ÂŠ 2019 Wildling Magazine All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced by any means without prior written consent from the publisher, except for brief portions quoted for the purpose of review, as permitted by copyright law. www.wildlingmagazine.com firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram @wildlingmagazine Facebook facebook.com/wildlingmagazine Front Cover image by Rebecca Lindon Inside Front Cover image by Wendy Laurel Back Cover image by Wendy Laurel
CONTENTS VOLUME 15 June 2019
Connection Over Perfection
Tips For Stress-Free Travel
Follow The Child
Choosing Positive Discipline
A Day At The Beach
Supporting Sensitive Children
Celebrating Mother Nature
Rebecca Lindon www.rebeccalindon.com Brittany Valazquez Peters www.instagram.com/house.of.montessori Meg Ellis www.mummawolf.com Clio Wood www.andbreathepostnatal.com Mim Howell www.mimhowellphotography.com Kristen Dias www.travelkarma.com Wendy Laurel www.wendylaurel.com Katie Jane-Wright www.andcrystals.com Hollie Evans www.florafairweather.com
Image by Rebecca Lindon 3
EDITORâ€™S NOTE Volume 15 marks four years since the launch of Wildling Magazine and our mission remains the same - to share thoughtful, honest and helpful stories from parents around the world. The aim has always been to give a voice to those who are parenting outside of the mainstream system... perhaps in how they are choosing to raise, educate or expose their children to the world we live in. This issue is no different. We hear from mothers raising spiritual children, homesteading and choosing positive discipline. Thereâ€™s also practical advice on approaching post-natal sex and travelling long haul with children, alongside book reviews, travel diaries and fashion. We love to hear your feedback and if you have your own story to share - you can contact us via the website or on email@example.com Rebecca Lindon Editor-in-Chief
FOLLOW THE CHILD PERSONAL ESSAY words and photography by Brittany Velazquez Peters
Back in 2013, I was working as a traditional Kindergarten teacher at a private school in Southern West Virginia. I loved my job, and I loved the children I worked with, but I remember feeling like I didn’t quite fit the mold. At the time, reading groups were all the rage and certainly a buzzword in my pedagogy. But even though I ranked children into groups with clever titles like “Robins,” “Blue Jays,” “Cardinals,” and “Hummingbirds,” the children that were behind in reading were very aware. They began to see their group as Food for the Buzzards more than anything else. I began to seek out new ways to help these children; one of those ways to work one-onone with a child while all of the other children worked independently. While I was excited to see the progress they made and the confidence they had gained, I was all too aware that the rest of traditional schooling was not set up this way. By August, my husband, Eddie, and I welcomed our daughter Guinevere into the world. She was perfect in every way possible, just as any parent who holds their newborn for the first time can tell you. As time passed, and those wakeful nights and sleepy days melted into weeks then months, it became apparent that Guinevere was just a little bit different. For starters, she could only turn her head toward the left side (formally diagnosed as Torticollis). I found myself dreading each pediatric appointment where she would, yet again, not meet the milestones. I would fiddle with the pencil a bit, jiggle the clipboard in my lap, and quietly confer with myself, “Well, she did kind of roll over. And I mean, I think she grasped for a toy, but I’m not really that sure.” Although I understand why milestones are important to pediatricians, they 5
weren’t helpful to me. Instead of seeing my child as a wonderful, joyful, loving little girl, I began to see her as a checklist, with boxes unchecked. She became my “project” that I had to work on, and the hard part was that I had to get her to that ever elusive and moving finish line. At some point, during her first year, I asked myself, when is this going to stop? When are we going to stop comparing her to other children? Then it dawned on me, we wouldn’t. Those milestones would become Common Core Standards. She would get assessed, moved to the slow group, assessed again, pulled out of class, and eventually be in the Food for the Buzzards group. Would anyone know or care how silly she is, how much she loves holes, or appreciate her soft, gentle demeanor? I began to shift my attitude, and decided that Guinevere deserved to be seen for who she was not for what she wasn’t. At this realization, I felt like my body was being pulled toward the surface of the water, and at the moment I finally broke through, I was gasping for air. Instead of seeing her as delayed, I began to see her as a child that was right where she needed to be. I gave her an environment that allowed her to move freely, I provided toys that stimulated her mind and hands, and most important, I gave her unconditional love. I was satisfied with who she was. I wanted her to have a teacher that would do the same. That’s how I came to find Montessori. Your child is always right where she needs to be. In fact, a common Maria Montessori quote is “follow the child,” not push-the-child-to-make-the-standardized-testingscore. The guide, or teacher, observes your child holistically. They look to find what your child needs emotionally, socially, and intellectually.
Image by Freebird Imagery
As a result, the child’s curiosity never wanes, her love of learning is preserved, and most of all, she’s perseveres in the face of a challenge all because no one saw her as “behind”. So I was convinced, Montessori was perfect for my child, but how would that work out for me as a traditional school teacher? It didn’t take long for me to see that I needed to become a Montessori teacher. In 2016, I went to Washington Montessori Institute and obtained my AMI Diploma to work with children from 2 1/2 to age 6. The following year, I was hired to work at a lovely little farm school, Mountainside Montessori in Marshall, Virginia. Guinevere is now 4, loves school, the trinomial cube, reading and writing.
