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Got a new baby/one (or more) on the way? Here’s what you need…0-1y

A little help choosing products for the lovely little ones in your life…

Many people have lots of help with purchasing essential and luxury baby items. Friends and family buys often make up for the majority of items needed for your baby.

There is a lot of waste in the world and many items can be duplicated or just impractical so I recommend making a list of items you’re going to need over the months.

An easy way to get what you need without being pushy is to hand write your list, add tick boxes and take a photo of it. Post the photo to your social media and comment ‘Eeek…baby is on the way and I’m getting prepared with lists, here’s my first one…time to get saving up!’, or something similar. As items are bought (or given) tick the list and repost on social media, everyone instantly knows what you have and what you need!

I’ve had 3 children and I have been a part many more babies and small children’s’ lives as their childminder. After speaking with many parents and carers and using my own experiences with products, below are my recommendations. These items have been tried and tested against many others by me. These are my choices and I just thought I’d share them with you. This list doesn’t contain the larger essential items such as pram, cot and car seat…for my recommendations on these a post will be coming soon.

You can click on each link and buy these items on Amazon UK. Amazon is one of my favourite shopping sites and if you’re super impatient (like me) signing up for a month of free amazon prime is a really good way to save money on shipping costs too (super useful if you’re ready to purchase all in one go!)…just make sure you make a note on your calendar a couple of days before the end of the trial so you can cancel or you will be charged. If you do decide to buy from these links it will help me out, so thanks.

This list is in no particular order…

Wooden Teething Ring/Baby Hold Toy Great for young babies to hold, pass from hand to hand, and chew on. My youngest loved these!

Lovely Lamb Taggy Comforter Lovely and soft and super sensory!

Mobile This is perfect for suspending over baby to keep them stimulated in the first 4-5 months. Manhattan Toy products are a favourite of mine as they produce some lovely contrasting colours and shapes on their toys that will stimulate any baby’s imagination. Take it with you wherever you go.

Jumparoo This is perfect for keeping your baby entertained. Yes this does take up a bit of room, and when folded isn’t the smallest but it is one of the most used purchases we had. Suitable from sitting to standing. These are popular, so look after yours and sell on!

Treasure Basket Treasure baskets have been around for years now and are still going strong. Every child needs access to one. For babies that can sit to preschool plus…(you certainly get your monies worth here!). There are items that may not be suitable for a very young child in this basket. Please remove them and add them when your child is old enough to explore them. Always sit with your child and closely supervise when using a treasure basket…<3

Infant to Toddler Chair The best chair by far. Suitable from birth to around age 3! Affordable and long lasting…I’ve had mine for 10 years! EASY TO WASH

Cheeky Wipes Kit They claim to save you money, and you do (if you don’t go buying baby-wipes too!), but these cloths are super lovely. A perfect size, thickness and Essential oil blend that make them smell so lovely that you’ll not only use them on baby! We still use them today on our now 3 year old (at the sink, in the bath, as dolly blankets etc, etc) and on ourselves! Perfect for combining with cloth nappies too!

Sheepskin Rug Perfect for regulating baby’s temperature, keeping them cool in summer and warm in winter. Place into your carrycot and pushchair and onto the floor at tummy time. Oh and then use as a bedroom rug/chair cover 🙂

Ball Every small child needs a ball…this one is perfect! Vibrant colours and sensory for your super sucker and dribbler. Made from natural rubber and is Organic too! Only the best will do.

Geometric Cushion Covers You’re going to need cushions just for baby. Why not have a set that look cool, grab baby’s attention and will do a multitude of things that the expensive shaped cushions will do for much less money?

Floor Level Feeding/Play Chair from 3 months! Before you go and purchase a high chair, try this chair for as long as you can. This chair was fabulous for us, we were caring for two 9 month olds and just didn’t have the room for 2 high chairs. These did a fabulous job and when I had my youngest she used it from the recommended 3 months old! She enjoyed sitting upright safely and playing with toys on the little tray. It’s also easy to clean and look after.

