Boden win gold in ‘The People’s Champion Award’ for Chelsea in Bloom
The Kings Road shop front, designed by florist Willow Crossley, has been transformed into a beautiful coral reef for Chelsea in Bloom, a floral art show which sees participants transform the streets of Chelsea. The theme this year is Under the Sea. Floral sea urchins, barnacles and corals are growing out of Boden’s shop windows spreading on to the pavement below.
To coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show there will also be a series of events taking place at Boden the same week. There will be complimentary coffee, floral workshops, live singing and pianist, styling appointments and personalised plates to take away.
For further details on the competition and to vote, please see below:
Inspired by two young Mini Boden fans, the retailer has launched a competition to find slogans for new t-shirts supporting Mental Health issues.
When Willow and Rose recently made contact with Mini Boden, suggesting some empowering T-shirt slogans for kids, they probably thought there wouldn’t be much of a response. However, the popular retailer loved their words about what it means to be a child today, that they made the t-shirts a reality!
And to support UK Mental Health Awareness Week, Mini Boden has launched a compeitition to find more empowering slogans from their would-be Mini wordsmiths.
The winning entry will be printed onto Mini Boden tees, and launched during World Mental Health Awareness Week in October. A donation from the sale of each T-shirt will go to Boden’s charity partner, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. This amazing charity equips young people with the knowledge they need to look after their mental and emotional wellbeing. It focuses on helping young people recognise the importance of talking to and caring for one another.
For further details on the competition and the link to the competition form, please see below:
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.
Here’s this week’s City Kids Edit, a round-up of things to do, see, wear, buy and enjoy.
Visiting: Alex and Alexa
Last week I popped into the Alex and Alexa A/W press day. If you don’t know Alexa and Alexa yet, it’s a one-stop-shop for amazing kids’ fashion, home wear and toys. One of our favourite places to shop of little ones.
I loved seeing all their super cool brands – I’m drawn to kids’ ski wear like a month to a flame even though it’s spring – the children’s Perfect Moment Sports range is so colourful and fun. Definitely one to keep in mind for winter. I also spotted some fab tops and shorts from the likes of Stella McCartney and Veja trainers that are ideal for summer.
Later this month Alex and Alexa will exclusively launch the new kids’ collection from celebrity mum Kimberly Walsh. Great casual kit for both boys and girls. We predict it will fly off the shelves.
Giving: A Nobel Macmillan Baby Book
So we all have Royal baby fever don’t we?! There is just something so lovely about a new baby isn’t there? My darling little nephew was born four months ago so I’m very lucky to be able to get cuddles on a regular basis. Such a treat now my boys are that bit older.
One of the gifts I bought my sister was a beautiful personalised leather baby book from Noble Macmillan, so she can record all the milestones from first smiles to first steps. It’s such a joy watching this little chap grow and change every day and I know she will love looking back on a record of it all when he is older.
If you know someone having a baby then this is a great gift.
Exploring: London’s museums with a great little book
On Sunday I took my boys to visit the Tower of London. It was fantastic day out. They loved exploring the grounds and listening to the amazing the Beefeater telling tales of all the gruesome goings on and beheadings at the Tower. It was such an adventure for them.
All kids love a good day out a museum or gallery if it’s kept exciting and fun – not stuffy and dull. That’s why I love the idea of the new ‘Take Me To The Museum’ book from Agnes and Aubrey, £8.95 It’s a beautifully illustrated book that acts as a guide and journal as every time you take your little one to visit a new museum you start a new chapter where they are encouraged to explore, ask questions and record their thoughts by writing or drawing what they have seen and learnt. From the exhibits to the building and even the café, the book really helps children to open their eyes to their surroundings. And it’s the perfect size to pop in a backpack.
I have lots of exciting trips and adventures around London planned for my boys over the summer holidays and will be sure to take this clever little book with us each time we visit somewhere new.
Shopping: Wiggy Kit
If you are looking for a beautiful, elegant summer dress, then check out this brand. The new collection has just arrived and it features all the lovely prints, flowing linen and stylish silk that Wiggy Kit is known for.
When we were in the Bahamas at Easter they were shooting the new collection on the beach next to our hotel and I spotted a few pieces I plan to add to my summer wardrobe.
Have a look at their website and you’re bound to fall in love with the brand too. Now we just need some sunshine so we can actually wear some nice summery clothes!
Baby Sussex has arrived! Huge congratulations to Meghan and Harry on the birth of their baby boy. Right now they will be in the lovely new parent bubble, gazing at their little son, completely amazed that they have created a perfect little person. It’s a blissful, even if slightly surreal time, and one to be treasured.
So far, no pics of the new prince. Good for them, for opting to keep the birth and those special early days private and personal for as long as possible. This precious time should be afforded to all new parents, even if they are one of the most famous couples in the world.
Because even though she’s a princess, Meghan’s experience of birth and new motherhood won’t be that different from any other woman’s – she will undoubtedly get cracked nipples and the baby blues just like the rest of us.
The early days spent adjusting to enormity of becoming a mum can be both wonderful and difficult in equal measure. Here are some of the ways we think new mothers – even royal ones – can make it easier for themselves.
Make sure you have mates who are on (exactly) the same page
Mum mates, with babies pretty much the same age, will keep you sane in the early days and beyond. This is why you do antenatal classes, be they NHS, NCT, The Happy Birth club or some other private group. It’s not so you can chat hypothetically about the birth beforehand, it’s so you can talk about what really happened afterwards. As well as everything else that new motherhood brings with it – the good and the bad.
You need women around you who can sympathise when you cry about being up all night feeding a screaming baby or that your stiches haven’t healed and you can’t sit down properly. Discussing your birth and life in the immediate aftermath with other women who are in the same boat creates the strongest bonds of friendship you can imagine. You are there for each other in a way that no one else is. Even your oldest, dearest friends who possibly have their own kids already won’t quite get it if they aren’t living through it.
Mention how many mls of formula your baby took at 3.26am and most people will glaze over pretty quickly – other new mums will understand the importance. Bring up piles/cracked nipples/night sweats and they won’t wince and head for the nearest exit.
Take a social media break
We know the Sussex’s are fans of Instagram – their new account has six million followers already. But for her own sanity we would urge Meghan and all new mums to take a complete break from social media.
It’s quite hard to scroll through pics of other women looking super slim and fabulous when your tummy feels like jelly and your boobs are leaking. Yes, you will get back to feeling and looking (pretty much) like your old self at some point in the future but with your hormones raging and feeling exhausted and sore, it can be hard to remember that. Seeing carefully curated images of others looking gorgeous is just not a great idea – even if you are a stunning princess/actress.
But almost more importantly, social media is just a total waste of time when you have a beautiful new baby to gaze at. Post pics of your newborn if you want to but certainly don’t feel any pressure to do so. We live in a crazy time where everyone is expected to announce life events online, but the world won’t stop turning if you step off for a while and just focus on being with your little one and taking care of yourself. You have nothing to prove so you don’t need to get dressed, put make up on and take ‘hashtag newmummy’ pics unless you actually want to.
Good on Meghan for not partaking in any of that so far. She is keeping her baby away from the media until she feels ready to introduce him to the world and we think it would be a good idea for all new mums to follow her lead and give themselves a break from the pressures of social media.
Let people take care of you too
Meghan is bound to have plenty of people to take care of her after the birth of her baby. There will be Harry and her mum Gloria as well as a team of staff to cook and clean, leaving her to focus on looking after her little son and, importantly, recover from the birth.
Very few new mums have a live-in cook or housekeeper, but it’s still vital to take it as easy as possible in the early days. Midwives recommend that ideally you spend the first two weeks in bed but for lots of women, especially those with other children, that’s not always an option.
All, however, should rest as much as possible and accept help from anyone who wants to give it. If a friend offers to drop off a meal or a walk the dog then accept the gesture. If no one offers then ask for help – most people will be all too willing. The phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is so true but is often forgotten as we try to juggle everything ourselves.
Ignore the pressure to ‘get back to normal’
While Meghan is unlikely to be loading the dishwasher or nipping to the shops, the pressure will be on to ‘get back to normal’ in other ways. People will comment on when she will resume Royal duties and on her figure – on how quickly she ‘springs back into shape’.
All of this presumes that she will somehow ‘get back’ to what she was before. She won’t and neither should she want to. Becoming a mum changes you physically and mentally in so many ways. Of course, you are still you, but an altered version who may well look, feel and think differently, if not forever then at least in the short term.
We really hope that Meghan is kind to herself as she adjusts to these changes in the way that all women should be. The whole world will be watching her, and while (thankfully) most women don’t face that level of scrutiny, there seems to be a constant pressure these days to bounce back to your old self. Get back to work; to the gym; to your social life.
Our advice to Meghan and to all new mums would be to ignore all this external pressure as much as you can. Take things at your own pace: listen to your body and your baby while you adjust to the most life changing event you’re ever likely to experience.
If you know someone who has just had a baby or a mum-to-be here are some truly useful (and lovely) gift ideas.
A gift box
Don’t Buy Her Flowers helps you put together boxes of goodies that mums actually want. For example, The Growing a Baby Package (from £21.40) with herbal teas, cooling foot cream and midwife Clemmie Hooper’s best-selling book How to Grow a Baby. Or the Recovery Package (from £48.50) with lots of lovely soothing products for tired bodies. You can select the items you want to make a bespoke box. We love the fact that you can add vouchers from ready meals company Cook, a godsend for any new mum who needs to eat healthy nutritious meals but doesn’t have time to make them.
This is one of the most useful things any new mum can have. We love the ones from Aden and Anais. These lovely soft material squares are multipurpose. You can use them to swaddle a newborn or tuck it under your baby’s chin when bottle feeding to catch any spills then pop it over your shoulder when winding to protect your clothes from any little dribbles.
In the summer, you can drape a muslin over the front of the pram to keep the sun out of your little one’s eyes or use it as a light weight blanket if the weather turns chilly.
And when you’re done bung it in the wash at 50 degrees and the straight in the tumble dryer afterwards. Easy to use and easy to look after. This is a gift that keeps on giving.
A breast feeding pillow
Supporting your back is a must when breast feeding so this Bbhugme Nursing Pillow is a godsend. It ties easily around the waist to give optimum support for your neck and shoulders whilst providing additional comfort for your baby. And with adjustable firmness this pillow adapts to your needs as your baby grows and is available in eight different colours. £63.95 from Scandiborn.
During Maternal Mental Health Week, Rhiane Kirkby speaks to two mothers who are offering wellbeing support
As a journalist, I’ve always hated the fact that in the world of public relations every week of the year has something attributed to it. Bug busting week, National Toast Week and even National Lost Sock Week are just some of the ‘stories’ to have graced my inbox of late. ‘Stories’ that I’m expected to cover, but don’t!
Before you shout me down – I know there are many worthy causes who gain much needed publicity this way and Maternal Mental Health Week, in my mind, is one of them. Until recently, talking about mental health issues in motherhood was taboo and admitting you were having problems – something to be ashamed of. But not anymore. Things are beginning to change and the stigma is slowly being broken down. “We’re getting better at asking for help and showing support and solidarity, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” explains Happiness Coach, Olivia Horne.
Thankfully, two London mums are ready to get stuck right in. They’re both on a mission to help others who may, like them, suffer mental health challenges in parenthood. “I struggled with my emotional wellbeing through the early years of motherhood,” says Sara Campin “and again when juggling the dual burdens of work and home. I was far from the mum I wanted to be. I was constantly shouty and stressed out.” Sara learnt the art of self-care which, she says, has changed her life and made a huge difference to her children.
Sara wanted to give other mums instant access to the wellbeing tools she worked so hard to find and in March launched a not-for-profit app, Nourish. In her words it’s “a place where mums can access help, advice and lots of tlc. A growing library of practical wellbeing tools from leading experts in the field – including positive psychology, yoga, mantras, mindfulness, nutrition and much, much more.”
Anna Ceesay also wants to turn her negative experiences in parenthood into something positive. She recently launched Motherdom, a magazine which “showcases all the amazing work in the maternal mental health and wellbeing world and starts to build a village around women who might struggle to ask for help.” Anna continues, “I suffered from low mood and anxiety during my second pregnancy but I was terrified to tell anyone because I felt like a failure as a mum. It took me a few months, but I did eventually reach out. I was lucky to get professional help, but that’s not the case for everyone.”
Both Sara and Anna hope that by speaking openly about their experiences they can break down this stigma surrounding maternal mental health and help mums see that the picture perfect parenthood depicted on social media is as far from reality as you can get. They want to give all mums easy access to knowledge, self-care tools and support so they can get the help they need when they need it.
The Nourish app is currently available for iPhone (download here), with Android launching later this summer. thenourishapp.com @thenourishapp
Motherdom is available here (both in print and online): motherdom.co.ukas well as in selected WHSmith stores.
Here’s the first City Kids Edit, a weekly round-up of things to do, see, wear, buy and enjoy, brought to you by editors Victoria and Morag.
As we are mums who live in and around London, we thought you might like to know what we get up to in the capital with our own kids. From the restaurants where we hang out with them and the exhibitions and events we all visit, to the clothes, toys and books we buy. There will also be some mum stuff too – where we like to shop, holiday ideas and what we are planning for the weekend. We hope to give you some fun parenting tips and inspiration.
Raising kids isn’t easy even when you have a supportive partner to share parenthood with, so choosing to go it alone is a huge decision for any woman to take. In her new book Going Solo Genevieve Roberts tells the story of how aged 37 she chose to use a sperm donor to have her daughter Astrid after being told her fertility levels were dwindling. Now pregnant with her second child from a donor, Genevieve describes in moving detail what embarking on motherhood alone is really like – from the pregnancy and birth to raising her daughter and the way others react to her family set up. It’s a really powerful, uplifting read about one woman’s journey to become a mum and I would recommend it.
I had hoped the heatwave would last and I’d be in my sandals from now until September, but since the temperature has dropped I’m back in my trusty Veja trainers. I’ve been a fan for about three years and am on to my fourth pair. The brand is all about sustainability and all of their shoes are made from materials ethically sourced from producers in Brazil. I could lie and say this is the sole reason I buy them, but in truth it’s because I love the simple, chic design and the iconic V on the side. Plus they are super comfy. Perfect for wearing with jeans on the school run or my leather skinnies to a meeting.
Still on the subject of footwear, great children’s shoes (and clothes for that matter) shouldn’t cost the earth in my opinion. So I really like the brand new kids’ range from highstreet favourite Aldo for ages 4 to 14. From boots to sneakers and sandals, their designs are pretty cool. I particularly like the tan leather high tops for boys that I plan to buy now and put away for autumn.
My kids eat pretty healthily overall (despite the chocolate over load at Easter) but I do like to give them vitamins to supplement their diet.
I’ve been sent some Super Hero Omega 3 fish oil from Bare Biology and my boys are trying it out – so far so good. It’s for children and the daily dose of one 1ml drop contains 500mg DHA and 130mg EPA – great for everything from their brains to their bones.
Something for the kids and something for me. Firstly, this May half term (which is actually only a few weeks away!) I plan to take my boys to Beasts of London at the Museum of London which takes visitors though the history of the Capital through the eyes of animals who have played a role in shaping it – including foxes, pigeons and even elephants and lions. From Roman times to present day, the immersive digital installation tells some amazing stories that are narrated by the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Stephen Mangan. My kids will be fascinated I’m sure.
Secondly, I really want to see the new adaptation of the classic play All About Eve at the Noel Coward theatre starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James. It has had rave reviews and I can’t wait to see it.
A sunny bank holiday weekend? Must be time for a picnic. Here’s our guide to the best London parks for picnics
One of our favourite London views is from the top of Primrose Hill, a whopping 63 metres above sea level. A special spot to watch the sun go down.
Over 86 hectares, this is one of London’s larges parks, as well as one of its oldest. Sadly the splash park isn’t open until May but you should be able to find a little piece of green for your rug.
Close to Broadway Market, if you can’t be bothered to pac the picnic, you can buy supplies here. The Olympic-sized lido might be worth a look in this weather too!
There’s plenty to do here if you need to keep the kids entertained with football, golf and netball. Plus the Kyoto garden may just be a hint of how Japan is looking during blossom season.
Ignoring the roads that criss-cross this huge expanse of land, you really could be miles from the city here. Don’t talk to the deer though, they can do serious harm.
A nice spot by the river, with a couple of pubs close by if the mood takes. Plus Putt in the Park which is fun for all ages and abilities.
If you get here early you’ll have time for a swim at Brockwell Lido and then a wonderful picnic in the park. Explorers will discover the 19th-century clock tower, a walled garden and some formal planting.
Thames Barrier Park
Who knew there was an accompanying park to this feat of engineering. It’s a whole day out too, including fountains, flower gardens, manicured lawns and a café.
St James’s Park
Give a nod to the new arrival, if she or he arrives this weekend, with a trip to one of London’s most royal of parks. Surrounded by royal residences and Horse Guards Parade, there’s also a fountain, lake and pelicans to amuse.
Always a popular choice when the sun shines, it’s still possible to find a quiet spot for a sarnie. Plus there’s the chance to see the Chihuly at Kew showcase.
Images courtesy: Primrose Hill: Royal Parks Holland Park: travellingdaveuk
Brockwell Park Lido: Brockwell Park Lido
Our regular round-up of things that have caught our eye in the City Kids office this week.
Isn’t it nice when a fun activity can be vaguely educational too? For that reason, we really like these science kits from Thames and Cosmos. Yes, there probably will be mess – either cover the kitchen table in newspaper or even better convince your kids to embrace their inner scientist in the garden, but wherever they try out these experiments, you’ll be sure to see excited little faces.
From crystal growing to pre-historic discoveries and even a molecule bead making (which has a lot to do with the ever-popular slime we are told) these kits are a great way of introducing kids to the fun side of science.
Suitable for ages 8+, each fun kit is priced £8.99 and are available from 25th March at thamesandkosmos.co.uk and Amazon.
Shoes we love
Clarkshave teamed up with National Geographic for an exclusive collection of kids’ shoes inspired by some of the most amazing species of animals on the planet. The range captures the cool colours and patterns of some spectacular animals which have been photographed for the National Geographic Photo Ark.
These great shoes are printed canvas and made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and sold in boxes made from 90% recycled paper.
The collaboration is helping to highlight the #SaveTogether initiative which raises awareness of threatened species around the world, inspiring young minds to take notice of the value these animals add to our eco system and to help species at risk before it is too late.
Summer is coming which means lots of time out and about with kids in tow. It’s definitely a time when a scooter – aka a means to get them from A to B when they point blank refuse to walk another step – can come in extremely handy.
Carousel, Tesco’s own exclusive toy brand, has officially launched its new Tilt ‘n’ Turn Scooter aimed at children aged roughly three to five.
At just £30 it’s a bit of a bargain – half the price of the market leading alternative according to the peeps at Tesco – and is available in blue and purple.
Scooting can be a risky business but this one has an anti-slip deck a ‘Tilt ‘n’ Turn’ steering function to develop balance and coordination as well as three wheels for stability.
A handy thing to chuck in the boot of the car we say.
Without wanting to get too over excited about the prospect summer sunshine on its way, we love these new kids’ hats from headwear companyBufffor keeping little ones safe from harsh rays.
Lots of colours and designs to choose from plus styles that offer supreme 50+ UV protection by ensuring their eyes, hair, skin and neck are all fully shielded from the sun. Ideal for those long sunny days on the beach that we are all dreaming of.
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.
Ladurée’s Easter treats are top notch. As well as these eggs they’ve collaborated with Morihide Yoshida who has created, amongst other things, a white chocolate and yuzu macaron and a pastry, all of which are available in Ladurée stores.
From Ruby Chocolate and Popping Prosecco to London Gin and Sea Salt Caramel – Prestat, chocolatier to Her Majesty The Queen, has a delicious range of beautifully packaged eggs to treat your loved ones to this Easter.
“As useless as a chocolate teapot”. Sold out online but you may be lucky to find in-store at Waitrose. Heston’s milk-chocolate teapot is filled with cocoa nib ‘tea leaves’ accompanied by crunchy ‘sugar cube’ truffle chocolates flavoured with his favourite teas.
When an egg just isn’t enough, go for a hamper. This one by Hotel Chocolate is filled with chocolates including Salted Macadamia, Raspberry Supermilk and Champagne, solid white chocolate City Bunnies, dip into egg soldiers with truffle eggs and praline toast. Well posh!
The Lexus RX L is a great family choice, combining the space of an SUV with reliable hybrid technology
As a family we’ve flirted with the idea of getting an SUV, but the most recent flirtation has been with electric or hybrid cars. The Lexus ticked both of those boxes in an instant, so we jumped at the chance of a week-long test drive.
On delivery, the RX L looked long. And it is. Although it’s modelled on its RX sibling, it’s over a metre longer to accommodate a third row of seats.
Those rear seats fold flat of course to enlarge the boot area, which possibly isn’t as expansive as you might want if you’re looking at seven seaters like the Q7. The seats themselves are probably only suitable for kids, but you could bundle in a couple of adults if you’re the designated driver on a night out.
So, onto driving. As we had the car for a week, we completed some long (airport run) journeys as well as pootling around town. The first thing that strikes you, if you haven’t driven an electric car before, is the silence. It does take some getting used to, pulling out without hearing the engine rev. You can choose to run on electric all the time, but we stuck with the hybrid capabilities.
Lexus stats suggest the RX L can get up to a fuel economy of 47.9mpg and although we were rubbish at keeping track, after a week, only a quarter of the tank of petrol had been used up, and most of that was a motorway drive to and from Gatwick.
It’s a comfortable ride around town, despite its size. Visibility is great, and we found the interior controls easy to use. (We did have a bit of a fight with the sat nav, but I’d blame the user for that!) Our children, who often get car sick in SUVs, didn’t with the RX L which means a huge thumbs up from us!
And the other plus point, from a choosing electric point of view was the fact that the car self-charges. No need to panic and find a roadside charging point. Flirtation over. We may have found a long-term partner.
If you fancy getting away from it all on a lovely family holiday this Easter but haven’t booked anything yet, it’s not too late. Whether you want an Alpine ski trip, a city break or a sunny beach escape, we have some ideas for amazing holidays that both grown ups and kids will love.
Hit the Slopes
Esprit Ski always has some last minute availably for school holidays, along with great childcare. They currently have rooms in their property in La Rosière, France. The ski area is great for families and offers everything from gentle nursery slopes to plentiful off-piste options.
Esprit are offering seven nights at the Chalet Begonia in La Rosiere from £784 per person, a saving of £50 per person departing on 14th April 2019 from Edinburgh, Manchester and London airports.Chalet Begonia is one of four chalet apartments in the Ferme d’Elisa building situated a convenient 150m from the nearest lift. Price includes flights, transfers, chalet catering accommodation with wine. Esprit’s Childcare is available from £349 for six full days for children aged between 17 weeks and 12-years-old. espritski.com
Top-end family ski operator Powder Byrne have some great deals in snow-sure high-altitude resorts. For example, Priva Alpine Lodge in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, is sophisticated but comfortable, with a traditional alpine-chic interior, a mountain dining hut, swimming pool and spa.
A family of four can stay in a 2-bedroom superior apartment with a welcome hamper for £7100 from 6th to 13th April. Price includes flights from Heathrow, transfers, Powder Byrne in resort services including complimentary ski guideing and access to their award-winning children’s programme. powderbyrne.com
Fly and Flop
European Family Favourite
The Almyra in Cyprus has long been known as one of the best luxury family hotels in Europe with amazing facilities and kids clubs in a fantastic beach location.This Easter guests can save just under £1,000 and receive complimentary upgrade to half board is they book a stay there with Sovereign Luxury Travel.
