Meet Mandy Bell, owner of The Freedom State and her two daughters, Mia and Sunnie.
We decided to get a little home grown this year and get to know Mandy and what her experiences are and have been on being a Mum with two teens!
What's your favourite part about being a Mum?
Oh wow - so many things after 16 years! But I think for now it's seeing hard work pay off; watching them grow to become young adults and seeing them take on advice we have given in the past and use it! I love that the girls trust me enough to come to me and talk boys, friendship group issues, and just regular everyday concerns or just goss! Trust, communication and humour is key for me.
Tell us a bit about your girls:
OMG they are like chalk and cheese (no surprises!)
Mia is 16 turning 17, and is such a great kid. She has worked at her local cafe since she was 13 and loves it! She is trying to decide on her career being in year 11 at school. Oh, and getting up those licence hours (most importantly). She follows her Mum in style, but thankfully doesn't raid cupboards (who is this kid - I know right?)
Mia, Mandy's eldest daughter.
Sunnie is a bit of a tough guy- definitely not a people pleaser! But she is a great kid that loves her sport. She is currently playing Futsal in the UK for Australia which is an amazing experience for her! Sunnie just turned 14 and her style is more like what Mum used to wear in the 90's; Docs, bum bags, Fila trainers... It just cracks me up. She also LOVES cruising Palm Beach on her electric scooter.
Sunnie, Mandy's youngest daughter.
What's been your best experience you have had with your girls?
I still can't go past our USA trip with 5 adults and 7 kids on board! We visited Disneyland and then travelled over to New York. On our arrival Mia turned 13, so we quickly visited a typical NY diner where we all sat and ate cake at midnight and sang her happy birthday. Best trip!
What's your biggest fear about being a Mum in 2019?
Online safety; without a doubt it's my number 1. And the bigger picture prize goes to - the environment, and the future for my children.
What do you love the most about your family unit?
I love that we all share a decent sense of humour; nobody is safe from a decent pay-out in our house. We also have this thing called Doof-Kitchen. For some reason everyone always ends up dancing in our 2x2 metre squared kitchen space when we have gatherings at home. But it doesn't stop there. Weekly dinner is cooked whilst performing dance routines to anything from Grease 2 Soundtrack to Whitesnake, to Mariah. We are all pretty talentless so it's pretty hilarious. They love it when I twerk; 'Mum stop that right now!'
Which movie star / celebrity do you identify with as a parent?
Mila Kunis's character in Bad Moms! Does that count?
Mila Kunis on far right.
What do you do to give yourself a break from parenthood?
Billinudgel Hotel (Northern NSW) has a dance party once a month through Summer, and I like to go and dance my little heart out with all the locals! It finishes at 9.30 at night - an excellent time for an old bag, hehe!
Mandy also loves letting loose for Karoke.
What advice would you give to parents using your experiences as a parent?
Set boundaries! Your kids will still love you even if they think you are the strict parent compared to their friends. You can be strict and still show love and have fun. I kept telling my girls - it won't always be like this - it kind of helped them see a light at the end of the tunnel and appreciate when boundaries were lifted.
Get a wifi monitoring app for your kid's devices! Everyone knows when the time limits are set, and I found after the first 10 minutes of device shut down, the girls began enjoying life away from the distraction of technology again. No fights = happy days!
Communication is a huge thing for me. It's everything.
And what would be the best advice you have taken from your own Mum for parenthood?
Just putting the emphasis on being honest and open with each other. And teach your children good manners.
Mandy's own Mum, Jenny.
Images thanks to: @thenesst / Simone Stabb
Mandy works in store every Sunday and Monday. If you are local - pop in and say Hi, or comment below on your thoughts. xx