Annie Quinton



    It’s World Sleep Day today (16th March), to celebrate we’re looking at different tips, tricks and hacks to help you get your littles ones to drift off to sleep. From getting them a bedtime pal, to creating a bedtime routine and the new apps helping you along the way.

    1. Set a Consistent Bedtime Routine

    Children thrive with routine, so make sure you have a set plan before bed, whether this is bath or story time, they’ll know what the next step is and will be prepared for it. It won’t take long for your child’s body to automatically start getting tired throughout this routine as they prepare for bed.

    1. Turn off the TV at least two hours before bedtime

    Over stimulating children with TV and games will be sure to keep their brain too active to calm down and drift off to sleep. Give at least two hours before bedtime before shutting of the TV, this time can be used for going through the routine steps above.

    1. Make Bedtime A Dream

    Once your kids are ready for lights out, this final part of bedtime can often be the trickiest. Try the Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories app, it combines audio sleep stories with relaxing music and sounds meaning you can lock your phone or tablet so there is no ambient ‘blue’ light it the room as the stories play. Each Moshi Twilight Story combines a melodic narrative with relaxing and soothing soundscapes to send your child off into a naturally induced sleep through the pace of the stories, with the audio gently slowing down in rhythm as the stories progress.

    1. Bedtime Environment

    Your child’s bedroom is where they play, read, sleep and spend a significant amount of time. Help them differentiate bed time from the rest of the time they spend in their bedroom. When tucking them into bed keep the room dark, however a use of a night-light might be needed.

    1. A Bedtime Pal

    Facing bed-time alone can be daunting for kids, arm them against the monsters under the bed with a teddy bear. This will help them feel comforted and help them drift off to sleep quicker.

    1. Make sure they get exercise – but not too close to bedtime

    Ensure your child is getting the right amount of exercise, meaning they’ll be tired out by the end of the day and asking to go to bed! Be cautious not let them exercise too close to bedtime, this will give them more energy and it’ll be far harder to get them to sleep.

    1. Reserve the bed for sleeping only

    You want your child to associate good memories and feelings with their bedroom. But you also want your child to associate their bed with sleeping only, meaning when it comes to bedtime they will start feeling sleepy once in their bed. Ensure reading and other activities are done in other areas of their bedroom – perhaps get a bean bag chair or rug for them to play with their toys on.

    1. Avoid big meals close to bedtime

    You never want to send your child to bed hungry, light snacks of fruit and porridge are fine to give them a full tummy. Avoid big meals right before bedtime, this will provide them with more energy and they’ll end up wanting to play rather than sleep.

    1. Keep the room cool

    The room needs to be at the optimum temperature for your child to drift off to sleep easily, too hot and they’ll be tossing and turning all night but too cold and they’ll be shivering. Keep the room nice and cool and give them extra blankets and layers so they can control their temperature.

    1. Communicate

    Give your child an advanced warning on when their bedtime is and how far away that time is, importantly that bedtime is not for negotiation.

    Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories is available to download for free on the iTunes store and Google Play store now. Visit for more information.



      These frozen treats will be a hit with the children!

      Prep: 20-30 minutes (excluding freezing)

      Makes: 6 penguins 

      150g dark chocolate chips
      18 orange M&Ms
      3 bananas
      White ready-to-roll icing
      Chocolate icing pen

      1. Peel the 3 bananas and cut each one in half. Place in the freezer.

      2. Melt the dark chocolate into a bowl over a pan of simmering water, until runny. Set aside and leave to cool slightly.

      3. To make the penguins’ eyes, roll out small balls using the ready-to-roll icing. Pipe the pupils onto the eyes using the chocolate icing pen.

      4. Once completely frozen, remove the bananas from the freezer.

      5. Dunk the top half of the banana into the melted chocolate, gently rolling so you get a longer coating on the back. Dunk the bottom of the banana in the chocolate to create the ‘feet’.

      6. Carefully stick on the eyes and do the same with the M&Ms for the nose and two for the feet.

      7. Place back in the freezer briefly to set the chocolate, then serve!

      Looking for more food inspiration? Visit

        Three fun events to entertain the kids this weekend


        1. Where’s Wally? Fun Run

        This annual fun run, organised by the National Literacy Trust, is suitable for the whole family and includes a 1k race for under-12s. If you’re not taking part, show your support from the sidelines and enjoy live music, food stalls, a book sale, face painting, rides and more. Runners will go home with a goodie bag, too.

        When: Sunday 18 March, from 8.45am
        How much: Adult race registration (with costumes), £26; children, £13
        Where: Clapham Common, Windmill Drive, London SW4 9DE


        2. Kids en Cuisine x Planet Organic

        If you have a budding chef on your hands – or simply want to encourage your little one to develop their kitchen skills, Kids en Cuisine hosts regular cooking workshops around the capital, with two events happening down at Planet Organic Wandsworth over the next two months. The company provides all the utensils and ingredients required, with some brilliant recipes to take home and share with the family.

