Courtney Adamo is an inspiration for many mums all over the world. After 12 years living in London, the family decided to sell their house, their car and most of their belongings, gathering up the family and taking a year off to travel the world. During this trip, the family fell in love with Byron Bay, where they now live.
By Lara Franco Gomes
Photography courtesy of Courtney Adamo
She appears to be living the dream and everybody wants to know her secret. Everything in her life seems spotless: happy kids, a beautiful house in a drop-dead gorgeous place, good hair, cool clothes…How does one get so lucky?
The truth is that she built her own luck over time with a fearless and adventurous mind and the strength to work towards her life goals. Of course, her good taste never let her down along the way! She’s an inspiration and a mum you’ll want to follow on Instagram.
LEMON Magazine [LEMON] – Having moved from London to Byron Bay, can you give us three pros and three cons (if there are any)?
Courtney Adamo [C.A.] –
We spend much more time as a family.
We get to enjoy so much time out in nature — in the sun and the surf.
Life feels easier, slower, simpler.
We miss our friends in London and the diversity of a big city. We miss being able to take the train to Paris or a quick flight to Italy.
We miss the museums and cultural experiences a big city offers.
LEMON – What is the best memory you have from your world tour?
C.A. – We have so many wonderful, amazing memories from that adventure, it’s almost impossible to choose just one. I will say, however, that the bad moments, or times when things did not go to plan, are what we often share and laugh about now. Like the time we rented an Airbnb in Chile and walked in to find an old, rusty bathtub on top of the dining table! Or when we encountered an enormous bull elephant on the road (during mating season, when these animals can be quite aggressive) while driving in Sri Lanka! Sometimes, it is the scary or disappointing moments in life that help define the happier memories on either side.
LEMON – Packing essentials: your best advice for parents going on their first-time long journey with kids?
C.A. – My best advice is to pack everything you think you need. Wait a day, and then force yourself to unpack half of the items in your suitcase! You really don’t need all that stuff. The less you have, the easier it is.
LEMON – Is it hard to organise a trip for 2 adults and 5 kids?
C.A. – It certainly requires more organisation than if you were travelling without kids. You can’t just land somewhere new and wing it as you go. We had to ensure we always had a place to stay for the first week or so in each place. You must ensure you rent cars big enough for six people and their suitcases. And of course, we did our research to ensure we were travelling to places that were safe for our family. But I wouldn’t say it was particularly difficult.
LEMON – Describe how you picture the best breakfast ever?
C.A. – Breakfast is my favourite meal! We take it very seriously in our house. 🙂 During the week I usually make a hot porridge with stewed or fresh fruit, coconut yoghurt, nuts, seeds, etc. On weekends, we make pancakes! Michael makes a really good cappuccino, or ‘flat white’ as we call it here in Australia. So, if I can sit down with a plate of pancakes and a coffee, I’m a happy girl.
LEMON – Your kid’s favourite recipe (that special one they all love)?
C.A. – We have a pizza oven in our back garden, and I’d say that pizza night is probably everyone’s favourite meal. The kids get to choose their toppings and Michael makes such delicious pizzas. (We have wonderful Italian friends who have shared their pizza dough secrets with us!) Pasta is another favourite in our house. We’ve never made pasta that our kids haven’t gobbled up!
LEMON – Tips for dealing with a kid who’s a fussy eater?
C.A. – We are quite lucky to have never had a hugely fussy eater in our family. I think it helps to have a big family because we simply can’t make individual meals or special food for each child, so the kids know they must eat what is served or they’ll miss out on the meal. It also probably helps that we like to involve the kids in the cooking process. If they’ve helped to make something, they almost always show more enthusiasm eating it. If I had to offer a specific tip, I’d say the best thing you can do is lead by example. Michael and I love food. We love travelling and trying new foods and flavours. We talk about the benefits of eating healthy foods and try to get our children excited about food as well.
LEMON – What’s your favourite thing about surfing?
