Nature's Mothers Blog

Childbirth, Parenting and Other Passions

Doula! The Ultimate Birth Companion May 9, 2014

Filed under: babies,Birth,Parenting,pregnancy — naturesmother @ 7:54 pm

I have recently had the privilege of being invited to be a birth partner for a lovely friend of mine. As a result I have been researching what doula’s do in more detail – although I know what my wonderful doula did for me! I have just watched this film and felt the need to share it. It costs £1.99 to stream it online – very much worth it in my opinion!



My New Website… March 3, 2014

Filed under: babies,Baltic Amber Necklaces,calming,Natural Remedies,Parenting — naturesmother @ 6:52 pm

I have a brand sparkly new website. Have a squiz and let me know what you think! Here is an interesting little film on how amber forms amber


Our very own Winter Solstice celebration… December 8, 2013

Filed under: Parenting,sustainable living,thoughts — naturesmother @ 9:29 am

At the beginning of this year I did a blogpost about exploring an alternative to Christmas here

It seems to have come naturally for us this year to get more excited about the change in the seasons. Instead of feeling blue as the weather has got colder, I feel we have become much more connected with what is actually going on as the days become shorter, the bulbs lie dormant beneath the earth and the animals collect nuts and go into hibernation. I think part of it is due to having small children and embracing the magic that is our earth, and perhaps also living where we do with an amazing view of the changing natural world combined with spending more time outdoors. The beginning of the celebration, for us, was the advent spiral at Zelda School.  Whilst we each got a candle from an angel at the entrance of the yurt, walked to the middle of the spiral one -by-one (or with our child) to light it, bringing light to the darkest days of the year, and then placed our candle somewhere on the spiral and made a wish – children and adults were all singing wonderful rounds of songs together. These are my favourite:
“Oaken leaves, in the merry woods so wild,
when will you grow green, oh?
Fairest maid, and thou be with child, lullaby
may’st thou sing, ah.
Lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby, lullaby
may’st thou sing, ah.”
“Now I walk in beauty,
beauty is before me,
beauty is behind me,
above and below me” 977112_10153544056425398_529620047_o (1)

My girls had been so looking forward to the spiral. You could see the childrens eyes, filled with magic and things memories are made of, and this year it was especially contagious. I have officially embraced winter celebrations, and am too enjoying the magic. The mulled wine and sitting around a fire with friends is a wonderful tradition too, and I hope to always do it.

We have officially rejected the generic idea of christmas, where you get yourself broke and buy presents nobody needs or wants (sorry Christmas lovers) – and I have also rejected the idea of it being a purely Christian celebration, having explored many more of the pagan and natural folklore. That has allowed me to claim and embrace the celebrations as a non-Christian. I mentioned last year that we told the kids Santa was not real – well, hubby did and I was not sure how I felt about it. The kids haven’t really remembered as Erin is talking of Santa getting her an IPad (hahaha, whatever!) But this year we have got a book about St Nicholas(waiting for it to arrive), and are looking forward to reading about the amazing ways he helped people and have decided that we can embrace Santa in this way – in the spirit of giving and helping others.

After reading this very wonderful blog about a solstice celebration hubby and I have had a proper sit down, grown up chat about how we want to do this winter celebration thing. We have decided to completely make it our own, make it work for us but follow some of the traditions. So as far as advent goes, we have decided to start the countdown next Wednesday – 14 days, which is about half a moon cycle – before Christmas day. No real reason – perhaps we will start on the 1st of December next year, we are just not well enough organised this year! On Wednesday we will cut a small branch from a tree, bring it home and decorate it. Perhaps it will be an evergreen branch, perhaps it won’t – we’ll just see what feels right. Traditionally a evergreen was used as a symbol of life in the midst of winter. It will be our winter tree. We plan to decorate our house with bits of Holly and other evergreens too and winter lights, and have started making wreaths with willow which we will twist green into.

