City Kids Magazine is recruiting and we’d love you to join our team


Thanks to the amazing support of our readers, our magazine is growing. We go into our 5th year of production looking for two wonderful people to join our team. City Kids Magazine is one of London’s most popular parenting resources, regularly chosen as the go-to guide for things to do, education, parenting, travel, food, features and lifestyle.City Kiks Magazine Issue17

From research to writing, event planning to production, we’re looking for an enthusiastic people-person who can work efficiently as part of a team and on their own. You will need to be a quick thinker and adaptable as you will be required to manage several different tasks. If you have any experience in PR, publishing, marketing or journalism this would be an advantage, but not essential. However, a good knowledge of Microsoft Office, social media platforms and the parenting sector is.
Over time, you will have the opportunity to attend media events on behalf of City Kids which could include film screenings, fashion events or family workshops.
This is a paid, flexible role, largely working from home approximately five hours per week, though you will be required to travel to West London for occasional meetings.

We are looking for an enthusiastic intern to help our growing company. If you have plans to enter journalism, publishing, PR or marketing, an internship with City Kids Magazine will give you some great skills. As we are a small business, you will gain real experience from day one (not just taking coffee orders) and you will be a valued member of the team. You will need to be highly motivated, confident, and have a good command of English (written and spoken).
Reasonable expenses will be paid weekly. Based in Chiswick, West London.

To apply for either of these positions, please email editor@citykidsmagazine.co.uk, enclosing a copy of your CV. We regret that we will only be able to contact those who we can meet for interview.


This weekend sees a family race day at Ascot with a Christmas feel


Head to Ascot racecourse on Saturday, as families are invited to celebrate the festive season, together with world-class horse racing and plenty of seasonal cheer, just three days before Christmas Day.

Featuring the most valuable racecard of Ascot’s Jumps season, the event promises to be exhilarating and enjoyable for all ages with fairground rides, a festive parade, clip clop pony rides, huskies and candle-lit carol singing.

Racing on the course

On the track, highlights are two £150,000 races; the ultra-competitive Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle and the Grade 1 JLT Long Walk Hurdle – one of the most prestigious long- distance hurdle races in Britain. Punters could be in with the chance to earn an extra Christmas bonus with the many high-class supporting races throughout the day.

Entertainment for all

Off the track, adults can watch the races whilst enjoying festive cocktails and Fine Dining across multiple food outlets. Little ones will be entertained with the The Elf Training Academy, a husky meet & greet, festive arts and crafts and face painting. Father Christmas and his fellow reindeer will be in attendance and Mrs Claus’ storytelling will return for a third year. The whole family can also enjoy free fairground rides and uplifting carol singing by candlelight in the Grandstand with the Ascot Brass Band.

As usual under 18s go FREE!

For more information



Some of Hollywood’s most famous pets return to our screens in 2019

The Secret Life of Pets 2 will follow summer 2016’s blockbuster about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day.

Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and his longtime collaborator Janet Healy will produce the sequel to the comedy that had the best opening ever for an original film, animated or otherwise.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 will see the return of writer Brian Lynch (Minions) and once again be directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me series, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax). Harrison Ford, Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Lake Bell, Tiffany Haddish, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper create the voices of this family favourite.

You’ll have to wait until 27 May to see the film, but for a taster, see the trailer below!



Whether you’re looking for a baby, pre-schooler, little kid or big kid, our Christmas gift guide could be just the inspiration you’re looking for.

This page is all for the very little ones. We have kids fashion, toys, games – traditional or modern – all within our edits. Happy shopping!




Cloud Mobile, £42, Liewood

Oeuf NYC Unicorn hat, £54, Liberty

Bloomingville wooden breakfast set, £19, Amara

Roommate Giraffe Height Chart, £59.45, Taka Tomo

Wooden Robot, £25, Bobby Rabbit

Cashmere Jumper with Frill, £60 – £65, Mini Boden













Organic Cotton Paw Print Baby Playsuit, £33.45, The Bonnie Mob











Garden tools, £14.95, Annabel James

Ollie Ella Wooden Carry House, £67, Smallable












Lion Purse, £15, Meri Meri



We’ve selected 24 of the best advent calendars for kids this Christmas

Whether you’re looking for something traditional in the shape of wood or fabric calendars you can fill, or you want to get the latest and exclusive toys from Smiggle or Playmobil, we’ve got a great selection of advent calendars, all still available in the shops.

Modern Calendar, West Elm £59
Count down to Christmas with this cotton Advent Calendar from West Elm. Its pockets hold gifts or candy for a fun way to get into the holiday spirit all month long. Gifts and sweets not included.
National Gallery Advent Calendar £7.50
Featuring a festive exterior scene of the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square where Santa meets Nelson it is finished with shimmery highlights. Each numbered door opens to reveal a different detail from the National Gallery Collection, including Constable, Manet, Botticelli and many more.

Coppenrath Victorian Christmas Garland  £14.00
This Christmas Garland Large Advent Calendar by Barbara Behr is shaped like a traditional festive decoration. The countdown to Christmas spreads over 24 angelic doors, with images the whole family is sure to enjoy.

Meri Meri Railway Advent Calendar £29.00
Tasteful and no plastic in sight! Count down to Christmas with this sweet railway advent calendar, featuring 24 beautiful wooden pieces and a keepsake bag.


play in choc £65
24 organic chocs + 24 toys within 24 drawers. Beautifully crafted, the chocolates are dairy free, gluten free, soy free and with no refined sugar. The toys feature 18 endangered animals to learn about. Once each drawer is removed, replace back to front to form a new picture which will be completed on Christmas Eve. The outer sleeve of the advent can also be opened up into a landscape to play with all 24 toys.

Betty’s £49.95 
Featuring a new, exclusive design for Bettys by Poppy Treffry. A festive chocolate novelty awaits in each of the 24 pockets of this cotton advent calendar. Limited availability.

The Biscuiteers 24 luxe biscuit tin £55
24 hand-iced biscuits presented in a square-edged keepsake tin. Can be personalised with a free message card at checkout.

Divine Fairtrade Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar £4
With a new illustration by Stephen Waterhouse of the nativity, this calendar combines Fairtrade chocolate with a traditional nativity theme. The reverse of the calendar brings extra delights for children, featuring a Bean to Chocolate game.

Hershey’s Cookies n Crème £5.00
Like Hershey’s? You’ll like this calendar filled with cookies and creme chocolate.



Cotton Twist Personalised Make Your Own Advent Calendar Kit £12.95
This kit contains stickered envelopes to fill with messages or treats and pegs and twine to fix into position. All is made by hand by little Elves in Chiswick.

Play Doh £20
Different crafting gifts each day such as a snowflake stamper, tree mould, playmate and five cans of Play-Doh.

Mari Meri Christmas Tree Advent Calendar £13.50
Open the windows of this charming advent calendar to reveal a different delightful tree decoration every day.

Crayola £17.99
Kit includes 24- day calendar of surprises for a daily dose of creativity for every day of Advent. Think craft projects, homemade gifts, finger puppets and colouring activities.

BIC £19.99
For the pen and writing lover find 24 writing products during Advent. Six Magic Felt Pens, six Coloured Pencils, four Colouring Crayons, one Glue Tube, one Graphite Pencil, one Eraser, three Ball Pens, 24 Postcard & 20 Stickers to colour.

Oxfam Puppet calendar £4.99
A large design with metallic foiling; each day of advent features a fun finger puppet from the Nativity story.


Hatchimals Colleggtibles £29.99
There are over 50 surprises to discover so you can build a Christmas scene. Paper craft decorations, small presents, stickers and accessories for your Hatchimals are all included. There are also exclusive characters and nests that you’ll only find in this calendar.

Paperchase Eraser Advent Calendar £10
This popular high street store has a great selection of calendars. We’ve picked this one with 25 (yes – the idea of advent plus one) different puzzle eraser gifts behind these windows.

Tinc £28.00
Slide away the full colour sleeve to reveal 24 individually nested boxes, each containing a unique, Tinc-branded and exclusive gift. This year’s calendar is reportedly bigger, funkier and of higher value than last year’s. And gender neutral!

Smiggle Advent Calendar £25
25 limited edition stationery surprises behind each door, plus 25 lucky tickets to win a massive £500 Smiggle shopping spree! Suitable for 4yrs+. Please note, this is now sold out online.


Schleich – Farm World £25.00
Schleich figurines and accessories are concealed behind 24 little doors.

Playmobil Santa’s Workshop £19.97
As each box is opened the building of a Christmas scene will begin.  With sleighs, elves, toys and angels, by Christmas morning the magical tableau will be complete. With beautiful Playmobil detail, tiny carrots for the reindeer and gorgeously wrapped presents are a cute finishing touch to the scene.



Gibsons 12 Days of Christmas Puzzle Advent £20.00
Behind each door you’ll find an 80 piece jigsaw. The twelve puzzles eventually create one panoramic Christmas scene.

Juniqe The Animal Kingdom £59.95
The large box features 24 different posters rolled up inside numbered gift boxes. The index lists all 24 artists names. This is a limited edition of 1000.


Miss Pink Advent Calendar £15
The perfect countdown to Christmas with the Miss Pink advent calendar with a treat behind every door. Calendar contains 1 x 7g lip balm, 6 x bath fizzer, 10 x 5ml fragrance, 5 x 30ml bubble bath, 1 x nail polish, 1 x nail stickers.

For Christmas shows – head to our December page here.


Luxury childrenswear brand, Marie-Chantal, is opening a new flagship store on Motcombe Street, London.


The new Marie-Chantal store will be home to the brand’s iconic Angel Wing Collection, baby gifts, seasonal girls and boys collections, special occasionwear as well as a unique curation of jewellery and gift items. Perfect timing for Christmas!

Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece launched her first collection almost twenty years ago, focussing on her love for classic and timeless design. Her five children are her influence (a girl and four boys) and she uses her expert eye for fashion as a guide. The childrenswear range runs from birth up to 12 years old.

The new store has been designed by Fran Hickman who has recently created new retail spaces for Goop, Moda Operandi and Emilia Wickstead.

What to expect

True to Marie-Chantal’s roots, the boutique store will celebrate beautiful clothes for beautiful children. Clothing is age appropriate and allows boys and girls to dress like children, with a playful twist. The stylish cuts, playful embroidery and detailing is key to every signature design.



4 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, London, SW1X 8JU


Monday – Saturday 10 – 6pm; Sunday 12-5pm






Decorations, costumes, tricks and treats. We’ve found everything you could possibly need to make your little ghouls grin this Halloween.


Gisela Graham Black Tinsel Standing Cat, £12.99, Amazon

Trick or Treat Bucket, £25, Hotel Chocolat

Spider Web place mat, £8 for pack of four, John Lewis

Spooky Skeleton Confetti Crackers, £19.50, Meri Meri at Liberty

Boo Halloween Neon Light, £14.99, Lights4fun

Halloween Plates, £5.75 for 8, Meri Meri at Ocado

Pumpkin Sunglasses, £3.99, New Look

Halloween Bunting, £6.49, Ginger Ray

Chocolate Eyeballs, £8.99, Choconchoc



Teeth-friendly healthy snacks for kids lunch boxes

healthy snacks for kids lunch boxesFood vector created by Lesyaskripak - Freepik.com

As any parent knows, back to school can be a very busy time – from buying new uniforms and shoes to picking out stationary. With so much to plan, it can be easy to overlook what’s going in the packed lunches. But making sure your child has a healthy, inviting and tooth-friendly diet is really important.

Steve Preddy, Clinical Director at Bupa Dental Care, has shared his top tips to help you create teeth-friendly healthy snacks for kids lunch boxes.

Say cheese!

Cheese is a great ally for teeth. It is full of calcium and phosphates which are known for strengthening bones, especially in children. In addition, eating cheese causes salivation, which helps to decrease the acidity levels in the mouth, helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Remember to eat in moderation though, cheese may be easy on the teeth but it’s also high in fat.

Pack in the veggies

Crunchy fruit and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, are real helpers when it comes to scrubbing away plaque from the teeth. Carrots are also high in fibre and a great source of vitamin A. Make sure you include some and ask your kids to have them at the end of their meal! Fruit does contain natural sugar so it’s much better to eat during meal times, rather than snacking on it at other times of the day.

Find swaps for sugary drinks

Fruit juices – especially those made with acidic fruits like grapefruits, oranges, and lemons – are loaded with sugar and acid that can slowly remove tooth enamel. When they are concentrated down into juice, teeth are at risk of decay. When possible, give your kids still water, as it helps wash away food debris. Alternatively, watered down juices or weak cordials can help reduce the impact too.

Don’t feed their sweet tooth!

Limiting sweet treats is really important for children. Not only is this good for their overall health but it is also vital for good oral health. Each time you eat something sugary, the levels of acid in your mouth rise significantly. It then takes up to a full hour for the acidity levels to return to a normal state. If a child’s acidity levels are being constantly raised throughout the day from eating sweet treats, they are then at serious risk of tooth decay.

Avoid raisins and dried fruit

You might be forgiven for thinking raisins and dried fruit are a great healthy snack to stick in a lunchbox. While raisins may be rich in anti-oxidants, they’re also full of sugar and can be just as damaging to teeth as confectionary. When the fruit is dried, the concentrated sugar becomes tacky and sticks to teeth and gums, which can then cause tooth decay.

Beware of crisps

Crisps contain starch which can get trapped in teeth, leading to plaque build-up. If your kids love a crunch, it’s better sticking to the veggies.

Use whole-wheat bread instead of white

Consuming whole-grains actually lowers the risk of gum disease. The enzymes in white bread stick to teeth and then turns into sugar. Switching to wholemeal is a much healthier and tooth-friendly option… don’t worry, you can still cut the crusts off!

Get creative

Kids love getting involved in the kitchen, why not make a batch of healthier snacks at the weekend to pop in their lunch boxes throughout the week.  Mini savoury muffins are usually a big hit, high in protein and low in sugar. You can even get in one or two of their five a day with the right recipes.



Girl band member, actor, West End Star and now fashion designer. Victoria Evans met the multi-talented mother of two to celebrate the launch of Kimba Kids.

What’s the inspiration behind Kimba Kids?

Let me go back to the start. So my brother is the managing director of a company that make, design, manufacture, and distribute clothes so obviously I knew that I had a lead in to this and with Bobby, my oldest son I just found it really boring buying boys’ clothes. I really wanted a little boy, so it’s not like I’m one of these women who wanted a girl to dress up, it wasn’t that, I just felt they don’t suit him, there’s all this nautical stuff like everywhere, which is fine, but it’s a bit preppy-ish and felt like he’s a blonde, blue-eyed mixed-race little boy and felt like I actually want him to be able to express himself a bit more and wear things that are a bit more fun and colourful and that’s where it came from.

So I approached my brother and was like, “How do you feel about trying to launch a new brand with me so that we can use all your facilities to do so. And he was actually really up for it. As much as his job is so intense and full-on as he’s distributing to Next, ASOS, constantly meeting deadlines, I think this was more of a passion project for him. It’s been hard for him because there aren’t enough hours in the day but we’ve done it. It’s taken a while…we fully started it when Bobby was about 16 months and I was doing Elf at The Dominion over Christmas and because it was my first job back, I had a bit of time to actually think for myself again. There were times when I wasn’t on stage where I was able to start the design process and I would meet the designer between shows on the two show days.

So it has taken a long time to get it to this point – he’s nearly four now! I thought you just hand-picked designs from a rail and Adam was like no, we need to design them, we need to draw it and come up with every colour, fabric. One day we literally spent the entire day going through thicknesses, choosing colours, and I asked him, is this your life? And he was like, yeah, pretty much. We do have to do this every time. It’s interesting as I had absolutely no idea it would be so time consuming.

Perhaps there are other sides to the business you prefer?

Exactly, I prefer the design and can you send me a sample back? But it’s not that easy. I feel like we’ve found a good place now, where we both feel like we know what the brand is, I’m very sure of what I want it to be. He’ll sometimes throw something in like What about trying this? And I’m like no, it’s not me. I wouldn’t put my kids in it – it may be popular at the moment, but I just want to stay true to what I am and the design process will be easy. If I take it on a tangent that’s following something else, it’s always going to be hard to bring it back to what it’s supposed to be in the beginning.

Because of the fashion connection through your brother did you ever consider doing womenswear?

Well that’s something we’re talking about now because we can. There’s so many opportunities there because of the way I work with his company. Right now, the priority is getting Kimba Kids off the ground and hoping that we can make this work. We’ve already got our Spring/Summer in for sampling and that was really fun and exciting and doing it now that we’ve got to this point. So we’d need the time – this has become over the last 6 months like a full time job and it’s one of those that you can sort of do with the kids around but there are times when I’m like I just need to answer some emails when they’re not like screaming at me or something. There are certain things that you have to do so that they go to bed but you can do it around the kids which is why it’s brilliant. I have taken the kids into meetings before because it’s my brother but mine cause a lot more…there’s picnic mess all over the floor, or like rails and clothes boxes barricading the stairs so they can’t fall down. This is not ideal but if childcare lets you down which is what happened to me, we’ll just bring them. My brother was like, yes, it’ll be good to have their input. They’ll be interested for about 5 minutes and then he’ll be like where’s the guns or weapons I can play with?

So what are your favourite pieces?

For me, my favourite piece for the boys.. As we knew this was going into Autumn/Winter we wanted to do a slightly different tone so we’ve got an aubergine tone camo. And for the girls I love the twinset.

What are your hopes for the brand?

It’s really crazy at the moment because no one really knows what’s going to happen at this point. It has been a family passion project. It’s hard because we both care about it so much so obviously we really want it to do well. I’m realistic. I don’t know how this business works so obviously the fact that Next have endorsed it as big as they have gives us hope that it will work because I don’t think they’d take huge numbers of something that wouldn’t work.

Your brother presumably was able to advise?

He would know to a point, but they would know more because they sell kids wear every day and he does adult stuff. They were very excited about it. We went to them first as we felt that it was a fit for their stuff and I do still think it sits really well with all of their stuff. But they have gone above and beyond – they’ve had opinions on stuff that really helped us, little branding things, they wanted it to be branded because they said if people are buying into you, they want to know that it’s yours. You’ve got to offer something that isn’t already there, which we know. So we feel like together, we’ve got it to this point and now we want to see it on other children and know that people have actually chosen to buy it themselves. That’ll be so exciting – we’ll have to get everybody to send pictures into me.

How would you describe your parenting style?

Manic! I’m such a calm person. I genuinely think I’m one of the most chilled people. But my boys can drive me to places that I never thought were possible. And it frustrates me if I feel like I’ve lost it, that’s just not me. But sometimes at bedtime, the way that they taunt me, I’m like “you just want me to break so that you can laugh at me”, but I can’t cope! I try to be relaxed. I’m very loving, which I’m sure most mums are, but I feel like they do respond to that. I’m terrified of the day my boys don’t want to get in bed and cuddle me in the morning. Its my favourite time of the day. My brother who I’m doing this with still gives my mum a cuddle – it’s quite cute. I’m not going to lie, they’re really hard work at the ages that they are, they do not stop, they don’t sit still for five seconds. And I wonder which one I should protect. Bobby’s older and he’ll go and do something where he could hurt himself. If I’m at a park who do I protect because he’ll go and climb a climbing frame where he’s in full danger if he falls from it, but then Cole is tiny so I an’t leave his side so usually I’m like Stop! Grab Cole and try to help Bobby down the clmbing  frame down. I feel like a lot of the time I look at myself in day to day situations and think what would anybody think if they could see me now, but is that just parenting of two young boys?

What advice would you pass on to a new mum?

Don’t put pressure on yourself. Every mum thinks they have to be the perfect parent and everthing should be as the books say it should be. You cannot ever read something and be that person because every child is so different. Even seeing what my two boys are like – Bobby was so chilled out I could have gone to a hygienist appointment and he would have just sat in his pushchair and just watched. Cole would have just screamed blue murder, it just wouldn’t happen so already they have the personaliies so you have to adapt to them. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect because I don’t hitnk any of us are. We all lose our [shit] every so often don’t we.

Three words to describe yourself

Relaxed – all good things of course – warm and tired. Always tired.

Last book you read

I don’t read, there’s no time in my life for reading but I did read Giovanna Fletcher’s baby book ages ago. Weirdly because it was so relevant to me I actually really enjoyed it. I was reading it and thinking I’m reading about my own life, but there’s some comfort in it, that’s why she’s so popular, because she’s so honest. All the breastfeeding stuff you know I had a really hard time of it as well. Nobody tells you, even my own sister never really talked about it very much. I didn’t get that at all. But she was like I think I was so terrified that was almost…I think that the more we talk about it the better. You think that they’re supposed to latch on and it’s all lovely. I’ve never felt pain like it. Obviously it is a nice thing, it’s a labour of love.

Tell us one thing nobody knows about you.

I used to make my own clothes and sell them to my friends. My mum used to make clothes all the time, the sewing machine was always going. In the 80s with four kids it was tough financially so she made a lot of our own stuff. So I started making wrap around skirts, palazzo pants and scrunchies and people started putting orders in on our estate. I used to put the scrunchies on a big tube and take them to school and sell them. I was a right Del Boy even then!

Signature dish?

I’m not good at inventing my own things, but I am good at making something taste the way it’s supposed to taste. There’s a really nice Thai coconut sea bass recipe in one of the Leon books, which is really easy. You can prepare it earlier, put in the parcel and then they cook in 15 minutes and it looks like a really well thought out meal.

Who inspires you?

It’s a cheesy thing to say but my mum really does. I’ve got a new found respect for her since having children and trying to work with the kids. She had four and she was on her own because my parents split up when I was young. She always worked full time, she always did extra things after school like piano lessons for people to make extra money. I don’t know how she did all of that with the addition of financial worry and no partner to support her. So when I get stressed or think that life’s getting a bit tough I think, “ come on, think about what it was like for your mum, it was so much harder for her and she’s like happy now, we’re all happy and she’s getting the payback through us now I suppose. I think of her as a role model when I start to get a bit delusional as to what’s going on in life.

What’s next on your list of things to do?

I do do a lot of different things. I’ve been really lucky, I even got to do Strictly. There’s nothing really left that I desperately want to do. To be honest, if Kimba Kids works the way we hope it will it will be a much bigger focus for me over the next year because I’ll need to go full throttle if it works ans stuff. We’ve loads of ideas for interim things we can do around Christmas which all takes time and thought.

What are your memories of school?

I actually liked school from a social point of view. I was never sporty so I hated that side of things. I’d always find a way to get out of cross country. Generally I was lucky to be academic enough to get through without working too hard but I was never way up there. Because I was relatively clever but not expected to do amazingly well, I think you can enjoy school a bit more. You get grades that people are happy with, but you can also socialise without feeling too much pressure.

Memories of school dinners

We had really good school dinners. I always remember my middle school dinners were really good. They always did the best puddings, proper northern puddings like cornflake tart – a suet pastry base with jam and cornflake and treacle – and jam roly poly. Everyone who went to my school still talks about it.

What would you take to a desert island?

My kids, although it would be tempting not to! I can’t actually bare to be away from them for too long so they’d have to come, for help with the childcare. Music because I could keep them entertained and I can’t not be around music, so some sort of music system. And alcohol to get me through.


Kimba Kids is available exclusively at Next.co.uk.


Free Coaching this Summer with Arsenal FC

Arsenal FC and Cover-More have teamed up to provide free coaching to kids this summer


Calling all kids aged 6-12!

This is a great opportunity for two days of free coaching by Arsenal FC coaches in West London.

Cover-More Travel Insurance and Arsenal FC are providing two days of summer Skills School on 2nd-3rd August at Burlington Danes Academy, White City.

Kids will be put through their paces on a programme specially designed by the Arsenal coaches to develop their agility, control, speed and precision. Simon McManus who heads up the Arsenal Soccer Schools programme will lead the Skills School, assisted by Tom Hartley and Scarlett Hanrahan. Cover-More, Arsenal’s Official Travel Insurance Partner, will be providing lunch and refreshments, plus a bundle of football goodies including: exclusive Skills School jersey, drawstring bag and water bottle for each child.

Note that enthusiasm will be more important than skills level, so all are welcome.

Free places up for grabs!

Here’s the exciting bit – a number of spots for the Skills School will be filled via email lottery.

To enter a child for the chance to attend, email child’s name, age and guardian’s contact information to: skillsschool@covermore.com by midnight, Sunday 22nd July.

Children must be aged 6-12, and available to attend Skills School on 2nd-3rd August at Burlington Danes Academy in White City.

What are you waiting for? Tell your friends!


Join children’s cookery legend, Annabel Karmel at one of her cookery workshops


Annabel Karmel and Bluebird Cafe team up to create real food kids will love. Picture includes Annabel Karmel and Simon Gregory, Executive Chef D&D Restaurants.


Two ticketed children’s cookery workshops, hosted by Annabel Karmel and Executive Chef Simon Gregory, are taking place at the new Bluebird Café, White City this summer. And City Kids Magazine has secured a spot for you at the Gingerbread Making workshop in August.

How to enter

All you have to do is follow this link and instructions to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Easy peasy!

You can also guarantee you’ll be there by buying a ticket. The link below will take you to the ticketing site.

Monday 13th August – 2pm – 4pm 

Gingerbread making with Annabel Karmel @ Bluebird Café

£15 per child

(max 15 spaces)

Monday 20th August – 2pm – 4pm 

Cupcake making with Annabel Karmel @ Bluebird Café

£15 per child

(max 15 spaces)

Tickets can be purchased via https://shop.danddlondon.com/product-category/events/.

The workshops celebrate the collaboration of the legendary children’s food author and the stylish Bluebird chain where an exclusive menu has been devised from her new book Real Food Kids Will Love.

General reservations to Bluebird Café can be made by calling 020 3940 0700 or online via www.bluebirdcafe.co.uk.



Children’s cookery legend, Annabel Karmel joins Bluebird Cafe to create real food kids will love


Annabel Karmel and Bluebird Cafe team up to create real food kids will love. Picture includes Annabel Karmel and Simon Gregory, Executive Chef D&D Restaurants.


Recently opened Bluebird Café, located in White City’s iconic Television Centre, has teamed up with the UK’s No.1 children’s cookery author, Annabel Karmel, for an exclusive menu collaboration around her new book Real Food Kids Will Love. Her six-week residency will see a selection of dishes from the book forming a nutritious and inspiring menu specifically designed for Bluebird Café’s family diners.

The menu includes roast chicken, fish and sweet potato chips and fruit skewers.

Inside the book, published by Pan Macmillan, you’ll find recipe categories such as 15-minute meals, family favourites, healthy ‘fast’ food and holiday cooking with kids. Plus meals that adults can also enjoy including tuna poke bowls, quinoa baked chicken fingers and quesadillas. And for those on the fussy side, there’s a handy rewards chart inside the back cover.

Each dish has been designed to be enjoyed by the whole family, while remaining simple, healthy, and nutritionally balanced for young children.





How did you come up with the idea for Bubble?

There were two things which gave me the idea and motivation to launch bubble. Firstly, I had kids of my own and quick realised that childcare is such a massive struggle – a daily struggle – for so many parents. Secondly, when I looked at how we and other parents were trying to find our childcare, much more often then not our decisions were being driven by recommendation and word of mouth. Trust is obviously the most important thing when it comes to who we let look after our kids and more so then anything else we want to know who are friends are using and who they really rate. We figured that is information that an app could bring to a parent’s fingertips, and we set off to build it with bubble.

How does it work?

bubble gives parents total control to find the perfect sitter for them and their kids. The app makes it easy to select when you need someone and quickly see the sitter’s around you who want to help you out. Every sitter passes an ID and Background check before being allowed onto the app and our USP is that the app will show you how you know the sitter via mutual friends. For example, you can see the other parents at your kids’ school and the sitters they know and use. You can also read the sitter’s reviews from other local parents, and even use the app to chat with those parents for more information. When you come across someone you like, you can use the app to book them as well as pay them cashlessly at the end which our customers really love. The app has a review system which helps ensure that the sitters giving the best service are the ones that get the most work.

Which areas of London are covered by the app?

We’ve got full coverage across London now and on average it takes just 43 seconds for a parent to receive an application from a sitter after posting their job. Parents are using bubble to book sitters in as little notice as 30 minutes. The thing they love most about the app is that ultimately they are always in control of the sitter they pick. And we see how parents use the app in many different ways, doing what they need to do to get comfortable with a sitter.

What’s been the biggest lesson learned running Bubble?

Doing a startup with three young kids at home (I’ve got three under 5) is especially difficult but at the same time I love how despite having never worked harder, I’ve also never spent more time with my kids. There’s a lot being written at the moment about helping parents work flexibly, and the importance of enabling us to better juggle work and family life. My experience has shown me how spending time with your family and being incredibly dedicated to your work are not mutually exclusive.

What’s your proudest moment?

There’s no doubt that starting a business is a rollercoaster, the only certainty you have is that things will go wrong. So celebrating the wins and having what can at times be gruelling days punctured with moments of pride is so important. Every time we get some glowing feedback from a customer we’ve helped is a huge boost to me and the team. We’ve got amazing feedback on our trustpilot page and seeing new comments come in from parents thanking bubble for helping them is honestly a huge source of pride for us. Childcare is a really sensitive subject and it’s not an easy product to ‘sell’ – particularly when you’re doing things in a novel way as we are. So great customer feedback is something we hugely value – it’s what drives us on to keep doing more.

What’s your top tip for date night in London?

I’ll be honest I’m pretty useless with this kind of thing! My wife and I are big foodies so when we go out, 99% of the time, good food is on the agenda. There are so many great places in London now we’re spoilt for choice. Caravan in Kings Cross is a favourite right now.

Where’s your favourite place to go in London with the children?

We’re typical North Londoners so we always like to take the kids to the Heath or Highgate Wood whenever the weather allows. When it doesn’t, the Wonderlab in the Science Museum is a great bet, though I always leave it pretty shattered.

Last book you read?

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s definitely not one to take in with the kids screaming around you but if you do ever get a quiet moment, it’s just brilliant.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you.

My first job was commentating on European Football for UEFA – for a football anorak it was a dream. How I quite ended up running a babysitting app still bemuses me sometimes.

What would you take to a desert island?

My wife, kids and a bubble babysitter.

Signature dish?

I love to cook and find it a huge stress reliever. Nowadays though most of my time in the kitchen is spent making Cheese Toasties so I’ll go with that.

Describe yourself in three words.

Pretty tired dad.





Blogger, vlogger, social media queen, director, entrepreneur and now, published author (we’re out of breath!) Who is Vicki Psarias? Victoria Evans finds out.

Three words to describe yourself.

Warm, talkative, generous.

What are your social media house rules?

Nothing digital at the table and the kids have set times when they can use the computer. YouTube is weekends only. I’m not addicted to my phone anymore either and most of our evenings are tech-free unless I’m on a deadline. I tend to write during the day now that my book Mumboss is out. I wrote that between 10pm and 3am last year!

Lots of people blog so they can get their hands on free stuff. What was your motivation? I started Honestmum.com in 2010 to rediscover my voice after a traumatic birth. Blogging as a career in the UK was unheard of then. After four weeks, I was offered my first commission and my business grew organically from there. Now I work with global brands while sharing all that I know to help mobilise and inspire other mums and dads to work exibly and remotely thanks to the democratic internet.

Why do you think your profile has grown in the way it has?

My readers tell me they feel I’m their friend: their honest, loving friend who tells it like it is and gives them the advice they need to hear. I’ll take that.

How do you deal with negativity on social media?

I’m pretty good at brushing off the trolls now that I’m seven years in. I think having a cool-headed and caring husband, Peter; and manager Jack Freud helps hugely. I never feel sad for long.

Top tips for someone wanting to blog as a career?

Buy my book Mumboss of course: I share all that I know within that from how to start a blog, finding your voice and confidence and knowing your worth. Quick tips are: let your passions lead you, write what you know and be consistent.

What was the motivation for Mumboss?
I wanted a long-form piece that you could follow, or dip into, which houses all that I’ve learnt in the seven years blogging and vlogging.

Last book you read?

Purpose-Find Your Truth and Embrace Your Calling by my pal Jessica Huie MBE. It is brilliantly life-affirming and inspirational.

What’s your top tip for date night in London?

We do date days, to be honest. It’s easier to get a babysitter and there are no hangovers. The Royal Garden Hotel for vegan afternoon tea, followed by a walk in the adjacent Kensington Gardens, would be the best day date possible. I adore being their resident blogger. It’s my second-home and it’s so tranquil there.

Where’s your favourite place to go in London with the children?

Anywhere in Kensington or Notting Hill. I used to live on Westbourne Grove and did so when I met my husband Peter so we have lots of happy memories there. We love revisiting with the kids be it eating out, heading to the park or visiting a local museum.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you.

I can bark like a dog. Crazy but true. Discovered that as a child. Dogs bark back at me but I’ve not a clue what they’re on about!!!

What would you take to a desert island?

