When You’re A Nutritionist & Health Coach And Your Son Gets Diagnosed With Malnutrition by Lauren Vaknine
There’s a reason I lost my shit the last time (because this has happened many times) a well-meaning fellow mum said to me, “Just arrange the vegetables in smiley faces, that worked for our son who was *really* fussy”. Genuinely, I’ve wanted to smack the smirk off every single person who has said that to me over the past 3 years (and I’m not generally a violent person), because Braxton isn’t “just fussy”.
I have known this for a long time, that our situation is more serious than just fussy / picky eating. I’ve known that the dark circles under his eyes are likely the result of not having enough iron in his red blood cells, and that the sporadic pains he experiences in his body are because there isn’t enough glucose circulating his muscles, that the bursts of hyperactivity are spurred on by the spikes in his blood sugar-levels, caused by the only foods he will eat, and that his immune system is lower than it should be for the son of a holistic wellness coach and nutritionist, because he simply doesn’t get enough nutrients and what he is eating is damaging his gut, and therefore, his immune system.
I have known all of this, but after pursuing numerous approaches that bore no results, I kept being told by well-meaning family members that he’ll grow out of it as kids usually do, to just “give him what he wants” in the meantime, and that I am being too “stressy” and highly-strung about his eating. So I tried, in vain, to “relax” about his eating in the hope that less resistance from me would reap results.
I didn’t do a great job of relaxing, because deep down I knew that he wouldn’t just grow out of it, and we have now, at four years and three months old, been given a diagnosis of ARFID – avoidant restrictive food intake disorder – and anaemia, which may not sound particularly serious, but as I have discovered throughout the course of my own life with chronic illness and subsequent remission, the body offers warning signs. The onset of deficiencies that aren’t dealt with can be the catalyst for any number of conditions that we may be genetically predisposed to. It’s a slippery slope.
Though I certainly cannot blame anyone else, I am angry at them for continuously telling me “let it go”. But mostly, I’m angry at myself for not being firmer in my resolve to the well-meaning family members and friends. I suppose that after trying everything we possibly could (at least everything we knew about), the only other option was to wait and hope that things would improve. But with each passing day that Braxton’s eating got worse, as did my anxiety surrounding the situation.
It began early on - It all started when he hit a year old. If I’m being honest, he never loved food, even for those 6 months that he was on solids before he reached a year he was never the baby who ate everything in sight, and I can only recall two occasions where he reached for what was on my plate, but at least he ate. He always had a very strong gag reflex, and around the time he turned 1, he would gag each time he tried something new, and the gag reflex would lead to projectile vomiting. This happened on many occasions when I was in public places, without my husband as it was always during the day, as I navigated new motherhood with this child who would just vomit wherever we went, other mothers swiftly gathering up their young to escape the vomiting child, lest it be contagious. One time I was in a soft-play café when it happened. It went everywhere – absolutely everywhere. He was drenched from head to toe, the high chair was drowning under the weight of the vomit, and I was covered in the stuff myself. Not one of the mums around us offered to help, and that was the last time I took Brax anywhere at mealtime for a long while.
After a few months of this happening, I took him to the doctor to see what was wrong with him, not yet connecting the dots myself, because surely this wasn’t normal.
After ruling out allergies, reflux, gut issues and anything more sinister (which I admit I didn’t allow tests for because I knew it wasn’t sinister), I managed to look back over those months, put things into perspective, and realise that it was nothing more than the fact that he was a child with a very reactive gag reflex. The cause may not have been sinister, but its consequences certainly were.
As Braxton’s brain began to connect eating new foods with being violently sick, he trained his brain to believe that food was bad, and over time, his dietary repertoire decreased and decreased, and as he became more verbal, he even taught himself to say things like “that will make me sick” or “this is dirty food” – these were NEVER things he’d heard us say.
And that’s where we are today. A mother who is a nutritionist, health-food blogger and wellness coach – the annoying kind who makes homemade jam and vitamin gummies, homemade gluten-free bread and dips, weekly soups and beetroot burgers, healthy cookies and crumbles, not to mention coming from an Israeli / Moroccan family where being a foodie isn’t a choice, it’s a given – and a son, who, as of January 2020, will eat only: jacket potato with beans and cheese, plain pasta, pizza or pizza bagel and, what can only be described as a blessing from God, his daily morning smoothie, into which I’m able to put a load of superfoods and some essential vitamins. THANK. GOD.
Our lowest point came recently when he stopped eating fish fingers and nuggets when he could “see the white”. The foods I vowed I’d never give my children are now things I would be happy to see him eat again. Fish fingers would at least mean him getting some protein. Bolognese was given up around 4 months ago, with no explanation, because it’s “dirty”, but give the kid a chocolate and he’ll Bruce Bogtrotter the whole thing up.
