Jacqui is one of the first ‘instamums’ that I started following and, if I’m honest, a quick glance at her instafeed left me feeling a little inferior! Her photos give the impression of a glamorous expat life, while she herself always looks fabulous… but once you delve a little deeper and read her captions and her blog, you realise how down to earth, funny and honest she is!
1) Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
I’m Jacqui, I’m 31 years old and originally from Scotland. For the last 8 years I’ve been living and working as a primary school teacher in sunny Dubai. I met my husband (a fellow teacher) in Dubai just over 5 years ago and we have been married for 2 years. We had our beautiful baby girl Poppy in October and I am trying my best to be her mummy whilst working full time.
2) If you could give one piece of advice for an expectant mother, what would it be?
‘Love your baby with all your heart. Keep one end clean and the other end fed, the rest is optional.’
There are SO many books and SO many theories and opinions on how best to raise your child. Should you let them cry it out when they are struggling to sleep? Should you give them a pacifier? Should you bottle feed? I’ve learned that you have to do what feels right in your heart and this might not be what another mum might chose to do. This is ok as we are each on our own journey.
3) All of us parent differently and have different values. What is your most important parenting value?
Love and security. For us it is so important that Poppy knows that she is well-loved. I have definitely made lots of mistakes on my parenting journey and I will definitely continue to do so but every action I’ve ever taken is underpinned by love. I want Poppy to feel secure and happy when she is with her family; I want her to know that her mummy and daddy will always be there for her no matter what.
4) what motto do you try and live by?
My husband and I are very busy with work during the week and often we don’t spend quality time together. On Saturdays we always make time for each other as a family, whether this is a day at the beach or going to a cafe for a cup of tea and a chat.
5) What are your hopes for your daughter?
I hope that she lives a life full of happiness and confidence, surrounded by friends and family who love and support her. I want Poppy to be secure enough to follow the path that she wants in life, one that truly makes her happy. Above all else I hope Poppy grows up to be a good human; I want her to have good morals and live her life honestly, compassionately and with a warm and open heart.
6) You are an expat living in Dubai. What took you out there and would anything persuade you to come back to the UK?
Initially I moved out to Dubai for my career. Full time teaching posts were very difficult to come by in Scotland and I was becoming frustrated at the lack of opportunities. I was also keen to explore the world and thought that I could combine my love of travel with my career. I applied for jobs in South America, Spain and Dubai. After signing a 3 year contract in Dubai, I was sure that I would return to the U.K. when I had finished. However, after meeting my husband I changed my mind! We love the life we have created in Dubai and for now it is definitely ‘home’. We would like to return to the U.K. in the future and ultimately we see ourselves living closer to our friends and family but for now we are happy.
7) Do you worry about raising a daughter in a world that doesn’t always prioritise the rights of women?
I am a proud feminist and sometimes I do worry about Poppy growing up in a world which doesn’t always prioritise the rights of women. I think it is so important that young girls growing up have powerful female role models to look up to from Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart to Malala Yousifazi and Michelle Obama. Through education I do believe that mindsets will continue to change and that girls today are more empowered than ever before.
I want Poppy to grow up in a world where she can be anything she wants to be, whether that is a scientist, dancer or a homemaker. I want her to be paid the same amount of money as a man doing the same job and I want her to be given equal consideration for job roles.
8) You have mentioned your nanny on Instagram. How does having a nanny compare to other forms of childcare?
I went back to work the day after Poppy turned 5 months old. Poppy felt so young to me and we didn’t want to go down the nursery route. I suffered from anxiety and it gave me peace of mind to know that Poppywas at home following the routines that we had established together. She has her naps in her own cot, plays with her own toys and has 1:1 attention all day. She feels secure even though her mum and dad aren’t with her all day and that is so important to us. Our nanny is AMAZING. She sends videos and photographs to us throughout the day and she keeps a diary to let us know whats happened each day e.g. the times of her naps and what she’s had for her meals.
As a couple, having a nanny gives us flexibility. We don’t have to rush back from work to pick P up at certain times so if we are running late it is not a problem. Our nanny also babysits on the odd occasion which allows my husband and I to have a rare date night.
As she gets older I will definitely put Poppy into nursery at least once a week so that she can socialise with other children.
9) You talk about sleep deprivation a little, how does that impact on your day to day life?
I find it particularly difficult to deal with sleep deprivation when I have work the next day. In the middle of the night when I sit in the dark soothing P, I start counting down how many hours of sleep I might manage before my work alarm will sound. I remember we were up 9 times one night and I just sat there sobbing while holding P. Having a bad nights sleep definitely hinders my ability to function properly throughout the day; I have less energy, I make mistakes more often, I am forgetful, irritable and often tearful. I doubt myself and become very anxious. I spend most of the day thinking about sleep yet I dread bedtime as I never know what kind of night I will have.
I am currently on holiday at the moment and am feeling less anxious about sleeping. I know that I can sneak a nap in during the day if I’m lucky or simply rest on the sofa and watch tv for an hour or so while Pops plays on the carpet.
10) Parenting is tough and beautiful all at the same time. Can you tell us about a tough time and a shining moment that you’ve had as a parent?
I remember having a particularly tough week when Poppy was about 6 weeks old. I felt really inadequate as a mum and I was finding it really difficult to breastfeed. Nothing was coming as naturally as I wanted it to and I just couldn’t cope. I went to the doctors 4 days in a row for unrelated things, I was scared I was getting it all wrong! I remember sitting with a box of tissues crying my eyes out at every appointment! I even took Poppy to A&E that week. I remember calling my husband and begging him to come home from work. I was hysterical and anxious about motherhood and I couldn’t cope on my own.
For me the shining moments are the everyday moments. I love that Poppy smiles every time she sees me and that if I tickle her right under her chin she bursts into fits of laughter. I love that she crawls around the room after me and gets excited playing ‘peak-a-boo!’. I love cuddling up to her and staring at her gorgeous little face as she sleeps. To me she is perfect.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Jacqui a little better!
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