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Mum vs Life: Symantha Perkins "Your kids can teach you as much as you teach them"

Welcome to the latest instalment of our Mum vs Life series. Each week we’ll feature a prominent Aussie mum and take you through her day.

This week we talk to Symantha Perkins, journalist, model, travel Writer, brand and charity ambassador and the new face of Jenny Craig. She’s mum to Charlie is 8, Harry 14 and Georgia 16.

Symantha Perkins

Run us through your typical day?

Organised chaos. I always used to skip breakfast but since I’ve signed on with Jenny Craig I make sure I eat 6 small meals a day now including breakkie so I wolf something down while I’m making the kids lunches and then I drop them to school. Charlie is 8, Harry 14 and Georgia 16. I usually have a hit of tennis or workout with some of the mums from school and then head home to answer work emails or I might have a public speaking engagement. I pickup Charlie at 3pm and do the usual afternoon activities like most mums netball,  Brownies, Chess and the older kids just started casual jobs. Then it’s the whole dinner, homework and bedtime routine. I usually collapse into bed around the same time as Charlie and the older kids stay up later and finish their studies.

What are the challenges you face?

I never have enough hours in the day. As a single mum with 3 kids you always seem to be torn in multiple directions and want to be there for all of your kids but sometimes that just isn’t possible for logistical or work reasons. Also with chronic pain issues (I’ve had severe migraines since I was 5 years old) that can lay me out flat you have to rely on the kindness of friends and family and not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. No one can do it alone.

What is your favourite time of the day?

Bedtime when my head is about to hit the pillow and I know all my kids are safely tucked in bed. I love having a snuggle with kids although it’s a challenge with teenagers but my 8 year old still thinks cuddling with mum is fun (don’t worry I totally know it’s a bedtime delaying tactic but I’ll take it while I can).

When is the last time you almost lost your cool when dealing with your kids?

Oh my gosh what time is it? Patience is not my strong suit sadly. I think my kids know I’m firm but fair. And yes I could be a bit more zen I’m working on it. I hope they don’t read this article.

When is the last time one of your children embarrassed you in public

I’m a stickler for good manners so I get really miffed if they forget to say please or thank you, or don’t look people in the eye when being spoken to. I know that might sound old fashioned but I think it’s of paramount importance to treat other people with respect. It’s weird teenage kids go through this strange phase where you almost have to retrain them with basic etiquette. I’m told it’s normal and happens to most adolescents but I’m not a fan.

Have you ever embarrassed one of your children in public?

If you ask them apparently I’m a repeat offender my mere presence is sometimes a crime. But seriously yes and on occasion it’s been on purpose because my (teens) needed reminding exactly who the boss is.

What are the specific challenges you face as a modern mum?

Modern motherhood is one tough gig, it’s 24/7 and my kids can drive me nuts from time to time but being a mum is also the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. My kids are my greatest achievements in life and make me so proud. Somebody once said, “The wealth of a person can be measured by the love of their children” so I count myself very rich. In the brief moments I feel daunted or overwhelmed 4 small words can instantly turn it all around – “I love you Mum”. Nothing else in the world is as powerful or life affirming.

How do you get everything done and ensure you pay enough attention to your children?

I never get “everything done.” Nobody is superwoman, she’s a cartoon character and impossible to live up to. She isn’t real and the sooner all women realise that and ease up on ourselves the better. Yes I’m a huge fan of her spunky red boots and perky boobs, but at 42 with 3 kids my non anti-gravity fighting cleavage knows as long as my kids are priority number 1, it doesn’t matter if there’s a pile of laundry on the floor or dishes in the sink, who cares.

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Was it hard to go back to work after becoming a mum?

For me I always did something even if just part time for a while when the kids were really little because it helped me keep stimulated and be a better mum at home. Everyone is different though. I found it harder when I was really sick and the doctors told me I couldn’t breastfeed anymore – that I would have to stop because I needed urgent surgery and heavy medications. That really distressed me.

How do you make weekends special for your family or are they just as crazy and busy as weekdays?

Actually I think most people with teenagers will tell you weekends are worse than weekdays between sport and casual jobs it’s madness and mayhem but I think the lessons kids learn about being in a team and school spirit, plus interacting with the public and becoming independent when they work casual jobs is invaluable and worth the extra work as a parent. My parents did it for me so I’m committed to do it for my children.

Are you an involved mum when it comes to school and activities or do you prefer to take a step back?

I definitely let the kids stand on their own but I’m very active with the schools and believe knowing your children's friends is the best way to understand and keep in touch with your kids. I volunteer as the school photographer and help with their sporting teams or school yearbooks. My eldest daughter was just voted a school vice captain for senior next year. I’m extremely proud.

What kind of questions do your children ask you about your work?

They’ve really grown up in the spotlight and have a clear understanding of what I do, the biggest question is usually about the
travel writing I do for a magazine called Out and About With Kids because it involves where they’ll be going on their next family holiday. Sometimes they’ve even filed stories for an issue. My youngest Charlie she loves to look through my modelling portfolio and Harry enjoys writing at school so we talk about journalism.

If you could ask for any sort of parenting advice, what would it be?

How to answer the tough questions like why? For example the tragic Cory Monteith death recently. I guess you can only ever go with gut instinct and that at the time you believed the advice you gave to be correct. In hindsight I know I’ve gotten a few calls wrong but parents aren’t perfect and we do the best we can.

If you could share one thing you’ve learned about motherhood, what would it be?

Your kids can teach you as much as you teach them. And long division is no longer taught in schools, do not attempt to help step back and let the teachers do their thing or you will feel old very quickly.

Journalist, Model, Mum, Travel Writer, Brand and Charity Ambassador plus Public Speaker Symantha Perkins is a familiar face with more than 20 years in the media industry. Sam’s public battle against chronic pain has inspired other Australians fighting daily illness.

Despite her health struggles Sam has maintained a successful career spanning TV, print and radio making the vivacious brunette a firm favourite especially with Aussie women. Sam loves her career but says it’s her 3 kids with former husband, Olympic swimmer Kieren Perkins who are her most demanding bosses and keep life the most challenging. “Motherhood is definitely my toughest gig, but then by far the most rewarding”.

Visit Symantha's website, follow her on Facebook and read up on her amazing weight loss at Jenny Craig. Also, you can follow her on Twitter.

Keep reading Mum vs Life: Chrissie Swan “Sometimes I feel so mean when I have to be fair”

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