Monday 26 September 2016

'You have to enjoy every single minute of it... or else it's gone' - Sonya Lennon on motherhood

Published 08/09/2016 | 13:21

Sonya Lennon along with her twins Evie and Finn (Jason Clarke)
Sonya Lennon along with her twins Evie and Finn (Jason Clarke)

Fashion designer and tech entrepreneur Sonya Lennon on what being a mother to 11-year-old twins Finn and Evie has taught her.

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You change when you become a mother

My sister says that I became a completely different person — and a better person — after I had the kids. I think I was probably much more laser-focused and had mono-vision beforehand. The kids have helped me to have a different context in life and see a wider view of everything. It sort of forced my hand to just reflect a lot more and to enjoy them and take those moments; you have to enjoy every single minute of it — or else it’s gone.

And life changes too...

On a really logistical level, the most dramatic change for me was that I now had two kids to deal with at the same time. It was tricky, but I had nothing to compare it to, so that’s probably what kept me going. If you don’t know what having one baby feels like, you don’t know what two feels like. Coasting on ignorance was all we had at certain points.

You cannot control everything

I think we just knuckled down for the first year. You learn to accept that your ability to control things is minimal and you just get through it. I remember having a meltdown at the one-year point, almost as if I had given myself permission to lose it.

Minding twins can be terrifying

I think everybody was terrified because there were two of them, so even the people around me who wanted to help were terrified to get stuck in because with two tiny people you don’t know where to start. What was really difficult was when they were starting to walk because they always walked in two different directions. My sister was an amazing support and she continues to be an amazing support for us. I’ve got a great family and that has been a huge help.

Independence early on is key

One of the most important things to me is that I foster independence in my kids, so that they can stand on their own two feet and be responsible as much as possible. We are really lucky in that the school that they go to is about 40 paces from our house and from the age of about eight the teacher said, “Look, why don’t you just let them walk to the end of the road? They don’t have to cross the road or anything to get here,” and literally, from the moment that we gave them the responsibility of walking to school on their own, their school work improved and you could see that sense of responsibility meant an awful lot to them even at that young age.

Don’t try to be the perfect Irish mother

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I don’t have time to be that Irish mother, who does everything for their kids. I have no interest in it because I don’t think it helps them in the long-run. For them to have that core independence is really important to me and, domestically, everybody has to do their bit. Everyone in our house can work the dishwasher and the washing machine and make an omelette.

Children will remind you to have fun

The kids are great fun and they are great company. Fun is the one thing that can be scarce when you are working hard. Even in your relationship everything can very easily turn into being about the logistics: ‘Who’s getting things done? What’s next? When are you coming home? I have an engagement on that night.’ Myself and Dave have very heavy schedules so we have white boards in the kitchen: one for the week coming and one for the week after, so that everyone can see what the diaries are in black and white. To have the kids and be able to enjoy that time with them is so important.

Twins need a sleep schedule

We realised pretty quickly that it was non-negotiable that they just had to sleep and eat at the same time. If they didn’t it just wasn’t going to work, so we put our own order on things very quickly and had no option, but to keep that going. To this day they are super sleepers and they love their beds.

Discipline is vital, as is sticking to your guns

Having respectful discipline is absolutely important and you need to stick to your guns too. If you promise to do something, whether it’s a good or a bad thing, you have to follow through so they know you mean what you say. You have to know who is driving the car — the child or the parent — because only one person can drive. You need enough discipline to let them know what the parameters are and enough space to let them grow on their own.

Sonya Lennon is the co-founder of Frockadvisor, an app that connects fashion lovers with independent boutiques.
Check out: frockadvisor.com

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