Originally a country girl, Emma Dudman grew up on a farm approximate 7 hours drive west of Sydney. She now calls The Shire home together with her husband and three children and runs a weekly program for babies designed to stimulate, educate and provide precious memories during their first year of life.
She tells us about her life in The Shire!
Where and how long have you lived in the Sutherland Shire and what do you love about it?
We have lived in Caringbah South for nearly 3 years. My husband and I met in Sydney 7 years ago and he was born and bred in The Shire. We were together for only 6 months before we moved to Auckland, New Zealand where we had our two children, Lachlan (5) and Gabriella (3). We loved living in Auckland because of the laid back lifestyle. It will always be close to our hearts as it is where our children were born and we made so many life-long friends there!
When coming back to Sydney we chose to settle back in The Shire because we love going to the beach and you get more bang for your buck when buying a house, so moving here was a no-brainer for us. We just love the tranquillity of Camellia Gardens and the adventures of the National Park; we are so lucky to have nature on our doorstep.
Tell us about yourself and your family:
I come from a multi-cultural background. My mum’s parents were refugees from Hungary during WWII and settled in Sydney to make a new life. We have family in Hungary and keep in touch through social media and email.
I grew up on a farm approximately 700km west of Sydney. The farm was a soldier settler farm, which means WWI soldiers were given land after their service. My great grandfather on my dad’s side was given over 8,000 acres and it was dense thick scrub. My dad and his brothers grew up clearing the land to make use of it to grow crops and raise livestock. I do miss the country lifestyle, but I love having everything of convenience close by; it’s so easy to take it for granted. I forget about the city conveniences when I visit my 90-year-old grandparents, who live about 50km from any major shops and don’t have phone service or internet. It’s nice to unplug and just spend time together – no scrolling through Facebook or Instagram!
I trained as a Primary School teacher and taught for about 10 years in various places in Australia and overseas. I love teaching, but once the kids came along the long hours spent doing school work did not become my priority. I now own Baby Sensory in The Shire. It’s such a fantastic business which I am able to run from my own home around the kids. I have taken a break from teaching classes as I had my 3rd baby about 4 months ago. However, my amazing Class Leader Katherine, teaches classes in Caringbah and Como. The best part of the business is seeing all the babies attend from week to week and watching them grow and learn while also building relationships with their parents. It is truly an honour to be a part of their baby’s development. Some of the babies started at just a few weeks old and they are now 13 months old! Some parents attend for a whole year and some babies can complete 5 terms if they start soon after they are born!
My kids go to the local preschool, so the days are a little shorter than regular daycare. They absolutely love it. I feel so lucky to be able to run the business around the kids and a new baby. My husband works long hours and travels a lot, so it is important for one of us to be at home while they are still little.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Last year we bought a house that needed a lot of TLC so 8 weeks ago we moved out to renovate. It has been a chaotic, crazy few weeks going between my parents and in-laws who live on the South Coast and back up to Sydney to check on the build, with the 3 kids. So at the moment, there is no typical day as the kids have had to take a break from preschool, we have been going to the park, beach, bike track and delegating a lot of outside time. In between all that I am still running the business as well as organising the renovations. There is one part of the day that I will never miss though, and that’s reading to the kids before sleep, it’s my favourite part of the day. We usually go to the library once a week and spend time selecting new books. We usually get between 20- 30 and read them all in a week. They would love to read more but that’s about as many as I can carry!
Once the kids are in bed, I round off the day with business admin such as accounts, checking/replying to emails, text messages, Facebook, Instagram. I would usually prepare for classes too but Katherine has taken over that role while I am away. Each week there is usually something to make for the coming week, such as an underwater sea cloth, build something such as a surprise box, and washing, washing and more washing!
Favourite park and why:
Just a touch out of The Shire, but it has to be Symbio Wildlife Park. The kids received a yearly pass from their grandparents, so we try to head down there once every few weeks. The kids love walking around the zoo and seeing all the animals, we always take a picnic and stay a few hours. The water park over the summer was fantastic and the playground they have added is a favourite!
Favourite kid-friendly cafe and why:
I don’t go to cafes much anymore. I usually get a takeaway from the bakery on Port Hacking Road – Tara and the ladies are so lovely there, always greet you by name and the coffee is one of the best I have tasted in the Shire.
Favourite restaurant or favourite night-spot and why:
I love Antonio’s Pizzeria in Caringbah. The food is so yummy and the service is always so friendly! They also do great takeaway too. I eat gluten-free food so I find it a bit of a challenge to find a good pizza and Antonio’s have never disappointed. For something a little more exotic, Mumtaz Indian is one of the best!
Tell us about your work?
Baby Sensory is a multi-award-winning weekly program for babies from birth to 13 months. It offers a complete approach to learning and sensory development and is designed to stimulate, educate and provide precious memories during their first year of life.
Our baby development classes have a different theme each week so there is always something new to experience with your baby, there are literally hundreds of activities! We run 40 different lesson plans a year with approximately 10 activities during each class. Activities range from signing to fibre optic light shows, amazing light balls, bubbles and bells; there is always something different. Every baby’s first year is such a precious time of learning and sensory exploration.
Motherly advice on how to stay sane:
I have to laugh at this because people have been telling me how crazy I am lately! A newborn, running my own business and no fixed address while doing renovations! Life is a bit crazy at the moment, but you really just have to take each day as it comes and go with the flow. Life is always going to be busy with three kids so taking the time to connect with them at the end of every day while reading stories, keeps me sane. They also make me laugh so that helps when things get a bit stressful!
What is your guilty pleasure?
Massages! I will try to squeeze in a massage at any chance I can get! I also enjoy coffee every morning and dessert or chocolate every night, but I don’t feel guilty! I need to have something sweet after dinner while I am catching up on work!
What’s the best product/service you can recommend since becoming a mum? (for baby/kids or you)?
Baby Sensory, of course! My classes are proven to enhance babies development and set them up for the rest of their lives. What a baby experiences in the first year of their life is crucial and the more sensory experiences they have will increase their brain mass significantly. A baby’s brain will double in weight in the first year as a direct response from the experiences they have. Their brains will never grow that fast again! Their brains have the ability to learn twice the amount an adult’s brain can, which is amazing.
How have you changed since becoming a mum?
My whole life changed in so many ways. I was more than ready to be a mum and I have always been really maternal. It was daunting having my first child in a foreign country with no family and no friends close by, but as difficult as it was it made me a better person and I became stronger and more resilient. My husband, Luke is a massive support and I can always rely on him. Being a mum is the best, toughest and most rewarding job in the world!