Tag: interviews

October Chat with a Dad: Richard of Living in the Langhe

I’ve been following Richard’s renovating stories of an old farmhouse in the relatively unknown, yet beautiful area of Italy called the Langhe, for over a year now on his blog aptly called Living in the Langhe.

Today, the house and all the rooms are beautifully done and finished.  But before we mention more about the house, let’s find out that other if not, more important part of his life right now… What its like to be a dad.

Tell us something about yourself and your little one.

I’m a renovating, writing, photographing father of a 20-month-old Italian called Bee. My wife and I moved from Bristol to Barolo, in north-west Italy, about three years ago and not long after that our little bundle of energy was born. Despite strictly being just a quarter Italian, she is by far the most Italian of all of us; she can destroy a plate of pasta in seconds, is already a hugely irresponsible driver (she crashes her wheelie toys into everything) and she is forever waving her hands around while shouting incomprehensibly. We speak English to her but everyone else speaks to her in Italian, which seems to have resulted in her speaking a kind of Japanese-Italian hybrid language.

Bee me sunglasses

What was your little one’s birth story like?

It was an exciting time… I probably wouldn’t have had much of an idea what was going on had it been happening in the UK, but in Italy I was completely lost and of no use at all. My lasting memory of the whole experience is standing in the delivery room filling out form after form while my wife lay on the other side of the room screaming. You’ve got to love Italian bureaucracy!

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

I wish I’d known quite how many forms I’d have to fill in. Seriously, at one-day old, does she really need a tax number?

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

I don’t have to balance work and fatherhood in a traditional sense as we’re living a slightly strange life right now. We’ve just finished renovating a large farmhouse in the vineyards and we’re now starting to rent it out as a holiday villa. There were times during the renovation where I hardly saw her, but I always knew that it was only for a short time as we were working to a deadline, trying to get it ready for this summer. Also, if I really wanted to, I could just down tools, walk next door and hang out with her. That said, it was great sometimes to be able to say I was really busy and sneak away to leave my wife dealing with the fallout of some huge disaster like the entire banana being finished.

House side mountain view small

These days, I’m still working on the house a bit and also starting on marketing. I’m always at home though, which means I get to spend as much time with her as I want.

How do you manage child-free time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?

Living away from family in a country where babysitters don’t really exist (they do exist but they don’t work evenings, weekends or any other times when you might actually need them), date nights are tricky. They usually consist of takeaway pizza and a film while Bee sleeps upstairs. That said, I was never that good at dates pre-Bee either so maybe she just provides me with a great excuse to be lazy.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little one?

Bee Otto railings

We have a dog, Otto. He and Bee have something of a love-hate relationship… she loves him to bits, she’s forever chasing him around trying to cuddle and kiss him. He hates her. Unless of course, she’s holding food, in which case the love is briefly reciprocated, at least until he manages to make of with her food. Her love isn’t limited to Otto though, whenever she see’s another dog in the street, she shouts “puppy!” (which sounds a lot like the Italian for ‘daddy’) and sprints towards it, arms out wide, ready for a cuddle. We get some very strange looks.

If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

I used to really dread the birthday parties, mainly because I struggle to make small-talk in Italian. Lately though I’ve started to love them… there’s always a few nice bottles of local wine on the go, usually some pizza too, and I’ve discovered that a large proportion of Italian men just want to know as much as possible about English football.

Bee pink shirt

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?

I’ve done the stay-at-home-dad thing and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I would have hated not being around to see Bee growing, watch her take her first steps, hear her first words and clean her up when she triumphantly smeared poo all over her face like war paint. Obviously, it’s not possible for everyone, but we decided early on that if we were going to have a child that was how we were going to do it, and I’m so glad we did.

Best Advice you’ve ever received about Fatherhood?

I’m pretty sure someone once told me not to move country, renovate a house and have a child all at the same time.

Bee wine cases

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

Don’t move country, renovate a house and have a child all at the same time.

Thank you so much Richard!

Novello spring wide

So if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in this part of North-West Italy, look no more.  You’ve just found your place!  This 5 bedroom farmhouse sits among the vines of Barolo and can easily house 10-12 people.  Perfect for large families!  It has its own private pool and of course your very own  view of excellent Italian scenery.

You can also find them over at AirBnB.

If you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a Mum, have a read here.

Or you can also click here to catch up with the other chats with past Mums and Dads as well.

September Chat with a Mum: Fiona of Free Range Chick

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!

Ian&Fi

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.

DSC_0657

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.

DSC04501

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?

IMG-20150423-WA0001

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!

DSC06894

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.

July Chat with a Mum: Carie of Space for the Butterflies

I adore Carie’s blog Space for the Buttefiles and I have serious envy over the beautiful things she can make.  I think she has magic hands! 🙂

Carie makes the most beautiful quilts for her children and  I swear she’s also a knitting goddess.  When I grow-up (as if I’m not! 😉  I want to be like her.  And I honestly think she should’ve won in the BiB Awards for the Crafts Category.  As if that’s not enough, she also takes beautiful photographs.