My Montessori training changed the way I parent. Unlike my college courses that prepared me to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, the Montessori Method looks to develop the whole child, from conception to 18. You can’t separate the school experience from the home experience for the child since the child develops both at home and at school. So our training not only prepares us for children at school but also for children at home. A big part of my job is to consult and work with the parents to help them design and provide intentional spaces within their home that allow their child independence, cooperation, and family contribution. I always joke that my daughter is my guinea pig! But honestly, I can’t give advice without having first implemented it myself!
My homesteading journey began at the end of my college education and at the cusp of the Great Recession, living in the hillsides of Appalachia, nonetheless. My husband and I got married during college, and with 60 grand owed to Fannie Mae and job prospects low, life looked dismal, at best. Regardless, we put on our best mucking boots for this economy, and my husband began working midnights at a gas station while I waited tables at a crepery. We moved into a small apartment above a restaurant, that I’m sure we’ll always look back on with fond memories. Sometimes we would run downstairs to borrow an egg from the “neighbor”, and we always had mixed feelings about our closet smelling like pulled pork. All the same, it was sometime during that first year, when our heater broke in Winter and our dead beat landlord dropped off space heaters, that I fixed the heater myself. Damned if I would let us freeze because of a lack of knowledge! I didn’t look back after that. I taught myself to sew, knit, embroider, and garden. I looked around at my life and pondered how I graduated with honors without knowing the very basics of providing for my family. During the Great Recession, there was a looming “what if ” that harkened back memories and stories of my great-grandmother, Helen, who raised three children, tended a garden, canned her own food, and sewed all of their clothes. It didn’t really matter if I had a Master’s degree if I was forever dependent on the knowledge of other people. Since then, I’ve been living one book, one article, one recipe, and one YouTube instructional video at a time to teach myself. You don’t have to know everything to begin homesteading. You just have to begin. We really didn’t set out to homestead. We believe that the bounty of our lives shouldn’t be at the cost of others. And while my husband and I wouldn’t consider ourselves to be religious, we are, to some
degree, spiritual. We believe that each person has inherent human dignity, worthy of love, a living wage, safe working conditions, and to be offered the opportunity to rise up to their full human potential. There is power in our purchasing habits, or lack thereof. We can either strengthen a family and the Earth with our dollar, or we can continue to contribute to its demise. This comes down to decisions like purchasing our child 3-4 dresses to wear for six months because we’ve sought out companies that provided their employees fair wage and create as little waste as possible. It also means we’ve said no to popular, commercial toys because we’ve felt that it would continue the suffering of others. As a result, we often choose the path where we can provide, create, design, sew, make an item ourselves simply because we know it was made ethically. This fits in pretty well with my career as a Montessorian, as Maria Montessori designed the elementary materials and curriculum with Peace Education at the center. Dr. Maria Montessori was exiled from Italy because she refused to assent to Benito Mussolini’s demands for her teachers to take fascist loyal oaths. After being exiled in India, Peace Education really became the forefront of Dr. Montessori’s work. While it’s no surprise that my pay is not that of a Congressman, I do know my work is powerful. One of my favorite Montessori quotes is, “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.” A Montessori School really should be an extension of the home. In fact, the age group I work with is called the “Children’s House”. So we try to simulate a home-away-from-home for these children. We live in a rural part of Virginia where many children grow up with farm animals in some capacity. As a part of our daily living together as a community, the children tend to the bird feeder, take the compost bucket out, weed the garden, harvest the fruits and vegetables, prepare snack from the ingredients grown in our back yard, and 8
take nature walks to see the chickens, goats, pigs, and cows. Each developmental stage, children build on what they’ve learned previously, so that by the time they reach 12, they begin to run what is called a “micro-economy.” They’re in charge of feeding the chickens, pigs, cows, goats, (and the occasional turkey during the Fall) and then they sell the eggs and take the livestock to the slaughter. (At 12, I didn’t even know how to wash my own clothes!) The adolescents at our school (ages 12- 15) then work with local grocers and restaurants to purchase their livestock. It’s a win-win for everyone. Home life for us looks much the same but with less animals. An important component of Montessori is that children are involved in family life, whatever that may be for each particular culture and family. We try to include Guinevere in all of our tasks if possible. (Currently, we are battling the poison ivy for a part of our yard, and Guinevere is not allowed to be involved.) She helps her dad with planing wood, measuring, hammering, and sawing during the winter months when we need to make new garden beds. She’s also a big help in the kitchen with rolling, cutting, measuring, whisking, you name it. By 6, I think children should be able to make a simple dinner meal by themselves or with little supervision. It’s not impossible if they’ve been at your side since they were 18 months. They’re certainly capable. If homesteading sounds like it might be for you then just start with your interests and know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Find people who are passionate about your interests, ask questions, ask some more, and then be willing to make mistakes.
CHOOSING POSITIVE DISCIPLINE LIFESTYLE ESSAY words and photography by Meg Ellis
Positive Discipline is founded on the Alderian Psychological theory that human behaviours stem from a need to be loved unconditionally, and valued and respected by society. These two elements of the psyche need to function in harmony. If a child places too much emphasis on their value to society (as we might find in children who have been raised in an authoritarian household) they’re likely to overwork themselves as adults: chasing this internal thirst for validation. On the other hand, if the child places too much feeling on this overwhelming sense of unconditional worth (as we may see in children raised in very permissive households) they can feel incapable of solving their own problems or setting their own boundaries: through their care-givers protecting them from any discomforts or uncomfortable feelings, they may have been taught that they are not able to handle these experiences.
