Welcome to the Baby Bag Diaries. A series where we share real stories from real mums exploring the transformational journey into motherhood, shining a spotlight on their favourite products and the pieces of advice they wish they had before having a baby. 

Today we talk with South African born expat mum in Hong Kong, writer, actress, blogger Kim Senogles. Kim opens up to us about the reality of motherhood, talking candidly about her new identity as ‘someone’s mum’ and the importance of looking after yourself, so that you can look after your little ones.

Tell us about yourself? When did you become a mama, how many babies do you have? 

I’m a Cape Town girl who has been in the big city lights of Hong Kong for 9 years. I often say I grew up in Cape Town, but Hong Kong is where I became a grown up (kinda – still not sure how I’m the adult in room?!). I moved over with a boy for a bit of an adventure, and now we’re married and keep adding squad members: flew our dog over from South Africa, adopted another and then became human parents in February 2020 to Sawyer and now again in February 2022 to baby Summer. I have a background in front of the camera, shifted into a full time nanny in the years before having my own, and have just recently embarked into a part-time content creation role which I’m loving. 

Who were you before you became a mum? 

I think I’ve always been a person of many loves and trying to fit them all in! I’ve always played a lot of sport and have loved playing rugby in Hong Kong. I split my time between Cape Town and Hong Kong for the first few years when I was still in the film industry before putting that creative output on hold for a more stable salary. The ease of travel has always been one of Hong Kong’s biggest pulls and we have made great use of it. 

Are you still that person? How has motherhood inspired or changed you? Any light bulb moments?

I always knew not having a very defined career would be tough for the identity loss that often accompanies motherhood, and I was right. It’s weird to be seen solely as “someone’s mom” and not in addition to all the facets that are ‘you’. A lot of the above has changed for other factors though, not just because of motherhood – we’d love to be travelling lots still with the kids in tow (staying optimistic!) and with sport running more normally again perhaps a return to the field is on the cards. On the upside, I feel like becoming a mom really fires up the entrepreneurial spirit and a strong feeling for making the world of parenthood better, easier, more supported and better suited to the things that spark joy.

Tell us what you thought motherhood would be like before you became a mother? 

I was probably as prepared as a person could be, especially through my years of working with babies and young children. My partner was keen for children long before I gave him the greenlight, but knowing what a change it would be to my independence and sense of self I wanted to enjoy a bit more me-time before embarking on the journey. 

What’s in your baby bag right now?

Hand sanitizer, wet wipes, tissues, suncream, Neutrogena Body Oil (that is magic at keeping the little biting bugs at bay!), muslin, burp cloth, teether toy, small toddler toy (think it’s a car currently), change of outfits, hats and a Ben & Ellie Nappy Clutch with nappies, more wet wipes, mini bum cream and little rubbish bag if it’s a smelly one!

Designated baby bag or your handbag with baby things packed in it. What’s your style?

I have a gorgeous leather backpack style nappy bag from South African brand Jean Kelly. It has pockets for water/milk bottles – they also fit a bottle of wine, like every good nappy bag should. Summer has a Bugaboo Ant stroller though and the B&E Clutch fits perfectly into the under basket, still accessible when folded – game changer!

Let’s talk looking effortlessly chic even after having a baby. We know this is an area that many women including ourselves find challenging, dressing our new postpartum bodies and reconciling our personal style with motherhood. Do you have any advice for new mums?  

I’m the cliché that wears activewear a lot. (Sorry, not sorry). First step, I really encourage every new mum to invest in pyjamas that make you happy. Next, if you’re breastfeeding, find the style that works best for you. I really like things that either have deep sides or open at the sides. I thought I would need more front button options, but turned out I found that a bit of a faf and don’t get me started on the up/down double options! I love Milkitrains T-shirts with the side poppers, and most of my activewear vests have deep enough sides for me to feed in. On the bra front, the Bonds sports style ones are a firm favourite but also bralette style soft ones. I have one from Victoria’s Secret that is not a feeding bra but works perfectly and have just fallen in love with Hong Kong start-up Embrace. When my feeding journey was over, I treated myself to some nice new bras and a few outfits that didn’t have to meet the “how quick can I whip out my boobs in this” requirement.

