I recently began a new series about how upbringing influences parenting. It remains to be seen whether it has as great an impact as I imagine, but that’s why I find these interviews so fascinating! I hope you will too.

(If there are any guys reading, please don’t be put off by the title – you’re more than welcome to get involved! I apologise for the un-PC title, but quite simply, I love alliteration. If you have any less sexist suggestions I’d love to hear them!)

This week, we have Harriet, the person behind Toby and Roo.

How upbringing influences parenting

Harriet Shearsmith is the blogger and instagrammer behind Toby & Roo, a parenting and lifestyle blog that aims to share the wins and the woes of parenthood. Harriet has over 130K social media followers and a further 30K people visit her blog every month.


1. Can you describe your relationship with your mother today?

My mum and I are incredibly close. It was always me and mum when I was younger, and as I got older I decided that I wouldn’t want my mum to be alone, so I made the decision to buy our family home and we live as a multigenerational family. It works really well (most of the time) and it allows us to stay close!


2. How does this differ/is this similar to the relationship you had growing up?

I think we argue slightly more since I had children as we have a different way of doing things and from time to time my mum will take on the classic “grandparent says yes” role and that just doesn’t work when you all live together! For the most part though, we’re still as close now as we were then.


3. In what ways has your relationship with your mother influenced your character and outlook on life?

I think it has influenced me exponentially, every day I find myself growing and I do feel guided by her influence. Before my mum retired and she became unwell with hip problems, I was always in awe of her work ethic. We disagree on a few things, but I was always taught to treat others as I would wish to be treated, but never allow myself to be a victim. I try to carry that through. 


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4. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from your relationship with your mother?

Oh goodness! There are so many… I think possibly as I mentioned before that I have to try and treat others as I wish to be treated. I also think that my mum is very straight talking and that has passed through to me. I will always say what I really think – a trait that has seen me in trouble more than once! I try to be kind and diplomatic but I don’t suffer fools gladly.

How upbringing influences parenting


5. In what ways has that affected your parenting style?

I try to pass on to my children that they have to be kind, fair and work hard in life. I also find that having my mum’s influence so prevalent in my children’s life has been a blessing.


6. What’s the best/worst piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

Best advice: you can do anything, you just have to believe in yourself and work for it.

Worst advice: hmm, not sure there. 


7. How do you hope to influence your own children as they grow up and become adults, and does this reflect your relationship with your own mother?

I think so, I hope that I can pass on to them that kindness is key, my mum has always tried to teach me that.


8. Based on your relationship with your mother, what has been your biggest surprise/revelation/epiphany when you became a mum yourself?

Just how hard it all is. My mum has made mistakes but she was a single mum and I’m always in awe of how she managed to hold it all together.


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9. Has your mother’s relationship with your children followed a similar pattern to your own relationship with her, or is their relationship very different? How do you feel about that?

Hmm. Mum is a lot “softer” on the kids than she ever was with me – though she was often (in my opinion) too relaxed with me too. She’d let me skip school, let me go out and let me spend money when I shouldn’t. I often wonder how things would have turned out differently if she was stricter. I think she doesn’t have to make the big guiding decisions, so she’s very relaxed with my kids, which I actually like… until it accidentally undermines me!


10. Can you share a memory about you and your mother which illustrates your relationship?

Hmm, there are quite a few but they are really personal. My mum has been there through so much. My mum was actually there with me when I had my first child, she was the first person to hold Reuben because Adam was holding me in the ER as I had a bit of a to-do after my emergency c-section. I’d say that’s symbolic of her always being there for me and to help me through life’s obstacles.


With many thanks to … for sharing her story. She can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

If you’d like to take part in the series about how upbringing influences parenting, please email me.








An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is an experienced breastfeeding advocate, and expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.

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