Daily inspiration for stylish parents & their kids

Competitive parenting, no one wins via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Seriously? How is competitive parenting useful to anyone?

A few weeks ago I visited a local playgroup with Toby. It’s been years since I’ve had the chance to visit a playgroup with children that we don’t know and this one was suggested to me by a friend from the school run. When I arrived I bumped into one of the mamas I met when I did a baby massage course years ago, and it was great to see her and the new additions to her family. We were never especially close, in fact we weren’t even real what you would call friendly, more civil, and as we were talking outside the playgroup, I remembered why. This particular mother is what I would call a ‘competitive parent’ and I really can’t handle that.

I think most of us have been unlucky enough to encounter this type of parent at some point in our parenting journey, and try as I might to look deeper and be understanding that maybe this attitude comes from a place of insecurity and the person feels they need to act this way to prove something because maybe they are a single parent who feels they have to over compensate (though I struggle with that explanation as my mum was never this way and was a single parent from when I was 4 years old) or not coping well with their life changes, there is maybe some underlying reason, I just can’t help it, no matter what, it pisses me off.

Look, parenting is insanely hard, you know it, I know it, but at the end of the day, parenting can be made easier by celebrating those mini achievements (you know, like getting your children to eat something sort of green… Like apple flavoured jelly) and as parents we should do it together. We should be each other’s champions because we all know how damned hard it is. From the moment we started to discuss our kids I had to bite my tongue with this woman and I honestly couldn’t get away fast enough. Our conversation went like this:

Her: “How’s Roo getting on, is he joining this preschool?”

Me: “no, he’s at school now, we chose X school and it happens to have a pre-reception, which means he goes there full time if he wants. Oh he loves it! He was really ready for the next step, you know? How about your little girl, is she here?”

Her: ‘yes, yes. We’ve just started looking at schools. I don’t really believe in early schooling, T gets all of the things she needs at home with me… We do numbers and letters, you know, she knows her ABCs and counts to 20… then I guess that’s hard for you with three… I have two now and I wanted a bigger age gap so I could devote more time to T before school. What made you choose that school, it’s a bit far out isn’t it?’

Me: ‘Ahem, well it’s maybe 15-20mins in the car, but it’s the right school for Roo. It’s a forest school so it suits him and the way he learns, he’s really thriving there and that was the main thing for us. Have you seen any schools that you like? I think it’s so exciting, I just can’t believe how quickly it’s gone!’

Her: ‘hmm well, we’re just going to stick with the school nearest to us, I want T to have all of her friends nearby so that she will be able to play out as she gets older. What are you doing here then?’

Me: ‘well Toby is joining this preschool and we’ve been told there is a little playgroup on today that we can come to, so killing two birds by filling out the paperwork while we have a play date! How about you?’

Her: ‘well this is the play group I’m using for now, I’m not keen though really, I don’t think that T gets as much here as she did at the previous one, but this is the only place I can bring her to now that I’m living here. It’s just got quite a lot of other children here and I feel it holds her back a bit because the younger ones, like yours, are in with the older kids of her age and they obviously aren’t as advanced, so she tends to take a step back when she’s here’.

Me: ‘ oh that’s a shame. For me, it’s about socialising with Tobes. He really loves being around other kids and I hate the thought of him just sat at home watching the telly or playing with his ipad, which I feel happens all too often now I’m working from home.’

Her: ‘ he has an iPad? Oh god, I wouldn’t even let T have an iPad at 4. I guess it’s just one of those things, but I agree, you should get him out and about – it’s really bad for kids to be on the computer all the time’.

Even just that little snippet of our conversation, you can see the competitive ‘I’m doing it better than you’ attitude. Every choice I made, questioned. Every thing I shared about what my kids were up to, wrong. Do you know what I mean? It’s not helpful, it’s not the way to behave. Every time I talk to this particular woman, I feel like I have done ten rounds with Mike Tyson, its a mixture of demoralising and frustrating. I’m honestly not 100% sure she knows she’s doing it, maybe it’s just her way, but to knock others down to try and build yourself up is pathetic and sets a horrible example to our kids.

So, thoughts? Have you encountered competitive parenting? How did it make you feel?

Harriet x

Egg bomb painting :: one of my favourite craft activities for kids via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I love this shot! Action or what!?

Yesterday I wrote about making quiche and told you our favourite quiche recipe of the moment, well, if you give the quiche a go, don’t throw away your egg shells but save them for this awesome egg bomb painting activity, which has to be one of my favourite craft activities for kids.

I first came across the idea on Pinterest, and I just thought I’d give it a go! With two little boys who are obsessed with smashing, bashing and crashing, it seemed like it would entertain them for 15 minutes (a bonus during the summer holiday’s yes?!). My only issue with this was the wastage, I have a huge issue with wasted food and really waste of any kind, at the moment both boys can be very wasteful, as is the norm at their age, so we are trying to teach them not to be wasteful and to be conscious of what they use… So that in mind, I could waste the eggs and I needed to use at least 6-8 eggs. What to make? Well, that’s why quiche is perfect! We also had scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast, just crack the eggs and save the shells.

