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As you will know if you are a follower of the blog, I am a Medela Mum. You might have followed some of my breastfeeding posts that have been sponsored by Medela (you can find it under the My Medela button) some of which have catalogued my experience breastfeeding Edith and what I have learnt. The thing is, there are ladies out there who have so much more experience breastfeeding than me, some of which have been working tirelessly to normalise breastfeeding and are proud and honoured to share their experiences with others.

I wanted to set up an online ‘cafe chat’ with some of the ladies who I’ve met via social media who have really inspired me and helped me to continue feeding.

Jackie Schofield

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My name is Jackie and I’ve been breastfeeding my daughter, Ruby, for more than two and a half years, she will be three in November! I plan to let her self wean but my initial goal was to breastfeed for twelve months.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started breastfeeding?
That she wouldnt need a bottle at all, even when I returned to work when she was six months old. I worked myself up so much in the run up & she simply adapted and reverse cycled so it was all for nothing. I still pumped at work for comfort and proudly donated over 300oz of my milk to a sick little boy with lots of digestion issues.
Do you feel shy feeding? Do you use a cover?
I feed uncovered, anywhere & everywhere. Including planes, the beach, walking around supermarkets & even swimming with dolphins in Dominican Republic!
Chelsee Hobbins
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Chelsee is 10 weeks into her feeding journey with her little one, so still quite new when compared to Jackie. These are her thoughts on breastfeeding:

What do you wish someone had told you before you started breastfeeding?

That it’s the hardest thing you ever may do for the first few weeks, but to persevere because it’s the most wonderful, rewarding & special thing you can do with your little one.

Also, not to worry if you spend the first week crying! I did! But I’m 10 weeks in and going strong.

What is your favourite thing about breastfeeding?

For that moment, there is nothing else in the world but me and my feeding baby. The bond you build through looking into your babies eyes during feeding is irreplaceable.

Do you have a funny breastfeeding story?

My neighbours house was on fire, and I noticed it from the living room window…

So I ran outside to make sure the neighbours were out of the house and a car with a family had pulled over to ring the fire brigade. It wasn’t until I noticed they all couldn’t look me in the eye that I realised I ran out with my boob out!! Oops!

Louise Roberts

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Louise is feeding a little one who is right between the two ages of the Chelsee and Jackie’s little ones. She is practical and gives some great advice.

What do you wish someone had told you BEFORE you started breastfeeding?

The truth! I do believe in being positive, but I also believe in being realistic. All I was told was “if you latch baby on properly it won’t hurt”. No one said “but it CAN hurt, and it does for a lot more women than you realise!” I felt like a failure because I didn’t latch my baby on as easy as that stiff doll in my NCT class, and it HURT like there was no tomorrow. But I wasn’t prepared for it – so I felt stupid. It’s true – a proper latch means it shouldn’t hurt, but that doesn’t mean it CAN’T hurt in the early days/weeks.

There’s so much more I wish I was told about; growth spurts and the fussy behavior behind it, night feeds being normal beyond 6 months, how baby builds supply (may not have given baby dummy at 7 days!).

What is your favourite thing about breastfeeding?

I have never been a natural breastfeeder, and for the most part I haven’t enjoyed my breastfeeding journey. Even more so when my boy became a fidget monster and was more interested in EVERYTHING else other than milk. But the one thing I have enjoyed is the ease – I see mums carrying bottles, bottle warmers, warm water, powder etc in their change bags and I had to carry nothing of the sort. Also the ease of night times – baby cries, latch baby on, baby feeds, falls asleep, back to bed. So for me, the “ease” is my most favourite thing.

What is your favourite breastfeeding treat?

What I consider a treat, is my baby falling asleep in my arms (only very occasionally) during bedtime feed. He never falls asleep in my arms anymore, and hasn’t for months. So on the occasion that he is totally exhausted, it’s such a wonderful feeling him falling asleep while fully latched on. I often sit there enjoying the moment for an extra 10 or 20 minutes as I never know when it’ll happen again ☺

Harriet x

LaNoire's Vegan Kitchen Series :: Warming curry to welcome Autumn via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Who doesnt love a good warming curry? Here’s how to do it vegan style:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large red diced onion
A couple of handfulls of dried red lentils
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
A handfull of Samphire
A handfull of Sugarsnap peas
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 and a half pints of vegetable broth
1 can of coconut milk (just use the cream, not the water at the bottom)
Quinoa (optional)

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until it’s turning a little golden. Add the lentils, potato, samphire, sugarsnaps and seasonings, and stir to combine everything.

2. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, or until the lentils and sweet potato are tender. Stir in the coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve warm. (We served ours over cooked quinoa.)

Enjoy! 

Les Deglingos :: Adorable soft toys that are perfect for quirky parents and their babies via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

 

Les Deglingos :: Adorable soft toys that are perfect for quirky parents and their babies via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Les Deglingos :: Adorable soft toys that are perfect for quirky parents and their babies via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids. Les Deglingos :: Adorable soft toys that are perfect for quirky parents and their babies via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I’ve had a real love for these Les Deglingos soft toys for years, I bought my first one for Reuben at the Great Yorkshire Show one year and they have been with us for each baby since.

The reason I love them so much is that they are so soft, quirkily designed and just interesting enough to keep baby entertained for a nice period of time. Since I bought our Lea Deglingos they have expanded the range significantly to include all sorts of things from large snuggle toys to purses and bags that are perfect for preschool or younger years at school.

I’ve not been able to find anywhere that sells these sweet toys but I’ve finally found their online shop and I can’t get enough. This is definitely going on Edith’s Christmas gift list for sure.

H x

Summer holiday roundup :: Places to visit with kids via Toby & Roo ::daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

It’s getting close to back to school time, and I’ve really loved having Reuben back at home with us, enjoying the family days out that we have had. I thought, as there are still a couple of weeks left to get out and about, I would round up our favourite family places to visit so far in the hope it gives you all some last minute inspiration.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster

Summer holiday roundup :: Places to visit with kids via Toby & Roo ::daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

We love it here, and had so much fun when we visited over summer. It’s a brilliant park that has great places to stop and play, so many animals to see and learn about and great cafes and restaurants or picnic areas a plenty if you are feeling like A La Carte! Why not check out my guide to visiting zoos before you go, it’s one of our favourite things to do so I’ve jotted down my tips for making the most of it on the blog.

