From juggling a business, to taking care of her two little boys and even preparing for her next child, Monique Treder is really doing it all! Read on to find out what inspired her to start up her unique business, Happetite Food, and how she manages to be a great mum and schedule some “me” time for herself as well.
Name: Monique Treder
Website/blog: Happetite Food
Tell us a bit about yourself and your child/children….
I am a mum of 2.5 children. Two boys aged 4 and 5 years old and another on the way due in July. We like to keep ourselves busy and as well as two young boys we are also mid house renovation and growing my little business.
We are an active, crazy and fun filled household. We have come to realize that with two boys in the house our days are best spent doing some physical activity. We spend a lot of time at the local parks, on bike tracks, trampoline centres and climbing activities.
What is the name of your business/blog and what does your work entail?
My business is called Happetite Food. We deliver homemade food gifts as an alternative to sending flowers. Think new baby, bereavement or for the husbands, a guaranteed way out of the dog house! The packages are made of of tasty comfort food that is ready to heat and eat as other treats. We use recipes that have been handed down through my family for generations and added some recent favourites. Each of the meals has a personal story to it about where it came from and why we included it in our packages. The food had to be tasty, wholesome and comforting so I knew I had to go to the expert. My Italian grandmother.
We work with our Chef, Pete, in a commercial kitchen to cook up the food in larger quantities but worked hard to keep the taste the same as if it was cooked in my grandmother’s kitchen. Even now I send my grandmother a package each month (to test out and to keep her fed!) and she is the toughest critic around but she is great at quality control.
The meals are packaged with handwritten notes and other unique items such as baby outfits, herbal teas, bottles of wine, chocolate, desserts and gourmet cookies and sent out with our courier guys all over Sydney, NSW, ACT and now even into Melbourne.
What made you decide to be both a mum and a career woman?
I have always wanted kids and 3 was always the magic number. At this stage I am unsure how I am going to manage 3 and the business but like all things we will work it out and i have an amazing team around me and a great support network of friends that I am super grateful for.
In regards to why the business was started, there were 3 key moments in my life that led me to set up the business and have kept me driven through the tough times so we can be there for others when going through similar experiences.
I was overseas when my second child was born (13 months after my first!). It was a very challenging time for me and I didn’t have my network of friends to support me. Someone I had only met a few times saw me in the supermarket one day “having one of those moments” and the next day she popped around to my house with a homemade meal and some baking. I was blown away by the kindness of it and ended up in tears (ok, I was sleep deprived and hormonal also). This gesture planted the first seed of my business idea.
It was about 6 months later that a friend of mine’s husband had a virus that went to his heart and almost killed him. She was supporting two young toddlers while trying to spend every waking minute at the hospital with her husband but struggling. I wanted to help and send her some meals so that both she and her kids would have the energy to get through this tough time but couldn’t find anything to help.The final light bulb moment was when my grandfather passed away. Aged 94 he was an amazing and well loved man and this was seen by the amount of flowers, wreaths and floral arrangements that turned up to my grandmother’s house. It was all very generous but my grandmother’s house was a jungle of flowers and yet her fridge was completely bare and we are a foodie family.
It made me question whether there were other alternatives to sending flowers for these occasions and when I looked into it I realised there wasn’t. So that was it, I left my job and took the plunge into the unknown world of start up businesses and have never looked back. It has not been easy but I absolutely love what I do and being part of this sharing of love through food is just amazing.
What challenges do you face balancing both roles and how do you overcome them?
Like most working mums there are the challenges of never enough time, the guilt of not doing either role very well and sheer exhaustion and to make looking after yourself and your health a priority. To balance my roles I have found that i need to set a clear line between the two and ditch the guilt. The guilt consumes your time and your mind and doesn't get you anywhere. So, I am very strict with my work schedule. I have 3 full working days that I schedule tasks for each hour of the day and keep to it. I also allocate a couple of nights a week to catch up times when I get behind. Through trial and error I realized that I cannot work when I have my boys with me so I try and devote my attention to them when I am with them and focus on just the business during my work hours. It is definitely a juggle at times but I have a supportive husband, a great little team and supportive friends. Also ditching the mother’s guilt (2017 NY resolution!) has done me wonders. So what if my kids eat cheese on toast one night for dinner, they love it and the pile of paperwork is still waiting for me.
What is one tip you have for unwinding after a stressful day?
Make time to do the things you love. Whether that be a yoga class, walk on the beach, coffee/wine catch up with a girlfriend or swim in the ocean. For me - a walk on the beach, swim in the ocean, bike ride or catch up with a girlfriend are the simple things that give me time to myself, re-energise me and take me back to who I was before kids. I then feel better about myself, more comfortable with myself and am a much nicer wife and mum.
What is one fun weekend activity that your family enjoys together?
As my boys are both in the stage of learning to ride bikes, we really enjoy a bike ride as a family. Where we live on the Northern beaches of Sydney there are some beautiful rides and it is a lovely experience to get out in nature, do some exercise and have some fun with your kids. We also spend quite a bit of time at the local playgrounds and beaches.
What is one time-saving parenting tip you can recommend?
Two little things I have learnt that help.
1) a little bit of planning goes a long way when time is short. Meal planning saves time and money, getting items ready the night before for morning rush hour and keep things simple. Try not to keep up with others and do what makes you and your family happy at your pace.
2) Say yes to help - there are times in your life as a working mum that you will feel like you’re drowning. When generous people around you see that and offer help - take it. They genuinely want to help you and it is ok to ask for help and it can make a huge difference to you so don't try and be a super mum and do it all yourself. Take help when offered and give it when you can see someone else needs it.
What benefits do you think there are to being a career mum?
For me it is about having a little bit of flexibility with my work schedule and being able to be there for my kids. I am very passionate about Happetite Food, my business, as I really want it to be there as an option for people to take care of their family and friends around them but i also want to be there for mine. This flexibility isn't the easiest option - i work much harder now than i did working in the corporate world but it is much more rewarding and I can schedule my hours to suit our family.
Lastly, what do you do to ensure you maintain a strong bond with your child/children, despite having numerous responsibilities?
We make time each night to have special reading time with our children. We prioritise our children and their interests on the weekend and ensure we do activities together as a family. It can be challenging at times as we have other tasks hanging over us but these times are very special and the most memorable.
So take Monique’s advice and make sure you prioritize some special time with your kids as often as possible, and keep those working hours to a confined, specific number! Whether it’s a simple bike ride or afternoon playing outdoors with the kids, you can make it special and you’re kids will love any opportunity to spend time with their mum!