#MUMLIFE with: Catlyn Calder

I grew up in Delaware, which is about 3 hours south of New York in America and the second smallest state in the country. My family were actually heavily involved in horse racing so I grew up going to the barn and riding horses and lived a great outdoor lifestyle with lots of animals around and was a pretty active kid. That lifestyle led me to eventually ride racehorses professionally and has taken me all over the world. 

My family didn’t have a lot of money growing up but my parents worked really hard to make sure my brother and I had everything we needed. They were both extremely hard workers and instilled a strong work ethic in me from the beginning. Now that I’m a working mom I have a huge appreciation for what they did for me, and it’s something you can’t really understand until you’re a parent in the thick of it all. Most days I ask my mom how she did this with 2 kids.

What is a typical day in your life?

A typical day is not really typical at the moment. My son Alex is only 9 weeks old so finding a routine is still an ongoing struggle. He is an early riser but we usually drag ourselves out of bed around 8am and have some breakfast. I have a Jack Russell I brought over with me from America so we take him for a walk. We live on a horse farm and there is beautiful scenery around so our morning walk is like my meditation while listening to music or a podcast. From there I will usually try to get some admin done for my shop Fill Good. I run the business on my own and my husband has a full time job so I try to get as much done between feeding and changing nappies each day as possible. After lunch, if Alex’s nap schedule allows, we will head into Cambridge to run errands or check in on the store. Then it’s back home to get dinner sorted. My husband usually gets home around 5pm so we will tag team eating dinner and getting Alex ready for bed. Right now the “witching hour” can be really tough but he usually goes down around 7pm and we can get some alone time before heading to bed. I really treasure that few hours we have together when Alex goes to bed.

How do you balance Mum life + running a business? Do you have any tips and tricks for us? 

This has all been a learning process for me. When we started planning Fill Good last year during lockdown we had been trying to get pregnant for a year, and after a miscarriage I was beginning to lose hope. So I threw myself into this business and, of course, a few weeks before opening the doors we found out we were pregnant. I can’t say I was prepared for starting a business and having a baby, but I'm a go with the flow kinda gal. Now that he is here I can’t really work in the store for a set amount of hours, so I’ve hired staff to cover the customer facing side of things. I have found a better balance of getting a few hours work done each day when he sleeps, but mum guilt is already a thing. If I’m working and not playing with him I feel guilty and if I’m not working I feel guilty that the business is suffering. Down the line I would ideally work a few days a week in the store, that way I can dedicate my full self to either working or looking after him on that given day. 

As far as tips and tricks go I would say lower your expectations in those early days. Each day is going to be different and as soon as you think you have it all figured out, there will be a new challenge. Take each day as it comes and if there is a day when you can’t get off the couch because your baby wants to sleep on you all day, just go with it. Chances are whatever needs to be done will still be there later. Another thing that has taken some work on my end is accepting help. People will want to help you but you need to let them know when you need it as well. There are no medals for being a hero here so if you need to take a few hours to yourself and someone wants to take your baby for a walk so you can achieve that, take the help. 

What advice would you give to those of us that want to live a more sustainable lifestyle? What are 3 things we can implement in our homes?

My advice to anyone wanting to live a more sustainable lifestyle would be to start small. Little steps in the right direction make a huge difference in the long run.

A few easy ways to get started would be: 

  1. Take a keep cup to get your daily coffee. Most cafes will fill your own cup and some even reward you with a discount.

  2. Shop in bulk at a place like Fill Good. If you’re new to refilling I would recommend you start with cleaning products like dish soap, spray and wipe, hand soap, bodywash etc. It's easy to throw those empty containers in your car and stop in on your way home from work. In most cases it is cheaper to refill and you don’t have to worry about the pile up of plastic bottles when they are finished. From there you can look at replacing pantry staples without packaging. 

  3. Shop second-hand. There are some really cool op shops and consignment stores out there. If you’re looking to update the wardrobe check out a second-hand shop before heading to the mall. You may even get a bargain!

You’re originally from America! What brought you to NZ and how has it been living away from home while being a new mother?

Love brought me to NZ, of course! My husband is originally from NZ but had been living overseas for about 8 years. We met in Kentucky and about 3 years ago he got a job offer to return to NZ and it was really an offer we couldn’t turn down. I had only visited once at the time we decided to move so I was excited, but cautious about what the future held. We loved our life in Kentucky but we figured we were young and didn’t have anything to tie us down so why not give it a go and see what happened. It has taken me a while to find my place here but it feels more and more like home everyday. As far as being a mum in NZ I feel really fortunate to be able to start a family here. We make fun of NZ and how behind the times it is in a lot of ways but when it come to raising children I really love that. Kids still ride their bikes to school and spend time outdoors in nature and playing sports. Believe it or not those things are becoming scarce in America. 

Covid has definitely thrown a wrench in our plans for my own mum to come over when my son was born, but we are very lucky to have family nearby in Cambridge to help. 

What is the best parenting advice you have received?

I'm in the very early days and it doesn’t really feel like parenting at the moment, but more like surviving. The best advice I’ve received to get through this stage is everything is temporary. You will sleep again one day. You will enjoy a hot cup of coffee again one day. You will get dressed up and have a glass of wine with your husband again. Just enjoy whatever stage you’re in and realize you will miss these days when they are gone (maybe not witching hour though, I could live without that). That advice has helped me relax so much and I think a relaxed parent means a relaxed baby…well it has in our case anyway. 

Want to see more? Follow along @fillgoodnz on Instagram or visit www.fillgood.co.nz. Thanks so much for sharing with us, Catlyn!

We are passionate about parenthood and the unique journey of a mother. We love hearing about your experiences and believe inspiration and understanding can be found in sharing. We are accepting submissions to our blog and would love to hear from you. Click HERE to register your interest! x

Catlyn's Little Mash Loves:

Silverette Nursing Cups
Miracle Blanket
Mama + Me Postpartum Perineum Spray

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