Waterproof Suit age 6-12m Essential for the crawling baby. There is no such thing as bad weather…just bad clothing choices! Accessories to follow:

Waterproof Booties

Waterproof Mittens

Gruffalo Bag with Parent Strap Essential for the wandering toddling baby. I had so many comments on this bag because it is so cool! Easily fits inside a small drink cup, small snack, nappy and wipes, so perfect for a short walk to the shops etc. The strap detaches for when the toddler no longer needs it. I chose this bag for my daughter because I liked it…(well she couldn’t even see the bag when she wore it)!

Thank you for reading this post. If you think someone you know might like it, please share it. Take care and I’ll write again soon…

Alex 🙂


Childcare reinvented


Welcome to Ministry of Minding, a bespoke childcare service based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

I’m Claire and I’m passionate about caring for children and families.

I’m married and have 3 daughters, a stepdaughter and a stepson and 2 dogs. We came to Market Harborough from Bolton, Lancashire and we love it here.

I’m a registered childminder but I’m no longer offering childcare from my home.

I home educate my middle daughter, as stressful schedules don’t work well with our learning styles. We learn day and night, Monday to Sunday!

Home education has been an interest of mine for many years but moving here has made it a reality.

Are there any other home educating families out there?

Are there any other childcare providers out there?

Are there any families who have relocated/are relocating out there?

Thank you for taking the time to look at my blog… Please take a look at my website too!

Claire@ministryofminding 🙂

#ministryofminding #marketharborough #childcare

Divorcing the Narc Part 1

It’s funny how despite challenges and obstacles life throws at you, you still carry on…climbing over and defeating those obstacles just to achieve your daily tasks as a parent. Divorce was my idea. But adding another element to my already exhausting daily routine (and I mean mentally exhausting, because living with a Narc is full of drama and soo mentally challenging) was daunting for me, but I was not going to live this way any more because I know the grass is so green and lush on the other side.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself over these past months (did I tell you the average divorce takes around 6-12 months!).

1. I’m not on my own.

I have wonderful friends and family who have been there for me to talk to when I’ve needed them the most. These special people have supplied me with encouragement, impartial advice, moral support and have welcomed me into their homes with open arms at the drop of a hat, no questions asked (not that they need to ask, I’m an open book when it comes to these people!).

I have felt overwhelmed by their love for me, despite us going through this all before and me ditching them again for the Narc (because that’s what Narcs require: your full attention at all times!). I’ve not been a present friend or family member for the past 18 years, and for that I am truly saddened. Times have changed!

I’m not the only person who married a Narc. There are so many Facebook groups dedicated to helping people in toxic relationships, and there are self help videos available on YouTube to support your ever changing needs through your break up from a Narc…and believe me when I say you will need them, Narcs have a way to make you feel that your decisions are wrong and they have you doubting yourself.

These groups have been my support network when I’m having self doubts and find myself alone. I feel so happy to share helpful articles/videos knowing I might be helping someone somewhere with something that has helped me.

2. I am capable.

By having the ability to block the narcs comments from my emotions and thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts and ideas, I am capable of anything I choose!

I’m being the best parent I can be by choosing to meet my needs to enable me to be totally focussed on my children when they need me to (because divorce doesn’t just affect the adults involved, unfortunately)… All the attention my Narc used to require from me now goes to my children (and I still have some left over!).

3. I’m desirable (eeek!).

For years I was made to think that no one but my husband should find me attractive. I dressed in a way that my husband approved of. I wore minimal make up, so no one made comments (and no one did), so I felt as mumsy and wifey as I looked.

Recently I joined a dating website. And I’ve been on a couple of dates, a second date and a third date. My confidence in myself is now at a normal level and I’m loving my life.

Life so far as a single person is fabulous. Opportunities are arising and the future is looking so bright and happy.

Keep happy!

Alex (ClairE) xxx


Parenting Is Just Damn Hard (*WARNING: contains a few swears!)

It’s hard and I can help 🙂

Parenting Is Just Damn Hard

© Shutterstock

Below is an account of just how hard it is being a parent… I can relate, can you?

It’s OK to not be OK!

It’s OK to need help!

It’s OK to ask for help!

