Families of Instagram #6: Ensemble Children

She’s raising two young children in Norfolk, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome, and taking beautiful Instagram photos that document family life… We talk to Avril O’Shea about daydreams, living amongst clutter and her Instagram feed; Ensemble Children…

Avril O’Shea lives in Norfolk with her husband, Sam and their two children, Beatrice, four, who has Down’s Syndrome and Gabriel, two. She is developing her own range of children’s clothing and Instagrams family life @ensemblechildren.

Our mornings are full of laughter. Sam hangs out with the children while I take a backseat and enjoy a coffee.

My kids mainly wear Hand me downs, hand knits, Monoprix stripes, and a few beautiful, treasured gifts from Instagram buddies such as @wolfieandwillow and @princesseaupetitpois_trademark. I’m lucky to have a sister who lives in Paris with her family. She has really influenced my style, particularly in the way I dress the children, and often sends parcels of her finds from the markets and of course the Breton stripes, which I’m unashamedly addicted to.

I cope with clutter by I don’t cope with clutter: I seem to emanate it. The only time my house looks really nice is when my mum is coming to visit.

I never leave the house without Waterwipes, nappies, a portable potty and a change of clothes that either of the children can wear. It’s all stuffed into an old rucksack. I also carry around my new half moon handbag from YMC. It was an early birthday present from my mum. After four-and-a-half years of nappy bags, I needed to have my own bag again – a place that is free of raisins or crushed oatcakes.

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When they’re not looking I … am on Instagram. I love that it’s life through rose-tinted glasses. The feeds I follow are a mix of travel, lifestyle, inspiring landscapes, gorgeous small brands and families capturing their life as we do. It makes me feel more connected to the world outside of our bubble and although I’m no photographer, it has taught me that even with a phone, with only a few moments captured here and there, over time you naturally become more aware of composition and natural light. Mostly I love being able to catalogue our family album in one place and share it with the rest of my family. Having said that, I try not to spend time on my phone in front of the children, mostly because they’ll fight over the phone and it never ends well.

I encourage creativity by … going on adventures. I’m not the most patient person, which isn’t ideal with a two-year-old and four-year-old shouting over each other all of the time, so we need to get out and about. We live in the country and have our favourite haunts: the beach, the woods and the fields. Sometimes we bring treasures home but for the most part I think running wild is pretty inspiring.

I’ll never be able to part with … day dreams. For years I’ve been working oh-so-slowly on a children’s label, but most of the time it is a day dream. I sell some pieces through my website [ensemble-children.com] but until the children are older it is very much on the back burner. Sometimes I just day dream about long train journeys alone with some music and maybe a magazine. As incredible as it is, parenting small children – particularly if they have additional needs – is relentless. You are always on duty. As soon as you turn your back for a second, something always happens. Taking pictures of things I’ve made keeps that day dream alive. When I look back at those images, it reminds me that each little step I am taking will make it more tangible in the future.

When all else fails I … drag our big box of books into the centre of the room and work our way through it. We all share a love of books but we have very different tastes. The big bad wolf from The Three Little Pigs and Red Riding Hood are current favourites winners. I didn’t set out for classics to be their favourites – particularly as someone is always being eaten. I’ve introduced them to lots of beautiful illustrated children’s books, but the aren’t as interested. Matisse’s Garden was a crashing failure last year. They didn’t appreciate the beautiful pictures and tore the pages, so I’ve hidden it away to reintroduce in a few years…

Follow Ensemble Children on Instagram: @ensemblechildren