London

More Than A Mum: The Course

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It’s all getting pretty exciting at More Than A Mum!  By now you probably have a pretty good idea of our mission: We want to support women in being brilliant Mums, AND help them to rediscover their own identity.

Well, we have taken this mission a step further and as of today we have teamed up with Pitter Patter The Hub for Bubs to offer a course for Mums to help you achieve those dual aims of being a great parent and rediscovering yourself as an individual. Oh and you’ll get to meet and chat with other Mums in the area over coffee with some lovely Mummy treats thrown in…

The sessions will run on Saturday mornings once a month, beginning on the 3rd March, at the Grove Pub in Ealing.

Sessions will be in two parts, one to support you as a Mum and one to support you as a woman.  Each section will have a range of information, guidance, support and activities for you in your role as woman and your role as Mum.

The Woman section will include a range of inspirational talks, confidence building activities, Mum me-time activities and case studies to help you see the ways you can re-discover your own identity and reward yourself for the role you play in your family.

The Mum section will be based around a particular activity that you can do with your child/children.  The activities will all be linked to your child’s development needs, but also be an entertaining activity for parent and child alike.

The sessions are designed to enable you to feel better equipped to aid your child’s physical, emotional and academic progress; to help you to develop strategies to create and maximise Mum me-time; and to revive your sense of personal identity.

We are sorry if you don’t live in the Ealing area, but we are in the process of developing online versions of the course as well, so keep your eyes peeled!

Get in touch via morethanamum@gmail.com or @more_than_a for more information.

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Harlington Locomotive Society

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If you’ve been trying since yesterday’s Silent Sunday (billed as a trailer for today’s post!) to work out what I’m posting about today, you need wait no longer! I know that we want to ensure that More Than A Mum doesn’t become too London-centric, but I have to tell you about an amazing local place today.

Today, munchkin, Daddy and I visited a hidden gem.  We went with friends to the Harlington Locomotive Society’s Mince Pie Run.

I’d not been to the Harlington Locomotive Society  before, but the website promised mincepies and Santa, and what more could you want on the last Sunday before Christmas?

Excitement riding high

It turned out that this visit was one of the best child friendly days out that we could have asked for.  For 40p a ride (toddlers are free but have to be accompanied), we tootled round a track pulled by minature steam and diesel trains, reaching a giddy 6mph.

6mph on a minature train, is quite fast!

Trains pulled between 1 and 3 carriages behind them and each carried three or four people.  Each train had a driver and a guard and it really was good fun powering round the track with your feet dangling a few feet from ground.

Daddy and munchkin on the train

The trains are  cared for by a team of chaps who obviously love their trains and love introducing them to the public. Judging by the number of people there, they are definitely doing a good job.

Train maintenance

And, what of Santa?  Well, he was there too.  He arrived, went on a quick journey round the track ringing a bell and then sat in the tearoom. Munchkin and her friend popped to see him and let him know what they would like for Christmas. He promised to see what he could do and gave them each a sweetie.

Santa

Altogether (including tea/coffee for the adults and biccies for all round  as well as 2 rides each and Santa) we spent less that a fiver and we spent two hours enjoying ourselves, in spite of the cold.  There were all ages there, from babes in buggies  to older primary aged children with Mums, Dads and Grandparents.

Crowd at track
The crowd viewed from the train

All in all, I’d highly recommend a day out at Harlington Locomotive Society.  Unfortunately, there are no more mince pie runs, but there will be open days through out 2012 and you can organise children’s parties there too.

R

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Urban Vs Rural Childhood

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Recently I have been thinking a lot about the pros and cons of rural versus urban childhoods. Does the perceived safety of a rural environment allow children more freedom? Are children who are brought up in the city more tolerant of difference? Are rural kids fitter? Do urban kids have more access to cultural and intellectual stimulation?

As part of my MEd I had to read a report about urban and rural childhoods.  It was not well researched and had many flaws, but it concluded that those children who grew up in urban environments had much higher ‘social capital’. i.e. they could socialise better with a wider range of people, had a wider range of experiences and social networks and that this is led to more economic stability in adult life. I don’t feel like I was stunted by my own rural up-bringing, nor that I am less economically stable than if I had had an urban upbringing; but who am I to judge myself? Munchkin, at two, has a much more diverse range of experiences than I did at her age thanks to living in London.

