Mamalina Meets Pebble Magazine

I had the pleasure of interviewing Georgina Wilson-Powell, the brains behind the totally awesome independent Pebble magazine. Pebble is not about ‘sustainability’ as you might know it. It’s not about intimidating or even dare I say it, boring concepts. It’s about so much more: Permaculture. Knitting. Whizzy futurists. Slow fashion. Open sourcing. Foraging. Crafting. Eco-villages. Food waste. Forests. Mindful discovery. Protecting the seas. Great food. Local food. New manufacturing models. Conservation. Organic skincare. Vegetable leathers. Vertical farms. Staycations. Kayaking. Thinking differently. Travelling lightly. Traditional skills. Zero waste. Turning plastic bottles into clothes and shoes. Dressing well. Creating communities. Enjoying our lives without harming the planet. Supporting people who have taken a risk to find a better way of doing something. Challenging the status quo. Zero waste cocktails.

In essence, it’s a magazine about living a good life full of adventures, they share and promote positive stories from people doing good around the world and crucially, they’re paving the way for helping us incorporate these things into our own lives. Here’s what Georgina had to say when we caught up….

1. what gets you out of bed in the morning?

Instagram. And a crazy long to do list. Seriously, although running a start up magazine is pretty full on and overwhelming at times, it’s a joy to be able to talk to amazing people doing amazing things, write it up and share it with our audience. We’re all about #pebblesmakeripples, but even if we only make a small positive impact that’s worth getting up for.
I long for a dog. I’d like to get up every morning to walk the dog.

2. whats the first thing you do once you are up?

Sadly it’s usually post to Instagram, check Twitter and write the daily news piece for the site. Once that’s done I realise I’m still in my PJs and then I run around like a mad thing, half dressed, half answering emails. My ideal morning would be to get up and do yoga in a quiet light filled room but my flat’s so small there’s nowhere to do a down dog without bashing into a wall.

3. tea or coffee or ‘erb?

Is it bad that running an ethical living magazine has pushed me back into the arms of caffeine? It’s coffee if I’m out a meeting or I do love the Pukka Turmeric Gold tea for home. Like a hug in a mug.

4. fry up or healthy?

Healthy. Whatever’s in the fridge goes into a smoothie. Which never looks anything like the ones you see on Instagram.

5. what is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Work wise? Having a bath in the middle of the day. At the moment I’m working from home (we move into an office in October) so I’m making the most of it.

Life wise? Dodgy 80s Drive Time ballads and the kind of pick n mix sweets that have sat in a newsagents for years.

6. when are you happiest?

By the sea. I grew up on the Suffolk coast and after years living in the city, I’ve started to yearn to be back by the water. I don’t want to be in it or on it, but just watching the waves or hearing the lapping water and the clink of sail masts. Ideally it will be paired with an ice cold G&T or a cream tea.

7. what makes you angry?

How long have you got? Mostly waste. 15 million plastic bottles wasted a day in the UK. 7 million coffee cups. Ridiculous levels of packaging. The realisation that most people don’t have the info they need or the financial independence to make more eco-aware choices. Feeling as if we’re going backwards as a society. Inequality. Donald Trump. Brexit.

8. in the last year you have become…

Far more knowledgeable about ethical fashion, plastic waste, zero waste and also a lot more empowered. I’m learning how to grow veggies and compost (ready for my dream smallholding life) make my own toiletries and I’ve learnt how to knit.

9. if you can pass one piece of advice on to your former self, what would it be?

Get on and follow your passions and don’t care what other people might think. Embrace the geek.

10. and finally, crunchy or smooth? (peanut butter)

Erm, can I have both? Crunchy on toast, smooth in everything else. Added PB to a curry recently – a revelation.
Don’t forget to find out more about Pebble here#pebblesmakeripples

Flying With Kids – And How You Might Even Enjoy It

“You’re crazy.” Simply put, this was one friend’s response back in 2015 when I told her that we we’d just booked to fly to South Africa with our 9 month old son. “Ahhh it’ll be OK”, I said half-smiling, half gritting my teeth, wondering if we’d made a big mistake and should be driving to Centre Parcs, or something more sensible sounding. Fast forward two years, we’ve added another child into the mix and been fortunate to visit places all over the world, from Ankhor Wat to Arizona and I’d jump on a plane tomorrow for another 15 hours or so if it meant we could wake up in another far away country with our children. Because here’s the thing: in my opinion, sitting on a plane with kids is the easy part, it’s the sitting on the beach part that I find tricky. So here’s some quick tips I’ve picked up along the way if you’re heading on a plane journey with little ones and might be interested in some ways to maybe make it a little more palatable even, dare I say it, enjoyable.

