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Parenting

I created the #MumsWhoWorkIt hashtag because every since I started blogging and completed my Digital Mums training I have met so many amazing Mums who have set up their businesses. They have managed to juggle motherhood with turning their dreams of working for themselves into a a reality. Lisa Karter owner and founder of Clasp London is no different. She too realised that she had the potential to create a business that would fit in around her children and lifestyle. I am so pleased to be able to introduce another talented Ealing Mum to you!

What’s your background and why did you decided to set up Clasp?

I’ve been a West Londoner all my life, but I’ve lived in Ealing for fourteen years. My husband and I bought our house in Northfields when we decided to start a family, and we now have two sons, aged 8 & 5. Before I had kids I worked in the fashion industry for many years – I’ve got a degree in fashion design and was working as a Production Manager for couturier Stewart Parvin when our eldest arrived in 2010. As soon as I became a mum I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to the crazy hours I was working before, so I chose not to return after my maternity leave finished.

Last year when our youngest was in nursery I started to think about a return to work. It was a nerve-wracking prospect after seven years of being at home full-time with the kids! I researched and even applied for some part time roles but just felt that I wanted something more challenging and rewarding than the types of jobs I got offered.

I decided to start my own business and spent some time mulling it over. I knew it had to be something I could feel passionate about, but I was also aware of the risks involved in developing a high cost product, like a clothing line. I’d had some experience with setting up an e-commerce jewellery range in my previous job, so that seemed like a viable option. Clasp was born last September, on the day I waved both sons off to school for the first time.

Describe a typical day for you?

My day starts at 6.30am when I get woken by the kids. I check my emails, then get the boys fed, dressed and off to school by 8.45. I’ll then either head into the co-working office my business is based in (The Workary, above Hanwell library), or into town for a meeting. On a good day I’ll squeeze in a quick run or a yoga class first. I work until 3pm, then it’s back to collect the kids from school. A flurry of after school activities, dinner, homework, a bit of housework, then bath and bedtime for the kids. Occasionally I’ll work in the evening for an hour before settling down in front of the TV with my hubby and a good box set. I do try to give myself some down time in the evenings to unwind from the day.

How do you think Motherhood has changed you?

Well, I’ve certainly got a few more grey hairs! On a more serious note, it’s helped me prioritise – work is important, but family comes before everything. It’s made me more appreciative of the relationships I have in other parts of my life – whether you’re a new mum or setting out in business, having a support network around you is absolutely vital. I’m very grateful for my family and friends.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given about Motherhood that you would like to share?

Everything is a phase! There were nights when I sat up for hours with a wide awake baby and I thought they would never, ever learn to sleep. They did eventually! Children change so quickly and every tricky stage is replaced by another. You learn to roll with it!

Where are your favourite places to go with or without kids in Ealing/West London?

We have annual passes to Kew Gardens which is a great place for families – we’re always discovering new tucked away places we haven’t seen before. Northala Fields is a favorite too. For a night out without kids, I love Tapelia in Northfields – it’s a fab tapas bar with great decor, a lovely ambience and delicious food.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?

My claim to fame is that I appeared on Blue Peter in 1990, doing a book review. All I can say is I’m glad it was pre-digital TV – I’ve lost the VHS!

What are your handbag essential?

Tissues, lipstick, hand cream, sunglasses, a pen. I’m a low maintenance kind of girl!

How do you see your business developing over the next couple of years?

I hope to expand the range of products offered – I’d love to launch a range of children’s jewellery, and personalised pieces. I’m currently approaching independent boutiques in the area about stocking the collection, so I hope to be selling across the country in a couple of years.

What is your favorite piece from your range?

Ah, this is tricky! I love the Petite Linked Hoop Stud earrings for every day, plus I alternate between the Feather Duo Pendant Necklace, and the Compass Pendant Necklace. I’m lucky I have one of everything in the range!

What advice would you give to other Mums who are considering setting up their own business?

