Designer and mother-of-one Tess Guinery on BEING MARRIED TO A STUNTMAN, learning to allow yourself to come undon, life on the Gold Coast
CHARLOTTE RIVERS FOR MOTHERLAND
Six months ago my husband Caleb and I reluctantly left Sydney with our two-year-old daughter, Peaches Wilde, and relocated to the Gold Coast in Queensland. We moved into my parents’ place so we could save for our US Green Card, but unfortunately that may take longer than anticipated – years, if ever. However, we have accidentally fallen in love with a little slice of paradise just south of here called Currimbin, so we are looking around for a home…
We’ve moved around a lot in the six years since we married (we started in a small coastal town just south of Sydney called Mollymook) and we also travel a lot for Caleb’s work (he’s a stuntman). While we have loved living such a spontaneous life, I find that I’m craving a home more then ever before. Currimbin has stretched out its palm tree arms and welcomed us wholeheartedly. I’ve met so many amazing mums doing so many creative things all while enjoying the relaxed beach lifestyle the area offers, so right now putting down some roots seems like the right thing to do.
I work as a designer, and I work for myself. My husband is a stuntman and works on short contracts. In terms of childcare we basically tag team. If he has a quiet week, I work and he has Peaches, and vice versa. We sit down at the beginning of each week we plan who’s working and who’s being mum for the week. When he’s in-between stunt gigs I’m a full time designer, and then when he’s on a movie I’m a full-time mum doing the crazy juggle which always includes working some serious late nights and then sneaking in work time when Peaches is having her day nap, or sometimes (guilty) I have to put her in front of a few episodes of Peppa Pig to meet a deadline. Let’s be real, its not all glam.
Somedays it’s smooth and I feel on top of the world, and other days it’s not so great. For instance trying to meet a deadline with a clingy two-year-old is a total stress and plain right crazy. So it definitely has its challenges, and there are often major clashes where Caleb and I both have a lot on at the same time, but most of the time it works.
Every morning I’m woken up by my husband bringing Peaches into bed for some cuddles (best part of my day) then after some serious snuggles, Peaches and I get up, chuck on some clothes and head to our local beach at around 6:30am. We grab coffee and babyccinos, head to the park, have a swim and then head back to start work by 10am. No day looks the same, some days I’ll be styling, flat laying, shooting and editing, and other days I’ll literally be replying to emails (all day), or designing a logo or having meetings. This is why I love my job, so much variety suits a restless girl like me.
I haven’t always been a designer. When I first left school my best friend and I opened a Dance Academy and ran it for seven years before I traded in my hip hop shoes for a MacBook Pro. I went back to school and studied design and then began working as a designer, first in Fashion PR, and then in a boutique design agency, before I went freelance. Today I specialise in visual communication and graphic design, plus I have just launched an e-mag called Lagoon To The Moon. I really love freelancing and for our little family it’s the only option. Of course it has cons too, like everything falls on your shoulders, and you need to be totally on top of things to function smoothly. That is almost impossible with the unpredictability of the stunt industry, and the emotions of a two-year-old, so it’s a balancing act for sure.
Having a child has really made me realise what a perfectionist I am. When Peaches was first born I was in an adrenaline bubble of happy endorphins for the first six weeks before I found myself not really dealing with all the change and putting a lot of pressure on myself to keep all the balls juggling. I felt like I was failing and basically to put it simply I was losing my shit. This brought on some serious anxiety and so I booked myself in to see a counsellor which turned out to be the best thing I have ever done. I know I’ll always have a small element of that perfectionism in me, but now I like to think of it more as visual creativity and order, hence my career path as a designer which has been a great outlet for me. Motherhood has also made me realise a lot about my weaknesses and how much I needed to rely on something greater then myself. For me this was hard as I’ve always been quite independent, the go-getter type, so I guess motherhood has made me surrender myself and acknowledge that I don’t know everything and that it’s OK to come undone.
When I’m tired or stressed I always try to come back to finding some peace, and I find that peace in God. My faith helps me see the greater purpose of what this whole life thing is about and puts my stresses in their rightful place. I think the whole thing of work-life balance is tricky, and I’m yet to discover it. I think we all need to listen to our bodies more and connect to the things we love. When we ignore our bodies we get out of balance end up in a danger zone.
Rising stress levels are an indication of this danger zone and I find myself falling into this zone often, after all I’m a reformed perfectionist and sometimes I just go go go, till I burn burn burn. I think if you are laughing, sleeping well at night, fresh when you wake, present in conversation, present at work, and are able to switch off at 5pm then you really have it going on. And if there’s a woman out there who’s mastered this I really want to meet her!
I think the best thing I do to take care of myself is to try be in bed by 9pm. I’m a massive advocate for early to bed, early to rise, but often I find that I need to stay up a lot later to do extra stuff like write, or put time into personal projects. It seems there is not enough time in my day to run my business, be a mum, a wife, a friend and do ALL the things I love, so nights are my little sanctuary of fall-back time if I need it. I also try to find enough spare time to do the things I love – connect with my two loves (my husband and daughter), spend time at the beach, go shopping, go on dates, and scout out the best coffee at our local cafes.
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