Sammi Dobinson and Mandy Couzens, two high-energy mums from Melbourne’s west, are both big fans of fun. To them, fun is all about family, food and nature.
With four kids between them, ranging from 5 to 7, these inspirational women are big believers in getting out and about and spending more time having fun. The joint adventures of these close friends and business partners – who talk every day – with kids Matilda, Minnie, Evie and Austin in tow, are full of fun. Sammi is passionate about adventuring, as she calls it, and anything to do with finding new food. “We love food!”
Together they explore gardens, beaches and bushland, talking wild walks and marveling at the flora and fauna at places like Serendip Sanctuary…and they all get a kick out of visiting Melbourne’s zoos.
Their travels take them over the bridge to Ballarat, Melton and Bacchus Marsh; all the way into the inner west and sweeping back to Geelong and Torquay.
Mums who know Melbourne’s west
Sammi and Mandy, each writers and photographers, are the creative team behind website www.mammaknowswest.com.au. Their passion for spreading the word about their beloved west, with a focus on adventure, creativity, fun and food, is contagious.
“We’ve always loved talking about the real gems of the west, like T. Cavallaro & Sons, who make incredible cannoli and Italian cakes. We like to support the community by inspiring other mums and dads to get out and about and have fun,” says Sammi.
Being a mother is an important role for both Sammi and Mandy.
“When it comes to unearthing creative ways to keep the kids occupied, Mandy enjoys cooking, while I like drawing, experiments and music,” says Sammi.
For Mandy, motherhood is all about balance.
“You’ve got to strike a balance between being the rule maker, the enforcer, and taking a softer approach – always being up for a cuddle, forgiving of everything. You want to be the person they come to: someone who gives them their morals. As a mother, you want to lead by example, giving them the tools to be their own little people…it’s a challenging job, but as everyone says, it’s deeply rewarding.”
Sammi emphasises taking a moment to enjoy the little things, like taking her girls out to a park, cherishing the little notes they wrote when they first learned to write, as well as the captions they would give to their drawings, like ‘my mummy is happy’.
“As soon as you step outside and go to the park, you may just find that other parent having a challenging day. That’s why we started our website www.mammaknowswest.com.au,” explains Mandy. “It’s a place where we hope to inspire families in the west to find fun things to do together. To make it easier for families to be inspired - and to enjoy the west’s best,” Mandy adds.
“On Mother’s Day there’ll be lots of hugs. Those hugs are a big reminder of how fortunate we all are to have the kids. And some burnt toast and a cold cup of coffee. And perhaps a handmade card.”
About: 'Those who mum' series
Meet 40 women across Australia, from as far as Cairns in North Queensland to Baldivis in Western Australia, as part of a 40-part editorial and portrait series that celebrates the faces of women and mums from across Australia.