“If I had to define my parenting style in one word, it would be - flexible," says celebrity Aussie chef and restaurateur Sarah Todd. While most know Sarah for her culinary success and affinity for Indian cuisine, not many know that she’s a single mom. Emotional challenges can be tough to navigate as a single mother, but building a support network of friends, family, and other single moms helped Sarah adapt to different situations and be open to new ideas and approaches to parenting. “It is important to have people to talk to and to lean on when things get tough,” shares Sarah.
Ahead of Mother’s Day, in a tête-à-tête with Zee Zest, Sarah opened up about her parenting style, navigating emotional challenges as a single mom, and the importance of self-care to avoid burnout.
1. What does your day look like as a single mother?
As a single mother, my days are a constant juggling act, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I start my day with some morning stretches and a coffee from my beloved La Marzocco machine. Then it's on to making school lunches and dropping my son Phoenix off at school. From there, I dive into work for my business until it's time for school pick up. Once Phoenix is home, it's all about spending quality time with him, helping with homework and snacks, and occasionally working with my team in India due to the time difference. It can be exhausting, but it's worth it to see my son thrive.
2. Given your packed schedule as a celebrity chef, do you get enough time with your son?
I know how important it is to prioritise quality time with my son. Despite my busy schedule, I make sure that Phoenix and I spend as much time together as possible, and when we do, I am 100 percent present with him. It can be a challenge to balance work and motherhood, but I am thankful that Phoenix's dad is a great co-parent and that we have a 50/50 custody arrangement. When I am not with my son, I am 100% focused on my work, but I know that as Phoenix grows up, he will become more independent, and I will have more time for myself.
3. As a single mother, how important is self-care to avoid burnout?
Self-care is crucial, especially for single mothers who often take on a lot of pressure and responsibility. My self-care routine is simple but effective. I love to treat myself to an lymphatic massage and getting my nails done. I have also invested in laser hair removal, so I don't have to worry about shaving. In my daily routine, I make sure to exfoliate and moisturise my skin, and I use a good quality hair oil to keep my hair hydrated. It's not much, but these little acts of self-care help me feel more centred and balanced in my busy life.
4. How do you deal with your moments of vulnerability as a single mom?
I definitely have moments of vulnerability as a single mom. It’s a challenge to balance everything and there are times when I feel like I am not doing enough for my son or for myself. In those moments, I remind myself to be kind to myself and to take a step back to evaluate what I need to do to recharge.
5. Despite providing everything to their child, single mothers still face the stigma and social exclusion. How did you deal with it?
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma against single mothers and their children, but I believe that it is important to challenge these stereotypes, to show that single mothers can be successful and provide a loving and nurturing environment for their children. Personally, I have faced judgement and criticism, but I have learned to focus on my own values and goals and to not let others' opinions affect me. One question that I've often been asked is, "Who is looking after your child right now?" This question implies that my child is not receiving adequate care or attention while I'm at work, and it's frustrating and intrusive. I believe that we should challenge these assumptions about single mothers and working mothers, and instead focus on the love and care that we provide for our children, both at home and in the workplace.
I want to inspire other single mothers or working mothers who may be facing similar challenges. Remember that societal views do not define your worth as a mother or as a person. Seek support from other mothers who understand your experience and can provide encouragement and understanding. And don't be afraid to speak out and challenge the negative assumptions and stigmas that still exist in our society.
6. Do you have any set rules of parenting?
My main rule of parenting as a single mom is to prioritise communication with my son. We talk about everything, and I try to listen to his thoughts and feelings and give him a safe space to express himself.
7. What does Phoenix like to eat when it comes to Indian food?
I do cook Indian food for my son and he loves it. His favourite dish is cauliflower stuffed paratha and he also enjoys samosas and biryani.
8. How do you manage to keep Phoenix connected to his Indian roots despite staying abroad?
It can be challenging to keep my son connected to his Indian roots while living abroad, but we make an effort to visit India regularly and to incorporate Indian traditions into our daily lives. We celebrate Indian festivals and cook Indian food together and we even celebrate festivals like Holi at his school.
9. Lastly, your advice to all single moms out there?
My advice to all single moms out there would be to prioritise self-care, build a support network, and be kind to yourself. It can be tough to balance everything, but know that you are doing the best you can, and that it is okay to ask for help. Focus on your values and goals, and don't let anyone else's opinions define you or your parenting.