Lovely Stella lives in Noordhoek, Cape Town with her husband Robin and 2 kids, Noah (aged 2.5 years) and Kaia (aged 9 months). She is a stay at home mama with dreams of selling a few baby products, which she is currently designing – we can’t wait to see them.
Favourite product for babies/kids and why?
- The Bugaboo Donkey stroller. I love Bugaboo period. An amazing brand where design and practicality go hand in hand. This product is so well thought out and is a life saver when it comes to carting around two kids. Although its on the bulkier side, we’ve even traveled across the world with it.
- The 360 Ergobaby carrier. Definitely our most used baby item by far. It is so comfortable to use and doesn’t hurt my shoulders or lower back like other carriers sometimes do. My babes have spent hours upon hours in it. I use it for running errands, for naps, for settling when baby is irate, for traveling on planes, for traveling period, for beach walks, coffee runs, you name it. I even use it for hiking! I love this carrier so much. Like, so much.
- A snot sucker. Ours is the NoseFrida from Fridababy but I’m sure a few brands make them. Little lifesavers for those unavoidable snotty noses.
- The Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib by the Guava Family. After the Ergobaby, this is by far our most used baby item and also one of our most favourite. We travel a lot and no matter where we go, this travel crib comes with us everywhere (like the name!!). It is super light and the size of a carry on. It can be set up and folded down in a matter of seconds, and most importantly, our kids sleep amazingly in it. Cannot fault it.
- The Baby Bjoern bouncer. The design of this bouncer just speaks to babies. I’ve heard from many mamas that this bouncer is always a hit with their kids and I couldn’t agree more.
- Bonds Wondersuits. Probably one of my all-time favourite baby products. Such a simple design yet so few brands manage to combine comfortable, soft, zip up sleep suits with stylish and sweet designs. Bonds manage to do this. My 2.5 year old toddler still wears them at night and I don’t think either of my babes have ever owned a different brand of pyjamas!
- The Pure Beginnings organic bamboo baby wipes. I have travelled all over the world with my kids and hence bought wipes and diapers and creams and baby snacks literally all over the world. These wipes are my all-time favourite. They are so soft, moist enough (but not too moist!), they aren’t too thin, nor too thick, and most importantly, they smell amazing. Oh and they are biodegradable. They are seriously perfect.
- The Swaddle UP sleep suits from Love to Dream. Oh how I love these! My second babe slept in hers from birth up until nearly 6 months! They gives babies wriggle wrong, whilst still hugging and cocooning them tight for safety and comfort. Really love these.
- There are many sound machine out there and I’m sure lots of them are really great. I’ve only tried the My Baby Sound Spa by Homedics and used it religiously every nap and night time sleep for both my babies. I definitely think it helped them sleep soundly. I used the ocean sound, but there is a white noise option, as well as heart beat or lullaby option too.
How has your style changed since becoming a mom?
If showers are a luxury with a newborn, then you can bet that getting dressed are too! In the first few months I undoubtedly live in stretchy yoga pants and breastfeeding singlets. The same ones on repeat. Very uninspiring, but really all that matters at that point is that your clothes are washable and comfortable. Eventually, around the 4 month post partum mark, life and body shape seem to return to normal-ish again for me. That is when the jeans become a regular choice again and I start switching up breastfeeding singlets with tshirts – how adventurous of me!
Now that I am a Mama of two, my style prioritizes comfort above anything else. I love my comfortable jeans, black leggings (Lululemon wunderunder leggings for life!), casual t-shirts, sneakers, UGG boots and flip flops. My style has also become more simple and basic, with less sass and less fuss. I love that. I don’t worry whether my wardrobe has enough colour in it, I simply buy what makes me happy. The greys, the blacks, and the whites are my staples. I buy less but I ensure that what I buy is higher quality and more comfortable.
Best gift you have received for your baby and for you child?
A link to a sound track called ‘Sounds for Silence.’ Six tracks of different sound rhythms and noises that are soothing and relaxing for babies. One would never think them to be, just like one wouldn’t think white noise to be soothing for babies, but this soundtrack is absolute magic in what it does for calming newborns. I have the soundtrack on my phone and used it so much for both Noah and Kaia as little ones, pretty much from day one. The person that developed this soundtrack is called Harry Zehnwirth and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
Favourite book to read to your children?
Do you have any family rituals?
We create Birthday Tables when it is someone’s birthday. It is a tradition I was lucky enough to grow up with and I want to be able to create the same special memories for my children (and my husband!) that I hold dear in my heart. The night before someone’s birthday, I will decorate our dining table with candles, balloons, confetti, a homemade cake, a card and lots of beautifully wrapped presents. We then start the birthday with singing, opening presents and lots of cuddles and kisses.
