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Team work is key

For Westville dad Chris Micklewood, February is a month where love is in the air. And, since love (and family) can be complicated, the former rugby union player reminds us of why it’s so important to celebrate them both.

When Chris met Chelsea, it was a typical boy-meets-girl-in-high-school scenario. She was 15, he was 17 … and an unwitting sports star.  They did the long distance thing when he went overseas to play rugby while she finished her studies and fast forward 17 years… they’ve been married for eight of them, are parents to two beautiful children Liv (Olivia) who’s five and Mikey (Michael) who’s three, and run four successful businesses that all boast an enviable client list.

How on earth do they do it? Curiosity, competition and communication.

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‘I thrive on the diversity of multiple projects and the busy schedule keeps me from getting bored.’

The couple’s core business, with their partner Scott Smith, is Coffee Creative Studio, a through-the-line ad agency with a strong focus on digital media and website development. When Covid-19 hit, the trio launched, together with partners, a CBD lifestyle business (Echo Life) and a health and wellness brand (Nova Nutrition) that sell online and through selected retailers. Their most recent venture, in partnership with other local entrepreneurs, is Smartphone Zone where they’re looking to change the way people in South Africa buy cell phones.

‘I am naturally introverted, so I enjoy spending my down time with my family and close friends. Weekends are usually spent having braais, going to the beach or hanging out by the pool at home.’

And their home is something else too! It’s architecturally mod, boasting a jungle gym out front for the kids to play and a heated pool at the back where they spend most of the summer as a family.  ‘The road we live on is a quiet cul-de-sac 200m from Chels’ family home. Our neighbours are mostly all friends and family, which makes it a really special environment. Residents are often out walking their dogs or riding bikes with the kids in the afternoons, organizing events or having impromptu get togethers. It’s a very close-knit community that is also involved in our church and school, and we love it here.’

When it comes to juggling life, work and the kids, Chris says it’s all about the support system.

‘Family is everything. Without them, we would be nowhere. I have and amazing wife and we communicate really well. Chels generally juggles more of the responsibilities with kids during the week (other than at 5am … that’s my time to shine). She worries about their extra murals, the meals, the house and still looks after a lot of our business. I honestly don’t know how she does it.’

Individually Chris and Chels don’t have much time for hobbies (except for a little early morning ‘me time’ gym) but, as a family, they do have a few traditions…

‘I love one-on-one time with my kids. Liv is an early riser like me, so we get stuck in the kitchen… and it’s usually banana bread, cupcakes, crumpets or she will often ask Siri (our smartphone voice assistant) to find recipes for something new she wants to try. We also go for walks through the neighbourhood and if we’re up to it, a short run. Friday nights are always pizza nights. Sometimes we get takeaways from Jukes in Westville, other times we make our own. Pizza night is a clear indication that it’s the weekend baby… as my kids would say.’

When it comes to Chels, Chris says it’s all about love, respect and gratitude. And while he’s a fan of Valentine’s Day, he says it’s not the only day to show that you’re still in love with the one you love.

‘From teenage treasure hunts (and these included clues delivered to Chels’ school reception, encoded books, gifts and notes outside her window when she woke up), to spaghetti Bolognese at home planned by the kids. Each year we do something indicative of the phase we’re in as a couple and as a family.’

Still a romantic at heart, Chris says when they were younger Valentine’s day was a reason to woo Chels but these days it’s a reason to spoil her as well as a reminder to take a moment for each other amidst all the crazy.

‘Last year we did dinner at home with candles (and kids), so this year I would love to do something a little more special. The beauty is the surprise, so if I told you all what I’m planning, I’d give it all away. Let’s just say it involves a trip down memory lane and a great place to recharge and reconnect, something that is not only important for our marriage, but also for our personal wellbeing. We probably don’t do it enough.’

Chris’ two top tips that work for him and Chelsea

Front load – Chels and I connect every Sunday night when the kids are asleep and chat about what’s happening in the new week. It’s an opportunity to understand what our different work commitments are, what the kids’ schedules look like and who needs to help out where. It’s a team effort.

Apple screen time and WhatsApp business “out of office” – At 5.30pm every day and over the weekends, my phone is basically off. All my apps are locked down and if you message me on WhatsApp you’ll get an “out of office” message. This time is for family. Work is important and very busy and requires a lot of my attention, but I have put up some helpful and healthy boundaries to make sure that my family time is also given the same level of priority.

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