Blogmas #6 – The Real Mama #2 Karen Birnie

Good afternoon! 

Wow, six days in and I’m slacking! Last night whilst dashing between dancing and swimming I thought “you’ll never keep up” and as the tiniest didn’t settle until gone 10 pm, my thought was right! I didn’t get the sixth Blogmas post drafted but instead of beating myself up, here it is now. 

Today is a special day at Promise HQ as our eldest daughter, Safran turns 12 – yikes, that was the fastest 12 years of my life. She has two (yes two!) parties planned for the weekend so tonight we’ll have a few cupcakes and candles before bed to mark the occasion. 

Today’s post is a look inside the world of real mama, Karen Birnie, full time mum to three gorgeous littles, dancer and dance teacher, – you may have seen her recently onstage in Grease at the Grand Opera House. Karen and I went to grammar school together and now our own kids go to school together which is lovely and pretty strange that life has turned full circle there! Long before we were scared first years in our chocolate and magenta uniforms we both went to Mrs Burns nursery, now that is a looooong time ago! 

Thanks Karen for taking part and sharing your thoughts on mamahood with us 🙂 

karen birnie the real mama

Who are you?

Karen, mum of 3 who loves to dance! 

Instagram handle

@kbdancefitness 

 Love it or Loathe it?

I love Instagram for what it is, but I hate what is has become…. 

It used to be a place for quick updates on friends/celebs life and general going’s on which was nice to see and usually pretty normal stuff. Now it is flooded with unrealistic lifestyles that no-one really has, leading to people feeling insecure and insignificant because their house doesn’t look like it should, their kids aren’t dressed head to toe in designer gear with Hunter wellies (that look like they have never seen a muddy puddle), and every holiday snap has to look like it’s from the Sandals catalogue. I would love to share our playroom on a daily basis and it doesn’t include a pastel shaded sofa with perfectly lined teddy bears and a dolls house sitting immaculately in the corner… instead…. well you can imagine a playroom of a 6 year old, 4 year old and 11 month old! I also feel a sense of pity for kids that are constantly being staged into a pose to capture the perfect Instagram picture. For me kids should be kids and if the photo means not everyone looking at the camera, someone’s shoes are on the wrong feet and someone’s eyes are closed, well, this is normal. However, that said, I dream of the day we manage to get a nice family photo of us all smiling and looking in the same(ish) direction! But you get the point I am trying to make – let kids be kids. 

Instagram on the other hand is a perfect platform to promote small businesses and ventures like my Dance Fitness. In fact, without it I definitely would not reach as many people as I do for my classes and get the support I do, so thank you Instagram! It also allows me to follow other similar people and with that get inspiration and ideas to keep going. 

In summary I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram and as long as people (myself included) remember to never compare yourself or your life to anyone else it is a nice little social media environment to be on. 

What is your family set up? 

Married for 11 years, with three kids and a dog. 

What do you do for work? 

I manage my dance fitness venture around family life.

Three words that describe your household?

Busy, busy, busy 

Do you think you have a good work/life balance? 

Yes I feel very blessed to have the work/life balance I do. It is like a military operation however ensuring classes are timetabled around school hours etc… but it works and I am fortunate it does and never take it for granted.

How do you manage to work/run a creative business around your kids? 

A very supportive husband, my wonderful mum that goes out of her way to help me, and an amazing wider family always on hand to help if needed. 

Any hard rules you stick to both in work & family life?

If you say you will do something, do it, and do it 100% 

How do you relax? 

What’s that??

karen birnie the real mama

Best book you’ve read recently?

I’m not big into reading and any time I have I like to read with the kids. 

I always hear people say “the book is far better than the film” ….. I’m all about the film with cosy’s on and plenty of snacks! 

Music choices?

Musical theatre obviously and I’m partial to a good power ballad, but I also love classical music and quite happily have Classical FM blasting in my car on the school run…. The lovely ladies who come to my dance classes might question my music taste on occasion and the kids in the schools I am in keep me right with what’s cool and what is not!

Favourite podcasts?

Solid Joys, by John Piper 

How do you and your husband stay connected?

Talk about everything (even the small unimportant things) as well as supporting each other in and through everything we do. 

Style – do you feel you have a signature style?

Does sports leggings, dance tops and trainers count as signature style?!?! If yes, then that’s it. Big fan of Pink Soda and Nike active wear.

Shops you love?

JD sports as it stocks Pink Soda, Zara for both causal and dressy, and I love a dander around M&S at Sprucefield (the food hall, the home section and the clothing) on my own…. Maybe that’s how I relax…?! Should I even admit that! 

Did your style change since becoming a mum? 

I wear trainers even more and heels even less! 

Beauty products you love? 

Tantastic fake tan (medium), Lidl Night Cream and Benefit Bad Gal mascara. 

What family meal is guaranteed to be eaten by everyone?

Traditional roast beef dinner with all the trimmings. That said, I love Christmas dinner and can’t wait to eat it at least three times a week for the month of December, I am not one that tires of the turkey and ham! 

Rainy day survival tactic?

Always carry a hair bobble on your wrist – messy ponytails are always a good option! Or just run…. 

Any mum hacks you couldn’t live without? 

A traditional week to view hard back diary – I love writing lists and scoring things off so this is why I still use the good old diary that actually requires a pen. I am also convinced baby brain is a real condition and if I don’t write things down they don’t happen. 

What one piece of advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 

Sounds cliché but follow your dreams. If you know what you want to achieve go for it and don’t chose to do things because everyone else thinks you should. There is a saying “if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life” and this is true.