Honeysuckle Farm, Hornsea

This is hands down my FAVOURITE petting zoo/ play farm. It’s really reasonable to get in, but once you are there it is HUGE, with so many places to play, hay bale barns to run around in, animals galore to pet and meet and two giant koi ponds where you can stand over grates and feed the fish through the floor. It is always a must for us during any holiday time or even on a warm weekend in spring. There is a cafe, but we always take a pack up because there is so much to see and do.

Flamingo land, Kirby Misperton Nr Pickering

Summer holiday roundup :: Places to visit with kids via Toby & Roo ::daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

We are pass holders here so it is really economical for us to visit, even if only for a few hours, but be warned it gets very expensive if you don’t have a pass. I look forward to visiting all the time, we even go after school sometimes, but for a full family day out its great. Arriving early is a must to skip the big ques and try to make sure you plan the day to get to see all of the shows and things. The sand play area in the dinosaur play section is great and there are a surprising number of rides for tiddlers to join in on. If you are planning. To eat sandwiches or light bites for lunch avoid the costa cafe and take your own – it’s always crammed and so expensive. I can highly recommend both the country house pub and the tea rooms style restaurant, or if a snack is more your style there are tonnes of places to grab a hot dog on the move. Make sure you go to see Clive the sea lion during your visit, he’s so funny and the bond between him and his trainer (who is lovely to chat to afterwards about all things sea lion) is clearly visible.

Dalby Forest, Nr Pickering

Summer holiday roundup :: Places to visit with kids via Toby & Roo ::daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I know I talk about it a lot on here, but man the good times we have had at Dalby have been so awesome and so many. Dalby forest lends itself to a full day out with a BBQ or picnic in one of their secluded areas or the massive, refurbed play area or a scenic bike ride, hike, jaunt around the lake or even an exploration on Adderstone. It’s so huge (and I mean huge, it covers more or less 30 miles) and it’s a paradise for people looking for a fun, cheap day out that isn’t going to be reliant on age or height.

Sheffield Butterly Centre, Sheffield

Finally we have this place. It’s packed full of sights for kids with the crocs being a firm favourite with my boys. There is a great mix of play areas, including a water park area so take your little ones a change of clothes or swimwear and towels. I love that there are plenty of indoor places if the weather is a bit rubbish and a good mix of birds to feel wowed by as well as tropical animals too.

I hope you feel inspired to give one of these places a visit before your kids go back to school. It really is so much fun to have days out and if you make a memory box your kids will be able to share their experiences when they go back to school.

H x

Calming Time out bottles via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

My favourite version of these bottles was via spoonful.com on Pinterest.

Lately Reuben has been spending an increased amount of time in time out. I don’t know if it’s thanks to the excitement of the summer holidays, disruption of routine of if he is just testing boundaries – I suspect a bit of everything.

Anyway, we will have days where he doesn’t need to time out at all, and we will have days where he is in and out like a yo-yo. I always tell him he has to ‘calm down’ and ‘think about what he has done’ but sometimes he’s so wound up he can’t quite manage that. He will kick and scream in frustration, which I leave to peeter out over a few minutes.

I have to say those moments are awful and stressful for everyone.

A friend shared this a few days ago on Facebook and I LOVE the idea. You are following the same principle as a lava lamp, whereby it soothes and calms as you watch it. Here’s how to make one:

Take a bottle of water and mix in a bottle of glitter glue and another little bottle of glitter. Every time your child goes into time out you give them the bottle and tell them to calm down while they watch the glitter settle. It will only work if they sit calmly and they will be transfixed (in theory) but the settling glue.

I’m going to try this, I think it’s a wonderful idea. Please give it a go with me and let me know how it gets on!

Harriet x

How to make tie dye sleep suits via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

This was so much fun!

Last week we had one day where the weather was pretty grotty to say the least. It just rained all day so the boys were pretty much confined to the house (let’s be frank, no one wants to go out to an inside play area during the summer holidays when the rain has reared its ugly face. It’s insanity personified.) I had decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to do something for Edie with the white sleep suits that I had left over from our little leaf painting craft last year, so I decided on tie dye and bought some dyes ready for that yacky day to arrive.

The boys absolutely LOVED doing this and their sister now has some super sweet sleep suits to wear as she grows. In fact, the boys loved this so much that I think we will be doing it again soon, and possibly making it our first ever YouTube tutorial!

Here’s what you need:

  • Packets of tie dye powder (as many as you desire, in whatever colour – we chose bright green, pink, yellow and blue, but you could go for more or less, or even dark colours)
  • Salt
  • Water
  • White sleep suits (or whatever you choose to dye. I think the boys are wanting to make themselves something, and I’d quite like to try this swimsuit cover up I found on Pinterest)
  • Bottles or cups and a syringe
  • Rubber bands or hair bands
  • A cloth you don’t mind destroying
  • Here’s what to do:

First thing is first, choose a surface that you can wipe and that won’t stain easily. Once you’ve done that put on clothes that you aren’t fussed about staining and grab some aprons for the kids. We have ‘craft clothes’ that don’t really fit the boys anymore so it doesn’t matter if they stain them – though they do look like cast members of ‘Oliver’ when we craft!

How to make tie dye sleep suits via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

How to make tie dye sleep suits via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

How to make tie dye sleep suits via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Once you guys are ready, take the dye and either follow the instructions on the packet if you are making a load of dye, or you can narrow down the ratio of how much dye to water and salt you require. We used about 150ml water, a tablespoon of dye and a teaspoon of salt. Follow the packet instructions and divide the ratio and you will be fine.

Once the dye is ready, add it to your bottles, or if you are using a cup with a syringe (I find the calpol syringes extremely useful for crafting so always keep a few in the craft box) transfer it to your chosen implement. Next, wipe up any dribbles and take out your sleep suits. Wet the sleep suits under a tap and wring out so they are damp but not dripping.

At this point I asked the boys how they wanted to fold their sleep suits. Toby chose to tie his bands around in a roll and Reuben chose to screw his into a ball and tie the bands in various places. Both will create a totally different effect and if you want you can have fun doing this tying the fabric in different ways to see how it comes out.

Apply your dye to the different sections of your fabric, making sure you soak all the way through. Then leave to dry out slightly, until it is only slightly damp. Remove the bands and hang out to dry – do not tumble dry because you will end up with dye stains all over your fabric.