A consequence needs to be age appropriate, respectful, implemented calmly (challenging, but essential), consistent and predictable; and coupled with an acknowledgment of how your child is feeling. For example, “I’m not happy for you to throw your food on the floor. I can see you’re having a really hard time not throwing that food on the floor right now, which is showing me you’re finished with your food. Oh, you’re throwing your food on the floor again, so I’m going to put the food away […] you’re upset that I’ve taken the food away when you didn’t want me to. I see you’re upset, and I’ll offer you some food again soon.”
Predictability and respect can also be extended to a very predictable day for your child, regular family-time (uninterrupted by screens) and family meetings where boundaries, ideas for family time, and issues can be discussed. I also really encourage families to work rituals, mindful moments, breaths In short, the way to keep these balanced is to have and physical movements into their days to help very firm boundaries (for example, “Mummy facilitate calm. would like to finish this conversation”) which are maintained respectfully (“wow! I can see you’re Positive Discipline prioritises equipping children to really eager to speak with me, and I’m so glad you challenge and motivate themselves, enabling them want to talk with me, but I am going to finish this to understand / accept their internal emotions, conversation, then we’ll have a chat”) and without while maintaining their sense of unconditional love enforced punishments. The difference between and respect from their care givers. It places mutual a punishment and a logical consequence can be respect and love at the heart of your parent-child the main stumbling block for a lot of parents. I’m relationship; which means of course plenty of love really keen that parents understand the underlying and kindness towards your child; but makes room principles of respectful, or positive discipline, so for you to self-care too. A happy parent makes a they can really interpret each situation confidently. happy household. To have a happy relationship Because, at the end of the day, kids will always have with your little person, you need to be able to have something new to throw at you! A consequence a warm cup of tea when you’re trying to function doesn’t work if it’s just a punishment in disguise. on 4 hours of sleep. You need to be able to finish
a conversation with your friends and loved ones. And your child needs to grow up knowing that they also have the right to uphold these personal boundaries too. For me, the core revelation that I found in positive discipline is that I don’t have to choose between letting my child walk all over me, or barking orders and timing naughty-step visits. Positive Discipline has enabled me to find a calm, controlled, loving equilibrium. Mumma Wolf has been born from my own parenting journey in the last three (and a very important half ) years. I was a terrified single parent at 19, and rolled into parenting with very little preparation. I was lucky enough to have an incredible hypnobirthing experience (another service I offer alongside my parent coaching), and the lack of fear in my birth journey got me to thinking I could apply this calm sense of control to all areas of my life! My oldest daughter is a
very independent and sure of herself human: she’s very willing to embrace her emotions to the fullest which often manifests as a tantrum. While now I see that as a big parenting win, when itfirst started it really stressed me out. We would avoid going places, our daily rhythm was always jarred as a result, and I’d often find myself feeling incredibly guilty after she went to bed. Many months of research, training and experimenting later, I’m able to encourage my little one to experience her feelings without fear. To express herself without judgement. I set very firm boundaries without the need for punishments or rewards. As a result, our relationship is more respectful, her behaviour is more pleasant, and I’ve even been able to communicate these ideas with my partner to create a much-needed united front. Mumma Wolf is a project which aims to empower families to share in this calm control; through
yoga and mindfulness. Mindful parenting, which I use ‘positive discipline’ to achieve, is a chance for parents to embrace their time with their children, teach them to experience their emotions without shame, and hopefully to raise emotionally resilient children (feeling a little less stressed in the process). My own little girl has really needed these tactics. I’ve tried punishment and rewards to enforce my boundaries, but found myself being unfairly inconsistent, mainly due to her innate ability to pull on my heart-strings and use just the right phrases (or growls/wails) to melt my heart or drive me into a rage. I spent a long time feeling powerless. My personal parenting goals are what drove me to discover information on positive discipline. As a Mother, I want to mindfully embrace my time with my children, I want to raise children who are above all emotionally resilient and able to find the light through any darkness. I want them to be 15
respectful towards me and to those they share this planet with. More subtly, as my little girl started to rage her way to a 3am biscuit every night, I found that I was very uncomfortable with ‘punishment’ and a belief that I needed to be ‘the punisher’ made me feel very uncomfortable with this authority. I can definitely vouch that children will instinctively sense this discomfort, and it scares them. Children don’t process these big feelings in the same way as adults, and the result can be pretty wild. Positive Discipline really enlightened me to the notion that I could uphold my boundaries in a way that is both calm and respectful: but firm. As a result of this respectful tone, and empathetic mindset, I’m able to be the calm and confident leader that my little humans are craving on their journey into adulthood. The result is that I can be more engaged in the every-day. We talk respectfully to one another,we’re secure in our routine, and when I see her mimic my respectful engaged tone I proudly
savour those moments (instead of pretending I deal with the challenges of child-raising, examine have no idea why she says “don’t you dare run away their long-term parenting goals, and provide an from me!” to her dolls). alternative, more mindful spin on discipline. The primary goal with Mumma Wolf is to empower families. I do this through hypnobirthing, family yoga, and parent coaching. Raising little humans is hard work, and I’m a big believer that we need education and support to do it to the best of our abilities. My parenting workshops, through yoga and through positive discipline, are focussed on connection. Most of the time when a child is doing something that we see to be a misbehaviour, they’re expressing a huge emotion, and/or they are searching for connection. Parents can feel a tremendous amount of guilt and stress when this connection feels strained, or forced; but for many people, their own upbringing can cause a battle between their minds and guts. Though every family is different, many of us believe that we need to really teach our children moral lessons, and think the most effective way to do this is founded in punishment and reward. While methods like ‘the naughty step’ and ‘time out’ can produce short-term successes, for many parents, it doesn’t always sit right. The research actually shows that in the long term this punishment and reward system can produce adults who have a ‘carrot on a stick’ mentality that is thought to be the root of issues like overwork, stress and overspending. However, challenging our own cultural norms and upbringing is not easy and no parent should be shamed for wanting to bring out the best in their child. So Mumma Wolf parenting workshops gently provide a toolkit for parents to
