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21st Nov 2015

How I make it work: Speech and Language Therapist Dani Dowling


Dani Dowling is a Speech and Language Therapist and Audiologist from Brazil. She has been living in Ireland since 2004 and has worked with both adults and children. She has over 10 years experience working with children with Down Syndrome. She is a mother of two.

What’s your morning routine?

My kids don’t wake up very early and I’m not really a morning person, so mornings are usually a bit chaotic. We get up at around 7:30am and after the usual getting dressed, packing lunch and having breakfast – we manage to be out of the door just a bit before 9.00am. As a “good ” Brazilian, punctuality isn’t my strength.

Describe a typical day/week with work and kids?

The Montessori my kids are in is around the corner from our house. On Mondays we walk because it’s my day off. Then from Tuesday to Friday I drop them by car and go straight to work.

I run early intervention groups for children with Down Syndrome – two groups a day, four days a week. I absolutely love my job. Even when I’m tired, little smiles always brighten up my day.

I’m home between 2:30pm and 5:00pm depending on the kids’ activities or extra work.

What’s the best thing about being a parent?

To experience a love that is unconditional. To truly be happy just because they exist.

What are the main differences from pre-mum to mum?

Nine unbroken hours sleep down to waking every two hours -no more full nights of sleep!

What’s your favourite thing to do with the kids?

Although they are small we’ve been to Brazil every year since Camilla was 2 months old and I just love when we’re there. It’s like they’ll know what’s being Brazilian – the food, the sun, the way of life. It’s amazing to see them with all the cousins uncles and aunties especially with the grandparents.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My mum was always my role model. She brought up five kids as a working mum so I’ve always listened to any parenting advice she has given me over the years. She doesn’t need to say much (to be honest she rarely tells you what you should do). It’s her serenity, positivity and disposition to others that inspires me.

What’s your favourite book to read to your children?

They’re still quite young so anything from Julia Donaldson is a big hit. I read to them in Portuguese. I always ask family and friends for books as a present when we’re in Brazil.

What does being a parent mean to you?

Being a parent means the world to me. I’ve wanted to be a mum since I can remember so being able to have them was the best thing that happened to me. Camilla was conceived through IVF after years of trying but 10 months after she was born I had the biggest surprise of my life when I got pregnant again. Raphael was born when Camilla was 18 months.

What advice would you give to other mums?

This is a hard one… to new mums, I’d say, “No, your child is not the only one that doesn’t sleep 12 hours at night. It’ll pass.”

To not so new mums, I’d say: “Your housework can wait! Be there for your children, hold their hands until they fall asleep, bring them to your bed in the middle of the night if they need to and make sure they know they can count on you.”

What nuggets of wisdom would you like to pass down to your kids as they grow older?

I will tell my kids that they should explore the world but never forget where they came from and the people that matter in their lives.


How do you make all the juggling work?

I really don’t know. A lot of times I think nothing is working at all!

Tell us about your support network.

I’ve a lot of help from family so between my parents-in-law, my husband and my own family, we’ve been managing without a nanny.

I pick the kids up on Mondays. My mother-in-law is in charge on Tuesdays and Thursdays and my husband or my mum (she’s here at the moment) collects them on Wednesdays and Fridays. When I get home they have had their lunch and we usually go somewhere for the afternoon.

What product can you not live without?

I know it’s bad to say, but I use my iPhone for everything. I answer emails, take photos, get in touch with friends and family in Brazil and overall internet research. I know I could use a laptop but the ‘on-the-go’ iPhone mode really appeals to me.

Tell us about your greatest indulgence?

Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!

How do you spend your downtime?

What downtime?

What’s your favourite thing to do as a family at the weekend?

Weather permitting (I know I should be used to it by now) we love having picnics either at the park or at the beach. Winters (or anything below 15 degrees) are more like baking and playing indoors before going out for nice meals.

Heaven is ….

To be healthy and to see your loved ones healthy and happy. To sit on the sofa at night after a busy day and to realise how blessed I am.

The Down Syndrome Centre was a recipient of the top grant of €5,000 in the Dublin Bus Community Spirit Awards.