Holding Space & Hands with Your Family: Kelly Latimer’s Guide to a Happy & Successful Family
"Justin and I worked very hard to create a nest where hopefully, the kids will feel safe in. That as parents, as husband and wife, we feel safe in." - Kelly Latimer
How has 2022 been so far? Does it feel different from 2021 for you?
2022 has actually started off fabulous! There's been a return of big events; I recently hosted The Singapore Rugby Sevens, which was great. In front of 10,000 people, the energy was insane. It's just so nice to have a bit of normalcy. 2020 was a write-off. In 2021, everyone was hopeful, but then it never really went anywhere. 2022 feels like we're finally getting there.
How does it feel to grow from being a mum of 1 to 2 beautiful children?
They are amazing human beings, but sometimes I feel like I'm drowning. (laughs) Motherhood is a beautiful journey. Motherhood, when you've got more than one, is beautiful yet chaotic.
I love every moment of it. It makes you a multi-tasker, even though you were not one in the first place. But it's been a real learning curve; the struggle is absolutely real. When work demands start to kick in, you find yourself trying to choose what to prioritise, then perpetually feeling guilty because something else is no longer the priority.
Were you confident to raise 2 kids with Justin (Kelly' husband)?
Yes. So, my relationship with Justin and him as a father; is an absolute partnership. I am super lucky to say that I've got one of those husbands that are as involved as a father as I am a mother. Which is really important, but apparently, also really rare. So I'm very, very lucky.
Justin, being the way he was with Sienna, I held every confidence that he would be incredible as a father of two. He's actually surpassed any of the expectations that I may have had. I sometimes struggle to deal with the two of them; he never seems to struggle.
If you were to have a third, what new revelations and experiences do you think that would bring?
(laughs) Going from 1 to 2, I became much more accepting of [receiving] help. Going from 2 to 3, I think I would absolutely need that help.
But I would be a lot more prepared to deal with it in terms of letting go of the expectation of perfection as a parent. With your first child, you're super pedantic. With your second, you loosen up. I think with a third... it is what it is! Come what may.
So with 2 kids myself, I'm sure me-time becomes a luxury. Do you make time for yourself, and how?
I have made myself a priority during my second pregnancy, birth, and recovery. Because I realised that when I take care of myself, I am a better mother.
So with Luca (Kelly's second-born), I made time to go to the gym - because that's my priority. If I feel confident about myself physically, if I am strong enough to run around and carry him, it leaves me a more capable parent.
So it's two-pronged, right? [Exercising] enables me to feel more confident about myself and to carve out dedicated time to make myself feel like a priority when the rest of the time, I'm not. [The children] are my priority.
Do you feel your time at the gym also helps you mentally?
Yeah, for sure! Exercise is a great mood lifter. Having that space allows you to be and do so much more.
Congratulations on your recent feature with Stacked Homes! Which part of your house is your favourite?
Thanks. It used to be the domed windows since they were the mother-daughter windows. But I would say, now, my favourite space in the house has to be our corridor. Because we have so many memories of the kids running up and down in natural light. It's also where Luca took his first steps. It's a warm environment, which 100% is the vibe of the house.
Was it intentional? From what I see, functionally, it's all about letting light in.
Yeah! Dark corridors... if you've ever watched a horror show, you know something's always gonna happen at the end of the dark corridor! So we were not gonna have a dark corridor. Being able to open up and let in some light - even if the windows were not so large - I would've still insisted on lots of smaller windows to let in that light.
I don't like darkness; I thrive in the sunshine. To be able to create memories with the children in light... that's what I want them to look back on. I want them to think of brightness in their childhood.
I don't know what your previous home looked like, but how different does it feel to raise your children here?
Our previous home didn't have much natural light and it killed me. Mentally, physically. I wanted to grow plants but couldn't because we had no light. More than anything else, it was that with only one window in an apartment, it felt very closed in.
I feel that even in an apartment, you need to brighten up the space and let in as much light as possible. The overall vibe of a house should be bright and airy, but it was just a low ceiling, not very much light...
Yeah! I'm so glad we were not in that environment for lockdown because I would have gone mad.
Your kids are 5 years apart. How was it with Luca's arrival?
For me, this age gap was a natural age gap. I've always said I didn't want a second child until I've had my first in school so I would have some dedicated time to Number 2.
When he did eventually arrive - the 9 months felt very long (laughs) - we felt it important to include Sienna. When changing nappies, [we asked:] "Can you help?" And she was very good at doing that.
Being a 姐姐 (an older sister).
Yeah. She's primed for the role of being a 姐姐. She's a great 姐姐.
With my second-born, when she arrived, my husband and I focused on my first. We made sure that she felt included. So in that sense, it feels similar.
Even now, we try to dedicate days to Sienna. We take her out 1-on-1 so she gets our full attention because otherwise it's like, 'Oh we've gotta do this because of Luca,' and that's not a nice feeling for her.
That's good advice!
I bring her out on mummy-daughter dates, and then Justine would do sports with her.
You're active yourself. I think I can safely assume that you enjoy working out. How was your journey with body recovery after having kids?
You calling it body recovery is a fantastic way to look at it, because it's absolutely that.
Coming back from Sienna was different from coming back from Luca. For Sienna, I had a C-Section. Then, I trained hard to be able to do VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). I worked on specific core and pelvic floor [muscle] exercises to do VBAC.
Did you work extra hard?
I really worked extra hard. Justin was fantastic in supporting my decision to have a VBAC.
You must be so happy that you managed to do it.
Yeah, I was. I was ecstatic! But I also selected a different training style, recognising that I needed to give my body a chance to heal. I fully committed [to the training], so recovery was quicker. I removed a lot of the expectations on myself as well, which helped. Whilst I had a goal in mind, I knew that I wanted to make sure I was giving myself time and space to be realistic.
Did you struggle to accept your mummy body?
Yes. For me, it's the loose skin around my stomach.
Do you have DR (diastasis recti)?
No, I worked with a pilates instructor to train my pelvic floor and manage any DR issues. I didn't have a huge separation and it closed up quite well.
But the immediate thing that I did, was I used the HIFEM (High-intensity Focused Electromagnetic) technology. Two months post-delivery, I did that, and it closed up everything.
Did doing that help with your workouts?
Absolutely. You can't conduct a workout safely without a good core. That's the foundation for everything. If you don't have a strong-enough core, you're gonna face back problems in the future. The pelvic floor will suffer. Incontinence becomes an issue at an earlier age, which needs to be managed. It's so important.
I feel that many women do have it but they're not aware of it.
There's not a lot of conversation around it. People, especially women, accept that peeing a little when you cough or sneeze is normal when it's not. It doesn't have to be. Pelvic floor health is so important. I wanna make sure that my pelvic floor is good.
But aside from that, in terms of the mum bod, it's the loose skin. It's just that, you know, when you're in a plank...
You look amazing la!
But that's because I worked really hard. People think I'm super hardcore - I'm not. I train twice in the gym. And if I can get an additional one or two days by myself without a train, it's happy days for me. I try and get in a couple of spin classes after the kids go to sleep, and that's my little pocket of me-time.
Struggling with a mum bod, especially when you're in the media you see all these like, beautiful mummies that snap back and... it's bloody hard. (laughs)
Yeah, it's about managing expectations, right?
Yep. I feel like even if you're not a stereotypical slender mum, as long as you're sharing the journey, people are inspired by it. Because they like, 'Oh, this is normal.'
My girlfriends and I talk a lot about it, because we feel the female body is amazing. We can grow a baby, birth a baby, feed a baby, and people don't talk enough about that. I think we have this expectation from society that we need to go like *claps hands together* that after birth. Yes, it takes 9 months to birth a baby, but it also takes time to heal.
It's not just the physical side of things, it's also the mental side of things. No one really talks about that hormone drop after you deliver. Fro me, bang on 2 weeks, I got that massive drop in hormones.
For both births?
Yeah. 2 weeks after, that huge drop. I'd be sitting sobbing; literally just crawl on [Justin's] lap and be like, 'Ahh, I'm terrible.' But after that, when menstruation resumes, that's another surge in hormones. When you stop breastfeeding, another surge. It's all little things that people don't discuss and just accept and expect you, as a mother, to just-
Take it all.
Yeah. "It's normal, what. Just suck it up." But you actually do need some level of support.
Yes. Just talking about it and knowing that someone is going through the same thing makes you feel a lot better.
Correct, because you don't feel like the exception.
I think many mums who are expecting aren't aware of all this.
The biggest fact I always share to new or expecting mums: do you know your nipples have more than 1 hole? And they're like, "What??? No way!" Like, yeah, you've got 11 to 20 different spouts. It's like a sprinkler.
And it's a high-tension spurt as well!
That's the biggest thing that blows their minds at first, because they think it's like a cow - 1 steady stream. Nah, nah, nah, nah. (laughs)
What is something you wished someone had told you before you became a mother yourself?
It's impossible to be a perfect mother.
Okay. Are you a perfectionist?
Yes, in regards to some things. I feel every mother aims to give and be the best for their child, right? But there needs to be an understanding that there is no such thing as perfect when parenting a child.
Even if you are the perfect parent to your first child, the second child will be completely different. What made things perfect for Child A will not make things perfect for Child B. You are also different by that point in time. So what worked back then won't work this time around. That pursuit of perfection is what eats away at us the most because it's exhausting to try and make sure that everything is bang on, all the time. That you sterilise everything...
Oh, I couldn't take it, the sterilising. I couldn't wait for my second child; I stopped after 12 months. (laughs) I was like, screw this.
I cursorily sterilise the pacifiers and stuff, but aside from that, I'm like (shrugs). It is what it is. With kids, they get grubby.
Yeah! Okay, what is something else you think everyone needs to know before they become a parent?
You need to remain a team. Whatever it is, parents need to be united on the same front. Even if you don't agree, you take it offline with your partner and discuss it away from your child.
Okay, so even discussing is not good, do you feel?
If it's a huge thing, yeah, you can open it up for discussion. But especially when it comes to disciplining a child, you need to maintain a united front. If you disagree with how things are done, then at night, after the kids have gone to bed, discuss it in a factual - this is what happened, this is how you reacted, this is how I reacted - manner. "I don't feel we're on the same page about this, how do we deal with it?"
Because a child gets so confused with mixed messages, and I feel a family always needs to be united. The only way for the children to be united is if the parents set an example.
So even if it's a discussion, there's a time and place for it. You don't want a child to be able to say, 'But Mummy says I can do this,' or 'But Daddy says I can do that.'
If there's one thing you'd like to teach your kids, what would it be?
I always teach kindness because I feel the world doesn't have enough good humans. So, one thing I've always maintained is: be a good human.
Being a good human is not just about being nice to people, it's about being nice to yourself, to animals, to the environment. It's about being caring and having concern. Not putting yourself at the centre of the universe, but caring for those around you as much as you would care for yourself. Because if everyone was a good human, we'd be in a much nicer place.
I mean, I've worked very hard to raise a family that I'm proud of. My kids are wonderful little beings. Of course, every parent thinks their child is an angel. I don't think that my children are angels, but they are perfect for our family. Their mannerisms, their behaviours... they're polite kids. They're good kids for the most part and that's all a parent can ask for. Justin and I worked very hard to create a nest where hopefully, the kids will feel safe in. That as parents, as husband and wife, we feel safe in.
To be yourself and to let them grow as well.
Correct. And to be able to communicate. I never want an environment where my children don't feel they can communicate with us.
My dad and mum said something - which will always resonate with me: keep holding hands. Whatever it is, no matter how angry you are with your spouse, brother, sister, parents, or children, keep holding hands. Because in that moment of anger, if you can still maintain a physical connection, it takes a lot. Because you push past this mental barricade of 'I don't want to be anywhere near you.' You're reinforcing that even in the worst times, you're still a unit. You'll still stand strong together. There's a Chinese idiom, 家和万事兴 (jiā hé wàn shì xīng). It's the only idiom I could find that talks about family unity above all else.
Only when a family is united will they be successful. I think that is the most important. To be an evercasa.
Thank you so much, Kelly!