Did you know you can learn Mindfulness from a Disney Pixar film?

So in theory my October half-term post should really be about enjoying the autumnal colours in the park and the feeling of kicking the leaves while we walk.  Don’t get me wrong there is plenty of that going on in our family outings at the moment but when we’re all tired out from the fresh air and mindful walks there’s nothing better than snuggling on the sofa and watching a ‘feel-good’ film.  Next time this happens in your house may I suggest the 2015 Pixar animation ‘Inside Out’ (official US trailer here)?

insie out.jpg

Recently we decided we needed a quiet afternoon in and set about watching the movie.

You may well already know that it’s a film about Riley, a girl who goes through the upheaval of having to move from one area of the USA to another. Obviously it explores all the challenges that she faces as a result of this.  So far this sounds like a pretty run-of-the-mill family film.  However, as we watched it I couldn’t help but grab my notebook and start to make a few notes as it struck me how some of the principles of Mindfulness permeated it.  It appears others have suggested similar with very interesting articles from Mindful magazine and also Huffington Post on the film and its lessons.

There were undeniably some very mindful moments.  You see, for the benefit of those who haven’t already seen the film yet lots of it is set inside Riley’s head and the main characters are the emotions of joy, sadness, disgust, anger and fear.


Whist watching the film there were lots of opportunities to chat to our 6 year old son about how our emotions come about and it’s definitely a film that helps to introduce some of the key features of Mindfulness to pre-teens and older. For instance:

  1.  In the end (spoiler alert ;-)) the character ‘Joy’ recognises that sadness is a natural emotion that cannot be forever avoided and that it is healthy to acknowledge this. This links very well to the idea of how healthy it is to ‘just be’ with our emotions when being mindful and to be accepting of how we feel in the present moment whether this is deemed a positive or a negative state of mind.

  2. Throughout lots of the film ‘Joy’ is trying to stop ‘Sadness’ from touching Riley’s memories and tainting them but eventually there is a realisation that just as our emotions can be complex and mixed so our memories of events can be too…. and that’s okay.  In Mindfulness sessions people are sometimes encouraged to label their thoughts and feelings in order to be more aware of them and how complex they can be.  The film highlights to us all that our emotions are often not simply “cut and dried”.

  3. There is a moment in the film when ‘Sadness’ listens to Bing Bong an old toy of Riley’s. Instead of trying to ‘fix’ his problems she simply sits with him and listens attentively showing empathy for him by saying “that must have been hard”.  This small part of the film is a big insight into what a powerful tool empathy can be and how important it is to help us to connect with others.

  4. The inclusion of the characters ‘Fear’, ‘Disgust’ and ‘Anger’ in the film also emphasise what happens to us when our natural ‘Fight or Flight’ response kick in.  Mindfulness teachers often encourage people to try to observe the physical sensations that are connected with the ‘Fight or Flight’ response so that they may choose to respond rather than react to a certain situation which they have found themselves in.

  5. There are times when there is a fairly frenetic pace to the film showing the different emotions vying to be ‘top dog’ at that particular moment and showing how quickly one can take over from the other.  This again is very in tune with the Mindfulness idea that emotions, feelings and thoughts are temporary phenomena which come and go and being aware of this can help us be more accepting of them.

Anyway, the overriding theme of the story is to accept sadness and to try not to allow the suppression of the more negative emotions to occur in either ourselves or others.

Whilst watching it I was reminded how I always hate being ‘shushed’ or told ‘don’t cry’ when I am tearful.  Why the hell shouldn’t I cry when I need to?  It’s basically a physical response to our stJust be.pngate of mind at that moment. Luckily, with books like Kate Orson’s ‘Tears Heal’ reinforcing these messages that it’s okay and actually beneficial to cry (and be sad from time to time), things are slowly changing and parents are understanding the need to allow our children to just be with their sadness sometimes.

