Celeb mum Sophie Gollifer-Hanley: I never thought I’d be the disciplinarian

The Mediacorp Class 95 radio DJ shares secrets to staying fit during pregnancy and how she copes with mummy guilt!

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While most women would ease up on their exercise regimen during pregnancy, Mediacorp Class 95 radio DJ Sophie Gollifer-Hanley has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

Indeed, when the 29-year-old was pregnant a year ago with her firstborn, daughter Bowie-Rose, that didn’t stop her continuing with her rigorous workout routine. “I would swim three times a week, I’d brisk walk twice a week and do Pilates once a week.”

Now that she’s six months pregnant with another daughter, Sophie is still committed to her strict workout routine. “I’m still doing the Pilates once a week and brisk walking at least twice a week until I hit a certain number of steps and I try to swim twice a week as well ― on a good week.” Although, she admits on days when she feels tired or busy, she’ll stick to walking as much as she can.

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The 2017 Radio Star winner — Mediacorp’s radio DJ search competition — says her exercise routines were vital as it helped her avoid pregnancy aches and pains and weight gain, too. Sophie — who’s on air from midnight to 5am on weekdays and 10am to 2pm on weekends on Class 95 — attributes her active lifestyle to having played rugby since she was 16.

“As a parent ,you just have to roll with the punches, especially now that I’m a pregnant mum it can be especially tiring.”

Incidentally, it was her love for rugby that brought her and her British husband, Nicholas Hanley, 35, together. Both Nicholas — who works as a trader — and Sophie met when their rugby clubs merged in 2010. “We always trained on the same pitch and things kind of took off very quickly from there and we got married.”

In fact, Sophie says it would be a bonus if Bowie chooses to play rugby in the future, like her mum and dad.

Sophie says that besides learning values like resilience, toughness and teamwork, rugby will also teach her daughter a very valuable lesson about being a girl in today’s world. “I want my girl to believe [through playing rugby,] she can do whatever she wants in this world, even if she doesn’t fit the mould set by others.”

SmartParents quizzes the bubbly radio DJ on how she plans to juggle caring for a newborn and a toddler. Sophie also weigh in on travelling with a baby and how she copes with parenting challenges

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Hey, Sophie! We saw on Instagram that Bowie is down with roseola?
Hey! Yeah, everything was fine and then over the weekend, she has this fever and a runny nose and was acting weird — at least, weirder than normal [guffaws]. This was followed by a strange rash that she got from the roseola, so I took her to the paediatrician and sure enough, he identified the condition pretty quickly.

So how are the both of you holding up?
Bowie’s doing fine ― babies are amazingly resilient. Even with this condition, she’s still running around destroying the house. As a parent, you just have to roll with the punches, especially now that I’m a pregnant mum it can be especially tiring.

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Speaking of baby Bowie, what’s her personality like?
She’s so funny. I’ll say that I didn’t always want kids. I wasn’t massively drawn to other people’s kids, either. But when it’s your own kid, everything changes. I just find her so comical and so interesting. I took her to the supermarket and I’ll turn my back and the next thing I know, she’s got one of those shopping baskets and she’s carrying it around her arm, just going through the aisles, knocking things into the basket. I just find her endlessly entertaining.

Her name’s pretty unique ― did you name her after David Bowie?
Yes, I’m a huge David Bowie fan and I just thought this is my only chance to name my kid whatever I want. Naming your child is like every parent’s right to go crazy and the kid can’t say anything about it. So, I kind of figured that when she gets older, it’s up to her if she wants to change her name. But then, as a parent I’m going to name her whatever I want [laughs].

How is Bowie handling being away at daycare — any separation anxiety?
Bowie has been great! It’s so nice to see her confident with other people. Probably due to the fact that I sent her at between 5 and 6 months of age, it sort of stopped her from having too much separation anxiety. And once she got to the clingy age, she was already happy to go to school.

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What does she enjoy doing the most at home?
She’s super active and she’s learning to swim — it’s one of the big things she’s doing. [laughs] We have dogs at home and she enjoys terrorising them by jumping on their back, feeding them her food. She has just learned to walk but she’s already running around the house right now.

Congrats on your pregnancy! How has it been so far?
About 90 per cent of the time, this pregnancy has been pretty easy, like the first one. Except now, I’m more tired because instead of being able to go home and just nap, I’ve got this little 1-year-old who wants a lot of attention and I have to constantly carry her, but I’m happy to do it.

“She was like a Tasmanian devil on board the plane — just tearing through the plane and grabbing things and other people, so I had to apologise to everybody.”

Any changes to your diet?
I’ve noticed I don’t like to eat sweets as much as I usually do — I just don’t like cake as much as I usually do. So my biggest change is less dessert, which is great [laughs].

Any pregnancy cravings?
No, I can’t say that I do. I would love to have utilised my golden ticket to tell my husband to go and get me McDonald’s but I don’t even think he would’ve done it.

Have you thought of any names?
We’ve thought of so many names. We’ve been calling the baby, jokingly: Baby Coco. We don’t really know if we’re going through with the name or not.

Now that you’re going to be a mother the second time around, do you feel like you’re better prepared?
I definitely feel more relaxed. The first time I was pregnant, I remember thinking: oh my goodness, is everything okay? But this time round it’s been like, a blink of an eye, and it’s been six months. We’re quite relaxed about it.

