We ARE keeping a “Sitting with Jane” bench in Basingstoke! WHOOOOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When the first 12 Lot’s (benches) started bidding at £3000 my first thought was “ah well, at least we’ve raised £1000 for Ark Cancer Centre Charity“.

My second thought was “PHEW!! I don’t need to work out what happens next if we win one!!!” Hahaha.

Then, Lot 13, “Girl Power” came on the screen and they started playing the Spice Girls in the background.

And I started to get a tingly feeling in my tummy…

The bidding started at £3K. Then it dropped to £2K. And then it dropped to £1K and I felt my hand shoot up into the air, with the bidding paddle.

Now, it’s a huge responsibility to bid with other people’s money and there was a LOT of expectation. Running a campaign like this is a huge honour and privilege, one which I don’t take lightly.

I was shaking ALL night.

Several of the benches raised £7K and I felt a teeeennny tiny bit out of my league.

Had it not been for Sue, Rachel and Cathy who came with me, I would have been a dribbling mess on the floor.

And then the Auctioneer said, “anymore bids?”…”Anymore?”…

Sue and Rachel were sat next to me and were clutching my arms and I LITERALLY didn’t breathe for about 5 minutes. At least that’s what it felt like.

“Going once”….

“Going twice”…..

And somebody put in a bid at £1250.


And that was it.

I thought it was all over.

I think I literally sagged in my chair.

I heard someone behind me bid for £1500. Then the bidding closed.

And then I got a text.

From Laura at The Topiary, who was sat at the back of the auction.

We had a conversation in the week that we would collaborate if things got a bit hairy in the auction and it didn’t look like either of us would get a chance of getting one.

And in her text it said “I’ll give you the £500”. “You can have it xxx”.

So, we got it!

“Girl Power”.

(Not the best pictures as I was STILL shaking at this point. However, I expect to see far better pictures of this bench in the future! lol).

Thank you!!!!

I need to say a HUGE thank you to the following people, without whom we never would have stood a chance.

My beloved husband, Mr NHM, whose encouragement and belief in my “crazy” ideas is never ending.

Sue – who took Miss NHM and I to see our first bench at the Walled Garden and got me caught up in this whole thing!! Your friendship and unfailing support means so much to me.

Rebecca at The Typeface Group who has been so supportive along this whole journey and who kept me going when I got back from holiday at the end of August and I thought I’d lost momentum.

Mark at The Ark for his brilliant support, enthusiasm and encouragement and Michelle for her wonderful support!!

Steve and Charlotte at Festival Place for their support and encouragement.

All of the NHM Ladies who believed we could do it and donated:  Wendy, CathyW, Lilian, LauraE, Zoe, Cathy, Karen, Lisa, Helen, Gisella, LauraW, Juliet, Emma, Sue, Sally, Mary, Sarah, Allison, Ceri, Katie, SueS, Victoria, Julie, Rebecca, Jules, Eleanor, Pauline, Michele, Jaz, Rachel, Natasha, Stephany, Kath, Sharon, Sarah, Claire, BeckyT, Lisa, Emily, Pam, Cat, Lyndsey, Rebecca H, Stephanie, Gillian. Thank you!!! You are ALL AWESOME!!!!!

Everyone who entered the competition and helped to raised the profile of the campaign. All of the children looked FANTASTIC!!!!

Mike O’Neil at Action Trophies for his very generous donation.

Nicky from Ma Humbugs Old Fashioned Sweet Shop for her generous donation.

John from Tidal Bay Crazy Adventure Golf for his VERY generous donation (£250!!!) about 30 minutes before the event started. STREEEESSSFFULLLL!!!!! Hahaha

Laura from The Topiary for her INCREDIBLE donation and without whom we never would have stood a chance of getting the bench.

Apologies if there is anyone whom I’ve missed off. I’ve barely slept a wink! lol.

What happens next?

Although I had a very strong feeling that we would get a bench, I hadn’t quite sorted out any of the details about what happens if we actually did!! lol.

I am looking to donate the bench to somewhere that people can still access the bench and where it will be indoors so that it lasts for a very long time. If you have any sensible suggestions please do let me know at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com.

Otherwise it’s going on my Mum’s front drive! 😀 😀 :-D.

Also, if you know of anyone who might be able to help me move the bench as it needs to be removed by Monday (18th September), please do get in touch!!!!


I would really love to get a little plaque for the bench which will say:

“I dedicate this bench to all of the Mums, and their children, in North Hampshire”.

We did it.

Thank you!

You are all AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xx

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NHM Readers: “Cry it Out”

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook if anyone had any suggestions “My baby boy cannot be left to ‘cry it out’ as he gets himself so worked up which can end up in vomiting or choking! He eventually goes down at night but will not fall asleep other than on me and daytime naps are even harder since birth he flatly refuses to sleep once we lie him down. He just spits out dummies”. This mummy is really struggling with lack of sleep and needs some extra advice and support.

These were the responses I received. They are in no particular order. Thank you very much to Shona for putting these together! 

NHM Readers advise when a baby can’t be left to ‘cry it out’

Gemma said: I had this, I used to feed to sleep and got into a massive rut and a lot of sleepless nights. I did pick up put down technique, you need to be consistent as I tried and wasn’t ready and went backwards but then I was ready and it doesn’t take long to implement, after awhile we just had to tap our lb’s bottom. Good luck!

Pick up Put Down Technique – Made for Mums

Victoria said: I had this with my boy. I had to pursue the screaming and being sick. I would go in and lie him back down and keep doing it if he was sick clean him up and start again. I would try to lay him back down before he was sick. It took about a week/two weeks but it worked, before I did this I slept on his floor and all sorts trying to get him to settle, it was so hard and painful. Xx

Jenni said: Hiya, how old is your baby boy? Also have you contacted the health visitor, we had a sleep specialist come and although she told us everything we already knew it was nice to have support and encouragement. Our little girl was over two though.

