Monday, October 22, 2018

Meal Planing Recipe Ideas

Like many mums up and down the country, I am primarily responsible for most aspects of meal planning;the planning it out, shopping for it, cooking it, dishing it up and washing up afterward.
I’ve always enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen but with all the after school activities and my older children coming in at different times it has become more of a challenge to find meals that everyone enjoys, fits into our schedule and I actually enjoy cooking. My cooking has become very repetitive and I’ve lost the excitement I once had in rustling up family meals.

I challenged myself to come up with a list of 20 meals, some old favourites and some new and use this post as a reference for myself and anyone else struggling to meal plan or wanting to try something new or different.

Spaghetti bolognese
Shepherds or cottage pie, veg and yorkshire’s 
Chilli con carne with rice and tortilla chips
Koftas with rice, salad and flatbreads
Meatballs in tomato sauce and pasta 
Lasagne, chips and salad

Chicken curry, rice and naan
Roast chicken dinner
Jerk chicken, rice and peas, plantain and salad
Chicken pasta salad
Fajitas, potato wedges and corn on the cob
Chicken and mushroom pasty slices with chips and salad

Hot dog and fries
Pork casserole and mash potato
Toad in the hole and veg
Pork chops, roast potatoes and veg
Lamb chops, cous cous and roasted veg 
Sausage and mash
Steak and mushroom pie, new potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower
Beef stew, dumplings and crusty bread
Ribs, chips and onion rings
Ham, egg and chips
Dinner breakfast(a good old fashioned breakfast fry up but for dinner)

Jacket potatoes
Pizza, garlic bread and salad
Fish, chips and mushy peas
Tuna pasta bake
Fish fingers, chips and peas or beans
Omelette and salad

Mcdonalds(chicken nuggets or burger and fries)
Chinese(fried rice, noodles, sweet and sour chicken and prawn crackers£

As you can see from the list above, I came up with over 20 but hadn’t even scratched the surface of some of the recipes that were whizzing around in my head. 

Well that’s me set for the next few weeks.

I’d love to know some of your family favourites when meal planning.

Emma xoxo

Monday, October 15, 2018

Just Slow Down

These days there are so many memes, saying provers, quotes etc all over the internet and a little while back I stumbled across a poem. I agreed with the sentiment and really liked the poem and that was that, but today as I rushed back from town with my mind focused on the 101 things I needed to do before dashing down to the school for my 9 year olds end of topic presentation I started wondering about just how much as parents we miss out on with all the craziness that is parenthood and chores. I don't mean missing out on all the things that maybe our pre-child selves would do I mean missing out on things like watching your children fall about in fits of giggles over the smallest thing, catching them engrossed in a book and realising just how much they enjoy reading or something as simple as snuggling up to watch a movie. I know just how hard it can be to do everything that needs doing around the home and also trying to find time to play with the kids, give each of them quality time, watch a movie or just have some chilled time with them but it really is so important.

My eldest started college this year and it's really made me stop and think about just how quickly time does go and how much lack of quality time can really affect relationships(our relationship is strained at the best of times but that's a whole other blog post!) For years and years I would get stressed out and prioritise differently and as long as the kids were fed, clean and playing then I thought that that was all they needed and I would spend my days cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, diy-ing(if that's even a word!) and yes I know that all these things need doing but at the same time these things can wait and be lower down on your list of priorities.

Lately, cleaning mania has hit social media and the world quite badly and while I know I have to clean my house daily, I watch some of the videos and Instastories lately of how obsessively people are cleaning and I realise that yes, I would love to scrub my toilet with a toothbrush so it sparkles(I'M BEING SARCASTIC) but that's time that I could spend reading with my children, doing some colouring in, catching up with how their day was or even just sitting on the sofa for a cuddle.

There will be days when I can't spend as much time with my children as I would like to but from now on I will be making sure that I MAKE time to be able to pay full attention.