        When: Saturday 17 March, 10am
        How much: £12.50 per child and accompanying adult
        Where: Planet Organic, 52 Garratt Lane, London SW18 4FT


        3. Dinosaurs in the Wild

        After successful runs in Birmingham and Manchester, this awe-inspiring production comes to the capital. Step into a time machine and go back 67 million years to enjoy a guided dinosaur safari, watch hatchlings emerging from their eggs and visit a lookout with panoramic views of teeming prehistoric life in every direction.

        When: Until 31 July, from 9.30am
        How much: Adults, from £25; children, from £22
        Where: Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0SQ

          From a selection by Little Bird by Joules at Mothercare

          Spring is here – the blossom is blooming, the weather is warming up and there’s a whole host of new season goodies in the shops. Refresh your little one’s wardrobe with these hero pieces

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            senior school

            Fiona McKenzie, senior education consultant at Gabbitas Education, advises on how to choose a senior school

            As your child heads in to Year 5, your attention will no doubt turn to exploring their options for senior school. You may well find yourself trawling through brochures and websites that will be keen to emphasise the attributes of the school, but often barely go beyond the surface. On top of this, you will probably be receiving input from relatives and friends, all of whom will have strong opinions on which school they would recommend. But the most important aspect to remember is that you are trying to choose a school that is right for your child. So where do you start?

            The essentials
            We would recommend your first stop should be talking to your child’s current teachers. They will know your child’s strengths and will be able to share their professional opinions to recommend schools that might be well suited.

            Consider as a family which aspects of a school are most important to you and draw up a list of ‘non negotiables’. This is anything you deem important for your child and may include academic standards, a particular extracurricular activity or pastoral support. In addition, it is important to consider at this stage your preference of curriculum all the way up to post-16. You don’t want to be caught out later on if your child is actually more suited to IB over A-levels, for example. Decide your priorities for your child and then start to draw up a list of schools that fit the bill.

            Open days are a great opportunity to visit the school. Although they are ‘show’ events, they should give you a flavour of the school, a sense of its ethos and culture, and whether it feels like a good fit. It is also a chance to see other families looking around, as you may well end up on the touch line with them in future years! Following on from open days, draw up a shortlist of four or five of your favourite schools and arrange to visit them on a normal working day during term-time.

            What to look for on your term-time visit
            This is a chance to really discover what the school is all about. What type of school is it and does it fit your priorities? What are its core values? What is the learning environment like? Does it encourage the development of softer skills such as emotional intelligence and resilience? What does pastoral support and discipline look like? What are the facilities like and what’s included in the extracurricular programme?

            This is your opportunity to have all your questions answered. Make sure you have a list prepared in advance and remember; you are the customer and this is your opportunity to ensure you make the right investment.

            Talk to students and staff
            A visit is your opportunity to observe and chat to staff and students. Do the children look happy and engaged? Expect to meet students and ask them what their favourite thing about the school is or even better, what hasn’t impressed them! Do the same with the staff, challenge them on staff turnover rate or their thoughts on leadership in the school. Overall, take this opportunity to find out what makes the school special. This is your chance to hear first-hand what the culture looks and feels like.

            Think long term
            It is particularly important to consider how the school will prepare your child for higher education and the workplace. In a time where it is hard to predict which jobs will even exist, what is the school doing to prepare students for these unknown professions and develop individuals who are adaptable, enquiring and resilient? How is it ensuring its students are adept in a global environment and accessing a global education? This is also a perfect opportunity to dig deeper into where the students exit to and how they will be supported in the next phase of education, training or employment.

            The final details
            It’s important you leave the visit with key information about applying and, vitally, ensure you know your deadlines. Also, make sure you have transparent details on fees and scholarships or bursaries so there are no surprises later down the line.

            Extra help
            Inevitably this can be a daunting time for parents. Using the services of a good education consultancy can help to relieve much of the workload and ensure decisions are made in an objective way. A good education consultancy can use assessment tools to help find out your child’s potential and match schools accordingly, and also help prepare them for interviews and entrance exams. It can also support you as your child progresses on their education journey by keeping you informed of possible opportunities and challenges.

            Want more? The ultimate education timeline: what to do and when

              outdoor education

              Vanessa Bingham, headteacher at The Lyceum School, answers our question on outdoor education

              The recent revelation that today’s generation of children spend less time outdoors than prisoners shows that outdoor education needs to form a fundamental part of the school day. And with good reason, too – the benefits are endless. From increased enthusiasm and engagement to higher levels of concentration and the development of interpersonal skills, getting out of the classroom and into the field is a brilliant way to stimulate learning for children.

