Brooke Hanson, former golden girl of the pool and now author, mum and TV presenter chats to SheKnows Australia about making every moment count and an important upcoming event we should all partake in.
The smile that keeps on smiling
Being in the public eye means that Australia gets a front-row seat to the highest of highs and lowest of lows that make up your life. From the pinnacle of winning Olympic gold to the tragic loss of her 9-month-old son, Jack, Brooke Hanson Clarke has captured Australia’s heart with her determination and perseverance, not to mention her megawatt smile and unwavering zest for life.
Sit back and be inspired as the multi-talented and optimistic mum puts life in perspective:
SheKnows Australia: Describe yourself in one sentence.
Brooke Hanson Clarke: I’m a first-born, eldest of four, a competitive born leader who puts her family first, energetic, happy, thrives off routine, a lover of life and all it has to offer.
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SKAU: Who is in your family?
BHC: My immediate family unit consists of myself, Brooke, 35, my husband Jared, a 36-year-old firefighter, and our almost-4-year-old son Cooper.
SKAU: What does a normal day in the life of Brooke Hanson Clarke look like these days?
BHC: After the repetitive years of elite swimming, my days now are completely different, no day is ever the same and I enjoy the variety. I film Discover Downunder on the Nine Network, which takes me all around the country visiting the best caravanning and camping destinations. When I’m not on the road travelling, I keep busy working with my sponsors and partners doing photo shoots, appearances, television commercials and promoting my book, When Silver Is Gold The Brooke Hanson Story. On top of this, I enjoy being a master of ceremonies at a lot of different events and I do many keynote speaking engagements, ranging from major corporations to sporting clubs and schools. I combine all of this with being a wife and mum, fitting in swimming lessons, music lessons, preschool, duty days, helping out with kindergarten fundraising, mothers group catch-ups and playdates.
SKAU: How do you balance the demands of parenting with your relationships, career and hobbies?
BHC: Of course it’s tough. I have figured out that the guilt will always be there no matter what so it’s better to be in the moment and give everything I take on 110 per cent. Finding a balance can take a while, but communicating with my husband and utilising my skills in time management, goal setting and weekly planning helps me stay organised and on top of everything.
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SKAU: What are you most proud of that you’ve achieved, both in your personal life and in your career?
BHC: My proudest moments are our creations, Cooper and Jack. They have taught me the importance of life, love and that, no matter what happens, family always comes first. Professionally, it’s hard to go by my performances in 2004 — Olympic gold and silver medals and then six gold medals, a world record and female swimmer of the meet at the World Short Course Swimming Championships.
SKAU: If you had an hour to yourself (or an entire day!), what would you love to do?
BHC: One hour would be great. I would switch off my phone, make myself a coffee and sit on the lounge and read a magazine cover to cover or as many chapters of a book with no interruptions.
SKAU: What do you love most about being a mum?
BHC: I love the constant challenge, I love the rewards, I love seeing my influence rub off, I love seeing a unique individual personality take shape and, most of all, I love the feeling I get when, even after the toughest of days (tantrums, talking back and pushing every boundary), you can sneak into a bedroom, give a big kiss to a sleeping soul and know that when he wakes up in the morning, all will be forgiven, a new day begins and I’ll be needed, wanted and loved no matter what.
SKAU: What has surprised you the most or been the biggest challenge about becoming a parent?
BHC: What’s surprised me the most is how far a toddler can push your buttons to almost breaking point and then melt your heart in the same day. Also, I’m surprised that I’m sounding more like my mum every day!
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SKAU: What is the best advice you could offer other parents facing the uncertainty of a premature baby?
BHC: Embrace every moment, trust the medical staff, be true to yourself, communicate with your partner and always know there is no right or wrong way with how to cope. We believe our day-to-day approach helped us cope with the ups, downs, roller coaster and sometimes free fall. Keep hope and stay positive.
SKAU: What does the future look like for you and your family?
BHC: Our future looks bright! We cherish every moment we have together and love nothing more than hitting the road with no plans and having quality family time doing what we love: surfing, swimming, fishing, building sandcastles, bike riding, picnics and freedom to just be.
Brooke Hanson Clarke is a proud ambassador of the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, Australia’s leading charity dedicated to providing support and information for families of premature or sick babies.
On Oct. 27, 2013, the fourth annual “Walk for Prems” will be held in capital cities around the country to raise funds for the foundation’s tireless and important work. Visit their website or Facebook page to register today.