So This Is How Moms Raise Their Kids Down Under
Georgie Abay is the founder of The Grace Tales, an online destination for the stylish, multitasking mother. Now a mother of two young girls, Sydney-based Abay has worked in magazines around the world, for titles such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and was most recently the deputy editor/fashion features director at Vogue Australia. She’s also the co-founder of children’s knitwear line Atelier/Child.
What’s day-to-day life like as a mother in Sydney, Australia? Probably the same as it is for you, rather crazy and chaotic. Some days run smoothly, and on other days, it all seems to fall apart. It seems to fall apart a lot, but tomorrow is a new day. I’m a tad OCD and get very stressed when the house isn’t tidy. Clutter and I don’t get along, so I try to be as much of a minimalist as I can. But as you know, kids tend to come with a lot of stuff. So in the second installment of my new monthly column for MyDomaine, I'm sharing an inside look into how we raise kids in Australia, or at least how I do it at home. Be sure to let me know how different it is to your routine in the comments section or reach out to me on Instagram.
I like to keep our life as quiet as possible and not plan too much. There’s nothing more stressful than overscheduling. Just let life happen. You don’t need to plan everything. We book a couple of fun activities for the girls each week—tennis and ballet—both of which are walking distance from our home, so we don’t need to get in the car. It’s easy, stress-free, and helps to fill up the day without it becoming too jam-packed.
Visit Local Parks
We spend a lot of time in the local parks, and in summer, we’ll head down to the beach after school. My girls are happiest when they’re at the beach—nothing makes me smile like those long summer days. I feel so grateful to live in Australia when I’m at the beach. I often can’t believe how lucky I am. Is this really where we live? It’s paradise.
You don’t need to overcomplicate food—it’s all about moderation.
Bring Them to Your Playdates
We live in the inner city in a terrace house, so we don’t have the space that families who live further away from the city have. We might not have a sprawling backyard, but we’re minutes away from all the action and I adore our little village, which is filled with shops and cafés. I have lots of friends in the area, and often on a Friday afternoon, we’ll get together with the kids for an early dinner and a glass or two of champagne, which we drink while each of us bath our kids in turn. It’s our version of after-work drinks.
My approach to food with my kids? Everything in moderation. Growing up, we never had junk food in the house. Once a month on a Friday night, we were allowed fast food. We rarely drank fizzy drinks, and even now, I don’t like the taste of them. Not every house was like this, obviously. I had a friend whose pantry was always bursting with junk food. My husband makes the girls scrambled eggs or porridge with honey every morning. For lunch, it’s a ham-and-cheese wrap with some veggies on the side, and dinner is much the same. There’s usually some yogurt thrown in, and always lots and lots of avocado.
On days when I can’t be bothered to prepare anything, we’ll have sushi or I’ll grab a lasagna from the local deli. My girls eat lots of fruit and veggies, but I also treat them to ice cream and biscuits. I’m not terribly strict with their diet (I probably need to be stricter!). As long as I get some of the good stuff in them, I’m not worried if they get treats a few times a week. You don’t need to overcomplicate food—it’s all about moderation.
Maintain a Routine
When it comes to discipline, I’m quite strict with them, but they’re both spirited, strong-minded girls, so I’m not sure I have any words of wisdom there. For the most part, they boss me around. What I do know is that routine is key for us. Bedtime is always 7 p.m. unless it’s the weekend and we have friends over. Our routine has been the same for years: dinner, bath, books, songs, and bed. I also know that fresh air is the ultimate cure for most things (tired toddlers, sleep deprivation, etc.).
If all the wheels are falling off, I’ll just get us out the door and into the fresh air. I used to walk and walk and walk when the girls were babies. It was the only way they slept and the only way I stayed sane. These days, as a working mother, I stay sane with the help of au pairs. We also have had au pairs from around the world live with us for the last three years. We love it, and it’s wonderful for the girls to meet new people from different countries.
When it comes to raising children in Australia, for many of them, life is very much about the sun and the sand.
Take Them to the Countryside
We love to travel, which is probably surprising given we’re miles away from anywhere (my husband is British, so to take our little clan to see his family in London requires around 30 hours of travel. Not ideal with small children). The thing is, as an Australian, I’m used to traveling long distances. Unless you want to go to Bali or Fiji every holiday, eight or more hours on a plane or in the car is standard. We can’t get to Paris in two hours or Mexico in four hours.
But what we can do is get to glorious beaches very quickly because Sydney is full of them. When it comes to raising children in Australia, for many children, life is very much about the sun and the sand. Or if you live in the country, it’s about the sun, the space, and the spectacular scenery. My oldest friend had a farm, and I have such fond memories of spending time there as a child. We’d ride horses, run away from snakes, climb trees, and just let our imaginations run wild.
Take Them Overseas
Growing up, my dad loved taking us on road trips. We’d drive for 14 hours up the coast to a little beach town called Byron Bay where we’d spend our summer holidays. It taught me that getting anywhere usually involved a bit of travel. My husband is still getting used to these long drives—being British, he’s not used to everything being so far away, whereas it’s so normal for me. Driving with kids can be an absolute nightmare, but it’s always worth it when we arrive (and I always find that a glass of wine is the perfect remedy after a long car trip with kids).
When I was 12, my mum and nan took me to Europe for the first time. We stopped over in Thailand to break up the journey. Then, when I left school, I spent a year traveling the world. And when I left university, I did the same thing. I’ve traveled all around the world from Tibet to Mexico. I’ve lived in London and Dubai. Mum always encouraged me to see the world, and for that, I’ll always be grateful. I can’t wait to show the girls more of the world and inspire them to go on adventures. For now, it’s wonderful exploring all that our own country has to offer.
Ready to have fun in the sun with your kids this weekend? Do it the Aussie way with our favorite beach essentials below: