Saturday 23 February 2019

Having children allows you to take a step back

Childrenwear designer Cairenn Foy and her husband Paddy have three children - Connor (6), Ava (5) and Marcus (10 months old). Here, she talks about her parenting journey so far

Cairenn Foy with her daughter, Ava
Cairenn Foy with her daughter, Ava

I'm probably the polar opposite to helicopter parenting

Each child has very much their own personality. Connor is very rational and understands rules; Ava is more 'push the boundaries'. Marcus is 10 months old but he's bursting with energy and already running, he's taking seven or eight steps and is eating breakfast, lunch and dinners that would probably surpass what I'm eating.

In terms of parenting style, I guess we're quite relaxed. I'm open to them asking me questions. I don't want to be hovering all the time and I let them find things out for themselves and learn what works and what doesn't. But we're really, really strict on manners - the basics. That is non-negotiable when it comes to 'please' and 'thank you' and treating people with respect and treating people how you'd like to be treated. I run a really tight ship in that regard.

I probably would have had four children if I hadn't had three colic babies

I just absolutely could not cope with another colic baby. On top of that, none of them slept. Everyone has their limits and I've definitely reached and maybe surpassed mine. I had no idea what colic was, I'd never heard of it. I had an understanding that being a parent was going to be tiring. I'd done plenty of babysitting and I think you're able to handle whatever the day throws at you if you've been to bed and you've had some level of sleep.

But there were some evenings with all of my children where one feed would just roll into another just because they would continuously cry and then you would just have to get up the next day and function with the other children. I wasn't expecting that level of exhaustion, and still have to be able to run a household, feed children and bring them to the park. It's not like you can call in sick.

Before I had children, I was more caught up with my own life and career

After children, you become a little bit more relaxed; you don't sweat the small stuff. When I'm having problems with my business or a really hectic day, you have to put things in perspective. I'm not curing cancer; my children are really healthy and happy; we have a roof over our head. It does make you more appreciative of those kinds of things. Having children allows you to take a step back and you're always looking at things afresh from their eyes and enjoying simple things like going to the beach and the park, which I probably wouldn't have done as often as I do now that I have kids.

For whatever crazy reason, I decided to start a business when Connor was two and Ava was one

That was back in 2015. I was putting the foundation down for what would become my childrenswear brand. It was borne out of a frustration of trying to find Ava clothing that was made from 100pc natural, breathable fabrics. Ava, myself and Marcus suffer quite badly from eczema from time to time and I found a lot of brands use quite a strong component of nylon or polyester and man-made fabrics that can irritate skin conditions. I wanted breathable fibres and I love supporting Irish, whether it's my grocery shop or whatever I'm purchasing, I try to purchase from Irish businesses. I couldn't find either and that's where the seeds started

I'm quite strict with my time

I'm in my home office from 7am to 1pm so I get five or six hours there in the morning and then I go into the office in the evening for two hours. I'm still clocking in a full working day, albeit different hours, so that I can collect Connor and Ava from school and do their homework with them; do dinner and baths and then my au pair looks after them from 6pm to 8pm and I'll go back into the office then. It's not ideal at the moment but it's working.

We've lots of exciting projects coming up

Last year, we added communion wear into the brand, which has been received really well in Brown Thomas and these are handmade silk dresses which are made in Ireland. We have new accounts coming on board, some of them are international so these will take 12 to 18 months to materialise and we're looking at growing the online business.

I'm not a big worrier

I suppose my greater fear is that something would happen to my children outside of my control. If they have a problem in school or somebody is being unkind to them or they're being left out of the game, you can kind of try and chat to them about that and maybe guide them on what they could do the next time that happens. But, like any parent, my fear is that, God forbid, they get struck down with some illness you can't control.

Times goes by so quickly

I would have spent so much time with Connor and Ava in the buggy, because they were crying so much of the time. There was so much walking and getting so many takeaway coffees just to keep them moving. It was the only way they would settle and maybe go for a nap or just stop crying. Those days you were always trying to kill time and now I just want to press freeze and I've been saying that for the past two or three or years. When you turn that corner and they start walking and going to the toilet on their own and they're feeding themselves, it just goes by so quickly.

You need to be kind to yourself

If you didn't get everything you wanted done today, you've kept one, two, three, however many children you have alive. Just start again the next day and put your best foot forward.

Cairenn Foy's spring/summer collection is available from stockists and online at cairennfoy.com. The communion range is available in Brown Thomas stores nationwide

Irish Independent

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