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Our Country Nurse is a rich tapestry of 1970s life Sarah Beeson MBE on BBC Radio Stoke

Author and former Stafford health visitor Sarah Beeson MBE joins Liz Ellis and Perry Spiller on BBC Radio Stoke to talk babies, parenting and her new book Our Country Nurse.

Missed it? Listen again on BBC Radio iPlayer.

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The Interview

Liz: Let’s take you back to the 70s. It’s was a decade our next guest started caring for babies and their families. Sarah Beeson from Stafford has an MBE for services to nursing and has recently published her second memoir Our Country Nurse on her adventures. Think Call The Midwife 20 years later. Sarah, what are the big differences for you between then and now for babies?

Sarah: Babies really don’t alter. Fashions and fads come and go. The most important thing is the emotional needs of babies. Today’s parents really get that. As well as the care, the breastfeeding or bottle feeding and looking after your baby the emotional needs are very important.

Perry: You’re a health visitor; you’re going into other people’s houses aren’t you? Our Country Nurse is a rich tapestry of 1970s life.

Sarah: It is. I worked in rural Kent. I had a little mini which was given to us by the county as we’d be county council employees and had only just moved into the NHS. The weather could be tremendously harsh in Kent; snow in the winter and the book has the baking hot summer of 1976 where once I parked my Mini when I came back out the steering wheel was so hot I could barely touch it to drive onto my next visit. But knocking on doors for a living has been most enjoyable.

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Liz: You didn’t have children when you started and you were very young when you became a health visitor. What made you want to do it?

Sarah: When I trained at Hackney Hospital on community practice towards the end of my training I went out with a marvellous health visitor visiting high rise blocks and there were terrible conditions in some areas. She was so welcomed by her families, she organised nursery placements, she sorted housing out and I thought I want to that. Later on when they were looking for nurses who wanted to do health visiting I applied and got in.

Liz: You’ve got some really interesting stories. It’s fictional with names changed but loosely it’s based on your life?

Sarah: Yes, it’s my memoir. All the characters names and circumstances are changed except me, Sarah Hill, I’m the only one who is herself and I’m not even completely sure about that.

Perry: So, presumably the main protagonist is you?

Sarah: It’s me narrating and it’s my story but there are some real characters. I dedicated Our Country Nurse to three Staffordshire health visitors who are no longer with us but there wonderful way of working come out in some of my characters particularly Hermione who is wonderful largely based on a dear friend.

Liz: Some of the stories people might find a little shocking. Tell us about the Filipino mum?

Sarah: They was a Filipino couple with a new baby. I went to see them and they worked very long hours for hardly any money. They got one half day a week off on a Sunday and really it modern day slavery.

Perry: How much did they earn?

Sarah: They earned £17 and ten shillings a month between them.

Perry: Good grief.

Sarah: I mean wages weren’t high but that was exploitation. And the excuse from was they got a room – which was an attic, and food – which they weren’t used to and couldn’t eat. They wanted to get away to the United States and their story was largely based on someone I did see.

Perry: What did Sarah encounter with this couple then?

Sarah: The mum was wonderful but she really couldn’t spend enough time with the baby. I used to do a number of clinics and one had bus that went round and picked everyone up and brought them to this monthly country clinic and took them all home again all for free. I more or less said it’s essential she goes to her employer she must come; dereliction of duty on your part if you let them go. She was a very pukka lady and didn’t want to go against that so allowed her to have this afternoon off once a month to come to clinic and that’s where we hatched the plot for her to escape.

Perry: So she escaped!

Liz: You helped her to get out of the situation.

Perry: It says in the book that she was advised to leave the baby under an apple tree so she could carry on working for the family?

Sarah: Yes, what her employer kept telling her was to wrap the baby up and leave her under the apple trees in the orchard and get on with your work, I used to do that on Nanny’s day off. It was January! It was real exploitation. You have to tread very carefully sometimes and that’s the thing with health visiting you have no right of access, you have no right to go in. It’s people’s good will.

Perry: For unmarried mothers back in the 70s was there still stigma there was in previous decades?

Sarah: There was. There’s a story about a young girl, another one I helped to escape from looking after two horrible elderly uncles in a tumbledown farm to a nice little flat of her own. Things were changing in the 70s, it wasn’t as Dickensian as 30s, 40s, 50s but it was still very hard and tough for women at that time generally but particularly unmarried mothers.

Liz: One of the stories from your book which are based on real events is about you going to help a mum with a three year old who’s having issues in the night?

Sarah: This is based on a quite a few incidents because quite a few parents say their child is talking to someone or seeing someone and it’s not that unusual and it’s not usually a ghost, it’s usually imagination and children have seven years before they really separate reality from fantasy.