I know I’m gushing, so before I end up embarrassing myself any further, do come and meet her lovely family:

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones (age & sex)

I’m Carie and I’m Mum to Kitty age 4, Elma who’s 2 and our little Pip Squeak has just turned 10 months.

20140909-DSC_0298

What were your children’s birth stories like?

Wildly different! Kitty was born at 42 weeks 1 day after an induction on top of early labour. My whole labour start to finish was about 48 hours and at one stage I was utterly convinced that I was going to be in labour for the rest of forever!

Elma on the other hand was just a smidgen quicker; I turned up on the labour ward having done a good few hours at home only to be told I was only 4 cm, “but you’re a second time mum, we’ll just keep you in for an hour to see if things pick up” That was about 4.15, at about 5 o’clock my waters broke with a force that knocked my breath away and Elma was born at 5.11 having narrowly avoided being born in the bathroom of the assessment ward.

20140827-DSC_0067

And Pip was different again, my waters broke before labour had started and as there was a smidgen of meconium and I was showing no signs of going into labour any time soon I was induced again, but it was a lot easier – and shorter – than the first time.

My birth plan with Kitty said that I’d really like to use the birthing pool for labour and possibly delivery – three children later and the nearest I’ve got is being in the room next to it!

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

Quite how fierce a mother’s love is for her children. I look at my three and the rush of feeling that I have for them is overwhelming. My family is my whole world.

20150614-DSC_0084

How do you manage your “me” time?

I don’t sleep! With three little ones there isn’t much time for me time in our everyday until they’ve gone to sleep and I’m terrible for staying up later than I should just to have that mental space. I’m sometimes tired but mostly happier if my day has ended with a bit of creativity.

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your little ones?

Oh this is so hard to choose. I think one of my favourites of all time I’ve actually only seen on video; my husband took Kitty and Elma to the Natural History Museum when I was at BritMums last year and we were a bit worried that she’d be frightened by the animatronic dinosaurs because as a rule Kitty hates puppets and things of that ilk. But instead I have a clip of a tiny little girl striding up to an enormous T-Rex and shouting “Talk to me dinosaur! Talk to me!”

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?

It’s true unconditional love, in both directions. That feeling when you realise that you are the one person in the world that your baby wants, that no one else will do,and that only you can bring them comfort and happiness; that’s a pretty powerful feeling.

20150528-DSC_0204

On the one hand, if there’s anything about motherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

Honestly, it sounds silly, but accidents/nappysplosions on the sofa. I sort it out serene and calm on the surface but inside my head is saying “Nooooooooooo!”

What’s a typical day like for you and your little ones?

At the moment I’m on maternity leave so I’m home full time with all three. Kitty goes to preschool two days a week but other than we have a little rhythm of the week at home; getting the housework done, reading stories, going shopping, having lunch, and then most afternoons we head up to the park or play out in the back garden. I’m a huge fan of spending as much time as possible outside, especially in the summer, and the side effect is that the house stays quite tidy too!

Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?

Never take all of the credit or all of the blame.

20150530-DSC_0246

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

If everyone is fractious you need to get outside or sing, or both. It works a treat and it took me a while to work it out!

20150528-DSC_0188

How do you manage your time, blogging/workwise and time with your little ones and other activities as well?

I don’t generally blog during the day. I might nip in and out if I’m reading my phone while trying to get Pip to take a rare nap not in the sling but we try to be as screen free as possible with the children and that generally means leading by example. So blogging and reading blogs all happens in the evening. Occasionally I’ll knit or plan some sewing during the day but mostly the days are about the house and the children and the evenings are about spending time with my husband and pursing our hobbies. And see above comment about not enough sleep – I have definitely not got this figured out!

Thank you so much Carie!

If you haven’t taken a peek at her blog yet, do so now 🙂

And if you’ve missed last month’s chat with a dad, you can head over now and have a read.

June Chat with a Dad: Darren of One Dad 3 Girls

If you are a British blogger or at least familiar with parent British bloggers, Darren of One Dad 3 Girls needs no introduction at all. Aside from the fact that he hosts the lovely #MySundayPhoto linky, he has won and has been a finalist in so many British Blogging awards that I’ve actually lost count!  So if you’re wondering what all the fuss is all about, read on and head over to his blog after:

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones.

Hi, my name is Darren and I have two beautiful daughters. My eldest is 7 and her name is Aly, and Mia is 4 years old and about to start Primary School in September.

What were your little ones birth stories like?

Both of the births were different. Aly was a long drawn out affair where we were at the hospital for 36 hours before she was born. Mia on the other hand was super quick, so quick in fact that we almost had it in the hospital car park.

