Toddle About Blog

Why being a parent with a chronic illness has changed me for the better

Guest Post by Eloise Williams

Eloise with hubbie and children

Eloise with hubbie and children

Eloise Williams is a mother of 2 who suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a debilitating illness that can make daily life a constant struggle. And yet, she is happier now than ever and believes that her illness changed her for the better. This is her story.

Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a mummy. It may sound cliché, but I would spend hours dreaming about babies. Nowhere in these rosy dreams was I confined to a bed, unable to look after myself or diagnosed with a lifelong chronic illness.

In life BC (Before Children!) I believed I was your average healthy young woman and I didn’t really think about my health. I had met the man of my dreams young and together we enjoyed life to the full. Then, I started to get ill. First came glandular fever. Misdiagnosed by the doctors, I struggled through it and naively expected to recover easily. Continue reading

Say It Loud, Say It Clear! The secret to lasting, loving and rewarding relationships

By Svetlina Jeanneret


Everyone has their own communication style – understanding your partner’s style will help you communicate with them effectively

Communication is a vast topic and a great one. A lot of my work with clients revolves around the way we communicate first with ourselves openly or secretly and also how we communicate with those closest to us.

I believe that in a family where there are two parents the most important relationship is that of the couple. Yet communication between men and women is not always straightforward; this is partly why John Gray’s book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is still such a hit. In my consulting room, I continually hear anecdotes of miscommunication and misunderstandings which, little by little, can erode even the most loving and devoted of relationships. Continue reading

Yoga: The secret sauce for a perfect pregnancy (and beyond)?

Vicky in her Sweat Studios session. Yoga is a great way to relax and stay fit during pregnancy. It has many post-natal benefits for both mother and baby too.

How yoga helped me through pregnancy, birth and beyond

Yoga is a great way to relax and stay fit during pregnancy. It has many post-natal benefits for both mother and baby too. We talked to Vicky Haynes, aged 34 from Milton Keynes, about her experience and why yoga became the perfect exercise for her, pre and post baby.

As well as providing a great way to keep in shape, yoga offered Vicky some much needed ‘me time’ and a way of relieving stress from work. Vicky was encouraged to give it a go by the whole host of celebrities that swear by Hot Yoga. And, as well as looking to tone up, Vicky hoped that the improved fitness and wellbeing might help her to conceive a child.

Like many people though, Vicky wondered if yoga was too much about chanting and not enough about tangible physical benefits. Would it be too slow to feel like a workout? There was also the worry that it was ‘only for skinny people’. Continue reading

7 Steps To Having The Best of Both Worlds and Succeeding as a Working Mum

By Lorraine Thomas, Parenting Expert

Working mum

Juggling work and motherhood is tough – succeeding at both requires giving up on perfection. It doesn’t exist anyway.

As a working mum, you’re on the clock 24/7. It can seem there’s always too much to do … and never quite enough mum to go round. Juggling the demands of career and family is tough. We all have days when we feel we’re failing as a mum and employee. That’s natural.

There’s no such thing as the perfect working mother so give yourself a break. It’s normal to feel guilty and worry – our recent Parent Coaching Academy survey revealed that on average working mums spend between 1 and 2 hours worrying daily and 8/10 mums say they ‘often’ feel guilty. The more you think or talk about feeling tired, guilty stressed or worried, the worse you feel.

Here are my Top Tips to help you get a better life balance.

1) Look after Yourself

When you are looking after yourself, you’re looking after your family. If you are positive and energised, it will impact on all your relationships. A healthy diet, exercise and relaxation will all make a difference. Always eat breakfast, drink plenty of water and get at least 10 minutes fresh air a day. You don’t need the gym – with a child you have your own personal trainer. Take up yoga, meditation or mindfulness. Continue reading

How you can have a calm and enjoyable birth experience with HypnoBirthing


For the uninitiated, HypnoBirthing often conjures up images of swinging watches and hypnotic trances, but nothing could be further from the truth.

By Helen Discombe, Born Smiling.

When Fearne Cotton gave birth to her daughter, Honey, in September last year, she described it as “the most intense and euphoric experience ever”. She went on to say, “My first birth was a different story so I’ve experienced varying sides of birth and glad for both. Although all we want is a healthy baby I think we should remember how amazing the female body is and the strength of a woman. Obviously there is no right or wrong birth and they can be magical in many ways I just feel blessed to have had this experience thanks to hypnobirthing”. Continue reading

The Terrible Twos – Terrible For Whom? This is what your child is going through…


The development of strong and changeable feelings can often spill over into difficult behaviour.

