My sons will be turning three in just a few short months and suddenly, the way that we’ve dressed them in the past has started to seem a little babyish. So, as any good instamama would, I turned to instagram for some boy fashion inspiration and what I discovered was simply too good not to share!

@haus_of_boys

Self-described as ‘city style in the countryside’ this Australian insta documents up to four boys at a time wearing an impressive mix of some of our favourite Scandi and non-Scandi brands. Handily for me, Fiona always tags the images with the retailers in question so it’s super easy to shop her insta. Goodbye, money…

@cool_dudes_nz

This is a new-to-me account featuring Hudson, Harper and Harley, an outrageously cool trio with enviable hairstyles and a wardrobe that brings tears to my eyes. As with @haus_of_boys, she tags all of her brands. I am especially fond of the series of photos featuring oversized animal masks!

@wishesandwellies

Let’s not all zoom over to Rebecca’s account, because I actually rather enjoy treating her insta like an online boutique and simply calling dibs on most of her son’s togs when he outgrows them – I’d hate to face competition! But I couldn’t not mention one of my main boy fashion inspirations; I simply adore Mini Viking’s playful clothing style, with always looks comfortable and fun.

@babynumber3andme

Oh, Henry. His style is basically how I wish that I had dressed my boys as younger toddlers – and truth be told, I’d absolutely still put them in Henry’s outfits now! The understated style and neutral tones really put the focus on the boy rather than the outfit – which works especially well with Henry as it draws the eye to his incredible hair! Swoon.

@nesterwanders

Bold and oh, so bright, this account showcases the wardrobes of Basil, Thelonius and Finnian. I simply adore the colours, textures and patterns in this insta account, and mama Lexi’s fearlessness when it comes to putting together their outfits – be that twinning (tripletting?!) or combining clashy prints to really grab the attention! Her own sense of style isn’t bad either.

@helloarchie.co

Kaye and I have an almost identical taste in boy clothing, meaning that I not-infrequently stumble across her boys styled exactly the same as my boys (though we haven’t managed to dress them identically on the same day yet!).  She’s my go-to girl when it comes to swooning over brands and styles on insta and swapping ideas for dressing young boys.

Who are you following on instagram these days?  Any recommendations for me?  And please don’t forget to check out my insta for billions of twins, fashion inspiration and daily life updates.

We need to talk about Channel Mum.

Channel Mum, for the uninitiated, is a digital marketing, content production, social media and PR agency with a difference; it’s mama-run and with real mothers on its books, from the enormous (in following only) Ingham Family, Charlotte Taylor and Mummy Daddy Me to – ahem – tiny little me, actually. Focusing primarily on video, it’s the agency behind Iceland’s recent success, with the Channel Mum community of sponsored vloggers boasting a combined social reach of 5.65 million and delivering on average 20 – 35 million views per month.

But also? It’s kind of my home.

Behind the scenes at Channel Mum is community of women (and a handful of men) with an interest in video in common. The sponsored vloggers have an intimate facebook group in which we share with and support each other, cheering on Rebecca Meldrum through her difficult recent pregnancy and birth, holding Holly Matthews’ hands – virtually – through the death of her husband, laughing together about silly things, like Channel Mum founder Siobhan Freegard’s crazy motivational analogies. Occasionally we have the chance to come together, partying in private member’s clubs in Soho (I’ve never knocked back so many shots so quickly in my entire adult life) or listening intently at the Channel Mum Vidcon. But mostly we are online friends who have each other’s backs no matter what. Even when we don’t quite understand.  I love that so much diversity is represented within Channel Mum, from skin colour to income to sexuality.  There is always somebody to relate.

Oh a personal level, Channel Mum were with me every step of the way last year when I collapsed on a pregnancy fitness shoot with Michelle Heaton. Their own Cathy Ranson took me to hospital and sat with me for hours into the evening after I was admitted, liaising with the medical team on my behalf when I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t imagine a better agent to work with as an influencer than Channel Mum.