My kids and husband. Then vegan chocolate.

Signature dish?

I turned plant-based several months ago and my go-to is a mild chickpea curry the whole family loves.

What’s been your proudest moment?

The birth of my kids and my wedding day. Then, seeing my parents’ faces on publication day. Their pride and joy is etched in my mind’s eye forever.

What’s next on the list of things to do?

Mumboss: The Movie is the grand plan, Stan. A talk show too please and moving to LA in five years’ time, perhaps. Oh, and the big dream is another baby, but I need to work on my non-broody husband for that one (it might take a while). I have a lot I want to do to be honest…

Author/ Blogger/ Vlogger/ Filmmaker/ TV Director & Founder of Honest Mum®




The Goat Chelsea has a different approach to a relaxing Sunday pub lunch. Friend of City Kids, The Ealing Mummy, went to investigate.

The Goat Chelsea is a great place to go for a relaxed Sunday Lunch. Not only do they offer a lovely contemporary Italian inspired menu, but they have entertainment for the kids at their Kids Club Sunday from 12-3pm. So, you might actually be able to enjoy your meal without the usual interruptions that you would normally expect with kids! There is no extra charge for the entertainment, but I suggest that you book a table to avoid disappointment, as it is very popular.

The entertainer is based in a private dinning room on the lower ground floor of the restaurant, which is great because that way you don’t feel as if your child is disturbing other diners who may not have children. On this particular Sunday my Daughter was entertained by Froggle Parties Professionals. The friendly man was dressed as Train Conductor and performed an array of magic tricks and jokes. She enjoyed it so much we had to convince her to come back upstairs and have her lunch! She also left with some party bag gifts and a candy cane that the entertainer modeled from balloons especially for her!

They offer a great children’s menu which definitely suited my little one’s taste buds. She decided on the chicken goujons coated in panko breadcrumbs with broccoli and fries and to finish with chocolate brownies and gelato.

I was impressed with the overall menu and decided to go with the truffled macaroni and cheese to start with. I went for a Devon crab salad for my main. I finished with a delicious sticky toffee pudding and vanilla gelato. I also sampled one of their cocktails which was inspired by the Chelsea Flower show, it was fantastic in both taste and presentation.

I would thoroughly recommend The Goat to families. I also noticed they have highchairs available and baby changing facilities too. It’s the perfect place to go if you want a leisurely lunch with the kids. The staff made us feel very welcome and could not do enough for us.

You can read more musings from The Ealing Mummy over on her blog:



Tully Review – funny, uncomfortable, but a must-see



If there’s one woman in Hollywood that I always want to side with it’s Charlize Theron. She’s clever, beautiful, been through tough times, and is not scared to show a make-up-free face on screen. And as Marlo in Tully, she spends most of the film make-up-free, and looking, well, how we all feel most of the time. Dishevelled, flabby, exhausted, stressed, anxious, pulled in too many directions.


Anyone who’s raised or is raising children knows there are highs and lows, but translating this into tv and film has often produced clichéd scenes, jokes and scripts. Not here. Writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman have made a funny film which is, at times, a dark and uncomfortable watch. Theron has perfected the Mum Moodswingometer which is rarely pointing to the well-balanced middle: serene patience to passive aggressive and worse in 60 seconds is totally achievable if you’re a mother to two small children and a newborn.

At what seems like the height of her panic, Marlo calls the night nanny recommended by her brother, and we’re introduced to Tully played by Mackenzie Davis. She’s everything that Marlo isn’t: young, pert, positive, energetic – perhaps everything that Marlo used to be before children. And Davis is pretty mesmerising on screen.


Mackenzie Davis stars as Tully in Jason Reitman’s TULLY, a Focus Features release.

Tully isn’t simply about struggling to be a mum. It’s more complicated than that. It’s about being a wife, a woman, a worker and acceptance. Go see. With tissues.

Thanks to Hustle & Fox and Universal for arranging a great screening at The Soho Hotel.



Baby-faced Genius – Who does your baby look like and why? Some science (and anecdotal evidence) from our ante-natal guru.

Words: Beverley Turner

One of the great joys of running ante-natal classes (I hate that word – you are adults who have had sex – classrooms are for kids) is meeting the babies who we started to know as bumps. Myself and the midwife spend eight weeks laughing, listening and learning with couples who are about to become parents. Then – as if by magic – we’re all back in the pub together with tiny, curled up, pink-faced babies. And everyone looks just like their dad in a baby-gro.

It never fails to amaze me how much babies resemble their fathers. Sometimes, it momentarily slips my mind which baby belongs to which dad. But then I look at the cherub in a pink frilly dress and think, “Ah yes, you’re the one who always orders a pint of pale ale and works in IT … that’s right, Mike.”

Mother nature very cleverly makes sure that dads stick around to do the Sainsbury’s run by carving out newborns in their image. It makes perfect sense. We mums are inclined towards keeping our babies close, feeding them, snuggling them and marvelling at the colour of their poo. Dads may need to work a little harder to feel that bond – but if they look down and see themselves reflected back … well, their hearts melt; they’re soon picturing those chubby cheeks in a Chelsea scarf, which is enough to make them stay.

Although I’d like to claim 100% certainty on this phenomenon, scientific studies don’t actually back my theory. A body of research conducted over decades and published in the journal ‘Evolution and Human Behaviour’, has delivered conflicting results: some studies found that newborns more closely resembled their mums than their dads; other studies found newborns to be matched with

both parents equally well. My personal favourite was the most recent study which found that, although babies more closely resembled their mother for the first three days, the mums themselves remarked on how much they looked like dads. The author of the study concluded that this was an “evolved or conditioned response to assure fathers of their paternity.” I’d also ask (with a mischievous glint in my eye) how many mums down the generations have cooed, “Oh darling! He looks soooo like you!” with a quiet sigh of relief.

Of course, this paternal-bias has also caused some mums to grimace at a large nose or flappy ears and say, “She gets that from your side of the family.” Fast forward two years and the toddler sulks can be weaponised by a tired dad: “She’s just like you when you don’t get your own way!” To the harassed mum, the teenager slamming the door becomes: “A mini-you! He’s learnt that from you!” And, just in case she hasn’t played the genetics card quite hard enough, “Remember the time your brother stormed off at Christmas lunch? That boy is just the same!”

Mud-slinging from the branches of the family tree is a tried and tested means of surviving parenting. We all do it. We shouldn’t. But, we do. It’s oddly satisfying. In essence, it’s an attempt to be a good parent whilst getting yourself off the hook – if Olivia can’t sit still, it’s easy to blame your restless mother-in-law. And if an inability to kick a football is a family trait from your husband’s side, little Jago may never make the A Team, regardless of how much you spend on lessons. It’s not our fault.

And there may be some truth in that. A recently published book, ‘Do Parents matter?’, tried to answer that provocative question. The author, Judith Harris wanted to establish whether a child’s behaviour was “learned from their parents,” taught by their social group or could be attributed to “the genes they inherited.” She concluded: “Studies using the proper controls consistently favour the latter explanation. In fact, personality resemblances between biological relatives are due almost entirely to heredity, rather than environment.” She cites the fact that adopted children “don’t resemble their adoptive parents in personality.” Harris claims not be particularly interested in genetic effects, but the point is that they have to be considered. Unless we know what the child brings to the environment, we can’t figure out what effect the environment has on the child.”

She travelled the world examining many different cultures and parenting styles, concluding that “parenting didn’t have to be such a difficult, anxiety-producing job, that there are many different ways to rear a child, and no convincing evidence that one way produces better results than another.”

So, the moral of the story is that we, as parents, just need to do what we can. I sometimes think the best we can hope for is a well-timed “please” or “thank you” – everything else is genetically pre-determined. We’re all just winging it, moulding our kids as best we can with the product we grew. But genes will always play a part – so pick those daddies carefully, and be honest – we may not be quite perfect ourselves.

Beverley Turner is author of The Happy Birth Book and hosts a show on LBC at 6pm on Saturdays. She also runs The Happy Birth Club in Chiswick.


Not everyone is blessed with culinary skills, and some just aren’t interested. But cooking for the family is inevitable once you’ve decided to to have children. For those who can’t cook, and those who won’t cook, Sophie Clowes goes back to basics with the help of some Wabi-sabi attitude.


Of the many competent adults I know, some can’t drive, some can’t run far, some can’t swim and some can’t sing in tune. Well, I can’t sing (not a note), but I also can’t cook. The skills required for making a main course elude me, which makes me feel embarrassed, nervous, flustered and, finally, frustrated. It became a barrier to having friends round, which is sad.

One day, after swim squad, I was listening to my fellow swimmers – a varied, successful bunch – who were talking about how bored they were of cooking, of food, of their lack of inspiration and of fussy children. Then, somebody suggested she might be able to help. That is how Louisa Chapman-Andrews came to my house to give me a cooking lesson.

What is Wabi-sabi?

Louisa is not a nutritionist, but a cook and writer. She runs her own food consultancy, helping people fall (back) in love with food and cooking. Her gentle understanding of my predicament was summed up in a book she recommended, called Wabi-Sabi Welcome. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept that honours the beauty of natural imperfection and a life of chosen simplicity. A review describes it as a ‘licence to slow down and host guests with humility, intention and contentment’. This was the culinary path I was seeking. We didn’t make sushi, I hadn’t managed to read the book and we didn’t even use it. Instead, one morning, Louisa, with a herbal bouquet fresh from her garden, taught me how, with a few basic skills and vision, I could make dishes that would feed my family for the best part of a week.

Back to Basics

Without a murmur of condescension, Louisa taught me how to make a classic tomato sauce. We also roasted a tray of root vegetables and, since I had a whole chicken and not the chicken thighs she had suggested, she taught me how to poach it. This method meant you got two cracks at stock, which is, in culinary terms, liquid gold. To the uninitiated (which, seemingly, is just me), this was nothing short of magic. Three very simple recipes could multiply and become a veritable menu of choice: soup, pasta sauce, health bowls, chilli, pasta bake, curry base.

Until recently, a main meal in this country constituted meat and two veg. Instead, Louisa suggested building a dish from the ground up, in pyramid fashion, starting with grains or pulses, then substantial vegetables such as roots, then softer vegetables such as leaves, then protein in the form of meat, fish or different vegetables, before adding a dressing and the texture (nuts and seeds, or even crispy salmon skin). You reap what you sow, or rather, eat what you cook, and so we sat down to a convivial lunch. First on the plate was a mixture of toothsome grains and pulses, then the roasted root vegetables, raw spinach leaves, shredded chicken breast, a simple dressing of yoghurt and lemon topped with some pumpkin and sunflower seeds toasted with Ras El Hanout – a versatile and forgiving springboard into the world of spices. We added chilli flakes too. It was delicious, filling, healthy and something a chump like me has since been able to replicate.

Banishing Fear

Louisa taught me the above but, in a sense, she also gave me permission to try without embarrassment or fear of failure. I’ve learnt that it’s alright to make a mess and that good cooks spill stuff (although, how Louisa got away with no apron and clean clothes at the end remains a mystery), that practice improves things and perfection is overrated. I realised that cooking for friends is one of the ultimate expressions of friendship. Later, Louisa sent me lesson notes, which included how to create a pantry and fridge toolkit, where to shop, what oil to use, what pulses should be soaked, how to make a dressing and a myriad of ingredient combination suggestions. I am indebted to her.
The late Julia Child, of French cooking fame, once said, “Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal”.

Food brings us together

Heartbreakingly, the day after Louisa’s lesson, a close member of our family died. Food became a form of familial glue and an expression of love. Friends cooked to give life to a family that had lost a life. It was comforting and therapeutic, as much for the cook as the eater: a form of solace. That week, and those that followed, I truly understood how food is a life-giving force that encourages conversation and laughter, that mops up the tears and quells the grief, as much as anything can.

Food is many things: it feeds our children’s brains and bodies, it nurtures and energises, it speaks of culture and geography, of comfort and celebration, of tradition and ritual, of family and friends and of love. It creates lasting memories and is a marker of the most important moments in life, as well as the backbone to every day.

I am no longer afraid to cook. I am free to make a mess of my kitchen, to flavour food, to waste next to nothing and to feed family and friends in a perfectly imperfect manner. It’s not easy, but I’m more at ease.
Next up, can any of you swimmers teach me how to sing?


Louisa Chapman-Andrews
louisaca@icloud.com | 07796 264 734

The Ginger Whisk
gingerwhiskcookingschool.com | 07950 576767

Borough Kitchen Cook School
boroughkitchen.com | 020 7998 9970

Leith’s info
leiths.com | 0208749 6400

The Jamie Oliver Cookery School
jamiescookeryschool.com | 020 3435 9900


Want more sleep? The World Sleep Society is at hand with some ideas on how to get more sleep, for you and your children!


How many times have you quietly competed with anyone about how little sleep you’ve had. You must be the most hard done by, you must be the most tired, no one could have possibly had as little sleep as you.
Well, as parents, we all know that sleep is the holy grail and that we NEVER get enough of the stuff. And the best way to get more sleep is to get the nippers to sleep like babies. Ahem.


Ages Birth to 12 Years

Sleep is one of the most important contributors to your child’s physical and mental health. Good sleep habits, sleep hygiene, or “sleep health” are alternative terms often used to describe sleep promoting practices. The explanation as to why healthy sleep practices promote sleep is likely to be, at least in part, that they work by improving the regulation of sleep, either by reinforcing the body’s natural circadian rhythms (ie, the timing of light and darkness), or by increasing the drive to sleep. Other sleep practices help us to associate certain activities (like a bedtime routine) and environments (ie, the bedroom) with sleep. Healthy sleep behaviours also promote sleep by reducing factors in the environment which are stimulating (like caffeine) and increasing relaxation, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.

Finally, good sleep practices include providing an adequate opportunity for sleep based on age and individual sleep needs and an environment that is conducive to good sleep quality and safety.
  1. Make sure your child gets enough sleep by setting an age-appropriate bedtime (preferably before 9:00 pm or 21:00 hours) and waketime*.
  2. Keep a consistent bedtime and wake time on weekdays and weekends.
  3. Establish a consistent bedtime routine and recommend wearing comfortable clothes in bed, including strong absorbing diapers for infants.
  4. Encourage your child to fall asleep independently.
  5. Avoid bright lights at bedtime and during the night and increase light exposure in the morning.
  6. Keep all electronics, including televisions, computers, and cell phones, out of the bedroom and limit use of electronics before bedtime.
  7. Maintain a regular daily schedule, including consistent mealtimes.
  8. Have an age-appropriate nap schedule.
  9. Ensure plenty of exercise and time spent outdoors during the day.
  10. Eliminate foods and beverages containing caffeine, including many sodas, coffee, and tea.

AGE                       SLEEP NEED
3-12 months —-   14 to15 hours
1-3 years —-        12 to14 hours
3-5 years —-        11 to 13 hours
6-12 years —-      10 to 11 hours
12-18 years —-    8.5 to 9.5 hours

In addition to clinical sleep problems, poor sleep habits can cause poor quality sleep in adults. To help improve overall sleep and wellness, World Sleep Society has created the 10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults:

  1. Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.
  2. If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
  3. Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke.
  4. Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
  5. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is acceptable.
  6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.
  7. Use comfortable, inviting bedding.
  8. Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.
  9. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
  10. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.





Describe yourself in three words

Enthusiastic, determined, impatient.

How did Don’t Buy Her Flowers come about?

The idea came after I had my first baby. I felt exhausted, elated and overwhelmed, and it struck me as bizarre that the go-to gift for new mums was flowers, which require looking after when you’re already pretty spent! I returned to work but couldn’t shake the idea and, as more friends had babies, I could see how important it was that new mums be looked after and what a difference someone saying ‘Are you ok? I’m thinking of you,’ can make. We started as gifts for new mums and now our packages are sent for lots of other occasions, too – get well, thank you, birthdays or any time someone needs some TLC!

What were you doing before DBHF and did it help?

I was in brand and marketing on large Government campaigns, and then London 2012. It helped massively – I knew the importance of understanding your audience and project management. The budgets are very different, and nothing could have prepared me for how difficult running my own business would be – everything is on you and that’s tough, but it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done.

What’s a typical day like?

I’m currently on maternity leave, except not entirely because, when you run a business and there are salaries to pay, it’s not possible to just stop. Thankfully, we now have a team and a warehouse where the orders are all fulfilled. It’s not in my house and it happens without me! It’s a bit of a juggle at the moment as I’m home with Frank, but when he naps (if I’m not napping!), I am working on longer term plans and interviews, and we’re about to hit Mother’s Day, which is a huge one for us.

What’s been the biggest lesson learnt about business?