Once dry enjoy your new fabric dyes (and remember to wash them alone with a colour catcher for at least the first three washes!

Harriet x

Trillionire bars recipe via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I discovered these a few weeks ago on Pinterest when I was investigating something tasty for the boys and I to bake together during Edie’s nap time. Something that daddy could indulge in when he came home and something that the boys would really like as a little treat.

The trillionaire bars are made up of four layers, each one more delicious than the last. We have a very chewy, fudgy brownies base, topped with gooey caramel which in turn is topped with an egg free totally delicious cookie dough mixture and finally spread with a rich, indulgent chocolate topping. Oh my goodness they were sublime. Literally SO tasty. I do have to warn you that; no matter how rich or sweet you like your treats, you really need to cut these rather small. They are far too sweet, rich and all-round-bad-for-you-divine that more than a couple of bites will make you queasy.

Trillionire bars recipe via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Trillionire bars recipe via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Here’s what you need:

Brownie layer

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup flour

Caramel layer

  • 1 tin carnations caramel

Cookie dough layer

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons double cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chunks/chips

Chocolate glaze

  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Make the brownies first. Preheat the oven to GM3 and line a square 8×8 tin with foil. Add the butter and sugar together in a bowl and cream together. Add all the dry ingredients, vanilla and eggs, mixing together. This produces a really stiff, sticky batter. Place it in the pan and spread out until even, bake for 15 mins.

Once it’s out add the caramel, then place in the fridge to cool.

While that’s cooling make your cookie dough. Again, cream the butter and sugars. Add the flour, cream, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth. Once it’s smooth add your chocolate chunks.

Check on the brownie and caramel layers, touching the top to see if it’s still sticky or if it is only tacky now. Once it’s tacky, add dollops of the cookie dough, smoothing it out to form an even layer. return it to the refrigerator to chill.

Finally make your chocolate topping. Place the chocolate chunks and the cream into a pan and bring to a simmer, turn of the heat and stir them together until totally smooth. Allow to cool. Once the cookie dough is chilled and the chocolate spread is cooler, spread it over the top.

Finally leave to set for about 1 – 2 hours. If you can. Which you won’t be able to.

Enjoy!

Harriet x

6 top weaning tips for first foods via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Am I the only one who finds weaning to be such an exciting and fun time? All of my friend’s approach it with such a sense of dread, if not dread then at least annoyance, after all, the food is no longer on tap and the mess, ohh the mess, but I just can’t bring myself to be anything but enthusiastic about this time! I love weaning.

There is an awful lot of equipment and books out there for weaning, and to be honest you could spend an absolute fortune on paraphernalia that you really don’t need. I do believe that there are a few things that you simply can’t approach weaning without, but after that, it’s anything goes! Here are a few of my weaning essentials that will make our life oh-so-much easier.

1.) A really good high chair.

Look, I get it, a high chair is a high chair and you don’t want to spend your full wage packet on it. Fine, but the problem is, in my vast experience working with high chairs not to mention using them as a mother, I can promise you you pay for what you get. I made the mistake with Reuben (despite knowing better after years of replacing broken ones) of buying a cheap, plasticky monstrosity that I hated in my dining room, that took up so much space it was untrue and eventually after only 8 months, frayed along the seams and I had to return it. I bought a much better, wooden chair that can be used over and over. At the moment, we use a Stokke Tripp Trapp highchair for Edith that was originally Toby’s. Not only is it insanely stylish and a designed to fit with your own kitchen or dining set, but it grows with your child, right from birth and keeps them at a perfect height to join in a family dinner time… or at least one in front of the sofa without you breaking your back! I’m not saying it has to be wooden either, there are plenty of great chairs that are plastic, but you really ought to consider in investing in one that has a good, solid structure and can hold your child to a decent weight and size.

2. An all in one blending kit

When I first had Reuben I was determined to try all sorts of wonderful flavours. Right from 6 months he had everything from pasta in a tomato and tuna sauce to curry thickened with quinoa. I spent ages, and I do mean ages, making batches of food for him to enjoy throughout the week. I even had to push food through a sieve because I refused to buy a baby blender. I had a blender but for the quantities I was making and the consistency I required it was useless. Utterly useless. With Toby I rarely gave him anything with pasta or quinoa (or anything that required full pulverisation) before 8-9 months when he was old enough to have the odd bump and lump and he didn’t like finger food in the way that Edith does. He even went onto our food much faster than Roo. When I look back, I feel sad that he missed out on all those flavours, I just didn’t have the time and I don’t have it with Edith either. I’ve been using Nuby’s Mighty blender kit and it is wonderful! I literally chop whatever I want, put it in the steamer, and then pop it into the microwave. Once it’s cooked I unscrew a cap, whack on a different lid that has a blade and blend. Job done. The difference this will make is huge because I will be able to go back to making batches of wonderful, nutritious food for Edith, just like I did with Roo, but without it being so time consuming so when she does indulge me and try more puréed food, I’ll be ready for her!

3. Storage pots galore & pouches

Storage pots are a must, especially for at home, however squeezable pouches are far better for going out and about. I always have an emergency shop bought box of pouches for going out in a hurry once I’ve started weaning. In fact, we went to Turkey when Toby was 6 months old and I took enough shop bought pouches to last 16 days so that I could guarantee he would always have healthy, clean food to eat. I later discovered that boots offer an international shipping service for this exact reason! So, storage pots and pouches, because baby will never eat the amount you make in one sitting and you don’t have time to boil 1 tablespoon of rice whilst steaming 1/2 a carrot, 1/2 an apple and 1/4 pear. Trust me, you don’t.

4. Bibs, bibs everywhere!

You need bibs. Lots of them, and you need places to keep them. I have a side table cupboard for nappies and I keep a few in there, I keep a few in her room and I keep about 4 in my bag. Bibs are an essential for any child under 2 years old and any type of weaning. It just makes life so much easier and cleaner! For baby led weaning you really need a bib with a ‘crumb catcher section’. If you don’t have one then you find yourself fishing bits and bobs out of everywhere! Bits of toast in the walker, carrot slices in the back of the bouncer… Everywhere!

5.) Spoons – try the one for you, one for me trick.

Obviously I’m not telling you that you need spoons, that’s just patronising! Of course you all know you need spoons (I recommend the dreaded plastic here I’m afraid, metal is too hard on a little baby mouth) but this little trick my mum taught me might help if you have a baby like Edith who wants to feed herself but can’t just yet. I give her a spoon to hold and I use a spoon myself to feed her. Once I’ve fed her a ‘meal’ (usually a couple of spoons of puree, we have some finger foods for her to hold too. It seems to trick her into thinking that she is doing it herself somehow – I don’t need to understand it, I just know I’m not wearing more food than is in her and neither is she!

6.) Patience and Trust

I don’t wish for this to sound corny, but the truth is you need patience and trust with baby AND yourself. The amount of people I have seen through my retail work who are asking for advice because baby isn’t taking to weaning and it’s been a month… Trust yourself and your instincts, if your baby isn’t taking to weaning with what you are doing, why not try another tact. If you are offering purée, try baby led and vice versa. It isn’t the most essential part of your baby’s diet until they are over one year old so you have a lot to play with for now. Just be patient, keep trying different things and baby will eventually start to come around.

Enjoy this time and if you have any weaning must haves then please let me know!

H x

A laundry basket that could make you love laundry. Almost. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

A laundry basket that could make you love laundry. Almost. via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

What a great idea these shark laundry baskets are! I’m not a big fan of laundry, in fact, putting it away is my number one most detested house work chore. I hate hate hate it and it is never ending, but what I find even more frustrating is when I have to search through the house to find laundry. It’s everywhere. Two little people in this house like to undress everywhere and anywhere without any thought to putting their clothes in our rather boring laundry basket by the washing machine,

I think this would be a brilliant thing to have in your child’s bedroom, or even the family bathroom, with the understanding that the kids have to ‘feed the shark’ their dirty clothes. They’d love it!

Would this ensure a tidy, laundry free house? Hell no, but it would be fun and cute!

Harriet x

Top tips for creating some balance in you're life when you're a mum via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Despite the last week being a bit hectic with Edith’s teething problems, we had settled into something approaching a daily routine, and I am starting to focus a little more on time for myself. Being a mum can often be a juggling act with all of the daily tasks, work deadlines, spending time with the kids etc, I have really come to think it’s important to try and achieve some balance in life. Balance that involves some care of myself!

So here are a few ways of the things I think help me feel like me again after a really busy week, in particular for mums with new babies.

1.) Beautiful sleep (ha!)

One of the things that all new parents are shocked by is how little sleep they get once their child has been born. Nothing really prepares you for it, and it’s such hard work. With an estimated 44 days of parent’s sleep being lost during the first year of the child’s life, it’s no wonder that we can often feel overwhelmed and irritable.

As parents we happily spend a small fortune on car seats, pushchairs and mattresses for our babies, but we often skimp on these costs when it comes to our own sleeping comfort. So treating yourself to a new bed that features a luxury memory foam mattress from Bedstar will undoubtedly help to maximise what little rest time you get. The site offers a range of frames and mattresses that can provide the perfect solution to achieving that much sought-after sleep.

Similarly, scientists at Harvard University have shown how daylight affects the light-sensitive parts of our brain. So if you’re looking to get a catch-up nap in the daytime (lucky you!), be sure to invest in some thick daylight-blocking blinds to help you get rested. This is the same case for kiddos so if you won’t get it for yourself, it might be something you’ll get for them!

Top tips for creating some balance in you're life when you're a mum via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

2.) Proper nourishment

And whilst getting a good night’s sleep will help you start the day afresh, making sure that your body is adequately fuelled is key to helping you stay on top of your activities.

Hydration is key in keeping things going. Women should seek to drink 2.2 litres of liquids per day in order to maintain good health. Ideally this should be done by staying away from caffeinated or overly sugary drinks, and similarly the choice of food should be carefully considered. Admittedly I’m terrible at this one – my diet largely consists of coffee and a bit more coffee with a pot of yoghurt on the fly, but if I’m feeling low of energy and in need of a boost, this is the way to go.

The regulation five portions of fruit and vegetables a day will work wonders in helping you look and feel better. I bought a juicer when I was breastfeeding Toby and it was great for helping to boost me on those ‘slump days’. And be sure to stay away from overly fatty foods – especially before bedtime, as our bodies aren’t designed to digest whilst sleeping.

Top tips for creating some balance in you're life when you're a mum via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

3.) Daily activity

Obviously, our bodies are only half of the issue, as our minds will need to be stimulated on a daily basis. So make an effort to try new activities, learn new things and regularly meet up with friends. This can be the perfect opportunity to join a toddler group, baby class or something to that effect. It gets you out, you meet new people and you have ‘you time’ whilst keeping the kids with you.

It’s all too easy to walk the endless circuit between the sofa and the kitchen. So why not enjoy the last few months of British Summertime by getting out there and relishing the warmth and light before the dark months of winter approach once more!

I hope these little tips will help you to cope with being a new mum and give you the chance to create some balance in your life.

Harriet x

Breastfeeding in public via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Are men over sensitive in thinking that women are bothered about them looking? I think so.

With a recent storm in the media about breastfeeding in public I really felt compelled to share this, because it’s not often that my husband and I disagree on breastfeeding.

If you didn’t know a BBC radio presenter recently opened a ‘debate’ on his how about breastfeeding in public where he made comments that he had to speak up on behalf of all men and let breastfeeders know it was ‘offensive and made men uncomfortable’ so should only be done in private or in a toilet whilst out and about, like other bodily functions. Now the day I agree that breastfeeding is a bodily function like defecating or urinating is the day that someone orders a shit sandwich with a pint of piss to wash it down. They are NOT the same, and that is something that my husband and I agree on. What surprised me was that he does agree it makes men uncomfortable when they see a woman breastfeeding.

Now before you, fellow breastfeeders, reach for your pitch fork and prepare to hunt down my relic of a husband, let me explain. When I asked him what he meant he said that he felt uncomfortable when he saw a woman breastfeeding in a cafe or out and about because he was worried that she would think he was staring at her breasts and would say something to that effect, he didn’t want to make her uncomfortable and in feeling that way, became uncomfortable himself. I said to him that there was always the option of, you know, not looking, and he said ‘I wouldn’t be, but you know when you catch someone’s eye, or you notice that someone is doing something so your eye is drawn. It’s just innocent and usually it would be a smile as someone adjusted their jeans or untucked a shirt, but if it were a woman putting away a nipple or unclamping her bra… Well, I just don’t want to be accused of doing something wrong and I’ve been given a dirty look before because I looked up at the wrong time in the wrong place’. I have to say, I have never really given that perspective much thought. My initial response was to say ‘get a grip, no woman cares if you look’, but then I started reading various posts about breastfeeding in public and if it wasn’t some stupid anti-feeding woman claiming women should ‘cover up’ because she didn’t want her husband to see someone else’s boobs, it was a pro-feeder responding to that with ‘can’t your pervert husband control himself’. Is a wonder my hubby (who is very supportive of feeding, in public and at home) has felt this fear of being accused of doing something wrong?

Breasts are so over sexualised in the media that quite often women over sexualise them too. What happens if a man looks at your breasts? Are you offended? Why? We spend a lot of time as breastfeeding mums making it apparent that we don’t want breasts to be sexualised, they are for feeding babies, so why would we be offended if we caught someone looking anymore than if they were looking at our hands? Anyone who stares overtly at any part of your anatomy would make you uncomfortable but why would someone get upset about a passing glance?

I asked my husband if he felt breastfeeding should only be done in the home and he said of course not, baby’s hungry, baby’s got to be fed. It’s that simple, he did add though that he wished there was less of a ‘don’t like it, don’t look’ culture because people are nosey by nature and if they look, it doesn’t mean they are judging or sexualising. They just happened to look up at the wrong time.

So, thoughts? Is he being silly to feel this way, or is it true that we need to remember our own stance on breasts not being sexual objects and remember not to get offended if someone happens to look, hey, maybe they are looking at a beautiful bond between mama and baby and thinking of their on families?

Harriet x

Darling dresses from Smokks that help kids dress themselves via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I love the idea of a dress that is totally slip on and easy to wear.

Darling dresses from Smokks that help kids dress themselves via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Dress are so versatile, dress them up, dress them down, add tights and a cardigan for warm or just wear as is in summer.

Darling dresses from Smokks that help kids dress themselves via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

The Winne Hampton has to be one of my favourite styles.

Darling dresses from Smokks that help kids dress themselves via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Laidy Mushaboom style – I love it!

Oh these dresses are just darling!

One thing I am really starting to love is dresses. Edith not only looks adorable in them, but they really transcend season, wouldn’t you agree? You can add t-shirts underneath, cardigans, jumpers over the top to accent the skirt while layering, tights, knee socks or just stay cool and covered in summer. I love them and everyone should wear them, including adults!

On a serious note I have developed a real appreciation for clothes that aren’t fiddly and that the boys can throw on themselves. I’ve not really found anything like that for girls yet because everything I have bought for Edie has clasps, zips, buttons and god knows what else to embellish it. It seems to same for toddlers too.

Enter the gorgeous Smokks dresses. Not a buckle, clasp, zip or button in sight and yet they are sill stunning. These dresses are the epitome of easy, multifunctional girls wear. They slip on, making them so easy for your child to dress herself and they can be dressed up or dress down accordingly.

They even make a matching version for mamas because twinning is winning and I won’t apologise for it!

Harriet x

Design prints that look awesome in your nursery from Alphabino via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

A for apple or… antler…

Design prints that look awesome in your nursery from Alphabino via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Such lovely art for your child’s room, especially for siblings who share.

Design prints that look awesome in your nursery from Alphabino via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

B for Ballerina – I love this print, so pretty!

Design prints that look awesome in your nursery from Alphabino via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Eggs and elephants.

These are so sweet, what a lovely idea for baby’s room.

When designer and owner of Alphabino, Katie, was nesting she designed a few prints for her daughters nursery and started selling them online. They are so sweet, I especially love the Alphabet prints, which are great for siblings sharing rooms to hang above their bed or their side to identify their individual space.

Harriet x

Making the most of exploring forests :: family walks via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I love a good walk through the forest with the kids – there are so many things you can do.

Exploring forests and woodland areas can be so much fun! There are so many things that you can do in and around your area that you probably won’t realise it but there are always walks to discover and enjoy. I thought I’d put together a few tips for making the most of a woodland or park walk.

1.) A map or at least a plan of your route

This is probably one of the most important things when it comes to going on a woodland walk. Plan you route or have an idea of where you are at all times. Walking blindly into a random wood is a terrible idea, so if you don’t know the area, grab a guide book of stick to someone that is guided. Have an idea of where you have walked and how to get back.

2.) Water for everyone

I usually have a big 5 litre bottle of water in my car and I then find smaller bottles out with us that I can fill up. I always make sure we have at least a bottle of water to drink from each, possibly a litre bottle with us to top them up.

3.) Snacks

Take snacks! We have stopped sitting down for a chilled out picnic now and instead we tend to graze throughout the day, or the kids do anyway. However much I would usually take I double it. Sometimes I come back with a tonne of food other times I come back with absolutely nothing and two little boys requesting more food! I usually take sausage rolls, sandwiches, pork pies, quiche, crisps, fruit, crudités, jam tarts and mini chocolate brownies/cakes. Jut finger food so it can be shovelled in and we can move on. Easy and simple!

4.) Make up stories

These are some of my fondest memories of my childhood and they involve going for walks with my Dad in the woods and making up stories. We would take the dogs and walk for miles, imagining we were scouting out a fairy Kingdom or pirates on a treasure hunt. It was wonderful fun, and something that I try to do with my kids too. Last week we took a walk into the woods and found a sewer tunnel, we pretended it was the entrance to the ninja turtle hideout and that Craang was in the woods so we had to be quiet and sneaky. It was great and Toby loved it!

5.) It doesn’t matter what weather it is coats are essential

I’ve made this mistake so so many times. It’s roasting outside and we’re going for a walk, so I load up the pushchair with water and snacks, plan where we are going and then forget that as soon as we get into the shade it will feel colder. If you are looking for ward new jacket or coat for Autumn/Winter then M and M direct have a fab selection. I just think it doesn’t matter how nice it is, the weather can turn at anytime so coats are a must.

6.) A basket or bag for treasures

You should so try this, it makes all the difference to a woodland trip. We usually take a basket and Reuben fills it with flowers, pebbles, leaves, sticks and has even found a fair few fossils over time. It gives you something to remember your day with, possibly make into a craft, bake with or put in a memory box.

