Wellbeing Outnumbered Dad Style
Posted by Nicola Elliott
Is this guy too good to be true? Full of energy, little sleep and takes care of his five women before himself.
Find out how Simon Hooper, Instagram extraordinaire AKA Father of Daughters (4 daughters, that is) keeps his cool, what raises his blood pressure and what wellbeing means to him. Plus the one product he swipes from wife Clemmie (sshhh).
Q Where are you going on holiday this year? And why have you chosen this place/ resort/ country with kids?
A This year we’re going to Portugal to a resort called ‘Martinhal Sagres’. There are several reasons why:
A) We’ve booked the whole thing – flights, transfers, hotel – in one go with tour operator Destinology. It takes the hassle out of sorting each little component ourselves and leaving the experts to pick us the best room and flights. as you can imagine, time isn't something that I have a lot of so going this way definitely helps reduce stress levels
B) It’s less than 3 hours flying which, when you have 4 kids, is manageable and allows just enough time for the all important screens not to run out of juice and for other passengers not to lose their minds from the crying that will inevitably occur.
C) The resort has a kids club. We’ve never been on a resort based holiday and never thought we’d opt for one, but recent holidays have been so tiring that we’ve needed another break just to get over it. We travel all that way, to essentially do everything we do at home, just in a hotter climate and in a different time zone, meaning the kids don’t sleep as well.Therefore the idea of dropping the kids off to do things they want to, while we get some alone time (which is unheard of usually) is very appealing.
D) There's no time zone change so bed times aren’t affected which is a real bonus.
E) It’s pretty much guaranteed sunshine which my pasty skin is calling out for!
Q Do men get as stressed as women do pre holiday?
A I guess we get stressed in different ways. By nature, and much to my wife’s annoyance, I’m not a stressful person so I can let most things wash over me.
To me, to get ready for holiday involves 10 minutes of packing, consisting of some shorts, t-shirts, a nice shirt and underwear – that’s me done. Watching the girls pack on the other hand is hard work. It seems that everything they own needs to come with us. Looking at them wedging stuff into cases which are obviously going to make it be over the baggage allowance, knowing that they will only wear 50% of the clothes is frustrating to say the least, especially when I know I’m going to part with more money at the airport when they weigh them at check in!
I am also not a fan of rushing in the airport. I travel for business a lot so am a professional when it comes to packing and navigating airports in the most efficient way possible. It’s a different thing altogether when you have the family in tow – everything is a lot slower and we always seem to be late, which raises my blood pressure!
Q What do you really hope for from a holiday - wellbeing wise?
A A chance to leave all the family nonsense at home - all the arguments about cleaning, all the disagreements between sisters that can’t share, all the stress of manhandling 4 children to bed in a vain attempt to get some adult time. When we’re away, all of that noise seems to fade away and I manage to get some head space to do and think about nothing which is a real rarity. That said, I get bored very easily and within 5 minutes I start to get deafened by the silence, so will no doubt go and find the girls to play and explore.
Q What do you do to help your own wellbeing in general? (explain foods you try and eat / exercise / meditation anything else) please explain why, when you discovered this and how it's helped you or any other tips.
A In all honesty, I don’t see my own wellbeing as a priority. I’m a very uncomplicated person and am happy to float along through life. There are 5 women who come well before me in the pecking order and seeing them happy and content is more than effort for me as it means I’m doing my job as a parent and a husband well.
That said, I love cycling. I ride my bike every day, irrespective of the weather as I feel a bit lost if don’t get a chance to get in the saddle. When I’m on my bike, I genuinely feel free of all life’s burdens. I suddenly feel like a kid again and the only things that matter are me, the road in front of me and the breeze in my face as the scenario blurs by.
I also like to build things and do DIY. I find anything that takes planning, thought and problem solving to be therapeutic as I can focus on that one problem and see it through without my mind being cluttered by other day to day nonsense.
Q At NEOM, we believe that lack of sleep, poor energy, stress and mood dips are all related - do you agree? why / why not? is this the same for men as it is for women?
A Perhaps I’m an anomaly but I sleep poorly yet seem to have energy to burn and very rarely feel stressed or have bad moods. I go to bed at 1am and then up at 6.30am. No one is forcing me to do that, it’s by choice as there is always something I would be rather doing than sleeping. I’ve been doing this for the last 10 years (coinciding with the arrival of my first born – strange that isn’t it??!) so I guess my body is just programmed that way now. That said, I know of other people who can barely function and are totally unbearable to be around if they haven’t had a good night’s sleep, so I think it comes down to individuals and the types of people they are, rather than painting everyone with with the same brush.
Q At NEOM we have a mantra - "wellbeing small steps, big difference" - do you agree? why / why not?
A Yes I agree with that. The difficulty is actually taking those steps in our busy non stop lives. Sometimes just stopping for a moment and doing nothing is all that’s needed. As a parent, your lives revolve around other people all the time, so recognising that you need some attention can be hard to spot. That’s why having friends and family that can occasionally hold up a mirror and help you see things might otherwise miss is so important.
Q What NEOM must haves are you taking with you in your case this year? Or do you just steal Clemmies? (We won't judge!)
A I can’t lie, when I pack my wash bag, I pack a toothbrush and deodorant, that’s pretty much it. I rely on the fact that Clemmie will bring a bag of wash stuff big enough to cater for everyone (but only intended her herself) so I just steal things from her collection. I must say I do like a spray of lavender on the pillow before I go to sleep, makes a bed (while on holiday) feel like home.