Full-time worker, Full-time parent : How to maintain balance in the Coronavirus crisis?

Full-time worker, Full-time parent : How to maintain balance in the Coronavirus crisis?

Full-time worker, Full-time parent : How to maintain balance in the Coronavirus crisis?

The juggle between balancing a career and motherhood had always been a struggle, BUT never before has it been so intensely magnified since the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic that swept across the world within a matter of months, and ‘lock down’ was issued on 23rd March 2020. Bars and restaurants are closed, non-essential shops are closed, schools closed except for those of key workers, international travel banned. Our connections with others outside of out household is now only to be exchanged virtually.

We are suddenly propelled into a new unfound world where we are instructed to ‘Stay home, Save lives’. Being in lock down is unnatural for us as human beings, we are born to explore, be inquisitive and learn and grow from our experiences. Now, all of a sudden our work space and our home space merged within one environment.

But how is it possible as a parent to work from home whilst being a productive, nurturing and calm parent. Here is ‘Once Upon the Mat’s’ handy guide:

1) Children thrive and feel secure with a routine. Our daily lives are structured this way, and if possible, maintain this structure within the home environment. We have found it helpful to set a simple planner for each day a set activities of approximately one hour each. These activities will vary from role play, reading, baking, to play in the garden. Pre- planning these activities the night before helps for smooth running the next day. However, as the weeks have gone by we are also understanding that children some days they will not want to follow the routine scheduled, and its important to recognise their cues and focus on what is best for your children and family.

2) If your child still naps, use this time to your advantage, the same applies to bed time. These hours will create your flexible, friendly, working hours. Employers will be sympathetic to the situation we all find ourselves, and understand that many parents are full time working from home whilst full time parenting. You can’t help noise, or control when tantrums will happen when you have children.  Embrace your children into the working day if necessary, whether it be during  zoom call or if they want to pretend to be working next to you! It’s also important that we factor in some self-care time, if we neglect our own mental health everything else fails. Factor in time for meditation, yoga, reading, a walk or a relaxing bath. Here at Once Upon the Mat we have been practising family yoga together with other families virtually, as we have taken our business online. This has been a wonderful relaxing bonding time and a wonderful social outlet. 

3) Getting dressed for the day ahead as soon as you get up. Taking off your pjs and putting on your clothes for the day can make you physically and mentally prepared for another day, even putting on a little make-up can lift your mood and leave you feeling more refreshed and revitalised.

4) Create an ‘office’ space at home, ideally somewhere you can shut the door on after working hours and somewhere whist one parent is caring for the children, the other can work quiet and productively. This then physically separates work and family time.

5) DO NOT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF! Yes you heard me right?! Make allowances for some of your child’s behaviour, if they are not feeling up to home schooling, don’t worry they’ll catch up when they return to school. This is a very abnormal situation for children to experience, and some will be too young to understand the complexity and seriousness of the current crisis. What is important above all is protecting our children’s mental health and creating a safe, secure, loving home environment. Extra cuddles, snuggles with movies, praise and reward your child for good behaviour and build your child up and shower them with positivity confetti!

6) For parents who are both working full time from home, use technology to your advantage. There are hundreds of educational games, programmes, apps that parents can facilitate when they cannot be a full time play buddy for their children. David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet’ or Steve Backshall’s live nature classes which children can learn all things wildlife, or Joe Wick’s PE lessons to get the children up and moving, and for older children Khan Academy are providing free web based learning programmes. Structure in independent play time during the day where there is no screen-time, allow children the opportunity to feel what being bored is like, you and they will be surprised. Children given the space, freedom and creativity create their own play and learn a valuable skill of social independence, self-confidence, the ability to use their own imagination and emotional regulation.

Most importantly, follow government guidelines, take the time to be still and reflect,  and create memeories togther as a family! 




