Committed to myself 

I’ve always been a romantic, for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I’d imagine a fairytale wedding, a beautiful marriage, that one perfect person who would love me forever.

Gosh, with expectations that high, I should have known I was in for a rude awakening! I’d still like to think of myself as a romantic, but just with much more realistic expectations. So what changed? Me!

When I first moved back to London I remember many people telling me “Don’t let your experiences put you off marriage and love “. And I couldn’t for the life of me understand why anyone thought at the mere age of 30, I was going to be put off marriage and love. However, I was only 30, and what did I know? Because 2 years down the line, I have to admit, I was sort of put off. 

BUT what I realised is, I’m not put off by the idea, I just stopped trusting myself. When you make a choice in life and that choice isn’t what you expected, there’s a sense of disappointment. And with that disappointment comes a lack of trust in yourself, and the belief that you may make another wrong choice. And I wanted to make damn sure that didn’t happen again. So I decided to work on me.

At my dad’s suggestion I read “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is a wonderful book. I actually listened to the audio version and Liz is a joy to listen to. For anyone who’s been hurt in love, let down by their decisions or just single and sceptical about marriage in general, this is the book for you.

  
Einstein once said “Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result is insanity.” And I too realised that in order to make different choices, I had to be different. In my 20’s my choices came from a lack of assertiveness (on my part), from not knowing what I wanted and from allowing myself to be pushed around like a leaf in the wind. If I wanted to make better choices in my 30’s (and I mean choices about anything, not just love/marriage) then I had to know better. I have to know what I want, I have to stand my ground and I have to be unafraid.

But being these things is not always easy. We all need a little help along the way. Where does my help and inspiration come from? One person…Brooke Castillo. At the beginning of this year I stumbled upon Brooke’s podcast “The Life Coach School” podcast. She is absolutely amazing and everyone I have recommended her to has come back to say how inspired they feel listening to her. I refer to her as Brooke, as if she’s my buddy. And in some ways I feel like she is. When I listen to her podcasts at the gym, I feel like she is talking solely to me!

What she says is pretty profound. A lot of it is common knowledge but we forget. We allow our minds trick us, we fall into old habits, old patterns of thinking. It’s so much easier to fall backwards than it is to leap forwards. But leap we must! And change we must!

  
It’s really easy when you go through a divorce or any life changing event that hurts you to play the blame game. To find someone else to blame for how you’re feeling. But I can tell you, the only way to be happy is to change yourself. We can’t change other people  (not for lack of trying) but ultimately our joy and our choices lie in our hands. And there’s no one who deserves our love more than ourselves.

Equipped with more knowledge and a far better understanding of myself, I have no doubt that the choices I make in my 30’s will be the right ones.

What sort of “punishment” is appropriate at school (in 2016)?

I was chatting to a friend earlier when she recounted a story that shocked me. She told me of her son (about the same age as S), getting into trouble at school. The headmaster went up to her a couple of days ago and said I just want to let you know your son was sent to my office because he wasn’t listening and he was splashing water in the bathroom. His clothes got wet and he had to be changed.

“Listen, there’s nothing to worry about, he’s a gorgeous, lovely boy but we just wanted to let you know. I’ve told him that we have good boys and girls at this school and that next time if he was sent to my office, I’d call mummy or daddy and he didn’t want that.” said the headmaster.

This mum accepted it and picked her son up from school as usual. At first he didn’t say anything to her but later on in the afternoon he mentioned he’d been sent to the headmasters office and that he had to face the wall. *This is the part that shocked me* The kid isn’t even 4 yet.

The mum chose not to make a big deal out of it in front of her child but the next morning she went up to the headmaster and the conversation went something like this:

Mum: My son told me he got sent to your office. But he also mentioned that he had to face the wall?

Headmaster: Yes, he had to sit on the floor and face the wall because (and he said this quite dramatically), I was too angry to look at him.

