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MAISON DU MONDE’S NEW JUNIOR COLLECTION

Maison Du Monde’s New Junior Collection

Whether it’s cushions, glasses or a new sofa, Maison Due Monde has long been the go-to store for stylish interiors fans. So it’s no surprise that their latest kids’ collection is absolutely gorgeous.

In 2016 the French brand added a children’s range, but the latest offering is the most extensive they have designed to date.

Now for the first time you’ll find styles that cater for babies through to teens with the 2019 junior ‘universe’ collection. This includes everything from furniture and lighting, bedlinen and curtains to cushions and amazing accessories that complete the look of each room perfectly.

For the nursery we love the clever modular cot and changing table combo that is both practical and chic. The lovely neutral and pastel colours are perfect for a little one’s room.

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on to older children you’ll find brighter colours and innovative designs. Themes include ‘Marine’, ‘Galaxy’ and ‘Dreams’. Little girls will love the ‘mermaid’ room set and for boys there’s ‘dinos’.

They have teens sussed too with super cool monochrome mixed with metal and pale wood to give a sophisticated New York loft look.

But our favourite part of the collection is the outdoor range. Now you can create the most fantastic kid’s space in your garden with mini deckchairs, tepees  and tables in bright, fun colours. There is also plastic tableware for the grooviest pic nic ever.

And the final great thing about Maison Du Monde? It doesn’t’ cost the earth. Their products are all well-made and functional, but not ridiculously expensive, making it even easier to introduce your youngsters to amazing interior design in their own rooms.

maisonsdumonde.com

Author Matt Coyne on being a dad

Here at City Kids we love Matt Coyne’s hilarious book Man vs Toddler. It hits all the rights notes and will have parents everywhere in nodding recognition of the highs and lows of family life.

So in honour of Father’s Day, we asked Matt to choose an extract from the book to give us readers some idea of what it’s like to be a dad. 

Here’s a weird thing: when you’re a man on your own, some people assume that you can’t possibly be in charge of a baby or toddler. Twice now someone’s had a go at me for parking in parent/child spaces when I’ve actually got Charlie in the back seat. They see a man pull in and assume that I am just another childless dickhead taking advantage of the space.

I was in Asda car park just last month when, upon arrival, a woman knocked on my window before I could even turn the engine off.

‘Excuse me! You know these spaces are for people with children?’ she demanded.

I literally had to point my thumb in to the back of the car and say: ‘What’s that? A fucking cat?’

 

WHAT IS A DAD?

It is odd that in 2019 so many people struggle to comprehend the idea of dads being in sole charge of their own kids.

As a man who often has Charlie on my own I come across this attitude all the time. It’s usually not malicious, just ingrained. And so I might be asked things like: ‘Ooh, is it daddy and son day today?’ or ‘Ah, bless, are you giving mummy a break?’ These questions are normally asked with a patronising nod – as though I am being humoured – like I’m the local fuckwit taking his pet brick for a walk.

When Charlie was very little, I was even asked a couple of times if I was ‘being mummy for the day’. To which I was tempted to respond, ‘Yes, apologies for the damp circles on my Def Leppard T-shirt, I’m currently lactating.’

This last example I find one of the strangest. It speaks volumes that there are people, in this very century, who would describe a man parenting as ‘being mummy for the day’. As though dads are not really parents but temporarily assuming the role and just putting on a costume like Mrs Doubtfire.

One thing is certain, Lyns would never be asked the same questions: ‘Is it mummy and son day today?’ or ‘Aww, bless, are you giving daddy a break?’ It just wouldn’t happen. There is a sense that this is the correct order of things.

Another variation on these questions I’m asked is: “So, where’s mummy today?’ This seems like a pretty innocent enquiry. But again, I doubt Lyns would ever be asked the same thing, just because she is out with Charlie alone. In truth, the subtext to this is obvious: ‘Where’s the real parent today numbnuts?’

I remember that the first time I was asked this particular question was by a cashier in Home Bargains and it confused me completely. When she casually inquired Where’s mum today?’ I genuinely thought she must know my own mother and was actually asking about her. It’s no wonder she looked so confused when I answered that she was at home and that she’d just phoned me to say that her arthritis was acting up, the neighbours were still acting suspicious and she couldn’t find her teeth.