To stay focused and not get distracted by what others are doing, or try to do too much too soon, I think. I’m really clear on what Don’t Buy Her Flowers is – we sell thoughtful gift packages. There are lots of gorgeous gift ideas, but ours are about encouraging the recipient to have a sit down, and letting them know they are loved, because someone wants to take care of them.

Instagram: love it or hate it?

Love it! I love the community feel of it – being a business owner can be pretty lonely, especially at the beginning. It’s fantastic for meeting like-minded people, and to also find customers. Our followers are incredibly supportive and kind.

How did the Anna May Mangan article in The Daily Mail affect your relationship with social media?

It was actually really positive – the online community was angry on our behalf! I ended up doing lots of interviews about it and it really helped remind me why I started the business. Being a mum is wonderful but hard, and new mums are so vulnerable. We DON’T need people pitting us against each other and criticising how we parent. Most of us are doing our absolute best, and we’re hardest on ourselves, so don’t need judgement from anyone else!

Describe the change from a family of four to a family of five.

A lot more washing and a lot less sleep! We’re in the early stages so mostly knackered, but it’s so lovely to see a different, nurturing side to the big kids – they love Frank and are so excited every time he does something new.

Who inspires you?

Anna Whitehouse (Mother Pukka) is the most driven person I know.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

If you’re 70% sure of something, go for it. If you wait for perfection it’ll never happen, and you can always change things once you get going. That was Ben Jones, a friend, and one of the founders of Graze.com.

What would you take to a desert island?

A bed. I can’t think beyond sleep currently!

What’s your favourite spot in London?

I love where we live in St Margarets, and we love going to Kew Gardens.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you?

When I was at university, I applied to go on a TV show called Bar Wars and got to interview stage.

Signature dish?

Jacket Potato.

Last book you read?

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother.

What’s next?

There are lots of exciting things happening at DBHF! We’ve seen huge growth in the number of corporate clients, which is exciting, and we have so many ideas. Personally, I also want to enjoy the next few months as much possible as I don’t plan to have any more babies. It’s taken me until the third one to realise that taking it easy is the key!

Steph Douglas is Founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers, selling thoughtful gift packages.


Instagram: @steph_dontbuyherflowers

Facebook: Dontbuyherflowers

Twitter: @DBHFgifts



Beverley Turner gets to grips with ante-natal celebrations and yak-milk-drinking hippies as she explores the idea of baby showers

Nothing leaves me as conflicted as the ‘Baby Shower.’ As a party girl at heart who will never refuse a glass of fizz and adores hanging out with fecund and fabulous pregnant woman, I should love the idea of a pre-baby celebration. But I don’t. There – I’ve said it. I’m an ante-natal teacher and Baby Showers make me shudder.

There’s a good chance that I must simply chill the hell out. So, forgive my bah-humbug. But what exactly is a Baby Shower? It’s a well-intentioned get-together of busy women to wish the mum-to-be success on her birth journey and shower the baby in gifts. It’s a celebration of an impending human being. Or – while paraphrasing writer Dave Ramsey – is it yet another way to get young women to spend money they don’t have, on things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like?

Shouldn’t we be mortified to ask friends to part with their hard-earned cash because we decided to have unprotected sex? Turning up empty-handed is not an option. The very wording strong-arms attendees to ‘shower’ the ‘baby’ in gifts. But the baby doesn’t give a crap about gifts – they will only want mum (possibly, dad), milk, cuddles and love. They don’t need wet-wipe-warmers and 17 new-born babygros that they will inevitably be too big for. Of course, having a baby comes with costs and I get the appeal of a helping hand.

But once a baby has arrived, folk will keenly arrive with gifts in exchange for a baby cuddle and a cup of tea. These tokens of love are wonderfully uplifting for weary new mums. A Baby Shower places your mates in the awkward position of having to buy a second present when they come and visit you and the bubba. It’s either that, or they rock up with a hug apologising for not bringing anything while clumsily asking if the cashmere cardigan they bought fits him (answer: it does, but he vomited on it and you’ll never have time to do a hand wash). The icky, American-style commercialism of the Baby Shower is perhaps something that a younger, more materialistic generation are much more comfortable with. They would similarly be appalled by the notion of oldies like me not wishing to ’tempt fate.’

Women of yore knew that labour was a risky business. They kept a healthy emotional detachment from their foetus as they dug potatoes from the fields. They certainly wouldn’t ‘count their chickens before they’d hatched,’ never mind counting how many cupcakes they’d need for a party before baby had even arrived. Effective scans did not even exist until the 1970s. Too many women today feel blindly assured that modern medicine will ensure the safe arrival of their unborn. If only that were true! Yes, positivity and preparation are the key to a happy birth. But there is merit in knowing that getting the baby out safely remains a bloody big deal. The Baby Shower allows no pause for thoughts of disappointment – or even worse – disaster. We underestimate the physical and emotional requirements of birth at our peril.

I rather like the idea of women sitting around telling empowering and uplifting birth stories over a pot of tea while helping the centre-of-attention become filled with confidence. But when does that ever happen? Depressingly, most Baby Showers consist of already-mums telling birth horror stories and warning the mum-to-be that she shouldn’t get her hopes up of having the birth she wants. This negativity is never helpful. But surrounded by well-meaning mates, how can the polite host request that everyone shut the hell up about stitches thanks all the same?

There is a less capitalist version of the Baby Shower which is struggling to catch on: The Blessingway. This is a ‘spiritual’ occasion intended to bless the mother-to-be with love and kindness before she crosses the pantheon into parenting. Sounds ace. But there’s only one thing worse than a room of Kardashians and that’s a room of yak-milk-drinking hippies massaging each other and chanting. In a Blessingway, friends tell the pregnant woman a lovely story about her and thread a bead onto a bracelet that she will look to in labour to give her strength. This sounds lovely! So why does it make my whole body cringe?

Ultimately, babies are best left to cook quietly under the gaze of mother nature and good medical care. Mums-to-be are best looked after by responsible employers and compassionate mates. And once baby has arrived safe and well, helium balloons and boob-shaped cakes are wonderful ways to make women smile.




Acid attack survivor, philanthropist, entrepreneur and soon to be mother-of-two

Katie Piper
Describe yourself in three words
Positive, determined, confident.

What’s a typical day for you?
When not heavily pregnant, I like to set myself up for the day with an at-home workout on the treadmill or doing floor exercises. Then, I will make Belle’s breakfast and depending on what I’ve got going on work-wise that day will take her to kindergarten, or we’ll play together and then I’ll catch up on emails. I really enjoy cooking so in the evening I’ll prepare a nice healthy meal for the family, which we will eat at the table before snuggling up on the sofa watching a Disney film. Once Belle is asleep I will have a flick through social media and Richie and I will catch up on each other’s day before bed.

You’ve been called inspirational. Who inspires you?
The amazing people who volunteer at my charity, ‘The Katie Piper Foundation’ and my mum because she is so kind and resilient.

Is it important to be liked or respected?
I’m a huge believer in treating others how you would like to be treated and respect plays a big part in that, and is something I believe is very important. As far as being liked – there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like you but it’s how you deal with it that counts, and having the confidence to not let it knock you down.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
My wonderful surgeon once told me that worrying was the biggest waste of time. It never helps a situation so it’s something I try not to spend too much time doing.

What would you take to a desert island?
Can it be people? If so my family! If not, probably my favourite album ‘Thriller by Michael Jackson’. I could listen to it for hours!

What’s your favourite spot in London?
Ohhh that’s a difficult one as there are so many wonderful spots in London. Belle loves the park so Hyde Park would definitely have to be up there for spending quality family time together.

What’s your biggest luxury?Katie Piper
It would have to be going on holiday! We love taking family breaks together and have so much fun with Belle playing by the pool.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you.
I usually get by on just four hours’ sleep. For some reason, I’ve just never needed much sleep.

Favourite film?
I watch so many Disney films these days – probably Moana!

Favourite date night?
Right now, I am so busy with work and heavily pregnant so it would probably have to be cooking a lovely dinner together and snuggling up on the sofa watching a film. Ask me when I’m not pregnant and I would probably say a romantic dinner out!

Who would be your green card?Katie Piper
I only have eyes for my husband!

What’s next for Katie Piper?
Family-wise, I am extremely excited to be welcoming my second child to the world just before Christmas and workwise, I have my first ever theatre tour ‘What’s In My Head’ starting in March 2018 which is extremely exciting as it will be a really intimate experience with my fans. Within it, I will discuss my own battles with anxiety and explain how I have overcome it. Insecurities exist in us all of us and adversity in life is unavoidable but this is my chance to hopefully be able to help others learn how to manage it.

Tickets for What’s In My Head are available at venue box offices and through Katie’s website www.katiepiperandyou.co.uk.
The Katie Piper ‘Mother’ Maternity Collection with Want That Trend.Com is available at www.wantthattrend.com.


Taken from our most recent Autumn issue, our Style page has high street and high end designer fashion, thanks to Romaine’s research of this season’s denim trends.



For more kids fashion, why not take a look at our Old School shoot



Catchment areas? Oversubscribed prep? Think again…

By Susan Hamlyn, Director at The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants

St Catherine’s School, Bramley

The arrival of a baby these days produces less unalloyed joy than in earlier times. Along with the multipacks of nappies come bucketfuls of stress. This is especially true of new parents in London who think wistfully of their own, often far less pressured, childhoods. They look around their chic – (or less chic) – London borough and see queues of exhaust-emitting traffic, crowded buses, unsupervised parks and schools, which are either good and over- subscribed or unacceptably poor.

Not that many London schools aren’t good these days. But few have much space – especially outside. Staff turnover can be high. The best state primaries have catchment areas the size of an exercise book and good preps are highly competitive and expensive. Then there’s the pressure. Schools are expected to pack more and more into a short day. A common sight is a child on his way to school, heavy rucksack on his back, instrument case in one hand and sports bag – bootlaces and cricket bat perilously tipping out of one end – in the other. Can this be the only way?

Well, it isn’t. Recent years have seen a change of thinking in both parents and schools. Increasingly, London parents are sending their children against the commuter traf c to schools in the Home Counties. Hazel and Chris Tomkins are typical: ‘Alba is a lovely child. But she was getting lost in the local school – there were simply too many children who needed more attention than she does. She is sporty and needs a lot of space. Since she went to her country prep, she’s got into the borough athletics squad and is much happier.’

Likewise, doctors Nour and Shazia Mahmood, enthuse about the change in their twins: ‘Their new
school has a minibus that collects from a couple of streets away and brings them back in the evening. They did have to sit entrance exams, but it was far less competitive than preps in London – three children for each place rather than 12! And the teaching and results are just as good.’

Schools within commuting distance see London as an excellent new market. Papplewick, a boys’ prep in Ascot, Berkshire, reports: ‘Since our transport service to and from Chiswick was launched, we have experienced a 100% rise in interest, resulting in a second service to and from Brook Green.’ And they confirm what parents say:

‘We offer a huge range of extra-curricular activities and sport in a rural environment. This all takes place within a school day, rather than parents having to ferry their children to after-school activities around London. All prep is done at school here, so there’s no homework. Parents report that their sons are less stressed, happier and working harder. They also achieve good academic results.’

Papplewick School, Ascot

Senior schools also now offer weekly boarding especially tailored to professional London families. A key influence is the lack of space in London schools and the necessity of ‘bussing’ to local sports grounds. St Catherine’s School in Bramley, near Guildford – headed by the highly-experienced Alice Phillips – tells us: ‘Interest is high – we see about 90-100 families at every open morning, of whom about 20% are looking at weekly boarding.’ This is partly because St Catherine’s offers: ‘Space. Green vistas. Outdoor facilities, which include floodlit netball and tennis courts, lacrosse pitches, athletics track, plus a huge sports hall, swimming pool, fitness suite, gymnasium and dance studio. And outstanding on-site facilities – we offer musicians an auditorium with superb acoustics. Actors have a state-of the-art theatre and technical box.’

But it’s not just facilities. Many parents worry about the intensity of an urban childhood. St Catherine’s says: “Here their daughters can develop at a pace less dictated by the media and peer pressure. We are not isolated – we are located at the heart of a village community with Guildford on our doorstep. St Catherine’s girls are very busy and are more likely to be in a club, in an orchestra rehearsal or doing sports after school, rather than kicking their heels around a city centre.’

So – another sleepless night worrying about catchment areas or oversubscribed preps? Perhaps it’s time to look outside …?



For more news on schools and education take a look here.



Victoria Evans caught up with Izzy Judd as she prepared for the launch of Dare to Dream, and for the imminent arrival of baby number two, who we now know is Kit.

Describe yourself in three words

Kind, control-freak, mum

How did Dare to Dream come about?

Initially, when Harry and I first announced our pregnancy with Lola, I was conscious about putting the news out there. For two years, I saw pregnancy announcements and wondered why it wasn’t me. Having seen another celebrity announcement, or a friend’s, it felt like it was all around me. So, when Harry and I did our Hello interview, I told him how strongly I felt about being honest about how we got here. So, I spoke about IVF and miscarriages during the interview, but it was quite scary to come to the decision to open up.

The response I got back from women – I couldn’t believe the number of people, and even my own friends, who started to open up. Harry was like, ‘Izzy, I think you should write something. There’s something here.’ When I was going through my own issues, a lot of the books that I looked at were very science based. I couldn’t really find anything that spoke to me emotionally. So, the whole idea behind Dare to Dream was driven by the desire to write a book that would be a companion to other couples going through fertility struggles. I was inspired by the people reaching out to me.

How was the process?

My intention is to try and change the perception of fertility treatment. I went through a journey, for want of a better word, but the moment I found out that it wasn’t going to happen straight away, I panicked and opted for medical intervention. I wanted whatever medication I could have to get pregnant. In hindsight, I wish someone had put a hand on my shoulder and gone, ‘It’s okay, these things can take time. Don’t panic.’ Hormonally, I reacted quite badly to the medication and became very depressed, lost a lot of confidence and felt as though I’d lost myself completely.

After about six months, and another negative test result, I went downstairs. I was devastated. Harry took my hand and said, ‘Worst case scenario – you and me, and it’s still a pretty good place.’ It was a moment of realisation for me. Here I was, I’d just got married but I was so consumed and obsessed by this one thing. So, I did this mind, body and soul detox, which was amazing in that I instantly felt a change in my mood, and thought about falling pregnant. I made a decision that, actually, my story is that it’s not going to happen quickly for me. So, by the time I started IVF, I was able to approach it in a very calm way. I looked at my nutrition, I was doing mindfulness and I was probably in the best state mentally.

I really believe that people are frightened by the three letters ‘IVF’, but there is something really magical about it. I really felt that doctors take over your body, but you’re very much in charge of your mind. I really wanted to try and provide a different view, a more positive perspective, as a lot of couples might only have one go. It’s expensive and the pressure on you for it to work is going to put your body into a fight or flight mode. It’s about how you deal with getting through. Hopefully, the book guides people on how to better manage those emotions.

What’s a typical day like?

I’m with Lola full time. We’re very lucky as she can hang out in her cot and play happily in the mornings. She’s always been a great sleeper, but I’m the one who’s up, staring at her, wondering, ‘Are you too hot, or too cold?’ We might go to a class in the morning or meet up with a friend. She has her nap, which gives me a bit of nap time too (seven months pregnant). We go to the local parks or Harry might take her out. My day is quite focussed around Lola and her needs.

Who inspires you?

My granny was a huge inspiration to me. She worked all her life, which, in her generation, wasn’t necessarily what happened. She was quite forward thinking in many ways. I was very close to her and was devastated when she died. In the book, I mention a time when I was going through IVF. I used to walk round St Peter’s Square and there was this robin that followed me around. Apparently, robins are someone from your past letting you know that they’re there. It’s a bit kooky, but I like it. I was always sure it was granny just being there.

Family inspires me. My brothers are all musicians, and I’m very close to my family.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My dad’s always said ‘dignity at all times’, and that does sit well with me. My dad doesn’t say much but, when he does, it counts.

What would you take to a desert island?

Can I take Harry? And Lola? Harry might be happy that I mentioned him first for a change! I have had my Winnie the Pooh bear ever since I was a little girl. I still can’t sleep without him, or go anywhere without him.

What’s your favourite spot in London?

My instant response is St Peter’s Square. I love the fact that, in a big city, there are these pockets like Chiswick House, where one can find moments of peace and magic.

What’s your biggest luxury?

