Review & Giveaway: Aquadoodle – the perfect solution for the uncrafty parent!

18 months ago, Little Miss got an Aquadoodle for her first birthday. As her birthday is relatively close to Christmas, we put it away for a few months and brought it back out closer to the 18 month mark (when the box said it was suitable from). We figure, it’s nice to have new things throughout the year, and while she’s this young, she won’t remember what she opened in a couple of days anyway!

Well. The Aquadoodle was a hit from the off. Little Miss loved it!

Now, I am not artistic. Creative, yes. Artistic and crafty, not so much (as you can see from my painful attempt at a… ummm.. errr… In truth, I have no idea what I was trying to draw on the Aquadoodle in the photo above! In my defence, that photo was taken over a year ago!).

Sadly, all children appear to love crafting. It’s messy, it’s creative, it’s exciting… But the Aquadoodle is like the perfect middle ground. They’re tricked into thinking they’re getting all crafty (when in reality, they’re just getting creative) and I have five minutes spare to go make a cuppa and even have a sip before Little Miss has me sprawled on the floor drawing [edit: attempting to draw] Upsy Daisy or a dinosaur on the Aquadoodle too! (Maybe it’s a dinosaur above? But what’s with it’s back leg? I mean, that’s a really bad dinosaur even for me!)

So imagine my delight when the lovely folk at Come Round asked me to review the Aquadoodle! Reviewing a product we fell in love with 18 months ago is like asking me explain why I love chocolate cake. (I.e., easy.)

Little Miss was thrilled on Saturday morning to come downstairs to a new Aquadoodle mat – this time with neon colours!

When you first look at it, it’s a blank, white mat – very unexciting. But oh, the possibilities that come for a toddler with anything blank and white! (I really wish we didn’t have a white sofa…)

It comes with some weird squidgey-nibbed pens and some stamps… Twist the top off the pens, pour in some water, seal them up again and start drawing on the mat… Magic! Colour appears wherever water touches the mat. Once it dries, the colour disappears again leaving you with a clean slate for the next masterpiece.

Come Round provided us with the new Aquadoodle Deluxe Neon to review and I’m happy to say it’s just as good as our tried and trusted Aquadoodle from 18 months ago (just in better condition, not having been savaged by an over eager toddler!). The stamps have also been redesigned and are much more effective now, not to mention easier to use than the old design (which required to to attach it to the pen an all sorts). But I was a smidge disappointed there was only one pen included the box, now (there was two when we got ours) as it means Little Miss and I can’t draw together and instead have to share the pen… (I realise I’m supposed to be better at sharing than this by now.)


The new, redesigned Aquadoodle stamps get the thumbs up from us. 

Aquadoodle is actually really good fun even for the least artistic of parents. We’ve spent hours on our Aquadoodle over the past 18 months (though one of the pens never  held quite the same attraction after our friend’s toddler was sick after eating a punnet of blueberries all over it! Ah, the joys of toddlers!).

Win an Aquadoodle!

Seeing as we’re such big fans of the Aquadoodle, it seemed only fair that I should introduce one lucky reader to the joys it has to offer as well.

To enter, all you have to do is tell this uncrafty Mama your biggest crafting horror story in the comments section of this blog post before 9pm on Sunday, October 30, 2016.

Good luck!

Prize Draw T&Cs: 
  1. UK residents only. One entry per person. 
  2. The giveaway opens at 9am on Sunday, October 23, 2016 and closes at 9pm on Sunday, October 30, 2016.
  3. To enter, entrants must comment on this blog post, telling a real life craft ‘horror story’ or why they don’t enjoy crafting with their kids. 
  4. The winner will be announced on the Finding Our Feet Facebook Page within seven days of the giveaway closing. If the winners cannot be contacted or do not respond or are not in a position to accept the prize within 28 days of the giveaway closing, the Promotor may at its absolute discretion withdraw the prize entitlement and select an alternative winner.
  5. The prize: one Aquadoodle Colour Deluxe, RRP £25.

Two Lambies!

When Little Miss was born, some old friends gave her Lambie. 

She got given a few other similar snuggly toys, but Lambie was the one who stuck. He’s always been there. From quite early on, it became clear he was the favourite. Sure, Little Miss has had dalliances and fancies with other toys – Mog the bunny had a very good innings, Doggy and Big Bunny had their time in the sun – but Lambie is the constant, the one true love.