Try and give him the chocolate in a bribe if he eats a vegetable, however, and he’ll forgo the chocolate. He has a defiance in him that I have never seen on a child before, and that all my friends who have kids of the same age, agree is unusual. “If you eat just one pea, just ONE,” I plead, “you can have that whole chocolate you chose!” Braxton’s response: “I won’t have the chocolate then,” and he’ll walk away. Like a calm, self-assured Mafia boss who rests in the knowledge that the other person will always relent, because he’s the one that does the negotiation, no one else. I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse, he’s thinking, and that offer is that he’ll eat chips or he’ll go hungry. Don Corleone has nothing on Braxton.
And yes, bribing was also something I vowed before becoming a parent that I’d never do. It’s easy to stick to the list of non-negotiables that you compiled before you had kids when you have children who you know won’t let themselves starve. Braxton is a whole other kettle of fish, and changes in our approach to parenting have come from a place of utter desperation. You do what you have to do to get by.
No stone is left unturned - When we realized that bribing and negotiating wouldn’t work (nor would the smiley faces or different colours or nice plates or eating on the floor or outside or in the car or in fucking outer space), and two doctors had said he was healthy, we took him to a homeopath we know and have worked with before (not our usual homeopath), one who is also a GP. “Just leave food out for him, don’t force it, and he’ll eat eventually when he realises he’s not getting anything else. Give him healthy foods he likes and nothing else.” She gave us some remedies to try, to no avail. We then took him to our usual homeopath who spent hours figuring out which remedies would be right, but again, nothing changed. (I’d like to note here that this is the first thing homeopathy hasn’t worked, for me.)
The next step was to take him to our naturopath, who has five healthy children of her own so any advice from her is always welcome, but after she’d exhausted the checklist of generic questions: does he eat better at nursery because they usually do, does he eat better at your mum’s house – she basically said the same as the homeopath. It was as if people, even professionals in our life, were not acknowledging that this wasn’t a child who would just decide one day that he now enjoyed the food. I couldn’t imagine it happening – even though I constantly prayed it would – because I knew my son. I knew that it went deeper and that his defiance is part of his innate character. Even as a baby he was independent beyond comprehension; nothing could be in his cot – teddies, books, muslins or anything else that usually offer babies comfort, and he would never accept any sort of comforter such as a dummy, toy, or blanket – he rejected anything and everything that would have made life easier for us. And yes, these qualities will stand him in good stead as an adult – his confounded, unmitigated self-assurance and awareness of self – but parenting a child like that, well, saying it’s challenging is more of an understatement than saying that Oprah is a bit successful. He may grow up to be this independent, self-assured adult, but if I haven’t dropped down dead from the stress of it all before then to witness it, I’ll eat my hat (or my vegetables).
Because our children are here to challenge us to the very core of our beings. They strip away the ego until we are forced to bare ourselves naked and acknowledge our truest selves in the most raw, exposed, humanness of our shadow self. And that’s where I’m at now.
So after the practitioners who always solved all my problems before this couldn’t help, we took him to a child psychologist who also happened to be a gastroenterologist – the perfect combination for our situation, I thought (if not a little more mainstream than we’re used to). But, alas, we essentially spent £250 for him to send us an email of ‘tips’ after the consultation – all of the same ilk as the aforementioned suggestions. Oh, and have we tried letting him cook alongside us so he can see how the food is made? No, genius, I’m a food blogger but have never had my son in the kitchen with me.
Along the way, we also took him to a paediatrician and our cranial osteopath, and I started having sessions with a spiritual life coach to unblock anything in my own energy that might be causing this. I’m still on that journey.
More recently, a friend whose son stopped eating following a sickness bug suggested EFT (emotional freedom technique). She said her son had stopped eating everything because of the fear that he might be sick again. Although her son was 7 and remembered a time in his life when he did eat and food was ok, we thought we’d give it a go as we hadn’t tried it yet, and it was gentle.
The EFT practitioner was also a colour therapist. She did the tapping on him without him knowing what it was about, and she worked with the colours. She explained that Braxton is a ‘red’ child. We are all made up of colours but very rarely is someone fully ‘red’ without that red being muted down a bit with other colours. She’d only ever treated 2 red children before him. She said it explained his infernal defiance, and that simple bit of information helped me emotionally. As someone who advocates a personalized and individualized approach to healthcare, I’ve spent years trowelling through information about what makes us all unique, more recently delving into the modality of Human Design, so this helped me to understand why things that worked for other children (like bribing with chocolate, a method which will see most children submitting their principles), never works with Brax. I had a session with her myself, once again trying to take responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in, aware that it could be something in my own energy and willing to play my part and put in the work.
The practitioner came for 2 weeks in a row, then said to wait for 2 weeks and in that time not mention the food at all – just give him what he wants and lay off, and in 2 weeks there should be some minor improvement. But, as I feared (and I wish I wasn’t shrouded by this total pessimism surrounding this situation but I suppose I’ve lost all hope), nothing changed.
And as the heaviness under his eyes morphed itself into an altogether deeper and more terrifying hue, and the complaints about sporadic joint pain became less sporadic and more frequent, I knew I had to do something fast.
