From KIDsize living Sydney’s Inner City
Can you tell us a little about yourself before children.
I grew up in quiet rural Ireland but I always had itchy feet. At 19 I moved to New York and worked there for 4 years. Next was London for another few years and then back to Ireland. I thought I had exhausted my travel cravings but when the economy in Ireland took a down turn, my fiancé and I decided to move to Australia. We have since married and really settled into life in Australia. I love the outdoor, active lifestyle here and before my little man came along I enjoyed doing my workouts or swimming outside before work in the morning. Looking back now I realise how much time I spent relaxing by the pool!
How did you become involved with KIDsize Living Sydney’s Inner City?
I went back to work (4 days a week) when my son was 5 months old. I really wasn’t ready, nor did I feel my son was ready for day care. I struggled through the first month or so with my son picking up every cold and virus that was going. I had to take so many days off work and I was already finding it extremely difficult to cram 5 long days of work into 4 shorter days. My little fella wouldn’t look at me when I picked him up from daycare in the evenings which was the worst feeling ever!
I spent a lot of time hurting my brain trying to come up with an amazing business idea that would provide the work life balance I needed. One particularly stressful day, I remember thinking, ‘just stop and sit down on the sofa!!
So I did and started looking through my Facebook feed and noticed the post about KIDsize Living expanding. All of a sudden I got really excited and my heart was racing. Before I even looked into it I just got a really strong feeling that this was what I needed to do. I’m not exaggerating in any way, i just knew!
I had heard about KIDsize Living from another mum when I was pregnant and she raved about how much it helped her. When my bub was 6 weeks old we moved to Rosebery and with no family in Australia, and none of my friends having kids, it was a bit daunting. I found it very difficult to find information kid friendly places I could meet my friends nearby. I spent so many hours trawling through websites,searching for local playgroups and activities, only to find the information sparse and out of date in a lot of cases. Once I armed myself with information I felt much more comfortable leaving the house with a newborn. I wanted to help other parents by having all the local information parents need to know in one spot and empower parents to take on Sydney with kids!
Fast forward 5 months and I now run KIDsize living Sydney’s Inner City! I work from home and my son goes to daycare a few days so I can get some work done. He’s just turned 1 and loves going to daycare now. I’m in a great position that I can drop everything and pick up my son if he’s not well without feeling guilty that I’m letting someone down. I love that I can pick him up early if I’m having one of those days where I miss him terribly. He’s my mini business partner and we travel all around Sydney checking out fun places with him. He’s a lucky kid!
There is an amazing group of parents running various KIDsizeLiving websites (http://www.kidsizeliving.com.au) for different areas around Sydney. It’s a fantastic support network and Katherine and Eileen who founded the original KIDsize Living have a wealth of information about how to keep it local and relevant for parents.
or on Instagram: https://instagram.com/kidsizelivingsydneycity
What is your role?
KIDsize Living Sydney’s Inner City is a free local online guide for parents to keep up with everything fun, useful and exciting for kids in our gorgeous city and its close surrounds. We’re talking local kids activities, events, classes, playgrounds, kid friendly cafes, local businesses, local services, giveaways and much more! We also have a free weekly newsletter so our parents are the first to know about upcoming events and activities.
It’s just me behind the scenes so there is lots to do! Most of my time is spent investigating and researching all the exciting things to do for kids and parents in my area. My days are spent talking to organisers of events, meeting parents, lots of editing, website publishing and social media posting to keep parents in the know. We live in the area I cover so that makes it so much easier to know what’s happening.
My main man and I (my husband wont like that!) visit and review activities, parks and kid friendly places to eat out so we can experience them first hand before I add them to the website. For example, it’s really important I know the vibe of a cafe and if it has a high chair, access for prams, a change table, a play area, kids menu and most importantly good coffee! I want to provide parents accurate and honest information. Little Lochlann does his part and tests out everything we visit; playgrounds, highchairs and exposes all possible escape routes now that he’s walking.