So, about a year ago, we bought a spare Lambie, just in case Lambie should ever find himself no longer with us… 

Then this summer, Little Miss found Spare Lambie….

Aaaaan now we have two Lambies.

By the time we got round to buying a spare, Jojo Mama Bebe had changed the design slightly, so Spare Lambje was slightly bigger. This led to him being affectionately known by LM as ‘Big Lambie’. And the original, slightly jaded, always-tinged-slightly-grey Lambie has become known as Little Lambie. 

From what I’ve heard from the Other Half, slowly, LM has worked it so that Little Lambie comes in the car to nursery most days. He then sits in the car seat and waits for her and is waiting to hear about her day when the OH picks her up that evening. 

But this week, while the OH is in Germany on his boys’ holiday and I’m manning the nursery run for a change, it seems that not only are two Lambies coming in the car with us to nursery, but on two occasions, they’ve both ended up at nursery for the day with her as well! 

One of her little besties – F – also has a Lambie and Little Miss was keen to show him her two Lambies on Monday. (To make him jealous?! Evil child.) 

I’m not generally considered a soft touch, but she just seems to disregard my attempts to wrestle (and sometimes I really mean wrestle) Lambie(s) off her. This morning for instance, she just said, “No.” As if I was utterly insane for suggesting she shouldn’t take Lambie(s) to nursery and marched out of the house to the car.

How does the OH manage it each day? Or maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he pretends and in actual fact, Lambie(s) go to nursery every day?! Now wouldn’t that be an unexpected twist… 


Our long weekend in the New Forest – in pictures

The other weekend, we went on a long awaited weekend away to the New Forest. We booked it nearly five months ago using Tesco Clubcard vouchers- a proper long weekend away, we took half the day off on Friday and everything. We’ve been looking forward to it for ages.

Of course, little did we know that we’d be up and down to Sunderland for Grandma every weekend for the last month and actually would have really appreciated a weekend at home! But they say a change is as good as a rest… And we really did have a lovely time.

I’ve been to the New Forest lots of time – it’s one of those places my parents took me to regularly as a kid, but the Other Half and Little Miss (obviously) had never been. So there was something extra special about the weekend for me sharing all the places from my memories with them. Complete with donkeys. Of course.


Ready to go! (Turns out, even if you take the afternoon off on a Friday to miss the rush hour traffic, you still get stuck in Friday traffic at 2pm… The drive should take 1.5 hours… 3 hours later…)


Hey there!


I don’t think Little Miss has been this up close and personal with horses before. I wouldn’t say she fell in love with them, but she certainly was intrigued.


Until they were in the town – that was just shocking! [Beaulieu, Hampshire]


“I’m tired…”


After the perfect pub lunch, Little Miss fell asleep in the car (winning!) and we parked up on the coast and watched a storm roll in off sea, over the cliffs. We read our books and listened to podcasts for about an hour and a half – it was an awesome naptime! Just before Little Miss woke up, the storm passed and the sun broke through just in time for a coastal walk. (It didn’t last long as the wind was so strong poor Little Miss could barely stand up, let alone run in a straight line! 


Heading back to the car after Little Miss got a bit over zealous in the waves… Good job we travel with spare changes of clothes and shoes! (Mind, that wouldn’t have been necessary if I’d remembered her waders…… Oops…)


Back to the heath, hunting for horses (apparently mushrooms are far more interesting!). 


Getting lost in the forest. (Only, not quite, because we hadn’t master the pee-in-the-bush manoeuvre yet when we went to the New Forest so we couldn’t stray too far from the car in case Little Miss needed the potty. She can go an hour (an hour and a half at a real push), which at a toddler’s pace, you don’t get far in that time! But still, it was lovely to explore. 


Daddy lining up the perfect shot while hunting for fairies at Furzey Gardens


The OH’s solution when we realised we forgot the tripod…


And of course, the latest edition to our Finding Our Feet In… collection. Think this sums up the weekend pretty well! Wellies, muddy puddles and wet feet!

Love you New Forest. We’ll be back!


The Potty Training Diaries: weeks 3-12

Hard to believe it’s been three months since we embarked on this potty training journey with Little Miss. 

It feels like so much longer. 

Last I left you, we had given in and converted from toilet to potty. That was the right decision, though we now use more of a 50/50 approach.

Day out at Kew Gardens with the buggy piled high with potty, toddler toilet seat, a bag of spare clothes and a trike!