C.A. – Of course, I love the feeling of riding a good wave, but mostly I just enjoy being out in the ocean, connected to nature. I love the feeling of sitting on my surfboard waiting for a set to come. It’s incredibly meditative and mind-clearing for me.
LEMON – How has it been dealing with the pandemic?
C.A. – We really feel so lucky to live here in Byron Bay where COVID has not been such a huge health risk. We spent nearly 3 months in lockdown and homeschooled the kids for two months, which we found extremely challenging, but we were still able to hop in the car and drive to a quiet beach or go surfing, which proved to be such a life saver during that challenging time. We tried to see the silver linings of what was a difficult time: we cooked a lot, we learned to bake sourdough bread, we played family games after dinner almost every night, and we enjoyed a much slower pace than usual.
LEMON – Since lockdown, a lot of us mothers have been having to work from home while taking care of our kids, the house, meals, etc. Can you give us some useful tips on how to stay productive with kids around?
C.A. – This was certainly something I really struggled with during lockdown. I was exhausted by 8pm each night! It felt like an impossible task for parents to have to work, educate and look after the children, cook all the meals, try to keep the house clean, etc. I’m lucky because Michael is incredibly hands-on with all that stuff, so it was a real team effort between the two of us. I think it’s so important to communicate with your partner and to try to find a balance of responsibilities. Not all these tasks should fall onto the mother’s plate!
In terms of tips, we found it useful to try to keep to a reliable schedule. We woke at the same time each morning, despite not having anywhere to go. We got dressed. We made a big calendar and tried to stick to a homeschooling schedule. We made the children’s lunchboxes each morning, even though they weren’t going to school — we found that it was helpful for them to have their own lunchbox so they could snack and eat lunch without cooking all day and messing up the kitchen over and over again.
LEMON – Your top 5 favourite books for kids?
C.A. – This is such a tricky one! I’ve got such a soft spot for children’s books. I have my own childhood favourites, but also the books my kids have loved. We also have kids of varying ages, so it’s tricky to choose only five. I will attempt to make two lists:
For babies and young children:
1.‘Goodnight Moon’ by Margaret Wise Brown.
2. ‘Are You My Mother?’ by P.D. Eastman
3. ‘The Gruffalo’ by Julia Donaldson
4. ‘I Want My Hat Back’ by Jon Klassen
5. ‘Who Sank the Boat?’ by Pamela Allen.
For older kids and independent readers:
1. ‘The BFG’ by Roald Dahl
2. ‘Charlotte’s Web’ by E.B. White
3. ‘Ramona Quimby, Age 8’ by Beverly Cleary
4. ‘The Questioneers’ chapter book series by Andrea Beaty
5. The ‘Harry Potter’ series by J.K. Rowling (of course)
LEMON – Could you talk to us a little bit about your “In The Loop: Nurture” course?
C.A. – The ‘Nurture’ course is a 5-part e-course on family lifestyle covering the topics of family, the home, food, travel and general lifestyle. I have shared my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned, as well as interviews with experts on each topic, tutorial videos, and other materials. This was my first e-course I created last year in 2019. I ran it live twice with a wonderful community of parents. It’s now available as a content-only course on my website, so people can sign up and access all the materials directly.
I also have another e-course called ‘Blossom’, which covers pregnancy, birth and the first year postpartum. I’m hoping to run this course again later this year. It’s a wonderful opportunity for pregnant women and new mothers to connect with each other, to share their experiences and tips and to empower each other during this very special season of motherhood.
LEMON – Define motherhood in 3 words?
C.A. – Humbling. Happy. Busy.
LEMON – Of all the stages of parenthood you’ve been through, can you tell us the one that you enjoyed the most?
C.A. – I really loved the year we went travelling. Yes, because we were on an amazing adventure together, but also because the kids were all at such a beautiful age. Our eldest was ten and our youngest was 3. We were out of the baby phase, but we still had four young, imaginative, playful children. There was a cohesiveness about the way they played and interacted together. There was a childhood innocence to them all.
