Saturday 26 March 2011

Bromley North Village Family Fun Day - 2nd April 2011

The shops at the North end of Bromley High Street, a part of the North Village are putting on an action packed family fun day on Saturday 2nd April from 9.30 until 4pm.

Pop along and take part in the fun, there will be Face Painting, Balloons, Jesters and Clowns and other activities.

There are some lovely shops to browse for Mother's day gifts (Sunday 3rd April) , such as Wells Flowers and Inside Out Living.

Emma in Bromley x

Monday 21 March 2011

Becoming a stay at home mum aka SAHM

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was made redundant - the company I worked for went bust - I would say it was down to the credit crunch, but it was really because *the man in charge* was a bit of a *swear word of your choice*. - If you want a mental image - He turned up in the mornings in silk PJ's and chain smoked cigars in the office for which the £50 fines he regularly received were laughed at.

I have a degree in Marketing and Advertising and about 8 years or so experience in marketing - mostly online marketing. I worked hard for my career and took it very seriously. I won awards for my achievements and seemed to have a good reputation in my field.

When I was 9 weeks pregnant, My hubby and I took a trip to new york - we had used some of our wedding present money towards it as it was our way of celebrating our first wedding anniversary as we had got engaged in New York.

I was out of the business for only 5 days - before I left, the websites I managed were doing well, I was confident it would hold up whilst I was away and I was feeling very optimistic for the next year - I'd just had another 6month marketing budget signed off, I had adverts in Vogue and several parenting magazines, a cross promotion with mama mio and cupcake mummy and I had just planned the Christmas Campaign.

When I got back, I found most staff members in floods of tears and bags of nerves - there were rumors that the company was bankrupt and some people had been put on gardening leave, I thought it was rather odd seeing as I'd just had so much work signed off by *the man in charge*. It didn't take me long however to find out that half of the things I'd had approved, hadn't even been paid for and the company was in months worth of arrears with my email marketing provider, website provider and other advertisers which I used.

Thing were looking worryingly indeed...

When I arrived the next morning, I found out the website had been taken down and half of my marketing tools were frozen - I wasn't told this was going to happen - I had to find out myself through my usual morning checks.

By the end of the day - all the staff were taken into a room and told as a group by some man we'd never met that the company was in administration.  All sacked basically in a mass group without even a slight appearance from *the man in charge*

That was that, I was owed almost a months salary - I got less than £200 of it, I had to sign on for job seekers allowance for the first time in my life and the *man in charge* had put my marketing reputation at risk.

In normal circumstances I wouldn't have been worried but because I was pregnant, I was very worried! I'd never been unemployed for more than 2 weeks and because of my skill set, I had been poached by several of my previous employers. I had recruitment reps tell me that because I was pregnant I would find resistance - which I did - and obviously legitimate reasons were given to why I wasn't a suitable candidate - usually because the company was "restructuring". I even found discrimination at the Job Centre! Once I reached 27 weeks pregnant - I was no longer deemed "employable" and forced to move from job seekers allowance to maternity allowance - This would mean that 1) I was no longer an unemployed stat and 2) Maternity Allowance would end before my baby was 6 months leaving me with no income. At 27 weeks I was more than capable of doing my job and really do think it unfair for the government to decide otherwise. Had I still been in employment,  I would have worked for 11 more weeks (that's almost 3 months).

Before I became a Mum I was determined to get back to my career, however in reality, my career would not have worked with a baby - I was on a commuter train to London by 7.30am and not usually home before 7.30pm, marketing also involved a lot of corporate entertainment and out of office hours events. It's not your 9-5 job within a 10min commute and certainly wasn't flexible on the hours!

So 21 months after baby was born, I find myself pregnant again and a stay at home mum - SAHM. My days are filled with playing cars and colouring in and I wouldn't change it for the world! It's far more exhausting and harder than any of my marketing jobs and the only goody bags I get these days are poo filled nappies!

Each day holds some sort of a challenge - Take today, there was a poo in the bath and a puke incident when my little one tried a plum tomato and didn't like it - Before I was a mum, I'd never changed a nappy and I really couldn't deal with sick, poo or snot! Now I can deal with all three at the same time and not even bat an eyelid - although it does still freak me out if I get some under my finger nails.

I try to sneak off during Alphablocks if I want to go for a wee alone - but mostly I'm not alone, instead I have a giggly toddler intent on dropping toys down my jean legs by the way, I get to wear jeans whenever I want now, instead of all black shift dresses and towering heels - actually, I miss my black dresses and heels some days but would look totally OTT in one on the swings in the park.