We’d already taken him to a paediatric rheumatologist after the first few times he’d complained of knee pain before he was 3. I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis aged 2, so it’s always at the back of my mind and I whisked him off to the doctor at the first mention of knee pain even though I could see there was no inflammation. At the time the doctor said he looked healthy, I was doing all the right things (supplements etc), and that he’s sure things would improve. But over a year later, here we are.
Our genes determine which illnesses we are predisposed to, our lifestyle determines whether they get triggered…The thing is, I’ve spent my entire career advocating the fact that our genes are not our destiny and that our lifestyle determines which genetically pre-disposed illnesses will get triggered and when. The fields of epigenetics and nutrigenomics leave no doubt that this is the case. So we may have grown up with a debilitating chronic disease that even others in our family might have too, but with the right lifestyle choices for our children, this illness need never be triggered in them.
Which meant that my entire approach to parenthood coming into it was to do everything I possibly could to strengthen my children’s immune systems. I pushed myself through a 24-hour back-to-back labour with no pain-relief to bring my son into this world in the calmest, most natural way possible to ensure that not only did he come into contact with all the essential birth microbiome that comes with a natural delivery, but that he would not start his life with trauma that could lead to physical difficulties. I placed immense pressure on myself to breastfeed both children through excruciating damaged milk ducts to ensure that their guts were as strong as they could be from the beginning, which would lead to a strengthened immune system, not faltering on this for a minute when postpartum arthritis flare-ups (that only happened after birth when otherwise in remission) left me unable to walk and some days, hold my babies. I knew that stopping breastfeeding would probably help me heal quicker, but I wasn’t prepared to risk any autoimmune response in my children triggered by gut issues from formula. (Just to be clear, I don’t regret any of these choices and would make the same decisions all over again.)
But then, came weaning, and I was ready and prepared – excited even – making absolutely everything from scratch with the finest quality organic ingredients, absolutely sure that nurture would lead the way over nature, and that my children would be great eaters because of what they saw at home and I’d be able to say to people who told me about their fussy kids, “Oh, you have to let them see how it’s done at home”. Smug bitch.
And yet. And yet… of all the things that could happen, my child chose to hate food. And with all my qualifications and experience, it all remains futile and redundant and none of it matters because if he won’t eat, there is nothing I can do to help him, and that has rendered me useless. For all the homemade vitamin gummies, 48-hour cooked bone broths and homemade elderberry syrups (the things I try to offer when he’s unwell), they simply sit, desolate, on the shelf in the fridge while I ponder the utter irony of the position I find myself in.
Food. The very thing that mothers pride themselves on providing to nourish their children, staring at me in the over-qualified, used-to-be-smug face, and there’s absolutely sod all I can do about it.
Food. The very thing that mothers pride themselves on providing to nourish their children, staring at me in the over-qualified, used-to-be-smug face, and there’s absolutely sod all I can do about it.
Because our children are here to challenge us to the very core of our beings. They strip away the ego until we are forced to bare ourselves naked and acknowledge our truest selves in the most raw, exposed, humanness of our shadow self. And that’s where I’m at now.
We were given the diagnoses of ARFID and anaemia caused by malnutrition, and through the bloods were thankfully able to rule out anything inflammatory, autoimmune or coeliac, and we have since found a therapist who specialises in ARFID. She works closely with patients over a long period of time through child psychology, psychotherapy, play therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based CBT and trauma-based CBT. We begin on Monday. Though we will see this lady for the time-being, there is a specialist clinic for ARFID at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, and we’re trying to get in there as they offer a whole dedicated team with psychologist and dietician.
I suppose the diagnosis, or label – something I shunned the idea of myself growing up with a chronic disease in an attempt to not be defined by something I did not choose – almost came as a relief to me. It validated my belief that this is a serious situation that could lead to long-term, chronic health issues, and also helps me to be able to illustrate to people who may trivialise the situation that Braxton is not “just a fussy eater”.
I’m going to document our journey with ARFID here, so that relatives and friends can keep abreast of what’s going on, for others going through similar to feel less alone (I won’t say get tips as I clearly have none left, though I hope in time I will build up an arsenal of tools based on results), and for myself, so I can look back on this one sweet day, when Braxton is no longer malnourished, perhaps when he’s that self-assured, confident adult I know he’ll be, and see that this was all part of my learning journey.
Until then, I’m still working on myself through meditation, inner-child and unblocking work, and with the spiritual life coach, as, though I am not blaming myself for this condition my son has, I am pretty sure that as parents, with our children being an extension of us (or to go deeper, us all being an extension of one another), our energy contributes to our children’s choices and ultimately, to their health. To that end, I have to do as much work as he does. So here I am, vowing to do that.
