The popularity of the Real Mums series is growing, and so with it the number of mummas I’ve had the privilege to interview. This week’s mumma is no different. Allison is a lovely, bubbly and gorgeous mumma to the adorable Henry. She has started up her own biz, Jack the Wombat, which is launching within the next few DAYS. Check out her interview here, including some awesome tips to enhancing your child’s literacy at home, and why you should sign-up for Jack the Wombat, the coolest pen pal your kids will ever meet!
Hi Allison! Thank you for joining us for another week of our #RealMums series. Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
Thank you so much for having me!
My name is Allison, though please call me Ali as that is what my friends and family call me. A little bit about me, well I am a wife and a mumma. I’m a dreamer, advocate, traveller, and a lover of life. Oh and I’m definitely a little OCD. I am also the founder of Jack the Wombat.
Two and a half years ago, I eloped to New Zealand and married the love of my life, Gareth. We had a heli-wedding which was a tad romantic. Fast forward, to the present and we now have one very happy and cheeky 14 month old son called Henry. My little family and I live in the Perth hills, with our 50kg American Bulldog called Lola and our cat Meow (original I know).
What do you like to do with your time?
I am very fortunate to be a stay at home mum, so a majority of my time is spent with Henry.
As a family, we love to cook, garden, renovate houses, and travel. Though the travelling has slowed down a little after having Henry.
On the odd chance that I get some ‘me’ time, I love to get stuck into a good book. I am a particular fan of crime novels. I love it when I start reading, my detective hat goes on and I am instantly engaged in solving the crime. Yes, I might sound a little crazy, but I bet I am not the only one that has an alter ego detective hiding away!
What has been your biggest challenge as a mum?
Henry was not a bub that liked to sleep. In fact, for the 1st year I hadn’t had more than 4 hours consecutive sleep. It was tough, sleep deprivation is definitely very tough!
We had a really difficult birth with Henry. He was 10 days overdue, I was induced, and he still did not want to come. In the end, he was suctioned out, yet it left him with three severe bruises from the cups and a week later the base of his head was all bruised ear to ear. I knew something wasn’t quite right, so at 6 weeks, I started taking him to the chiropractor. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if he had a torn spinal cord and broken collar bone… Needless to say the poor bubba was in lots of pain which really affected his sleep (coupled with bad reflux).
Thankfully, it is all sorted now and there is no lasting effects, but we did developed lots of bad habits that took a long time to fix. Thankfully, those are resolved now too and I have a happy bubs that sleeps 12 hours straight.
For me, I coped by taking it just one day at a time, an awesome hubby for support, baby wearing, lots of coke zeros, and just letting the unimportant things slide.
Where did your passion for literacy come from?
Most people assume that I am a teacher, but my professional background is actually in health promotion and public health.
It was while I was on my university practice in Port Hedland that I first developed my passion for early childhood literacy.
Sadly, the community had a number of young teen suicides within a short period of time. It was my job to speak with community leaders to ascertain, from a mental health perspective, why these were happening.
In short, we discovered that it ultimately came down to the kids were not learning the abc’s in their early years (for a variety of reasons). This meant that they did not have solid foundations to build their education on, which lead to them dropping out. Lack of future employment opportunities lead to drug and alcohol use, hopelessness, and ultimately suicide.
This experience impacted me deeply, and now I have my own child, it has solidified my desire to see change to ensure our children build the adequate foundations they need to succeed in life.
How do you like to incorporate literacy learning in your home? Do you have a favourite activity?
Although, Henry is only 14 months old, there are loads of ways that we incorporate literacy into our home. Generally, I explain everything to Henry, whether it be chores, gardening, who we are going to see, or where we are going. I talk a lot, which helps him to process language and start to form his own words. We also read every day which provides some of my favourite bonding time. Singing is another big ticket item in our home, especially on a road trip. Henry’s favourite songs at the moment are ‘5 little ducks’ and ‘Old MacDonald’.
The other literacy skills we are working is fine motor. We incorporate lots of sensory tubs, blocks, and sorting activities. Henry’s favourite activity at the moment is sorting blocks into the muffin tray.
Where did the idea for “Jack the Wombat” come from?
As a child, I was fortunate enough to have a bunch of pen pals from around the world. I used to love checking the letter box, hoping that there would be a letter or a postcard just for me. The biggest draw card for me was reading about all the different adventures my friends and family were having.
So when I was thinking of ways in which I could promote early literacy, I reflected back on my own childhood and thought how awesome would it be to revitalise the old school pen pal. From there the idea for Jack the Wombat was born!
What do you hope to achieve with Jack the Wombat?
I have a lot of hopes, ambitions, and dreams for Jack. Yet ultimately, it boils down to, I want to promote the importance of early childhood literacy and provide the tools and resources for parents/care givers to support their child’s learning.
What tips do you have for new mums wanting to help their baby’s literacy development?
As a new mum, we often put so much pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect, but in reality this is generally makes things unsustainable. So my tip is to create practical and authentic everyday experience to promote early literacy. This way you form habits that will be sustainable throughout your child’s life.
A few of my favourite (authentic and practical) ideas for a baby are:
Talk about Everything
Whether it be cooking dinner, gardening, or driving your car try describing what you are doing to your little one. Think of the five senses to help with your descriptions.
Play music and sing along
It doesn’t matter is you are a good singer or not, singing helps children learn new words. Singing slows down language so children can hear the different sounds in words and learn about syllables. Singing also helps develop listening and memory skills which makes repetition easier for young children.
Link books with real-life experiences
If you’ve read a book about animals at the zoo, you might like to take your child to the zoo and point out animals that look like the ones from the book.
Thank you for joining us this week Allison! To sign up for the Jack the Wombat newsletter (including when it is officially launching and awesome literacy tips for you to use at home), check out the website HERE, Facebook HERE and Instagram HERE.