Leave colossal amounts of time in the airport

However much time you were planning to leave, take that and add at least half the time onto that again. Everything takes longer with small children – you already know this, but nowhere is it more true (and important) than in an airport. Even when we think we have loads of time, we often still finding ourselves power walking (Sam) and lightly jogging (me) to get to the gate in time. And don’t forget to find the kids’ play areas – the one at Heathrow is right next door to a Pret which means you can sit with a caffeinated drink and watch the energy sap out of your child ahead of your flight. It’s kinda cool.

Fuel is everything

Having enough food on board is crucial; it serves not only to keep everyone relatively content  (have you seen how happy rice cakes and breadsticks make children?) but it’s also time-consuming. By that I mean, have you ever seen how long it takes a toddler to eat a bag of popcorn if you ask them to line all the pieces out in a row? Or how about if you ask them to make shapes with them? Bring on board more snacks than you think they could ever possibly consume because I promise you, they’ll all get eaten (if not by them, by you). That being said, if you really want your little ones to sleep, I’d suggest trying to get some proper food, ideally carbs, down them or alternatively bring something on board with you and don’t be afraid to ask for your childrens’ meals earlier – (see below on air hostess etiquette).

Be nice

I’m not suggesting you give out goody bags to people sitting next to you – that’s just unnecessary, not to mention kind of weird. I simply mean, talk to people, make eye contact with them, help them with their bags and basically be a good human who happens to be in possession of a small, very loud person. In particular, focus on the air hostesses and other people with children. Both are powerful people: the former because they have access to delights such as yoghurt, fruit and water – all valuable commodities when traveling long haul with children and you really need four minutes to go the loo and a banana will give you that. British Airways also carry Ellas Kitchen pouches on long haul which let’s face it, are pretty much gold dust in this situation. The latter because another friendly mum or dad with a whole back story and a toddler the same age as yours to share toys and snacks with is some of the best entertainment (bar a film, but you ain’t watching any of that) out there.

 

Don’t keep them in their seats

Despite looking out a plane window being one of the best story books out there, that will only last you so long (probably 7 minutes, max) Instead, let your mini run wild in the aisle to expend as much energy as possible. Good luck trying to avoid business class – a grubby, sockless, squealing toddler bursting through that elusive black curtain is not ideal, for anyone, least of all you who is going to have to be the one to sheepishly retrieve your small person. By the end of your flight, you’ll know the cabin crew area behind the seats very well and if you’re lucky, won’t have had too many encounters with suited business class folk trying to get on with reading their book and sipping their g & t#notjealousatall

TAKE TURNS

Whilst parenting is undeniably about team work, there are moments where you sometimes just need a break (How have Kit Kat not capitalised on the parenting arena?). And being on a plane with small people, is one of those. Give each other time slots (that have to be observed – there’s no messing about here) and know that your moment to recline that seat is coming.

Take a sling

There are a tonne of gadgets out there to help traveling with children but in my mind, nothing beats the humble babycarrier. Relatively small, foldable, and allowing for a superb rocking motion perfect for calming / lulling little ones to sleep, we don’t travel anywhere (not even hardly to the pub) without one. My favourite is the Connecta baby carrier – there have been many times where this was the only way our kids would fall asleep, and from there we would transfer him to arms/ a bassinet.

Technology will be your friend

Pre download shows on your phone and don’t rely on the plane for kiddies programmes – you might just have a seat with a duff entertainment system like we did that time we’d downloaded ONE twenty minute episode of Peppa Pig for a 12 hour plane flight.

Fly overnight

If you fly overnight, they *will* sleep at some point which discounts at least a few hours. Also, if your child is under 1 and / or can still fit in the bassinet, make sure you book this (and keep checking it’s confirmed). On the sleep note, cross everything that your plane is not busy. This can make a world of difference; just one extra single aisle is all you need to offload a restless, dribbling toddler desperately trying to sleep, balanced against your chest, legs straddled, jaw wide open…. you get the picture.

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I hope these few tips might be of some use, and if anything else, encourage you to take the leap and book that flight. Happy traveling – if in doubt, just do it. The world is waiting for you (and for your little ones) and whatever happens, you’ll learn a tonne along the way.

Thanks so much for reading as ever and definitely drop me a comment if you have any thoughts / questions / tips you’d like to add – I’d love to hear from you.

Emma xxx

P.S If you are pregnant and are about to purchase DVT socks, I’m not sure I’d bother. These are for people who are stationary. And you won’t be.

P.P.S If you enjoyed this. you might like ‘How to go backpacking with a baby.’

