Welcome to our brand new series, and I'm really excited about this one! One of my favourite things since starting this blog is getting to know other local mams, and through the wonders of social media seeing their updates, where they have visited and often discovering new places. So Parents of the North is my way to showcase some of that. There will be a new post every fortnight, and will feature mams and dads who are up for telling us a bit about their life with kids in the North East. If you fancy featuring then please get in touch via the contact us page.
Right on to this post from Jayne. As soon as I thought about doing this feature Jayne popped into my head. I follow her on instagram where you can find her on the handle @Jayneandco74 and her feed is fab. Her and the kids wear the brightest clothing, their photographs are like rainbows of cuteness, and on occasion there has been some mum and daughter twinning. Honestly her feed makes me smile every time one of her photographs pop up. In addition to managing to be so pulled together with four children, and a growing bump (Jayne is 36 weeks pregnant as I'm posting this) their family are always off somewhere interesting around the North East, so I was so pleased when she agreed to be a part of it. On to the questions, recommendations and general chance to be nosy...
Who am I?
I'm Jayne, partner to Carl and Mam (although the eldest two call me Mum) to Isaac 12, Martha 9, Eli 6 and Nancy who has just turned 2. We're due to have a fifth baby at the beginning of July which will tip the balance in favour of the girls. Yeah!
Originally from County Durham, I moved to Liverpool to study, spent a few years wandering the globe then returned to the North East via Fukuoka and London. We currently live in a converted Tyneside flat in South Gosforth which gives us ample living space but only a decked yard rather than Carl's longed for garden.
How do you spend your week?
My days and weeks are quite varied. I work either 2 or 3 days a week and spend the rest of the time looking after my lovely brood. Some days are spent just washing clothes and dishes (a large family create lots of both!) desperately trying to tidy the house - which is an exercise in running to stand still -and running to and from school.
Other week days we'll meet up with friends for coffee or lunch and then there'll be those days where the elder three are with their Dad (we split a few years ago) and Nancy and I will go further afield. Days like these took a LOT of getting used to but you've got to take the positives from any situation so I embrace the lack of time constraints on such days.
How did you meet your Mum friends?
Before having children I believed that I had as many friends as I needed/wanted but it turns out you can never have enough! Shared experience is a great thing. I met some close friends at Surestart groups which were still going strong when my eldest was born. More when I became a breastfeeding peer supporter (again Surestart funded!) and then with each child that starts school more like minded people come your way.
Tell us about being a Mum of 4 (and a bump)
In my final trimester it's become tiring! The school run is now more of a waddle and by 9 at night when everyone's in bed I could collapse with exhaustion! Pregnant body aside though it is of course fantastic. I have 4 amazing children, another kicking away inside and feel extremely grateful. It can be hectic at times (school mornings in particular) and of course noisy but that's all part of having a big family.
We try to live in a relaxed house without too many rules. At school and work we're all subjected to so many that I don't want our home life to be like that too. It sounds like a recipe for chaos but for us it works. Children are incredibly perceptive, appreciate the lack of regulation and if asked to do something happily do. Also if they do behave badly and I need to raise my voice it's met with respect as it's not a common occurrence.
As the hipsters say 'don't sweat the small stuff'. I try not to stress about little things, pick my battles carefully and smile.
What are your tips for the North East with kids?
I've never been a home bird and so love getting out and about and in the North East there's so much choice, cities, countryside and hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline.
Living in South Gosforth we're within walking distant of many great places which with 4 children in tow is often easier than bundling everyone into the car! We're a 5 minute walk from Gosforth park, 15 minutes from Jesmond Dene and just a 45 minute walk to town or Exhibition park all of which the kids love.
On rain free days we'll often make a picnic and head to Gibside, Wallington Hall (as we're National Trust members) Hexham, Hamsterley Forest, Durham or one of the many lovely nearby beaches. Tynemouth is a firm favourite. Cafes on the beach are always a plus and I'm a sucker for the weekend markets. Give the kids £2 to barter with and they love it.
We don't often get very far up the coast but when we make it a sunny day on Beadnell's picture perfect beach can be amazing.
With lots of mouths to feed picnics are a great money saver. Even on rainy days when you'll find us at Seven Stories or The Centre for Life (both great for all ages and have value for money passes if you visit often) we'll take food and go to the lunch rooms!
That said we do eat out sometimes. Arlo in Jesmond is a particular favourite having great food and a relaxed atmosphere. Most importantly as it's a family run business (the owners have four children of their own) they are so welcoming and have a toy and book corner for the younger ones. For a quick sandwich and drink The Settle Down cafe in town is also a good spot with children.
I just want to say a HUGE thank you to Jayne for taking the time to be our first Parent of the North. I loved reading about how she manages with her big family. I absolutely agree with all of her recommendations too. I have always had the best service in Arlo whenever we visit and there are toys to keep the kids entertained. After reading Jayne's responses I ended up in the Settle Down Cafe last week when I was passing and we were starving. Again we got a really warm welcome, and despite being on my own with two toddlers who could be described as hangry, I felt really comfortable in there and we looked through the few children's books they have in the cafe whilst waiting for our food.
We hope you've all enjoyed the first in this new series. The next will be out in a fortnights time an we'reaiming for Monday AM to publish. We love comments - so feel free to leave some below and if you fancy telling us about your favourite places in the North East then please get in touch.