How we came to run CoombeMill

Posted on November 24th, 2011 -

Past life

Desire to see more of the children

Wanting a country life style for them

village school

challenges when we arrived

What we’ve added, enjoyed and challenges

plans for the future

Advise to others leaving corprate life, changing to work for self

Risks, gambles, how to minimise the risk

Bed time Oclock

Posted on November 24th, 2011 -

Children are not all the sameNight Sky

Right from babies we are all different. Some sleep effortlessly through the night from just weeks old while others find they are still having disturbed nights until age 5 or beyond. I believe part of this is luck, like adults, some children simply need more sleep than others. However some behaviour can be influenced by introducing routines and consistency. I am not writing from any scientific reading but simply from my own experience with 6 very different children, all with different natural sleep patterns.

Establishing a bedtime routine

This is so important. It is not the only factor but a regular bedtime routine is great for establishing a good sleep pattern. I  found this bed time routine worked a treat from around 6months to 5 years:   

5pm teaBedtime Story with Grandpa

6pm bath

6.30 CBBC with the lovely “In the night garden” Is that still going?

7pm story in bed and lights out. 

Clueless and Paying the Price  

With my 1st child, I can honestly say looking back now that I was pretty clueless and totally inexperienced. He was by far the hardest to establish a good routine with and I do believe this is thanks to the mistakes I made so early on. I followed the bedtime routine but relied on baby monitors to alert me of every whimper, fed him whenever he woke and saw to his every need as any dotting 1st mother would. It was my pleasure as his Mummy. However in hind sight I think it did him and me more harm than good.  I had to wean him off night time waking before I returned to work full time at 6 months as I knew I couldn’t function at that level without sleep. Anyone who has tried controlled crying will know it is really tough to do, without my husband to be the logical one and stop me from going into my crying child (who was perfectly OK) I know I would have given in. It worked in just a week, but felt so much longer at the time. By the time my 2nd came along I was determined to be stricter from the start and not have the pain later.

Learning from Experience

Perhaps it was me, or may be the different nature of my subsequent 2 children, but I never had the need for controlled crying again. From 6 weeks I moved the cot out of our bedroom and turned the monitor off at night when we were next door so that I woke to a serious cry but not every movement. I would bring them into bed for a feed in the night if they woke (stopped around 4 months) and then put him straight back to bed after a good burp with no extra cuddles and chat and I think that was the answer.

Triplets as new born in hospital

The Triplets

By the time my triplets came along I had the experience of 3 children and while night feeds took a long time with three, I did established a pattern fairly quickly just as I had with one. The main difference with the triplets was that as soon as one woke at night for a feed I would wake them all to feed. It would take about an hour and a half in total to get them all fed and settled but then I had around 4 hours sleep , without which I would not have coped .   

Changing Bed Times with Age

At around age 4, my children were all pushing their bedtime and trying to eke out another story, a last drink, or any other delaying tactic they could muster. School was great for pushing us back into the 7pm timing as they all found it so tiring in the 1st year. However as they became more familiar with school from year two,  I found the bedtimes once again extending. Holidays in the summer are the worst with  light evenings, children playing here at Coombe Mill and no school to tire them out! From around age six I began to trade off the 7pm bedtime for the morning lie in.  Now at age 7 – 13 I find I am struggling to get the youngest into bed before 8.30 – 9pm on a school night and often they are still up at gone 10pm at the weekend and holidays! This change in pattern has come much sooner for the younger ones who emulate the older ones in everything for better or worse!

What time is Bedtime O’Clock for your children? Did you have any nasty sleep patterns you had to break?


6 Children under 6 years

Posted on November 24th, 2011 -

My experience. 

How I thought I would cope

Having the triplets


Work – a help and a hinderance

1st 2 years

Turning point


tweet to @HelenW71 when post

Are Manners old fashioned?

Posted on November 23rd, 2011 -

Thank you and please are such simple wordsplease

It really doesn’t take much to say, and really shouldn’t be hard to remember, yet time and time again I sounds like a broken record repeating “Did you remember to say thank you?” whenever my kids accept a lift or play date. From toddlers up we start on the “say ta” or “say please” and “what’s the magic word?” Yet to children it clearly has no meaning as it takes years before it comes naturally. (I hope I am correct here and it’s not just mine!) I can truthfully say that only now can I trust my age 9+ children and still have to prompt the triplets sometimes (age 7).

Do manners really matter?Thanks

I guess this is a personal thing but I do feel they are important. I have to bite my tongue if children visit us and continually forget to say please. I have caught myself before now saying “was that “yes please Fiona?”” For me it is all tied up with respect, especially for older family members like grandparents and Aunts and Uncles, but even amongst my own children I find myself correcting them for being rude to one another.
In my own childhood I was definitely at home with the ultimate Mummy and Daddy manners police and from those times I can sympathise with the emotions of children, the feeling of “what’s the big fuss, why are b***** manners SO important anyway?” I try to explain to my children why I want them to have an acceptable level of manners, how it helps their social interaction, encourages others to respond favourably to their requests and opens up more opportunities for them to do the things they enjoy when other people providing these treats feel valued and respected.  

What about table manners?

I do feel I have failed here compared to my parents. They painstakingly ensured I never dared to “shovel” so much as a pea on my fork at the dinner table. Even the correct holding of cutlery was paramount. As for waving a knife in the air or speaking with my mouthful, these were a “cuff round the ear” offenses! I was an only child, so in my defence I do feel my parents had a much easier task as “The manners Police” than Nick and I . Of cause I have taught mine how to do it all properly, but actually enforcing the teachings on a daily basis is another matter altogether! Increasingly I find if the plates are clean, they sat on their bottoms and didn’t eat with their fingers or insult a sibling it counts as a successful meal! 

Sunday DinnerOur Sunday Dinner Table with mixed manners!


How much is for my benefit?

I can’t deny that being told that my children were very well behaved, well mannered or such like sends a glow of pride all through my body. I am sure there are times when they are less polite, but my well mannered friends fail to report back on such occasions. Receiving positive feedback is always lovely but essentially I am not on the manners case for my own gratification but for the opportunities I believe basic manners will still open for them in life.

Times change

As a child I would never have dreamt of calling a friends’ parents by their Christian name, in fact friends parents from my child hood I still address as Mr and Mrs in my 40s because that is the respect I showed to the older generation when I was young. I know this is out of date now and only reserved for school teachers and am very happy for my children to call friends parents by their Christian name and for their friends to do the same with me. I think a little more ‘cheek’ is also acceptable now without appearing rude. There is still a line which is not to be crossed, I just belief the line has shifted a little and I am keen to ensure mine are aware of this and remain on the appropriate side.

Enjoying the Sunday Roast bone   Then on occasion I just let them enjoy!

Jed with the Sunday roast bone


Which manners do you feel are important and how do you instil them into your children?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Posted on November 21st, 2011 -

Country Kids from Coombe Mill