June 2019 | Modern Mummy

Monday, 24 June 2019

STYLE // Birkenstocks & Socks?

This time last year we were a month into our epic summer heatwave.

Today I've been working at my kitchen table with the heating on full blast and my dressing gown on over my clothes.

Earlier this year, when we had those few days of freakishly warm February weather, I treated myself to a pair of Birkenstocks. I'd wanted some since the end of last summer and seeing as they're a little on the pricey side I figured I'd do well to get them at the beginning of spring to make sure I got the most wear out of them. I must have angered the weather gods with my presumptuousness because now its nearly the end of June and I've only been able to wear them twice!

I'm crossing my fingers that the current weather reports are right (for once) and that this never ending rain will stop and the temperature will reach the 20s by July. With that in mind, I've been very prepared and have been putting together heaps of summer outfits that will go with my trusty new Birks. They're easy to wear, incredibly comfortable (so perfect if you do a lot of walking or are on your feet a lot, like me) and look great with the simplest of outfits... I've been thinking about loose fitting jeans or denim cut offs and crisp white shirts, lightweight linen overalls with the legs rolled up, and short black t-shirt dresses. Accessorise with a pair of oversized sunnies, gold hoop earrings and a straw bag and you're good to go.

You can check out my Birkenstock Style Pinterest board for more inspiration here:

In the meantime, while the weather's still a little on the chilly side, is it acceptable to wear socks with Birkenstocks?

Keep Kids Active: 5 Ways to Get Them Moving More

We hear over and over from health professionals that we all need to be moving more- but it really is so beneficial for people of all ages. For children, an hour a day of moderate to vigorous activity will help them to burn off energy and give them the stimulation they need, and if you can get involved as much as possible then it will do wonders for your health too! But what exactly can you do to get kids up and moving more? Here are some ideas.

Limit screen time 
Too much time sat on screens such as phones, tablets, computers and tvs is one of the reasons that kids are less active than they used to be. It’s not to say you need to ban these things altogether since that’s not realistic, but just be sure to limit their usage. There’s nothing wrong with a family movie night or a rainy day sat indoors playing on the computer from time to time, but it shouldn’t replace exercise or socialising in real life. There are apps you can install which give you parental controls meaning you can disconnect the internet when needed, or you could resort to unplugging the wifi if you need to.

Make exercise fun 
Exercise for kids never has to feel like a chore. Since they’re so naturally energetic and curious when it comes to learning new things, there’s so much you can do to make it a genuinely enjoyable experience. Go to a trampolining park or hire a bouncy castle one weekend and let them burn off energy as they bounce. Have a water fight on a hot day and chase each other around with the hose. Go on family bike rides, or nature walks. You can print activity sheets from sites like Pinterest to grab their interest further. Everything can be a game when you’re young, so utilise this mindset and really have fun with it. Think about silly competitions like who can hop for the longest on one foot to who can score the most goals with the football at the park. Even who can pull the most weeds out in the garden (it helps you out too!) Get creative and see the world through a child’s eyes again.

Work exercise into your routine 
Kids are very adaptable, and if you make something part of their everyday routine then it becomes normal to them. Instead of driving to school or the shops, make it a tradition to walk- it’s a chance to chat to your child as you go. At the weekends, go on days out that involve a lot of walking and activity, and set time aside each day for fun play such as out in the garden or at the park. Make it so integrated to your routine that you’re all up and moving around without even thinking about it.

Try lots of new things 
There are so many different kinds of sports and activities that kids can get involved in. Many they will enjoy but some they won’t. While kids often need a bit of a push at times to stay committed to a hobby, know when they’re really not enjoying it and try something else instead. It can be tempting as a parent to sign them up to a new class with the hopes they’ll become a superstar in the skill but it’s not always meant to be. If they’re not enjoying martial arts, you could try a team sport like rugby or football. If they’re not a fan of gymnastics, maybe they’ll enjoy dance better? Giving them the opportunity to try out lots of different classes and skills helps them to understand what kinds of activities they like and want to stick with. As time goes on and they improve, they could get involved in tournaments, sports tours and more. But if it turns out that they’re really not enjoying one particular thing then forcing them isn’t the best option.

Be a role model 
Parents who are fit and active are much more likely to have fit and active children. Be a role model, let kids see you exercising and having fun it could be anything from a trampette in the garden to skipping, following exercise DVDs or going out running and biking. In time, they will want to follow the example you have set.