How To Wean With Zero Fuss

I found becoming a mum second time round vastly different to that brand new mama status. Birthing, breastfeeding, sleeping – everything just seemed that little bit easier and less of a ‘big deal’ when it came to sproglet number two. And nowhere more did I feel this than in the realm of introducing food and weaning. With Jack I remember painstakingly measuring out the exact amount of milk I should mix in with his porridge (3.5 teaspoons, to be exact), I would Google the perfect way to prepare sweet potato for a baby (surprise surprise, it’s the same way you prepare it for an adult) and I would spend ages coaxing him to eat (when he probably just wasn’t hungry). Feeding Sonny has, in contrast, been a wholly more relaxing and enjoyable experience (not least because it was a factor in improving his sleep) With Sonny, I’ve felt excited to give him food and although I’m absolutely no expert, here’s my tuppence worth on why this time round, the whole “getting-food-in-their-belly” process has been fuss-free and fun:

1. It’s not a race. As with most things baby-related, people tend to want to rush development and probe other mums about what they’re doing. “Has he had banana?”, “She’s had mango”, “What? Seven months and you’ve not given him any food?”. Life – least of all, feeding your baby which is the most natural process there can be – is not a race. So just remember; it doesn’t matter if the child at your local playgroup has tried courgette aged 6 months and yours is still suckling at the breast.

2. Babies palates are fickle so even if your little one doesn’t seem to like something on a Monday, chances are that by Friday he/she will. Keep trying foods that at one point your baby didn’t like and try to avoid labelling your child and their tastes. So for example, “my baby doesn’t eat vegetables” could simply be reframes as “at the moment or this week, he’s not eating vegetables.”

3. Don’t be intimidated by the jargon. There are two main culprits here: ‘baby led’ and ‘puree’. Or should I say “or”. I’m not sure why but people seem to approach weaning as if there is only one “method” and that you have to “choose” between these two perfectly different, perfectly perfect ways of weaning your child. My advice? Try both – depending what you have in the fridge!

4. Get some decent kit. There are some staples that you’ll need: bibs, cutlery, plates, bowls and a highchair – and there are several varieties so consider what you want carefully. With Jack we had a beautiful wooden highchair but it was an absolute pain to clean. A lot of people love the IKEA one but we have this Moutain Buggy clip on high-chair which I love as it takes up zero space and is portable. I also love the Bamboo Bamboo suction based bowls and plates which have prevented so many plate parties with Sonny chucking the entire contents of his plate on the floor. That being said, remember….

5. Avoid the gadgets. Again, and it’s a pattern in the parenting world, there are a tonne of different gadgets when it comes to feeding babies. I’ll let you in on a secret; if you’ve got hot water, an oven and a magimix or a stick blender, you don’t need any of them. Yes they might save you some time, but they won’t be easy on the bank balance (or on the cupboard space). So say no to stuff and know that I’m sure whatever you own is more than sufficient to cook and feed your little one.

6.Have back ups. If your little one is being a bit fussy, it is always helpful to have some food up your sleeve (not literally, though this is often the case, too) to try to get *something* down them. Sonny will never say no to some of the Organix finger foods and that way I know I’m getting something nutritious down him. That said, I also live by point number 8…

7. Batch cook, smatch cook. This is another aspect of weaning that terrified me; people would talk of spending entire Sunday nights preparing and cooking food for their babies for the week ahead whilst all I could think of was the Sunday night TV that I would miss. I’m sure I’d save myself time but I don’t ever batch cook, I just cook for the children and if there’s anything left over, I might stick it in the freezer. Isn’t that the same thing anyway? I’ve also started making extra of what Sam and I are eating at night and giving it to the children the next day or – making them a separate portion if what we are eating is particularly spicy or contains salt.

8. Don’t stress if they don’t eat. You’ve probably heard the phrase: “Food is for fun until they’re one” (and even beyond, I would say) and I think it’s a great one to remember so long as they’re drinking their milk. If your little one doesn’t eat much for the odd meal here and there, they will absolutely be OK* – plus, read on for what I do in such scenarios…

9. Watch for the signs. With Jack, one of the main reasons I think mealtimes turned into lengthy events is that I was ignoring his signs that he didn’t want to eat. So now when Sonny turns his head, spits something out or pushes it away, I refer to point #9 and move on with the day.

10. Ain’t no denying the mess. Some people put down sheets and there are amazing products on the market to help avoid the amazing amounts of mess that feeding a baby creates, such as this one. So far, however I’ve never been organised enough to alleviate the mess so instead I try to just embrace it and remember, as I’m on my hands and knees for the third time in a day scrubbing the kitchen floor, that this is just a phase and actually it’s quite good for my flexibility. That being said, if you like things neat and tidy, you’ll want to consider how to alleviate the mess.

If you’re soon to embark on the food journey, or are in the process of, that you might have found these tips useful. Ultimately, eating food and feeding our children should be fun, but these days it can become hyped up and another source of worry for parents.

What have your experiences been when it comes to introducing food? Has it been a positive experience ? What tips have you got that you can share?

Thanks so much for reading, as ever.

Emma xxx

P.S Perfect food for playdates

This post is also in association with Organix who have put together some tips to help you on your journey. We – or rather the kids – are huge fans of their finger foods and we pretty much don’t leave the house without a bag of some of their finger food.

