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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // Claire Packer | @NedInTheClouds

Meet Claire Packer – Mama,  founder of AUT:CTION, blogging the Autism journey of Ned, support to fellow Autism families and an avid Instagrammer at @NedInTheClouds.

Claire is one of the most inspirational people I’ve followed on Instagram. She is a mega-Mama (and thensome!) to wonderful brothers Ned & Kit, cooks amazing food, has a wardrobe of pretty awesome t-shirts and is refreshingly honest to boot!

Claire talks to us about where it all began, her inspirations and new projects on the horizon.

CB: Firstly, please introduce yourself and your ‘concept’
CP: I’m Claire. Not a concept as such but I write about Autism. I have a blog, a very exciting project on its way and I run support groups for parents of children with autism.

Lovely, lovely Ned.

CB: Usernames are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your online alias?
CP: I genuinely can’t remember choosing @nedintheclouds. Ned hadn’t been diagnosed then though and was tiny so it’s lovely that it describes him so well now. His head is always in the clouds.The name AUT:CTION came from my husband. I love it. It’s a PITA to type though and hashtags are always wrong*! Our new project uses the same AUT: concept. Against my better judgement!

CB: (Incase anyone wants clarification, the correct hashtag is #AUTCTION). 

CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your blog?
CP: Instagram word allowance! I started writing about Ned’s journey on Instagram from the day he was diagnosed. I had a lot to say and the word allowance was smaller then. I transferred my posts to the blog and although I still talk about autism using IG, Ned In The Clouds is our real story.

The Packer family.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
CP: My family. They push me forward. They make me take steps I may not have taken and try things I might not have tried and their blind faith in me inspires me to be better and to try harder.

My friends. Especially those on a journey similar to ours. Strong, no bullshit women who have to fight for every little thing and who deal with things that they never expected and still laugh and joke and find the humour in this stuff. They, and their experiences have inspired my next project.

CB: AUT:CTION  is such an amazing way of raising awareness and funds for something so important, and close to your heart. How did the concept come about?
CP: The first AUT:CTION came together from initial idea to fruition in about 3 weeks! I had no idea what I was doing. There had never been anything like it before so I was making it up as I went along. I was, and still am, friends with some amazing brands and artists through Instagram. I sent lots of messages out one morning telling people about my idea and asking whether they’d like to be involved; and if they would like to donate goods to be auctioned. The messages came back in, yes, yes, yes. It would seem I would be having an auction! I was terrified. I needn’t have been though, we raised £3500 in a week. I couldn’t believe it. The second year I’d learned lots of lessons so it was smoother and less complicated and had different ways to be involved. We raised £13,500. This year was our best result yet and the total is currently around £13,800.

CB: I imagine AUT:CTION requires a lot of organising behind the scenes, this is your 3rd year, how has the process been this time?
CP: Good. I get more organised every year! I have spreadsheets and everything now (which, if you know me, is unbelievable). The hard part is the sheer amount of time it takes. I start at the beginning of January when the initial conversations with donators take place. Over the next three months I have about 75 continuous email conversations and spend a lot of time on my phone. Bringing it all together at the end so it’s good to go is a great feeling. Then there’s the promo stuff. Trying to come up with new ideas to get it out there and to engage people is a challenge. We seem to be doing ok though!

CB: What has surprised you the most about AUT:CTION?
CP: The kindness of strangers. It never fails to amaze me that someone will bid and pay £150 for a £100 shop voucher. Or bid hundreds of pounds for items they know they could buy for less. Or people who donate not just goods but their time to be auctioned. Or the people who are involved in a myriad of different ways. People are so incredibly generous and I am so incredibly thankful for it.

Brothers // Kit & Ned.

CB: What is your best piece of parenting advice?
CP: Children don’t need things. They need you. Slow down. Be with them. Enjoy them. They are utterly fascinating little things and will teach you an awful lot about the world. Follow their gaze. They have often spotted something you might have missed.

CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia?
CP: Honestly? I don’t think I have one now. I barely even carry a handbag. My Tula was essential when the boys were younger though. We didn’t use pushchairs so being able to chuck one up on my back was brilliant. Kit just wants to run everywhere now though. Our carrying days are over.

CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mama-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without?
CP: My iPhone camera. I am probably guilty of taking too many pictures really. I do try to put it away and have been doing better at being in the moment rather than capturing the moment but seeing beautiful pictures of my children makes me happy. Time passes so quickly and you forget so much. I’m happy to have a record!

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
CP: I don’t really get Mum guilt. I could be better of course, I could be less grumpy when I’m tired and I could think of another activity or go to the park when I don’t want to but I’m just doing my best. I don’t feel guilt for being human. I fight hard so my children have everything they need (especially for Ned. Resources and support can often be a fight) and they are surrounded by love and laughter. No guilt here.

CB: “Me-time” is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
CP: It’s only now, after 5 years of this game that I’ve begun to take some time for myself. I made an active decision at the start of this year to stop saying no to things. The house isn’t going to fall apart if I spend the day with friends or go to lunch. I haven’t progressed to evenings out yet, that’s next!

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
CP: My favourite brands for the boys are probably Bobo Choses and Mingo. Oh and Young Double are our favourite for oversized tees with interesting prints and messages. I like them to wear things you won’t see in the street. They definitely have their own style. Ned has a smart/casual thing going on. Kit often looks like I’ve just pulled him out of a bin no matter what he’s wearing. He’s one of those kids. I secretly like him being a bit scruffy. It makes me laugh.

CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
CP: I am a jeans and t-shirt person so I don’t have a lot of special pieces. I live in my DM’s though, does that count? Ooh, I do have a giant lilac fluffy coat I wish I had the chance to wear more often. I love that. (Both pieces are featured in the first image of Claire, above!)

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
CP: Exciting new adventure (we are house hunting).

The Packer family.

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
CP: I haven’t eaten meat since the beginning of the year and have drastically reduced dairy. I am certain that a plant based diet is the healthiest option for us and can’t see us going back now.

CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
CP: This year during AUT:CTION people began raising money alongside the auctions, just because they wanted to. Some gave the profits of a certain item they sell to us, some had their own auctions. Just off their own back! Just because. Real, proper acts of kindness.

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
CP: The garden which is looking shockingly tidy but only because because the house is on the market!

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
CP: Hotel room. Room service. Book. Bed.

And finally… 

CP: Stay tuned for a new project from us aimed at parents and carers of children with autism coming soon. We are in talks about a magazine, maybe even some merch. Things are happening! Slowly but surely.

Also a final thank you to everyone who raised money for AUT:CTION this year. We made nearly 14k for Autism projects and the National Autistic Society and that has put the total raised over the 3 years we’ve been running at more than Thirty One Thousand Pounds. I am so proud to have been a part of it.

You can read our story at nedintheclouds.wordpress.com. A blog about Autism.

Until everyone understands.

If you’re not already, give @NedInTheClouds a follow on Instagram. Claire has such a beautiful feed – filled with (real life) snapshots of her boy’s , the most amazing eat’s and interior design heaven💘

Thank you so much for chatting with us Claire. You’re a wonderful human – with a wonderful family. It’s been a total joy to follow your feed and the journey for your whole family. I can’t wait to see/hear more about the new projects – such an exciting time for you all. Also, keep on with the Minimalism journey too… you’re so very brave! You really do need to come round and sort these rails out for me!
C
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