As hectic as life can be in today's society we really do need to slow down and appreciate the little things and cherish the special moments we share with our children. They are our babies today and grown tomorrow.

This was the poem that inspired this post

Slow Down Mummy

Slow down Mummy
Slow down mummy, what is all the fuss?
Slow down mummy, make yourself a cup of tea.
Slow down mummy, come spend some time with me.

Slow down mummy, let's pull boots on for a walk,
Let's kick at piles of leaves, and smile and laugh and talk.
Slow down mummy, you look ever so tired,
Come sit and snuggle under the duvet, and rest with me a while.

Slow down mummy, those dirty dishes can wait,
Slow down mummy, let's have some fun - bake a cake!
Slow down mummy, I know you work a lot,
but sometimes mummy, it's nice when you just stop.

Sit with us a minute,
and listen to our day,
Spend a cherished moment,
because our childhood won't stay!

~ R Knight

What does your list of priorities look like?

Emma xoxo

Friday, October 12, 2018

Loving My Natural Hair

Growing up when and where I did I was either surrounded by my black friends with fancy corn row hairstyles or my white friends with their straight flowing European hair and I was always jealous. Jealous of the amazing corn row styles and jealous of the long flowing smooth and silky hair. You see I had very thick and coarse hair and my English mum with European hair herself always struggled to manage it. I so desperately wanted long straight ‘flicky flicky’ hair as I called it and absolutely hated my Afro hair.
There was a seriously limited number of hair products on the market back then and even fewer hairdressers that knew how to handle my hair. and you can forget about blogs and YouTube tutorials of black hair care because they never even existed!

As soon as I was old enough I began chemically relaxing my hair, this involved covering my roots in a potent chemical paste and washing it off after about 20 minutes. Once washed and blow dried I had the hair I had always longed for. Between this and colouring my hair on a regular basis I started to notice that my hair was breaking, becoming very thin and even patchy in places.
After seeing how much damage I was doing I finally stopped relaxing my hair about 9 years ago and started trying different oils and lotions to try and reverse some of the damage I had done. Despite giving up on straightening my hair I still longed for a ‘slick’ look which is why I was still pulling it back tightly on a daily basis and holding it in place with several hair bands which meant that I was counteracting any good I was doing.

FAS Hair Shop in Peckham, London

In recent years, the Afro and natural hairstyles have made a huge comeback and with it a much healthier way of styling hair and with it an abundance of hair products that cater for pretty much every hair type and a vast amount of great bloggers and vloggers with their amazing hair care videos, tips and tricks

After a life changing event just over a year ago I started looking at life very differently and one of the thing I realised was that wanting my hair to look slick and straight wasn’t because it was what I liked, it was because it’s what society said looked better. 
So for over a year now not only is my hair all natural but I’ve embraced my curls and am on a journey of discovering what works for my hair and what doesn’t. I’ve still got a long way to go but so far I’m loving how healthy my hair is feeling.

decades, natural afro hair has always been depicted as unruly, undesirable and NOT beautiful and I had unwittingly bought into that idea and black celebrities sporting European style wigs and weaves have reinforced that. Black women have been subjected to images in the media that doesn't reflect them and their afro and natural hair but recently we are seeing more and more images of BEAUTIFUL BLACK WOMEN embracing their natural locks and it’s so empowering especially for young black girls.

I’m under no illusions there will be days that my hair will look a mess, not sit how I want it to and drive me completely insane but I’m finally happy with the curls that grace my head and am proud of the head of hair I have, greys and all!

Emma xoxo

Monday, October 8, 2018

Rainy Day Activities

This year we had an amazing Summer full of hot and sunny days which meant we were able to enjoy loads of outdoor activities and we're fortunate enough to live in an area that is densely populated with parks, playgrounds, swimming pools and other family friendly attractions, however, now Autumn is well and truly here with cold, wet and windy days we are getting creative after school and at the weekends.
So with the weather set to get worse over the next few months, here are some of our favourite rainy day activities.

