We caught up with Chirnside Park mum Erin Mallinder, the brains behind popular website Mamma Knows East, to talk functional fashion, date nights and dressing kids well on a budget.
Follow @eastland on Instagram to check out Erin, three year old Eliza and seven month old Freddie wearing the latest autumn looks and ready for their next adventure in Melbourne’s east.
Eastland: As a busy blogger and mum of two, is fashion important to you?
Erin: I’m not someone for whom style comes naturally, but when I bump into other mums who know me from the website or my former role as a primary school teacher I do feel a bit of pressure to look well put together. I’m much happier letting the experts pick clothes for me than wandering the racks by myself, and loved having a styling session at Ripe Maternity when I was pregnant with my son last year. The stylist asked lots of questions, so I felt like I was being dressed for my daily life rather than imitating someone in a magazine. Whatever I buy has to suit running around after a pre-schooler and holding a baby on one hip.
If we’re going to check out a new attraction, I get up before the children to pack the snacks, check the weather and pick a kid friendly café to stop at on the way home. Afterwards, once I’ve put Eliza and Freddie down for a nap, I write about the experience and choose my favourite photos while it’s fresh in my mind. We plan all our meals for the week, but it still always feels like a rush to get dinner ready to maximise our time together as a family when my husband gets home.
Time is so scarce with two young kids that you have to make a conscious effort to shop for yourself, and even when I do visit Eastland with the clear purpose of finding a new outfit I often come out with clothes for the children instead. It doesn’t help that children’s fashion is so incredibly cute these days. I’ve been told I shop like a man because when I go into a store like Jeanswest I collar the sales assistant straight away for their recommendations and then buy the same garment in multiple colours.
I prefer to dress the children in a gender-neutral way and make sure they’re always ready to play outdoors, but my daughter would wear princess dresses every day if she could and I do love her in Seed Heritage clothes. I confess I’m prone to scrolling Instagram for hours for kids’ fashion inspiration. My challenge at the moment is finding pants that will fit over the brace my son is wearing to correct hip dysplasia. The harem pants from Cotton On Kids were great for this and his new ones from Huxbaby at David Jones are ideal, but I’m always on the lookout for more options.
As a single-income family we have to budget carefully and for us that means prioritising experiences over possessions, like a date night at Abacus All Day. I adore the food there. It’s funny how putting on my favourite little black dress, straightening my hair and going for a nice dinner with my husband can make me feel like a whole new person. Sometimes you need that quick boost to reset your energy.
My daughter and I were pretty excited about the Goldeluck’s Bakeshop pop-up when it launched earlier this month, as well as the Food Factory cooking classes. Having worked at Big W when I was a teenager I know Eastland like the back of my hand but there’s always something new to check out.