Category Archives: Resources

Talking Identity with Mixed Heritage Kids

This week my daughter’s teacher announced the children would be talking about identity and where they and their families are from. She encouraged parents to talk to our children beforehand so the children can positively contribute.

As the parent of a mixed child, I was excited that my daughter would be having this conversation in school. Her background is, at best, interesting and layered but at worst, it’s complicated and confusing. So, as a person of mixed parentage myself, I have to admit my heart did skip a beat.

I remember being a teenager and cringing from those conversations about where I was from. Do you mean where do I live now? Where are my parents from? What culture do I identify with most? What languages do I speak (or, in my case, not speak well enough). When it came to my Iranian side, I often felt confronted about laying claim to a culture I knew so little about. And coming to England as a young adult, I couldn’t have felt more like an outsider if I tried. What basis did I have for identifying with any of these cultures?

When it comes to my daughter, I wonder what she might say in such a conversation. First of all, would she remember all the places/races and cultures that make up who she is? Does she identify with all of her heritage? Of course, these questions of a 5 year old were bound to fail. But I couldn’t help feeling conscious that I may not be doing enough to educate her. Or worse, that she may end up as confused or as pressured as I felt during these conversations.

When hubby originates from Nigeria, and I hail from Canada/ England and Iran, the story can be complicated. Particularly for a 5 year old who now lives in the UK but spent a good part of her short 5 years in Nigeria and Canada.

Her looks, race and accent will further put pressure on her to identify as either Black, Black British, African- British or just Naija. If her skin is darker, she may be questioned if she tries to identify as hyphenated or mixed race as people will argue her intentions. “Why don’t you just admit you’re black”, I can see her mates saying.

By now, she can reel off the list of countries, and can even tell people a few words from Yoruba and Farsi. But whether she truly identifies with any of these (or all), I guess only time will tell.

I do plan to show her a map of the world and to help her identify where each of these countries are located. But what I’ve realised is that any depth of association to these countries lies in her relationships.

As long as Grandma and Grandpa, cousins, Aunts and Uncles are in her life, she will hopefully always feel connection to where she’s ‘from’. And yet, her everyday experience and friends will connect her more than anything to the UK. And I’m okay with that. Being mixed, the ultimate positive is that she has options.

One reader commented that by the time our little ones grow up, their world will be a blended mix of all different backgrounds and cultures. So perhaps her experience will be different than mine. All I can do is prepare her as best I can.


Mixed Chicks Giveaway *Updated!

They say good things come in threes.

Then… the unthinkable happened and my blog vanished.

I did say good things come in threes didn’t I?!

Okay, yes, I still have all these awesome products to give away and my blog is back! Two wins!

The next great thing is that I promised two lucky readers would win and receive some of these products. If you liked Mixed.Up.Mama on facebook and shared our giveaway post, you are in it to win it! 

I will draw the lucky winners on Friday. In the meantime, like and share!

10 Best Extra Curricular Activities for Raising a Well Rounded Child

Let’s face it,  the time your child spends outside of school is coveted by a million and one things that seem at odds with each other. In today’s world, the typical parent is hit with a barrage of choices over how to ensure our children grow up to be the most well rounded, secure, loving people that every Mum wants.

That means decision- making and getting the balance right between after school clubs, extra curricular lessons, time with friends, family time and of course just plain down- time. It’s never an easy decision and of course who and how your child is and their likes and dislikes will pre-determine a lot of these answers.

But get it right and your child will be thanking you in years to come for exposing them or teaching them life’s skills by getting them involved early in the right activities.

You will know your child best with how tired they are when they come home from school, how much ‘extra’  they might need on top of school and how filled up their weekends are with the likes of birthday parties, family time and friends’ play.

With that in mind, there are at least ten activities that your child should try out at least once in their life, if not master by the time they reach adulthood. You don’t have to choose all of these at once and certainly not every child will like everything on this list but it’s broad enough that the essence of each is important for every child to grasp what they need and why before deciding whether it’s right for her or him.