Baby Nurture Launch – Benefits of Baby Massage

Baby Nurture Launch – Benefits of Baby Massage

Baby Nurture Launch – Benefits of Baby Massage

I remember so vividly bringing my beautiful baby Rafi home, encased in the newborn bubble and snuggling on the sofa. I remember being so fascinated by just watching him. The first way that parents communicate with their babies is touch, the first language of development. Just holding a baby can be soothing, especially babies who suffer with reflux and colic. That need of touch is even more necessary. If just holding baby can be beneficial, imagine how your baby would benefit from a full body massage?

Parents are natural ‘nurturers’ who love, teach, develop and support their babies to enable them to grow to their full potential. Baby massage is therefore the perfect first class to attend with your baby to promote a secure parent-child attachment. This therapeutic massage has been used in Eastern Cultures as far back as 300bc, with baby massage being practised by mothers in Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America for centuries. Vimala Schieider McClure founded the Association of Infant massage following her stay in India in 1973. Baby Massage offers a wealth of benefits for both parent and baby, which makes it a very popular class to attend.

Benefits of Baby Massage:
• Aids improved sleep
• Empowers you to soothe baby aliments such as teething, digestion, constipation, sleep problems and colic.
• Encourages deeper bonding
• Improves sensory awareness
• Strengthens the immune system
• Normalizes muscle tone and improves blood circulation
• Relaxes baby
• Stimulates brain development

Benefits for parents:
• Improved positive communication with baby
• Increases self-esteem and alleviates symptoms of post-natal depression
• Builds a relationship of trust & respect
• Builds quality bonding time to improve the level of intimacy and love between parent and child.
• Gain social benefits from meeting other parents
• Provides fathers the opportunity to improve the bond with baby.
• Allows parents to relax in a calm, welcoming and positive environment

Baby massage was the first class I attended with my baby, I had a fully qualified and trained baby massage teacher come to our home to teach me the baby massage routines when Rafi was just two weeks old. It was the perfect option for not having to leave the house in those very early newborn weeks, but to be able to embark on a practice that would become part of our daily routine, getting dad involved and to encourage bonding.

After Establishing Once Upon the Mat in 2018, initially as a Children’s Yoga teacher, and then subsequently as a Baby Yoga teacher in 2019, 2020 was the time to add Baby Massage to classes on offer.
Baby Nurture, is a Baby Massage class being launched in Canterbury, Kent in March 2020 and I am beyond thrilled to be able to provide this in addition to the classes already available.

The four week programme will focus on a different body part each week, with additional commentary on the benefits of the stokes. Baby massage is suitable for newborn babies up until pre-crawling.
This calm and inviting class not only supports babies well-being, but we are passionate about the nurturing of parents too!

Our ethos underpins the philosophy that parents must also be nurtured within a positive and supportive environment in order to maximise their role as nurturers to their babies. That’s why when you experience a ‘Once Upon the Mat’ class you will immediately be welcomed into a non-judgemental, friendly, safe space where you will be remembered by name and indulged with every attention to be made to feel special!

With each four week baby massage programme ‘Once Upon the Mat’ we make both parent and baby feel extra special.

Once Upon the Mat’ tote bag, personalised baby’s name hooded towel, cold pressed sunflower seed oil, ‘Baby Nurture’ massage handbook, invitation to private ‘Baby Nurture’ Whatsapp group and join our ‘Mama Tribe’ social and baby events throughout the year.

This is how we feel we are different to other classes! Book on today to learn baby massage in our ‘Baby Nurture’ course to experience a class that goes beyond!


World Mental Health Day – 10th October 2019. There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise!

World Mental Health Day – 10th October 2019. There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise!

World Mental Health Day – 10th October 2019. There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise!


It’s been a busy day teaching children’s yoga and acknowledging World Mental Health Awareness Day in nurseries and schools across Kent, however I’ve been living with a HUGE secret for almost four years, that I’ve been so ashamed and scared to share even with my closest friends until recently, let alone publicly!

