• Isobel Mary Champion

Autumn: Mindfulness, Sustainability, and Oktoberfest!

Hey there! October is upon us already and in the blink of an eye we are already in the midst of my favourite season, Autumn! Although I feel like we were only just celebrating Easter, and that the summer never really happened (weather-wise at least!), I am Autumn's number one fan, and I hope you will enjoy this, my Autumn newsletter - full of lots of my favourite ways to enjoy this beautiful season with your kids, and a few of my favourite eco-friendly, holistic and sustainable parenting tips.

Now that lockdown has ended and normality is returning, (fingers crossed it will not return!) I am getting things done, and am enjoying ticking things off my to-do list! One of these is to renew my Paediatric first aid certificate to remain Ofsted compliant, which I encourage all parents to do, the courses are very informative, very interesting, and you will learn some valuable life skills! I have always done my first aid training with nanny agency Little Ones Training & Education, and they have a variety of different first aid options including First Aid Courses for New Parents. Other more local courses will also available in your area! If you have a nanny or childminder, make sure their first aid certificate is up to date!

Another thing that has been on my to-do list all this year and has finally been achieved has been to become an Official Sustainable Partner for Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, an amazing international non-profit organisation who physically remove millions of tonnes of plastic from the oceans each year, and aim to drive positive change towards clean oceans through education, technology, and scientific research. You will be seeing their logo popping up on my website and emails, and you might notice a more sustainable practices appearing in my coaching practices! (Next stop, planting trees!)!

I don't know about you, but I always have some studying on the go, and am currently completing a diploma in mindfulness. This is so relevant to the very basis of my work with parents, and it is fascinating to dig down deeper into themes like acceptance, gratitude, trusting your gut instinct, and being non-judgmental of yourself and others. Mindfulness is based in Buddhism, and coming from a family of Northern artists, hippies and freethinkers who followed the hippy trail all the way to the Dalai Lama in the 70s, this feels like a natural path for me take. Watch out for more mindful blog posts to come about wellness, breath, and meditation (for both kids and parents!)!

I know the darker afternoons and grey skies can feel a little daunting at first, but who doesn't love the arrival of woolly mittens and frosty mornings?! I love the changes in the weather that come with Autumn, and find that there are so many things to enjoy observing in nature with children during this fascinating season. Like Spring, it is a season of change and abundance.

For me the most amazing thing about Autumn are the magical changes that the natural world goes through, and this creates so many wonderful learning opportunities for children. Make sure you take your kids outside for plenty of walks, whatever the weather, so that they can feel, see, hear, smell, and touch the changes going around them: the colours in the leaves, the fruit on the trees, the changes in the summer flowers, the cooler air, the winds, the rain, the frost, and the changing behaviour of the animals and birds. Get them collecting acorns, conkers, and pinecones - perfect for Autumnal sensory play!

This will be a time to learn lots of new vocabulary, and learn more about our natural environment, and how we and the animals around us prepare for the winter. There is no wrong weather to get outside in Autumn, kids can enjoy it all, as long as they are dressed for it!

The kids have gone back to school, and for some it will be their first adventures at preschool or big school, and for others it will be adapting and changing to a new school that they have moved to. These new starts and transitions are always hard, and very often can disrupt your child's sleep, eating habits, and behaviour in general! But time is the best medicine, and with familiarity, consistency, parental modelling of resilience, and lots of treats and things to look forward to, these hard times should pass! Usually this happens by around half term - so don't worry if things are still a bit of a rollercoaster at the moment! Playdates can also help if your child is struggling with a new school or unfamiliar classmates - don't hesitate to ask your child's teacher to suggest a couple of good personality match-ups for your child (they might surprise you)!

When it gets to the October half-term I like to pack up all my summer clothes, and get out all my winter clothes (this is just about the most organised thing I do!), and the same can be fun to do with children. Talk about why they will be needing things like warmer jumpers, hats, coats, and mittens. You may need to do some decluttering and pack up some of the garments that don't fit anymore, and equally, you will probably need to find some larger items for your growing munchkins!

While you are doing this, why not clear out any toys, books and games that they have grown out of - decluttering in the Autumn is like Spring-cleaning in the Springtime! Toy rotation is a great skill to practice, and getting rid of things you don't need any more will open your eyes to the more useful things that may be packed away or hidden high up on shelves, that might just be perfect for your child right now. To read more about toy rotation, check out my blog post Planning the Perfect Playroom.

