Laura Slater founded boutique nursery consultancy Eat Sleep Love in Blackheath (SE3) to help new parents find everything they need for their journey into parenthood. Mum to Sebastian (3) and Gabriel (1), she told us how she juggles early wake-up calls with a career...
Tell us a bit about Eat Sleep Love.
It has been really important to me to create a friendly, inviting and comfortable environment at Eat Sleep Love. We work mostly by appointment, meaning that parents-to–be are given the time and advice needed to make informed decisions about their baby purchases. By offering thorough product demonstrations as well as discussions about practicality and design, we compile a list of nursery items that we deliver to the customer all on one convenient day. Our aim is to make the journey in to parenthood as easy and fun as possible.
What tips would you give to new parents to help them to enjoy maternity leave and their new lives?
Take it slowly. If it takes you all morning to leave the house, who cares! Take all the time you need to feed your baby, don’t rush it, these things do take time. There are plenty of years ahead when you have got to get to baby classes, toddler groups, nursery and work on time, but in those early days just take it at your own pace.
Embrace the new friends that you meet along the way too. The people that you meet when having babies are going through many of the same experiences that you are - some of my best friends are those that I have met at pregnancy yoga, ante-natal classes and playgroups. I cherish my nights out with them as we rarely see each other without children hanging off us, and I think this makes our grown-up time that much more special.
Also, remember to do what is right for you and your little family. Everyone, including myself is full of advice (when asked for it) and some of it is really helpful and relevant. The majority of times though, you need to make the choices that are right for you and your little one, be that in regard to feeding, sleep routines, what you buy and how you spend your time. Trust your gut and sometimes block out all of the noise from the people around you.
What's the must-have item for new parents that everyone forgets?
A night light. When feeding your baby at night you don’t want bright light but you do also need to see enough to lift the baby out of their moses basket, bed side crib or cot arrangement. When Mum is feeding in the night it really helps in the early days to see what you are doing. It also avoids stubbed toes!
What's your current favourite product from your range this season?
We have just brought on board Baby Mori, which offers a great range of clothing and blankets. They are made from bamboo and organic cotton and feel so soft. I really love the soft, gender neutral colours and the practicality of mixing and matching the products. We also have some exciting limited edition pushchairs that I can’t wait to shout about!
It can be so hard for parents to manage a family life and a career. Is there anything you feel you've sacrificed in choosing your own particular balance?
My social life! I work in the evenings catching up on emails and sometimes have appointments in the showroom. Choosing to work in the evenings often means that I can enjoy time with my kids during the day but it does mean that there is little time to see my family and friends. I make the most of my Sundays and often reserve them for social activities involving the kids.
Who are you inspired by? And why?
The mums that I know, we all do it differently but fundamentally our choices are born from the same place - we want to do the best that we can for our children as well as having our own identity.
I was a stay at home mum for two and half years after having my first son, so when I started the business I learnt a lot and sought advice from the working mums that I know. My own mother has always a great role model and perhaps without realising it has taught me so much about parenting.
Make us feel better about ourselves. What's your secret mum fail?
I often let my kids eat dry shreddies in bed with me in the mornings. It is like a starter before the main course of breakfast at the table. I am slow to wake up in the mornings and enjoy sitting in bed with a cup of tea, it means that I can do so withoutthem moaning that they are hungry!
Where do you like to hang out with your family?
London has some really great free museums, some of which have parking space or gardens attached to them, so we can do indoor activities or have a run around outside. We spend a lot of time at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich and also love The Hormiman Museum and The Science Museum.
What’s next for Eat Sleep Love?
Our main focus is providing a great service to every customer; maintaining this is so important to us. We are soon to be hosting events and workshops for pregnant and new parents. We are looking forward to supporting our customers on their parenting journey!