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Guest Blog

Raising Boys in London

Being blessed with two amazing boys is wonderful however raising them in London especially South London is scary. South London is a place where there is gun and knife crime. Along with gangs and drug culture. My degree is in Criminology and I have a background of working with young offenders. In the past I have worked closely with young people either as a mentor or key worker. I love working with young people it is my passion but it is also scary to think that my boys could be easily influenced by others. The young people I have met have been lovely and deep down know this is not the right path for them but are easily influences by others. 

All it takes is the wrong person to connect with my child, or them to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lets face it black boys are usually a target eventually and I am a mother to not one but two black boys. The thought of my boys getting stopped and searched makes me sick to my stomach although it could be routine. The fact that they could be exposed to that worries me. As a mother I can only hope and pray that this is a lifestyle that they will not choose. 

I will make sure that they are educated of their rights like I was from a young age. At the age of 14 I went on a residential with BPA (Black Police Association) now known as NBPA (National Black Police Association) I was able to get an insight into policing and how I can be treated safely and fairly if I were to come into contact with the system. This course was an opportunity I was given at secondary school as an ethnic minority student. I learnt so much and met some amazing people. I wish this was taught as part of the curriculum.

I hope that the experiences that I am giving them now will shape there future so they don't need to seek excitement elsewhere. At the end of the day my boys will eventually grow up and venture into adolescence. That is something that I will have to accept and I hope that my parenting is strong and firm enough that they want more for their lives. Social media has a heavy influence on our young people. When I was young we still went out, we played with each other, we spoke to each other. Young people these day's don't even have any people skills, they don't know how to make eye contact, they lack communication because all they do is speak to friends via social media platforms. Social media for young people can cause a lot of peer pressure, all to keep up with the latest trends. Young people get caught up in followers and likes and realise this is not real, there is a real life away from their phones. Thankfully my boys are still young so social media is not a concern but as they get older and technology continues to grow I dread to think what what it will be like when they are in their teens. Its hard to find the balance between not giving them too much independence which will cause they to do things behind your back. I want to have a transparent relationship with them where we have a mutual level of respect and trust.

To get stabbed or shot is "normal" to the young people of today. They are not afraid of the law. They have no boundaries and of course this is not all of them. However the majority get caught up in the street life. The other day I was heading home from the cinema. I was walking along with my cousins and we saw a group of black boys on their bikes with balaclava and bats. It was like 11.30 at night! What on earth was they doing, I was frightened as an adult and thought I bet their parents don't even know that they are out at that time of night, what parent would be happy knowing their child is roaming the streets like that. The media portray gangs and knife crime in a positive light, I don't understand the purpose of shows like gangland, what are they trying to show our young people. I think that if our young people watch it, it is exposing them to a life they may not have seen before. I don't think it is a preventive way of reducing gang culture within our community.

Written by Nahdia Blake 

Instagram @nahdz_adventures

Nahdia Blake

School Readiness

School readiness is a measure of how a child is to succeed in school, cognitively, socially and emotionally. In the early years the three prime areas of a child's learning and development are communication and language, personal social and emotional and physical development. The other areas that are factored in for school readiness are also literacy and mathematics. 

In today's age, teachers are stretched beyond measure, with endless paperwork and near to 34 children per class. Most teachers do a wonderful job educating but it is not their sole responsibility and my option is that education and learning starts from home. 

From the moment your children enter the world they are a sponge, ready to learn, from how to suckle the breast to walking and talking. It is our job as parents to ensure we train our children in the way that they should go. Learning right from wrong and setting clear emotional boundaries. 

So is your child school ready? School readiness isn't getting them to recite the 10xs table but more are they emotionally stable enough? Below are 10 tips to help you help your child be ready for school. 

1. Does your child have a clear healthy routine? Routine is key with early year children as it provides them with a sense of security, safety an responsibility and confidence. A child who has a set bed time, given clear instructions and understands what happens next, will feel secure and confident enough to listen and learn. 