Just as you reach the stage when you don’t have to leave the house with the kitchen sink every day, you start potty training…

At home or when we’re in the car and have to stop (we’ve been on a fair few road trips thanks to some ill health in the fam way up north) Little Miss uses a potty, but when we’re out and about, she uses a toilet with her little pink toilet seat, which lives in its own special bag under the buggy.

a selection of potty training prizes from Tesco for under £1, including playdough, bubbles, a Finding Dory bowl and cup and some dairy free chocolate buttons.

Lesson number one of potty training: no parent is above bribary.

Things improved with the introduction of a star chart. Stickers alone weren’t enough by the end of week four (diva) so the chart allowed her to keep track of exactly how many stickers she’d earned each day. Gold star for a success, sad face for an accident. Five gold stars won her a prize from the prize bag (a random collection of things I found in Tesco under £2!). 

I’d love to say this has been the clincher. But in reality, this has only helped her counting and negotiation skills rather than her potty skills. 

There was one incident on a Wednesday at Nina’s where apparently Little Miss said,

“I want a biscuit. 

I do a wee now and I get a biscuit.”

Then trotted off to the potty. Another time, I forgot her present on the fifth star and she stood there in the middle of the kitchen staring indignantly. Finally she walked over to the chart on the wall and said, 

“My present now?!”

Can’t help feel she’s missing the point…

Still, at least we have a two and a half year old who can nearly count to ten unaided! She knows no letters and pisses herself uncontrollably, but she can count to ten. *self-five!*

toddler watching TV on the potty

Some days you just say ‘fuck it’. and all morals and examples of good parenting go out the window. Those are the days she sits watching TV on the potty until wees…

Alas, I’d say we’re currently at a rate of 50/50 success still overall. We have days where she doesn’t have one accident and is an absolute star. And others, like Thursday, where she manages two wees in the potty and six accidents, including two number twos in her pants… So the good and the bad days sort of balance each other out. 

She definitely seems to struggle more at nursery. This may be because she’s distracted and not concentrating on ‘holding it,’ or maybe she suffers severe FOMO (after all, if you might not quite have enough time to roll in every muddy puddle in the nursery garden because you took some time out to go have a tinkle, you might think twice and just deal with soggy-trow-syndrome as well!). Or maybe it’s because at home it’s usually two adults to one child watching her signals, reminding her and asking her if she needs a wee (much to her annoyance) every 50 minutes, where as at nursery it’s one adult to three tiny terrors and she’s required to handle things on her own a bit more. (You would think independence would be her strong suit…….) 

toddler on potty between two car doors, protecting her privacy!

Little Miss requires a bit of privacy for her potty sessions… even if it’s on the side of the road…

But despite this at times slow progress, on so many occasions, she has done brilliantly. During a nine hour drive to Sunderland (which is long at the usual five hours, but was extra lengthy due to potty stops and a lunch break) she didn’t have a single accident. If we asked her to hold it until we reached a services, she did. If we asked her to sit on the potty when we were at a services because it had been a while, she did. She was brilliant. (Until she weed and pooed on her seat at a really lovely cafe in Durham during lunch… Oops…)

We’ve clocked that her accidents (at home) are when she’s tired. If it’s approaching nap time, or like that day in Durham her nap has been delayed for some reason, she just can’t control it. It’s like her brain switches off and we are left at the mercy of her bodily functions. It’s the same after 6pm as bedtime approaches too – you have to be a super-alert-eagle-eyed-bedtime-ninja now (Rather than just your bog standard bedtime-ninja. Those guys are so last Spring.)!

To help with this, we’ve been putting her in a diaper for nap time (we already were for bedtime – no opening that can of worms just yet!), which has been working really well. Loads of advice suggests you shouldn’t go backwards and revert to diapers, but for Little Miss (my sanity and for the sake of our car!) this has worked like a dream.  It’s a clear signal to Little Miss that she can just relax and drift off to sleep.

There have been some hilarious out takes to potty training though: 

In the New Forest, a complete potty station set up in the trunk of the car for her lady ship to pee and poop in peace and private! (Can’t have horse’s prying eyes now can we!) 

Or trying to balance a toddler on a toilet seat on a moving train, the train jolting, me losing my balance as I crouched on the bathroom floor and her then falling in the loo! (Thankfully I was laughing so hard she just started laughing to! Germaphobe OH on the other side of the door, not so much…) 

But my personal favourite was in Eton last weekend. We went for a walk around the town after lunch and, being an exeat weekend and a Sunday afternoon, nothing was open. As we approached the hour mark, we started to get a bit jittery, wondering if we should head back to the car to get the potty (of course, that included finding out way back to the car!). At one hour fifteen minutes, my mother-in-law (GranPam) suggested she squat in a bush. We hadn’t tried this before. Little Miss can be very particular about where she pees (cue New Forest portable potty station – diva). Not to mention I have no idea how you get a two and a half year old to pop-a-squat without simply peeing all over herself… 

But by one and a half hours, we had no choice. It was give it a go or wait for the accident. So, we found a little secluded, grassy patch behind a wall and whipped her leggings down. 

The OH tried to hold her hands and get her to lean back, but she couldn’t get her bum sticking out enough. So he ended up holding her legs up for her as well in a sort of damsal-in-distress-esque fashion, while also trying to hold himself out of the splash zone. (I so desperately wanted to whip out my phone for a quick pic, but I think the OH might have killed me. So instead, you’ll just have to take my word for it – they looked hysterical.) Little Miss too found the whole thing utterly hilarious and waited, patiently ‘holding it’ until we had a good position and said ‘go!’ 

She kept saying, “my bum’s outside!” and “I’m weeing in the plants like daddy!” (Which gives you some idea of what I’m up against here – the OH has the tiniest bladder in the world and zero ability to hold it. It’s a long running joke – apparently he’s still a four year old boy himself! I very seriously fear Litte Miss has inherited his bladder control however…)

So, what’s next? 

Little Miss has just this week started telling us if she needs a wee, but it’s very sporadic and not reliable. I think this will be the next great hurdle for us for potty training. Once she’s mastered this (and not wetting herself quite so regularly) I think we’ll be home and dry (literally). 

That, and we need to sort out this FOMO issue at nursery…

daddy coaxing a toddler on the potty

Give a child a fighting chance

Earlier this year, President Hollande vowed to dismantle the refugee camp in Calais by the end of 2016.

In January, French authorities bulldozed one third of the camp, leaving thousands homeless with no where to go, including 129 children who went missing completely – sex trafficking being one of the likely outcomes for them.

But rumours suggest the camp will actually be cleared much sooner – by October 31, 2016 – as it is illegal to evict anyone during Winter in France. Winter officially begins on November 1.

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-10-02-50According to the latest figures, there are currently 1022 unaccompanied children living in the Calais Jungle. The youngest is just eight years old and most of them are boys. Some of them are eligible to live here in the UK, some due to family ties, others due to the Dubs Amendment, which allows unaccompanied minors refuge. The Home Office already has their details, yet so far, none of them have been offered sanctuary on British shores.

“Volunteers complain that France and Britain are playing “ping-pong” with the children’s lives, sending documents back and forth but not furthering claims.

Raheemullah Oryakhel, the  14-year-old Afghan boy who was killed last month after falling off a lorry, had a legal right to join his brother in Manchester but had reportedly lost faith that it would happen.”

Depression and self-harm incidents are increasing as the mental health of these children deteriorates. “Charities, volunteers and aid agencies say they were witnessing psychological collapse among many of the site’s child refugees after President François Hollande confirmed last week that the camp would be shut down.” [Mark Townsend, The Guardian]. Some have talked about killing themselves, others burn themselves methodically with cigarettes.

Rosamund Urwin visited the camps last week and spoke to some of the unaccompanied children. One thirteen year old boy is completely alone. He believes his family are in Afghanistan but has lost contact with them. She wrote:

“He says he used to like cricket but “I don’t play games now — our job here is to think.”…His dream is “to have the best education and become an engineer” — you can see the lure of building something concrete, when everything around him is tarpaulin and fragile.”

As a mother myself, but to be honest, as simply a human being, I read these accounts and I’m horrified, appalled, devastated, disgusted, dismayed. As I type this blog post, I am crying. How have we let things get this bad? How have we waited so long to help?

If these were British children, even French or Italian or German children, would we turn a blind eye?

Hell. I’m going to come out and say what we’re not supposed to say: If they were white and Western would people care more?

In the words of Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow,

“We’re building walls and children are sleeping in tents.”

This is inhumane. We are leaving these children out in the cold with no future and no hope.

One person who is trying to change that is Max.

He’s been working in the Calais Jungle since August in a makeshift school. He and his cohorts are trying to raise urgent funds to cover the critical needs of these children in advance of the bulldozing of the camp. It’s thought eviction will begin before the end of this month (October 2016), most likely within the next week or so.