 

 

* I’m not an expert but it’s my gut feeling

 

The Positive Birth Company

I’m so excited to introduce on Mamalina Meets Siobhan Miller aka Hypnobirthing Guru and founder of The Positive Birth Company. Siobhan, or Shivvy, runs group hypnobirthing courses monthly in London, Devon and Birmingham and is also an IPEN certified placenta encapsulation specialist – she taught me and helped me achieve pretty much my ideal birth. She has also just launched the UK’s first luxury hypnobirthing babymoon – The Positive Birth Retreat® (more about that later). Shivvy is also a Mum to 3 boys and writes the blog The Double Mama. She can be found on Instagram @the_double_mama though my favourite place to find her is on my sofabed where she has been known to reside. Here’s what she said when I sat down to ask her a few cheeky questions:

1. What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Cup of tea or an angry child. One of the big perks of having a 10 year old is that they can make and bring you tea in bed.

2. What’s the first thing you do once you are up?

Tea, Wee, Cuddles. Sometimes the order changes!

3. Tea or coffee or ‘erb?

Tea all the way!!! I used to *hate* herbal teas and thought they were all smell and no taste but when I was pregnant I got really into them so now I try and drink them at night to avoid pre-bed caffeine overload!

Images Copyright Susie Fisher Photography www.susiefisherphotography.com

4. Fry up or healthy?

Ooooh that’s a toughie! I like both. My favourite place for brunch is The Curious Kitchen in Brixham. I love the baked eggs and chorizo dish. Not sure if that counts as fry up or healthy?! Perhaps a bit of both 🙂

5. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

I’m so guilty of being on my phone all the time. It’s shameful. I hate myself for it. But I suppose if we’re confessing secrets – I do love a G&T and a cheeky cigarette of an evening 🙂 I recently discovered Gunpowder gin! It’s irish (like me) and it’s bloody amazing! My new fave!

6. When are you happiest?

My happy place is being with my family in our VW camper. Specifically waking up in the morning, opening up the back door and breathing in the fresh cool air. I love to be snuggled under the duvet, drinking a hot cuppa and looking out across the fields wherever we’ve pitched up. The boys love running wild and free when we’re camping and them being half feral makes me so happy. That’s what I want for their childhood.

 7. What makes you angry?

James. Especially when he says he’s going to do something and then doesn’t. I hate that. I know it’s not the done thing to air dirty laundry in public but if we’re being honest with each other for a moment, doesn’t everyones partner drive them insane at times?!

8. In the last year you have become…

A IPEN qualified placenta encapsulation specialist!! I am officially that crazy placenta lady. If you told me a few years ago that’s what I’d be doing in 2017 I’d have thought you were the crazy one!

9. If you can pass one piece of advice on to your former self, what would it be?

Oh 100% to be more confident!! I’d have told myself to care less about what other people thought. Being a Mum at 21 was SO hard and mostly because I was so worried about what people thought about me being a young single mum and being judged. I wish I’d had support around me. I wish I’d felt confident to go out there and chase my dreams. I was just consumed with being the best mum I could be by the textbook that i lost myself completely. I was so worried about fucking up. And when I was even younger I was always so critical of my body. Now I just wish I had that body back!! I’d tell myself to wear short skirts more often and be more body confident. I’d tell myself to go on more dates, take more risks and just learn about the world and all the different people in it.

10. And finally, crunchy or smooth? (peanut butter)

CRUNCHY ALL THE WAY!!!!!! I’m a peanut butter addict.

Head to The Positive Birth Company to read more about the amazing work Shivvy does. Her retreat is a 3-night, luxury, fully-catered mini break for couples, where expectant parents will have the opportunity to really switch off, relax and prepare for the birth of their baby. With morning yoga classes, evening relaxation sessions, aromatherapy massage treatments, complimentary mini bars, an outdoor hot tub and of course the full hypnobirthing course, it really is the ultimate babymoon. The next retreat is set to run in October and is suitable for first time through to fourth time parents but spaces are limited. Get in touch with her asap to book your spot.

 

20 Family Travel Hacks

Nothing is ever going to stop me wanting to travel and explore the world with my family. In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret*: my dream is to pack up everything in a van and head off into the distance and see where we get to (this is my kinda porn.) Here’s how I first got the ‘bug’ and my craziness enthusiasm since then has seen us explore Angkor Wat with a two year old and eight month old (and pretty much have it all to ourselves), spend a night on a canal boat, go camping and to festivals with every adventure bringing new learnings and lessons along the way. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I love going on adventures as a family – it’s such a rich learning experience that is ever evolving and getting it ‘right’ is a complex formula of powdered milk and power strips. There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to what works and I get a fair few questions on all sorts of travel issues so I thought I’d do a post detailing some simple hacks we’ve learnt along the way. Strap in, here goes:

1. Hack your headspace and adjust your mindset
What I mean by that is that f you’re looking for a ‘holiday’, this ain’t it. Get your expectations right in the first place: it will be challenging, it will take you outside of your comfort zone and to be honest, it won’t be all that relaxing. Travelling with kids and taking yourselves out of your day to day life can be bloomin’ hard work.