(It is only in hindsight that I understand her horror. Particularly, when from her point of view I went on to mention that we’d just celebrated my wife’s seventieth.)

BABYSITTING?

Interestingly, Lyndsay is also asked questions that I would never hear if the positions were reversed. So if she is out alone and without Charlie she will often be asked: ‘Is dad/Matt babysitting today?’

Okay, I object to being called a ‘babysitter’ for a few reasons. Not least because I’m a forty-odd-year-old man and not a fifteen-year-old girl with braces, twirling her hair and covering her school books with pictures of Zayn from One Direction because he’s super dreamy (although, in fairness, he is super dreamy).

But my main problem with being called a babysitter is that it is to be considered something less than a parent. When I have Charlie I have exactly the same responsibilities that Lyndsay does. Important stuff like feeding him, watering him, changing him, making sure he doesn’t jump off a motorway bridge chasing a fucking bee, that sort of thing. And yet whereas Lyndsay is parenting, I can be described as ‘babysitting’.

And these are not my only objections. I also object because, and forgive me if I’m wrong, but one of the defining characteristics of a ‘babysitter’ is that they get paid. I do not get paid for looking after Charlie. Fair enough, I could write something touching here about how every moment with Charlie is priceless and I am paid in the glowing love of my child. But, yesterday I was’ paid’ by being shat on in Debenhams and by Charlie pouring his Ribena down the arse of my jeans as I was trying to retrieve a plastic stegosaurus from under the settee.

And this is the point: it’s hard this dad-babysitting lark, almost as hard as parenting. In fact, it is as hard as parenting because guess what? When I’m being shat on in Debenhams or lying on the floor having pissing Ribena poured down my arse-crack…it’s exactly the same fucking thing.

For me, a father is not a babysitter any more than a mother is. And there is a growing movement, that includes mums and dads, who agree that it is impossible to ‘babysit’ your own children. I’m not particularly militant about this sort of thing but they’ve got a point. Their slogan is ‘Dads don’t babysit, they parent’ and this is not just semantics. There is a problem with reducing a father to the role of babysitter and it’s not just that it might hurt a dad’s feelings (we can handle that shit, we’re men and into car engines and stuff…grr).

The real problem is that it suggests that a dad’s role is something lesser. That it is a novelty for a dad to look after his own kid. It is something outside the natural order. And those who suffer most from this attitude? Mums. It reinforces the idea that dads are a backup plan rather than 50/50 partners in parenting, the secondary alternative for when mums, like Lyns, want to go off and do something really selfish like be ill or work. Dads are the spare.

Well, Lyndsay isn’t selfish. I’m not the spare. And I don’t babysit.

Check out more of Matt’s musings at man-vs-baby.co.uk or follow him @manversusbaby

Man vs Toddler is available to buy from amazon.co.uk The paperback version will be out in September.

 

 

COOL THINGS FOR KIDS

Our weekly guide rounding up some of  the best cool things for your little ones.

The Cutest Clips

How amazing are these hair clips from Mille Deux? This gorgeous Danish brand was born in 2014 when the founder decided she wanted to create beautiful hair accessories for her little girl.

They make everything from classic grosgrain bows in every colour under the sun to novelty clips – think ballerinas, pencils and even lobsters for summer. We love the Liberty print ones too. Boys aren’t left out either – they get satin and velvet bow ties. In fact, Mille Deux make such pretty things that we want them for ourselves. Hair clips are bang on trend after all!

 

 

 

Pyjamarama with the Book Trust

Every child should have a bedtime story. Reading with children at any time of day is so important for their development, but there is something particularly special about that last story of the day before they fall asleep and hopefully dream about all the adventures they’ve just listened to.

That’s why we love the work that the Book Trust do. They are the UK’s largest children’s reading charity and each year reach 3.4 million children across the UK with books, resources and support.

