"Before falling pregnant with Lalie, my husband Paddy and I lived in Marrickville, Sydney in our converted warehouse apartment. A normal day for me involved sourcing and styling for women's fashion advertising campaigns and magazine editorials. Each day was different, depending on the job. Most days were spent shooting in studio or out on location.
On the days I wasn’t shooting, you would most likely find me driving around the city like a crazy person trying to view collections and source product for upcoming jobs or returning product after a job had been completed. In the evenings we would often dine out to enjoy the amazing food our pocket of the city had to offer. Weekends were spent puttering about markets and antique shops, heading out to concerts and local gigs and just generally exploring the city. When I look back now, we enjoyed a rather selfish existence in the years leading up to parenthood.
Our life now is so completely different. When I was five months pregnant with Lalie, we moved back to our hometown of Townsville in North Queensland. We had been away living in London and Sydney for eight years, so we felt it was time to move back to be close to the friends and family we had missed so dearly. With a baby on the way, we craved somewhere with a slower pace, where living was more affordable, and a place that provided us with a bigger support network. So we sold our apartment in Sydney, packed up our things and made our journey home.
Life here is so much slower, there is space to move and the air is cleaner. We spend our days exploring and playing in our big backyard with our dogs or enjoying a walk by the beach. We spend a lot of time at home, chipping away on the renovation of our old Queenslander which we are slowly but surely putting our mark on. For the last sixteen months, I've been fortunate enough to stay at home full time with Lalie.
Unfortunately, I can’t really work as a stylist in Townsville -- there is no industry here. I am in the midst of planning to launch my own business that I am very excited about -- something I can work on from home which will allow me to spend as much time with Lalie (and hopefully some other babies in the future) as possible. Overall, it’s an absolute pleasure to stay home with my daughter every day, although there are days where life can start to stagnate and feel monotonous. Some days you feel relaxed and in control and other days are a little (a lot!) overwhelming. I’ve learnt to accept that as a mum, you’re always going to have both good and bad days -- you can’t be perfect all the time, and that’s okay.
The thing that surprises me most about becoming a mama is how little sleep I can actually function on! I wish I had known just how much of a struggle it would be at times. People did warn me, but to be honest, up until becoming a mum, I had rather a high opinion of myself. Nothing brings you down to earth more than having a child. I now have so much respect for all the amazing mothers out there, especially my own. Where I might have been quick to judge before, I now have a new found level of understanding and compassion.
I think the hardest part is holding on to yourself as a person. It’s so easy for all your energy to go into the caring and wellbeing of your little one, but it’s so important for the whole family that the mother is nurtured. It’s difficult to make yourself a priority, but so important.
I love that being a mum lets me tap into the purity and innocence of childhood. Engaging in imaginative play and exploration with my daughter lets me see the world through her eyes -- to me, that’s the most magical part of motherhood.
When I look after myself and I am eating and sleeping well, there’s such a noticeable difference in my approach to parenting. Having a really supportive, hands-on husband also makes such a huge difference.
The best parenting advice I've been given is to always let your children know how loved they are, no matter what behavioral issues arise. Love is always the answer.
If I were to give advice to new mamas I'd say, talk to other mums, surround yourself with people in similar situations to you - adult companionship is really important and I've found, on the most part, other mother’s advice to be really helpful."
photographs 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 by tim coulson. find claire at her blog, one claire day, and at her vintage etsy shop, bug and beetle.