The French and British authorities are letting these children down. There is no plan in place to help them, or to transport them to safety. So Max is hoping to buy them each a mobile phone, with credit, so they can at least call the emergency services if they need to and send their location via GPS.

He also hopes to equip each child with a solid pair of shoes and a backpack to carry the few belongings they have. The cost of this bundle is £65.

Overall, they need to raise £10,000 in the next couple of weeks to help the 1000 children in their care before it’s too late.


As I wipe my tears, I beg you not to forget about these children. Don’t do what we always do – feel for them in the moment, write a tweet it a Facebook status and forget two minutes later. 

Instead, please click here and donate whatever you care to this urgent cause, no matter how little it may be. If every reader gave just £1, we could fund multiple packs for multiple children between us.

If you were separated from your child during a war, wouldn’t you hope above all els that someone would be looking out for them? 

Please. Give a child a fighting chance.

Watch this short video for more links and four simple ways you can help support the Refugee Crisis:

If you’re a blogger and would like to get involved with the #BloggersforRefugees movement, join our Facebook group to stay up to date with news from representatives in the camps and fundraising initiatives.

The Night the Stars Went Out {Little Bookworm 9}


This summer we were lucky enough to receive a copy of the brand new book, The Night the Stars Went Out by Suz Hughes.

I’m always nervous when I receive products to review – what if we don’t like them? It’s awkward to have to write to the sender and say you won’t be writing a review, etc, etc.

But with this book I had nothing to worry about. Little Miss fell in love with it from the very first read and we’ve since read it again and again and again and again… And again…

The “alilen” [‘alien’ for anyone who doesn’t speak Toddler] has completely captured her imagination and she was running round her room with Lambie and Mog saying they were (*spoiler alert!*) “floating like the alilen!” by the second read.


The illustrations are modern, with speech bubbles and bold colours. Hughes doesn’t restrict herself to standard page spacing either, often using a double page spread to bring her story to life.

The story is lovely and original (though the ending for some might be a little twee) focussing on friendship, and reminding both children and parents that work isn’t everything in life…

Safe to say The Night the Stars Went out is a delightful new addition to our bookshelf, one that we will be reading for a long time to come, I’m sure.

Brand new this October (2016), you can find The Night the Stars Went Out via Amazon or special order via your local bookstore for £6.99.

But don’t just take my word for it. Hear what Little Miss has to say (albeit briefly, being a toddler!):

“Sit nex a me!” {The Wonderful Ordinary 25}

We’ve had to cancel Little Miss’ early morning starts at nursery. It was just too difficult to get us all ready and out of the house by 7:20 and 90% of the time the OH couldn’t get her there until 7:50 anyway – by which time we might as well just wait ten minutes and not pay and extra £5 per day for thirty minutes we weren’t using. 

Mornings are still uber hectic, and we rarely manage to have breakfast as a family – something we were really keen to continue doing after I returned to work to ensure there was at least one family meal a day. But when none of you are morning people, in hindsight, family breakfast before 7:30 might have been a tall ask! But we’ll keep trying.

The upside to all this is that about two mornings a week, mornings somehow manage to align so the OH can drop me at the station en route to nursery, giving Little Miss and I about four minutes extra during the day. She loves it and always insists I sit next to her in the back. And even though it’s only four minutes, I rather enjoy it too. 

The OH says Lean In

Sherryl Sandberg's Lean InI’m very proud to say that a few months ago, the Other Half volunteered to be a Lean In moderator for his business.

Some may feel this is a little unconventional – a man moderating the Lean In group discussions, but we both feel it’s incredibly important men are a part of this conversation. Men and women need to work together to achieve true equality both in the work place and beyond. And I couldn’t be prouder of him for taking up the challenge.

For anyone who doesn’t know, since Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In was published in 2013, businesses around the world have instigated Lean In Circles – a support network and coaching group who meet regularly to encourage women within the business to lean in and pursue their dreams and develop their careers.

The OH is a massive advocate for women returning to work after starting a family, and has taken up most of the more stereotypical ‘women’s roles’ in our house since I returned to work last February. I couldn’t have made a success of commuting in and out of London four days a week and getting my career back on track after a two year break without his doing so. (And in turn, we couldn’t have made it work without leaning on my mom heavily at times either.)

