taking us minutes and ending up being one tasty after dinner treat – don’t you just love autumn crafts that taste good?! You can go as professional as you like, or you can go for a slightly more homemade look if you want to – I guess it depends on the age of your child, and whether you want to be Pinterest parent of the year!

Here’s what we did to make ours:

  • Melon baller (or you could cut the apple into slices)
  • 2 apples
  • A tin of carnation caramel
  • 12-15 skewers

We have a melon baller, so I used this to make little round balls of apple using 2 apples to make 8-10 balls, then pushed them on to a skewer (these can be found in supermarkets and craft shops, think cake pops) and lastly we dipped them into a pot of pre-made caramel sauce. Once they had been dipped (which Tobes thought was amazing fun!) we put them upside down on a baking tray and into the fridge until after dinner (approx 3-4 hours). Mmm! They were delicious, and we gobbled them all!

They aren’t chewy like traditional toffee apples, more caramel apples done this way, but the boys don’t like getting toffees tuck in their mouths and I’m conscious that Roo might lose teeth if he has toffee now!


H x

Give the gift of sleep to new parents with Snuggle sleeves via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Give the gift of sleep to new parents with Snuggle sleeves via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

All of my babies have been born during the Winter or Early Spring, which means the nights have been super chilly and definitely unwelcoming for a precious new arrival. I’ve often found that my little ones have had cold arms and hands and I’m convinced that is why they prefer to sleep underneath my duvet with me… which we all know they shouldn’t do because of the risk of overheating! It’s a real catch twenty two isn’t it? Don’t sleep because the baby won’t sleep or don’t sleep because you are worried about the risk of overheating.

Well, prepare to love me, because I have discovered a sleep-saving solution (or at least I hope it saves me sleep… please?!). These wonderful Snuggle Sleeves are an absolute must for parents using sleeping bags. These super soft, cosy sleeves are easily attached to any sleeping bag and keep your baby’s arms and hands snuggly and warm during the night. They even double up as a scratch mitt too, avoiding those awful little scratches that little ones often give themselves in the night (Edith and Toby were always scratching themselves – no matter how often I cut their nails!).

Give the gift of sleep to new parents with Snuggle sleeves via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Give the gift of sleep to new parents with Snuggle sleeves via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

The sleeves are the brain child of the brilliant Laura Meredith, who has made sure that these are 100% baby and mama friendly, basing her product completely on her own experience as a mother, she knows what it is like to be woken up in the night for something that is avoidable – isn’t it a billion times more frustrating when sleep is so precious for both of you? They can be washed, are super hard wearing and have been tested back and forth (in the UK to ensure quality is just as Laura – and any other mama – would expect) to make sure they are 100% safe for your little one to use.

Re-claim sleep and the duvet by keeping your little one cosy and content!

Harriet x

P.s – This would be an ideal baby shower or new baby gift for first time parents, after all, its one of the things you simply won’t think about until you already have children. Why not save some friends the annoyance of those avoidable wake ups by giving them something useful, instead of the usual. Laura has kindly set up a 20% discount code for Toby & Roo readers, so please take advantage of it – TOBYROO20. Enjoy!

Your child is what you eat campaign is Mother shaming at its best via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Image credit SPRS via dailymail.co.uk

Your child is what you eat campaign is Mother shaming at its best via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Image credit SPRS via dailymail.co.uk

This really riled me – maybe it was because last week was so crappy, or because I’m so firmly against any kind of mother shaming – I don’t know, it just really incensed me. A new campaign (funded by Nestle – surprise surprise) has been designed in Brazil to encourage breastfeeding women to think about what they are eating, as it can transfer into the breastmilk, thus passing on to baby. A recent studies has shown that women who have a healthier and more nutritious diet can pass on cancer suppressing gene variant. Some have hailed the campaign, dubbed the ‘Your child is what you eat’ campaign, as wonderful, whereas others have felt that it is fat and mother shaming combined. In case you didn’t get the vibe of this post from the opening gambit, I’ve firmly planted my derrière in the latter category, after all, this is a derrière that you can tell enjoys the odd chocolate bar and hasn’t seen a Pilates class for a time. I wouldn’t want to be a hypocrite now.

