Friday, 30 October 2009

A Model Mother

chagall I've just started reading a biography of the artist Marc Chagall. He was the oldest of nine children, living in Russia at the start of the twentieth century. It was his mother, who against the odds, got her son into school where Chagall's interest and desire in becoming an artist was born. It was again his mother, who listened to her son's calling and took him along to a school of painting where Chagall was identified as having artistic talent and promptly enrolled as a pupil.

For a young Jewish man (still in his teens) living in a Russian town during this period to declare he wanted to pursue a career as an artist would have been totally unfathomable to his mother. Thanks to her maternal instinct, her belief in her son's conviction, her courage and love and respect for her son, she did everything she could to support his aspirations and Chagall went on to become one of the most successful artists of the twentieth century. She certainly sounds an admirable character and the kind of mother we all need and should strive to be!

Everyone wants the best for their children, for them to accomplish and achieve their dreams. As a parent, it can't be easy to watch them struggle at times or to see them pursue something far removed from what you might have liked or hoped for them to do. It's difficult for parents and grandparents to live in different cities or countries from their children, as is now more and more common among families. I imagine it can be challenging accepting certain lifestyle choices that your children make or observing their relationships with people you find it hard to warm to. Yet it's these very challenges that I think define parenthood.

Chagall's mother is a testament to what good parenting can achieve. Giving encouragement, support and respect to our children, whilst allowing them to create their own destiny. I was reminded of this extract from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet:
'Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, and yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward, not tarries with yesterday'.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


My son and I are going to a 1st birthday party today. There are quite a number of first birthdays around this time, due to the friends I've made with similarly aged babies to my son. Then there's Christmas not so far away......  Choosing gifts for children can be difficult or maybe it's just my own inexperience. With such a bewildering array of toys for children, it can be hard to pick out something.

I recently read an article called 'Economically Shopping for Christmas Toys' and have provided the link at the end of this post for you to read. A couple of points stood out for me:

- Kids can only soak in so much fun before it gets overwhelming and you are wasting your money. It seems many parents want their children to have lots of gifts to open so the fun never ends but maybe the parents/grandparents are the ones having more fun watching the gifts being opened, rather than the child appreciating all the new toys.

- Resist the urge to wrap a bunch of cheap toys just for the impact. Buying a few quality toys that will last for years is much more economical. Quality, not quantity is definitely a good adage to follow and it's nice to have toys that siblings or other friends and family can continue to enjoy.

When I think of some of the best presents given for our son, the hand-made gifts certainly stand out. Some of our family and friends gave us hand-made blankets, a rug, hand-knitted jumpers and a mix CD for the baby and us to enjoy. Every time we use these things we think of the people who gave them to us. There's a great deal of value in the kindness and thought behind these gifts.

Are there particular gifts that you and your children have really appreciated and enjoyed? I'd also be interested to hear how do you do gift-giving in your family.

Read the article, 'Economically Shopping for Christmas Toys' here.
photo credit

Monday, 26 October 2009

Big Family Get-togethers: 8 Ways to Minimise Stress & Maximise Enjoyment

We just got back from a week's holiday with my family - parents, brothers, sister-in-laws, niece, nephews, aunt etc. There were 13 of us in total and we'd rented a big house by the sea in Cornwall. With family members living in France, Italy and England, we don't have the opportunity to be together very often and it's even more rare that we are all in the same place for as long as a week. We were celebrating lots of significant birthdays/age milestones and thought it would be good to organise a holiday to celebrate the birthdays and spend some proper time together.

With Christmas not so far away, many of us will be involved in big family get-togethers. Not all of us are fortunate to have good relationships with all our relatives and it can therefore be a stressful time when everyone is together for the sake of a special occasion, such as Christmas. Whilst I am lucky enough to have a lovely easy-going family on both sides, I wanted to share some ideas I came up with after my family holiday this past week. I have compiled a list of 8 suggestions below that will I hope will help minimise stress and maximise enjoyment at your next big family get-together.

When lots of people convene, even in the best set of circumstances, there can be clashes of personality or disagreements over the smallest of things, like what time to eat a meal or where it's best for everyone to go on a day out. Everyone has their own routines back home and their usual ways of dealing with day-to-day situations, not to mention having their own opinions on what will make a 'perfect' celebration or event. It's important to be open to ideas and doing things differently.