Liz: What are they doing in the middle of the night though?

Sarah: I can’t give the story away but its not all that it seems. The whole family is really worried because they think they’ve got a poltergeist; things are falling off dressers and crashing to the floor.

Perry: Was this a real story?

Sarah: Yes, but the actual outcome isn’t quite that you might think it was.

Perry: Now that’s a teaser.

Liz: There were a lot of high profile stories in the papers in the 70s about children and ghosts.

Sarah: There is always something going on in that direction.

Liz: You must have thought why are you calling me?

Sarah: When you’re a health visitor people go to you to ask for help and very often you’re not quite the person who has the knowledge but you can be conduit; you can find the right person.

Liz: Did you have any other unusual cases like that?

Sarah: I’ve unblocked drains, I’ve called the environmental health for all sort of infestations – things that I can’t actually deal with though I’m quite good at unblocking drains. In the 70s people didn’t have the money and insurance cover for emergency situations so you did get rung up just as you were leaving the office. For instance on Christmas Eve as I was leaving someone rings with a problem and it was that story that started off the memoirs. A lady rang me and said I can’t settle the baby they’re crying, crying, crying. I went out I was there for absolutely ages talk about breastfeeding, positions and I’d left the minis lights on. I had a completely flat battery and no mobile phones in those days. I didn’t want to go back to the house I’d been there two and a half hours. I walked to the phone box and rang the local garage. Great big snowflakes started to fall and I was stuck in a drift with a flat battery on Christmas Eve and I didn’t have any money with me. This lovely mechanic came out, he started my car and I asked him how much and he said, ‘Nothing, Nurse, it’s Christmas Eve, Merry Christmas.’ I put that into the text of Happy Baby, Happy Family as a little story and my agent said to me you should write your memoirs.

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Liz: Was it because of that going above and beyond dedication that you got the MBE?

Sarah: I got the MBE as a health visitor for working with children and families in Stafford. People put me forward for it without my knowledge. And I understand the Queen often says you get your MBE on behalf of a whole team of people. I just happened to be the one who was going up to get it and representing the profession.

Perry: Here’s the killer question – there’s a lot of people listening who would have been mums in 70s and are the daughters of those mothers. In your estimation are parents better now than they were?

Sarah: This generation of parents is the best there has ever been. Parents these days they really work as a team, they put their child’s welfare, their wellbeing at the heart of what they’re doing. Working parents, working mums especially often feel so torn between work and childcare but working is a good example for your children, whether you’re a stay at home mum, work full time or part time, there has been great improvements in parenting and especially in the emotional needs; that love and security. Recognising your child as an equal, you’re the custodian of those rights.

Liz: You think we do that more now?

Sarah:  A lot more now.

Perry: Is it an attitude of mind thing? In the 70s they were only one generation away from a child should be seen and not heard.

Sarah: That was not quite as bad as it had been but the parents of children then had definitely been told to be seen and not heard. It’s evolved and now parents understand that harsh words can hurt. That’s a big leap forward and I don’t think many parents now would think that smacking children would be OK because it always makes things worse.

Liz: Physically though it was harder for mums back then using terry nappies – we’ve got it easier now.

Perry: And your washing machine saves your life.

Liz: In birth we’re a lot more likely to use pain relief now, there weren’t a lot of options then.

Sarah: We do have wonderful midwifery and obstetrics service these days compared with then but there was every week an antenatal class run by myself and the midwife, there’s a wonderful midwife in the book who was an absolute treasure her mums adored her. We did a topic every week and relaxation every week – taking you through labour – because the NHS is so squeezed and lacking in resources some parents can’t get onto a course sometimes. So yes, I’m all for the new developments, I think it’s wonderful to have them but it’s your wonderful midwife who steers you through it.

Perry: Sarah, it was lovely to speak to you and the new book is Our Country Nurse. There’s quite a few stories drawn from your time in Staffordshire.

Liz: Thank you for coming in Sarah Beeson from Stafford, MBE.

Order a signed copy of Our Country Nurse.

Published by Harper Element.
Paperback at £8.99 available from Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles and WH Smith.
eBook and £6.49 available from Amazon Kindle, iTunes, Google Play and Kobo.
Audiobook £12.99 read by Anna Bentinck available from Amazon Audible and iTunes.

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How to introduce your pet to a new baby

We were glad to give new parents and parents to be some advice in Mumfidential. New research from The Baby Show with MadeForMums has found that nearly half of new parents today have pets and that three-quarters of parents believe that having a pet is beneficial for a child’s development, teaching them a sense of responsibility and improving their social skills. (Photo credit Bumpkins).