Friday, 21 June 2019

FAMILY // First Steps Towards Independence

Watching your family grow and gain independence is both a rewarding and terrifying experience. You want your children to learn, think and act for themselves, making great decisions and experiencing all that life has to offer, but at the same time you’re terrified to let them make mistakes, get hurt and learn hard lessons from those bad times.

While childhood is fleeting it doesn’t mean you need to let go of the reins completely; a gradual move towards independence is the best way, one step at a time. In this article I've explored some ideas of how to instil independence in your child, while at the same time offering a safety net to catch them should they fall.

Set Clear Boundaries 
Your child wants to walk to the shops or school by themselves? It might not be an unreasonable request but you need to let them know what’s required of them in order to let that happen. These first steps are all built on trust, trust on both sides. You need to make sure you can trust them to follow the basic rules of road safety, not to talk to strangers and so on. If you feel your child is mature enough and ready, then let them.

If you think another six months would be preferable, then that’s fine too. Make your boundaries clear for each adventurous step they take. Yes they can walk to school but only with one or two friends and never on their own. Yes they can go to the shops for you but they need to cross at the pedestrian crossing and not chance the busy road.

Be Consistent 
Your child will grow in confidence when they know how you react, time and time again. Your yes and no is to be believed first time and no amount of wheedling will get you to change your mind. A confident, secure child will mimic your straightforward approach and allow you to trust them with an honest response when they ask to push boundaries a little further.

Use technology 
While childhood experts regularly warn parents about the danger of letting children have too much screen time, there are times when technology provides a level of safety that you just can’t get from anywhere else.

When, for example, your older child is meeting friends regularly you might want to buy a family phone tracker so you’ll be able to make sure your child is where they say are and be able to get to them quickly, should there be a problem. Not just for children, the phone tracker is also great for when you’re working late or travelling and want your family to know your progress.

For children given their own phones for the first time, you’ll be able to install smart apps that send you a notification every time your child hops online and attempts to open up a web page. You’ll be able to refuse access if you find the page inappropriate. By allowing supervised access, your child will relish the freedom of having a phone while also knowing they are being cared for by you.

Get Them Involved 
For children to feel they have a voice and that their voice is valid within their family, they need to be heard and involved. This might mean something simple like helping you plan the week’s meals. It might also mean discussing where to go on holiday or what they would do about a situation where you work.

It’s not enough though to just listen, to validate your child you will need to act on some of the decisions they make. Knowing you trust them to make the right call is a sure fire way of building independence and confidence into your child.

Actively Build Resilience
As tempting as it is to act as a helicopter parent, in the long term it does your child no good. They will have to learn how to deal with difficult people and difficult situations in life, so learning how to do that from a younger age is beneficial.

Of course, this learning curve must be age appropriate and you should always step in for something as serious as online bullying for example. But where possible try not to solve your child’s problems, instead have them suggest strategies to you and run through some role play situations.

If they can trust themselves to find solutions then they’ll draw on that skill as they grow older. It’s an investment well worth making at a young age.

Learn With Your Child 
While you are clearly the adult and you do make the rules, listening to new ideas and new ways of doing things is going to help both your relationship with your child but also encourage them to explore new ideas.

Yes, it might not work out but showing your child that it’s ok to try and fail is a valuable life lesson. Fear of failure very often leaves children and adults afraid to even try in the first place, so demonstrating that there is value in learning from failure is helpful. If their plans work out then you also have the benefit of having learnt and tried something new.

Watching your baby try out walking for the first time, exploring their environment and growing into a young adult, is an emotional rollercoaster. Without letting them try and fail, that resilience that has become a crucial part of life will be lost, so loose the reins a little and let them take their first steps towards independence.

You’re not letting go completely, this is a phased period of transition but letting them see you trust them will produce a confident young person who knows they always have you to fall back on should they hit any bumps along the way.

Take a deep breath and start saying yes as your baby grows towards adulthood and give them the chance to spread their wings and explore the world as confident, secure members of society.


Thursday, 13 June 2019


Everyone knows that festival season is the highlight of our year. As soon as the sun comes out and the bands start playing al fresco we are there with bells (and glitter) on!

This year we'll be visiting a new festival to add and I'm ridiculously excited about it. On 19th July we will be making our way to Nozstock as one of their ambassadors along with our blogging pals from RocknRollerBaby, Mummy Endeavours, Mummy Matters and That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles.

It might be our first year going but it's the 21st anniversary of this independent, family run festival set on a beautiful working farm in Herefordshire and I can't wait to go to a small, gloriously eccentric festival, that's nothing like the other big, commercial events happening across the UK this summer.