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

Honestly I don’t think there was anything I wish I knew. No one goes into parenthood totally prepared and that’s part of the joys of it.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

I’m very lucky with my work life and have a great job that means I’m home at 5pm ever weekday and have all weekends off. This is something I have always tried to do so that we enjoy time together.

How do you manage childfree time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?

Honestly we hardly have any free time. We have the odd day out here and there but it’s only about once a week. We’d rather spend the time with our children.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little ones?

Everyday seems to be an anecdote with my two. It’s so beautiful and nice to see them playing together and you’ll often hear them playing schools together and pretending to be the teachers with their cuddly toys.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA What is it about fatherhood you love about?

I enjoy how each day is different. They are always coming out with new things that they’ve learnt during the day. Plus they are always so happy to see you, each and ever ytime.

If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

In the beginning it was probably the feeding during the nights or the nappies but it’s those times when you really bond with your children so I wouldn’t change them or anything about fatherhood.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?

If I could afford it then possibly yes. The age my girls are now it would be a pretty lonely time as the house would be empty all day long.

Best Advice you’ve ever received about Fatherhood?

Before they were born I read a few books and social media wasn’t really around but someone told me to take photos as before you know it they’ve grown up.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be? Just to simply enjoy every moment as they don’t stay little for long.

Thank you so much Darren!

Do head over to One Dad and 3 Girls

Click here to connect with him over at Twitter.

And if you’ve missed last month’s chat with a mum, do come and have a read too.

May Chat with a Mum: Lindsay of Solo Mama

It’s the first of May and time for another lovely chat with a mum.

Long before meeting my husband, my fellow single-friends and I used to talk a lot about how we could all be single mothers by choice and that all we needed to do was find sperm donors.  It was all talk, none of us followed-through, though two of us did end up mothers, but did it the traditional way.  Our featured mother for this month’s Chat with a Mum, did it all on her own.

I am in awe of women who parent on their own whether it’s by choice or because of circumstances.  Let’s hear more from this solo mama and how she did it:

Tell us something about yourself and your little one.

I am a lesbian single mom by choice to my daughter, Evelyn, who just turned 2 in February. We live in Toronto, Canada. I work as a Communications Specialist (fancy term for writer!) at a University, and Evelyn spends her weekdays at preschool. Together, we enjoy reading books, colouring, throwing dance parties in our livingroom, playing outside and eating macaroni & cheese.

le4

What was your child’s birth story like?

Having planned a homebirth, Evelyn was born in the bedroom in our former home, here in Toronto. We were surrounded by my midwives, best friend and mom when Evelyn joined us at 1:11 am. Her birth was truly the most incredible moment of my life, and if I could, I’d go back and live it again and again, to re-experience that rush of love and pure bliss.

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

There is so much I can wish I had known, but honestly, pre-motherhood, I probably wouldn’t have believed it or listened. I had so many notions of what I thought motherhood was, what it would be like, what it should feel like. And most of those ideas were just plain wrong! I thought I knew how all-encompassing maternal love was, but what I thought it wasn’t hadn’t even scratched the surface of what it truly is.

le1

If I could know one thing about motherhood before embarking on it, I wish someone had told me that sleep issues can extend well beyond infancy. My toddler still wakes up in the middle of the night. I had no idea this could happen – I honestly thought children slept. How naïve!

How do you manage your “me-time”?

Poorly – haha. As a single mom, my “me time” is quite rare. I walk to and from work (20 minutes each way), so that is a guaranteed “me” time each day. When I feel desperate for a break, I’ll hire a babysitter to come play with Evelyn while I go out and run errands/write in a coffee shop/walk around the city. I find myself continually wishing I had more time for myself, while also knowing the time during which Evelyn is this little and needs me so intensely is going to fly by, and some day, I’ll long for just one more moment that we’re living now. When Evelyn goes to bed for the night, I knit & write – my two cheap therapies!

Do you have a favourite anecdote of your little one?

I have so many stories about Evelyn, and here I am drawing a blank now that I’m being asked! Life with a child is always providing opportunities for laughter, even through the exhaustion. Now that Evelyn is starting to speak a little more, she cracks me up on a daily basis, mostly because the way she pronounces things is so funny. I remember for the longest time, I was having a hard time figuring out what she meant when she was asking for a “cock”. Turns out, she was talking about socks!

The thing I love the most about Evelyn is her sensitivity – she is so in tune with the way I and others around her are feeling. She often approaches people if they’re sad and strokes their cheek saying, “‘kay?” Heart melting.

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love about?

It sounds so cliché, but here it is: the love. The love a mother feels for her child is unrivaled, and it’s incredible. Just when I think I can’t love her more, I do.

le3

I also really love rediscovering the world through my daughter’s eyes. Life really slows down when you go at a toddler’s pace, and that is sometimes frustrating. But when I really take a moment to see things the way she does, life feels more exciting somehow, I can see and appreciate the beauty in the little things.

