Parenting

Working From Home – With Children?

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I make things up for a living – in Ugg boots. It sounds perfect, doesn’t it?  Living the writer’s dream – to be your own boss, float from book tour to launch party with the flexibility to schedule work around family commitments…

And that’s where things come unstuck: the ‘work-around’ and ‘family’ bit.

Like the time I did a live radio interview while holding a cold-pack to my three-year-old’s blood nose as his siblings spear-tackled on the couch.  (It provided laughs, at least). In a conventional workplace, it’s rare that people bleed, or projectile vomit, use your mobile to text ‘poo’ to your recent call list or shoot squeezy yoghurt on your morning’s work. Think circus: scribble on the walls, crusts in the blue-ray and no continuity of thought.

Working from home is a broad term, including the stationwagon, park bench, school-pickup line. Author Kate Grenville once shared her experience: when her mother arrived to babysit, she’d drive to the park to escape her kids, and write in the back seat of her car – leaning on a boogie board.  Living the writer’s dream!

I did have a ‘real job’ once. They aren’t picnics. Days can be long and dreary, weekends tainted by housework (or what you think is housework before you live with mess-machines). But at least you have the luxury of an environment conducive to work. I used to snigger in my mind when people in my team (parents) asked to ‘work from home’ on pupil free days. It’s an oxymoron, really. (The concept, not the parents).

But I didn’t appreciate the perks of office based work until I was granted the freedom to fumble about in my ‘home-office’, three kids in tow.  Like the fact that as a ‘normal’ office worker, you get to leave work (not to mention, pee on your own). You’ get to drink your tea hot, are paid by the hour – even if you’re cruising the internet or talking with workmates about Friday-arvo drinks. You have Friday-arvo drinks.  (And workmates, for that matter).  You get a quiet, air-conditioned office without someone simultaneously skating over your foot, practicing the recorder while demanding waffles.   You don’t need to break up spirited-argy-bargy in the midst of cutting-and-pasting a paragraph, or commit to tuckshop (because you can, right?).  You’re provided with continuity of thought, regular feedback, reward schemes, printer-un-jammers, and the biggie: sick leave.

Working from home also means suffering the perennial feeling that you ‘could just finish…’, because you’re at work. All the time. Your laptop is just there, heckling. The potential for work exists, hence so does the guilt. When you pause to hang washing, you’re bludging from work. When hard at work, you’re neglecting the house/kids/fur-babies.  There is no ‘done’.

I shouldn’t complain. Of course, working from home has fringe benefits. No commute next to sweaty-thighed-hairy-man. No matching shoes required.  Wear what you like – the same thing two days running, nobody cares! You’re available for orthodontist appointments, viola recitals, Easter hat parades.  No one steals your lunch. There are no meetings-that-should-have-been-an-email when you are your own boss (and I’m a pretty good one).  And then there’s the thing where you get to do what you love. (There is that…)

Working around family (with ABC Kids chirping in the background) has its challenges, but it’s amazing how efficient you can be with the unpredictability children throw in the mix: when your deadline’s in an hour and the teething-two-year-old could wake any second.  Time-poor parents are superheros of productivity – after all, when you’re only ever a custard-cup away from a loaded nappy, every moment is precious.

By Kylie Kaden

First published in She Brisbane – for all women, by Brisbane women.

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F  :  Kylie Kaden Author Page

T  :  @KylieKadenAU

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Diagnosis: Spirited


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I have what they politely call ‘spirited’ children. You know the ones: the type checkout operators suddenly open extra lanes for, that you hear coming before they arrive. Children that, while others sip babycinos on their mother’s laps, are hell-bent trying to pull apart the fire-extinguisher. While my boys are generally well mannered, kind natured kids, their tenacity makes them question every request, push every boundary, test every rule.  They’re energetic, curious beasts with determination in spades and wills of steel. It can be hard to reign in all that brilliance.