They are offering a seven night holiday in two Interconnecting Inland View Rooms, on a half board basis, from £3,795 per family of four – saving up to £927. The offer includes complimentary upgrade to half board private resort transfers and return international flights from London Gatwick with easyJet. Based on departures 07 April 2019. soverign.com
Carlisle Bay on the tranquil south coast of Antigua offers water sports, tennis, rainforest hikes as well as a full children’s programme at its dedicated kids club. Awarded ‘Best Long-Haul’ Hotel at the Family Traveller Awards 2018, the 87-suite resort offers a huge range of activities for all ages. While it’s a long-haul destination, flights are direct and less than eight hours. Plus with only four hours’ time difference, families can leave Gatwick at 10am and be enjoying the beach by mid-afternoon. Bliss!
Luxury Worldwide Collection offers a week over Easter at Carlisle Bay from £12,125 per family, saving up to £3,580. Cost includes return flights with BA from Gatwick to Antigua, 7-night accommodation in 2x inter-connecting Garden Suites on a bed and breakfast basis and private transfers. Valid for travel between 9-22 April 2019. based on a family of 4 (2 adults & 2 children under 12yrs). lwcholidays.com
Indian Ocean Escape
With beautiful beaches, directly flights and no jet lag to speak of, Mauritius is a firm favourite for families. The Residence Mauritius have introduced their new ‘Little Explorer’ packages, showcasing fun and inspirational family and child friendly experiences.
The Little Explorer Package starts from £50 per child and includes a guided tour of Marche de Flaq, a ticket to L’Aventure de Sucre museum, baking session, tasting session, apron and hat. Rooms at The Residence Mauritius start from £330 per room per night on a half board basis. cenizaro.com/theresidence
Far East Fun
The Six Senses Samui, Thailand offering a huge savings of 40% families this Easter as kids stay and dine for free. With 66 villas overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Siam, you can explore the amazing surroundings, island hop or even try out some juggle trekking on elephant back.
Seven nights in an Ocean Pool Villa Suite from £8,895 per family of four (based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing) That includes breakfast, return International flights with Malaysian Airlines and private airport transfers. Book by 31 March 2019 and travel until 21 April 2019. turquoiseholidays.co.uk
Closer to Home
You can’t beat Cornwall for a beach break in the UK. The newly renovated St Michaels Resort, opposite Falmouth’s Blue Flag Gyllyngvase beach, is a lovely base from which to explore the coastline. It has a great three-night family package that includes a stay in a classic or twin room, a full Cornish breakfast, one 3-course dinner, spa and health club access. They even give Easter eggs to everyone in the family and if you want to take your pooch just book one of the dog friendly rooms. A 3-night stay starts from £272 per person. Available from 8 to 27 April. stmichaelshotel.co.uk
Congrove Barns are just a few miles from the centre of Bath. Both are newly renovated and are a great self-catering option for families, with large, open living space and brilliant games room, complete with table football and board games a-plenty keep everyone entertained. Outside there are also croquet and badminton sets for garden games a hot tub to relax in.
The Easter week (19 – 26thApril) is still available in the barn that sleeps six. £1,495 for a 7-night stayoverEaster. Check out luxurycotswoldrentals.co.uk to see these properties and lots more lovely rural spots to rent.
The luxury Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort in Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland are just about open a selection of gorgeous new cottages. There are 17 dotted around the stunning parkland estate, each is set within its own pretty garden location with beautiful rural views.
Perfect for families, guests at the cottages can use all the hotel’s five-star facilities. They have different size properties so check out the website to find out more. If you’d like to opt for B&B instead of self catering then prices start from £170.00 per cottage per night which includes access to the award winning Thermal Spa Village. galgorm.com
If you fancy taking the kids on a city break, then check out Novotel. Dotted all over the country, these simple, convenient hotels are often in great city centre locations. For example, a family room in the Edinburgh or York Novotel costs just £94 per night for a family room (two adults and two children). Kids under 16 eat free if the parents purchase breakfast with the room and kids get a free welcome gift too.
Ideal for a stopover or an weekend away that doesn’t cost the earth.
How great is it when you can buy kids clothes that look amazing but don’t cost the earth? We always love H&M children’s wear but we’re particularly impressed by their latest collaboration with Paris-based artist Nathalie Lété.
The capsule collection features several of Lété’s colourful and poetic artworks as prints on a wide range of children’s clothing and accessories and is now available in selected stores worldwide, as well as online at www.hm.com.
The H&M collaboration is a childrenswear collection for babies and kids, with a wide range of vibrant t-shirts, jackets, jeans, dresses, jumpsuits, shorts and swimsuits. The colourful animal and oral prints created by Nathalie Lété are key.
All her designs start with paintings in acrylics by hand, which are then artfully arranged together to create an imaginative and fun story.
For this H&M collaboration, Lété brought to life a tropical jungle with chameleons and tigers, along with her iconic representation of owers with cats, birds and rabbits. So pretty and perfect for summer.
Head into store or get online soon as we predict it this gorgeous collection will sell out quickly!
Play & Go is a Belgian-based company offering clever, colourful and inspiring products for your kids and home. We think their Storage Bags are a great idea.
Made from 100% cotton these hard-wearing bags allow you to literally scoop up toys and neatly tidy them away. Plus, they also double up as a playmat and come in a range of lovely prints and designs. The perfect addition to any little one’s bedroom or playroom. Find them at Kidly.co.uk
BabyBjörn has just launched a new collection specially developed for those very first days with a newborn baby. The Soft Selection features a new super-soft fabric specially created by BabyBjörn called 3D Jersey that gently hugs the newborn baby whilst at the same time providing the proper support.
For years the Swedish brand has been a firm favourite with parents who rave about their practical, stylish designs. These new additions have been created from the feedback from their customers who like the concept of really soft, snuggly fabric.
Consisting of the Baby Carrier Mini (from £79.99) and Bouncer Bliss (from £145), the Soft Selection comes in muted, warm colours and cuddly jersey and a soft, lightweight breathable mesh.
Perfect for those precious early months when little ones are really tiny.
For nine years Mint Velvet has been a go-to brand for great casual separates. Now it has turned its hand to childrens wear creating their first collection for girls aged three to ten, ‘Minty’.
Think pink jumpsuits, star print sweatshirts, denim and some super-cool prints. Underpinned with that same easy aesthetic as its main women’s wear collection, the fabrics are easy to care for and the pieces coordinate perfectly.
We love this super-stylish collection so much that we kind of wish some of it came in grow-up sizes too!
Aspace has been creating inspirational children’s rooms for over 20 years. Their furniture range is great – bright and fun but also practical and sturdy. We love the clever storage solutions they offer with cupboards and shelving built into beds. They have a few ranges to choose from so whether you want the modern Scandi style or prefer a more traditional look, there is something to suit everyone. The new catalogue is out now and if you sign up to their online newsletter Aspace are offering £20 off any orders over £150.
If you’re thinking of kitting out your kids’ bedroom, then definitely check out the website.
It’s Shrove Tuesday – the day when it’s officially acceptable to eat pancakes for at least one meal! So if you’re looking for some super healthy, but totally delicious pancake recipes to make with your little ones then here are three from our favourite foodie gurus.
LEMON CARDAMOM PANCAKES WITH A ZESTY HONEY DRIZZLE
2 tablespoons chia seeds, 4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup buckwheat flour (100g)
1/2 cup brown rice milk (or any other plant-based milk) (150ml)
5 cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon coconut oil (for frying)
FOR THE DRIZZLE:
1 teaspoon coconut oil
3 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup
zest of 1/2 lemon
Combine 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with 4 tablespoons of water and leave to sit in the fridge for about of 30 minutes.
Firmly press down on each cardamom pod with the flat side of a sturdy knife. Open the pod and pick out the seeds, discarding the outer shell. Either carefully roughly chop the seeds with a knife or grind them using a mortar and pestle.
Zest an entire lemon and set aside half for the drizzle.
