Claire Alexander-Johnston is one of the most down-to-earth mamas we know. She is based in Byron Bay but manages to traipse all over the world with her tribe of little ones and make it look easy—and fun! Affectionately known as @jetsetmama by her online following, she is one big breath of fresh air in an oft-curated Instagram landscape. Not only does she have an excellent eye and a drool-worthy feed, once you have a read through her musings on motherhood you’ll be completely hooked. We often have to conceal guffaws in public over her exploits—whether it’s her unapologetic “braceface” hashtag, following the trials and triumphs of building a sustainable home or her adventures with three young children in tow (often enlisting the help of strangers friends along the way). And we cry over her honest observations about her kids’ growth, the women circles she’s a part of and the visual diary she is keeping for her family as they grow up (so they can remember since she is a self-professed sieve). We caught up with her to talk about life in Byron Bay, parenting hacks, toxin-free health remedies and spring-cleaning for sanity.
Claire, originally from London, moved to Bali with her now husband, Rich, before the hype (ever the trendsetter). Together they built a hotel and multiple businesses and were part of a crowd known now as the “old Bali” – people who showed up on the Island of the Gods to find another way of living beyond taking a standard office job in a big city center. Eventually, they landed in Byron Bay, on the East Coast of Australia with little communities living deep in the hills, and by the ocean. The way Claire describes it evokes its alchemical qualities: “It’s got a little bit of everything and is super mineral-rich and magical—like, you can seriously fossil for crystals in the stream at the end of your garden. Since the 60s the area was filled with like-minded people wanting to escape the rat race. Wanting natural, healthy living (and a sprinkling of spiritual—an “alternative” way.) Still today many creatives, healers and entrepreneurs gravitate towards our area.”
After so many years of rootlessness, Claire found a home in Byron to lay down roots and build a life. Over the past year, she has undertaken an exciting project: to build a sustainable, green home for her family to live in. Even though Byron is a well-primed spot to do this, it’s not without its challenges—for those of us getting a peek into her world, it’s a riot to watch the ride, and an inspiration to witness her commitment to a clean lifestyle. On the journey, she says: “This has been a SIGNIFICANT highlight of my life. Since becoming a mother I’ve been passionate about what I’m putting onto and into my babies. Atlas was born with a sensitivity to sugar and anything synthetic, the plus side of which pushed me to completely clean up our lives. Starting first with our mostly plant-based diet, then to what we put on our skin, and now to our entire home environment. It’s not just trying to be sustainable, but also as “low-tox” as possible. From the paints and finishing, the flooring, the appliances. The lights, electricity, minimizing EMFS…everything I’m researching and studying and sourcing—it’s been the most brilliant education.”
Part of this process has also been shedding years worth of “hoarding”, as Claire puts it. She recently decided to get rid of a lot to prepare to leave her family’s current home. She started using the Konmari method, but found that everything she owned gave her joy: “I have a very low joy threshold and a very high hoarder instinct”, so in the end: “I enlisted the help of a (ruthless, unemotional) friend to help, and closed my eyes and started tossing. I’ve given away, sold, or donated at least 50% of everything we own as a family and it feels absolutely amazing. The kids play SO MUCH BETTER, with more imagination and creativity when there are fewer toys—go figure!”
It makes sense that Claire would have a big family of her own: she has three sisters herself and her parents were always welcoming friends and extended family into their home growing up. She is a big proponent of the sisterhood, and how important that is not only in the journey of motherhood but also in life: “The sisterhood is everything. Growing up as the youngest of four I learned that sharing is mandatory (clothes, food, feelings), that you are stronger together, and grudges aren’t worth it. But with or without blood sisters, you can still have siSTARS. In this modern world, finding our “tribe” I feel is vital to keeping away the baby blues. It can be such an isolating time, chuck in some pretty rad sleep deprivation, and honestly, it’s a wonder we all end up so sane (…ISH!)” And she has some great advice for new mothers who may feel lonely: “Women often say ‘you’re so lucky to have so many great mum friends’. What they don’t see is how I just throw myself at mothers at the playground. I’m constantly trying to replace my sisters who live on the other side of the world. And how I get phone numbers and make group chats. You have to make the effort, and follow it up. And show up. We’re grown-ups, and it’s not always easy to start a “Hey, wanna be my friend?” conversation. But I find that crying at fellow mums in the park about how tired I am and what a s*** my husband is being, is normally a good place to start.”
We’re thrilled to have Claire as our Girl of the Month for June – she’s an inspiration to those of us dreaming about living a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle but might not know where to start. For Claire, she starts where she is: one step at a time, building community wherever she goes. We love the way she wears our pieces with gusto. When we asked her what Pitusa means to her she said: “I feel VERY honored. PITUSA to me is colorful, fun, frivolous, and flattering! It makes me feel like an exotic flower!” Use discount code CLAIRE25 for 25% off sitewide!
SOME PARENTING PEARLS OF WISDOM
- Lavender oil solves everything. Lavender oil massaged on your toddler’s feet with coconut oil before sleep
- Baby poo stains disappear in the sunshine.
- Chuck hemp seeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds in pesto rice and call that a 5-minute nutritious toddler dinner.
- Invest in an ergo baby carrier. It’s a lifesaver when trying to simultaneously feed a baby/put a baby to sleep/cook dinner.
- Bach’s Rescue Remedy (for baby, for you, and for the poor bastard who got stuck next to you and your kids!)
- For babies, tie the toys together with string so you don’t lose them.
- Invest in a Cozigo to put over the baby wherever you are so it will sleep in lots of different places!
- Keep activated charcoal on hand for any traveling/foreign food-induced tummy bugs.
- Magnesium salt baths with eucalyptus oil if your toddler is sick. Or just a drop of tea tree or wild orange.
- Classical music on full volume “white noise”. I think it’s supposed to make them smart too, so winning!
- Try to keep elements of the bedtime routine the same, even if you’re on a plane. And most importantly: accept help from strangers! Everyone is more than happy to help out a Mum struggling with babies and bags and distract a toddler while you pee. Learn to say “Yes!”.
THE PITUSA QUIZ
What’s your star sign?
Bikram always and forever. I’ve tried everything else but I just always come back to that delicious detoxing hot yoga.
Favorite holiday destination/place in the world?
Any morning rituals?
Coconut oil pulling for anywhere between 5-15 minutes…whatever the kids will allow while I’m scrambling to get us out the house! Then that “magic mud” charcoal toothpaste at night! The best!
Coffee, tea or smoothie?
Any guilty pleasures?
Do you have a favorite quote?
Not a single one (how to pick?!)…but one I heard recently that I loved, “bitterness is like drinking poison expecting the other person will die” and I really liked that. Such a good reminder to let shit go!
Sage or palo santo?
Both. Depending on what I’m doing. Sage is more smokey and obvious, so if I’m trying to be low key, Palo Santo.