Friday 7th June is their annual ‘Pyjamarama’, when children of all ages go to school or nursery in their PJs and donate a £1 to the Trust. Kids are encouraged to makes extra time for reading that day too. It’s great fun for a great cause.

You can download a fundraising pack from their website booktrust.org.uk or approach your school and ask if they fancy joining in.

The day is being supported by the likes of Cyberjammies who will donate £1 for every pair of their lovely PJs sold online. The offer runs from 13th May to 17th June so if you are looking for some really nice new sleepwear for you kiddies then take a look and you’ll also be supporting a great charity.

 

 

 

Polo Fun Time

A day at the polo is always super. The sport and the atmosphere are both great. So why not take your little ones along too?  London’s top kids’ entertainers Sharky and George are back for their 10th year at Chesterton’s Polo in the Park at the Hurlingham Club in Putney ensuring your kids have a ton of fun.

Taking place on each of the three days, their “Little Hooves Club” will feature every child’s favourite activities such as a bouncy castle, fantastic face painting, a soft play zone, a giant inflatable assault course, a brilliant arts and craft area for children to get more creative and the return of ‘the pink panther slide’.

On Finals Day (Sunday 9 June) is where family is firmly put first with a kiddie pitch invasion in the morning before the action kicks off. It’s set to be a grand finale of fun for children of all ages with activities including a space hopper steeplechase and a tug of war.

 

Summer Style For Less

We like to keep you posted on any fab bargains we come across. Right now Polarn O Pyret are running a great summer discount event with 25% off all their summer clothes until Sunday 19th May. Think T-shirts, shorts, dresses and swimwear in lovely summery colours and cool prints. Plus sun hats and sandals.

The Swedish brand’s huge range goes from 0 to 12 and is great for both girls and boys. If you need a new raincoat or want to be super organised and pick up some cosy kit for autumn, then there is 30% of selected outerwear too. Our kids wear Polarn O Pyret’s clothes, so we can personally recommend them. Great quality as well as being super stylish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEMALE FUTURE: WORK THAT WORKS FOR ALL

City Kids speaks to Christine Armstrong, author of The Mother of All Jobs, to get her take on whether the workplace is changing for the better.

The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #BalanceForBetter, celebrating the work of women, while calling for a more gender-balanced world. The gender pay gap is now a common talking point as stories reveal how men and women have been treated differently over the years.

Only recently, Google’s former UK head revealed she once had to hire a male executive on double her salary. The right to ask for flexible working, which is, incidentally, relevant to men and women, came into force almost two decades ago, but only a small proportion of the UK workforce actually takes the plunge. And still, women are made redundant while on maternity leave, or they return to work to find to find their role isn’t the same as it was.

How did we get to this stage, where many women feel overwhelmed while striving to have it all?

We took the 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. male breadwinner model – think The Tiger Who Came to Tea – that assumed Mummy was at home to care for Sophie and zoo visitors, and do the shopping, washing and cleaning.  And then we added lots of things. We added costs, as house prices quadrupled in twenty years, to all the adults, who normally work to pay the bills.  We also added ‘always on’ as a lot of people are connected to work from when they wake until when they sleep. Then we added more out-of-home time as we moved a bit further away from our families and lengthened our commutes. We left in the fact that women are still more responsible for childcare, generally, and the house, than men. The structures that care for our kids was left unchanged. Nursery care is extortionate, and schools still finish mid-afternoon, with kids getting three months of holiday a year.

Piss, I’ve just depressed myself.

What’s your message to the Sheryl Sandberg’s [Facebook COO & founder of Leanin.org] of the world?

It is great to be positive and encouraging, and to support other women. It is well-intentioned and designed to ensure more women get to the top so we can change things. But the unintended consequence is that families all over the world are feeling like failures. They tried leaning in, getting the best childcare they could afford and being better organised, but they still can’t make it work. I worry that, if we only hear from women at the very top of their professions, in terms of seniority and income, we miss out on hearing from millions of other families who can’t afford professional support (nannies, cleaners, housekeepers), can’t take control their own time and are finding it unbelievably tough going.

I want to say to those women and their partners: it’s not you and your family that can’t do this. The system wasn’t designed to work this way and if we keep saying everything is peachy, then we’ll never get around to changing it.