Mum: *shocked face* Okay

Headmaster: He has to learn that he needs to be compliant.

Mum: But I don’t think shaming him is going to achieve that.

Headmaster: He is a strong willed child, you know that! We have to try different methods.

Mum: Yes but it’s also the kind of thing you heard done in the 60s.

Headmaster: I promise you, we’re not doing anything harmful here. He needed to face the wall so that he had no distractions, nothing to see, nothing to think about, except what he’d done. It’s tough love and sometimes it needs to be done but the key word here is love.

Now, is it just me that’s fuming or is this appropriate “punishment” for a top private school in North London. In some circles this child is still deemed a toddler. He’s at nursery, he’s not even four. He got pulled in to the headmaster’s office for essentially being playful.

As a parent, am I over reacting? Should schools be allowed to deal with children’s “bad” behaviour in a manner they see fit? Should the headmaster have been upfront with the mother about what happened rather than wait for the child to tell the mother?

As most people know, I’m an advocate for gentle parenting. That’s not to say I don’t raise my voice or get angry/snappy at S from time to time. But I try my best to approach his tantrums from a space of understanding, using my words to explain what I deem appropriate/inappropriate.

I went to boarding school in India and was punished in a variety of manners. I had to kneel, I had to kneel holding a stack of books up in the air and I once got smacked on my palm with a metal ruler because I was sticking up for my friends. I was a good kid in school and that happened to me so you can only imagine what happened to the kids who weren’t so compliant.

And that takes me to my next point. Compliant!? How boring would the world be if all children were compliant? We’re in 2016, surely school’s should be finding new ways to challenge “strong willed” kids rather than shame them into believing they are not good because they’re not doing as they are told. What ever happened to thinking outside the box?!

This is a subject that I’m quite passionate about (in case you couldn’t tell). I was having a conversation with another mum 2 weeks ago who referred to the English system as “Victorian”. She was comparing it to the more laid back casual American approach. She couldn’t understand why children as young as 4-5 were given home work everyday and pushed to write in a certain manner and be reading at that age as well. That’s not to say all English schools are bad but having seen 3 children go through school and excel, she did feel a lot of pressure was being put on her 4th child by this school.

Look, it takes all sorts and I’m sure there are many parents who would be happy to have the school deal with their children as they see fit. But I’m sure there are many who wouldn’t. I’d love your opinion. Am I being too soft about this?

 

Dear Dad at soft play

Dear Dad at soft play,

I saw what happened on Sunday, I was watching it all. I saw as you looked up and your son came running to you saying “Daddy, that boy pulled my hair”, you looked concerned. And who wouldn’t. No one wants their child to be hurt by another child. But soft play areas get busy, especially on a cold Sunday morning, and tensions run high between the kids and sometimes these things happen. For so many different reasons. I heard you ask your son which little boy and as he pointed, I looked over and saw two little boys come down the slide with big smiles on their faces. Whatever the issue was with that child, it was clearly forgotten about.

But you couldn’t forget it. You couldn’t let it go, telling your son to stay away. Or approach the mother and ask her to watch her child. Instead, I heard you say something I really didn’t expect, I heard you tell your son “If he pulls your hair, push him back.”

Dear dad, you look like a nice guy. You’re well dressed, as is your kid. He came to you for comfort, he came to you for a cuddle, to tell you he’d been hurt. He wanted your reassurance, your love, your comfort. Your child needs to learn how to handle things without resorting to violence. Your child needs to learn that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. He needs to know that these things happen in soft play centres but that he should use his words and not his hands to retaliate. To tell the other child he didn’t appreciate it. To sort it out amicably.

We live in a world where violence is on our TV screens everyday…as much as we try to shelter our children, they will be exposed to it. They don’t need to be exposed to it by those that love them the most. He needed your guidance.

I didn’t say anything because your child looked like a good kid. I didn’t actually think he was going to act on it. He was fine (all his short hair in tact) and the other kid was off on the other side of the play centre.

