Our story

The story of CalmFamily

Listen up, let me tell you a story…

1 The beginning
2 Taking shape
3 Growth
4 Up next
5 reshaping the world
The beginning

There was a concept

In 2006, Sarah Ockwell-Smith, a doula and hypnobirthing instructor, began to teach her clients about infant psychology.  She was keen that parents understood what babies really needed, and that much of the advice on routines and sleep had little or no basis in evidence. 

There was a concept
Taking shape

A book and a business

In 2007, Charlotte Phillips attended Sarah's class.  She encouraged Sarah to write a book and train others. The idea that became BabyCalm was born.

Sarah and Charlotte, mothers in Hertfordshire, teamed up to create a business offering a calmer approach to life with a newborn. The concept and business structure they created was so successful that there were soon teachers all over the UK and in 14 countries across the world.

A book and a business

Creating ToddlerCalm

In 2012 Sarah worked with Clinical Child Psychologist and toddler expert, Dr Victoria Montgomery, to develop ToddlerCalm. 

The new book, and classes that followed, became an instant success. They took calm parenting to the next level. ToddlerCalm showed how parents could better understand their toddlers, and support them to be calmer and happier. This led to calmer and happier parents, and gave toddlers the conditions to develop into calmer and happier adults.

Creating ToddlerCalm
Up next

to a new generation of leaders

In 2015 Sarah and Charlotte stepped down as directors passing the organisation on to a team of experienced teachers. We created a social enterprise to continue reaching parents and supporting families.

In 2016, CalmFamily was founded. We worked to outline our fundamental principles, from which our values evolved.

On this basis we radically changed and improved the consultant training, parent courses, and workshops to better meet the needs of all families. 

to a new generation of leaders
reshaping the world

through collaboration and growth

We believe in walking the walk. If we want society to change, we have to live according to the values we want to see. We believe that business can be a key contributor to social change in the world. We just have to do it better.

In 2018-19 we developed close working relationship with Jen/Ro and Em of It's a Sling Thing, and Jeni of Little Possums. In 2020 we merged giving us a larger team, with more skilled and passionate leaders committed to developing the work of CalmFamily both with individual families, and professionals.

Together we work to develop new schemes to enable family support, new programmes covering additional aspects of childhood and family life, and find new ways to explore our mission to positively impact the future and change the world we live in. 

through collaboration and growth

The story of Little Possums

Little Possums is a family-run, home-based business, selling slings and carriers, run by Jeni Atkinson. Born from Little Possums, Jeni’s accessibility scheme, “Little Possums- preloved” offers slings and carriers in the most accessible and affordable way. This provides a key service to other sling businesses in moving on slings, and allows parents to buy high quality slings at affordable prices. It also meets key environmental aims, keeping carriers in use for as long as they are safe, avoiding waste and unnecessary consumerism.

Since 2018, Jeni has worked closely with both CalmFamily, and It’s a Sling Thing,, Both on a personal level, offering business consultancy, and through Little Possums. Though Little Possums remains a separate legal entity, Jeni became a director of CalmFamily in 2020 (now legally merged with It’s a Sling Thing). Our organisations work in partnership to provide a range of coordinated services.

The story of It's a Sling Thing

It’s A Sling Thing was set up in 2011 by Kerry Ellis, who created the UK’s largest online sling library, and baby carrier retailer. In 2017, Kerry decided it was time to move on, and Jen and Em were the successful buyers. 

As two extremely knowledgable and enthusiastic sling consultants, they redeveloped It’s A Sling Thing into a successful shop and library, as well as online consultation service, supporting parents to carry in a huge range of situations. They offered an excellent service for parents, in carrying education and specialised parent support online and over the phone. 

In 2018, Em and Jen began to collaborate with both CalmFamily and Little Possums and wonderful friendships, and business projects grew. In 2020, It’s a Sling Thing officially became part of CalmFamily, and Em and Jen are two of CalmFamily’s five enthusiastic directors.