Things are going to be hectic juggling a toddler and a newborn at the same time. Are you all prepared for what’s to come?
I’m still trying to get my mum to come here for six months — she’s based in the UK — and I’m going to enslave her in my house. [Laughs] I’m guessing I’ll take care of the newborn while she can help take care of Bowie.

Have you all been on any overseas trips as a family?
We went to the UK a couple of months back. The flight was 13 hours and Bowie was there with us. This was when she was about 9 months and I stupidly thought that because I had flown with her when she was just 3 months and an angel then. She was just sleeping on the plane and everyone was super-impressed. So, I stupidly thought that now she’s older, it’ll be easier to handle. She’s also sitting up and she’ll be able to enjoy the experience, but no. She was like a Tasmanian devil on board the plane — just tearing through the plane and grabbing things and other people, so I had to apologise to everybody. The good news is she isn’t a crying baby, so she wasn’t crying all the time, she was just excited and wanted to run up and down the plane so we had to distract her instead, with the buttons on the in-plane entertainment system. What I should have done — and this is my tip for parents — is to bring toys, games, activities and snacks to keep them occupied.

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How do you all spend time as a family on the weekends?
Because we’ve got pretty hectic schedules, we don’t really get to spend much time together. But when we do, we go to the park together. We’ll bring Bowie to the park, she loves it. We also try to bring her out to watch rugby games, or eat dinner, lunch or brunch out, so that she can learn how to behave if she wants to be out with us.

As a working mum, what’s your secret to striking a balance between work and family?
I think it’s about getting your priorities straight. As a working mum, you have your job, your kid, your relationship with your spouse and you have house chores that you got to balance. In the past, when I see that a blown lightbulb, I would like my husband to change it IMMEDIATELY. But now that we’ve got a kid, you know she becomes your priority — she’s number one. Number two is taking care of the spouse and spending time together and having dinner together and ask each other about our day. Everything else, like fixing the lightbulb and whatever odd jobs around the house, it can wait.

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Who would you say is the disciplinarian at home — you or your hubby?
Well initially, I thought it was going to be him because growing up, his parents were always on his case about grades and for me, because my parents had so many kids, they took a more relaxed approach. We were always happy as kids running around outside. So, initially I thought he was going to be the disciplinarian and I was going to be the one who goes, “Whatever!” But now that we have our daughter, I think it’s the other way around. He’s always the one who’s trying to sneak her chocolates and trying to bribe her. He actually bought her a sandpit because he says she’ll want to be able to play with sand. I’m always the one who goes, “No. she can’t have this or that.”

What is the biggest parenting challenge?
I guess it’s the guilt. I mean, I’m lucky that my boss is super flexible and my hours are great. Even though I get to see my kid in the day, I still feel guilty, especially when I’m trying to leave home but she doesn’t want me to go. I always feel so guilty even though I know it’s the best thing for her to have some time away from me. And for me to hang out with adults and not just kids. I think it is important for mums to find a balance and not feel guilty about finding time for yourself as well. If not you’ll go crazy. It can be as simple as getting your nails done or going for a walk on your own. It’s such a small thing, but it makes such a big difference.

What are your thoughts on caning?
I personally wouldn’t and my parents didn’t. My mother is a Singaporean Chinese and she grew up being caned — not often. But as a Singaporean mother raising kids in the UK, she would hang a cane in a cupboard and showed it to us but she never used it [laughs]. I think it was her way of holding on to her heritage. And we would always joked about it and I remember she would chase us around with it but she’d never use it. We found it quite funny. And my husband who was born in the UK — they don’t cane their children. Even though we’ve never discussed it, I think our first approach will be to reason with Bowie.

“Even though we’ve never discussed it, I think our first approach will be to reason with Bowie.”

What do you miss most about life before becoming a mother?
I would say that for a person who don’t have kids, you really cherish the time that you have to waste away the day. Right now, I don’t have that luxury. Now our life’s more like Bowie needs to nap in one hour’s time. Or she needs to have her milk at this time. You’ll miss being able to live your life freely but I’ve asked my husband all the time, “Do you wish that we can go back in time for a day…” and he’ll say no and me neither.

Have you guys discussed how many kids you’ll want to have?
I’ll like to have four but we’ll see how it goes. I mean that’s just ideally.

Complete these sentences:

* If I weren’t a DJ, I would be a… Either a full-time mummy with 10 kids or I’ll be like some fitness instructor because I was really into that.

* The one thing people don’t know about me is… I think they would think that when it comes to motherhood, I’m super laidback but actually I feel like I’m quite on the ball. I’m all about routine, routine, routine!

* The one thing I always tell my daughter is… I tell her all minutes of every day how much I love her.

* The biggest piece of advice I got from my parents is… I think the biggest thing my dad always told me was to treat your child like an equal. Like you bring your child out with you and they sit at the same table to eat with you because that’s how they will learn to behave properly. Like if we want her to pick a healthy lifestyle, we’ll incorporate her into our plans to exercise instead of letting her pick it up later on her own.

* The one superpower I wished I had is… The ability to see into the future. So when I know when Bowie might get hurt or something is going to happen to her, I can prevent it [laughs]. I realise that is a very mum thing to say!

Photos: Sophie Gollifer-Hanley and Instagram/@GolliferHanley

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