Hannah Whittaker


For 20 years, Harry Potter has indulged the imaginations of children millions of times over, and with the recent announcement of two new books being released later this year, the debate of whether future generations should be exposed to witches, wizards and wands will no doubt reignite.

As much as reciting the spells, waiting for an acceptance letter from Hogwarts or imagining what Diagon Alley looks like, there is more to the Wizarding World than meets the eye.

Here are five important lessons children can learn from the Harry Potter franchise.

1. Friendship. Throughout the series, the strength of the friendship between the characters is what holds everything together.  This is especially important for children to witness that having a large group of friends isn’t necessarily better than having a couple of strong friendships with people you know will always have your back.

2. The importance of reading. Hermione’s love of reading and knowledge was one of the things that got the trio of protagonists through sticky situations. If Hermione, a strong, intelligent female, can love to learn, and read, hopefully it’ll inspire a new generation of children to be like her.

3. Bravery. The books exemplify how being brave isn’t just the people who fight in battles, but are too the ones who stand up for what they believe in, even when it’s difficult.

4. To always stay true to yourself.  The characters can teach children that no matter who you are, what, or whom you love, you shouldn’t change for anyone.  This is particularly important now more than ever as children become adolescents and feel an enormous amount of pressure to “fit in”. Sometimes the people who aren’t like the rest are the most interesting.

5. Never be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help can be one of the hardest things to do at any age, but if children can see that Harry would ask for help when he needed it they can see that it’s nothing to be afraid or embarrassed about.

She’s Mum to Steven (21), Evie (19) and John (16), and Grandma to seven-month-old Harvey. Three years ago, she became a single mother when her husband, Glenn (58), a devoted family man, was tragically killed in an accident while working as a truck driver.

The sudden death of her husband was the catalyst to Robyn making far-reaching life changes, which has resulted in her now spending two-thirds of the year away from her children. Simultaneously fighting the judgment she receives from disapproving women.

“My husband died, my kids were torn apart. I went through gut wrenching grief. I went through anger. I went through self-destructive shit.”

Robyn, a fun and adventurous woman, was shattered the instant her husband died. Her world turned upside down.

She was barely able to help herself, let alone help her three children to cope with their grief. But all they had was each other, and they became stronger as a family because of it.

“My husband died, my kids were torn apart,” Robyn recalls. “I went through gut wrenching grief. I went through anger. I went through self-destructive shit. It brought me to my fucking knees.”

“For a year I cried and all of life seemed so damn right pointless.”

Robyn kept busy to avoid the pain and was determined not to fall apart or give up after losing her best friend. “Never stopping to let myself heal, never really letting my emotions flood out, I just kept driving forward with a fucked-up determination.”

Robyns's husband Glenn and their three kids

“I just kept driving forward with a fucked-up determination.”

Me & a Nepali Friend (DIdi - sister in Nepali) swimming in Nepal

Robyn’s determination enabled her to convert her grief into a focus and a positive outcome. She began a rigorous fitness plan, including bodybuilding and healthier eating, resulting in her becoming a happier and healthier person. Out of this came an incredible 40kg weight loss. Robyn started living her life to the fullest, realising, “I only live once, so why aren’t I doing exactly what I want to be doing?”

Before becoming a mother, Robyn was a personal trainer: a lifestyle that she loved but wasn’t an easy life to get back to after having kids. It was a space where she felt comfortable and a place she now craved in her life, after diving headfirst into fitness following her husband’s death. It’s a life that demanded sacrifice, and that sacrifice meant investing time into it, time that was expected to go to her children.

This decision to return to a career she adored came after Robyn decided to give up her corporate life, which involved travelling domestically and internationally selling accounting software. It wasn’t a decision, or a lifestyle change she made lightly. She’d invested in two years of study and training to get to the level she achieved. It was a good job that paid well and there was nothing bad about it, except that it wasn’t her passion. During this time Robyn was also studying to become a qualified yoga teacher, meditation instructor and learnt about natural remedies and nutrition.

“I took that leap of faith. For so many years I had dreamed of this path in life. I was 43 years old and my kids were beginning to spread their little independent wings and fly the coop. I started to feel that ‘empty’ nest thing. So, I figured it was time for me to leave home too.”


