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Mom Story: Tess Lloyd from Polli

Monday, 7 May 2012 by Irene Hoofs


Pictures by Naomi Leonard

Hi! I am Tess, I live in the inner city suburb of Glebe in Sydney, Australia with my husband Bill and two children – India Elizabeth and William Wallace, and two dogs – Alfie and Duff.  I am one of the designers at Polli, a design based business specializing in sustainable jewelry and home accessories. Aside from my family I am passionate about sustainability, delicious food and beautiful things. 

What kind of house do you live in - are you and the kids happy here, or is there anything you find lacking or would like to change?

We live in a heritage terrace house, which are popular in Sydney. We recently renovated our home as it is over 100 years old and we needed it to be livable for our growing family and our visiting friends and family.


What do you like best about living there?

Our house was designed to maximize the natural light and ventilation. While we’re walking distance to great cafes, parks, local markets and a water front walk our house also feels like a little oasis with a quiet rear garden which attracts lots of local birds. Our kitchen and living space is designed for entertaining, with glass bifold doors opening onto a large wooden deck. This concept of indoor spaces melding with outdoor is very popular in Australia given our warm climate. We spend most of our time in this room as it has a large communal table and a great, warm Northerly aspect.


Do you like to spend time decorating your home and your children’s room?

I enjoy collecting vintage treasures and restoring family heirlooms. My children sleep in my childhood beds which we powder-coated in yellow (her favourite colour). The walls are covered in pictures ranging from etsy finds too, and stitched black works by their Aunty Maja. Their beds are covered in handmade quilts and lots of toys both new and from our own childhoods. 


Do you keep your children’s play area separate, or do you believe they should have a space in every part of the house?

The nature of a terrace is very tall so the children spend most of their time playing in our living / kitchen area and on the deck when the weather is warm. They have their own book shelves and lower play tables in this space. The polished concrete floor is perfect as its hard wearing for dogs, kids bikes, spills and more! Indie is often on her step stool helping me cook or at the large communal table drawing, painting or threading me a necklace. Willie is 7 months so he’s crawling under the table, exploring. As with all kid’s play areas it can get really messy fast so we designed large toy crates on castors which roll into the hall cupboards and house all the toys when not in use. It’s wonderful as from the kitchen I can see them playing in the garden, on the deck on in the same room as me and I’m never far away.


Where do you look for interior inspiration, favorite magazines, websites, or blogs?

Design Sponge, Decor8, Frankie, IndieOut, and Where the lovely things are.

What are your children’s favorite items in your house?

Indie loves her dolls house. It’s a great toy as it’s German and very minimal so she can imagine the different open rooms as different spaces, fields for her toy horses, bedrooms for her dolls or even a garage for her cars. She even covers it with fabric to change the feel. I love that she has so many uses for it and it encourages her creativity and imagination. She also loves the garden and can be often found throwing the ball to one of our dogs to calling the neighbours cats from the back fence. 


What places in your neighborhood do you like to shop at? 

We are so lucky to have some great produce stores and markets within walking distance like Sonoma bakery which is famous in Sydney for it’s coffee and amazing sourdough bread. Our local fruit shop Galluzzo’s is in it’s third generation and the family know everyone in our suburb by name which is lovely. But on the weekends the best place to try is the Carriage Works food markets where country providors travel to sell their amazing meats, cheeses, fruit and flowers. 

Who do you consider a good example for your children?

We quickly learnt that kids copy everything, from what we eat, do and say so I think we are the best example for our own children as we spend the most time with them.


What is your idea of a perfect day with your children?

A perfect day relies so much on each person being in harmony. So a good night’s sleep, an easy morning at the local markets where there are activity for the kids, or yummy lunch with family and friends at local place like The Grounds where the restaurant has organic gardens where kids can play and pat baby animals, an afternoon sleep for all of us and then a walk with the dogs by the water and dinner at a local restaurant.  

What is a normal day with your children?  What do you do on the weekends?

As our children are different ages and Willie is still on two day sleeps we try to keep things simple and just have one outing planned per day. Otherwise we find things get too chaotic, tiring and we all feel over stretched. We like to have breakfast as a family and enjoy simple things like hand squeezing orange juice together. We all go a little stir crazy if we don’t get out of the house and we like to be active so taking the kids to the pool, beach or for a walk or bike ride is ideal. We are lucky to have lots of friends with children who are similar ages which makes socializing easy. 


Tell us a funny story, quote or remark one of your children recently made.

Indie (2 ½ years) was spinning around a pole at the play ground one the weekend – “look, the park is spinning around” are you getting dizzy indie? “no, it’s the park, it keeps moving” She makes us laugh so often with her funny voices, role play with her toys, sweet 'I love yous’, it’s such a special age.


Any books you can recommend for parents on how to raise children?

We are big fans of ‘Baby Love’ by Robin Barker which focuses more on the first 2 years.

What kind of DIY projects do you like to do with your children?

Indie (2 ½) loves simple things like drawing, painting and play dough. She recently discovered ‘threading’ where she takes thin ribbon with a knot on one end and threads large buttons on it to make a ‘necklace for mum’ her concentration and dedication is amazing. 

What do you do with all the projects your children make at home, or in school?

We use the fridge as a gallery for paper based works and hang any canvas works straight on the wall. Indie is always so proud to show people and  it really seems to encourage her. 


How do you like to celebrate birthdays and other special days in your house?

We love to entertain and celebrate birthdays in our garden at home. Generally it includes lots of people, animals, food and chaos which is just the way we like it. 

Do your children have friends over often? If yes, what activities do they do?

We are lucky that our friends have children who are similar ages. When they visit the children really make their own fun, chasing each other around the garden, playing with our two dogs or making cubby houses.


What are some favorite games in your home?

Indie loves making furniture into different things – a cubby house under the kitchen table or a bus made of dining chairs. It’s great to see her use her imagination and she likes all of us to get involved. 

Are there musical instruments in your house?

Bill is a real muso so we’ve got lots of great instruments from an upright piano, violin, guitars, banjo and even a piano accordion. Indie has her own instruments like drums, maracas, ukulele and xylophones. It’s great to see her playing with his and her toys. 


What are your all time favorite books for children?

My absolute favourite was ‘Acorns and Stew’ by Ruth OrbachIt’s out of print now so when Indie turned one my sister Anna hunted the internet and found a second hand copy in American. It’s so special.

What are some nice activities you can do with children in your area, and what would you recommend when people are visiting?

The local weekend markets often have jumping castles, face painting and pony rides. These are fun, outdoor activities which are inexpensive are an environment where there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Where would you like to go on vacation - with or without your children? 

We love holidaying in Byron Bay which is in Northern NSW. This lovely coastal town is only 1 hours flight and is lovely and relaxed with great beaches and places to eat. We often rent a large house so we’ve got lots of families staying and playing together. Recently we enjoyed an overseas holiday to Bali, our family came from around the world to celebrate my mother’s birthday and it was a great opportunity to relax and explore somewhere new together.


Do you keep some sort of travel journal with your children?

We like to take lots of photos and have made online books on blurb.com which are great to have such personalized picture books to treasure.

What are your tips for traveling in a plane, or on a long road trip with your children?

We pack a few new little toys to make the journey excited and some favorite snacks. We try turn the contained journey into a positive where we can sit and drawer together. We also try to travel over sleep times in the hope that they will nap.


What a lovely Mom Story Tess, thank you for sharing it with us!


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