Your child is what you eat campaign is Mother shaming at its best via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Image credit SPRS via dailymail.co.uk

Here’s the thing, I really feel that with those wonderful hormones ping ponging around your body, and after you have just spent 2 freakin hours feeding a baby through cracked nipples and blood blisters, you should be able to tuck into your Big Mac without the guilt and in peace! Seriously? It’s just one more thing to pile on to an already stressed out, over tired mother. Why do it? Realistically, your baby is nursing from you, so if you don’t have a terribly good diet, that can cause problems – that being said, my diet has largely consisted of coffee and pleas for at least two hours worth of undisturbed sleep, and guess what?! Edith’s fine, and I sincerely doubt that I am increasing her chances of getting tumour in later life. While I appreciate that there is a need to educate people about food, and what is or isn’t good for us outside of the moderation check zone, I can’t stand the thought of a woman tucking into her Saturday night take out, feeling guilty because it might affect her baby. I hate it and it makes me so angry.

As a society the pressure we put on new mothers is shameful. Really it is. Firstly, there is pressure to give birth the right way, no paid meds, calmly and with the appropriate level of zen. Anyone who has had another human being come out of their vagina and doesn’t lose their shit the tiniest bit is not normal in my eyes. I remember going to my antenatal classes when I was pregnant with Reuben and I sat listening to the midwife telling us all of the awful ways in which these pain medicines would harm our baby – didn’t you know it would make it harder to breastfeed if you had meptid? It makes baby very sleepy, which isn’t good, we need them alert so they can latch properly. Then there is the pressure to breastfeed – it comes from the midwives, the health visitors, the media and, hardest of all, it often comes from within. So, picture a woman who has had an absolutely horrendous birth experience and ended up having all manner of pain relief, forceps, episiotomy and finally an emergency section, she already feels like a failure but at least she’s been able to breastfeed. After all the tears and hard work, the lactation consultant has finally managed to help her and her baby get that latch. She’s bruised, blistered and so sore, her nipples are bleeding but she’s powering through it. Then, in her hormonal state, she sees an advert that tells her she’s doing ANOTHER thing wrong and her breastmilk is now bad for baby because she can’t control those cravings.

To me, that is just a one way ticket to post natal depression for a lot of women, and it’s avoidable. Nestle, keep your mother shaming to yourself, yeah? We don’t need any more of it.

Harriet x


Let’s be honest, this probably isn’t a topic you thought would ever come up on the blog, and I’ll grant you I didn’t anticipate wanting to write about it here either, but stick with me. It’s a topic that has been in the media a lot recently and although I have plenty of time to fret before I find random subscriptions to porn mags or “accidental” pay per view payments, I can’t help but worry about the message pornography teaches teens now. Pornography is inevitable nowadays, and even if you don’t watch it yourself, it’s going to crop up when your kids are teenagers… Unless you’re Amish, in which case it’s unlikely you’d be reading this. Personally, I don’t have an issue with pornography in principal – it’s two consenting adults doing the dance with no pants, they want to film it, then that ain’t my business. What I do have an issue with is the message I think *some* pornography can send to teenagers watching it.

I’m not talking about BDSM porn or multiple partner porn, I’d hoped we’d come past the point where we assume that people who indulge in that type of relationship are fundamentally flawed emotionally. No, I don’t care what your tastes are regarding sex, but I do care about the gender stereotyping and generally degrading attitude towards women. I care that my sons think women will like that kind of attitude in bed and should do it to please them, and I really care that my daughter will view being a ‘barely legal teen’ as the equivalent of a sexual goldmine.

I’ve read a tonne of posts on this topic and the concerns are often that girls will be made to feel they should look a certain way, or act a certain way. I am concerned that my daughter will think she has to have boobs the size of her head to be attractive and yes, I worry that she will feel she has to put up with degrading language and sexual acts as the ‘norm’ but I would hope that we will have the type of relationship where we can talk to one another, and I will continue to remind her that sex should be something she enjoys and feels safe in – I don’t care if she wants to indulge in a threesome because it makes her feel empowered and happy, that’s her business once the time comes, but if she’s doing it because she feels it’s the only way to get boys to like her, you bet that’s a problem. What I find massively concerning is the attitude of ‘the younger, the better’ in pornography. I really don’t want my daughter to be made to feel that being aged 16 is the ultimately sexy age, it’s wrong, she is still a child and shouldn’t be made to feel that being ‘young’ is important in sexual encounters. Did you know you can google ‘extra small barely legal teens’ and there are hundreds of websites dedicated to it? Is that not also a way of saying to the future generation that paedophilia is ok, as long as it’s only in your head – don’t worry if a man in his 30’s wants to have sex with you at 16 because you are ‘so small and young’. What the hell?! Or flip it, it’s ok to be in your 30’s and have a sexual encounter with someone so young based on the fact that they are that young and small of physique. Hell no.

