Introducing Danielle. Dani and hubby Chrishan were two of the first friends we made in Sydney after begging our mutual friend to introduce me to anyone who has kids when we moved to Sydney. Our kids are similar ages and they are one of the most loving and caring families I know. Together they pastor the Hillsong Church city campus and Danielle also leads Sisterhood, the Women's Ministry at church. She is full of wisdom and such an inspiration as you will learn, being what she is called to do and doing it incredibly plus raising a family of three beautiful girls. Whether you have a faith or not, her story is encouraging in pursuing what you were made to do and love to do xx
Apart from being a mum, what do you do with all the free time that you don't have?
Well, being a mum is a full time job isn't it?! Being a parent is one of the most selfless (and amazing) roles we'll ever have, but it's also so important as a mum to look after ourselves.
I have 3 beautiful daughters, Milan (6), Elliott (4) & Ember (2). I've progressed out of baby land and I now feel like I've come out of the haze and blur of having an infant (and working full time). I am starting to realise the importance of taking moments out to make sure I'm the best mum/wife/friend/employee I can be (better late that never hey!).
To be honest, I haven't always been great at taking time out for myself. In between working full time, cooking, cleaning, feeding the kids, shopping, running errands & whatever else comes up, there doesn't always feel like there's a lot of extra time in the day. To take time for yourself can make us as mums sometimes feel a little guilty. Or even worse, I would think things like, "Gee I could so be using this time to whip to the shops & get the shopping done, or clean the house. Getting that done will make me feel better than heading off for 'me time'".
Since having my first daughter six years ago, I don't think I managed to even read one full book (besides audio books on long drives - total recommendation by the way!). Recently I started reading again. After reading several books that challenged my thinking, I honestly felt like that one action to do something for myself had a flow on effect to so many unrelated areas of my life. I felt like I retook control of that one area and that has made me more focused, passionate and determined to not just let life happen to me but take it by the reigns and not lose myself in the 'busyness' of it all.
Whether it's heading out for a girls night out, sitting by myself looking out over the ocean (I'm a bit of a recluse by nature), walking along the beach (without a child hanging off my leg) or stealing away for a dinner with my hot hubs - it's all worth it, even if I think I don't have time. There'll always be a mess to clean, clothes that need to be put away or a meal to cook. I'm better for taking that time and I know my kids and husband will be better for it too!
Tell us about life as a Pastor, and how you juggle responsibility and commitment to both your family and your Church.
I have the honour of being on team at Hillsong Church. My husband Chrishan and I oversee the City Campus which is in two locations - Waterloo & Alexandria. Across the weekend we have nine services. As part of my role I also am involved in our women's movement called Sisterhood and help to outwork this in 10 campuses across Hillsong Australia.
Life is hectic, however, I know this is what I signed up for. From before I even had kids I knew I would become a working mum. I love my job, I love that I get to help people through what I do. At the same time being a mum is my greatest reward. Family for me is the prize.
When things get full on I remember this is what I'm meant to be doing. I remind myself that nothing significant was ever achieved without hard work.
In the midst of all that though, I want to make sure my kids don't miss out. We've made the decision that when we're with the girls, we're not on our phones working, or talking about work - we stay in the moment with our kids. It's also been a decision for us to come home and give our best to the girls, even when we are tired and have had a big day. It's not ok to come home and be grumpy, short or antsy with the girls.
We also try our hardest to make life fun for our kids. We work hard, but we are very intentional about surprising our kids, taking them on adventures, planning holidays and organising 1 on 1 time with each girl with either me or my husband.
How did you see yourself as a mum before you became one?
I was not a kids type of person! I never babysat, I grew up not having young kids around me, when mums would offer me a hold of their baby I would always decline. I was uncomfortable and awkward around kids - probably because I was terrified of them!
I still felt like this even when I was pregnant with my first child. However, once Milan arrived and I held her in my arms everything changed. Of course I didn't know what I was doing, but I believed deep down that I was 'graced' for this season. I had a firm belief I would be equipped with all I needed to be a great mum and I made a conscious decision to think this way through each stage.