Mash the banana in a bowl and then add all the pancake ingredients to your blender. Blitz well until everything is combined. The consistency should be nice and thick!
Heat the coconut oil over a medium heat in a non-stick pan. Once the oil has melted, use about a ¼ cup of the mix and pour into the pan. Heat until bubbles form about three quarters of the way cooked through and then flip to cook for another minute or two. Repeat with the rest of the mixture adding more coconut oil when the pan dries out. The mix should make 5-6 small pancakes.
Then simply combine all of the ingredients for the drizzle together and stir well.
Stack your pancakes and pour the zesty honey drizzle on top!
In a large bowl mix the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt and coconut sugar. Add the eggs, oil and milk and mix well.
Heat a frying pan to a medium-high temperature and melt the coconut oil. Fry off a few tbsp. of the pancake mix, cook for a minute or two on one side until the pancakes start to bubble then flip over and cook on the other side.
Serve with fresh fruit, maple syrup and nuts.
If you are vegan you can swap the eggs for chia eggs.
160g of rice flour or buckwheat flour
75g of ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon coconut sugar
3 tbsp of melted coconut oil plus extra for cooking
1 cup milk (almond, rice, coconut…whatever you want)
to serve – maple syrup, fresh fruit and almond flakes.
Melt the coconut oil or butter, on a low heat, in a PTFE-free non-stick pan (we use Greenpan or Colourworks ceramic frying pan) and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
Sift in the coconut flour and bicarbonate of soda and blend with the melted coconut oil to make a batter.
Add water a tablespoon at a time to get the right consistency.
Use a spatula to redistribute any leftover coconut oil in the frying pan and on a medium heat add 2 tablespoons of the batter. Push 5 blueberries into the centre of the pancake and the blueberries will spread slowly as it cooks.
After a couple of minutes check if you can loosen the pancake easily and carefully turn it over – it may need a little longer.
After another minute or so the pancake is cooked and ready to serve.
For the cashew mango cream, add the mango and the water it has been soaking in to a blender with the rinsed and drained cashews then blend until smooth. Add more water if desired.
2 eggs (room temperature)
2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil or butter, melted
2-4 tablespoons of warm water
2 tablespoons of coconut flour
1.5 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 tiny sprinkle of salt
¼ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon or more of vanilla extract
Cashew mango cream
1/2 cup of whole cashews (soaked for 6-7 hours in filtered warm water with sea salt, rinsed and drained)
Every issue we highlight brands and products from businesses that WE LOVE. Our Spring issue is no exception. And as it’s our birthday, this time you can win them all! Scroll down to find out how.
Dandy Dill Way
Dandydill Way founder, Tania Rodney, has done it again! Her new Cleansing Mousse is soap-free, mild, yet effective at cleaning grubby faces. Check out the new Face Moisturiser too, containing hyaluronic acid and leaving no greasy residue. It may be for the kids, but we’ll bet some parents will be swiping these goodies!
From £22.50 www.dandydillway.com
History Heroes’ LONDON quiz card game is packed with facts and illustrations outlining forty of the greatest characters in the capital’s history. Win the game by collecting the most cards.
Busy Not Board
The price tag is hefty, but the different play options are huge. Devised by a father for his son, these boards encourage open play with a range of toys that fit into the wall board. Designed to last from baby to pre-schoolers.
From £129 www.mymuro.com
Hibou Home have released a new bed linen collection for kids which is made from 100% organic cotton as well as being OEKO Tex certified – that’s safe for children’s skin and kind to the planet too. These Flora bed sets are available in Junior and Adult sizes.
From £55 www.hibouhome.com
Already a Gift of the Year nominee, The Book of Youis a stylish memory book for children and their grown-ups. Record moments over the year via a series of fun questions to build a lasting memento for years to come.
Top of the Plops!
(Couldn’t resist!) Who Did This Poois a hilarious way for children to learn about different animals. Did you know that Wombats poo in cubes or that there’s an animal which has sparkly poo? Enough said.
City Kids editor Morag Turner on London’s latest club for families and why these places are great for both kids and parents.
For over a decade private members clubs for families have been popping up all over London. The concept being that you can relax in a home-from-home environment with your little ones, enjoying classes, events and a sense of community with like-minded parents. Think Soho House for the under-fives and with a soft play area.
These are truly nice places to be. Yes, there will be plenty of toddlers running around screaming (this is not the world you inhabited pre-kids after all) but the décor will be stylish and you can have a decent coffee while your children have a ball.
Something I realised a long time ago is that it’s perfectly acceptable for mums to want to have just as nice a time as their kids. Yet all too often it seems to keep our little ones entertained we have to compromise – sitting in cold church halls, shaking a tambourine and getting a custard cream at the end of it. Not exactly what we’d imagined hanging out with our little darlings would be like.
This is where the world of private members clubs for families comes in, offering a nice balance between kiddie fun and happy mums. Something increasing numbers of parents are very happy to pay for.
So when I got an email asking me if I’d like to visit London’s newest one, I couldn’t wait to take a look. Cloud Twelve is located just off Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill. It differs from the similar clubs as, while it has fantastic facilities for little members, there is also a real focus on their parents too with a spa, salon, wellness centre and adults only restaurant.
Our visit to Cloud Twelve
It was a cold, wet February day when my four-year-old son and I visited, but as we walked through the door it felt like we stepped into summer. The amazing Family Zone on the ground floor is home to a beautifully designed and well laid out play area with a nature theme. A tree house to climb in with a slide down to a pirate ship ball pool and a giant ladybird to crawl inside for a sensory light experience. The stuff of pre-school dreams.
Off the main play area are smaller rooms filled with immaculate toys and books that are used for classes and a creche, as well as a craft room that most A-level arts students would be enthralled by. My little Picasso couldn’t wait to start painting and sticking.
We had lunch at the café in the Family Zone which offers varied and delicious vegan menu. I’m not vegan but try to cut out meat two or three days a week – if I was coming here regularly I’d mange it with ease. Fresh, healthy dishes that were also genuinely tasty. My little boy wolfed down his vegan mac and cheese.
Next it was time for me to pop upstairs for a treatment in the spa. I felt perfectly happy leaving my son with two of the ‘play buddies’ – fully qualified child carers who not only look after, but also seem to really engage the children. Of course he didn’t even notice I was gone, such was the excitement of hanging out with his new grown up buddy and such the selection of toys available.
The amazing spa
Even though Cloud Twelve inhabits an old building there is absolutely no sign of that whatsoever from within. The spa resembles one you would expect to find in a five-star resort in the Maldives albeit without the outside space. The treatment rooms are huge and luxuriously fitted out, complete with Dolomites quartz beds ‘to help promote a deeper state of relaxation’. The thermal area with its sauna, steam and salt room is positively dreamy.
They offer an extensive range of treatments and I opted for a full body massage, which was every bit as wonderful as the setting. Afterwards popped into the upstairs brassiere (which is adults only) for a cup of herbal tea. Next to this area is the salon for blow dries, manicures and pedicures.
What’s great about this entire adults’ area is that it’s open to anyone. While the Family Zone is members only, anyone can use the spa and salon. It struck me that this would the perfect place to pop into before a night out in central London – arrive harassed mum, leave feeling (and looking) a million dollars.
There is also a wellness clinic offering holistic treatments and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, osteopathy and colonic hydrotherapy. It too is open to the public. I didn’t sample any of these, but they club manager told me they have some London’s best practitioners available to book.
Cloud Twelve is a lovely family-friendly oasis in the heart of the Notting Hill. The price tag is steep with memberships starting from £2000 per year, but that’s no more than many other adults-only private members clubs all over the city.
We both loved our day there. Needless to say, my son didn’t want to leave (neither did I to be honest) and I would definitely pop back in again to use the spa.
Why Family Clubs are so good
My visit reminded me of the days when I was a member at Cupcake in Putney, a mum and baby club that I joined when my first son was a little baby nearly 11 years ago.
