If you haven’t yet discovered Bohannah Gerritsen of The Simple Folk fame, you are in for a treat. Hours can be whiled away pouring over her beautiful Instagram feed, full of the most delicious shots of her impeccably styled, glowing family. But dive a little deeper, and you’ll come to realise this is a woman with a purpose. With a deep desire for adventure and creating everlasting family memories, Bohannah, her husband Tye and their three children Indiana, Archer and Olive, spend much of their time road tripping across Australia. Travelling for months at a time while exploring and connecting with each other, Bohannah and her family have designed a life that many of us only dream of...
Refreshingly open about motherhood (“In the first six weeks of Indiana’s life, to be frank, I really had no idea what I was doing,” she says), and with a clear focus on what truly matters, we’re ready to pack our bags and join Bohannah on her next journey, wherever it is that life takes her. Photography: Bridget Wood
Did you always want to be a mother?
Itʼs always something Iʼd hoped to be and when Tye and I met, I knew our lives would lead us in that direction. We got engaged after three years of dating and fell pregnant soon after. We had planned to get married and road trip around America before starting a family but things turned out differently.
Was your journey to motherhood easy? Have there been any challenges and how have you overcome any challenges?
Yes, our journey has been incredibly easy, something Iʼm always grateful for. Our first pregnancy took us by surprise, followed closely by our second. Olive was our first planned pregnancy and she was the best decision we ever made.
Did you feel supported when you first became a mother? Did you ever feel lonely/isolated?
Although I felt supported by my husband and family I still had moments of isolation in the late nights/early mornings in the postpartum period with Indiana. The first six weeks of breastfeeding was incredibly difficult and she was a very unsettled baby for the first four months. We were running on a small amount of sleep and to be frank, I really had no idea what I was doing. I look back on that newborn period with such heartache, wishing I knew then what I know now.
If you could bottle one moment of motherhood, what would it be?
There are so many moments I wish I could bottle up and relive again and again. Oliveʼs water birth at home was probably the most magical moment with her older siblings watching over as we welcomed her into the world.
What words of wisdom do you have for other mothers?
To slow down and embrace the chaos and joy that comes with raising children. The first years fly faster than you can imagine so donʼt waste those precious days worrying about enforcing routine or comparing your child to anyoneʼs elseʼs.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Iʼm definitely an extrovert, but Iʼm not somebody who needs to be out socialising all the time. I like to spend time with my close friends regularly but I also need lots of time at home with my family.
Talk us through your career path – what did you do before you became a mother and how long have you been blogging?
Iʼve been blogging for the past three years, since the birth of my son Archer. Blogging came easily as taking photos and editing has been a long time passion of mine. My career in blogging has grown over the last few years as my style has evolved and family has grown. Iʼm excited to see what the future holds for The Simple Folk.
What inspired you and your husband to drive across Australia?
Weʼve always loved being on the road and taking long drives was something we did prior to starting a family with small trips in WA as well as a road trip in NZ. With each new addition to our family, weʼve continued to explore our beautiful state so driving across Australia was just a natural extension.
What did you want to get out of this trip for you and your family?
Archer and Indiana are at a critical age right now where they are absorbing and learning so much from their surroundings and I knew this trip would impact them so positively. Also, weʼve had a huge year with the birth of Olive that time just seems to be slipping through our fingers. It has been so wonderful to have Tye off work for this amount of time (he does fly in, fly out) and to soak up all these precious moments together with our young family.
What have been some moments youʼll never forget from this trip?
A moment that affected us the most was finding a beached humpback whale calf distressed on the shore of a quiet beach in Exmouth. It was a very intense situation, calling rangers and helping alongside a few others to try and push the whale back to sea (with multiple tiger sharks circling may I add). It was a massive experience for the kids, and as their favourite book is ‘The Snail and the Whaleʼ for them to see a scene from the book in real life had such a huge impact on them.
Whatʼs a funny moment youʼll never forget from the trip?
The moment we realised the back panel of our caravan was hanging off. We had been driving several hours on a corrugated road and pulled over to a roadhouse for lunch, completely oblivious to the fact we were beginning to lose part of the van. We had to laugh otherwise weʼd probably cry and after about three hours we had it stuck back together with duct tape and were en route to our next destination.
Any disaster moments youʼve looked back on and laughed?
We had lots of heavy rain in Noosa and woke up to discover our kitchen was flooded. All our pots and pans from the night before were filled up with water and our floors were soaked. The power had even gone out as one of our lights had filled up with water too. It was an absolute disaster and it barely stopped raining all day so Tye had to find the leaks and silicone them up in the rain.
If you could revisit three places, where would they be?
Zebedee Springs in El Questro, WA Atherton Tablelands Far North, QLD Mataranka Hot Pools, NT
Best three places/ accommodation youʼve stayed with kids?
Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park, WA Mills Milla Caravan Park Far, North QLD Flametree Caravan Park Airlie Beach, QLD
Tell us about your childhood...
We are currently living in the same area I grew up in as a child – the hills of Perth. Itʼs so amazing to relive my own childhood memories with my kids. Iʼm beyond grateful for the life my parents created for my brothers and me. Growing up on a big block in a weatherboard house built by my father, the smell of fresh valley air, kangaroos and bandicoots on our doorstep, minimal neighbours and living off the food my mum grew in the garden. I remember long road trips to Kalbarri WA – a coastal town we have revisited with our own children twice now.
What kind of life do you want to create for your children?
A life where they feel loved and secure and free to be themselves. Where they can explore the world and experience the wonder of nature, be creative, care for others, care for the planet and grow their own food. Most of all to create a life where they are happy and following their dreams and passions.
Women often rush and find it hard to slow down – have you ever felt yourself do this? How do you slow down?
I donʼt often feel rushed, unless Iʼm attempting to complete multiple tasks at once. I find spending lots of time at home or outside with the kids in an open environment and switching off from devices helps me to slow down. To give my children undivided attention, listening to them and getting lost in their stories and games. If our day is ever getting a little too much, Iʼll get us all down for a day sleep. I find that really helps lessen some of the chaos.
Are you a patient person – how do you handle tantrums etc?
Not always as well as Iʼd like. Practising patience is definitely one of my biggest lessons in motherhood. Sometimes it feels best to allow the little ones time to let it out and once theyʼve calmed down, try to talk through their emotions. If we are out and about and theyʼre losing it over something small (obviously not small to them!) weʼll try to distract them by making them laugh or giving them a cuddle.
How do you give each child individual one on one time – do you find this hard?
Yes, it is a challenge with three to have one on one time but itʼs something we consciously work at. We feel grateful to have family close by who help to make it more possible. We love our quiet moments alone with Olive at night when the big two have fallen asleep. Sheʼs a little wired at that point so itʼs fun to watch her crazy personality come out. Archer thrives the most with one on one time as he is very industrious and loves us being involved with his trucks and games. Indiana enjoys us talking to her about past experiences so itʼs nice when Archer has his day nap to chat to her without interruptions.
Have your children been good sleepers? How do you handle sleep deprivation?
I have only ever suffered from sleep deprivation with Indiana in the early months as we were constantly timing feeds and attempting to have her sleep in the bassinet/cot. When I allowed myself the freedom to let things happen more naturally, to co-sleep and to feed on demand, I found an entire shift in our baby and thus in myself. Indiana went back into her cot around eight months and started sleeping 13 hours at 11 months. When Archer came along we had him in our bed the first night he was born and he followed his sisterʼs footsteps. Indiana only stopped taking day naps recently and Archer still has a big sleep in the afternoon. Olive wakes for several feeds a night but as sheʼs our last baby, I appreciate this time with her.
How do you entertain your kids during long car trips?
They entertain themselves mostly, either with activity books or simple toys. We always bring lots of snacks and have the iPad as backup if they get a little stir crazy while Olive is sleeping. We try to stop every 3/4 hours for toilet breaks, feeds/nappy changes and usually a big park play! We have clocked some serious kilometers, some days spending 14 hours driving – the kids have surprised and amazed us.
How much time do you spend on Instagram? How can we all have positive experiences on social media?
Instagram has become a big part of my daily routine as itʼs not just a pass time but also my work now and I feel like Iʼm balancing my online/offline life quite well. For me itʼs not so much about how much time I spend on social media but my mindset while Iʼm on. I always feel much happier when I am posting content I love, regardless of how many likes it gets. I believe people will have a more positive experience if they are authentic, sharing content that reflects their true self and arenʼt posting purely to gain big likes, followers or viral shares. Always post FOR YOU!
Have you ever had a negative experience on social media and if so, how did you handle it?
Overall, Iʼve had a positive experience on Instagram. I like to keep my feed lighthearted and post images and captions that reflect our lifestyle and bring me joy.
What fashion brands do you love to wear/will we find you in?
I love simple and comfortable styles so youʼll usually find me in a jumpsuit or jeans and a tee. I like to wear ethical brands that create pieces using natural and sustainable fabrics. Some favourites are Little Tienda, Chasing Unicorns, Maurie and Eve and Yoli and Otis.
What about your kids – what kind of clothes do you dress them in?
Indiana and Archer are pretty close to being the same size so I like to find pieces they can both wear. I love outfits that can get worn and washed over and over again – Summer and Storm, Yoli and Otis and Millk.co are some brands youʼll find them in. Indiana loves pretty dresses so Louise Misha is a new wardrobe favourite for the girls.
“Donʼt worry, be happy”