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That Mama: Tara Milne, mama of three and president of the Parents' Association at the Australian International School

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thatmama_tara_1That Mama Tara Milne is a busy mama of three kiddos (Connor, 9, Sydney, 7 and Zoe, 5) and is also President of the Parents’ Association at the Australian International School. This multi-tasking Canadian mama shares her secrets for staying on top of everyone’s schedule, tells us about how her kids love her working at their school and confesses to a love for rock music and G&T’s. In short, she’s our kind of mama!

How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
Every appointment, meeting or deadline goes in my iPhone. If it’s not there, chances are I won’t be there either! When I have a particularly hairy day, I actually take a screen shot of my calendar and save it as my wallpaper. I even have a reminder to pick up my kids from school (you’re not the only one Tara!)

And then I am a list maker; I have lists for everything from cleaning to packing for trips. Multi-tasking is also important. For instance the kids’ after- school activities – they do Tae Kwan Do and Ballet at the same location, so I am not driving across the city.

7U7A1020I wish I had more time for…
Exercise! Back when I was in Texas, I belonged to a gym that provided childcare. I could meet my girlfriends there for a workout and a cup of coffee, while the kids played happily.

I always feel saner after….
A Gin & Tonic.

No? Ok, my first cup of coffee then! (Sassy Mamas: we would go with the G&T too!)

Favourite activity with the kids in Singapore?
Anza (Australian & New Zealand Association) Athletics. There are a ton of fun sports activities available for 5-15 year olds and you don’t need to be Aussie or Kiwi to join in the fun.

Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Singapore?
If it’s up to the kids, Chilis wins hands down! If it’s up to me and my husband, we love going to Cha Cha Cha in Holland Village for some good Mexican food and where the kids can ride their scooters.

7U7A1097Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
Every year here in Singapore we treat as our last, so we try to visit as many different destinations as we can during school breaks. Our “epic” trip was to Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai back in September. But to really chill, we love Phuket (there really is something about Thailand and family life that is hard to beat). We have already been to Phuket twice before, so this year we are going to spend Christmas in Khao Lak with my parents and my sister’s family.

Activity that I do not love to do but do it anyway because my kids love it…
When they were younger, I would have to say “indoor playrooms”! Our kids are already loud enough, who can enjoy a nice latte with all that racket?!  Now that they are older, it’s not as much of an issue.

Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
My husband and I were roommates; actually I was his landlord! We were friends first and the romance came later. Having a sense of humour and not taking yourself too seriously definitely helps. And with both of us being Canadian, we speak fluent sarcasm, which when used properly helps to diffuse almost any situation!

Favourite date-night restaurants?
Because Christian (my hubby) travels and eats out a lot, we keep our date nights pretty low key. Upper Thomson has a lot of nice little restaurants with great food – Dawaat Tandoori is one of our favourites- they have the best butter chicken in Singers!! (yum! Sassy mama review coming up!) Din Tai Fung is another favourite.

Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having kiddos?
I used to work as a Corporate Trainer for a software company. Although I loved my work, I always thought I would be a stay at home mom once we had children. When Christian was offered his first expat posting in Houston, Texas we jumped at the chance, knowing that I could stay at home to raise our children, on a single income.

But… I quickly realized that I was not cut out to be a “lady of leisure” and volunteered at a local school in Houston. Funnily enough the school mascot at that school was the Koala, and the school was affectionately known as “The Outback” AND my first and best friend was the PTA President! Fast forward 10 years and now I am the President of the Parents’ Association at the Australian International School in Singapore!

My volunteering helped me get my “mojo” back! Having been out of the workforce for almost 10 years, I was looking for something that would allow me to brush up my skills and try something new, with the flexibility to keep doing the school runs, attend class parties, performances and excursions.

How has having kids changed the way you define work?
My family comes first. Work to me is about giving back, and doing something that I genuinely enjoy.

7U7A1159Do you have any tips for working mamas or mamas who are interested in volunteering in Singapore?
Find something you truly love to do!  If you aren’t sure what that is, take some classes, talk to other Moms or volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and explore a career change! (Get out there mamas!)

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
“Fair isn’t always equal”. Our kids all have different love languages. One wants gifts and another prefers cuddles.

Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
Put down the book… step away from the computer! There is almost too much information available these days. Go with your gut.

As a mama I wish I were better at…
Homework! I struggle with maths – they do it differently than in “the olden days”!

My most humbling mama moment …
When someone goes out of their way to tell me about something wonderful they saw one of my kiddos do.

What’s your favourite family ritual?
Our families back home quickly learned that it costs more than the gift is worth to post gifts to Singapore. We then decided that we would throw one big family Birthday Party in Canada instead of gifts, usually on Canada Day! We all look forward to a great big cake asmy brother owns a bakery and all 7 grandchildren celebrating their birthdays together! (give us the date and time an we will be there!)

I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
Anything and everything! What time is it? What’s for dinner? My grocery list and to do list… I said I was a list person!

Bedtime is always smoother when…
I am not at home! Dad is the one with the bedtime super powers in our house!

7U7A1117One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
My music! I remember riding with a mama friend when I was expecting our first child, being subjected to “the wheels on the bus” over and over. (Oh dear!) I decided then and there that I would not let my kids play DJ! Thank goodness, because I feel like I live in my car some days! The kids and I love to “rock out” in the car! Rock ON mama!

My favourite moment of the day is…
When everyone is tucked into bed for the night and Christian and I can have some “grown up time”. Or if Christian is travelling, I curl up in bed with a book.

What’s it like working in the same school as your children go to?
I love working at the same school as my children. The commute is a breeze and I can visit them in their classrooms or sneak up on them in the playground! They love knowing that I am just down the hall, and my son will often pop his head in to say hello – and ask for lunch money!

What is unique about working at AIS?
I feel that I’m part of a community, one that I am helping to build. Where you are accepted for who you are and feel like you belong. Moms need do find their “community” and I want our parents to feel at home, at the school.

Thanks Tara, and thank you to the wonderful Gunilla of Sugarlight Photography for the fantastic photos of Tara and her kiddos!


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