My daughter, Nina, 3, usually lets me stay in bed no later than 8am. On a busy weekday, when she goes to nursery, I jump in the shower by 7.45am. While she’s pottering, I’ll do my hair and make-up, then I feel ready for the day. I keep breakfast simple. My ‘123 pancakes’ – Nina’s favourite – are super-easy. Mix one banana, two eggs and three tablespoons of oats, then fry. On a busy morning, it might feel difficult to eat breakfast with your child, especially if you’re not a ‘breakfast person’. But that time at the table gives you a much-needed breather and your child is more likely to eat if they’re watching you do the same.
Non-existent! In the evenings, when Nina’s in bed and I’ve done some extra work, it’s my time for me. I’ll do nice things, such as a mini pedicure or putting on a L’Oréal Paris Pure Clay Detox Mask, but mostly I stay up later than I should, watching telly. I love a period drama and recently watched all six episodes of the The Pursuit of Love on BBC iPlayer. I was gripped! My other obsession is Gilmore Girls. Before I finally crawl into bed between 11pm and midnight, I cleanse using Estée Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser, then brush my teeth using the Oral B Genius X. When I remember to moisturise, I use Simple Kind To Skin Hydrating Light Moisturiser. Finally, I put my hair in a plait to stop it getting knotty, which saves me precious time in the morning!
Not be hard on yourself – you’re doing your best and trying your hardest. As a parent, if things aren’t going exactly to plan (maybe your little one isn’t eating, or you made a parenting decision that isn’t your ideal), it’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad parent.
Exposure is key. Every day, I’m asked how to get little ones to enjoy food. The biggest way is lots and lots of exposure to new foods. If they’re offered new foods on a regular basis, consistently, they will be more adventurous. Whereas, if you’re always offering the same foods that they like, they’re less likely to give new things a go. And if your child isn’t a fan of a certain food – perhaps fruit or vegetables – try serving it in a different way. If you usually serve a whole pear, slice it in a different way, take off the skin, grate it and put it on top of porridge or toast or roll it in desiccated coconut. Quite often it’s not the taste but the texture they aren’t keen on.
‘Fridge-raid pasta’. You can get so many different flavours into one dish by using up what’s in the fridge, to minimise food waste. Perhaps some bacon, chorizo and lots of vegetables. A pasta sauce is a great way to get kids to eat vegetables, because you can blend them into a sauce. My most popular dish is my ‘Hug Mac and Cheese’ – mix chopped spinach from the freezer into a cheesy white sauce. You’ll never get a child to eat a little mound of wilted spinach, but if you hide it in a pasta dish, they’re likely to enjoy it.
Cooking. Food isn’t just about nourishment but the feeling it creates. I’ve always loved cooking and TV cookery shows are my passion, but when I had Nina a spark went off. I suddenly loved creating delicious new recipes Nina could enjoy and that I could eat with her. I started posting the food I’d cooked on Instagram and one day I shared a simple hack to get kids to eat bananas. Basically, if you push a utensil down the centre of a banana, it naturally splits into three and the sides are no longer slimy, so it’s the perfect shape to hold because it doesn’t slip from their fingers. The post went viral and overnight I gained thousands of followers. I think I resonate with people because I’m just an average mum.
Swimming, when I have the time, and a home video workout. But walking with Nina near our home in the Lake District is my favourite thing.
Any space where I can see the sea. I love Bamburgh beach in Northumberland – and the feeling when nobody is around, when it’s just me and Nina, and she’s playing in the sand and chatting away to me. In those moments, I feel like I’m in a film with nice music in the background. Those are majestic days.
I’m learning to listen only to the positivity and not focus on my little imperfections. I’ve had nasty trolls saying things about me, which affected my confidence. I’ve always struggled with how my body looks and I was bullied at school. When I started my channel, I wouldn’t show my face, but I’ve learned to not let my own vulnerability stand in the way and I’m trying my best to become more confident.
Not letting parenting life niggles overtake the joys. If your little one isn’t eating properly or acting in a way that isn’t ideal, instead of getting frustrated, ask questions about their day or about the food that’s on their plate. Make mealtimes a fun conversation with a happy distraction. I just try to smile and talk more. You’ll be surprised at how much a happy, smiling face can make a difference to the situation.
Being a mum. My life started once I became one! Before I had Nina, I worked as a buyer. When my request for part-time hours was rejected, I decided to be a stay-at-home mum, then started my Instagram channel as a creative outlet. I’m so pleased I did! There’s a saying: ‘When passion meets work, work becomes a hobby’, and that’s how I feel.
Rebecca is the author of What Mummy Makes: Cook Just Once For You and Your Baby and What Mummy Makes: Family Meal Planner