On a less terrifying but equally plausible concern regarding pornography, I worry that the boys will grow up to feel that girls want that kind of treatment and in turn, it’s what they are ‘good for’. We see such over sexualisation of women in the media, it’s almost rammed down their throats (ahem) that women are available for purely sexual purposes. I will work so hard to make sure that the boys understand that, between two consenting adults (and I hope that word “adults” is unlined in their minds – not superseded by ‘teen’) sex is something that can be discovered together, but has to be treated with respect, kindness and thought. Does your partner want to try that? It should be preceded by discussion.

I’m well aware that it would be a pretty horrendous porno of it started with a cuppa and a discussion, but the point I’m dragging at here, is that we need to make sure the youth of tomorrow understand that pornography is like fictional book – it might give you ideas, but it isn’t always going to work for everyone.

What are your thoughts/experiences?

Harriet x

Open letter to my son as he starts reception :: Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

My darling Reuben,

I’ve been trying to write this open letter to you for months now, but I never seem to be able to articulate my feelings very well, which is novel for me. You see kiddo, you’re always baffling me and making me learn new things about myself. The other reason I’ve struggled so much to write anything to you is that every time I blink, you change like a chameleon and I honestly can’t keep up with you!

You are by far the most sensitive of all my children, your precious heart is so full of love for everything and everyone that it is immeasurably easy to bruise. Quite often I feel like I’m the cause of those bruises on your heart; when you want my attention and I can’t give it, when you need my affection and I greet you with a scowl. I don’t think I’m all bad at this mothering thing Roo, God I try so hard, but baby, you are like my little guinea pig – and I don’t think I do enough to make your life as happy and fulfilling as can be, but then you are such a blessing that I don’t think anyone could do enough or be good enough to be blessed with you. You never fail to surprise me with how clever you are either. Some of the things you come out with, well, it’s like talking to a small grown up! You are so intelligent, absorbing everything around you like a little sponge. It’s a privilege to watch you learn, especially with numbers, you are already so wonderful with your numbers. You are so strong willed too, which I hope will serve you later in life but that I can help you to control so it doesn’t become your curse. Sometimes you’ll have to bend, you know.

I think about the mistakes and triumphs that Daddy and I have made and had with you. Preschool; where we didn’t stand up for you, where we allowed you to be singled out and put down because we were foolish enough to think that ‘experts’ knew more about our baby than we did and we didn’t believe you. I’m so sorry for that my darling, more sorry than you will ever know. I promise I’ll never ignore my instincts again, I’d like to promise that I won’t let you down like that again, but I can’t promise it sweetheart, I can just say I’m going to try my best not to. I’m doing this parent thing by trial and error, remember?!

This week you joined reception, and I watched you run off into school a little bit more grown up than before, but still my baby, still sensitive. I know you wanted to play with those bigger boys, but they ran off without you and it hurt your feelings. I wish I knew how to guide you so you never get your feelings hurt but the truth is, from time to time, you’re going to get hurt and there is nothing I can do about that. As much as it hurts my heart, I know I have to let you bruise yours. You’ll meet other children that you instantly click with, and some that you don’t. You’ll struggle to wrap your head around certain subjects and find others so easy you’ll be bored in seconds. You’ll have good days and bad days because you’re human and not in that protective bubble that is being a toddler or a baby. You’re a boy, a school aged boy. At the same time I type that, I’m struck by what a little boy you still are though, and I hope you’re teachers and new friends remember that.

The most important thing to me is this: I want you to know that I love you. I love you with a light that burns so fiercely it could never possibly go out. I am so lucky to have you in my life and my heart.

All the love a mummy could give xxx


It is not terribly often I do this, in fact, I never really do this at all as I’m not big on awards, but I have been nominated for the Blogger of the Year award in this years Mumbler Awards and I’m so stoked about it! I really would love to win. I suppose there are a few reasons, firstly, it’s always nice to have your ego stroked, I mean, who doesn’t love being told they are awesome? Secondly, I do a lot of sharing my work into the Harrogate, York and Leeds Mumbler groups on Facebook, and they are such wonderful groups of people, all of whom live relatively locally to me. I’ve forged friendships and gained long term readers of the blog through these groups, and I’ve even spent a fortune on second hand clothes and toys thanks to their market days on weekends.

If you are a reader of the blog, or just a kind person who wants to make my smile a little bit bigger, then I would greatly appreciate your vote. Voting is super easy, you don’t get added to any spam mail lists AND it can be done via the mobile.

While you’re at it, the wonderful Waterbabies is up for an award too and I know they would love love love your support, as would their owner Stella Riley for Mumpreneur of the year.

So, make your good deed today to vote for me, I’ll even send you cookies… Ok, that’s a lie but I would really love you to vote.

H x

3 Savvy ways to keep redecorating your child's room without breaking the bank via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Redecorating your child’s room is something that will no doubt be requested over and over, you will just get it decorated and they will want something new. I’ve always been really strict with the boys, their bedroom is decorated in a modern but stylish manner and I let them choose their artwork and decorations, but I won’t let them choose character things – mainly because since last Tuesday Toby has decided he’s not all that interested in Superheroes or Ninjago, he loves Dinosaurs more than ever… However next week, we’ll be full pelt Spider-Man and Thor again. I just can’t keep up with them.

Anyway, over the years of reading and loving blogs, staring glazed-eyed at stylish home magazines and re-decorating my own home time and time again, I have come up with a few solutions to re-decorating your children’s spaces WITHOUT much effort or breaking the bank.

1.) Wall decals – the sky’s the limit!

3 Savvy ways to keep redecorating your child's room without breaking the bank via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

3 Savvy ways to keep redecorating your child's room without breaking the bank via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

You can change wall decals until you are blue in the face. You can do it over and over again and it will never cost you the same amount as wallpapering – in money or effort. My favourite new savvy spot for for buying wall decals is the ingenious Room to Grow, who design the amazing and FREE wall decals and send them to you to print. Not only does that make them far better for the savvy parent, because you can print them over and over, but it also makes it a far more eco-friendly process and much, much quicker. We are the digital age after all.

2.) Utilise paint, especially mini test pots.

3 Savvy ways to keep redecorating your child's room without breaking the bank via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

You’ve seen the boy’s room (if you haven’t it’s here) so you know how I feel about feature paints and walls. The children like yellow this quarter? No worries, a yellow feature wall coming up – for as little as £10 the whole room is transformed, and it won’t cause you any trouble to paint over it. You don’t even have to go for a feature wall, why not create a large rectangle and add decorative shelving for their favourite toys (like this) or art work (try these and these). When I did this in the boy’s room, I used one small £2.49 pot of paint, and it looks amazing!

3.) Change bedding and accessories, with a white back drop of course.

Paint all the walls white, then accessorise! You can have art work galore and then ALL their favourite things from Dinosaurs to Lego to Captain America, everyone can have a feature and there is no need to chop and change. Super simple. I also think that buying themed bedding (if you can stomach it – I refuse to allow it because I can’t stand it) will give your kids an option of whatever favourite character it is on that day or week.

So there you have it, 3 easy steps to meeting the ever changing bedroom decor demands of the small tyrant you house!

H x

I've joined Youtube :: Toby & Roo :: stylish parents and their kids

I've joined Youtube :: Toby & Roo :: stylish parents and their kids

I've joined Youtube :: Toby & Roo :: stylish parents and their kids

I've joined Youtube :: Toby & Roo :: stylish parents and their kids

I’ve been to for a long time now that I simply MUST get into vlogging and open a YouTube channel. I’ve put it off and put it off for the simple fact that I really can’t stand being on camera, I detest it. My voice sounds nasal and annoying, I never look the way I would like and I’m cheesy as hell. That being said I’ve finally caved. My new Youtube channel is up and running with my first ever tutorial on making chicken rissoles, which are brilliant finger food for babies and delicious for the rest of the family – though at the end of the video you’ll get to see Edith offering me her best ‘I’m not putting that in my mouth’ look and thoroughly showing me up. What’s that saying? Oh yes, never work with animals or children.