Here’s what to do:

Egg bomb painting :: one of my favourite craft activities for kids via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Fill the clean, dry shells with your chosen paint.

Your egg shells (I recommend at least 6, but you can do this with just 1 if you choose) need to have been cracked at the top, so that there is a bigger volume of egg at the base and a ‘cap’ top. Once you have used up your eggs making quiche, scrambled eggs or meringues, you need to gently wash out your shells.

Egg bomb painting :: one of my favourite craft activities for kids via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I thought this was a great chance to talk about primary colours and mixing colours. We made purple, pink and orange.

When the shells are clean and dry, place them open top up into egg cups and fill with your chosen colour. I took the opportunity to talk to the boys about what happens when we mix colours, we made red + blue = purple, red + white = pink and red + yellow = orange. It was a great chance to introduce some learning into the craft, we even had a chat about primary colours – which Roo knew but Toby thought was fun.

Egg bomb painting :: one of my favourite craft activities for kids via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

We had so much fun throwing the eggs, and this is awesome for a child who is suffering with emotional angst or bullying at school – its a brilliant, productive tension release.

Anyway, once that has been done. Find a space that is either wipeable or head outside, and set up your paper. We used 6 sheets of A4 card taped together on the back, but you could use A3 paper or larger if you choose.

I showed the boys how to throw the egg and what to do then let them loose. Once we had thrown the eggs once we collected up the smushed shells and threw them again. It was great fun!

Pretty neat, huh? This is such a fun summer activity and by the time we’d cooked, painted and cleaned up, most of the day was gone! Give it a go one day (maybe when the weather picks back up).

Harriet x

The perfect summer quiche recipe via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Image credit: bbc.co.uk

Quiche is one of those things that I really identify with summer. It’s light, delicious and perfect for picnics. The other things it’s perfect for is getting kids to help baking and learning new skills, something that both boys life to do.

Here is my favourite quiche recipe at the moment:

  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 6 rashers unsmoked bacon
  • 1 packet of Just Roll shortcrust pastry
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 2tbsp milk
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to Gm 6 and roll out your pastry, lining your quiche tin with it, then set aside in the fridge while you do the next bits.

Slice the peppers into strips (the boys did this for me with their kiddicutter knives) and pop onto a baking tray to roast in the oven with a little oil for 10 minutes. Put your bacon under the grill and cook until it is as crispy as you would usually have it – I say about 8 minutes on each side for my bacon.

Once the bacon has gone under the grill, take your pastry case out of the fridge and put a piece of baking paper into the centre then fill with baking beans, or dry rice if you don’t have the beans, and put into the oven for 15 minutes.

Once the pepper and bacon are cooked, place them in a bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes. Whisk your eggs, milk and seasoning together and add to the bacon and peppers. Finally add most of your cheese to that mixture, reserving a little to sprinkle on the top of the quiche.

Two ether case out of the oven, remove the paper and weight and add the egg mix. Once the egg mix is in, sprinkle over the last of the cheese, pop it back into the oven, reducing your heat to GM 4 and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Delicious quiche! And don’t forget you can let the kids join in on every aspect of making a quiche, it’s one of the few recipes that by Reuben’s age they can more or less go solo with just a bit of help from you around the hot stuff.

Harriet x

The sweetest accessories for boys from Stinky McGee, perfect for the occasion season. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and there kids.

It’s coming up to the occasion season and Stinky McGee accessories are just perfect!

The sweetest accessories for boys from Stinky McGee, perfect for the occasion season. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and there kids.

I love these adorable little bow ties and they can transform the most basic outfit, for a low cost.

The sweetest accessories for boys from Stinky McGee, perfect for the occasion season. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and there kids.

Stinky McGee even make a Daddy size version too!

Well it’s certainly wedding and occasion season at the moment isn’t it?? I have seen so many people with pictures of themselves at weddings, we’ve got a wedding to attend and we’ve just had Edith’s christening. With that in mind, I thought I would share this wonderful company: Stinky McGee.

Not only is their name super cool but they make the sweetest bow-ties and accessories for boys. It’s not so often you get to enjoy looking for accessories for boys, but with Stinky McGee it’s a total blast and the kids end up looking insanely cool!

This is one of the best places to sort you out for everyday cool and the occasion/party season.

Harriet x

DIY quote jars, for saving those precious words from your kids via Toby & Roo daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Quote jars are such an easy way to keep the precious quotes from your children alive. Here’s how to make a DIY quote jar.

I am all for things that help me to retain memories of my children, especially the adorable things that they say and do from day to day.I first came across quote jars on one of my favourite blogs Babyccino Kids and I loved them then, but it got me thinking that I could easily put my own spin on a homemade quote jar, something that was even more personalised to my family and me.

Here’s how I did it:

I took some pretty ribbon (or you could use string) that I found at a local crafting shop (though there are thousands of online shops, everything from eBay to hobbycraft sells loads of different types of ribbons) and tied it around a kilner jar – which again you can get in most crafting shops, or even kitchenware.