So let’s talk DEPRESSION – IT GOT ME! Its a paradox really! I’m encouraging children to connect with their inner being, discuss their feelings and teaching children to build skills for resilience through yoga and mindfulness, but I’ve been hiding my own feelings and experiences in fear of judgement! This last four years have been a journey of strength, and I finally feel that on Thursday 10th October, a global day of mental awareness, that I need to close my experiences therapeutically and unwrap my body and mind from the heavy burden I have carried for all of those years.

I’d always longed of having a child, but with the diagnosis of Endometriosis which I have suffered with since my teens, (but wasn’t diagnosed until by early twenties, despite my mother and grandmother having the condition and both having fertility issues and early hysterectomies) I wasn’t entirely sure how simple it was going to be!

I was accepted at university to pursue a doctorate in Theology (PhD), which would mean five years of part-time studying whilst working a part-time job to assist in funding my further studies. However, six months in I was also told that I needed not to put off having a baby. Despite having surgery, much of my Endometriosis could not be operated on as it would be too risky as it was too near to my bowel and Pouch of Douglas and the internal scarring as a result was extensive. They informed me that it would only get worse and not to “miss the boat”, so to speak. My mother had a full hysterectomy aged twenty eight, so this obviously heightened the fear of missing the opportunity.

I was lucky, despite the condition I fell pregnant fairy quickly, although pursuing a PhD and becoming a mother, and working part-time was impossible! I did not want to compromise this special gift of becoming a mother to be overwhelmed by pressure and stress in front of a computer screen creating a thesis baby, instead of nurturing the one I had always desired. I felt damned, trapped, and let down by a system of false fascade, in which your are led your can have it all- career and motherhood! You work so hard getting those A* stars and A grades during secondary school, gaining a First class undergraduate degree and the system fails to help empower women who wish to have it all! Well, I don’t think you can have it all- but we’ll come to that later!

I was pregnant, and didn’t I know it- and didn’t everyone else know it too! I had Hyperemisis Gravidarum and was vomiting no less than forty times a day, I couldn’t open the fridge, I physically couldn’t prepare any meals, I could not bear anyone wearing aftershave or perfume or the smell of milk. I was hospitalised and was on IV fluids, as I was so mentally and physically drained. I never had a day off work and I changed my pathway so I could still complete my postgraduate research degree, but rather, a Masters by research two year programme. I warriored through, determined to get my 35,000 word thesis complete before my baby arrived. Two weeks before the birth, it was submitted, a year ahead of deadline! Looking back at my former self, this is where my depression slowly started creeping in, although I haven’t acknowledged this until recently.

I was immersed in this post-graduate environment which was fierce, egotistic, high pressured and demanding – I felt vulnerable, anxious, and believed I wasn’t worthy of my place as a PhD student. However, in hindsight – I’ve always felt like that! I’m a perfectionist, and my husband has this great saying “a strength overplayed becomes a weakness”. Being conscientious, having dreams, liking yourself, is vastly different from the feelings of perfectionism. This strength was overplayed indeed, the constant feelings of not measuring up, the desire to do better, the dialogue of self-criticism eventually leads you to believe that despite what everyone else recognises in you, you create unrealistic expectations which will never be attainable.

Wednesday 25th November 2015, my beautiful boy Rafi was born, a natural process of life entering the world, and during the same moment losing myself. The birth for me was traumatic, and because it wasn’t how I had created this ideal in my mind – it stuck, replayed over and over and it was recognised that I was experiencing Post-Natal depression and birth trauma. The feelings of guilt surrounding the birth were over compensated by my unattainable expectations of motherhood I had created. I did not experience Postnatal depression in the respect of feeling I didn’t wish to bond with my baby or that I couldn’t look after him, it was quite the opposite. Again, I went into warrior mode and focused entirely on the needs of my baby- totally obsessed with him that I didn’t want to share him for cuddles with anyone, just wanted our time together so didn’t want to meet with friends, self care wasn’t important, and I was incredibly anxious in case he may become unwell or the fear of not detecting a medical problem haunted me. I was sad- sad that I will never be the person I was before I gave birth – I was so sad that I become numb- where you no longer really cared about anything else, apart from my child, I was sad that I wasn’t the woman my husband married. I’m sad that I will never have another child because of my experience (I think my husband is secretly happy, three boys is enough for him!).