I’m not one for luxuries but, when we go on holiday, I like a nice hotel. Go on, shall we upgrade? Harry is the opposite. We don’t go on holiday every year, but when we do, that’s our little luxury.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you

I have suffered horrendously with anxiety, for most of my life. When you’re someone who goes out and performs like I did with Escala on Britain’s Got Talent, you wouldn’t think that that person would then go off stage and have a panic attack. I don’t know if many people know that about me, but I’m sure that was the root of my problems when trying to conceive. My anxiety has become a friend. When I say I’m a control freak, being in control is my way of managing my anxiety. I find change very difficult. I do get anxious before events, but it’s such a silent thing, I don’t think anybody notices. I’ve learned when to say ‘no’ to things, and it’s become easier as an adult. At least mental health is being talked about now.

What’s next?

The baby! I knew that I had time to write the book, so I can now focus on Lola before the baby comes. The whole thing with Dare to Dream is, I feel like it’s a long-term campaign. I want to keep the conversation going about fertility, and empower people to feel comfortable talking about it.











Sharky and George guide us on the best things to do with kids in our fair city’s green spaces.

London has the best parks of any city in the world. FACT! There are over 1000 acres of park just between Regent’s, Hyde, Green and St. James’s Park but Battersea Park is the real gem. With Go Ape, Putt in the Park, pedalos, and an awesome zoo you definitely won’t be lacking for great things to do. Here are a few top tips for activities in any park this summer:

Bug Hunting – All you need is a jam jar, a little net, a magnifying glass, a log book and you are away. Have a look under rocks or fallen branches, under the bark of trees or in long grass and you are sure to come across lots of creepy crawlies. Gently put them in you jar or container and then count their legs, eyes and wings. Do a little drawing of them in your log book and then set them free!

Homemade Kite-Flying – You can buy kite kits online for about £2-3 which are fun and easy to put together but most importantly fly really well.

Water Pressure Rocket Launching – Rockit do the best kits for about £15 and there is so much you can do with them. You need your Rockit, a selection of bottles (check the cap fits onto the thread of each bottle), a bicycle pump and a water source. You can then experiment with different amounts of water in different size bottles to see how high you can go! We find that smaller bottles about half full of water tend to go the highest so bigger isn’t always better. 

If, on the off chance, you want your children to do all these things and a lot more from 10th-28th July, then it just so happens that Sharky and George is running its Adventure Club in Hyde Park between those dates! Each day will be jam-packed with fun, games and endless activities, including tug of war, mini olympics, rocket launching, science madness, pedalos, spy quests and of course, lots of water bombs. Adventure Club is suitable for children aged between 5-10 years old and tickets can be purchased here. They’d be crazy to miss out on the fun! 

We can also do something a bit more bespoke for you. For example, there was a bit of an issue last summer when the Queen’s birthday presents were stolen by a disgruntled security guard! The children were met by a special agent in a London Hotel looking for help to recover them. The only intelligence they had was a ticket with a number. It turned out it was a cloakroom ticket for the hotel and the children quickly recovered a locked metal briefcase and an envelope with a code. What followed was an undercover rendez-vous with an accomplice of the security guard outside Buckingham Palace (to coincide with the Changing of the Guard at 11am!), a meeting with another agent and a wild goose chase that took them around all the best London landmarks. It ended with a serious water-bombing of the mischievous security guard so that he would reveal the hiding place and a probable Knighthood from the queen!



The picture could have been me almost 11 years ago when I had my daughter. One of the first of my friends to have a baby, and an only child with no real extended family, I had zero experience of babies. I have no idea if this would have helped as the cumulation of sleeplessness following a hideous delivery, intensive care and a 3-hour feeding programme would be enough to break anyone. I didn’t think that then – I just thought I was useless. Those were dark days.

Broken Fanny is just the tonic I would have mainlined in 2006. It’s a one-woman show following a first-time mother’s struggle through the early days. Tackling the unspoken feelings of despair and trapped isolation, social pressures of perfection and ‘expected happiness’ from well-meaning choruses that this should be ‘the best time of your life’.

Written and performed by  Emma Jerrold, and hosted by Happiness Coach, Olivia Horne, the evening promises plenty of laughs as well as a post-show talk on all the issues raised.

Proceeds for the show will go to PANDAS Foundation UK which offers support and advice to parents suffering from perinatal depression.


Thu 22 June 2017
The Pilot
56 Wellesley Road
W4 4BZ



Describe yourself in three words

A bit silly! When I became a parent, watching charity adverts about the hardship children face all over the world made me determined to make a difference. The emotions of becoming a parent fuelled my belief that every baby should have a fair start in life, no matter where they’re born. I was out shopping for baby clothes when I thought to myself: if I could buy beautiful baby products and know the product helps children in need, why would I buy anywhere else? And so From Babies with Love was born. From Babies with Love speaks to the powerful emotions parents feel for the welfare of children universally. It also appeals to style-conscious parents who want beautiful products. From Babies with Love satisfies both desires in a unique, memorable way.

What’s a typical day for you?

I don’t really have one. I do the morning school run on most days, and then find myself working with lots of talented people that make From Babies with Love what it is. Sometimes I’m singing nursery rhymes to babies to get a smile on a photo- shoot, sometimes in a suit pitching to a client in the City. Generally it’s me and my laptop on the go, checking in with the office from where ever I am. I like that each day is different, that there’s always something new and that I’ve usually flung myself somewhere far outside of my comfort zone!

Who inspires you?

Dame Anita Roddick, for how she incorporated her values, her views on human rights and the environment in to the core of her business and pioneered how ethics can drive consumer behaviour.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. What your character, for it becomes your destiny.” A quote rather than advice I’ve directly been given, but I find it very powerful.

What would you take to a desert island?

Of course my family. And Netflix.

Where’s your favourite spot in London?

A very difficult question, I’m going to go for Islington. I guess because both my children were born there I have quite an attachment to the place. I still take the kids back, for example we love the Little Angel Puppet Theatre.

What’s your biggest luxury?

A facial.

What’s next for From Babies With Love?

We have lots of exciting projects ahead, including expanding our collection in to more new product categories. All of which will help us to support even more children; we currently support over 2,000 across 35 countries, the need is so great that we move onwards and upwards from here.














As the real world gets ever more crazy, as politics and politicians break all the rules, as carefully curated Instagram feeds attack our families’ fragile sense of self-worth, as nature throws us earthquakes and erupting volcanoes, as SATs and 11+, GCSEs and A Levels take on an importance disproportionate to their worth, the need to seek solace from this exhausting, mostly man-made madness increases.

Guiding our children through this fog is not a job for the faint-hearted. Nor is it a job to be tackled alone. There are many influencers in our children’s lives, starting with us as parents. As our children grow, the field of influence widens. Siblings, other family members, teachers and peers all inform their decisions. These are real-life interactions, and many people within these groups are positive role models.

However, the trouble with families, as the adage goes, is that you can’t pick them. The negative role we are cast in when very young can stay with us for life: the difficult one, the whining one, the greedy one, the bossy one, the lazy one … while often coming from a place of deep love, these epithets can become self-fulfilling and, subsequently, toxic. Well-meaning family members and friends can enforce negative pre-conceptions and display limited patience or creativity (hands up, anyone?) as influencers.

Similarly, as parents, we take great care in choosing a school to fit the character of our child. However we have no choice in our child’s classmates or teachers. It is left to chance as to whether there will be a conflict or confluence of interests. Many is the primary school child who is lost in the middle of the class, seemingly invisible to the teacher, pin-balling between sets of friends, unable to find their tribe.

Online media, particularly social media, holds sway over our emotionally vulnerable pre-teen and teen offspring. To get a handle on the enormity of this, take 25-year-old YouTube vlogger Joe Sugg (younger brother of the even more successful Zoe, aka Zoella), who has over ten million registered viewers. His videos have had more than a billion views. That’s quite some influence. To put it into old-school perspective, the daily circulation figures of all the British broadsheet newspapers combined are far lower at just over 1.5 million. Or, how about Selena Gomez with her 107 million Instagram followers, or the not-sure-how-much-of-her-is-real selfie queen Kim Kardashian with 90.6 million followers?

One of the greatest triumphs of social media has been its means of giving everyone a voice. It has given increased empowerment to the women of the world in particular, and has helped launch businesses and careers alike, for which, three massive cheers. It is, however, all too often a one-way relationship (Gomez follows a mere 254 on Instagram, Kardashian an even more paltry 104), a super-edited falsity that encourages our children to judge their inside on others’ outside.

Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, and one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, talks of the importance of encouraging a growth mindset in children, as opposed to a fixed mindset where the child sees ability as something that is pre-set.

So, who should we turn to for help in nurturing this growth mindset? At the end of last year, I went to the funeral of someone we had known only briefly, but whose impact on our family’s lifehad been immense. Brian Appiah Obeng taught freerunning with the Foucan Freerunning Academy in Hammersmith. He was a real-life super hero. Tragically, in a cruel and unpredictable plot twist, he died unexpectedly from an asthma attack. He was a mammoth of a man in spirit, soul and stature, and he turned my child into someone who could move with freedom and ease. What I didn’t realise when I signed my son up was how much else he’d learn: how to have fun, gain confidence, see opportunity in everything, better learn how to make friends and have a laugh, all the while getting fitter and stronger in the company of someone with extraordinary patience and kindness.

As I walked home from the Tube, after his funeral, I realised that, sitting beside my sadness over his passing, there lay a small seed of optimism. It felt as though he had left his boundless zeal for life in the care of his friends and colleagues. I then looked at the other out-of-school activities my primary school-aged children and their friends were doing, and realised it was as much about the influence of the person leading the activity as the activity itself: inspirational people who are experts in their fields. They all have an extraordinary rapport with the kids, offering encouragement, regardless of ability and circumstance. In short, they gave so much more than itemised on the receipt.

Real-life influencers create a place where, for our child, the world is as it should be – where all the things they perceive as marking them negatively different melt into nothingness. It is a place where they are allowed, and encouraged, to be the best version of themselves. Where meeting their potential is purposeful. An influencer is someone who has your child’s back. It is someone who can encourage your child to flourish beyond the restrictions of school or home. An influencer can light a fire in a child’s belly, one that tells them to reach beyond the confines of (dis)ability, wealth, nationality, race, gender and any other restrictions that hold our children back. Influencers are always radiators, they never drain.

Brian was a man of many talents: photographer, actor, writer and freerunner. He posted his work on a site called Broken Jumps. A broken jump is a freerunning term for “an act that you’ve succeeded at that you’d never done before and likely was something that scared you before you did it”. This is what a good influencer will help your child achieve.

Such richly influential people are all around us. When discussing the wealth of activities on our doorstep with an out-of-towner, I was blithely told that such classes do, in fact, exist in the provinces. Maybe, but not as many within walking distance, and not necessarily with a diverse group of participants taught by some of the best in their field. This is where living in London is such a privilege.

Next time you are wondering what activity you should sign your child up for, whether it’s to buy you more time at work or to encourage some independence, consider what else they are going to learn. Choose wisely and go and break some jumps.


Kite Studios is an art studio just off the Askew Road, set up and run by Auriol Herford. It bills itself as a creative oasis for all. From toddlers to retirees, via exam portfolios for teens, Kite Studios is an all-inclusive place where Auriol’s experience with her own special needs son informs so much of her exceptional teaching. This has been a welcoming port in a storm for many a mother ship, regardless of their child’s ability.

Sébastien Foucan, president of Parkour UK, runs classes in Hammersmith. If you don’t get Sébastien himself (‘that guy from Casino Royale’), no matter: all the teachers are inspirational.

Trapeze, silks, hoop… this class in Hammersmith is as fun as its name suggests. Courage, strength and team work are required while egos can be left on the ground.  Paula and Diego, both from Colombia, are inspirational teachers and exceptional talents.

As the longest-running karate school in the area, these are the masters of strength, co-ordination and concentration. Adults learn alongside children and there’s a heavy side portion of respect and fun.

Ask your friends if anyone knows a reliable, inspirational sixth former who could sit and do homework/kick a ball with your child. They will be grateful for the money. Get the right influencer, and your child will flourish.


World Book Day at SexysI’m often surprised to hear that so few parents have heard of state boarding schools; but they are often recognised as the UK education’s ‘best-kept’ secret. Given that state boarding can offer a stable, caring environment and provide high-quality education, state boarding schools seem to offer the Holy Grail – all at a reasonable cost.

Any student with a UK passport is eligible for state boarding. The costs are limited to the boarding element. The educational provision is, like community-based state schools, free. Therefore, state-funded boarding school fees are typically around a third of the cost of the independent sector. A state boarding school costs, roughly, £10,000 a year; a number that compares positively to private school fees, which have increased by an average of 20 per cent since 2010 – four times the rate of growth in average earnings, according to Lloyds Banking Group. That’s not a small difference, especially for London parents struggling with rising living costs, and juggling the demands of the school run and extracurriculars, while working long hours or with travel expectations.

Of course, cost isn’t everything. Our children’s education is worth every penny, but pupils at my own school, Sexey’s in Bruton, Somerset (and, no doubt, at the other 37 state boarding schools up and down the country), are also involved in their local communities. They have an understanding of how the breadth of society works, and most importantly, can converse easily with people from all walks of life. Simultaneously, they also benefit from many of the elements often valued in independent education: excellent facilities, pastoral care, and a range of extracurricular activities that promise a tailored, unique experience for each child, from music, sport, art, and drama to horse-riding and debating.

Boat Scene at SexysBut, what about the level of education? All state boarding schools follow the National Curriculum, and pupils take the same exams as they would in a state day school. Whilst the exams are the same, the performance typically exceeds that of many other state schools, with state boarding schools frequently featuring at the top of league tables. For example, Sexey’s achieved the best state school GCSE results in the South West this year. It was also listed as being in the Top 50 state schools across the country for their GCSE grades. The school’s A Levels this year were also strong: over 34 per cent achieving A*-A (versus 25.7 per cent nationally); and over 86 per cent reaching A*-C (versus 75 per cent nationally). A survey of parents by the State Boarding Forum found that over 80 per cent choose state boarding schools due to their high academic standard, and the opportunity for children to fulfil their potential.

Of course, boarding isn’t for everyone. If it is something you would consider for your child, there are 37 different state boarding schools around England – from selective to comprehensive, from co-educational to single-sex, from primary, secondary and sixth-form.

Parents usually find a school that meets their requirements, no matter how specific they are. For further information, please take a look at the State Boarding Forum website www.stateboarding.org.uk.


Jo Tutchener-Sharp, founder of Scamp & Dude, tells Victoria Evans how serious illness inspired her to help others

Jo Tutchener-Sharp

There’s a quite a story behind Scamp & Dude, can you tell us about it?

I had a brain haemorrhage in October 2015, then had surgery to remove a blood tumour in January 2016. While I was in hospital recovering from the surgery, and desperately missing my kids, I came up with this idea. It really struck me how difficult it must be for kids when their parents are seriously ill; the time away in hospital and the recovery time at home – it’s so hard for kids. Even though mine had their amazing dad, and my wonderful parents with them, I knew they would find it hard when I wasn’t around. I wished there was something I could have given them, something to watch over them, to keep them safe, and to make them think I was close. Hence the creation of the Superhero Sleep Buddy. It’s a Superhero comforter, in the form of a shaped dinosaur or bunny cushion, that can sit on the bed and watch over kids while they sleep. On the back is a pocket that holds a photograph of the person they want to keep close. For every Superhero Sleep Buddy sold, we donate one to a vulnerable child: whether they have a seriously ill parent, have lost a parent, or are in hospital themselves and need a Superhero to have their back. We are working with some amazing charities such as Don’t Forget the Kids and Grief Encounter, as well as with London’s leading children’s hospital.

Scamp & Dude

How did the family cope while you were ill?

My family were absolutely brilliant. After the haemorrhage, I was really unwell. I used to go back to my parents’ house, while my husband was working, and spend time with my kids. It was very scary as there was a possibility I could have had another haemorrhage at any time. So, it was hard for everyone, but they all gathered round, stayed positive, kept smiling, and we all got through it. It felt like we were all going through this together. I actually spent most of my time worrying about how they were all feeling, my kids, my husband, my parents, my sisters, and my closest friends. I knew this wasn’t easy for anyone. I kept thinking about single parents, or parents who don’t have close family around. It’s such a horribly hard thing to go through, despite having an amazing network around me, supporting me. I am very aware that not everyone has this, and it was this thought that drove me to try and help in some way.

How did the link up with Liberty come about?

Through the power of Instagram! I have worked in the beauty industry for many years. The beauty buyer for Liberty and I followed each other on Instagram. I sent her a direct message asking if she could introduce me to their kids’ buyer. She replied, ‘well, as fate would have it, it’s me!’ She had taken over kids, as well as beauty, so it really was fate! She invited me in to present the collection to her. The rest is history. Liberty is my absolute favourite store in the world. I couldn’t be happier that Scamp & Dude will be there.