I then found some little gift tags and prettied them up a little bit with some flowers and accessories. One that was done I added a little block of notes and a pencil to be kept by the jar, which I keep by the phone – I’ve also got one in my bag, just in case I hear something brilliant whilst out.

Enjoy, and keep some memories alive with your very own, very easily made quote jar.

Harriet x

How to cope with an allergic reaction to face paint via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parent and their kids.

Doesn’t he look awesome?! Unforatunely, a reaction is something that you won’t know will happen until it does, and when it is mild like Toby’s there are a few things you can do at home and should ALWAYS do that will help to sooth your child’s reaction.

Last week we went to our first school Leaver’s party. Let me just say I was so proud to be a part of Reuben’s school at that time, it reminded me of my first school when I was a child. The relationships between the teachers and students, the family atmosphere, the kind-hearted generosity of everyone from parents to older kids, who helped out and offered various treats from homemade foods, to giving their time at the drink stand or face painting area.

It was truly awesome and the boys had a wonderful time – especially during the end of term water fight.

Both boys surprised us by wanting to get their faces painted. I’m assuming it was the other children getting it done that spurred them on, or maybe they have just grown in confidence over the past few months, but whatever the reason both boys had face paint applied by the lovely mummies who gave their time to help out and run the face paint stall.

Reuben had a lion (despite telling me for nearly 40 mins before he was going to be Captain Americaaaaa!) and Toby opted for a challenging Spider Man. Needless to say both boys were insanely happy with the results (how awesome do they look?!) and continued to play like lunatics on the loose for a few hours until home time.

Toby fell asleep in the car and as he has never really had sensitive skin before and we both remember going through phases of pretty much permanent face-painted awesomeness, we left him in the face paint and just plonked him in bed.

Unfortunately Toby woke up with a swollen, bright red and boiling hot face. He was anything but a happy bunny, though thankfully the reaction was really mild and we’re unsure of whether or not this was purely because of the face paint or if it was due to the amount of time the paint was left on (whoops!). I thought as its face painting season I would jot down a few of the things I learnt that might help if your child has a MILD reaction. These in no way infringe on what a professional tells you, but it’s what helped me.

How to cope with an allergic reaction to face paint via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parent and their kids.

Just because one child has a reaction, doesn’t mean your others are more likely – Roo doesn’t have any adverse reaction to face paint and never has.

  • Always go to A&E/Minor injuries.

It doesn’t matter how mild the reaction, if a skin reaction occurs on the face ALWAYS go and seek medical advice. The reason being is that facial reactions can cause issues with eyes and breathing. It’s better to be safe than sorry. We were told not to worry, keep an eye on Toby and bring him back if it hadn’t improved in 2-3 days or if he developed anymore symptoms. If you wait and then your child has breathing problems, it could be so much more serious.

  • Make sure it’s allllllll off.

Using something like a wet wipe can be really helpful, and leaving your little one in the shower was also great for us. It let the steam get to his face and then I wiped him down with a good few wet wipes just to be sure.

  • Don’t apply ANYTHING to a facial reaction unless it’s recommended by a doctor.

No creams, no ointments, nothing. Just cool water or something recommended/prescribed by a doctor. I say this because the face is a super sensitive area, and something you might think will help that would normally help other areas, might make it worse. When Toby was little and had nappy rash I was given Aloe Vera cream and thought it would help – it made it far far worse because he doesn’t respond well to Aloe Vera. You really wouldn’t think aloe Vera could harm, but it did. Just be careful and leave well enough alone unless told otherwise.

  • DO give antihistamine if you child is old enough or allowed it (ie read the instructions).

I used an antihistamine liquid I bought from the chemist that was suitable for Toby’s age group and could be given every 4-6hours. I was told by the doctor that these are more effective than the once a day style antihistamines you can buy for kids, but check first.

  • Keep your kids out of the sun after a reaction for 2-3 days.

This is what I was advised, any reaction of this kind should be kept out of the sun, otherwise it might irritate it further. I’m not talking go dracula style here, but a big sun hat and avoiding being outside in full blown heatwave sunshine is best.

  • Think quiet time. Real quiet.

Toby just sat on his iPad all day and I do mean pretty much all day. The antihistamine took it out of him and he was sore, so I left him to it and dished out cuddles on demand. I played his favourite movies, read him some of his favourite books and just let him chill out. I also utilised our “poorly time means treat time” clause and let him have sweets, chocolates and ice cream to his hearts content. Oh, and slices of ham with cubes of cheese because that’s his ultimate lunch!

I hope that helps if you find yourself in a similar situation. Tobes is fine and we’ll test drive face painting another time when we’ve done a sample test on his ankle or something!

Harriet x

There is something so lovely about watching your children grow their own produce, give it a go and then help them cook something wonderful!

There is something so lovely about watching your children grow their own produce, give it a go and then help them cook something wonderful!