Libby said: Went to a cranial osteopath with our first at 9 months old as she cried whenever put down. It was like a miracle! Cranial osteopath said she had a stiff neck down one side due to birth and did a few things while I held her. She went all relaxed like having a massage and the crying reduced massively and she could actually be put down. If not that then some babies are just snugglers, our 4th sleeps in our bed and we don’t mind as long as we are all asleep!

Kathryn said: How old is he? When my daughter was little she napped in the sling, now she’s 8 months she goes down for some naps in the cot but normally feeds to sleep. I wouldn’t do CC (controlled crying) or CIO (cry it out), babies cry for a reason.

Rachel said: We did something which was similar to cry out (but the health visitor was very keen to stress it isn’t)… put them down for nap/bed, do the normal routine and say “night night mummy loves you, back in a minute”. You literally go back in a minute and reassure them they’re ok by saying “night night, mummy loves you, back in a minute” over and over. They say it works from 6 months old, not so good on over 4’s. 3 days and my little one was sleeping through the night (our issue was 15 months old and still waking us up in the night, we’d managed to switch milk for water but he still wanted us at least once a night).

Lizzie responded: We did this too, only at 5 minute intervals. It took a week (and it was a hard week!) but it worked. My little girl was about 4 months when we did it. Her sleep since got thrown out again after going away lots and the hot weather over the summer, so we’ve since had to do it again. This time it only took a few days.

Heidi said: Have you had him checked for reflux? I’m not an expert, but crying when lying flat is often a symptom. Huge hugs, sleep (or lack of!) is so hard to deal with. I tried loads of things with my 2, none of which worked. In the end I saved my sanity by just accepting that was how they were and believing they would grow out of it in the future. Sometimes accepting is easier than fighting.

Karen said: I had this with my oldest when he was little. I couldn’t do the controlled crying, it was just too stressful and felt cruel to me (not judging anyone else for doing it, was just how i felt with my son, we all have to do what’s right for us individually) so I just used to sit in with him. We also had a single bed in his room as well as the cot, so on really bad nights I could just sleep next to him and actually get some sleep. With the sitting on the floor I started right next to the cot holding his hand and then every few nights would start just a little further away until I was sitting on the landing rather than in his room. There were still some nights where it all went backwards but gradually he got used to sleeping on his own. Looking back I realise it was a very short phase in the scheme of things, it just felt like it went on ages because it was so exhausting. So try to hang on the fact that it won’t last forever he will grow out of it.

Rachel responded: ^^^ this works. Used this for my daughter (a few times every now and again we’d have to reset her bedtime). Didn’t work with my son, but take a cup of tea, no eye contact or interaction and if young enough phone on night mode (didn’t bother my daughter). I actually quite enjoyed my 30 minutes of silence sat on her bedroom floor reading ebooks.

Rachel said: Oh so little, raise the cot one end, if it’s reflux related it might help. Fresh air and short walks until little one is asleep then head home. Leave baby in pram/pushchair but loosen outdoor clothing (my radiator was switched off in hall so it was always cool, and lots of blankets rather than coats so I could easily remove layers). Fresh air always helped me think clearer too.

Jenni said: Wow at 4 months, to be honest I would say this is completely normal. Still get in touch with health visitor though. I also lay my kids on their tummy at that age and found that helped.

Caitlin said: I fretted and worried over my son falling asleep on me but it doesn’t last forever. By around a year old he would be happy to fall asleep in his cot so they definitely grow out of it. I would say enjoy the cuddles while he’s little because they grow up so fast and soon you will be sad because he doesn’t need you to go to sleep anymore! Also if he stirs once you’ve put him down I would make a point of not picking him up and just pat/rock with your hand and shh. He should go back off without too much fuss as long as he doesn’t have a chance to properly wake. At this age it should take him around 20 minutes to be in a proper sleep so try waiting until you put him down.

Sarah said: My boy would only sleep on me for daytime naps unless we were out in the car or with the pushchair right up til he was one when I went back to work. My childminder would put him in the pushchair and go for a walk at nap time then gradually all she had to do was put him in the pushchair and push back and forth for 5 mins in the house until he fell asleep. We’ve been co-sleeping at night because he wouldn’t stay asleep in cot for very long on his own. Now he is independently sleeping in our bed we have moved the cot bed next to ours (one side removed and attached to ours with bungee cords so there is no gap) and when he falls asleep we are moving him into the cot until he gets used to sleeping there.

Charlotte said: Cry it out isn’t recommended especially at 4 months old. Contact your health visitor they can support and give strategies to help.

Louise said: 4 months is still so tiny. It really isn’t forever. Research is showing more and more that sleep (the elusive “self settling” and “sleeping through the night”) is a developmental milestone rather than something you can train. CIO isn’t something I could do personally, as it just didn’t feel right for us, but having an awful sleeper I feel for you. I do think 4 months is difficult to label them as bad sleepers though as they aren’t ready or able to manage by themselves at that age. I found the less I looked at the clock and less I counted the sleep I wasn’t getting the less pressure I felt and the happier I was.

Becky said: We’ve tried many things as our daughter’s routines have developed. We found that different things worked for a little while but then she’d change. Currently what works best for us is a consistent bedtime routine followed by putting on classical music and leaving the door slightly open so she knows we haven’t abandoned her. I should add though, she’s nearly 2.