This said, the process of introducing the family pet to a new baby can be a tricky experience and one that needs to be managed and monitored carefully. Expert speaker at The Baby Show, Sarah Beeson MBE, and Head Vet at Notting Hill and Baron’s Court Vet, Dr Emma Nicholas, share some top tips.

Dr Emma Nicholas (Mum of 2) and Head Veterinary Nurse Anna Connell (Mum to be).

Dr Emma Nicholas (Mum of 2) and Head Veterinary Nurse Anna McConnell (Mum to be).

Dr Emma Nicholas’s tips

Prepare your pet
Give yourself plenty of time to let your dog or cat adjust to being demoted in importance before your baby arrives. You can prepare your pet by gently starting to distance yourself, for example, leaving your dog at home for slightly longer periods of time.

If your dog or cat is used to sleeping on the bed or sofa, it’s a really good idea to get them used to a bed or basket of their own nearby while you are pregnant. In this way they won’t suddenly be upset if they are no longer allowed on when the baby arrives. By encouraging your pet to become self-sufficient the stress of the change will be minimised.

Watch out for the cat litter
Pregnant women who own a cat need to keep away from the cat litter. I advise my pregnant clients not to handle the tray because of the risk of Toxoplasma. If you are worried you can ask your doctor to perform a test to see if you have antibodies to the parasite.

Prepare your home
A lot women worry about cats getting into the cot with the baby. When I had my babies I had three cats and I was very worried about this. I bought a cat net to go over the cot to stop any cat jumping in and to put my mind at ease. A stair gate can also be useful for stopping the dog going upstairs (something that will come in useful when the baby starts climbing too!)

Make time for your pet
When your baby arrives, do make time for your cat or dog when you can or she will feel neglected. Try and keep to her routine and give her a cuddle when you can. It’ll do you good too. Studies consistently show that owning a pet is good for us. It drops our blood pressure and creates a sense of well-being.

Having a baby can be challenging at times and maintaining who you are is important. Your previous relationship with your pet may seem at first glance to be a trivial thing to some, but I believe that it helps you to maintain a sense of self whilst everything around and about you is changing. Embrace the fact you have a furry friend!

Keep your pet’s routine
Work out in advance how you can manage caring for your baby alongside your dog’s usual walk times. It is important that your dog doesn’t feel rejected when the baby comes home; forward planning will make it easier to adjust your dog’s routines as your baby’s routines change too.

Ask for help
Having some friends and family who can step in to take on dog or baby duties will help you get the rest you need.

Get some fresh air
It can be really great for mum, baby and dog to go for a walk. I really enjoyed the exercise and the head space it gave me. Everyone’s needs were met so it’s a win-win when you feel up to it. Babies who get out in the fresh air on a daily basis also have much more chance of sleeping well at night. The soothing motion frequently induces slumber so, fingers crossed after you’ve walked the dog you can put your feet up with a cuppa when you return home.

Sarah Beeson MBE (photo credit Our Family Film)

Sarah Beeson MBE (photo credit Our Family Film)

Sarah Beeson MBE health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby agrees that preparation is the key.

Sarah Beeson’s safety tips for pets and babies

1. No matter how nice your dog or cat is, it’s better to be cautious as accidents can happen in a spilt second.

2. Never leave your pet unattended around your baby or put them close together. If your baby pulls or hits the animal they are likely to retaliate on instinct.

3. Play it cool, don’t try and too hard to get your pet to like the baby, they’ll become friends in their own time.

4. Be realistic about your pet’s ability to understand and recognise what’s happening; it’s natural they may feel pushed out.

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Do you love holding other people’s babies?

I must confess when I first had LO you think your baby is so awesome it’s hard to be interested in anyone else’s. I guess that’s just natures way of making your new baby the centre of your world.

But with LO starting school last week I got to hold other people’s scrumptious new babies at YoBeBe Apps Mums & Bumps Meet Up at Somerset House and man they were just gorgeous.  What a fantastic gathering of mums and mums-to-be. With complimentary gifts from Mothercare.

It was also a pleasure to chat to the pregnant first time mums about bump life. They were already putting such thought and time into preparing for their Little One’s; my mum (author Sarah Beeson MBE) is right this is the best generation of parents ever. I was asked to speak to this group of women about my journey into motherhood, becoming an author and setting up my own business Wordsby.

Along with Marion a parent blogger at Poignee D’Amour who organises Free Meet Ups in Notting Hill and Elisa who teaches ballet with bump and baby from PregDance.  The advice we give in Happy Baby, Happy Family seemed to strike a big cord and one mum who’s read it said our instant baby calmer The Up-Down Technique stops her baby crying every time in seconds!