              There are lots of ways schools can  implement outdoor activity, both as part of the academic timetable and through extracurricular clubs. Examples include walking buses to and from school, taking lessons like science, art and drama outside, to adopting class pets and starting a school vegetable patch.

              At The Lyceum – as with many central London schools – we lack our own private outdoor space so instead, we take advantage of the facilities around us. One day we might be exploring nature in Bunhill Fields, another doing sports in the Honourable Artillery Ground. We offer tennis and swimming at the Barbican and go ice skating in the winter at Broadgate. All these activities ensure our children get the best possible outdoor education, despite our building’s limitations.

              Want more? The best books about the great outdoors


                There are few things as fierce as a mother’s love – and few women as fearless as Charlize Theron. Here, the actress tells Jan Janssen just how she’s embracing her greatest role to date

                In person, Charlize Theron is far more light-hearted than her film roles would suggest. She speaks with ease, and a relaxed sense of confidence, although there’s a hint in her eyes that says she’s ready to fire back if provoked. Today, she’s looking fabulous as ever, her career in high gear and “happier than I ever expected to be” as the mother of two adopted children: son Jackson, six, and daughter August, two.

                “I waited a long time to become a mother,” says the Mad Max actress. “It has exceeded all my expectations. It’s such a beautiful feeling to hold your children in your arms and be able to watch them grow and discover the world.

                “It’s changed my life completely,” she continues. “Before, when there were no children in my life, my work always came first. I also had the freedom to be able to take off and travel for three or four months at a time by myself. But even though I can’t do that anymore, I’m so incredibly happy to spend my time with my children. Every day that I wake up I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with them and how I’m going to make them happy.”

                Theron is still enjoying the critical and commercial success of her summer 2017 film, Atomic Blonde, which has given Charlize her own personal action film franchise as both star and producer. She spent five years developing the project, which she intended to be a vehicle allowing her to play a weaponised extension of her own rather formidable persona. A high-octane mixture of martial arts and espionage, the film showed that Theron is capable of any kick, punch or lethal blow her male counterparts might demonstrate on screen.

                “I wanted to take the concept of a spy thriller and turn it on its head,” she explains. “I liked the physicality of the story.”

                Fighting the stereotypes that come with being a beautiful actress, Theron radically reinvented herself as a Hollywood star when she took on the role of real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003). The former model gained 30lbs to play Wuornos and altered her appearance in such a way as to be almost unrecognisable in the role. It was a huge risk, but it paid off. Her performance was rewarded with a Best Actress Oscar and enabled her to escape the gilded studio cage that confined her to so-called ‘girlfriend’ or ‘sexy young thing’ roles.

                Splash News – Charlize and her daughter August with her mother, Gerda

                “I’m not simply an artist for hire,” she explains. “There is absolutely nothing mechanical in my choices and the way I interpret my roles. Do I take risks? Maybe I do. But it’s the only way to grow personally and professionally. I always try to choose characters that will reveal the most authentic parts of myself.”

                Theron credits her mother, Gerda – still her closest friend – for having inspired her to take a more fearless and adventurous approach to life.

                “She has taught me to stand up for myself and be courageous, and that’s exactly what I’m going to give my children,” she says. “I’m not someone who indulges in self-pity and I hate it if I ever start feeling sorry for myself. I was raised in a way that I should never allow myself to be the victim, but to take responsibility for my decisions and live as boldly as possible.

                “My mother has given me a lot of guidance on that level. She’s someone who believes in not dwelling on the past and getting on with your life. I’m trying to live on those terms.”

                This is the kind of sensibility that Charlize hopes to impart to her two children. Adoption turned out to be the best path to parenthood for Theron following the collapse of her decade-long relationship with British actor Stuart Townsend in 2010. Their break-up hit Charlize hard, and revealed the deeply vulnerable side that her bold exterior tends to mask. She didn’t work for the next two years.

                “I’d been in serious relationships from the time I was 19, and suddenly I became single for the first time in my life. I had to make a conscious effort to rediscover myself and it was hard.”

                She admits she is someone who always found extreme comfort through relationships, but stops herself: “Now I realise there’s something really powerful in being OK with being alone, especially for women.”

                The actress regularly shares her passionate and political views on Instagram

                Charlize would eventually return to active screen duty with Young Adult, and surprised everyone, even some of her closest friends, when she adopted a four-month-old baby boy in 2012, whom she would name Jackson. After welcoming the toddler into her life, the actress was exultant: “I want to be that example for my son. I want him to grow up with a mom that he could see and look at her life with all the mistakes and with all the failures and all the flaws and say, ‘My mom lived an authentic life. That was the life she wanted to live.’”