Masking Tape Games
Something as simple as a role of masking tape can provide hours of fun. Mark out a hopscotch on the floor using the tape. Using the masking tape stick a large circle to the floor followed by 2 smaller circles inside the largest one and an 'x' in the centre. Roll a ball and try and get as close to the 'x' as possible.

Play Dough
Despite what many think, making your own play dough couldn't be any simpler. There are loads of recipes out there that require just a few ingredients which you will probably have lying around in the cupboards at home. The beauty of homemade play dough is that its non-toxic, cheap and can be made in minutes.
Here's our favourite

Puddle jumping
This has to be the ultimate(and my personal favourite) rainy day activity. Get all the kids and adults to pull on a pair of wellies, grab a brolly if it's not too windy and head out in search of some puddles to do some good old fashioned puddle jumping in!

Rain gauge
Let the kids play scientists by measuring how much rain falls. Find any measuring implement(jugs, old baby bottles or pick up a rain gauge) and leave it out in the garden, on the windowsill or on a balcony. After every period of rain get the children to record how much rain fell in a chart of some kind
*this could also be used as part of your child's school homework*

Get baking! Fairy cakes, biscuits, fudge, desserts, flapjacks. You'll be surprised by how many ingredients you'll already have laying around in your cupboards so there's no excuse!

Indoor picnic 
Ok, so the weather outside may be rubbish but why not have an indoor picnic? Complete with blanket, sandwiches and  finger foods treat yourselves to a bug free picnic!

Decorate a candle
If like me you have hundreds of candles around the house then why not get out some plain candles and your craft box and let everyone decorate a candle. The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination.

Play a board game
Monopoly, Kerplunk, Frustration and Dominoes these were just some of the games I used to play as I child and I find they are still as popular today. Get everyone around the table and enjoy an afternoon of fun (and in our house lots of cheating!)

Do a puzzle
For me, there's always been something quite therapeutic and satisfying about sitting down and completing a puzzle so why not get everyone to get out their favourite puzzle and all complete them together. 

Look out for my upcoming rainy day activities video on my YouTube channel.

What are some of your favourite rainy day activities?

Emma xoxo

Saturday, October 6, 2018

What Black History Month Means To Us

As BLACK HISTORY MONTH begins I have found myself reflecting on what exactly it means to me and my family. As a family that is fortunate enough to be rich in a number of different cultures, I feel it is an important job for me as a mum to educate my children on the different histories and cultures that make us who we are and remind my them that those things don't separate us but make us special. Whilst there are some daily practises in our lives that are a part of our culture, for instance the way in which we care for our hair or in the food we eat, languages and terminology used, Black History Month is a great way of highlighting some of the forgotten stories and events that have shaped our families and the people we have become. The are some wonderful and courageous people who have positively contributed the world we live in today and made so many things possible for people for people just like myself.

I'm very lucky to have had many opportunities in life, including travel, study and work that have opened my eyes to things I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience and it is because I know that my ancestors just like the ancestors of many others were denied those opportunities for no other reason than the colour of their skin and fought so very hard for future generations to have these chances that I grab them with both hands.

One of the reasons I felt compelled to write this post is as a mummy blogger, I frequent many parenting forums, networks and read many blogs daily and there is always very little mention of black history month and in some cases no mention at all. I could spend hours going on about what black history month means to me and reel off names of many black people who have contributed to the world we live in but this post isn't about that, it's about seeing if what I am trying to teach my children is getting through to them and hearing what black history month means to the next generation, the ones who can make a difference in this world, MY CHILDREN. Unfortunately, even in this day and age there are still so many negative stereotypes surrounding black people, particularly young black men and boys and I work hard to prove that my children do not fit those stereotypes which is a sad thing for a parent to have to do. But with my daughters recent GCSE results, my oldest son's sporting achievements and my youngest son's amazing ability in maths we are proving ignorant people wrong.

Some time ago I asked each of them what black history month means to them and even now I'm still bursting with pride at their responses. 