If there is anything about motherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

The lack of sleep! Also, the lack of freedom. I sometimes daydream about what it would be like to have an entire day to myself. I’d lay in my bed until I felt like getting up (past 7 am!), go have a leisurely brunch, lay in the park and read a book, maybe go out for a drink or two with friends. I miss my freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want.

What’s a typical day like for you and your little one?

Weekdays and weekends vary. Weekdays, we’re up by 6 am and out the door for daycare and work by 7:30. I work 8-4, and pick Evelyn up from preschool/daycare by 4:30. Come out, have dinner, and play outside until it’s time to come in for bed around 7 pm.

Our weekends are full of adventures and never predictable. Evelyn played soccer for a while, she’s in gymnastics. We visit the multitude of parks in our neighbourhood, visit the farm in the city, have play dates – lots of fun things!

Best advice you’ve ever received about Motherhood?

Listen to your intuition. The best advice anyone gave me wasn’t a piece of “wisdom” that worked for them. It was them telling me – reminding me – that I know best. My intuition will never steer me wrong, and when I listen to it in life & motherhood, I never regret it.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

Build that village – it really does take a village to raise a child. Build your village. Cultivate it. Make friends with other moms, or moms to be. These are your people, even if they aren’t right now – they are going to become your people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I struggle a lot with asking for assistance from friends and family. If I could go back to new mom me, I’d tell her to reach out and say “Hey – I need help,” more often.

le2

How do you manage your time between work and your little one?

Work never, ever comes home with me. Work time is work time, and family time is family time. Work will never be important enough to cut into my precious family time. 40 hours of my week is plenty enough. Balancing a full-time job with motherhood and managing everyone on my own as a single mom is absolutely exhausting. But it has shown me just how strong I am, and I’m damn proud of myself, if I do say so myself!

Thank you so much Lindsay!

Now head over to her blog for more of this lovely solo Mama and her beautiful darling daughter.

Click here to read if you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a Dad.

April Chat with a Dad: Scott of Snoozing on the Sofa

It may be April Fool’s today, but there’s definitely nothing foolish about self-published author, Scott Nagele and Dad behind the blog  Snoozing on the Sofa.  If you haven’t discovered his blog yet, this is a good introduction, think of it as snippets, the kind of writing to expect and if you’re one of his many followers, you might just get to know him a little bit more though this month’s Chat with a Dad.

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones.

I got into this baby-making biz late. I was over 40 when my first son was born. Now, I have three sons, and I’m still over 40, only slightly more so. If you want to start a family at such an advanced age, you should find a mate half your age. Just kidding, my wife is not half my age (anymore).

20141224_004512155_iOS

My boys are six, almost three, and almost one. They show no regard for my old age and climb up and down me as if I were a teenager. Since they regularly stomp on parts of me that make me squeal a prepubescent high note, you can understand their confusion.

What were your little ones birth stories like?

I’ve blogged about them all, but to summarize: the first one almost put me in the hospital. True, we were already in the hospital, but there was no bed for me. There should have been, as seeing my wife get hooked up for the epidural made my legs awfully wobbly.

The second time, most of the frightening stuff happened before we even got to the hospital, including my wife attempting to exit the car in the midst of a busy intersection because she needed fresh air, RIGHT NOW!

By the third one, we were finally learning how to do this thing. Nobody swooned and nobody became a menace to oncoming traffic, so it goes down as our best effort.

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

The tips are horrible. I have become the head waiter for the family, not only serving meals, but also fetching juice from the fridge, rushing for a napkin before it’s too late, replacing all the utensils that have been dropped on the floor, bringing a snack, bringing a different snack for the kid who didn’t get to pick the first one, cleaning away dirty dishes before the baby pulls them down, and a host of other errand-boy tasks. Occasionally, my generous customers will treat me to a thank you. But I’m always welcome to pick at a cold dinner in between assignments.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

That’s easy. I don’t. I work a full time job. My wife has a part time job where she picks up floating shifts. Day care for two, sometimes three, children costs more than her job is worth. So when she gets a shift, I stay home with the kids. I use vacation time or make it up evenings and weekends, so I’m either at work or with my kids most of the time. Both get plenty of me, so I don’t bother about balance.

How do you manage childfree time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?

That’s funny. Since our first child was born, I think I’ve had exactly two childfree moments with my wife, and they both resulted in other kids, so we try and stay away from that now.

We don’t have regular date nights. We have no relatives near us, so most babysitting costs us. We usually just take the boys to the restaurant with us and let the nice people at the next table help us babysit. It’s cheaper for us and gives our new acquaintances a more fulfilling dining experience.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little ones?

Of course, but I’ve already blogged the best of them. The little items that have escaped mention on the blog are things like a few years ago when my oldest wanted to go to the movies to see Diarrhea of a Wimpy Kid.

What is it about fatherhood you love?

