How many kids to you have?
Four. Aged from 7 to 13.
Where do you live?
I’ve lived in many places in Australia. Our family has moved to New Zealand for 2015, coupling a career move for my husband and a family experience.
Who is your spouse?
Back in 1999 I married my childhood sweetheart. Matthew is the man’s name and we’ve been together since the age of 16. Eleven house moves, four children later, and here we are. My husband was studying science when we married, then he went on to do medicine, then surgery, so it’s been a long haul and we’ve been together every step of the way which is special…and sappy, I know…
Do you yell at your kids?
I seem to get this question a lot, and it makes me wonder if I portray myself as some sort of fictitious perfect mother. I certainly hope not. And believe me, I AM not. Yes, I yell at my kids. I get frustrated. I get angry. I am impatient sometimes. But I’ve learned to stop more — to really stop, to listen, to see — and I have learned a lot of patience during this parenting gig. This post says a lot of what I would say here: My Kids Bring Out the Worst in Me.
Do you have tough days when you struggle being a mum?
Often. That’s the short answer.
A longer response: I don’t believe a bad day wrecks my kids. Neither does a bad week. Even a bad month or year! I’ve had them all. I stopped to think about this, and I don’t think it’s those stressful times when you feel like an utter failure and your’e doing EVERYTHING wrong, that damages long term. It’s not those times when life is tough — hard! — when life throws bricks and somehow you’re meant to catch them. It’s not the mistakes that define a negative experience. No, it’s not those things that ‘wreck’ little people.
It’s disconnection. It’s embitterness. It’s misunderstanding. And so instead of being consumed with guilt in hard patches, I focus on capturing connection as live — in the good time and the hard. To keep short accounts with my husband and children. To take the time to understand those I love most with compassion. To cherish seemingly insignificant moments. To love unconditionally. To be confident in myself as a parent. To keep adding to the puzzle pieces that build into a beautiful picture over time.
What do you do when you don’t feel very fun?
There is, perhaps, an invisible expectation of what a fun mum looks like: That she gets down on the floor and plays for hours, that she paints and does craft all day, that she cooks with sprinkles and sings with a Marry Poppins voice. All those things are good things — for sure — but I’m putting my own definition of a fun mum out there and its less about what you do.
It’s the mum who is brave enough to embrace her beauty with a heart willing to share it on a road travelled with those in her care. That’s the truth I’m putting out there. If I could degree it, I would give each mother the permission to be the type of mother she IS without judgement. I would say: celebrate the diversity in others! Embrace your own type of motherhood, strive to see good in people around you, and shine as you live a life of sharing. Because true fun is akin to joy, and joy is bound up with truth. Don’t try and be the mum you’re not, I wrote one day and I stick by that.
And when I don’t feel fun? When I’m really tired and cranky? Usually, I get out of the house, grab a takeaway coffee and go somewhere beautiful. Sometimes you just have a crap day, or week, and you have to ride through the best way you can.
Are you, like, a really fun person?
Ha! If you’re thinking of the person in a group of people that’s The Fun One, then no, I’m not. I’m an introvert and love quiet and sitting under a tree…with a cup of tea and a book. That, to me, is so much fun (so yeah, I’m one big bundle of laughs). Or, in contrast, I like to challenge myself. I once cycled 300km around Laos with Save the Children, and on one day, I looked around at the wonderful surroundings and thought to myself (I may of even said it aloud), “I can’t believe I get to do this!” I loved it so much. So that’s me. I tend to seek to live life at both the opposite ends of the spectrum.
What I can do, is find fun in any situation, wherever we are. I’m never bored. With my kids, I think on my feet and find ways to create fun from seemingly nothing. I can (and do) think outside the box. So, that’s a skill, right? I love having fun — and I can find enjoyment doing pretty much anything (except at public swimming pools…I just struggle to enjoy any part of that). I love going out with my sisters, meeting with friends, dressing up, dressing down, roughing it camping, lapping up a bit of luxury, being super-serious, and dancing a silly dance under the stars. I enjoy seeing a movie with my husband, exploring with my kids, having experiences, giving back to others and living a full life.