Ask me 07849347709… Alex….:

Parents – friends (we are friends, aren’t we?),

I’m going to start by stating the obvious:Parenting is hard, damn hard.

As much as we don’t want to admit it or talk about it, lest someone think that we don’t appreciate being a parent or don’t love our children as much as we should, the simple truth is that parenting is damn hard. Of course, it is amazing and wonderful and meaningful, but it is also really fucking hard.

But as we know, it’s possible to love something even though it’s really hard and kind of sucks sometimes. It is possible to love being a parent, but not like it all the time. And it is possible to love our children, without loving (or even liking) every minute we spend with them.

These realities, though they may seem like inconsistencies, are not surprising to me or all that difficult for me to reconcile. I’m pretty comfortable with the conflicting emotions I sometimes feel about motherhood and my children. And I’m OK with parenting being hard and kind of sucky sometimes, while at the same time being fulfilling and meaningful and wonderful.

I will say it again: Parenting is hard, damn hard. I know this and you know this, but what we don’t know is that the other person knows this. And so we sit over in our respective corners of the parenting world knowing that it is hard and confusing and heartbreaking sometimes, yet believing that everyone else has it easier, that everyone else knows what they’re doing, that we arethe only one who thinks that parenting is this hard.

It’s just me, you might tell yourself.

One of the biggest shocks of parenting, for me, has been the absolutely brutal and crushing loneliness that I’ve felt at times, exacerbated by the lack of authenticity, truth, and openness with which many other parents are willing to talk about parenting. In my nearly nine years as a parent, I have encountered some really tough parenting issues, not to mention your run-of-the-mill concerns and questions as well, and each and every time I faced a difficult situation, there was a nagging and persistent fear that it was just me, that I was the only one, that I was all alone making the whole thing that much worse.

And so, I am here to tell you that whatever it is you are going through – whether it’s a hard day or a hard month or a hard year, whether you can’t get your baby to sleep through the night or your 3 year old to poop on the toilet, whether you’ve been doubting every parenting decision you’ve ever made or feel a little bit like SuperMom today – IT’S NOT JUST YOU. Someone has been there. Someone knows what you are going through. Someone can relate, empathize, understand.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re completely unqualified to be a grown-up, let alone a parent;

If you’ve ever thought I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing;

If you’ve ever cried yourself to sleep at night because your child was hurt or scared or in trouble and you didn’t know how to help or couldn’t help or thought that maybe this once you shouldn’t help;

If you’ve ever sat in the bathroom for five, ten, fifteen minutes pretending to be pooping while you scroll though Facebook or text your BFF about the assholery that is toddlerhood (“assholery” is a word, right?);

If you’ve ever hidden in the car or pretended to fold laundry or taken an extra-long time sorting socks just for a few minutes alone;

If you’ve ever wondered how it’s possible to love your child with all your heart while not liking them very much;

If you’ve ever wanted to ditch your family to spend a night or two or three in a hotel by yourself, ordering room service and watching Lifetime movies the entire time;

If you’ve ever actually ditched your family for a night or two or three in a hotel by yourself, ordering room service and watching Lifetime movies the entire time;

If you’ve ever been frustrated or annoyed or angry that your kid is THAT kid and wondered why everything has to be so goddamn hard;

If you’ve ever regretted having kids – if only for a moment – only to immediately be consumed by guilt for having that thought, however fleeting, in the first place;

If you’ve ever wondered why you dropped eighty grand on that college education only to clean boogers and wipe butts and refer to yourself in the third person;

If you’ve ever muttered fuck you under your breath at your kids or your husband or both;

If you’ve ever wondered what your life would have looked without kids; or

If you’ve ever felt your heart swell ten sizes at once, cried tears of gratitude and awe, and understood what they meant when they said being a parent is like carrying your heart outside your body, then

Please know that IT’S NOT JUST YOU.

You aren’t the only one.

You aren’t alone.

Source:Scary Mommy 🙂


Shared by Alex 🙂

Out-of-hours childcare: expensive and ever harder to find

call me to book your slot! 07849347709

Below is an article that is still very relevant. Parents in 2018 don’t work 9-5. They work such a variety of hours that childcare has struggled to meet the demand. UNTIL NOW!

