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Mum's the Word

Momspiration - Amanda Blakely

momspiration amanda blakely
Entrepreneur, Adventurer,Travel Writer and founder of Petits Genoux

What is the most rewarding thing about being a mother? Biggest joys? Biggest challenges?

 My mother always says you get out what you put in. It's like a savings account. And I honestly feel that when I'm present and engaged as their mom, I am rewarded with their best little selves. When I see the mental leaps and connections they make on a daily basis, the little skills they are acquiring, well it blows my mind. Raising these amazing tiny humans (at times similar and also so completely different from us) to me it’s just the best science experiment ever!
 
Of course with joy comes pain and the frustrations of motherhood are intense feelings. The fear of failure as a parent (am I making the best choices for raising our family?), the constant concern for their health and safety, my irrational behaviour when sleep-deprived (temper much?). But most of this melts away with a cuddle before bed with Atticus or during a late night nursing session with little Archer. 

momspiration amanda blakely


You are a travel writer and have recently launched your own line of baby clothes – Petits Genoux - what have you learned about balancing motherhood with your career?

For one thing, I have learned how incredibly efficient I can be when I put my mind to something. Never get in the way of a mother with a to do list!! I often marvel at how little I used to get done in a day pre-kids (comparatively of course). Admittedly my nails & hair were always done and I probably looked more put together – so there’s that.
 
The second thing I am still learning and trying to fine-tune is the expectations I place on myself as an entrepreneur. Now that my eldest is 4, I can see how small the window of babyhood actually is. In September he’ll start full day school – I am more conscious of the time slipping by and i want to be present and available to hang with both boys as much as possible. So I try to make that my number one priority, and if that means that my business sometimes takes a back seat, well we’re not saving lives or curing cancer, we’re just making cute baby garments;)
 
Finally, having help means I keep my sanity, some semblance of organization around our home and healthy meals on the table. It's a win win for everyone and we would be lost without our sweet nanny, Mishellyn.

Do you find that your personal style has changed since you’ve become a mom? 

Definitely! I still love to get dressed up and go out with my husband or attend events, but the reality of my day-to-day life is that I need to dress for comfort and practicality. I have a pretty basic capsule wardrobe that I have been slowly (and unknowingly) editing over the past few years. It consists of nicely tailored, well made investment basics. I buy for quality and I try to stick to natural fabrics like 100% wool, cotton, leather and denim – all of which stand the test of time and hold-up to active park sessions and play dates. I also have an unhealthy obsession with the colour grey. But it just hides baby spit up and stains so damn well!!
 
amanda blakely

As a travel writer and always being on the move, what’s the secret to traveling with young kids? Fave vacation spot? 

In the wise words of Elsa “let it gooooo”. Let go of the long list of places you MUST see or things you MUST do and instead take each day at a time. We always try and keep a rhythm to our days that mimics the way we live at home. Morning activity, nap(or quiet time), afternoon activity, family dinner, bed. If they seem rested, curious and up for an adventure, we may take on more in a given day, but there is no sense in pushing our own agenda – it always results in tantrums, struggles and unhappy babies.
 
My second piece of advice is to “Just do it”! Don't wait until the kids are the perfect age, stage, size or achieving particular milestones, just go. It doesn't have to be a journey to the other side of the world or to a fancy hotel, take a road trip to visit the grandparents, buy a tent and go camping, visit friends outside the city. Breaking out of your daily routine, opening their eyes to new sights, smells, scenes, tastes, ways of living. These are the things that excite and inspire me, and I hope will do the same for them. Answering their crazy little questions, really stopping to smell the roses (or hibiscus plants as is often the case in our fam). Being all together somewhere different is so important to us and the foundation of how we want to raise our children.
 
As far as favourite destinations, we love Latin America – the warmth of the people, the vibrancy of the local cultures and colours, their customs and traditions – it speaks to our familial values and the values we hope to cultivate in our children. We end up returning often to Mexico as both my mother and father spend much of their time in a beautiful colonial town called San Miguel de Allende. We also love Mexico City for it’s incredible food scene, it’s brilliant parks and grand museums. Buenos Aires for it’s rich history, classical architecture and walkability. Next month we’re heading to Nicaragua for the first time. Been craving a laid back boho beach vaycay after a hectic few months.

amanda blakely

Kids names? Where did you find inspiration?

Unwittingly, my husband and I already had a theme going (both A names) and decided to limit our initial name search to those beginning with ‘A’. We both loved Atticus after the Harper Lee character and despite a long list of other great names – we both kept coming back to this one. It was unique but still familiar and felt worldly, while his middle name, James, honours my husbands late uncle. Then when we found out we were pregnant with boy number two, we started a new list. This time we didn't want to limit ourselves to strictly ‘A’ names. In the end we both kept coming back to Archer. I spent part of my teenage years living in England and something about this British surname felt just right for our little gentleman. His middle name, Phineas, is hebrew for Paul (honouring my grandfather).

Current fave baby/kid books?

I’m a sucker for the classics: Where the Wild Things Are, anything by Dr.Seuss (who is from my mother’s hometown of Springfield Massachusetts) or Roald Dahl. I can't wait for the boys to be old enough to appreciate longer chapter books. My parents used to read the best of classic literature aloud to us. I have so many precious memories of this time before bed with them – it spawned a lifetime love affair with reading for me

Quote the worst/funniest thing your kid(s) have ever said.

Me: "Wow, look at all the construction men and women hard at work"
Atticus: "Women don't work, dey just drink wine”

Sunday night tradition?

    Whenever we’re in the city we try to spend Sunday eve with my inlaws. A home cooked meal and built-in babysitting – the best way to kick off a new week!

    amanda blakely
     

    Go-to family restaurant in Toronto?

      Terroni Price Street, Dailo, the Soho House for weekend brunch, the Playa Cabana Hacienda patio for summer nights, Pizza Libretto, island Café on Wards Island for a hot summer breakfast or lunch, Bar Raval for coffee, donuts and pinxtos (if you can get a seat), Café Belong for weekend brunch, momofuku noodle bar.

       

      amanda blakely

      With the power and influence of social media such as Instagram, how do you draw the line about what you think is appropriate to post of your kids? As a mother do you enjoy and/or find it beneficial to share photos and videos your family on social media platforms?

      Having started a blog named after my first son, I am definitely entrenched in this digital world of sharing. I like to think of my blog and my Instagram account as digital family albums - a great way to share glimpses into our lives and to document our little adventures for our friends and loved ones (all of whom live abroad – on my side of the family) who choose to follow along. But there is definitely a fine balance and I don't know that I have figured out exactly what that is yet. This digital age is changing so rapidly, I think as parents we need to do the best we can to maintain a level of discretion around what and how often we share, but that threshold and comfort level are going to be different for everyone. And when the day comes that Atticus or Archer ask me why I chose to share what I did, we can have an open conversation about it. I hope they enjoy the photos I chose to publish and the stories I decided to share. Of course these only represent a small part of who we are and how we live, but they each capture a moment in time of being their mom.
       
      amanda blakely momspiration

      Any last words of wisdom for our fellow new moms?

      When I'm in the thick of a certain phase or stage or tantrum and feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, I always try to remind myself that the days are long – oh yes they are, but the years are short. Embrace the chaos!