Earlier this year, I was offered the opportunity to become a part of the administrative team as one of five moderators on the Channel Mum Group facebook page. I have long thought that I could enjoy a wildly successful career as a professional chatterbox so I leapt at the opportunity to help Channel Mum to grow the group. Channel Mum Group – CMG, as we call it behind the scenes – has grown to a thriving community of six-and-a-half THOUSAND mums, we call it the ‘mum village’ but I think that at this point it’s probably more like a town and working its way up to city status! I do think that the world would be a better place if only Channel Mum were running it, with the help of the mums – and dads – at the Channel Mum Group. If you’d like to join our mum village please sign up, and I’d love for you to leave a note in the joining questions to say that you came over from here.

You will be well looked-after by Lisa, Rhian, Lorraine, Jen and me!


At the moment, Channel Mum are running a ‘treat yourself’ competition to win win a £50 Boots voucher, £50 Primark voucher AND a £50 Lush voucher every week from now until 1st September. If you’d like to win, subscribe to Channel Mum and then use this link to fill out the entry form. Or if you’re already subscribed, just fill in the form! I’d love to see one of my followers have the chance to treat themselves, and Channel Mum track where the competition entries come from as well so if you use my link, I’ll get influencer-points with them too! Channel Mum has hosted some life-changing campaigns such as the YANA challenge and Embracing Your Post-Baby Body (I’m dancing in this one in my undies!), and I really believe that it is such a valuable resource for the modern mum.

Are you a Channel Mum vlogger?  Do you watch ‘mummy vlogs’ on YouTube?

See you over there?  Don’t forget to enter the competition.

P.S. These pictures are of a typical Sunday morning at mine, where I’m trying to do my CMG adminning and the boys want to drown my iPhone, Olympia won’t get IN the bath because she’s my velcro baby at the weekends, and Embla is determinedly enjoying her splash-about and pretending that the other three don’t exist.

I started this blog, three years ago, because I wanted to document everything; to commit everything to writing and to memory. It was a way to hold them when I wasn’t able to hold them, when I felt utterly disconnected from my babies and from motherhood. I wrote, because in the sleep-deprivation and the darkness there was also beauty and I wanted to take it and to own it. And even though everything is so much brighter these days, so light and so easy, I have continued to write the story of our unconventional family, our modern-day fairy tale where two women fell in love and it didn’t matter a bit.

I love to document our family adventures – from the big ones, such as the birth of our daughters and our first holiday as a family of six, to the smaller ones, our trips to the sea side and picnics out in the woods close to our home. All of those magical firsts, and those little moments that don’t stop being special just because you’ve seen them a thousand times over. The things that Kirsty and I talk about, in hushed tones in bed at night, because we are so amazed by these small people and can’t quite believe that they’re ours.

Our sons are changing so quickly right now. At almost three years old, I feel as though they are shaking off the last of their toddlerhood and, in front of our eyes, becoming real little boys. I find myself holding them that bit tighter these days, kissing them more fiercely as they fight me off and run, laughing, to climb up the big slide and whoosh back down it, mischief in their eyes. They speak so clearly these days, full sentences, they articulate their perspective so well and debate their points like tiny lawyers.  We share the same joy in adventuring out of the house; they love to come with me to the shops, to walk the dog, or further afield.

This weekend the funfair was in town, in the form of Grove Park Carnival.  Chinbrook Meadows, where the carnival was located, is a mere twenty minutes’ walk from us or fewer than ten minutes on the bus, so it was easy to persuade Kirsty with the promise of candy floss to discard her Saturday afternoon plans in favour of a few hours at the funfair.

And what a few hours it was.

Oh golly – these children of mine.  It’s the thing that they don’t tell you about children – they grow.  Right in front of your eyes.

Last month we took toddlers to Butlins.  They were content with the baby rides; the spinning teacups and the cars, gripping the steering wheel poe-faced, ‘driving’ as though their ability to stay on the roundabout rested upon the steadiness of their hand.  This month?  At Grove Park Carnival this month my little boys wanted the ghost train, and they were unafraid of the dark, the leaping witches, the sheer drop from the top floor to the ground, as I gripped around their shoulders and, with a hissed intake of breath, squeezed shut my eyes.