There are so many things, but one of my favorites is the sound of my boys’ laughter. I love it when I make them laugh and I love it when they make each other laugh. It’s also great when they make me laugh. They have some pretty good jokes for young pups.

They have some bad jokes too, and sometimes it’s difficult not to laugh at these as well. I do my best to resist this temptation because one of a father’s primary duties is to dissuade his children from the path that leads to third-rate humor.

If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike, what would it be?

The thing that annoys me most is probably not having time to tackle routine tasks in anything like a prompt manner. It’s hard to mow the lawn when you are alone with a two-year-old and an infant. My wife and I both have to be home for this kind of work to get done, and then we have to compete for time to do our work. Imagine: a competition to see who gets to do chores! Forget about date nights; I need a babysitter so I can shovel the sidewalk.

I also don’t like having to hide all of my best sweets until after the kids are asleep. I’m too old to be eating cupcakes at all hours of the night.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?

I already do this part time, and that’s plenty. Maybe when the baby is a little older I’d be more willing, but merely keeping track of the whereabouts of an active crawler for eight hours straight saps all my strength. Plus, there aren’t many daytime sports on TV during the week.

When they are all old enough to be away at school all day, I would definitely reconsider my answer.

Best Advice you’ve ever received about Fatherhood?

“Let them eat cake!” Okay, so she wasn’t necessarily talking about parenthood specifically, but it’s still useful fathering advice on many different levels.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

If you’re going to nap on the couch, lie on your stomach or wear a cup.

OR

Don’t waste more than 10 seconds searching for a pair of matching baby socks.

Thank you so much Scott!

Now if you’ve liked what you’ve read here, head over to Snoozing on the sofa for more of Scott’s ramblings on fatherhood.

He also has another blog where he talks more about his work as a writer and other non-parenthood related topics.

And of course, click here if you’ve missed last month’s chat with a mum.

February Chat with a Dad: Laurence of Chasing Wilderness

January is finally over.  Sadly, winter isn’t.  Thank goodness February only has 28 days!  Spring will be here soon and hopefully more brighter days which will mean more chances to do outdoor fun and activities for the little ones.

Laurence the dad behind the blog Chasing Wilderness, certainly knows about outdoor adventures in nature.  Come and have a little read:

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones.

My name is Laurence and I live in Bristol with my wife Adele and my two girls Ophelia who is nearly 1 and Talitha who is 3 and a half.

LJK photo 2

What was your little ones birth stories like?

Gosh. That could be an essay. Two very different births. One hospital. One at home which went much more smoothly and was more how we wanted it. Suffice to say I now know that if your first birth doesn’t go according to plan, there is no reason why the second one can’t.

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

It’s not all about the birth. I was too focused on that and not enough on the rest of my life after that.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

I recently became freelance with the aim of not having to work all the time to earn the necessary bacon. We’re trying to live on the minimum we need so that I can spend time with the family here and there. Sometimes it’s enforced when the work doesn’t come in, but I try and stay relaxed and enjoy time with the family.

LJK photo 1

How do you manage child-free time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?

We go through spurts of doing this for a few weeks, then it falls by the way side. So the answer is no, but we ought to.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little ones?

I’m not great with anecdotes. The almost one-year-old is going through a huge developmental spurt right now and it’s amazing how relatable she’s becoming. Every morning she shuffles over to the door to wave me goodbye as I leave for work.

What is it about fatherhood you love about?

Discovering new things about these little people I have in my care. Teaching them things. I really want to impart an outdoorsy spirit, love of nature, the land, origins of food, active lifestyle and love seeing them start their journey in this. I love it when the older one wants to re-examince a plant we were looking at even a few weeks back.

LJK photo 3

If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

Not having enough time to do pastimes and sports. I’ve not been surfing in ages, which is criminal.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?

No way. Far too much like hard work.

Best Advice you’ve ever received about Fatherhood?

I can’t really think of any. I guess I’m trying to enjoy it as much as I can now. Not work too hard and find time to be with the kids. Everyone always says it goes by too fast, it just always seems to coincide with peak moments in people’s careers. Balancing work ambition and fatherhood ambitions is what I’d like to try and do.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

Don’t do it! No, do do it! It’s a strange thing… it’s such a roller coaster of good things, amazing cuddles and play fights, laughter and joy at seeing first steps etc, coupled with immense frustration at them not sleeping, crying and pouring salt everywhere in cafes while I’m trying to enjoy a coffee.

LJK photo 4

Thank you so much Laurence!

To read more about this lovely family’s outdoor fun and adventure, do head over to Chasing Wilderness.  You can also follow him over at twitter here.

Click here, if you’ve missed January’s Chat with a Mum, she also happens to be the wife of February’s Chat with a Dad 🙂

January Chat with a Mum: Adele of Circus Queen

It’s 2015 folks!  Hope everyone has had a lovely New Year’s Eve celebration and not suffering from a hang-over.  As always, I like to begin the new year at Chat with Mums with the best and the next blogger is certainly one of them.  She’s also one of the few mothers out there whom I personally agree with when it comes to parenting, so without further ado here’s Adele of the very informative blog Circus Queen.