Another ritual I’ve started since having our kids, is that both my husband and myself will write a letter to our kids on their birthdays. These then get safeguarded in a special place for the years to come. It is something we want to continue doing until they are at least 18 years old, so that they get to one day hold these thoughtful and heartfelt letters as their very own keepsake.
Where is your favourite place to go hang with your children?
We live in Noordhoek and have the most picturesque little farm village down the road from our house. We often stroll there by foot (Kaia in the pram and Noah on his little bicycle) and can easily spend a couple of hours there. They have a sweet little playground (which is enclosed by a fence – so key!), an amazing bakery and deli, an ice creamery, a raw juice bar and the most important, a delicious take away coffee shop. The place ticks all the boxes and just makes us so happy.
And when Papa has time to hang with us as well, then nothing beats the beach. Especially our local beach here in Noordhoek. Big open space, salty air, tiny sandy toes, and endless opportunities for making the best sand castles.
Favourite meal to give your children?
Pancakes. Because homemade pancakes for us means slow mornings on weekends, filled with family time. Nothing beats those.
Now if pancakes don’t pass as a meal (which I would totally understand), then I would answer with a big slice of lasagna, a lentil curry, a hearty quinoa dish or a plate of homemade spaghetti bolognaise. Basically, any shared meal that my husband and I have at night. Unfortunately, Noah is a toddler and as much as I would love him eating exactly what we eat, he chooses to eat plain pasta or rice, plain or crumbed chicken, and, our saving grace, a wide range of plain cooked veggies like corn, peas, beans, sweet potatoes, cucumber or avocado slices. Thank goodness for those!
What one thing we will never catch you doing as a mama?
I am strict when it comes to safety and politeness. I am a total pushover when it comes to everything else. So with that in mind, you’ll probably catch me doing most things as a mama.
What is the biggest surprise to you about having children?
That parenting was so much easier when I raised my non-existent children hypothetically! I do a lot of things that I always vowed I would never do as a mother. Like using screens to entertain my child, especially when out in public. Oh how wrong I was. Two and a half years and two babies later and convenience wins every time. Or letting my child consume sugar, co-sleep, and thinking that I can handle a public toddler tantrum, or better yet, that my child will never have a full blown public toddler tantrum. How I laugh looking back at those thoughts. But alas, what would life be if there were no surprises, no challenges and no learnings as a result!? So I guess my biggest surprise is that I’ve surprised myself many times over!
Also, the realization that parents definitely do not know all the answers and how all the clichés that you’ve ever heard about motherhood are so utterly true – the lack of sleep, the amount of poop, the juggling, the chaos, and the love – oh the love! There really is nothing quite like it.
What do you love most about your husband being a dad?
How his playfulness has come out! He turns into a child himself when he spends time with Noah and Kaia and I love it.
What one thing do you want to teach your children?
I try to keep our conversations focused on authenticity, humor, kindness, generosity, intelligence and curiosity. These are the traits I want her to cultivate, to look for in a friend.
To love, respect, appreciate, learn and embrace. That’s more than one thing isn’t it? Oh dear. I guess, if it were only one thing I could teach them, it would be to love. Because where there is love, there is life.
I am very generous with my affection because to me, love is one of the most important values of all. It sets the foundation for so many other values in our life – honesty, consideration/empathy, compassion, justice…to name a few. I try to always openly demonstrate my love and affection for the people in my life, whether it is their father, or their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. And I don’t let a day pass (most probably, not even an hour!!), where I do not express my affection for my children by saying I love you, hugging, kissing, squeezing, and cuddling. I hope to always make time for doing special things for each of my children like placing a little note in their lunch boxes, taking them out for a milkshake date, taping a heart to the bathroom mirror or simply giving them a hug for no reason at all.
Best piece of advice you could give moms of two kids.
The step up from one to two kids was monumental for me. Much more crazy than no kids to one kid, and no one warned me it was going to be so full on! The advice I would give to a soon-to-be-mama of two kids is that the crazy will feel normal soon. The jump from one kid to two is overwhelming and can feel like a lot so remember to take help when you can and remember that you’re not alone. And get baby number two used to doing everything in a baby carrier – my ring sling and Ergobaby were life savers for me!
And also, as clichéd as it sounds, this time, when our kids are so young, passes so quickly. Let yourself feel attached and don’t have any shame in saying that your kids are your life these days. There is a time and a place, especially when they are this young. Let yourself enjoy it.