It offered a selection of baby classes (yoga, music, massage etc) along with fitness classes for mums and a creche where you could leave your little one while you worked off the baby weight. There was also a café to chill out in. An interior designer had clearly been involved, there were comfy chairs and great food on offer – like the places I chose to spend time in before I had a baby but with a family-friendly twist.
It was a great club though things have definitely moved on – I seem to remember us eating a lot of brownies that were definitely not vegan but that was well before the ‘clean eating’ revolution.
I made wonderful mum mates who became, and still are to this day, some of my closest friends. A decade and several kids later, and we still meet up regularly and holiday together.
With time we grew out of Cupcake as these places are great for a period in your life when you have very young children, but less so when they go to school and/or you return to work.
But I look back so fondly on the time I spent there, enjoying time with my baby and making friends. Never once did I feel bored or isolated as so many new mums do in the early days because I always had somewhere to pop into, even if it was just me and my son. A godsend when you are adjusting to life with a new baby.
More family clubs in London worth knowing about
The Putney club closed but another branch remains in Cupcake Parsons Green. Lots of mums sign up when still pregnant to enjoy the antenatal fitness classes. A full membership now costs from £139 per month with a one-off joining fee of £99 but they do offer different packages. I’ve never been to this branch, but if it’s anything like the original I’m sure it’s wonderful.
Others private members clubs for families have since opened all over London. As well as Cloud Twelve, there is Maggie and Rose who have branches in Kensington, Chiswick. You’ll find an amazing soft play area, fun kid’s classes and camps, as well as a great café.
Dreamt up by Maggie Bolger and Rose Astor, the idea was to provide a beautiful creative space for children in surroundings that appealed to grown-ups too. The principle clearly works as both London clubs have waiting lists and they are set to open a third in Islington this year. They have even ventured abroad with a club in Hong Kong and one opening in Singapore.
Purple Dragon who have two London clubs in Chelsea and Putney, cater for kids from six months old through to the tween years and are rumoured to have a number of celebrity offspring regulars. Young members have the options of beach club (indoor pool), massive soft play centre, music booth, kitchen (with cooking activities), music room, and art lab. And of course, there is a restaurant for the grow ups to chill out in while their kids are entertained. But these amazing activities and plush surroundings come a at a price. Membership fees are from £450 for 10 visits.
My days of mum and baby clubs are coming to an end now with all of my boys in school full time come September, but I really do think the concept is a good one. Yes, there are fees to pay but by becoming a member of one of these places you open up a world of fun activities to do with your little one all under one (very nicely decorated) roof. Whether you’d pop in every day or just use it on the weekends, these clubs provide a home-from-home environment where mums can connect with other like-minded women and form friendships, which I believe is an essential part of enjoying new motherhood. Joining Cupcake all those years ago was the best thing I have ever signed up to. For the fun, the friends and the wonderful memories of lovely times with my first little one that positively shaped my experience and view of motherhood.
We asked a parent and a child for their review of The Kid Who Would Be King
First, the adult view
Yes, another retelling of the well known Arthurian legend but with a twist. This time we see the legend transported to a school boy in contemporary UK. A UK shorn of the Hogwarts style nostalgia in an admirable attempt to be more representative of the reality of school in the UK. There are number of interesting subversions of the traditional tale and you can see Joe Cornish has made a genuine attempt to make this ancient legend a relevant and empowering story for today’s kids. Although, I would hazard that these attempts may have been reined in by the money people. I love Patrick Stewart but I never saw the point of his sporadic appearances. The young Merlin was excellently portrayed by Angus Imrie.
The film has a lot of heart, has some funny moments and the kids are likeable and relatable. However, it doesn’t quite achieve the level of adventure and excitement that could have made this a worthy contender to take the baton from Harry Potter and run with it. The CGI is extremely well done and Rebecca Ferguson is excellent if rather under-utilised as the big bad, Morgana. There is a surprising lack of variety in Morgana’s evil undead warriors who pursue the heroes throughout the adventure and the film doesn’t build satisfyingly to a crescendo.
On the whole, a decent family movie that just fails to get firing on all cylinders.
Now a view from the target audience!
It was a good movie. I liked the storyline. The graphics and CGI were very good. The best character was probably the main character, Alex. I thought the idea of a modern-day King Arthur story would not be that great, but it turns out I was completely and utterly wrong! I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but the bad guard guys looked pretty cool. My favourite part of the movie is when they are (spoiler alert incoming) preparing all the barricades and (another spoiler alert incoming) training all the other school girls and boys.
I would rate it 4/5 stars.
Report written by Lucas Evans.
Head to foxmovies.com to see the trailer, which is actually really good.
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Angus Imrie, with Rebecca Ferguson and Patrick Stewart
NEW! Every week we’re going to bring you a round-up of some of the super cool things we’ve come across for little ones. From toys and games to travel and fashion, we will be sharing the things that have caught our eye in the City Kids office.
If your kids love nothing more than a colouring book and a set of felt tips then this fab tablecloth would make the perfect present. From alphabet art and garden prints to intergalactic designs and critters to colour, Blue Jigsaw’s new range of Doodle Tablecloths feature five unique and original designs suitable for all ages. Each design comes with a set of wash out pens. Simply colour in, wash and start again. The ideal rainy day activity for little artists. Prices start from £19.
Getting kids to to brush there teeth properly and for long enough can be a struggle. But this great little gadget makes the process more fun and encourages them to be better brushers.
Playbrush is an interactive electric toothbrush that connects via Bluetooth to game apps so children can play fun games with their toothbrush. Once it syncs to the app children use their own toothbrushing movements to paint masterpieces, make music or defeat monsters. This incentivises movement and encourages children to brush all around their mouth, increasing surface coverage. It also records and assesses how well they are doing. Definitely a cool thing for kids!
The Playbrush Smart Sonic costs £29.99 and includes, 1 Playbrush Smart Sonic, 1 brush head, 1 charging dock and 4 free games.
We just love the beautifully curated edits from Kid Pix, a new subscription box service for gorgeous childrenswear brands such as Patachou, Baby Mori and Dotty Dungarees. The idea is simple. Parents fill in a little online style quiz and from there the clever stylists at Kid Pix will create a bespoke box of six to eight items for boys and girls aged one to five and babies aged 0 to 12 months.
Your beautifully wrapped box will be delivered to your door step. Then it’s up to you what you keep or send back. Either sign up for a one-off or a quarterly subscription. We think this would make a great present idea for a new baby or a special little person.
Founded by a father of two, Dutch brand Nuna is inspired by real parenting adventures for families on the go. Well designed and made from lovely materials, celebrity fans include Miranda Kerr and Gwen Stefani.
The latest addition to the range is their first baby carrier, the CUDL, launching this month. Both stylish and practical carrier makes it easy for you to keep your new born close. Then switches to a backpack as they get bigger. Genuis. £150
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.
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
We chat to the Saturday’s star about becoming an author, motherhood and her amazing career.
When anyone mentions Rochelle Humes most of us immediately think of the gorgeous pop star who rose to fame with girl group The Saturdays and who married fellow singer JLS star Marvin. Or maybe you think of Rochelle the TV presenter, who regularly hosts hit shows such as This Morning.
But ask Rochelle herself what her biggest role is and she will tell you that without question it is being a mum to her two little girls Alaia-Mai, five, and Valentia, nearly two.
And her latest project perfectly illustrates how important her children are to her. The Mega Magic Hair Swap, Rochelle’s new children’s’ book, is published this week and the inspiration behind it comes from her own daughters.
“One day Alaia-Mai told me that she didn’t like her curly hair because princesses always have straight hair. All the images she was seeing on TV or in books were of little girls with long, straight hair. She wanted to know why she didn’t look like Elsa or Rapunzel” explains Rochelle.
“I hated the thought that she wasn’t happy with the way she looked because to me she is beautiful, and I want her to love her amazing curly hair. I explained to her that people can have different hair or skin colour, or be a different shape or height, but that what makes us all beautiful is being ourselves,” says the 29 year-old.