By Dr. Helen Andrews, Clinical Psychologist.

The Terrible Twos – we’ve all heard of them, and many of us dread them. But what are they and why do many, but not all, children go through them?

Although called the terrible twos, many parents find that their child starts to become more challenging before their second birthday. It often coincides with becoming a confident walker and climber and perhaps having a few words. This is no coincidence.

Our children change so much over the first two years. Initially, they are so helpless and so completely dependent on us for everything. Over time they learn new skills; rolling, sitting, crawling and walking, and new ways of expressing themselves, from crying through babbling and then talking.

The early maturation of the sympathetic nervous system results in ‘junior toddlers’ (around 10 – 18 months) living life full of exuberance and excitement, embracing every challenge. As parents, we delight in these developments. We smile and encourage their efforts. We clap as they take their first steps and are proud as they climb up on the sofa for the first time. We listen intently as they babble at us, and strive to keep the conversation going. Studies show that Continue reading

Travelling with Toddlers: How to make your family holidays and days out enjoyable (for everyone)

Written by Lorraine Thomas.

Family holiday on beach with toddler

There’s no such thing as the ‘perfect’ family holiday so be realistic about your expectations.

We were on the beach at the weekend and I saw one stressed mum sink into the sand, looking as though she was going to need a holiday to recover from this one.  Her young son on the other hand was having a great time, running at top speed, shouting at full volume and sending sand flying in every direction.

“Stop shouting and stand still – you’re kicking sand everywhere!” she shouted.

Her excited toddler carried on.

My heart went out to her. We often have such great expectations that family holidays will be relaxing and full of fun. They can be – but they can also be really stressful times, especially with a toddler because they love routines, and unfamiliarity can bring challenging behaviour and tantrums.

Mum’s sand tantrum is a very common one.  But the reality is that if you are 3 or 4 and are on ‘planet beach’ – one of the most exciting planets you have ever encountered in your universe – then you will want to shout and let the world know.  You can’t really understand why anyone would want to stop you doing what you are doing.  You’re living in the moment and you love it.

You may find his behaviour difficult because he is over-excited and you are unrealistic in your expectations.  You may have told him a dozen times not to run around and get sand over everything and you can’t understand why he’s refusing to do what he’s told.  Step into his flip-flops.  If you were his age, let loose on a beach – you’d probably be doing exactly the same.  Instead of feeling frazzled by flying sand – get stuck in with a bucket and spade, take him to look for crabs or go for a paddle in the sea. Continue reading

The Fearful Child: Where fears come from and how to help your child overcome them

Written by Dr. Helen Andrews.

Children's fears

It is common for the younger child to fear monsters in the dark and these fears usually pass without cause for concern.

The emotion of fear is valuable from an evolutionary perspective. It helps to keep us away from danger and increases our chances of survival. Of course, it is not a pleasant sensation – it wouldn’t be effective if it was.

It is part of normal development for most children to have fears at some point. It is common for the younger child to fear monsters in the dark, and for slightly older children to become preoccupied with death and dying. These fears usually pass without cause for concern, with sensitive parenting and time. Also, most of us are more relaxed when things are familiar and predictable. So changes to a child’s life can also trigger anxieties. Whether this is starting school, a parent returning to work or simply a change to their bedroom.

However, some children seem to fear a whole range of situations, or display quite extreme reactions to certain situations. Continue reading

How to Handle Parent Stress


Stressed mum

Being a parent can get pretty stressful

Juggling the demands of work and family is no simple task. And it’s easy for stress to creep in and impact on home life. We asked Svetlina O’Regan to share some ideas about effective ways to reduce stress and bring some balance back to family life.

When stress plays with our parenting skills

We all have bad days from time to time. But when stress levels are high for a prolonged period of time, it will impact on you and your family. Losing patience easily, being snappy, getting upset about things that normally wouldn’t bother you or noticing that you’re not enjoying much quality time with your family are all tell-tell signs that reducing stress needs to move up the priority list.

Stress is a vast subject and there are many factors to think about. But here are some ideas which can help to start reducing it: Continue reading