Our Lagosmums mum of the month is Neku Atawodi-Edun. Mum of two lovely children, a daughter, wife, the First Black Female Professional Polo Player in the World, a Philanthropist, an Entrepreneur, and an Investor.
Please tell us about yourself?
My name is Neku. I’m a mother of two. My son is five years old and my daughter is 17 months old and we live on a farm in the UK, a horse farm. My son is in school, while my daughter is not yet in school. I spend most of my day taking care of the children, the horses and the dogs.
Can you share more on all the hats you wear?
I am a sports person and I also work in the foundation space.
Share one unexpected thing about you?
I almost was going to be a chef growing up. My dad said no and asked me to pick up a ‘proper job’. I actually did a short course, studying cooking at Cordon Bleu, so I still found a way to test my passion. Gourmet meals are one of the things I love to cook and just have an awesome time. I really love to cook and bake.
How did you meet your husband and how long have you been married?
We had mutual friends, and then we just kept bumping into each other and we’ve been married for close to six years.
Do you and your spouse have the same parenting style?
Well, we agree on some things, the major things. I am a bit sporty, outdoors and adventurous, while my husband is a bit more academic, reading and so we balance each other out.
Can you tell us one of the funniest things your children have done?
With the children, it’s a daily comedy show. My daughter right now is trying to drink Mate(Argentine tea), which is very bitter and she’s actually drinking it.
What are some ways that children and parenting are different from when you were growing up and now?
We’ve learned to listen more to our children and treat them like individuals. As Africans growing up, we were told what to do, as opposed to having parents that listen and give us the opportunity to speak up and share what you want to do. Now, sometimes, when my children would be in disobedience; I’m like, “You’re so lucky I’m not a typical African mum. You wouldn’t be able to get away with half the things you’re getting away with now”.????
However, we are learning to raise them in the style of mutual respect. It can be frustrating, sometimes you just want to tell them, “because I said so”. It’s actually a much better long-term lesson when they learn to understand why not to do some things and why to do others. I do this even with my daughter, instead of just saying no, “I’ll be more like, this is what could happen if you do this”.LagosMums Mum of The Month- Neku Atawodi-Edun Click To Tweet
How are you raising your children to be ready for an ever-changing world?
Teaching them important things like kindness, compassion and being able to treat people with respect. The world is becoming more globalized and having a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence), will help them to adapt in different situations. That ties back to listening to them. When they see that you are treating them with kindness, you’re open to having their voices heard and their point of view is respected and they know how that makes them feel. Then when they go out and meet different people around the world, they will replicate that.
Treat others how you want to be treated. I think it’s a really important thing for human beings generally. A lot of problems that we have in the world, If we treated other people the way we would like to be treated, would not be there.
Share what you love most about your work, as the First Black Female Professional Polo Player in the world, a Philanthropist (at Malaik), an Entrepreneur, and an Investor?
It’s a blessing to be who I am and do what I love. Though, it’s a struggle having to juggle so many hats, especially when you have children. As I grow older, I’m getting to a stage where I’m dropping some hats so that I can focus better. You know, focusing on being a mom and a sports person. I probably won’t do as much work anymore. But I think it’s such a blessing to get to do what you love regardless of how difficult it is.
As a female sports person, a lot of people, especially Africans, expect that after you have children, you wind down a lot of things that you are. It can be very hard to choose to be who you are every day. I’m just grateful to myself for still trying to push because I know it’s not easy.
I’m healthy enough to even try my best and that in itself is a blessing.
How did your journey to becoming a polo player start?
I was raised partly in Kaduna. And in Kaduna, Polo is a very popular sport. I used to go to the Polo Club with my dad when I was younger. I wanted to play polo, and everybody tried to discourage me because I was a woman, which made me want to do it more. So I went on to study horses at University, I studied to be an Equine Sports Scientist. And then after that, I started working in Polo.I wanted to play polo and everybody tried to discourage me because I was a woman which made me want to do it more. Click To Tweet
How important is a support system for a mum? Who is in your tribe and what kind of support do you have?
It’s really important, even from the teachers, that take care of your children, being able to drop your child and trust that they’re being taken care of is actually a big deal. I think teachers don’t get enough credit for the work that they do. When you’ve got two young children it’s a handful. My toddler spends most of his day in school.
Then other parents in my son’s school as well. We’ve moved to the UK so that I can have more opportunities, to play polo and also to get better opportunities for the children. However, the disadvantage of that is we don’t have the natural support that you have in Africa, the natural free supportive family members and healthcare being cheaper. So it’s been tough, but we’ve been really blessed to be surrounded by people that want to help. The other parents in my son’s school have honestly been so helpful because my husband travels a lot for work. So, it’s usually just me.
A huge part of our community has helped us, knowing how hard it is for them to do it with two parents, It’s even harder with just one. I’ve really been able to get a lot of support from people who were essentially strangers less than a year ago.
How do you balance work and parenting? Is it possible to achieve this?
First, women can do both and women should be encouraged to do both. We talk about trying to keep women in the workplace and the way to do that is to design the workplace, such that women don’t feel like they’re less for being parents. The expectations have to work around the human being. If a woman has brought a child into the world, there’s the expectation that she should do more of the work of taking care of that child. Hence, things like having creches at workplaces, some offices being able to support with childcare, or even flexible work hours are important. That will really help mothers to be able to keep pursuing their careers.
Furthermore, we just spoke about community, a community of helpers is so important to thrive. But I think, it’s such a struggle for women because you’re almost made to feel you’re not performing enough either way. Like if you’re a working mum, you are made to feel like you’re not such a good mom If you are not sitting at home with the children. When you’re working and trying to take care of your children, you’re probably made to feel like you’re not such a good worker at the workplace, because you have to take care of the children.
So, I think both parts need to help support mothers at the workplace and at home. When a man has just had a child he’s also a new parent, but, the expectations and the guilt are not put on the man. Both ends, I believe need to and can come together to support women to make things easier.
What has motherhood taught you about yourself?
Motherhood has taught me patience. I have a lot more love than I ever knew
I could give. Sometimes we transcribe adult behaviours to children, we think a child is being naughty because they’re having a tantrum, but they don’t know any better. That’s all they have known as they haven’t learned how to respond. So when you’re more patient with them, you’d find in the end, they would also be a bit more patient with themselves. Motherhood has taught me patience with the children and patience with myself.
What is one motherhood myth, you would like to burst?
Mothers can’t do everything. We can!
Use one word to describe one thing that should not be missing from every home?
Share one self-care tip. How do you relax and spend time on yourself?
For me, because I work with my body, a big tip is to take time off. Have a day where I just relax and give myself a rest day. That’s really important. On my rest days, somebody else takes care of the kids. Or if I would have a day with the kids, I ensure that it is a relaxed day with lots of laughs. It is a day to destress mentally and physically.
Can you tell us how you stay stylish and your beauty routine?
Wear sunscreen. I spend a long time outdoors, so wearing sunscreen is important.
What do you love about LagosMums?
I love the wholesome educative content LagosMums provides.
○ N1 Million or more sleep?
$1 Million, that will get me more sleep.
○ Would you prefer to go on a shopping spree or an all-expense-paid trip to your dream destination?
All expense paid trip.
○ Homeschooling or traditional school.
○ A spa day or Eat out?
A spa day.
It was so lovely learning more from our mum of the month, Neku Atawodi-Edun. Thank you for sharing with us. You can connect with Neku Atawodi-Edun here.
READ ALSO: LagosMums Mum of the Month – Dr. Olufunmilayo Adeniyi