How to help children de-stress: The HappySelf Journal

As a mother of two school children, I am very much aware of the pressures that they face nowadays, pretty much from pre-school. With every passing year the demands, targets, expectations placed on them[...] read more

Judgement, social media and motherhood: thoughts on new mum Katherine Ormerod’s article in Grazia UK

Like many of you, I buy Grazia UK weekly and while I can’t say I read every page diligently, certain things or articles draw my attention more than others. Sometimes they give food for thought, sometimes I nod my head and sometimes I feel somewhat frustrated by what is being written. Motherhood is one of those sadly divisive subjects and the way I approached my life as a new mum is in certain ways different to how new mums approach theirs now. We all need to move with the times, for better or worse, as it is part of our evolutionary nature. When I read Grazia’s Katherine Ormerod article in this week’s magazine (she recently became a mum to a baby boy), about ‘sharenting’, I felt inclined to share my own thoughts in a spurr of a moment post. Call it a public diary entry on the subject, but please remember that it is only my own opinion and an opportunity for a friendly dialogue.

‘By the time their child is five, the average parent will have shared 2,000 images of them online’

This statistic somewhat horrified me. Thing is, not then, not now, do I feel compelled to share my kids images, where you can see their faces, on social media. They are not ugly, I am very proud of their achievements and milestones, but I just never felt the need to ‘share’ them with a big, wide world on social media. So much so, that some of my friends have gotten ‘in trouble’ with me when they posted our joint pictures with the kids on their social media pages. I always asked for them to be taken down straight away. I value my own privacy and don’t need to gain additional likes because of my kids – you following me on social media should have nothing to do with my kids. I do share parenting advice when I am asked or feel my experience can be helpful and do it with pleasure. I also accept with gratitude advice from fellow mums, as having someone else’s perspective and experience can only help me get better at being a mother to my kids. However, I don’t expect other people to coo over my kids, nor be particularly interested in their wardrobe, pastime or favourite foods.

‘By the age of two, 60% of children have a digital footprint’

There is also the question of safety and privacy. Would my kids be embarrassed in the future by something personal that I felt compelled to share with the world without their consent? Or can I be inviting evil in our lives by sharing their images online? Sadly I have heard some really scary stories from a friend’s husband, who throughout his career in the police force, has come across some horrendous cases of child abuse, which has put me off posting my kids images online.

Even as a young new mum, I never wanted to sit in Starbucks (yep, that was the venue of choice at the time, we didn’t have juice bars or cafes serving avo toast or poke bowls then) and discuss contents of my kids nappies or leaking boobs with fellow NCT mums. My best friend and I ran away to the park instead, kids giggling in their buggies and wind blowing away our already messy hair. Life was good, our mums and girlfriends were our greatest support network and I wasn’t addicted to my Instagram then.

Now we have parallel, perfected lives on social media and I am often bombarded with pictures of cute kids of complete strangers. Do I feel compelled to follow them or their parents? No, I don’t, because I value my life in the real world and would rather smile at real kids in the street. Do I judge those who choose to? Maybe I did in the beginning, but now I am mature enough to know that we are all different and something that works for one mum with her child, doesn’t necessarily work as well for another. Life is about learning and doing what’s right for you and your family. Is it bad, if someone gets paid to dress their kids in certain fashion brands or goes on a family, all inclusive, holiday and writes about it? No, it’s not and it would be cynical to say that most of us won’t say ‘yes’ to an opportunity like that, if it came along. Again, it is about YOUR choices, which you are entitled to make without being judged or vilified for, as was the recent case with Clemmie Hooper, midwife-turned-blogger @motherofdaughters Interestingly, her husband doesn’t get judged as harshly when he posts things about their daughters. I wonder why such duality of attitude still exists when it comes to women rushing to judge another woman’s actions.

Katerine has set up her son’s account within a week of him being born and there she shares her struggles to breastfeed, learning to cope with lack of sleep and other problems new mums encounter. At the time when my kids were small social media was in naissant stages, so we didn’t have those platforms to share advice, instead we talked to each other face-to-face ( or to health professionals) and read books. There is so much more information now available online, but does it help or confuse us? I remember how pregnancy guidelines relating to the diet changed between my two pregnancies, which was confusing enough. Now, the amount of information coming our way is staggering and some of it can actually be harmful, if taken onboard. At the time when you might be feeling vulnerable, confused or overwhelmed by the effect of hormones, during or after the pregnancy, seeing perfected imagery of a well-known blogger with her picture-perfect child can only make you feel even worse.

