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 London-based mama of two Rachel Boyett to Frida be Mighty. Rachel’s Instagram account focuses on healthy child-friendly food, and I find her approach to feeding her family so refreshing and inspiring. I’m sure you will enjoy reading her answers as much as I do…
Can you introduce yourself and your family?
I’m Rachel, married to Rob and then there is Felix (3.5 )and Juno (2). We also have a cat called Biscuit who never gets a look in. We live in Hackney, London.
Do you have a daily rhythm? What do your days look like?
Juno is our alarm clock and she tends to start the day at around 5:30/6, which is about 2 hours before I would naturally like it to start (I’ve always been a morning person, but having kids has made me realise morning for me doesn’t start until 7….). We always eat breakfast together as during the week it’s the one meal we are all home for; I am big on family mealtimes!
Tues-Thurs the kids are in childcare so it’s normally a rush to get out the house (despite waking at 5:30 we are *always* late…!). I collect them again at four. On the way home we tend to stop at a local fruit and veg shop and pick up any little bits we need. Felix loves getting involved and I generally buy any fruit or veg he picks as I love him being part of the shopping / cooking process. They both might help me make dinner – Felix loves getting involved with cooking (and Juno likes to eat!). Definitely a big food focus to our daily rhythm!
Now that they play with each other a lot more and tend to get VERY excited/argue over the same toys we watch a bit of the cbeebies bed time hour at the end of the day to calm everything down. It usually ends up with both of them lying on top of me for cuddles – one of my fave bit of the day!
On Mondays and Fridays when I have the kids I don’t make too many plans. We love going to Forest Kids on a Monday morning (a group of parents who explore Hackney marshes), or we might just go the park or see friends. Now that they are a bit older I’m trying to get into London a bit more – it’s nice to rediscover the city – my world with two under two got very small for a while! Juno still has a lunch nap so this is bonus alone time with Felix.
To be honest our rhythm is something I’m still working out (well I guess it’s evolving as all our needs change). I’ve recently increased my work hours and I wouldn’t say I’ve still got the balance right. I find it hard to switch off totally when I’m with the kids, but this is something I’d really like to work on as I don’t think it’s fair to them to have my mind elsewhere.
Are there any philosophies or books which have influenced your approach to parenting?
I’m very much someone who likes to cherry pick bits and bobs from things i’ve read and friends. I’ve found having two with a small age gap challenging though – I’m always not quite the parent I want to be and there are far more frustrations than I’d like (between the two of them, and then my approach to mediating mostly!).
A big philosophy for me is remembering the journey is all part of the adventure! I think it’s hard living in London when everyone is in a rush to get everywhere – you get wrapped up in it and forget that actually it doesn’t matter if you never make your end destination if everyone is having fun on the way. That’s why I try not to overplan days – so we can take some time, take it all in and notice all the small things! I suppose I have quite a relaxed approach. I’m one of four kids and I loved the chaos and noise growing up (most of the time…) and I like my own approach to be like that.
Your Instagram account is such an inspiration for me when it comes to making healthy food which actually appeals to children! Can you tell me a bit about your family’s approach to food?
Growing up we always sat around the table to eat and this is something we always do at home now. I love mealtimes to be a time everyone sits down together and talks about their day. There have been times when, Felix especially, has gone through fussy stages where mealtimes can be frustrating. I work on the basis of keep offering and one day it might be eaten! Whilst they are still young I feel like they are so fickle so I’m not too disheartened if they don’t like something. When they are going through fussy stages I like to offer a variety of things at each meal so they can pick and choose the components they want to eat which makes it less intimidating.
I now have a loose rule that I won’t offer an alternative unless they don’t like something (this doesn’t really apply to Juno as she eats most things!). But they have to try it first to confirm they don’t (or still don’t) like it (neither of them have any major aversions to things, but I guess if they did I wouldn’t push this!). 99% of the time once Felix has tried something he happily eats more and we don’t need an alternative (or there are other bits of the meal he eats instead).
Mostly though I enjoy cooking and I find it very relaxing. I think people probably look at my Instagram and think “why does she bother?” but it’s important to remember that I enjoy it! It’s not about being militant about what I feed my kids but i like discovering new ingredients and cooking new things. I really enjoy sharing that with my children – they help me with the shopping and get involved with the cooking.
Which aspects of parenting bring you the most joy?
Watching them learn and take joy from things I remember finding so exciting and amazing from my own childhood. Like finding fir cones and conkers! And when they eat all their dinner 😉
Which parts of motherhood do you find challenging?
Staying patient and not shouting! After having kids my moods are way more influenced by hormones (and lack of sleep) and that can make for some especially tough days where I feel everything is about to push me over the edge…. I do struggle on days when I’m on my own with them and they are both having hard days. They are at stages where their emotional needs can be quite high, but very different. And it’s very hard to know how to give them what they need when there is only one of me to go around!
How do you make time for self-care, and what does that look like for you?
Like most mothers self care is the one thing I am bad at! Having said that I’ve always kept up with my 8 week hair appointments. That’s not because i like having my hair done (or have particularly good hair!!) but those few hours out of the house is good for me. I now work three days a week too and I’m getting better at taking breaks during these days – meeting friends for lunch or coffee etc. I also try and get out for a run a few times a week – both for my mental or physical well being! I’ve had some of my best ideas when going for a run – clears the head. Nothing ever feels as bad afterwards.
What do you think makes for a beautiful childhood?
Lots of love and freedom. For me that means not over-scheduling and having lots of time for creative play. Also seeing family. I love how excited Felix and Juno are to see their cousins. Family to me is really important and I love big family occasions. I remember how exciting it was from my own childhood – the freedom of family get togethers when the cousins would largely be left to their own devices to explore and have fun.
If you could share one insight or piece of advice with other mothers, what would it be?
Just remember you are your own worst critic. You might feel like you are being the shoutiest worst mum ever but that probably accounts to about 1% of your overall mothering even if it feels like it’s everything (I need to take this advice myself).
Finally, what is your favourite children’s book?
When I Was Born. I read it a lot to Felix when I was heavily pregnant with Juno so it always brings back some of those emotions. It’s also written in such a calm way that Felix (and me!) would often be nodding off before we got to the end.
Thank you Rachel! You can follow Rachel on Instagram here.