I have practised yoga since I was twelve years old and it saved me during this time! It become my sanctuary, my safe place, my strength. When my little boy was two years old, I felt like I needed to now kick-start my career after spending all those years at university. No ‘career’ jobs existing for two days a week, I was adamant that was my limit as I wanted to spend as much quality time with the only child I was every going to have. But it just didn’t seem far that I had to pay a price for motherhood. After maternity leave, I returned to my admin job that I had whilst I was studying and it was great – the people were fantastic, once I left the office the work was finished, the hours were incredible I even got home in time to bath and feed Rafi on those working days, and the company had always supported my academic pursuits and valued me as a person. However, I felt that I needed to use my degree and I longed for a creative outlet, which was once writing as a student.

After lots of soul searching and crying, I put on my warrior pants again and decided to launch my own business. I booked myself onto a qualified teachers children’s yoga training course, which was also my first time away from Rafi, within six months “Once Upon the Mat” was created and I gave up my job and launched! For me, this was the ONLY way I was able to feel like I was having the best of both worlds- career and motherhood, however it comes with sacrifices – the long evenings doing business work, creating and sourcing props and materials for classes, never switching off from business. Perhaps my desire was a little hesitant and that my goals my have been more realistic to achieve once Rafi was in full time education- however, what I do know is that keeping busy helps my mental health. My experiences of mental health have led me to what I have created, and I’m so thankful for that. I’m also so honoured I am able to have a business which supports, nurtures and encourages mothers and children during vulnerable and pivotal transitional times in their lives.

To look at me, everyone thinks I’m confident, outgoing, bubbly, but the only thing more exhausting than being depressed is pretending you are not! Just because someone is smiling, appears to be holding it together, being the greatest parent, friend, sibling, wife or husband, doesn’t mean that behind the mask that they aren’t suffering silently. They may not be ready to share their story, I wasn’t, but for anyone reading this – ALWAYS BE KIND! You don’t always know what someone is going through and I’ve had my fair share of unjust unkindness, be mindful!

It’s okay to not be okay !


Schools Out for the Summer. The perfect time to try children’s yoga and many other new activities and places to visit in Kent.

Schools Out for the Summer. The perfect time to try children’s yoga and many other new activities and places to visit in Kent.

So school is officially now out for the summer! However, six weeks can be a long time to keep your little ones entertained.

Here at Once Upon the Mat, we like to assist in keeping children entertained during the long break and still provide parents some structured routine during the summer. Therefore, we are still continuing to run our Pre-School Children’s Yoga Classes at Big Fun House Chartham Canterbury. We are also allowing school aged siblings to attend for half the price during the holidays PLUS FREE SOFT PLAY too, so you can make a day of it!

The summer holidays provide the perfect time to engage in a new activity or visit a new place, and most importantly quality time to spend as a family bonding. The Telegraph recently published a report titled ‘Why yoga is one thing your children should do this summer’ highlighting that the summer is a time where parents can have fun with their children and reconnect. Our energetic and creative lessons are centred around a popular book each week and are much more than just yoga. Our lessons include singing, musical instruments, props a plenty, story time and fun yoga games. If you would like to book onto a children’s yoga class during the summer visit our booking page on our website today. Whether it be yoga, or another activity go on an adventure, try something new and create lasting memories!


We also thought it would be a great idea to let you know all the other amazing places to visit and attractions in Kent to keep you busy during the Summer.

Adventure Kidz, Aylesford

Allhallows beach

Allington Lock next to Kent Life. It’s a lovely wander by the river, has a big beefeater style pub and you can jump on a little boat to take a trip to Maidstone and back.

