Can you share some tips for successful and low-stress birthday parties?
- Have a plan for the afternoon/evening before the guests arrive.
- Be sure to have a couple of activities organised – whether they be the guests making their own dinner ala Mini Masterchef (pizzas, mini burgers, tacos etc) or cupcake decorating. Crafting activities are also a great idea (headband decorating, designing their own pillowcase). Photo booths, karaoke and dancing are also loved and low-cost options to add to any party.
- Have a movie already chosen and decide where everyone is sleeping, these minimise the chance of arguments at bedtime.
I still haven’t found a solution though to make sure everyone goes to sleep at a reasonable time!
What are the pros and cons of expat life?
A definite pro is the amazing people you meet that become your instant family. We have met some amazing life-long friends in the short time we’ve been here. The ability to travel to so many wonderful places whilst opening the kids’ eyes to a variety of different cultures is a massive plus. I also love the fact that we live in a country that our family and friends enjoy visiting, so it gives them the opportunity to travel overseas more than they usually would. The cons are missing the family and friends back at home. The kids really miss growing up with their cousins which is hard, not to mention saying goodbye after a visit home – it doesn’t get easier the more we do it that’s for sure.
Who or what inspires and motivates you on a daily basis?
I love the balance between being available for the kids and working. I could never go back to corporate life – the kids are definitely my priority. I enjoy being there to drop them off and pick them up as well as watching them in the various activities they do. I must admit, I do thrive on the slight anxiety/stress that builds up inside when trying to work out how I’m going to accomplish it all. My husband travels every week so there is no way I could do what I’m doing without the wonderful help I’m so lucky to have up here in Singapore. So I guess my motivation comes from wanting a little piece of it all.
How did you find your pregnancies and early days with a newborn?
My first pregnancy was not at all what I had imagined or hoped for. Oscar was born at 25 weeks. Up until 2 days before he was born I was experiencing a textbook pregnancy and felt amazing however, that changed over a period of 2 days and we still don’t know why. I suddenly went into labour and there was nothing the doctors could do to make it stop. I was in a hospital that wasn’t capable of delivering a baby so prematurely, so I was rushed via ambulance to the Royal Womens in Melbourne. He was born 43mins later. The first 3 months were touch and go. Oscar was very sick and we were told on more than a few occasions that the doctors thought he wouldn’t make it. It really was a case of one step forward and 2 steps backwards. We visited the hospital every day whilst I was still up every 3 hours pumping milk to try and get him feeding. We had a huge amount of support from our family and friends over this time, which certainly made the situation a little more bearable. It was a level of exhaustion my husband Rhett and I had never experienced before and hope to never feel again. We were never going to have one baby, in fact I always wanted four! However we soon realised that every time you decide to have a baby you are rolling the dice. We were lucky enough to fall pregnant quickly with our second, we carefully chose a new obstetrician and went into the 40 weeks with a detailed plan. At 38.5 weeks I went for a standard checkup and was told I was 6cm dilated. I felt 100% fine and had no warning signs. So, we were sent straight upstairs to the delivery room. At one stage her heart rate began dropping pretty rapidly and they had to work quickly with the assistance of the vacuum to deliver our beautiful baby girl. Matilda was a great feeder and was sleeping through the night at 6.5 weeks. At 7 months old we gave Matilda some scrambled eggs from our breakfast plate and she instantly had an anaphylactic reaction and was rushed straight to hospital. We had another identical experience when she was 18 months old with peanuts, which she is still highly allergic/anaphylactic to. We have however, managed to desensitise her to the egg allergy. My early days with the kids have definitely shaped me as a Mum for a variety of different reasons. I find I’m pretty calm in a crisis and don’t let the small things bother me.
How do you self-care – what are the things you do to take care of yourself?
Exercise has always been a huge part of my life and I have done a variety of different forms over the years to mix it up and keep it interesting. I’m loving F45 since moving to Singapore. I miss KX pilates greatly though and hope it opens up here at some stage in the near future. Diet is also a big one, we love food and I enjoy designing the weekly family menu. We all eat a healthy nutritious diet, however we’re also big fans of ‘everything in moderation’. I also try to add in a facial where possible and living in constant warm weather pedicures are a regular and 45 minutes silence (unless I take Matilda with me…!).
What has motherhood taught you?