There are lots of things I'm looking forward to experiencing - the theme is The Wizard of Noz, and I'm assuming that's the green light for a spot of fancy dress (it goes without saying we'll be dressing up either way). The line up is also incredible - I'm talking Soul 2 Soul, The Skatalites, Sleaford Mods and a DJ set from Rudimental plus many, many, many more.

Something else that I know is going to be brilliant is the Kids Wonderland - workshops and dancing and yoga and crafting and storytelling - everything a child could ever wish for, and the best thing is that everything is free (everything a parent could ever wish for). Yes once you're in, there's no hidden extra costs. No "please can I have £5 to have my face painted" or "please can I have £3 for a go on the helter skelter".    

Onto the more serious stuff, I'm really excited that Nozstock are part of the Association of Independent Festival’s Drastic on Plastic campaign and aims to eliminate single use plastics at their events by 2021. Nozstock also work closely with gocarshare to encourage car sharing to the site, promote the love your tent campaign to stop tents being abandoned at festivals and also support the grown in Britain ethos when sourcing their wood. 2019 is going to be the first year that there's a solar powered stage on site (in the craft area). On top of all that, Nozstock are working with Energy Revolution, a not-for-profit organisation that invests all donations into generating clean, renewable energy. You can use a calculator on the booking page to work out the impact of your travel to the festival and add a donation to your payment replace and balance it (my car travelling from Haslemere will release approximately 40kg of carbon into the environment so it was recommended that I donate £2).

I can't wait to spend a weekend relaxing, drinking rum in the afternoon, listening to music, letting the kids run wild and hanging out with our favourite blogging buddies. That's what festivals are all about if you ask me. And I think I'm on totally the same wavelength as Noz, Rob and Ella, the organisers, who I was lucky enough to have a chance to ask a few questions last month!

Noz, Did you ever imagine Nozstock would grow to become the hugely successful festival it is today?

No, I never did! It’s still incredible really to think of how far we have all come. Also it depends on how you measure success, too. For me it’s seeing everyone having a fantastic time at the festival, bringing some brilliant bands and DJs to the farm and trying to stay true to our roots. We have always shied away from advertising, drowning the site in hoardings etc.

Noz, How do you manage to keep that small, rural party atmosphere which Nozstock is renowned for?

We have always stuck to our principals and what we believe in. Festival promoting is never really easy, yet we have got a great team, from the family through to everyone who helps make Nozstock wat it is, and a lot of that comes from the festival’s intimacy. The farm itself is pretty small really, there’s loads going on across a compact site, and again that creates the sense of it just being a lovely small-ish party. We are independent as well, which means a lot to us, so the whole festival is on us really, all of the time. We want the festival to feel like one big family. It’s a great mix of people from across the UK.

Ella, Has the way you think and organise the festival changed since having your children?

Absolutely. If anything having my kids has made the festival better. Knowing now what it's like to actually have a family and the practicalities of that (not to mention the 17 bags you seem to cart everywhere you go!) has made me much more aware of what families really want, not just in terms of entertainment, obviously we want to keep the children busy throughout the day, but to make everything as smooth as possible. The experience of camping and having everything you need for the weekend. That's why we have a breastfeeding space now, a changing mat and a bottle warming service. Little tweaks like that which mean a little bit less for parents to pack into the car but can make a big difference once they are on site. We have always allowed 12 and unders to come to the festival for free, but it's reinforced to me how important it is to keep all activities free and make sure families don't foot the bill for festivals. Once you have paid for your ticket that's it. No more hidden extras if your child wants to get involved. The older my girls get the more I realise where we can develop and what families would appreciate. We have some teenage focused workshops this year including a graffiti workshop and a beat box workshop, plus some smaller kiddie sized toilets in family camping. Something I'm just beginning to realise are a godsend!

Rob, as a family you must be incredibly proud of what you have achieved, are there any standout highlight/s over the years?