What’s a typical day like for you, or is there one?

I get the boys ready, then take Sonny to school while my husband drops Jude at nursery. I then head to the office, put my head down and try to get as much done before 3pm, when I have to go and collect Sonny from school. He’s only just started school, in September, so I am still getting used to these shorter working days, which can be a challenge when your to-do list is the size of Mars. I spend my days dealing with the factories, making decisions, checking samples and providing feedback (I am a nightmare client as I’m a huge perfectionist), working with web designers, designing my next collection, dealing with all of the safety tests and legalities that come with starting a brand; the list goes on and on.

What have you learned from previous business experiences, which has helped you this time?

Running your own business is not for the work-shy. I become completely obsessed with whatever business I am working on. I live and breathe it. My haemorrhage was caused by stress, so I am now more aware of not getting into horribly stressful situations. I’ve changed my life in order to make it less stressful, more fulfilling and meaningful. I went through some dark times when I was facing brain surgery, thinking about my kids growing up without me. It really affected me, but it gave me the strong desire to do good and help others. It was this desire that led to the creation of Scamp & Dude.

First school term: How to survive

The first sign may have been the Thomas train hurled across the room; the book slammed shut; or the lovingly prepared pasta pesto on the floor: it’s early September and things at home are not as they should be. Your darling – just starting nursery, primary or secondary – is struggling. Welcome to the world of a child in their first term of an educational step-change. The symptoms are remarkably similar across the ages: exhaustion, sulks, the occasional tantrum. And that’s just you. Imagine what it’s like for your poor kid.

For all those struggling, we’ve pulled together a first school term survival guide with tips from teachers and educational experts.

Let’s face it, we all do the prep: we read starting-nursery picture books with our toddlers, we play word games with our four-year-olds, and we practice the bus route with our 11-year olds. But no matter what we do, there’s always a moment, however brief, where we think, is this the new reality? The answer, obviously, is no; but here are some tips to refer to in the next month or two.


First school term: How to survive

Moving from the security of home to a room filled with at least a dozen other two- and three-year-olds is a shock to the system.

1) Manage the separation sensitively.

If the nursery offers a period of transition, where you can sit in the room while your child gets comfortable, by all means, take advantage of it. However, at some point, you will need to leave, and for many kids, anticipating that moment is the hardest part. “Every teacher will tell you that [a child] will keep crying as long as his or her parent is in sight,” says Sabine Hook, former primary teacher and early years educational consultant at Holland Park Tuition and Education Consultants. Give your little one a kiss and cuddle and make your exit quickly; if you’re worried call the nursery later to check in. In most cases, children settle very quickly once their parent leaves. Ask if your son or daughter can bring in a special toy as a transition object.

2) Keep an eye on how tired your child is.

It’s not unusual that children have to drop a nap when they start nursery, so allow your son or daughter to miss a day occasionally if necessary. If childcare doesn’t permit that, go for an early bedtime. Regardless, just being at the nursery can be exhausting, so be as flexible as possible. “You want it always to be something to look forward to, so play it by ear, and see how they are handling it,” Hook says.

3) Encourage independence.

Children are empowered by small acts of independence: maybe it’s putting on their shoes, or their coats, or simply parking their scooter in the scooter park. Those small moves can go a long way to making the child feel in control. You’ll also likely be reinforcing what they are being encouraged to do at the nursery.

4) Remember, it’s nursery, not school.

Not a few parents worry that nursery isn’t academic enough. Sarah Raffray, the headmistress at St. Augustine’s Priory, an all-through girl’s school in Ealing, says, “We’re not looking at the output when they are so little. The nursery is about learning through play, about learning to learn.” Hook adds that every school introduces reading and phonics at Reception, so don’t worry too much about anticipating that in the Nursery. “When they’re ready, they’re ready,” she says, adding that I-Spy and reading picture books together can lay a strong foundation for phonics and reading.



This can be an easier transition, particularly if the child is going to primary in the same setting as their nursery; or if the child has an older sibling at the school. Still, it can be quite a change.

1) Talk to your child about how Reception is different from the nursery.

Ask your child’s teacher if you can have a copy of the weekly timetable, and talk to your child about what the plan is that day, Rebecca Leviston, Head of Lower School at Ravenscourt Park Preparatory School (RPPS), recommends. In some schools, children may travel to a different room for an art class – and the simple act of navigating a bigger space can seem overwhelming.

2) Keep an open line of communication with your child’s teacher.

“It’s best to open up and talk to us about your child. It’s really important that as teachers that we really understand them as people,” Leviston says. She points out that some children make it very clear that they are struggling, which can make a teacher’s job easier. However, others keep their emotions in check at school and express them at home. Make sure you raise any concerns to the teacher.

3) Keep increasing your child’s independence.

Make sure that their toilet use is as independent as possible; go back to old training routines should there be any regression, Leviston says. Also, encouraging the use of a knife and fork at home can increase confidence at school lunchtime.

4) Remember they all get there in the end.

Reception is really about physical development, communication, understanding rules, and working with others, Hook reminds us. Be patient with the academics: some children gallop ahead while others take it more carefully. Raffray cautions parents not to compare their children to others. Advancing through the reading scheme, for example, “is not trophy-hunting,” she says. Educators also advise to not worry too much about homework. “You can actually hinder their learning by putting that subtle pressure on children,” Leviston says. Again, the message is, trust the school. “No matter what your child goes through, we have seen through a diversity of experiences that they always get there in the end,” Leviston says.


The move to secondary marks a dramatic shift in independence, which can make for a tricky transition for both child and parent.

1) Big kids are small again.

The most obvious change in secondary is physical. “A lot of youngsters come into secondary having been a big fish in the small pond [at primary]; they are suddenly swamped in terms of the size of the school and the size of students,” says Camilla Smiley, secondary school consultant at Holland Park Tuition and Education Consultants. St. Augustine’s Priory’s Raffray agrees: “Moving up is a challenge. It’s the sense of being one child in the midst of hundreds.” Add to this that now your Year 7 child is moving from class to class for different subjects, and they are often overwhelmed. “The learning curve is very sharp,” Smiley says.

2) Help your child get organised.

Here a little help goes a long way. Help them get their backpack ready the night before. Smiley recommends printing out a copy of the timetable and hanging it near where your child stores his or her bag so they have it to hand when they pack. Help them think through what homework is due the next day, later in the week and next week to foster basic study skills.

3) Be proactive with the teacher.

Compared to the cosy relationship that you may have had with your child’s primary teachers, secondary teachers are necessarily much more removed. For one, your child has different teachers for each subject; and secondly, as your child is likely to be getting to school on their own, you don’t have the daily interaction of drop-off. Smiley recommends reaching out early to the form teacher by email or in person to establish a relationship.

4) Keep an eye on homework.

Year 7s tend to be very keen to get things right in all aspects of school (Smiley says not to expect this to last past Year 9!) and can overwork their homework. Most teachers will recommend an amount of time to spend on a particular assignment. Review that timetable with your child, and speak to the teacher if they consistently go over the recommended time.

By Christmas, hopefully, you’ll have been through the worst of it.

In fact, as often as not, the simple act of returning after the first half-term makes what was once so strange and scary seem familiar. Regardless of when it happens, though, remember, as Raffray says “Every child really is unique; that’s not just the school talking.”


What I Wish I'd Known

TO BE A PARENT IS TO BE BLINDSIDED BY QUESTIONS such as, why do men have nipples? Do the people at the bottom of the world fall off it? Is the orange man with the weird hair going to be president of America? The parent charter reads that you will have ready answers. This is why Google and Siri are up there with A&E staff and good teachers as vital parent go-tos. (As regards Donald Trump, your child’s judgement will be every bit as valid as any psephologist’s.)

When we have children we are told to follow our intuition. Might that be the same intuition that tells us tequila slammers are a good idea? As the new school year starts City Kids brings you the best pieces of parenting advice that we have gleaned from friends, family and those we admire.


  • You will not go to hell for not being able to breastfeed.
  • You will treat your first baby like Granny’s fine china, the last one like a rugby ball. Both are ok.
  • Parenting books have the capacity to induce panic rather than quell it.
  • Place a coverless hot water bottle on a wet mattress to dry it out.
  • Marketeers are good at their jobs. Do not listen to them. You do not need special pots for freezing baby food. Ditto nappy bins that stop the smell. A baby bath? WTF…
  • If you have a daughter, Google the comedic genius Tina Fey’s Prayer for My Daughter. She provides no answers but knowing that Tina Fey fears the same stuff as us is comfort enough.


  • Try not to judge the actions of fellow parents. Particularly if they have children older than yours.
  • When a child asks you a difficult question, buy yourself some time and ask them, ‘What do you think?’
  • Cinderella got it right (in the 2015 film version with Lily James, at least). The tenets to being a good person are to have courage and be kind. Twofold, simple and yet über clever.
  • Children make mistakes. You need to figure out how to pick up the pieces.
  • Nature and nurture – the debate still rages. What is important is that the nurture fits the nature.
    Children will copy what you do, not what you tell them to do.
  • Children are people. Often their ideas, unfettered by the negativity of age, will be better than yours. Often they will be terrible.
  • If you’re going to call a girl bossy, make sure the same behaviour in a boy warrants the same adjective. Swap the child’s gender in your head and save them from negative gender stereotyping.
  • Treat siblings as a team, not as competitors.


  • A rolled-up towel, blanket or swimming noodle placed under the sheet on the side of a bed is the perfect alternative to a plastic bed rail. A pillow on the floor softens any fall.
  • Instead of buying a bigger car when you have your third child, try buying narrower car seats.
  • Write your phone number on your child’s arm or get temporary tattoos with it on for when you are in a crowded place.
  • Get your babysitter to come early enough to cover tea, bath and bed. It’s called getting your money’s worth…
  • The first time you encourage your small child to try fizzy water, lemon and/or ice cream they will pull the best surprised face of their life. This is permitted cruelty.
  • Kitchen roll when upright makes an exemplary ice cream cone stand.
  • A balloon is a winning present every time. It fits in an envelope, can be used for tennis, football, volleyball or wet farting noises.
  • Where you come in a family, oldest, youngest or in the middle, will inform much of your life. It is impossible to know what it’s like to be someone of a different rank.
  • Never go the beach without talcum powder – it cleans all sand off sticky, salty bottoms, balls (both kinds) and feet.
  • Wipes. Handbag, kitchen table, car. They are indispensable.
  • Expensive holidays are wasted on children younger than eight. However, they may not be a waste for the exhausted parents.
  • A simple guideline for holidays is that it has to be easier, better and more comfortable than home. The Luxury Family Hotels range in this country is popular for a reason.


  • Release yourself from the burden of homework by finding a local sixth-former with gumption to lead your child through this minefield.
  • The subject of schools will dominate your conversation for years. You will worry that you haven’t got it right. You will make the best decision possible at the time.
  • Tutors. Eventually you will realise that every child you know is being tutored. The price is exhorbitant.
  • Getting a secondary school place in London is up there with moving house and divorce as far as stress levels go.
  • School clothes do not need to be washed and ironed every day for who is to know if it is today’s dirt and creases or yesterday’s?
  • If you choose/are offered a poor fit of secondary school when your child is 11, you may get a second stab at 13.
  • Academic achievement is overrated. Education is a much broader, rounded effort.
  • If you can (sort of) afford private education for a few years only, make it the middle ones. The longer days and extra-curricular activities will help stem teenage boredom and keep your kids out of trouble.
  • The positive power of sport is jaw-droppingly brilliant. Friendships are born this way. Sport is fun.
  • Sport is for girls too. Read sports journalist Anna Kessel’s Eat Sweat Play to learn why.
  • Good mental and physical wellbeing can, for the most part, be maintained with three things: a good diet, enough exercise and sufficient sleep. This is the non-negotiable holy trinity.


  • Technology is wonderful when used wisely. If you don’t want your children playing certain games, don’t give them access. Simple…
  • …except if you are being a stick-in-the-mud luddite. Get with the programme.
  • The bedroom is a sanctuary for sleep and, as such, should be a screen- and homework-free zone. (We repeat) sleep is the basis of good physical and mental health. For life.
  • Have a family computer in a living space where the screen can be seen by everyone. You can see what your children are doing online and they will learn the vital skill of being able to work with background noise.
  • Let your children read your phone messages and know your access code. This will give you leverage with their phones. Do as you would be done by.
  • Try to get your child into a sport or hobby when they are young so that they have an interest to distract them from screens when they are teens.
  • You will know you are old when you ask your children how to work every piece of tech you own. Live with it.

This list is not meant to be dictatorial and is certainly not exhaustive. Being a parent, however, is exhausting. Sometimes it all becomes overwhelming. That is when you need to call on your friends and slam those tequilas. You can then discuss the important things in life, such as why do men have nipples? And if you can explain the appeal of an orange man with a seedy comb-over then you have drunk too much. Call a babysitter for the morning after.



Mum Boss: Adelle Smith

In our new series looking at working parents, we meet Adelle Smith to discover how she turned baking with her son at home into an award-winning business working alongside the likes of Google, Virgin and Nintendo.


How did it all start?

BKD launched in 2014, in my kitchen in Shoreditch. What started as fun at home with my kids, swiftly grew and I had to rebase from my home, with my baking classes, to local haunts such as Hoxton Hotel, hosting corporate events, private birthday parties, creating bespoke cookies and styling photo-shoots

After establishing the events side of my business, I turned my attention to creating a collection of creative baking kits for children. I wanted to create a collection that encapsulated the BKD spirit of fun, teaching children kitchen basics and fuelling their imaginations. The collection launched in May last year and we are now stocked by lots of lovely kids boutiques, cook shops and delis, as well as bigger retailers such as Harvey Nichols, Fenwick and the Design Museum.

What makes BKD stand out from the crowd?

BKD’s focus is kids and design. I loved baking with Cai when he was younger, but hated all the baby blue and pink kitschness. We wanted to make fun, unique things like monster cupcakes! We get kids into the kitchen learning essential life skills, fuelling their imaginations, and enable families to have quality time together. Our baking kits make baking super easy, fuss-free, and are made with quality ingredients. Our unisex monochrome packaging shouts out to the crowds and has definitely given us a distinctive look in the children’s market.

What’s a typical day like for you?

There is no typical day! Things change week on week. Recently, there has been a lot of writing and recipe testing for my new book, Baked, and photo shoots for that too. I also make YouTube videos with my boy when we get the time. As a small business owner, I am heavily involved with day to day management, from updating our social media, emailing customers back, paying my staff wages, to helping the team get a corporate biscuit order out the door. In other weeks, I could be doing a personal appearance and demonstration at shows such as BBC Good Food Show or at Big Feastival, entertaining the kids. I really mix things up and love the variety.

Do you love it?

100% yes.

Have you found the holy grail of work/life balance?

It’s funny, as I thought that running my own business would balance well with family life. Whilst it offers me flexibility, I also have to work very hard! There are never enough hours in the day and I often find myself working at night when the kids are in bed. Cai often comes to the bakery to ‘work’. He’s our mini apprentice, always bringing so much fun, chaos and distraction to our day. The ladies are amazing with him, though I have to say, on Fridays I often get a lot less done! But I absolutely love running my own business and being creative; I get such a buzz out of it! I literally never know what’s around the corner. If you told me last year that I’d get a book deal and publish a book this year, I’d have laughed my head off! I feel tired but very lucky 🙂

Where do you get your ideas?

Our kids constantly inspire me and are, of course, my chief tasters! But I also take inspiration from everything around me, fashion, product design, toys, travel, interiors, and trips to the park; I always see something that inspires me. I picked up the sweetest metal chocolate moulds in a market in Essaouira, Morocco. I’m always on the hunt for cool things for the bakery.

Do you ever have ‘me’ time?

I have to say that is a very, very rare thing. Being a mum, a wife, running a business, and writing a book on top of that, it hasn’t left much time for me. I can’t remember the last time I had a haircut! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love BKD and what I do. I adore my family, and know in time that things will become a bit calmer.

What three words would your kids use to describe you?

Cuddly, fun, bit crazy.

How far would you like to take BKD?

What started as baking at home with my kids has now developed into a brand and business. I would love to keep developing that. It’s been a roller coaster journey from day one. Within a few months of launching, I was thrilled and gobsmacked to hear that I’d made it into the finals in the ‘Best Loved Kids’ Food’ category of the Virgin Foodpreneur competition, where I could meet Richard Branson.

