Mom Story: Britt from Fan Fam Fun Blog
Hi I'm Britt, an American living in London with my English husband Wayne and 2 kids, Oliver (3) and Elsie (1 and a half). I'm an illustrator and full time mum and Wayne is a creative director in advertising. When not full-time-mumming and illustrating and creative directing we're working passionately on a blog we launched recently: fan fam fun.
If you follow our escapades, you can pick up fun family tips, entertaining insights and top recommendations. Most of which were picked up while living in some fantastic places: San Francisco, New York, Stockholm and London. Boy, are we lucky!
What kind of house do you live in – are you and the kids happy here or is there anything you find lacking or would like to change?
We have a fantastic four bedroom house in Chiswick London. It's really wonderful. Oliver and Elsie share a bedroom. I think it's the best option for them. They're so close in age that they get along great. It's like a slumber party every night. And they don't have to separate their toys. It's all about sharing (or not, if it's Oliver's Ben Ten book).
Downstairs, we have a large room (I guess it would be a dining room) in between our living room and kitchen. It's our play room. All the toys are in there, the music is in there, we have an ikea spin chair, ikea tunnel, a giant plastic play house and some original pop art on the wall which goes well with the colourful kids toy vibe.
Things i would change about the house: a larger closet for my clothes , a larger back garden and probably better insulation. English houses tend to be cold and drafty, even in the summer I wear a jumper inside!
I think our home is lovely, but the location is the best! We are a 10 min walk to the river Thames (and great pubs), a short stroll from Chiswick House and a 15 minute drive to Kew Gardens, Richmond Park and Notting hill. Everything is so accessible. Also, west London has TONS of celebrities since all the film studios are near. So you can always get a good star spot which makes my mother in law very happy
Do you like to spend time on decorating your home and the children’s room?
I really like to have a nicely put together house. We bought most of our furniture while we were living in NYC before we had kids. Most things have adapted to (and survived) our children well. You'll find a happy balance of design classics, family heirlooms, souvenirs, and Ikea products in each room. We also have some cool pieces of art that bring a feel good vibe into our home including the children's bedroom.
I wish I could keep a space 'toy free' but that's impossible. Every room is a play room. Even our guest room is a play room, they go in there to jump on the bed!
Where do you look for interior inspiration, favorite magazines, websites, blogs?
I get most of my inspiration from blogs and Elle decor UK. My favourite blogs are bkids, babyccino kids, cup of jo, fine little day, and miss moss.
Do your children tidy up after themselves?
Not enough! Elsie tidies up occasionally, but doesn't really understand where things should go yet. So placing toys down the back of the sofa constitutes a good tidy up in Elsie's mind.
If you are living in a foreign country, how do you find it? How do you meet new people, and make new friends? What is it that you miss most about 'home'?
I'm American so England isn't too foreign. But there are lots of words that are very different here, it can feel like a different language sometimes. Oliver corrects me all the time! "Mummy, that is NOT the sidewalk. it is the pavement!!!" My husband is english and so is Elsie, Oliver was born in NYC, but we moved when he was 4 months…so i'm really the only foreigner in the house.
I'm so lucky to have great in-laws near, Wayne's parents are only 4 hours away, so they can come visit for a long weekend and also stay while Wayne and I have a weekend away. But I do miss my own family. They are all in Michigan (Chelsea), everybody lives within 10 minutes of each other and they all get together often. So I really miss the family get-togethers…and Gram's cookies. But thank goodness for Skype!
I think meeting new people is really easy when you have kids. I have more friends here than I have ever had. Mums of young kids are so eager for somebody to talk to who isn't their own kids! And it's easy to just chat because you know you have something in common, also meeting up is easy too since we are all at home ALL DAY! So making friends is easy.
No melt downs.
What is a normal day with your children? What do you do on the weekends?
A normal weekday for us starts at six. Wayne gets up with the kids in the morning and I get to sleep an extra hour (the only way I survive the day!) They play and have daddy time.
Then we all have breakfast together. Oliver has nursery school in the mornings so I take him, then walk back with Elsie. We play and have girl time, then lunch, then pick Oliver up.
Most days we head to a local park and feed the ducks and run around or run errands on the high street, then we're home for the late afternoon to play toys and I get dinner ready. They eat dinner, take a bath, have crazy dance party time, we read books and watch PeppaPpig, then to bed for 7.