Housework is 1 step forward 4 steps back, Polish the bookcase and turn round to find a toddler in a pile of mess, but I am learning tricks to get things done.

When I clean the bathroom, I stick little man in a bubble bath with lots of toys - he loves bath time so really doesn't mind a bonus one - If I'm thinking cleverly, we will have done finger painting first! It gives me the freedom to scrub the rest of the bathroom - My top tip for cleaning the loo is to drop 2 high strength denture cleaning tablets in the bowl. White wine vinegar cuts through build up on the shower screen and an old tooth brush works wonders around the tap fittings.

When I'm preparing food I try to keep little man involved in some way - even if he just has a pan, spoon and dry pasta and if I really do need a moment to try and wash up (we haven't got a dishwasher *sob*) Either peppa pig or alphablocks will keep little man amused for exactly 3 minutes.

In the mornings, he plays naked (it's the only room we have wooden flooring!)  in the bathroom while I have a quick shower, after which I run little man a bath and he has a bath while I get dressed and do my makeup - the key is making sure you have everything in the bathroom ready before you shower! We started doing bath time in the mornings instead of night time as I found he can't get sleepy afterwards - I think all that playing gives him more energy rather than burning some off!

One of the hardest parts of becoming a SAHM is the loss of income, I'm now completely dependant on just hubby's income, the government says he earns too much for us to qualify for any help - If that really was the case, I'd love to know why we always end up buying reduced food, using my ever growing barclaycard for nappies and digging out money from behind sofa cushions to pay for milk, There are very few luxuries, no magazines, no premium make-up, no holidays and I haven't had my hair cut since august to name a few! One salary isn't quite enough, there's a little shortfall just for basic living but we're determined to muggle through - Both me and Hubby had our mums at home until we were at school and I do feel that for our family it's something important to us - At 20 months, my Son can recognise numbers up to 10 and knows Blue, Red and Green - I'm sure this can be attributed to me being a SAHM.

I haven't lost all my old ambition - I think it's something built into me, I'm considering a few small freelance opportunities that will fit in around my family life and I'm also thinking of way into the future, starting up a business venture or two - Although, most days I don't even get a moment to have a cup of tea to myself! - Me time? what's that? oh yeah, it's on a dusty old shelf along with my heels, reading books, lie -ins and sleep! Almost 2 years and counting since I had a whole nights sleep!

I can't wait to see how baby2 due in June is going to turn our world upside down! It's taken all this time to find ways of attempting to manage the home I wonder which routines are going to still work out for us!

Emma in Bromley x

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Christmas Tree Farm, Downe near Bromley.

We love visiting Christmas Tree Farm in the village of Downe - It's only a short 10 mins or so drive away from Bromley and is a lovely place to visit with toddlers and young children.

It's £3 per adult and £1.50 per child and then you can buy a bucket of feed for 50p or £1 for a large one - which you must do as it's sooo much fun!!!

It's a small farm, it doesn't take long to walk around but is a great way for little ones to see and learn about animals and feed them! There's chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, pigs cows and a few ponies and a donkey outside and then there is a small indoor area with cats and rabbits and other small critters in cages.

There are toilets and plenty of hand gel points as obviously hygiene after touching the animals is important.

There's also a little refreshment booth which offers snacks, cakes and drinks with an outdoor seating area to enjoy your tea and cake!

There's a small car park which is often full but you can park on the road outside too if it's full.

Emma in Bromley x

Wednesday 2 March 2011

The Problem with Parabens

Those that know me personally know that for the past few years, I have been rather fussy about certain chemicals in food and skin care. The two main things 
I do my best to avoid are Parabens and Apartame, but everyone always asks me the Why question!

In this blog post I'm going to do my best to answer what my personal problem with parabens is!

Firstly, I'm no expert and everything I say is my own thoughts and opinions, I'm not telling anyone and everyone to do the same as me or any such like - just like to encourage you to have a little think about what exactly it is that you are using!

Parabens are in the majority of "skin care" and even food products - often hidden as E numbers. They are quite hard to avoid and are in products for babies too from bubble bath to Calpol would you believe!

They are there as microbial preservatives and sometimes as a flavouring. Some parabens occur naturally in Blueberries and Pineapples (Both me and my baby still eat these!) The problem I have, is with the synthetic ones - as far as I can tell, no natural parabens are actually used in our products - just the synthetic ones.

