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Oct Nov 2017.jpg

The October/ November edition of The Green Parent magazine includes the latest in my series of interviews with parenting authors and experts.

I spoke to writer, blogger and podcaster Tsh Oxenreider, founder of The Art of Simple, about her book At Home In The World and she gave me her top tips for travelling the globe with children.

There were times on the trip when Kyle and I would be frustrated that the kids weren’t amazed at everything, and we realised that when everything is awesome, nothing is awesome.

We need that down time in-between to just live life. We don’t need to have adventures all the time. This was a good lesson for me.

Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Tsh and have been for many years, so it was wonderful to have the opportunity to speak with her!

You can read the feature here (PDF)

Don’t forget, you can get £5 off a subscription to The Green Parent when you use my code HHILES. More details here.

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Get £5 off your subscription to The Green Parent magazine when you use my code HHILES.

I LOVE The Green Parent magazine. I’ve been a subscriber since early 2011 when I was pregnant with my older son and I’m still excited when my copy drops through the door. When I’ve subscribed to other magazines for more than a year I’ve often found that they start to repeat themselves, but every edition of The Green Parent manages to stay fresh and inspiring.

As an example, the latest issue includes articles about baby wearing, how to start a blog, stand up comedy, healthy cake recipes, home education, creativity, natural beauty products and how to awaken joy in your children’s lives. And that’s just a snapshot!

My first Green Parent feature appeared in the February/March 2013 edition and was entitled Could You Be A Stay At Home Mum? (I wasn’t an SAHM then but am now, so apparently I could!). Since the June/July 2014 edition I’ve written the regular Meet The Author series, and have had the privilege of interviewing the likes of Kim John Payne, Janet Lansbury, Richard Louv and Milli Hill.  You can find all my Green Parent stories here.

The Green Parent comes out every two months and is available in print and in a digital format. A 12-issue subscription (which lasts two years) costs £35 but you can get £5 off when you use my promotional code. Just head to the subscription page and enter HHILES in the “Do you have a coupon code?” box in the billing details section.

 

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mantra

I’ve been having a bit of a tough time lately. Oh, don’t worry – nothing is actually WRONG.  Everything has just seemed a bit difficult. You know the sort of thing – keeping on top of the house, looking after the boys, thinking about my work direction, trying to get time to be me rather than Mummy. When something as mundane as forgetting to buy olive oil is enough to make you snap, you know it’s time to take a hard look at yourself.

But as they say, when the student is ready the teacher appears, and help has recently come from two directions, one more unlikely than the other.

I recently interviewed the artist and author Lucy H Pearce for The Green Parent‘s August/ September edition (I work quite a way ahead for them – put it in the diary!). Lucy is the author of five books (and is working on her sixth and seventh as we speak) and we were chatting about her first, The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood. It’s been a long time since I thought of myself as a creative person (have I EVER thought of myself that way?) and while I was reading the book I struggled to see myself in the “Creative Rainbow Mother” archetype that she describes.

mermaid_hair

But somewhere along the line a little spark of creativity has been kindled deep inside. Since reading the book I’ve had my hair dyed an array of “mermaid’ colours, and after speaking to Lucy by Skype, I have even, perhaps more profoundly, been drawing a bit (not to mention filling page after page with labyrinths). And trying out a bit of lettering. This might not sound like much to you, but when you consider that my bullet journal generally just consists of very unfancy to do lists in my usual scrawl, this is a big change.

I won’t spoil the forthcoming interview (!), but Lucy highlighted the difference between creativity and “artistic-ness” and gave me a whole new way of looking at the blank page with a sense of excitement rather than terror. Thank you, Lucy!

labyrinths

In that vein, the picture at the top of the page is of a spread I did in my bullet journal of my new mantra (you can see the cover of my bullet journal in this post). When everything gets on top of me, I sing this quietly to myself: “Back and forward flows the sea, back and forward flows the sea, back and forward flows the sea.” If you want to hear the tune, go to the BBC website and listen to the Beachcombing episode of CBeebies Radio show Waterways. Waterways is a really charming and calming listen – I recommend it! And yes, CBeebies is still playing as big as a part in my life as it was when I wrote the “Iggle Piggle is a dying sailor” blog post that ruined In The Night Garden for so many people.

I love the sea – despite living more or less as far from the coast as you can in this country – and this gentle melody, ebbing and flowing like the tide, helps to ground me and stop me feeling overwhelmed. How can you feel stressed about forgetting to buy olive oil when the waves are always crashing onto the shore, pulled by the moon?

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Manford

The most popular thing I have ever written is almost certainly this old blog post from November 2012, The Secret Meaning Behind In The Night Garden‘s Opening Words. Written after watching too many episodes of ITNG while my oldest (then my only) son had pneumonia, it was a mostly-joking-but-OK-maybe-not-completely look at whether Iggle Piggle is really a dying sailor hallucinating in his last moments.

This post gets a steady stream of hits every day with occasional surges in popularity. One of its biggest peaks was in October 2015 when comedian Jason Manford chanced upon it while watching ITNG with his daughter and basically thinking “what is this all about?”. He posted about it on Facebook, and thousands of people clicked the link. Many people agreed. Quite a few thought I was sick / bonkers.

To my great surprise I got an email this week from Jason’s Absolute Radio show producer asking if they could make a video based on the post. How funny that he still remembered it and was tickled by it after all this time!

The video was posted on the Absolute Radio Facebook page.

It was great hearing my words performed in a dramatic reading like this – and it was even better to read all the comments! By the way, Jason, I still think I should get a scriptwriter’s fee…. What do you reckon?

CODA: I almost crossed paths with Jason back in April 2014 when I was a reporter at the Birmingham Mail helping to cover Stephen Sutton’s inspirational fundraising. I had hoped to chat with him about his support for Stephen but on the very day I was trying to get hold of him he was actually visiting Stephen in hospital in Birmingham. I can’t believe that was nearly three years ago. Stephen, you were amazing. RIP.

 

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GP Apr May 2017The April/ May edition of The Green Parent includes the latest in my series of interviews with parenting authors and experts.

Distinguished anthropologist Robert A LeVine, co-author of Do Parents Matter: Why Japanese babies sleep soundly, Mexican siblings don’t fight, and parents should just relax, told me about the almost five decades of international parenting research he and his wife Sarah have conducted – and what Western parents could learn from mothers and fathers around the world.

Parental practices in non-Western societies are full of surprises, if you’re a middle-class Western parent. For most parents, it is hard to imagine ways of child-rearing other than those that are conventional in their communities. They are amazed, sometimes outraged, that anybody could do things differently.

You can read the feature here (PDF).

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