18 book club suggestions from mums that read

By Susanna at A Modern Mother

It's book club time again! I'm always looking for suggestions on book that are interesting and entertaining yet gritty enough to spark heated discussion. I asked my mum blogger friends for some ideas and it resulted in a plethora of good reads.


1. One Day by David Nicholls. "It's about a couple who meet each other on 15th July (their graduation) and it follows their lives on the very same day until they are older. The ending is fab and totally unexpected. They're making it into a film and Anne Hathaway plays the main female character! x" (Jo Jo Kirtley)

2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. "About the American deep south at the time when slavery was being abolished in the north. It's written from the perspective of one of the maids and is a really easy brilliant read." (Kate Takes Five)

3. Fingersmith By Sarah Waters. "By the same author as Tipping the Velvet. Victorian crime novel – lots of twist and turns in the plot and I haven't even reached the end yet…" (Kate Takes Five)


 4. Room by Emma Donoghue. "Absolutely brilliant, compelling and heartbreaking. Written through the eyes of a 5 year old boy who has only experienced life in one room." (I Heart Motherhood

"Room is incredible – really different. I've already blogged about it!" (Not A Notting Hill Mum)

5. "And if you like Sarah Waters – try The Little Stranger – because the ending is quite ambiguous and I think it would be really interesting to hear what everyone thought had happened. And if you do PLEASE let me know as I am none the wiser!" (Not A Notting Hill Mum)

6. Bad Science by Ben Goldacre. "It's an eye opener to poor media reporting (and screwing with statistics) of science and medical stories which are often presented as fact,but more closely resembles fiction. It's also very funny and a great read, Ben is very witty…" (Cheeky Wipes)

 7. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver "Love and survival in the Congo. Lots to talk about. And Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is lighter but with lots of class and race issues to discuss." (In a Bun Dance)


8. "My real life book group all loved 'The Book Thief' by Marcus Zusak. It is astonishing, about the redemptive power of love and is not as 'creepy' as the synopsis makes it sound!  Everyone should read it. (Not A Good Mother)

9. "And my virtual book group had massively divided opinions about'We Were the Mulvaneys' by Joyce Carol Oates.  This is about how a family in small town America manages when the daughter is raped.  A story of massive breadth and depth, it has stayed with me for years.  I often think of it and wonder what I would do if I were in the mother's position (and thankful that I am not).  Really good read, it willmake you stay up late into the night to read it." (Not A Good Mother)

10. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. "It has just been made into a film. Very chilling and thought-provoking. Perfect for a book club discussion." (Living Abroad)

11. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas."It really divided people in book group and was great for discussion. A lot of very bad language and some full on sexual scenes so not for the prudish. We did One Day over Christmas and our meeting to discuss is tonight! I enjoyed it but not really sure what there is to say about it."  (Eggs, Cream and Honey)

 12. "I just finished 'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet' by David Mitchell  and thought that some of the writing in there was beautiful.  Great story too and keeps you going." (Mummy Squared)

13. "If you want an oldie but goodie how about Catch-22 by Joseph Heller…  everyone should read it." (Mummy Squared)

14. "I think The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins would be an amazing book for a group to talk about.  It's the first book in an amazing trilogy, but could easily stand alone for discussion purposes." (Oh Abby Really)

15. Another David Mitchell book (author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob Zoet) is Cloud Atlas. Utterly brilliant. Shortlisted for Booker and a Richard and Judy winner. (Archers at the Larches)

16 and 17. "For non-fiction, I'd recommend Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and for fiction,Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarderor for something more recent, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and read it before you watch the movie that's about to come out! Our book club is reading The Way to Paradise by Mario Vargas Llosa at the moment…. (Mummy Zen)

18 (again) Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell "You'll never run out of things to talk about with this extraordinary book. It's difficult to quickly explain what it's about, but it presents six separate stories and over the course of the book you realise that they are all intertwined, despite taking place hundreds of years apart. It's the sort of book you want to start reading again as soon as you've finished it. (Here Be Boys)

That should keep you bust for a while. If you need any other suggestions, check out my previousposts.

Happy (book) clubbing!

6 Mother’s Day Ideas for New Mums


from Bump to Baby

Your baby might not be able to buy you chocolates or take you to the spa, but it’s never too early to set a good example and show them what makes Mums happy.  Being a new Mum is not easy, so make sure you take this Mother’s Day to celebrate. Allow someone special in your life to do something nice for you, or take it upon yourself to take a break and do something all for you! Here are some of our favourite ideas for new Mums looking to cash in on some Mother’s Day love!

1. Mums Only Brunch

How long has it been since you’ve had a girls’ day out?  If you’re a new Mum, it’s probably been a while. This might take some planning in advance, but try to organise with your girlfriends and other mums to have a baby-free meal and catch up on each other’s social lives.


2Take Your Mum Shopping

Now that you know what having a little one is really like, it’s likely that your heart is swelling with admiration for your own mum. Why not invite her out and show your appreciation with a day of shopping and a meal or a trip to the cinema?  It’s sure to be an afternoon full of laughter and helpful advice.


3. Treat Yourself to a Takeaway

If you can’t manage to leave the house for some alone time, celebrating Mother’s Day can be as easy as skipping a night of cooking and cleaning and ordering your favourite comfort food. Hundreds of takeaway and delivery options are available at the click of a button, so you won’t even have to pick up the phone.  Finish the evening off with a glass of wine and a girly flick!


4. Mums Gift Exchange

If you can’t get any time free to visit with friends or family, you can always organise a gift exchange.  Everyone is assigned a number and chooses one as well.  Then, each person buys a gift that they think a mum would love. The more unique the gift, the better! I love the cute and crafty products from Gadget Baby!


5. Have a Date Night

Get your partner to show their appreciation for everything mums do by taking you out!  Even if you have to do the work and planning yourself, let them know that they should clear their schedule for Sunday evening 26th March. Having a date night can bring some of the romance and fun back in your life that you may have forgotten about since the baby’s arrival. Go out to your favourite date spot from before you were pregnant, or try something completely new. Karaoke is a great way to remind yourself that mums can have fun too!


6. Sleep

If you’re a new Mum, you know that the greatest gift of all is a little undisturbed shut-eye. Tell your partner that they can give you flowers and cards all they want, but only after they leave you home alone for a few hours!

Flying with a Baby

By Carrie Bradley from Flying With A Baby



It’s possibly every parents’ nightmare to have their baby or toddler cry all night on a plane. It was definitely mine and the thought of dozens of eyes silently questioning why on earth did I bring a baby on to a plane, during a night flight? After many long and ultra long haul flights, I’ve pretty much learnt to ignore any stares. With family living in Australia and us in the UK, we are always going to travel long distances. Besides my other half and I enjoy visiting somewhere new, and letting the children experience different cultures too. We’ve learnt a few tips to make it easier for babies and toddlers to settle and have a good sleep on the plane, ensuring that you get a bit of shut eye too. Hopefully, these top tips to help baby sleep on a plane, will help you too.


Top Tips To Help Babies Sleep On The Plane

1) The Holy Grail of airline flying- request  a bassinet. See my guide on airline bassinets to check your little one fits the size regulations before you book! Also bear in mind all airlines, except Virgin Atlantic and Qantas, require you to remove the baby from the bassinet during any turbulence. 

2) Choose a night flight. This seriously helps even if your departure time is after normal sleep time. Depending on the flight, we put our tiniest tot to bed at normal time and wake her up when it is literally time to walk out the door. This means she generally has enough energy to get her through the journey to the airport, check in and finally to after take off.

3) I love this baby sleep pillow spray from This Works and it smells divine. I didn’t use it  with my eldest, but my husband bought it shortly after M’s birth and I’ve have found it really helps. A few sprays of it on board the plane, in the bassinet, in the hotel cot etc, means it is a familiar smell which helps settle her.

4) If you don’t have a bassinet, then I highly recommend the SkyBaby mattress. It saves your arms and make it easy to move baby from person to person; handy for in-flight trips to the loo. It can also be used easily with the infant lap belt, meaning no annoying removal of baby if there is any turbulence. Read my full review here.

5) If you do have a bassinet, hurrah! I’ve recently road tested a bassinet cover by Fly Babee. ( Full review is here.)  It blocks out light from the cabin and is fully Fly Babee breathable. Worked a treat and M slept for hours even with the meal service ongoing. Genius idea and beats the old duct tape and blanket method.

6) Still on the bassinet subject, if you have a fidgety baby, or one who cries in unfamiliar surroundings,  settle them in your arms first, then move to the bassinet. 

7) Pack extra snacks, extra milk as they do get thirstier in the drier cabin air. 


Top Tips To Help Toddlers Sleep On The Plane 

1) As above, choose a night flight. This seriously helps even if your departure time is after normal sleep time.

2) Choose seats carefully. If it is just the three of you flying, then choosing a DEG seat and deliberately not choosing the F seat, may mean you end up with a row of 4 for free, as middle single seats are always the last to go- and worst case, the person who may be allocated that seat will always be happy to swap to the aisle so you can all be together. 

If you are also traveling with a baby, then the bassinet bulkhead seat in the Emirates A380 seats DEF Seat E/F armest moves up middle in newer aircrafts ( A380, new B777) – seats DEFG have a flexible armrest between seat E and F meaning they can stretch out and lie on you.

3) Dress them in their pyjamas and keep the bedtime ritual as familiar as possible, brushing teeth, story etc

4) Bring a familiar toy or comforter if they have. 

5) With no bassinet for a toddler over 2, consider bringing an extra blanket or using the onboard one to make a canopy over the seat in front of you- slotting it into the headrest. This obviously only works if you are not at a bassinet bulkhead position, but means again they are shielded from the cabin lights.

5) Bring extra snacks- full tummies and food like bananas help with sleep.

What’s new: Baby and toddler classes in South West London

from Mummy in the City

Chelsea Swim Spa opens new slots
In Chelsea, the swimming school situated in the basement of a residential property, Chelsea Swim Spa, has seen growing demand for classes, and the venue has opened up new slots on Wednesdays between 9am and noon. Chelsea Swim Spa is ideal for parents who want their little ones to swim in a warm pool to avoid getting too cold. The pool, which is small, can also be hired for private use, and since it is only £50 to hire for 90 minutes it can make for a fun play date for antenatal groups or other friends.

Teddy Tennis starts football classes
Popular children’s tennis class provider Teddy Tennis has introduced a football programme too, and there are now classes for children aged 3 to 5 on Saturdays from 11am to 11.45am in Kingston. The classes started on 14 January.

Monkey Music adds new Chelsea venue
For this term, Monkey Music in Chelsea and Westminster has added a new venue–The Hut, which is located behind Hall of Remembrance in Flood Street, near Waitrose on King’s Road. There are classes at The Hut on Monday and Wednesday mornings.

Talking Tots starts South West London classes
To boost early communication and language skills, Talking Tots offers classes for babies and toddlers in Clapham on Thursday mornings and Earlsfield on Tuesday mornings. The classes, which feature structured games, singing and rhymes, are designed by paediatric speech and language therapists to help develop concentration, attention, self-esteem and pre-literacy skills.

…And for mums there are new Henry Lamb Tennis Putney Mother’s group classes
After the February half-term Henry Lamb Tennis will introduce a group for mums who want to play tennis. The drop-in sessions will take place  from 8.30-10am on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the venue is yet to be confirmed. The sessions are available to book online or via email on bookings@henrylamb.co.uk.


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Advice for finding your Baby Nurse/ Newborn Care Specialist

British American Newborn Care provides heavily screened and highly qualified Baby Nurses and Newborn Care Specialists in The United States and United Kingdom, all of whom are known for their incisive knowledge and expertise in the newborn and childcare industries. They recommend the following advice when hiring a Baby Nurse/Newborn Care Specialist (NCS):

First and foremost, have a list of questions ready to screen the Baby Nurse or NCS.  Your questions and their answers should be crosschecked with the American School of Pediatrics. Examples are:


At what stage do I start ‘sleep scheduling?

·      Correct answer: Not before 3.5 months- 5 months is recommended

·      Incorrect answer: From day 1, from 2-weeks, 8-weeks etc.


What can I do to help my infant sleep through the night without actually sleep scheduling?

·      Correct answer: Mum can stand beside the crib but don’t pick the infant up each time he/she cries.

·      Incorrect answer: Let the infant cry it out. Use feeding as a method to sleep schedule.


What are the reasons for colic and what can be administered for it?

·      Correct answer: There are many reasons for colic - the Mother’s diet (should be low in acid), the infant eating too quickly, food sensitivities on the infant’s side, etc.  Check with the pediatrician before giving anything to the infant

·      Incorrect answer: Gripe water from my country, advising any kind of medication administration whatsoever


We recommend you, the Mother, start searching for a Baby Nurse as early as possible.  Baby Nurses get booked up quickly throughout the year, so the sooner you start searching, the more choice you will have. Baby Nurses on the East Coast are often much more flexible with their schedule and are typically less expensive than those on the West Coast. West Coast based baby nurses (commonly termed Newborn Care Specialists in California) tend to be more professional, hold more certifications, and are often highly qualified. There are many Baby Nurses on the East Coast who match this level of expertise, but we recommend a mother use a trusted agency to ensure the unqualified and potentially dangerous caregivers are extracted from the mix.


British American Newborn Care recommends hiring two Baby Nurses to cover the 24-hour shift. This way, neither Baby Nurse is at risk of exhaustion and subsequently becoming unfit to care for your infant. The recommended length of time to keep a baby nurse is from 3-6 months.

This ensures proper transition to a Nanny (nannies rarely have hands-on experience with infants less than 3 months).


Interview carefully.  Evaluate certifications (which can include Infant Care Specialist, infant CPR, LPN, LVN RN), years of experience and skill level, and find out if this is somebody you are comfortable with.  The Baby Nurse should support your beliefs, providing they are safe.  Topics to cover include your ideas relating to breastfeeding and formula, sleeping, feeding, development etc.  NO Baby Nurse should try to alter your values or bully you into thinking their way.  If you feel the Baby Nurse is this type of caregiver during the interview process, RUN! Always check certifications and references, and run an all-State and Federal background check.  Finally, Google searching and social media searching is an imperative step all mothers should take.


The cost of a Baby Nurse can range from $25-60 an hour, or $350-$1,000 a day.  If you do hire a Baby Nurse for a 24-hour period, a minimum of 4-hours off each day to rest and recoup are required.


Lastly and most importantly, listen to your instinct - a mother’s intuition is rarely wrong.


Any questions in relation to hiring a caregiver, Baby Nurse or NCS, or any other household help (housekeepers, chefs, managers, personal assistants), email info@bahs.com or call (212) 966-2247 (BAHS)


Check out www.bababynurses.com for more details on Baby Nurses and Newborn Care Specialists through British American Newborn Care. 


Anita Rogers is the founder of British American Household Staffing (bahs.com), British American Newborn Care (www.bababynurses.com) and British American Yachts (bahsyachts.com).