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones (age & sex)

I’m originally from Trinidad and Tobago but now live in Bristol. I moved to the UK as an undergrad, ended up marrying a British guy and stayed here. We have two daughters, Talitha (three-and-a-half) and Ophelia (10-months-old).

Circus Queen-3

What were your children’s birth stories like?

Talitha was born thirteen days after my due date. I’d planned a home birth but after a long pre-labour, I lost my confidence and ended up being induced in hospital. It was difficult but there was so much to be thankful for.

Circus Queen-4

Ophelia was born three days after her due date. I was caught off-guard, having expected her to be as late as her big sister. It was a long but beautiful (healing!) labour and we had the calm home birth we’d hoped for.

She met the world in a birth pool in our living room. I caught her myself and her father burned the cord. The midwives got there in the nick of time, just a half-hour before she was born.

Both experiences have made me passionate about the need to improve maternity services and about the “birth rights” of women and babies.

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

I wish I’d known how to listen to my instinct. I realize this isn’t something you can really plug into until you become a parent but I feel like I’ve spent my life before having children distracted by what should be background noise. I’ve only recently stopped caring so much about what others think and started listening more to what my gut is telling me.

How do you manage your “me” time?

Not very well at all! I end up staying up into the wee hours, partly because I have work to finish but mostly because it’s my only child-free time. I need to stop doing it, though. Being tired makes parenting unnecessarily difficult.

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your little ones?

A recent one: We were walking to the Nativity service at our church and my three-year-old was dressed as Tigger (what – your Bible doesn’t show Tigger visiting baby Jesus?!) and it was windy. She exclaimed: “The wind is blowing away my stripes!”

What is it about motherhood you absolutely love?

I love the quiet moments alone with each child when we melt into each other. With my baby, this is usually while I’m breastfeeding her or carrying her in a sling. With my three-year-old it’s when we’re cuddling at bedtime or just because she needs some “Mummy-time” on my lap. I’m all too aware that these moments will pass before I’m ready for them to go.

Circus Queen-2

On the one hand, if there were anything about motherhood you dislike, what would it be?

I dislike not having enough time: time to be present with my children and time to follow my own pursuits. It’s hard to accept that I can’t have it all at once. Some things need to be deferred.

What’s a typical day like for you and your little ones?

A typical weekday involves getting up around seven or eight, getting the three of us ready and out of the house to a group, then home in the afternoon for some chill time, maybe play with learning to read and count, do some baking or craft then start the supper and bedtime routine.

On a bad day, it all goes out of the window. I am flexible about it all but I find having a plan helps us. Sometimes we have to accept that the baby just needs a home day.

On the average week we go to drama, home education group, pre-ballet, breastfeeding group (where I volunteer), baby sign, toddler group and a women’s Bible study. Once a month, the older one goes to a horse riding class. We also meet up with friends in between. It’s pretty busy (it especially looks that way now that I’ve written it down!).

Best advice you’ve ever received about motherhood/parenthood?

“This too shall pass” is one of the most useful phrases I’ve been told, as well as, “The days are long but the years are short”. So much feels unmanageable when you’re going through it but it always helps to keep it in perspective. It will change, things will get easier, other issues will crop up, you will all grow and you will all survive.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

I’d tell myself not to think too far ahead and not to worry so much. Take one day at a time, one night at a time, one breastfeed at a time, one tantrum at a time, one sickness at a time, one decision at a time. Life is made of lots of little steps. You can’t skip any so you might as well focus on the one you’re on before you move on to the next one.

Circus Queen

How do you manage your time or blogging between work and your little ones?

As I said, I don’t manage it very well! I do most of my blogging (which is my me time and part of my work) and any other paid or voluntary work in the evenings, which is tough because I’m tired then. But I count myself blessed to be able to do work which is creative, enjoyable and flexible enough to fit around staying at home with my children.

Thank you so much Adele!

To read more about her, click here.

You can also her on FB and of course, twitter.

 Click here if you’ve missed last month’s chat with a dad.

December Chat with a Dad: Tim of Slouching towards Thatcham

It’s the first day of December and it’s that special month of the year of giving and sharing and here in Chat with Mums and Dads – I feel really honoured and excited to share with you guys one of my current favourite bloggers, Tim of Slouching towards Thatcham.

Tell us something about yourself and your little ones.

I’m Tim and I’m the proud father of three children: Isaac (who turns seven this month), Toby (nearly five) and Kara (two-and-a-half).

Toby Isaac Kara trampoline

What were your little ones’ birth stories like?

Eventful! The boys were both planned home water births. Isaac was by the book, although he kept us waiting by arriving nearly two weeks late. Toby arrived in such a hurry that I ended up delivering him myself on our living room floor a good 15 minutes before our midwife arrived. I dined out on that one for a while!