By: Lauren Vaknine
So my first experience and encounter with Mothers Meetings was when one of my neighbours, a fellow mum, said ‘hey a Mothers Meetings is happening in the Town House in East London - why don’t we go along and check it out?’ and as it turned out she couldn’t go, but I’d already signed up and to be honest - it was really scary. I had three children by that point and they were all under four years old. Basically it was mental, absolutely mental, but I thought ‘do you know what I’m gonna go and give it a go because I am actually desperately in need of some mental stimulation and adult conversation about ANYTHING else than nappies’.
So off I went up to the townhouse in Bethnal Green and I didn’t have any clothes that looked cool. Everything was just like post baby super stretchy leggings, but I was so so warmly welcomed. I was immediately made to feel comfortable and I sat there in the audience just listening and thinking ‘Wow - thank god there’s life after childbirth’.
I didn’t dare go and talk to Jenny or anyone really, there was a lady next to me who was a lawyer and I remember her telling me her story in a break, and I said ‘actually I’m a surgeon and I really don’t think I want to be in the NHS anymore. I don’t really know what to do though’ and basically I kind of made a pact with her that we would do something different - and that’s how my life began again - at a Mothers Meetings.
It was amazing - Jenny with her vibrant, incredible, motivating self. Katie was there as the strong support system to all the things that Mothers Meetings was promising us and it was just amazing. For the first time, I felt alive again after having children and a familiar flicker of ‘me’ returned.
As it was - after a few months I would set up my clinic and I started working. I created The Clinic by Dr Mayoni and it went from there really and I remember contacting Jenny. I think just say thank you so much for such a great meeting and this is what I’m doing now. And she just asked me to come along and talk at one of our meetings.
I said yes, I can’t believe I said yes because it was really scary. Anyway, I have never looked back. Jenny and the gang at Mothers Meetings have only ever been complete cheerleaders of what I’ve I’ve done and what I am doing and I feel incredibly lucky to have had their support in my life. There is no doubt that my business grew because of the support that Mothers Meetings have given me, but more importantly, just the sense of belonging, and the fact that loads of other women like me who had full on brilliant lives before having kids suddenly had to stop, and take a really long hard look at themselves and decide what they want to do. For the first time - I didn’t feel like a total failure or a fraud. I was part of something bigger than me and my little family, so thank you Jenny. I’m still friends with so many of the women I met in those early days, and I will always be incredibly grateful to you and the support that you’ve given me.
By: Mayoni Gooneratne
As a holistic psychology expert, I've witnessed the profound impact that
nurturing our inner child can have on our emotional wellbeing. Our inner child
represents the essence of our early experiences, shaping our beliefs,
emotions, and behaviours. Unresolved childhood wounding can often stay
hidden within us, influencing our daily lives. The way we interact in our
relationships, our own inner voice, whether we adopt unhelpful coping
mechanisms or habits that we no longer serve our best interests.
Understanding and nurturing our inner child is a beautiful way to foster
personal growth and healing.
Understanding Our Inner Child:
The inner child represents the emotions, needs and experiences we had
during our formative years. Unresolved childhood traumas, neglect, or unmet
needs can result in the inner child carrying emotional wounding into
adulthood. These unresolved emotions can manifest as self-sabotaging
behaviours (ummm hello binge drinking, working until burn out or high levels
of perfectionism), repetitive relationship challenges or emotional distress.
Meetings your inner child with compassion, identifying what she needs and
meeting those needs or visualising giving her a big hug are all great places to
The Importance of Inner Child Healing:
1. Self-Awareness: Healing the inner child fosters self-awareness, allowing
us to recognise patterns and triggers rooted in childhood experiences.
Offering her understanding and compassion soothes the emotion attached to
those unmet needs and empowers us to respond rather than react to present
2. Emotional Healing: Addressing the wounds of our inner child enables
emotional healing. Acknowledging and validating past pain allows us to
release the emotional charge attached to those experiences and enables us to
move forward with greater insight and emotional freedom.
3. Improved Relationships: Bringing awareness to our inner child positively
impacts relationships. By understanding our triggers and emotional
responses, by offering ourselves compassion for the needs we had that went
unmet, we can build healthier connections in our adult life. We no longer need
to rely on our partner to soothe attachment wounds from childhood.
Practical Steps for Inner Child Healing:
1. Self-Compassion: Practice self-compassion by acknowledging and
validating your inner child's feelings. Speak kindly to yourself and offer the
same nurturing care to a visualised younger version of yourself that you would
to your own child.
2. Inner Dialogue: Engage in inner dialogue exercises. Write letters to your
younger self or inner child, offering love, understanding, and reassurance.
This helps bridge the gap between past and present selves.
3. Inner Child Visualisation: Visualisation techniques can be powerful.
Visualise your inner child and wrap your arms around her or imagine kissing
her forehead. What does she need? Try some activities that bring her joy and
healing. Spend time in nature, engage in creative pursuits, or simply offer your
inner child moments of guilt-free playfulness and relaxation.
4. Therapeutic Support: Consider seeking professional guidance. Holistic
therapists, counsellors, or psychologists specialising in inner child work can
provide tailored techniques and support your healing journey.
