Life advice Tammin Sursok on helping kids read.
She moved to Los Angeles when she was only 21, in search of the Hollywood dream. Now 34, the actor has not only found fame in America – she has also found a family
My only child, Phoenix, is almost four now – the same age I was when I moved from South Africa to Australia. My husband [writer and producer Sean Mcewen] and I have been having conversations about raising a child in the States, where we live now, and raising a child in Australia. I want Phoenix to be raised the way I was; without shoes on, running around the beach, and having that sense of freedom you don’t always have in Los Angeles.
I moved to LA when I was 21 with just two suitcases. The hardest thing was moving away from my parents, who are very involved in my life. I tried not to dwell on leaving them because, if I did, I never would have left. I don’t focus on it all that much as Hollywood has given me so much – it’s given me a family. My husband and I are so appreciative of having a continuous stream of work. But as we get older, I want Phoenix – and our other children at some point – to feel like Australia is also their home. That’s our goal in the very near future.
I’m passionate about books and literacy and want to encourage Phoenix to develop a love for reading. It’s why I’m involved in ABC Reading Eggs Junior, an online reading program for kids. I have no problem with Phoenix having screen time with Reading Eggs because it’s an educational program, rather than just her watching cartoons all day. But I think we all need to be realistic about screen time, too.
I’ve been quite vocal about body image over the past few years. While I’m worried about raising a daughter in a society where there is a very narrow definition of what the ideal body looks like, I would say our parents didn’t have the tools on how to teach us to be aware of the dangers of such things as eating disorders. I’m fully equipped on what to do if Phoenix ever starts to go down that route.
I do affirmations with my daughter every day. It’s about reminding her she’s strong and valuable, that she has a voice. I don’t wake up and tell her, “Oh, you’re so pretty.” We try to instil inner strength.
As a wife and mum, actress, director, writer, producer and entrepreneur, I’m a total workaholic! But I also bring Phoenix with me everywhere. We’re going to try for more kids in the next year, and I’ll probably end up directing when I’m five months pregnant. ABC Reading Eggs Junior launched this month.