“I’m from England and my mum wasn’t able to come out to Australia for the birth of either of my children – which was so tough for me. After having kids you want that connection, I want my mum. Australia is a fabulous place to bring up kids but I want my kids to have a sense of where I grew up, to know my family and English culture so I make sure we go home every year. I miss the shopping, English humour, the hustle and bustle, just not the weather! — Deauvanné from Mama Stylista
Kids (name + ages): Charissa 1.5, Ziggy, 4
Where did you grow up? What was it like? What’s a story you’ll always remember from your childhood?
I grew up in London, I love it there. It’s an exciting place, there’s always something going on. Every day is an adventure. There is so much to see and do. I remember going with my parents to see the Changing of the Guard, having lunch at Trafalgar Square and dancing in front of the Queen at Hyde Park with my school. I miss good old British pomp and circumstance.
How has it been for you raising kids in a place you didn’t grow up in? What do you miss? What do you love most about your new home?
The hardest thing has been not being near my family. My mum wasn’t at the birth of either of my children which was tough for me. After having kids you want that connection, I want my mum. My MIL is great but it’s not the same. Australia is a fabulous place to bring up kids! It’s wonderful having access to the beach and an outdoor lifestyle that was so different to my upbringing. Just watching my kids play in the sand on a regular basis makes me happy. I do want my kids to have a sense of where I grew up though and to know my family and English culture so I make sure we go home every year! I miss the shopping, English humor, the hustle and bustle but not the weather!
Australia has this polarised reputation as incredibly multi-cultural yet at the same time seriously racist. What’s been your experience? And the experience of your children?
There is racism everywhere. I have experienced it here and in London. I do think there is a casual form of racism in Australia. I was shocked to find golliwog dolls on sale in the hospital where I gave birth to my children. The lady behind the counter had no idea why golliwogs are offensive. So there is a level of ignorance here. I think Australia is changing but there is a long way to go! My children haven’t experienced anything yet. My daughter is only 1.5yrs old. We live in the Inner West and they see kids their own colour every day. That’s one of the reasons we chose to bring up our children there. I’m sure the subject will come up and I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.
When have you felt most vulnerable as a parent?
When I left the hospital with my firstborn and realised for the first time that we were on our own. Taking the little bundle home in the car, I was terrified I would mess it up. I couldn’t believe I was responsible for something so tiny and precious.
What’s been your biggest practical struggle as a parent?
Definitely sleep. When Ziggy was born I loved holding him in my arms as any mum does. But I became susceptible to the two big no nos: feeding him to sleep and holding him while he slept. Friends would berate me for this saying it would cause problems for him later but I didn’t care. Bub hated going in the cot and I couldn’t bear to hear him cry so I would hold him in my arms and feed him until he fell asleep.
When he was seven months – and over 9kg – a habit had formed. We were co-sleeping, safely of course. My husband would sleep in the spare room during the week. I became absolutely exhausted from holding him during the night.
I got so confused with all the sleep stuff and Google is a minefield! I was at a complete loss as to what to do so I got a referral from my Doc and headed over for a Tresillian day-stay with much trepidation.
On arrival there was a mum in the reception area with a quilt/doona, 2 kids and a look on her face that said, ‘don’t f**k with me!’ I was taken to a lounge area where three other mums are sitting silently. We are collectively thinking ‘What are we doing here?’ One mum leaves early exclaiming ‘This isn’t for me!’ I am led away by a nurse to an office and go through tedious paperwork. Then I am given new techniques to settle bub. The information is delivered in a caring way with no judgement at all. We discuss some of the methods I have come across in my Google travels and the nurse reiterates my fears that some methods of controlled crying are indeed harmful for the baby which will become evident in later years.
With any new routine though there is an element of crying and the nurse showed me the different levels when bub was ready to go for a nap. I was told to try and resist the urge to pick him up at the slightest grizzle. During the whole process I was told to cuddle him, comfort him and stroke him when he became distressed. Bub needs to learn to settle himself and me jumping to pick him up at every cry is not giving him the opportunity to do so. After half an hour of me going in and out of the room where bub was in his cot, cuddling him and soothing him he fell asleep. This is a first for me as he never sleeps in the cot at home during the day. Admittedly this victory was short because he woke after 20mins but it was a start.
How have you grown?
I have two children now and I just get on with it. I’m much more relaxed the second time around. I’m proud of myself to be honest. I’ve come a long way. Case in point, I just put my daughter down to sleep with no breastfeeding. This is massive for me. Parenting is a learning process isn’t it and you grow everyday. Looking back you realize just how much.
Who or where do you turn when things get hard for you?
I turn to my husband. He is my rock. I also have a strong network of friends and other mums who I can talk things through with.
How has fashion helped you through parenting?
It has saved my sanity! I have a background in fashion and since being in Sydney I have worked in recruitment, real estate and media sales. After having my son I knew I wanted to get back into fashion somehow. A friend suggested blogging. I felt like I found myself again. I have a business, I am styling again and I can spend time with the kids. I’m
a happier person which of course makes me a better parent.
How has social media changed the way you connect with other mums and the broader community and friends overseas?
I was never on Facebook before blogging. Now I’m a big social media fan. I have made some great friends with other mums through Instagram and I have reconnected with old friends. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with my family who can see what I’m up to. Although I still think they’re not really sure what blogging is all about!
Has becoming a mum made you reflect on your own mum?
Yes most definitely! I was an absolute nightmare and I’m hoping I don’t get payback with my daughter. Being a mum I realize why mum made some of her decisions with me and how hard it must’ve been for her. Parenting is a tough gig man! I worry about EVERYTHING!