But what happened after that shocked me even more. Your son sees the little boy approaching him, he turns to speak to you, you look away and in those 2 seconds that your head is turned, he pushes the little boy running past him, causing him to fall and hit his head. And then coincidentally you turn back, poker face!

And the little boy’s mother runs to scoop up her crying child with sadness in her eyes. Because she can’t understand why an older boy pushed her son, while standing right beside his dad, and his dad did nothing. She didn’t know her son pulled your son’s hair, you didn’t tell her you see, you didn’t clear the air.

I know you may think you’re teaching your kid to be tough, to fight back and defend himself. To be strong and take no shit! But what you don’t realise is, your kid gave you away dad. 15 minutes later he went up to that mother and said “I pushed him” and when the mother asked “Why did you push him?” your son responded “My daddy told me to, my daddy told me to do it!”

Children aren’t born vengeful, hurtful, racist. That’s all on us, it’s how we raise them. Parenting can be tough, we’re protective of the most precious people in our life BUT physical retaliation is never the answer.

Your child needed comfort, he needed reassurance, he needed love. That’s it!

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

 

Mummascribbles</div

A walk in Hampstead Heath

We spent Christmas in Ireland with my best friend and her family and while there, S spent a lot of time outdoors with the dogs or going for a walk. Although I don’t make resolutions any more, one of my goals for this year was to get out more (because clearly S is country bumpkin, me, not so much). 

So when we got back, I bought myself a pair of wellies ready for an outdoor adventure. And why go far when Hampstead Heath is on our doorstep. We woke yesterday to very cold but totally sunny weather and I jumped at the opportunity to muck out my new boots ;)

Armed with thermal layers, we drove up and parked at Jack Straw’s House and hit the Heath.

   
    
    
    
    
    

Hampstead Heath is beautiful and goes on for miles. If you go off the beaten path, as we did, you’d never know you were in London. And yet  listen ever so closely for the passing cars and you’ll also know civilisation isn’t too far (that’s my kind of “countryside”). At one point I worried about getting lost but then remembered I was in fact in London and good ol’ Google Maps would get us back if we did.

Before I knew it we came through a gate and I recognises Golders Hill Park. If you’ve never been there, please go, it’s beautiful. They have a butterfly sanctuary, a bird sanctuary, the biggest squirrels I have ever seen and lots of other animals. They also have a great little playground with a sandpit and a café.

We spent about 30 minutes in there before heading back “through the woods” towards the car. I think I need to invest in some warm socks because my toes were uncomfortably cold but other than that (and S getting tired towards the end), it was a great morning.

We’ll definitely start venturing further out but yesterday was a good start. Nothing like a good  dose of fresh air to start the weekend!

 

Obama’s parenting advice

If you’re a regular on Facebook, you would have most likely come across this video where President Obama gives family/parenting advice to his interns. It’s great advice. My favourite line was “If you’re going to be home, be home!”

And this is something I’ve struggled with over the holidays. I work from home and with S being home, he’d see me on my phone often. Now I’ve got to be honest. On many occasions it was work but on many it was just Facebook/Instagram browsing. As a blogger I think we’re even more guilty of this because Twitter & Instagram move so fast, take your eye off the ball and you’ll miss something.

Over the holidays I also noticed S getting more whiney. It was most likely a combination of his age, the fact that he had no routine and not always having my full attention when we were at home.

Yesterday was his last day off and I decided we were going to have a phone free afternoon. We went down to our local high street, ran some errands and then went to Wagamama for lunch. Once we ordered our food, I engaged S in conversation by asking him what we did over the Christmas holidays and then asking him to tell me about people in his class, their names, etc. He sat down chatting to me, asked the waitress for children’s chopsticks, asked her for some more water and finished all his food. I can tell you there was a huge difference in him when he had my undivided attention vs. when he didn’t.