2. Hack your emotions
This is a weird one but it’s something I try really hard to do. Emotions can ride high when for example you’re stuck in a sweltering, dark car rental car park trying to fit a car seat with two crying toddlers and sweat dripping down your back. Arguments with your OH is the last thing you need so we have a rule: we try to say only positive things, or at least re frame something negative. For example, “we can probably make it to the next street before running out of petrol – wahey” as opposed to “how did you forget we needed more petrol?”

3. Give each other a break
We have found that giving each other ‘time out’ without looking after the small people is hugely beneficial. Let the other person have a lie in, a stroll child -free in the local town or just go for a solo beer. (NB this rule applies for real life too). You’ll come back more refreshed – and more ready to change a pooey nappy – than ever.

4. Embrace the journey
I like airports, there I said it. Robert Louis Stevenson had it down when he wrote “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” Just leave yourself plenty of time, seek out any Stay and Play areas, stock up on snacks or ideally, a proper meal and let them go wild riding up and down on the escalators as you watch them squeal with joy.

5. Check in on local timings
By this I mean, check what time things *happen*; what time the sun sets (this can drastically affect how much travel you do in one day), what time people eat dinner and what time shops close – there’s nothing less fun than dining on biscuits and crisps on your first night because everywhere is closed.

6. If you are driving, do not rely on a mobile phone for directions
Don’t rely on it having signal or enough battery. Get a proper road map and ideally locate everywhere you are going before you leave home. If you are using your phone, get a car charger and a mount to hold your phone on the windscreen and make sure you have downloaded the contact phone numbers and full directions to wherever you are going before you set off.

7. Hanger is real
Sometimes I wonder why we are a little cranky and realise we’ve not eaten yet and need to get food into everyones’ systems. So we carry food and water on us wherever we go and I’d also recommend taking some heartier supplies – we always bring weetabix, some ready meals and a jar of peanut butter from home and pick up bananas and bread once we arrive.

8. Relax on the routine
We’re already very lax on timings of things but I think when you go travelling, it is even more important to go with the flow and not worry too much about timings. Eat when everyone’s hungry, let them sleep when they’re tired. It may not come immediately but I guarantee that your little ones will develop a *new* routine of sorts on your trip. Whether it comes to nap time, bed time or meals, relax on the routine / vegetable intake and go with the flow. If they eat pasta every day for 2 weeks it’s not the end of the world.

9. Don’t take a full suitcase
This hack is probably the simplest to grasp but is actually one of the hardest to achieve and has taken me a long time to master. When we went to South East Asia with only backpacks, I was extremely selective about what I took and consequently, I took only bare minimum items, I lost nothing, used everything to its full capacity and really knew my belongings well. Unless you are really going somewhere very remote, nappies, dummies and wet wipes if you use them are all pretty available. You can really find everything you need abroad albeit in a slightly different variation.

10. Always pack an empty water bottle
Not having enough water freaks me out when travelling with children, especially of course in the heat. If I hear Jack ask for water and I don’t have any,  I genuinely feel awful. To prevent this, whenever we travel we always take a large Eddy camelpak – it’s perfect for getting through airports with (tell them the water is for the children and you should be fine), and then once you get to your destination, carry it around everywhere and fill it up at any available moment. This is particurarly good one if you’re doing a roadtrip

11. Focus on slow eating foods
This one sounds stupid but I assure you it’s a winner. And no, not slow-digesting, slow-eating – essentially, any item that takes a child a decent amount of time to consume. Apples and corn on the cobs are particular favourite, as well as carrots and popcorn (“one piece at a time”).

12. Forget the baby monitor
Don’t worry about bringing a monitor away with you. If you’re fortunate to have a set up whereby you might be able to nip out in the evening for a quick bite (say, if your room is on top of a pub), there are a whole host of apps you can use instead of baby monitors. We have used Dormi or isitter .

13. Treat them to a new toy
Our kids play alone really well with their toys and of course we bring a few along, but there’s a limit. So we always just tend to pick up a cheap truck or puzzle when we’re travelling which go down a treat.

14.  Learn the art of slow travel
By this I mean that whatever you were hoping to do, half that, then half that again. We find that doing ONE THING (with one kid, it was one thing in the morning and one thing in the early evening but we’ve cut it down!) a day with some down time back at your base is perfect. I have long let go of what I remember from traveling pre kids, and whilst we may have a list of activities we’d *like* to do, there is no itinerary of any sorts. Instead we tend to structure everything about meal times (see earlier point re hanger) and as much as possible, be our own guides.

15. Always buggy up
To buggy or not to buggy; the eternal question. Let them walk? Baby carrier? Dad’s shoulders? We’ve weighed up all the options and ultimately always reach the same conclusion: we need a buggy. But we need a small, nifty one (which isn’t necessarily the same one I want when at home). We’ve recently discovered the Baby Jogger City Tour which seems ridiculously sturdy but also super compact. Usually the fold away buggies are pretty flimsy but this one isn’t at all and is super easy to nip about in and manoeuvre around. The coolest thing about it is that it packs away into a backpack style carry bag which leaves you hands free and you can take it on the plane (we haven’t done that yet but you could).