Enjoy your woodland walks and let me know if you have any tips :)

H x

The forgotten party during miscarriage :: Men and miscarriage via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

So we appreciate and accept that men are fathers and would offer them our sympathy during the loss of a child, but a miscarriage doesn’t really apply to them? Come on society!

Last week my husband came home with some news for me. He is a massive (and don’t underestimate it when I say massive) Hull City football fan, and a month or two ago he told me a player he really loved had been suspended on drug charges. At the time I took little interest, I’m not a football fan, I’m ambivalent at best and outright detest it when it gets in the way of family time. So, disinterest was the name of the game until a few days ago when he came home and told me I might find the mitigating circumstances interesting, which had only just been released. According to the sport news this footballer admitted to taking cocaine because he was suffering with depression after his partner suffered a miscarriage. He needed a distraction and foolishly chose that.

Now, if you are like me, you probably scoffed at that. Yeah, I scoffed. Your partner loses a baby and you decide to snort cocaine as a distraction? Get a grip and grow up. I refuse to accept that drug abuse is acceptable because he was having a rough time of it, it’s not and nothing excuses it, but this situation did make me think hard about attitudes towards men and miscarriage. Had this been something less severe, like going out and getting drunk as a skunk, what would be said then?  What about something like distancing himself from his team mates, and refusing to come to practice? Maybe even going on sick leave for a few weeks because of depression?

You know what would be said? The same thing: get a grip, YOUR PARTNER has lost a baby. Sad thing is, reverse the role and imagine she has acted out, derailed, and the attitude flips 180. After all, she’s just lost a baby.

This really has to stop.

I’m guilty of doing it myself, and it’s wrong. She didn’t lose a baby, THEY lost a baby. You know the old saying it take two to tango? Well it does. It takes two people to make a baby, but it doesn’t seem to take two to suffer through a miscarriage. Men suffer too.

When I think back to my own experience, Adam was really strong for me, as was expected of him. I was never once asked ‘How’s Adam holding up?’ or ‘How’s Adam feeling?’ and I don’t he really was either. I’ve said before on other bloggers posts about this topic that I disagree that miscarriage for men is the same as miscarriage for women, it isn’t and I hold firm to that. I just don’t think that the way we treat men when a miscarriage occurs is fair or right. Did you know that most men don’t even take sick time, or if they do, it’s to ‘support their wives/partners’? How is that ok? I was told that I could take however much time I needed. Adam didn’t take any time at all, and he wasn’t offered.

I do genuinely believe that it is ‘worse’ for a woman during a miscarriage and I think that is where the stigma comes from. Why do I believe that? From my experience, her body has betrayed her, her body isn’t working with her mind and she feels like she is trapped inside the enemy who has literally just taken EVERYTHING away without her consent. She is the one going through the invasive hospital care, she is the one who may end up on the operating table and she is the one who is in physical as well as emotional pain. Now that I have said that, I feel I need to say this: No one wins the grief Olympics. NO ONE. Just because a man isn’t suffering physically doesn’t mean we need to pretend he isn’t suffering emotionally. I have so many friend’s whose husbands are desperate for a baby, but they aren’t. What happens in that instance? Does the man have to ‘suck it up’ if his partner loses the baby when he was the one who really, truly and desperately wanted it?

I realise that our attitudes go back to a time when the man was an ‘alpha male’ and the ‘hunter gatherer’, it was his role to look after the female and protect her, but haven’t we come past this in so many ways? Aren’t we now in a place where it is just as much her role to protect him emotionally as it is his?

Miscarriage, like pregnancy, effects both parties invested. It’s a loss for both parents to be, so can we pleased start to change our attitudes about the man having to be strong for his wife and be respectful of his grief too? You wouldn’t do it if he lost his two year old, so don’t dismiss him when he losses a child that his partner is still carrying, he’s lost a future too you know.

Harriet x

Adorable wash mitts that makes baby's first bath super cute! via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

I LOVE the woodland creatures set, so cute and totally perfect for adding to your child’s play box after they have finished using them as bath mitts.

Adorable wash mitts that makes baby's first bath super cute! via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Pink piggies.

Adorable wash mitts that makes baby's first bath super cute! via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

These would be perfect for a child like Toby who loves to pretend to be a dog.

Ahh baby’s first bath… is there anything that makes parents more nervous but at the same time is such a memory moment?! Most of us will have those pictures of the ‘first bath’ but until we become parents we really don’t realise how much our parents will have been feeling jittery about the first bath, especially with the first baby. Are we doing it right? Too hard? Are they clean?

Anyway, there are so many guidelines nowadays that you can at least feel guided (or on the flip side, overwhelmed) but the main rule is no ‘bath products’ until baby is 6 weeks old. In the mean time it is best to use just water and a soft wash mitt or sponge. Personally, I have always loved a wash mitt when washing my babies, I feel like I can really bond with them. I know that might sound silly, but as I tend to bathe with my babies (or sink bath them!), I lay them on my knees and with a mitt I can stroke their skin, giving them a mini mummy massage of sorts – though not a real massage as you really need to wait until they are at least 6-8 weeks old.

These wash mitts are insanely cute! They are handmade using 100% cotton, and stitched with love by Bonnie Becker of BusyBonnieBee. There are a tonne of different styles for everyone too. I LOVE this woodland set, it is super sweet and perfect for those first special washes, you can even enjoy some puppet play.

Harriet x

Surviving the first school run via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

This picture cracks me up every time. I went to take a picture of him looking all smart for his Daddy who had already gone to work and this was the face he gave me when I said ‘FIRST day of school!’

Over the last few months I have been muddling my way through a new morning routine as Reuben has started ‘proper’ school. He’s in pre-reception so he’s not obliged to go to school at the moment but it has been wonderful for getting him used to a school environment, the routine and for making new friends ahead of his real start in September. If your chosen school offers a pre-reception option then I really recommend it, provided your child is ready for it.

I’ve often heard other Mums talk about the school run and how it’s such a busy, insane time of the morning, not to mention stressful. I’ve found a bit of a rhythm over the last few weeks (briefly interrupted by my car accident) so I thought I’d write down a few tips for how to handle the school run in order to make it significantly less stressful and easier to negotiate!