Can you give us three rules you made pre-mum that you have now broken? Have you stuck to any?
1. I'd always get annoyed when my parents mixed up me and my sister's names and I said I'd never do that. Now pretty much every time I have to run through all three girls names to get to the right one!
2. To never hide behind my kids. When I had Milan my oldest, I remember the first time I went out without her in a social context - I felt extremely exposed and self-conscious. I realised that within a short few months I'd learnt to hide behind my baby - to use her as an excuse to leave, or as a conversation starter or a reason why I couldn't do certain things. Needless to say, I changed after realising that!
3. My girls will not be dressed in all pink! Before having kids I would see little girls dressed in ten shades of pink and shudder. Then I had three girls of my own. Initially it started ok, I would win the outfit debates. Now, I pick my battles. If they go out wearing a hot pink tutu with spots, matched with a two toned pink top and baby pink spotted tights at least they have clothes on!
What do you love most about being a mum?
Probably simple stuff like seeing their little personalities comes through. My girls are completely different and seeing their own unique personality and character develop is stunning. I feel like it's my job as a mum to help unwrap the gift that is within each of them.
What are some of your challenges as a mum?
Life gets so chaotic and busy at times. I find it a challenge to not get swept up in it. I realised a little while ago that I constantly was saying to the girls things like 'hurry up put your shoes on', 'quick get in the car we're going to be late', 'stop walking so slowly', 'you're taking too long to eat we need to go', 'BABE, come on!'. When I heard my 2 year old saying to me 'quickly, quickly', it dawned on me that my kids were being caught up in the hurriedness of my world. I'm trying my best to consciously slow down. When I pick them up from school/preschool, instead of grabbing their bags and rushing them to the car I first stop, ask what they're playing with, or what they did today, give them a cuddle and tell them how much I missed them. It's little by little :)
Who are your mum people and how have they influenced you as a mum?
I love looking at those mums around me who have kids who are in their late teens/early adulthood. When you see these kids who are incredible human beings and have their head on straight, that makes me want to know what their parents did to help point them in that direction.
Of course my mum - she is gorgeous in every way.
My mother-in-law is also amazing. Her selfless nature is completely inspiring.
Tell us a mum moment of yours (funniest, grossest, sweetest)
Last year after one of our weekend services at church I weaved through the foyer packed with hundreds of people to go pick up the kids from the kids program. After getting all 3 girls from different rooms, holding onto my 2 year old so she didn't bolt, juggling all their bags, lunch boxes, discarded shoes and jackets I started making my way out. I felt a tap on my shoulder and one of the kids pastors whispered in my ear 'I think you have a hole in your pants'. I covered my behind with a Frozen lunch box and made the fastest exit possible. To my horror my faux leather pants had spilt right down the middle leaving a gaping hole. Unfortunately that day I had chosen very 'minimal' under garments which left things quite exposed.
My husband called me as I drove home and said there had been a complaint of an inappropriately dressed woman in the kids area. I knew someone had talked to him and he was pulling me along. He then said 'we have the CC TV footage', and I started to panic. Of course he was joking but I was mortified.
To today, I still have no idea how long I was flashing our entire church or who saw. Oh well!!
What would you say to a mum who wants to do something for themselves outside of mum world?
Go for it.
I 100% believe as parents we should pour ourselves into our children's lives, but we also need to show them it's not just about them!
Our kids watch us and absorb who we are not just what we say and tell them to do. If we want to raise confident, caring, influential world changers they have to see that in us first.
For a long time I've wanted my life to be one that gives permission to other people to rise up, to step out, to live a significant life. If I don't exemplify that then how can I encourage others (including our kids) to push the boundaries on the comfortable in their world.
I don't want my kids to see in me a mum who is tired (although I often am), whiny and has just settled to get through the day, but rather a mum who loves people, is driven, outward focused and determined to keep challenging myself.
Find what you're passionate about and take steps towards that. Back yourself. Don't doubt your ability and have a go!!!
© The Realistic Mum
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