Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:57pm Tuesday 20th December 2011

Are you sick of it yet? Where most people have been ramping up the festivities since 1st December, I retreated into a bubble. I don't think Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

My Baby Expo: post-natal support & Mister Maker (of course!)

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:33pm Wednesday 9th November 2011

As a new parent, I'm heading on down to Baby Expo this Sunday at the Amex Community Stadium (not only because I'm doing a spot of blogging) but to see what new things are out there to support my family life. I've been browsing down the exhibitor list on the Baby Expo website to prioritise who to visit on Sunday (yep, I'm a planner!). I was happy to see there's a great balance between innovative baby brands, ante and post-natal classes, charities and parent support groups.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Business Mums say your network creates success

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:05pm Monday 10th October 2011

This week we said goodbye to one of business' most formidable characters, Steve Jobs. A man who became synonymous with a brand he made one of the largest on the planet. Mumpreneurs at the Business Mums Summit acknowledged that like Mr Jobs and Apple, real success comes from surrounding yourself with the right people.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Business Mums gather to inspire, network and celebrate success

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:34pm Monday 3rd October 2011

Next week Brighton plays host to the Business Mums Summit, a networking event for parents running their own business. 'Mumpreneur' has certainly become the latest business watchword and networking events such as these are firmly fixed in the women's work calendars.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Can Elm Grove & the council find a parking solution?

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:14am Sunday 25th September 2011

Once again parking issues in Hanover and Elm Grove have got everyone's pants in a twist. Cars parked behind yellow lines on the pavements were decorated with flyers this week. First by a pretty little yellow one from the council, with a warning stating they would receive a fixed penalty notice after 3rd October if they parked illegally. Then by the Hanover and Elm Grove Local Action Team inviting them to a meeting Monday 26th September to object.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Late arrival, speedy birth

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:12pm Thursday 8th September 2011

After a frustrating wait nine days past my due date we finally welcomed a healthy baby girl into the world. Just when we thought we knew what we needed to know about labour, we were taken completely surprise with our birth.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Is it safe to recycle the famiily crib?

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:55am Friday 29th July 2011

For our impending arrival, we are proud to use the crib that I slept in as a child in 1973. However, although we have slept five babies in the crib over 38 years, it could be a little naïve and risky to use family heirlooms.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

My Community Reporter Journey

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:21pm Wednesday 6th July 2011

It's been over 18 months since Brighton & Hove Community Reporters network was set up and I've been on the ride since the beginning.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Brighton Festival: there’s an app for that

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 4:41pm Friday 13th May 2011

The organisers behind the Brighton Festival, Fringe and Artist Open Houses have made it even more easier to access events program information, venue iinformation and experience sharing this year with iPhone and Android apps plus Flickr groups and Twitter #tags. Here’s the lowdown on social media and news guides to help you get the best our of festival season: Brighton Festival App: They are calling this an app but its technically a mobile site for iPhone and Android which offers really good download speed of essential information: events and venue details. As it is only a mobile site, there are no other tools e.g. saving favourites or planned events.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Open house: last chance to see...

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:59pm Wednesday 11th May 2011

This week is the last chance to see ‘Home Is Where the Art Is’ at the Fishing Quarter Gallery, the latest instalment in the I Love Art Brighton story, curated by Sarah Gillings.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Pregancy Yoga: connect with your mind, body and baby

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:10pm Wednesday 27th April 2011

Many women during pregnancy experience problems with their core stability, back pain and sciatica. Yoga can not only help cope with these issues but also prepare your body for childbirth.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Mum's Day? Nope, it's Me Day

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:21am Sunday 3rd April 2011

Are we supposed to be mums on Mothering Sunday or are can we do as we damn well please? What I really crave is to spend the morning in the bathroom with the iPlayer, a bath, a face pack and plenty of child-free time to let my nails dry.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

A century of International Women’s Day

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:24am Saturday 5th March 2011