As I’ve written before in The F Word, building on Anne-Marie Salughter’s message in Unfinished Businessit’s all about team work – whoever your team may consist of, whether you’re looking after three little ones or ageing relatives. It’s not only up to the woman herself to ‘lean in’ and accept the challenge. She needs to be supported to do so.

Last week, the Lean In Circle gave the OH a copy of Sandberg’s infamous book to read in preparation for their first session and a box of Celebrations to welcome him into the fold. He’s going to be brilliant at this role. I’m so proud of him for taking up this challenge and helping to bring men into this conversation.

#ParentsAtWork: Hannah – embracing career change and finding flexible work at its best

Name: Hannah
Age: 25
Family life: Mum to one year old Luisa, recently relocated home to Belfast with long term partner (and baby-Daddy) Matt
Work life: Freelance Social Media Manager at Social Sparkle and blogger at Hi Baby

#ParentsAtWork - Hannah with one year old Luisa and their dog - flexible working at it's bestThe publishing industry is known to be small and insular. It’s difficult to move up the ladder and, like so many sectors of the media world, requires it’s newest recruits to work for very little for a long time before they ‘prove themselves’. As a result, it can feel a  hostile environment for even the brightest of rising stars.

It was slap bang in the middle of all this that Hannah, a Publishing Assistant at a relatively small company in Edinburgh, and boyfriend Matt found out they were unexpectedly pregnant.

Hannah was surrounded by a team of incredibly strong, talented, career-driven women. A baby, to them, was simply an inconvenience, including the company Director who had no children of her own.

There was one other lady in the office with a family; an Editor that worked part time with two kids who was also going through a divorce. If she ever had to leave work because of family duties, it was met with an eye roll behind her back, or a snide comment once she’d left.

Once Hannah found herself pregnant, she felt like an outsider, worried what the team were saying about her behind her back.

I felt insecure in my job; I felt like they might not have my back when I went on Maternity Leave. And seeing how they’d treated the other lady with a family, I knew it wasn’t all in my head. I felt incredibly pressured.

No-one ever said anything ‘un-PC’, they were never openly hostile towards her new status as ‘baby pending’, but it was the little things; she began to feel undermined in little ways, colleagues made her feel like an inconvenience. The atmosphere was palpable. Hannah felt unwelcome, unsupported and ultimately, like they were waiting for a reason to push her out.

Despite the fact that, in the UK, pregnant women are entitled to take time away from their work to attend antenatal appointments, Hannah decided to use her annual leave to cover her appointments.

I knew if I’d said anything, or had an attitude about anything, I’d have been dismissed as ‘the stupid pregnant girl’.

She didn’t feel she could request the time off or ‘trouble’ anyone at the office with her appointments.

As Maternity Leave approached, Hannah began thinking about what happened when it came time to return to work a year later. She looked at all the options – the business already offered part time to other employees, so it was reasonable and viable request. But her salary would only pay for Luisa’s childcare, which didn’t sit right with Hannah; ‘We’d have had no money. And why work to only pay for childcare? I also started to question why I wanted to return somewhere I felt unwelcome, with a bad atmosphere.’

With no family and little support network in Scotland, once Hannah was on Maternity Leave, her and Matt made the decision to move back home to Belfast. It was at this point Hannah started to look at alternative career options.

I had started blogging during my pregnancy as a personal diary. I’d started making a bit of money from the blog, so I started thinking I could build it up while we burned through the rest of my Statutory Maternity Pay. I’d seen others from the blogging community had built on their blogging experience to dabble in PR or become social media managers, so I thought ‘I might have a go at that…’ As long as I could make enough to replace that, I knew we’d be able to keep going.

Hannah looked at the then relatively new Digital Mums course, but couldn’t afford the nearly £1000 fee. Instead, she joined a few freelancer groups on Facebook and started asking questions, beginning to understand how to find clients, how to ensure they paid her invoices and that she was offering a service people definitely wanted and/or needed.

Off the back of this, Chelle McCann, founder of Social Sparkle – an agency specialising in maternity and parent outreach – got in touch saying she was looking for an intern. As a parent blogger, Hannah was perfectly placed to take up the role and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. After three months, she became a full time freelance Social Sparkler.

Social Sparkle is powered by a team of mums behind the scenes, all working remotely from home around their families. The business was built around the idea of flexible working and families coming first. Hannah described the team as “incredibly supportive – everyone’s got each other’s backs”.