Ministry of Minding offers ad-hoc childcare with fees as little as £2.50 per hour per child (up to 4 children), 24/7! Parents CAN receive help towards their childcare costs because Claire Alexandra Donaghy is a registered childminder and homecarer, and is registered to provide TAX FREE CHILDCARE.

*Finding affordable childcare can be a struggle for any family, but for parents who work outside traditional nine-to-five hours the search is even more difficult.

Figures from the Family and Childcare Trust show that only 7% of local authorities provide sufficient childcare for people who do shift work or have unusual working patterns, a figure that has fallen from 15% in 2015.

“We get a lot of emails from mums, many from the NHS, who have shift changes at very little notice,” says Mandy Garner, the editor of “People are often patching together childcare and it can be so stressful.”

An increase in the number of people doing ad hoc work means more families are looking for flexible and affordable childcare. “We have got more parents working outside normal office hours or as freelancers or on zero-hour contracts,” says Jill Rutter, the head of policy and research at the Family and Childcare Trust. These workers may need childcare one week and not the next, and will have problems if forced to commit to set days.

Nurseries and childminders tend not to operate before 7am or beyond 6pm, and are not able to offer parents different days each week in accordance with their changing shift patterns. Strict rules on how many carers they need to have for each child mean they are unable to easily take extra children, and if they provide for a child who is not there they will make a loss.

Liz Bayram, the chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (Pacey), says it can also be expensive for nurseries to offer evening and weekendservices. “They have to pay for staff outside of normal working hours and it is hard to recruit staff willing to work in that way,” she says.

Firefighter Rachael Cooper says returning to work after maternity leave might not be feasible for her because of the lack of childcare options on offer. Her working pattern means doing two days from 7am to 7pm, two nights from 7pm to 7am and then having four days off. The eight-day cycle means she never works the same days each week, making it impossible for her six-month-old daughter Erin to access a nursery and difficult for a childminder to accommodate her.

“No nurseries can accommodate different days each week, and a nanny would be really expensive,” she says. “Also I want Erin to go to nursery to learn and to socialise with other children. The other option would be to pay for nursery full-time, but then she may only be going one day a week sometimes.”

Cooper has spoken to her employer about flexible working, but that would involve a job share and still would not mean fixed working days. “The other option would be a day job in an office, but I did that when I was pregnant and I hated it,” she says. “My parents live in Turkey and, although my husband is self-employed, he has two lads working for him, so needs to be there. I think we will end up with one fixed day at nursery, maybe a childminder and my mother-in-law will retire to look after her. But if these things don’t happen I will have to give up work or do something else.”

Even if Cooper and workers like her do find irregular or out-of-hours childcare, it is often not eligible for free funding. All three- and four-year-olds and some two-year-olds currently get 15 free hours a week of early education childcare for 38 weeks of the year. This is set to increase to 30 hours a week from 2017. There are strict rules, however, about who can provide these hours and under what circumstances. A childminder has to be Ofsted-registered and must provide the care in their own home between 7am and 7pm for a minimum of 2.5 hours, which does not help parents who need childcare in the evening or early morning within the family home.

Parents needing out-of-hours childcare lose on all fronts because it can be up to 40% more expensive. Although they may be eligible for childcare vouchers they are unable to access universal free hours and there are restrictions on eligibility for working tax credits.

Recognising a need for flexible, affordable childcare, Yvette Oliver-Mighten launched an out-of-hours, at-home childcare service in Nottingham in 2005. @Home Childcare offers wraparound Ofsted-registered childcare to fit either side of the school day as well as out-of-hours care for irregular workers. The service can cost as little as £4.17 a child an hour, in line with the national average, but this is based on three children so is most affordable for larger families or people sharing the service.

“Out-of-hours care can cost 20% to 40% more depending on the times. In our model, evening childcare is charged at the same rate as day care. However, we charge 20% more for unsocial hours such as late in the evening, overnight or very early in the morning,” says Oliver-Mighten.