We have written a list of things we would like to do – one on each of those 14 days of our advent, not necessarily in this order. Inspiration from various Winter Solstice books and The Woodland Trust website:

1) Make bird seed donuts – bird seed rolled in peanut butter – for the birds.
2) Make a leaf scarf for a tree
3) Make a sunrise/sunset chart
4) Make twig stars
5) Do a scavenger hunt
6) Winter twig quiz – match twigs to trees
7) Make gingerbread trees
8) Make ice or tissue paper lanterns
9) Make paper snowflakes
10) Make pine cone trees
11)Make up our own Solstice Song
12) Collect twigs for the fire (possibly a daily thing)
13) Go ice skating
14) Play games

Our main celebration is going to be on the 21st, which is the shortest day of the year. We will be opening one or two presents, writing down our favourite memories of the year, making cupcakes with yellow icing (representing the sun) and making wishes.  Later we hope to have an outdoor fire with friends, make and drink mulled wine and spicy apple juice and have fun. Before you get worried, we won’t be sacrificing goats or anything 😉 There is a beautiful childrens book called The Shortest Day, which we have been reading to the girls. We will be looking forward to the days getting longer and the nights getting shorter again.

We plan for the days that follow to hold lots of family time and time with friends, walks, reflecting on the past year, looking forward to more daylight, enjoying the great outdoors and good food. On Christmas morning the kids will open their christmas stockings and I think we will open the rest of our presents (one or two more) later in the day. We are having a meal with friends, although hubby may be at work, and maybe we’ll have another fire to mark the end of our solstice celebration. Ooh and another thing I’d love to do at some point, is go to Winter Wood again (if you are local, this is a must-do…so magical!)

I would also really like to do something specifically for others/helping out somewhere – not sure what yet…suggestions?

How do you celebrate your winter season?

Here are some of our sources of inspiration for creating a celebration of our own:

The Return of the Light


I jinxed it… December 7, 2013

Filed under: babies,Breastfeeding,Parenting,thoughts — naturesmother @ 10:07 am

I thought I should update you with the truth! Last month I posted about The end of an era. I said “…this may be the beginning of the days where I am not awake breastfeeding all night.” Well, I can confirm – it wasn’t! In fact in the last few nights I feel like I have been woken up every 10 minutes!  Now before anyone feels sorry for me, I feel that I should point out that even though I am thoroughly shattered (and should have gone to bed with the kids!), it is not all bad. My days of snuggling my little boy at night, undisturbed, are numbered and I do actually really treasure this time. He is still in bed with me, so it is pretty easy for me to just roll over and feed him when I am exhausted. I have tried sleeping with the girls, but he knows when I’m in the house and cries for me (even toddles through the dark looking for me…bless!).

However, I can now go out in the evenings…I even slept over at a friends house and he is totally fine when I am not there, and Erin and Ayla ADORE feeding him a bottle of oatley and snuggling him to sleep (something that he won’t do if I’m around). I, on the other hand, feel a little bit like a teenager having a chance to leave the house in the evening…something I have don’t think I have done once (without having a child with me) in the last 6 years! I even went to out with a friend to see the lovely Martha Tilston sing …woooo!

Hubby & I are going to try to go out to see a film next week. WITHOUT any children, for the first time in over 14 months! Wish us luck!

My Amazing Children!! 🙂


To all my friends with kids…and those without…

Filed under: babies,Parenting,pregnancy — naturesmother @ 9:28 am

This is too funny not to share! Enjoy! 🙂


A few lovely family photos… November 9, 2013

Filed under: babies,Parenting — naturesmother @ 7:28 pm

little walking  boy Leander, Steven & Ayla Erin & I Me & the girls


flower children

Filed under: Community life on the farm,Parenting — naturesmother @ 7:12 pm

I saw the quote below and just wanted to share it. I also wanted to say that contradictory to how my previous post may have came across, I am actually – a lot of the time – a very happy person and often quite a good mother. I guess you have to experience the sadness to truly recognise the happiness, and you have to recognise the problems in order to grow. I don’t spend all my days beating myself up. In fact life is pretty damn good (mostly) with quite normal(I think) highs and lows.

Love & light…


Traumatised child, traumatised mum… November 3, 2013

Filed under: Birth,Parenting,pregnancy — naturesmother @ 11:26 pm

Since my middle child, Ayla, was born I have blogged much less. This is partly due to being incredibly busy, but I think mostly due to the fact that I have been slightly traumatised and have felt unable to really talk about this, except for to a few close friends, before now.

Before Ayla’s birth I wrote this blog about Letting Go of expectations and fear. If you read the following blog you will see that I went into labour the night after writing the first blog. Now, I have a theory about this. I feel that I did let go of fear enough for my body to relax and go into labour, but I don’t feel that I was relaxed enough. I didn’t exactly explain this in the birth blog (the second one) but looking back now, I find it quite odd that once Ayla’s head was out I lost all desire to push her body out. It took at least another 7 minutes before I forced myself (with Stevens help) to push her body out, which I believe is quite long. Looking back now, I do feel that I wasn’t actually ready for her. As wonderful as I thought my living arrangements were, there was actually a lot of constantly having to shush Erin and stop her from going into rooms and exploring like a normal toddler, and Erin was a pretty quiet, angelic child. (we shared a house). In retrospect I KNOW this caused me a lot more stress then I acknowledged or even realised at the time. I know because when we moved out I felt such a HUGE sense of relief. This was probably one of many factors – there was the ‘how will I cope?’ factor, and many more.

Anyhow, within the first day or two when little gorgeous Ayla began to cry constantly I was completely taken by surprise. My first daughter had practically never cried. I was bloody tired and emotional and nothing I did seemed to satisfy this little soul – and it made me feel so useless – and angry. I felt I never really bonded with her and fell in love with her the way I did with Erin – this process was interrupted by desperate cries and helplessness. Many a night Steven and I would just pass her between us and hold her for as long as we could cope with the crying. She has a hearty, shriek-like cry which seemed to make all the nerves in my body twang and I felt like SUCH an awful mum! Not even boobie would satisfy her. She HATED the car and would literally scream from the second we got in to the second we stopped – I often had to stop and get her out on the way somewhere as I felt so utterly mean allowing her to get into such a state..she was literally breathless, sweaty and bright red by the time we arrived.  And there were times when I wore her in the sling and sat in the back of the car with her, and she was much happier like this. It was heartbreaking. I went out as little as possible. Seeing Dr Maryellen Stephens of Westcountry Family Chiropractic was a Godsend, and the crying immediately reduced. But Ayla has always been a needy baby and she has carried that through to childhood.

I feel she is traumatised for a few reasons:
1) me not feeling ready for her due to unforeseen & unchangeable circumstances
2) me being fearful of ending up in hospital
3) allowing intervention in having my waters broken when it was looking apparent that labour would stop
4) me literally not being able to push her body out for ages – having her head in the water, eyes open for well over 5 minutes (a very clear subconscious message??)
5) me being unable to cope with the crying and feeling utterly helpless

I have had three wonderful natural births, that many a woman is envious of & I should be thankful, right?  But yet I can relate to how people who have had awful traumatic births must feel. I believe that Ayla’s stress hormones(cortisol) are high and used up fast and then adrenaline kicks in. It is hard. I totally adore this child and would die for her, but there are moments when I just simply don’t know how to be with her. This has reflected negatively on our mother child relationship and I sometimes feel that Ayla is simply a reflection of how I’ve become as a result of her crying and unquenchable neediness, and therefore my feeling of helplessness. I used to be super chilled and easy going, but there is something about that cry (which she still has) that makes something in my brain go ‘twang’ and I lose the ability to cope – over and over again. I say things that I don’t mean and I see the fear in her eyes when I roar at her to ‘stop crying because it’s making me go insane’. Tears are rolling down my face as I write this. I recognise that it is so terribly terribly sad, and I still feel helpless as to how to make it better.

What is also interesting is that when Ayla was 2 months old I broke my finger and had to have it operated on. This put my one hand out of action for over a month. I don’t think I purposely broke my finger, but I do think that this gave me the ability to step back and hand over the childcare a bit more to Steven at a time when I was feeling unable to cope. You have to wonder about timings sometimes…

Ayla is quite aggressive, extremely emotional, quite angry and has a blood curdling scream which makes everyone cover their ears if we’re in a public place. She is constantly hurting Leander or pushing him over (sometimes I think she just wants to squeeze him because she loves him, but then gets carried away and hurts him instead) and hubby and I often find ourselves talking and worrying about her mental health. I know it is a mothers ‘job’ to blame herself, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself – but it is hard. I also feel very guilty that we had Leander when she was so little (she was 27 months old) and I know that of course she must be quite jealous of the attention he gets – and he is a total angel of a baby so he gets lots of positive attention, whereas she mainly seems to attract negative attention although we really really make an effort to give her one on one and as much positive attention as we can.