Emma said: Sorry I haven’t read every other comment. The biggest issue is for the mumma to get some sleep, it will put everything into perspective. I didn’t sleep for 9 months, in similar circumstances and ended up having exhaustion. Some people can cope with little sleep more than others. I think the important thing is to get baby quickly checked for reflux etc, possibly borrow a baby carrier to see if that helps during the day and then find someone to help cover you for a night or for part of a day and get some sleep yourself. STOP worrying about house / hair / make up etc and just use every precious moment you have to sleep. These times are hard, somehow we all make it out the other side with our own stories. Don’t be too ashamed to ask people around you for help to get some sleep. X

Claire said: At 4 months they are too young to try CC or CIO methods.(which I am against anyway. But each to their own). They may have an underlying issue (could chat to HV about) or they could just like their cuddles. Some babies stay in the “4th trimester” longer. Have u tried baby wearing? Also this lady has a lot of excellent advice & also does 1-1 consultation to help establish the root cause

Jennie Harrison – Sleep deprived mum’s coach

Skye said: Co sleep? Wear him during the day so you can get things done and he isn’t feeling abandoned. Some research into attachment parenting and/or 4th trimester might help. Also, wonder weeks app might give any indications if he is going through a developmental leap. Please don’t try CIO or CC. 🙁

Rebecca said: Both of mine napped in the pushchair, reclining but not completely flat. I have done CC with both of them but definitely wouldn’t try it at 4 months.

Helen said: At 4 months my little one napped in a sling or buggy and at night it was feed to sleep and co-sleeping using a cot attached to the side of the bed. 6 months later she was sleeping in her cot always and from just over a year slept through the night. Don’t stress about rushing to the cot, there’s plenty of time and you’re not creating bad habits.

Wendy said: At 4 months this isn’t a baby issue, this is a partner issue. How many nights a week is your partner doing? By all means look into things such a reflux but the best solution is for your partner to take responsibility a couple of nights a week. If you are on your own ask for someone to stay over occasionally so you can sleep.

Charlotte said:  At 4 months there is a well known (not to me with my first) sleep regression. It’s hideous and the exhaustion can be overwhelming. I do not believe cio or cc work esp with such a littly. May be worth reading the wonder weeks book for development spurts that link to poor sleep periods, the no cry sleep solution book for gentler methods. I’d also strongly recommend getting a sling to use in the day and if needed to get to sleep at night, reflux checking and asking g for support. Support for someone to have lo so mum can nap through the day, support with cooking and cleaning so those jobs don’t feel overwhelming. This sounds like normal baby sleep behaviour. Neither of my 2 slept, in fact my 2 yr old is still going through a bad phase so I am now about to have a nap. Good luck to the mum, as some have said acceptance and support are the way to go esp at this young age.

Lisa said: My daughter, now 4, has serious medical issues and we left hospital at 2 weeks old with the fleeting instruction of ‘don’t let her cry hard for more than 30 seconds or so because she’ll go very blue and her organs will starve of oxygen’. That put the pressure on a bit. I have to say we are no role models and have no good bedtime routines as such but this was a case of survival. So, we just went with it. If she wanted cuddles, we cuddled, if she went to bed, I went to bed, if she fell asleep, I fell asleep. She co-slept (not necessarily suggesting this) and still does. She averaged about 6-8 hours broken sleep in 24 hours for 2 years. I’m not sure my story helps but my advice would be to just go with the flow, don’t resent the lack of sleep just accept it. That really helped for me, took the pressure off. And remember this stage is not forever. Big hugs tired mummy x x Oh and I would echo the comments for getting him checked out for reflux and other health issues just so you know what you’re dealing with. There used to be a place in basingstoke that sold reflux wedges (pillows). In intensive care they taught us a trick ‘a heavy hand resting on the tummy’ is quite soothing. We would start with a hand and then replace with a surgical glove filled with warm (tepid so you don’t feel heat or cold when you put your fingers in it, not hot) water. Obviously need to remove it when it cools and observe common sense safety precautions. X Oh and I would echo the comments for getting him checked out for reflux and other health issues just so you know what you’re dealing with. There used to be a place in basingstoke that sold reflux wedges (pillows). In intensive care they taught us a trick ‘a heavy hand resting on the tummy’ is quite soothing. We would start with a hand and then replace with a surgical glove filled with warm (tepid so you don’t feel heat or cold when you put your fingers in it, not hot) water. Obviously need to remove it when it cools and observe common sense safety precautions. X

Charlotte said: My little one was very clingy but putting a hot water bottle in the bottom of the crib for a bit before I lay him down worked really well (and still does at 11 weeks) it was the movement from warm mummy to cold bed which he didn’t like. Xx

Karen said: Sorry I haven’t had time to read all the comments. I have no advice to give really but wanted to say as someone who has been there it doesn’t last forever. My youngest had reflux so also couldn’t cry it out. I hope you get some support either from a partner family or friends who can look after lo while you catch up on sleep. Sending hugs as know how tough it is x

Jennie said: In addition to the advice above this is probably the best article on infant sleeping I have ever read (and I’ve read loads!). X

The Huffington Post – conversation with a co-sleeping expert

Gail said: Could be colic. So a baby carrier during the day and lots of boobie or bottle at night time and more baby carrier!! He is only 4 months, lots of walks in a pushchair. Don’t worry it won’t last forever!! If you are bottle feeding, milk allergies are very common. So you could try wysoy for a week just to see if it improves!!

Rachel said: I’m probably predisposed to think of it as it happened to my LO but he had an undiagnosed cow’s milk protein allergy and so was only comfortable sleeping upright on someone as he had pain in his tummy and didn’t like lying down. Maybe if all the other advice doesn’t work it’s worth ruling out especially if there’s a family history of allergies and there’s other symptoms such a persistent vomiting. Good luck, it’s so hard!! Xx And I’d definitely echo the other advice of getting some support, an hours nap in the day can make you feel like a new woman!! ️Xxxx

Marie said: I would certainly check baba out for silent reflux. Babies who don’t enjoy lying flat and who are clingy are often diagnosed with this painful heartburn condition. Either bottle or boob fed, it can affect both. Particularly if mum had antibiotics during pregnancy as these can affect baby’s gut health. I would advise asking GP for infant gaviscon to start with and supplement milk with probiotics to heal the gut and see how baby gets on… hang in there x

