I wish I’d known

Lots of the parents we support tell us “I wish I’d known it would be like this.” We have collected some of these comments into this blog post. What do you wish you’d known before having a baby? Email us on hello@cheshireparentingcic.org.uk

“That sleeping through does not mean 12 hour sleeps. And that as hard as the lack of sleep is, it does get better but it can feel like it’s taking a long time.”

Newborn baby yawning

“That they’ll all get there in their own time. Don’t overly worry about milestones, babies don’t always confirm to the tick box sheets!”

“How wrong I was about what kind of parent I was going to be … you don’t know what will work for you till your child arrives and you find out what particular brand of monster you have birthed!”


“That not finding a group of mummy friends is not the end of the world. Not to stress about baby napping, and that baby does sweet FA for first 6 months so groups like baby sensory are just pointless and therefore spend more time eating cake.”

“How to bed share safely and how to breastfeed lying down.”

“I wish someone had told me about hypnobirthing earlier! I only knew about it 2 weeks before labour but managed to get some practice in!”

Sleeping newborn baby

“That parenting books are mainly nonsense. Just like all other size humans, babies have their own unique personality, and there is absolutely no guarantee they will respond to the techniques described in books in the way the ‘experts’ suggest. I could have saved a lot of time and a lot of reading if I’d understood from day one that my son and I just needed to find our own path that was right for us, regardless of what everyone else had to say about feeding, weaning, sleep training, co- sleeping, and all the other big and little obstacles that cropped up.”

“That the term “sleeping like a baby” is a load of old tripe! Babies DO NOT sleep.”

“How to tell if a baby is feeding effectively and bits of infant body language. How to tell if a baby is distressed etc.”

“That sometimes you won’t be able to work out why they are crying (they’re clean, fed, winded, the right temperature, being cuddled / rocked etc)… & that being in that situation is quite normal & doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent!”


Can parents be entrepreneurs?

I never thought I would end up running a business. Aside from watching ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘Dragon’s Den’, I have never been interested in the mechanics of business. In many ways, having my children led me down the path to running a social enterprise. I had a rocky start with my first baby five years ago and was lucky to access support from various groups and charities. I soon started volunteering in the community – breastfeeding support, NCT coffee meetups, and helping to set up baby carrier hire services and peer advice groups.

It was a gradual evolution from volunteering to incorporating a social enterprise. I wanted the support and services our groups offered to be more formal, sustainable, and transparent, and to access funding and help. I also wanted to be able to work flexibly around my three
children, and to help other parents do the same.

Setting up a social enterprise
My co-directors and I incorporated Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC in January 2017. Our aim is to provide emotional and practical support for parents, through friendly groups, baby carrier hire, reusable nappy kits, and signposting to local resources.

There are four women in our management team and we have nine children between us, between the ages of 0 and 5. Some are in school and childcare, but we usually have at least one child at our meetings! It can be challenging running a business with children present, but I remind myself that I started CPC to help parents and that has to begin with us. We have taken our children to meetings with funders, with other social entrepreneurs, and with our team members.

Taking your child to work
We have a very informal and flexible working culture and we are supported by volunteers, all of whom are parents of young children. At our groups, we meet our own children’s needs as well as those of our service users. We pitch in and help with each other’s children so
that we can all balance work and family.

When our service users see us meeting our children’s needs while running groups, it shows them that it’s OK to prioritise your children. When our business-world peers see us bringing our children to meetings, it shows that there are ways for mothers to work and raise
families at the same time – it just takes a little flexibility and understanding.

It is not always practical, safe, or fair to bring our children along while we work, so sometimes we make alternative arrangements – video calls, subbing in for each other, or enlisting the help of friends and family. It is often difficult to balance limited childcare with a busy workload, but as a management team we are supportive and understanding – and again, we know that our families come first.

Top tips
1. Bring entertainment! Toys, snacks, colouring – and the beloved Kindle Fires always go down well.
2. Have realistic expectations. You know how well your children are likely to cope in any given situation. It’s not fair to you, your children, or your colleagues to push your kids past their limits.
3. Be open. If someone requests a meeting, tell them that you plan to bring your children along and any arrangements you will need. You could also offer alternatives such as a video call.
4. Recruit help. See if a friend could come with you to help entertain your children to allow you to concentrate.