That life doesn’t always go according to plan! This can sometimes make me anxious as I do suffer a little from OCD! It has taught me a great deal of patience and a different kind of love.
What’s been your greatest challenge with motherhood? And what’s been your greatest moment/memory so far?
The early days were obviously pretty challenging, and nothing will ever come close to that. My greatest memory or moment was definitely the day we took Oscar home after 4 months in ICU and when Matilda came home from hospital safe and well. Ironically, Matilda came home on Mother’s Day … There were quite a few tears.
What did your own mother teach you about life/being a mother?
My Mum was the most amazing, dedicated and hands-on Mum I know, and this has continued over the last 12 years as a Grandmother. She has always worked, raised 3 children (as a team with my amazing Dad), kept a house, cooked gourmet meals and created a loving and safe environment for us to grow up. My parents have played a huge role in my kid’s life so far. Their house is a second home for Oscar and Matilda, we are very lucky.
Has your fashion style changed since you became a mother – what’s a typical look for you?
I would have to say yes, it has become far more casual, although now we have come out of the newborn/toddler years and moved to Singapore, we certainly go out a lot more than we did in the previous five years. I love getting dressed up, putting on some heels and spending time on my hair and makeup. My normal everyday look consists of activewear in the morning and usually a denim skirt/shorts and top or a dress for the remainder, lots of cotton and linen for this climate.
What are your favourite travel destinations?
We have recently come back from a family holiday to a beautiful Greek Island called Ithaca, followed by a few different cities in Italy, they were all places I could go to time and time again. I travelled to many memorable places in my years working for the airlines, I will never forget the safari I went on in Africa in the Masai Mara, the cherry blossom I saw in Japan and the many amazing experiences I had all over Europe in both summer and winter.
Favourite things to do with your children?
Since moving to Singapore and Matilda learning to ride a bike properly we love a family bike ride, usually followed by a dumpling feast. We also love a lazy Sunday just the four of us, this usually consists of a swim, playing a board game or watching a movie together, the kids choosing the music & dancing. We’re always around the table together on Sunday nights, one of my fave nights of the week.
What would you recommend as must-dos for families visiting Singapore?
Singapore Zoo is great & I highly recommend the breakfast with the Orangutans. Can’t beat a visit to Sentosa, I’ve managed to dodge Universal Studios for the past two years, however we’ve loved our visits to Adventure Cove water park and the Aquarium. My advice would be adding Tanjong Beach Club to the itinerary – a cheeky rosé for the Mums and the kids can run themselves ragged on the beach.
What are your day-to-day Singapore haunts?
Cluny Court (feels a lot like a local shopping strip at home where you can pretty much tick everything off your list from food shopping, bakery, nail apt, present buying and catching up for coffee/lunch with a girlfriend). Little Farms stocking up on all the Australian produce; Plain Vanilla for cupcakes and F45 Tanjong Katong and runs along the river are my exercise haunts. Kinokuniya is probably the biggest bookstore I have ever been to; the kids love it.
Tell us what you're loving right now.
- A weekly visit to Tiong Bahru market for beautiful flowers, fresh Asian ingredients for the new recipes I keep finding – we can’t get enough of Asian cooking. Plus a great coffee at either Tiong Bahru bakery or Forty Hands.
- Finding the time to ‘play tourist’ in the place we call home. We did the Henderson Wave bridge walk last weekend followed by lunch at Keppel Bay Marina, 2 places we hadn’t visited and loved.
- I just finished reading ‘The Perfect Couple’ by Elin Hilderbrand. I really enjoyed it and it was the perfect holiday read.
- Restaurants I’m loving is a tricky one as we are so spoilt for choice up here … But certainly White Rabbit in Dempsey Hill for a special occasion or date night. The little Gin garden bar out the back is great; Dolce Vita at Mandarin Oriental would be our favourite brunch spot; Bar piccolo for a Spritz followed by Don Ho for dinner with friends (both are on Keong Saik Rd).
- Breakfast has always been my least favourite meal of the day, but I’m loving smoothies or quinoa porridge at the moment, both quick & nutritious.
- Travelling/planning our next family adventure.
- My music of choice on a Thursday/Friday whilst packing & organising the parties for the weekend is always 80s!
- Definitely a Friday night drink by the pool with my husband and friends.