The conversation got Rochelle thinking about how she could help her own children and others to feel confident and proud of their appearance. It was then that she came up with the idea for The Mega Magic Hair Swap.
Story of friendship
The main characters are Mai, who has curly hair, and her best friend Rose, who has very straight hair. Neither are happy and wish they could have hair like the other one. With a bit of magic, they switch and end up with the hair of their dreams. But before long they realise it isn’t all it is cracked up to be and that how their own hair is actually perfect for them.
While the book is aimed at little-ones, writing it also helped Rochelle to embrace her own curls. “Growing up I rarely saw anyone who looked like me on TV. I have really curly hair, but I always felt I had to straighten it to make it look nice. But recently I’ve learned to love my hair. I always want to be a good role model for my girls so it’s important for them to see me being happy with my looks and hopefully they will feel the same way about themselves,” she points out.
So determined was she to show other young women that they should love their natural waves that she has been promoting it to her 1.3 million Instagram followers with the hashtag #curlslikeus.
“The response has been amazing,” says Rochelle. “I think a lot of women feel exactly how I do. Whether it’s their hair or something else about their appreance, they just want to be themselves and not feel pressure to change.”
Once she had the idea for the book Rochelle says it all came together very quickly. “This is my first book and I have loved writing it and working with my publisher. At the moment I don’t have plans for any more, but never say never.”
It’s hard to imagine how Rochelle managed to add ‘author’ to her list of many achievements. After finding fame with The Saturdays and having 13 top-ten hits, she is now a familiar face on prime-time TV presenting shows such as ITV’s Sweat the Small Stuff, Ninja Warrior and the The Xtra Factor.
But while the world sees her glamourous career, Rochelle, just like every other mum, is constantly trying to get the right balance between work and family life.
“Marvin and I sit down every week and plan who is doing what for the next seven days. When one of us is really busy with work the other will try not to be. So, we are lucky that we can be somewhat flexible and one of us is always around to do school pick up, but it takes a lot of organisation,” she explains.
“My mum lives close by and helps us a lot which is amazing. But there are definitely some weeks when we are totally winging it because no two days are ever the same for us. But we get by and the kids are looked after and happy and that’s all that matters – even if we are totally exhausted by the end of the week!”
No matter what her schedule is, Rochelle fits it in around family life and her down to earth approach to motherhood is partly what has gained her so many loyal fans over the years. “I’m always there for my kids when they need me and that’s really important to me. Parenting is hard sometimes, especially as they get older and you realise you are really shaping a little human being. You just want to wrap them in cotton wool, but you can’t do that. All you can do is your best which what all mums are trying to do. We should try not to put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. No one ever is.”
Away from the spotlight
Despite living in the public eye, privacy is very important to Rochelle who loves her supportive social media following but prefers to keep her children away from the spotlight and never posts images of her their faces.
“Privacy is key to Marvin and I. Every parent is different and it’s totally up to them what they want to post, but I prefer not to. One day when they are much older the girls can decide if they want to post photos of themselves but right now they don’t even know what social media is.”
The launch of her new book today kicks off what looks to another great year for Rochelle. She is currently working with her high street favourite, New Look on The Rochelle Edit and continues to be an ambassador for John Frieda and HiGlow, her best-selling face and body line available in Superdrug. Plus, M&S recently announced Rochelle as one of their Food Ambassadors alongside Amanda Holden and Emma Willis.
One of the things she is most excited about is working with Marvin on their new music quiz show, Playlisters, due to air in 2019 on BBC1. “We love working together. It’s so nice because we don’t get to do it that often. The show is really fun and I can’t wait to get started on it.”
With such a positive, honest outlook and endless enthusiasm for both her work and her family, it’s clear to see that Rochelle is great role model for young women – regardless of whether her hair is curly or straight.
The Mega Magic Hair Swap, £6.99, is published on 7th February.
Favourite date night spot: Roca – such great food and atmosphere
Desert Island must have: Coconut oil – so useful
Must read book: The Secret – I’ve read it so many times
Night owl or earlier bird: Definitely an earlier bird
Best day out with kids: Regent’s Park Zoo – my girls love it there
If the recent snow has you dreaming of the slopes, then our last minute guide to the best children’s ski wear and trips away should help
Hands up if you’re on the countdown to a skiing holiday? Great – hitting the slopes is one of the best family getaways there is. But do you also have that sinking feeling that your kids have grown out of their salopettes? There’s a least one glove missing and who knows where the thermals are?
If that’s you (and frankly that is pretty much all mums the night before a flight to Geneva) then here are some great places to pick up cool skiing kit so you can arrive in resort relaxed – if that’s possible after a two-hour transfer at 7am.
We love the clever ‘bundles’ that Little Skier have put together which take all the hassle out of buying ski kit for the kids. You basically need a children’s ski wear bundle (jacket, salopettes, gloves, goggles, snow boots) and a base layer buddle (thermals and socks). They have loads of combinations, some of which include helmets too. All are colour co-ordinated from brands like Quicksilver, Schoffel and Trespass. Such a clever time-saving idea for busy mums.
And Little Skiers are offering City Kids readers a fantastic discount on their site. Use the code CityKids15 to get an amazing 15% off spends over £100. Valid until 1st April
One-stop-shop for all the family. They have 24 stores in England – six in London alone – so you can easily pop in if you’d rather try things on. Or order online at their website has a huge range. If it’s skis, boards or boots you are looking for then Snow and Rock can help. They have a team of specialists who can offer advice.
For the coolest après kit check out St Berts. Their retro sweatshirts are perfect for lounging around in the chalet after a long day on the slopes or could be worn as a second layer under a ski jacket.
For ski kit that suits most pockets, Decathlon really has it covered. With some savvy shopping, it’s possible to kit out a child in good quality clothing, plus goggles and gloves for around £100. Plus they can supply helmets, skis and poles if you want to go the whole hog.
It’s not too late to book
If reading this puts you in the mood to hit the slopes but you haven’t yet booked, fear not – you can still find a great skiing holiday for February half term and also Easter. Get in touch with these fantastic family ski companies who can arrange accommodation and transfers, as well as ski lessons and child care.
Powder Byrne have something for everyone – from ski lessons and childcare to guided walks and ice skating for non-skiers. Their resorts are some of the most fabulous in Europe including, Zermatt, St Moritz, Gstaad and Lech and you can stay in chalets or beautiful hotels complete with spas. Childcare is well thought out and provided in creches by qualified nannies. Their wonderful concierge service will make sure you every aspect of your holiday is planned to perfection.
Another great company that offer onsite childcare, Ski Famille’s chalets are in some of the best locations for families such as Les Gets and La PLagne. Their large chalets are ideal for three or four families who want to holiday together, or they are happy to add individual families to any chalet where there is space. If you don’t mind sharing a dinner table with new people, then this could be for you. Very sociable and fun.
No one does luxe like Scott Dunn. They have beautiful chalets and hotels in major skiing designations. In Val-d’Isère and Courchevel you’ll find their award-winning in-house kids clubs, the Explorers, which caters for little ones from four months old. And if travelling to Val with tinies you don’t even have to take a buggy as Scott Dunn have teamed up with Bugaboo to offer guests a complimentary pushchair for the duration of their stay. If budget is no concern, then these are the guys to book with for a truly top trip.
Esprit have been arranging family ski holidays in resorts all over Europe for over 35 years. Their wrap-around childcare programme means (if you want to) you can ski from the first lift in the morning to the last in the afternoon, knowing that your little ones are either having super-fun lessons or being taken care of in one of Esprit’s nurseries, many of which are onsite and attached to the chalet hotel guests stay in. Nannies are fully qualified and English speaking and in the evenings they offer a babysitting and baby listening service. One of the more affordable family skiing companies, Esprit are a great starting point if you’ve never taken your kids skiing before.
Exciting news for mini fashionistas. Following on from the success of their recent Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana pop–ups, Net-a-Porter has launched a multi-brand kidswear collective of brands that will feature permanently.