Aimee said: I spent the first few weeks/months sleeping upright in bed with my son on my chest tapping his back all night (i’m not kidding, all night!). I knew something was wrong from the start but no one would listen, after a huge emotional breakdown my HV listened and referred me to a paediatric consultant and he was put on Neocate for unidentified intolerances and he was a different baby within a week! He’s now nearly 7, grown out of most intolerances and just takes movicol for chronic constipation. Hang in there, don’t be afraid to keep complaining until your baby is seen by a qualified doctor. Be a complete pain in the bum for your own sanity so you can finally enjoy this wonderful time. Good luck x

Lindsey said: I had similar with my eldest who wouldn’t sleep unless close by in the day. When he was tiny he would only sleep if held or in his baby chair. I couldn’t transfer him to a cot as he would just wake up and scream. He did have reflux so possibly because it was uncomfortable to be flat although he would settle in his cot or crib at night. As he got older, he would only nap on the sofa or a mat on the floor. It wasn’t just at home as he didn’t like the cots when he started nursery at 10 months and slept on the floor mats like the older children. It was tough as it made it hard to get on with jobs while he was napping, but a forgotten memory now, but he still likes cuddles and is approaching 7.

Katie said: My little girl hated lying flat to sleep when she was younger. During the day we used to lie her on her front in her carrycot where we could keep an eye on her. She used the carrycot at night too instead of a Moses basket. She had silent reflux and I think the sturdier base helped her. We got a bean bag when she was around 3 months old and this really helped her to sleep during the day after feeding as she was propped up more. Moved her into a cot when she got too big for carrycot and put books under the head end to raise it slightly. Also used a folded blanket under her head which she still has now at 14 months. She started weaning early at just over 4 months and this really helped with the silent reflux and made her more comfortable and she was able to sleep a lot easier. I know weaning early is not for everyone but hopefully it will help too when you decide to do it. It doesn’t last forever and now she is a really good sleeper. Get plenty of rest when you can and don’t be scared to ask others for help so you get a chance to catch up on some sleep. As a first time mum I found this hard but it really did make things easier. X

Kimberley said: Worth looking at allergy of milk u use or breast if u eat milk products. Ask for help from health visitors. Good luck.

Marie said: My little boy was similar to this. Would cry so much he would vomit. At 5 months we sleep trained him. Best thing we ever did. I read everything I could find on the Internet, downloaded e-books and leaflets. I then came up with a plan to suit me.

First we established a bedtime routine – bath, pajamas, story, bottle, bed.

Then I sang him a song and cuddled/rocked him.

Once I put him down I said “night, night, mummy loves you” something like that.

Then I left the room. Of bourse he screamed. After 30 seconds I went back in and strokes his face and repeated “night, night, mummy loves you”.

Left the room and waited 1 minute and repeated.

Every time I left the room, I waited an extra 30 seconds.

I only ever left him 5 minutes at a time (though the research said longer). Only took 3 nights and each night the crying got shorter. I found the vomiting stopped as he calmed every time I went into the room. First night I remember it took an hour, then 20 minutes second night. Then less than 5 minutes the third night.

Hope that helps.

Liz said: Reflux? Both my daughters had it and would not go to sleep without being sat upright in bed on me, exhausting. They had meds for it eventually which worked after me nagging at the HV and doctor xxx

Sarah said: Neither of mine slept well til about 1yr. It does not last forever.

Agree with: cranial osteopath – helped my daughter. Go get checked out by Dr for reflux. Plus see Health Visitor.

Try baby massage. Helps with all kinds of things and can really promote sleep.

Go to Basingstoke Sling Library and borrow some slings to see if that helps in the day (or night when pacing floors as it helps the arms!)

Could try safe co-sleeping methods or mattress/bed by the cot/crib.

Could try wedge, lifting cot so that baby is never completely horizontal. Plus put a t-shirt around the mattress – a smelly t-shirt you have worn and sweated in for a few nights so it smells of you and your parfume/deodorant. Worked with both mine.

I also used white noise machine, baby music machine, warm bath with lavender, blackout blinds, regular routine (to the point of same pjs put in same place, same sleeping bag, same story, same song, same words and even me with the same jumper every night for months.)

Ruza said: So at four months, my boy would fall asleep in our arms, best times ever or in the pram/pushchair on a walk out. I have never done the controlled crying, personally I believe it produces too much anxiety in small ones. So nap time in the day was for both of us when I needed it. Sleep time at night was achieved with soft lullabies and rocking and then quiet sleep. Elliot slept in the same room till six months. I was lucky that at weekends I swapped sleeping arrangements with my husband. Elliot did not have a daytime sleep in his cot till about 15 months but that was something that evolved between me and his childminder.

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Domestic Violence in North Hampshire

Louise recently asked the NHM Community on “Louise nhm Smith” for advice for a local lady suffering domestic violence and in need of support.

The responses were heart-warming, and the offers of individual help were amazing to read. In the hopes that this information can help others who find themselves in a similar situation, this post has been put together.

Please note that we are not experts in Domestic Violence and have only tried to put together the information that the NHM Community provided us with, in the hope of helping others in this awful situation.

Thank you to all those who provided input and for showing true community and thank you to J who put this post together on NHM.

Immediate Assistance

Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. They offer a Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid & Refuge – 0808 2000 247. Their online services also include The Survivors Forum and The Hideout.

Refuge is a national charity providing specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence with a network of refuges across the country. They offer many services including child support workers and outreach services (for women who choose not to go into a refuge or leave their home). Their Freephone Helpline is in partnership with Women’s Aid above.

Domestic Abuse Support Hantsweb is a confidential help service for women, men, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse in Hampshire, available on the council website.

Victim Support, Hampshire and Isle of Wight is an independent charity funded by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police Commissioner.

Support and Information

The Survivor’s Handbook is an online guide on the Women’s Aid website providing practical support and information for women experiencing domestic abuse, with simple guidance on every aspect of seeking support.

Further Support

Taking Steps is a local charity based project, founded by a lady called Gerrie Jordan, offering support for men and women who have experienced domestic abuse.