However, this can be a hard message to pass on to our children where many cultures still don’t think people ought to cry, especially men (as an aside thank goodness for Ore in Strictly – he could be changing things for the better in this regard!), so using ‘Inside Out’ as an impetus to chat about these things, and as an excuse to enjoy some popcorn and cuddles together too, is a good way to spend a little downtime this autumn break.

If you have seen ‘Inside Out’ before I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you haven’t watched the movie yet let me know if this post has spurred you on to do so!

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Feeling judged? Remember Thoughts are not Facts

It’s been one of those days.  I feel like that rubbish parent who some people cast a withering glance at before inwardly thinking ‘thank God that’s not me’ or something along those lines but possibly less sympathetic.  One thing’s for sure it certainly has NOT been easy to approach life following the principles of mindfulness today.

  • It was my two who were shouting and screaming so much on the school run that another Mum commented that she could hear them from all the way down the road.
  • It was my two who were beating each other up in the buggy (who knew hair could be pulled so effectively in a side-by-side buggy?!) so the screaming carried on all the way to the playground.
  • It was my two who were running amok at playgroup frequently having to be told to use their ‘gentle hands’ as they battled with other toddlers who dared to get in their way.
  • It was my two who refused to sit at the table in the cafe, instead setting up camp on the floor and then running around screaming ‘no’ at me whenever I tried to persuade them to eat some lunch.
  • I was the woman pushing a screaming child in a pushchair while nearly dropping carrying another screaming child who refused to get into the pushchair around the streets of Lewisham when most toddlers would have been napping
  • I was the woman abandoning the buggy in the middle of aisles in Sainsburys so I could quickly ‘grab’ things to get the clearly upset children out of the shop as quickly as possible.

Basically I was the woman who felt judged today…. ALL DAY.  By other parents, by teachers, waitresses, by shop assistants, by other shoppers.  Put simply by the general public of south-east London.

If anyone had cared to listen I would have told them that toddler twins are great but TOUGH when they’re both ‘on one’ and I’m sorry but I really don’t have eyes in the back of my head especially as we’re all a bit grumpy having been up since about 5am each morning this week.   I might also add that I’m tired after a half term of teaching teenagers, that twin 2 is refusing to eat her meals holding out for snacks and so I’m trying to be more mean disciplined trying to wean her off her diet of Pombears, oatcakes and bananas.  Oh and my final defence would be that we have work going on at home today which makes it difficult to just ‘hang out’ in our own space because of the twins’ curiosity in all things sharp and heavy.

And yet when I have time to give myself a little time and space and show myself some self-compassion this mindfulness mantra pops into my head:


So what does this mean?

It means that the parents who I thought were annoyed by the antics of my little ones may have just been thinking ‘there’s another toddler acting like er…..well….. a toddler’.

It means that the teachers at the school gates probably weren’t even paying attention to my little ones writhing around trying to climb out of their buggy.  Instead they were probably just nodding and smiling away to parents on auto-pilot while thinking about their holidays and how well-deserved they are because they’re feeling bloody knackered.

It means that the waitresses who I thought were cursing me under their breath for being a  bad mother may well have been thinking ‘oooh those kids are being a bit loud today, but they’re usually fairly sweet, they must be having a bad day’.

It means that the shop assistants who in my mind condemned me and my children as being a ‘nightmare family’ were almost certainly thinking more along the lines of ‘here’s another harassed mother trying to get in and out of the shop as quickly as possible’.

It means that the other shoppers who  I believed were immensely irritated by my screaming children and massive buggy were probably not really tuned into their volume or the space we were taking up at all.

Ok so SOME people may have judged me and my family today.  SOME people may even have wished we hadn’t chosen the same cafe as them to have our lunch in but I’m pretty sure that, contrary to my imaginings, the whole of south-east London is not talking about that horrendous mother and her feral twin toddlers.

Clearly my thoughts ran away with me today.  However in a more mindful moment I am able to reflect and remember that these thoughts are just my thoughts, not the universal truth.  The more we remind ourselves of this mantra the less judged we will all hopefully feel.

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How to save money (and be mindful) whilst holidaying at Center Parcs

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while.