The amazing news is, it’s never too late to start using positive discipline. Even if you’re parenting challenging teens, the first steps can be to arrange a ‘family get together’, sit down, and acknowledge you’d like to change things up. Explain that you’d like to facilitate a more calm and respectful household. Allow your children to voice their feelings: listen to them, acknowledge them, and hear their voices with respect. Start interpreting outbursts of emotion (tantrums, whining, anger, anxiety) as ways that they’re inadvertently communicating a need. More often then not, it’s often hunger or tiredness! A lot of times, they may be expressing a need for security and stability: in these moments it may be tempting to either roll over and give in, or to try to flex your grip of control even tighter and become infuriated. This is the opposite of the stability that the child is craving. It takes some breathing, and a few moments, but start by saying “I see you’re struggling” and open a path for dialogue. It may be that a boundary needs to be calmly upheld, and your child needs to have a meltdown as a result. Let them express this anger or frustration. If you slip up and yell, and this probably will happen, it’s okay to apologise. This only paves the way for them to do the same. No parent is perfect, and no parent can even try to be! But starting to educate yourself on what parenting methods are out there, and opening up communications with your children is an amazing place to begin becoming the parent you want to be.
AMALFI COAST TRAVEL ESSAY words and photography by Rebecca Lindon
From Vietri Sul Mare at one end of the rugged coastline to Positano and Sorrento at the other, the Amalfi Coast is laden with small fishing villages, pastel-coloured hamlets, wisteria galore and the most inviting azure ocean. The area boasts a rich history and you’ll find crumbling mansions and ancient churches as you wander through old cobbled streets. My children detest shopping and love the outdoors so we spent the majority of our time hiking (be sure to climb up the steps to check out the view over Fiordo Di Furore), swimming and meandering through the streets in whatever direction they chose with no real plan. Incidentally, we found the best food in those narrow streets... just as you start to think you’ve wandered too far from civilisation. Pasta, risotto, gelato... we completely indulged and didn’t regret a moment! Alongside the culinary delights of the region, the area is also rich with artisans. in particular ceramics - present since the 1600s. Vietri Sul Mare is the place shop for ceramics, where the authenticity is protected by Italian law in an attempt to preserve the area’s cultural heritage. The other big industry in Amalfi is lemons which are not only visually vibrant but fill the air with an incredible scent which fills the shops selling everything from Limoncello to lemon infised beauty products.
We visited in Spring (most of the amenities are closed over the winter months) and it proved to be the perfect time with the tourist season slowly cranking into motion. The coastline is hugged by one narrow and busy coast road which isnâ€™t for the faint-hearted but is a necessity if you want to explore. Luckily Italian cars are small and nifty so be sure you opt for a compact hire car and bring little luggage rather than piling yourselves into a people carrier and hoping for the best. On-street parking is also a bit of a nightmare so be prepared to pay tourist prices in the car parks (particularly in Positano). We stayed at the historic and family-owned Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi, a late 19th century villa cut into the rock face above the Tyrrhenian Sea. We were treated to clear panoramic coastline views from the restaurant balcony with wisteria providing cover from the morning sun at breakfast. The layered gardens are beautiful, taking you from stone balconies covered in flowers of all colours, down to fragrant lemon groves and finally the outdoor swimming pool. But be sure to take the elevator down at some point too.... the children loved descending down the cliff-face and watching through the glass window! If you ask my son about his favourite experience in our Amalfi Coast trip it will be the breakfast at Hotel Santa Caterina where he consumed at least 4 courses of cereals, eggs and bacon, smoked salmon, fruit and finally pastries every day. My daughter will tell you it was her morning hot chocolate which she enjoyed whilst still dressed in her fluffy white bathrobe, clutching the toy turtle she was given by hotel staff. For me? The deep bath, the room service menu of classic Amalfi dishes given a modern twist, hot tea in the lounge area surrounded by antiquities and soft cushions, and wonderful staff who engaged with my two explorers. www.hotelsantacaterina.it
Below are some of my favourite experiences from our trip.... - The viewing point at Villa Cimbrone Gardens in Ravello Set away from the coast and up in the mountains, Ravello is just so incredibly romantic and the views are picture-perfect. It wasn’t on our to-do list originally but we stopped there on our drive out of Amalfi. I’m so glad we did and it’s the place I most want to go back to. - Bold and bright ceramics in Vietri Sul Mare I’m not a fan of shopping but thoroughly enjoyed browsing the shops in this colourful village. You don’t really need to shop to be exposed to the incredible ceramic artwork here; the walls and floors and water fountains and houses are covered in beautifully painted tiles. - Cathedral of the Apostle Saint Andrew in Amalfi A wonderful welcome sight as you enter Amalfi is this medieval Roman Catholic cathedral. Inside you’ll find a rich, ornate visual treat with gold ornate arches and columns. The crypt is a spectacle to behold. - The beach, gelato and shopping at Positano Positano is busy even in low season but it’s a must-visit with its pretty terraces running down to a little beach. The best place to view Positano in my opinion is from a boat where you can take it all in without fighting your way through the crowds. - Fresh fish at the restaurants in Marina di Praia We stumbled on this sweet little marina during one of our adventures with no particular destination. Traditional fishing boats head out every morning and you can enjoy what they catch in the evenings. I don’t eat fish but my son was highly impressed.