Mikhayla, 14"I believe Black History Month is a celebration of achievements and movements made by not just famous individuals but by lesser known people too. It is a time to reflect on what is great about our cultures and traditions and acknowledge some of the wonderful things people have done for us. We can also use this month to let our mentors and role models now how proud we are of them and grateful for their contribution to our lives."

Jason, 12"To me Black History Month means achieving goals  and proving that skin colour shouldn't limit our ability to be who we want to be."

Samuel,7"It means I am proud of who I am and love my Mummy and Daddy, 2 grandmas, 2 grandads and nanny. It means that I get to eat lots of different foods and hear different stories and songs from the olden times in the Caribbean. I love my family."

I really couldn't have put it better myself. 

So this month immerse yourself in a different culture, find out if your local authority are running any special events, learn about some of the amazing black people who have influenced society as we know it and enjoy Black History Month!

Emma xoxo

Monday, October 1, 2018

10 Top Tips For Using Zoflora

Over the last month or so, cleaning mania has completely taken over the internet thanks to the lovely Mrs Hinch and along with it the super increased use of Zoflora.  As a family of 6 (8 if you include the cats) not living in a mansion, I’ve always tried to keep on top of the cleaning, washing, ironing etc So keeping with the cleaning theme and offering some cleaning tips you may not have thought of, here are my top 10 cleaning with Zoflora tips.

1. On a clean and dry cloth or piece of paper towel pour a capful of your favourite scent Zoflora and wipe light bulbs and radiators. When you turn them on and they heat up they will fill your home with the lovely smell.

2. Fill a reed diffuser bottle with your fave Zoflora and just wait for the gorgeous aroma to fill your room.

3. Whether you own a steam or spray mop, or both like me, fill the water tank with a dilute* solution of Zoflora. Not only will the the room smell lovely but you will also be safe in the knowledge your floors will be disinfected and clean.
When your microwave needs a good clean fill a bowl with water and add a few drops of Zoflora. 

4. Put the bowl in the centre and microwave for two minutes. When the two minutes are up, not only will your microwave smell lush you’ll be able to just wipe any mess inside.

5. With half a capful of Zoflora on a dry cloth or piece of paper towel wipe door handles and light switches to keep bacteria and germs away.

6. When it’s time to clean the washing machine, pour a small amount of Zoflora into the softner tray and set on a cycle. Once finished wipe the rubber seal and door with a cloth with some Zoflora on.

7. Pour a couple of capfuls into your toilet cistern before bed. Not only will it clean and disinfect your cistern, it will also mean a nicer smell than first morning wee!

8. Fill and empty spray bottle with a dilute solution and have it on hand to clean and disinfect work surfaces, cupboard doors, windowsills and more

9. Pour a capful of Zoflora on the toilet brush every evening. Do I really need to explain this one?!

10. Every night, before bed fill your kitchen sink with boiling hot water and a capful of Zoflora and wake up to a clean sink and gorgeous smelling kitchen.

There will be a YouTube video with some of these and more tips for using Zoflora so make sure youre subscribed so you don't miss out!

What are your top tips for using Zoflora?

Emma xoxo

*Please read the guidelines on the box
Ensure you wash your hands after using Zoflora

Friday, September 28, 2018

Anxiety Depression and Me

After I had my third child something just wasn't right. I wasn't really bonding with him and felt down pretty much every day but didn't acknowledge any of these feelings. I was fortunate enough to have a really amazing midwife called Mary who spotted the tell tale signs of postnatal depression and was quick to alert my husband and offer him advice and support on how best to support and help me. I had a great support network in my parents, sister, husband and a few friends which really helped me face up to my feelings and get the necessary help. 

Nine years ago, depression was something that was still pretty much a taboo subject to talk about, so I didn't. I got the help I needed and got on with everything that a mother has to. I did start to feel better and started bonding with my little boy but it took four months. A whole four months before I WANTED to cuddle my baby rather than HAVING to cuddle him to soothe him.

