By: Melissa Walsh
She is an actress, singer, author, entrepreneur with her children’s clothing line Chi Khi, prime time tv presenter, three time Logie award nominee, ambassador for Reading Eggs, and mum of two. Super sweet Natalie Bassingthwaighte talks to Melissa Walsh on how this household name juggles motherhood and an illustrious career.
AS A MUM OF HARPER, 6, AND HENDRIX, 3, HOW DO YOU JUGGLE ALL YOUR DUTIES, ALONG WITH YOUR CAREER, CHILDREN’S CLOTHING LABEL, AND NOW VENTURING BACK INTO ROGUE TRADERS?
In the past six months we have made massive changes in our house with the routine before school. Harper started school this year and we found the mornings to be out of control so decided to take the tv out of the lounge room. We were sick of it being on in the morning and found the kids weren’t motivated. We removed the tv, rearranged the space, brought in educational toys and have completely changed the morning routine in that way. Now the four of us (husband Cameron McGlinchey, Natalie, Harper and Hendrix), spend right up till 9am together every morning when we drive or walk Harper to school. We play music, do games or puzzles and it’s a better way to start our day.
THAT SOUNDS AMAZING. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THAT IDEA?
My husband’s brother and wife have grown up kids who are incredible adults and they never had TV in the morning so we decided to give it a go.
HOW DID THE CHILDREN RESPOND TO IT BEING REMOVED?
Harper was totally fine with it but Hendrix took a bit longer to get used to it. Being the second child, he had watched more than his older sister had. When Harper was born we didn’t let her even watch TV till she was three, but you get more relaxed with the second child.
HOW ELSE DO YOU JUGGLE MUM DUTIES AND CAREER?
It is hard to juggle at times; I’m not going to lie. But I have an amazing husband who helps out a lot. With our careers we are also lucky as we can pick and choose when and where we work so don’t have a set routine apart from our mornings. We always try to go to the kids activities too but I then do find I stay up often till 11pm working on the computer when the kids are asleep. It’s funny though as, even though I still have a lot on, I am getting more balance in life and learnt to not be as anxious about getting everything done.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN’S CLOTHING LINE, CHI KHI.
HOW DID THAT ALL COME ABOUT?
I thought of the concept after Hendrix was born, and we have been online for about 15 months now. I always love a challenge and had wanted to start my own business for some time. Both my children have sensitive skin and I wanted to make children’s clothing from bamboo fabric that was soft and durable with an urban, unisex edginess. My daughter would often put on a dress and say it was itching her. I was also sick of buying something and the kids would have grown out of it within weeks.
HOW DOES CHI KHI STAND OUT FROM OTHER BRANDS?
It is cool, urban unisex designs in a monochromatic palette made to mix and match from bamboo and cotton, the best fabric for sensitive little ones. I love things to be well made, comfortable and to last, so every Chi Khi Mini piece has taken that into consideration. The love and attention is in the detailing. Every garment has extra length for those growth spurts. Just fold up or scrunch, upside down zips for easy nappy change and our super cute signature eyelash foot grips for those littlies on the move. The bamboo keeps them cool in summer and warm in winter.
YOU HAVE RECENTLY BEEN NAMED THE READING EGGS AMBASSADOR. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT AND WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF CHILDREN’S LITERACY?
I love reading and I want my kids to love reading as well. I have a beautiful photo of my husband reading to Harper on a rocking chair when she was much smaller. The look of engagement on her face makes it one of my favourite photos and I know how important it is to do reading with our kids.
Harper always loved books but I found with a second child you don’t have as much time to read so he had missed out a little until we started the Reading Eggs program. Now we devote about 15 minutes every day to the program with both the children and they are getting so much out of it. Harper loves the reward system and the look on Hendrix’s face when he achieves something is absolutely beautiful. As the ambassador it is all about spreading the word and that is so easy to do with a program I am so passionate about.
SO MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN CHILDREN’S LIVES SEEMS TO BE IMPORTANT TO YOU, AS YOU ALSO WROTE A BOOK WITH YOUR SISTER TO HELP BOOST TEENS AND PRE-TEENS SELF-ESTEEM. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
My sister and I both faced challenges at school. She was shyer and I was extraverted but we both found it difficult as most kids do to accept our differences. We wrote the book to help teenagers understand they should embrace their differences, and it is their uniqueness that sets them apart from others. I remember when we showed our older sister, she burst into tears because she thought it was what kids needed.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING WITH YOUR CAREER NOW?
We have started doing Rogue Traders gigs again, did the Grand Prix this year at our 10th anniversary of the band, and will be heading to Bondi Beach for another gig later on. We love performing and it’s so much fun getting up on stage singing the old songs. It’s funny because the kids didn’t realise until this year that we even performed in a band. I also have Brock the telemovie in the pipeline.
FINALLY DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER ADVICE FOR MUMS ON HANDLING THE CHALLENGES OF MOTHERHOOD?
First of all it’s never what you expect. It’s hard and the most important thing is to give yourself a break. We all do our best. It is also extremely important to not judge other mums. We must be supportive of each other. Even though you may work long hours, make the time with your kids quality time.