We had such a lovely few days at the Woburn Forest Center Parcs site this August that I really wanted to document it.  After all I primarily established the blog in order to record family moments – special or otherwise – so that when I look back these years will be less of a blur than they may perhaps have been.

However, I also feel awkward about writing these sort of posts that can appear self-indulgent – who else apart from my Mum really wants to read about our extremely mundane holiday?!

And now, somehow, I find that it’s only one week away from the halfterm holiday already.  In fact some children may well have already broken up and I am asking the question ‘how have these weeks gone by so quickly?’ So it’s ‘now or never’ to write a brief summary of the best bits of our stay at Center Parcs a couple of months ago.  I figured you never know this post may help anyone who is booked in for an up-coming autumn break there too.

Center Parcs does have a bit of a reputation for being a place where money can fly out of pockets before you can say ‘archery anyone?’ so I thought I’d share some of the activities we do at my ‘happy place’ (I know it’s sad that Center Parcs is my ‘happy place’ at the moment but it does make family holidays so easy) that don’t cost a penny.

Basically I want this to be a gentle reminder that if anyone is going away this month then spending can be reigned in, and also we don’t have to organise every hour of every day for our children.  In fact we have visited this site on three separate occasions now and rarely book many of the organised activities at all.   cp7

Mornings are generally either filled with swimming in the fantastic facilities that are free to use once on site or playing at the ‘beach’ that there is around the lake. Either way the lodge is near enough to get back to for lunch, and snacks can be taken to sustain everyone throughout the morning if need be.  The kids have a great time splashing around the ‘lazy river’ and twin 2 particularly loved the slides on the pirate ship this time round while twin 1 enjoyed getting up close to the ducks on the lake and communicating with them in her own special way – she does a fabulous and very guttural ‘quack’ very enthusiastically.

Whilst the little ladies nap our eldest is fairly content with pottering around the lodge and one day, on this visit, decided to sit and draw the ‘forest’ behind our accommodation.   Having to improvise, as I hadn’t packed any paper he used kitchen roll instead.  He is not a particularly keen artist and it was lovely to see him being so observant of our new  surroundings without me prompting him.


Later in the afternoon after venturing out again (which could easily be to one of the playgrounds or softplay areas which are obviously free to use too) this time round the kids would explore the woodland behind the lodge – collecting sticks, pine cones or maybe doing a spot of ‘bug hunting’.   Watching them reminded me of how remarkable the world can be when viewed with a ‘beginniner’s mind’ and how naturally mindfulness comes to our little ones as they became engrossed in their woodland wanderings.

I was extremely grateful to get the chance to see them all ‘playing’ together for one of the very first times – just bumbling around freely in the trees just beyond our little patio.

It would have been hard not to feel mindful during those few days away – even the sky looked more blue than usual as I took a few moments to really look at it. Trying my hardest to adopt a ‘childlike curiosity’ to viewing the environment when I got the chance.

What’s lovely about all these ‘best bits’ of the holiday  is that they didn’t cost anything – just enjoying each other’s company and the simple pleasures that the site had to offer us.


We have already booked to return to our ‘happy place’ in 2017 and will endeavour not to book too many activities again…even when the pressure mounts as the children get older…..watch this space🙂

What are your children’s favourite pastimes when on their hols?

Do they end up adding lots of  expense to the holiday?

Do you think that being on holiday gives everyone in the family more of an opportunity to be mindful of their surroundings and the people they are  with?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Wicked Wednesdays #10: Bake me Happy!

I’ve borrowed a phrase from a lovely twin mum friend of mine (actually it’s the name of her blog which you can visit here – it has some great recipes on it by the way) for the title of this blog post.

You see the thinking is that activities such as baking encourage people to get into a state of ‘flow’.  This basically means that a person immerses themselves in an activity which is totally absorbing to them and leaves them neither bored nor anxious.  However, I think there should be a caveat applied here – baking can help you get into ‘flow’ and therefore be totally present AS LONG AS SMALL CHILDREN ARE NOT AROUND!!!!!

You see recently was the first time I attempted to bake something with ALL 3 of the kids ‘helping’.

Yes it got messy, and no, just for the record, I didn’t get into ‘flow’.

Still 3 out of 4 of us (you will see 1 tot opted out in the end!) had great fun and I didn’t even mind that my home ended up in a total mess…. AGAIN🙂


My Wicked Wednesdays posts are inspired by the fabulous Brummy Mummy of 2 and her encouragement of us to share‘real’ family photos in her Wicked Wednesdays linky.

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‘Tea and talk’ on World Mental Health Day

1oth October 2016 is World Mental Health Day – the day when The World Health Organisation takes the opportunity to raise world-mental-health-day-2013-small.PNG“awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health.” 

This day draws attention to the good work being done by charitable organisations like the Mental Health Foundation who run a fund-raising campaign called ‘tea and talk’ to coincide with the date and Time to Change who run their Time to Talk campaign all year round.

However, all too often we talk about mental health in abstract terms.  We awkwardly refer to someone with a ‘mental health problem’ while much less frequently using the label of a ‘physical health problem’; rather just saying specifically what the issue is.

Unfortunately, like it or not, there is still a stigma attached to mental health in a way that there is not when discussing someone’s physical health.   Even the statistics that are meant to normalise these conversations like:

1 in 6 WMHD.jpg

still pigeonhole people into those who ‘have a problem’ and those, it follows, who don’t.

Why does it have to be this way?

I hold my hands up that I am not in the peak of physical fitness at the moment.  There is nothing dreadfully wrong with me but I have a few aches and pains and could do with doing some more exercise and eating less sugar.

What if I were able to discuss my current mental well-being in similar terms?

If someone were to ask me ‘how have you been recently?’ would it be okay for me to say “well there’s nothing dreadfully wrong with me but my anxiety levels could be lower and there are some times in the month when I have a tendency to feel a little overwhelmed?”

Surely, if we were all more precise in how we express ourselves when it comes to discussing our own mental health, then the  conversations could come more easily and there would be greater honesty, warmth, empathy and openness in our interactions.

The first post I ever wrote was about trying to be more open about discussing mental health and encouraging others, especially the students I work with, to do the same.   Yet still I find myself avoiding the conversations.  I read candid and valuable blog posts about the topic like this guest post on the Mum Reviews blog and yet I cannot put my own experiences into words.

I’m hoping tomorrow at the ‘twins club’ playgroup that we go to every Monday I will fit in a bit of ‘tea and talk’.   It may not be me sharing the whole history of my own ‘mental health’ problems but it will at least be a time to listen to other parents discuss their well-being and to open up a little about my ‘ups and downs’ too.

In the process we will raise some money for the Mental Health Foundation and also find a  few minutes to support each others’ efforts to optimise our mental well-being.


During the morning it’s more than likely that someone may ask me about Mindfulness.   Writing the blog has been one way to help me feel more comfortable about ‘talking’ to people about being mindful.  Previously I was a little shy about speaking of in case people thought I was a bit of a ‘hippy’, slightly mad/strange or both.  Yet I knew I wanted more of my friends, colleagues and others around me too, to know the benefits of Mindfulness as it is all too often misunderstood.  Yes, it is being used as a treatment for common mental illnesses like depression and anxiety but it can also just be a way of leading a mentally healthier life too.

Basically I like to see Mindfulness as a way of boosting my immune system.  It’s just not not the ‘physical one’ that fights coughs, colds and other nasties.  Instead, in my mind, mindfulness boosts the ’emotional immune system’ – the one that helps us fight the dark thoughts and negative feelings that can consume any one of us from time to time.


If you can, try and find something today that may help boost your own ’emotional immune system’.

Maybe you’ll finally find out a bit more about Mindfulness.  You may read the Mental Health Foundation’s advice about mindfulness or maybe read my post outlining some of the basics of mindfulness  or another post giving some tips about how to build mindful activities into a busy parenting day.

Or you may decide that something else may work better for you at the moment – Mindfulness is not for everyone, but whatever it is that you decide upon, stick at it.

Good luck. xx

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Feeling Grateful for…some Great Days out this Summer

As we enter October it is a chance to reflect on how lucky we have been with the weather over the last couple of months.  This has certainly given everyone lots of opportunity to get out and about in their local area.


In the two posts from the start of the summer holidays I wrote about aiming to be more flexible, but realistically knew we would still need to get organised for some outings. 

Also I considered how to build more mindful moments into the days.  So here is a little review of how we got on.

Hopefully the weather isn’t changing too dramatically just yet so if you are local to south-east London you may get some ideas for this coming weekend.

Firstly the trips which took us a bit of planning ahead:

  1. Godstone Farm – a firm favourite with us ever since the eldest was a toddler and only about 40 minutes drive from south-east London if the M25 is behaving itself.  The kids love the amazing outdoor play area and it is so easy to find somewhere to picnic (indeed I suggest you do as the cafe is fairly small).  The animals are always a hit, especially the handling area where chicks or rabbits can generally be given a gentle cuddle and stroke.  Our lot also LOVE the den-building area and also the chance to have a go on an old-fashioned spinning wheel.
  2. Peppa Pig World – about an hour and three quarter’s drive from our little corner of London.  Worth a trip for any Peppa Pig fans (all toddlers then surely?!) though I would say autumn is probably a better time to visit than the height of summer as it was a little too hot for our little ones in the 20 minute queues.  That said they had a fabulous time on the boats and we all thought the softplay area was amazing. The bonus is that it’s in a bigger theme park (Poulton’s) and our eldest loved the gentler rides, the creepy crawly section and wandering around the nature trails looking at the aviaries with some beautiful birds in.pp-1
  3. Minnis Bay – we feel so lucky to live a 15 minute train ride away from central London but also near to the north Kent coast with lovely places like Whitstable only about an hour away.  One of our favourite sandy beaches that we come to first on our drive out from London is Minnis Bay.  It’s got all you need for a good day at the seaside and has loads of parking which is a bonus too!
  4. OnBlackheath – This was our second year at this extremely family-friendly festival which is on our doorstep.  It’s an excellent mixture of good music – Hot Chip and Primal Scream stood out for us on the Saturday when we went kid free, good food (we enjoyed a meal cooked by Theo Randall that day too) and fun for the children.  On the Sunday we all enjoyed the Roald Dahl talking maze and meeting Peter Rabit in Mr McGregor’s lovely garden.  If you can, look out for next year’s tickets when they are released.

And here are some of the trips that can be done much more last minute.

  1. Battersea Children’s Zoo – we were ‘umming and ahhhing’ about where to meet up with family and hit upon here at the last moment.  How have we not been here before?  So much to do as well as the animals – a fire engine, sand and water play and a tunnel so the kids can get REALLY close to the meerkats.  Easy to get to on the mainline train out of Waterloo.  We will definitely be returning!
  2. Shooter’s Hill Farm –This is such as short drive away from our ‘hood so it is no bother to jump into the car to if everyone is going a bit stir crazy at home.  There is a great pond and bug hunting area as well as the sheep, pigs, cows etc.
  3. The Wallace Collection – do you have a young knight who wants to try on some shining armour?  Well, here is a place you can pop to if everyone is getting a  little vexed with the hustle and bustle of shopping in Oxford Street.  Again somewhere I only found out about recently.  img_4229-2
  4. The Horniman Museum – we are fairly regular visitors to this wonderful place and so I felt confident in taking all 3 kids there without any other adult back-up.  We more than survived (though it did get a bit challenging in the cafe!) and all had a lovely time.  I stayed calm by being mindful of not worrying too much what others thought of me when one of the little ones had a melt-down or I was changing nappies in indiscreet areas (though that being said their facilities are very good).  The aquarium is just right for all 3 of mine as it was exciting enough for the eldest but small enough to be manageable for me with the twins.   We also always make time for the musical instrument section as it is interactive and often not very busy.  The stuffed animals and bug rooms are always a hit too.  NB: it was a fairly full-on day so I failed to take any photos! 

Reviewing some of the outings from the summer months makes me realise that we did not make it down the road to Greenwich.  Therefore autumn will be the time to return to the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory and the Deer Enclosure in the Royal Park too as well as maybe discovering new places for the five of us to explore together.

What were your favourite day trips from the summer months?

Which places do you feel lucky to have on your doorstep?

Where are you looking forward to heading this autumn?

I would love to hear….


Cuddle Fairy

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Wicked Wednesdays #9: A Mindful Multi-tasking Mummy

Mindfulness and multi-tasking are incompatible – so say  Mindfulness Gurus like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Mark Williams.  And of course they are right.  Who am I to argue with eminent professors from two of the world’s leading universities?

However if you are a busy parent like me (and I’m guessing you are otherwise you probably wouldn’t be visiting this blog) trying your best to approach the craziness mindfully, then sometimes we have to deviate from the ‘purist’ approach.

So this week’s Wicked Wednesday post are some old photos that I have dug out to show a Mum simply trying to be mindful of all her children’s needs and focusing on meeting them all at the same time.

Excuse me that I’m not staring into the eyes of any of my children lovingly or indeed mindfully (and also excuse just how knackered I’m looking – these are certainly not glamorous photos of motherhood) but this was ‘feeding and reading’ time that took over our lives for the first half of 2015.

Every few hours life would stop so that I could breastfeed a baby, bottle feed another and  read to my son.  We hit upon ‘feeding and reading’ as I was acutely aware of the need to somehow include our eldest in this important but potentially tedious time (in his view) and to therefore try and stop resentment of his baby twin sisters building up.

Empathising with our children (or anyone for that matter) when we’re ‘running on empty’ is certainly a challenge.  However it is something that Mindfulness can help us with (basically by being as open as possible to considering situations from someone else’s perspective).

Hence why I think these pictures demonstrate how mindful multi-tasking does have a place in busy households!

NB:  My Wicked Wednesdays posts are inspired by the fabulous Brummy Mummy of 2 and her encouragement of us to share‘real’ family photos and this week’s is extra special.

Not only is it demonstrating how mindfulness and multi-tasking can’t always be separated.  It is also reinforcing Brummy Mummy of 2’s point made in her superb post in response to the Guardian that Mums are not to be categorised or pigeonholed.

You will see from these photos that I was a bottle feeding Mum as well as a breast feeder, a ‘slummy’ Mummy (look at the state of me after all) and a ‘smug’ Mum (look at the proud smile across my face – I felt like Supermum at times during those sessions!)

Nothing is ever as black and white and this applies to any attempts by anyone, including the media, to try and divide parents into different and conflicting camps.


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24 Mindful Hours in London

Ok so the title of this post is misleading in two ways.

Firstly, a few weeks ago my hubby and I went on a extended ‘date night’ as per the intention I outlined in a previous post about the summer holidays.  If truth be told it wasn’t quite 24 hours (maybe it was about 21 and a half hours to be exact!) but, however long it was, it was a much needed rest. We had a lovely relaxing time together staying next to the Tower of London (the photos below were taken from our ‘lastminute.com secret hotel’ which proved a great way to get a decent hotel at extremely good value) without being interrupted by extremely cute, but extremely demanding children.

Secondly, there was no way I was mindful for the whole of the time we were away.  Yes, I was ‘in the present’ for a good many moments of the little trip (‘little’ being an understatement as we took a train journey less than 20 minutes away from home and ended up staying about 10 minutes walk away from hubby’s place of work!).   AND the fact that the accommodation was only a short distance from the kids meant I could rest easy that we could get back if necessary, therefore helping me to stay grounded and not let my mind get hijacked by anxious thoughts.