16. Play to your strengths as a couple
For example, Sam is always the one who drives whilst I tend to be the one that prepares the kids food. You know what you’re good at – so embrace it and don’t necessarily use traveling as a time to experiment. It might not be pretty.

17. Embrace the shit shows and the ‘failures’
Things will go ‘wrong’ but we all know that the best ‘experiences’ are the ones that are unplanned and happen as a result of something else. So go with the flow and be flexible – plans will change – and it will work out for the better, I promise you. (I mean there will be times when you’re lost, it’s 11pm at night and you can’t see a thing whilst driving down dirt tracks that end in boggy marshland and have a starving screaming toddler in the backseat, a desperate Air b n b host trying to contact you, and things do seem *pretty* stressful like they did here – then you do just gotta give up).

18. Identify other children around you
It’s amazing how much help other peoples’ children can be (the non-screaming ones.) If you haven’t noticed, most kids love other kids so whenver I see another child, I basically pounce on them and force them to interact with my child. Use everyone else around you!

19. Power strip
These days, we seem to travel with a fair few electricals so instead of stressing about adaptors (or more likely, leaving them behind in the walls), we just take a whole power strip away for the whole family. On the tech note, remember car USB chargers – phone batteries always seem to run out just when you need directions somewhere.

20. Avoid the beaten track
Although safety is always the number one priority, we avoid anywhere that has a ‘well trodden path’ precisely because well, more often than not it will be just that – well trodden and packed with tourists. For our whole time in Cambodia and Vietnam we had 1 pre-planned planned activity and that was enough. The rest we sorted once out there. So forget the box ticking and go down your own path. As Dr Johnson said “nothing is more hopeless than a scheme for merriment”.

So those are my nuggets of advice for traveling. There might be the occasional tear, but I assure you, you will feel more alive than you’ve ever felt. Your soul will fly high, higher than it’s ever flown and here will be moments where your insides are smiling. You will journey deep into your soul, reconnect with yourself and your family, and grow as a person. In short, it’s the best therapy out there and will catapult you a million miles away from bleary-eyed mornings spent scrubbing weetabix off highchairs. Dan Kieran, author of The Idle Traveller puts it perfectly: “When travel takes us out of a predictable routine we become more aware because our conscious mind has been activated to deal with the new things we’re experiencing [….] This could explain why people seem to find themselves when they are travelling, because they are more conscious of the experience of being alive when they are journeying in new and exciting ways. Being in alien places and cultures will inevitably result in an increased connection wth yourself because its these new situations that wakes your consciousness. You’ve turned off the unconscious autopilot that runs your normal life and started to take conscious control.” Right now I could not be more excited to travel and to challenge ourselves and find different ways of looking at the world; to let go of what we know, to live in the moment and go slow – and embrace the inevitable shit shows (probably some quite literal) that we come up against along the way. It’ll be worth it.

Have you been away travelling with your little one(s)? Got any tips to share? Recommendations of places to visit? 

Emma xx

P.S Flying Long Haul with a toddler and Backpacking with a Baby

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This post is sponsored by Baby Jogger whose buggy I hugely recommend. For more information, head to http://www.babyjogger.co.uk/. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Mamalina – without them, this blog wouldn’t be possible.

* only my husband really knows about it – and he hears about it a lot!

the-essentials-3

 

 

A New Chapter

Earlier this year I wrote about what I called PMLF (a super catchy acronym, I know). I was referring to that feeling of ‘what next’? that I was experiencing six months into maternity leave with Sonny. Would I continue motherhood full time? Would I return to my job at Google? Would I focus on my blog? Not simple questions to confront but questions I knew I had to explore because without being melodramatic, these are life changing decisions that affect everything and everyone close to me. It’s a crossroads that I’m sure many of you reading this are familiar with.

My children and being a mother means the world to me; it’s a job I find hugely challenging, rewarding and fun. That said, after having Jack, my gut feeling led me to return to work as well as for financial reasons. In practice though it was hard; I struggled with stress and fatigue and by the end of the day, I was shattered.

So now, with two children, the decision is even more difficult.

And so it is that I’ve spent the last five months prodding, probing, and imagining all the possible pros and cons of returning to work vs. staying at home with the kids: getting two children up, changed, dressed, teeth brushed every morning, nursery fees, a salary, commuting… I tried to imagine what life would look like. Above all, I focused on carving out a job for myself that I thought I would really, really love. It’s got to the point now that to work, given that nursery fees for two means that financially it doesn’t make a huge difference, I want need to enjoy what I do in order to justify handing Jack and Sonny over every morning to another carer. Whilst I understand the benefits of nursery, call me old -fashioned but I still personally think they’re better off with me or with family.