Are your stories real?
Yes. However, like many things in the online world, what you see here on my blog is only one small piece of me and my life. I show what I want to show; I share what I choose to share. I’m real, but nothing is as real as life.
After a hard week online — with a dose of negativity thrown my way — I walked along the street with my eldest daughter (she’s 12). She put her arm around my waist and I put my arm around her shoulders and we walked that way for a good while. You know what? THAT is real. THAT is true. Nothing on this blog can compare to that.
You seem to get out there and do a lot!
This is true, I do. Adventure and freedom are important to me. But let me tell you that my children are all at school now and I’m in a stage in parenting where it’s easier to do more. When my children were very little — I had four children within a six years period — I struggled to be fun. I saw my two elder sisters, a little ahead of me in the journey, and wondered at all the fun things they seemed to be able to achieve. Really frankly, I look back at the time when my children were very young, and it’s all a bit of a blur (you may be interested in this little post: Sacrifices).
Now, I too am at the stage where my kids are older, but still young enough to do everything with us. It IS more fun and I find it easier to get out and about, both with the kids as a family, and on my own; I have begun to pursue some of the things I put on hold for a while.
It was when I entered this new stage of parenting that I realised the importance of that first stage. Like building a house, the foundations must be laid first; it can’t be rushed or wished away. In that first stage, looking back, for me it was less about fun and making memories and more about bonding and establishing (working out) combined values as a family of three, or four, or five or more. The stage I’m in now, it’s more about making memories in this little window of time we have. I explained it a little better in this post: Family Life Stages.
So while adventure and freedom; exploring and experience are important to me, it’s also a reflection of the stage of parenting I’m in.
How did you cope when your youngest child went to school?
I love this new stage of parenting! I’m doing more things I put on hold for a little while. But, oh, I do miss — MISS — those quiet days with my youngest child. I shared about this transition in this post.
Can I use one of your tutorial pictures on my blog?
Yes, you can. Just please don’t copy an entire post, or alter the image, and please do credit the picture by linking back to my blog post. Also, it’s lovely if you email me with the link and I’ll pop over and read your post and say hi.
What camera do you use?
Find details on my camera here.
Can you give me a shout out on Facebook?
I don’t do Facebook shout outs. The only shout-outs I do are for brands and sponsors I work with in conjunction with my blog. If I did shout-outs for every person who asks me, the Be A Fun Mum Facebook page would be full of that, and less of what I want to share about: fun things to do with kids, inspiration for loving the moment, things that make me laugh, stories that light my day.
I’ve built my Facebook page over 3 years by consistently filtering through engaging content I believe will be of interest to my readers and true to my vision. I have never paid for advertising on Facebook to grow my page so anyone can do the same. I shared some tips a few years ago at an event you can read here.
Do you get paid to blog?
It was never my intention to blog as an income stream. And yet a path opened to me, one that surprised me, and I find that I can earn a supplement income through my blog. You can see the ways I earn money from my blog here: Disclosure. 90% of posts on this blog are just me writing stories and sharing projects I do with my own kids.
Do you have tips for new bloggers?
I don’t share tips for blogging on this blog, because it’s not about blogging. However, from time to time, I write posts about blogging on my personal blog. I’ll give you my top three blog tips.
1. Work out the why behind your blog. That’s not what you blog about, the topic — whether that be parenting, or fashion, or food, but THE WHY. The centre. This can be much harder to work out than it seems. A good example is Lorna Jane (the exercise clothing brand): Their Move – Nourish – Believe slogan is the why behind the brand. It’s not about clothes. Finding your why can take a while of experimenting but looking for it is my BIGGEST tip because a blog needs a heart.
2. Find your voice. This too, can take a while, but keep writing and trying different things. Keep learning! Learn to write better, photograph better, market better. Blogging has been the biggest learning curve for me after motherhood. Ha!
3. Don’t worry what everyone else is doing. Find something from within to foster as you blog.