I think I even managed to take a few sips of wine mindfully too – something I rarely achieve at home.   I even tried my hardest to engage in mindful eating (read about my struggles with this here) and succeeded with a few savoured mouthfuls.



It was lovely to take some time to take in the amazing view from the hotel and surrounding area – especially the beautiful view of the Thames we had at breakfast time.


However, of course my mind wandered – especially to thoughts of how the kids were getting on – the eldest with his grandparents and the twins with our fantastic nanny.  I struggled to keep the ‘Mummy Guilt’ in check and so sought solace in a relaxing couple of hours in the spa.  After all, everyone deserves a little bit of ‘me time’ I reminded myself and I did desperately need to recharge my batteries in order to be able to give the kids my all during the rest of the summer holidays.  It is true what they say – to be able to look after others, one must first look after oneself.


My husband was given my full attention when we were chatting and it was definitely the right time for a Digital Detox.  All too often he gets me nodding along to him while I’m doing other things – playing with the children, cleaning up, doing the washing, sitting on the laptop in the evening or flicking through my phone…. this day and night away reminded me how healthy it is to build in time for each other and we had a fab time together chatting, eating, drinking and wandering around a lovely part of London without any distractions.

As we started our (short!) journey home – on checking out the receptionist told us how she lived very close to us in south-east London (!) –  we agreed that we would definitely not leave it two years until we go on another night away that was just the two of us.

You never know we may even leave our hometown next time🙂

Have you booked a night away with your partner recently?

Is it something that you think of as a luxury or a necessity?

 NB:  it goes without saying that little old me and my teeny blog have not been in cahoots with lastminute.com for a freebie  – I just included this information for the purposes of authenticity!


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Wicked Wednesdays #8: You can’t make an Omelette without breaking some Eggs…

…or so the saying goes.

So I guess that it was to be expected that one day my ‘angelic’ helpers, who love to unpack the shopping after a trip to the supermarket or, more likely, a delivery from our favourite online store has arrived, would be tempted to explore this idea.

And so here are the pictures to prove it.


I love that the twins want to ‘help’ me lots at the moment and I’m trying hard to give them as much independence as possible having fallen into the ‘helicopter’ style of parenting on more than one occasion with my eldest.  Therefore I guess that with this more ‘free range’ (excuse the pun!) approach there is undeniably more chance of this kind of thing happening.

Ultimately it is true that if we want to encourage our little ones to grow up into helpful individuals who can do things for themselves then things like this are to be expected.

So after I had muttered some choice words under my breath and reacted with a raised voice, I tried to remind myself that this is all par for the course and responded with a little more calmness and patience as per my mission to  be a more mindful mummy.

After all I can’t stay cross with these two for very long anyway🙂 .



So from now on I will try my best to keep in mind that:

In order to achieve whatever goals we set ourselves it is inevitable and probably even necessary that some havoc will be wreaked along the way.


NB:  My Wicked Wednesdays posts (where I basically divulge to anyone and everyone just how messy our house is) are inspired by the fabulous Brummy Mummy of 2 and her encouragement of us to share‘real’ family photos.

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Where will you be at 4pm this Tuesday? – An Open letter to local MPs


Dear Ms Alexander, Mr Efford and Mr Brokenshire

I am writing to you as the MPs who either represent my constituency and/or the constituencies where many of my students live. It has come to my attention that Nic Dakin, MP for Scunthorpe County has been successful in securing a half hour debate on Mindfulness in Schools in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 6th September at 4pm and I implore you to attend and if possible promote the need for a specific budget to teach mindfulness in schools.

As a secondary school teacher who has taught for fifteenth years in schools in and around London I would like the government to understand just how important teaching Mindfulness is to our young people.  For too many years an assessment driven education system has been narrowing the skills taught to, and the experiences gained by, state educated children in the UK.  The effects are acute.  More and more of our young people are suffering from anxiety and teachers see many lose their ‘sparkle’ as their school career progresses and the academic pressures mount.  As Grace Barrett, Natasha Devon and Nadia Mendoza from the Self-Esteem Team emphasise, suicide is the second biggest killer of 10-24 year olds in the UK.  The Mental Health Foundation also suggests that 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.  Clearly something needs to be done.