Things got back to 'NORMAL' and I carried on with my life, occasionally I'd have days when I didn't feel great but then after a few years I started to have lots of days when I didn't feel great and the more frequent they got the worse they got and it was then that I realised I needed help. I made an appointment  to see the mental health nurse at my GP surgery and she suggested that she started me off on a low dose on anti depressants to see if they helped. To be honest, the first few weeks I felt like they had made things worse but slowly I started to see an improvement. The nurse monitored how I was feeling on them and after a couple of years after much discussion I was weaned off them.

It was only when I would get talking to people at playgroups and baby clinic that I realised just how many women locally were suffering just like I had and yet felt too embarrassed or ashamed to open up and say that they too were suffering from depression. From then I decided that I wouldn't just be another statistic and that I would be open about what I had gone through because if my experiences helped just one other person then it would be worth the stigma attached to it.

At the very end of 2014 I found out that I was expecting again and was petrified about how this would affect my mental health(I had gone into premature labour in 2012 with another pregnancy and suffered really badly, but that's another post!) and how I would cope.
I mentally prepared myself for the challenges that pregnancy, birth and a new baby would bring and we kept the pregnancy super secret(so much so that I was over halfway through before we told the few family members that we did tell). Sofia's arrival into the world was 2 weeks early and just as super quick as the others. Despite some feeding issues to begin with, I bonded with her instantly and she has been my little sidekick ever since. I didn't suffer with post natal depression and actually found myself to be the happiest I had been in a long while.

Shortly after Sofia's first birthday I slipped whilst on holiday and after just 2 days away I had to be rushed to A&E by ambulance. Fortunately we were in the UK and after 9 days in hospital I had to have an operation and pretty much learn how to walk again. This accident has left me disabled and with that it brought those days of feeling low again but this time around I know how to deal with it. Ignoring those feelings and locking them away are the worse things you can possibly do because they just fester and get worse so now I'm very open with those around me on my bad days and believe it or not it helps keep them at bay.
Since my accident I have limited sensation in my left leg and often walk funny which has brought on something that I've never suffered with before ANXIETY. I get anxious when I am out that people are looking at me because of how I walk or how I have to use items around me to sit down or stand up but to cope with that I have realised that despite me thinking everyone is looking at me, we live in such a fast paced environment where everybody else is so wrapped up in their own lives that nobody really cares that I walk with a limp or have to stick my bum up in the air to bend over, they really don't.

I know everything is always easier said than done but if you are out there suffering, please don't. Speak to someone, anyone. A friend, colleague, doctor, partner or drop me an email. You'd be surprised by just how many people out there are in the same position and thankfully so much has changed in the last nine years that depression and anxiety is no longer a taboo subject. In fact the tables have completely turned and we are encouraged to talk about our experiences as therapy and as a way of helping others.

Take care of yourselves and each other
Emma xoxo

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Please Look After My Baby

Please look after my baby
She’s the last I’ll ever have
I know that she’ll have good days
But I know she’ll have some bad
And when I can’t be there
To give her some tlc
Please just let her know
She’ll get mummy cuddles after three

I know she seems quite grown
Like she can handle being there
With her grown up smart new dress
And her very fancy hair
But when she first falls over
Or can’t make sense of it all
She’ll probably cry and sob and sob
And you’ll see she’s still so small

I know I’ve done this all before
With girl then boy and boy
But Sofia is our rainbow baby
And brought us so much joy
So when you see me tearing up
As I wave my little girl goodbye
Just say it’s ok as she walks away
And I go home to cry.

Emma xoxo

Friday, September 21, 2018

What’s It All About Then?

About 10 years ago I started blogging. I wanted to document my journey as a work from home mum of 2. Back then, blogging and vlogging wasn’t as big as it has become but nevertheless I wanted a place where I could vent and look back on where I had been and where I was now.