She described a situation this week where she ended up manning five client’s social accounts at once due to an admin error in shift scheduling.

I had one hand on my computer, one on my phone and Luisa emptying the cupboards beside me!

The next day, the team all stepped in to give her the day off, recognising how hectic her shift would have been and how she’d single handedly saved the day.

The team works on a trust basis that it’ll all just even out in the end. I go above and beyond because I know they would do the same for me. Everyone’s got each others’ backs.

This system works for Social Sparkle because of the small, close knit nature of the team. But there’s definitely lessons to be learned for larger businesses – if you give a little, employees give a lot and just because someone has family commitments doesn’t mean they are any less able to complete their duties at work.


For more information about some of the businesses and opportunities mentioned in this interview, follow the links below;

Hi Baby – Hannah’s personal parenting blog

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube

Social Sparkle – a PR and communications agency specialising in maternity and parent outreach, putting the sparkle into conversation
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram



Where are the CBeebies Fitties?

Yesterday, The Dadventurer shared his Top Five CBeebies Hotties

Ignoring the obviously shallow and male chauvinist rhetoric laced through the blog post, I’m jumping on the band wagon with both feet to say – it’s not fair.

Where are the Fittie-McVities for the Mamas to ogle? 

Pretty much all the female presenters on CBeebies are (to use Dave’s terminology) ‘hotties’, whether they made his top five or not. But given 99%* of the adult viewers are probably female, and let’s, for the sake of argument, say that 90%* of them are probably straight – the Beeb has missed a trick.

*absolutely nothing scientific to these stats whatsoever. 

I mean, it’s pretty slim pickings, let’s be honest. 

In no particular order (because the options are dismal whatever order they appear):

Justine Fletcher as Mr Tumble on CBeebies1. Justin Fletcher

While the lovely Mr. Fletcher is clearly a very nice person to be commended for hosting brilliant programmes promoting making SEN and disability part of the mainstream – I’m afraid he’s firmly in the friend zone. I could forgive him the clowning around – at least he’s make you laugh – but the cross dressing and multi-personality syndrome (how many Tumbles does anyone need in their lives, really?) has me waving goodbye, goodbye to Justine. It’s time to run indeed…

Chris Jarvis Show Me Show Me CBeebies2. Chris Jarvis 

Sadly for Chris, even if I only require him for fantasy purposes to make my day looking after Little Miss go that little bit quicker, I don’t want him to show me anything. He just doesn’t make my kite flutter… (That’s right. I went there.) 

Andy Day CBeebies presenter3. Andy Day 

Andy’s got boingy curls and a sort of tall-dark-and-geeky thing going. This is actually a pretty solid start for any Mama’s fantasising; we could work with this! But he’s sort taken dressing up for fun a step to far. Usually soaked in some sort of archaic river water or dino spit, and that daft hat. And waistcoat. And the backpack. Aaaand the mood is pretty much as dead as his dinosaurs. 

(But doesn’t he have impeccable teeth?!)

Ben Cagee  CBeebies presenter4. Ben Cajee

Oh Ben. Baby Ben. He only looks about 24 bless him.* Such a sweetie, but he doesn’t really have you screaming ‘take me now!’, does he?

*It is possible that at only 27 I’ve missed some sort of cougar angle Ben could be working with a segment of the Mama market.

Ben Faulks as Mr Bloom on CBeebies5. Ben Faulks

Bloomin’ Ben. Where to begin? The hat? The vest? The cargo pants? Just so much plad. And no girl wants to be driven to dinner in a green truck from the 60s. Did I mention he talks to vegetables? It’ll take a bit more than a goofy grin to put Ben’s carrot on the menu.

However, in the interest of honest and fair blogging, since Googling him to find a photo, I am actually surprised – dare I say it, mildly fluttered – by the non-Bloom-Ben. I’ll just store that blue eyed beauty away for later use. (But I seriously hope he puts on the ridiculous accent or he’ll still need to stay very, very quiet.)

Hang in there ladies. The Bedtime Hour, is never far away (honest) and you never know who tonight Bedtime Stories special guest might be…

Damien Lewis CBeebies Bedtime Stories

Damien is welcome for bedtime any time he wants.

NB: this is in no way an attack on the CBeebies presenters. I love and cherish them all and speak for parents up and down the country when I say thank you for the job you do. You keep us saine! Just wouldn’t hurt to have a little less cross-dressing and a little more muscle on the presenter team perhaps…