1.) Get prepared the night before

Setting out school uniform, shoes and preparing any notes you need for the school planner and putting them in the bag, the bag by the door – or even already in the car, will make life so much easier. I would charge about in a morning trying to get Roo’s uniform together while Edith screamed at me from her play mat, Toby spilt breakfast everywhere and it was just a nightmare. Before I knew it Roo would tell me he couldn’t find his bag and I’d discover that Toby had tipped it all over the floor while I was changing a nappy! If you set everything out the night before and get organised it makes your life SO much easier.

2.) Get dressed after breakfast and don’t argue with toddlers who don’t want to get dressed.

Your main priority here is getting your school aged children ready and to school looking like they are reasonably well looked after at home. Any non-school aged children are secondary, so if your 2 year old is kicking up a fuss because they don’t want to get dressed then take them to school in their pjs. It isn’t the biggest drama in the world. You do need to be dressed though, so don’t forget to get ready yourself, preferably BEFORE you dress the kids. I’ve taken Edith to school in her pjs many times, purely because I hadn’t been organised and we’d been running late. I’ve also take Toby in his ninja turtle outfit and once in just a nappy. It happens, it’s no big deal.

3.) Make breakfast easy and filling – no cordon bleu chef play ok?

You might choose to give your kids flambéed banana with homemade caramel sauce and a side of buttermilk pancakes for breakfast during the summer holidays, but that would be a crazy bad decision for a school run day. You want something really simple like cereal or porridge for breakfast on this day, something that will not only help fill your child’s belly until lunchtime but that will be super quick for you to make in the morning. You could, if you wanted, make granola pots the night before, but keep the fancy to a minimum and save it for the weekends – it gives everyone something to look forward to and you a bit of space. I always give the boys a piece of fruit in the car (or veg if they prefer – Roo will eat carrots like a rabbit) so they can nibble on the way.

4.) Remember YOU are the parent, “I don’t want to” is easily solved by picking your kids up and doing it anyway.

I have read countless post about how to combat the “I don’t want to”… Phase of the morning, and to tell you the truth, I just find them silly. Reuben will start with, “I don’t want to get dressed” and start to bounce on the spot like a crazy person making a poor attempt at interpretive dance. My solution? I dress him. I am his parent and when comes to getting dressed in the morning, or getting on with it, I’m in charge and he has no choice to do as I say. I don’t plead, I don’t ask nicely and I don’t cajole him. I tell him firmly, “You will get dressed, or I’ll dress you”. Simple. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not rotten, I ask him why and remind him of all the things he loves about school, plus the things he wanted to share with his teachers, but I really don’t take any crap.

I hope this helps you with surviving the school run for the first time, it really isn’t that bad once you get into the habit of things… honest.

Harriet x

Edith's favourite finger foods for baby led weaning via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

As much as it breaks my heart (I LOVE to cook baby food) Edith just wants to go it alone and feed herself, so I’m helping her do that with finger foods… FYI the pasta didn’t make the list ;)

I’ve never been a baby led weaning kind of gal, not because I don’t like the idea of it, but because I love making baby purée and watching their little faces as they discover a new taste. Unfortunately for me, Edith IS. It can take me over a week to get her to finish one pouch of baby purée whereas the boys were on two pouches for each meal every day by this point (yes, that is 6 pouches of baby food a day – sometimes 7 if they were hungry). Though Edie won’t really give me much enthusiasm when I feed her, she will take her spoon (I’m using these ones) and does like to chew the end and savour the flavour – so it isn’t the food she objects to, it’s relinquishing control of the method of in take! She will watch her brothers with pleading eyes when they are eating sandwiches at lunch, and at the moment, crusts pizza crusts and half eaten biscuits are being given to her like she is a new puppy… Which she gladly mauls to oblivion. My problem with her wanting to feed herself these finger foods is that I don’t really get to control what she eats by way of fruit and veg, so I’ve started letting her have cut up fruit and veg as finger food instead of just rusks, breast crusts and (oh the shame) pizza crusts. Here are her favourites so far:

1.) Cucumber sticks

Reuben will eat at least 2 whole cucumbers a day if I let him… Which I often do because they are only water and a good way for him to keep hydrated. I’d noticed that Edie was gawping at Reuben eating a cucumber stick one day so I asked him to give her one, which he kindly obliged. She LOVED it. I think it must have had a cooling effect on her sore gums because she has one every time she sees him with one, dragging herself over to him and squealing a thin until he chucks one her way… Like a puppy… Are you seeing the theme in our house?!

2.) Slices of part boiled pear

These are sweet and soft enough for her to enjoy, without being as soft as, say, banana, which she just mushed up and paints on the floor. I part boil them so that if she happens to take a chunk she won’t choke, she will be able to mash it with her gums. She isn’t as enthusiastic about these as she is about bread, but they do go down a treat.

3.) Florets of steamed broccoli

She loves broccoli, just like her big brothers. It is one of our staples for a dinner veg and she seems to really enjoy it too. I make sure it is steamed and soft enough for her to mush with her gums, but still has a bit of bite to the stall so she feels like she is getting her gums into something. If she doesn’t get a piece of broccoli and we are eating, we will all know about it within seconds. Sigh. It’s like living with an adorable, mini dictator who has her sights set on conquering what she probably views as mini trees…

4.) Steamed carrot sticks

Again this is our go to veg (we have broccoli and carrots a lot) so it’s no wonder she likes it. She will maul a piece of carrot with the enthusiasm of a football support at goal time. I steam the carrots until they are soft enough for her to mush up but, like the pear and broccoli, have a bit of bite.

5.) Toast with butter or even jam

Yep.

6.) Biscotti biscuits

Ooh especially the apple flavoured ones. She loves them! I bought a packet to keep in my bag for days out and Edith hasn’t looked back since, she ate most of the packet during our trip out, with a touch of help from her brothers. She really does love these so I will let her have them on occasion, though not everyday because, despite saying they ok and healthy, I don’t really see the same nutritional value you would get from a carrot stick or piece of broccoli.

Has your baby forced you into baby led weaning? Or maybe you like going that route yourself? If so then please share your ideas with me, we could use some ideas.

Harriet x

P.s – If you are baby led weaning but you are struggling with the concept of your baby putting something into their mouth that could choke them (despite that being very low risk if you follow the correct method) then why not try one of the Nubi Nibblers, you put your cut up food into it and baby chews it through the bag eliminating any risk of choking.