5. Mindfulness and Meditation: Cultivate mindfulness practices to connect
with your present emotions. Meditation can help you observe thoughts and
emotions without judgment, fostering healing and acceptance.
Healing your inner child is a profound and transformative journey. It's about
acknowledging past pain, embracing vulnerability and nurturing yourself
toward emotional wholeness. By tending to our inner child with compassion
and understanding, we pave the way for profound healing, empowering us to
live more authentically and wholeheartedly in the present.
By: Charlotte Lewis
Join us on October 10th at 11:00 AM at Shoreditch House for an extraordinary event that will guide you on the path to discovering your soul's true purpose. Hosted by Mothers Meetings, this inspirational gathering promises to be a transformative experience.
Meet Our Guest Speakers, and host Aisha Carrington!
This event is an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and build lasting connections as you embark on this wild and wonderful journey to find your true self.
Don't miss out on this chance to unlock your soul's purpose. Reserve your spot now and join us at Shoreditch House on October 10th at 11:00 AM. Let's explore the depths of self-discovery together. See you there!
APPLY FOR GUESTLIST - EMILY@MOTHERSMEETINGS.COM
A summer holiday survival guide by twin mum and leading life coach Alice Rickard
Let’s be honest… as much as we all love our children, the summer holidays can fill us with dread. Endless weeks of juggling, entertaining, spending, and coordinating. And to top it all off, during the longest days of the year.
The tiny little squares of the calendar suddenly seem to have expanded. How the hell am I going to get through this? What am I going to do with them? How am I going to get my work done? These recurring yearly thoughts echo around the minds of mothers EVERYWHERE.
As a self-employed, twin mother, living in London, I get it! It’s a lot.
I’m sure you've already been bombarded by endless WhatsApps stating who is doing what, which camp is the best, and the top days out for your children, which personally just fuels the anxiety and comparisonitis we mothers can often feel.
This guide is not about them. It’s about you. Let me take you from surviving to thriving on the countdown journey to September.
Here are my THREE top tips when it comes to managing the summer holidays:
PREPARE. PRIORITIZE. PRIZE.
If you can win the first 5 minutes of your day, you can win the first hour. If you can win the first hour, you can win the day. How you start your day will determine whether you will respond or react to whatever the day throws at you.
If you can start your day calmly with some breathwork or even set an intention for how you want to feel that day, you are literally guiding your central nervous system on how to feel. I am aware this sounds wishy-washy, but trust me, this works! It is the difference between me taking a beat to quietly respond to my children fighting over who is getting in the car first or screaming at them and slamming the door.
When we start our day by scrolling our phones, checking the gram, or some overactive WhatsApp group, we are telling our brains, ‘Hey, this is how you are going to get your dopamine today,’ and your brain is going to search for it throughout the rest of the day.
When we give it calm and peace, our brains search for more of that. We literally instruct ourselves on how the day will go. Before you cuss me out with the ‘well, your children clearly don’t jump on top of your bed at 5 am demanding their iPads’ - they do! And when they do, those are the days it is even more paramount that I prepare my mindset.
If you are starting the day thinking this is going to be sh1t. Your mind LOVES to be right, so it is probably gonna be sh1t.
You don’t need long, you don’t need crystals and candles and some whole meditation ritual. You need to lock yourself in the loo for 5 mins while you sit your children in front of the TV and do these three things.
1. BREATHE - Start your day by calming your central nervous system with 5 really long, slow, deep breaths.
2. INTENTION - Set your intention for the day. This is honestly the difference between existing and living. Is it to be calm? Is it to be present? Is it to be fun mum? Is it to be organized? Give your mind directions.
3. QUESTION - The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself. What do I need to do today to make today a success? What do I need to do today to make me feel happy?
Something I had to learn the hard way when I became a mother was understanding the IMPORTANCE of prioritizing myself.
As a mother, prioritizing yourself is so important for both the well-being of your family and your sanity. It may seem counterintuitive at times, as your natural instinct is to put your children's needs first, but it is essential for both your energy levels and emotional capacity to survive listening to the same song on repeat in your car for 8 weeks.
Prioritizing yourself doesn't mean neglecting your children; rather, it involves carving out moments for yourself. It doesn’t matter what that time entails, but make sure it's something that brings you energy. What do I mean by that? Going for a walk listening to a podcast that makes you laugh, rather than scrolling a feed on the sofa that makes you feel inferior. Spending time with someone that makes you belly laugh so hard it tests your pelvic floor, versus someone who sucks the life out of you. Whatever it is, it should feel great.
By nurturing yourself, you set a positive example for your children, teaching them the value of self-love, balance, and resilience. You know the classic saying men have “happy wife, happy life” - I like to remind this one to my children: ‘A mum that has rest is the mum that’s the best.’
Hear me out. A lot of jobs give you a commission-based bonus. A lot of tough endurance races give you a medal. It’s a supportive way to acknowledge your performance. How often do you acknowledge your performance as a mother? How often do you say, ‘Do you know what I really nailed that meltdown, I handled it calmly, with no support, and got the job done’?
