“I honestly find the battle very hard. The mental loading women take on is so much and we never give ourselves enough credit for it. There’s always a struggle where I find myself feeling guilty for not having enough quality time with Bella, or then being behind with work, or only being able to give things half the attention they deserve but it’s getting more manageable as I go on. I just take each day as it comes and I am so lucky that I am surrounded by such a great support team, I don’t know what I’d do without them.”
Talk us through your morning - what happens once everyone is awake?
I am actually the luckiest girl in the world and I manage to start most mornings with my fabulous partner greeting me with coffee in bed. A dream start to the day is then usually followed by a manic scramble to clean up the mess from Cyclone Bella that she managed to make in the two minutes before bed the previous night and chasing her in circles around the house. That is then followed by a surf check for dad and mum quickly opening her emails as we are two hours behind the world on the east coast so I have to play catch up in my office. Then I pack a quick day bag and we’re out the door, either to the beach or the park.
What has motherhood taught you so far?
Motherhood has given me a whole new love and respect for women. I have learnt how resilient we are and how powerful we can be. I think we have this super-power installed into us which helps us become the best mix of being empathetic yet strong at the same time. It has also taught me to let go of things that don’t matter. To really live in the present and enjoy every single moment for what it is. To enjoy the silent moments in the morning where there are no distractions, just the three of us (Bella, Taj and I) in bed with no entertainment other than laughing at each other’s funny faces and playing hide and seek behind the blankets.
How do you handle the more challenging parts of being a mum?
When I am feeling most stressed, I need to notice these patterns occurring and take a second to stop and take a breath. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with it all, but when you take a second to look at it all your time becomes more manageable. I am such a list person, it helps me achieve my goals without getting sidetracked, then I can get everything done on time and it makes room for quality family time. Having a toddler is challenging, sooooo challenging. You need to learn to laugh at things. At the end of the day, we all manage to get through it. Whether we lean on help around us or even find some solace in another mum who is going through the same struggles that we are, or if we have to have an extra big glass of wine at the end of the day, we somehow do it!
The first year of motherhood can be the best year of your life but also the most challenging, if you had to pass on any advice to expectant mums, what would it be?
Tell us a bit about your own childhood - where did you grow up, what was your family lifestyle like?
I was a very lucky child. I grew up in Wollongong just south of Sydney with my dad, mum and my sister Stephanie who is nine years older than me. Growing up in a small coastal town is so ideal and I feel so lucky that I got the chance to do so. We revolved our life around trips to the beach and around basketball stadiums as my dad, sister and myself all played.
What is your definition of self-care and how do you make time for it?
I think it comes in all shapes and forms depending on what you can fit into your schedule. Sometimes it can be as little as taking five minutes out and concentrating on slowing your breathing down and meditating, or going for a walk, or making sure your diet is on point and you’re putting the right things into your body. Or it can be a pamper day with face masks and a long lunch with your girlfriends. Making yourself laugh and taking time to have gratitude for the things in your life is the best way to self-care!
You live in a beautiful home in an idyllic part of Western Australia, can you tell us what some of your favourite things to do in Perth as a family are?
I can honestly say that where I live is my favourite place in the world. I have been to a lot of amazing places and nowhere really compares. We are three hours south of Perth in a quiet little coastal town and it’s perfect for raising kids in. There are parks every two minutes and so many amazing beautiful beaches that are the best natural playgrounds for adventures. There are so many amazing places to camp and that’s our favourite thing to do as a family as it gives us a chance to switch off and get back to nature. There’s nothing quite like making a campfire at the end of the day.
You travel a lot with your partner Taj and daughter Bella, how do you combat things like sleep routines, jet lag and toddler tantrums when away from home?
Travel is a part of our jobs and it’s all Bella has ever known as we have been travelling since she was 8 weeks old. I think sometimes you get lucky and some children are just naturally good sleepers and we have that with Bella. I don’t think we did anything special, she was just built that way. Her sleep routine definitely changes when we are away. She usually sleeps in her own bedroom at home and has her own space, but that changes on the road because you’re obviously not going to book an extra room just for a toddler to stay in and she never seems to sleep as well when she knows we’re right next to her, but you adapt. She goes back to her normal routine when she’s in the comfort of her own home. Jet lag is definitely a hard one to fight but we’re pretty strict when we get home, she knows that she has to sleep in her own space and as hard as it is to tell her to go to sleep at her normal sleep time, we take her down to bed and try and get her back into normal routine as soon as possible.
Your childrenswear label, Mini Marley, is a beautiful mix of nostalgic-inspired designs with earthy tones and natural fabrics - how did the brand come to life and how do you juggle the business side of things with being a mum?
The initial thought sparked when I started shopping for Bella. I noticed a lot of the clothing at the time was very gender-based and when I was shopping for her the majority of the clothes were covered in magenta, glitter and tulle. I wanted to start making clothing that was a bit more gender neutral with ethical sustainability in mind, to make something that was made to be soft and gentle on the little tooshies, and to have something that paralleled my personal style; and that’s how Mini Marley was born. Juggling the business side of things is very difficult. I am a one-woman show at Mini Marley so I literally do every single thing, from designing, to fitting, to customer service – every single package is packed by my very own hands. It’s become a lot to do but I have a great personal support team around me to help out with Bella while I get my work done. I have an office space in my house so I am lucky that I can do it at any chance I get, and thank god for the amazing daycare centre that Bella loves so much.
You have a strong interest in food - what are some of your favourite meals and snacks to make for Bella, and how do you approach things such as sugar and treats?
How do you approach health and fitness - do you exercise regularly? Meditate?
I love to exercise but it’s hard to find the time to fit it in. I walk as much as I can, as I find it clears my head so much. I also have an app called Nike Training Club which is so helpful because it has a variety of home workouts and you can choose the duration, who to do it with and with or without equipment, so sometimes even when I’m busy I can fit a quick little 15-minute workout in. Every single bit helps.
Did your relationship change after having a baby? How do you prioritise couple-time?
Of course! It’s so testing on your relationship to have children. The balance in your relationship is so different especially with a newborn as they rely on mum so much. Mix that with sleep deprivation, an excessive level of hormones and such a dramatic change in your life and it’s bound to test your relationship. You are also so busy looking after a child that you don’t get to dedicate as much time to your partner as you once did. I think you need to really remember to do this, even if it’s as little as enjoying a glass of wine together in the afternoon or going on a date, or just sitting together and enjoying each other’s presence while the baby sleeps makes a huge difference.
What has been the most surprising thing about motherhood so far?
The effect that a hug from mum can have. It’s like a crazy superpower that makes the world better. Such a small gesture, but with such incredible power. And still to this day for me, when I am having a bad day I look forward to a hug from mum and it makes me feel safe.
Finish this sentence, Motherhood is…
My greatest challenge but my most incredible achievement.