The You Trust is a charity working in Hampshire and Dorset in a number of specialist areas, from Learning Disabilities to Mental Health and Domestic Violence and Abuse.

North Hants Domestic Violence project on Sarum Hill, 01256 816004.

Practical and Legal Advice

Basingstoke and Tadley Citizens Advice Bureau offers free, independent, impartial and confidential advice.

Assistance with Family Life

The Safe is a local charity offering practical, emotional and social support.

Home Start is a family support charity, with local offices helping families with young children deal with whatever life throws at them.


There are many counselling services across North Hampshire, the above organisations should be able to put you in touch with those most relevant. There are also a few examples below:

Relate is a charity aimed at helping people make the most of their couple and family relationships, past, present or future. There is a fee involved, although there is also a free online Live Chat service.

Cedar Tree Counselling is a counselling service located in central Basingstoke, providing affordable, professional counselling for the whole community.

Top Tips

It’s worth considering clearing your browser history after researching your options.

If deciding to leave, do not be alone when breaking the news, or leave when they are out. Make sure there are people with you either way.

Reach out to your local community centre, there may be groups behind the scenes who may be able to offer support.

Are there any other comments you would add? 

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NHM Readers recommend Maternity Clothes

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook where is the best place you can buy maternity clothes in Basingstoke.

I suggested Mothercare and H&M but apparently H&M only have very small sizes in stock at the moment.

(Thank you very much to everyone who responded and to Shona for putting this post together!!!!)

This is what they came back with, in no particular order!

NHM Readers Recommend Places in Basingstoke to buy maternity clothes


Flick said: Debenhams have some in their red herring maternity range.

Wendy said: Debenhams have a maternity department too.

Naomi said: Debenhams – some really nice bits.

Debenhams Maternity

New Look

Flick said: New Look have a small section downstairs.

Kimberley said: New look used to have a few bits.

Lucy said: New Look for top half,  it’s downstairs right corner.

Emma recommended New Look.

Charlotte recommended New Look.

Jane recommended New Look.

Hayley recommended New Look.

New Look Maternity


Diana said: I found Next Directory were the best I ever found in any high street store. Really hit the bill.
Wendy said: I used to get most of mine in Next.
Jane recommended Next.
Next Maternity


Kimberley said: Matalan have maternity online. You get free delivery to store.
Lucy said: Matalan for over the bump leggings. I did click and collect so could try on in store and return if it didn’t fit.

Matalan Maternity

Dorothy Perkins

Emma said: Dorothy Perkins online – free returns.
Hayley recommended Dorothy Perkins.

Dorothy Perkins Maternity

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NHM Readers recommend pottery painting with children

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook where can you do pottery painting with children in the local area. (Thank you very much to everyone who responded and to Shona for putting this post together!!)

This is what they came back with, in no particular order!

NHM Readers Recommend Pottery Painting Venues to take children

The Ceramics Cafe  

Unit 2, Coronation Road, Basingstoke, RG21 4HA

Only open on Saturdays between 10am and 5.30pm


Units 9&10, Viables Craft Centre, The Harrow Way, Basingstoke, RG22 4BJ

Open Tuesday to Saturday between 10.30am and 5.30pm

Pots to Doodle Do

The Old Village Shop, Church Lane, Cliddesden, Basingstoke, RG25 2JQ

Open during term time Thursday to Saturday 10am to 4pm. During school holidays, open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm

Just Ceramics

Unit 3, The Old Stables, Oakhanger Farm Business Park, Oakhanger, GU35 9JA

Open Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10am – 5pm and Sunday’s 11am – 4pm.


2 Stewart Road, Basingstoke, RG24 8NF

Playdays offer pottery parties and also regularly do pottery painting and play sessions for occasions such as Easter, Mother’s Day etc.

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NHM readers recommend places for a Sunday dinner

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook where they like to go for Sunday Roasts within a 30 minute drive of Basingstoke. (Thank you very much to everyone who responded and thank you to Shona for putting this post together!!)

These were the responses I received.

NHM Readers Recommend Places for Sunday Roasts.

Natalie said: I enjoy the food at Longbridge Mill just after Sherfield Park

Sue said: Can’t beat a carvery, either Toby or the one just past Oakley (the Beach Arms)

Hayley said: Beach Arms

Wendy said: I like Lord Derby by junction 5. My friend’s favourite is the White Hart in Sherfield

Sarah said: The Hatch does an amazing roast. Service is always dreadful though

Holly said: The Clock and Thyme in Overton, Kids eat free!

Tracy said: Leather Bottle is great

Victoria said: Aingels Bistro in Winklebury! Amazing home cooked food and great menu that caters for vegan/gluten/dairy free

Stephany said: The Cavella Arms in Silchester

Jessica said: The Hogget is by far the best roast in my eyes

Lucy said: My meat eating hubster likes The Phoenix

Hayley said: Had a lovely roast at the Queens College Arms today

Ruth said: Just had xmas meal yesterday at The Elm Tree in Beech Hill – lovely food, owner’s and service. I suspect Sunday roast will be to similar standards

Helena said: The Rowbarge at Woolhampton. Second to none. Also good for a walk along the canal pre or post lunch

Hayley said: The Fox Inn in Newfound is lovely

Ruza said: Like the food over at The Fur and Feathers, also the Crown at Old Basing

Siobhan said: The Hoddington Arms. Dog and child friendly!

Colleen said: The Royal Oak. This place is amazing, and around the corner from Alice Holt so can be combined with an amble in the woods.

Rachel said: The Harvester in Reading is one of our favourite places to go (Mansion House).

Lindsay said: The Queen Inn at Dummer is fabulous for roasts and food in general really

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NHM Readers recommend what do do when your child doesn’t get the school of your choice

Last year I asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook for their positive comments about what they have learned and how to tackle the process when your child doesn’t get the school place that you wanted. (Thank you very much to everyone who responded!)

These were the responses I received. Very apt, considering today is the day when the results come out for children starting this year in September…

NHM Readers Comments About Not Getting School Place

Tracey said:

So last year I didn’t get any of my 3 choices and stressed A LOT. But it did all work out and by end of May we had a place at our 2nd preference (which would now be our 1st preference). There will be a lot of movement between now and September and spaces do become available. Top tips are accept the place you’ve been given and speak to the schools you wanted directly to make sure you are put on their waiting list. You can also put in a late application for other schools.

Lorna said:

I haven’t been in this situation…yet! However through work I know it’s vital to get any appeals in as soon as possible with valid reasons for it. All are heard and the panel are generally very open to listening to reasons etc. Stay positive – there’s every chance it can be resolved.

Sue said:

We didn’t get our first choice school but in hindsight it has been the best thing. Our son has done amazingly well and has so much support.

Hayley said:

3 years ago we didn’t get our first choice and I was hugely disappointed. My little girl really needed stability as she was very anxious so I decided to go ahead and not fight the decision so we could start getting prepared and excited about her new school from the offset. Turns out that I was wrong in my original choices and we absolutely LOVE her school, couldn’t have been more perfect for her (apart from having to drive). Good luck to those who didn’t get 1st choices, whatever happens it will all work out in the end.

Rachel said:

When my son started school two years ago we didn’t get any of our choices, not one. Instead we were given a school that we hadn’t even heard of, was a drive away, that we hadn’t been to see or even looked at its website and we didn’t even know where it was at first! We went to see the school and met the headteacher and accepted that it was likely our son would go to that school (and a very nice school it was too). We also went on the waiting list for our school choices AND we made a late application to another school that we had liked but didn’t make our top three. 2 weeks before school started we were told that we had a place at the school we made a late application to and we took it! So it does show you that things can work out, even at the last minute.

Danielle said:

Two years ago, our daughter didn’t get any of our 3 choices. Offered another school. Applied for three others; late application. Got offered two of these at very good schools. Accepted one, visited it with her and then got a place at our original first choice (and only catchment) school at the end of May. I found the whole process stressful, but luckily for us it worked out.

Gina said:

My son 2 years ago didn’t get our first choice, I was disappointed. Now he’s in year 1 and doing so well. The school he did get are fab and he’s coming along great.

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NHM readers recommend places to buy a cabin bed from

NHM readers recommend places to buy a cabin bed from

In response to a question from a NHM Reader, I asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook “Where is the best place to buy a cabin bed from, for a 4 year old?” . 

Thank you very much to everyone who responded and thank you to Shona for putting together this post!!! 

Please note, these are in no particular order!

1. Archers Sleep Centre

Archers Sleepcentre

Emma says “Good prices and very solid.  We have the lollipop pink and white one”.

2. Aspace

ASPACE | Exclusive Children’s Bedrooms | Inspirational Spaces for …

Sarah says “not cheap but very good quality & service”.

3. Facebook

Samantha says “Facebook selling pages are always worth a look”.

4. Next

Furniture & Homeware | Home & Garden | Next Official Site

Kate says “We got ours from Next, it’s really nice, looks good and is solid. We’re quite happy sitting on it with her to read stories. Not too high that I’m worried she’ll fall too far either.

5. Julian-Bowen

Julian Bowen Limited

Jason says “We bought a ‘Domino’ Bunk Bed from www.julian-bowen.co.uk, which we have been very happy with.  Note, most bunk beds will say 6+, but we have had our eldest in from three; obviously common sense applies and whether a bunk bed is suitable for sub-six will be child specific.

6. Mrs Flat Pack


Louise says “Got all of mine from Mrs flat pack online. Amazing and quick service.

7. Rainbow Wood

Rainbow Wood South | Children’s Beds and Furniture | Thuka, Stompa …

Kate says “Rainbow wood in Farnham – specialises in childrens beds and furniture.”

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NHM Readers: 5.5 year old not sleeping through!!

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook for help for myself! “I am hoping for your insights and suggestions. Miss NHM is STILL refusing to sleep through. She’s 5.5 years old and hasn’t slept through more than two nights in a row for the past 8 months. It’s worse now than when she was a newborn!?!?!? Mr NHM and I are averaging 4-6 hours sleep a night and with full time jobs, we are both on our KNEES! Has anyone else experienced this and if yes, how did you manage to get your child/children to sleep through?

These were the responses I received. They are in the order of response. 

Thank you to Shona for putting this post together!!!

NHM Readers help NHM!

Vicky said: It depends on why she wakes. Only had a problem when Ella was younger . We did the hand holding and creeping away quietly. Hard to know why she’s waking up . X

Saretta said: My son has only really started sleeping through since he started school in September..but he’s a nightmare to get to sleep at bedtime! We’ve tried everything, some nights he doesn’t fall asleep till 9.30!

Sue said: Agree with working out why she is waking and then maybe trying reward chart if she does sleep through? Once she has gained enough stickers she gets a treat?

Louise Nhm Smith responded: We are going to give that a go. Wish us luck!!! 😀

Gail said: I would agree here. Try bribery !! At least at 5 they understand what rewards mean!! Also the gro clock helps, tells them by colour when they can get out of bed!!

Ghislaine said: Love our gro clock!

Sally said: Lay in her bed once asleep. Observe her breathing… If she jolts awake it could be sleep apnoea…

Louise Nhm Smith responded: Hadn’t thought of that. Thanks Sally for the suggestion!

Sally replied: That’s how we discovered Aimees she would wake so many times a night.. Adenoids were the cause. Another symptom is incredibly slow eating due to not being able to breathe while eating.

Tia said: Following. My kids don’t sleep through. 6yr, 3yr, 8m.6yr old is as bad as the 8m for waking.

Rebecca said: I have heard about people who make a little ‘nest’ on the floor next to their bed, the understanding being that if the child gets scared in the night or wakes and needs reassuring presence then they come through and go in the nest where they can sleep the rest of the night without waking the parents.

Louise Nhm Smith responded: Love this idea. Might try this too Rebecca. Thank you!

Mary said: Apparently clever children don’t sleep.

Heidi said: I slept in Kiera’s bed pretty much every night until she was 6.5. She needed one of us to sit with her while she fell asleep and then when she woke in the night I would just crawl in with her (no interaction, no talking) and we’d both go straight back to sleep. That was the only way I could get enough sleep to survive. She has recently started sleeping through, with no change in my behaviour, I just figured she’s ready to sleep alone now. I found that accepting that’s just how it is has been the only way to save my sanity.

Louise Nhm Smith said: oh Heidi. That sounds so tough. I’m not sure I can cope with another 8 months though!!!!

Heidi said: Thom slept through from half way through year R so I had high hopes for Kiera. It actually took until the beginning of year 2 for her! But I’m not holding my breath about this lasting!

Seriously, accept it and it becomes much easier to cope with x

Zowie said: Look at baby support on Facebook I used them for my daughter and really worked. I was recommended by a friend who used them. X

Lucy said: To begin with sticker charts when he was little then when he got older a marble jar…. Then he was on nothing… Then he went through a stage of being terrified as he could hear noises; so I gave him Ewan the sheep (I know regressing a bit!) but I  told him to press the button whenever he heard a noise and then he wouldn’t hear the noise anymore and it would soothe him back to sleep! It’s helped for nearly two years now! Lol

I’d give him one chance with the sticker in the night… Like reassure him then say ‘if you get up again you won’t get your sticker in the morning’ … When he got a certain amount of stickers 5 to begin with but later 7 when he was used to it he got to go to the ‘treat shop’ and get a sweetie or magazine…. Then when he would eventually fill up a whole chart he got to choose a small toy from the toy shop. Good luck! X

Pat said: JP still wakes in the night at 5 yrs 2 mths. He climbs in with us and snuggles back down

Sarah said: Good luck Louise, it’s so hard & lack of sleep just makes everything so much worse. We always think a completely change can sometimes change a bad habit, so going on a sleepover, or away somewhere, or even just moving some bedroom furniture??? x

Helena said: I can recommend cranial osteopathy highly enough. My son probably slept through the night only a handful of times in 3 years. I took him to see becky Hall in Bramley and it was like a miracle, he immediately started sleeping through the night! My life was transformed! If you need her number, just shout. Good luck with anything you try. Ps it sounds painful but it isn’t at all, just the lightest hand touch.

Wendy said: We get about 5 nights a month where he sleeps through. He generally goes to bed easily around 8, sleeps like a log from 9 – midnight (can put washing away in his room without waking) then wakes up sometime between midnight and 3. Two main reasons for waking up are being lonely and monsters (even though he knows they aren’t real and if they were they’d be like Mike and Sully). No amount of exercise or school makes any difference. We’ve tried warmer duvets, moving the bed, different rooms, reward charts. We just end up with one of us sleeping with him, sometimes in his bed, sometimes ours. Generally the effort needed to get him back to sleep on his own in his own bed is more than we can manage after nearly 6 years of broken sleep. So no advice just you’re not alone. I have been considering relax kids though.

Louise Nhm Smith responded: wow, sounds just like Miss NHM. Except she was a great sleeper until she turned 5 years old. We have a lot of the lonely and monsters stuff and lots of needing cuddles. At 4am in the morning, after two hours disturbed sleep, it’s draining. I am also considering Relax Kids and have been speaking to Kath about doing a class for both children and adults at the same time, so I’m maximising my time! Kind of sad, but nice, to know we aren’t alone.

Wendy replied: Been like it since he was born, took weeks to move him 6 inches from the bed to the Co-sleeper. Dropped his naps by 19 months. All the advice I’ve seen assumes the child is waking up between 8 – midnight or isn’t going to bed properly at all, nothing deals with waking in the early hours. Nothing tires him out. His brother sleeps through till 6, always has done, similar personalities, energy levels and intelligence just one sleeps the other doesn’t. Lots suggests it sorts itself before they turn 7.

Karen also replied: Louise, Alex went through a phase of being scared of the dark and monsters under the bed and so I asked him if he had tried saying hello to the monsters and ask them what they want. He looked at me a bit surprised and then asked them and apparently they wanted to be friends and were hungry. It then became a bit of a game about what they would want feeding each night, but as this was just as we were going to bed it was fine. It obviously wouldn’t solve all your problems but might be worth a try to see I felt it helps with the monster part? Xx

Jessica said: Before i put my two pence in… can I ask; Do you have a strict bedtime routine? And when she wakes up, how do you deal with her? x

Louise Nhm Smith replied: Yes, very strict bedtime. We put her back to bed three times and then on the fourth time it’s just too much and we switch beds

Tina said: I am mean in the middle of the night, you wake me up and I’ll give you a singing teddy! It works well, I give them the button and tell them to play it enough times until they fall asleep. I’m too tired at that point to be kept awake by it and kid is no longer lonely 🙂

Kathryn said: We’ve got a BT monitor that puts stars on the ceiling and plays music. You can put each on remotely so prevents you having to go in and engage with them. The stars are useful as the take the darkness away a bit. You can apparently play your own music through it if there is something that would comfort her tho never tried that x

Cerys said: You probably don’t want to hear that my youngest only stopped coming into our bed regularly in the wee small hours when he was 11. Luckily for most of that time he climbed in without waking us. Dad did comment that A was “too old” to co-sleep, to which I replied that he was in his 40’s and co-sleeping. Why do we expect our children to sleep alone?

Libby said: Our youngest turned 5 last month and I can’t remember when she last slept through the night. She just climbs in with us at about 1am and to be honest I no longer really notice. I can’t have her crying in the night waking the other children up so for us as long as we are all asleep I don’t mind where it is. I have never heard of an 18 year old being in with mum and dad so I am sure one day they will sleep through. Just do what feels right for you.