In no order of priority:

  • Play a team sport– Like I said, not every child is going to be sporty and not every child will even like sports. But what I gained from playing team sports was not about whether I was good at them but about learning how to be on a team. Team motivation, cooperation, playing your position, encouraging each other, receiving encouragement, listening to the coach and even team letdowns are all essential skills that will get you far in adulthood. And it’s not like there aren’t a whole lot of these on offer. If your child isn’t a good runner, try something more low key like doubles badminton, volleyball or ultimate Frisbee. There are so many new sports popping up everyday that you don’t need to feel tied down to the usual football, rugby or netball.
  • Learn to swim- If you can do one thing for your child it is to teach him/ her how to swim. Under 8’s have the highest statistics for drownings occurring in both the UK and the US. It happens so quickly. Whether you’re a family that likes to take trips to the beach or go on holiday abroad, this will save you countless headaches and hours knowing your child is competent in the water by herself. I hated going to swimming lessons growing up and always drank too much water but my Mum insisted that we all learn until we reached lifeguard level. Today, I’m not a super strong swimmer because I still don’t particularly enjoy it but I’m competent and that’s all I need. I don’t begrudge my Mum’s insistence on this- in fact, I appreciate this skill now and it’s a lesson I will pass down to my daughters.
  • Enrol your child in Scouts/ Girl guides/ Beavers/ Brownies– Whatever the age, these groups are invaluable for teaching your child values, making friendships, life skills, charity, being part of their community and about the outdoors. There may be a time when they feel like they’ve outgrown it and it’s not so cool anymore and that’s also ok. It’s nice when they’re young to feel part of something that they can wear a uniform and earn badges for good work.
  • Get your child into the outdoors– This can be as general as you want it to be but just because you’re not into camping or hiking, it doesn’t mean your child couldn’t be. Being comfortable and appreciating the outdoors is again a gift that your child will thank you for years later. If you live in a city, this may not be so easy but structured activities can help with this. Enrol your child in a local canoeing, sailing, bird watching, or hiking group and watch his/ her appreciation for the outdoors soar. But really, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a club, simply taking regular walks in the woods is a great way to cultivate a love of the outdoors.
  • Learn to play a musical instrument- Again, this is not something I particularly liked nor found myself good at when my Mum insisted my siblings and I all try to learn a musical instrument. None of us was particularly musical but we endured it for at least a year before packing it in. It was enough time for me to understand how to read music, how crescendos and fortes work and the notes on a scale. I hated practicing my trumpet and I’m sure it was torture for both my Mum and I but I don’t regret having the experience. Who knows? Your child may show some talent and really flourish!
  • Learn another Language- Expose your child to at least one other language besides English. If you don’t speak another language at home, make it a priority for your child to attend a class once a week with other children so he/she doesn’t feel isolated. It might even be fun and they’ll be stoked the next time you go abroad and they hear the new language being spoken everywhere.
  • Teach your child to play chess or backgammon- Not all of these have to be taught in an extracurricular setting. This is probably something you could teach your child at home. Chess is one of the most strategic, methodical games you could teach your child and also requires a great deal of concentration. It can be helpful in brain development, particularly when it is played regularly from a very early age and can even help a child improve their learning, thinking, analytical power, and decision-making ability. Something they will value later in life. The game of backgammon also requires strategy and is great for younger childrens’ maths skills.
  • Value the Arts- Teach your children to appreciate art- whether it’s in a class, at home or at half term visiting art galleries. If you live in London, you can even take advantage and take your young ones to a West End show, a musical or the Ballet. They might even be begging you next time to start attending ballet class.
  • Take a drama class- There’s nothing like a drama class to help a child’s confidence. Done well, even the shyest child will learn to come out of their shell and step into the freedom of acting. By encouraging children to ‘act out’ a range of emotions in drama class, children are better able to understand their own emotions and develop empathy with others.
  • Get involved with volunteering or fundraising- This kind of goes without saying but the benefits of volunteering are endless. Besides being able to put this on your child’s cv, volunteering can give a child that feeling of giving back and being part of something bigger than themselves. Teaching a child to help others, not because they’ll receive something in return but just to be able to give back can bring endless benefits. Fundraising too can get your child thinking about goals, pushing past obstacles, developing skills around marketing and even logistics. You can even make it something you do together as a family. Whether it’s a one off fundraising activity or a regular volunteering role, make sure you get involved as well.