Some people like to plan every fine detail, from the meals that will be eaten and the places visited, to the games played and the music listened to, but inevitably things do not go to plan and it can lead to disappointment when your expectations are not fulfilled. By having a flexible, laid-back approach, you will feel more relaxed and better able to enjoy the time with your family.

Here are 8 ways to get the most of your next big family get-together:
  • Manage your expectations. If you resist the urge to form all kinds of expectations then you are less likely to be disappointed by the way things turn out.   (This is true of so many things in life!)
  • Keep it simple. Rather than arranging lots of activities that can lead to petty arguements, enjoy doing simple tasks together like cooking a meal together or going for a nice walk somewhere.
  • Play together! Board games, Nintendo Wii, quizzes, cards, football, table tennis....whatever you like. Playing a game as a family is fun for all ages and is a great way to pass time if making conversation can be challenging.
  • Make an effort. If there is someone you don't usually get on well with, try to give them some of your time and talk to them; ask them questions, tell them what you've been doing lately. You might be surprised by their positive response and they will likely appreciate your efforts. If they don't, at least you will know you have tried.
  • Get out for a breather. When your get-together is  longer than a day, it can be helpful for you, your partner and children to get out for a short time away from the rest of the family. Something simple like going for a coffee or taking the children to the park for an hour or so can be reviving and restore your energy so that you return feeling able to deal with the larger group again.
  • Share the load. Whether it's helping with meal preparation, washing-up, playing with the children or cleaning a room full of discarded wrapping paper, if everyone does their bit it lightens the load and means there is more time for doing fun things together. It is always noticeable when someone just sits there doing nothing whilst everyone else is helping out.
  • Be open. Accept that it won't be the same as when you are at home with just your immediate family but that doesn't mean it won't be a good experience. Try to be open to doing different activities, eating different foods, sharing different family traditions. You might find you enjoy these more than you expected.
  • Have some time for the children. It can be especially hard to create a happy environment if there are children present who are not happy. Maybe you have a crying baby who's unsettled with the new surroundings,  a 5-year old who's upset because he doesn't have his usual toys to play with, or a young teenager who's bored because she's too young for adult conversation and activities and too old to play with younger relatives. Allow some time to do something they will enjoy and you'll find their happiness will radiate amongst the rest of the group.
How do you deal with big family get-togethers?
photo credit

Thursday, 22 October 2009

'Dad Rules' Parenting Tips

Dad RulesSome of you may be familiar with the 'Dad Rules' column that used to appear in the Sunday Times 'Style' magazine. Written by Andrew Clover, Dad to three girls and also a comedian, the column would often provide amusing anecdotal parenting insight to readers and there was many a Sunday morning when I would start laughing out loud whilst reading it.

Before having our son, I cut out one particular column and stuck on our fridge. It was entitled 'Everything there is to know about children'  and listed 10 parenting tips. They seemed both practical and helpful, whilst still retaining Andrew Clover's usual humour. (See the link to the column at the end of this post).

Now that I am a parent, these 'Dad Rules' tips have greater resonance and I think they offer really good advice. Here are a couple I've chosen to highlight and add some of my thoughts to:

1) Stick to the Schedule - children are creatures of habit and routine and they are reassured and comforted by knowing what's coming next.

2) Never Bribe - although my son is not yet at the age where he understands a bribe, I hear so many parents of older children using bribe tactics and I think it suggests desperation and a lack of parental authority.

6) When they’re upset, show you understand, then distract - children are quick to forget something that happened just a moment ago and so it's good to help them focus on something different that will bring a smile back to their face.

Read the full list of 'Everything there is to know about children' here. Andrew Clover also published a book last year, 'Dad Rules: How My Children Taught Me To Be a Good Parent: What I Learned from My Girls'. If you are interested to know more, click on the image above for details.

Monday, 19 October 2009

'Make-Do And Mend'


The radiator went on my brother's van recently. After getting a couple of quotes to have a new one installed, he bought the part and fitted it himself, saving almost £200. I was really impressed by this and it got me thinking how people tend to become so much more resourceful when they have a limited disposable income.

As another example, a friend of mine who recently lost her job and is currently job-hunting has taught herself how to sew and has been making bags and skirts. Again, I was impressed!