They ‘yuvved dat ghost twain’.  

We rode it thrice.  At a cost of £18 and a good couple of months of my life, as we hurtled down the tracks and I remembered every horror story of fairground rides gone wrong, and we all laughed maniacally at the bottom, me from relief and my little boys from sheer euphoria, before they wobbled from the little car and raced around to the front, to do it all again.

“But why didn’t you TELL me that I had lipstick on my chin?”

“Ams, you ALWAYS have lipstick on your chin.  And your teeth.  It’s authentic.”

“… I had lipstick on my teeth?!”

Candy floss.  Lysander didn’t know what to do with it, and rubbed it through his hair.  Oh, my silly boy.  And my little Olympia snatched a handful and sat, so pleased with herself, cramming pink fluff in her face.  I want these moments to last forever.  I never thought that I could be so happy and yet here we are – two mothers with a tribe of little ones, lights flashing and music reverberating through our being and my heart beating noisily in my ears because this is it, this is what I always needed and never even knew.

My heart.  They are my heart.

Of all of my hopes and dreams, these four are the brightest and most beautiful, these beating human hearts that grew in my body and startling human minds that we nurture and shape.  And it seems, these days, that I live for the weekends that I can round up my tiny tribe and be a family together, my hands holding their hands, clutching small warm bodies close to mine, running my fingers through the softness of their hair.

And this is what I thought about at the funfair, riding the ghost train and waving to my sons as they passed us on the teacups, exchanging little smiles with Kirsty that said, wordlessly, that I can’t quite believe it, I still can’t believe that they are mine.

If you are wondering about their outfits, the jumpers are vintage Tootsa – three out of four were bought at a sample sale in Chelsea when I was expecting the boys.  The leggings were handmade over at Lottie & Lysh, who chose the prints themselves based on what they thought would suit our family, and sent to us for a feature on the blog.  We have been big fans of Lottie & Lysh for some time now – the children already own quite a few products, such as this bunny coat of dreams – and we were so excited to receive this parcel and to style this ‘shoot.  Lottie & Lysh products are sewn to last, and we adore the detail on the prints that Lottie chose for us.  I have a weakness for animals so I think that the llamas and the upside-down sloths were probably my favourites but really, they are all utterly lovely.  No wonder that Lottie & Lysh are so popular, with a whopping 25k followers on insta to date.

Oh, Grove Park Carnival, take me back.  I want to be at the funfair with my babies again.

So, now they are one.

When I think about it too hard, it feels like pressing down on a bruise – that dully blossoming awareness of damage, of something not right. It doesn’t hurt – not exactly – and yet it is not an entirely comfortable feeling to realise that never again will Embla be all eyes and not much else, an unreal squish of newborn tucked against my shoulder, and Olympia will never again fall asleep in my arms, small and soft and dribbling milk. That they are no longer babies, really, but toddlers with pigtails (Embla) and words (Olympia), who sleep in their own bedroom, sit up to the table at mealtimes and know their own minds so strongly that these days, they are all them and not a bit of us.

I just typed ‘I don’t know where the time went’ but then I deleted it, because I do know. Their babyhood passed at home with me here, in the office. I stand by my decision – my being here was the best thing for everybody – but it came at a cost, and this was it. Their babyhood passed, and I missed most of it.

Nonetheless, there are memories that I treasure. Olympia’s first smile, disproportionately powerful for such a wobbly, gummy thing, her first-to-me steps and the way that she fell, laughing, into my arms. Embla’s little copycat games, hands-on-the-head, the way that she is startled whenever we speak to her, how she laughs out loud with delight. Her twinkle-star summoning hands when she wants to be held, which is all of the time.  And they know, Polly especially.  They might see less of me than they do their other mummy, but they know that they are mine too.  Our daughters.