Badgers hill farm

Bedgebury pinetum

Belmont House

Bewel water

Big Fun House Canterbury (Kids Yoga)

Bluewater nature trail / Marvel trial

Botany Bay

Broaditch Farm

Broadstairs – sandy beach

Buttercups goat sanctuary

Buzy bees, New Ash

Capstone park

Cascades little train

Chatham Dockyard

Cheeky Dino, Maidstone

Chatham Ski Centre, there’s the toboggan run and sometimes the inflatable donuts on the mini slope. It’s right next to Capstone Park too.


Christmas Tree Farm

Cliffe pools is amazing too

Clip & Climb

Cobtree Park – next to Kentlife (big play park £1.50 parking).

Colchester Zoo


Danson Park – has play park & water play

Dartford Central park is free! Mini splash play area.



Dover Castle

Dreamland Margate

Dunorlan Park


Eagle Heights

Eltham Palace grounds are free.

Espressions Art Cafe Canterbury

Eynesford stream

Faversham Swimming Pool – outdoor pool here


Folkestone lower leas costal Park and the fountains at Folkestone harbour make a good free day out

Folkestone museum

Fowlmead Country Park

Friars Aylesford

Gillingham Strand

Godstone Farm

Guildhall Museum in Rochester

Grain seaside is always good

Gravesend has the fort gardens. Chantry house museum is free and the bunker tunnels are £1! There’s the prom and the park. A little cafe. A pretty, short walk around. It’s lovely there. It’s also part of the wheels of time trail around Kent.

Gravesend cyclo Park

Greenwich Ecology Park is free and often has special events in the holidays.

Groombridge place

Hall place – lovely, free to enter and beautiful grounds. Lots of trees and shade plus a little stream running through it

Gunpowder Works – Faversham

Hemsley Conservation Centre

Herne Bay – good for crabbing

Huguenot Museum – Quite small but might be interesting, particularly to older children, and is part of the Wheels of Time.

Hobbledown Farm

Hop Farm

Howletts Wildlife Animal Park

Hythe has a flat promenade perfect for bikes and scooters.

Jeskyns Park

Joss Bay

Kearsney Abbey is a fab day

Kent life

Kingsdown beach


Knockhatch adventure park – over an hr away

Knole Park -over 1000 acres and see the wild 🦌

Lakeside – cheap cinema, train for kids

Leeds castle


Little fant farm

Little Street, Maidstone

Longleat Safari Park

Loose village stream

Lordswood bowling £2.50 a game/£1.50 hotdog

Lower leas costal Folkestone

Lullingston country park

Maidstone museum

Maidstone Leisure Centre – has soft play and Ice Hills. It’s also right next to Mote Park in Maidstone so great for a morning of activity then a picnic and a wander in the fresh air

Manor park

Marsh Farm

Millbrook garden centre – check out events/butterfly experience

Milton creek country park

Minnis bay

Monkeybizz, Medway

Mote park

Old McDonalds farm (Essex)


Oxleas Woods is lovely

Penenden heath play area and woods

Rare breeds centre

Richborough Roman Fort And Amphitheatre – Younger children may be bored, but older ones who can listen to the audio commentary and read the panels might find it interesting. Really good for any kids learning about Romans.

Riverside Park

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

Rochester castle

Rochester cathedral

Royal Engineers Museum Medway

Ruxley Manor – check out events

Shorne woods country park

Shrek Experience

Southwater country park. Has a mini beach, dinosaurs, kids park etc and it’s free

Splashes, Gillingham

Swanley Park

Teapot Island

Temple Manor (weekends only)

Teston Park

Tilgate Park (fantastic)

Toddler’s Cove, Canterbury

Trosley Park – lots of shade

Tyland barn – Kent wildlife trust

Union windmill cranbrook

Upnor castle

Vintners Nature Reserve

Walmer paddling pool

Whipsnade Zoo


Wingham Wildlife Park


Baby Discovery – A Multi-Sensory Baby Development Class

Baby Discovery – A Multi-Sensory Baby Development Class

From the moment babies are born, they are ready to begin learning! The way that babies learn about the world around them is through sensory experience. It’s a great idea as parents to give our babies plenty of opportunities to learn. Did you know that a babies brain learns a lot quicker than an adults brain, so it’s the perfect time to begin encouraging your little one to explore and discover!