So what can we expect from you in 2016?

We’ve just launched a range of Baking Mixes that we hope to get into supermarkets, opening up another category for us and taking BKD to kitchen cupboard staples. I will also be doing more online video content very soon. I’m really looking forward to getting back in front of the camera. In July, my book, Baked, will be out. So, so much work has gone into it and I’m super excited about promoting it. It still feels surreal to think how far I’ve come with BKD in such a short space of time; it really has changed my life.

Don’t forget that we are giving away 4 fabulous BKD Baking Mixes. Head over to our COMPETITIONS page to enter.


Adelle Smith BKD Baked Baking Book

BAKED: Amazing Bakes to Create with your Child (Orchard Books, £14.99) will be available from all good bookshops and online from 28th July 2016.



Eight year old Max realised his dream of becoming an estate agent, as he officially opened Hamptons International’s latest branch at KidZania London.

He was invited to open the branch and became its first ‘Junior Estate Agent’ after sending the company a letter asking what qualifications and skills he needed to enter the profession saying “I really want to do this job when I grow up”.

He was invited to cut the red tape alongside KidZania London’s mayor, and went on to make his first sale within the concession.

KidZania London is the UK’s first educational entertainment experience which aims to offer real-life work experiences for 4-14 year olds. You have to see it to believe it. Hamptons International is just one of several global brands including British Airways, Renault, H&M and Cadbury’s which gives children an insight into how their industry works.


hamptonsbranch Hamptons International Opens Branch at KidZania London (8) 150116



Words: Victoria Evans | Reviewers: Isabel & Lucas Evans

As my husband reminded me on the way to Berkshire, you really can’t afford to get it wrong with kids and Christmas. The stakes are high for Lapland UK, but all bets are off. This is, hands down, the best Christmas experience the kids have ever had.

In true Evans style we were late following a minor detour to The Royal Berkshire Golf Club…no matter. The friendly elf on reception immediately set the tone for the afternoon’s experience – full immersion in Elf–talk, magic and imagination. The kids, now armed with their own Elf Passports, were excited even before we were ushered to the cosy, warm yurt-style tent, complete with sparkling fairy lights, a leafy canopy and elf performance. We learned how to perfect an elf wave before the door to The Enchanted Forest was opened. A world of white, snow encrusted pines was revealed, and the excitement ramped up a gear.

Our elf guide was taking us to the toy factory where the kids learned how important it was to help Father Christmas this year as the Good List is very long. They made a wooden horse and a soft, plush Rudolf (both of which are available to buy at The Emporium later) before the next adventure to meet Mother Christmas in her kitchen for a spot of cookie decorating.

other celf houseelf village sign

It turns out Father Christmas is a gingerbread addict, so Mother Christmas warned the kids to keep their gingerbread houses safe. Elves, being very hospitable folk, also made sure the grown-ups were kept fully charged with a cookie. Nice touch.

The next trail took us to The Elf Village where the kids were free to ice skate, meet huskies, have a reasonably nutritious meal and then go wild in the toy and sweet shops. I’m always a bit bah humbug when it comes to merchandising at large kids’ venues, but The Emporium was at least tasteful with a variety of gifts at a variety of prices. It also didn’t feel too busy which makes a change from the usual Christmas crush.

Then it was time to meet the big man himself. While the rest of the afternoon had been shared with a group of around 50 adults and kids, this was a moment just for us. After checking in and a quick run-through of the personalised information we’d sent a couple of weeks earlier, two elves escorted us to Father Christmas’ wooden cabin, where we could hear him sleeping.

When you have a nine-year-old constantly being told by her friends that Santa doesn’t exist, a trip to Lapland UK could seem pointless. But…let me tell you, the look on both my kids’ faces when they met him was an image I will remember for the rest of my life. The kids hung on his every word and they were both gobsmacked to be sat in the same room as him – how did he know the name of my daughter’s best friend and that she’s just mastered long division? How did he know that my son’s best friend is his daddy or that his favourite iPad game is Terraria?

Of course, Father Christmas wasn’t going to be able to pull Lego Star Wars or cameras from his sack, but it wasn’t filled with naff plastic toys from Poundland either. With a new husky soft toy in hand, the kids emerged, totally wowed by what had just happened. All that was left was to purchase our family photo (this will be the only moment we all believe at the same time) before heading off into the night, full of excitement for the month ahead.

We took a six and nine year old who still believe, but I’d stick my neck out that even non-believers would leave Lapland UK with an inkling that Father Christmas exists.

A word from our reviewers…

“It’s the best place ever! I loved it! I didn’t want to leave! It’s soooo magical, we actually saw Santa’s sleigh and reindeer. We built toys with elves and made a gingerbread house with Mother Christmas. I LOVED meeting Father Christmas, he gave us a cuddly toy. He also showed me that I was on the good list!” Isabel, 9.

“I ice-skated and two elves could turn around! I saw Santa and he gave me a free present. He was really wonderful. I went to Pixie Mixie the Elf’s sweet shop. It was really yummy!” Lucas, 6.





Meet The #Kloggers

The rise in blogging over the last few years has seen a new trend emerge, that of the kid blogger or #klogger.
Victoria Evans follows the amazing world of one of them.



Like it or not, the Internet and social media is now an integral part of most kids’ lives. Kids are connected, and they know a lot more about it than we do. Social media is not “limited” to Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, OoVoo, WhatsApp, Burn Note, Yik Yak, Meet Me, Tumblr, Vine — you get the message — there’s a legion of child bloggers making waves in a market once ruled by people two or three times their age.

Introducing ‘Amazing Arabella’ Daho, from North London. A fashion, beauty and travel blogger who has already met Kelly Hoppen, been invited to the London Fashion Week, modelled for Monsoon and Burberry and been sent on trips abroad to blog about her experiences. She has collected a following of over 26,000 across social media; she only started her blog in September. Oh, and she’s 11.

“I started modelling when I was three, and as I got older my friends were asking me what I had been doing so I decided to start writing about it … and they told me it was really good so I turned it into a blog.”

Luckily for Arabella, her mum, Shadia, is a dab hand when it comes to blogging, vlogging and social media networking. Between her and other family members the Dahos have an incredible 800k followers worldwide. Their combined knowledge means Arabella is not flying blind.

“When she’s out blogging I go with her. We were at London Fashion Week and I wouldn’t feel comfortable about her going with anybody else. I monitor everything, and if she gets a load of followers I go through them all. It’s been ok. Generally it’s positive.”


We all have countless questions crashing around in our heads when it comes to social media and our kids. Can our children blog “safely” (what does safely even mean in this context?), will they be bullied, isn’t the web a hunting ground for paedophiles, is my son/daughter going to share pictures of themselves? Basically, we don’t know what the social norms for this relatively new medium are — are there any?

Joanne Mallon founded Kidsblogclub.com when both her children started blogging. Her site now promotes creative child bloggers and offers advice to parents and their kids alike.
“[Blogging’s] like anything else — as safe or unsafe as you want it to be. We encourage children to think about personal safety and how much information they want to give away. Do they want to blog anonymously, under an assumed name? How much info do they want to give out about where they live? Will they be sharing pictures of themselves? All of this stuff has to be discussed with parents. From a practical point of view, when it comes to blogging, both Google and WordPress have it as part of their terms of service that users have to be over 13. So if an under 13 is blogging, they will effectively have to do it in conjunction with a parent, which is probably a good thing.”

Like with most things related to social media and generally the Internet, as a parent it pays to stay informed so you know how to set limits and have genuine dialogues with your kids about it.

Mallon has found that blogging is widely used and approved of by schools as it is a method of encouraging children’s literacy and creativity. This stands to reason, and Arabella and Shadia would agree with the benefits.

“I think it’s made me more confident — it’s helping with my school work.” Shadia: “Her English has got a lot better. She manages her schoolwork really well, and the things that she’s learning about and writing about have opened up a whole new world.”

Which brings us to blogging as a business. Bloggers, in the main, start out because they have something different to say, which might resonate with their contemporaries. A point not lost on big brands that see bloggers as a direct connection to their potential markets. Arabella is at an advantage here, as a young, fashion-conscious tween, with a ready-made audience. But Shadia is keen to stress that the integrity of the blog must never be forgotten.

“We get approached by a lot of brands because she’s unique in what she does. We don’t just work with anyone because, in the end, you’ve got to be truthful. What you say can be very powerful. Working with brands that you can relate to, that’s the way forward. You need it to be truthful, and if it’s artificial, no one’s going to read it anyway.”

Many bloggers now have agents and earn enough money to support a back up team of publicists and admin staff. If this is what you want to do, Shadia recommends you find a good management company first. In fact, she’ll be casting 10 adults and 10 kid bloggers for her new company, Blogaholics. And, there’s no doubt that Arabella will be on hand to offer advice and tips to the kids that are chosen.

So what’s next in the diary for Arabella (and her lucky friends)? Only a trip to Hogwarts, teaming up with Virgin to blog about their Experience Days, working on the Xfactor…


Tom, Project Indigo: Dr Who fan www.anadventurethroughtimeandspace.com
3 Top Tips for Starting a Blog:

1. Choose to write about something you are good at or are really, really interested in because it will be hard for you to keep your blog up if you don’t know what you are writing about.
2. Don’t start a blog because you want to be famous — that is not what blogging is about. I love blogging because I love sharing my adventures and have made lots of friends.
3. Keep at it! If you don’t post for a while your followers may lose interest.

www.jakes-bones.com – 13 year old bone collector
www.foodpenelope.co.vu – 10 year old food lover


West London born and bred, he has come a long way since his dysfunctional school days. discovered by Jamie Oliver at Fifteen, he now presents the BBC’s Junior Bake Off and will be appearing at The Cake and Bake Show in October.

Aaron Craze

I wasn’t very good at school. I was talking to my daughters who love school and they asked what my last day was like, but I don’t think I even turned up! Because I have dyslexia, I couldn’t get on at school, they thought that I was being disruptive. I had a good time with my friends but academically I couldn’t do it.

It changes you, you become more responsible, more punctual because you have to be on time and you have responsibility in the kitchen. You have to clean up as a person and become organised. It gave me a career where you can work anywhere in the world.

He has a lot of energy, he’s honest, and there’s never been a scandal with him. He’s a good guy, a hard worker and he cares about people and issues so he puts everything into it. He’s a person to look up to and a good role model.

If I hadn’t got into cooking I wouldn’t be doing tv. I have two different lives, and I’ve been around the world – I’m pretty lucky. I’m flying to the Philippines shortly to film The Amazing Food Challenge for the Asian Food Channel. It’s like Masterchef but with lots of adventure.

I have children so it’s easy for me. Kids have good imaginations and they always have something to say. When I was a kid no one
really did baking with us but now they just know what they’re doing. They’ve got their own recipes – it’s really impressive.

We like to go for a bike ride by the river from Putney to Barnes or we’ll spend time with my sister and their cousin with a take away and movies. I’m away so much that I like just spending time with them and catching up.

I’d invite UB40, Bob Marley, Ricky Gervais, Chris Martin and probably Jennifer Lawrence. We’d eat a roast leg of lamb.

I love to grab some Ochi at Shepherd’s bush with my daughters. If I was looking for a restaurant, I like Italian, so I’d go to La Famiglia in Chelsea.

I’m doing an interactive class, where I’m making Portuguese tarts; on the Live Stage I’ll be making a lemon curd tart, and I’m also doing a Masterclass for Cannoli and Chocolate Marquise.

Aaron has kindly shared one of his recipes with us. A cauliflower creme brulee probably wouldn’t be top of my list but got to be worth a go!

Aaron’s Cauliflower Crème Brûlée recipe


Schools – is there a more hotly discussed topic amongst parents? We don’t think so.
Rebekah Hall sat down with Toby Young, Catriona Sutherland-Hawes and Tony Ryan to determine whether the fear and paranoia perpetuated by some parents is justified.

The Great Schools Debate

We’ve all heard the stories and some of us have seen them in action. Stand-up fights between mothers outside school gates over waiting lists; lying about tutoring and keeping those tutors names a well-guarded secret. This inevitably creates stress and apprehension… creating tension and paranoia. It’s little wonder that some families move away from the West London bubble.

However, even out of town, you can’t escape the facts. There is pressure on school places as pupil numbers grow. Data from the Department for Education (DfE) predicts an extra 900,000 children in English schools over the next 10 years, and statistics from the Local Government Association report that this will cost £12 billion. Private school fees have trebled since 1990 to £286,000 per child over 14 years of day school according to The Killik & Co Private Education Index. So yes, parents do have reason to worry. Maybe that’s why it is impossible to avoid those draining school discussions, especially in West London.


A six-year-old has a creative writing tutor, maths tutor and must do 100 sums before he is allowed to play. A father is angry with the head teacher because his son failed to get into Oxford, despite his son’s average marks. Urban myths or a reflection of the competition for places at West London private schools?

As registrar for the past nine years at Latymer Upper School, Catriona Sutherland-Hawes says she often sees a lot of worry revolving around a parent’s desire for their child to attend a specific school. Unfortunately, she admits to seeing trophy hunting, with some parents unable to bear the thought of their child… failing. “The difficulty comes when parents think the best place is actually the wrong place; aspirational parents don’t always accept that,” says Sutherland-Hawes.

In these competitive times, what is her advice for parents? “I genuinely think there is a right school for everyone and there is a lot of choice. Parents are not always willing to accept that what they might think is the best place is not somewhere that will suit their child.”


While state schools continue to improve, (and private schools up their fees) they are included in the discussion too. Parents worry about catchment areas and consider moving house to within metres of their preferred school. League tables play their part as competition across the board increases.

As Chiswick School achieves better results, head teacher Tony Ryan says he’s seen more anxiety from parents due to the current entry waiting list. “Parents are now concerned about … the possibility that they might be just outside the catchment area,” says Ryan. “For some parents in certain geographical areas, there is huge anxiety because we are their first choice.”

To help alleviate some of the pressure, Chiswick School increased its intake from 215 to 240 pupils. While this means increased class sizes, Ryan is confident the school can manage without impacting the classroom. “We have a … moral purpose to try and provide a place for as many local parents who want it,” says Ryan.

During exam time, Ryan sees more parents at his door and receives many more phone calls. His advice for parents is to stay informed
throughout their child’s schooling. “The more information you give parents, the less anxious they are likely to be with [their child’s] results,” Ryan says.

Toby Young, CEO of the West London Free School Academy Trust, says parental anxiety in primary school is a combination of things.

“Parents with pre-school children are concerned that their children won’t get a primary place due to the national shortage, or concerned that their child won’t get a place at their first or second choice of primary,” says Young.

If you’re in the first situation, he suggests moving, going private, or urging the local schools to expand or start a free school. If in the second group, then Young says to “send your child to your third, fourth or fifth choice of school and supplement what they’re learning at home.” To supplement learning at home, he naturally points to his book What Every Parent Needs to Know.


Tutoring. Perhaps the hottest topic of all. To alleviate worry and keep up with the Joneses, parents often turn to tutoring to help ensure
entrance into a top school or to achieve better test results. Analysis entitled Extra-curricular Inequalities [2014] by The Sutton Trust and Ipsos MORI states that, of 2,800 11 to 16 year-olds, 23 per cent of young people nationally and 37 per cent in London, say they received private or home tuition. The national figure was 18 per cent in 2005 and 24 per cent in 2013.

But what we all want to know is, are tutored kids better off?

Sutherland-Hawes knows tutoring is rife, and has become an industry. “If you need to be tutored to get into a school, then it’s not the
right school,” she says, adding that Latymer is only interested in a child’s natural ability on entrance exams. “If you are not at the right academic level for that school … you will then struggle. Three years ago, we stopped doing verbal and non-verbal reasoning, as it was being over-tutored. It wasn’t giving us an idea of the child’s natural potential.“

However, she does believe some exam preparation is a good idea, but warns not to the point of memorising an entirely irrelevant story for the English exam. She tells of one particular year when children from the same prep school wrote the same answers in the English section. However, the answer had no bearing on the actual question, and their tests were marked down. In another instance it was obvious that many children in one postcode had had the same tutor. “Exam preparation is different,” she says. “I fully support sitting down, doing exam papers to time, and getting used to that technique … Being tutored adds artificial intelligence; preparing for the exam is being aware of what is coming and having your timings right.”

Young suggests that the decision to tutor or not depends on where a child falls on the ability spectrum and parents’ ambition for their child. “Children with exceptional ability are going to do well in public exams … without any need for private tutors,” Young says. Those children most likely to benefit [from tutoring] are those on the pass/fail border.”