You can see Sarah for 1-2-1 Baby Advice at Mumsnet Bumpfest in London on 26 Sept.    And at Natures Purest Balham on 29 September.    There really is nothing more we like than talking to mums and expectant mums so please get in touch if your run a group in London or the Midlands.

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A heartfelt blog post from a mumpreneur on the realities of their child starting school

Have you been worried about your LO’s first day at school? I have, it’s been the subject of many heartfelt conversations with my mum (Sarah Beeson MBE author and baby expert), mum friends and teacher friends.

LO decided to recreate this photo of her with her teddy bears this week. For me and her dad Takbir, it was a reminder of though she’s still our baby, she’s not a baby anymore (though she loves to play babies). Super cute?

Developing self-help skills for reception class

For organised little old me, I have to prepare. I can’t not – I’m a planner. We started gently checking off the self-help skills Sarah recommended in April when the schools admissions came through.

Gradually increasing the opportunities LO had to:

  • Get dressed and undressed on her own
  • Take her coat on and off and hang it up
  • Go to the toilet on her own and wash her hands
  • Put her shoes and socks on
  • Find a tissue and blow her nose
  • Pack up and take out her apple and books from school bag

School admissions stress

I never said this at the time, but we had weeks and weeks of worry following the School Admissions in April as LO didn’t get into any of the six choices of school we made and had no school place. My friends with older kids told me to hang in there; there’s lots of “horse trading” one seasoned school mum told me. And low and behold in June we moved up the waiting list and LO got into a great school.

Joy! I bought her school uniform almost immediately but put off labelling the 20+ items.

Do you hate ironing and sewing too?

I flipping do! It takes me ten minutes to sew on a button and I never iron, I just put things on a hanger straight out the washing machine to dry. There are so many labelling products out there I just didn’t know what to choose.

I turned to social media and asked my friends what they use. Nicola, a mum of two and primary school teacher recommended Stamptastic. I instantly started looking at their site and reading parenting blogger reviews from mums in the know. They all rated the product highly as hassel free and long lasting.

Stamptastic was set up by three mums, and as a mumpreneur myself, I always prefer to support another woman in business. I was really chuffed when Emma sent me the stamp with LO’s name on and the ink pad which costs £22. They also do a PTA scheme where you get great discounts if you get your school to sign up.

On the August Bank Holiday Monday I got out my stamp and bam…Over 20 pieces of school uniform labelled in ten minutes!

I really recommend Stampastic. It’s easy peasy, affordable and effective. That’s me sorted for labelling her stuf until she goes to university. I stamped her uniform, bags even her water bottle. It’s permanent ink and doesn’t come off in the wash.

Do you use books to explore new experiences?

I often turn to books to help LO prepare for a new experience. Whether, it’s ballet class, potty training, or having a day with grandma while mummy’s at work.

As one of LO’s favourite books is ‘The Jolly Postman’ we’ve been reading ‘Starting School’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg quite regularly these last couple of weeks before our current bedtime book ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’. It’s helped remind me a few things about reception class that I’ve long forgotten. 

The first day of school 

I’ve been having a big declutter as part of my preparation for LO starting school. I’ve been mulling over how to do the school run, meet clients for my brand and campaign business Wordsby, write and promote our books Happy Baby, Happy Family and The New Arrival and our next book She’s Arrived!, exercise and have healthier lunches then be on time to pick up LO from school. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, mums have to be so organised we could plan military operations.

Finding the perfect school run to work bag

I’ve been asking and asking social media friends what is best bag to carry on the 0.9 mile walk to school, that will fit in my gym gear, laptop, notebooks, sketch pads, diary, pencil-case, purse, water and a snack. While keeping hold of LO’s hand.

Kiran Chung (who was at Pink Lining now at Mumsnet) recommended the Pink Lining rucksack. I do love Pink Lining, they’re stylish and practical and Creative Director Charlotte is fellow mumpreneur. Ever since they’d given us beautiful bags like this little mini rucksack at our rooftop mum and baby party for the launch of Happy Baby, Happy Family I’ve been browsing their website and trying to think of an excuse to get one (since LO is long out of nappies).

I decided I’d been faffing around long enough and hit the PayPal button and bought myself the mummy version of this gorgeous Pink Lining bows rucksack which is a great work bag. It’s perfect; comfortable, practical and other mums’ have been eyeing it up too as I’ve had to write down the website address for where they can buy one quite a few times already.

Do you like my yummy mummy school to work run backpack?