Mixed Race Book Review: Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown is the second in our mixed race book review series by Mixed.Up.Mama.

This is one my daughters’ favourites (and mine). Inspired by her Peruvian-American heritage, Monica Brown has won numerous awards and starred reviews for her Marisol series which, incidentally is also written in Spanish.

Marisol McDonald is a wonderful book about a Peruvian-American girl named Marisol who loves to be different. She loves to wear green polka dots and purple stripes, eats peanut butter and jelly burritos and tells her cousin off when he tries to tell her her skin colour (brown) does not match her red hair. Simply said, she loves who she is. When everyone, including her teacher, tells her she should match, she decides to change herself and the next day, she wears a matching outfit, plays pirates with her friends how they like it and writes her name in printed letters as her teacher says she should. But soon, she discovers how boring it is and how proud she is to be a mismatched Marisol.

The illustrations, done by Sara Palacios and the fact that it is written in Spanish beside the English are bonuses to the lovely story behind author Brown’s loveable character. For bilingual children as well as kids that come from more than one culture, this is a fantastic choice.

Another recommendation if you want your child to be proud of their mixed heritage!


For millions of kids around the world, it’s the start of the school year.

And for just as many mums used to knowing every detail of our children’s lives, we are now left standing at the entrance of the school gate wondering just what the heck they get up to for those 6 hours away from us.

It’s a new year, a new class and for some, even a new school so it’s normal for parents to worry about how their child is faring and what the teacher is like?

The transition from reception to Year 1 for us has been especially challenging as the kids have reported feeling like there are more rules and definitely less playtime.

It’s been hard knowing we’re entrusting our kids with teachers whom we know very little about and how they interact with our children. Hence, the end of the day debrief is so important.

If your kids are anything like mine, getting them to tell you about their day is exhausting. I’ve tried everything- from bribery to punishment (yes, I said it!) just to get some answers!

But I’ve found that if you ask the right questions, you can get something… Just don’t make the rookie mistake and ask them about their day. Even I can answer that one. “Fine, Mum. Can I go play now?”

So I thought I’d share a few of my favourite questions which have gotten somewhere with my daughters.

  • What was your favourite part of your day?
  • What didn’t you like about today?
  • Did you get into any trouble? What did the teacher do?
  • Was anybody mean? What did you do?
  • Did you do anything extra nice today?
  • Was anybody else extra nice to you today?
  • Who did you play with at lunchtime? And what did you play?
  • Did anybody else get in trouble today? What did the teacher say?
  • What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  • What did you have for lunch? And who did you sit beside?

For me, I love to hear about the social dynamics at school as well as what they learned. I want to know that my child didn’t feel bullied, what the teacher’s approach to bad behaviour might be, who she plays with and how she relates to others…

If there is something you want to know about such as how the phonics lesson was taught, think of a way to ask it that isn’t, “what was your phonics lesson like?”

Just remember, keep it short because your kids will lose interest pretty fast so get the key questions in there fast and save the rest for later. Vary it up each day if you can and add your own!

I’m trusting you, my faithful readers to come up with much more ingenious ways to ask your kids about their day. Please share them here in the comments and I might even write a follow up later in the year!

Diversity in the Classroom: Why We Need to Go Deeper

It’s become popular and, indeed, a must in most primary schools and nurseries worldwide to have some sort of diversity woven into the curriculum. From black dolls to books featuring kids in wheelchairs, you shouldn’t have to look too far to find diversity in the classroom.