And yet since the Daily Telegraph wrote nearly a year ago that:

“Social media and NHS waiting lists are driving a mental health epidemic among our children”

and it appears that with campaigns like #letters2tess little has changed.  In fact anecdotal evidence from people in the service and also young people being helped by CAMHS suggest it is nearer breaking point now then it was last September.

So why do I think Mindfulness may be the answer?  There is a growing body of research that shows it has a very positive effect on many of the young people who are taught it.  Dr Martin Segilman of the University of Pennsylvania proved, in his 30 year study, that teaching 10 year-olds the skills of optimistic thinking (which can be linked to the ‘gratitude’ principle of Mindfulness) cut their chance by half of becoming depressed in adolescence.  Katherine Weare, Emeritus Professor, Universities of Exeter and Southampton, who does extensive work with the Mindfulness in Schools Project states that:

“Mindfulness is…likely to have beneficial effects on the emotional wellbeing,
mental health, ability to learn and the physical health of school students.
Such interventions are relatively cheap to introduce, have an impact fairly quickly, can fit into a wide range of contexts and are enjoyable and civilising, for pupils and staff.”


As the ‘Mindfulness in Schools Project’ point out it is extremely advantageous for everyone to be taught accurate information about mindfulness so they can choose to integrate it into their lives if they wish.  This was also supported by the report by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group in October 2015.  Experts concede that mindfulness is not only an excellent way of helping students well-being but it is also extremely helpful with other aspects of their life and learning too.  It is so much more than a way of treating mental illness, helping character and confidence too as well as having lots of other positives.

This year, with all of this in mind, and as someone who had found mindfulness extremely beneficial personally, I paid for myself to become qualified in teaching MISP’s .b course.  Since introducing some of my students to mindfulness I have had  extremely positive feedback.  For example two of the students said:

“These sessions were extremely helpful and I think that it would be so beneficial to try to introduce them formally into our school. The sessions helped us find methods to deal with exam stress in a much more effective way than anything I’ve come across in school.”

“Mindfulness is a skill which I think all students should learn.”

However, having a few highly-motivated professionals paying for their own courses is not going to make a real difference.

We need courses to be run for teachers to learn mindfulness for themselves as they need to embody it before it can be taught effectively, and we then need teachers to be taught how to teach it.  Only then can it become a normal part of the school day (just as it is in many independent schools across the country like Wellington College, Dulwich College, and Tonbridge School).

The issue is that this all takes money.  Though the point of this letter is not to dwell on the current financial pressures being put on the education system (I think it will surprise many parents to know that according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies “secondary schools face sharpest cuts to funding since 1970s.”) it must be acknowledged that this is a barrier to implementation.   It is understandable that senior leaders and school governing bodies will not priortise spending money on Mindfulness courses  when they are stuggling to cover staff salaries and textbooks.  So why am I asking for your help?  As I have already alluded to the only way that we will integrate mindfulness in schools is to have a specific ‘pot’ of money allocated to promoting it and for this to be made available to schools to access it easily.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.  I look forward to reading the transcript from the up-coming debate on 6th September and sincerely hope that with your help progress in funding mindfulness in schools, is made.

Yours sincerely


Secondary school teacher of Humanities and Mindfulness

cc: Justine Greening, Minister for Education & Nic Dakin, MP.

An update:  Nic Dakin MP referred to this in his speech in the parliamentary debate on 6th Sept 2016.  He said:

“Teachers need the training to deliver the courses. This week, one teacher contacted me to say that she had paid for herself to become a qualified mindfulness teacher, and she has seen a remarkable impact on her students from the courses she teaches. As she rightly points out, however, we need courses to be run for the teachers themselves, because they need to embody mindfulness before it can be taught effectively. We then need teachers to be taught how to teach it.”

Read the full debate here.

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