Since I’ve sold it to you so well I know there will be a plethora of views on my videos shortly, if you would like to make yourself one of those lucky viewers you can find the channel here. Please.

H x

How to avoid & treat Headlice :: The friends you don't want your kids to make at school. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Prepare battle stations! It’s back to school time for everyone and with the new school year comes the threat of your kids making and bringing home certain new friends that you really don’t want to see. I’m talking about headlice. Little bastards.

I was warned about headlice (or nits as they are often called) when Roo started preschool, but we never had a problem, not once. I was constantly checking him when he started pre-reception back in April, but we never had a thing… Then we visited Flamingo Land at the beginning of the summer holidays and BOOM, nitsville. Population: EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE. After I noticed that Roo was itching (unfortunately after a visit to Grandma and Pops’ house… Sorry guys!) I decided action had to be taken, so I did some research. We tried all sorts of things, 2 weeks later, he still had nits. Grandma tried things when they were at her house. “It’s a re-infestation”, they said. ” Ohh it’s hard to get rid of “,  they said. They. Weren’t. Kidding.

Eventually, I went to chemist and told them in a hushed voice that we had “unwelcome insect visitors”. I probably should have realised that not having the children with me at the time, I needed to be a bit more specific, but I got it when she started to talk about hair removal in certain places… I quickly put her right and she gave me a treatment (the overnight one – the 5-10 minute ones were rubbish) that zapped our little friends into the nether regions of hell where they belong. We are now two weeks nit free I’m pleased to add, but they have left their scars as every time Roo scratches his head he feels the hilarious urge to shout, “I’m only thinking”.

Since getting rid of them was such a ball ache I’m now on prevention mode, this will remain a nit-free zone, and I thought I’d share with you all the ways in which you can prevent headlice.

1.) METAL nit comb

Emphasis is on metal – you just don’t get the same effect from a cheap plastic one. You need something that is going to really pick up these little suckers, and then you need to either plunge the nit into a bowl of boiling water or, better still, pop it between you nails. Yeah. If it’s part of a treatment then you are best off sticking a movie on and going over and over until the movie is done. It’s tedious but it will get rid of the nits. Once you have nits the only way to get rid of them is to use the treatment and go over and over the hair with a nit comb, but it works as a prevention too. Every night (yes, every night) I give the boys a once over with a nit comb.

2.) Lavender oil on the pillow

I have to confess I have no idea if this is true, but it is something that I found is supposed to ward off headlice because they hate it. I put a bit of lavender oil on everyone’s pillows at night. Even if it is only an old wives tale, it helps us all relax and get to sleep so I’m happy.

3.) A weekly nit-prevention conditioning spray.

There is a lot of discussion over whether or not these work, but we’re using one any way. Firstly, it smells lovely and really does make your hair feel nice and soft, secondly, we still haven’t had a nit in anyone’s hair since we started using it. Every Friday after we have all had showers, we spray it on and go for our nightly comb session.

4.) Braiding long hair or cutting hair short.

You may notice that Reuben has a short hair cut? Yes, those glorious locks of his have been sacrificed to the nit gods because we didn’t want a re-appearance. Once I managed to get him nit free I took him to get his hair cut because it wouldn’t take so long to comb through and he agreed he would prefer it if he had to have his hair combed every night. Which he does. If your little one likes their hair longer and they would be happy for you to comb through then it won’t be an issue but I was told by a friend who is a doctor that the best prevention for nits is cutting the hair. Interestingly I discovered that braiding long hair is an old European/British method of nit prevention. My mum told me this when we were looking at old photos of her at school – all the little girls have braided hair! I’ve also read about this on several other blogs, so it’s seems to be a popular theory.

5.) For the grown ups

Obviously you need to do the same treatments as the kids and use the nit-comb at least once or twice a week, but I’ve also been told that dying your hair can be really good for preventing and killing headlice. If this isn’t true then at least you can rest assured knowing that your greys are covered, you know, the greys you’ve got because of the damn headlice.

That’s it! That’s all I’ve got. So far it’s working, I have to say I think hat is largely due to the constant nit combing though, as opposed to the treatments and tricks. To you my fellow parents, best of luck!!