This service meets the criteria for working tax credits and childcare vouchers, but is not eligible for free hours, because although it uses registered childminders they operate as home carers and by definition childminding can only be provided in the childminder’s own home.

Part-time GP Natasha Hulme spends £25,000 a year on a nanny who works three days a week. As a partner in her practice Natasha is classed as self-employed and is unable to access a tax-free childcare voucher scheme. The nanny looks after two-year-old Edward and four-year-old Henry from 7.30am until Natasha, or her consultant husband David, returns from work, which can be between 6.30pm and 9pm. “We can afford it but we have to be careful with money. If we could have the free universal childcare hours paid to the nanny that would help,” she says.

In recognition of the problem, the government has run a consultation on plans to broaden the types of hours offered. The education and childcare minister, Sam Gyimah, has said that “childcare needs to be more flexible as well as more affordable, with greater choice over the hours available to parents”. The free hours are currently only available between 7am and 7pm, and the new scheme plans to extend this to between 6am and 8pm, though it will depend on providers willing to offer these hours.

Some feel the plans do not go far enough, because they do not address the need for care in the home, or ad hoc hours. “The government is beginning to wake up to the issue and realise there is a need out there for flexible childcare, but it is expensive. The government is only looking at half of the solution. It needs to consider more flexible models such as home childcare and what parents need,” says Oliver-Mighten. “If you are a shift-working lone parent with one child, how do you work and have affordable childcare? We see parents all the time who say they have given up work as they can’t afford childcare, and yet they want to work.”

*(The Guardian, June 2016.)

Ministry of Minding offers ad-hoc childcare with fees as little as £2.50 per hour per child (up to 4 children), 24/7! Parents CAN receive help towards their childcare costs because Claire Alexandra Donaghy is a registered childminder and homecarer, and is registered to provide TAX FREE CHILDCARE.



The easiest playdough ever!

I love essential oils and I love working with children and families… Check out my new blog post on OrganiClaire.

Liking and sharing is caring! Alex xxx

The Essential Oil Epidemic

Something to help your body, mind and spirit

Join HERE 🙂

I’m not a judgemental person but I’m not saying I’m not entirely stereotypical at times, and then I give my head a wobble and try to re-educate myself on a regular basis.

OK. So I’m not completely oblivious to the fact that essential oils have been around for some time now. And they are not just for hippies. In fact there are millions of people who use essential oils as a part of their daily routines, to get them in the mood for the day and whatever they have to tackle. There’s even a movement of teenagers using essential oils. Our children’s (and their children’s) future means a lot to us right? We need to make this change because harsh chemicals are distroying our planet!

I met Valerie at my local farm shop. It was an open house event and there were lots of local producers and business owners in the farmers house. Each had a table set up with their produce and were offering samples. There was a large variety of products. It was November so there were a lot of Christmas gifts and items.

The room smelled amazing. And there standing next to the source was Valerie, the essential oils lady with her diffuser going and her lovely display of little coloured bottles. We chatted about the different oils and I smelled them all. I chose an oil to buy. It was my favourite. It was Purification. We ordered it together on the website and it was delivered to me 2 days later.

I didn’t have a diffuser at home but I had an oil burner so I added water and lit a candle underneath. My whole house smelled amazing from 2 drops of this oil!

Valerie sent me the cutest little wooden snowflake inside a Christmas card. I added a drop of my essential oil to the wood and put it in my car. Now my car smelled amazing too!

In January I was invited to some training at Valerie’s house. I took Olivia. It wasn’t a house of a hippy. It was a house of a mother with 2 gorgeous sons. A really modern house, with cool decor and features. A house of a hardworking young family.

It was clear Valerie was using these products in her own home to rid her house of cancer causing chemicals. She told us all about her sisters battle with cancer and how the oils had helped her. She told us about how she uses them with her children and about using them safely.

She showed us how to use our essential oil, what you can mix it with, how each of the oils complimented our life in different ways.

She told us about the company Young Living and their processes. They really seem to be the best of the best producers out there, with farms all over the world harvesting all the different plants to make these special oils.