Is going school is harder on the mums and dads?

I’ve been a bit tearful over LO starting school the last few weeks. It’s been amazing just how supportive other parents have been in my everyday life and on social media. So, a big, big thank you.

But when the first day of school came it was a really happy one (no tears at all from any of us). We were happy, excited and enjoyed our time together as family and new experiences we’ve had when we’re apart. My mum said to me, ‘She’s happy, so your happy.’ Which seems kind of obvious now.

I know there’ll be bumps and tough days but I’m going to be positive and embrace this new phase of our lives and remember how lucky we are that as a freelance writer and communications consultant I have the flexibility to drop off and pick up LO from school (something my working mother never had).

For me, being prepared helps us to enjoy new experiences. I was a terrible Girl Guide but I do follow Sarah Beeson’s advice on the school pick up.


Those three tips so far have led to happy chats after school as LO has a snack and drink and little by little starts telling me about her day.

Is your LO starting school? How’s your week been? 

An Easter Rural Retreat, BBC Radio 4 and Mother-Daughter Shopping

Like most of London on Munday Thursday we wanted to do the big Easter Weekend Getaway but first we had to do a quick TV interview with Good Morning Britain on shared parental leave.

 LO insisted we wear our matching Poppy England Forest dresses for the cameras.   My husband, Takbir and I were interviewed in the kitchen. LO took this photo – not the most flattering angle. Thanks kid! The three of us had a quick game of alphabet cards, like you do before a hectic packing session. LO didn’t bat an eyelid about being in front of the TV cameras but then she did feature on Location Location Location when she was ten months old and wasn’t a smidge of trouble. Packing done, at last we were off in a northerly direction to Staffordshire to my mum, Sarah Beeson for a bit of much-needed family time.

Good Friday was a bit of a wash out. But my mum being the lovely mama she is took LO in the morning and let us have a lie-in. She even brought us breakfast in bed. On Saturday Sarah hosted a lovely lunch for our friends and their gorgeous new baby. I was so pleased to see them using the Faye & Lou rainbow muslins we bought for their new arrival. It made me rather broody. On Easter Sunday LO was thrilled to wear her new Poppy England boat dress, white cardigan and yellow petticoat for the first time. She really loves swishing around in her new petticoat. And she does rather like to jump up and down on her Grandma’s bed (under supervision). It’s quite nostalgic for me to see her lying on the quilt my own Granny made. I thought she might be shy of the lovely ladies from BBC Radio 4 who joined us for our family interfaith celebrations but she was chatting to them happily as soon as they arrived. Going to Broadcasting House for radio interviews with Harriet Scott and Robert Elms on BBC London, BBC Radio Stoke and Hackney Radio stations last year with Mummy and Grandma when The New Arrival came out means she takes TV cameras and radio mics in her stride. My husband’s family arrived for our annual Easter Egg Hunt and lunch. My lovely sister-in-law Nazia even brought these Easter Cupcakes. She’s so clever and is another mumpreneur and runs Cocoas Cupcakes in Birmingham Nazia even made these homemade personalised golden Easter Eggs for all the children. How’s that for creativity at interfaith family celebrations! I was amazed at how easily Sarah talked about our family to BBC Radio 4 producer and presenter whilst preparing the lunch. She looks so at home in her country cottage kitchen in her Poppy England apron we gave her for christmas. I can feeling some weaning advice and recipe videos will be needed when her next book Happy Baby, Happy Family comes out.

LO and her cousins love, love, love our annual Easter Egg Hunt. It just fills you with such joy to see them enjoying themselves and being together as a family.

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Takbir prepared halal lamb for Easter Monday lunch. My mum served up chapatis, riata, quorn and chickpea curry, salad, spiced potatoes and rice followed by a lemon and cream pie. It was all very, very good. We all think good food is one of the benefits of being a culturally rich-mixed family.

Each of the children, even though they are only between three and four years old, loved being interviewed about what they liked about Easter, Christmas and Eid. They just take these events as celebrations and a time to be together as a family, they don’t see that some of them are muslim and some of them are christian.

This year the children were all ready for the egg and spoon race, though I must admit there was a fair bit of cheating.

They all beat the dads in the parent and child race.

Before we waved goodbye to BBC Radio 4 and went on a long country walk through the village we had a family photo. As you might have noticed there’ll be an extra Little One at next year’s gathering (my Sister-in-law Abeda is a pregnant with her second and Nazia and Fateha already have two children each). I wore my Poppy England Forest dress and new yellow cardigan again but followed LO’s example and wore my new yellow petticoat for the first time too – I now want to wear a petticoat everyday – they’re such fun.