I’ve written a few times on the blog about getting kids involved in growing their own fruit and veg – or even plants. It’s a brilliant way to explain the science behind growing, but it’s also a really good way to get kids off the screens and into the garden, without too much input from you.

Here are a few tips:

  • Get something exciting for them to grow!

Would you want to get up off your comfy butt and put down the ipad mid way through your favourite youtube tutorial for a bit of water cress? No, neither would I and neither would your kids. Go for something exciting like these wonderful edible flowers or super cool, wacky veggies from In the Koop.

  • Get messy and gross.

Do you remember mud pies? I remember mud pies. So SO much fun. Is there anything better than getting all that squishy, yucky soil underneath your finger nails, secure in the knowledge that your parents are totally not going to be able to remove it for the better part of the holidays? No there isn’t, so get kids involved in the planting of the flowers or fruit/veg. Get them mixing their own soil, talk about compost and maybe (if you are brave) get them a little bin and make a compost heap.

  • Let your kids have gardener’s kit, they will look and feel the part.

You can find some truly wonderful garden kits nowadays, and they contain everything from mini spades and forks, a pad to kneel on, a basket and even in some cases a gardener’s book or flask. The sky is the limit, but I love this one especially.

  • Plan what you are going to do with the fruit or veg, let them select recipes and buy the ingredients.

It makes it so much more exciting, so much more fun, if you have something that you have grown all cooked up and ready on the dining room table. Don’t you remember the sense of pride in telling your parents that the art work you have made is here or the food you cooked in food tech classes has been brought home for sampling? Well this is exactly the same thing. Plant your products, nurture them and then when they are getting nearly ready to use, start making a plan – maybe even a scrapbook.

I hope these tips inspire you to get out and plant somethings in your garden with the kids, if not, then I hope you shove the kids into the garden to plant themselves… and cook you dinner one night!

Harriet x

Ideas for easy, DIY ways to Decorate Your Home via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

DIY doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t have to change a lot to create a big impact in your home. Check out these DIY ways to decorate your home. Image credit: aliexpress.com

Most people have a whole host of ideas about how they would like to decorate their homes. If you are like me then you probably have several pin boards in pinterest about the things you would like to do, or where your ideal home would be. The good news is, that if you are bored of magnolia walls or have an outdated colour scheme, there are quick and easy ways to update the interior design of your property.

While knocking down walls or extending can cost a small fortune, there are cheaper and less time consuming ideas. Although you can create a feature wall or change your colour scheme with soft furnishings, maybe you should consider these DIY ideas to decorate your home on a budget.

Become an Artist

Ideas for easy, DIY ways to Decorate Your Home via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

A DIY art wall can really brighten your room, plus it is personalised and looks super stylish.

Hanging canvases and works of art is an easy way to redecorate a room. You may be thinking ‘but I’m not an artist!’ The good news here is that you do not have to be. There are so many simple ways to create a piece of art. You can create a canvas using anything from string and Scrabble pieces, to tape and drawing pins. For inspiration, look at these easy DIY art pieces. When you have decided what you want to make, hang with photographs and mirrors of all styles, shapes and sizes to create an art gallery feature wall.

Kitsch Kitchens

Ideas for easy, DIY ways to Decorate Your Home via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Image credit: http://high-heeledlove.com

An old, unloved and outdated kitchen can make you miserable, not to mention it can cost a fortune to replace. Rather than ripping out old units and spending thousands of pounds, prepare to do some manual labour. Sand and paint cupboard doors and add new handles, create a feature wall using chalkboard paint, or if you lack storage then install rails and hooks on the wall to hang pans and utensils. Finish the look by creating your own light fixture from an old metal sieve or a glass jar, displaying recipes or by adding your own art.

Consider Upcycling

Upcycling – the process of revamping and repurposing an old item or piece of furniture – has been a trend for the past couple of years. It is a fantastic concept that can quickly and cheaply transform your home. There are endless possibilities here, from painting and reupholstering an old dining table and chairs, adding wallpaper, mirrors or silver leaf to unloved wardrobes, turning old tea cups into candles, or creating shelves from wooden drawers. If you are new to the this type of decor update, then follow these tips for upcycling beginners.

Stylish Storage

Ideas for easy, DIY ways to Decorate Your Home via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

DIY storage can save you a fortune, and it doesn’t need to be difficult to do. Image credit lowes.com

One of the easiest ways to make your home feel happier, is to clear out the clutter. If your rooms lack storage or you just seem to have too much stuff, it can make your home feel tired and cramped. To solve this, buy some patterned storage boxes, wooden trunks or vibrant shelving to make a stylish statement. Alternatively, you could consider clever under-bed solutions.

Now that the summer holidays are here it could be the ideal time to get some of this underway – rope in the kids to help, not only will it make all of your DIY home stuff more personalised, it will add a special touch that you just can’t replace.

Harriet x

DIY posey jars from Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

So pretty, the perfect DIY centrepiece or even just something to brighten your hallway!

I love pretty, in fact, I do consider myself a bit of a magpie. I’m pretty sure that is why I fall in love with baby things, gorgeous fashion brands and why I have such an obsession with pinterest.