I can hear you ask yourself ‘But how do I introduce sensory experience to my baby?’

From birth to around the age of two babies will learn through their senses, such as touch and taste. This exploratory learning will promote your babies understanding of cause and effect, especially if it results in fun and excitment (we assure you that this is what Baby Discovery classes are all about!). This realisation builds up a connection to how your baby understands the world around them. You will learn and be inspired to recreate activities with your baby home, or equally let us do all the planning and setting up and just come along to our weekly sensory class for babies.

Our Baby Discovery classes are suitable for babies from six weeks to pre-walking. During our classes we promote Early Years Development and a sensory experience through the use of creative and imaginiative props and resources to heighten your babies senses and physcial development.

Every sensory class for babies that we hold includes: musical instruments during our circle time song, bubbles, light show, themed sensory props and parachutes, unstructered sensory play time, over-clothed baby massage, cuddle time and baby yoga. All of these elements focus on different developmental areas in speech and lanaguage, fine and gross motor skills and body awareness and sensory discovery.

How are we different to other baby sensory classes? We do not just provide a sensory class, but rather a multi-sensory class. We are different in the respect that we also include baby massage and baby yoga within EVERY class.

Why? In addition to sensory training, we are also qualified in baby yoga, and we understand the benefits of this practice with your baby and we are hugely passionate about equipping you with these skills and techniques for you to use at home.

Baby yoga and baby massage techniques are incorporated in the class in a lively and energetic way, and aid your baby in acheieving their development milestones. Specific poses encourage sitting independently, crawling, flexibility, body awareness and mobility. Not only this, but when you have a fussy, fractious baby you will know how to soothe trapped wind, colic and digestion.



Parents and babies will be transported into a magical world of discovery as they explore eight multi-sensory themes:

🐠Come an join us as we go ‘Under the Ocean’ with our sea parachute, build sand castles, surf on beach balls and enjoy our Hawaiian party 🐠

🇬🇧Enjoy a messy jelly play at our ‘Very British Tea Party’, as we wear our crowns, wave our flags, go marching up to the top of the hill and join our special friends at a teddy bear’s picnic 🇬🇧

🎸 Jive and stretch during our ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ week with your very own band, as we rock on our electric guitars and soulful saxophones. Splish and Splash dancing in water and ‘Shake, Rattle ‘n’ Roll’ on the pots and pans 🎸

🎪 Fly the trapeze and play peek-a-boo tricks, watch the spectacular show and magic tricks as you ‘Enter the Circus’ 🎪

🦁 ‘In the Jungle’ you will see an animal adventure parade as tropical birds glide through the sky and African animals travel through the jungle. Explore the treasure baskets, and create music to the African beats! 🦁

🌈 Come to sing under our rainbow umbrella and don’t forget your froggy shower caps as we splash in puddles with the ducks, meet our star puppets and colourful rain parachute during of ‘Under the Weather’ week 🌈

💫 Be a ‘Super Baby’ with your cape and masks and save the day as you build up your core strength and muscles and fly through the sky 💫

🚀 ‘Blast off to space’ as you sing and massage under the stars, fly through the sky, go under the night parachute and walk on the shiny moon 🚀

We also understand the importance of other parents having the opportunity to build relationships and socialise with other parents. So that’s why after every lesson we build in time to get to know each other and build friendships over tea, coffee and biscuits.

Start your  journey at our sensory classes for babies in Kent today and book online at Once Upon the Mat.