Of course, we went on to have one more baby, and it’s hard to imagine a time without him. And really, I have loved every single phase of motherhood. But we now have older kids, and I feel we’ve lost a bit of the family connectedness of those special earlier days.
LEMON – What do you like the most about yourself?
C.A. – I guess I like that I am quite fearless. The choices I make in life are usually not based on fear, which feels like a healthy place to be. I also think I’m quite intuitive and have a good sense and awareness of my emotions and connections with people. I have a really wonderful husband and the most beautiful, supportive friends, which makes me feel really grateful.
LEMON – Secrets you found along the way to live a happy and healthy marriage?
C.A. – I am a huge talker. I have to talk about everything. Sometimes I drive Michael crazy because I can’t go to sleep without getting something off my chest. But I think it’s what has kept our marriage healthy and happy. I never hold resentments. I don’t go to bed angry. And while Michael could easily push his emotions to the side, I force them out of him, which is probably a good thing. Also, it helps to marry someone you find incredibly sexy. Even when I’m mad at him, I still find him irresistible. 🙂
LEMON – What do you think is your fashion statement piece?
C.A. – A sundress. I love the feeling of wearing a dress. It makes me feel feminine, carefree, maybe a little bit classic, maybe a little bit bohemian.
LEMON – How would you describe your style?
C.A. – I don’t even know the right words to describe style! Haha. I haven’t read a fashion magazine in years! I guess I would say it is pretty simple and understated, a little bit vintage. I like to invest in quality pieces over quantity. I don’t really follow trends. My closet is teeny, which keeps my wardrobe quite minimal. Thankfully, living here in Byron, we don’t really need wintery clothes, so I mostly just have a rack of dresses and a few pairs of vintage jeans and tees.
LEMON – Top brands to buy cool hats like yours?
C.A. – Last year I bought Michael a classic Aussie Akubra hat, which he didn’t love, so I’ve claimed it for myself! I also love the hats from the Australian brand Will & Bear. Our local market has great straw hats too, which I love.
LEMON – Favourite places to shop for your kids?
C.A. – I love Mabo for cute clothes for my girls. Babaa for knitwear. Hey Gang for clothes for Wilkie. Canopea for swimwear.
LEMON – And for yourself?
C.A. – I love the dresses from Ace & Jig, Christy Dawn, and Doen. I love Jesse Kamm for the best trousers. And vintage Levi’s jeans.
LEMON – Easton, Quin, Ivy, Marlow, and Wilkie… such beautiful names, what inspired you in your children’s naming process?
C.A. – We tried to think of names that were unique, but still easy to say. We also wanted to give each of them their own first initial. And we tried to think of names that sounded good with each other, which definitely made it trickier and trickier with each baby we had!
LEMON – Are they very different from each other or do they have similar personalities
C.A. – My first two boys, Easton and Quin, are incredibly different in their personalities, but they’ve always been really close, probably because they are so different. They really complement each other. Easton has a strong, very social character, whereas Quin is much softer. Ivy and Marlow are also really different — Ivy softer, Marlow stronger. Ivy is very creative and sensitive. Marlow has always been incredibly independent and determined. Wilkie is our wild child. He keeps me on my feet at all times and continues to challenge my parenting methods and beliefs. I guess when you put all five of them together, they’re more alike than different. They’re all quite fun, loving and adventurous.
LEMON – Best quick advice you can give to other mothers?
C.A. – Stop seeking advice! Children are all different. We as mothers are all different. What works for one mother might not work for another. We need to listen to our intuition and tune into our own children to find what works for each of us. And when a challenge arises, it’s when we really drown out the rest of the noise and focus on our children and ourselves that we find the answers.
LEMON – A quote that you love and take with you for life?
C.A. – I don’t really have a specific quote, but something that always helps to give me perspective whenever a challenge or frustration comes up is to ask myself if this will matter in two months. The answer is usually no, which is then a good reminder not to let it stress me out now. Why waste energy worrying or stressing about something you know won’t matter in the future?