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A Bethnal Green Wedding And Staying Connected To Your Teenagers

Buckhurst Hill mum, and now wife, Hayley Smith reflects on her wedding in Bethnal Green and why there was no time to take it easy after the nuptials

You may have read last month that after 15 years together, three house moves, three children and a dog, my partner and I decided to get married and organised a small intimate wedding in just four weeks. We were the first wedding out of lockdown at the stunning art-deco Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green and the day was just magical. There was no honeymoon as I was straight into running my football camp at local Debden Park High School for the summer half-term, which was a great week in the sun for many football loving local children.

Hayley Smith's wedding was the first out of lockdown at Bethnal Green's Town Hall
The wedding was the first out of lockdown at Bethnal Green’s Town Hall

Teenagers: staying connected

As my children get older and more independent (I have a 14-year-old boy, and 12 and 8-year girls), I find myself thinking about different ways to stay connected with them whilst living a busy day to day life. Last week I had a coffee with my friend Sharmeen, who is a family and youth life-coach specialising in teens and children. She highlighted that I must understand how much one communicates and shares really is dependent upon individual personalities, and I need to recognise this fact and ensure that I give each of my children non-intense one on one time to create the opportunity to chat freely. My chat with Sharmeen also made me fondly remember our family dinners during lockdown; when busy social lives were non-existent, we spent a lot of time chatting around the dinner table, something that has become less frequent again. Scheduling time to eat together makes total sense, even if just a few nights a week, sitting down as a family to review the day that’s passed and plan for the day that’s coming would definitely help to all stay connected.

So. Much. Food.

As a family of five we go through a lot of food. I literally visit a supermarket every, single, day. My partner and I chose to follow a plant-based diet nearly four years ago now (for health and ethical reasons) and whilst we did try to involve the children too, to be honest, it didn’t work. Instead for the children we have cut out most dairy (apart from chocolate, of course). Morning cereal is now eaten with soya or oat milk, and ham sandwiches have been replaced with marmite or peanut butter. Small steps to a positive change…

I try to buy organic and “eat clean” (ie to cook meals from scratch), however busy diaries don’t always allow this; I think as long as you can avoid processed foods as much as possible, you will not only feel healthier and have more energy you will find that mum guilt levels reduce too. The Plant Kitchen range at Marks and Spencer in Loughton is best for vegan convenience food – the burgers are unreal, plus when dining out (now that we can again!) the vegan bruschetta and spaghetti dish at 8 Rocks Café and Wine Bar is delicious, plus they have a huge selection of organic vegan wines too – yum!

If you would like any advice concerning your child/teen/home life you can find Buckhurst Hill-based Sharmeen Zarras on Facebook; photos by Darren James Photography

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