We're so excited to share this 'Folks We Love' with you featuring two awesome mums; journalist and writer, Hannah Davison and designer, Flicka Williams who have created a personalised ‘My Big Moments’ book series for children 2-7 that are designed to help our little people tackle life’s big moments. With 2020 being the year it was and a lot of that carrying over into 2021, these books are incredibly timely.
The series came about when the two bonded over their shared experiences of motherhood - shortly after the initial spark of the idea was born, Hannah and her children experienced the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake and had to flee their home in the middle of the night. Hannah knew that these books could serve as a lifeline for parents having to help their children navigate life's big challenges and experiences.
The first four books cover the events of starting school, going to the hospital, getting a new sibling, and the newest book ‘That’s Not The Plan’ which is focused on resilience and how to deal when things don’t go to plan. The series is backed by research and consultation from experts in child psychology, play therapy and neuroscience education. We highly recommend these incredible books for your little ones and we hope you enjoy this chat with Hannah and Flicka where we chat about their amazing books, their creative processes, mama life, family time, the year that was 2020 and so much more!
Where are you from?
HD: Culverden, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
FW: Born in New Zealand, but living in Sydney, Australia.
Who is in your family?
HD: Hannah (37), Alex (8), Frankie (6), Duchess — the English Bull Terrier (9) and Toby — the Siamese cat (9 months).
FW: Flicka (38), Ollie (39), GeeGee (5), Oscar (2) and another one due 9th January 2021 ...
Can you tell us about the idea and intention behind the book(s) and how you brought it to life?
HD: We wanted to create the kind of books we wished we had ourselves as we guided our little ones through their first milestones and events in their early life. I had always hoped some kind of operators’ manual might pop out with the placenta when I had my babies ... it didn’t! So, we’ve done our best to make something special that will bring parents and kids together to learn about how to approach life with confidence and curiosity, making the tricky job of parenting a little bit easier! Our intention is to create an environment for growing wholehearted humans who live lives a little fuller, in a world a little kinder.
FW: After figuring out our intention and vision for the books, we got down to the nitty-gritty of bringing our idea to life. At the start, there was a lot of feeling around in the dark. Neither of us had ever been on this journey before, so we really had to figure it out from scratch. We decided the best way of achieving our intention was to team up with child development consultants and understand how our concept could most help each child and parent. It’s all been a huge learning curve, and we’ve learnt so much along the way.
What has the creative process been like from concept to final product?
HD: It was a three-year journey from coming up with the initial concept to launching in November 2019! It took time to shape what we were going to do and how we were going to do it, what characters we’d use, how they needed to look and interact, what child development consultants we would want to work with, who would be best to illustrate the books, how we’d write the stories, what subjects we’d cover and how the personalisation and logistics would all come together. We laugh now at how we thought it was such a simple idea in the beginning and then it grew into a beast of a thing! We love our beast, though! We’re so proud of what we’ve created and how the books are helping families move through their own challenges and milestones.
FW: A huge part of our creative process was the team we got on board to help us bring our concept to life. It’s probably one of the most important factors when starting a new business, your team is everything and you rely on each other so much. It took us a year to get our illustrator Marco Palmieri signed up. We knew what a vital role he would play and he’s been amazing. He’s also dad to two boys which means he totally understands and values the overall intention of the books. Our other team member is Jo Roca, who is someone I worked with in one of my previous roles. This girl is a creative genius and we’ve worked hand-in-hand bringing this brand to life. She’s also mum to little Eva, so again, is completely in-tune with the world of parenting.
What topics do all four books cover, is there an overarching message?
HD: There are currently five titles in the My Big Moments book range — Ready for School (getting ready to start school), The Hospital Visit (preparing for hospital trips or medical procedures), Goodbye Comet (handling grief and loss), Baby on the Way (preparing for a new sibling) and, That’s Not the Plan, (building resilience).
FW: The overarching message is really that by taking as little as 10 minutes a day, we can nurture strong emotional connections with our kids. When they feel safe and secure in their primary relationships, they can develop a solid foundation of resiliency and learn important tools for communication, curiosity and adaptability. That one-on-one dynamic that storytime provides, is perfect for a child’s brain development as well as bonding and connecting at the end of each day.
What do you hope children get out of these beautiful books?
HD: I hope that kids will take some of the tools and strategies we share in the books and be able to use them in their own real-life situations. We’re giving them words to put around different feelings and experiences, so they can be better equipped to express themselves. We want them to know that it’s normal to feel challenged and to feel emotions, but there’s always a way to keep moving forward. I hope they’ll feel confident that with a little bit of help, they’ll be able to handle whatever life might throw at them.
FW: We wanted to encourage open conversations between children and their parents. That children will feel like they can always go to their parents whenever they need help as that strong communication is established and reinforced with the help of the books. We hope those early learnings will serve them throughout their lives.
Can you tell us a little bit about the most recent addition to your collection?
HD: As word spread about My Big Moments books, parents came to us asking if we would write books on specific topics. Most commonly, the subject of child anxiety was raised — an issue affecting more and more families. We focussed on writing a story that would help families raise resilient kids, giving them tools to handle the myriad anxiety-inducing pressures in their modern world. Our fifth title, ‘That’s Not the Plan’, is about building resilience one adventure at a time. The book shares ideas and strategies to help kids process their emotions, adapt to change, persevere, problem-solve, build confidence and bounce back from adversities.