Parabens, short for “para-hydroxybenzoate have several names that I know of: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben and benzylparaben. E218, E214, E216.

In 1998 suspicions linking parabens to cancer first started to appear after 12 different scientific studies identified parabens as having estrogen-like inhibitors. Parabens were found in the body of men with low sperm counts and in 2003 a study carried out by reading university showed that parabens were in breast tissue in 18 out of 20 breast cancer sufferers.

There has been no conclusive study to say that either they do or don't cause cancer, it hasn't been proved either way so the cosmetic industry is free to keep using them until someone funds a team to investigate and prove otherwise.

Whether or not Parabens cause cancer - the proof is already there that your body can't get rid of them and they remain inside you and personally I see no good in this?!

I think its a bit worrying that the cosmetic industry can use ingredients that haven't been proven as safe and keep doing so until evidence shows otherwise! Surely common sense would suggest only using things that have been proven as safe?! I particularly find this worrying in products for babies and children.

I also think it's unfair and misleading that baby brands which have good national heritage and trust such as Johnsons, can bring out collections with names such as naturals when they are packed full of synthetic chemicals and chemicals which there is some fear over the safety of -regardless of if it can be proved either way or not, especially when the said chemicals are unnecessary.

 We automatically assume that if we can buy a product or food in the UK then it must be safe for us - unfortunately, it's more a case of if there's no proof to say it isn't safe then it can be used! Look at how cigarettes used to be sold as being good for you - until someone could fund a study to prove otherwise!

I always buy my little one feeding cups which are BPA free, I've always done this and I'm please to see that in November (2010) The EU announced a ban on BPA being used in baby bottles - sometimes it's nice to see that following my instincts were the right thing to do!

Cosmetic companies don't have to use parabens, there are a growing number of companies offering paraben free products. The difference is, if parabens are used there is an increased profit margin and extended shelf life. For example a paraben free shampoo may be ok for 12 months after opening whilst a paraben one would be ok for 18 months - but who really has an open bottle of shampoo for that long anyway? The logo on your product bottle that looks like a little open pot and has a number in it tells you how long it will last once open.

Denmark (part of the EU) has already banned parabens from products for children under 3 years old, I don't see why the rest of the EU hasn't followed suit.

In Bromley, I fully recommend Neal's Yard on East Street for Paraben free products - they have a lovely baby and childrens collection too, as well as make-up and skin care, all paraben free. Also, they have treatment rooms above the shop - great for pregnancy reflexology, massage, baby massage and other treatments. Incidentaly, for those of you who are mums to be - you can get your raspberry leaf tea here too!

Other brands I have bought so far for my toddler are, Nature babycare, Burt's bees, Weleda, Greenbaby, Sudacrem and earth friendly baby. (all either in Boots or Waitrose) Green people suncream is the only paraben free children's suncream I have found so far.

With Calpol - I have yet to find a liquid paracetamol alternative for babies so calpol have a monopoly on the UK market. If my little one is teething, I prefer to try Nelson's teething powders first and calpol (the sugary version) is a last resort.

For myself, I buy Neal's Yard in Bromley or I have to go further afield or online for Ren, Caudalie, Organic Pharmacy, Weleda (some bits in waitrose), and Yes to Carrots. (small gripe but none of the other brands are in Bromley - both Boots and Debenhams have identical cosmetic brands with none of the paraben free premium brands! why Bromley needs 2 counters each for clarins, clinique, chanel, benefit, estee lauder etc I don't know!

Hope that's not left you confused and has answered the big Why question!

Fact summary

  • There is no proof that Parabens cause cancer or any other harmfulness.

  • There is also no proof to say they are safe to use.

  • The body cannot get rid of synthetic parabens.

  • We absorb Parabens through our skin into our blood streams, and also through digestion.

  • Parabens are not a necessary ingredient - just a cheap one!

  • Parabens have been found in breast cancer sufferers

  • Parabens have been found in men with low sperm counts

  • Parabens are hormone inhibitors.

  • Denmark has banned parabens from products for children under 3

Emma in Bromley x

Website Wednesday: Baby Sensory, Bromley

I had the best time doing Baby sensory with my little man, we went for three terms until he was 11 months old and I would recommend it to any Bromley mummy.

So this week's website wednesday goes to

If you would like to know more about our experience at baby sensory, please read my earlier post: