Supermom Lily Geerdts puts family and health first
Lily is a Jack of many trades. She’s the wife of well-known SuperSport presenter, Arnold Geerdts, and mom of two girls and two boys. Ok, let’s be honest – biological mom of two girls, adoptive mom of one boy and stepmom of one now-adult. This is as much a mouthful as it is a houseful. She is also the founder of HeadStartKids, an Early Childhood Development Initiative with a huge focus on underprivileged kids and communities.
Lily grew up in Bloemfontein where she attended Universitas Primary School and spent two years at Oranje Girls’ School. She completed her high school education in Pretoria and started her studies in Bloemfontein, however, completed her studies in Graphic Design at Platt College in Los Angeles.
She met her broadcaster hubby, Arnold, through a mutual friend. “A friend invited me to the television studios in Randburg to meet some sports personalities, as I had just returned from the US. Arnold was in the makeup chair when I met him, and the rest is all history.” Lily even asked Arnold to marry her in 2004, which was a leap year!
But Lily got much more in marrying Arnold than a bride-to-be would normally bargain for. Arnold had two sons from a previous marriage – Corbin, who was 10, and Kinah, who was one at the time. “My parents simply gave me the advice that unless I was willing to take the man with his kids, I should not continue the relationship.” Lily and Arnold got married in 2005. In September of that same year Kinah’s mom, Petro, was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease. “In April the following year Petro’s health had deteriorated so much that Kinah, then aged 5, became our full-time responsibility. By that June, Kinah started living with permanently and his mom passed away in September of 2006.”
Lily shared with Arnold that she would like to adopt Kinah after his mom’s death. In January 2008, a month before her own daughter, Lileah, was born, the adoption officially came through. So for Lily’s two daughters, Lileah and Shiloh, Kinah has always been their brother. “Even though the dynamics are different, the challenges are not any different to that of your own children, or for that matter, that of any other family. Children all have their own personalities and the challenge is to respect and love one another enough to deal with the situation accordingly,” says Lily.
Involve your children in preparing meals at times so that they get to explore, have fun and be part of the process.
“Corbin is now my 27-year-old stepson. I have always respected the fact that he has a mom and when he spent time with us, he respected the fact that I was the mother figure in our house. I am very privileged to have him as part of my family.”
Lily, however, remembers the challenges she faced when they realised Kinah had some health and behavioural issues as a small child. “When Kinah came to us, he had just started Grade 0. Even though he was six, his developmental milestones were that of a three- to four-year-old.” Ritalin, OT and speech therapy were quickly suggested, but Lily wanted to explore more natural options. “I firmly believe in going back to the basics before you are to intervene chemically. Kinah was a child who lived on fizzy drinks, fast food and copious amounts of screen time. We simply changed his diet and physical activities and went back to basic things like sitting at a table while eating together as a family, having quality play time and bedtime stories and regular, set hours as well as routine.” Lily also did some research on good quality daily vitamins and Omega supplements and gave Kinah the best available.
In just five months after changing his lifestyle, they noticed a huge different in Kinah. “It’s simply because we had gone back to basics and Arnold and I at this point realised that so many parents are facing the same challenge, whether in the middle to upper market or out in the rural areas.”
Lily started implementing her methods on groups of children in a school environment. And so HeadStartKids was born. “The next step is our roll out a plan to partner in Early Childhood Development centres and crèches around SA to create the same changes with my collaborating partners.”
She’s also putting a lot of focus on Bloemfontein, with Kinah attending boarding school at Grey College. “I also have the privilege to work with Mr Johan Volsteedt – former Grey headmaster – on the Grey Academy and Distant Learning Project, once again creating upliftment in less privileged areas.”
In Lily’s household, her golden nutrition rule is to eat 80% nutritious food and 20% treats. She also encourages her children to drink significant amounts of clean water to prevent dehydration. In Lily’s opinion, parents with small children should focus more on preparing dishes with fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, good quality fats, enough protein and sufficient water in their diets. “Involve your children in preparing meals at times so that they get to explore, have fun and be part of the process.”
The Geerdts family absolutely loves cooking and baking together. “We have cooking traditions: Arnold makes great crumpets on Saturday morning with cranberries, marscarpone cheese, nuts and berries on Saturday mornings. On Sunday nights we vary between making our own homemade pizzas and sushi.
Like most women, Lily also has some guilty food pleasures… “Oh, any good quality dark chocolate, figs, cherries, cherries and Avondale’s Organic Champagne.”
Head over to headstsartkids.co.za for more info.
Photo: Vivid Images. Makeup: Catherine Blankfield
Get It Bloemfontein July 2017