Absolutely go for it! I honestly thought at one stage I might never have a career again, but I’m so glad I took the plunge. I’ve learnt so much in a really short space of time – it’s stressful sometimes but it’s really re-energised me, and I’m discovering skills I forgot I even had. My 8 year old is really proud of what I’m doing which drives me forward.

What is the one thing you wish you had already know when setting up your business?

That it won’t happen overnight – everything takes longer than you think it will, but that’s ok.

Where can potential customers purchase your jewellery?

You can order online through the website – www.clasp.london

I’m also appearing at various markets and events over the year – details on our Facebook page. The next one is the In Cahoots Night Market at The Green, W7, on Saturday 19th May. There will be lots of other local independent brands, food, drink and entertainment for the whole family, plus the pub is showing the Royal Wedding. I’m in discussion with local gift shops too, so watch this space!

Would you like to win this stunning piece from the Clasp London collection? Head over to my Instagram for a change to win this polished circle pendant necklace in stirling sliver worth £58.00.

Disclaimer – This is collaborative post, however all views and opinions are my own and an honest reflection of the products.

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It’s finally starting to feel like Spring! So now is the time to start thinking about updating your children’s wardrobe for the warmer weather which is on the horizon! Spring is my favourite time of year as I love to start dressing Amelia in pretty floral prints and bright colours. Children’s fashion is one of my passions, so  I have styled some gorgeous outfits, that are all available to purchase locally at The Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre.

I don’t know about you, but I find this time of the year the perfect opportunity to go through my Daughter’s wardrobe. I like to take out any clothes she has grown out of or put away any items that are more suited to colder weather.

For this kids fashion review I have enlisted the help of Ben, who is my friend’s little boy. I wanted to show you some super cute boy’s fashion too!

Ben wears cotton printed short pyjamas £8.00 by Marks & Spencer.

This fun shark dressing gown is £15.00 and great for the mornings that are still a bit chilly!

 

 

H&M have some great value kids clothes. Ben wears a polo shirt £7.99 and skinny fit jeans £14.99.

Amelia is loving this pretty look also by H&M, sleeveless lace dress £9.99, demin jacket £14.99 and I think the floral headband at £2.99 finishes the outfit off.

Have you been into Cath Kidston yet in Ealing Broadway? Their range of children’s clothes are gorgeous and I particulary love this look that Ben is modelling! The London print theme and knitwear is so bright and colourful.

Ben wears the knitted tank top £28.00, Billie’s travels long sleeve shirt £20.00.

The London Streets Annual Teddy is in my opinion, a lovely gift for a new baby in 2018 – £12.00.

The matching backpack is again in the Billie’s Travels print priced at £25.00.

I love to dress Amelia in floral prints and this beautiful dress by Cath Kidston is perfect for a Spring walk in the park!

Amelia wears:

Island Bunch Square Neck Dress – £28.00

Scattered Rose Hair Clips – £4.00

Socks – £4.00

Scattered Rose Mini Rucksack – £18.00 to carry all the things a little girl needs for a day out!

To top it off this traditional ballerina rag doll.

My go to shop every since Amelia was born has always been Marks & Spencer. Amelia wears this pretty floral pure cotton prom dress £24.00, with a co-ordinating cotton frill sleeve cardigan in yellow £12.00 and face cross bar leather shoes £22.00.

Happy shopping!

This is a collaborative post with Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre. As always all views and opinions are my own.

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The perfect rainy day activity this week, has been a wonderful children’s craft project decorating wooden Swedish Dala Horses. The weather so far for April has been pretty awful, so unfortunately we have had a few days this school holiday at home. So when Clas Ohlson asked us if we would like to get involved with their project as part of their 100th year birthday celebrations? I was literally chomping on the bit, excuse the pun!

So what you may ask is a Swedish Dala Horse? Well, according to Clas Ohlson…..

“It was in the small log cabins, deep in the forests of the Swedish Dalarna region, the the Dala horse was born. Using simple tools, nestled around a log fire, woodcarvers made these Dala horse toys for their children.

Clas Ohlson also begun life in the Dalarna region, so it’s no surprise that the Dala horse is special to us. When we open a Clas Ohlson store, each member of staff is given a commemorative Dala horse to mark the occasion.