This Tuesday is the centenary of International Women's Day. The event was initially started in 1911 to campaign for equal workers rights, be trained, hold public office and most notably have the vote. We have seen the role of women in society change dramatically since then through two world wars, creation of the women's movement and evolution of technology and telecommunications. The fact this day has been observed for 100 years had a profound effect on me. I tried to imagine what life would have been like for me in 1911. I decided to examine the generations of women in my family over the last century and map their path to me. One thing they had all in common is they took advantage of the opportunities laid out to them, led the desire to increase their earning potential. On both sides of my parents family, our roots are firmly in working classes. My maternal grandmother left school at 14 like many of her contemporaries and began an apprenticeship with a confectioners, which she didn’t like and left after a year. Before the Second World War broke out she had the opportunity to go to night school, free of charge, to learn shorthand and typing. August 1939 she turned 17 and the family had moved from Liverpool to Halifax, West Yorkshire. Women were enlisted to work in factories for the war effort, usually if they had no dependents, making parts that they understood (but never knew exactly) to be used by the Navy. Women were needed to fill the gap left by men serving in the armed forces but despite this, were still paid less than their male counterparts. 1943 After the war, she married and started a family but continued to work. Nana explains to me, ’We wanted to boost our income, to buy appliances such as washing machines and televisions.’. She went back to night school in the 1960’s which allowed her access to office work and eventually the civil service, who didn‘t usually take on married women but opportunities had changed since the war. My paternal grandmother was the daughter of a carpenter. Despite having already started a family before the war, she helped out at her husbands family business running a grocers shop, as well has raising her son, while he was away serving in the army. After the war, she went on to work at Alders department store earning an apprenticeship and eventually becoming supervisor of the ladies fashion department. She also continued to work while raising my father who was a baby boom child, 10 years younger than his brother born just before WW2. As a child she’d show me the clothes she had bought with her staff discount at the time of her working there, all kept neatly in their original cellophane packaging. Her taste was impeccable. They were equally both proud of having paid off their mortgage by retirement, owning a home outright was a big achievement for their generation and it was down to their dual income that made it possible. For very similar reasons, my mother pushed herself up the promotion ladder to earn a better living. The swinging sixties wasn’t completely revolutionary for women depending on where you lived or your social background. The likelihood was you wanted to leave school as early as possible and earn money to buy the latest fashions, Rolling Stones records and have a fairly decent social life. My mother’s family had relocated from south London to near Gatwick airport for her father’s work. The growth of the airport presented more job opportunities in the area plus the perks of foreign travel which she made the most of before married life and children. Even though she worked part-time jobs when my sister and I were at school, it wasn’t until we were in our teens and could fendr for ourselves after school (and Saturday jobs of our own) did she start a career culminating in becoming Studio Manager for Filofax, co-ordinating the print production and content of diary inserts. It was her extra salary that enabled me to go to University in 1992 and I was the first girl on both sides of my immediate parents family to go. Although going on to further education was symbolic for my parents and grandparents generation, in 1992 it didn’t and still doesn’t necessarily guarantee social and economic mobility for women. We can’t deny that more women are moving into typical male dominated professions and more women are having careers and starting their own businesses. It seems to all fall down when women want to start a family, the environment for maintaining a career and bringing up a family becomes more challenging either through lack of support from employers or simply the nature of the jobs themselves. In my view, there is some way to go for complete gender equality in the workplace and across many communities all over the world which is why as well as celebrating our achievements on Tuesday, it will be a time to reflect and discuss what more can be done. Especially the difference we can make for our children.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Grunge saves the day

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:34pm Tuesday 22nd February 2011

Spending roughly 80 minutes a day commuting by car, I usually fill the time with Radio 4; the Today programme in the morning, Eddie Mair and the PM team on the way home. However, being hormonal is the perfect time to listen to music. I find I’m so more connected emotionally to sound, feeling it in all over my body, in my stomach and my heart. So I traded in my obsession for news to listen to proper CDs and a back catalogue worth running up a credit card bill and student loan for.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Country wedding. P.S. sorry, no children

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:18am Saturday 5th February 2011

We’re at a wedding in a beautiful country house in North Yorkshire this weekend, without Little L. I’ve spent my morning pampering at my own pace and feel glorious. If you are contemplating your wedding reception and not sure whether you can afford to invite kids, for budgetary or guest number reasons, then don’t think twice about stipulating no kids.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Preggers & poorly

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:49am Sunday 30th January 2011

I have good news. I’m pregnant with baby number two. However, with a seasonal cold and the same early pregnancy sickness as my first baby, I’m not feeling that joyous quite yet.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Artists Open Houses: Christmas Festival

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:29am Sunday 5th December 2010

Now the snow has disappeared in Brighton no doubt everyone will be itching to get out and explore. It’s the second weekend of Artists Open Houses Christmas Festival in the city, perfect for discovering the latest offerings from local artists.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Business Mums say “You can do it”

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:10pm Tuesday 5th October 2010

Business Mums 2010 at the Thistle Hotel, Brighton starts on a massive high with inspirational talks from global chilled food mumpreneur, Annabel Karmel and online marketing guru Mel McGee. I am here at the conference checking out what local and non-local mums have to say about running a business and balancing family life.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Do you suffer from Buggy Envy?

