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The magic of ‘me time’

Frazzled mothers rejoice! Come and hide out with us and let someone look after you for a change. Fitness, fashion, food, wine and unwind. Ahhhh, that's better.

Knackered mums rejoice! If you’re already on your knees with the summer holidays –refereeing warring siblings, keeping the kids entertained, endless feeding, washing…urgh. Or, you’re in the thick of those early years when sleep is a luxury and you’re blissfully winging it without instructions, we’re calling time out. Take a day off (in fact, go crazy and take the whole weekend), get your mojo back and enjoy eight hours free of demands, decisions and interruptions at a retreat designed with mums in mind.

MammerTime founder Natalie Upton and her baby son

MammerTime founder Natalie Upton and Will

MammerTime is the brainchild of Natalie Upton, an HR high flier and mum to 8-month old Will, who moved from London to West Berkshire and is on a mission to offer mums quality ‘me time’. “We started MammerTime to provide women with some much needed time to themselves. In order to be the very best Mum, you need to ensure you manage your own health day to day.

“Whether that be how to improve your core strength whilst brushing your teeth in the morning or how to slap on natural make up in seven minutes whilst changing your toddler!!, we aim to provide mums with a wellness toolkit on how to handle what life throws at them through getting outdoors and finding balance.” Amen to that, Natalie

Who needs the good life when all we want is an easy(er) life…  So before the whole Muddy office books in for a MammerTime weekender (and never leaves) we gathered up some expert advice on how to eek out a little time for you to feel more like you.



Jo Saunders, Nutritional therapist and  nutritionist at Smart Infused Füd 

Cooking pot with fresh veg

Mood and energy-boosting food

When we’re at our busiest and most frazzled it’s easy for our food choices to become compromised. The right choice of food will help to fuel your energy and support your body’s stress response. Whilst it’s tempting to grab a pastry or tin of sweetcorn as one new mum friend of mine opted for, protein is important for growth & repair in the body (essential for post birth recovery) as well as neurotransmitter support – they control everything from how we think and feel to the quality of our sleep.

Start with a quality source of protein (eg cold or warm roast chicken, hard boiled eggs, salmon or mackerel fillets, chickpeas or pre-cooked lentils). Next choose a source of complex carbohydrate, such as brown basmati rice or sweet potato. I like to roast a big tray with chunks of sweet potato, beetroot & butternut squash (sprinkled with spices & garlic powder if you have the time/energy) and then it’s there in the fridge as a base for an easy throw-together salad during the week.

Next add plenty of ‘above ground veg’ such as spinach, rocket, tomatoes, cucumber, watercress or some steamed greens. Finally add fats such as avocado and extra virgin olive oil, nuts & seeds which are not only delicious but provide valuable mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, key for satiety, skin & brain health. A speedy bowl of goodness that you can pull together in moments that leaves you nourished rather than craving more empty calories”.



Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey, founder of VCH Style and Sunday Telegraph columnist and Mum to two girls.

Ginnie Chadwyck Healey stylist floral shirt cream trousers hedge background

One stylish mum on the run

Life after kids, often means your shape changes and you discover the benefits of stretchy high-waisted jeans and flat shoes, but according to Ginnie (who, shhhhh, is responsible for the Duchess of Cambridge’s style transformation), the clothes in your wardrobe should make you happy, work hard and cope with a 30 degree wash. Here’s Ginnie’s style survival…

I tend to seek out items that aren’t necessarily identifiable. Hidden treasures. Always ask yourself, “Do I already own this or something similar? Will I wear it on multiple occasions or be bored of it after the first novelty ‘reveal’?” I personally wear colour to lift the soul and I’m a stickler for washing instructions. Sad but true! Favourite colour? Army green – it hides a multitude of sins and is a good year-round tone that looks good on everyone.



Madeline Crisp @discomad1 – Beauty Editor, mum of one  and master of school run make-up

three women natural make up

Face savers so you don’t scare on the school run

I never leave the house bare faced as I’d literally scare the kids, but I often only have a few minutes to go from grungy to glowy. My secret weapon is a spritz of self-tan before bed after my night cream. My faves include James Read H20 and Ambre Solaire No Streak Mist which are both idiot-proof and don’t smell of biscuits. With a bit of colour you can get away with minimal make up. Slap on a multi-purpose BB cream or tinted moisturiser, like bareMinerals Complexion Rescue, which gives flattering sheer coverage and lets freckles shown through. Then grab a multi-purpose stick like NARS Multiple or Collection Speedy Blush Stick to give a hint of colour on cheeks and lips. Finally, I’ll do my brows as if they are groomed I look instantly more presentable, quickly fill and brush them with a pencil like Boots C.Y.O Brow Sculpting Frame of Mind – as good as designer brands but a fraction of the price.