What is the biggest barrier to improving the work environment for women and parents?

There isn’t one barrier: you have to look at childcare hours, availability and costs, the lack of flexible options in most work, the mismatch between work and school days and our cultural expectations around what demonstrates ‘commitment’ at work.  Too often that is judged on the total number of hours worked. And in a world which is always on, you’ll burn out if you work every hour of the day and try to care for a family. If I had to focus on just one area, I would look at the total number of hours people work. Not their contractual hours – which often look perfectly reasonable on paper – but the actual numbers of hours they are connected to work – and figure out how to manage that.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to talk to their boss about flexible working?

I cite Karen Mattison of Timewise here: describe the benefits that you bring before the hours that you work. For example, I will deliver X and Y and Z on time and on budget. I will be in the office for three days a week and work from home, being fully contactable, on Monday and Friday.

What more can be done to bridge the gender pay gap?

We need to change the way we work for both men and women so that everyone can work in a focused and highly productive way, but also turn off and do other things when they are not working. Too often we celebrate people who are seen to work many, many hours, even if many of those hours are not productive and their tired, stressful reactions to things may not deliver the best answers.

One thing I want to see more work on is how we use technology. Too often people say they cannot switch off their electronic devices because they may ‘block’ progress on a sale or a project. We need to use technology better so that things can move forward within a team without everyone always having to be engaged all the damned time.

Friends just moved to work in Denmark and are astonished to find everyone starts at 8 a.m. and leaves work at 3 or 4 p.m. to collect kids and have dinner with them. Yet the OECD says that Nordic countries are 10-20% better off in terms of GDP becausethey enable more mums to work. We see letting people leave work early as an indulgence when the irony is that we could work fewer hours and actually do better as a country, and within our own businesses and households.

Why aren’t men judged in the same way as women?

Many people are struggling to come to terms with the fact that the male breadwinner model many of us grew up with – when, if mums did work, they tended to work in lower paid/more local roles – doesn’t really work anymore if you want to live in the kind of place your parents could live in on one income. We don’t have the social support to enable parents to both work and care for their kids: for example, early years care is extortionate in this country and pushes many women out of work, then making them ineligible for the 30 free hours during term time when they could get it.

Our current leaders in business and politics have tended to live and thrive in the old model and don’t fully appreciate the pressures of the way we work now. Even women I interview in their 50s and 60s who have had good careers say that they had the advantage of being able to leave the office at 5 p.m. and then not be interrupted at home. They report how much more difficult it got after email, computer/laptops at home and BlackBerries came in.

I always say though that, having interviewed a lot of men, they are not the winners in this either. Many younger men know the way their dads worked won’t work for them and want to be more involved at home but find their work places unsupportive of them. Older men often resent having to be ‘the breadwinner’. If both genders are to work, both must also be able to care.

Do you think you’ve found the balance of work and parenting?

This stuff is like dieting. One day you eat cod and salad and feel like you’re on it and the next you accidentally wolf down a cheeseburger and chips, followed by a box of Lindt truffles. The truth is that we have three young kids and run two businesses… When my parents took our kids before Christmas for a week it was mind-blowing. We couldn’t believe how much time and energy we had.

Every day, our children rightly demand our time and attention, and giving it to them is always a compromise between their needs and everything else we want and need to do. That said, I feel very lucky to spend so much time around home and the girls’ school. I do drop-offs and pick-ups most days, I am fully embedded in the week’s schedule of clubs, playdates and homework – and that is very different to when I held a full-time corporate role. Aside a student babysitter who helps cover pick-ups and swimming classes once or twice a week, my husband and I share the childcare between us.

Do you think anything significant will change for women in the work place in the next 10 years?

If – big if – we keep talking loudly about the challenges of the current system (for men and women) and the research that shows we can be more productive in less time, then I am optimistic we can move to fewer working hours, but more productive ways of working. If we spout the same old rubbish about just working harder and women ‘choosing to have babies’ as part of their ‘lifestyle’, nothing will change.