My best mum friend, Mary (you know the type that you wouldn’t have survived motherhood without), came up with a brilliant idea that we needed some sort of reward system for getting through various stages in our kids' lives, or in particular school holidays! Rewards have included spa trips, drunken shopping sprees, and my favorite one to date, a trip to go and see exotic dancers who pick you up and throw you around some dirty room in North London.
The prize itself is not the point. The logic behind it is. We are all so good at focusing on the negative, the things we’ve failed at or forgotten, the difficulties and the struggles. By having a prize and end goal in mind, it not only helps us move forward, but it also teaches us to look back and give ourselves the recognition we deserve.
My hope when you read this is you come up with your own, end-of-summer holiday reward system for all the bloody stars you have earned over the summer holidays. Let me know what your reward is going to be (Instagram @motherofmind) - I seriously want to know. One because I'm sure it will inspire me, but two because if you are taking the time to message me what it is, you are 10 times more likely to actually implement it. And I want that for you.
You can find me on Instagram @motherofmind - come and say hello!
Good Luck and have a wonderful Summer Hols. See ya on the flip side.
Mother of Mind
Alice Rickard x
A massive shoutout and heartfelt thanks to all you incredible ladies who rocked our mind-blowing mothers meeting today at the exclusive Shoreditch House, featuring the sensational Siobhan Mears from the legendary Mears Collective! The room was bursting with fierce women determined to turn motherhood into an exhilarating chapter rather than the end of a dusty book. Our phenomenal Mothers Meetings Founder Jenny scott aka @chatwithjenny, as always, poured her heart and soul into making everyone feel welcome, encouraging us to share our stories, ask questions, and unleash our full potential. Her boundless inspiration and kindness are downright infectious!
Siobhan took us on a wild ride, revealing the secret sauce of unleashing our professional lives as women through a plethora of online tools. But here's the kicker: she didn't stop at that. She emphasized the crucial role of nurturing our families' well-being and safeguarding our precious mental health along the way. We collectively acknowledged the power of establishing an unshakeable foundation, paving the way for us to work smarter instead of harder. No more falling prey to the allure of fleeting social media highs. It's all about setting sky-high standards and constructing a rock-solid groundwork that sets the uber-successful businesses apart from the rest. pic by the wonderful @charlottegrayphoto xx
When it comes to free platforms and online tools to assist coaches, there are several options available that can support various aspects of coaching. While free solutions may have limitations compared to their paid counterparts, they can still provide valuable resources for coaches. Here are some great free platforms and online tools for coaches:
I just have to share how absolutely incredible the mothers meeting at Shoreditch house was! The guests THE STYLE SISTERS brought so much insight and inspiration, and it was exactly what I needed. A huge shoutout and thank you to Jenny Scott for hosting these life-changing meetings. I have to admit, I was feeling pretty anxious the night before the event. I didn't think I was good enough, glamorous enough, or energetic enough to attend. But I pushed through and, with a little bit of courage and some fancy trackies, I made my way to Shoreditch house. And boy, am I glad I did! The event exceeded my expectations, and I left feeling supported and connected to a tribe of amazing women. The Style Sisters gave fantastic advice on decluttering and organizing your life, and their down-to-earth and friendly personalities made the event even more enjoyable. I can't recommend these mothers meetings enough - they truly are a game-changer.
Here are some tips on having a clutter-free family home:
1. Establish a weekly decluttering routine.
2. Create designated storage areas for each family member's belongings.
3. Encourage your family to donate or sell items they no longer need or use.
4. Use organizational tools such as baskets, bins, and labels.
5. Keep flat surfaces clear of unnecessary items.
6. Only keep items that serve a purpose or bring joy.
7. Limit the amount of knick-knacks and decorative items.
8. Utilize vertical space with shelves and hooks.
9. Keep a "one in, one out" rule for new items brought into the home.
10. Regularly assess and reorganize your storage solutions to ensure they are working effectively.
I REALLY CANNOT RECCOMEND THESE EVENTS ENOUGH, EVEN IF YOU DO FEEL SCARED! YOU WILL BE SO PROUD YOU WENT ALONG AND EVERYONE WILL MAKE YOU SO SO WELCOME.
Pics by Kelly Reeves
Lucie Flynn is an artist and mother who lives in Surrey. She first started getting involved in MM when she was a new mum living in North London in 2010. Lucie works in a studio attached to her home creating paintings and limited edition prints for gallery shows around the world as well as creating large-scale street paintings. She makes her own rules on motherhood and has no qualms in admitting that being a parent is the hardest and most exhausting job in the world - EVER!
WEBSITE - HERE
INSTA - HERE
I definitely would not of been able to write a piece about my life until this exact moment, I am a massive believer in things happening at a time that is right. Life has thrown me a lot this past 6 months and I feel very grateful to of been asked by MM to write this piece now, at a time when I am taking a much more holistic approach to my life.