On Tuesday Takbir went back to London but LO and I stayed on in the countryside for some clean living. LO and I had a wonderful afternoon exploring one of my favourite places Shugborough Hall. I was hoping to take a few days off; I haven’t had a proper day off since New Year’s Day.

My mum brought me and LO breakfast in bed on Wednesday morning (she really is the best mum ever) and LO had picked me this lovely flower to have on my bedside table. It’s wonderful to feel Spring is really here, such a celebration of new beginnings and family life.

I usually sling a few snacks into the nearest bag when LO are out and about in London but Sarah whipped up in no time a lovely picnic lunch. She put this basket onto the back seat of her car and took us to the playground at Weston for a picnic lunch and running about in the spring sunshine.

It was so lovely to do a bit of mother-daughter shopping at Trentham Gardens. Last year we bought LO a mini doll for her birthday from Natures Purest Trentham. It was so nice to find a mixed race doll and we got her the Papa and Mama & Baby dolls for Christmas. She asked if Mimi could have a sister and now her little World Family will be complete with brother Felix and sister Flora to add to her dolls for her next birthday.

One of my cousin’s has a new baby, who we also sent some blue and white star Faye & Lou muslins. But Sarah being the loving auntie she is, couldn’t resist buying the new baby a bamboo blanket from Zoe at Natures Purest too. We were given one for LO when she was a baby and it really is so soft and snuggly. Another of my cousin’s is expecting – by the end of the year there will be three new babies in the family.

My day off was short-lived as we got a phone call from HarperCollins to tell us the final proofs for Happy Baby, Happy Family were ready. So the rest of the week was spent going through them. Though it’s terribly exciting to see the book come together; it’s off to the printers next week. Less than eight weeks to go now (4 June 2015) and a bit like waiting for a new arrival.

More excitment on Friday when we realised Sarah’s advice on gentle parenting was featured in this month’s Gurgle Magazine.

And our top games to play with new babies are in this month’s Mother & Baby magazine. So, it’s been a great week. Not without its dramas (the washing machine broke) but it’s definitely been a case of Eat, Pray, Love this week for our whole family.

Amy Beeson is working mum. She runs Wordsby Communications and co-writes books with Sarah Beeson MBE. With her husband, writer Takbir Uddin she is part of the Interfaith Marriage Network that supports couples and families who are in interfaith relationships.

(LO was given her boat dress by Poppy England but every other product mentioned in this article we paid for).

Red Nose Day 2015 My Kid Dressed Me and we went to the Science Museum

On Red Nose Day Friday 13 March 2015, I joined in with #MyKidsDressedMe again with mums and dads from across the UK raising money for Comic Relief. Here’s a little a bit about the story behind this viral campaign. And I don’t think LO did too bad a job – though most people wouldn’t have gone for the purple tights.

comic relief headshot mykidsdressedme

Here’s a really short video of the two of us in matching ensembles – LO does love to dress like her mummy. She styled me in a red and white spotted dress, white cardigan with black beadwork, purple tights, red court shoes, a string of pearls and a white ribbon for my hair. We went to London Science Museum and had great fun.

science museum mykidsdressedmeAt lunch at The Deep Blue Diner for our #FunFriday the waiter complimented us on our matching outfits. I don’t know if he believed me when I explained LO had dressed us both for Red Nose Day. Here’s a little message from LO after lunch.

blackboard mykidsdressedmeDo have a look at the fabulous styling of all the mums and dads who took part in #MyKidsDressedMe for Comic Relief over at Story of Mum. And a big fat thank you to everyone who donated.

red  nose thank you

Tweet your photos to @RedNoseDay @StoryOfMum @TheBearRabbit @Amyibeeson

Amy Beeson is a writer and brand creative at Wordsby Communications. She is the co-author of The New Arrival: a heartwarming true story of a trainee nurse in 1970s London and Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby.

Friday 13th, Fashion Fiascos and Red Nose Day #MyKidsDressedMe

Friday 13 March is proving unlucky for some parents and carers across the UK but lucky for the millions of people Comic Relief help each year. So throw open your wardrobe doors and put a lock on the dressing up box and let the kids in your life pick your outfit for the day and join in with #MyKidsDressedMe. We had a trial run with this a few weeks ago with LO – like my outfit?

#mykidsdressedme tiara

Join in

Here’s how to join in the fun on Red Nose Day.

1. Let your kid dress you

2. Text FUNNY to 70011 to donate £1

3. Post your photo on Social Media using hashtag #MyKidsDressedMe and #HonkFromHome. Nominatee three friends to do it too and get your family and friends to Text FUNNY to 70011 to donate £1.