Harriet x

The perfect toys for travelling via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids. The perfect toys for travelling via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids. The perfect toys for travelling via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids. The perfect toys for travelling via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I just love these pop out paper toys from Pukaca. Pop out paper toys have always been popular with kids, in fact I used to love those dress up paper dolls you got on the back of cereal packets, but with such a technologically advanced age, we often forget about good old fashioned paper!

These toys come as flat sheets of paper making them absolutely ideal toys for travelling, especially on a plane where you are subject to strict weight requirements. Simply take out one sheet of beautifully designed characters or scenery and pop them out, assemble them with the easy guide and you have a really cool toy.

Pukaca offer something for everyone, from dinosaurs to princesses to full blown play sets that would keep a child entertained for hours making your plane journey just a touch less diabolical!

Harriet x

Forever + Ava :: Beautiful tutus for all occasions via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Forever + Ava :: Beautiful tutus for all occasions via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Forever + Ava :: Beautiful tutus for all occasions via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Forever + Ava :: Beautiful tutus for all occasions via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Now look, if you know me personally you will know that I LOVE sparkle. I also LOVE tutus, I mean who doesn’t? If I could wear one we all know I would, but alas, no one wants to see a nearly-thirty year old wearing a tutu to do her weekly shop. Life is never fair.

Anyway, I’ve come across the brilliant Forever+Ava tutus via the Babyccino Kids shopping portal and I’m smitten! Each tutu is hand made from soft tulle over the top of a cotton lining, so this isn’t a tutu that is going to make your daughter uncomfortable, oh no. This beautiful piece of fashion is going to become a staple in her wardrobe (if you are anything at all like me) and the perfect play pretend dress up for a princess costume or, dare I say, a ballerina costume?!

The tutus are made in Malaysia by three generations of designer Olivia’s family, inspired by her two daughters. With each tutu being handmade there really is no other like it in the world!

To me, every girl needs a tutu, and I think these are just perfect!

Harriet x

Back to school but not for you, you're too individual via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

It’s back to school in my area and I have to say I have seen several posts over the last few weeks in the parenting groups on Facebook about a return to school and issues with uniform.

Firstly, let me get this straight, I whole-heartedly support uniform. Children need to go to school in a uniform, in my opinion, because it identifies their school, gives children an understanding (or beginning of one) of what is expected in society with regards to a suitable attire for professional situations, makes everyone look the same and helps to avoid that child who doesn’t have the coolest designer jeans or other such fashion being bullied. So as far as uniforms go, I am largely in support of them. I also believe that all children should go to school in shoes, not trainers, but smart shoes. Trainers are bad for children’s feet when over worn, as are canvas shoes etc.

What I don’t agree with, what riles me up big time, is the indoctrination of a utilitarian lack of individualism. It riles me up enough to use big words (and italics). Oh yes.

I’ve seen posts about children actually being ‘excluded’ because of hair cuts, or warned they will be sent home if they have patterned socks on. I just don’t understand it at all. To disrupt a child’s education for a hair cut is totally nonsensical to me. What on earth is the issue? How does this detract from other’s educational rights, or the child’s in question – the last time I checked having a grade 1 haircut doesn’t shave off a layer of intelligence or suddenly make you a member of the crips.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t get my head around a world where we teach children that any level of individualism is wrong. Individualism is so vital, or the world would be such a dull and uninspiring place. I also feel that by teaching children that there is something wrong with certain hair styles we are perpetuating a stereotypical believe about these types of people – ‘skinheads’, dreadlocks are for druggies and only girls can have long hair. Is that a world that you want your children to grow up in? It’s not an attitude that I feel comfortable being taught to my children, I want my children to be taught that, in this day and age, we can look beyond the physical appearance and see a person for their merits. I appreciate that this is to be within a certain amount of limits, we don’t want anything to detract from little Jimmy’s school work and great big eyelashes or potentially dangerous jewellery might, but socks?! Hair cuts? Hell no. I think in order to move away from stereotypes and out-dated ideals we need to help teach the next generation that you don’t have to look exactly like everyone else, working hard and being respectful is more important.

What are our thoughts on the matter? Do you think schools are right, or do you think this is a step in the wrong direction? I’d love to know!

H x

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