The result? Countless emails, hang outs, and meetings later, I’m going to be returning to Google and will be moving teams to be working exclusively on the YouTube Creator side of the business. It’s an area that I am super excited about given that YouTube is a huge passion of mine – here is my YouTube channel (I’d absolutely love you to hit the red button and subscribe especially as I’m going to be focusing on that over the next few months). I’ll be working 3 days a week leaving me with two days to focus on the kids and on creating my own content. I’ll be juggling all the balls (sounds dodgy – but you know what I mean), our home will be a tip 95% of the time, I will likely grow some more wrinkles along the way and I’m sure the odd glass of wine and takeaway will come into play, too. My number one rule? Get to bed early.

That’s it for now and I will keep you posted on working motherhood and my thoughts on it. Thank you for your continued support and for making me smile when I’m slumped up against the wall doing bathtime staring all heart eyes at my kids, checking in on my work emails and uploading an Instagram post. Work hard, play hard – I think that’s how the saying goes.

What are your thoughts? Are you a working mum or a full time ‘stay at home’ mum? (I don’t like the phrase ‘stay at home’ as if all that happens is that you stay at home and listen to nursery rhymes which couldn’t be further from the truth). Have a good one, friends.

Love, Emma xxx

The Two Of You – June 2017

I’ve never posted an update specifically about the kids but as I approach the end of my second maternity leave, I can’t help but reflect on my babes, how much they’ve changed and where we all find ourselves today. The below words have been flowing through my mind for weeks now and whilst normally I document the boys in a private diary, this time I thought I’d share my reflections here on the blog. It bowls me over how quickly children change, and how from one week to the next Sonny will suddenly be standing unaided or I’ll look over to see Jack pouring himself a cup of water as if he’d been doing that his whole life. So here goes: June 2017, where we at kiddos?

Jack, you’re now 3 years and 2 months. You say pretty much everything and we have proper conversations. You have started asking “why” and questioning the meaning of things. We’re not philosophical yet; we’re more at the “what does nick nack paddy wack mean, mummy?” stage. Every sentence starts or ends with “mummy” which at the moment I take for granted, but I know there’ll come a day soon when that stops and I’ll miss it hugely. You love playing by yourself – you create your own games with tape measures and trains and become immersed in your own world. Occasionally you’ll call me over, but it’s very rare. I hope soon you’ll take Sonny into your world too because it looks pretty fun. You take yourself to the toilet like an adult and potty training with you was straight forward. You’re challenging when you’re tired and become a little stroppy – just like your mummy. You’re pushing the boundaries which I suppose is totally normal at your age, and whereas six months ago I could negotiate with you these days that doesn’t seem to work. So sometimes mothering you can be tricky and tiring – especially those times when you wake in the night and insist on being carried back to your room, even when we both know you can walk, and we’re both exhausted, but negotiating with you at 3am isn’t so much fun. You still love your dummy but I try to be quite strict and let you have it only when you sleep or when you’re particularly tired. I know that soon you’ll stop wanting it and that it will naturally disappear. Although your brother uses one so there is always one lying about which I think has caused the renewed interest in it. Right now, your dad and I are in the process of choosing a primary school for you. People say you have to find the right one for your child but it’s so hard to know really who you are yet. That said, I see strong flashes come through every now and then. I’m sure you’re going to be more artistic than sporty, but let’s see. You pull faces, and have a great sense of humour, and can already act for sure. I think we’re kindred spirits in many ways, you and I. You draw me in and I love every piece of you, Jacky boy.

As for you Sonny, Friday marked the last day of maternity leave with you which we spent rolling around in the hay. That’s the thing about you Sonster; you love cuddles. You were like that from day 1, hence why we co-slept. You were just so happy in mama’s arms whereas Jack wanted his own space. You turned 1 earlier this month and you’re teetering somewhere between baby and toddler. I still find your crawling just unbelievably cute and perfect; Jack used to do the commando crawling but your crawling is so spot on and sweet, not to mention, fast. You’re going places, kid! You pull yourself up against anything and you will stand for a few seconds unaided but you’re not yet up for taking that first step. It’ll come soon enough. You have 6 six teeth with more coming shortly I am sure as you have been off your food for a week or so now and usually you eat anything in sight! You love Ewan the sheep and will go to sleep anywhere – often on the floor – just cuddling him. Thank gosh your sleep has improved – we were in a dark place a few months back, weren’t we kid. These days you’re a pretty solid through the night babe. You’re also chatting away – far more so than Jack ever did and I’m convinced that you will talk much earlier than he did. You love nothing more than throwing things – anything – down the toilet and following a ball around. Watching the relationship between you and Jack grow is beyond beautiful. He’s getting simultaneously ‘rougher’ with you as you are  getting tougher. Sometimes he’ll deliberately shove you but more often than not it’s an accidental push here and there. Soon enough you’ll be giving as good as you’re getting, I know it.