I do work hard in order to keep the website up to date and relevant for parents. There is just so much happening in Sydney’s Inner City that I have got to be on the ball! Honestly, though it doesn’t feel like hard work, I love it.
What are the most common things that parents are looking for on your site?
Christmas Events http://www.kidsizelivingsydneycity.com.au/event/whats-on.html?category=christmasEvents
School Holidays Activities http://www.kidsizelivingsydneycity.com.au/event/school-holidays.html
Our Top 10 Playgrounds http://www.kidsizelivingsydneycity.com.au/content/parks-and-playgrounds.html?category=ourTop10Playgrounds
Enclosed Playgrounds http://kidsizelivingsydneycity.com.au/content/parks-and-playgrounds.html?category=playgrounds&subcategory=enclosedPlaygrounds
Eat Out with Kids http://www.kidsizelivingsydneycity.com.au/content/eating-out.html
Describe your work place to us…
Most of the time I work from my mac at our living room table. I don’t have much paperwork so my workspace can disappear very quickly for dinner and when we have visitors. Sometimes for a change of scenery I work from my local Black Gold Espresso at the end of my street. They have everything I need – wifi and great coffee. Our rooftop terrace is a great place for typing or planning, if its not too hot.
How do you juggle working and a family?
This is definitely a work in progress. I get to spend more time with my family now that I am running KIDsize Living Sydney’s Inner City. Having said that, because it’s my business and I’m the only one responsible, I find it hard to stop working and relax. I have my son in daycare 3 days a week. I was planning on cutting it down to 2 days once I had established my website but I’m hesitating. My wee man loves people and the stimulation day care provides. I think days with me are a little boring for him in comparison! Like lots of parents, I really appreciate that I have daycare and my son enjoys it, so I’m afraid to drop a day and not be able to get it back if I need it later.
On Wednesdays and Fridays, when he is at home, I plan as if I’m not going to get any work done. In doing so I’m not constantly thinking what I should be doing, instead I’m enjoying my time with him and being present. Napping is not always a reliable event or one that sticks to any type of schedule. When it does happen, its an opportune time for a shower, laundry, food etc etc.
Do you think parenting is different from when you were raised? Why?
Absolutely, and in so many ways! I grew up in rural Ireland and everything about parenting was passed down from previous generations. Problems weren’t really discussed and there wasn’t anywhere to turn for advice or help like there is now. Parents couldn’t use the internet to search for answers or support, they just got through it somehow.
The other major difference is that people from my neck of the woods had large families and got married and started having kids very early. My dad was one of 15 kids and he and my mum were only 20 when they had my older brother!
When we were kids we had chores from an early age and worked pretty hard on our farm. My first job outside our home was when I was 13 and I cycled about 5 miles to it.
Dads weren’t as hands on as they are now. I don’t think my dad ever changed a nappy and he had 4 kids. He still has old fashioned ideas about men and woman’s roles in life!
Have your own self expectations changed since having children? How?
My priorities have totally changed. I’m now so driven to always do the best I can for my son and family as a whole, from making enough money, having enough time to making super healthy meals for him. Spending quality time with my son and husband and having a job that I enjoy that fits around this is what I aim for.
I have gained a whole new respect for what I can achieve after having my son and not having any family in the country. I have more courage and the confidence to try new things, take risks to achieve a better life for my family that I would have never normally taken.
Spending time eating (healthy), cleaning the house and exercising come much further down the list now, somewhere after feeding bub, consoling bub and watching with amazement when he figures out something new. I have become a lot better at dealing putting off the things I really want to do. I know this sounds terrible but I value those extra moments I spend with him more and it’s what gets me through the tough days. Having clothes, new shoes and planning daily outfits and earrings don’t get much of a look in these days!
What is one thing you swore you would never do as a parent …. but now do/did?