I myself have been rather down in the dumps and am in fact currently having Counselling  – and I must say that I feel a big part of the problem is as a result of Ayla’s babyhood and my loss of faith in myself. I do actually feel traumatised by the crying and have the most terrible guilt for not being able to provide for her needs – I could not stop her from crying, no matter what I did. I have gradually begun disliking myself more and more over the past 3 years and am now actually only recognising this and changing the pattern. How can I expect my kids to love themselves if I don’t love myself?

Regardless of all of this, I can honestly say that I love Ayla as much as my other children, and she probably spends a lot more time going around in my heart & head as I worry about her, and I desperately want to make things right in her world. She is pretty damn hilarious when she wants to be and ever so cute and small and articulate. She can be very loving and adorable, and she can be totally feisty and wild too – all of which I adore. If I had a time machine, I would like to repeat our first few months together – I want to take her on a journey back into the womb and really wish her out into this world wholeheartedly, make things right for her from the start..somehow I feel like if this had been the case she may not have cried as much as she did. If she hadn’t cried so much I would have been able to bond much better. If I’d bonded much better, she would be a much more secure child. Oh, the guilt that comes with parenthood – and of course, there’s no guarantee that any of this would have made any difference.

Another theory I have is that I persuaded her to stop breastfeeding when she was 18 months old. I had just ended up in hospital with severe blood loss after an anembryonic pregnancy, and I just felt too physically drained to continue. I also felt I never had quite the same breastfeeding relationship with her as I did with the others – it was much easier to stop feeding her than it would have been with Erin. I just didn’t feel as ‘connected’ to her. I breastfed Erin til 3 and beyond, and she is such a secure child and I am sure this is a contributing factor. In retrospect I do actually wish I’d continued with Ayla, because I think it could have been really healing for both of us – but I was physically and mentally depleted and felt unable to at the time.

What could really heal her, I think, is plenty of one-on-one time with her. Plenty of praise, endless love, no punishments. (Easier said then done when her shrieks trigger an automatic negative response from me…something I’m working on). I feel I need to allow her to be a baby again too.  Life has been hard enough for her…I have no idea why she actually cried when she was a baby, but whatever it was – I believe it has left scars. I believe Love-bombing may well be our answer, and in small doses has worked miracles for as long as a couple of weeks afterwards. I want to do a few days of total love-bombing when Leander is weaned some day and see what that does. I also want to learn to forgive and love myself again, as I’m sure this will reflect on our relationship and I’m happy to say that I am well on my way there!

So now the secret is out – I am indeed human and no super mom at all. But, as I so often say these days, I’m working on it 😉



The end of an era… November 2, 2013

Filed under: babies,Breastfeeding,Parenting — naturesmother @ 10:51 pm

This past week some lovely friends offered for us to use their house while we were away. As a complete contradiction to my previous post – I really enjoyed the creature comforts and am very grateful that all of our friends don’t live like us 🙂 We enjoyed hot baths and heating that came on at the flip of a switch. We had the choice of a dishwasher or washing dishes in hot water! The girls remained glued to the telly for the entire time.

I always find it quite funny because people try to communicate with my girls while a telly is on and they don’t respond. Sometimes people think they are being rude – but they are just totally and utterly absorbed in it.   We have a telly in our house but no aerial, so we can only watch dvd’s – and we tend to do much more playing than dvd’s so it’s a bit of a novelty. With the amount of adverts on tv I can only say that I am VERY happy with our choice. Erin started by saying, ‘wow mom, look that’s cool’ to every bit of plastic that was advertised – until I pointed out that they were all plastic. She, like I, knows where plastic eventually ends up. You only need to take a walk on a local beach, hear news like this or watch something like this. Very soon everytime an ad came on we’d be sitting there saying ‘plastic’, ‘more plastic’, ‘even more plastic’.  She gets it and she really cares about the earth and it’s creatures.  She would sacrifice her desire for a pink princess castle(or whatever), because she knows that in the end it is not going to do anyone good. I’m really proud of her! She also knows she can create her own games from all sorts of things, using a bit of imagination, and her and Ayla are very good at doing this kind of thing together (when they’re not fighting!) This is not to say we are not guilty of contributing to the plastic infestation – we do do plastic – but we’d like not to.

