This month’s That Mama is Jasmine Collin, child development extraordinaire and one of the leading advocates of the BabyCalm and ToddlerCalm methods here in Dubai (she quite literally changed our parenting methods – read our full review here). Jasmine is your go-to mama when it comes to learning how to communicate best with your little people or if you’re thinking about trying HypnoBirthing (her regular courses are a huge hit). We talk to Jasmine about how she manages to find time to balance her work with raising two beautiful children. Check out her tips for aspiring mamapreneurs below!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career?
I’m from the UK originally and have lived in the UAE for 7 years. I live in Satwa with my amazing husband Alex, my daughter Amber (8), my son Indiana (5), our 2 cats, five fish and a tortoise. I have been teaching HypnoBirthing here for five years and I’m also a BabyCalm and ToddlerCalm teacher. I feel very blessed to have found something that I‘m passionate about, that fits in around my family and that makes a positive difference in peoples lives. It’s a hard juggling act sometimes and involves evening and weekend work but I like working for myself and love what I do.
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
My first passion in life before babies was the sea. I graduated from University with a degree in Marine Biology and travelled the world teaching scuba diving for a few years. I eventually had to return to the ‘real world’ when I had a back injury. I then worked in HR and Management Training for Pret a Manger for a number of years in London and New York. When Amber was 1 years old, we moved to Abu Dhabi and it was then that I started down the path that I’m on now.
I used HypnoBirthing for Amber’s birth and it was so positive that I was inspired to share it with other expecting couples. I trained and worked as a doula first and then as a HypnoBirthing Practitioner. I was pregnant by then with Indie but continued to teach classes when he was born. Not many to start with, five years ago my classes were quite small and only once a week. Now that the children are at school I run 2 or 3 classes of HypnoBirthing a week and BabyCalm and ToddlerCalm classes too. So I don’t feel like I really ever got out of the swing of things, just slowed down a bit when the kids were smaller and I’m very grateful to have been able to do that.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
I’m constantly learning how to do this better. What helps me most is tuning into and being aware of my mental state, then recognizing when I need to slow down, take a break or say no. I find saying no to others in need very hard and in the past I haven’t said it enough and my family and myself have suffered. Learning to say no to work has been one of the hardest things for me to learn, but I’m getting better at it. I’m also very blessed to work with the lovely Amy Vogelaar, an amazing parenting educator, who I can refer people onto, so I know those people needing help are in really good hands.
The other essential thing is finding time for myself. I think a lot of mums find this hard, I know I used to think it was being selfish but now I know it’s absolutely crucial for myself and everyone around me. I can immediately tell when I haven’t had enough ‘ me time’ and I will plan some in as soon as I can.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tips and tricks?
I have a lot going on at all times and I’d be lost without my diary and to do lists. Sundays are my prep day for the week; this helps me feel in control and makes my week much smoother. I also leave a little bit of extra time for everything so that I don’t feel rushed, I really don’t like being late or not fulfilling a commitment. Learning how to prioritise tasks effectively helps me feel less stressed about having a long to do list and when I can I delegate tasks to others.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Dubai?
As a working mama I find myself having to wear a lot of different hats and be ready to change them several times a day. My advice would be to be present in whichever you role you are in, and don’t try to wear two hats at the same time. For example I love to include my kids in my work when I can but the rest of the time I try to keep them separate.
It’s difficult sometimes as I often have pressing emails or I will get phone calls for classes when the kids are home from school. It’s so tempting to answer the call or just ping a message or an email when I’m playing with the kids but I enjoy our time together so much more when I turn everything off and fully focus on them.
Favorite activity with your kids in Dubai?
We love the beach and are lucky enough to live close by. We enjoy snorkeling and we just bought a secondhand paddleboard so we love that too. The kids cycle track is also one of our favorites for cycling, scooting and rollerblading.
Favorite kid-friendly restaurants in Dubai?
We’re much more likely to take a picnic out to the park where the kids can run around than go to a restaurant. If we do we head for one of the restaurants next to the Dubai Fountains or we’ve just discovered Shabu Shabu in Satwa that’s really kid friendly and you can watch the food being cooked or cook it yourself at your table – they also do a mean chocolate fondue!
Favorite family-friendly holiday spot?
We miss the greenery from home so every year in the summer we head to West Wales to stay in a friend’s caravan. It’s not glamorous by any means but we are surrounded by the woods, farms and the beach. Back here we love The Sandy Beach Motel in Fujairah. They have beach chalets so you are right on the beach, the snorkeling off Snoopy Island is amazing and it’s all so accessible and easy with the kids.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Keep laughing together and finding time for each other. It’s easy to grow apart when you are both so busy with work and young kids. Check in with each other daily, ask questions and really listen to the answers. I feel very emotionally close to my husband when he hears and validates my feelings instead of trying to fix the problem. We might not do regular date nights or other ‘romantic’ things but this to me is what keeps our relationship alive.
Favorite date-night restaurants?
We don’t really do restaurants right now– I know there are so many out there we would love – but with work, young kids etc. it’s hard to find the time and the money!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
From my own wonderful and very sassy mama – she told me there is no right or wrong way when it comes to parenting, only your way. It was very frustrating to hear at the time, I’d just had my first baby and I wanted someone to give me the manual but eight years later it was the best advice I ever received, every baby is different and there is no one size fits all answer.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
When making any decision about your baby, choose love over fear. Fear of creating bad habits in the future or worrying about making a rod for your own back often inhibit new mums from trusting their own natural and loving instincts. Let love be your guide.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Letting go and not stressing about everything being perfect Also not caring what people think so much. My worse parenting moments are always when I’m worried about what other people think…supermarkets especially!
My most humbling mama moment was…
When my son came out of school one day last year and told me how proud he was of himself for controlling his anger when another boy took his toy away from him. It was a huge moment for us both after some very challenging toddler years.
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
Chocolate and now the kids are older, my sleep. Luckily I’ve got an amazing husband who does more than his fair share of early mornings!
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
Why our two cats have to sleep right on me and nowhere else in our very big bed.
Even when my children have families of their own, I’ll still…
Meet them where they are at emotionally and love them unconditionally, just like my Mum does for me.
My favorite moment of the day is…
Listening to my kids laughing with their dad.
I always feel saner after…
A good swim in the sea.
I wish I had more time for…
Enjoying doing absolutely nothing and with a blank to do list.
Bedtime is always smoother when…
I forget about all the emails and chores that I have to do before I get some ‘me time’ and just enjoy spending this very special time with them.
The beautiful pictures of Jasmine, Indiana and Amber were taken by the very lovely and super talented Stephanie Hamilton of Nektar