2. Early to bed! Most 4 year olds shouldn't need an afternoon nap anymore and require 13hours at night. Can your child go from 7am till 6pm?. If not you may want to start working on a clear bedtime routine bath, story and bed early. Ideally no later than 7. I know in a two working household it's not always easier but you will find a child who 2 8 June 2017 sleeps better will be happier to learn and enjoy their day at school.

 3.How is your child's primary areas of learning. Look at it like a brick wall (see image) if their is a crack in any of the three prime areas of learning, then they will need working on before a child can have more areas of learning added on top. This could therefore delay development. So look at building a secure foundation in you child's prime areas first.

 4. Can sit for short periods of time. A good way to practice this at home is doing story time on the carpet or circle song time and without your child on your lap. Children need to understand that in the school environment they cannot get up mid story and walk off to play or walk around whilst eating.

5. Able to dress themselves. Some younger school children may still need support but from around 24 months children should be able to put on shoes socks gloves and a coat or hat by themselves. Get your child dressing and undressing themselves and dolls as much as possible at home so that they won't need to panic when required to change into their P.E kits etc. Of course the teachers will support but remember with 34 children in a 3 8 June 2017 class it's important your child feels confident to do this themselves. 

6. Understand expected levels of behaviour. I have a blog on love and correction which I delivered at the #mamataughtmeevent @mummysdaysout. Children need to learn clear healthy boundaries from the get go to keep them safe. We all need to understand what is right from wrong and it is up to us as parents to ensure our children have set clear boundaries before starting school.

 7. Independently using the toilet. We all like our own toilet. Image being at someones house and needing a poo!!! Oh gosh get me home I need to go(unless we've known each other for more that a year I'm using ya loo) it can be a scary thing the toilet, well in the mind of a 4/5 year old anyway. Once my son was clean, at 2 1/2, he was soon to start preschool once, he turned three. I did worry how he would be using another toilet and one thing I will say, if you know you have a child who has a "toilet thing" (where they need to see the loo 10 times in every place you visit) then do tell the teacher. Show them the toilets at school and the teachers will work with you on this.

 8. How does your child react when you leave them? Can they separate from parent/carer with ease. When my son was one, we tried 4 8 June 2017 nursery. He was their two weeks and then my heart couldn't take it anymore. The yelp and the finger nails, digging into my neck on drop off was enough for me to say naaaa I'm not doing this to you. Now at three he asks to to the kissing before we go in the class room. 

9. Can they take turns and share. Sharing is caring. "But it's mine I had it half an hour ago but I just went and played with other things!" We all know this one. As children get older their understand of sharing does become better but do ensure they are learning to take turns. A great way to encourage this is something I do called table talk. At breakfast or tea time everyone wants to chat at the same time, QUIET!!!!! So that's when Ted comes to tea. You can only talk if your holding Ted. This makes the talker feel valued and makes the others have to listen. Like we say in this house God gave you two ears and one mouth, therefore you must listen more than you speak. 

10. How does your child communicate? Is English their fist language? Having someone understand how you communicate is reassuring especially if your 4! Trying to explain something to someone when they have no understanding of what's being said can be frustrating especially if you are a young child. 5 8 June 2017 From the moment my son entered the world I did nothing but speak to him properly, no goo goo gaga business. A child who can communicate their needs confidently to their teacher will feel more settled in their environment. 

Our children are a gift from God and it is our job as parents to love nurture and to train them up in the way that they should go. I do hope you have found these suggestions supportive to help you get your child school ready. 

Written by 

For more mama support you can follow me on insta @mumliewithtoni or email me @ 

Encourage, lift up and laugh! Blessings. 

Mum Life With Toni xxxx

mum life with Toni 

Learning through play

Learning through play is so important for children's development. It is encouraged in the early years but can be used throughout childhood. I am a mum of two boys and a part time early years practitioner. I encourage play within the home because it is not just the schools responsibility to teach my children. Play is important because it gives our children the opportunity to express emotion. It encourages children to explore surroundings. It builds confidence and develop communication skills

I started a sensory Sunday segment on my blog. Why Sunday? Because Sunday is usually our chill out day, the day we don't have anything planned. I usually plan the activity from the day before and set it up in the front room for the boys to see when they wake up. I then put on some relaxing music and sit back and watch them learn, play and explore. Why sensory? Sensory helps simulate senses. It encourages children to play, create, investigate and explore. It helps develop language. I try to link our sensory activities to seasons, holidays or whatever the boys are interested in.