Tim Toby and Isaac

Kara denied us the hat-trick of home births. She went way beyond fashionably late – 19 days late, in fact. My wife’s waters broke at the hospital while she was discussing a potential induction. I ended up driving to Reading at, ahem, slightly above the national speed limit and got there with just 15 minutes to spare. I’ve been chasing around after her ever since.

What do you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

In many ways, I wish I’d known less. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by all the information and advice you receive from ante-natal classes, books, family and friends that it’s easy to ignore your own instincts.

I’d almost rather I’d just gone into it knowing that every dad’s experience is different, that making mistakes is part of the process and that as long as we try to do the right things and don’t drop them on their heads too often our kids will love us anyway.

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

It can be a challenge sometimes, but fortunately my job is office-based and allows me some flexibility so that I can catch up in the evenings if needed.

So most days I make a point of being home at least in time to put the kids to bed, and even do the occasional school pick-ups. On a busy weekday I may only see them for a few minutes at either end of the day, but that counts for a lot to me.

How do you manage child-free time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?

Not as many as we should! We’re lucky that our children have always been relatively early sleepers, so evenings are mostly are our own. Occasionally we’ll go out for dinner, mostly we’ll stay in together, but we also do stuff separately when we get the chance.

Vital as it is to have ‘we’ time together as husband and wife, ‘me’ time is also important for both of us.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little ones?

Not an anecdote as such, but I am constantly amused at the way our children absorb phrases and mannerisms both from their parents and each other.

As the oldest sibling, Isaac often takes charge and admonishes the others when they’re being naughty. He’ll do so using the same words and tone of voice that we do. (“I’m going to count to three, then …”).

Tim and Isaac

And it’s hard not to laugh when Kara tells the boys off by placing her hands on her hips, raising her voice, saying, “Boys! Stop fighting! Right now!” in a way that sounds uncannily like my wife.

They really do grow up in our image, don’t they?

What is it about fatherhood you love?

I love seeing things through the innocence of a child’s eyes. (You can tell all our kids are still young, can’t you?) We so easily become jaded and cynical as adults, but to children something as simple as a bus ride is a magical experience, and to them everything is possible. Being there to guide them through this amazing world of ours is a privilege.

If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike, what would it be?

The early mornings! Even now, anything beyond 6am qualifies as a lie-in. Our lifestyle has changed a lot since the kids arrived, but as a night owl it’s the early starts that I struggle with the most.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?

Probably not. I’m under no illusions that stay-at-home parenting is a tough gig, and while I would definitely consider working a four-day week to free up more time to spend with the kids I’m not sure I’m cut out to do it full-time.

Best advice you’ve ever received about fatherhood?

That there is no one ‘right way’ to be a dad, which means not being afraid to do things my way, no matter how much advice I receive from well-meaning people.

Tim and Toby

And that includes my wife! I’ve learned a lot by copying her approaches to managing the kids, but last year I spent nine days on my own with just the boys and that experience gave me the freedom to experiment with new approaches. Not all of them worked but some did, and it gave me the confidence to keep doing things my way and incorporate the best of both of parenting styles.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

To relax. It’s in my nature to over-think things, and I remember being worried about getting things wrong and trying to remember everything you’re taught in books and ante-natal classes.

The reality is that nothing really prepares you for the adventure that is fatherhood. Trust your instincts more and go with the flow, because no matter how well prepared you think you are (or aren’t), the reality is always different and full of surprises, most of them pleasant (except the ones that come at the nappy end of things …) Fatherhood is a journey: spend less time worrying and more time enjoying the ride.

Tim and Kara

Thank you so much Tim!

For more words of wisdom on fatherhood, do check out his blog and follow his tweets!

In case you’ve missed November’s Chat with a Mum, click here to read.

Have a lovely first week of December!

25 more sleeps to go before Christmas 🙂

November Chat with a Mum: Tracie of Life in the Wylde West

Three Reasons why I love Tracie’s Blog Life in the Whylde West, and why you should too.

1. Her photographs are poetry, so if you’re into poetry or photography, or just like looking at lovely photos, then you’ll love her blog too.  They don’t only tell a story, but also stirs feelings inside of you.  I want to be the kind of photographer she is.

2.  She’s a wonderful mother.  One I really admire and if you’re a mother, you’ll most probably relate with her posts too.

3. Her blog-posts are honest.  If she’s having a bad day, she’ll tell you and when she’s happy, you’ll know it too, you’ll feel it in her posts, in her words and in her photographs.

Here at Chats with Mums and Dads I often wonder if I should stop with the Q&A. It’s almost two years now, but reading Tracie’s answers, reminds me why I even started with it.  I started the “chats” because I wanted to hear their stories, the mums and dads.  I wanted to know what it’s like for them, their birth stories, the ups and lows of parenthood.  I love reading all their stories – because they all inspire me.

Read below you’ll know what I mean:

Tell us something about yourself and your children (age & sex)

I have been married 21 years and 19 years of those 21 have been spent being a mama to two boys and then a little girl. Austin is 19, Dylan is 16 and Abbie is 12.

me and motorcyle man

family  then and now-2

What were your children’s birth stories like?

Well first of all, I’m not very patient so with my first baby boy I took my brother’s famous really oily salad dressing for dinner 10 days before Austin was due. That night my water broke, labor began and we headed to the hospital early in the morning. I swore I would do it all natural and I held out as long as I could and finally said “give me that epidural! NOW!!” and then everything was relatively okay, I delivered shortly after and still could feel everything on my right side.

me and Austin

My second delivery was similar, only I “thought I was having a girl because my intuition told me so” HE also arrived early by a week with the same salad dressing, water broke but this time right when I walked into the hospital room I said “give me that epidural now!” I felt no pain whatsoever with this child and it was relatively quick and very painless. (STILL TO THIS DAY HE IS THE SAME AS HIS DELIVERY)

me and dylan

Then the littlest and only girl came along. The salad dressing didn’t work with her, I tried twice. (stubborn little girl) Then when she was a few days past her due date, I said “that’s it!! I drank the Castro oil straight” terrible idea. I drank the oil, went for a walk and while I was walking my water broke. I barely made it to the delivery room and there was no time at all for anything and she came out fast, hard and bloody. I think the castor oil was a very bad idea. So thanks to my little girl, I got to experience child-birth without out drugs at least once.

me and abbie

What you wish you knew about being a mother, before becoming one?

I sort of already knew this, I was told but I didn’t quite believe it. They grow up really, really fast. Like lightning speed.

How do you manage your “me-time”?

I take bathes where I lock the door and read my magazines. I went away last spring to our local mountains and spent a weekend with a group of close friends (all women no children or husbands) and most recently I flew all by myself to Portland Oregon to meet up with kindred souls who also love to photograph anything and everything that makes our hearts sing. It was the first time I had met any of them in real live person. I can’t begin to describe in words how therapeutic and necessary it was to just BE with them. I felt like I grew up a little. I had to rent my own car, find my way around and fly solo. It was good for me.

retreat with women

Do you have any favorite anecdote of your kids?

Austin once said when he saw a rainbow “mama, God is the best artist of all!” It made me smile.

Abbie once said she wanted to marry her daddy when she was 4. Smart girl, he is a catch. She will have a challenge when it’s her turn to find love, the comparisons will be tough.

Dylan said when he was 4 he wanted to marry a man because he didn’t want any children. It’s funny how the little ones think. I wish I could be in their head sometimes.

What is it about Motherhood you absolutely love about?

That those little people (kind of big now) need me. They really do. Even my 19-year-old man-child will come to me when he is sick, when he is sad or when he just needs a hug. It feels so good to be needed.

semi current of all three

If there is anything about Motherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

The growing up fast part. Although my oldest will reach out to me still, he is so independent and I can tell is pulling away as each day goes by. I know its normal stuff but it’s still not easy. So I cherish the time spent knowing they will all grow up and go away…hopefully not very far though.

What’s a typical day like for you and your family?

I’m a part-time working mama. Which is pretty awesome. I can get up and get them off to school, head to work, work half a day and then be off work in time to pick them each up from school. It feels at times like a lot of just taking and picking up not to mention any outside activities they are involved in. I somehow fit in housework, walks, and making meals and finding that bit of time for me to be creative, take pictures, blog and things like that. Time management is everything.

Best advice you’ve ever received about Motherhood?

It was from my own mother after I had my first baby. She said “the housework will always be there the children will not. Take that time with your kids, it goes quickly.” This came from someone who ironed her sheets, and cleaned until it was bedtime. It meant so much because it was so different than what she did. It was like she realized and she didn’t want me to make the same mistake.

If you could give yourself advice about motherhood before becoming one, what would it be?

That each stage has its challenges and not all challenges are equal but they are equally as important.

How do you manage your time or blogging between work and your family?

It’s not easy. I recently took to writing lists. It helps me get things done. I find time before I leave the house for the day (sometimes I write a quick blog) or as I wait to pick up a kid from school…via my cell phone, or every once in a great while very late at night and sometimes I take the weekends to gather my pictures and thoughts and will write a hand full of posts to go live as the week progresses. It’s the one thing that I really, really look forward to, writing and sharing images via my blog. It’s my outlet for sure. And since I’m often in a rush, my grammar can be wacky or my spelling not quite right but I don’t’ care about that. To me it’s more about getting out my thoughts. It’s truly therapy.

Thank you so much Tracie!

 If you liked what you’ve read in this month’s feature, there’s more of that in her blog.

 Go over and be inspired!

And if you’ve missed last month’s chit-chat with a dad, click here to read.

Have a lovely weekend folks!