Archives for February 2016

Recipes for a happy half term – with a daily dash of honesty

I hadn’t planned to write a blog about our half-term but then I read a few blogs since and there were lots of lovely posts with kids doing various activities, which I enjoyed reading. I also read this post from Tinuke at Circus Mums, which really resonated as I was just about to launch my first Proudly Imperfect Parents e-course at the time – on the very subject of letting go of perfection and embracing ‘good enough’.

So I thought back to the break and what a good time we had, and decided that I actually would write a belated blog about our week – with, as the title suggests, a daily dose of honesty, because, well this is real life isn’t it?

So here’s my recipe for a happy half term:

Take one highly sensitive, reception-aged child and add…


2016-02-13 15.59.55


  • A dash of ‘I never want to leave this glorious place and no, 3 hours is NOT long enough!’ – complete with shouting in the street that took 20 minutes (ok probably about 5 but it felt like 20!) to diffuse.
  • A pinch of falling asleep on the bus so deeply he needed to be carried home, where he promptly woke up.



I have no idea. Honestly, I don’t remember. Must have been a pretty average day then.


  • A day at a Fit for Sport holiday club, with a variety of sporting activity and kids ranging from 5 to around 11 (a guess)
  • Mushroom’s favourite coaches from last year: Bradley and Theo (hi guys!)
  • New friends
  • Packed lunch (super exciting when you’re used to school dinners).


  • A dash of ‘I never want to leave Mummy’s side for anything ever’ for 30 minutes the first morning
  • A pinch of ‘let’s stop at every playground on the way back to maximise Mummy time, get really overtired and meltdown before bedtime (should have seen that one coming).


  • Another day at Fit for Sport – with added swimming (a Mushroom favourite) and new friends
  • The super brave act (for Mushroom) of choosing and paying for his own drink in the cafe afterwards, while I watched from a distance.


  • A dash of the ever popular falling asleep on this bus (luckily it wasn’t such a deep sleep this time but he still wasn’t happy to be woken – would you be..?).


  • A lazy morning watching TV and eating pancakes (midweek! A real treat)
  • A little creative activity
  • A rather grown-up lunch at Pizza Express
  • Watching a movie (Alvin and the Chipmunks – Mushroom can’t get his head round the fact that Auntie L and I used to listen to them on a record player! as kids) and eating popcorn.


  • A dash of ‘I now need to run around like a crazy person and make a lot of noise after all that sitting and being quiet’, claiming, loudly, that he wanted to “walk all the way home!” just as we were about to board the bus and then once on the bus, promptly falling asleep. Again.


  • Make and do, and activity day
  • The promise of silly string


  • The first time I’ve bought a can of silly string since uni years – and it doesn’t work. Cue tears. A lot of tears. I didn’t realise just how important this was to him.


  • Meeting up with nursery friends (not seen for a year) to go to the fair at the Olympic Park
  • Chips and candy floss.


  • A dash of over-excitement, too much sugar (did I mention the candy floss?) and needing to be ‘rescued’ from a playhouse that became just too much for him when the slide was too high up and he was left behind by braver friends.


  • A very low-key, low-sugar day to recover from the excitement of Friday!


  • A day at Fun DMC – A daytime block party for kids and parents (read: A family friendly hip-hop event. Yes!)

There were plenty more moments across this week… I loved discovering Goosebumps on Netflix and finding Mushroom loved it as much as I did as a kid, and held my hand in the scary bits, I loved snuggling in bed in the mornings after Daddy left for work and I loved when Mushroom picked up a ‘greatest mum’ Mother’s Day card in a newsagents and told me “It says Mummy so I want to give it to you”. I told him to have a word with Daddy about that!

Of course, there were plenty more imperfect moments but really, that’s just life and although I want to be honest I don’t want the focus to be on those. Now that Mushroom is back at school again he’s a little unsettled (he was just getting back into the routine last week when he was sick at school and and had to be picked up early) but he’ll be ok.

How was your half-term? Did you fill up all your days with activities or take some time to chill? And did the kids settle back to school easily or do you have sensitive ones too..?