If you have to be honest with yourself, how much time do you really spend on the phone? How much of that time is really necessary? This is something I’m going to repetitively ask myself in 2016.

This evening a friend posted an article on Facebook about being married to your phone. And as I read it, I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement. But it also made me feel sad. Since when did our phones become more important than our families? Why do spouses find it easier to message each other rather than have a simple conversation? And the worst thing is that so much is misunderstood on whatsapp/messenger/any other mode of text communication.

Last year sometime I had dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in years and half way through the meal, she takes out her phone and starts messaging someone. First she said it was her mom and she was letting her know what time she’d be home, so I gave her that. Then 5 minutes later I realised she was messaging a friend. A couple of minutes later, she takes a picture of some ratty looking bracelet on her arm to send to her friend to say “Ha! I took your bracelet when I was at yours and you didn’t realise.” (She told me this). A few minutes later and other guests started whispering and looking in our direction. I wasn’t offended, I know I’m not a boring dinner date, but I was shocked! Why go to dinner?! It goes without saying that I haven’t seen her since.

While I’m grateful for technology and the ability to stay in touch with friends who live on the other side of the world, I also believe phones are killing conversation.

More importantly, I believe our children mirror us and if they constantly see us head down in our phones, it won’t be long before they’re doing exactly the same thing. The next time I’m on my phone and S calls out to me, I will ask myself what’s more important? “This chat/picture/status…or my son?”

Disney on Ice, London (02 Arena)

I have always wanted to watch Disney on Ice. They toured almost every year in Taiwan when I lived there but I never got the opportunity to go. So when I heard they would be in London over Christmas and S is at the age where I knew he’d enjoy it, I booked tickets in a heart beat (we sat in block 111, row A. Although we had a side view, the performers used the entire rink and so we didn’t miss a thing).

It was at the 02 Arena in North Greenwich, London. Thankfully, a few days before we were going, my friend Ritu who’d already been, suggested I introduce S to Toy Story if he didn’t know it (he didn’t). Lucky for us, Toy Story was on tele on the 30th and Toy Story 2 showed on the 31st. S and I watched them on the 31st and 1st so when we went on the 2nd morning, he knew exactly who Buzz and Woody were.

The doors opened at 10am and the show started at 11am. A few mum’s online had warned about how expensive everything was. Apparently a bag of popcorn was £11. We had a couple of snacks in our bag (that made it through the 2 bag searches) and we bought Ice Cream during the interval which was £3.50 a pot (not extortionate for London).

The show was MC’d by Minnie, Mickey, Donald and Goofy. It started with Toy Story and The Little Mermaid in the first half.

  

At 35 minutes, Toy Story dragged on slightly (and I overheard the people behind us say the same), I was just glad for Ritu’s advice at that stage. Never the less, it was so well done and real ( with Woody’s voice being that of Tom Hanks, just like in the movie).

The set and costumes for The Little Mermaid were absolutely amazing. The colours were vibrant and the dancers spectacular.

There was a 15 minute interval before the even better second half! The second half brought us Disney Cars and Frozen, both of which S loves!


  
  
  
  
S was completely entranced as life sized cars drove around the rink. I have to admit, my jaw dropped when Lightening McQueen drove onto the rink.

And then the Grand Finalé, Frozen, of course. It was a 20 minute condensed version of the movie. And again the sets just blew me away! I knew it was going to be amazing, but I didn’t realise just how magnificent. It’s no wonder Disney has a knack for capturing children’s hearts. And adults too…because as I looked around, I could spot so many mums singing along to “Let it go” and “For the first time in forever”.

Disney on Ice will be touring the UK this spring, check out their website for tickets. It really is a must see!

 

Family Fever

The RAF MUSEUM, London

Visiting the RAF museum was on my bucket list of things to do with S in London and yesterday as it was bucketing down outside, we seized the opportunity.