SKATELIFE FASHION photography and styling by Rebecca Lindon, clothing available at Smallable
Boots by Chapter 2 Kids.
Left: Jay wears hoodie and shorts by Stella McCartney kids. Above: T-shirt by Californian Vintage and shorts by Hartford.
Previous page: T-shirt by Scotch + Soda and shorts by Californian Vintage,
Bag by Herschel Supply Co.
POST-NATAL SEX LIFESTYLE ESSAY words by Clio Wood
I used to be a headhunter for corporate board appointments, but we weren’t well suited. After five or so years and two companies, I left to start my own upcycling and interior design label, and we bought a beautiful rural property in France to be my blank canvas.
and relationship, which, without the support of traditional family networks comes as a shock to most new families. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we just don’t have that built around us any more, living away from nuclear family and having smaller extended families around.
Then I had my daughter in 2014 and hated every minute of it. Yes, I loved my daughter, though that didn’t come immediately as she was taken away from me after just 10 seconds, but the whole experience was awful for me. Pregnancy was horrid, I had (I now know) birth fear, labour was very long, birth traumatic, our baby spent four days in intensive care, and then I had a touch of postnatal depression. All in all, I needed support and I just didn’t find there was any, so I decided to create a postnatal retreat focusing on selfcare for parents. &Breathe is dedicated to physical and mental health and fitness for all parents, but especially mums as they continue their body’s journey post-birth.
I would say that physical and mental health are both key to postnatal care and neither of these are covered sufficiently at the moment. There is no one point of information provided by GPs, midwives, hospitals or health visitors; if there is information it’s not consistently given and some of it is even incorrect! More open conversations and our work with &Breathe are doing a good job of countering this, but there are only so many people we can reach.
The focus for our health system right now is very much on the baby - understandably, we do have to make sure he or she stays alive after all - but it’s completely to the detriment of parental care. And if the parent is not happy, healthy and well, how are they going to look after the baby properly and ensure they in turn are a happy, healthy and well child? I know it’s a catch-all, and very popular, term at the moment, but self-care is at the heart of what we should be giving parents. Pregnancy and childbirth are huge upheavals for body, mind, identity
At my 6-week check, my GP didn’t mention postnatal mental health at all until I was on my way out the door with a crying baby: “Oh by the way, are you depressed?” Some of our guests have been advised at the same 6-week check to just get back to running long distances, post c-section and without asking anything about their pelvic floor. Needless to say, this isn’t ideal. Frustratingly, most womens’ experience around post-natal sex discussiom is simply a GP conversation about contraception at their 6-week post-birth check up. If you’re up for having sex at that point, I salute you, but most women aren’t feeling their sexiest.
There is no conversation about how you might feel about having sex again, nor whether you’re ready or not. There is no mention of the fact that most women’s natural lubrication dries up postnatally, that your vagina might be bruised and sore, that your pelvic floor may be weakened or too tight, that your c-section or vaginal scarring might be hypersensitive, that you might even still be bleeding at that point. Unsurprisingly, all of those things might make penetrative sex painful. Neither do we talk about the mental strain you might be under, alongside the extreme fatigue and self-doubt of new parenthood, it can be hard to reconcile the role of your vagina with a sex act after having pushed a baby out of it. Or your body as the object of passion having undergone major abdominal surgery. But none of this is talked about alongside contraception. So it’s not surprising to me that most women might feel pressured into having sex earlier than they would otherwise. If someone offers you contraception shortly after birth, what would you imagine? I’d imagine that most other women are already happily having sex. Aside from the practical considerations (lack of sleep, lack of time, lack of motivation) that mean it’s hard to get to the point of being intimate, the biggest worry for women is that intercourse won’t be like before. Most women are scared that they won’t enjoy sex, that their vagina will be ‘too loose’, that their husbands won’t find pleasure in them any more. To me this is a continuum of the male gaze of the female body which is predominant in popular portrayal of women’s bodies. We don’t value the female body as it ages, rendering the post-natal body of less worth than pre-pregnancy; body image issues are rife.