The most famous Dala horse pattern, with its red, white, green, yellow and blue design, is believed to be 150 years old.”

So, as you can see from the look of concentration on Amelia’s face the art of Dala horse decorating was taken very seriously! We had a set of three different sized horses to paint and I joined in too! The first stage was to cover each horse in acrylic paint.

Once the first layer was dry we painted on patterns and then added a layer of glitter, or two or maybe three! We did get slightly carried away with the glitter and on this session I forgot to make Amelia wear her art overall, so we both got covered in glitter! I think perhaps our horses look slightly more like unicorns!

We had so much fun decorating the horses! I would highly recommend it as the perfect rainy day craft project!

All of the craft products we used can be purchased either in store or online at Clas Ohlson.

If you and your children would like to paint and decorate your very own Swedish Dala horse, then you are in luck! To celebrate their 100th Birthday Clas Ohlson will be running a FREE Dala horse decorating workshop this Thursday 12th April 2018 11am-2pm in The Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre! Plus those who take part will receive 20% off in the store on that day.

 

Disclaimer – This is collaborative post, however all views and opinions are my own and an honest reflection of the products.

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I recently attended The Baby Show, the headline sponsor was Made For Mums at ExCel London. I had an amazing time and wanted to share with you who I met and some of my top tips for surviving a busy day at a huge event like The Baby Show! Plus, I have an great Easter competition for you to enter. You can win a really gorgeous Easter Basket from Nibbling containing a dummy clip, Bibetta bib from the new Annabel Karmel range and a Jellycat bunny! If you would like to enter all the details are are the bottom of this post, good luck!Who is the Baby Show for?

I would say it is the ideal event to attend if you are pregnant, having a new baby, but also great for Mums with younger children too! It is the perfect opportunity to actually see and try out lots of different baby and parenting brands all under one roof. It’s also an event to attend if you would like to hear some well known leading experts speak about various parenting topics.

Getting There

ExCeL London has excellent transport links. The best way to get there is via the DLR and you can use either Custom House or Prince Regent stations. There is plenty of on site parking too if you want to drive.

My Top Tips for surviving your day!

  • ExCel London is a huge venue so be prepared to do a lot of walking (So I would recommend extra comfortable shoes!)
  • Inside there is a great range of café and restaurants, so you will be spoilt for choice when you need to take a break!
  • I would really advice dropping all your coats and bags that you don’t need at the cloak room, because you are going to need free hands for all the shopping you will be doing!
  • When attending an event like this is a really good idea to check out the exhibitors list before the day, that way you can make a plan of the stands you really want to visit. Otherwise you can end up missing some of the important ones.
  • I think it is worth making time to enter some of the competitions that are offer at events like this. I have read that the odds to win these types of competitions are very good.
  • Some events will have a shop & drop facility, which is super useful if you do make some purchases which are heavy. At this event Emma’s Diary offered a handy service to look after your bags for you and can even help you collect them from a pick up point in the car park!

Here’s my run down of some of the great brands I met on the day. Some of them are probably brands you will have come across before, but I also met people from up and coming companies and some smaller boutique brands too.

Lily and Fred is a lovely online boutique which stocks some really original gifts and children’s clothes. Perfect if you are looking for something a bit different!

Cuddledry has a full range of products perfect to keep your little ones warm and dry after their bath. I particularly love their topknot head towel, it solves the problem of wet PJ’s post bath.

Babease Their organic baby food pouches are a great convient way to feed your baby on the go. They pride themselves on producing products that are natural and free from extra additives. There are lots of different flavours which are ideal for first tastes, plus they offer a more textured range too, as your baby progresses.

I was excited to see a new brand called Good Bubble they make naturally-derived and organic toiletries for babies and children. I even got to met the founder Amy Wordsworth. We had a chat all about how she came to decide to launch the brand. Plus how she was featured on Dragons Den and gained investment from Deborah Meaden!

I absolutely loving the new range Good Bubble has collaborated with The Gruffalo, which uses extract of  super fruit prickly pear with avocado and coconut oil.

