Get to know...
Ali Budd, President of Ali Budd Interiors, the award-winning interior designer with a serious knack for transforming any home into your home of your dreams. Ali sits down for a photoshoot with Trish Mennell Photography and talks to us about all things motherhood, the importance of taking time for yourself and so much more.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a mother? Biggest joys? Biggest challenges?
Watching my children grow up and seeing their amazing, hilarious and distinctive personalities come to life has been an incredible joy for me. I look at them (when they aren't whining) and my heart could explode. Literally explode. They have shown me how to see things in a different light and are definitely a constant reminder of what is important in life. When I became a mother, my own mom looked at me and said, "Only now can you truly understand how I feel about you." It was completely true! Unconditional love like no other.
Q: We know you're busy running your interior design firm, Ali Budd Interiors — what have you learned about balancing motherhood with your career?
When I'm at work, I try and remain completely focused on work. When I am with my children I do my best to make sure they have my full attention. I am very upfront with my clients initially to make sure I manage their expectations — I don't take meetings in the evening or on weekends. That is my time to be with my family. I have found that people ultimately really respect it.
I have always found it helpful to have an open dialogue with my children about what I do, why I do it, and why I love it. I've explained that there are other people that need mommy's help. They come to my office all the time to see what's up and I hope in time they will understand that everything I am working so hard for is ultimately to make sure I can give them the best life possible.
I feel proud that my daughter is growing up watching me try and fulfill my professional goals, and that my son can see that women can at once be successful business women and compassionate mothers. The two aren't mutually exclusive. I should also mention I have an INCREDIBLE village which I utilize all the time.
Q: Do you find that your personal style has changed since becoming a mom?
My style has definitely evolved over time, but I am not sure it has anything to do with being a mother. I love fashion and I love getting dressed. I'm a product junkie! I don't think you need to be all leggings and tees when you become a mom (although of course around my house, that's exactly that you'll find me in!)
Q: Where did you find inspiration for your kids' names?
Joey's name (my daughter) came from Dawson's Creek. I could totally lie about it but that's where I heard the name and we always loved it. We actually called her Blair in the hospital for 24 hours but it just didn't seem right. She was way more of a Joey (also why I encourage people not to order their monogrammed stuff until after they have had their baby!)
James was named after my father who very sadly and suddenly passed away when I was pregnant with him. I knew I was going to have a boy, but in the sadness and shock of losing my dad, I couldn't even think about what to call him. I went into labor very early and the nurse who signed us in also signed her last name to all of our documents. Her last name was James which was my father's middle name. It was a done deal in that moment. I actually don't even remember discussing it, we just knew!
Q: Quote the funniest/worst thing your child has ever said.
There are SO many. My kids say the most hilarious things. The other day I spilled water on James and he was very upset I got him wet. I told him I was so sorry and he looked at me and said, "Mommy, I will forgive you but I won't forget." He is three years old...
Q: Do you have a go-to family restaurant in Toronto?
I would love to name some cool, amazing place where my children eat with chopsticks and use cloth napkins. Not the case! My kids' favourite spot in the city is United Bakers, a very family-friendly, dairy restaurant in Midtown. They eat mac and cheese and French Fries and sprinkle cookies and we are in and out in 30-40 minutes max most of the time.
Q: What's your favourite family vacation?
Miami. It's close and so easy with the kids. I'm very much about group parenting — I have lots of friends that go down at Christmas time as well and my kids love it.
Q: Favourite Sunday night tradition? If not, any fun family tradition?
I sing a song to my kids every night before they go to sleep about all the people that love them. Mommy, daddy and the dogs are always in the song and then every night we switch out different people. Also, every year, no matter where we are, my kids wake up with a room full of balloons on their birthdays. I love celebrating the day they were born.
Q: How do you find time for yourself? What's your ideal girls' night?
I am a single mother, so I am pretty on most of the time. My kids go to their dad's every other weekend and that's usually when I take some time for myself. Like I said before, I have an incredible supportive and involved family and group of friends. They are all extremely involved in the lives of my children and I couldn't do it without them! My kids have a great father — he is very active in their lives. I also have a live-in nanny who is beyond helpful.
I love being with my girlfriends. They are absolutely my lifeline! I don't care where we are or what we are doing — we just laugh. A lot. My favourite girl time ranges from being at the cottage, backyard hang outs, fun dinners out or mini getaways. My girls make my heart happy.
Q. 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 children? As a mother, do you enjoy and/or find it beneficial to share photos and videos of your family on social media platforms?
On my professional Instagram, I am extremely selective about the images I post of my children. I rarely post pictures of their faces and if I do, it's occasionally and only in stories. I have a private, personal account with limited followers where I post pictures of them so that my family and friends can see. I don't use Facebook or any other social media.
Social media is at once, very powerful and very scary. I love it as a business tool, but there is no way we can completely comprehend the impact it's going to have long term on this generation. For the most part, I'm going to let my children navigate what they want out there about themselves when they are old enough to make those decisions.
Q: Any last words of wisdom for our fellow new moms?
You are doing an amazing job and the universe gave you the baby you are supposed to be a mother to. Period, end of story. There are no coincidences in this department. Someone said to me, our job as parents is to raise good adults, not good children. I carry this with me and try to remember it always. Also, really, I have no wisdom on this — but does anyone? I think as mothers if we follow our gut and do what's right for our children, that's all we can do.