Saturday, 10 June 2017

Life-work-children balance


I've chosen to be a stay-at-home and work-from-home Mum. I find life to be a wondrous juggle - always looking for the best way to find balance, joy and purpose - to be present and focussed for my family, to keep learning, to be making a contribution, earning a living, and to be doing what I love.  

If you'd asked me when I was at school if I'd be a stay-at-home mum, I would have answered a clear and definite "No!"  It seemed antithetical to what I believed (and society suggested that) intelligent and capable (and successful) women did.  I think for a very long time, I didn't even consider children as part of my life-plan. 

Fast-forward thirty years and I couldn't possibly imagine my world without our kids, and I've discovered that for me, being a successful, intelligent and capable woman is certainly about embracing home and weaving work into the fabric of my home life. I actually don't see much of a separation between my work and home life - they are so very interconnected. For example, going out to do a permaculture design or go to a community garden meeting is a fabulous outing and learning experience for my children.

Yesterday, for example, I was meeting with the local neighbourhood centre to advise them on the future of their edible gardens and how they could get more out of the space to feed their clients. My 9 year old son come with me. At the same time, there was a fix-it cafe happening, run by a friend of ours. Hugh listened to the garden conversation for a while, then hung out with the guys learning how to fix electronic equipment.

I just came across this picture (above) from back in 2009. I was out on a permaculture design job. At that time, I had two pre-school children and was working as a permaculture designer, consultant and educator (this is what I still do now). In this picture, you can see I had the kids (and the client's horse) 'helping'.  I love getting out on site and designing in-situ - observing the landscape and meeting with the clients. I talk it all through with my children as we go, and explain what I am doing. As a result, they've naturally becoming good designers too, and I always ask for their ideas and input.

I have to admit that those years when the kids were very young are a bit of a blur now, but it certainly looks like I was enjoying it all. I'm so glad we have lots of photos!

My children come along on most permaculture design projects I do. They also help me set up, design and lead permaculture workshops and tours. They have joined me on stage to present about permaculture (from when they were in a sling) and they have accompanied me on international journeys to lead permaculture courses. They love it!


Teaching a Permaculture Design Course with Maia (10 months old).

I have also refocussed a lot of the permaculture work I do towards children's learning and development, and this grows and changes as they grow. When they were very young, we had an eco-playgroup. Now we run Nature Kids and Young Ethos Scholar programs, and Hugh has even started his own series of workshops which he calls Ecological Education. He plans and facilitates a 3 hour workshop each week for a group of kids his age. They do nature exploration, pattern observation, photography, science experiments, soil science, seed saving and more. It's just wonderful watching him developing his own material - create his own little school.


Hugh collecting morning tea for an educational program at our place.

In order to keep up with everything, admittedly I do the bulk of my writing, film editing, planning and preparation after the kids gone to bed - when the hubbub of the day in a homeschool family has settled - this is when my mind is clear and thoughts flow. As much as possibly though, we do things together - discuss, plan, vision and explore. 

I'd love to hear your stories about how you juggle work-life-children. I am always inspired by how people make it all work, and love sharing interesting strategies.

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