Updated: May 22, 2020
Local west coast mama, Elise Shakes, exudes kindness and warmth. I first met her about seven years ago, when I had a short teaching contract at Ceduna Area School, here on the Eyre Peninsula. Elise was the sunny Home Economics teacher, loved by students and teachers alike.
Nowadays, Elise is taking a break from her career to raise her two gorgeous children, 2 year old Koa and newborn Kalani. In this heart warming interview, she chats about motherhood, filling her cup and taking care of mama earth. Get cosy and read on to find out more about this beautiful, down-to-earth west coast mum.
Eliza: Hi Elise, thank you so much for joining me today. I can't wait for my readers to learn more about you. In a few potent words, tell me about yourself.
Elise: I live on the far west coast of South Australia with my husband, Aaron, and our two children. We have a son, Koa, who is nearly two, and a daughter, Kalani, who is six weeks old. My husband and I are both teachers who are employed at the local Area School, however I’ve been on maternity leave since I had my son in 2018.
"I love discovering everything about the world all over again, but through their little eyes and inquisitive minds."
What are your favourite parts of motherhood and why?
I’ve actually been blown away by how much I enjoy being a mum that I could go on forever about all of my favourite parts! I especially love the giggles, the cuddles and the kisses… and there’s nothing better than hearing Koa tell me he loves me. I love discovering everything about the world all over again, but through their little eyes and inquisitive minds. I love that it’s taught me to slow down, appreciate life and take each day at a time.
I also love the way my relationship with Aaron has evolved, I have so much respect and gratitude for everything he does for me and our family. Our life is so different now to three years ago, but I wouldn’t change a thing. We’ve been lucky enough for Aaron to recently have six full weeks off work as we welcomed Kalani to our family, and I’ve never felt so happy spending that precious time as a family of four… it’s actually been the best six weeks of my life!
How special. It truly is a magical time, isn't it. In today's western society, with social media, photoshopping and careful editing, there is a great deal of unrealistic expectation placed on mothers. I feel it is so important to share our struggles in order to keep it real, and to encourage other mamas to be gentle and accepting of themselves. In light of this, which part of motherhood do you find most challenging and how do you cope with this?
I tend to put too much pressure on myself to ‘get things done’ during the weekdays while Aaron is at work. No-one else puts this pressure on me but myself so I’ve slowly been learning to just try to tackle a few jobs each day, but also cut myself a bit of slack if I don’t get everything on my list done. I’m trying to remind myself that the kids won’t remember if the house was tidy, washing was done and dinner was a masterpiece. They just want my love and attention so that’s what needs to be my main focus and priority. With Aaron having just recently returned to work, I’ve had to surrender to this even more as there's always a toddler that wants to show me what he’s baked in his mud kitchen or a baby girl that wants a feed and a cuddle!
"If my cup’s not filled, my babies and husband aren’t going to get the best of me."
Ah yes, I can totally relate to that. As a fellow mama, I know how important it is to have a self-care ritual in order to be the best mum to our earth babes. What do you do to fill up your cup?
I listened to a great podcast about this recently and it’s made me focus more on ensuring that I do this so that I can be the best version of myself. If my cup’s not filled, my babies and husband aren’t going to get the best of me. I enjoy yoga, going for walks and the odd run (which is more of a slow jog at the moment as I’m still working on strengthening that pelvic floor again!) I like to read and listen to podcasts, my favourite at the moment is 'Beyond the Bump'.
I love to cook, which is great as I generally don’t see making dinner as a burden on my day… I genuinely love being in the kitchen, and writing a meal plan and shopping list is one of my weekly highlights! My husband surfs and I really do enjoy for us to all go to the beach as a family. He’s pretty good at not staying out in the surf too long so that we still get plenty of time there as a family. I’ll also get out on my long board or the paddle board every now and again for a bit of fun.
I love all of that, and can definitely tell that you enjoy cooking. I've been lucky enough to sample some of your dishes ~ they were divine! I feel that we are currently in a very interesting and pivotal time in history. The need to protect and sustain mama earth is becoming increasingly apparent. What practices do you and your family incorporate into your lives to take the pressure off of mama earth?
We try to be quite conscious about what we consume and what we waste. We’ve reduced the amount of meat and animal products that we consume over the past few years. We still eat meat and dairy, but are more conscious about where it comes from and only have it a couple of times a week rather than daily. Our food scraps go to our worm farm or our neighbour's chooks and we have a little veggie garden which provides us with some of the herbs and veggies that we consume, but we’d eventually love a bigger property so that we can be even more self-sustainable! We try to buy fruit and veg that is in season and I meal plan for the week so that we don’t waste food.
Unfortunately we don’t have kerbside recycling where we live, but Aaron has set up our own little recycling system and takes it all to the depot himself every couple of months. We use cloth nappies about 80% of the time and are trying to be more conscious about the purchases we make in terms of clothing, health, beauty, cleaning products etc. We definitely still have a lot to learn and a lot to improve on, but I feel like we are heading on the right path and every little bit counts.
It certainly does! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat today, Elise. Big love to you and your beautiful family xx
Images by Ella Halbert ~ @ella.candids