There's a sense of satisfaction at your achievements when you are resourceful, whether it's being proud of a soufflé you cooked for a dinner party with friends, knowing you've saved yourself some money, or developing your creative side.

More people are having friends over for dinner rather than all going out to a restaurant and as someone who loves cooking, I know of so many great recipe sites when you are looking for inspiration or just want to try something different. A couple of my favourites are 101 Cookbooks and BBC Good Food.

Last month, John Lewis updated and produced a current-day version of the war-time government publication 'Make Do And Mend', which back in 1943 provided practical, frugal tips to help people deal with the rationing of food and clothes. Their modern-day version has all kinds of domestic tricks which save you money; from cleaning with vinegar and toothpaste to freezing left-over wine in ice-cube trays so you have a glass to add to casseroles without having to open a bottle!

I also noticed that John Lewis are running knitting and sewing workshops at their stores, catering to people who are getting into the  'make-do and mend' way of thinking. Skills like knitting have also become more popular with a younger generation through the growth of groups like 'Stitch 'n Bitch.'

Being resourceful seems to be enjoying a resurgence at the moment and reminds us that learning a skill, practising a creative hobby or simply trying to do something yourself rather than paying someone else to do it can bring lasting fulfillment and happiness. It's a strong contrast to the fleeting buzz we get from frivolous spending and extravagance, which require no effort on our part.

Friday, 16 October 2009

The Curse of the Common Cold

This is a post I wrote for the London Mums Blog that I wanted to share with Mummy Zen readers too.


The whole family is suffering from colds at the moment. I rarely got colds before our son was born and now in his ten months of life, I’ve lost count of the number of colds we’ve all had and how many sick days my husband’s taken! It starts with my son and then it’s just a matter of days before my husband and I get it and it seems to take so long for us all to be properly better again. Parents of older children tell us how it only gets worse, as once they attend school they pick up bugs all the time.

Being ill with a baby is in itself something challenging too. You can’t just have a duvet day and wallow in your own self-pity when there’s a little one to look after. They are miserable with their sniffles and you are miserable with yours and it all makes for some long days. If you are both feeling up to going out for a walk then I think that helps, just to get out of the house and have some fresh air. If you are lucky enough to have a family member or friend nearby who can come over and keep you company or help with the baby while you have a rest, then that’s a great option. Other than that, you have to be patient and remind yourself that you will soon be better and back to your usual selves.

As we are moving into peak cold-catching season, I am keen to try anything and everything to avoid more colds in the family. Here’s what I researched on the matter of cold prevention and the best ways to deal with a cold when you do have one. You’ve probably read it all before but a reminder for this time of year can only be a good thing. I learnt, for example, that I definitely don’t wash my hands for long enough at a time and that I shouldn’t share a drinking glass with my husband as I often do….And how many people do you see on the tube who sneeze or cough into a tissue???


- Wash your hands regularly, so that germs get killed. Sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice whilst doing so. It’s the rubbing of your hands that gets rid of the germs.

- Moderate daily exercise is linked to a reduced risk of colds

- Get out for some fresh air. Central heating dries out your your body making you more susceptible to catching colds

- Take regular saunas! A 1989 study revealed that those who took a sauna twice a week got half as many colds as those who didn’t.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to reduce your chances of infection.


- Don’t share drinking glasses or utensils with anyone as this will spread a virus.

- Drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration, ideally 6-8 glasses of water a day.

- Get as much rest as you can during the day and plenty of sleep at night.

- Eat hot (spicy) foods: ginger, chilli, garlic, wasabi and horseradish are all good for your immune system

- Eat fruit rich in vitamin C.

- Always sneeze and cough into tissues, not into your hands

Do you have any other tips that work for your family to keep colds at bay?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

5 Reasons Why Cleaning Makes You Feel Better

I still remember the upsetting phone conversation where I was told my grandmother's death was imminent. That was nine years ago when I was living in Italy. I'd had the conversation at a phone box on the street and came back to the flat barely able to fight back the tears. One of my flatmates, Steve, gave me a hug and said some nice words but then his next suggestion took me aback. He told me I should do some cleaning. A moment later, both of us had cleaning supplies out and were cleaning parts of the flat that had never been cleaned before. Strange as it may sound, it was the best possible way to spend my time and really helped me focus on something, so as not to sit and dwell on the sad news I'd just received.

I've used cleaning since then as a kind of therapeutic outlet and wanted to share with you some reasons why I think doing some cleaning really can make you feel better. Here are 5 for you:
  1. It clears your mind and keeps your head empty of thoughts because you are concentrating on the task in hand
  2. You move parts of your body so it's a mild form of exercise and (in my humble opinion) shares similar benefits of releasing endorphins, thus improving your mood
  3. It gives you almost instant visual gratification to see the area you've been working on become clean and spotless
  4. As a mother, you feel happier knowing you've helped towards providing a cleaner, safer environment for your child
  5. 'Tidy house, tidy mind'. Having a less cluttered, disorganised home makes you feel more organised and focused
Next time you feel upset or frustrated about something, try doing a bit of cleaning. It doesn't have to be a lot, just 10 minutes of thorough cleaning will make you feel better.
photo credit

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Give-up/Take-up Plan


A few years ago, my husband and I were talking about small changes we wanted to make in our lives, things like exercising more, finding time to work on little projects we'd been meaning to do for ages, read more, write, paint..... Even starting to do just one new extra activity in your life can be a challenge to the best of us and it often means you end up having to stop doing something else or change the way you approach an everyday part of your life. With this in mind, we came up with a plan we called 'Give-up/Take-up'. It involved choosing one thing to give up and one thing to take up each week or each month.

One week we decided to give up 30 minutes of sleep and to take up sitting down to breakfast together. Turns out we really liked sitting down to breakfast together rather than grabbing a quick bite before rushing out the door. So, we never went back to the extra 30 minutes in bed and we didn't miss that little bit of sleep, or maybe it was just that we enjoyed the breakfast together more.

The Give-up/Take-up plan is an easy one and a way to try doing different things or not doing things that you usually do. It works like this:
  • at the start of a week, think of 1 thing you want to give up and 1 thing you want to take up in the forthcoming week or month
  • write them down and put the list somewhere visible during the week/month to come
  • check the list every day as a reminder

Here are some suggestions of things you might want to give up or take up. The idea is not to choose huge life-changing resolutions but very small manageable things that you can try for one week. That way, it is realistic for you to follow-through and yet you still feel a sense of achievement with having fulfilled these small aims. It's also a good way to find new habits that you enjoy and want to incorporate into your daily life.  Don't feel bound by these suggestions, the list below is simply some ideas to get you started. I've listed under categories to break up the list.

  • give up watching 1 hour of TV every evening (or give up watching TV altogether!)
  • take up cooking two new recipes per week for dinner
  • give up 15-30 minutes of sleep and get up earlier to have breakfast with your partner or go for a run.....
  • take up 10-15 minutes of reading/writing a journal/painting every evening

Health & Fitness
  • give up coffee/alcohol/chocolate/smoking
  • take up some form of exercise 3 days during the week
  • give up a couple of stops on the bus/train or park a couple of blocks away from where you need to be and walk the rest of the way
  • take up something relaxing 2 nights a week (a candlelit bath, a massage, yoga, meditation - whatever helps you unwind)

Family & Relationships
  • give up using your Blackberry/iPhone/computer after 9pm to ensure you get some time to switch off and relax with your partner/family
  • take up sitting down to dinner together without TV or other distractions so you can chat about your day, plans for the weekend, news, holidays etc
  • give up 10-20 minutes of morning sleep/work to spend extra time with your children
  • take up doing something for your partner every day (something small like getting breakfast, paying a compliment, doing a household task that the other person usually always does....)

By committing to only two small changes over a short time-scale of either a week or a month, the goals you set yourself won't feel demanding or difficult to accomplish. You'll definitely feel better for making these small changes and in the process, you might find that you want to make some of the changes permanent in your life.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Mummy Zen's Money-Saving Tips

moneyChildren can be expensive little treasures. You don’t need me to tell you about the wealth of temptations out there which encourage you to spend. Then there’s the small day-to-day things that all add up, like the lattes for your walks around the park.....

I therefore present to you some Mummy Zen tips for saving money and still having fun:

  • Babysitting swap: for evenings out, but also take it in turns to leave your child with a couple of mums during the day. They can look after their own children plus yours while you go out shopping or to get a haircut etc.

