Much like her sister Mia, Hana Taninaka made the move to Byron Bay with her family for a lifestyle change, and is now revelling in the slow but steady community spirit that surrounds the area filled with likeminded families...
“Most people we know up here work for themselves, they’ve created work that fits around the kind of life they want to live, a lot of the time it’s a struggle working for yourself and we’re definitely not always killing it, but it’s so inspiring to see so many young families creating some really awesome work and really still living their lives. It’s one of my favourite things about living here.” We caught up with the linen designer (she’s runs Taninaka with sister Mia) and mama of two boys to talk motherhood in all its guises, the special bond she shares with her sister, why taking time out and being gentle on yourself is key to handling stressful situations and why a delicious, buttery, fluffy croissant generally fixes everything… Photography: Bridget Wood | Go to www.taninakasan.com
There seems to be something about Byron at the moment that’s attracting a lot of young creative families in search of a slower life - why do you think this is?
When we moved up here we were so blown away how lovely everyone was and how welcoming the community was. I think if you’re moving up here, you’re moving for the beauty of the area and the lifestyle – there’s not much work around so you need to create it. Most people we know up here work for themselves, they’ve created work that fits around the kind of life they want to live, a lot of the time it’s a struggle working for yourself and we’re definitely not always killing it, but it’s so inspiring to see so many young families creating some really awesome work and really still living their lives. It’s one of my favourite things about living here. I also think this view of life/work/family balance isn’t something that is just happening in Byron – there seems to be some really awesome crews everywhere moving out of the cities, travelling around, working with young families or moving to smaller towns starting up some really cool stuff – just trying something different.
Describe a typical morning in your household...
Zephyr’s up screaming my name asking for breakfast, Dali’s up on the boob, I’ll cook breakfast while the boys play around and then we all sit down and eat together. Make myself a coffee and then its get dressed and out the door to the beach or the markets or whatever else may be happening that morning.
You have two boys, can you tell us what the jump was like going from one to two children?
Best thing ever – but also really tiring, ha! I remember thinking when we had Zephyr – what the hell did I do with all my time pre-baby, and then we had Dali and were like, “whoa what the hell did I do with all my time with just one baby!”
Has motherhood changed you? If so, how?
I think that it is impossible for motherhood not to change you. There is this beautiful quote – ‘The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.’
What’s the best piece of motherhood advice you’ve ever received or that you continually pass on?
Your children are your biggest teachers. Whatever lessons and challenges are brought forward are the exact challenges I need to face as a parent to grow. Everyone’s journey is different and everyone finds different challenges. Knowing that the boys chose us means I’ve just got to listen to what they’re trying to tell me.
How do you handle the more stressful parts of parenting?
Sometimes I don’t, but meditating definitely helps. I think it’s important to take time for yourself, be gentle on yourself and be gentle on each other. Jem and I make sure we give each other the time to go for a surf, meditate, take ten minutes to drink our coffee in peace – so then when we walk back in the room and Dal is screaming and Zephyr’s thrown his toast on the ground because he wanted toast we can handle it all with a little more ease.
How do you approach things such as screen time and sugar in your household - are they a necessary evil or avoided at all costs?
Jem and I haven’t had a TV since we first started dating, so screen time has never been something we’ve ever had to really approach – no screen time for the boys is kind of just the normal and that seems to really work for us. However, I love a good movie and am excited to watch movies as a family when the boys get older. Sugar – we love it! I love cake, an afternoon gelato treat, honey in my porridge – and so do the boys. What we try and stay away from are processed foods and refined and synthetic sugars. We cook using fresh food and natural ingredients and are so lucky to be surrounded by an abundance of local organic produce and cafes that focus on these same values. Good yummy food made with good real ingredients.
What is your definition of self-love and how do you make time for it?
I’m all about that self-love. For me, it’s anything from a solo surf, a 20-minute meditation, to a delicious salty 100-mile table focaccia. I’m pretty lucky to have an amazing man that encourages me to take the time. Filling my cup is one of the most important things I can do for myself and for the boys.
You have a close and special bond with your sister Mia, what’s it like raising children together while also running Taninaka, your organic linen business?
Having your sister to share the crazy ride of motherhood is pretty incredible, raising the boys together – they are like brothers, they love like brothers, they fight like brothers, surrounding them with so much love – it’s the best. Mia and I see each other almost daily, so we are constantly talking about ideas or things we need to get on top of. Taninaka is kind of in our daily lives which is great, however we also are both as relaxed as the other so sometimes it will take a while to get the idea off the ground. Generally, that’s when the guys step in and kick our arses into gear.
How do you juggle your business with motherhood?
Very poorly at times! I have two days a week where the boys are with my parents/in care that I dedicate to Taninaka/JD Lee Furniture and the rest of the time it kind of slides in whenever the time arrises. Sometimes it will be late nights packing orders, or sitting in the car getting back to emails if the boys have both fallen asleep. It’s definitely a figuring-it-out-as-I-go process.
Any mum-hacks you swear by?
Croissants. A delicious buttery, fluffy croissant will fix all problems.
Finish this sentence... Motherhood is…
Messy, golden, sweet, sweet love.