For me growing up with a group of open minded and talented people has made me the man I’ve become. We were so lucky to have such a vibrant experience right on our doorstep repeated every year, from Ella and I being youngsters really all the way to the present.  Of course we had no idea of what a humble BBQ in our backyard would become. Long may it continue.  
Ella, what’s your favourite act that’s ever played at Nozstock and why?
It’s hard to pick just one! A personal favourite for me would always be Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer because I’m a huge fan. But for the festival overall I think the first year Andy C played will always be a special memory. Partly because he was late and had to get petrol off a local to arrive here (local just happened to be a big fan and couldn’t believe who was on his doorstep!) but also because having Andy C was so exciting for the whole crew. It was the first time we felt like a ‘proper festival’ like we had really achieved what we had been working towards for years and had finally ‘made it’ as a legitimate boutique festival who could attract that level of artist.
Nozstock runs from Thursday 18th – Sunday 21st July 2019. It's £135 for an adult weekend ticket, 
- kids under 12 are free - and that includes all kids activities while you're there! 

For full festival info and to book tickets go to: www.nozstock.comI currently have a giveaway for a family ticket over on my instagram - check it out here.

We have received complimentary tickets in exchange for this post and a review after the event. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

How to Transform Your Conservatory into a Year-Round Room

Modern day conservatories are a lot different to how they used to be. They’re designed to be warmer, offer great sound reduction properties, and there’s a lot of additional features you can add to improve their comfort. While they were once only really suitable to be used during the hot summer months, these days they can easily be used all year-round.

If you’d like to transform your conservatory into a year-round room, here are a few suggestions of how to do it.

Ensure it has top quality windows 
One of the most crucial parts of modern conservatory design is the windows. Ideally, you’ll want to invest in double, or even triple glazed windows. This will provide fantastic sound reduction properties, as well as help to insulate the room, keeping it warmer during winter. You’ll also be able to open the windows if it gets too hot in the summer.

While single glazing may be cheaper, it’s not going to offer the same level of quiet and comfort as double or triple glazing. You could even consider adding a skylight which can be opened in the summer too, allowing maximum light into the conservatory.

Consider adding underfloor heating 
Even with insulation and triple-glazed windows, your conservatory is still going to get cold in the winter months. While it is possible to add radiators, underfloor heating is a much better solution. You can use it on those chillier days, ensuring you can enjoy the conservatory no matter what time of year it is.

If you’re worried about budget, you could always use portable heaters instead. However, you do need to keep an eye on portable heaters to ensure they don’t pose a fire risk.

Add blinds to the roof and windows 
While adding lots of windows is great, it can cause issues with visibility during the summer. The sun will easily reflect off the glass into your eyes, making it difficult to read or watch TV in the conservatory so it’s a good idea to add blinds to the roof and windows. You can pick up affordable yet stylish conservatory blinds, that help to block out the sun when needed, and also add privacy to the conservatory.

It’s really not as hard as you might think to turn your conservatory into a room that can be enjoyed all year round. These are some of the best ways to ensure you can comfortably use the conservatory no matter what the weather.


Monday, 10 June 2019

Summer Jewellery Must-Haves

As we all know, it's jewellery that completes an outfit. You can even turn the simplest of outfits into something super dressy with the right pieces; I'm a fan of wearing a very plain, one colour dress or jumpsuit for ease, but then teaming it with a couple of striking cocktail rings and a gold chain or bracelet to dress it up a bit and give the impression I've made a real effort (when you all know its a mad rush in the morning and I don't have the time to think about anything except getting the kids off to school on time).

Of course, when the summer season arrives, fashion trends change. This year people even have opinions on summer drinks, so it’s no surprise that jewellery options are no exception! It's all about shells, layering and logos this year, although there some more traditional styles have been seen on the catwalk too.

Here are some of this year's summer jewellery must-haves to style and enhance your wardrobe.

Hoop earrings 
Hoop earrings come in an array of different sizes and styles; some are incredible elegant, others a bit more bold, but all are pretty easy and comfortable to wear. They draw attention to your face, catch the light perfectly, and overall celebrate your beauty in ways other jewellery pieces can’t. They can also be worn casually or formally, making them compatible with lots of different outfits you might throw together. Got your wellies on in the fields? Hoop earrings will work! Birthday dinner with the girls? Whip them out again! You simply can’t go wrong, especially if you pick up your own set from F Hinds, with quality and colour being in no short supply!

Medallion necklace 
I absolutely love a necklace, and wear more than one most days. Medallion necklaces are a trend that has been around for a few summers now, and it’s easy to see why. They're very eye catching and can look a lot more expensive than they really are. They often look like a precious artefact rather than something picked up from a shop, and they look especially great when layered with other chains and pendants.

Beaded stretch bracelet 
The beaded stretch bracelet has been go-to summer jewellery for what feels like an age. They’re causal, light to wear, colourful, varied in design, and genuinely just fun to wear and see! Another big plus is that they’re very affordable and can even be homemade easily enough.

