Magdalene St Clare - Kids World Parents Say series

Wednesday, 21.09.2016

Every month, we bring you an exclusive Parents Say interview, with parents sharing about their parenting challenges and family bonding tips! This month, we feature career mum of twins, Magdalene St Clare!

Since relocating to Australia more than a decade ago to earn her degree, work and get married, Mags (as she’s affectionately known to friends) is now also actively raising a family, after becoming a mum for the first time to multiples in one fell swoop! With the twins now aged five, Mags has made it a habit to be at work regularly before sunrise, but she’s also a stickler when it comes to fetching them home from school every day.

“I am still the same person—the person who likes to know what is happening and when it is happening,” Mags says. “I need a plan!” In contrast however, a mapped-out routine needn’t be a monotonous grind—not if you work hard but play equally hard too, with memorable family holidays and witnessing the twins’ milestones all being part of that plan!

Still, for all the multiple hats she wears, or the many feathers that adorn her multitasking cap, the greatest achievement for Mags is, and always will be, her children. That’s why she makes no apologies for being a full-time career mum: she knows, after all, that her heart—and priorities—are in the right place.

“I am thankful for the life that I have been blessed with and especially with the gift of parenthood.”

About me: Magdalene St Clare, late 30s, works at a not-for-profit organisation in Brisbane
Married to: Jared, early 40s
Children: Five-year-old twins, Charlotte and Daniel

Kids World: Describe your motherhood journey in 3 words:

Mags: Polarising, fulfilling, frustrating.

Kids World: What was the most challenging aspect(s) of being pregnant and giving birth?

Mags: The only challenge I had during my pregnancy was experiencing very low blood pressure but giving birth was easy as I opted for a caesarean.

Kids World: What’s a typical day like for your family?

Mags: My husband and I share parenting responsibilities for our children. Jared looks after all their needs in the morning before dropping them off at primary school* and heading to the office. For myself, I’m usually at work before the crack of dawn and it’s systems go all the way until it’s time for me to pick the children up from school when the bell rings at 3pm. We make it a point to have dinner together as a family every night at 5pm; another ritual is reading chapter books to the kids before their bedtime at 6.45pm.

* In Australia’s education system, a child who is aged five is already eligible to enter the first year of primary school as a prep student, with each state having a different minimum age cut-off date.

Kids World: What are your top challenges as a parent?

Mags: There are several challenges that arise simply because we love our children so much—and as a result, every situation concerning them just seems so personal to us. As parents, we constantly have to strike a balance between what could either be help or hindrance, but it still remains a very fine line.

Nonetheless, when it comes to serving our children’s best interests, we always ask ourselves, “are we enabling them with our assistance or are we disabling them with our interference?” Focusing on the big picture certainly helps.

Kids World: Where do you go or what do you do to relax (without your kids)?

Mags: I have “me time” once a week, usually on a weeknight, during which I head out on my own or with a girlfriend after having dinner with family. Every few months, my husband and I will schedule in date nights and we’ll plan for these beforehand by engaging a nanny to care for our kids while we’re out.

Kids World: What inspires you to be a better mum? Any role models?

Mags: My mum is both my role model and inspiration: I draw a lot of my strength from the way she loves her life.

Kids World: What’s the most awesome thing about being a parent?

Mags: The smiles and cuddles from my kids who tell me that they love me—in Mandarin! And I love picking them up when school’s out for the day, because they are just sooo excited to see me!

Kids World: What do you hope to do for your children and family in the next year?

Mags: My hope is for my children to be happy, kind and authentic. My wish for the family is that we remain tight, supportive and always focused on the big picture by not getting bogged down by the little things.

Kids World: If your twins decide to follow in your footsteps, what would you say to them?

Mags: Continue striving to be an authentic, inclusive and intuitive leader who focuses on building purposeful relationships and enabling the team.

Kids World: Do you have any regrets in life?

Mags: None whatsoever.

Kids World: Tips for other parents out there?

Mags: One: Routine is key. Young children need at least 11 hours sleep overnight for their brains to grow. I got my twins sleeping through the night from 11 weeks young!

Two: Being organised is essential for sanity. Prepare a few meals for the upcoming week during the weekend—then simply freeze and reheat when it’s time to eat! Consolidating the week’s scattered cooking time into one advanced prep session frees up more time (which you’d rather spend with family than slaving over a stove, right?).

Three: it is OKAY to stuff up because it shows the kids what it means to be resilient.

Soul Food

Career and child-rearing… what’s the third ‘C’ in the life of a busy working mum? Cook, that’s what! Fortunately for Mags, it also happens to be one of her favourite activities that allows her to be creative and unwind, which is why she refers to the kitchen as the “soul” of her home. She’d be the last to admit she’s got domestic diva-dom down pat though, especially when it comes to menu planning! Which is why it’s all the more amazing that Mags also preps dinner for her family every night.

Her “secret”? Easy-peasy, nutritious one-pot meals! From soups and casseroles, to stir-fries and more, Mags sure rules the roost when it comes to feeding her family!

“I am also obsessed with providing my family with colourful meals, [and] meals that are very easy to put together using what is available at home,” she says. “There’s no need for fancy gadgets or expensive ingredients either. I have also learnt that simple meals which do not require much effort are also the ones that my children will eat with the most gusto!”

Here’s one of her recent “hits”—Nikujaga, which literally translates to meat and potatoes. “The meal itself is very simple, homely and it’s also popular to prepare at home,” Mags says. “It’s likened to a beef stew though the simmering time is much shorter as compared to the western version because Nikujaga uses thinly sliced meat.”

In Mags’ improvised version of the recipe, she uses a panda bear rice mould and nori (seaweed) sheet panda cutter (“purchased from Daiso”) to transform “this bowl of goodness into a kawaii meal for my twins!”

Courtesy of Mags, trot-out this comfort food in a jiffy in the comfort of your kitchen!

Mags' Nikujaga Recipe

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

300g thinly sliced beef
1 large brown onion
2 large potatoes, peeled
400ml water
4 tbsps sugar
4 tbsps soy sauce
Steamed vegetables (2 medium carrots, 1 medium broccoli)

1. Peel and cut the potatoes into four to six pieces, then plane off the corners to prevent crumbling during the cooking process. Soak in water for five minutes (to prevent the pieces from changing colour and to remove starch).

2. Slice onion into 12 wedges and separate them into pieces.

3. In a pot, place potatoes and onions. Add water and cook over medium heat. When it boils, turn down to low heat and simmer for three minutes or until onions are tender.

4. Add two tablespoons of sugar to the pot, tilt the pot to mix and simmer for three minutes.

5. Add two tablespoons of soy sauce to the pot, tilt the pot and add beef slices one by one, ensuring that they are separated.

6. Cook over medium heat for three minutes, add another two tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of soy sauce. Tilt the pot to mix. Cover with drop lid and simmer for three minutes.

7. When the potatoes are cooked, serve the meal with steamed vegetables and cooked rice. Miso soup is a wonderful side addition to this meal too!

Stay tuned for yet another featured parent next month!

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