This article first appeared on the Equity Foundation website.

Kate’s Story

I came across Cheshire Parenting Collective whilst being on maternity leave (still only 5 months in!) and I was impressed by the great work the team does!

I came along to a library meet for help with my own sling when my son was a couple of weeks old. The volunteers showed me how to use it safely so I could keep my baby close.

Now I’d like to get involved with volunteering, to help other new mums as I’ve been helped. I know how important it is to feel supported, informed and empowered as a new mum and I want to pass on my positive experience.

Meet our new fundraising coordinator!


We are excited to announce that Lucy Green has joined our team as a voluntary fundraising coordinator. Lucy is a freelance Consultant and Coach and runs Brand New Mum, a business coaching service supporting new mums in search of alternatives to the inflexible 9-5.

We rely on grant funding to run many of our services, such as our free stretchy wrap hire scheme. Lucy joins us as a volunteer, and will support our fundraising activity; finding new opportunities for the organisation, and applying for grants.

Lucy lives in Manchester and is mum to Bea, aged nearly 2, with another on the way (due in January 2018). Whilst on maternity leave last year, Lucy made the decision to leave her job in charity fundraising to go freelance and at the same time re-launch her coaching practice, with the specific aim of supporting mums who are starting their own business ventures.

She now combines freelance fundraising with coaching start-ups and self-employed mothers. As so many parents do, she experienced a huge shift in her own perspective and priorities after having her first baby, and is now passionate about helping new mums navigate their path through work and motherhood.

Lucy brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of securing grant funding. With her support, our core team will have more time to focus on delivering peer support services that make a difference to local parents.


Will you be our Friend?

We are really excited to launch a new scheme for our social enterprise – the Friends of CPC Library!

Running a social enterprise means we are constantly balancing our desire to effect social change with a need to cover our running costs. Much of our income comes from grant funding for specific projects, but to allow us to grow we also need to generate reliable revenue.

We have some exciting plans to grow and develop our services, continuing to make a difference for parents in Stockport, but we need your help to keep our core library services running!

Becoming a Friend of CPC Library, you will support your local sling library while getting some fab benefits. For £20 a year, you will receive:

  • A free two-week sling or nappy kit hire at any time during the year (worth £10)
  • 20% off hire of slings and nappy kits
  • Accessory hire for just £1 per week (usually £5)
  • Cotton tote bag of specially-selected goodies
  • Membership card
  • Satisfaction of supporting your local sling library!

We hope this sounds good, and if you’d like to be our Friend, please visit our webshop!

Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC calls out for votes to bag a share of bag fund

A local parents’ support group is bidding to bag a massive cash boost from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative.

Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 – raised from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores – being awarded to local community projects.

Three groups in every Tesco region have been shortlisted to receive the cash award and shoppers are being invited to head along to Tesco stores to vote for who they think should take away the top grant.

Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC is one of the groups on the shortlist. The social enterprise provides emotional and practical support to local parents, from pregnancy to toddlerhood. Volunteers organise drop-in groups, a baby carrier library, reusable nappy kit hire, and a Fourth Trimester group for new and expectant parents.

With funding from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative, Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC hopes to add more slings and carriers to its lending library, and train more volunteers to support local families.

“We are thrilled to be involved in this fantastic initiative,” said Ellie Thouret, director at Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC. “We help around 100 local parents each month, and with support from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme, we can reach even more. We hope local families will get out there and vote for our project!”

Voting is open in all Tesco stores throughout September and October. Customers will cast their vote using a token given to them at the check-out in store each time they shop.

Tesco’s Bags of Help project has already delivered over £33 million to more than 6,400 projects up and down the UK. Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups every time they shop. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions will be awarded funding.

Alec Brown, Head of Community at Tesco, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to open the voting for September and October. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see these come to life in hundreds of communities.”

Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said:

“We’ve been thrilled to see the diversity of projects that have applied for funding, ranging from outdoor classrooms, sports facilities, community gardens, play areas and everything in between.

“We’re looking forward to learning the results of the customer vote and then supporting each group to bring their project to life.”

Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities. Anyone can nominate a project and organisations can apply online. To find out more visit www.tesco.com/bagsofhelp

Local parenting support group awarded grant from the Equity Foundation

STOCKPORT (22nd May 2017) – Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC, a volunteer-led group supporting local families, has been awarded a grant of £1000 from the Equity Foundation.

Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC is a group of volunteers who are also parents. Their aim is to help parents in Stockport with children 0-3 years and they already have made a difference to over 100 local parents. The group organises a number of social and advice meet-ups, with information on birth choices, baby and child development, slings and carriers, and infant feeding, working with other local groups to signpost where appropriate.

The grant from the Equity Foundation will enable the group to grow their membership by running more drop-in sessions. It will also support the purchase of baby carriers and slings which can be borrowed by families, and the provision of free-of-charge stretchy sling hire for babies under six weeks. The group was developed in response to a gap in local provision, following budget cuts and service closures in the area.

Director Ellie Thouret says “Our goal is to provide the kind of services that we found were not available when we had our children. We’re very lucky to have a fantastic team of volunteers who support us to achieve this vision.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support of the Equity Foundation and look forward to growing our library of slings and carriers.”

Currently the community interest company offers: a sling library where parents, carers and prospective parents can learn about and borrow baby carriers; seven drop-in advice sessions each month; Fourth Trimester groups for expectant and new parents; a cloth nappy lending library; and referrals to other specialist organisations.  


Notes to Editors:

A Community Interest Company (CIC) is specialised type of limited company providing services to benefit the local community.  Cheshire Parenting Collective is a not-for-profit organisation supported by volunteers.

Private donations can be made through www.paypal.me/CheshireParentingCIC.  

For further information contact Ellie Thouret – 07813945061

Toddlers Go Wild!

We are really excited to introduce a new drop-in meet – Toddlers Go Wild! The first meet will be on Thursday, April 20th at Tramp2Lean in Stockport.

We aim to support parents of children aged 0-3 years, at any stage of their parenting journey. We offer Fourth Trimester meets for expectant and new parents, drop-in library meets for any age, and we hope that Toddlers Go Wild will be a helpful addition to our services. We have even added some new carriers to the library in preparation!

At Toddlers Go Wild, you can try on and hire toddler carriers from our sling library and chat with other parents of toddlers (in between bouncing). Jenny from Connect Emotional Education will be joining us to offer expert advice on toddler behaviour and development.

Jenny has a background as a teacher and school SENCO, and has trained further in the area of Emotional Education. Learning about the neuroscience behind emotions and relationships changed everything for her, both in the classroom and as a parent. She now shares this knowledge with other parents to help them understand their children’s emotions and behaviour.

Special-price entry to Tramp2Lean is £4 for Toddlers Go Wild, and unlimited juice will be provided for children. Your tots are welcome to bounce for as long as they like (we will be there from 11am-1pm) and you can bring food for them – we advise staying off the trampolines for a little while after eating.

Please get in touch if you have any questions, and we hope to see you there!

Directors Gemma Jones and Ellie Thouret

Local Mums Bring Community Together With New Social Enterprise

Directors Gemma Jones and Ellie Thouret

STOCKPORT (17th February 2017) – A group of local parents has launched a new social enterprise to help families across Stockport and Cheshire. Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC is the vision of three local mums – Ellie Thouret, Alex Smith and Gemma Jones – and provides support and information throughout pregnancy, childbirth, infancy, and toddlerhood.

Local parents and their children are invited to a free coffee morning at The Bubble Room, Bramhall, at 11am on 13th March to celebrate the launch of the new social enterprise, and meet the directors and volunteers of Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC.

Director Ellie Thouret says “Our goal is to provide the kind of services that were not available when we had our children. “We’re very lucky to have a fantastic team of volunteers, who are willing to help us achieve our vision of having a community hub where parents and carers can find information on different things that they might need help or support with, or simply activities to do with their babies and children.”

Currently the community interest company offers: a baby sling library where parents, carers and prospective parents can learn about and borrow baby carriers; drop-in advice sessions; a Fourth Trimester group for expectant and new parents; a cloth nappy lending library; and referrals to other specialist organisations. Future plans include developing a community hub through building partnerships with local groups and agencies. The Stockport & District NCT branch, PANDAS and Greater Manchester Homebirth will be represented at the coffee morning on 13th March.

A Community Interest Company (CIC) is specialised type of limited company providing services to benefit the local community. Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC is a not-for-profit organisation supported by volunteers.