I have previously worked with Bibetta, as they were kind enough to support one of my local Ealing parent events. I was really lucky as I happened to be at their stand when Annabel Karmel dropped by to do a photo shoot with the new bibs that been designed in collaboration with Bibetta.

I even got to have a quick chat with Annabel Karmel herself!

What I really enjoyed were the talks from leading industry experts. My tip here is to really have a good look at the show topics and times. Otherwise potentially you will miss the talks that you are interested in. I managed to catch Binky from Made In Chelsea.  I was really pleased to have the opportunity to hear her talk, as I  enjoyed watching her recent television series Born in Chelsea, about her journey of becoming a Mum.

Binky has set up her own Mother’s Retreat called the Mummy Tribe, which I think is a really innovative idea!

Lastly I was really excited to hear Annabel Karmel gave her top tips on weaning. I thought what she had to say made a lot of sense. Plus, it was really interesting to hear her story on how she initially set up her own business. She explained that when she wrote her first book numerous publishers rejected her. However, she persisted with her version to help other Mums feed their children and in the end has become a best selling author! So for me her story was so inspirational!

The next Baby Show will be on the 18-20th May 2018 at the NEC Birmingham or if you are in the London area the next one will be 19th-21st October at Olympia.

Would you like to WIN this great Easter prize? How about this exclusive Easter basket by Nibbling. One lucky winner will receive: a Jellycat bunny, Nibbling dummy clip and the new Annabel Karmel designed ultra bib by Bibetta. So head over to my Instagram page to enter! The Competition closes on the 18th March 2018.

I purchased tickets for The Baby Show myself and this post is in no way sponsored by The Baby Show. All views and opinions are my own and are an honest reflection of my visit.

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What can you do with the kids on a cold Sunday afternoon? Go and take advantage of some of the great Children’s Theatre currently running at Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford. Last weekend we went to see Jay Foreman’s Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this performance, as I haven’t seen any children’s comedy before. However I was pleasantly surprised!

I didn’t expect to actually find it that funny, but I was laughing along with my Daughter and laughing even louder at some jokes that maybe she didn’t get. My Daughter is almost 6 years old so I would say it is suitable from 5 years and up depending on the child of course.

Jay Foreman has performed four sell out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and by all accounts he has a real talent for entertaining children and adults alike! Some critics have even compared him to the comic genius that was Spike Milligan and I would definitely agree with that. we both found his show absolutely hallarious!

What I particularly enjoyed about his show was the way he engaged with the audience. My Daughter found it particularly funny that Jay asked the audience to replace a round of applause with a loud raspberry!

He mixes rhymes and songs with strange noises, we really liked the following songs: My car runs on caterpillar sick which gives a nod to being more environmentally friendly. Grandma which talks about trying to get you to eat unbranded expired food! Then there is The Sooty Show which really took me back to my childhood!

Since we have been going to the theatre on a more regular basis. I can really see the benefits to all of us as a family. Not only does it give you the opportunity to do something together, but it also means that you and your child are introduced to new topics for discussion.

I actually hadn’t laughed as much as I did last weekend in ages! We both left the theatre in an upbeat mood proving laughter really is the best therapy, especially on a cold dark afternoon!

Watermans have lots more Children’s Theatre and activities coming up over the Easter holidays. So head over to their website and check out their Children’s Family Theatre Spring Brochure for all the listings. If you can book soon, as these performances tend to get booked up well in advance.

All views are my own and are an honest reflection of the show I saw. I was given complimentary ticket in return for a review.

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The Christmas season is a time when families enjoy many different traditions and mine is no different. We love the big build up to Christmas and enjoy all the preparation involved. This year I have done a lot of my shopping locally in Ealing, as I have found that I have been able to fit it around my work schedule and the school run. I was delighted when I heard that Cath Kidston would be opening a new store in Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre, just in time for Christmas! The new store is next door to Wasabi and opposite to Marks and Spencer. I was there on the day the new store opened and couldn’t wait to start my Christmas shopping!

In our house we like to open a couple of presents on Christmas Eve. I think that way you can enjoy a few small gifts the night before. On Christmas Day it can be a bit over whelming for children (and adults!) as there is so much going on.

I often like to buy some new nightwear for Christmas Eve. I couldn’t resist getting us matching PJ’s (we did it last year too). The Christmas cushions are a great way to make your bedroom or lounge look more festive!

Ladies snowman brushed flannel long PJ set – £55.00

Kids snowman PJ set – £25.00

Polar bear sack – £12.00

Polar bear cushion – £12.00

Snowman cushion – £12.00

We always have a stockings for both children as well as adults! I enjoy choosing the stocking fillers and like to include smaller more personal items. This year Cath Kidston have a lovely range of smaller gifts which are perfect stocking fillers. These are the items I decided upon:

Pets party 6 pack pencils – £4.50

Ballerina kids diary – £6.00

Junior metallic clasp purse – £8.00

Lucky rose kids two pack hair bows – £5.50

I always like to have a relaxed breakfast on Christmas Day, usually smoked salmon and scrambled eggs is on the menu. Cath Kidston does some lovely china wear and there is nothing like making a pot of tea and relaxing on Christmas morning while watching the children unwrapping their presents!

Alphabet mugs – £7.50

Pets party teapot – £28.00

I always enjoy choosing a special outfit for my Daughter for Christmas day. I absolutely love this floral print dress. I think it makes an adorable Christmas day outfit if you wanted an alternative to a Christmas print or jumper.

Northcote flower dropped waist dress – £26.00

Junior medium double zip rucksack – £28.00

Hankie Rose fairy rag doll – £18.00

What traditions do you have in your family for Christmas? Let me know in the comments, I would love to know!

This is a collaborative post.

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There are so many activity classes for babies and toddlers available locally in Ealing, so as a Mum it can be overwhelming at times to decided which one to go for. One of the aims of my blog is to provide honest and useful reviews to help parents decide where they should take their children. This week I was thrilled to be asked along to a Monkey Music class. I was able to find out more about how music can benefit a young child’s development.

I met up with Helly Summerly, who is the Principal Teacher for the Ealing and Acton area. I was able to see for myself what went on in a Monkey Music class. On the day I visited at Ealing Green Church, I watched the Rock ‘N’ Roll class which is aimed at babies from 3 months up to 12 months.

The venue is perfect for this sort of class. The church has plenty of space for buggies and baby changing facilities. Plus the acoustics of the building made Helly’s voice sound even more beautiful! The special thing for me about Monkey Music is that not only are some of the songs original, but the teacher is singing along with the music and interacting with the children.

What really struck me was that Helly the Teacher made sure that every child was included and made a special effort to get them to engage with her. There were so many smiling happy faces both from the babies and the parents. I notice that the children naturally crawled towards Helly and I think that says a lot.

I loved the way Helly used puppets and bubbles to interact with the children and even brought in elements of the seasons. She was teaching the children about Autumn using paper leaves and a squirrel puppet. You could see the children absolutely loved it!

One of my favourite parts of the session was at the very end when Helly sang a goodbye song, it was lovely to see the children relaxing and calming down with their parents.

I can not recommend Monkey Music enough! I watched both children and parents really submerge themselves in to the world of music. I just wish Monkey Music had been around when my Daughter was this age!

Helly, could you tell me a bit about the background to Monkey Music?

The Monkey Music curriculum was written by Guildhall School of Music & Drama graduate Angie Coates, now Monkey Music’s Managing Director. Classes first opened in London in 1993 and Monkey Music’s popularity led to the company being franchised in 1998. More than 50 franchises currently operate in nearly 300 locations across the UK.

Specialist teachers are carefully chosen for their natural ability to communicate with and entertain young children and their carers, gently encouraging social and musical skills within a fun, stimulating and friendly environment.

How does music taught in groups benefit young children?

Early exposure to singing, listening to and playing music can sharpen up a whole range of educational skills. Language and numerical skills flourish through action songs and rhymes; fine motor skills are refined through playing hand held percussion instruments, while an awareness of space and one another is developed through movement. The children’s confidence and self-esteem grows rapidly as their involvement in the group increases.

What classes are available and what age groups are they suitable for?

Rock’n’Roll – from 3 months

Designed specifically for Mums, Dads and very young babies to share together.

During each class the babies and adults are engaged through gentle songs, fascinating sounds and absorbing activities.

Heigh-Ho – from 12 months

Young toddlers love being up on their feet so lots of dancing and moving encourages the children to explore the space around them and express the music they hear.

The children thrive on the ‘steady beat’ and are very enthusiastic young members of the Monkey Music band. Themed classes and bold colourful props captivate the children and encourage everyone to get involved.

Jiggety-Jig – 2 & 3 years

By this stage, children can really express the joy that music brings them. They sing, dance, play, move, tell stories, speak, and listen to music together.

Monkey Music teachers make sure that the children develop their sense of rhythm whilst playing in time to Monkey Music songs and games. Hoops, parachute games and circle dances are always popular Jiggety-Jig activities.

Ding-Dong – 3 & 4 years

Up until now the children have been listening and responding to music they hear. Now that their ears have been ‘finely tuned’ Monkey Music teaches them what music means when they see it written down.

Reading simple traditional musical notation comes easily to Monkey Music children as it is integrated into the final part of our interactive curriculum.

Helly can you tell me more about yourself and why you became involved with Monkey Music?

I first discovered Monkey Music when I was looking for music classes to take my own baby daughter to whilst I was on maternity leave. As a musician myself, I was keen to find something that incorporated key musical elements whilst also being enjoyable for my daughter. We went to our first Monkey Music class when she was just a few months old, and I was immediately impressed by the musical content of the classes we attended. And seeing the delight on my daughter’s face each week when we she recognised her favourite Monkey songs quickly made it the highlight of our week!

When the opportunity arose for me to take on my own Monkey Music franchise in Ealing and Acton, I realised I had found the perfect way to combine my passion for music and singing, with my love of babies and interest in the important role that music can play in child development. And it meant I could return to Ealing, where I had spent many happy years, to teach!

I am a trained classical singer, having studied at Oxford University where I held a choral scholarship. I have performed as a soloist with many of London’s leading chamber choirs, and feature on over 20 commercial recordings. I have performed on Radio 3 on several occasions and continue to give regular live performances (when I’m not busy teaching Monkey Music or being a Mum!) Before I had my daughter, I also pursued an International career in Marketing and Innovation, and was on the board of directors of a luxury toiletries company.

When and where are the classes?

Classes take place on Mondays at The Grange Pub and Dining Room, on Tuesdays at Ealing Green Church and on Wednesdays at St Paul’s, Playschool Hall.

The current term will end on the 15th December 2017. Helly is taking bookings now for the next term, which will start on the 8th January 2018. However, you are welcome to join part way through the term if you wish. Your first class is free and is a great way to find out if the class suits you and your child. Go to the Monkey Music Website for more information and timetables.

How can I book?

You can book via the website or you can contact Helly directly (see details below). Or alternatively you can book your first free class via the Hoop App.

Don’t forget to follow Monkey Music on social media and keep up to date with the latest classes and news!

Facebook: @MonkeyMusicEalingAndActon or for the nationwide page @monkeymusic

Twitter: @MonkeyMusicNews

Instagram: @monkeymusicuk

Helly Summerly can be contacted:

Email: helly.summerly@monkeymusic.co.uk

Tel: 020 3715 2634

Monkey and related products such as Cd’s, books and t-shirts are available to purchase so you continue the fun at home!

This is a collaborative post.

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Tell me a bit about your background and why you decided to start Baby Steps?

I am a Paediatric Nurse, Health Visitor, Infant Massage Instructor and Mummy of two!

I’ve been in the Health Service over 22 years and started Baby Steps back in 2006. I was Health Visiting in central London at the time and services were becoming more stretched.  I saw the need for a relaxed, friendly service helping address common parental concerns, as often families were not getting the support they needed.