Motherhood and lifestyle was something that I used to separate - I was not very relaxed when it came to my parenting style, which is surprising as a so called chilled creative type! I was one of those people who found the structure of routine extremely important - looking back I guess this did give me the freedom to be more flexible in other aspects of inspirational guidance to my two children, now aged 9 and 12. I did take them both to art fairs and galleries form birth and up, most of my friends are artists/designers of sorts - we are all into fashion and collecting in some shape or form so naturally my children have been surrounded by art, design, fashion and music since they were still in my belly. I am a very honest and upfront person and have installed the importance of talking openly with my children. They have always had the opportunity to be part of my working life too, this includes how I spend any downtime for example being outdoors in nature, exercise, good food and culture as well as my working life as an artist, preparing for shows, working in a very untraditional way, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and most importantly thoroughly enjoying what I do - making artwork!
It was only once both my kids were in pre school that I felt I could really concentrate on my career and give it my all. My life is reflected in my painting, everything works hand in hand - which is why finding a balance to fit everything in is so important. I generally say yes to most projects that I have been asked to be involved with and this has resulted in me working on things that I am genuinely terrified to do but I never regret it. My partner has taught me to say yes and paint, if you don’t like it you can always go over it - that philosophy has brought me out of my shell a lot. However lately there has been a lot more going on in my personnel life which has needed my full attention and the juggling at points has become pretty insane.
In November 2022 both my mum and partner became seriously ill at the same time - my mum was hospitalised with severe depression on the same day my partner was told he had cancer - it was a lot to take on to say the least. As well as this my son had just started secondary school and was finding it extremely challenging, the first term included detentions and regular phone calls from various teachers telling me how he was causing disruptions, refusing to do tests and not complying to pretty much every request - this of course was really stressful as my head and heart were overly consumed with worry for my mum and partner but I had to try and keep on top of what was going on at school too. Don’t worry I am definitely not perfect and did in fact have several phone calls from the school that ended in me putting the phone down due to the high level of stress I was under at the time, after all there is only so much one can take on board. I hated seeing my son so unhappy in school and nine months down the line I am finally looking at getting him assessed for ADHD and have the school working with me in a more supportive capacity. My daughter is a deep soul and we talk a lot about everything thats going on, she understands things are tricky for me sometimes and involves herself in helping out and generally being the calm one of the household. My mum is out of hospital and looking after herself independently, my partner is slowly turning the corner post surgeries and daily treatment - things are settling down (for now).
A lot of my friends and family kept telling me throughout ‘oh wow, you are so strong, it’s a lot to deal with’. Maybe I am so strong because as an only child I have always just got on with stuff, no matter what. My mum is also a very strong woman - installing the importance of speaking your mind and to talk through problems that weigh you down. Or maybe I am not special at all and simply getting on with the daily grind. I believe now more than ever before how everything that life throws your way is a lesson, the things I have learnt this year alone have made me look at my work and life in a completely different light. I supported my mum though a really serious illness, I cared for my partner who was dealing with life changing disease and treatments, I tried to keep busy with a few carefully selected work projects, I definitely took self care seriously, I helped and continue to work with my son’s often challenging behaviour and yes there is the very real fact of still wanting to look and feel good with a spring in my step. Once a nice bottle of wine on a Friday night would kick the worries away, now I am leaning more towards a hydra facial followed by water and an early night - yes really!
In writing this piece I hope to communicate something of myself that is authentic by showing that we can all experience challenging times and to not be held back by them. Look for inspiration in places that you may of not considered and possibly view life from a different perspective - this can be the best route forward when we are stuck. Women are incredibly resilient and open creatures, the amount we can do continuously astounds and surprises me.
Personally I don’t see that things are going to slow down or suddenly become stress free any time soon so I am going to be living in the chaos, embracing the unknown and trying to work with everything that is thrown my way. I hope that some you reading this can connect with where I am coming from. If like me you love a list then see below for some of my quick fire feel good hacks- and most importantly DO THINGS YOUR OWN WAY.
Do not be afraid to be yourself Trust your gut
Speak to your girlies
Go for a walk and look around you Don’t bother dwelling on the past Get an early night
Don’t feel you have to fit in
Take inspiration from something new Love what you have
Lots of love Lucie x
Meet Georgia Billings, a force to be reckoned with. She is a mama of three who juggles motherhood while managing the career of Idris Elba's body double and supporting her husband, a badass Muay Thai boxer. Georgia has a keen eye for fashion and is always immaculately dressed, with her children looking like they have walked straight out of a Benetton campaign. On top of her busy schedule, Georgia is a trained doula and a born and bred South London badass, with a soul that shines through in everything she does.