Me & my daughter - 2 years ago    Robyn is now based in Nepal for eight months of the year, building up her business, Integrative Wellness & Yoga, which comprises of yoga and mindfulness retreats. She too is establishing contacts with business partners, local people and local communities.

She’s also been busy mapping out trekking trails into remote communities that will in time enable her to contribute money towards education, tourism and healthcare.


Robyn’s choice of career and lifestyle has come at a price. She has become a target for disapproving women, comprising of non-mothers as well as mothers. Robyn says she has been called, “Selfish,” and “A bad mother because I have a career, or that I haven’t spent enough time with the kids”. Being the woman she is says she response: “It’s okay to judge me but you know what, my kids have turned pretty well; they’re positive and independent and driven with what they do.”

Robyn adds, “One thing I don’t like about parenting is that so many parents judge one another. Each parent is unique, and you can’t have all the answers, all the time. It is a hard job without having someone telling what you should or shouldn’t be doing, or that perhaps you should be wearing an apron, for example.”

“I’ve been judged for my choices, but I would never judge someone who chooses to be a stay at home mum. That’s her choice.”

“I’ve lost friends, but letting go of the fear of others’ judgment, and what they think of me, has been one of the most soul-freeing moments in my life.”

“I’ve lost friends, but letting go of the fear of others’ judgment, and what they think of me, has been one of the most soul-freeing moments in my life.”

Me - Handstands in Nepal

Robyn has never been a woman who was going to put her life on hold once she became a mother, not wanting to, “lose her identity as a person.”

Embarking on this new journey comes at the cost of only seeing her children for four months of a year. These four months are dedicated to family time – celebrating the quality of time they have together, not the quantity. Their time together spent indulging in the simple things: nice family meals, camping, going to the beach, or just simply watching a movie.

Robyn believes in teaching her children that, “You can still love, and have relationships with people without being with them all the time.”

Many communication services, such as Skype and FaceTime enable Robyn to always be available for her children, wherever in the world she might be.

Me Trekking in the Gurja Himal Region of Nepal with GuestsNot only has Robyn taught her children how to be resilient, strong and independent, they have also taught her important values including, “patience, tolerance and acceptance”.

Robyn’s children haven’t suffered from seeing less of their mum, and they know she is always there for them. Her daughter, Evie, is now a mother, so Robyn now also has grandson, Harvey. Robyn is able to teach Evie meditative techniques to calm and help Harvey sleep better. Her youngest child, John, is working as an electrical trade assistant, and her eldest, Steven, is a FIFO worker.

“Being a mother and a grandmother is one of the most rewarding and loving journeys in life, but don’t forget there’s a little girl inside you, don’t forget to let her voice come out to honour the woman you are.”

Though the heartache of losing her husband will always be there, a glimmer of light came from all that darkness, it was the nudge Robyn needed to change career directions towards what she truly loves and is passionate about. Being a mum doesn’t mean that you need to give up who you and what you love, and being called “Mum” doesn’t mean that a barrier is erected, permanently taking away your independence.

As Robyn says, “Being a mother and a grandmother is one of the most rewarding and loving journeys in life, but don’t forget there’s a little girl inside you, don’t forget to let her voice come out to honour the woman you are.” Me in India whilst doing teacher training - 1 year ago

Improving your health in just 10 minutes a day: 

As a parent, it can be difficult to find time to yourself. Here are Robyn’s top tips for improving your mental and physical health in just ten minutes a day.

1. Focus on your breathing. This can improve your cardiovascular health and immunity.

2. Writing. Robyn says she writes everything down that’s on her mind. Wherever she goes, she has with her a blank book to jot down the things that are worrying her, things that have made her happy and those things that she is grateful for. The simple act of seeing your thoughts on paper makes it easier to process without being overwhelmed.

3. Find a space and just lay there: your bed, the grass, a hammock or a couch. Put headphones in, or just rest your eyes, for 10 minutes. Allowing yourself that time is so critical to your overall health. Even if you’re some sort of super mum, you need to stay as healthy as possible.

Chakra cleanse

If you’d like to find out more about Robyn’s business, or information on her retreats please head to her website