Here’s a very short video of me and LO explaining what to do.

 

The Mum Story Behind #MyKidsDressedMe

Pippa Best from Story of Mum was so inspired by Summer Bellessa who let her kid dress her everyday for a week, that Pippa let her 4-year-old daughter pick her outfit for the school run one Friday morning in February. I saw Pippa and commented and she challenged me to let LO dress me too. I accepted the challenge along with other mums and promised I’d go to Mums and Toddlers on Monday dressed by own 3-year-old.

Meanwhile after much hilarity and tweeting Pippa had connected with @EmmaFreud from Comic Relief that we should make this a Red Nose Day Fundraiser for parents everywhere and Ta-Dah! Check out some of the fabulous styling of the countries youngest fashionistas over at Story of Mum and add to the gallery.

On Friday I will post my latest ensemble from LO and I’ve challenged my husband @TakieWordz to join in too.

Tweet your photos to @RedNoseDay @StoryOfMum @TheBearRabbit @Amyibeeson

Amy Beeson is a writer and brand creative at Wordsby Communications. She is the co-author of The New Arrival: a heartwarming true story of a trainee nurse in 1970s London and Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby.

Making Mother-and-Daughter Paper Dolls for some Christmas Magic

We’ve booked to go to Poppy England Pop-Up Shop in Shoreditch this week (19-22 November) to try on some matching mother and daughter dresses. Before I had children that’s something I swore I’d never do, but LO just loves wearing the same colours, necklaces – whatever Mummy does, she wants to do too.

Sarah Beeson MBE author and baby expert (and my Mum) wrote a piece for Tesco Living this month on Christmas Shopping with Little Ones. She suggested getting a bit crafty by cutting pictures from the packet foods you regularly buy and creating a list of items your children will be responsible for finding when you’re there.

So that got me thinking…For LO and I to get the most out of the Poppy Christmas Party, why not choose the dresses we like ahead of time and make some paper dolls of ourselves. LO is a bit under the weather, so this morning seemed like a good time to get making things with paper, scissors, crayons and glue. And this is the result…

Our own Mother-and-Daughter Poppy England Paper Dolls – Tah-dah!

Poppy England Dolls on the bookcaseLO was a little tired so I tucked her up in bed. I was so surprised she started acting out going shopping with her mummy to try on dresses.

Imaginary Play

Poppy Paperdolls in BedThen she asked me to write out the beginning of the story on her blackboard.

Story-time

Poppy Paper Dolls StoryDiscovering new brands

When I’m not writing with my mum (The New Arrival and Your New Arrival:learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby) I’m working one-to-one with SMEs on passing on my communications know-how in branding and campaigns at Wordsby.

When I first saw the Poppy brand I was really struck with their creative flair. Storytelling through illustration, photography and dress-making is a niche I’m curious about. Clicking on their website and seeing this photo instantly converted me to wanting a dress to match my little girl’s

poppy  mother and daughter

 

It’s brand magic when people you know tell you about the bands they love

Since we published The New Arrival and went straight into the Amazon Charts, I’m always talking about the power of social media. I’d never heard of Poppy England until I saw Pippa from Story of Mum tweet this…

@StoryofMum “Another beach party, another excuse to wear our matching @poppyengland dresses!! I have no shame ;)”

Pippa Poppy

If it wasn’t for LO I don’t think I’d do much craft but sometimes it’s really lovely to get creative. That’s why I’ll be joining the mums for #SoMum tonight on Twitter (19/11/2014 8.30-10pm) @StoryOfMum. Connecting, sharing and taking some time to be creative and think about ourselves.

New Arrival book launch at Baron's CourtAbout Amy Beeson

Amy Beeson co-wrote The New Arrival with her mum Sarah Beeson MBE and runs Wordsby Communications. She works one-to-one with clients to share her creative know-how. Contact Amy to find out more about booking a FREE 1 Hour Consultation.

On maternity leave and thinking I want to work but I don’t want to go back to the office? So did I.

MLI-19-Amy-BeesonIt was great talking to Soozi Baggs from Maternity Leavers about how having time out of the office with LO changed what I wanted from my work life in this free podcast.

Are you thinking of becoming a Mumpreneur?

Are you on maternity leave? Or did you have a change of direction after becoming a mum?

Share your story on Facebook or tweet @NewArrivalBook or @Amyibeeson.

your personal brandContact Amy

Amy co-wrote The New Arrival with her mum Sarah Beeson MBE and runs Wordsby Communications. She works one-to-one with clients to share her creative know-how.

To find out more or to book a free 1 hour consultation contact Amy today.