For Edie’s christening I wanted to fill the room with pretty things, and one of favourite types of pretty things are flowers. Flowers lift even the dullest of days and they can make you feel better in an instant. With that in mind I wanted to put some flowers on the tables in the hall where we had the reception for the Christening, but I didn’t want to spend a fortune and I didn’t want massive bunches that people would have to look around to chat, so I decided to make some DIY posey jars and I love the way they turned out. In fact, they turned out so well that I only had one left because the other 7 were taken home by guests to put in their hallways and kitchens to brighten the day :)

Here’s how to make one and what to fill it with, honestly it take less than 5 minutes.

  • A jar, preferably one from a pasta sauce, chicken casserole sauce or the like. I loved that the jars were all varying sizes and I just used what I had in the cupboard for dinner the week before, washed out the jars and hey pesto! The perfect beginnings of my vase.
  • A piece of lace or ribbon.
  • Glue dots (or if you don’t have any a bit of glue from your child’s crafting box)

For the flowers:

  • Pink and/or white Gypsophila, commonly called Baby’s breath
  • Roses
  • Carnations
  • Peonies

Here’s what to do:

Trim the flowers so that they will fit neatly into the jar once it’s decorated. Remove the majority of leaves from the flowers just keeping the heads. Set aside until the jar is done.

Take your jar, making sure it is completely clean and free from any labels or paper. Once you are happy with it, take your ribbon or lace and wrap it around the jar, securing it with a glue dot or some glue from your child’s craft box.

Fill to the top of your lace with cold water and add your flowers. It is THAT easy.

Enjoy, and refill with flowers as often as you like! If you choose to you can add any type of flower and even make one of these for every room… why not?!

Harriet x

Fine art for children from Jahna Vashti that brings back the magic via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

“Spring Jubilee”

Fine art for children from Jahna Vashti that brings back the magic via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

“Wolf Art”

Fine art for children from Jahna Vashti that brings back the magic via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

“Autumn Splendor”

Fine art for children from Jahna Vashti that brings back the magic via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Painting lanterns on “Autumn Splendor”

Fine art for children from Jahna Vashti that brings back the magic via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

“Beach Day”

If you have followed the blog for a time then you will know that I’m really passionate about children’s art. I love really gorgeous art and I think that too often children have over commercialised pictures in their rooms that aren’t really any good from a parents point of view. Not to say that there is anything wrong with commercialised but, where is the magic?

I discovered this wonderful artist Jahna Vashti from Portland, Oregon, on Etsy last week and I just LOVE her work. Not only is her art so full of magic and whimsy, but the detailing is beautiful and inspiring.

Jahna is inspired by so many different things and in a way I feel like that is part of how she captures such a wonderful charm in her paintings because don’t children take inspiration from the simplest of things and create wonderful games and such with their imaginations? That’s why this is the perfect art for children – the magic.

I know that the boys would love this kind of artwork in their rooms and they would spend days making up stories… well Reuben would!

Harriet x

Water Babies photoshoot via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

My little tutu girl. This was Edith’s first photoshoot and the best thing about Water Babies photoshoots is that they don’t push the babies, if you don’t get the shot then that will be a shame BUT your baby will never be made unhappy or stressed and there is always next time.

I wanted to share a few pictures with you from our recent Water babies underwater photo shoot. I hope you love them like I do (p.s Edith’s wearing a Next highstreet swimsuit and Toby & Roo are both wearing Sunuva trunks).

Water Babies photoshoot via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

My little trio together. The boys thought it was wonderful to take this picture and it was lovely for me to see all three kids together.

Water Babies photoshoot via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I love this little shot with it’s bubbles and her serene face.

Water Babies photoshoot via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

This picture really captures the way the boys feel about their swimming having been in the Water Babies baby swimming program for a time: Fun, full of confidence and something to be relished together!

Water Babies photoshoot via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.Water Babies photoshoot via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Edie isn’t quite at the stage where she can kick up to the surface after a swim (or she wasn’t at this stage a few months ago) so there are always instructors helping to get the pictures – your baby’s are in trained, competent hands… often their own instructor who they already know and love!

Harriet x

Hamman towels via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

These towels are perfect for little ones of Reuben’s age – lightweight and quick to dry.

Hamman towels via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Not only are they easy for your little ones to carry themselves but they are just soooo soft!

Every year I have a look around at perfect pool essentials for kids (and for the beach too) because I know that I will be taking the kids swimming at some point during the summer holidays.

Hammam beach towels are so much better than normal towels when you are dealing with children of Reuben’s age and older. Not only will they look fantastic on the beach or around the pool but they are so lightweight which makes them perfect for packing a small swim bag for your little one to carry themselves or ideal for putting into the suitcase for beach holidays without hitting the kg allowances! The cotton towel is designed to absorb more moisture than your average towel and it dries out even faster because its so thin.

This is a brilliant product to add to your essentials kit this summer, especially if you are big swimmers like us!

Harriet x

6 top tips for managing the summer holidays when you are a work at home mum via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I’ve put together a few top tips for how to cope with the children during the holidays if you are a work from home mum.

It’s hard enough for working mamas to juggle their responsibilities when the children are at school, never mind on holiday. I think it’s especially hard if you work from home because you will have to be really strict with your schedule and making sure that you actually work and don’t get too distracted by the kids. I have found that since I started working from home, I often feel this horrendous sense of guilt that I’m not fulfilling some need in my children, which is made even worse when Reuben tells people that mummy work on her laptop at home. I swear people must think I just sit at home daily and play on the computer…bingo anyone?

Anyway, because this will be the first year that I have been self employed and working from my own home office while the kids have been old enough to be on holiday and actually notice that I am not 100% present, I have tried to be very organised in my preparations for the holidays! I’ve put together a few top tips for how to cope with the children during the holidays if you are a work from home mum.

1.) Enlist the help of others

It doesn’t matter whether you are asking friends or family to help you out, the main point is: ask. If you need to take a day to work then asking friends or family to entertain the kids is a better alternative to getting frustrated with them and their constant requests for things. This needs to be a guilt free thing, maybe organise one or two days a week – depending on your work load – that the children go elsewhere so you can really get on.

2.) Organise with their mamas

If you have other mama friends who work from home, are self employed or have to go out to work, then set up a system to help each other out. Something like a rota to have each other’s children works really well. When one of you needs to work, the other can take the group out for a day. Picnics, home play dates and cinema trips are just a few things that work so well without costing the earth.

3.) Organise a portable workspace

If you can, organise a portable workspace. I work a lot from my laptop so on sunny days I take the opportunity to set up outside and let them boys play in the garden. If you can do this it can make your life so much easier, you can keep an eye on the kids and get on with your work at the same time. If you work off the computer, maybe look at taking the papers etc that you need with you.

4.) Set times and dates for your work AND STICK TO IT.

I suck at this. I allocate every Tuesday to work. Tuesday is my day to work and I anything comes up I will almost always turn it down. I also try to allocate some of Thursday and Monday for working, but I never stick to it. During the holidays, pick certain times you know you can work and stick to it. If you need to have meetings or conference calls they will have to fit into those times (unless really necessary). This will make organising time for you and the kids so much easier because you will know that time for work is going to be on this day, between these hours. Does it always work? Of course not, but having it in your mind is easier than getting stressed out over it all.

5.) Be kind to yourself

This is another thing I am abysmal at, being kind to myself! What I mean by this is, if you have a tonne of work to do, keep dinner simple or feel guiltless about ordering take out. If the kids have been fed and are reasonably clean (think hands reasonably cleaned of lolly stickiness in the paddling pool and faces wiped with wet wipes) then you have done a good job. They don’t need you to be superwoman with a freshly cooked balanced meal and a bath perfectly done. Chill out, it’s the holidays. As long as they live through the day and have something to eat, who cares?

6.) Plan ahead … For everything!

I’m talking about sitting down on a Sunday evening after the kids have gone to bed and plan plan planning. I usually plan a week in advance for what I want to do, though I try really hard to remind myself not to be too rigid. Once I have an idea of what I want to do, for example, Tuesday will be filled with work work and a touch more work, Wednesday we will be heading to the Sealife Centre so out for the bulk of the day and Thursday is going to be a work morning, followed by a playful afternoon at home; I then know whether or not I will be around to cook, clean or task. Can I make it to the bank on Wednesday? No, it’s got to be Tuesday or Thursday? Can I spend 40mins making lasagne on Tuesday and still fill my work quota? No, so it’s beans on toast that night, a slow cooker meal on Wednesday and lasagne will be fine on Thursday. Do you see what I mean? Plan ahead and you have an idea of what you need to do on any one day. Simples.

I hope this helps, I for one really can’t wait for the summer holidays, but I am also approaching it with dread after my work load increase this week. If you have any work balancing tips then please share them!

Harriet xx

stressed-young-mother-resized

Ever get so stressed you can hear the blood rushing through your own ears? Yep, that’s about where I am right now.

Today has been that day. That day Edith wouldn’t stop crying, and I had a mountain of work to do. The day when phone calls went badly, there was so much housework to do I can’t even list it and no help anywhere. As if I needed it today, it was Sports Day at school and I had my work day cut by 3 1/2 hours. Since arriving home it’s been more crying from Edie, not listening from Roo and a sleepy Toby who I know won’t settle tonight, which I need him to do so I can recover those 3 1/2 hours.

All in all, today hasn’t been that bad in the grand scheme of things, but I am exhausted and today has been THAT day. The day I blew up and broke down in front of the kids. The day I made my boys cry through shouting, literally just after Toby decided to be wonderful and use the potty so well, even pulling his own pants down. Today I screamed at my five month old because I couldn’t make her stop screaming and my hands were just too full.

Today I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t cope with being a busy mummy of three under 5 while trying to run a household and build a business. I couldn’t cope with not being able to cope.