Notes to Editors:

Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC is reliant on donations and grants and is currently fundraising to establish the cloth nappy library and secure the future of the sling library. Donations can be made in person at the coffee morning on March 13th, or through www.paypal.me/CheshireParentingCIC.

For further information contact Ellie Thouret

Email ellie@cheshireparentingcic.org.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CPCollectiveCIC/

Website: www.cheshireparentingcic.org.uk

Partnerships mentioned:

The Stockport & District NCT branch: Local branch of the national National Childbirth Trust Charity. https://www.nct.org.uk/branches/stockport

PANDAS: offers pre and postnatal depression advice and support. http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/

Greater Manchester Homebirth: A support group for parents intending to birth at home or who have already done so. http://manchesterhomebirth.org.uk/


Cloth Nappy A generic term for reusable nappies.

Cloth Nappy Library A group offering a range of cloth nappies, and associated equipment, for parents and carers to borrow.

Baby Sling or Baby Carrier A piece of equipment that enables a baby to be carried whilst leaving the adult’s hands free.

Sling Library A group offering a range of baby carriers for parents and carers to borrow.

Fourth Trimester A term describing the first three months of a baby’s life during which the baby adapts to life outside the womb.

Introducing Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC

I am very excited to share some news about a project that’s been in the works for some time: today I received a certificate of incorporation for Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC, a new not-for-profit social enterprise.

A community interest company is a regulated type of limited company, whose activities are deemed to benefit the community. Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC will support families in Cheshire with children 0-3, providing support and information around pregnancy, childbirth, infancy, and toddlerhood.

What does this mean for me?

In the short term, the sling meet and sling library functions of Peekaboo Slings will begin transferring to Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC. Our team of dedicated volunteers will continue to provide support and information for parents and carers and families using these services will probably not notice any difference.

In the longer term, our scope will widen to provide support on more areas of parenting life. We will be talking with with local organisations and local communities to find out how we can work together to support parents where they really need it.

You can find out more about our short-term goals below.

Who is involved in the new CIC?

The directors of Cheshire Parenting Collective are me (Ellie Thouret), Gemma Jones and Alex Smith. Gemma and Alex have volunteered alongside me at sling meets over the past year and they are both as passionate as I am about providing good quality support to parents in Stockport and Cheshire.

We will be supported by an amazing team of volunteers, including Donna Hawkyard who will be taking on a lot of the library organisation. You may have met our trained peer supporters at sling meets in Stockport and East Cheshire, and we are welcoming new team members to focus on fundraising and community outreach.

If you’d like to join our team of volunteers, please get in touch! We aim to help parents to develop their skills and experience while raising young families.

What are our goals?

We have many goals – many more goals than time! We are all raising young families and some of us work other jobs as well as running Cheshire Parenting Collective. However, we have identified several short-term goals:

1. Fundraise to establish the CIC sling library

We estimate that we need to raise more than £1K to gradually establish the sling library under Cheshire Parenting Collective. This is really important to us, because the hire fees from the library will be put directly back into growing our CIC. We will be announcing some initial fundraising efforts in the next few days – in the meantime, if you would like a donation, please contact us.

2. Apply for grants to develop community outreach projects

There are a few key areas that we would like to focus on, alongside our regular sling meets and library services. You may know that we operate a hardship fund, and we would like to grow this to provide support to very low-income families in our area.

3. Connect with individuals and organisations to identify joint working opportunities

You may have seen that we are embarking on a healthcare professional outreach project. We would also like to connect with local charity and community organisations, CICs/individuals working with families locally, and public sector teams so that we can work together to reach and support more families.

4. Speak with local parents to find out where support is needed

We would love to learn about the support for families you think is lacking in our area. You can connect with us in person at our sling meets and events, or online via Facebook or email. Your feedback will influence and shape our services and growth.

What about the longer term?

Our main priority is to grow sustainably. It is important to us that the support provided by Cheshire Parenting Collective CIC is not contingent on one person or one source of funding. We want to grow and expand our support services in the long-term and make a real impact on our local communities.

We also need to work to establish foundations and infrastructure that support our vision of sustainable growth, and this will take time. We look forward to sharing our journey with you, and we cannot wait to begin this next chapter!