I also wanted to create a role which could be flexible in the future for when I hopefully had a family. I’ve always continued to work in the NHS too and think it can offer an amazing service. Baby Steps offers Baby and Child First Aid and Weaning courses. Courses can be in the comfort of parents’ homes or at local venues. They can be with friends and family or just for the parents themselves.

I feel incredibly lucky to do something I love so much. Seeing the reassurance and confidence the Baby Steps courses give, alongside my A&E nursing is so rewarding. Right from Day one it has felt such a privilege to work closely with families. It is often the little things that makes a difference.

Do you still work in the NHS? 

Yes, absolutely. I do shifts regularly in Chelsea and Westminster Paediatric Accident and Emergency where I have worked since 2000.  I really love the buzz of A&E. The variety is amazing; caring for children with day to day illness and injuries right through to life threatening conditions.  When it is your own child nothing feels minor and I really understand that!

How do you spend your time when you are not running Baby Steps?

I am a wife and Mummy to Isabella age 8 and William age 5. I knew I would love being a Mummy but it has been a billion times better than I imagined.  It’s extremes – amazingly wonderful and the hardest job ever all at the same time!  Being a parent has massively helped my work too.

I am really enjoying being a school Mummy and help with school trips and listening to reading each week in their class.

I love girlie time with my friends, being outside and going for lovely walks, to shop, watch box sets, eat chocolate, cook yummy food for family and friends. I love the beach and try to go whenever I can with the family to blow the cobwebs away!

What sort of topics do you cover in your courses?

As a parent, Nurse and Health Visitor, I have combined all that experience that to make the courses the most practical and helpful for parents, grandparents and babysitters. The courses are bespoke and tailored to the age of the children of those attending and if there are any specific concerns or medical conditions.

The Baby and Child First Aid course covers all the main First Aid topics; including burns, scalds, cuts, bruises, allergies, ingestions and head injuries.  I am passionate about accident prevention and home safety. So as well as covering the important First Aid I very much focus on how to prevent the accidents in the first place!  I also cover temperatures, Meningitis and aspects of childhood illness.

I have an army of manikins and everyone gets to learn and practice the CPR and choking techniques. We chat about where to get help, what to keep in a First Aid kit and medicine cabinet – everything really!  Everyone is given a First Aid manual and loads of info to refer to after the course.

The Weaning course really aims to ensure parents feel excited not daunted about this lovely stage. I go through step by step how to introduce solids, the various options; purees, mash, finger foods, Baby Led as it is really confusing these days!  I explain how babies can have family food from early on to save hours preparation and massively encourage the fun, social aspects of eating!  Everyone gets a booklet of all the info covered with recipes, food ideas to refer to along their Weaning journey.  We chat about teething, cups, dummies and other things that can be happening around this time.  You can see parents shoulders drop through the course as they can see it actually will be fun!

With both courses I have a stack of demo stuff again to make the courses as useful as possible!

Since you launched Baby Steps what has been the biggest challenge you have faced?

I think like most parents it’s juggling time!  Sometimes I stay up to late doing emails or preparation for Baby Steps once the children are in bed, but it’s important to switch off. Also I have so many ideas for Baby Steps and I need to remember to take it step by step!

If you could give one piece of advice to a new parent what would it be?

To go day by day.  Everyone says when your babies are tiny the time goes so quickly and you are often too tired to take that in. The tricky parts are just a phase but it can be hard to see that at the time. Mine are both at school now and I am so pleased I made the most of my time with them when they were small. Part time work kept me sane but I am a Mummy above and beyond anything. You do get more balance back as they get older.

When it comes to home safety there is a lot of equipment out there, what do you think is the most worthwhile to buy and why?

Stair gates are so important. Children can move way before they understand the dangers and we see terrible accidents in A&E from stairs. Corner cushions – I know they are ugly but coffee tables are big culprits of head injuries!

A lot of stuff isn’t necessary but it’s preventing the big accidents and reducing your stress levels as you can’t have eyes in the back of your head!

Why should a parent come along to one of your courses?