Depending on their age, you can talk to your child about what you are going to do with the clothes and toys they have outgrown, and why. Will they be going to children less fortunate, or to a younger sibling or cousin? Your child might be interested in helping you find a suitable charity or new home for their old possessions. Perhaps this time around you might interest your child in buying pre-loved clothes and toys themselves? Children often prefer pre-loved clothes and nearly-new school uniform, because it has that lovely soft worn-in feel, and is less scratchy for sensitive skin! Added to that it is much better for the environment!

Make the most of the natural harvest around us at this time of year by taking your child blackberry picking, raspberry picking, apple picking, plum picking (and later in the Autumn, pumpkin picking!). Your children will probably be excited to find fruit that does not always arrive boxed, wrapped in plastic, and steam cleaned! You can spend time cooking and baking pies, crumbles, and tarts with your harvest, even if they are not the sweetest or the juiciest! Remember: When baking with children it is the activity that counts, not the final product! Check out your local PYO fruit farm to see if they are open to visitors, my local farm Parkside Farm is open with slots available to book in advance!

For a great Autumnal allergy-friendly (and vegan!) recipe, check out my latest blog post with allergy mumpreneur Manpreet Azad, and her amazing Salted Caramel Apple Crumble Muffins! Read all about her journey as a mother of a child with life-threatening food allergies, and find out how to join her monthly online allergy meet-ups ("Un-Wined"), and receive as discount on her 1:1 coaching for families living with food allergies.

Halloween is coming! I adore Halloween, more for the preparation, the decorations, and the cooking than for the actual festivities themselves (much like Christmas!). Get your child busy choosing pumpkins, decorating pumpkins, and baking pumpkin related treats! American-style pumpkin pie is one of my favourites! You can find loads of great recipes online, and I readily admit to using ready-roll pastry and tinned pumpkin! 

To trick-or-treat or not to trick-or-treat? It's up to you, will depend very much on your location (and current Covid-19 restrictions!), and it doesn't really matter. To be honest, a few Halloween themed movies, story books, a glowing pumpkin, and a few sweet treats will do the trick for most younger children - it's all about marking the seasons, and celebrating the changes that happen at this time of year.

Need a little grown-up fun to look forward to this Autumn? Why not go German, and celebrate Oktoberfest (I mean, after lockdown, anything goes, right?!)! Check out what's going on in London with this helpful guide, or why not book yourself in for some German sausage, bier, and apfelstrudel, at the beautiful German Gymnasium at St Pancras in London (one of my favourites for brunch or lunch!) - or if Alpine fondue is more your thing, check out their sister restaurant Haugen at the Olympic Park in Stratford.

I always encourage parents to choose sustainable and eco-friendly products wherever possible, and here are a few or of my favourite products at the moment:

  • Get your mits on Naked Sprout's bleach free, plastic free bamboo toilet paper (can you flush it? Yes you can!) - Britain's most sustainable toilet paper!

  • Want to support a truly innovative UK company? Buy one of Waterhaul's litter pickers made from recycled face masks, or a pair of their sunglasses made from recycled fishing trawler nets.

  • Try the Wonky Food Company (on a mission to reduce food waste) for relishes and sauces made from misshapen and surplus fruit and veg (available at Ocado).

One of my favourite discoveries this year was the award winning Lizzie Loves wellness range for children, including the amazing Lizzie Loves Be Sleepy bedtime drink (suitable from ages 3+, mix with milk for a perfect pink bedtime drink!), containing all the best sleep inducing ingredients - chamomile, magnesium and montmorency cherry. I have written a guest article all about how to ease your child through the October clock change which will be featuring on the Lizzie Loves blog - so keep your eyes out for that! Lizzie Loves also make a supplement to settle poorly tummies, and one to support your child's immune system!

My local coffee mornings are back up and running, and after half term I will be starting small group sessions via Zoom, not to mention my podcast mini series "Navigating the Childcare Maze" - sign up to my mailing list to get the latest straight into your inbox!

For more reading material, why not check out my check out my other posts for more info and advice on screen time, dinner times, fussy eaters, buying pre-loved children's clothing, decluttering before your new baby, and thinking about whether or not your family could foster a child. Plus don't miss my posts with Pre- and Post-Natal Fitness and Nutrition expert, Emma West, about Following a Plant-Based Diet for your Child, Weaning, Cows Milk Allergy and Pre- and Post-Natal Nutrition!

Visit the rest of my website to find out more about my parenting coaching services, child development, child behaviour, and positive parenting!

I hope you and your family enjoy the coming season and all it's changes, do get in touch and let me know your plans, I would love to hear from you!

All the best,

Isobel x