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How Mothers Work: Courtney Adamo

How Mothers Work: Courtney Adamo

Mums of babies and younger kids seem to share their day-to-day story all the time, but after that… crickets. In an effort to hear more from mums of older kids, we’re sharing this new series called How Mothers Work. We’ve asked mums we admire to tell us how they make it all work — from raising the kids, to doing the job, to living the dream. We hope you’ll pick up some great advice from mums in the trenches along the way.

Hello Courtney Adamo

This week we meet Byron Bay-based lifestyle influencer Courtney Adamo. She’s the mum to five kids ranging in age from four to 16 who appears to live a dreamy life in carefully curated mustard-and-nutmeg-toned Instagram squares. Her very-present husband Michael is a bit of a spunk, the house is beautiful (and beautifully uncluttered!), the many kids all seem to get along, heck, even the dog is a ten out of ten.

Honestly? Courtney is the kind of mum who quietly terrifies the majority of us. However, don’t run screaming for the Bangalow hills just yet. We’ve been curiously following this calm, wise and smart woman for years and there is far more depth to her than pretty pictures. She’s loaded with common sense, doesn’t suffer fools and leads a no-bullshit life that works a treat when you’re raising tweens and teens. So, yes, meet the irresistible Courtney Adamo and be ready to take notes!

Courtney Adamo. Image by Olivia Katz

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My name is Courtney and I’m married to Michael, and together we have five kids ranging in age from 16 to four. 

While Michael and I are both originally American, we moved to London in 2003 and lived there for 12 years. Our first four kids were born in London, and they all still consider themselves English.

In 2015 we sold our house and most of our belongings and set off on an 18-month travel adventure around the world.

We eventually moved and settled in Byron Bay in late 2016, and our fifth baby was born a few months later. Now we live in an old house in a little town called Bangalow, in the hinterland of Byron. We love surfing and spending time outside.

A typical week

Michael works three days a week and I work four, so we alternate days with Wilkie when he’s home. We somehow manage the work/family juggle. It really is a team effort between the two of us.


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Weekday mornings are always hectic in our house with breakfast to make and lunchboxes to pack and getting five kids ready for school. The kids come home around 3:30 each afternoon, and we encourage them to do chores, get their homework done, take the dog for a walk, etc. Weekends we generally spend at the beach.

Weekends are generally spent at the beach.

We always eat pancakes for breakfast, and then head to whichever beach has the best winds and waves for surfing. We’re lucky all the kids love surfing, so no one ever bores of this activity.

Steiner schooling

The four eldest kids — two teenage boys aged 16 and 14, and our two girls aged 12 and 8 — go to a local Steiner School in Byron, which we really love. The school goes from Kindergarten up to year 12, so all of the kids can attend the same school. It’s small — just one class per year — so it’s quite a close-knit school community. They all take the school bus to and from school, so there’s no school run for us.

Our youngest Wilkie goes to preschool two days a week just around the corner from our house — we ride our bikes to his school, which I love.

On the days all of our kids are at school, Michael and I both work from home, and try to really make the most of that uninterrupted work time.

Adamo Family kids

The Adamo family kids, from left Wilkie, four, Easton, 16, Ivy, 12, Quin, 14, and Marlow, eight. Image: Juliette Murray

What’s most important to me

One of the biggest reasons for leaving London was to slow down our life as much as possible. Life was really busy in London and we both had to work really hard to afford the lifestyle we had.

We made the decision to move to Byron because we knew we’d be able to spend more time with our children and have less financial pressure.

We put a lot of value on our time together, and also a lot of value on time in nature. In terms of a day-to-day priority, we always eat dinner together as a family.


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Little kids versus big

Raising little kids is physically exhausting and obviously requires so much energy and patience. It’s almost hard to remember how physically exhausting it was! Parenting bigger kids is a different kind of exhausting.

Parenting bigger kids is a different kind of exhausting.

Unlike little kids, you can’t put them to bed at 7:30 and have the evenings to yourself. Often our older kids stay up later than we do! There’s no time where you can just switch off.

Also, it’s emotionally exhausting trying to show up for each child and meet their individual needs. The relationship with your child becomes so important as you try to support them through adolescence, through this huge period of growth and change. Parenting teens requires a whole new level of patience, and a lot of reminding yourself not to take things personally. 


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This took me by surprise

I’m constantly surprised by how quickly it all happens. Just the other day I looked over at the kitchen and realised we have three kids my height or taller!  They’re suddenly all so big!

Our house feels small (admittedly too small) as our kids get older. Our kitchen never stays clean for very long. The phone charger is never in the cupboard where it belongs. It’s impossible to watch a movie in the evening without a thousand interruptions.

My clothes and hairbrush and tweezers and even my favourite skincare products go missing all the time.

Courtney Adamo and her son Easton

Courtney and her eldest, son Easton, 16. Image: Supplied

There are suddenly so many opinions to take into consideration — the big kids want to weigh in on what we eat for dinner, where we go, what we do, etc. I guess it’s this feeling of surrender I am adjusting to. Not that I parent from a place of control, but obviously as the kids get older, there’s this sense of not having any control anymore.

My biggest challenge

I have always struggled with patience, but as the kids get older, I find it even more challenging.

I think it’s easy to falsely assume they should know better, or have more respect, or know how to control their emotions or anger because they’re older and should be more mature. But obviously, they’re going through a huge developmental period — their brain is basically being reconstructed, their emotions are heightened, their bodies are changing, they’re trying to form their own identity separate from their parents and leaving behind the comfort of childhood.


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We have to remember to be compassionate for what they’re going through. And to try not to take things personally! I’m trying to remember to be calm, even when my child is not.

My biggest joy

One thing I really do love about teens is that they do have the capacity to reflect on things. When they’re little, you have to deal with things in the moment, because kids don’t really understand or remember what happened yesterday or even an hour ago. But you can talk to your older children about an argument or an emotional outburst, and they have the ability to look back and reflect on it.

I’ve learned that this is where the parenting magic lies: in being calm in the moment, only to come back and talk to your child later.

I’ve learned that this is where the parenting magic lies: in being calm in the moment, only to come back and talk to your child later. Whether it’s my child doing the apologising or whether I owe the apology, I really love the conversations we have together where the healing and understanding forms.

There’s this sense that you’re really teaching them and helping them to grow into their own self, which is so rewarding. Also, it’s incredibly beautiful to watch them form their own identity and work out who they really are.


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My hopes and dreams for my children

Don’t we all want our kids to be happy and to honour their authentic self? I just hope my kids will feel secure in themselves to follow down their own path, whatever that might be.


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One thing that was beautiful about traveling with our children was that we were able to show our kids that there are so many different ways to live and be happy.

We became friends with a rancher in Uruguay, a surf instructor in Chile, a tuk tuk driver in Sri Lanka, a pastry chef in Italy, and so many other beautiful, interesting people around the world who were truly so happy and content in life — not because they had material possessions or wealth or fame, but because they were doing what they loved, valued their health and their loved ones, and had everything they could possibly need. We only hope our children will do the same.

My new course for mums of tweens and teens

I’ve been writing and blogging in the family lifestyle and parenting world for nearly 15 years now.

In the last few years I’ve turned my attention to creating online courses for parents to help inform and inspire. What I love about these courses is the community of parents from all over the world who come together to learn and share together. You really get this sense that we’re all in this together.

I’ve spent the last six months creating a course for parents of tweens and teens to help prepare and support parents through the adolescent years. I’ve learned so much just creating this course, and I’m excited to connect with other parents to learn alongside them.

You can find Courtney Adamo on Instagram here. Find out more about her new course for parents of tweens and teens here.