The second thing that made me think about the urban vs rural childhood was CoombeMill’s blog and in particular the Country Kids photoblog linky that Fiona has started.  This week she put up photos of her kids climbing trees and I thought, “I remember that, and I loved it!” I remember the freedom of being outside all day from a very early age and wonder if I’d have been given the same freedom had I lived in the city? But I also remember visiting my London cousins and feeling much more naive than them, despite being older.

I grew up in a hamlet of 15 houses miles away with nothing but a post box and a phone box and 3 miles to the nearest bus stop. As a teenager I did get frustrated that I couldn’t visit them without relying on my parents, but overall I loved the freedom.  I’d go miles (literally) on my bike with friends with the only proviso being that I should be back for tea.  I could spend the day making dens in the farmyard.  I could identify flowers, trees and insects.  I got muddy and I knew where milk came from!

As an adult I enjoy the convenience of the big city.  I couldn’t go back to having to get in the car even for a pint of milk, but I do miss the countryside.  I miss the community of living in a small village where I know everyone.  I have much more of a sense of community in London than I thought I would, but I don’t know my near neighbours.  Long Sunday walks to the park are lovely, but not quite the same as a country walk. I make jam, chutney and sloe gin (collected sloes at Mum’s when we visited last weekend!) but I get funny looks when I offer people a jar/bottle!

OH and I are planning to move to the country in the next few years, so whilst we’re in London, I intend to take Munchkin to as many museums and galleries as possible.  I do worry that rural village school will lead to a more blinkered view of things like race and I know that we’ll have to work harder to counter those things.  I hope my understanding of the rural life will allow me to give her more freedom than I would in the city.  There are pros and cons to both upbringings.

I know we have a diverse range of readers and I’d love to know your thoughts.  What are the pros and cons of bringing up children where you live?

R

Toddler friendly museum

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The other day, I tried something new with my 2 and a half year old. We went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. I didn’t take her there strapped into a buggy and hoping she would sleep. I didn’t drag her around, kicking and screaming. I didn’t even have to carry her – she had great fun!

We headed to Exhibition Row on the tube at about 9.30; just late enough to have missed the bulk of the rush hour traffic. We did have to stand for the first two stops and then ask to get to a seat which became spare in front of a mid-20s lady who looked half asleep and mortified that she hadn’t asked us first, but the two stops of standing up and holding on were fun for the munchkin who kept saying, “the train is wibbly-wobbly!”. I decided against the buggy – more hassle than it’s worth up and down stairs in the tube. I knew this might mean a shoulder ride every now and again, but figured it isn’t far from South Kensington Station to the V&A…

We have been on a number of occasions to see the Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, or the Basement play area at the Science museum, but we hadn’t yet braved a real museum, at least not with the intention that the munchkin took part. We arrived about 5 minutes before the doors opened and Munchkin loved looking at the letters spinning round above the tunnel entrance. I had judged it right and running like a maniac down the tunnel was fun, so far we had managed the train ride and the arrival with no carrying necessary. Now to brave the quiet, peaceful and ‘don’t touch’ surroundings of a real museum!

I had looked online before we went and decided to head for the Discover the Medieval World section and have a go at brass rubbing. I did have to reiterate a couple of times that museums are for walking in and that you mustn’t touch exhibits, but this was repaid with questions such as, “what is that around the lady’s head?” (Madonna and Child painting) “Where’s that statue’s head gone?” (Roman statues section) and “Is that another funny lion?” (Medieval carvings). So she was definitely interested despite the hands-off nature of the journey to the discovery room.

We found the room and stayed there for about an hour. (As with other Museums in London, it’s free, so even making a short trip worthwhile.) We did brass rubbing, drew a picture of a mythical beast, did jigsaws of coats of arms, and dressed up. It was great fun, and by far the best ‘proper’ museum experience we’ve had.

On the way out, a member of staff stopped us and asked if we’d heard of the backpacks that they do. I said I’d seen them online, but thought that they’d be a bit old for a 2 year old. I was told that they’d just launched a toddler one with soft-block jigsaws and an animal sound trail. Looks like we’ll be heading back to the V and A another day!

R