  • Coffee mornings and playdates at home: rotate with your friends to share the hosting.

  • Creative play: make some toys at home. Cleaned, empty plastic bottles or containers can be filled with beans/rice/pasta to make rattling toys; fill a bottle with water and add some glitter; older children can use things like empty cereal boxes, egg boxes and kitchen towel rolls to make all kinds of spaceships, robots etc.….

  • Lend, borrow, swap: if you have mum friends with children a few months behind or ahead of you, you can lend and borrow clothes, toys and baby equipment or organise a toy/clothes swap party.

  • Local library: many host free baby/toddler activities like singing and storytime sessions and you can check out all the parenting/weaning/fiction books you want and rent dvds at low cost. Register your baby with their own library card and they get no late fees! Ideal for borrowing story books so you're not re-reading the same old books at home.

  • Shop on-line: free or discounted prices, both new and second-hand, here are some websites I like to use which sell all kinds of baby and child items: – get stuff for free & help keep landfills empty – check out the ‘Nearly New’ board

Do you have any money-saving tips to share?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Sea

Guest post by Allison Evans, Hypnotherapist specialising in HypnoBirthing and HypnoBirthing Fertility Therapy

beachI took my children to the beach yesterday. We are visiting the southern coast of Virginia, in the US, for a few weeks, and thought we'd make the most of the deserted beaches and last days of warm, summery weather.

We had an effortlessly wonderful day. We dressed in our bathing costumes, and then I packed a simple picnic of sandwiches and watermelon slices, along with the basic supplies of water, towels, and suncream. Mother Nature did the rest! The children, who at home are prone to complaining of boredom with their old toys and bickering with each other, amused themselves easily and cheerfully at the beach. They dug in the sand, hunted for shells, made sand angels, and splashed knee-deep in the gentle surf. Best of all, they were happy! There was a calmness of spirit in the kids and in me that is, I'm afraid, all too rare in our daily, scheduled-up, inside life. I think it was the influence of the sea.

The sea is my favorite metaphor for labour. I teach HypnoBirthing, which is a preparation for natural childbirth using self-hypnosis, visualization, and special breathing. We teach that pain is not a natural accompaniment to labour, but rather a cultural one that is rooted in fear: when you release your fear of birth, you short-circuit the tension that causes pain in labour. Thus natural childbirth, in which "pain relief" isn't denied but honestly not-needed, is not only possible but a wonderful and empowering experience! Like the sea, labour is primal and powerful. But if you honor and respect it and if you learn to swim with it, its power is yours.

When I was in labour with my first child, my surges -- that's our gentler and more descriptive word for "contractions" -- were becoming intense, and I braced myself as I felt one coming on: body rigid, breath held, face in a grimace. It hit me like a wave that knocked me over! I thought, "I can't do this! This is just the beginning!" Then I remembered HypnoBirthing, which I had been practicing for months, but hadn't needed until that surge. I thought, "Well, let's try it." I sat on the sofa, comfortably supported with pillows, put on the music, and relaxed. When I felt the next surge coming, I breathed, I visualized, and I relaxed. Instead of feeling like the surge was a wave that knocked me over, I had the sensation of swimming up to the crest of the wave, and then sliding down easily the other side. It was actually wonderful -- I was full of wonder! Wonder at nature's beautiful design for birth, at my body's instinctual knowledge of how to birth, and at the power of Mother Nature: power that was mine because I was not fearing it or fighting it, but working with it.

Childbirth changed my life, and not just because it made me a mother! It connected me with my instinctual nature and gave me trust in it. This has been an invaluable gift as a mother, because I trust myself. It connected me with Nature and enhanced my appreciation for all life. This has made me feel powerful and not over-awed by my responsibilities as a mother. Finally, it gave me a special affinity for the sea. Clearly my children, with their serenity and joy at the beach yesterday, feel it too.

