This week we are chatting to the fabulous Alex Thurman, mama of three (Will 6, Nicco 4, Liv 2) and founder of Feed the Brood . Feed the Brood is an amazing company providing courses, classes and events that will inspire busy parents to make family mealtimes fun and manageable. So if you would love to find out more about making memories over the dinner table then go check Alex out now! You’ll find a list of her upcoming events HERE
What time did you wake up this morning?
Completely overslept this morning after being out-out at a gig last night, so woke at 7.10am and had a mad dash to get out of the door to do the school run!
What was your very first thought of the day?
Ahhhhhh! We’re going to be late! Go, go, go!
What are your 3 essentials for getting up, out and at ‘em?
Routine! My kids are such amazing and interesting little people, but jeez, they’re proper space cadets when it comes to getting ready to go out. I lay their uniform out on the sofa to get dressed straight after breakfast. I try very hard to stay as calm as I can, and use a gentle voice (this doesn’t always work, of course!). I often have to resort to races between them to try to lighten the mood and get them moving.
And my new winning tip for the school run with three kids all needing book bags, coats, snack pots, water bottles etc is getting everything in one place to shift into the car. I bought a ridiculously enormous artisanal woven basket at a market in France this summer. My husband looked on in horror as I purchased it - not another bag?! But I keep it in the kitchen and use it to gather all the kids’ bags and bits ready for school. Then I transfer it into the car in one go. It saves me so much time walking back and forth from the car and keeps all the gubbins and toot in one place!
Describe a typical working morning…
After the school run, I usually come through the door, stick on a coffee and contemplate tidying the kitchen from breakfast. It depends how much headspace I have as to whether I bother with the kitchen or simply sprint upstairs to the office. My husband and I share an office and we have desks side by side, so if he’s not in Town, we’re hanging out and working together for the morning - he’s a web developer so he’s either on the phone, or deeply engrossed in coding with loud music playing - he’s quite a noisy office mate! We also spend most evenings like this too. Living the dream! On my typical working morning, I spend most of my time on the computer, but sometimes I’m downstairs recording lives for Facebook or Instagram or attempting to take photos of food. I find food photography the most challenging part of what I do with Feed the Brood. It’s not easy to make a family meal look good! Most days I pick my daughter up at a lunchtime, so then it’s time to hang out with her and do our various activities.
Why did you decide to set up Feed the Brood?
I started Feed the Brood initially as a Baby Led Weaning blog. I’m a nutrition graduate and I absolutely fell in love with baby led weaning. But as I started talking to people about my ideas, I realised I could use my ex-teacher skills to put together workshops for mums to come along to to find out more. It’s snowballed from there and now I focus more on courses, classes and events that help with planning good family meals and creating happy mealtimes.
What's the best part of your job?
Making a difference to people. I’m launching cookery classes in Tunbridge Wells called Pimp My Menu. I teach 8 people 8 recipes in 2 hours! Quite a challenge! There are 4 slower recipes and 4 rapid recipes, each pair work as a team to make 2 of them. At the end, we sit and have a very civilised dinner together, taste each meal and discuss the recipes. It’s like a party and it’s so much fun. I did my very first session - I’m calling them the guinea pig sessions - at half price for people last week and the response was brilliant! We all had so much fun and I know that the ladies who came were super excited to be adding these 8 new recipes into their weekly menu! I got such a kick from that!
#1 tip for juggling work and family life?
Well, I’m not sure I’m succeeding all that well, so I’m not the best person to be handing out tips! I’m always over-stretching myself and feeling like I have to work until midnight to meet a deadline whilst the household management takes a back seat! Maybe with my Feed the Brood hat on, I can honestly say that Meal Planning is a great way to take a load of stress away. Each week, my husband and I plan the meals I’m going to cook for the next week. I only plan the weekdays as I like to add spontaneity into the weekends. I like getting my husband involved, as it makes the emotional labour of the household lighter if he’s making some decisions too. At the moment, my children have after school clubs on two nights a week, so I try to ensure I’m cooking a double batch on the afternoons I’m home earlier so that I’m banking meals into the freezer to use on the busy afternoons the next week. It’s a great system when it works and it means the family is getting good food even on the crazy days. My other tip is to get the washing on twice a day - otherwise it causes mayhem in my life!
The happiest moment in your day?
Mealtimes with my kids! I know that’s also very ‘on message’, but I am totally serious! Over the last 9 months, I’ve been curating my Feed the Brood Facebook Group. We have over 500 members and we share tips about recipes, cheerlead each other through fussy eating and have lots of food-related chit chat. A few months ago, I set a challenge to have interesting conversations with the children over the mealtime every day for a month. Obviously I was doing it with my kids too. Well, the conversations it led to were so silly and funny and there were so many crying-with-laughter moments! The long-term impact of that was that the kids are brilliant little conversationalists at mealtimes - now they pose funny questions without any initiation from the adults. Would you rather fly or be invisible? And my husband came in late from London the other day whilst we were just finishing up tea. My four year old looked up and said “How was your day, Daddy?” and my heart melted! The ages we’re at with the kids means that a lot of our conversations revolve around dinosaurs and superheroes, but it’s a great way to initiate some chats with my 6 yr old about his learning topic of the term now that he’s in year 1. I adore this moment in my day when I get to engage them and bond! It’s magic.
The hardest moment in your day?
Oh, most definitely getting out of the door in the morning! Does everyone say that?
Most overused word of the day?
Once the kids are in bed I…
On the weekdays, it’s work I’m afraid… Pretty dull. Fridays and weekends are sacred though, so my husband and I usually curl up on the sofa with some wine and a movie or series on Netflix. Being the foodies we are, we love a food documentary on Netflix - like Chef’s Table and the latest one Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. They’re so beautifully filmed and really inspire me. I’ve started winging my meals a lot more now as a result - experimentation can lead to genius ideas! We also have a huge group of friends and family locally, so lots of our weekend evenings are spent with friends - we adore drinking wine and playing games late into the night!
Top 3 local gems?
1. I don’t get out into nature anywhere near enough - I adore a welly walk - so when I can manage something, my favourite places to walk are the Ashdown Forest (at Gill’s Lap car park there’s the perfect walk for children), Toy’s Hill, and near me in Edenbridge there’s the perfect walk at Ridlands Lane that has loads of little dens and constructions that the children can enjoy finding - and there’s a post box for Peter Rabbit that you can post letters in and he’ll write back to you!
2. This is another nature tip - Sawpit Woods Forest School Holiday Club. I took all three of my children in the last day of half term on a Family Day. The kids had a great time, but most importantly, I had an incredible time. We built a fire and lit it with flints, we made our own charcoal from willow whips and then drew with it. My kids were all completely relaxed in the woods - they had so much freedom to play about with sticks, climbing trees and making bread on the fire! I got so much headspace away from my work and busy mum life - my smile was a mile wide as I drove home. I can’t recommend it enough. It was a complete tonic! They only run in the holidays as they are teachers in term time, so look them up on Facebook to find out more about their holiday dates. I’ve already booked in to join them in the Christmas hols!
3. Hever Castle - the annual membership is ridiculously cheap compared to the entry price. They have recently built an amazing toddler play area - it’s all sandy and wooden. Very in keeping with the giant play fort for the older children. I love to take my daughter there in the time between collecting her and going on the school run - and it costs me nothing which is the big bonus. I feel a bit bad admitting to this, but often she plays so happily on the big slide and I can grab a few more minutes to work on my phone. I find that multitasking and chipping away at my workload helps me get things done in half the time! I know I should be in the moment, but that’s one moment where I think if she’s really happy and I can tap away at a couple of emails, we’re all winning!
Best piece of advice for fellow Mums…
Ooooo - hmmm - advice? That’s a pretty big question. I guess, it’s my latest favourite mantra - Strong, Calm, Kind.
Strong - no-one ever said this parenting lark was going to be easy. If you need to have a word with yourself and find some inner strength, go do a Power Pose in another room or put your favourite song on your phone. You’ve got this, and even if you don’t, what’s the worst that can happen. It’s all part of earning your badge.
Calm - Use the power of zen in stressful situations. Getting het-up never did any good to the situation. So, try to be smug and clever about it and turn the situation round. Why not diffuse drama with humour, set the children on a little challenge or offer them their favourite music?
Kind - Never underestimate the power of a long, tight cuddle. When a tantrum is kicking off, have a deep think about what it’s about. To a little person, it might mean the world. And I think we should all be kinder to ourselves too. As a parent there’s no annual appraisal or pay rise, it’s just your personal assessment, so find some reasons to give yourself a pat on the back! You’re doing ace!