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:41am Saturday 2nd October 2010

Brighton is crawling with buggies. During Life Before Baby, unless some buggy-bully parent whacked me in the ankles, I was happy not noticing them. Now I’m obsessed. I suffer from Buggy Envy and I’m not the only one . . .

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Divorcing the Catholic Church

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:03pm Tuesday 14th September 2010

This week’s visit by Pope Benedict XVI has sparked a number of debates about the Catholic Church, especially around the child sex abuse scandal. Earlier this year I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life, I decided to ditch my Catholic faith.

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Tis Time to Say Goodbye

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 4:49pm Friday 3rd September 2010

Being a mum has been pretty much a full time job and with a new website starting as well as going back to work it's time to say goodbye to the place that gave me a bump up into the world of blogging.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

I heart art

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:03pm Monday 16th August 2010

Brighton has no shortage of performing arts events all year around, however, something is lacking in terms of visual arts and spaces in the city. Relatively speaking, there are only a few decent galleries, exhibition spaces or major visual arts events (compared to amounts of artists trying to sell their work) . Sarah Gillings, a local resident, has launched ‘I Love Art’ - a brand to promote artists across the city.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Love yurts

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:37pm Wednesday 4th August 2010

In the second week of my parental leave in July, we travelled to Norfolk for a couple of nights in a ‘yurt’. We’re not hardened campers, so this was a tame introduction for Little L to the outdoors. What I didn’t expect, was to fall in love with the Norfolk coast.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Country home and away in Devon

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:33pm Wednesday 28th July 2010

There’s nothing I like more than a long weekend ‘staycation’ in Brighton. I mean it’s not an accident we have so many tourists the whole year round. However, this summer, I decided to explore Britain a little more. Our first stop was a village called Silverton in Devon.

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Busy Bees

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:07pm Tuesday 20th July 2010

Life has been manic for us McCanns the past few weeks but a lovely surprise came when we managed two straight weeks of 9pm until 5am sleeping!

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Mums are the Biz

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 4:54pm Friday 9th July 2010

As more and more mums quit office-based jobs and turn to setting up their own businesses, three mumpreneurs have come together to organise The Business Mums Conference this October, a unique event for the region. I met two of the three organisers at Baby Expo last month to find out more.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

It only takes a Simple Act

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:14pm Sunday 20th June 2010

Although refugee week officially ended today, there’s still more you can do to show support for the campaign and those in your community. Little L and I spent the week completing Simple Acts, which were not only informative but fun family activities: - Monday, I posted my report about the Refugee Week event I visited here on the blog. I met so many interesting people, refugees and those who volunteer to support them.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Refugee week: climbing the mountain

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:30pm Monday 14th June 2010

This week is National Refugee Week, a programme of arts, cultural and educational events celebrating the contribution that refugees make to our society but also creating a better understanding between communities. Brighton & Hove has a full programme which started with local charity’s Brighton Voices in Exile Open Day on Saturday.

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Bosom Buddies

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:15pm Monday 14th June 2010

I was invited, via Facebook, to an event called Bosom Buddies today. The group's main focus is making mummies feel confident breastfeeding in public. Dads are welcome too.

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Baby Expo Show

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 3:25pm Thursday 10th June 2010

I have always been a bit wary about attending a baby show but now one is coming to my doorstep I thought I might give it a go.

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Our Summer Essentials

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:13pm Monday 7th June 2010

I am sure anyone reading this can sympathise with my concern for the five-month-old baby burnt on Brighton Beach and as my Mini McCann is of similar age it pained me to think of a little one in so much pain with something easily prevented.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Head lice r us

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:38pm Sunday 6th June 2010

This week we had our fourth bout of head lice in the last year and frankly, I‘ve had enough. I‘m exhausted at the prospect of getting them again, so this is my plea to Brighton families to get bug busting as soon as they strike.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

On the trail: Washington Street

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:40am Sunday 23rd May 2010

It’s the very last day today (Sunday 23rd) to catch Artists Open Houses from this years festival. The whole experience can be like a treasure hunt, finding fascinating products of artists imaginations in each house you visit. Hanover has many Aladdin’s caves to explore, of which ‘Hometruths‘ was my favourite.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

On the trail: Seven Dials

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:57am Saturday 22nd May 2010

This weekend is the last chance to catch the Artist’s Open House festival, one of the most unique aspects of Brighton Festival. In a city rich in creative talent these numerous exhibitions that open up around the city in people’s own homes is the art community’s finest showcase. I stumbled on a few houses last week not to be missed. The first is on the Seven Dials circuit.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Sex and the City: you’re dumped!