To feel reassured and confident! They are super practical course and parents are buzzing with tips and ideas following the courses. I have loved it so much when parents have said they feel ’empowered’ from the First Aid course or ‘excited’ about Weaning. Sometimes parents can have had a tough time and the courses can be a turning point to getting the advice and confidence they need. I am always happy to chat through issues on a 1:1.

Where do you see Baby Steps going in the future?

I love the group courses but I also love the 1:1 appointments supporting parents with different issues related to health and nutrition. I am doing more now online (Facetime, What’s App video) so am excited to think I could help parents all over the world!

My interests in Home Safety and Nutrition are growing all the time I am so excited to be passing information on to families. I am on a mission to ensure parents are as fully informed as possible when making decisions about their child’s safety. Often all they see is the marketing and not the potential risks with some products.

As far as Nutrition goes it is huge for all of us as we learn more and more how what we eat impacts on our health, sleep, moods, energy so for growing little brains and bodies even more so.  I am so keen for babies to build a good healthy relationship with food early on and for families to enjoy happy meals together.

I haven’t quite got there yet but am planning to run First Aid courses for children in schools and for parents to be able to learn with their children or arrange for a group of kids at home.  It’s an amazing opportunity for them to start lifelong learning of First Aid.

You can find out more about Baby Steps via the Website and don’t forget to follow Baby steps on social media for regular updates on upcoming courses @babystepsx

The Ealing Mummy and Baby Steps are running a free event Ealing Mum’s Mush Up on Tuesday 7th November 2017 at the Grove Pub in Ealing 12 midday. Come and join us in a friendly and relaxed environment with taster sessions on how to deal with choking and find out a bit more about weaning. You will also receive a free goodie bag. Limited tickets available, please book your tickets via Eventbrite.

 

 

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I wish that there had been such a thing as Mush when I had my Daughter in 2012. Let me take you back just five years ago, of course we had Facebook, all the usual NCT meet ups and playgroups that were an opportunity to make new Mum friends, but there certainly wasn’t an app quite like Mush.

Take a look at this photo below. What comes to your mind when you see this image? Happy first time Mum? Friendly, sociable Mum who has lots of friends? Well, no that wasn’t actually the case.

In reality when I first had my Daughter I didn’t actually know any other Mums in the Ealing area. I felt isolated and lonely. You see before I was a Mum my life did not revolve around my local neighbourhood at all. I worked in another part of London and commuted on a daily basis, so actually my network of friends were spread out all over London.

When I became a Mum it was definitely a shock to my system. I realised it was not feasible to be meeting up with friends on the other side of London with a young baby. What I really needed was a local support network of like minded Mums. Some people might say well surely that is easy you just turn up at your local baby group and connect with another Mum over coffee and cake? Well actually it wasn’t that simple if I am honest.

Sometimes when I went to baby groups or classes the Mums who were already there had their own little clique and weren’t really that interested in me. Or on other occasions my Daughter was either crying or when she was a bit older was all over the place, I felt like I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It was hard to concentrate and actually hold a decent conversation with another Mum.

In the end I was lucky and met my perfect Mum friend in a random meeting in a Marks & Spencer Cafe and that was the solution to my situation. However not everyone can find friends that way. According to a recent poll conducted by ChannelMum.com 90% of Mums feel lonely.

This is where Mush comes in. It is a free app that you can download from the App Store or Google Play. From the comfort of your sofa you can search for a local Mum who has a similar age child to you or even a Mum who is pregnant. You can send them a message and arrange to meet up and you will also find Mush-ups where groups of Mums might meet up at a local coffee shop or child friendly venue.

The app has a great facility where other Mums can write a review about child friendly venues from cafes, playgroups and shops. That way you can find out where other Mush Mums like to hang out and what top tips they have. You will also find Mush Guides which provide entertaining reading on a wide variety of topics.

I’m currently in the process of organising an event for local Mush Mums to get together in Ealing. So keep your eyes peeled for details on social media and over on the Mush app

Disclaimer – I am currently a Mush Mum Ambassador and I am championing the app in my local area of Ealing, West London.

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