She's one of Australia's most loved entertainers and, as we discovered, also one of the most genuine. We talk exclusively to the gorgeous Nat Bass about motherhood, her business, beauty and health tips and that elusive work-life balance.
LifeStyle: As a TV personality, singer, entrepreneur and Mum of two, you must be so busy. How do you find juggling work and motherhood?
Natalie Bassingthwaite: Oh my god. Like any mother I find it completely stressful! It’s never easy. I don’t think any single day just falls into place. There are always hurdles along the way. In fact, in the last 6 months with everything going on - running a business, keeping the kids happy and being a great wife - I’ve had to make some adjustments. We felt like there was too much TV in our lives - in the morning we’d get up and be really sluggish, so now don’t have TV in the mornings Monday to Friday at all. Instead we put music on, and its really changed the energy in our house. Don’t get me wrong – there are still times where we are screaming ‘Get dressed!’, but it feels like an easier transition going to school now. We also make the effort for all four of us to walk to school together every day so it feels like quality 'together' time – without any external pressure or distractions.
The other thing we’ve done is limit how much we use our phones. I used to roll over and grab my phone as soon as I’d wake up – and start emailing and being all anxious. And I just thought, 'What am I doing? I don’t want to be this person!", so removing that until after the school drop-off has been such a pleasure and a new way for us. It really helps. And then at night, we try to have no phones between 5 and 8pm so the family can be really present in the moment. When we do manage to do it, it’s awesome.
LS: What a great idea! I think we could all benefit from something like that. Tell us more about your gorgeous kids clothing label, Chi Khi, how it started, and the inspiration behind it.
NB: Why did I start it? I was crazy?! (Laughs) When you’re a Mum or a Mum-to-be, I bought all the magazines and I saw a lot of Mums starting their own business and I thought ‘Oh yeah, I could do that’. Not that I wasn’t busy, but working in the industry, you are always waiting for the phone to ring. You’re not in control. And I’m actually a bit of a control freak so I didn’t like that too much. So I wanted to see if I could do something on my own that was all mine (or mine and my husbands). Let’s see if we can get a passive income doing something that we love outside of the industry, because we are both creatives and don’t have Monday to Friday jobs. So it began like that. And obviously having the kids is inspiring. They both have sensitive skin so I wanted to find clothing that wasn’t so harsh, and I realised there was no cool or edgy stuff made out of this bamboo fabric and it all just went on from there.
Chi Khi has been online for 15 months but I've been doing it for about 2.5 years in total – from conception through to today. Sometimes it can be 12 hours a day on the job, so we do have a team of people helping us out. Here I was thinking I'd have more time! (laughs).
LS: What’s the best thing about being a Mum?
NB: I love watching my kids navigate their own personalities and really figuring out who they are as individuals. I find that really fascinating. Seeing them getting over hurdles, I love it all so much. Just seeing their little personalities come alive and the fact that as a parent, we can shape our kids lives – and make them great human beings – even if we haven’t done a great job with ourselves. (laughs)
LS: Haha a second chance!
NB: Yes, a second chance. There is such wonder every day.
LS: What do you like to do in your down time? (if you have any!) Is there any way you like to indulge or treat yourself?
NB: Are you talking with or without kids? (Laughs) If I do ever get any time to myself without kids then I'd love to have a massage – somewhere it is completely quiet. Because most of the time, whether it's with or without kids working, it is just go, go, go and so busy – so to have that is amazing. I'm ready for it. Lets go now!
LS: What about with the kids?
We like to get out of the house, go for walks or take the bikes.. even though we end up carrying the bikes and usually my son at the same time. We might go to play centres and have a babycino or a hot chocolate. There is nothing really specific we do – it's just being together and having that quality time.
That’s where the phones come in. I felt like I wasn’t being present in my kids upbringing, even though they are right beside me. So I had to get rid of that and savour the moment because it goes so quickly.
LS: Where is your favourite place to travel?
NB: Anywhere! Lets go! Right now, I'd love to go somewhere relaxing with hot weather and a beach to escape the cold! I do really love New York though. Its an amazing city – its such an experience, and an adventure.
LS: Do you have any secrets to looking and feeling good you could share with us? Are you strict with diet and exercise?
NB: You got me on a good day. Last night I thought to myself, right I've had enough.. I need to focus more and get back to my old self. Whereas for weeks before I was like “oh its fine’.. and drink wine every night, but something had to give. So I did some exercise this morning – in the lounge room with my daughter. My son came in and grabbed one of the little weights, it was so funny. I also started tennis last year, which I'm not great at, but I really enjoy. I do pilates and personal training once a week, which I just started up again.
I was also getting a bit slack food-wise, you tend to jump in and out of being good to yourself. But today I started off full-steam ahead – and made myself a smoothie and had some lentil soup. I even had a tumeric latte! So yes, you got me on a good day!! I'm back into gear. But hey, iI'l probably feel like a wine tonight (laughs)
LS: Are there any beauty products you can’t live without?
NB: I did a photo shoot a few months ago, and the make-up artist used Laura Mercier Illuminating primer on me and then a tinted moisturiser. I'd never really used primers before, I used to use something heavier. But I've found as I get older it cant be as cakey or it gets stuck in my wrinkles. And it just gives this glow! I love it.
I'm also a bit obsessed with my Stila Megalash or Long Lash Mascara – it is seriously amazing. I haven’t found a mascara as good as it ever. You can get it from Mecca.
The one product I have used for years is the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat (highlighter and concealer), which you put under your eyes. It's great for new Mums or anyone who has children and that also brings a kind of iridescent glow. Who doesn’t need some glow in their life?!
LS: We definitely need some of that! Who is your greatest inspiration or role model?
NB: My kids inspire me! Is that bad? They inspire me to be a better person. Even with the whole phone thing, if I see them getting obsessed I figure they are learning it from me. How can you tell them to put it down if you’re working on it all day? So they inspire me to be a better Mum and person, and to really take a breath and take it all in.
LS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
NB: My Mum has always told me to treat people how you would like to be treated. I feel like that has stuck with me forever. I live by that.
LS: What’s next for you? Any new projects on the horizon?
NB: We’re announcing a new line for ChiKhi which is really exciting. I also did a telemovie called Brock which is about to go to air, and there are a few more projects happening as well. Oh.. and a holiday would be great too!!
Top Image: Courtesy of Nikole Ramsay/ The Grace Tales
Natalie Bassingthwaite is a speaker at the One Fine Baby Fair in Sydney August 12-14 and Melbourne September 9-11. Find out more at onefinebabyevents.com.au