Some of the activities have been;

- Painting with bubble wrap, we have looked at how it makes "bubbles" or circles on the paper. We are yet to wrap it around our hands and feet. 

- We have made sludge and slime, using cornflour, washing up liquid and conditioner. This was good as we made a swamp for the dinosaurs we explored that week. 

- We have made cloud dough with baby oil and flour. This was used a a "birthday cake" sensory tub. 

The opportunities with learning through play are endless, you can use whatever you have in your home.

Written by Nahdia Blake

Instagram @nahdz_adventures

Nahdia Blake

Confidence and our children

As parents do we need to keep talking about confidence?  Do our children, have it? Lack it? Do we want them to have a little bit more? What causes a lack of confidence? How can I give my child the fundamental building blocks that they need to build theirs?

When it comes to digging deeper into the minefield of confidence we first need to detangle our understanding of what confidence is, from the personality traits that it is so often confused with.

We hear a lot of phrases thrown about like extroversion and introversion which can give you a hook as a parent to hang your peg however the downside is the diagnosis can be with your child for life.

Extroverted kids are presented as ‘out there, out there’ , bubbly social little butterflies who like to party. Introverted kids are the poor relation whose parents can pity because they are represented as a little bit weird, odd, shy at best and lacking in confidence at worst.

These depictions and framing of our children are used merely to label, box and explain their behaviours for the comfort of others. These words have nothing at all to do with confidence but inevitable they need addressing when discussing confidence, to be challenged and broken down because of the lasting impact they have on the life of a child through to their adulthood.

Thinking out loud, the word ‘shy’ pops into my mind. What does that mean to you? is ‘shy’ the child who hides behind your legs when someone they don't know greets you? is ‘shy‘ the child who does not mix well in big groups of kids? Should you worry as a parent that your child lacks confidence at this point? Is there something you need to do? How can you get help? Do you really need it?

Hear this; ‘Shy’ can be bold too and she can be confident. ‘shy’ can be vocal about not attending a party because it's not for her she doesn’t enjoy the atmosphere. ‘Shy’ can stand up and sing in front of 200 people if she is allowed and encouraged to without worry, because she is confident. ‘Shy’ doesn’t need to greet a stranger, until she feels that she knows them WHY?  Because she knows her own mind.

We all charge up and bounce off each other differently. If ‘shy’ can grow and develop thinking she is normal, not weird, confident, not shy she can feel comfortable with who she is and develop. She can focus her energy on what makes her happy, how she feels comfortable with socialising and how she fits into the world around her. 

Now let us not forget the extroverts remember the ones that are out there, out there? Because they are ok, right? They can socialise in big groups and say ‘hello’ to strangers. Maybe they cannot get up and speak in a hall full of people, believe that they can learn a new language of just believe in themselves.

Fixed terms like introverts and extroverts do not allow for the fluidity and nuance that are our everyday lives. We might be confident in certain situations, areas or spaces which is great but that does not mean that we don’t lack confidence and need help and support in other areas. We need to move on from these fixed single narratives that can hold us back in identifying if our children lack confidence.

Here are 4 questions you could start by asking yourself;

Does your child value themselves?

Does your child believe in themselves and their abilities?

Will your child make a decision?

Does your child have an opinion?

Written by Sarah Gregory


instagram @srosegregory

Sarah Gregory

When I became a Mum 

A real, honest, open, over sharing encounter, of my life as a Mother. Hoping to encourage and support and bring laughter to other Mothers on this mummy marathon. 

7th December 2012, prayer meeting, God said your pregnant. My pastor had called for choir and band members to lead worship, so being the wilful child that I am, I volunteered myself to boldly sing for Jesus. My pastor had said how fruitful the band was just before calling for volunteers and within what felt like a matter on minutes of worshiping God I was out, sparko in the Holy Spirit. 

