Parenting Questions answered – By Emma Hawkins

For this month’s Wattle Health article I decided to reach out to my loyal Instagram followers and ask, “What do you want to know and read about?” I was overwhelmed with the responses I received and I have shortlisted a few below for you all to enjoy.

Do you watch all of Tom games?

If I can, I will. I really enjoy watching the football and love watching Tom. I am a very proud wife.

Please talk about mental health and how you deal with ups and downs.

I’m certainly not qualified to talk about mental health as I’m not a professional and have been so fortunate that I haven’t had to deal with anything too serious. I will say when Belle was really little I went through some anxiety issues. It certainly wasn’t clinical anxiety, just ‘new mum’ type of anxiety that I am sure most new mums go through. However, I went and saw someone and through a few techniques I learnt I was able to overcome it. I would honestly go see your doctor first and foremost and just know that if you are dealing with a mental health issue, you are not alone and there is help.

How do you maintain your relationship after the baby?

This is a work in progress! I am envious of those couples that say they go on a date night every second Wednesday, but it’s just not achievable for us. We don’t have a lot of family around and once we have spent money on daycare and babysitting during the week for us to be able to go work, we find it hard to justify spending more money on date nights. Plus, we are at that age where we have lots of weddings and 30th’ birthdays so we are very social together as a couple. I guess, we just make it work when we have the time. We will also go on a holiday together at the end of every football season and my mum and dad will come to Victoria and have Belle for three or four nights so Tom and I can have some quality time together, just the two of us. We have decided that this is something we will try and do together every year.

How do you handle work, baby balance and keeping Belle to a routine when you are at work?

Simple answer… I don’t. I just do it and try not to over think it. Some weeks are easier than others and I try to be super organized! Belle does daycare once a week, so it doesn’t affect her routine as she is down to one sleep now and manages to have a sleep at daycare. The other days where I work we have our amazing Nanny Shirly (who is basically Mary Poppins!) and keeps Belle to her routine. She is also a retired early learning teacher so she does amazing activities with Belle as well as helping us around the house to help us run an organized household. We certainly understand how lucky we are to be in a position to have someone like Shirly. However, I work hard and that is my decision and one I am very happy with. As I have mentioned before, we don’t have family around so this is what we have chosen and it works really well for us.

Food ideas for toddlers?

To be honest, I am struggling at the moment. Belle has all of a sudden become very picky! I love the book Food babies Love. I would recommend giving that a go.

How do you find parenting with a partner who often travels for work?

Well, it is what it is. Tom travels every 4 weeks during the season, so it’s not too bad and to be honest, He is home most nights around 4pm and has one day off during the week because he works weekends so I consider myself super lucky!

In kids sport do you think it’s important that children learn to lose instead of everyone being winners?

At the moment, my opinion is kids need to learn how to lose (some adults still need a bit of schooling in that department!) However, that is just my opinion and maybe once my kids are at school and doing sports my opinion may change! But currently, I think learning to lose is very important.

Getting back into fitness post baby, the time, the energy, how do you do it?

I try and do three fitness activities per a week. It could be Pilates or F45 and I just make it a priority because I know it will make me feel better. I sit down with Tom on Sunday and we both open our schedules and see how we can make it work. Tom encourages me immensely to make time for myself and get in a work out so he is more than happy to make it work so that I can get time to go. However, some weeks are definitely harder than others. We live out of town so sometimes I lose motivation to get back into to town after doing errands to do a work out. But I try not to over think it and just do it. I have now also decided I’m so sick of working out to lose weight and then ultimately feeling disappointed and unmotivated if I haven’t lost any weight. My weight may never go back to what is was pre-baby, but I’m over that now. I work out for me and to feel stronger and mentally happier. That’s what it should be about.

What are some challenges you and Tom face living in the country?

We didn’t have the Internet for two years… I kid you not! And we don’t have town water or town gas. But that is pretty standard when living out of town and not the end of the word.

In the early days of having Belle, I felt very isolated and alone on some days. New parents living in town, even if they are having a rough day, can probably have some level of human interaction when ordering a coffee. I found the thought of getting in the car, driving into town, unpacking the pram and then attempting to breast feed in public all too daunting some days so I would just stay at home. It can be a little bit of a trap.

As a wife of a footballer do you feel pressure to look a certain way? Do you feel judged?

I think genuinely just as a female and a mother I do. I never lacked self-confidence as a teen and young adult, however, the last five years I certainly started to second guess my looks, weight, parenting, everything! I think social media has played a huge part in this. For all of the good, my lord, there are some negatives. I have been body shamed so much this past year. It’s so sad that other women feel the need to put people down. In the football world in particular, I think there is this insane amount of pressure to look a certain way, which is absolutely laughable. I constantly get messages saying, “It’s nice to see a footballer date a ‘plus size’ girl” or sometimes they say, “A ‘regular’ girl” which I actually hate receiving. What on earth do you define as ‘regular?” But honestly, I am too busy to read too much into all that and really don’t care for it all anymore.

Introducing tech to kids under five?

It’s such a personal decision. At the start we were so strict and now I’m on a plane and screaming, “Hand me Peppa the pig… NOW!” I think everything in moderation is fine. But again, it’s your decision, no one else’s.

How do you and Tom, who are duel working parents, balance home and baby responsibilities?

We are 50/50 with household chores and commitments at home. Some weeks that changes depending on external responsibilities but we are both very hands on in all aspects of Belle and the house. I think I mentioned it before, but we sit down every Sunday and plan our week out to the best of our abilities. Some nights Tom cooks and I do bath time; other nights we swap it around.

Getting through childbirth?

Hi epidural! Refer to my childbirth story for more details. But, again, personal decision and my choice was pain relief.

How is Tom as a dad how does he cope when you’re not there?

He is a champion father! Honestly, he is absolutely fine on his own with Belle. I, of course have everything planned and organized for him and Belle while I’m away with meal preps etc. However, to be honest, even if I didn’t do all that, he would be fine. He is her father and he knows what to do. I also think because I stopped breast feeding when Belle was 8-10 weeks Tom was really hands on with feeding and being involved in those early stages, so his level of responsibility was the same as mine, if that makes sense.

How do you discipline Belle? I have 18-month year old that has started pulling other kids hair.

We have just introduced the naughty corner and trying descriptive and emotive words. To be honest, this is all new to us too at the moment. The tantrums are increasing at a rapid pace but I’ve been assured it’s just a phase and repetition in your messaging is best. Good luck! We need some too!

Written by Emma Hawkins

Please note that these experiences are personal and may not be relatable to each reader. It is one individual’s perspective. We ask that people refrain from any negative commentary directed to others or the individual. We respect that each person has their own opinion and we encourage feedback but please ensure it isn’t delivered in a hurtful manner. Any derogatory or highly aggressive statements will be removed and anyone who is trolling will automatically be blocked from participating in this forum.

Imagery Credit: Rodd & Gunn