The Royal Air Force Museum is located at Grahame Park Way, NW9 5LL. Like most London museums, the entry is free but if you’re driving there, the parking is pay and display (the minimum is £3 for up to 3 hours).

S is a tad young for what this museum really offers, however he absolutely loves planes and with great gusto kept saying “mummy, look look, look at that big plane!!” 

   
   
At first I assumed it was the only the first room we saw and was very disappointed but as we walked through to the next bit, even I was amazed!

One entire wall covers the history of the aviation industry.

  
They have touch learning screens to read more about each aircraft and take quizzes about them.

  
The museum aims to immortalise those who made history in the aviation industry as well as all those war veterans who actually flew these planes, protecting their Country.

   
   
Every 20 seconds S asked me if he could sit in one of the aeroplanes and just when I was getting tired of saying he wasn’t allowed, we stumbled upon the children’s play area. Although very badly lit, this room gave children the opportunity to pretend they were sitting in an airplane (and gave all the parents a break).

   
 He had no qualms about telling a child twice his age off for touching “his” plane.

There was a simulator ride (S wasn’t tall enough for it) and a 4D movie (you have to be 4 years old to watch it. Although we probably could have got away with saying S is 4, he didn’t seem that interested so we left it). 

One last look at a couple of planes and we were off.

  
I’d definitely take S again when he’s older. The museum had real war planes with a lengthy description under each one. They also had an area with a TV that ran mini aviation history lessons. 

Although he’s still too young to learn anything about these planes, they totally fascinated him.

Zippo’s Circus

Over the Christmas holidays we visited Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and more specifically Zippo’s Circus.

They’d been touring for a few months and I had every intention of taking S to either Hampstead or Brent Cross (on the North Circular) when they were there but it didn’t end up happening. When I found out they were at Winter Wonderland, I booked tickets as soon as possible.

And what a delight it was. From funny clown and juggling acts to daredevil stunts (picture a man running around a suspended ring on stilts), they left the audience totally mesmerised.

   
    
    
 
S absolutely loved it and a month on he still talks about the guy on stilts. The show was about an hour long which I thought was perfect, especially for the younger one’s in the crowd.

The cast of Zippo’s Circus are constantly touring, check out their website to see where you can catch them next. 

52/52

  
“A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

What a perfect way to end the year. It’s a beautiful crisp day in London. The sun is shining…the weather is sweet (sorry I couldn’t help myself!) and this is my final picture of 2015.

Happy New Year!! 

Farewell 2015

They say time flies when you’re having fun (and when you’re happy!) and I must be both because I truly cannot believe 2015 is already drawing to a close.

Every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve made resolutions. Sometimes they last years (never have any regrets), sometimes they last days (no alcohol in January) and there are some I make every year (go to the gym more often) even though I know it’s not going to happen (unless it happens next year!!)

This year I decided to be a little bit more honest with myself and go anti new years resolutions. Because let’s be honest, the one’s that stick will stick even if I decide they will in March!

This year instead I’ve decided to look back at my year and all the things I’m grateful for. To relish in all that I accomplished and know what I need to beat in 2016.

So in no particular order, here it goes…

My year actually began with an ending which was long overdrawn and restored peace and joy to my life.

I was a Finalist in the MaD Blog Awards

I went to my first Brit Mums Live in June (or was it July?!)

I visited three new countries: Turkey, Sri Lanka and Morocco

I’ve met some amazing people this year who have inspired & motivated me

I read around 15-20 books

I had a fantastic birthday!

My jewellery brand Désirée by natasha took off

My family are all healthy and well

I was lucky to have some of my closest friends visit London this year

S has grown in leaps and bounds and never ceases to amaze me with the new things he’s learning

I recorded 6 episodes of a podcast with Amie of Finding our Feet. We had to stop due to branding issues but I hope it’s something we can bring back one day

I’m sure there are lot’s more but these are the one’s that really stand out for me.

So Happy New Year folks, I hope you have a fantastic 2016!

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