In reality, painful sex is common (83% of women experience problems with sex in the first 3 months after birth, declining to 64% in the first 6 months ) but only a small percentage of these women seek help. In part because it’s still (am I really saying this?!) taboo, but also because the right information is not readily available. All of this isn’t helped by milk-spraying boobs that might not be conducive to romance; the aforementioned vaginal dryness making lubricant necessary for probaby the first time; weakened core muscles making it harder to achieve pleasure; our postnatal hormones programmed to prioritise child-rearing over sexuality which means we are rarely in the mood and it takes much longer to get into a sexy headspace. Foreplay has never been so important...or taken so long. The best thing we can do is talk about the whole topic and let women know that they are not alone. That it’s not taboo for them to want a fulfilling sex life after having a baby. After all, it would be nice to enjoy the journey to baby two or three, if you’re planning them! We also let them know the resources that are out there. The right lubrication to use (go organic!) or even the fact that lubrication is OK. Seeing a women’s health physiotherapist can be life-changing (literally for me) to strengthen or learn to release properly your pelvic floor. We teach mums how to engage their pelvic floor and core properly during exercise and every day so they feel stronger and less dis-jointed post-birth. We talk about emotions and help them understand the power of hormones, these all-too-little-understood chemicals whizzing around our bodies.
Women’s sexual health after childbirth, G. Barrett et al, 1999
We let them know it’s ok to not want to have sex for a while - your body has just been through the bigget workout of its life - it’s ok not to feel passionate for the first few weeks or months. We encourage therapy if it’s needed, we encourage an open dialogue with their partners and help partners feel comfortable with the conversation too - how else are they to know how a postnatal mum is feeling? If you’re worried about having sex for the first time following birth then try to figure out what are the things you’re most scared about. Write a list if you need to. Talk to your partner about them. Once you start to understand what you’re worried about you can take steps to tackle them and by involving your partner you’ll get the support you need to do it and lessen any pressure you may have felt. For most of us it’s not a simple solution but a collection of smaller things that you need to address. The most important thing is that you feel happy and healthy and ready for sex when the time is right for you. I promise it can be magical again. And I promise you’re not alone.
CONNECTION OVER PERFECTION PERSONAL ESSAY words and photography by Mim Howell
Before I dreamt of being a photographer, motherhood was all I desired, even from a tender age. I longed to take care and nurture, often daydreaming how it would feel. Fast forward a few years, and here I am mothering four little ones of my very own. Just 6 months before this home bird married her adventuring husband we discovered it may be difficult to conceive, so these four are even more of a gift to us. All the daydreaming in the world couldn’t prepare me for the way I am deeply in love with these miraculous, chaotic beauties. I was equally unprepared for the exhaustion motherhood brings, at times consuming me like a piercing wind. With cameras at our fingertips us mothers take endless photographs of our children desperately trying to freeze this time that is so fleeting. But we forget to get in the frame ourselves, worried we are looking too tired from that sleepless night or we’ve found getting back to our pre-children shape an uphill struggle. We tell ourselves we will get some photos once we feel better about the way we look and feel. These things won’t matter to you or, more importantly, to your children. The images we capture of our children’s childhoods will shape how they remember. It’s the connection with them I want us to recollect. The way it feels to have our one year old son, Moses, give me the most precious cuddles by wrapping his arms around my neck. I want to remember the beauty of patience, comforting our four year old Teal, when she’s stepped out of her comfort zone. Saffron, our eldest, has the most captivating blue eyes and I long to capture the way they sparkle when she surprises herself after achieving something she thought was impossible in my memory forever. I want to remember how Stella, my mini me, loves on her siblings with such a tangible compassion. There are two ways I get myself within that frame. First is using my cameras timer. This is something I want to experiment with more this summer, setting up while making memories. The other is to have annual photo sessions with a photographer you know will capture your family beyond just recording what they look like. Rather than curating perfect memories through our photographs I want to encourage you to create a space where raw connections can be captured. Motherhood can be magically mundane at the same time as a wonderful whirlwind. The challenge is to be present, slow down and savour these moments so that the images we capture in this season become treasures, almost hierlooms, somehow slowing time itself down. Get in that photo Mamas...x
TIPS FOR STRESS-FREE TRAVEL LIFESTYLE ESSAY words by Kristen Dias of Travel Karma
5 strategies for a stress free, long haul flight with kids. The best outcome on a long haul flight is that your child sleeps as long as possible. The first two tips are all about helping them sleep (and letting you chill and maybe even watch a movie or dare I say, have a beverage). 1.
Consider the time of the flight when booking – try to fly overnight.
Your child is more likely sleep longer if you fly at night. If it’s possible, book the flight for the evening, so it will be close to their bedtime. The sleep hormone melatonin is released when it’s been dark for an extended period of time. The plane is likely to be darkened at night, making it easier for your child to sleep when melatonin is released making them sleepy. 2.
Recreate your normal bedtime routine as much as possible.
Bring your child’s pyjamas, sleeping sack (if they have one), bottle or other drink, book, teddy etc. Change your child into their pyjamas, give them their bottle of milk if they have it. Read them their favourite bedtime book, give them their teddy to feel cuddly and get into sleep mode. Lastly give them their teddy or other comfort item and zip them up into their sleeping bag/swaddle/blanket. 3.
Bring a Travel Activity Pack
The one from Travel Karma has been educationally designed by an international science teacher for you and your child to enjoy the flight together. It comes with how to’s for kids and parents to create dozens of arts and crafts. You can play board games, colour, make collages and write in the travel journal recording the special moments of your day. Check it out at www.travelkarma.com 4.