My daughter has now entered primary school in inner city London- a much more ‘diverse’ school in terms of its student population. And yet, sometimes I feel their nod to diversity is just a box-ticking exercise. When it came to a superhero theme in her first year, visiting ‘heroes’ from the community including a local policeman, a vicar and a doctor were all white and male. Really? I thought. When asked about it, my daughter said “I’m not a superhero, that’s for boys”.

When it comes to teaching, perhaps the odd nod in the direction of diversity in the classroom is sufficient but if we’re talking about understanding and making a difference… we need more. Because we are a multicultural family living in a diverse society, valuing and understanding difference is not only part of our being. It is essential.

But just because we as a family wear our diversity on our sleeve, why shouldn’t other families understand it in the same way? Children should know that difference is not bad… it is interesting and it is worth learning about…

This piece was first published on Multicultural Kid Blogs website. Read the full post here….

CurlyEllie Review: New Hair Products for Curly Hair Kids

Tried a new hair product recently and I think I’ve fallen in love. This isn’t a plug, don’t worry. But knowing where CurlyEllie came from and that the woman behind this brand is a mum of curly kids too, does help.

As many of you know, I’ve got three girls- each with uniquely textured and different-length hair. It’s difficult finding a product that works for all of them without being full of chemicals.

In the past I’ve used everything from Mixed Chicks to Deva Curl, Curly Q, Argan oil, Coconut oil and even my mother in law’s homemade mixture of shea butter and olive oil. It’s not to say that these products don’t work but I’ve always been on the lookout for a brand that I can trust and that EACH of the products works for my daughters’ hair- not just one.

CurlyEllie products came on my radar through my brother-in-law who knew the founder in Uni. I got in touch and found out a little bit more.

First off, all of the products are SULFATE FREE, PARABEN FREE, NO SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES, NO MINERAL OILS and 100% Natural Fragrance.

For me, it’s important that the products I put into my daughters’ hair are 100% natural. I can see the build-up that results when I use other products and I admit, sometimes products that do contain alchohol or some enzymes can be effective but… not in the long run.

This is about teaching my daughters as well as showing them to value their hair and what they put in it. With so many kids suffering from exzema and allergies, it made me think a little more about what we put in and on their bodies.

Retailing at around £13 per bottle, they may cost more than just buying off the shelf at your local chemist.  I have 3 girls, I’ll be honest, I know the costs add up but to me it’s important enough. If you already recognise the importance of buying curl-specific hair products, this is not much of a step further.

CurlyEllie originiated from a Mum. The familiar scenario of “seeing my 2 year old daughter (CurlyEllie herself) wincing as I pulled the comb through her forest of curls each night.”
She says, “Her curls were so beautiful but so difficult and upsetting (for us both!) to manage.  I turned to friends, family and social media to find the answer. I would routinely stop other parents of curly haired children and ask for advice on hair care. The only consistent theme in the responses I got was that nobody was that happy with the products they were using. This led me to develop the CurlyEllie Hair Collection.”


curly ellie

The products themselves are easy to use, and come in the form of detangler, shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner. I would have liked some sort of moisturizer to define the curls as well so I added a little oil to keep it moisturized throughout the day. But the shampoo, conditioner and detangler have become an essential part of our morning and evening routine.

I use the leave-in at night after I wash it and it softens the curls- making a huge difference to how they feel in the morning. The picture below shows my daughter’s hair after I applied the leave-in and I could run my fingers through her hair easily.

After applying CurlyEllie leave-in conditioner DSC_1104

Using a hair product whose only ingredients are plant products such as quinoa, broccoli seed oil and sweet almond oil is fabulous. It means I don’t have to worry about their hair drying out or being damaged by the mess that goes into most hair products nowadays.

I love where it comes from. I love the ethos behind it and I love the products themselves. Definitely a convert for CurlyEllie.