Anyway, I digress! What I really wanted to talk about it the end of an era with my little boy. He is almost 14 months old now and has just started walking. I have been breastfeeding (almost exclusively) for the last 14 months and plan to continue for as long as he wants it. The thing is, unlike the girls, he was showing very little interest in solid food (in any form…) and was feeding what felt like all night, every night.  I was/am constantly exhausted and therefore not the happiest person to be around. I am really for going with babies natural rhythm and am 100% pro feeding on demand, and extended breastfeeding, but I got the point where I had to weigh up whether I continued as I was – or reduced night feeds and perhaps became less exhausted and a better mother as a result.

When my friend said we could use her house while they were away it just seemed like the perfect opportunity…I decided to have an evening of one-to-one with each of my girls, using Oliver James’ love-bombing technique(something I’ve wanted to do for ages), and to see how Leander would cope without nighttime boobie(inspired by a friend who recently did something similar). Hubby was willing to have the other daughter and little Leander.  Leander has always refused a bottle – even with breast milk – he will play with it, but that’s it. I was so nervous and feeling so guilty about leaving Leander that I nearly changed my mind several times and it almost ruined my evening with the girls. But I know that hubby is a very capable and wonderful dad who is very close to him, and I made him PROMISE to call me if Leander cried (properly), and I’d come home.

I called late evening to find out that Leander was drinking Oatly happily from a bottle (!!) and that he’d been looking around for me but hadn’t cried. He is an amazing little boy and is quite used to being with hubby without me, when I’m at work. He woke up every 40 minutes the first night, and hubby got an idea of how exhausted I usually am. He drank a bit of milk the first couple of times and cuddled up to hubby and went back to sleep the other times, but at 2am he did throw a little tantrum. He screamed, kicked his legs and wouldn’t let hubby touch him, but thankfully this lasted less than 5 minutes and then he cuddled back into hubby and went back to sleep (we co-sleep). I went back at 7am and gave him a big feed and cuddle.

On the second night, Leander didn’t cry – not once. He slept for much longer periods and when he did wake, it was just to make sure daddy was there. He cuddled in and went straight back to sleep, no problems. I was really surprised – I thought this was going to be much harder.

Last night we all slept at our friends house but I slept with the girls and Leander hardly woke at all the whole night. His appetite for solids has increased massively, and although I feel a bit guilty about this and a bit like I’ve rushed him, it is a huge relief and I am already feeling less tired. I have been breastfeeding for the past 5 and a half years (except for 6 months whilst I was pregnant with Leander) and don’t get me wrong, it is wonderfully rewarding, my kids are blooming healthy and I absolutely love it, but it is exhausting.

So it is with both happiness and a certain sense of loss that I am moving into the next era. We are not having anymore kids, so this may be the beginning of the days where I am not awake breastfeeding all night. This just may be the beginning of days when I will not have a baby permanently on my boob. I feel sad, and I will miss it very much. But I also look forward to being a more energised and better mum. Here’s hoping anyway.

And this is all thanks to my lovely friends, without whom we would probably not had a chance to try this out for ages. Erin and Ayla really enjoyed the love-bombing too – I will save the details of that for another post…



Our low impact life… October 28, 2013

Filed under: Community life on the farm,Parenting,sustainable living,thoughts — naturesmother @ 8:19 am

People often wonder what our life is like. Our lifestyle is not totally unique, but it is very different to that of the vast majority of people I know.

We have moved 11 times in the last 7 years…that’s a LOT of moving! Why, you ask? We cannot afford to buy a house – we do not earn enough to get a mortgage – and neither would we want one. The idea of working our whole lives in order to pay a mortgage fills us with dread. So we’ve rented – normally we go for the cheapest – which was mostly short term lets.  Other times we’ve intended to stay long term, but our bills worked out to be unsustainable, or we just weren’t happy. We were having to claim housing benefit and having more and more drama with the fact that all estate agents in our area would not accept anyone on Housing Benefit, and most private landlords were wary of HB too. Basically, the Council provided a system which didn’t work for us. And neither were we happy depending on it.

