It’s the so-called ‘witching hour’ in the Hooker household at Captains Flat. Dinner is in the oven, but mum-of-nine Claire has time for a chat.
She also has time to home-school her nine children, write blogs, be a social media influencer and now host a podcast.
It’s fair to say Claire loves a challenge. She also loves her husband, their strong Catholic faith, her British and Irish heritage, and being a voice for parents everywhere.
“Many people have a certain perception of someone who has a large family,” Claire tells Region Media with the subtle sounds of children in the background.
“We don’t sponge off government hand-outs. We’re a hard-working Christian family.”
Claire freely admits her days have their challenges but says she’s “very blessed to have a happy home and we wouldn’t have it any other way”.
She pushes on when making the 47 km trip from Captains Flat to Queanbeyan to do the fortnightly shop. She also pushes on when people look at her with kids in tow while unloading the second trolley full of groceries at the supermarket.
She has everything most families have, including medical appointments and difficulties with schooling.
As a social media influencer with more than 15,000 followers on Instagram, Claire also has a regular supply of products such as anti-aging serums and charcoal toothpaste (to name just a few) that she reviews on her blog, This Tribe of Mine.
She has been interviewed by Take 5 magazine and morning television shows and is not backwards in coming forward with something to say.
“I might lose my train of thought, but that’s just how it is sometimes,” Claire says.
“I have nine wonderful children with nine very different personalities all in the house at once, but they all inspire me in different ways too.
“I think people just follow me because I’m real and someone they can relate to.”
In 2018, Claire began writing about her weight loss journey after the difficult birth of her youngest child Michael.
“I wanted to document how well the keto diet had worked for me, and it’s worked too! I lost 38 kilograms and have kept it off, and I think that’s pretty good after nine children,” she says.
Now, she has started her latest project – a podcast called What Happens When, which happened by chance when she met Charlie Tizzard, the owner of Queanbeyan-based media company Throttle Media.
“Charlie has a proper studio and is also a father of three, and as soon as we got talking he suggested we do a podcast. I’m pretty good at talking, so we came up with a plan and we’ve just recorded and posted our first podcasts,” Claire says.
“We’ve both got a pretty good sense of humour so there it’s fairly light-hearted but also serious too. Our first episode was about World Down Syndrome Day as my sister back in London was born with Down Syndrome, so it’s great we could shine a light on that.”
Claire says other episodes will cover parenting, family budgets, holidays, mental health, her strong faith and her weight loss experience.
“To us, our family of 11 just seems normal,” she says. “It’s busy and it’s not always perfect, but we have a routine here and we also have our little world at Captains Flat where we can just go for a walk and get away from it all too.”