Too funny! I always said I would never bring my kids to a restaurant until they were 10 (exaggerating a bit)! This was probably after witnessing kids in the restaurant having a tantrum and parents were looking very stressed. I just thought why would you stress yourself out because kids moods and behaviours are too unpredictable to bring them to a restaurant. Now all I do is bring my mini business partner to cafes and restaurants! Mostly to review them but sometimes just for some attempt at normality. Before having a baby I really had no idea! I didn’t think about parents who have no immediate family or support to just take the kids so they can go out for a bite to eat. It would never have occurred to me that parents might be attempting to have a civilised family meal as a treat and were sick of cooking and eating in all the time.
I’m hoping my son will be so used eating out that he will have amazing restaurant etiquette (yeah right)! I’m also hoping because he has watched so many barista’s making me coffee that he’ll be a dab hand at it and can hook his mum up!
Can you walk us through a typical day for you…
Step one – coffee, haha joking (but not really!)
When Lochlan is at home, its a more relaxed schedule. We say hello to the trees and birds from our front door and say goodbye to Dad. I sort out breakfast, do a general tidy and put on some laundry. By 8am my son is ready to rock – to get outside, see the world, flirt with every lady he see’s (also, our washing machine is about to die and sounds like a jumbo jet so it’s a perfect excuse to leave). We head to the park via one of my favourite coffee spots (we have so many great ones!) for a take away. My sons’ just started walking and can finally enjoy the playground. We head home for nap (we are transitioning from 2 to 1 so there is no routine at the moment) and I get some work done when he sleeps. In the afternoon I try and go somewhere I can review for the website but this isn’t always possible. I have our car one day a week so we will venture a little further afield that day. Lochlann’s so mobile already, and doesn’t have a lot of patience for sitting in a car seat or pram, so I have to come up with different solutions all he time.
When my husband gets home I try and answer a few emails and once bub has had his bath, dinner and is in bed I tidy up and get ready for the next day, eat and do some more work!
On a work day I walk bub to day care by 8am, fit in a quick workout at home (if I haven’t been up all night) and grab a coffee. I’m ready to rock n roll at 9am and I work like a Trojan until I realise its almost 3:15 and most of the cafes close by close at 3:30 so I leg it out to grab one. My husband usually collects bub about 4:30pm and then we spend a ridiculous amount of time laughing and playing until bed time. I usually squeeze in another couple of hours of planning and I’m done.
Weekends are swimming lessons, checking out kid friendly events and preparing all the new and exciting content for my newsletter the following week. We also spend a huge amount of time following my son up and down the stairs and walking around our local area looking for birds (both kinds) and dogs (his favourite thing after banana!).
What is one resource that has kept you sane and helped you on your journey of motherhood? Eg book, person, website
My husband. He is an an amazing support, a brilliant dad and fills in for all the family we don’t have here. He totally gets the oxytocin, crazy hormones and breastfeeding roller coaster…but is not available for purchase!
I have to mention my baby carrier, our best buy yet! For a while (seemed like forever) it was the only place my son would sleep more than 20 mins during the day. It was a lifesaver on my trip to Ireland on my own with 3 month old bub, with my flights delayed twice and the whole trip taking over 3 days! I still use it and he’s 11kg and I still can’t believe my busy bub is totally chilled out in it.
And one tip for us all on keeping it real…
You can eat a burger (plain, no patty, cooked yesterday) no problem while walking pushing a pram on the way to day care and it doesn’t matter who stares as I’ve probably been up since 5am and haven’t had food or a coffee. Survival 101!
Seriously though if I’m struggling with juggling everything, having doubts or feeling like there’s not enough time, thats when I find someone to call or meet for a coffee. I don’t necessarily tell them all of that otherwise they would stop answering the phone to me! I just know that doing this helps take my mind off everything. Also, if its a parent I’m talking to, i’ll soon realise that I’m not the only one who feels like this and I’ll snap out of it. They will probably have a very interesting poo story that will make me laugh.