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:08pm Monday 17th May 2010

The new Sex and the City movie is upon us at the end of this month and from what I’ve seen from the trailer, I’m begging they don’t make a third.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Our parade, our festival

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:06pm Monday 3rd May 2010

The city was awash with colour and swimming in the sound of the next generation at Brighton Festival’s Children’s Parade Saturday. Schools from all over the area put together elaborate costumes, dance routines, giant puppets, musical ensembles creatively interpreting this year’s theme The Planet.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Staycation vs. vacation

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:54pm Thursday 29th April 2010

After the recent flight ban due to the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano disrupting British airspace, thousands of people were left grounded and stranded. Maybe it’s time to rethink travelling abroad and reducing our carbon footprint.

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Baby Scream Screen

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 3:28pm Tuesday 27th April 2010

A trip to the cinema with baby

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Giving up the Breast - Part Two

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:15am Saturday 24th April 2010

Trying to set a boob time routine.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Brighton marathon goes the distance

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:54pm Monday 19th April 2010

Sunday was definitely a coup for the city. The weather was unbelievably perfect. It seemed the whole of Brighton & Hove were excited and curious about Brighton’s inaugural marathon. I almost had butterflies in my tummy as I read the runners tweets before the start. As I walked out of my front door, baby in the sling on my back, I felt something in the air (finally), not just a helicopter whirring above us.

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Seeing Angus and Julia Stone (12/4/10)

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:07pm Tuesday 13th April 2010

The evening started at 4pm for Mummy McCann. An early start but much had to be done before our date. I felt nervous and wanted to make every effort to look nice for Gav.

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Five musts for the bedtime routine

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:21am Friday 9th April 2010

I love lists so I'll share what we liked and disliked.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Ten things restaurants should know about toddlers

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:07pm Tuesday 6th April 2010

The economic downturn has sadly led to a number of eating establishments folding around the city. In my view, the Parent Pound is still strong currency around these parts but frustratingly eating out with toddlers can be a harrowing experience. If you’re looking for a way to pull in more revenue, here’s my tips for getting the buggies strolling in: 1. Only one high chair for the whole establishment? Come on, even the booster style ones that slot into seats can’t cost that much. I don’t want to feed my child sitting on my knee, I’ve got a clean jumper on and I don’t pack two suitcases for an excursion with my child, despite what you may have heard.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

Songstorm: write a song in day

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:47pm Monday 29th March 2010

This weekend, The Brunswick Pub, Hove, played host to a group of local songwriters of all abilities and experience taking part in Songstorm: write a song in a day workshop. The event was organised by the Brighton Songwriters, a support network for aspiring or even more established songwriters and musicians.

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Our baby anniversary

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:56pm Saturday 27th March 2010

It's been a year since we found out we were expecting.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

You’re never too old to learn

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:57pm Friday 26th March 2010

Last Saturday it was Spring Forward in Jubilee Square, the Adult Learning Festival celebration of all the programs that have been going on over the last six months. With a main stage of performers ranging from readings by homeless poets, music from novice Brighton songwriters and a Tai Chi demonstration, the atmosphere was nowhere near as dull as the weather.

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Babysitting Swap Shop

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:11pm Friday 26th March 2010

Exchanging baby for a night out!

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Re-entering the adult world

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:47pm Thursday 25th March 2010

I am a different person but don't have to be just mummy

Michelle McCann - Mummy McCann

Giving up the Breast

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:07pm Tuesday 16th March 2010

After not having the birth I wanted I was determined more than ever to have at least one thing I wanted happen for me and my daughter so I started breastfeeding with enthusiasm and much perserverance to ensure me and Isobel were comfortable.

Claire Banks - Contented Mummy

MEP finds out what Brighton Mothers Do

The Argus: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:39am Tuesday 16th March 2010

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for the South East, was among the audience at the first performance of a collection of writings from local women, Mothers Uncovered - Your Stories, last Friday, at the Tarner Children‘s Centre.

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