I bought a dewdrop premium starter kit. For me, when I decide to buy something I want value for money. I want good quality and I want multi purpose use. This had it all. With 12 oils and samples and a diffuser. There were oils I had in mind for my hubby, for me, for everyone I know!

When the kit arrived I was so excited! We used it straight away. And we haven’t stopped using it since. The diffuser sits there in the lounge on the fireplace blowing out molecules of essential oil most of the day (lemon and orange in the morning, purification while I cook or if the house smells of wet dog or nappies!, Thieves if we have runny noses, Lavender in the evenings). I’ve added drops of oils to my facial oil to add an anti aging element (Frankincense and Copaiba) and if I’m feeling a bit stressed I diffuse Stress Away. I’ve mixed my own anti bacterial and medicated balm using Thieves and Panaway for my dry patches of skin too (and elbows, feet, hands and knees!).

It really has me thinking about the products we use and how we can change them up for Young Living products.

It’s had me thinking of my childminder buddies and how the oils can regulate stressful times and routines of the day (drop offs, collection times, quiet time, sleep times, focused activity etc) because there is an oil for everything.

It’s had me thinking of my friends and family suffering from mental health issues and others suffering from fibromyalgia. There’s an oil to help these things!

And the bottles are small…you can take them with you! Add them to a carrier oil and put on your temples, pulse points, bottom of the feet, anywhere!

I can’t recommend them enough… So much so that if you want some, I’m now a distributor of theirs and can get you the products at membership prices (it makes sense when I’m going to be using them for the rest of my life anyway).

Have a look online. Become a member (it’s free and you have no obligation to buy but if you do you get products at a reduced cost) or just browse… Well why not? Join the epidemic that will help you to be your best! I did 🙂

Join Young Living HERE and support me in my goal of freedom!

Yours, ever thankful, Alex 🙂

We failed at homeschooling and its OK!

How life can bring you many adventures!

We started homeschooling in January. Life brought changes to us and we embraced them.

We attended a group at our local village hall and I had a really nice chat with the other parents while Olivia made friends and Ellie explored. I found it really helpful to have like minded people available to chat with.

We tried unschooling for a while and after a couple of weeks Olivia wasn’t feeling it. She felt no motivation. So we sat down at the table together and discussed a plan. I already had a curriculum and we decided to use it to help us plan Olivias learning.

I came up with a schedule of learning she could follow that worked around groups, get togethers, my work and dog walking.

We started with a full week of lessons presented on Monday morning and needed to be completed by Sunday.

During the week I’d ask Olivia how she was getting on and she’d say ‘fine’. I didn’t want to get involved. I wanted to see if she could manage to motivate herself.

When Sunday arrived she’d only completed 2 pieces of work. I was a little sad inside but it showed us this method didn’t work for us. We had a chat about it Olivia just didn’t feel motivated to learn in the home environment.

She was happy to go out and take the laptop and learn via videos and we already had a conquer maths subscription, but we learned that Olivia preferred maths on paper. We bought (cheaply) workbooks and she began to use them.

By now she had started working on the farm where I worked, as a farm hand. Learning hands on she loved! The farmer was teaching her so much and she was coming home happy (and exhausted!). After all, she wants to be a vet, so this was right up her street.

We visited Bolton and Olivia met up with old school friends and when we returned Olivia wasn’t the same. She was sad. She missed her old friends and had much less interaction with like minded people. We had a really long conversation and learned she craved the school structure but not the environment.

Hubby was desperately unhappy in his work and was looking for a new job. He eventually got another… But back near Bolton. This meant we would have to move again. I was sad because I had made so many new friends and lovely people. My business was growing well and everything was great but Hubby needed to leave his job before it killed him, and financially it made sense to move back to Bolton.

So now Olivia will return to school in Bolton, I will continue my work in Bolton and we can holiday in Market Harborough (Country Bumpkin Yurts, on Waterloo Cottage Farm), and we can finally have some stability (because I’m not moving again for a very long time!).

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you have any questions about anything mentioned above, please ask away!

Alex@ministryofminding 🙂