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Kids half-term & lessons learnt

I don’t know about you, but in the run up to my kids school holidays I get a bit antsy, wondering how to best entertain them, yet also get work things done too, as I work from home. Lately I seem to have settled into a natural flow, where I dedicate time to kids during the day almost fully, trying to empty my mind by learning alongside them. I then put some of that new knowledge to good use in the evening, when they are in bed & I am back at my desk.

”Wonder is the very engine of life.” Ealing Kagge

We only had one long bank holiday weekend when I set down to pen this post, yet there are so many things that were done & which brought equal measures of frustration & pleasure.


  • I have heard a while back about a wonderful documentary called ‘Walk With Me’ about


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Autumn wellness with Cytoplan Nutribears

As the air becomes colder & the school schedule more intense, kids immunity might start limping a little bit, but with Christmas festivities fast approaching, how do you make sure your child remains energetic & well? Recently a wonderful colleague (Charlotte, I mean you my dear .), who is also a qualified nutritionist, has introduce me to a British Supplement brand called Cytoplan and my children were roped in to test their Nutribears.

Cytoplan works alongside the rationale that there is a nutrition gap in the diets of most people by virtue of several factors, like food choices we make, food growing/processing & preparation methods, nutrient content & the ability of our bodies to assimilate the nutrients. Children are growing and developing all the time, so their food needs to sustain them, as well as fuel their body’s growth. On top of that they need to have plenty of sleep, spend time in the fresh air & away from stimulation that comes courtesy of mobiles, iPads, TV & computers, do sports. All those blocks are fundamental to the foundations of a child’s wellbeing.

When it comes to Cytoplan supplements, the company was founded in 1990 by a team of practitioners with many years of experience in nutrition. The team works closely with both doctors & scientists in order to produce supplements that are highly bio-effective, as well as backed by research & science. According to Amanda Williams,


Cytoplan’s managing & technical director, as well
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CRiL Reviews: new launches from Childs Farm

While my own kids no longer fit into the baby category, they still enjoy using Childs Farm products, which we have been using since they were babies. Joanna Jensen, Childs Farm founder, has started creating beautifully fragrant & naturally nurturing products for babies & children long before organic & natural beauty became the popular buzzwords to be thrown around. As  mother, I trust Joanna, a mother of two herself, & her products to keep the young generation happy & bubbly & so I always keep an eye on brand’s new launches. Recent new additions to the product range include Biodegradable Baby Wipes & Biodegradable Wipes for toddlers & young kids, alongside the Sensitive Scalp Shampoo, all of which have been met with thumbs up from my young consumers of beauty products.

Childs Farm Sensitive Scalp Shampoo, 250ml, £4.99

Childs Farm sensitive scalp shampoo is un-fragranced and contains Salicylic Acid, which helps to gently exfoliate dry, flaky scalp skin, then soothes and calms it. Salicylic Acid, which comes from Willow Bark, is the principal ingredient in aspirin, and has been used since Roman times to relieve pain and inflammation. It works by removing loose and dead outer layers of the skin, and occasionally does give a tingling feeling to the scalp. It also has natural anti-inflammatory properties.

This shampoo doesn’t smell like all the other CF shampoos, but I find that using it occasionally helps to keep my children’s scalps ‘healthy’. Recently I was having a conversation with my hair colourist & complaining about my own occasional scalp dryness, so she talked to me about some lifestyle and dietary changes, but also mentioned that using Head & Shoulders shampoo once a week will help to keep my scalp healthier, by getting rid of the ‘top’ dead skin layer & making my scalp & as a consequence hair, healthier.

Like all Childs Farm shampoos, the sensitive scalp shampoo contains coconut derived surfactants and cleaning agents, as well as moisturising Argan Oil, and of course Salicylic Acid, the he levels of which are appropriate for use on babies & children.

Remembering that piece of advice I swapped H & S for this shampoo & it actually works nicely, making this new addition to Childs Farm helpful not just for children’s scalps, but grown-ups too! In the context of kids haircare, I also want to mention an ‘old favourite’ of mine, Childs Farm Hair Detangler, which is a now not-so-secret tool in our home haircare arsenal, as it also contains tea tree oil, a known head-lice deterrer. Sadly those pesky, tiny creatures get an unwelcome mention in many schools newsletters – touch wood, my kids never had head lice & I credit Childs Farm for that!).

Baby Wipes, 64 in the pack, £2.49

Babies bums get mucky and the job of cleaning them up become more complicated when you travel & don’t have access to clean running water, when the nappy has been on for a few hours. True to form, Childs Farm has developed baby bum wipes which help clean up all sorts of messes and leave babies skin clean & moisturised.


