I am delighted to be sharing this interview series with you, where I will be talking to a different woman every fortnight about parenting, motherhood, their daily rhythm and what makes a beautiful childhood. So without further ado, let’s meet the mother…
This week, I’d like to welcome Melody Masters to Frida be Mighty. Melody runs Little Acorns To Might Oaks, a gorgeous ethical shop selling non-toxic products for the whole family, alongside homeschooling her three children. I’m sure you will enjoy reading her answers as much as I do…
Can you introduce yourself and your family?
I am Melody, married to my best friend Warren. I am originally from New Zealand and Warren is from South Africa, we met in London and here we are 17 years later married with our three little ones Teddy (7), Belle (affectionately known as Boo, 5) and our littlest Benjamin (17mths). I run Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks alongside home schooling my two eldest children.
Do you have a daily rhythm? What do your days look like?
I co-sleep with Benjamin, so I am up with him once he wakes, I get us both ready for the day then take Benjamin through to Warren and I head straight into the home office where I work for 2-3hrs . Warren makes breakfast for the kids and tidies up after them – he will usually bring me up a coffee at some point. Teddy and Boo dress themselves and do their morning chores, they all then have time to play freely till I come downstairs to take over from Warren so that he can head off to work. Benjamin usually wants a long breastfeed when I come down, we then head out the door to drop off packages for the courier.
Once we get home it is usually time for Benjamin’s nap. Teddy and Boo will do hand writing and maths while I nurse Benjamin down to sleep. We will have our ‘morning time‘ – inspired by the wonderful Eloise. We light some candles and Teddy and Boo will have some morning tea while I read a chapter of a fiction book to them (we are currently reading Snow and Rose) after this they get out their coloured pencils and sketch books and draw while I read some non-fiction to them (topics such as space, zoology, botany, science, art etc). After this they will do a craft activity while I check emails and start preparing lunch. Benjamin wakes after 1.5-2hrs, and we all eat together (if Benjamin doesn’t decide to throw it all on the floor!). The afternoons we have free for chores and activities, Monday afternoons we do the groceries, Tuesday are for exploring, Wednesdays I do ‘project’ work with Teddy and Boo (they are currently doing a unit on the Galapagos Islands) and I do the dreaded housework, Thursday’s Teddy and Boo have gymnastics, Friday’s is swimming lessons.
Our afternoons out end around 4ish as we need to get back for our daily Royal Mail collection. Teddy and Boo go and tidy their bedroom at 5pm each afternoon, while they are doing this I put dinner on, Teddy and Boo will then usually do reading, spelling, and maybe some more maths or coding while dinner cooks and I will read or play with Benjamin who is usually very clingy and needy at this time of day. I aim for us to eat around 6pm, then I try to have downstairs all tidied and we head up at 7pm to prepare for bed. At 7.30 Teddy and Boo take a pile of books to bed and read for half an hour while I nurse Benjamin down to sleep. All the children are usually asleep/tucked up in bed by 8pm, and I will grab a cup of tea and work for 3-4hrs before heading to bed around midnight. The weekends are mostly spent catching up with chores, relaxing and spending time together as a family.
Are there any philosophies or books which have influenced your approach to parenting?
I read “The Continuum Concept” before I ever had children and that was really life changing for me. I trained in Early Childhood Education, and everything that I read in the Continuum Concept was very opposing to what I had been taught. It made me question a lot of things and lead me to do further reading (and to an American forum called ‘Mothering.com’) which opened my eyes to this whole other world known at attachment parenting and gentle discipline, I very quickly decided that this was the approach I wanted to use with my own children one day.
You have three young children and also run a thriving business. Can you tell me a bit about why you started Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks?
I guess I have always been a bit of an environmentalist at heart – I remember at 13 years old writing a letter to Green Peace offering to volunteer my time to help plant trees or pick up rubbish on beaches. Since I was very young it has always concerned me, not only with what we are doing to our planet, but also what we are doing to our bodies with all of the chemicals from plastics, toiletries and the products which have just been accepted as ‘normal’ by society. The catalyst that lead to us starting Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks was the news of the presence of BPA in plastic baby bottles back in 2008, at the time I was looking after a baby who was using these very bottles, and I could not find a stainless steel option anywhere in the UK. We decided to bite the bullet and approached Klean Kanteen in the US to partner up with them to bring their product to the UK, and we have never looked back from there.
Which aspects of parenting bring you the most joy?
The bond that is created with them, the love and affection not only between me and the children, but that the children have for each other – I love listening to Teddy and Boo playing together, and I love seeing the responsibility that Teddy has taken on as big brother, and the nurturing and patient side of Boo with her sweet bond with Benjamin. And then of course there is seeing the man you love the most in the world with this incredible love and connection with the children that you created together, I really can’t get enough of that, watching him play and read with them, embrace them and make them laugh – that is pure joy.
Which parts of motherhood do you find challenging?
Right here and now I find the age gap between my two eldest and my littlest so challenging. In general I find Benjamin a very challenging child, he is so different to Teddy and Boo – he is both incredibly clinging and fiercely independent at the same time, he knows exactly what he wants and is very head strong. He is also fearless and loves to climb, we can not keep a thing on the dining room table as that is where he can be found atop of almost every waking hour. When he is awake he will not let me do anything with the older two, he will cry if I try to read to them, climb all over me and the table if I try to help them with school work. He wants to get into everything and be the center of anything that is going on. I keep telling myself this to shall pass, and in the meantime we work our rhythm around his needs.
In the bigger picture I constantly question that I am doing the right thing for them all, that I am making the right decisions for them. That I am not sheltering them too much, that they will grow up to be streetwise, and worldly enough, yet kind and compassionate – those are the really big challenges, and I know in 10 years time I will be wishing for these days back again where the biggest challenge in my life was that Benjamin would not stay off the dining room table!
How do you make time for self-care, and what does that look like for you?
Self care is something which has been hugely neglected since having children. Warren is fantastic and will see when everything is getting to be a bit much, he will send me off to have a soak in the bath while he cooks dinner and takes care of the children, or will take Benjamin in the morning in the weekend so that I can have a sleep in. Occasional I will go off to have my haircut by myself, or take just one of the children with me to go have a coffee and go to the bookshop for an hour or two which recharges my batteries. Once Benjamin is a bit older and not so dependent on me this is definitely something I need to prioritise.
What do you think makes for a beautiful childhood?
Time to play. Time to indulge in fantasy. Creating magic for children and igniting their imagination. Being outside in nature and time to explore it without limitation. Adventures. Toys and books and craft material that inspire, to use with freedom. And time – undivided attention, and connection with the ones who love them most, all these things create a beautiful childhood.
If you could share one insight or piece of advice with other mothers, what would it be?
My favourite quote which I try to live by with my children “Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on the earth, for the way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice, and what they believe is what they will become”.
Finally, what is your favourite children’s book?
Oh that is so hard to choose, I am such a huge book lover and there are too many to m choose just one – two absolute favourites are ‘The Wonderful Things You Will Be‘ by Emily Winfield Martin and ‘Two Hands to Love You‘ by Diane Adams, both stories that I love to read to my children, and read to them from my own heart.
Thank you so much Melody! I loved reading your honest, heart-felt answers, and I will be pinning that beautiful quote up so that I can see it every day. You can find Melody on Instagram here, and visit her beautiful shop Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks here.