The ‘collective’ is an edit of brands which have all created exclusive capsule collections for the online fashion retailer. It features comfy clothing from insider brands such as Yeah Right NYC Kids minimal white tees, alongside cosy cardigans from Alanui Kids. ATM Kids and knitwear label Chinti & Parker Kids provide some sportier pieces too.
Similar to their gorgeous grown up cashmere collection, Lingua Franca Kids’ playful designs, add a cute touch to sweaters with embroidered messages that read ‘Tree Hugger’ and ‘Cool Like That’.
For tiny toes Net-a-Porter have enlisted two of their best-selling brands with trainers from Golden Goose Deluxe and sustainable footwear brand Veja, who have a range of sneakers in vibrant colours with creative illustrations and their hallmark ‘V’ monogram.
“The new year felt like the perfect time to launch this collective,” Elizabeth von der Goltz, Net-a-porter.com’s global buying director, told Mini Vogue. “It’s January – kids are back to school but there’s this idea of cosiness and wanting to feel comfortable.”
“Whether it’s for ourselves or for our kids, we are always thinking about wellness in January so this this an extension of that – it’s luxe athleisure for kids!”
The ‘mini me’ Kids Casuals launched on the Net-a-Porter site last week and will be available throughout the season. They’re supported by a dedicated campaign featuring influencer Sai De Silva’s 7-year-old daughter, London and 20-month-old son, Rio.
But Net-a-Porter is not the only online retailer where you will find high-end kit for kids. Alexandalexa.com stocks an impressive list of designers such as Chloe, Ralph Lauren and Stella McCartney that range from newborn to teenage. Founded in London, 2007 by husband and wife duo, Alex Theophanous and Alexa Till, the site aims to bring “The World’s Best Kids Brands” and have over 200 luxury labels to choose from.
Or check out childrensalon.com, the world’s largest online store for designer childrenswear who ship brands such as Burberry, Fendi and Moschino to over 160 countries.
But if you’d rather try before you buy then head to Harrods. London’s most exclusive store extended their baby department last year and their childrenswear includes the likes of J Crew and Armani.
It’s never been easier to dress your little ones in designer gear, but, just as with the grown-up versions, the price tag can be eyewatering!
Discover more about Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park, Chiswick
Tom Kerridge’s awesome festival Pub in the Park arrives in Chiswick in September. General tickets are now on sale.
Pub in the Park is a party with a relaxed and intimate feel, supporting and celebrating local talent, as well as presenting some of the biggest names in food and music. Remember House Festival at Chiswick House, well this sounds similar.
At each venue, there’ll be Michelin-starred and award-winning pubs and restaurants serving tasting dishes showing their signature style. Every event will celebrate the very best food the country has to offer, combined with great live music, chef demonstrations, top quality shopping and other festival fun.
Tom Kerridge said “Last year’s Pub in the Park festivals were so much fun, I cannot wait to bring the excellence in food, world class chefs, ace music and awesome vibe to eight locations across the UK this year.”
Pub in the Park Chiswick will see Kerridge’s own pub The Hand & Flowers as headliner as well as a number of sensational support-acts in the pub arena including Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano, plus hand-picked charming locals that punters will know and love.
The Star Inn
Bibendum Oyster Bar
Rick Stein Barnes
The Pony & Trap
The Hinds Head
Music line up for Chiswick
Soul II Soul Sound System
Scouting for Girls
Natalie Williams and the Soul Family
UK Festival Dates and Venues
Pub in the Park will be taking place on the following dates at the venues below:
· Marlow, Higginson Park 17-19 May
· Roundhay, Leeds, Roundhay Park 31 May – 2 June
· Knutsford, The Lambing Shed 7-9 June
· Bath, Royal, Victoria Park 21 – 23 June *subject to licence
· Warwick, St. Nicholas Park, 5 – 7 July
· Tunbridge Wells, Dunorlan Park 12-14 July
· London, Chiswick, Chiswick House 6-8 Sep
· St. Albans Verulamium Park 13-15 Sep
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.
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 email@example.com, enclosing a copy of your CV. We regret that we will only be able to contact those who we can meet for interview.
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!
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.
We are delighted to announce that we have extended the deadline for our City Kids School Food Awards #CityKidsSFA19. The response from schools and parents has been so overwhelmingly positive that we want to include as many entrants as possible.
The School Food Awards are a unique opportunity to win an award that recognises the great work of schools and their kitchen teams. All schools are operating on budgets, and some are very tight budgets, yet many catering teams manage to provide nutritious, hot lunches for the kids. We think this should be celebrated! But we also need to continue the discussion surrounding around free school meals and healthy eating.
With these awards we aim to recognise those schools who are providing catering excellence and thinking beyond meat and potatoes. The awards will become a well-regarded accolade amongst parents and educators alike. Winners will be handpicked by the City Kids editorial team and a host of well-known and passionate foodies, to be announced shortly.
The award categories are as follows:
School Dinner Hero (Primary/Secondary)
Best School Menu (Primary/Secondary)
Best Vegetarian Menu (Primary/Secondary)
School Dinner Hero (Prep/Secondary)
Best School Menu (Prep/Secondary)
Best Vegetarian Menu (Prep/Secondary)
What’s the one question that kids ask when they visit a school? “What’s the food like?”
And what do parents ask on a daily basis when they collect their kids from school? “What did you have for lunch?”
School food is top of the agenda for kids and parents and what better way to show your school’s catering brilliance than with these awards.
Apart from the obvious positive PR, there are plenty of benefits to nominating your school for a City Kids School Food Award. All shortlisted schools will be mentioned in print and online and will be featured in our Spring Education issue. Winners will feature in our Summer issue. You will also receive a digital logo for use across your marketing assets to include: Vote for Us!, Shortlisted, Winner, Runner-up. This will contribute to the multi-media brand exposure across our platforms and yours.
How to enter
For more information about the entry process, categories and judging please click on the link below. Make your application by completing the online form on this page or by email. If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
Crispy Squid is a very popular dish on the menu at The Gorgeous Kitchen and we’ve recently added a smaller version to our children’s menu, which is going down a treat. Of course you don’t have to plan a flight from Heathrow to taste it, as here’s the recipe for you to make it yourself at home. It’s really quick to prepare and cook, and you can easily buy ready cleaned squid (fresh or frozen) from fishmongers or larger supermarkets. Both larger squid tubes or the baby squid can be used, and you could even throw a few prawns in there too. At the restaurant we serve with a Lime and Chilli dip on the main menu (and a choice of dips for kids). For convenience you can serve yours at home with a bought sweet chilli dipping sauce, however you might also like to give the below dip recipes a try too. Enjoy!
• 400g squid, cleaned
• 100g cornflour
• 100g plain flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 200ml milk
• sunflower or groundnut oil for frying
• lime wedges
• choice of dipping sauce (Lime Mayonnaise, Sweet Chilli, Satay… see recipes)
Wash and pat dry the squid. Slice the tubes horizontally into rings or slice in half lengthways and lightly score the inside in a crisscross pattern before cutting into smaller bite size pieces. If using baby squid, you may also have the tentacles, which can be left whole.
Put the squid into a bowl and pour over the milk.
Put the cornflour, flour and salt in a shallow bowl and mix to combine.
Pour some oil into a large pan until the pan is no more than a third full. Place over a medium heat and let the oil warm up.
Totest that the oil is ready, place a small piece of bread in the pan – it should sizzle when it touches the oil. It needs to reach about 180°C.
Remove a handful of squid from the milk, and toss around in the flour mixture, to coat. Shake off excess flour and gently drop individual pieces of squid into the oil. Fry for about 3 minutes until the coating is crisp and lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining squid.
Serve straight away with dipping sauces of your choices and wedges of lime to squeeze over.
SWEET CHILLI DIP
• ½ tsp cornflour
• 1 red chilli, finely chopped
• 85ml white wine vinegar
• 175g caster sugar
• 2 tsp fish sauce
• ½ garlic clove
• 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
Mix the cornflour into 25ml water to dissolve. Set aside. Put all of the remaining ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Whisk in the cornflour solution and boil for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
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.
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®