FW: We decided to send the characters in ‘That’s Not the Plan’ on a camping trip. We thought this would be a perfect scenario for bringing up all kinds of different opportunities for challenges and obstacles as well as feelings of frustration, anxiety, overwhelm and fear. It also results in fostering curiosity, exploration and accomplishment. Anyone who has been camping will be familiar with those experiences! Our illustrator loved it, too, because the scenes provided so much opportunity for spectacular illustrations.
How do you navigate the bumpy road of parenthood?
HD: By accepting that I am going to make mistakes and not being afraid to own them and learn from them. We can only do our best. Our best has to be good enough. I want my kids to see that it’s okay to be human and nothing’s ever perfect. It’s also really important to celebrate every little win and enjoy them with one another.
FW: By taking it one day at a time. I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant so keeping the house calm and a place for open conversation is really important for me. I try to keep things as simple as possible, extra stresses and challenges can easily tip the boat.
How do you teach your own kids about obstacles and challenges?
HD: Ultimately, we’ll learn more from our mistakes and challenges than we do from our victories, so, we never look at mistakes or challenges as failures, they don’t determine who we are as people. What determines who we are as people is how we choose to respond in the face of adversities. I hope to role-model that there’s always a way to keep moving forward.
FW: Our children are little sponges and if we can show them how we successfully deal with obstacles and challenges, then they are going to be far better equipped to deal with challenging situations themselves. I find keeping an open channel of conversation really important. Building the foundations of them being able to talk through anything, no matter how trivial, gives you an amazing opportunity to help and support them with whatever’s going on their little minds.
What does a typical day look like for you?
HD: There’s no such thing! I’ve come to accept that ‘normal’ is just a setting on a washing machine. I have learnt just to go with the flow and remember that somehow, everything will come together, and somehow, it does!
FW: Yes every day is completely different when wrangling a 2 and 5-year-old. I probably have more of an overall week routine where I have work days and kids’ days. Currently, I work three days which are entirely focused on the business, then kids’ days where I really do try and log off from the computer and be present with the kids. Because we are a business focused on parenting and we all have young kids’ there's a lot of flex in teams of what ‘normal’ looks like.
What advice would you offer someone looking to take the leap on a creative pursuit?
HD: I would say that you’ve got to live life doing things that make your heart smile. Secondly, when you need advice, be discerning about who you ask for it.
FW: Follow your heart and do what you love and it won’t feel like work. If you're building a team, pick wisely!
What are your go-to coping mechanisms when stressed / overwhelmed?
HD: I practice Vedic Meditation twice daily. It’s the most powerful technique for flushing stress out of the system and recharging you with adaptation energy. I shudder to remember life before it! I also prioritise exercising in nature.
FW: I also practise Vedic Meditation and attempt to get two in a day. It’s such a powerful tool and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Before I was pregnant my absolute go-to mechanism was an early morning run that would start with a meditation. Starting the day with a moment to yourself to clear your head, makes the world of difference.
What do you love most about being a mama?
HD: Watching these amazing little individuals unfold in their own unique ways. They are my greatest teachers and I learn so much from paying attention to their perspective on the world. Their priorities are pure and uncluttered. They always remind me what really matters is just the beautiful simplicity of being together.
FW: There’s so much I love about being a mama even though there can be total chaos and days where you just want to put your head in the sand. They really are our greatest teachers and I just love watching them grow into their own little people.
What is the most challenging part of being a mama?
HD: Feeling like you’ve always got more balls in the air than you can possibly juggle! There are so many things to remember and to do at any one time.
FW: The constant juggle! It’s so busy, with so much to think about and it just doesn’t stop ...
The best advice you have ever received?
HD: That when it comes to managing that motherhood struggle-juggle, you have to realise that some of the balls are rubber and some of them are glass. Just catch the glass ones and let some of the rubber ones bounce.
FW: Don’t get caught up in the concept of the ‘perfect mum’. IT DOESN’T EXIST.
One gift that came out of 2020?
HD: 2020 brought the focus back onto nurturing and attending to the most important relationships in your life — that when other things are stripped away, those are what you fall back on. 2020 was a timely reminder to practice compassion, both for ourselves and others.
FW: Being pregnant with our third child definitely tops the gift list. It’s had its challenges, with a decent bout of morning sickness and covid closures, but we’ve made it and not long to go now till our family of four becomes five.
What do you love doing most as a family?
HD: We like to have our little rituals to celebrate the weekend. On Fridays, we sometimes go to the hot pools in Hanmer Springs and have pizza afterwards. Then, it’s pancake Saturday the next morning where I crank out a stack of crêpes and end up with one or two at the end if I’m lucky!
FW: Heading to the beach is definitely our favourite family outing. We live in Sydney so nice and close to our favourite little spot. There's something so calming about the ocean. Without a doubt, everyone’s happy place (which includes the ice-cream shop).
What does mama 'me time' look like for you?
HD: Sitting down to meditate or going out for a hike with the dog.
FW: When I’m not pregnant, going for a run and meditating.
What's currently on your playlist?
HD: I recently made a playlist of pop songs “for the kids” ... but I admit it’s on heavy rotation pretty much all the time! I’m dining out on Blinding Lights by The Weekend.
FW: I have a bit of a range of genres running at the moment. My current favourite has got to be ‘The War on Drugs’.
What are you watching right now?
HD: The Goop Lab.
FW: The Queens Gambit (more serious) and Schitts Creek (for a good laugh).
What are you reading right now?
HD: A crime fiction manuscript my sister wrote!
FW: The Goldfinch.
The number one trait you hope to instill in your children?
What are 4 things you can't live without?
HD: Meditation, friends, music and avocados.
FW: Family, friends, music and dark chocolate.