Claire said: Just a thought – is she in reception year? Maybe that’s unsettling her and she needs the extra reassurance. If it’s any comfort (probably not) my eldest was about 7 before he slept through the night, and the youngest 2 are now 9 1/2 and 6 – they wake up occasionally too. Good luck. Infinite patience, and it will get better xxx

Louise Nhm Smith responded: She’s in Y1, which is why we are a bit baffled by it as we didn’t have this in YR. Although I am thinking that it’s linked to Mr NHM working “normal” hours now he doesn’t work shift anymore. Thank you!

Claire replied: My youngest was 6 on 31st Aug so she’s just started yr 2. Could be the change in dad’s hours, could be that the school are asking her to ‘work’ more instead of ‘play-work’. Has one of her friends moved away? Or a new teacher? At that age things that we think are nothing important can seem huge xx

Vikki said: When I stopped working shifts with the ambulance service my 2 kids, 5 and 2 spent the next 3 months getting up in the night to check I was still there. It was such a change for them for me to be at home it really threw them ! They went back to a normal pattern, they just get up early between 5.30 and 6 !!

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Christmas Food Boxes for Basingstoke 2016!!!

I am sooooo excited to be able to announce the Christmas Food Boxes appeal again this year for Basingstoke Voluntary Action.

The NorthHantsMum Community have been involved in this appeal since it started three years ago and I’m VERY proud of how much we’ve been able to help!


Christmas Food Boxes for Basingstoke 2016

Over the last 3 years Basingstoke Voluntary Action (BVA) have distributed nearly 1000 Christmas food boxes to individuals across the borough who are living with the effects of poverty, social isolation, or vulnerably housed, as well as food and tents, winter equipment and clothes for around 75 individual people who are sleeping rough.

Over 500 of these were distributed last year alone, showing what can be achieved when communities are motivated and united for such a worthwhile local cause.

The food box appeal has grown year on year, and become a huge undertaking. This means we need as much help as we can get to ensure 2016 is another successful year.

Basingstoke Irish Society have generously offered us room at Basingstoke Irish Centre to accept donations, and storage space to use as a hub for this year’s food drive.

We will be accepting donations between

Monday 18 November  – Friday 16 December 2016

Basingstoke Irish Centre

Council Rd, Basingstoke RG21 3DH

Please contact natascha.shepherd@bvaction.org.uk to arrange delivery of donations or to discuss volunteering.


Last year’s appeal benefitted recipients identified by a broad range of local charities and support agencies, including:

·         HCC Learning Disabilities team

·         HCC Children’s Services Team

·         Mencap

·         Bridge Centre

·         Opcis

·         Neighbourcare

·         Youth Offending Team

·         Hampshire Wellbeing

·         Two Saints Ltd


·         May Place

·         Jacobs House

·         The Camrose Centre

·         YMCA

·         MaD (teenage parents)

·         Young Carers

·         Citizens Advice

·         YouTrust

·         Homegroup

·         Mary Rose Court

·         Community Furniture Project

·         Trinity


“I would like to say a massive thank you to BVA for the hard work they have put in arranging food boxes this year. I have taken around 30 & delivered them to clients that were not expecting anything – all were very grateful for the thought & the generosity of people”

Home Group

“Without donations such as these, Trinity would not be able to provide the same level of service to our clients, and we are so grateful that you thought of us.”


“Basingstoke Voluntary Action do some fantastic work to help the community and I’m thrilled AWE staff have been able to contribute to such a worthy cause.”



Why not make it a team challenge?

Last year local companies competed internally to fill the most boxes, bands got together and held a concert, and local schools had non-uniform days!

There are two ways anyone can help:

Option 1 – Christmas Food Box for refuges, hostels and underprivileged families

  1. Take a photocopying paper box and lid
  2. Wrap box and lid separately in Christmas wrapping paper
  3. Fill it up with food for Christmas, selecting from following suggested items:
  • Tins of ham or chicken
  • Tins of new potatoes
  • Tins of carrots, garden peas
  • Tin or pouch of long life quality casserole meal
  • Dessert such as custard, mince pies, Christmas Cake,
  • Luxury biscuits, chocolates/selection box
  • Tea/ coffee/cocoa
  • Snacks such as crackers, twiglets, savoury twists, nibbles.
  1. Box all food up
  2. Email to arrange delivery; In some cases, or where large donations are concerned we may be able to collect donations
  3. We will donate them to the worthy causes and centres in the Basingstoke and Deane area

You can find detailed instructions on how to build your box at the following post about the 2014 Christmas food boxes on NorthHantsMum.

Option 2 – Donations of food and items to be distributed to homeless centres and hostels, can be from the list above or any of these:

  • Food items such as cup soups/noodles, tea bags, coffee (any food bags you can add hot water to); ring-pull tins of hot dogs, ravioli, stews, rice puddings; high energy protein/cereal bars; chocolate biscuits/sweets/small selection boxes, multipack crisp/snacks
  • Equipment such as warm hats, scarves, gloves, socks, jumpers, coats; unwanted rucksacks or draw string bags; wind-up torches, sleeping bags, thermos flasks/cups; sturdy boots/shoes, toiletries
  • Please note we cannot accept any donations of alcohol or food containing alcohol

We also need empty photocopy paper boxes, donations of sticky tape, wrapping paper and volunteers to help sort items, wrap, pack and distribute boxes – if you have any free time and would like to join us we would love to hear from you!!

Finally, many companies in previous years have donated money to help with winter food box appeals. If you would like to do this please make cheques payable to Basingstoke Voluntary Action and clearly write on the back Christmas Appeal

Please note that due to the change in venue this year we cannot guarantee response to phone messages. For all Food Box related enquiries please email natascha.shepherd@BVAction.org.uk.

You can also support BVA by “Like-ing” their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BasingstokeVA/?fref=ts


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