Hair wise all busy mums swear by dry shampoo, but they’re not all created equal.  If you spend a little more you should get a less dull result. Having tried them all I’d recommend Percy & Reed No-Fuss Fabulousness which smells like a posh salon.

For a few fail-safe skin treats that deliver without hype, I use a weekly exfoliating mask, Glam Glow Youthmud with green tea and clay, is brilliant for brightening dull skin. As I get older my skin is feeling more dehydrated so on certain days I’ll reach for an indulgent oil at night and Clarins do a great range. Finally, if I do get a free evening, I’ll pour myself a large glass of Rioja and sink into the bath with something really luxurious and expensive like Jo Malone or Laura Mercier – as sometimes mum deserves more than a bottle of Matey.



Rachel Jane, editor Muddy Stilettos, Berkshire


How’s your juggling skills? Work, kids, life… er, washing.

We seek it here, we seek it there, but a decent work life balance eludes most of us. I feel my day-to-day  is whirligig of deadlines, kids activities, a food shop here, a last minute wash load there. And yet I have it easier than many women, because at least I can work around family life. Wellbeing at work and flexibility are fashionable buzzwords – and yet more could be done to normalise it in the workplace.

After my second child, I asked for flexible working. It was an excruciating and negative meeting, but in my heart of hearts, I didn’t really want to go back. So I left the big job on a Sunday newspaper and started something new. I’m not gonna lie, it felt like I was jumping off a cliff. I’d lost confidence and was having a full-blown mid-career crisis. Something a pair or leather trousers and sports car wasn’t going to fix.

BUT it was the best thing I ever did. I learned new skills, met new people, stepped out of my comfort zone, I carved out time for me – started running, felt healthier and happier – and I could do the school run without having to leg it for a train. My only advice when you’re working from home, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, get social IRL, shut the laptop and be disciplined with your time. I’m still working on all of these, but it’s getting better.



Helen McGinn, mother, wino, author of The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club book and blog

Blonde woman with glass of red wine

There’s always time for wine.

Oh, where would be without wine? A must-have in any mum’s toolkit. The pure joy of that first glass when the kids are in bed, the last toy is put away and you can sit down for the first time all day, needs to bottled. And it is! Here, Helen, author of The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club book and blog, suggest three great wines to see you through summer.
Macon Villages, £9.00, M&S
You know how Sauvignon Blanc has that unmistakable herby aroma? It’ll have something of that wherever you make wine with it. But Chardonnay can be citrusy and crisp as a starched tablecloth or ripe as a juicy peach. It just depends on where and how it’s made. And Chardonnay from its spiritual homeland, Burgundy, is one of my favourite ways to drink it. This one’s great value at well under a tenner, light and fresh with green apple aromas and a whack of white peach in the mouth.
Da Vida Garnacha, £8, Co-op
Gorgeous looking red from Spain, this is made with no added sulphur meaning that the winemaker hasn’t topped it up with a dose of sulphur to keep it fresh (most wines are topped up with a little sulphur at least). Made from the Garnacha grape, it’s really bright and juicy with black fruits and lots of (upper) cheek-sucking acidity. Snap it up.
Philizot Organic Champagne, £26.99, Aldi
Looks more like a rosé than a white but get past that and you get to the flavours: crushed biscuits, light red fruits and a big dash of citrus keeping everything fresh. Organic champagne isn’t always easy to find, certainly not on supermarket shelves at least. Absolutely fabulous.



Natalie Upton, MammerTime founder, new mum and HR whizz. 

Mammertime Retreat boheme somerset 16th century cider press

Time off for good behaviour? Do it guilt free. MammerTime offers day and weekend retreats – next day retreat is in Newbury, Wed 14 Aug or escape for the weekend in October. Remember it’s all about you…

  • Take a book, listen to a podcast, bingewatch a box set, whatever your indulgence, do it.
  • Go for a stroll, enjoy not having kids wanting to carried after three steps or wellies filled with water at the first puddle.
  • Sleep… is there anything more luxurious than enjoying quality zzzz, be it a cat nap or 8 hours of uninterrupted shut eye.
  • If you’re leaving your kids at home, don’t micro-manage the time you’re away. Your other half, mum or friend will cope without a list of instructions.
  • Relax about re-entry: the house will be a tip, your other half will be knackered, but they’ll be excited to have you home. Bottle that moment and start the big clean up in 24 hours… make that 48.

Mammer Time Day Retreat is in Kintbury, West Berkshire, on Wed 14 Aug, 9am-6pm – the retreats include luxury beauty treatments, fitness classes, healthy meals and inspiration for your cooking, yoga and relaxation, Start-up coaching – “how to start a family-friendly business”, country walks & digital detox, stylist clinic, bubbles and goodie bags. Better still, if you can’t offload your brood, bring them along, the MammerTime nannies will keep them happy and entertained. Grab your tickets here.

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