Allison is currently traveling in America with her family, en route to a new home at Yokota Air Base, near Tokyo, Japan.  She can be reached at

Click here for more information about HypnoBirthing.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Mummy Zen

tree of life

Welcome to Mummy Zen, which has launched today! I wanted to create a blog for mums with useful practical information and suggestions, as well as more contemplative content focusing on enjoying a healthy balance in our busy lives. Being a mum takes up a lot of our time and energy and it's a constant learning and enriching experience. However, there's another side to us and it's just as important to put time and energy into that part of our life. By feeling happy, healthy and having dreams and goals to pursue, I think we all feel better equipped to be a good mum, friend, wife, partner and can achieve a cohesive balance all round.

Mummy Zen will be a sharing of thoughts, experiences and ideas ranging from the day-to-day basics to more specialised insight from some of our contributors. We can all learn from each other and benefit from different perspectives so you'll find regular guest posts on the site and links to other sites and articles that I come across and think are worth sharing. Please feel free to add comments to any of the posts and to offer your own ideas to fellow readers.

Thanks for coming to check out the site and I hope you come back for more.... There'll be 2-3 posts per week. Bookmark the site or subscribe to the RSS feed to keep updated!

Parenting Tips from a Pro


Leo Babauta, very successful blogger and father of six (!) recently wrote a post with some great parenting tips – I’ve provided the link at the end of this. The first half of the title to his post is almost off-putting, ‘How to let go of Hyperparenting‘, but his suggestions are good ones to try. I’ve chosen three to list here that I particularly like:

  • 1) When you get angry, pick them up and hug them. This makes me think of counting to ten before saying something in a stressful, tense or frustrating situation, which really helps you to think before you speak. Forcing yourself to take a moment, to have a little patience, to breathe and to delay your response works wonders for calming you down and enabling you to react more positively. Giving your child a hug when you automatically would snap or speak sternly to them is a challenge and an exercise in self-restraint. You know you’ll feel a lot better after that hug though.

  • 4) Let her play, let her explore. Definitely important to allow self-discovery and adventure, as long as you have the area child-proofed or any dangerous items well out of reach! If you live in a small flat and it’s impossible to clear all dangers away, then set up a dedicated play area and take time outside to explore too.

  • 9) If the kid is “acting up”, try to figure out why, and meet that need. Whilst this might sound obvious, I think parents can get caught up in the heat of the moment and it's easy to forget that naughty behaviour is usually just a child’s form of expression to let out frustration, jealousy, desire for affection etc. Once that’s identified and dealt with, the challenging behaviour disappears.

See what you think about the rest of Leo’s suggestions and read the full post here on Zen Habits.

When it rains......


We had our first majorly wet day of the autumn a couple of weeks ago. I was going to take my son to a play group but it was too wet to make the journey. So what to do?  I decided to 'play' something different. We had a cardboard box in the hall from a package that arrived the day before so I grabbed that. We put the soft play blocks in the box and had fun taking them out, putting them back in and closing up the top of the box and re-opening. It lasted a few minutes at least. Then I decided we'd try some 'drawing'. Not a success - what was I thinking? At this stage coloured pencils are only good for putting in the mouth and paper is only good for screwing up.

We managed to pass the time shaking the maracas to Elvis and then I spotted a lull in the rain so put on the anorak and out we went. We took a stroll around the park which was deserted. I enjoyed the dark damp isolation and feeling like we had the whole park to ourselves but it was short-lived, as the rain started coming down heavy again and we headed home.

There are going to be a lot of days like this to come, so I decided to make a list of things to do with a baby when it rains:
  • Put on your wellies and mac and go out for a walk anyway (if you are dressed appropriately and baby is cosy and safe under the protection of the buggy's raincover it's actually kind of nice to take a wander. Older children will have fun in their wellies, splashing in puddles)
  • Invite someone over or make a dash for a nearby fellow mum's house for a playdate
  • Go out to a shopping mall to pass a few hours browsing the shops, stopping for coffee/lunch, all without having to step outside
  • If your baby is still fairly young, check your local cinemas for daytime baby-friendly screenings which are a great wet-weather activity
  • Visit an art exhibition or museum. Your little one will be happy enough being pushed around whilst you enjoy the art (many museums have fun art activities for older children). Cafe and toilet facilities are usually good in these places, which is always helpful!
  • If you can't face going out, make yourself a nice hot cuppa and have a sing-a-long and story session with baby or get out the paints and get their hand/foot prints onto paper (something I've been meaning to do and still haven't....)

How do you pass the time on a really wet rainy day?