By Danielle Galvin
Olivia Anderson’s become known as the ’Flat Out Mum’.
She wears many different hats – mum of four busy boys including identical twin boys, creator of Flat Out Mum Retreats, partner of Shane Crawford and more.
For anyone who follows Olivia’s social media accounts – she’s always sharing tidbits, tales, funny pictures and an honest insight into her day to day life.
Olivia spoke about running annual getaways for mums, what it’s like being a “boy mum“ and surviving the sleepless nights with babies.
Tell me about the retreats that you run and how it all came about. It must take a lot of planning and organising – but no doubt that’s your forte these days!
When my twins were a few months old and I also had a three and five year old who had just started school … as you can imagine I was totally exhausted. Shane and my mum decided to book me in to Crown for a night for and reluctantly sent me off with a friend. It sounds crazy but I didn’t want to go, I felt it was too early to leave the twins and even though I was so utterly drained, I thought they needed me at home more! After 24 hours away, some room service, me time and a full nights sleep I was literally a new woman. I felt refreshed and ready to conquer more relentless days and nights with the boys. Also, it showed everyone else how much I had actually been doing and how much work it is every single day (which is always an added bonus). We started in 2016 with some Melbourne weekends away and I have now expanded to Bali where I do an annual Retreat with my sister Emily (*she also has 3 boys!) who runs www.balifamilyvillas.com with her husband. They sell out every year and we are 80% sold for 2020 with repeat guests and just one email. It is very rewarding.
I am a big believer in self care and believe that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Women often lose themselves in motherhood, they lose their identity and can become a bit lost. This is normal and a part of the adjustment period I guess but I am a strong advocate for remembering YOU. What you wanted before you had kids, your own goals and what makes you genuinely happy outside of your family life. It often takes stepping out of that for a moment to see the bigger picture. There is nothing more rewarding than watching deserving Mums rejuvenate and find themselves a little on my Retreats. Organising them is the best job ever. Plus I get to go on them also so it’s a win win!
Tell me about being the “flat out mum“ and what that entails – a typical day in your life!
There’s not really a typical day. With four boys comes four different personalities & varying needs so anything can happen! My mantra is to “embrace the chaos”. I am a planner but you also need to go with the flow and pick your battles. Some things (like houses work!) can slide for a while as you try to enjoy the little moments with your kids. From a practical point, my day starts with turning the coffee machine on & walking straight to put a load of washing on. If I don’t do several loads every day it quickly gets on top of me. Mornings are crazy during school term but now they’re all at school I have more time for me and to work on my businesses.
What’s been your greatest lesson since becoming a mum?
I love the quote by Steve Biddulph (I have read all of his books on Raising Boys many times that “you do not make your child, you meet your child”. Before you have kids you have expectations on what type of child you & your partner may create and you quickly find out that they are are their own individual little creature with their own beliefs, talents and ideas on how they want to live their life. Once you embrace that and work with your child to find their passions, how their temperament works and how they are different to everyone else, that is a positive shift. Its a constant learning curve and I definitely do to have it all worked out. Charlie just turned 13 so the teenage years begin! I’m hoping the close bond I have with them pays off doing the next decade!
No doubt life changed again hugely when you and Shane welcomed your twin boys – how did you find that transition? I’ve read that the hardest time is going from one to two kids – but not sure that applies with twins!!
Personally I think the first baby is a huge adjustment to your life and going from one to two, you actually know what you’re in for and your life has adapted accordingly. Our twins (identical) were a huge surprise so when they were born Ben was 3 and Charlie was 5 so it was a very full on few years. I really lowered my expectations on what I could achieve in a day and just gave in to the demands of a big, messy family. I missed out on a lot of things but you have to change your priorities, at least temporarily to survive. Not just to physically get through the load but for your mental sanity too 🙂
I’ve read on your blog you say your boys weren’t great sleepers – for anyone in the trenches with babies/toddlers and endless sleepless nights – how did you navigate that? Is there a time in parenthood you’ve found the most challenging or rewarding?
I decided early on to only ever look forward, not backwards.
There is nothing to gain mentally by revisiting the horrible night you just had. Recalling the number of times you woke and how little sleep you had, it just does your head in and you start the day in a negative way.
I try to focus on the positive and get rid of any negative self talk. Take what you can when you can get it & find ways to destress like going for a walk, lying on the coach or meditation apps etc. It doesn’t last forever.
Any tips or tricks for fellow mums of boys like yourself?
Hmmmm have a mop handy in the bathroom at all times as they can’t seem to pee in that very large toilet seat! For my boys is to keep them active.
The summer is great as they love playing outside and being in the pool exhausts them. Boys have had a hard run lately and I am very mindful of teaching them that yes although “girls can run the world”, we are all equals.
They see what I do with my life and spare time and hopefully they grow up with not only a healthy respect for women, but all different types of people.
Boy mums are so lucky. They are messy and noisy and barely sit still, but mine are so affectionate and I have four little BFF’s for life. I wouldn’t have it any other way!