                Three years later she would adopt August, now two, and Theron says she has found motherhood to be a generally joyous challenge. She grew up as an only child with a violent, alcoholic father whom her mother would eventually kill in self-defence when Charlize was 15, after he had threatened them both with a shotgun in a drunken rage. (South African police never pressed charges against her mother). The incident plainly left psychological scars and in her late twenties, she went into therapy after years of denial. But this previously solid force has not only embraced the emotions of that traumatic event, and overcome them; she has now dedicated herself to becoming the most loving parent she can be.

                “I didn’t grow up with siblings, and had no idea of the beauty that siblings have with each other. It really is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed,” she says, “to see how much they love each other and to see how excited they are to see each other. It’s really beautiful.”

                Her children have also helped Charlize embrace that softer side that she has long tended to hide from plain sight.

                “Being a mother has struck me at a very deep level,” she admits.

                “My mother showed me by her own example that you need to take responsibility for your own happiness – and be tough, pick yourself up off the floor when times are hard and embrace life to the fullest. I would be very happy as a mother myself to be able to pass on those values to my children.”

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                  James Dale-Adcock and Sarah Awwad of Cranleigh Preparatory School discuss how to make that all-important decision for your child’s future

                  The chances are, you’ll visit several schools before choosing ‘the one’ and at a time when cost dominates many of the decisions we make, it’s not surprising that when it comes to choosing the right prep school, one of the first questions parents ask themselves is, ‘Does the school represent good value for money?’ Of course, schools do need to make themselves competitive financially but it’s important to stack up the ‘cost’ of opportunity, not just in terms of facilities and provision on an academic and co-curricular level, but also in terms of the end-game in regards to senior school choice. It may seem a long way off, but it will help your decision-making to find out where the majority of a prep school’s pupils end up at senior school.

                  As you start to look for the right school, you will inherently be looking for a place that shares your core values; often you will want your children to have the experiences you yourself had as a child, so it’s not unusual to see parents return to the schools of their own childhoods. Do remember that, although a school may have a long-lasting ethos, it is not the same school it was when you went there as a child. A healthy staff turnover, with new staff bringing new ideas, is good for schools and the character of the place ultimately resides within its people. So remind yourselves you are choosing for your child and not from your own memories.

                  The decision over whether to board, and at what age, is individual to families and their lifestyle choices. But boarding trends are changing and there is now a range of options from weekly to flexible, which may even alter as a child moves through the school. Spend time really investigating the boarding ethos of a school, including how well it will prepare your child for boarding at senior school and how well integrated day pupils are.

                  Class sizes and the provision of extra academic support are also crucial. You will need to feel that your child will be supported where needed and given the best opportunities to succeed. Sixteen to eighteen is probably the ideal class size at prep school. Any lower may result in a poor gender dynamic and any higher reduces the dedicated time a teacher can spend with a pupil. Do also ask about the under layer of support schools may offer in terms of teaching assistants or small group assistance.

                  Different prep schools’ approach to academics will also vary, some will ensure prep is completed within the working day, enabling children to relax during family time, and others set prep for completion at home. Each approach will suit different families but do ask about the school’s view and whether it changes as the child moves through the school.

                  Most parents will want a school that will produce a ‘well-rounded’ individual who has been provided with as many opportunities as possible to shine. Many schools will declare a wide breadth of co-curricular opportunities, but do dig a bit deeper. Does it truly provide ‘sport for all’, and what is its philosophy if not? The difference in quality and depth of coaching can vary markedly.

                  You may feel encouraged by schools with favourable sibling policies; it can certainly make practical sense to send all of your children to the same school. The choice becomes even more appealing if that prep school has excellent links with senior schools; it may be reassuring to send your children somewhere that will see them through compulsory education. Question the policies and make sure you are well aware of the admissions journey so there are no surprises later; and do remember that not all your children are the same. If they really would thrive as individuals at different schools then that may also be something to consider.

                  At the end of the day, the question it all boils down to is: ‘Will my child be happy here?’ Only you can answer that and the choice will often come down to the way a school makes you and your child feel when you visit. It’s helpful if a school is prepared to spend time advising you, especially if it offers taster days. Overall, prep schools that are caring and nurturing, that have strong leadership with profound core values, that put the child at the centre of everything, cannot go far wrong.

                  Want more? Tips for preparing your child for boarding school

                    From a selection,
                    From a selection,

                    With the new season finally here, we’ve got our eyes on a few new wardrobe additions. From lightweight coats to cosy cashmere, make sure you’re prepared for any weather eventuality – this is, after all, Britain…

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                      Mother’s Day is this Sunday (!), so make sure you treat the mum in your life to something special. And if something here catches your eye, then perhaps share this with your nearest and dearest and hope for the best…

                      Want more? Five ways to treat mum this Mother’s Day (or any day!)

                      EDITOR'S PICK

                      Mum of one, Meriel Miller and daughter Emilia test drive the Stokke Scoot My little Emilia is now two-and-a-half so I was on the hunt...