7 days later I did a test (why on earth did you wait soooo long? I hear you cry. No reason other than pay day and those test ain't cheap and God already said). There, flashing in front me a small white stick covered in my wee said your preggers, well it actually said 2-3 weeks. What joy what excitement what reality. 

You see 2012 was an up and down year for me. I got married in the January and had a miscarriage in April. That's a whole other blog. So to discover I was with child only 8 months later was a real blessing and full of emotion.

Let's face it, the moment us ladies find out we're pregnant we instantly become a Mum. That warm fuzzy feeling and the instant unconditional love of a tiny human inside you, who you just can't wait to meet. A true explosion of emotion. I literally mean that, I mean one minute I'd be all smiles and the next I'd be bursting with floods of tears at DIY SOS ( it gets me every time) 

I was blessed with a beautiful pregnancy, I really sort God during this time and a lot if prayer and praise got put down too. (See pregnancy blog)

Then after 9 months of rearranging my life to prepare for this precious gift from God, the time was here for him to arrive. Yes I knew he was a boy because the lady said "oooh willy" at the 20 week scan. Good job I wanted to know. 

I didn't know what to expect with labour (see labour blog) so I just put it to God and was blessed to be able to listen to worship music throughout my labour. I also had a water birth which I would highly recommend, where safe to do so. 

1 hour 46 minutes breathing , pushing, not pushing, of legs akimbo and being totally off my face on gas and air, my beautiful creation had arrived (two days late from his due date mind!) Woah! 

Woah! "hello"I said as his little body lay on mine and his big brown eyes wide open like he was ready to see the world just gazed into mine and boom, in an instant, you were mine and I was yours. 

What a honour, what a blessing, what a joy to become a mother , your mother. God picked me to be your mum thank you sweet Jesus. 

After coming home the same night, I spent forever watching him. Desperately needing sleep but wanting to just watch him breath and smell him. I should of slept because that night was the first and only night he slept through until 20 months!

For any new mums don't despair their all different you just might get a sleeper, you just might be one of those mums who's child sleeps through from 2 months old. If you are SAY NOTHING to the exhausted looking woman at play group, just bring her coffee! 

There you have it I was a Mum, with a baby in my arms to love and cherish and I instantly couldn't remember my life before he arrived. I feel very blessed to have taken to motherhood like a fish to water. That doesn't mean I found it easy. Let me tell you their were times that I cried most of the day, stared helpless at this crying newborn, been so sleep deprived I could of slept standing up (still could) and felt such a bad mum when I got mastitis in my boob for trying to give the best to my son and breastfeed. (see boob blog) What I mean is I was born to be a Mum. 

Each stage is different. So I experience the scariness of a newborn checking on them every five minutes, not washing or getting much done full stop. Breast feeding journey or being painful, tiring, yet not wanting it to end ( I feel blessed to have fed until 2 1/2). The weaning stage, or should I say the stage where food gets EVERYwhere other than in the child's mouth! Teething, My goodness epic teething in this house, to the point where I'd let him chew the freezer just so it would help. Sleepless nights ( I think that's it now I've never slept the same since before becoming a mum and apparently you don't! Thanks kid) The first birthday celebrations still considering my babies routine. Separation anxiety (we love a label in this country) basically the stage where your kids like "mum were you going, are we not one person??? The terrible twos aka I prefer the danish phrase, the boundary testing age. I think children just learn to be testing from this age on. To now the marvellous three year old or threenager who knows everything and huffs a lot. And you know what, I look forward to many more wonderful stages of this journey ahead. 

So when it can feel a little overwhelming, when it feels like your being a rubbish mum and your not having a great day, stop a minute, breath, thank God for this beautiful blessing (even when their screaming NO in your face) and have a tickle time out. 

Becoming a Mum is just the best. It's hard work yes but it's rewards and joy outweigh the madness of this marathon. Go mama keep on keeping on. You got this.

Written by Mum Life With Toni Instagram @mumlifewithtoni #mama2mama #mumchats 

Mum life with Toni