As I’m writing this I’m calming down and feeding a now calpolled-up Edith. I’m hoping the boys won’t remember my tear streaked face and wide eyed expression in years to come, all because they just wouldn’t eat their tea. Sometimes it’s silly what we lose our shit over, I mean, give me a major crisis and I will handle it without letting the cracks show, but on days like today, the cracks don’t just show, they take centre stage. Everybody has THAT day, but I feel so ashamed. Why couldn’t I cope? Why did I let everything get to me and get on top of me? I should have worked harder in the morning, typed faster, kept calmer, given Edith calpol as soon as I noticed her teeth getting bad instead of lingering, I should have done this, I should have done that…

And then the tears come again and I realise I’m my own worst enemy. I am a pressure cooker mama. I put so much pressure on myself on days like today and I over analyse everything. It’s ridiculous!

Does everyone do this or is it just me? We all have days where we just can’t cope, even when the day hasn’t really been that catastrophic right? I’m calmer now, and as Edith is going to sleep I can feel myself beginning to de-stress a bit, hopefully I will be able to get the boys to bed and then do some work, but you know what? If I don’t, no one is going to die. I’m going to send my husband for a take out and I’m going to have a shower… Alone.

Harriet x

Babycademy :: Putting the music back into developmental baby activities via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

If you are looking for a do-it-at-home kit that will help you to bond with your baby and encourage them to develop both intellectually and physically, then I highly recommend giving this a go.

Babycademy :: Putting the music back into developmental baby activities via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Edith has especially enjoyed making friends with Wilson the Frog.

A few weeks ago I was sent a brilliant music time kit by Babycademy, a brilliant company founded by Bernice Hewson, that focuses on helping encourage your babies to develop using music and playtime. Bernice founded the program after she discovered that it was nearly impossible to find a developmental baby activities course that helped nurture the bond between mother and baby, was affordable on a tight budget AND helped to develop babies, not only physically but also intellectually.

We’ve been using the kit now for around 6 weeks and Edith loves it! Not only does Edith love it, but so do I and her brothers too. We love music and singing in our family, but its not always easy to find the time. I’ve been doing this a couple of times a week just after tea time and before bath time and the kids have loved it.

Babycademy :: Putting the music back into developmental baby activities via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

This sensory silk scarf has been great for both myself and Reuben to interact with Edie. Just look at her face!

Edith is particularly enamoured with our new Frogy friend Wilson, and since she has been teething the three dot Hape maraca has been ridiculously popular… and covered in slobber! Our favourite songs on the 10 song disc are Ahh Boo (Edith loves to play peek-a-boo with Roo and the orange silk scarf – which from a parent’s point of view is great for sensory and visual stimulation) and Toby has a real thing of joining in with Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail. I thankfully get a lyrics booklet so that I don’t have to try and commit the lyrics to memory, because, that so isn’t happening with my lack of sleep haha!

If you are looking for a do-it-at-home kit that will help you to bond with your baby and encourage them to develop both intellectually and physically, then I highly recommend giving this a go. It’s so much fun, affordable and easy to learn… plus if you have children who are a similar age to Roo they will be able to help you and take the lead on the activities too.

Harriet x

DIY confetti balloons via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

These balloons are so easy to make.
Image credit: notonthehighstreet.co.uk.

It was Edith’s christening last weekend, and one of the things I was asked about the most was the decorations, where we found them etc. The truth is, we made a awful lot of them, including these confetti balloons, which are the perfect party decorations! They literally cost us a couple of pounds to make and were so much fun, not to mention incredibly pretty. I thought I’d share how to make them:

DIY confetti balloons via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

These were just so easy to make and they looked really effective in the hall for Edie’s big day.

You will need:

  • One bag of your chosen confetti. Make sure this isn’t sharp or you might pop your balloon. The best option is a set of paper or foil circle confetti.
  • 10-30 clear latex balloons (you can find these online in most crafting places – or eBay!)
  • Balloon ribbon
  • Helium and weights (optional)

It’s incredibly easy. Grab a balloon and pull the neck of the balloon wide open. Get someone to grab a good punch of confetti and pop it in the balloon. Blow up as required with either air or helium and tie with your ribbon. Done.

If you are on your own and don’t have someone helping you to make these decorations then grab a funnel and wrap the neck of your balloon around it. Put your confetti in that way and follow the last steps.

Harriet xx

Rock pooling : What to take and learning resources via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Toby was so excited to see fishieesss!

Rock pooling : What to take and learning resources via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Start off at closest to the sea and move in land as the tide comes in.

Rock pooling : What to take and learning resources via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

There are so many things to find in a rock pool so you should always have a bucket ready to store your finds for later examination.

Rock pooling : What to take and learning resources via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Check out the resource pages I’ve shared to make this a brilliant educational goldmine!

Rock pooling : What to take and learning resources via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

We hadn’t intended to rock pool so we didn’t have the boys swimwear… pants and nappies will do though!

Last weekend we had a long over due family day and it was so so much fun. We had a slow and enjoyable morning building train tracks and eating bacon butties (US readers bacon sandwiches to you :) ) and then it was off to a huge party for one of Reuben’s school friends.