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A new twist on the classic fairy tale book – A Parragon Book Buddies review

Our latest gift from the Parragon Books children’s range was yet another winner. Although it didn’t elicit quite so much excitement as the Fire Station Activity Book, I knew in advance Mushroom would love it as it brings together two of his favourite things – old-fashioned fairy tales (those I’ve been reading to him since he before he was born) and creative activities.

Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book

When he first opened it, he asked: “Is it a story or an activity book?” as he was unsure… I explained that it was both and suggested he look at the pictures on the front to see if he recognised any of the characters. “Three Little Pigs! Little Red Riding Hood!” Once the recognition came he was eager… “Can we do it now?” Yes son, that was the idea! 😉

So we got out his colouring pens and got to work…

This ‘Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book’ has a good mixture of directed activities and more creative options, which Mushroom loved. I’m no expert but am pretty sure the 100+ activities in the book support the EYFS framework, so it’s great educational fun for rainy days… We have had a few of these since we received the book and we’ve not yet finished it so it’s definitely worth £9.99 – Less than a tenner for a ton of fun. The book is retailing at £9.99 at Amazon but at the time of writing it’s available for just £4.82 at The Book Depository – so go grab yours now!

Disclosure: Mushroom and I are Parragon Book Buddies and receive a new book to read and review each month. All views are our own. Read my full PR and disclosure policy here.

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Before Birdsong: On writing, parenting and self-care

This year I am pleased to have become one of the contributors to a beautiful online parenting magazine, Raising Mothers. I first discovered Raising Mothers last year, through a friend who would often retweet posts. I’d find myself nodding along as I read these literary essays, and/or learning more about parenting through the lens of a diverse group of women with one thing in common: All are excellent writers, whose essays I save up and read when I want to feel emotionally ‘full’.

While it is a literary magazine for mothers, by mother writers, Raising Mothers is specifically about, as the name suggests, raising us as mothers (rather than raising our children), with a focus on sharing the collective voices of women of colour. So when I saw that Founding Editor Sherisa was seeking new writers for 2016,  I decide to get on board. Luckily, she welcomed me with open arms!

My first essay focuses on the theme of self-care, which is different for everyone. This piece touches on my morning routine, imperfect parenting (of course!) and my writing practice. It’s a departure from my usual blogging style here, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Before Birdsong

Before Birdsong

It’s 5.30am and I’m at my desk. If you had told me five years ago I’d willingly get up before 6am I would have struggled to believe you but here I am.

The birds are not yet singing but if I listen very carefully I can hear the distant hum of other early risers. Mostly cars already on their way to work. Not on our street though. Before 6am when my husband wakes up, it’s just me and the silence, until I fire up my laptop and add the tap of the keyboard to my morning music.
I sit for a moment, soaking up the silence. I reflect on the previous day, or week. Sometimes I allow myself to get caught up in an unhelpful train of thought but I usually leave that for the evening after a long day. In the morning I am kinder to myself. Today I am thinking about how I mothered in anger yesterday morning, storming off and refusing to listen to the reasons behind my four-year old’s challenging behaviour. Excuses I called them, and sent him away.

I reflect that the behavior needed addressing but wish I gave another response. That was yesterday though. That afternoon I listened and empathized and he felt heard. His behaviour that evening then reflected this and we were all much calmer.

Today is a new day.

I’ve only been sitting down for a few minutes and I notice how much my mind jumps around. I’m not a morning person and up until recently, I couldn’t rise even if I tried. I had regular wake up calls at around 2am, being up for the day at 5am most days. I used to wonder if we’d ever sleep through the night again. We do now. I think, this too shall pass, as I navigate his recently heightened anxiety, as I hope it is only temporary, as I remind myself to focus on the roots of the challenges and not react. This sensitivity will be a strength as he matures.

So much has changed this past year for us both. I am lucky I do work that I love every day. Sometimes doing what you love can still feel like work. A lot of work. It’s worth it. I was raised to always be the best, which I took to mean everything must be perfect. It took a while to let go of that one (and I’m still working on it) but a strong work ethic is not a bad thing to have when you work for yourself. My mum always said, “I just want you to be happy. You must do what makes you happy.” I suppose there is balance between those two messages and I am closer to the middle now, more than I ever have been… Read the rest over at Raising Mothers.


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