We were once returning from a trip to Italy many years ago when we just had the two boys.
Felix was 2 and Nico was 4 .
Felix had missed his nap and the flight was delayed so we were fairly doomed from the get-go!
He wouldn’t eat any of the food at the airport and by the time we go on the plane he had gone over the edge.
You know that situation they your child becomes a loose canon?
He arched back as we tried to strap him in the plane seat.
He threw any toys we gave him and he hit out at us any time we tried to placate him.
We’d hoped that when the flight got going, he might eventually fall asleep.
It was after all 10.30pm by this time.
But that would have been too easy wouldn’t it?
He became hysterical and started kicking the seat in front of him.
We held onto his legs and told him he couldn’t do that.
We tried distracting him with snacks – they went the same direction as the toys.
I’m sure you can picture it.
You are exhausted yourself. Your...
Sometimes it is just worth having a laugh with your kids.
I think a lot about parenting – well I guess I would as it is my work – and as I’m around my kids a lot (yes, all four still living at home) I am constantly evaluating and testing what works best.
You might think that as my kids are so grown up (youngest 16, eldest 23) that my job is coming to an end, but it doesn’t work like that. You still have to ask them to do things, they still need my help and support, there’s still negotiations, give and take, guidance… all that stuff.
Anyway, back to laughing.
My daughter Scarlett made her sister a gorgeous video for her birthday of lots of clips of them together. I was struck by how many laughs they have.
One of the clips was me, convulsed in giggles. I don’t even know why I was laughing.
It reminded me how important it is for our child to see us laughing. They also do so many funny...
At this time of year, quite a few parents are sending their kids to summer activity camps. If you are lucky enough to get away on holiday, there might be a kids' club there.
Some children skip off happily and others are a lot more reluctant.
When my eldest son Nico was 5, I signed him up for a summer camp called Arty Party. He wasn’t too keen to go but I felt that he’d enjoy it when he was there. I’d hadn't done an awful lot of the preparation work that I recommend (see list below) but he seemed ok, if a bit quiet, when I picked him up on the first day.
That afternoon my mother had come to visit. When we got back, she was in our living room sitting on the sofa with the younger children.
Nico said he was hungry so I gave him an apple. He took one bite and said he didn’t want it any more.
My mother said something to him about it being a shame to waste fruit and then, to my horror, he threw the apple at her.
Scarlett, aged 4, looked at me and threw the cup of water on the floor.
Then my mother in law said
‘You are a very naughty girl’
And Scarlett replied
‘I don’t care. I don’t like you anyway, why are you here?’
Oh dear… who has had that? That excruciating feeling when your children behave badly in front of a relative, another parent or in public?
Our heart stops.
Our palms start to sweat.
Our temples throb.
And our mind goes blank.
We simply can’t think of a response.
Or we might immediately get into a power struggle and say:
‘How dare you speak to Granny like that? Do you want me to send you to your room?’
Ever find that threats work to calm a child down and teach them something?
In fact they usually add petrol to the fire.
So how do you deal with it when your child has done something you feel acutely embarrassed about.
I was really irritated a couple of days ago. I’d had a spat with my husband and I was feeling so annoyed with him.
It is a pretty rare couple that doesn’t argue but boy is it hard when you do, isn't it?
Anyway, where was I?
Oh yes. SO I was really preoccupied by this argument and Scarlett, my 18 year old, asked me to give her a lift.
I bet you've had that, when you are in a bad mood and a loved one asks you for something?
I didn't feel like being immediately helpful, so I told her that her room was a mess and she needed to tidy it first.
I asked her a couple of times, only to go back in and find her lying under the duvet on her ipad.
'Look, I've told you to tidy up your room. I'm fed up with this mess and why should I help you when you won't do what I ask....'
She looked up and said ‘I really hate that tone of voice you use. It’s so awful, I just can’t listen to you’
Of course I wanted to justify myself and carry on with the...
My mother’s favourite expression is ‘A mother’s place is in the wrong’
It makes me smile and it is so easy to slip into guilt around motherhood and be tempted to fix things when they’ve gone wrong.
I has certainly felt like that for me.
I remember my daughter Scarlett left favourite dolls china tea set right in the middle of the playroom floor and went off in search of something else to do.
A rule in our house was that if you’ve finished playing with something, it has to be put away before you play with something else. I’m not saying I always succeeded with this one but it was a clear rule.
Shortly after she wandered off her brothers chased each other across the playroom and trod on the plates and cups.
She was devastated and said ‘It wasn’t my fault mummy. Now my tea set is broken and you need to get me a new one’
Woah – doesn’t that press some...
I remember my parenting coach telling me that it wasn't my job to make my child happy and I felt really shocked by that.
What's the point in having kids if we don't want them to have a happy life?
If you want to raise a well-rounded, emotionally well-balanced child then you’ll want to read on.
Actually as a mother of small children there were many times I didn't feel happy at all, but that was mostly when I found myself nagging and often shouting because I didn't have the right parenting tools at the time.
So happiness - why shouldn't we want our kids to be really happy, as much as we possibly can?
Of course we want them to be happy but we also need our kids to be able to cope with disappointment and be able to bounce back.
So that’s why I had the courage to stick to my guns when my three year old changed her mind about the ice cream.
So here is the scene.
‘What kind of ice cream would you like darling?’
‘Are you positive you...
When my eldest son Nico was 9 we made the decision to move him from his cosy primary school to an all boy’s school that we felt would suit him better academically.
He was the kind of child who sucked up information like a sponge.
He would inform us of the most amazing facts.
He poured over books
He stayed up late into the night aged 7 to read a book about the Rubik’s cube and figured it out by the morning.
‘Let’s move him to somewhere that will stretch him more academically’ we thought.
All done in the best intentions of course – as are all our parenting decisions like that.
Except it was a really bad idea.
He was very cheerful, self-contained child, who hardly complained.
It turned out that the new school was a cold environment, he was subtly bullied and he didn’t make any friends there.
When he had more bouts of misbehaviour I started to connect it with what was going on at school, and I'm grateful that I had the tools to help him...
I went to a cafe today with my husband today and he ordered their banana bread with our coffee.
We were having an impromptu 'date' after a visit to the dentist.
I love banana bread and was really excited to eat it.
Isn't it funny how small things like that can give you pleasure?
Except it was SO disappointing.
It had a flabby texture, they used white flour (which I don't like) so it was really pale and you could barely taste the banana.
It reminded me how good my banana bread is.
I don't mean to brag or anything. But...
It's a recipe I have perfected over the years so I want to share it with you.
Camilla's Banana Bread
175g whole spelt flour (you can use normal wholemeal flour but I prefer the spelt)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g unsalted butter melted (do this carefully in the microwave - watch out as it splatters if it goes too fast)
100g coconut sugar or soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 small very ripe well...
For mental health awareness week, I met Heather Rutherford for an instagram live Q&A. Heather runs The Parenting Partnership and is an old friend and colleague.
Heather and I have 7 children between us and have raised our children using gentle parenting with firm boundaries. We were talking about the importance of nurturing our children’s mental health from a young age
As I always say to parents I work with, we need to think about parenting as the long game and know that laying the foundations for strong mental health and a strong self-belief is the best investment you can make for their future.
So here are the most important things we can do to nurture our kids mental health.