Typically, summer jewellery is light, pretty, interesting to look at and wearable by all. There’s no need to wear tons of diamonds and gems – go for something kooky and casual, and you’ll be more in keeping with this season’s trends!


Friday, 7 June 2019

Fantastic facts about Warner Brother Studio Tours

When it comes to the magic of cinema, it doesn’t get much better than Harry Potter. Transferring JK Rowling's incredible books to the big screen has created the most successful film series of all time. Luckily, once filming wrapped, many of the sets, props and costumes were saved, so today fans from all over the world can experience the magic of the eight films.

As we delve into the the history of Warner Brothers Studio Tour, we’ll unearth the facts about this award-winning tour that will inspire even the most die-hard Muggle.

Iconic sets faithfully recreated 
One of the most fascinating aspects of the films is the 588 sets created in the 10 years of production. Many of these, you can see on the tour. The Great Hall, which seats more than 400 children, is impressively recreated. Check out the intricate detail and the wall-mounted flambeaux that still work. The house-point counter contains tens of thousands of Indian glass beads and allegedly caused a national bead shortage. And the biggest surprise of all is the ceiling. Look closely and you’ll realise there isn’t one – just a small model with some digital trickery.

A world of props 
There’s a host of amazing props on the tour. The cupboard under the stairs, where the story of Harry Potter begins, is filled with treasures from his life before Hogwarts, many taken from the set designer’s own basement. Spot Harry’s spectacles on the side, just one of the 160 pairs he used during film making. You’ll find more than 900 peculiar jars and bottles of ingredients in the potions classroom. They’re filled with all kinds of dried plants, herbs, bones, even plastic animal toys from Regents’ Park Zoo gift shop. And, of course, no wizard is complete without a wand, and you’ll see all the main characters’ wands magnificently displayed here.

Finding your own Potter magic 
Immerse yourself in the magic, becoming a champion Quidditch seeker. There are 15 golden snitches hidden in the studios, often in the most unlikely of places. While you’re here, grab the chance to learn wand moves from an expert. You’ll soon be feeling like a true wizard before taking your OWL (Ordinary Wizarding Level).

Find out the secret behind green-screen technology used in all the films, climbing aboard your very own Nimbus 2000 or Firebolt and soaring over the Hogwarts Express, the River Thames and the streets of London just like the cast did during filming. Armed with your complimentary activity passport collecting stamps at key points, such as Platform 9¾ and Gringotts Bank, you’ll soon feel part of the action.

Get close to the people and the costumes 
Personally welcoming you to the tour are the three main stars of the show in a short film, and many of their costumes are on display. Hermione’s iconic Yule Ball gown took three months to create, using 12 metres of chiffon. Ron Weasley’s outfit, on the other hand, was made from old carpet fabric! The iconic pointed hat worn by the students of Beauxbatons was designed and produced by renowned milliner Philip Treacy. Cast and crew feature heavily on the tour. All the boxes in Ollivander’s are labelled, and even the magical wizard portraits lining the walls of Hogwarts are paintings of those who worked on the films, as a thank-you for their hard work. 

Discover the secret behind the effects 
See animatronic versions of all the key characters. Taking inspiration from the Golden eagle, Buckbeak the Hippogriff was painstakingly created feather by feather. Similarly, each of Aragog’s hairs – created by broom bristles to pieces of coconut – were inserted by hand using a special needle, across the model's 18-foot legspan.

Many characters, from Gringotts Goblins to Hagrid, used prosthetics. Hagrid's prosthetic head is unnervingly real and was used whenever Hagrid needed to look really tall. And the fantastic model of Hogwarts at the end of the tour really is something to be seen. A team of 86 artists took 74 years of work hours to create it. Walk around it and you’ll really appreciate the level of breathtaking detail used to such a great effect on screen.

Wizardly refreshments 
After all that, relax with the film’s famous drink, Butterbeer. This popular beverage was served at numerous locations in the wizarding world, with Hogwarts students often buying it in Hogsmeade. For us mere mortals, this is one of only three places in the world we can drink it. Savour its sweet, butterscotchy taste served in decorative tankards that you can take home.

Don’t miss the amazing graphic design of all the sweets and tricks from Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Taste the best and worst of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans here, too. You’ve every taste, including some you definitely wouldn’t want to try, such as earwax and rotten egg.

You visit to Warner Bros Studios Tour really is a magical treat for the senses, loaded with fascinating experiences you'll never forget.

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