Once that was finished we realised that we were pretty much at the coast anyway so we decided to head over to the beach, despite the lack of sunshine and threat of showers, for some rock pooling! We had a bundle of fun and I thought I’d share some of my tips with you on how to get the best out of rock pooling, along with some fantastic resources if you want to make it into something super educational.

Rock pooling : What to take and learning resources via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Roo had such a blast just enjoying the beach, and it doesn’t cost a penny!

Rock pooling : What to take and learning resources via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

This was taken just after he found a sea snail and he charged towards his dad to share the news!

1. Always have a bucket at the ready.

There are so many things to find in a rock pool so you should always have a bucket ready to store your finds for later examination. I found that if the boys have a little net it’s helpful but apparently it can damage little animals, so now they have always use their hands. The golden rule with rock pooling is that anything (other than pretty shells and pebbles) really should go back into the pool.

2. Be mindful of the tide.

Living so close to the beach, I guess I’ve grown up with this rule but it’s still hard to stick to when you get really into the rock pooling. The rocky verge of a beach can often be a way away from the steps off the beach and it often gets made into an island of sorts. Keep an eye on the tide to make sure that you don’t get boxed in. If you are going into any caves or anything, make sure you check the tide is out and be aware of what time it is scheduled to come in.

3. Don’t let winter put you off, it can be even more fun!

It really doesn’t matter what time of year you go rock pooling, if you go in summer, stripping down to swimwear and some sandals (think jellies or crocs) is ideal, but winter can also be a fab time to rock pool. Just wrap up warm and cover yourself over with water proofs and wellies. Job done.

4. Start off at closest to the sea and move in land as the tide comes in.

The reason for doing this is because the rock pool dwellers are likely to be marine animals that require sea salt water so aren’t going to be in the pools further back for any long period of time. You will find more in the closer pools.

Resources:

http://www.crew.ac.uk/sites/www.crew.ac.uk/files/documents/Rock%20Pooling1.pdf

http://www.sparklebox.co.uk/topic/living/rockpool-animals.html#.VZvFhUuKzwI

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1355886690753/

http://www.marlin.ac.uk

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/habitats/Tide_pool

I hope that this inspires you to give rock pooling a go, it’s so much fun and there is so much to learn!

Harriet x

 

These 'elements' stack toys from Little Goldie are just beautiful. Each one is designed to represent a different element.

These ‘elements’ stack toys from Little Goldie are just beautiful. Each one is designed to represent a different element.

It’s getting to that time when Edie is going to start sitting up (sob sob) soon and I’m going to need to start thinking about toys that will engage her and help her develop some basic co-ordination and motor skills.

, and while they are still extremely bright and colourful they are absolutely beautiful in their design. The sets are hand made from a single piece of wood and dyed using non toxic dyes.

They make a wonderful gift for a little one and as far as toys for babies go, these are going to make beautiful room decorations at a later date.

Harriet x

The best red onion marmalade recipe for cheese lovers via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

This is the best red onion marmalade recipe for cheese lovers, literally a pantry must have. Image credit : bbc good food guide

Red onion marmalade has to be a staple for cheese platters, doesn’t it? It’s a must have for picnics, BBQs and something that every pantry really should have, especially for cheese fans. Now, as a self proclaimed cheese addict (seriously I’m thinking about starting a Cheese-acholics anonymous with my dearest friend Kate!) I have to have red onion marmalade in the pantry so I’ve started making my own and it is insanely simple to do! Why have I never tried this before?!

This most recent batch has been made for Edith’s christening, that’s how tasty the whole thing is, so please do give it a go:

  • 2-3 red onions (I prefer to use 3 because I like a lot of bite in mine)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of good red wine – try Coyam
  • 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Slice your onions thinly then fry them on a medium heat in the oil and butter until softened, probably about 5-6 minutes, stirring so they don’t crisp up. Add the sugar and keep cooking until they start to caramelise. This will probably take another 10 minutes though do keep stirring because the onions mustn’t crisp up! Add the wine and the balsamic and cook on a low to medium heat until all of the liquid has disappeared and you can draw a line through the onions without the liquid recessing back into it. Salt to taste.

This is so simple and really will save you a fortune in buying that red onion marmalade at the shops… Plus, if you have a favourite red wine, you get to drink the rest of the bottle with your new treat and cheese board.

You’re welcome!!

Harriet x

The cutest handbags for kids from Raine + Skye via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Say hello to the cutest handbags for kids from Raine + Skye. I adore the fun, playful styles and relish the fact that Raine + Skye makes bags for little boys that are not only ultra cool and stylish, but practical and wearable too.

Say hello to the cutest handbags for kids from Raine + Skye.

The brand was founded by the brilliant Rosemary Elder who has been inspired by her own children to bring us these wonderful handmade leather treasures. Each piece is made in California with all of the products sourced from LA making this a genuinely locally supportive brand.

If you are as smitten as I am you can even find bags for yourself too – go on, treat yourself, you know you want to!

Harriet x