Bring a variety of snacks
Snacks will keep kids occupied when they are not sleeping or doing some activities. Snack boxes of sultanas are good, kids tend to take quite a while getting them out of the box. Other nutritious, tasty snacks are crackers, dried fruit, cereal, mini muffins, celery and carrot sticks etc. Keep in mind that snacks need to be ok not being refrigerated and ideally not “smooshable” (mushy banana in the bottom of the nappy bag is no fun).
Ask the Cabin Crew for help
The cabin crew can bring a cup full of ice cubes which will entertain a wide range of kids. You can also ask them for a few plastic cups to play with, stacking them or making a pyramid. You can play lots of games with the items in the Travel Activity Pack and the cups, for example ask small children to place the pom poms one by one in to the cup. Ask an older child to sort items in to the cups by colour or size. Travel Karma was created by Kristen, a mum, teacher, returned expat and international traveller. She first travelled internationally with her daughter at 7 weeks; her son at 14 weeks. Travel Karma activity packs were designed for mums who want to spend time with their children creating, learning, playing and making memories.
TAHITI TRAVEL ESSAY photography by Wendy Laurel
A DAY AT THE BEACH FASHION photography and styling by Rebecca Lindon
Evelyn wears kaftan by Dilli Grey (left page) and dress by Bella + Frank.
Dress by Bella + Frank
Dress by Next Kids
SUPPORTING SENSITIVE CHILDREN PERSONAL ESSAY words by Katie-Jane Wright and photography by Kate Warren
Child - Mummy I feel everything Mother -what a wonderful super power that is. Lets talk about sensitive children, across all levels, from the empaths, highly sensitives and those who feel and see much more than us grown ups. Being one myself growing up I found it very challenging, I could see and speak to spirits and earth bound souls (ghosts to you and me) since a child. My best friend was a spirit I very ingeniously called Barney, he used to appear in my garden and play with me. For me, going to sleep and seeing an angel kiss me goodnight and shine light on me was normal. My mum would say I was a very deep and introverted child, and I guess I was, I tried to make sense of all I could see and feel knowing it was more than most could understand, accept or even listen too. So I kept it to myself and carried on going to various places and parties seeing spirits walking around as clear as day. When I was 5 my father died and that really strengthened what I could see, feel and hear, although he did not come through to me until I was in my 20s for fear of causing me too much pain. I felt I was very unsupported in this as a child, I only felt safe to open up about what I saw to my grandmother, who had healing hands. She was a true light in my life and so open hearted I am blessed to have known her. It was inevitable that I closed it all down as a teenager, but the years before I had my son I opened up again, I started to see beyond many veils and planes of existence and see energy in the body, crystals and the land. I didn’t deny it anymore and embraced doing energy work and healing. I found myself in my 30’s, that lost girl found her home in her heart, I had shifted so energetically, I was living each day with such intent and from such a heart centered place. I had my son Arlo when I was 29. At this time I was working with crystals, sound, oils and rituals that he was always going to be a part fo that, it was not a choice it was a way of life for us as a family. I believe that our child chooses us before they incarnate, for many reasons to teach us and guide us, to fulfill lessons and karma sometimes. But they choose us because they know that we can facilitate the greatest growth, healing and lessons for them. I felt so grateful for this little soul choosing me and helping with my inner child healing. From an early age I could see he was gifted, he was clairvoyant like me and clairsentient - he deeply ‘feels’ the world and emotions round him. Like a deer in the head lights he found this world harsh, he’s so conscious about the planet and helping animals a true elemental soul. Often I would travel for work and his little spirit would follow me, wanting to be close. In fact at a circle I was holding in London a
healer came to me and said - you know the whole time you were speaking your son was sat next to you, he’s a jumper, like you. We jump through portals through many dimensions. And of course I knew, I felt him there. He has grown up with crystals and sound, we play the bowls together most days, and he asks to place crystals on my body, I’m always so intrigued by which ones he goes for as he’s so tuned into what I need energetically. I feel so blessed to be able to raise my child so openly sensitive, and I hope that in t he future all children will be given the space to explore and nurture this side of them. So many more wonderful healers are helping our children with mindfulness classes, yoga, crystals and sound. My friend Kathy Bell has written a book called ‘The Sensitive Subject’ which I recommend. We all have our own beautiful ways of introducing new concepts to our children and I am aware that not everyone has singing bowls at home or a huge quarry of crystals. You don’t need to spend hundreds, you can find some great sound bath audios online to listen to together, wonderful kids meditation books, and you can go collect crystals and stones from the woods and forests. School has been difficult, especially here in the US, he doesn’t fit into the box and they struggle to get him to communicate with them, so he often goes into school with crystals. He has a rose quartz in his pocket that I put my energy into (there is an exercise on how to this on my book ‘Crystals - A Conscious Guide) so when he holds it he feels me close to him if ever he is sad or upset. He also has a protective stone with him, we use Shungite or smoke quartz which shields him from any lower emotions of vibrations as he’s a little sponge to them, collecting them in his solar plexus for others. He’s also a mirror and helps others see and know their truths, which can be hard for those who don’t want to know or are not ready to face them. Days he’s finding it hard energetically he holds blue calcite, a beautiful calming stone and we take 3 deep blue calming breaths whilst holding it to his heart. And lastly he has a blue crystal called Sodalite which I really recommend for sensitive children as it’s a