If you are a UK Parent Blogger, chances are you’ve already heard of Fiona of Coombe Mill. Apart from running the lovely must-visit self-catering cottages specifically made for families in Cornwall, she also writes about country living in her blog and hosts the famous #countrykids linky which I’m a follower of. Grab a cup of tea or coffee you lovely folks, and get to know the lovely woman behind Coombe Mill:
Tell us something about yourself and your children (age & sex)
Hi I’m Fiona, married to Nick, or Farmer Nick as all the children here on holiday call him. I’m a full time Mum to our 6 children, working full time at our holiday business and squeezing a little blogging and social media into my spare time, that’s a lot of full time jobs in one but thankfully I thrive on very little sleep. My children are all coming up to birthdays but are currently 17, 15, 13 and 11, the 11 being my triplets. Only the youngest (by minutes) is a girl so she and I are rather outnumbered in our household.
What were your children’s birth stories like?
I can sum my birth stories up as long, boring and conventional right up to the triplets. Each was 48 hours of hell as far as I’m concerned but reading the stories of others I know I was actually very lucky and felt right as rein straight after giving birth. I even took the older children to a 2 year olds birthday party in the afternoon after giving birth to my 3rd in the morning, so yes I was lucky. The triplets on the other hand were a pain free c section; though I still remember lying there watching the reflection in the rim of the ceiling mirror and seeing a distorted view of what was happening inside me the other side of the curtain! I was kept in with them for 3 weeks as they were born at 33 weeks and only tiny. It was only when I came home and had to instantly be on hand for the older children and the business I realised what a rest hospital was! Poor Farmer Nick had been amazing back home on his own with the other 3 children and the business in that time and having to furnish our first Scandinavian lodge alone; it still has a very minimalistic male touch to it! As for the next 2 years with 6 children under 6 and the business, I have only limited memory; survival of each day was my only goal!
What you wish you knew about being a mother before becoming one?
Oh everything! I didn’t even know how to change a nappy, I was as clueless as anyone could be and I wish I had put my first down more, sterilized everything less, and accepted every offer of help I turned down. I wised up with subsequent children. I think the triplets almost brought themselves up and I never sterilized a thing, they were my most healthy babies!
How do you manage your “me” time?
I’m addicted to fresh air and exercise. I can’t manage as much as a day indoors. I sneak an hour mid day most days to go for a run, cycle or swim or surf, often with a friend or with one of my teens if it’s after school or just on my own to think. It is one of the biggest benefits of working from home, having the freedom to take a break when I feel I need one. When the children were tiny I’d wheel the pram round my running route.
Do you have any favorite anecdote of your children?
Oh plenty, but I think the thing I find most amusing and annoying is never knowing ‘who did it’. Whatever the misdemeanor it is always “I didn’t do it” I” I saw ….” I”I wasn’t there” finding out who broke something or ate something I was saving etc is impossible, they cover for each other no matter what and Nick and I don’t stand a chance. I think it is probably a big family thing.
What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?
I cherish the sense of belonging to a big family and of loving and being loved. The family bond is so very important to me.
On the other hand, if there is anything about motherhood you dislike about what would it be?
My biggest dislike is the 11 – 13 age when the children go through puberty, the mood swings and aggression is tough and for a while I feel I’m losing them, I now know it is a phase and to just love them and give them the space they need and they come back to you, the things they say along this journey can be hurtful but they don’t mean it. Fear not if you’ve not yet reached this stage, they don’t all go through it in such an obvious way but at least half of mine have and the triplets are right in it now. Like the terrible twos, there are of course lovely days too at this stage, it is just an emotional roller coaster.
What’s a typical day like for you and your kids?
Our days change throughout the year with the changing needs of the business, all the kids have jobs around the farm on different days though it is fair to say they do enjoy time off in the holidays except our busy Saturday changeover when they are all needed.
Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?
Be consistent, make rules you can stick to and follow them through.
If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?
Use your intuition, do what feels right, take advice from others but don’t feel bound to anyone else’s word, every child and parent are different and there is no one rule that fits all; do what works for you and your child.
How do you manage your time, blogging/workwise and time with your family and other activities as well?
The age old work life balance! We have family time over dinner every night, meals often take an hour now as with teenagers there is plenty of humour, banter and debates that take place around our dining table, and this is our daily family catch up time. In summer family trips out are much harder as changeover and business needs take over, however we try for a family outing on a Sunday between the animal feeding and even train rides then in the winter close down period we value our weekends together. My blogging time is either mid week while the kids are at school and the guests out for the day or late in the evening as I’m a bit of a night owl.
Thank you so much Fiona!
And if you’re planning to visit North Cornwall over the Easter break and looking for a place to stay with your family, why not stay at Coombe Mill? It’s nothing like your usual holiday self-catering cottages – it’s a working farm and Fiona and her lovely family have fun activities planned for your little ones that will surely make your holiday even more special.
Click here to visit Fiona’s blog and if you haven’t read last month’s chat with a Dad, do have a read here