Another welcome bonus is that the wipes contain over 99% naturally derived ingredients[...] read more

Out & about with kids: Robots & Moomins

When one is not travelling and nor doing activity camps during kids half-term, the question of how to best entertain them becomes quite pressing. Watching TV and letting them get even further acquainted with their iPads, Nintendos etc. is all very well and we let them getaway with it, when we have to do more pressing things, like cook lunch or dinner, but I believe in inspiring their minds, as well as my own, in order to keep up with them. On this occasion my penguins and I went to Science Museum to see its new exhibition called ‘Robots‘ and followed it with a visit to Southbank to see ‘Adventures in Moominland‘.

‘Robots: the 500-year quest to make machines human’ at the Science Museum until September 3, 2017

The exhibition aims to tell a story of how mechanical humans came to exist and the roles that they play in our, human lives. Set in five different times and places, the exhibition traces our obsession with re-creating ourselves as machines and I have to say, watching a robot baby, used as ‘body doubles’ on movie sets, was quite disconcerting for me, while kids were completely fascinated.

You get to see robots through the eyes of those who commission and create them, with particular focus on imagination, dreaming and building. From clockwork and questioning whether one exists inside of us, to the effect UK’s industrial revolution – walking from room to room, alongside the children, you get to ponder a long journey of our evolution along the way.

It’s not just the engineers that bring robots to life, it’s the imagination of writers, animators, film-makers and consumers that make things happen and technological advances make what’s was impossible to achieve yesterday become reality tomorrow or in the near future.

Staff offer insightful guide tours and bring along pet robots for kids to discover, while older kids, as well as adults, enjoy interacting with social robots. One of them was featured in the news report only a few days ago, helping children with autism recognise and express emotions. In Japan, with its fast ageing population, robots are taking place of carers, as Japanese protection policies prevent a large number of overseas nurses from working in the country, even though there aren’t Japanese nursing staff to address their nations needs.

While elder kids really enjoy this exhibition, younger kids might get a little nervous and would want you to hold their hand. ‘Robots’ offer a fascinating insight into our existing world, as well as the future of things to come, so definitely worth a visit!

For more information please click here

 Adventure in Moominland at Southbank Centre, until April, 23, 2017


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Kid’s Super Hero from Bare Biology

September heralds the beginning on a new school year and the reaction of kids varies from utter excitement to contentious sulking. It will probably take a few weeks for both parents and the kids to adjust to the new timetables, after-school rota of activities, endless play-dates and demands of the new year but there is a helping fin from Bare Biology in the form of a liquid Super hero.

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I have reviewed Bare Biology’s Lion Heart Sicilian lemon Omega-3 fish oil in April and am happy to report that not only to I continue to take it daily, but my penguins are now happily demanding their own Super Hero oil Omega 3 Fish Oil right after breakfast, before we make a dash for school.

What makes it special and why should you consider giving it to your child? Well, to start with, Melanie Lawson, brand’s founder, is a mother of three and we all know that being a mother often gives you extra inspiration and motivation, especially in unsteady and worrying times we currently live in, when nutritional content of the food can be somewhat lacking and children face growing pressures since the moment they step over the school threshold.

Omega 3 is essential for children’s development but many kids don’t like the smell or the taste of fish, leading to many arguments in the kitchen table. What to do? One single 1ml


drop of Super Hero contains the same amount of Omega 3 that
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reflections on parenthood

Now that the summer is over, its nice to look back at the summer holiday when the pace was somewhat different if you have the children – no school runs and possibly slightly more time in bed in the morning but kids need time and attention, so you can never rest on your laurels.

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Looking at the sea waves while digging my toes deep into the sand, I reflected on motherhood and combining it with work, with constant pressures and deadlines and realised with relish that summer is such a wonderful time to spend less time with technology and more re-connecting with our family, children and friends. What can be better than switching off the TV and eating dinner in the garden, while discussing your day and making plans ahead? Or leisurely reading with the children and talking about life with them? Or discovering new corners of the city, foraging in the forest, building castles on the beach or just making new discoveries, together, with no destructions or time pressure. Children grow up so quickly and life is fleeting, so make the time to enjoy the company of your children, both sides can only benefit from it.

 

Travelling tip

No one can dispute that travelling with small kids can be tiring to say the least. But there is one thing that I started doing last summer that makes me a little bit more secure. If you are travelling with your partner, divide the contents of your two suitcases between yourselves. If you are travelling with children, apply the same practise. And if the airline losses your luggage, you are more likely to have some clothes for each one of you-it’s unlikely that they will lose all of your luggage-and a better peace of mind.