Diagnosis of such a condition is made via their caregivers; symptoms ranging from a nervous twitch and mismatched shoes, to never having their full attention in conversation as they wait for the next crisis to unfold.  While they present with a slightly disheveled look and a thick epidermis from years of judgement, caregivers of these often-extreme kids are masters at disaster management and prevention.  Behaviours include: forever recalculating their parenting plan/reward chart/kids diet as strategies that work for many just don’t seem to cut it. They perpetually feel like ‘they’re doing it wrong’.

I tried to suck the spirit out of them. I did. I like to be liked, hate to be judged, and with a sticky brood of boys in tow, frequent looks of dismay from the public is my reality. It still gets to me – the smugness of some parents that have children with amiable temperaments, that think they’ve trained theirs to behave – why haven’t I bothered?  All I can say is – all children were not created equal. (And as for judgemental non-parents, I was a perfect parent too, before I had kids).

Perhaps I’ve lowered the bar compared to some, perhaps my kids would be less unruly with a superhero parent, but I’ve learned to pick my battles. If they are not destroying property or pestering people, I let it fly. I realise squabbling children is not what restaurant goers pay to be around, so we eat take-away.  I hang out with parents with robust kids that can take the onslaught mine dish out. And as for managing the grocery trip, I’ve learned one fool-proof parenting strategy: click and collect.

I see my role as a parent as helping my kids be the best version of themselves they can. I’m far from perfect, but my kids were never going to be wall-flowers – regardless of who brought them up.   The way I see it, parenting is not an insidious journey whereby we slowly replace free thought with concrete rules, cull adventurous spirit by lecturing the dangers of risk, and erase all curiosity until children are ‘seen and not heard’.

The day we expect young children to behave like adults is a sad day indeed. Respectful of others (within realistic limits for a young child) sure, but let’s not be a society that sees the role of parents as sapping the spirit out of young minds, carving off the curved edges until they sit squarely in society’s ‘holes’. Since when does developing maturity equate to diluting all sense of self?

What a boring world of clones that would be…

 

By Kylie Kaden

First printed in She Brisbane – for all women, but the women of Brisbane. Love our city!

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W :  kyliekaden.com.au

F  :  Kylie Kaden Author Page

T  :  @KylieKadenAU

Buy her books here

 

Image kindly provided by stockimages via freedigitalphotos.net

Being a Mother Of Boys….

Oh Boy.

However they get here – whether by surprise, eight IVF attempts, through the existing exit, or a newly carved one, they change your life. For better. For worse. And there is no refunds or returns.

The first one made you a parent. The second, a family. And for those that kept going – welcome to the MOB. Whether they’re all girls, all boys, or a neat mix of both – parenting is never easy. But some kids, and some combinations, have a unique set of challenges.

This post thread is all about those of us blessed with Boys. One, three, thirteen…. they have a distinct temperament, a certain swagger about them that is unique. They are all about argy-bargy, noise and fun. In some ways, they are easier (wardrobe choice and hair styling for example). Yet in others, a sticky brood of boys can challenge the most dedicated mum.

I intend to blog about the good, the bad, and the ugly of raising boys – a survival guide for the downtrodden, a pick me up for the helpless, and a lesson that there are other mums out there that are outnumbered by the male variety offspring.

It can be tough being the only one that pee’s sitting down in a household of hoses.  I have three of them, aged 1, 6 and 7.  My toilet usually smells like a urinal. My carpet is full of concealed Lego mines. My computer is usually on creative mode in a Minecraft world. I know ever element in Skylanders. I am a MOB.

If you are too, either recently, or a veteran, one or a dozen times over – welcome to the (not so) exclusive club!

Let me know your Mum of Boys experiences!

Parenting Articles

For all the parents out there who like a dose of reality (instead of unrealistic, eternally heartwarming stories that are commonplace), have a browse of the latest My Child Australia Magazine.

Along with a lot of facts on pregnancy and childbirth, you will find honest accounts of parenting in the naughties in my columns.

I’m no expert. The wheels fall off for me every day at some point.  But I hope that sharing my thoughts on the challenges of family life, might just make a fellow parent feel less alone in the daily grind.