Giaan Rooney is truly one of the most lovely ladies I have had the pleasure of meeting! I was so honoured to have had the opportunity to interview Giaan and share her wisdom and inspiration with you all. This woman has achieved so much in such a short time… Olympic Medal winner 3 times over, Clothing Designer, Presenter and now a Mother to gorgeous little Zander! Pop your feet up and enjoy learning more about Giaan…
She is AMAZING!
Giaan Rooney: Ha! I almost laughed out loud at the first question! I certainly don’t feel I’m an ‘old hand’ at mothering, even though Zander is about to turn 2… Every time I think we have mastered one stage, he is on to the next! I wouldn’t change anything about my little man, but he is certainly cheeky, spirited, busy, strong willed, independent and confident… All great traits for when he is older, but certainly challenging for a first-time Mum! I used to believe that being an elite athlete was the hardest point in my life, but being a parent completely trumps that, and then on the flip side, is the most rewarding and enjoyable part of my life.
LV: You are quoted as saying that sleep school saved you! How so?
GR: We went to ‘Sleep School’ when Zander was nearly 6 months old. It not only saved me from an emotional breakdown, but gave my little man the gift of sleep (something that has helped me in every facet of my life) and me the ability to enjoy being a Mother. Up until then I would have taken a bullet for him, but can honestly say I didn’t like him most of the time, as he only needed 40 mins of sleep (1 sleep cycle) every 3-4 hours… I now know why sleep deprivation is a form of torture! Not helping the mix was the fact that my Husband, Sam is a brilliant Dad, but travels for work up to 6 days a week, we had no family to help us in Melbourne, and I went back to work 2 days a week when Zander was 12 weeks old… Not the greatest recipe for success! Sleep school gave us a routine, a plan and confidence that we could turn it around, it wasn’t an overnight fix, but by the time Zander was 1, we felt like we were winning the battle!
LV: What advice would you have for a new mother who is really struggling in those first few months?
GR: My advice to any new Mum who is struggling in those first few months (or longer) is to find the right support system… Whether it is family, friends, a Maternal Health Care nurse, Mothers group, or in the form of an online forum, this is definitely one mission that should not be done solo!!!! You know that old saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child‘? Yep…!!!!
LV: Being a 3 X Olympic Medalist (Gold medal (2004) and 2X Silver medals (2000) !!!) do you often look back and think that must have been in another lifetime now that life is so different? What is more taxing; motherhood or training to be an Olympian?
GR: I can’t even compare life as a Mum to life as an athlete, they are completely different! Whilst being an athlete is quite a selfish venture, Motherhood is anything but, in fact it is a completely selfless venture! I was fortunate that I retired from swimming when I was ready, on my own terms and with no regrets, which had allowed me to transition fairly painlessly into my next career and life as a non-athlete. Sometimes my swimming career feels like it was achieved by someone else I feel so far removed from it! Training for an Olympics is the most physically, emotionally and mentally tough challenge I could imagine, until Zander came along… And it is because the goal posts shift so much… Before, I wanted to be the best I could be, now, I want to do the absolute best by him, so that he has every tool available to him to succeed in life.
LV: We love your ‘Giaan by Spalding’ range that is available in Target. Why was it important to you to bring out a range that was suitable for the everyday woman/mother?
GR: I am so proud of the Giaan by Spalding range in Target! I never thought anyone would trust me to create activewear for the Everyday Woman! It isn’t easy to design comfortable, fashionable, affordable activewear for all sizes, ages and shapes that actually does the job it should, but our sales so far are showing that we must be doing something right! I am very hands on in the whole process, as I am in anything that has my name attached to it, and I absolutely love being able to use my creative side when we are coming up with colours, patterns and silhouette’s for each range. These days activewear isn’t just worn to exercise, it also is acceptable to pick the kids up from school, travel in, go supermarket shopping, meet the girls for a coffee, run errands etc and the modern day woman isn’t a multi-tasker, she is a maxi-tasker!!!!
GR: I think I have been very fortunate to have been raised well by my parents, and to always remember that whilst it is important to work hard, seize opportunities and enjoy success, it is far more important to be kind and to be a good person. I have had plenty of stumbles on the way, and done things I’m not proud of but I hope I have always shown respect to others along the journey.
LV: Recently your family moved back to your roots on the Gold Coast. How has the change been for you all. I bet little Zander is loving the sunshine and beaches!
GR: Moving back to my home town of the Gold Coast last year has been a brilliant move for my little family… Not only were we struggling with not having any family to help us out in Melbourne but trying to keep a very energetic toddler entertained through the Winter was showing us that something wasn’t working. Now, Zander goes to Daycare 3 days a week (around my Mum’s golfing schedule!) and we are always outdoors, whether it is in the pool, at the beach or at the park, which is exactly the wonderful childhood I grew up with!
LV: As a confident television presenter, you must still have insecurities like most women. How do you deal with things you wish you could change about yourself?
GR: I would change a hundred things about myself if I could, both physical and personality wise but I have also always been pretty good at making the most of what I do have rather than what I don’t. I think that an athletic career also teaches you to exploit your strengths and work on your weaknesses, so that it isn’t seen as a negative but rather a chance to grow. I always take tv with a grain of salt. I am not saving lives, nor curing Cancer, so my ability to laugh at myself when I stuff up (quite often!) is a quality that most people can hopefully relate to! Everyone has insecurities, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t, but I find those with a strong sense of self the most attractive people on the planet.
LV: What exciting plans do you have for 2016?
GR: 2016 has already been a huge year! An Olympic year always has, and continues to be the busiest time for me, but I love that every time it rolls around, I get swept up in the excitement all over again! So Rio in August for Channel 7, but before then I have the Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide in April, hopefully a new house to move into (we are building at the moment) Zander’s 2nd Birthday, our Giaan by Spalding winter ranges for Target, a radio wellness show, the Prime Ministers Olympic Dinner (the major fundraiser for the AUS Olympic Team) plus a whole lot more! Life is busy but I am very fortunate to now have a great support system which makes it all possible, oh and I love my job!
LV: What are your top 5 loves?
GR: My top 5 loves….
– My little family. We have come so far, learnt so much & continue to grow stronger together.
– Animals. My 3-legged rescue dog Lester and all the other furry, feathered and scaly animals that are out there just make me think the world is a good place.
– Food. Food, glorious food. All of it! I get so much enjoyment from food and base all of my social catch ups around it, the only problem I find is ‘menu envy’!
– Travel. I don’t get to travel as much as I used to anymore, but I find myself craving adventures to exotic lands… Exploring the world around me inspires me and makes me feel truly alive. The bucket list is long…
– Homewares & House magazines. Obsessed only slightly explains it…! If I could design and decorate 10 houses in different styles I might just be fulfilled… Just!
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