USEFUL RESOURCES:

www.cipd.co.uk
www.fawcettsociety.org.uk
www.pregnantthenscrewed.com
www.acas.org.uk
www.equalityadvisoryservice.com
www.doingitforthekids.net

 

New screen time advice for parents

The government’s Chief Medical Officer has published new screen time advice for parents and carers

 

We’ve all known for long time that social media is not good for children. But for the first time ever the government’s Chief Medical Officer has published new social media and screen time advice for parents, carers children and young people.

These include leaving phones outside the bedroom when it’s bedtime, screen-free mealtimes and having family conversations about social media.

“Time spent online can be of great benefit to children and young people, providing opportunities for learning and skills development, as well as allowing young people to find support and information. But we need to take a precautionary approach and our advice will support children to reap these benefits and protect them from harm.” Professor Dame Sally Davies Chief Medical Officer for England.

86% of 7 to 11s are online

According to a recent study by Internet Matters 43% of those aged between 10 and 13 now use social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and 86% of children aged 7 to 11 use some kind of online communication, often without their parents having any knowledge of them doing so.

And a recent survey by the BBC’s Newsround found that more than three-quarters of younger children at primary-leaving age were using at least one social media network. A terrifying statistic when you realise just how much children can be exposed to the minute they log on.  70 million photos are shared on Instagram every day, many of which will be entirely unsuitable for little eyes. Offensive and inappropriate material is only one click away.

Professor Dame Sally Davies’ view is that companies too have a responsibility to keep children safe online.

“Technology is an unavoidable aspect of modern life and technology companies have a duty of care. They must make more effort to keep their users safe from harm, particularly children and young people.”

So what is the advice?
  • Sleep matters. Getting enough, good quality sleep is very important. Leave phones outside the bedroom when it is bedtime.
  • Talking helps: Talk with your children about using devices and what they are watching. A change in behaviour can be a sign they are distressed – make sure they know they can always speak to you or another responsible adult if they feel uncomfortable with screen or social media use.
  • Safety when out and about. Advise children to put their screens away while crossing the road or doing an activity that needs their full attention!
  • Sharing sensibly. Parents and children should talk about sharing photos and information online and how photos and words are sometimes manipulated. Parents should never assume that their children are happy for their photos to be shared. For everyone – when in doubt, don’t upload!
  • Keep moving! Everyone should take a break after a couple of hours sitting or lying down using a screen #sitlessmovemore
  • Education matters. Make sure you and your children are aware of, and abide by their school’s policy on mobile phones/personal devices.
  • Use helpful phone features. Some devices and platforms have special features – try using these features to keep track of how much time you (and with their permission, your children) spend looking at a screen or on social media.
  • Family time together. Screen-free meal times are a good idea – you can enjoy face-to-face conversation, with adults giving their full attention to children.

The guidelines are not prescriptive. Just as every child is an individual, and every family is different, every family’s approach to technology must be equally unique. Instead, the Chief Medical Officer is encouraging every family to have a conversation about screen time and social media, and has developed a series of pointers for parents and carers based on research evidence on child and adolescent development.

Conversation pointers:

Supported by the CMO and produced by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health these are ideas to help them make decisions about their screen use:

  • Is our family’s screen time under control?
  • Does screen use interfere with what our family want to do?
  • Does screen use interfere with sleep?
  • Are we able to control snacking during screen time?
Ongoing support
  • Charities such as the NSPCC are urging parents to make online awareness as high a priority as road safety. They have some fantastic resources for parents and schools.
  • The UK Council for Internet Safety has developed a framework to equip children and young people for digital life and guidance for parents on minimising their child’s risk of online harms.
  • The UK Safer Internet Centre has developed a platform where people can report harmful content online if they are not satisfied with the result of their report to social media providers. For illegal content, reports should be made to the police and online to the Internet Watch Foundation
  • The UK Safer Internet Centre have partnered with Childnet International to create specific guidance on Keeping under 5s safe online.
  • Children’s Mental Health Week helps to tackle childhood anxiety and depression which can be brought on by social media, cyber bullying and other online behaviours.

Images courtesy: NSPCC and Department of Health and Social Care