wonderful grounding throat energy that helps them communicate safely, from the heart with confidence. I feel very deeply passionate about helping the light children that are incarnating in this time and supporting the parents to understand them better. Many rainbow children are incarnating with no karma, so beautiful pure, here to help the parent heal in so many ways. I regularly read for parents on their gifted children, following their soul astrally and bringing forward any past life wounds and relationships to heal as I feel giving us the insights into our children’s gifts helps us support them better. There are things you can do to support them which I find really help with my son. Just speaking and making them aware of energy around us encourages them to open up. Regarding crystals, encouraging any interaction with them, asking which they like and what its energy feels like to them. We do breath work at home and it really helps especially including oils in this practice. My son chooses essential oils he likes and we mix them with a base carrier oil (almond or coconut) and then add flowers and crystals to them to infuse their energies. Every evening we use some oil on our pulse points and take in 3 deep breaths, breathing in pink loving light into our hearts. 68
We talk about what we are grateful for and our wishes for this world. In the morning before school we do the same, only this time we breath in blue calming light into our heart and chest and say our intention or feeling for the day out loud. ‘I am calm, safe and happy in my body.’ I hope that my son never feels alone or ashamed of who he is like I did, society still has a long way to come but we are getting there, small steps lead to great changes. I have included a visual meditation below to do with your child when trying to move stuck emotions. And I offer crystal consultations on stones that are attuned to your childs specific energy needs. As well as readings for them I have written a child’s book I am working on with a really talented illustrator friend. The Emotion bubble In this exercise we focus on them, identifying emotions they hold such as worry, anxiety, sadness, fear. We collect it up and release it in a bubble. *Sit comfortably in a quiet space with any crystals and oils around you you want to work with. *Ask your child to take 3 deep breaths into their heart, try to breath with them, leading them on the rhythm of the breath. *Ask them to start to feel, even hear their heart beat (we are bringing awareness into their heart space which is important). *Ask them how they feel in their heart? How do you feel in your body? *Once they have told you, ask them to give that emotion a colour. *Now we start to make the bubble - ask them to hold their hands apart and imaging an empty bubble between their hands, they are going to put all of these colorful emotions into this bubble, it fills up as they move it from their body through their hands into the bubble. *It will get bigger and bigger full of swirling colors until its full. *Ask them when it is full. *Then they are going to clap their hands together to pop the bubble and let go of these emotions trapped within. *When they have done that they say - ‘I Let go of that energy’
CELEBRATING MOTHER NATURE BOOK REVIEWS words and photography by Hollie Evans
As a dedicated admirer of Mother Nature and her work, my daughter Flora and I are slowly curating a library of books themed around her and her beautiful creations. What follows is our Top 5 current recommendations. Enjoy! Little Guide to Birds / Little guide to Bugs. (Quadrille Books) Tom Frost is a Print Maker from Falmouth Uni. These little guides are a super size for little hands or picnic basket adventures and are not bombarded by words and information. They beautifully link folklore and magic to the Avian and creature kingdom and show why weâ€™ve been fascinated with birds and creepy crawlies for centuries. Thereâ€™s a little spotters guide at the back of both books which is the perfect reason to take them on your travels!
Darwin on the Origion of Species (Puffin Books) Whimsically retold and illustrated by a Molecular Scientist turned Children’s Illustrator Sabina Radeva. Wow this lady is talented!!!! A beautiful blend of biology, beography, bhysics, history, art and storytelling! If you only choose one book from this list to read, this should be it as it covers everything a children’s book needs to be an ‘every single night of the weeker’. A little guide to Wildflowers (The Eden Project but available online) by Charlotte Voake & Kate Petty I’m biased to anything flower themed but I realise that an entire book of wildflowers could possibly seem dull to a little one, HOWEVER, by grouping the flowers by colour order and telling stories about each species, this botanically styled jotter teaches children the seasons, benefits of flowers, to us and animals and is just beautifully tailored to taking out on a summer day whilst hunt for species and ticking them off in the back. Just. BEAUTIFUL.
Sensational Butterflies (Ladybird Books) Ben Rothery When I read that this was Ben’s FIRST book, I was excited for him, but when I actually had a flick through and studied Flora’s face as each page turned, my mind was BLOWN. It is MESMERISING and Ben’s talent for sketching is a wonder. The butterflies could possibly fly off the page and you can’t help but run your fingers over each drawing to check it’s not embossed or textured. Ladybird books generously printed it in large format, so for a child it’s even more remarkable as well as being factually full and a joy to read.
The Variety of Life & The wonder of Trees. (Nicola Davis & Lorna Scobie) Hodder Books Crikey Moses these books the merriest we’ve seen in a while. Like Glastonbury for animals they’re loud, witty, boisterous, colourful, energetic and such FUN to flick through and savour every species. Lorna Scobie animates her illustrations so terrifically that even her leaves look to have fantastic personalities! Flora and I both adore them equally and again, being large format ,they’re like coffee table books for kids and just a joy to have in front of your eyes.
Bella + Frank www.bellaandfrank.co.uk Californian Vintage www.californianvintage.com Dilli Grey www.dilligrey.com Hartford www.hartford.fr Herschel Supply Co www.herschelsupplyco.co.uk Minimalisma www.minimalisma.com Next www.next.co.uk Scotch & Soda www.scotch-soda.com Smallable www.smallable.com Stella McCartney Kids www.stellamccartney.com