I’ve been reading Sarah’s blog for ages and I have to admit it’s one of my favourites. What I love about Mum of Three World is that Sarah’s family is nothing like mine. Her children are much older and their schools and activities are wildly different to the stage we’re at. And yet, I’m captivated every time I read it.
As well as being an amazing blogger, Sarah is a freelance writer, social media manager and super-mum to three fantastic children. When I asked her to take part in this feature she said she didn’t think she was inspirational enough. She is definitely someone who inspires me and I’m honoured that she agreed to be interviewed.
Tell me about the most unexpected change to you as a person or to your life since becoming a parent?
I think the most unexpected change, and certainly the most unwelcome, has been fear. I’m a much more nervous person than I used to be. I remember the very first time I took my baby boy out in the pram, over 15 years ago, and suddenly the world seemed a scary place. A dog looked in his pram! There were cars on the roads! And the cars had horrible, smelly fumes! They were going to poison my baby, without a doubt.
Before children, I had very little fear, but now I worry all the time, about things that might hurt them and about the small stuff like ‘have I remembered to hand in a letter from school?’. I woke up extremely early the other day panicking because I had to edit some music for my daughter’s ballet and I have no idea how to edit music. Mostly though, I worry about travelling and illness or, worst of all, illness while travelling. I don’t know what it is about travelling in particular that worries me, but it always does.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced since having children?
There are so many challenges, that it’s very hard to say which is the biggest. Every age and stage brings new challenges and every time you think you’ve got something sussed, the little sods move the goalposts. Stepping up from one child to two was hard, as was stepping up from two children to three.
Having a teenager is definitely no walk in the park. Right now, I really don’t understand what’s going on in my son’s head. Having a teenager means you lose that little bit of control you have with younger children, and that’s hard. Teenagers do random things at random times, without a thought for anyone else’s feelings. And then when you’re feeling thoroughly fed up and confused, they’ll ask for a lift. Right now. This very minute.
What do you regard as your greatest achievement?
Without a doubt my greatest achievement is bringing three kids into the world and having them grow up happy, healthy, confident and well-liked. What greater achievement could there be?
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What hasn’t killed you?
So many things! I’m one of those people that sweats the small stuff, so every time I have a ballet class clashing with a rugby practise, I worry about it. Every little parenting logistical nightmare is a challenge to me and I’m not sure it’s actually making me stronger or whether it’s just wearing me down. On the plus side, I’ve survived potty training, weaning, starting school, transfer to secondary school and all that other stuff, so I must be doing OK.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by any mother who has her sh*t together. Any mum who can work and look after kids and keep her sense of humour is an inspiration to me. But if you’re posting a fake view of a beautiful life on Instagram, I’m not interested. The people who inspire me are keeping it real. They won’t try to hide it when things go wrong. Because, let’s be honest, when you’ve got kids, things will always go wrong and no amount of Instagram filters is going to change that.
I have just invented a time machine (and you thought you’d achieved something great). You can now go backwards or forwards to any point in time and deliver any message to any person, what’s your message and who is it for?
My message would be for all teenage girls, past, present or future, who spend their lives worrying about their looks. Happiness can’t be found by having perfect hair, a perfect skin tone or by losing a couple of pounds. Likewise, it won’t usually be found with the most good looking boy in your school. So stop wasting your time and do something more useful or more fun!
If people judged themselves and others far less on appearance, the world would be a happier place.
You have the opportunity to influence the entrepreneurs of the future. What life changing invention would you like to see on the drawing board?
J K Rowling has already created my dream invention, although I’m pretty sure it couldn’t actually be made and I’m pretty sure it could be used to cause some serious damage. I’m talking about the time turner here. I wouldn’t want to change the past or future, I just want to be able to drop my daughter off at ballet and pick my son up from rugby without giving myself a minor breakdown.
I have waved a magic wand and all of your responsibilities have been taken care of for 24 hours. What are you going to do?
It’s hard to even get my head round being free of responsibilities for 24 hours, but it would definitely have to involve delicious food! I think a perfect day would be to catch a train to London, so I could have a nice long read in peace. Then I would have a nice lunch, almost certainly involving noodles, and go to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (which I tried and failed to get tickets for). Then I would eat more delicious food, probably more noodles, and head back on the train to read more. Food and reading plus Harry Potter sounds like a pretty much perfect day to me.
How can parents best be empowered to properly balance a career and a family life?
This is such a tough one. As a teenager, I believed women would have it all – that they would be able to have a successful career, working full-time if they chose to, and that children would be cared for in creches in workplaces. Sadly, a quarter of a century on, this still hasn’t happened. In the workplace, mothers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If you work full-time, you feel you are missing out on your children growing up. If you work part-time, you feel you are being pulled in too many different directions and you’re not a good enough parent or a good enough employee. My experience is that part-time workers are frowned on and don’t get the same opportunities for promotion, even though they are just as competent, if not more competent, than their colleagues.
I’ve worked for myself for the last two and a half years and it’s a far better way of life for my family and for myself. It means I can drop everything if a child is ill and I never have to miss an assembly or school concert. But sadly not all parents can work at home.
I would like to see the qualities parents can bring to the workplace, such as as responsibility, experience and the ability to juggle and prioritise, being more valued. It would be nice if parents could just nip out for sports day without people looking down on them. Unless employers support parents to combine work with their families, parents will never be empowered.
And it would be great to see those creches I dreamed of as a naive teenager!
You’re off for a night out tonight. Where will you go, what will you drink and what will be the topic of conversation?
As a teetotaller, the food is always more important to me than the drink. And it would have to be noodles (are you sensing a theme here?). I’d rather go to a restaurant than a bar or a club, due to the whole teetotal thing. I don’t mind being around people who drink up to a point, but when it gets beyond that point, I just want to get away – whether it’s my friends or strangers around me. Personally, I would be drinking still water. Bottled. I can’t bear tap water. I know bottled water is a rip-off, but I figure if everyone else pays money for their drinks, it’s no issue for me to pay either!
The topic of conversation would almost certainly be parenting anecdotes. It’s always best to steer clear of politics and the ‘big stuff’ just in case you disagree. Awkward differences of opinion don’t make for an enjoyable night out and when nights out are so rare I definitely want to enjoy it.