There’s so much to say, I could go on forever. For now, I’ll just let you know that for some reason, right now I feel extra privileged to be your mama my babes and see the wonders of you growing, changing and experiencing life, many parts of it, for the first time ever. I love you both so, so much.

Mama xxx

P.S Glamping with a Toddler and Newborn and Jack’s Breakfast PJ Party 

I didn’t want to make toilet training into a ‘big deal’, if that makes sense and I didn’t mind if he wasn’t the first in his class. We found it a generally pretty stress-free process that didn’t take one weekend or six months – it just happened gradually and easily over the course of a few months. I’ve scribbled down what we did below – or if video is more your thing, check this 6 minute video out I made on the topic. Otherwise, let’s go:

1.Wait for the right time – don’t rush it

As with crawling, walking, talking and in fact anything that can be classed as ‘developmental’, my mantra is always that there really is no rush. Age doesn’t matter. Yes, it’s kind of handy to have them out of nappies but your child is not going to be a teenager in nappies so don’t rush the process or push them in a direction you don’t feel they’re ready for – even if it feels everyone else’s child is long out of nappies (yours might be ‘faster’ at talking). I remember trying to potty train Jack when he was much younger around aged 2 and it just didn’t work – he would run out of the bathroom and had no interest at all.

2. Your time is the most important part, not the time of the year

Just like how old your child is, I don’t think it really matters if it’s Summer or not. People place a big emphasis on this but really what matters most is just letting your child spend a good deal of time with no nappy on – inside or out – and having flexibility to spend time focusing on it. More than the season, your time, is the important factor in making toilet training a success. Do you have mornings you can dedicate to sitting on the toilet with your child where you’re not needing to be somewhere? Where you know people aren’t necessarily going to be popping in? Where you can just hang out and focus on it?

3. Watch for the signals

I began to notice that Jack would always go off and want to be on his own when doing a number two. It was at this point that I would ‘intervene’ and attempt to gently take him to the potty! I’d had to keep a close eye out not to miss the moment when he needed it though.

4. Communication is key

Another helpful factor for us was Jack being able to properly talk and communicate. It meant he could tell me that he wanted to be on his own, and for the door to be shut, or that he wanted some books. It allowed him to tell me his preferred environment, which in the end was the key to his potty training.

5. Let them find their own weird method

I think it was my mum that came up with the phrase but Jack does what we call ‘knee knees’ which involves him basically kneeling up on the toilet seat, leaning one hand against the back of the toilet and peeing directly into the toilet. He does this by himself and although it’s kinda weird, it works. So don’t worry what ‘methodology’ you and your little one use – and experiment!

6. Keep it Simple

Toilet training seems to these days be associated with singing books and flashing toilet seats but I’m not convinced that it’s necessary and I’m also not someone who buys anything unnecessarily. I wouldn’t feel like you need to invest in the all the products surrounding toilet training – we used only one product, the BecoPotty

7. Find the fun

Bear with me on this one but in my opinion, toilets in themselves can be be kind of fun: what with tipping, flushing and hand washing (what about a fun soap bar ?), the process can actually be sort of entertaining. And let’s not forget all the songs, dances, imaginary characters you can make up.

8. Make the bathroom a happy place

Loooooong before I started really thinking that Jack was ready to use the toilet, we used to spend time together just sitting on the potty in the bathroom. After breakfast we’d go there, I’d pop him on the potty and we’d read books together. It was rare that he’d ‘perform’ but it got him relaxed and sitting on the potty and crucially, thinking that being on the potty was a fun place to be. Similarly if you little one has a certain favourite song or toy, think about leaving them in the toilet next to the potty to create a nice environment for them.

9. Leave them alone

Jack used to always go off and want to be left alone when doing a number two. If I’d approach him (as I knew he was doing it!), he’d get really upset and tell me to go away. When I thought about it, it was obvious he was looking for some privacy which is of course totally normal and what adults look for too (I always remember they compare being in labour to trying to do a poo – being alone is best and easiest) and wanted to be on his own. It made me think though that if I could create this environment but next to the potty, then maybe that might work so I took the simple step of asking Jack if he wanted to be left alone in the toilet to which he replied “yes, close the door please mummy.” That was a huge step to getting him trained. Now he’s always on his own and I leave him to it.

1o. Consider switching to cloth

If you’ve always been interested in cloth nappies but never quite got around to using them, potty training age is the perfect time to make the switch. It speeds up the process (your child feels when they are wet much more in a cloth nappy), you won’t have to dispose of half used nappies that have hardly been used plus you can save some pennies too.

11. Treat yourself

Potty training is all well and good, but no one tells you you have to actually then empty the potty out. Get yourself a yummy soap bar, mama – you definitely deserve it!

I hope the above few tips might help on your potty training journey. Your little one will get there before you know it, I assure you.

Emma xxx

P.S Let’s Reframe Reflux and A New Chapter