Baby shower or baby blessing? Did you have either one of these? Tell us about it! 

I had wanted a big co-ed affair for our first, but my partner thought it would be more fun to do a “Sip and See” after he was born, so we were planning a Baby Fiesta…and then Covid. Thankfully my rugby team had thrown me one with our teammates so I was still spoilt rotten and didn’t feel too missed out. For No2 I had a little Sprinkle on a friend’s terrace.

We’re always on the lookout for interesting baby shower gift ideas. What were some of the best baby gifts you received? 

For both, I made a registry on babylist.com – it also helped me remember the things I wanted! It was great, as my friends organised a big hamper with lots of my wishes. Things I hadn’t thought about and loved both times, is lux baby body wash / body lotions. Toys have been really helpful, as they’re not quite on your mind just before birth but so amazing to look at your growing so fast 6 month old and whip out a new thing for them. 

What is your go-to baby gift that you give to others?

I often go with a book – particularly something Hong Kong related, like an ABC book. If I know someone is planning on breastfeeding, I’ve also done a breastfeeding hamper with everything I found helpful along with personal tips. I’m also big on spoiling mum, not just things for the baby!

What baby products could you not live without? 

Double zippys are life, go away poppers. I like the Bonds or Cotton On ones for PJs. The Haakaa pump is my favourite thing ever. I also have their reusable milk pouches. Waterwipes are such a great wet wipe, and Sudocrem is magic. We do a mix of disposable and reusable nappies; on the reusable front I love Grovia’s Buttah options and also use Just Peachy and Charlie Banana, and for disposables the Noopii Eco-Luxe ones are gorgeous. Ben & Ellie’s nappy clutch comes everywhere.

Sometimes as mums we come across the trifecta of baby products – items that are gorgeous, functional and make your life easier! What are some of your “best kept secret” baby products you’ve discovered? 

I have a Beaba Babycook and I use it to make things for me too! The design is sleek and I don’t mind staring at it in my kitchen. I also love silicone bowls / plates that suction down for less accidents and come in colours that I don’t hate – a lot of earthy neutrals. 

What advice would you give to a first-time mum shopping for all the baby stuff? How do you wade through all the noise and know what you truly need? 

Don’t panic. It can be quite overwhelming at first so just take it slow.
I’m a researcher and enjoy reading all the things – you’ll notice certain products pop up repeatedly but also keep in mind your Hong Kong lifestyle vs that of the opinion you’re reading. Make use of a registry, even just as a guide for yourself.

Hospital bag saviours – was there something that you wish you didn’t pack but wish you had? 

I’ve had one baby in private and one in public and there are a couple of things I was happy I packed in both cases: my own pillow, an eyemask, my own PJs (the button down night shirt style I think is the best), snacks, coconut water, water bottle with straw, battery pack, a little bit of makeup (tinted moisturiser and concealer), Silverettes, adult nappies.

If you could go back to a pregnant you and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Take all the photos, and then take some more.

What kind of mum are you now – can you describe your parenting style in three words?

Millennial trying to be a cool mum? 

What is the best lesson motherhood has taught you?

It’s often a mirror reflecting my own shortcomings or fears. And it cannot be said enough: You can’t pour from an empty cup”; fill that cup, Mama.

Any final advice or words of wisdom for pregnant or new mums reading this?

Lean into it, but take the time to also do things just for you. It’s so much easier to surrender to it all when your cup is full – and those moments when you can truly surrender to it are magic.

Enjoyed reading this? Catch Kim over on Instagram @juniperkeeks and read her latest musings on Hong Kong expat life, travel inspo, eco ideas and millennial motherhood at www.juniperkeeks.com
February 02, 2023 — Julie Rout