1)Mum Hacks: Tips and trips for making life easier
As a mum of three (!) and wife to a Professional (World Champion, no less) Kick boxer – of course the first hack that comes to mind has something to do with the bane of my life…LAUNDRY. Ergh. The word even gives me shudders. Of all my accomplishments in life, having an empty laundry basket fills me with ultimate MUM GOAL vibes. Anyway, I digress –
Hack 1: the sun, not only makes us instantly feel better and more glowy and beautiful but it’s the best for getting out newborn shit stains. How many baby grows are you guilty of throwing away because they had a huge yellow splodge that wouldn’t budge? Give the babygrow a rinse in cold water (with a bit of washing up liquid if you’re feeling fancy) and simply pop the babygrow outside in direct sunlight – and like magic, the stain disappears.
Hack 2: for older kids that play sports (or husband’s that go to the gym a lot (try 4 times a day, 6 days a week in this house…)) a scoop full of bicarbonate of soda, is the best addition to your wash to get rid of any lingering damp/stinky armpit smells.
2)The secret life of mums: Confessions from the trenches
Not so much a confession, but more a “must” – once you have a baby it’s so easy to loose yourself and your identity – I’ve been there, pretty certain we’ve all grieved our pre parent (have a lie-in till 1pm) selves at some stage. Third baby in, and this time round the “bounce back” (not in loosing baby weight – I wish!) has been so much more powerful – I’m confident in who I am, what I stand for, my priorities, my choices – and my wardrobe. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been – because I’m so concentrated on me. I surround myself with energy boosters. Actually, on reflection, I haven’t bounced back – I’ve evolved.
3)The best and worst advice mums have received
I trained as a doula (although currently, I’ve put that career on hold) and the word “advice” is a bit of a trigger for my doula brain! Doula’s don’t give advice – they encourage clients to use their b.r.a.i.n.s to make informed choices (acronym for: benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, nothing). If I had to choose..the best advice would be something my husband has said to me countless times, “set boundaries and don’t be afraid to say “no” if you don’t want to do something.” It’s something I’ve really put in to practice since having our youngest son.
The worst advice, for me personally (after giving birth) would be “don’t worry about the mess, sleep when the baby’s sleeping” I can’t relax if our house is a pig sty – my brain would be way more relaxed, and in turn, I would feel more content if I spent that time tidying my space – we are all individuals, the most important thing is to do what works best for US.
4)Mumfessions: embarrassing moments from parenthood
I know there are a million embarrassing moments, probably because the kids are at an age now, where they’re brutally honest about everything – no filters at all...which at times can be pretty toe curlingly embarrassing. I’m still breastfeeding, and being at a work meeting, or a cool brand’s PR event and my milk soaking through my top, still makes me all hot and flustered – although it usually ends up as a bonding tool, as guaranteed at least one other parent in the room can sympathise!
5)Parenting fails: when things dont go as planned
A couple of evenings ago – after eating dinner, the baby was having some nappy off time, crawling around the front room before bed. The rest of us were still sitting at the dining table, catching up on the day etc … 5 or so minutes later, my eldest son went to join his little brother on the floor and immediately starting shouting “NO ROBIN!! NO ROBIN!!”
Intrigued, I went over to see what was happening… Robin has done a poo on the floor, and was picking the sweetcorn out of his log – and eating it. EPIC FAIL.
6)The truth about potty training: A mum’s perspective
I potty trained my daughter (she’s almost 5 now) during lockdown. We were all indoors for months – and the first thing I brought was a potty. I didn’t put any pressure on her at all – she naturally just started sitting and weeing on the potty. As with everything children related, consistency is the key – just keep at it. Also, children’s milestones are often a competition amongst parents – battle of the “who walked/used the potty/counted to 5 in French first” don’t fall in to that pressure circle. You’ll know when you’re both ready.
7)The mum squad: finding your tribe in the world of parenthood
I lead such a busy life that I find it really hard to sync diaries with a lot of my friends that have children. I’m guilty of making plans and then either cancelling or one of us completely forgets that we had a date in the diary – so last minute “hey babes, what you up to today/tomorrow” plans usually work best for me. My true friends don’t take me cancelling or my ‘not seeing them for 6months’ personally – when we do meet up, we pick up where we left off and there is no animosity or hard feelings. This ties in to the ‘boundaries and people pleasing advice’ I mentioned above – I’ve learned to prioritise myself, my family and my work commitments and sadly, that doesn’t leave time for a whole lot else – I’m extremely fortunate and blessed that I’m happiest when I’m with the people that live within my four walls.
8)Mum’s night out: the Importance of self care and fun.
I’m a bit of a boring bastard – I don’t get out and socialise or “have fun” how other’s would perceive to be the conventional way, very often. Robin is almost one, although he eats food now – he falls to sleep on my boob every night and I prioritise him each and every time. I don’t enjoy my time out otherwise, knowing he’s distressed. Instead I try to arrange daytime plans (brunch/lunch etc). This year I’ve been consistent with my fitness regime, and holding myself accountable, and I’ve fallen in love with walking – for hours – my fav’ place to walk is Richmond Park, this is major selfcare and “time out” for me.