We are happiest close to nature, some of our fondest memories whilst Wwoof’ing. The simple life is for us…so when I found a part time job available as personal assistant and event organiser at a daycentre for adults with special needs, on an organic farm…well, this sounded like heaven.

I got the job and a few months later we moved onto the farm. We lived in a touring caravan – where we built a small top bunk above the single bed so that we each had somewhere to sleep. It was hubby, myself and our 2 girls at that point, but I was expecting… As ‘nesting’ kicked in and began to worry about how I was going to cope with 3 children in this square metre(or less) of floor space. I opened my email one day, and there was an email from a local forum I belong to about someone selling a large shed for £600. I immediately called and we went to see it and bought it straight away. The man who we bought it from was a builder and he told us it’d take a day to take down and a couple of days to put up. Well, we aren’t builders – and it took about 6 months to rebuild it and make it habitable – we had the learning experience of a lifetime! We employed a builder here and there to get us started on the things we didn’t know how to do, but mostly we (or rather, my husband) built our house with his own bare hands. There is a huge sense of achievement in that alone, and even though it was stressful we feel really grateful to have had this opportunity.

We do an exchange – we work a few days a month in exchange for our beautiful piece of land – above an apple orchard and overlooking a valley…what more could we want?! I will save the details of the build for another blog, but suffice to say that our house cost more than £600 in the end – as we took advice to use new cladding (we chose larch as it doesn’t need to be treated). We used recycled/reclaimed things wherever we could, and learnt many a lesson on the way….

This is more or less the end result…


We get our little bit of power from solar panels – not enough to run a fridge, so we do without one. When there’s no sun, we have no power…although usually the panels will charge a bit, even on an overcast day.

Our loo consists of a shelf, with a toilet seat on it and a bin underneath. The bin gets emptied into our compost bins and will be eventually used as ‘humanure’ to feed our plants. During the year we spent in the caravan we had no toilet, although there are toilets on the farm – so having a compost loo of our own feels like a luxury.

We have a sink with running water…wooo! Another luxury! Our water is from a borehole. We don’t have a shower or bath, but there is a slightly temperamental shower on the farm. A flexitub and a couple of kettles of hot water sort us out just fine mostly, but we do indulge in a shower and swim at a nearby hotel every couple of weeks. We don’t have hot water in our house (at the moment) but we are hoping to buy a new woodburner with a boiler, so we should have that soon…(ooh, imagine washing dishes in warm water!)

We have a second hand gas cooker – one that someone was throwing out because the exterior is starting to rust. Our heating comes from our woodburner, and wood is something we have no shortage of on our farm as the farm gained loads of salvaged wood from a fire on the Falmouth Docks. It of course has to be collected and chopped, and fires are now becoming part of our morning and evening ritual. The girls love to help light it and little Leander loves to blow out the match.

We are very fortunate to live on the same farm as Zelda School, which is a unique school with a beautiful philosophy, run out of two yurts. The girls go there 3 days a week. I work those 3 days, whilst Hubby looks after Leander. Hubby works on weekends, as a Support Worker or Health Care Assistant (the money is best on weekends – which frees him up during the week) We have 2 family days during the week, in which we try to cram a bit of one-on-one time with the kids, home schooling ideas, and outings – amongst breastfeeding, meals, my self-employed work and other voluntary jobs I seem to accumulate.

We like to grow our own food although we haven’t done too much this year – but that is something to work on in the years to come. There are polytunnels on the farm, so when in season – we have an abundance of tomatoes, courgettes and runner beans.

We love being so close to nature, and we love that we are off grid and not dependant on the Council for housing benefit. We love that we have pretty much no massive overheads or bills. Even so, money is tight – petrol and food being our biggest expenses – but we would much rather be a little short of money and be able to share childcare and experience our childrens childhoods with them…it goes so fast!

Don’t be disillusioned however, this lifestyle is not for the faint-hearted. There is no switch to flip when it’s cold…and if baby has a poo explosion there’s no warm bath to plonk him in…but these things make you think about and realise how much energy and time goes into things that most people simply take forgranted. It makes us realise how wasteful we have been in the past, and how we need to look after our resources more carefully. This is not always an easy lifestyle – but it is a beautiful one – one where I feel so much more connected to mother earth and where my children are free and happy.

So that, in a nutshell, is our low impact lifestyle!


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