It started off well but then I felt I lost my way a little, with the explosion of blogging, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube I started feeling that everyone out there had more interesting things to say, nicer holidays to snap, more beautiful homes to show and just generally better lives to document.

I would compare my minute follower numbers to their rapidly growing numbers and felt that my posts were irrelevant and not up to scratch so changed my writing style and content to try and ‘fit in’ but because none of this interested me I lost interest in my writing and my blog pretty much fell by the wayside.

A little while back I was scrolling through Instagram and come to the realisation that a lot of the accounts that I followed were completely irrelevant to me and didn’t reflect me as a person or parent at all.

Middle class women asking whether this £160 rug or the that £190 rug suited their lounge better or what hair products were working great on their European hair just didn’t interest me at all. If I had £190 to spare I sure as hell wouldn’t be spending it on a rug and my Afro hair has completely different needs to that of someone with European hair.

I got speaking to another Mum at a playgroup and we were discussing these self same issues and it was then I thought to myself that there must be other women out there just like me who find it hard to relate to the staged Instagram images and the blog posts about things that just don’t speak to them and it was then that Me,Him and Them was born.

We are a family of six, I swear, we’re working class, our kids aren’t perfect(neither is our home), we budget, I’ve suffered from depression, I need to lose *a few* pounds, me and him have ups and downs, we are just a ‘normal’ family blogging, vlogging and talking about normal things.

So if my blog makes one woman feel less alone or provides them with someone out there to relate to then I’ve achieved my goal.
If anyone wants to reach out for a chat, ask a question or anything else then I’ll always reply.
My Instagram is here, Twitter here and YouTube here.

Emma xoxo

Monday, September 17, 2018

Playground Politics

For many, the school run is one of the most hated parts of the school year. Not because every morning without fail you’ll be screaming at your kids to get their shoes on and you’re already late or because you’ve picked them up and forgot to bring the all important snack, but because you stress about finding your place in it all.
My daughter starting nursery at our local school isn’t all new to me, her three siblings before her have all been there so you you could say that I’m part of the furniture as I embark on my 14th year of school runs at this school, yes that’s right FOURTEEN years and without a break in between!
I remember my first week of school runs, getting to 

know the other parents, seeing how my daughters friendship groups were working and finding my feet but one thing that stuck out was how ‘cliquey’ some of the mums were.

Despite being quite a chatty and friendly person it seemed really hard to ‘break into’ these mummy circles and not feeling accepted would often leave me feeling deflated. I’d try reading up on things they were talking
about so I could join in the conversation, pretend to like the things they did and just generally fake it till you make it as they say but I soon realised that what should be an enjoyable experience seeing my daughter off to school was becoming a chore and making me feel quite low. Waiting for that invite for coffee with the other mums or the text to enjoy a glass of wine with them felt like it was never going to be extended to me. Was it because I wasn’t middle class and white like the vast majority of parents or was it because I didn’t have that size 10 toned body? It took a while but then I started to feel accepted(or so I thought) but it just didn’t sit right that I had to be somebody I wasn’t just to fit in with these people that not long ago I didn’t even know.

It was then that I decided if these people didn’t like or accept the real me then they just weren’t worth my time. 

I let my guard down, started being myself again and you know what, I started to enjoy the school run and along the way made some real friends. People who laughed at the same things as me, people who had the same worries in life as me, people who liked and accepted me for ME.
Over the years I have observed parents in the playground looking uncomfortable or feeling left out and as a school run mum veteran try and pop over and say ‘HI’ because I was once that Mum and sometimes all you need is a friendly hello.

If you have become a school run mum this year then remember, just be yourself and don’t feel intimidated by the established cliques and friendship groups, say hi, smile and know that in time you’ll find your place in the playground and if you are already a school run mum and see a parent looking rather lost or lonely in the 
playground, be that warm and friendly face. 
We all have so much going on in our lives as mums, dads, guardians etc so playground politics is the last thing we need.

Emma xoxo