Before I had kids, my normal day didn’t even start until after 8am! I don’t know what I did with so much time. It feels like a lifetime ago. You have so much more time to yourself, and can be so much more indulgent.
I always knew that I wanted to have children. I knew that even if I couldn’t physically have them, I was going to have children somehow. It’s definitely harder than I ever imagined — the responsibility is so much more than you can ever quite understand. But it’s so much more rewarding than I ever thought it would be.
On being a businesswoman and a parent…
My husband is probably the one who helps me the most to be a good parent. We’re on the same path with our parenting style and skills. He’s just so hands-on, it’s not like I’m the sole caretaker. We both cook dinners, we both do the washing, we both take them to their little classes – we’re a team.
The best parenting advice I’ve been given is to sleep when you can. When my daughter was first born and had naps in the day, everyone would say just sleep when she’s down. It definitely helped.
Becoming a mother definitely made me look at the world differently. I felt that I had this responsibility to teach and help my children to be the best they can ever be.
On life as a creative mum…
On a regular week, my daughter has kindy on Wednesdays and Fridays, both my kids have gymnastics on Tuesdays and swimming on Thursdays, and we try to do those things as a family. I think it’s important for them to see us watching and supporting them. We also have help on another two days so my husband and I can get work done. It’s hard though, it’s definitely a juggle. A lot of it’s working after hours. Once the kids are asleep, we’re on computers getting stuff done so that during the day we have time to just hang with the children and enjoy life.
I feel like I parent better when I’m also inspired and doing something outside of being a mother, when I also do what I love. I want my daughter to know she can still do what she loves and also be a great parent.
In the latest Chi Khi range a lot of the pieces are 95% bamboo and they feel like cashmere. It’s also great for kids who have sensitive skin, which both my kids did. It’s breathable; warm in winter, cool in summer, but it’s also just super luxurious and soft.
On being a creative person…
I feel like working as a creative person has always been in my bones, even when I was a kid going to dance class. I always wanted to put on a show. Behind-the-scenes I would be putting on a show for my parents, and that felt creative, or my mum would be sewing costumes for me and I would ask to have the stripes here and the dots there. I feel kind of like it’s always been in me: the creative process.
When you have your own business, you think, ‘Oh good, I can pick and choose the times that I work’. But at the moment that’s not really the case, because I’m spending a lot of time building and maintaining the business. Ultimately the goal is to do something that I love; I love design, I love architecture, I love art and I love fashion, and by incorporating that into my daily life and having it be about the kids, I feel like I’m getting to tick all the boxes: I get to be creative everyday, but I can also focus on being a good mum.
The best career advice…
The best advice I’ve received is to listen and to learn and to take advice from people who have been there and done it before you. I had an amazing mentor (manager Mark Byrne) who had been there for 16 years, who supported, encouraged, picked me up when I felt down and helped guide my career.
Recently the girls from style runner have helped me; they’ve been so lovely. A lot of people think I’ve decided to be a designer now, but really I’m running a business. I’ve invested in properties and pubs before, but running your own business is a whole other thing. They’ve been so successful and have given me so much great advice.
Natalie with her daughter, Riley.
Advice for other creative parents…
You’ll probably always be trying to find the balance. Kids are only small for a short time, but you can still work around their demands by working when they sleep or if it’s possible, taking your kids with you while you work.
Life goes past very quickly, so embrace the small things. Embrace your family, and do what you love.
Natalie Bassingthwaighte is a performer, businesswoman, and mum to Harper, 4, and Hendrix, 2. She lives in Melbourne with her husband Cameron McGlinchey. You can check out her whole range of children’s clothing at Chi Khi.
Interview: Bron Bates