Our weekends are always fun. We do at least one big outing every weekend. We live in such a fantastic city. There is so much to do and so many parks to explore. The kids love getting out, even in the rain and wind. A big part of our blog is family trips, so it's important that we do as much as we can.
Tell us a funny story, quote or remark one of your children recently made.
Oliver's third birthday is approaching. On asking what he wanted, he said "I don't want a bike. I don't want toys. I don't want a party. I don't want friends. I just want a peppermint."
How do you like to celebrate birthdays and other special days in your house?
We have a bouncy castle booked for Oliver's party in the back garden (our garden is the size of the bouncy castle!) and i'm making an octopus pinata, we've invited 15 kids…wish me luck! I'll do a post on fanfamfun to let everybody know how it went, good or bad
What are your all time favorite books for children?
We LOVE books in our house. Because I'm an illustrator and I spent some time working as a book designer (I worked very, very hard on the book series Show Me How) I'm a bit fussy with the books that we read. I tend to hide the ones that are poorly done or are cheesy character books. Also, growing up i was a big reader. My grandma is now sending me the original books that I used to read as a kid, it's wonderful! We've rediscovered so many treasures. We did a post on our blog about our 10 favourite books.
We are huge fans of Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, Oliver Jeffers, and Julia Donaldson (she must never sleep she writes so many books!) I think if I don't limit myself to listing 10 titles I would fill pages and pages. A few times a week the kids get to go to the book shop, it's hard to escape with out buying one. Right now I have my eye on 'Stuck' by Oliver Jeffers and 'A bit lost' by Chris Haughton.
Hyde Park is fantastic, it's such a large, picturesque park you can forget you're so central in such a busy city. I'd recommend a leisurely stroll around the Serpentine Lake, check out an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, lunch at The Lido Cafe and a visit to Prince Albert's Memorial (incredible!). There's also the Diana Memorial Playground for kids (AKA Pirate Ship playground), Diana Memorial Fountain and Kensington Palace. Not forgetting the often crazy and always interesting gathering at Speakers Corner every Sunday. All in all, it's a wonderful place to spend a day. And if you've got any energy to spare after all that, it's very close to some of the best free museums (Natural History Museum and the V&A) and best shopping (Knightsbridge) in the world. So if you are visiting London, make sure you head to Hyde Park.
We enjoy traveling. I think we like seeing and doing really fun things and travel makes that happen. The great thing about living in some of the best cities in the world is that you don't have to get on an airplane to have an adventure. But our favourite city to be with kids has to be stockholm. Swedes are very family focused so it's really family friendly. There are playgrounds everywhere, the city is really easy to get around while pushing a stroller and everything is so clean. We have a little love affair with Stockholm on our blog. Since we lived there and have traveled there often we have pretty much seen everything there is to see- and we LOVE it! I highly recommend making a trip there.
There are so many great cities to visit without kids. San Francisco is probably number 1 for me. It's so beautiful and hip and there's so much good food and drink. We also loved our weekend away in Barcelona, that's a wonderful city. Oh I could go on and on. But again, London is a great place, and where we live. So we try and make the most of it by doing little day-vacations. The best thing about living in a city that people go to on holiday, there is soooo much beauty and culture and great food! We are planning our next husband wife getaway right now, we are thinking of taking the train to Paris.
I guess our blog, fanfanfun is an online travel journal, most of our fun adventures will be written about there.
What places do your children love to go?
We're lucky, our kids really love museums, art galleries, and parks. All places that we enjoy going. It's so much fun to take two kids to the modern museum and see their faces light up when they see a giant Warhol painting for example (or a big scary skull painting as Oliver sees it.)
They really like the natural history museum (what kid doesn't?) seeing the taxidermy animals and the dinosaur bones, they just cant get enough of it.
We also really love going to parks, any weather, we go out walking and exploring. Even in the rain, we get our boots and coats on, plastic on the stroller and off we go.
Tips for traveling in a plane or a long road trip with children?
I think the biggest thing to remember when traveling with kids is this: the journey will have to end eventually! Just make it through and try to smile. If you're really lucky they may sleep through the journey (more likely with small babies and short journey's). But if they get a little boisterous, chose your battles, bring a new toy for them to play with, smart phone games are also great, and if all else fails, stash some chocolate to calm down a melt-down.
Thank you for sharing your lovely story with us Britt!