Adorable, hand crafted crib mobiles from Moloco via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Marina had been hand crafting her gorgeous birds for a time when she decided to turn them into these beautiful hand crafted crib mobiles.

Adorable, hand crafted crib mobiles from Moloco via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

There are so many colours to choose from and Moloco even offer a custom service.

Adorable, hand crafted crib mobiles from Moloco via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Each bird is made from felt and hand stitched or appliquéd.

Adorable, hand crafted crib mobiles from Moloco via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

These pom pom garlands are perfect for brightening any dull space.

I have noticed that Edie doesn’t have a mobile in her room. The boys broke the one we used for them when they were a bit younger so we’ve never really replaced it. I guess it just wasn’t on the priority list.

Now that I am trying to get her to sleep in her cot bed (at least for the first few hours of bedtime) I think it’s time to have a look at mobiles in the hopes that one would entertain her long enough for her to drop back to sleep without having to nurse to sleep every time.

I’ve discovered these gorgeous mobiles and garlands from Moloco. There are a variety different colours, all featuring the signature birdies that I love so much. Each bird is hand made, right from the cutting of the felt to the hand stitching. The products are made by the shop owner and designer, Marina, who has been making her birds for fun for years and finally decided to craft them into something useful and share her talents with the world.

Harriet x

P.s – Marina makes the most gorgeous birdie brooches too – these would be the ultimate in stylish accessorising for the Autumn months, especially if added to a beautiful pashmina.

Free parent via Toby & Roo :: daily inspiration stylish parents and their kids.

Allowing your children a bit more freedom can be great for all of you. It gives the the chance to thrive and you the chance to relax a bit more and enjoy yourself. This is a picture I took of the boys running ahead of me at the park. Yes, they did run further and yes, sometimes out of sight (in the play areas) but they were fine.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the type of parent I am. Now that Edie is past the 6 month point I feel like I am starting to get back to “normality” a bit more… Though with her recent decision to have a 2-3 hour period of wakefulness in the middle of the night I could be described as grumpy normal. Anyway, I’ve never been one for shying away from taking the kids out for the day on my own, and sometimes I find the only way to cope with having children is to get out of the house and DO something, would you agree?

My issue when taking the kids out, lies with two little boys who really don’t have any interest in listening to what I tell them to do. Reuben runs one way and Toby the other. It almost always ends in disaster with me shouting (yes, at the kids – sue me) or we leave early. The other day we visited Flamingo Land, which is a local theme park and zoo situated about 10 minutes up the road from us – how lucky are we?! Anyway, we have annual passes and I wanted to use them during the summer, so we decided to visit just me and the kids. Now if you are like me, you won’t think anything to that, just me and three kids, but so many people have told me they wouldn’t dream of doing it, how could I cope on my own with all three?! In such a busy place?! I find that odd, they are my children, so of course I can take them all out, otherwise nothing would ever be done.

So, I packed us a huge packed lunch, and off we trotted. I put Edith in her baby carrier, Toby in the pushchair and Roo walked – well, anyone who knows Reuben knows that isn’t true, he ran back and forth near the pushchair! As soon as we arrived the running off started. I was stressed immediately, as always. It was hella busy and occasionally Roo dipped out of sight. I sat him down and explained to him there were lots of strangers so he mustn’t run off where I couldn’t see him. Of course it didn’t have much effect but he was, for the most part, in my line of view which I was fine with. If he went out of view he was in trouble, but staying in view in the crowded areas, I freed up with him a bit, let him move more freely as long as we knew where each other was. At one point I ran into a friend and as usual he got bored and ran off. My friend was frantic, but I wasn’t. I saw the direction he went and I instinctually knew he wasn’t far, he was just out of my line of sight, and he came back as I was walking to find him, looking rather sheepish. He knew he’d gone where he shouldn’t. He knew it wasn’t a good idea, he came back and apologised. At that point my friend said to me that I was such a laid back mum, I don’t get easily stressed and just seem to take these extremely energetic, crazy boys in my stride – who was she kidding, I feel like I’m one panicky moment away from a coronary at all times. I do suppose there is an element of truth to that though, I do tend to relax about the running off more and more, don’t get me wrong, I take it seriously but I know my son and that is a part of how he behaves. He will learn with time that ins’t ok, but he is also at a stage where I don’t need to hang on him or fuss at every little thing.

Next hurdle was the play area where him and Toby would BOTH come out. I can’t divide myself, I can’t. So I told them both they were allowed to play so long as they stayed in the same play area and didn’t go off with anyone, or go out of my view too much. It was great. It really was. We used the pushchair as a single point and both boys ran about for a good hour. No fuss, I kept walking around to make sure I could track them both and they were fine. I did the same a few days later at the beach, allowing them to go to the waters edge and paddle while I sat back and observed. Were they allowed to roam around the busy part of the beach without me? Of course not. Did they have to stay in sight and play together? Yes – but the point is I didn’t have to hover or follow them everywhere.

The reason I’m telling you this is because I want to try and encourage people to be free up their parenting styles a bit. We’re so terrified nowadays of what might happen to our children that we can’t even let them be children half the time. There have been numerous news reports of parents, in the UK and USA, who have been arrested and prosecuted because they have allowed their kids to play at the park alone, or, heaven forbid, walk home from the park or school at 7-8 years old when they have only to walk down the street or a couple of streets. Did you know it’s a proven fact that someone your child knows is more likely to abduct them than a stranger? Did you know abduction rates are so low in comparison to say, car accidents? All I’m saying is our children don’t need to be terrified of life and people – not everyone is bad. They just need to be street wise.

Think back to when you were a child, did your parents hover constantly? Not likely. I think having more than one child has made me less precious about things like this, I’m not by any means suggesting you let your kids out of your sight completely, or you sit down and kick back with a costa while they go around the theme park alone, but in a play area? Be that mum that sits down and observes her kids without running after them. Let your child run in front of the pushchair by a way, but don’t let them charge off into the sun set. Relax a bit.

Incidentally, I do have a buggy board that Roo has to stand on if he over does it and runs off consistently after being asked not to, but I am going to try and be a bit calmer and freer when I take the kids out from now on. We have a rule, stay in sight or (in the case of a play area) in the play area, and it’s all good.

Thoughts?

Harriet x

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