At Chiswick School, tutoring seems to be used as it was originally intended. Ryan says he rarely meets a situation where a child is being over tutored. At his school, tutoring is used instead as a healthy top-up. Outside of school Ryan doesn’t believe that a tutor should be a requirement for any parent, but if used, should complement what is being taught in the classroom. However, the school does bring in tutors to help give students more individual attention. “We employ tutors [to] work with small groups,” he says. “A tutor [will] come in and diagnose where [students] are and work with them … before we put them back into lessons.”


We can all agree to some basic ground rules, like do your research, read Ofsted reports, visit every school, meet with heads, ask tough questions and listen carefully to the response. Walking into a school, every parent should have an instinct as to whether the school is the right fit for their child, and this is far more more important than simply accepting a school as being a “top” school. Schools should also be a good fit with a family’s educational values because, frankly, you will be attending that school too.

When asked for some golden rules, Sutherland-Hawes provides sound advice. At the top of her list is for parents to listen to head teachers because they have special knowledge of a child’s abilities. Also, she says, at secondary level ask your child what they think because it’s just as much up to them. “Ask yourself, will my child be happy here? Don’t be over aspirational. Be sensible about your choice,” Sutherland-Hawes says. “Keep [children] calm.”

Young’s advice is two-fold. He feels that children likely to benefit the most from going to a good independent school are those from very disadvantaged backgrounds who have high IQs. “If any parent reading this thinks their child falls into that category, they should find out what the eligibility criteria is for full bursaries”. He adds that, unless your child is one of a handful who would really benefit from going to an independent school, send your child to the local state school. “Take the money you would otherwise have spent and put it in a savings account. You can then use that nest egg to help them buy a flat when they leave home. That flat represents far better value for money than a private education,” says Young.

Ryan says he works closely with parents. “We constantly check the progress of students at school, and we [bring] that back to parents,” says Ryan. “You want them to go to a school you trust, where they can get the right education, the right mould. It’s not just the exams you are buying into. You’re buying into a much bigger deal.”

Still need a last word of advice?

“Don’t listen to anybody,” says Sutherland-Hawes. “It’s about your child. Trust your own instincts and judgements; there is a right place for every child.”

And by the way, she occasionally reads Mumsnet. You’ve been warned!


City Kids Magazine readers will get 20% off bookings at London’s first trampoline park.


There aren’t many families in London that don’t have a trampoline in the back garden (although we happen to be one of them). So if you want to take the kids to a trampoline park, it’s a trip to Guildford or Milton Keynes – until now.

Oxygen Freejumping opens today in Acton, with 150 trampolines, quite literally wall-to-wall. London’s first trampoline park not only provides hour-long freejump sessions for £12.50, there’s also an obstacle course, dodgeball, Family Bounce (no escape mums and dads) and fitness classes. Those who fancy taking their skills further can have tuition or join the Trampoline Academy. And for those difficult teenage years, there are Teen Takeovers, which include a DJ strobe lights and banging sounds.

Sebastien Foucan has also relocated his Foucan Freerunning Academy to the Acton site with his holiday clubs starting today.

“I’m very excited to be part of this and to see all the kids’ enthusiasm. I’ve got new equipment and the vibe is different. It’s made for this!”

Parties will be a winner with parents all over London; corporate team building days can be catered for too. But if you’d rather relax, homemade pizza, wifi and a good brew should keep you happy.

Oxygen Freejumping gets the thumbs up from City Kids, who did their first somersaults within minutes. As you can see, I’ve done my bit for the cause – a cappuccino is waiting for me on the mezzanine.

All bookings can be made online at oxygenfreejumping.co.uk.


Open Mon-Sat 08.00-22.00; Sun 08.00-21.00



Images: www.kellyreevesphotography.co.uk


by Professor Rebecca Earley

Part 2: Extending Life


In many senses how you care for your clothes is almost more important than what you bought in the first place. Between 50 – 80% of the environmental impact of a garment will come from the washing, drying and ironing stage of its life – so its crucial we do a few things to limit this. When we do go out for a browse around the shops at the weekend, think about visiting the local charity stores first. It’s all about making more of what we already have an abundance of. Finally, if we make an effort to keep clothes in use for as long as humanly possible we will be doing ourselves and the planet a huge favour – we can save money, virgin materials and valuable resource use, and also enjoy a sense of creativity and family fun. Extending the life of fashion and resources is as much about our mindsets as our purchases.


Give a little extra time and thought to how you care for clothes at home by following these guidelines.

1. Live a Low Launder Life. In short – try to wash clothes less often. Quite often we run around picking up things (after the children have thrown them off!) and we put them in the laundry basket as a matter of course. Take ten minutes and a small sponge to remove spots of dirt, and hang things back up. A quick iron can refresh things without having the full washday experience. (This advice is not for underwear of course!). When you do wash, select 30 degrees – as often as you can. Don’t tumble dry – line dry if you have the space. Invest in a low energy drying rail for the winter months. And really – don’t iron. Our grandmothers wasted their lives spitting and hissing with a hot iron.

2. Be Your Own Stylist. You pretty much have what you need in your wardrobe – so invest more time in sorting through it and trying out new combinations. Styling sessions with friends, music and a little wine are not just for teenagers! For the kids you can make it quality family time, and build their confidence, knowledge and creativity at the same time.

3. Upcycle. Cotton, silk and wool items can be over-dyed – it’s easier than you think. Buy dyes for the washing machine from Dylon, or get crafty and make your own natural dyes. Onions, dandelions, berries and a bucket. You really don’t need much more than that! Fabric pens and fabric paints with a homemade card stencil can go over stains, and an iron sets the print for washing.

4. Make Mending Cool. Kids love to learn to sew, and mending clothes can be a great way to teach them about the planet and ready them for a life of conscious consumption. Invest in embroidered badges and patches – John Lewis have a good selection or buy online. Being able to mend and sew puts kids in a good place – for being an impoverished student in later years, and as a way to de-stress around exam time.

5. Make Your Own. If you really get into good wardrobe stewardship, then try to make your own stuff from scratch. There are lots of classes, kits, youtube tutorials and even websites these days that can act as a private tutor. Get help with knitting cardigans from Wool and the Gang (woolandthegang.com). Take the kids to special sewing workshops like Little Hands Design, littlehandsdesign.com and see if you have the next Vivienne Westwood on your hands!

To indulge your interests further, look for upcycling design enthusiasts online. Check out Mini Magpie, run by a lady who makes amazing kids clothes from old cashmere knitwear, which you can buy from etsy (etsy.com). She is based in East London, has a shop and runs workshops teaching mums to make upcycled clothes themselves (minimagpie.com). The cashmere jumper sleeves transformed into baby leggings photo tutorial is well worth a look. My mums also love Christa Davis for her exceptional eye for vintage fabrics (christadavis.com). There are so many designers out there – go seek for yourself and get you and your family some truly original clothes to cherish.


When you are in the mood for something new and don’t have the time or energy for your wardrobe makeover, then think about a Saturday afternoon charity shop treasure hunt with the kids. I give mine £3 each and off we go to the most easterly end of Chiswick High Road. We start our hunt in Mary’s Living and Giving, which is where Mary Portas has created a new model for how second hand goods can be sorted and presented. We have found amazing kids clothes there – a Harrods linen blazer for £25 is the best buy so far (and a £30 Biba jacket for me). From there we head west to Oxfam Boutique – the second best for carefully curated content. Head up Turnham Green Terrace for Fara Kids as well as Trinity Hospice, Barnado’s, Oxfam Books and a number of other great little shops to rummage in. If the kids have any spending money left, and the ability to carry on walking, the final stop on the High Road is always Cancer Research.

A bit further afield there is of course TRAID in Shepherds Bush, Westbourne Grove, and Kilburn High Road. My friends say vintage gems can often be found in Trinity Hospice on Kensington Church Street; they have a specialist in children’s clothing there. West London has no end of charity shops – it’s the mindsets and sense of adventure we all need to embrace. Let’s do it for the kids!


I appreciate there is a lot to think about and do each time you want a new outfit for your kids, but there is also a much bigger choice out there than heading for Gap. All of the mums I spoke to spend a good deal of time with the five bags I outlined in part 1. If you are really canny you can even make money by keeping your wardrobes edited – reLIKE.co.uk offer a great bundle selling service – and you can get size specific bags of clothes delivered to your door too. The bottom line is many of us have slipped into shopping for clothes as quickly and cheaply as possible – but much like the food that we eat – what takes a little longer and costs a little more is often well worth it – for our wellbeing, for our kids and for the future of our planet.

Further Reading

Greenpeace reports, greenpeace.org

What is the Bangladesh Safety Accord, and what brands have signed it? bangladeshaccord.org, just-style.com

Laundry Guidelines, loveyourclothes.org.uk

Dye Your Own Clothes, nhm.ac.uk, theecologist.org


A big thank you to my list of eco experts and parents:

Dr Kate Goldsworthy, tedresearch.net

Kate Black, magnifeco.com

Roxy Housmand and Joss Whipple, therightproject.org

Georgie Hodson, georginahodson.com

Holly McQuillan, hollymcquillan.com

Louise Kamara, ecodesignfair.co.uk

Ashley Phillips, glartique.com

Ella Doran, elladoran.com

Lucy Jane Batchelor, lucyjanebatchelor.me.uk

Clare Farrell, goodone.co.uk

Emma Jeffs, emmajeffs.co.uk

Zoe Olivia John, engagebydesign.org

Alanah MacAspern, made-by.org

Sarah Dennis, etsy.com/shop/magpieandhen

Emma Rigby, heretoday-heretomorrow.com

Dr Jen Ballie, jenballie.com

Bridget Harvey, bridgetharvey.co.uk

Emmeline Child, Northampton University

Georgia Keepax, stellamccartney.com

Laura Marsden, lauramarsden.com

Zoe Norton, sustainable-fashion.com


by Professor Rebecca Earley

Part 1: Why Go Green?

We all love to look good, and we want our kids to be well dressed, but whilst the price of fashion can often be a bargain for our wallets the cost to the planet is far from cheap. However, research shows that even the greenest of green people find it tough to economically clothe themselves and their families in a totally ethical way. I’m not here to slap your wrists for occasionally buying baskets of fast fashion. Rather this is a guide to help us all shop a little greener, buy with a conscience and discover the high street or online good guys.

I contacted some old friends and asked these eco activist mums how they clothed their kids and these are the ideas they shared.


The eco kids wear story is currently mostly about looking for 100% certified organic cotton and fair trade made, but there are a few other things to think about.

Good quality fabrics and strong stitching – So many ecomums say that when buying new it’s worth buying from brands like Boden, as they stand the test of time. Look for organic cotton, and the new cellulosics like tencel and lyocell. Try to buy monomaterial clothes – all made from the same fibre rather than a mix of fibre types (e.g. cotton with polyester), for easier recycling at end of life.

Colours and material finishes – no patent leather shoes or fluorescent colours, which are very toxic! Darker colours mean more dyestuff has been used and that’s not good for the environment. Go for prints – they hide the dirt and stains and don’t have to be washed so often.

Multifunctional garments – trouser legs that zip off, garments that can be worn inside out.

Sewing – look for good hem allowances on clothes so they can be altered, and items that come with spare buttons and repair patches.


Many brands are now signing up to be greener producers of kids’ clothes – to varying degrees. Right now there are a few that are doing just that little bit more, so it might be worth rewarding them with your custom.

Cheap to Mid Range

In Sweden H&M has long been considered a very good choice for babywear. They were amongst the first to use organic cotton and non-toxic dyes in their ranges, and have recently won awards for their ‘Conscious Commitments’. Look for the green labels in store that show items are part of the Conscious Collection range – I think their recycled polyester stuff is particularly good.

In the UK it’s M&S that comes out top in my poll. Their Plan A work is considered world leading, and the company is dedicated to making a holistic swathe of improvements across their product ranges. (You might feel a bit bored by the design from time to time – but I have inside knowledge that a new designer there is shaking it up a bit, so keep an eye out for the new range!)

Next is another ‘good guy’ – I visited one of their factories in China last year and was really impressed with the conditions and quality (and food – I had lunch in their workers canteen!). Finally, I am currently avoiding the brands that haven’t signed up to the Bangladesh Safety Accord like Gap (who have implemented their own system of standards). More than 170 brands have signed so there are plenty to choose from, including Debenhams, Fat Face and Mothercare.

Mid to High End

Head to Zone 1. Peter Jones or John Lewis – I love their democratic staff policy, who doesn’t? – are increasingly investing in sustainable fashion, so I always head first for People Tree and Polarn O. Pyret. If you want something more upmarket, then Stella McCartney has been working for a long time on the fabrics for her kids line – the organic cotton jersey and wovens are gorgeous, and her packaging is all recycled and recyclable – it all counts!

I would consider the most special upmarket clothes to be bespoke and made especially for you, and for this I recommend Sasti in Portobello. Rosie makes to order, and has the most edgy and fun designs. I really believe UK handmade, in second hand vintage fabrics, is worth saving up for, and may give you a richness of user experience you don’t get with the regular brands.


By far the biggest selection of green kids clothes can be found on the internet. The small labels are generally able to have greater control over their supply chains – working with smaller producers who offer better conditions to workers for instance. You may pay a bit more here, but consider it an investment. The more small green companies there are, the more the big companies will feel the competition and adopt better practices to try to attract the green pound. These small lines mostly focus on fabrics like organic cotton and fair labour conditions – not unlike the high street brands – but they also produce smaller runs of quirky, unusual designs, and you will be supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses as well.

Our cover features clothes made by Swedish brand Mini Rodini, available in Selfridges and online, which holds sustainability, the environment and fair labour at the heart of its core values (minirodini.com). The Fableists is an uber-cool brand, which is chemical and sweatshop labour free – they use 100% organic cotton and their factories are either Fair Wear or Fair Trade. They set up the label to ‘stop the cycle of kids making clothes for other kids’, as they put it (thefableists.com). Frugi clothes are really fun, well made, and designed to last a long time (welovefrugi.com). A Chelsea textile graduate set up Little Green Radicals and as you would expect the fabrics are gorgeous. They even sell real nappies, and are working with Ecotricity, a green energy provider (littlegreenradicals.co.uk). Eternal Creation has a great transparent ethical story – made in the Indian Himalayas – and beautiful clothes to boot, especially their animal print shirts (eternalcreation.com). For school uniform Eco Outfitters are trying really hard to offer a range of well-priced basics (ecooutfitters.co.uk). Ask your school if they have heard of them.


When you are planning a shopping trip take an hour to double-check what you already have. My ecomums all work a system of hand me downs – and the more organised they were about this, the better it was for the planet. So developing a five-bag system is the key first step:

1. Best Friend Bag.

In here put the nicest hand me downs. If you have a friend who gives you stuff, have a look at what they have given you recently. There is often a bigger anorak or pair of wellies lurking that I had forgotten about – and I end up being able to cross that item off the list.

2. Shwopping Bag.

When you have given away the best stuff to a friend, save a bag for the shwopp! TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK have led the way, running their joint clothing collection campaign since 2004. Give Up Clothes for Good has raised £17.6 million, with £13.1 million funding ground-breaking research into childhood cancers. M&S has recently teamed up with Oxfam, aiming to reduce the volume of clothes thrown into landfill and its environmental impact while supporting Oxfam’s many campaigns.

3. School Fair Bag. Especially good for uniforms, and great for passing on toys and books.

4. Charity Bag.

Avoid chucking any clothes in the bin – no matter how stained and tatty they are your local charity shop can benefit from your donation. Clothes that are not fit for wearing will be sold on to industry as ‘wiping rags’ or to be made into shoddy (a kind of industrial felt material). Bundle shoes together with an elastic band (essential tip!)

5. Mending/Making Bag.

If you or your kids love craft, this bag can be used for projects (old tights for stuffed toys especially good), and mending other clothes with nice fabric patches.

SOME OTHER ORGANIC AND FAIR TRADE BRANDS worth looking at include: Maxomorra (maxomorra.com), Slugs & Snails especially for boys tights (slugsandsnails.ie), Smafolk (smafolk.dk), Toby Tiger (tobytiger.co.uk), Sgt.Smith (sgtsmith.com), Ava & Luc (avaandluc.com), and Pigeon (pigeonorganics.com).


Chiswick-based mum of two Rebecca Earley is Professor of Sustainable Textiles and Fashion at the University of the Arts London, and Director of the Textile Futures Research Centre. She trained in fashion at Central Saint Martin’s and has taught textile designers at Chelsea College of Arts for nearly twenty years. She currently advises design teams in fashion companies in Sweden, Denmark, USA and the UK about how to design lower impact, longer lasting clothing.