Zoey is a reformed perfectionist, a chaos manager, baby snuggler, undomestic goddess and social media addict. She started her blog just after her first baby turned one and loves to take pictures of her life and children. I adore her writing style and her honest approach to motherhood. Here is how Zoey manages to cherish her cherubs....
1. Tell us a little about yourself as a mother.
I have two daughters - Riley is four and Piper is one. I would love to have a big family. Although now when people say big family they often mean three children. When I think big family I think five or more. I could always have a baby in the house. I was never really sure if I wanted to be a mother or not. I was (and am) a very ambitious person and had a focus on all of the creative and career things I wanted to do. But when I had my first miscarriage in my early twenties, I knew. I knew I wanted to be a mother. I’m not big on planning or housekeeping or cleaning. But I’m big on treasuring moments. I’m big on cuddles. I’m big on baking. I’m big on licking cake bowls. And I’m big on giggles.
2. What is your favourite part about being a mother?
That’s a hard question. I enjoy so much about being a mother. I enjoy the person that I have become as a mother. I love baby smell. I love snuggling in bed with my babies as the sunlight starts bouncing through the room. I love watching them grow into their own person. I love how as they grow, I see less and less of myself in them and more and more of themselves. I love seeing everything through their eyes. Everything is magical and new and joyous. I enjoy the fact that on a bad day, I have two little ladies who rely on me, love me and will make me laugh even when I feel like crying.
3. Who inspires you as a mother?
My mum inspires me. She was a single mother to me. And I am forever amazed in hindsight with everything she did for me, which just seemed so effortless at the time. I never felt like she wanted to be anywhere else. Even when she was working multiple jobs and looking after me. And through my blog I have met so many amazing mothers who inspire me. I really look up to Kate (Picklebums) and I often seek her advice when I need help with something. I love how committed she is to always improving herself as a mother, how she always assumes the very best of her children without being oblivious to what they need and how she’s got so much insight into what her own parenting and who here children are.
4. Why do you think it is important to cherish your children?
It’s so easy to get caught up into the day to day tedium of domesticity. Cleaning, chores, errands, routines. Repeat. But if you allow yourself to start going through the motions, you miss all of the really important stuff. Like that moment where you hold your baby instead of putting her down and she goes back to sleep on your chest and you take the time to appreciate what a miracle you have. Or the moment when you are taking your daughter to see a movie and she makes up a song about the fact that it is just the two of you. Those things seem like small things but they open your heart and make you fall in love with being a mother over and over again. And those are the things that they will remember as they grow up. The things that we did together.
5. What do you do to show your children you cherish them?
We encourage our children to come into our bed for cuddles in the night if they want to. My husband loves this. Because he commutes to work, he doesn’t get to see them as much as he’d like so having a snuggly visitor in the middle of the night is pretty wonderful. I try to show them just as much love and understanding and respect when they are at their most challenging as well as when they are at their most lovely. It’s not always easy to do when Riley is in full-scale poltergeist tantrum meltdown. But that’s when she needs to know that she is absolutely loved the most. I invent little traditions and rituals for them. To me those are the things that make a family.
6. What do you hope your children feel or learn from you cherishing them?
I want them to know that they are loved no matter what. I want them to know that they can disagree with me. That they can make up their own mind. I want them to know that all the things about themselves that make up their unique personality are the things that I treasure the most. I want them to know that I will always make a safe place for them.
7. What is your favourite activity to do with your children and how does it help you to cherish them?
I love doing activities with the girls where it’s something we both really enjoy. I love baking. Riley can almost make cupcakes on her own now. And although Piper isn’t quite their yet, she can help me pat down dough for cinnamon scrolls, and they both can lick the bowl. I love doing craft and lego with Riley and I love playing games with Piper - at the moment she loves tickling and peek-a-boo and she has a great belly laugh. I love taking them out into the great outdoors and watching them explore while I take photos.
8. How do you make time for your children in your schedule?
I know I can’t really take on much more work than 2 hours a day. Any more than that and I can’t really get everything done and spend time with them. And I try to get all of that done in the morning when they are at their most amenable. If I’m cleaning or tidying or cooking I like to give them the option of doing things with me and helping out. I take advantage of times when they are playing outside together or watching a bit of TV to do those things that are harder to get done if they are wanting to be a part of it. Most days not everything gets done. But I’m ok with that. They are little for such a short, tiny, minute period of time. One day I’ll wake up and they’ll be already embarrassed to hold my hand when we cross the road. And a bit after that I’ll wake up and the house will be spotless and empty. In the meantime, I don’t mind if not everything gets done.
9. How does it make you feel as a mother when you know you are cherishing your children?
It makes me feel like I am doing right by them and by myself, like I am on the right path. And that is something that i am far more proud of than anything else I could be doing. When I am cherishing them, it is almost like you can hear something click and it just feels right in your bones.
10. What advice would you give to other Mums about cherishing children?
I think the best way to cherish your children is to find the things that make you enjoy motherhood. It is different for everyone. For me I love being home, I love babywearing, I love having snuggly little nighttime bed companions. And when we are home I love watching their creative, pioneering spirits discovering what it is they are meant to discover. I think if you can find what you love and share it with your children, it makes everything more joyful.
The other thing I would say is that as mothers we all do things we are not proud of. Like yelling. I’ve yelled at my children untl they cried and then kept yelling even though I could see that they were getting upset because I was still so mad. And felt horribly, cripplingly guilty afterwards. But we are human, and imperfect, and it is natural to lose your temper from time to time. And I would even say that it’s good for children to see that their mothers aren’t perfect, that they cope with challenges and frustrations. And sometimes we cope well and other times not so well. So I apologise. And I trust that the apology is teaching them how to make things right when they do mess up as well as letting them know that I am sorry I took my frustrations out on them.
I also think that how you choose to think about your children makes a big difference to how you experience your day. Today Piper has the flu and was cranky and out of sorts all day. Sometimes it would be easy to think at the end of the day that I’ve had a hard day. But if I’ve had a hard day, imagine how much worse that day was for her. And the same goes if Riley is having a tantrum. It seems like I’m the one dealing with challenging behaviour. But Riley is the one who is scared because she has lost control of her emotions. I don’t think that way to be positive, or to put a positive spin on things. I think that way to honour their personhood and cherish their spirits.
But above all else I would say take the time. Babies don’t keep.
Thanks so much Zoey. What gorgeous girls! You can read more about what Zoey has to say on her Blog or connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. Hope you enjoyed what Zoey had to share.