 

 

 

 

Is Mumpreneur a dirty word? Five pearls of wisdom for mums who want to run a business from home

Over the weekend I was featured in an article in The Telegraph on the ‘Rise of the Mumpreneur.’ Here’s what I had to say:

‘Childcare is a huge expense, but setting up a business is a struggle, too’

Amy Beeson, 32, from west London, is mother to two-year-old Ava. After leaving her job in communications for maternity leave in 2011, she decided to spend her time at home co-writing a book with her mother [Sarah Beeson MBE].

It wasn’t straightforward: before the book, The New Arrival, was picked up by a publishing agency [HarperCollins], she had to return to work. Only now has she decided to stay at home working full-time for her business, Wordsby Communications. “Working from home and becoming your own boss is empowering but it can be financially difficult,” she said. “While going to work and paying for childcare is a huge expense, starting up your own business from home means you are likely to struggle financially to begin with as well, so it is important that mothers enjoy the business they are starting up and are able to be adaptable.”’

Telegraph MumrepeurWho am I?

Six months after returning to work from maternity leave I waved goodbye to my full-time Communications Civil Service job after getting a three book deal with HarperCollins to co-write two memoirs and a parenting book with my mum, Sarah Beeson. I started up Wordsby Communications at the beginning of 2013 which provides communications, design, writing and branding services. Our first memoir ‘The New Arrival’ is a top-selling book and tells the heart-warming story of a trainee nurse in 1970s London. Working from home gives me the flexibility to do a job I love and take care of our Little One.

So, some days I’m doing what Reviewers have called “beautifully written and moving memoir” and others I’m developing brand language for Kali Theatre Company or a new brand for Notting Hill Vets. Life as my own boss is certainly never dull. It’s full of highs and lows but it feels like I am living my life.

Mumpreneur?

The label “Mumpreneur” causes ontroversy. The first time I had it applied to me was when I was asked to tell My Mum Story by Pippa Best at Story of Mum, she told me it was great to have a Mumpreneur’s story. I thought that’s not who I am. Yes, I’m a mum but I just work freelance and run a small Creative Communications business Wordsby. I’m hardly Alan Sugar or Richard Branson material.

To some “Mumpreneur” is a dirty word but for me in a world of hashtags I now see it as a tool. Because in social media words are tools. Find the right word and it will open up your digital world to networks and communities, fans, friends, peers and clients; and if you work from home it’s a lifeline.

The hashtags I most often use are #Freelance #Copywriter #London but the support and opportunities I’ve discovered by connecting with other women (often mums) on twitter constantly amazes me. When we have our #TheNewArrival #Twitterparty and #Quiz I just love the community of readers who gather together – it makes writing and communications a two-way street and that’s so much more rewarding than broadcast media. #Mumpreneur is just a tool to make connections in a world filled with buzz.

Here are my five Top Tips for mums who want to be their own boss and look after young children.

1. If you don’t value yourself no-one else will.

A lot of people out there want something for nothing. Know what you’re worth and be confident and clear about what you are offering. I regularly trade services with other mums in business where we are each getting something out of it, but don’t let people pick your brains for the price of a coffee.

2. You can’t do everything.

I bring writing skills, creativity, energy and serious graft to any project. When you run your own business time is money and for me doing my own accounts is a false economy. I use an e-accountancy service called Crunch meaning I don’t waste those precious working hours trying to work out my own tax.

3. Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day.

Most mums could run military operations they’re so organised. Flexibility, reacting positively and proactively to change and planning ahead – no problem! Transfer those skills to your business and you’ve got a winning formula. But most women are very hard on themselves – we put enormous pressure on ourselves to be great at work, as a mum, as a partner, to be a domestic goddess and look well-groomed and in control. If you can achieve 2-3 of these things in one day – you’re a superstar!

4. Do something you love.

Running your own business means working whenever and wherever you can. To find the energy to do that, your business needs to be something you love doing. It’s unlikely you’re going to strike it rich straight away and there will be times when it’s nail-biting, that’s why it’s got to be something you really want to do.

5. Be kind to yourself

Getting a little R&R for yourself is usually the toughest challenge for any mum but it’s essential. Your children and your business depend on your well-being, so be a good boss and give yourself a break, whether that’s going to the gym, a movie or the night-off from dinner and bedtime. It’s amazing the boost just having an hour or two to yourself can give you.

London Writer and Communications Strategist would like to meet…

  • New Clients. To work on copy, creative content, brand development and communications.
  • Account Manager. I would love to meet another “Mumpreneur” who would like to be her own boss and work with me to win new business and manage client relationships and projects.

Email amyibeeson@gmail.com