I wish that I were a good fairy, such that I might bestow great gifts upon them in celebration of their birthday.  But most of what I want for them is quite ordinary: a first day at school, dwarfed in they’ll-grow-into-it uniform, excitement and anxiety playing across their faces; a perfectly collected sitting trot, and the exhilaration of loosening the reins and galloping up the hill, as a centaur; the four of them, laughing about the dinner table; falling in love for the first time; the pride and exhaustion of a first child.  I want for them to have normal, happy, healthy childhoods, to seize adulthood with enthusiasm, to greet the world like a friend and to make it their own.

I know, like every mother knows, that they will be formidable.  They will be indomitable; they will be bright, good, they will make a difference to the world.  And at times, in early morning and late at night and at the weekends, I get to watch them grow.

 

We recorded a 12-month development vlog for the girls if you’re interested in what they’ve been up to recently, what they can and can’t do etc.  It’s a bit sweary – I kept forgetting which twin was which, and this was our fifth attempt at recording this thing so patience was a bit frayed by this point (primarily mine!  The girls had carrot sticks and were happy as anything).  But if you fancy a watch, I have embedded it below.

So those are our girls at twelve months old.  I’d love to make more vlogs for our channel.  We have a clothing haul, a baby names video and a chatty vlog about early signs of twin pregnancy coming up  If you’d like me to record anything in particular, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to schedule it in.

A year, friends.  They have been alive a year.

I didn’t see this house before we chose it. In retrospect that seems crazy, but at the time I was seven months pregnant with the girls, working full time and anaemic and exhausted. Even if I could have begged a precious morning out of the office after Kirsty decided that this house was ‘the one’, my energy reserves were so depleted by that point that I would probably have just used it to sleep! Not to mention that houses in this part of London tend to be snapped up very quickly and we didn’t want to hang around.

On the day that we moved in, I remember trudging up the hill at a snail’s pace and Kirsty laughing at me because I had no idea as to which road we were headed. I really had that little a clue and whilst I knew that I cared, that beneath the tiredness and the lack of iron there was a part of me that desperately wanted to love our new home, I could barely access that part of me. All that I could do was trust that Kirsty would have made the best choice.

And I remember pushing open our front door and smiling with delight because I loved it, I really loved it – the cream walls with so much potential to put our own stamp, the living room that was so light and airy, the kitchen overlooking the garden with its decking, upon which I swore that we would eat breakfast every morning. And we did, right through to that autumn, with the exception of the few days in which our daughters were arriving or newly born. We held hands as we sat out to watch the children play, or clutched steaming mugs of coffee or hot chocolate, letting the sunlight warm us slowly and feeling so glad and so grateful to be young mothers raising our babies in such a beautiful little house.

One of the most important things to me, in choosing a home, is the light. It’s not just that I’m a photographer, but good light plays an enormous part in my mood; I really do feel much happier when I have plenty of access to bright, natural light. Kirsty likes to tease me gently because I’m always commenting on it: the way that light and shadow dapple across the pavement outside on clear summer days, as the sun filters through the leaves, how I yearn to be outside at ‘golden hour’, just before the sun sets when the world is bathed in that glorious rosy haze. And just before a storm, when the skies take on that almost green hue? That is when I am frantically flinging wellie boots on to my boys and dragging them out of the house!

So it was important to me that our new home have plenty of windows; that we could watch the rain pattering down or the people passing by, or our children playing outside. And we got lucky in that, in the summer months, we have the most amazing sunsets outside of our kitchen window that overlooks our garden and Canary Wharf, and on the floor above, from our own bedroom. But it is the living room window that matters most: it is the room that we spend the most time in, as a family, and it is perfectly positioned to let in a ton of gorgeous natural light during the day. My sons love to sit on the windowsill and watch the older girls next door play out with their friends, and one of my favourite things about my own morning routine is that when I leave the house for the office, everybody stands in the window to wave me off. I love to look back from my front gate and see them there, and to wave at them from my seat on the bus as we pass.

Windows are important! Everybody deserves to love their home.

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How did you choose your house, and what is most important to you when making a house a home?

Posted in collaboration with Rose Collection.