Naturopath/Author/Animal rights activist
What is your definition of a crushable Mama?
For me it is a mama that parents whole-heartedly, that loves fully, that gets on her knees and plays with her children, that is engaged but is also open about her struggles – to others, and also her children ( to some extent)... it is not about being “perfect” but showing up to the best she can.
What is the most rewarding thing about motherhood?
The relationship with my children is by far the most rewarding and also watching them grow into themselves...and seeing them blossom.
Where has motherhood pushed you to grow the most?
It really got me to take a no-bullshit look into my “shadow” self, and face my old patterns that were not serving me – and certainly would not serve my children. When I realised my children pick up on even my subtle energies and that via this exchange I would pass on these self-limiting beliefs to them, I made a commitment to do the work, which I did, and continue to do. When you know your shitty self-talk also affects these small vulnerable children, then suddenly it makes it much more pressing for you to become empowered.
What are your top 3 best tips for a new mama?
1. Let go of any expectations of what it will/should be like... every child is different and we really don't know what it will be like for us, or how we are going to respond until life unrolls...and what is right for your sister/friend/mother-in-law/yourself pre-child, may not be right for you once you become a mother ( or even have another child). You have to trust your instincts on this one...
2. Find a support group that you can connect with...truly connect with – if it isn't right and supportive,( this is the key word) find another one. Because this next few years these woman can be your life-line.. When we share experiences they become so much richer, and when we share hard times, it lessens the difficulty – just knowing you have support and are heard are so important in this life-changing period.
3. Embrace the moment.. it will pass. Life changes dramatically when you have your first child and rather than resisting it, and pining for what was, take it all in... bask in it...grow from it.. indulge in your child...create space to just be with them and do NOT feel guilty about it, nor that you are not “doing enough”. There will be time to do – this is the time to be. This is the gift we can give our children and they give to us in return – if we don't accept it by being with them, we miss it.
What has been your biggest challenge as a parent?
My biggest challenge would have to of been the excessive lack of sleep after my second son, that sent me to the brink of insanity... literally. He had terrible reflux that we consciously didn't medicate, but it meant hours of inconsolable screaming during the night and would take hours just to resettle him. I was shattered. Beyond shattered. But goodness it gave me a deep understanding of people who suffer from mental disorders now...and we got through it...and he now sleeps and his gut healed itself, as studies show they do most of them time after age one... argh. It was super challenging but I have so much more compassion now. And of course, finding the balance... this one is re-occurring challenge and one I continue to adapt to, as their and my needs shift.
What is your parenting philosophy/approach?
My personal philosophy to parenting is that I SHOW UP fully – to the best of my ability. And that as the mother, as the feminine, I am responsible for the space I hold with our family unit... which I want to be light, playful, honest, adventurous, respectful and loving. Which really means putting these values into action, giving what I want to receive, being the role model of these in my relationship with my children but also my husband. It means going on adventures, dancing in the kitchen, singing in the shower, explaining when I am not feeling good, being vulnerable when I am hurt, creating meals to share together, being engaged and interested in what they are doing and experiencing... the list goes on.. really it means SHOWING UP with my whole heart and self.
What has been your biggest surprise about motherhood?
Probably how much they teach me – I think just as much as I teach them... if notmore!
What is your approach to food and raising a child?
As a Naturopath, it is important for me that my children eat a majority of fresh whole foods and a wide range of them. But I am also pretty relaxed when we travel or on special occasions – I think there is a 90 -10 rule in our house... when we are at home we are super clean eating, but when we indulge we go for it with no regrets – for example we had a white Christmas last year and at the hotel every day after skiing the kids eat smores and hot chocolates – but interestingly enough, after the first week they were over it and stopped it themselves. I really want to instill that personal empowerment of them CHOOSING healthy eating because it makes them FEEL better, while still being relaxed and having a enjoyable relationship with their food. It is such a great part of our human existence! We are also plant-based in our home which means my children also fully understand what goes on in animal agriculture and why we make the choice to not support it. This choice also comes with educating them on why they must eat the right foods to get enough of what they need without meat –and this can be challenging sometimes with my son who is a fussy eater!
What is your approach to disciplining your child?
I defiantly think boundaries are healthy for children, but I also think shaming or scaring a child into “good behavior” isn't helpful in the long time... so for me I prefer a more “positive discipline” approach, where we talk to them privately about what another option could be and why what they did isn't the way to go. I like to think about how I learn to be a better person, and it is with supportive guidance and not fear! So the same would go for children...
4 tips to finding balance in motherhood?
Ah, the hardest part....
1. At the minimum, carving out an hour every day to reconnect to myself – for me this is YOGA. I go nuts without it...
2. Once my children were 18 months and no longer breast feeding ( this is variable for every mother) I always like to have a project I am working on for myself. I think it is about having a creative outlet, something you can express you in – whether this be your work, art, whatever...
3. I think balance in motherhood cant be looked at without thinking about your relationship... Weekly date nights work in my house and not talking about the kids when we do one! It is SO important to have time to be a couple still, and not just parents together, otherwise you can lose the sparkle! And you cant just expect it to be there without prioritizing it and making time for it!
4. I go on a holiday every year by myself with my girlfriends, without my hubby or children ( obviously not when I was breast feeding) but this resets my “me” meter and I get a few itches scratched – like late night dances, road trip, girls getting ready together etc... to just have girly FUN.
Your top 4 lessons you wish to instill in your child?
Being kind to others.
Resilience....being able to get back up... facing what ever life throws at them...
Being authentic and brave enough to walk their unique walk and go for their dreams.
What are you letting go of?
I constantly have to keep coming back to letting go of not feeling like I am achieving “enough” outside of my family – because this then affects how I am with my family! Being the main carer, means SOO much of my time is dedicated to my family – my projects do come into fruition, it just always takes double the time:) And so there is a letting go.. always...
What are you calling in?
Calling in more adventures... I always call this in because I love it! I love traveling together, whether it be camping in the bush or five-star resorts – I love experiencing new places, new foods, new people – together... for me it creates such a deep bond sharing the magic of discovery.
Have a look at what Gemma has been up to lately..
The Compassionate road 21 Day Guidebook: