author of Planning with Kids
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
Born in Mildura, a country town 550km north west of Melbourne. I lived and went to school there until I was 17, when I moved to Melbourne to go Deakin University (Burwood). I studied a Bachelor of Business (Finance). I knew from the first year of study it wasn’t really my thing, but finished my degree anyway.
Spent most of my working life at a large Australian Telco, doing a variety of roles from Performance Manager to Call Centre Manager. Lived in the inner city of Melbourne, until our house was bursting with kids and toys and then we moved to a bigger house and big backyard in the inner east of Melbourne.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
12 – Journalist. I loved news and current affairs. Loved reading and writing, so it seemed like a logical career choice.
18 – Foreign Exchange Dealer – Did you ever watch the BBC series Capital City? Think my love of this show misled me.
30 – For want of a better word, an entrepreneur. I wanted to find a way to work from home, preferably online, with hours that suited a large family.
That I would work full time when I had my kids. Once I had my kids, this just wasn’t what I wanted to do or how I felt comfortable being a mother. I went back to work four days a week between my first and second child and have not worked out of the home since 2001.
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
(i). Meeting my husband Phil. Before this I was living pay-to-pay, pretty disorganised and had never left Australia. Phil helped me change this – I started saving money, started getting organised and took my first overseas trip.
(ii). Having my first baby. I had progressed well with my career and thought I would take only three months maternity leave. A week after the birth of our son, I had no idea what I was thinking when I made this decision, three months was never going to be long enough for me. I ended up taking nine months off and returning to work four days a week.
(iii). Starting a blog.
There were two key factors that played a part in me starting a blog. Firstly, I had been out of the paid workforce for 7 years and I felt like I wanted to learn some new skills. But with 4 kids at the time, I didn’t want to lock myself into a course that meant I would have to leave the house and run to someone else’s time lines. Secondly I had started to read a couple of blogs and could see what a wonderful medium they were to share knowledge. I figured I had accumulated some knowledge over the last 9 years that others might find helpful, so decided to give it a go. It was through my blog that the book came about.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?
As noted in my last answer, I blogged first then wrote the book. While I have a large audience who regularly reads the blog, there are many parents who haven’t become familiar with blogs yet, nor the information they can provide. The book shares my learnings with a much larger audience.
I work hard to make my blog easy to navigate, but as it is three years old now, there is great content that is buried in the archives. As new readers find my blog they don’t always have time to go back through years of posts, but a book has a contents page and index to neatly present the topics covered.
Planning With Kids is not your traditional parenting book. The emphasis is not on how to parent, but to share ideas that can help you get organised and leave more time for parenting. My approach is to streamline the known repetitive tasks of family life (eating, cleaning, getting ready for school etc), so you can then better manage the unpredictable (sick kids, fighting, tantrums and so on).
It is written so parents can read one chapter, take actions from the summary at the end and begin making a difference to their family’s life. But I don’t believe that one person in the family has to do everything to keep family life ticking along. The book highlights ways for partners and kids to become involved in all areas of the home, letting the primary carer to have time out too.
The book is action orientated. Through out the book there are links to downloads on the blog for tools and templates which will help readers make changes to the way they are currently managing their family. (Order your copy of Planning with Children here)
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
Help parents have more time being with their kids, not doing for their kids. To me the best part of family is being able to enjoy time hanging out with the kids. Cooking, cleaning, school runs, homework, sporting activities etc are all part of the regular workload of parents. If you can streamline the way you approach these, you can free up more time for the fun bits.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
Sir Ken Robinson. His work to try and change the way we educate kids in our schools is brilliant. His TED talk on Why Schools Kill Creativity is funny, passionate and should be heeded . He believes all kids have talents, but the education system squanders them – kids are currently getting educated out of creativity.
I do set pretty ambitious goals for myself each year. I often think if anyone else made me work as hard as I make myself, I would quit! I would like to turn my online ventures into a decent income with part time hours, by the end of 2012. Right now it is the opposite way around – loads of hours, small income.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
As a blogger, then writer, my advice is probably pretty obvious – start a blog. With five kids, I would have never found the time to sit down and write a book. Blogging gave me a writing discipline and a purpose and goal to my writing. It has also given me an audience for the book and a significant social media base to work with.
Nicole, thank you for playing.
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