I’ve mentioned this before, but will repeat it again. One of the reasons why I love blogging is that you get to know other bloggers whom you know that if they lived in the same neighbourhood as you do, chances are, you’ll end up as friends! And Fiona who blogs over at Free Range Chick is one of them. She’s lovely!
If you are like me who enjoys genuine and heartfelt writing you’ll enjoy her blog as much as I do. This interview will say it all:
Tell us something about yourself and your little ones (age & sex)
Hello! I’m Fiona Chick of blog Free Range Chick, which a lot of people refer to as ‘The Only Free Range Chick’ because of my confusing URL. I couldn’t have ‘freerangechick.com’, as someone else has it, so I’ve improvised!
I’m in my mid-30s and am from SW London. I live in my in-laws’ house with my electrician husband Ian and two sons, Finley aged 3 (4 in November) and Fraser, 2 years and 3 months.
I’m a qualified nurse, but no longer practice, instead choosing to look after my children at home. Someday I may return.
What were your children’s birth stories like?
Pretty amazing. After an excellent pregnancy, we tried for a home birth for Finley. Unfortunately we had to head into hospital after it became apparent that there was meconium in my waters. He was born at 8lb in the labour ward with little drama – all pretty straightforward and everyone was happy and healthy (apart from Ian, who had the actual flu at the time).
Fraser’s birth was incredible, and I’ve written about it a few times, on my own blog and as a guest blogger.
My pregnancy with Fraser was harder than Finley’s. Both of my boys were big for my 5’1 frame, and it must have taken its toll on me carrying Fraser, with loads of aches and pains and a rather painful pelvis.
Going into labour was a relief. We headed for the hospital and were aiming for a water birth. After kipping overnight at the hospital, by the morning I was ready to give birth. We headed for the pool and after a couple of hours of hard-slog with contractions, Fraser was born straight into the water. I fished him out with my own two hands and it was just amazing.
I had a natural third stage too, which meant that I delivered his placenta without inducing drugs. And as an icing on the cake, I needed no stitched after I birthed his 9lb body! Water birth is absolutely incredible.
What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?
I read a blog post recently by awesome blogger (and my real-life mate) Renee of Mummy Tries about how first-time motherhood is wasted on first-time mums. Most of what Renee wrote resonated with me – how you just don’t treasure that precious time with your first baby as much as you could, because it is such a whirlwind, such a disruption to your previously easy life.
But it isn’t until you do it again – you have that second (third, fourth etc) child that you realise how blooming easy (sorry!) it was having that mere one baby to look after. Doing anything with more than one is suddenly a huge handful, and on those rare times you get to take just one of them out, you realise that those months (in my case) of having just one child should have been treasured way more.
I guess that is the only thing. Because really, nothing anyone says or you read truly prepares you for parenthood. You learn it each day on the job, and no matter how many times anyone would have told me about the ins and outs, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the real-life, raw experience of it.
How do you manage your “me” time?
My ‘what’ time?!
Up until fairly recently, I have felt that I didn’t own any ‘me’ time. My kids are 18-months different in age, so when Finley was still a baby, I had another baby. My husband works full-time, doing horribly long hours, so most of the parenthood duties fall on me. My kids are still little, and time with them up until recent months, has been pretty intensive.
I didn’t prioritise taking time out for myself, or attach much value to it. ‘Me’ time started when I started writing my blog, but that wasn’t giving me ‘real’ time. As therapeutic and enjoyable as I found writing, it didn’t give me the buzz of real-life interactions with my friends.
We hit a bad patch of sleeping (or should I say, the children did), late last year going into early this year. Each and every night I spent camping out on a cot-bed mattress in their room, because Fraser would wake up crying and would only be soothed by my presence. If we’d been living in our own space (not with my in-laws), we may have managed the situation differently.
But for those months, I felt trapped at home, unable to go out to socialise, knowing that if the kids woke up, Ian would be in trouble without me.
Happily, I’ve started to regain a great social life. Ian and I take it in turns to go out, seeing our friends and letting our hair down. It has done me the world of good. There is a huge value to be attached to a healthy social life, and it is so easy to forget that when you’re in the throes of new parenthood. The kids are at an age where it easier for me to leave them with Ian, and they’re both happy with that.
I feel that my mental health has improved since I’ve started seeing my friends socially and long may it continue! So in a nutshell, my ‘me’ time is when I get to cut loose and see my friends. Ian is really supportive of me going out, as I think he realises that I’m a better person when I get to go out, as opposed to a little bit angry and resentful the entire time!
Do you have any favorite anecdote of your little ones?
Too many. Each day they both say or do something absolutely hilarious/clever/entertaining/sweet that touches me. One of my favourite ones at the moment is Fraser’s name for me. For some reason, he calls me ‘Gorgeous’. If he sees photos of me, he says, ‘that’s Gorgeous’. Or if he’s with someone else, he’ll say, ‘want to go to Gorgeous’, before running in my direction.
I think my most favourite observations of the kids conversations are when I listen to their conversations with each other. I hear them over the monitor in their bedroom when they wake up, and hear ‘hilarious’ things like Fraser declaring, ‘I want to do a poop’, (he isn’t potty-trained yet). Or Finley starts coughing and Fraser comments, ‘that’s a cough’.
What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?
I love the love. I love all of that uninhibited, absolutely genuine affection and love that they give you, because you are their world and you’re all that they look up to and look for.
On the one hand, if there were anything about motherhood you dislike about, what would it be?
Genuinely nothing. I wanted, more than anything to be a mother after Ian and I got together. I take the rough with the smooth and although there are some less pleasant parts of being a mother, without those unpleasant things, motherhood wouldn’t truly be motherhood.
What’s a typical day like for you and your little ones?
We get up somewhere between 6am and 7am. The boys sit down together at their little red table to have their breakfast – cereal. Then I encourage them to go and play with their toys. We live with my in-laws’, so it sometimes really hard to get them to play independently, because they frequently go and find one of their grandparents to ‘perform’ to if I’m busy tidying up after breakfast. We’ll frequently head out in the morning, either to go the park, or the shops to get lunch bits.
Some days I’ll see a friend for a pay date, and once every couple of weeks, we’ll have a full-on all-day trip out where we’re not home all day.
To be honest, our days are a touch tricky at the moment. I’m anal about their sleeping patterns. If they nod off in the day, it spells a total disaster a bedtime. I try not go too far from home in the car at the moment, because I am usually dealing with both of them falling asleep in the car, and completely unarousable if we travel any distance.
In addition to this, Finley is at an age where he can walk around well and take an interest in things. Fraser just wants to run away when he’s let out of his buggy, so Finley’s fun is usually prevented because we have to tailor our outings around keeping Fraser safe.
I spend the days making sure they’re adequately entertained, but ensuring that they stay awake at all costs. I do not want them awake at 9pm.
It is annoying, because the sleeping issues and the running away issues stops me from doing nice things with them in the day. All being well, we’re hoping to be in our own house by the end of the year, so our lifestyle and routine will be a lot different in our own space.
Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?
Not to beat myself up about stuff that is essentially not a big deal. And if you pay attention to parenting sites and social media, you’d be forgiven for believing that there is a lot of stuff out there to beat yourself up about!
If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?
I would definitely refer back to most of what Renee said in her blog post about first-time mums. And to not have spent the first few months of Finley’s life beating myself up about a lot of stuff!
How do you manage your time or blogging between work and your little ones?
I am home full-time with the kids, so there is very little time during the day that I can afford to blogging. At one point, I was doing a lot of blogging in the evenings after the kids had gone to sleep, but Ian was beginning to get a bit sick of the sight of me attached to my laptop.
I also found myself dedicating a lot of time to my social media efforts, more time than I was actually writing posts, which was frankly bonkers.
So now, I’ll blog on the weekends when Ian is home. I’ll blog while the kids are watching the TV, or I’ll blog some evenings.
I’ll usually wait until an idea hits me, and then I’ll just bang it out. Some of my best blog posts have been ones that I’ve written really quickly and spontaneously. I used to treat my blog posts like my degree essays. They would take ages to write, and in my head they would be more hard work than they needed to be.
Now, I’ll try and make them shorter where possible, write totally from the heart and they usually flow out really easily.
I love writing – I’ve always been a writer – but I’ve had to cut down on blogging recently in order to strike a balance in my life. I have no intention of turning my blog into a big-bucks site, so there is no need for me to plug away at it as if my life depended on it. For me, it sucks the joy out of blogging itself.
That said, my lack of activity has shown in my latest Tots100 ranking, where I fell 400 places in one month! That’s fine though. It isn’t a reflection of my writing ability or content – it just means I haven’t read and commented on a lot of others’ blog in the last few weeks. One day I will have more time to do more of the things I want to do, but until then, I shall focus on enjoying family-life before the kids are banished to full-time education for 20-odd years!
Thank you so much Fiona and your beautiful family!
Do head over to the Free Range blog right now for more “clucking good” stories about everything to do with parenting.
And click here if you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a Dad.