New book, new baby: life is a balancing act for TABS owner
TABS owner Rebecca Singleton recently had her third child and published her second book.
Ask how she balances it all and the clothing designer is quick to say it would be difficult to do on her own: having a supportive work team is a huge help, multitasking comes in handy and diaries are essential. The encouragement she gets from a local network of female entrepreneurs is a bonus.
“Every day is a different balancing act because there’s always something that takes priority,” she said. “So I have to have flexibility in my schedule to allow for that. I’m quite regimented in my approach to life. I have a lot of diaries.
“I have a diary for each of my kids, a diary for myself so I know what’s going on each day – and then there’s a certain element of surrendering to the day. But I usually have three things on my to-do list that I get done every day and it just keeps moving forward.”
She wrote The Toyman while pregnant with her now three-month-old son, Sayer. According to Ms Singleton, it was inspired by his brothers, Thomas, 4, and Finley, 2, who never seemed to want to pack their playthings away.
“We created this character called the Toyman. And the idea was if you don’t tidy up your toys at night the Toyman is going to come and take them away for a week because your toys need a rest, just like you.”
In order to encourage the boys, she and her husband Colm came up with a song and put it to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb.
“It was really fun and it worked for them,” she said. “They became really good at tidying up after themselves.”
She decided to turn it into a book, thinking the story might help other parents at bedtime. The basic plot was already in her head, her sons helped with the finer details; writing it was easy.
“I have three kids. I don’t want to read three different stories for each of their age groups. So we tend to pick one story and pull out the different messages for different ages.
“It was important to me he was not a scary character. He’s almost like your older brother, a cool teenager. He’s got to be something that’s kind of cool, kind of funky, but not too funky that you want to stay up all night and wait until he comes in.”
As with her first book, The Little Blue Ducky, she approached Katherine Summerville to illustrate The Toyman and Heather Willens, a teacher, to create the accompanying activity plan for newborns and children up to age seven.
“I just enjoy creating things,” said Ms Singleton in explaining why she made the effort when she already had a lengthy to-do list. “I have a huge sense of satisfaction when someone tells me they’ve read my book and it’s helped them in some way.
“That’s what I want to do. I want to keep impacting and reaching other people. You feel like you can make a difference. I know it’s only clothes and books but I think they can add happiness to people’s lives on a basic level.”
Ms Singleton launched TABS, her Bermuda shorts brand, in 2013. Three years later she opened a retail store on Reid Street and entered motherhood.
It is a lot to juggle, she concedes.
“We all have moments that are hugely overwhelming, especially with kids. You think you’ve got the perfect day planned and they get sent home from school because they’ve got a runny nose and the whole day goes out the window. Because no matter how much help you have your kid always wants you.
“My view on the kids is to spend the good times with them. Every day the house goes quiet for two to three hours; they either have to take a nap or do something quietly by themselves.”
With “high-risk parents” and a newborn she’s mostly at home at the moment because of Covid-19.
WhatsApp keeps her connected with friends. She particularly loves a chat group of female entrepreneurs who “discuss ideas and that kind of thing”.
“It keeps your entrepreneurial spark going when you’re surrounded by other entrepreneurial women who are pushing themselves,” Ms Singleton said. “There’s an amazing camaraderie and energy.
“I’ve learnt a lot about myself through Covid: what I need in terms of socialisation and being around people, what I definitely need as a person. Some people are OK being by themselves. I’ve learnt I need to top up my tank, to talk to friends. Even a phone call is good for me or a walk on the beach. Most people are very supportive. That enables you to do it all because people pick you up.”
Buy The Toyman at TABS, 12 Reid Street, Hamilton and www.beccibooks.com