I don't know about you, but I'm already exhausted and it's only March. This letter caught me on a day where, for what is meant to be the third preschool day in a row, the two kids are under my feet. The only reason I have time to write this, hurriedly and with a lot of frustration, is because my youngest, Tully, only 14 months, has finally fallen asleep after some hefty resistance!
Preschool is fabulous. They ride horses after morning tea, play for hours in the sandpit, ride bikes, chase chickens, pick plums from trees. Glen and Christine mind the kids for two days a week and have Hartley, 3, helping with growing cherry tomatoes, edge trimming, trips to the beach and practically a second home.
But then runny noses happen. Suddenly it's balancing a laptop on the couch, while Play School is going full ball. Or it's grabbing a bunch of biscuits from the cupboard in the hope that will keep them quiet while you make a quick phone call. It's hoping Dad will come home from milking and farm work in time to pitch in so you can join the Zoom meeting; when he doesn't, you're left with the baby on your lap, quite literally.
This will be all too familiar for those of you with kids at school and preschool, trying to negotiate Covid-19 and work. Hats off to all of you. It's bloody tough. Raising kids really does take a village. But even with wonderful helpers, when the kids can't go to preschool, it seems to fall to me. I'm the one who works from home and am - obviously - available anytime. Straight away I'm renegotiating meetings, reshuffling the team, and all the while this edition's print deadline is coming at us like a freight train.
This week has meant some fairly tough conversations in our house. About whose responsibility it is to care for the children. About what role women have in and outside of the house. About whose work is more important. There's that saying that childcare is the key to women's ability to work. And it's so true. Meanwhile, Mike is off to milk cows. Somehow, we got this edition out the door. I'm so proud of our team. We've gathered stories of everyday women from across the country, down back roads, from little villages and of country halls and abandoned tennis courts. It's impossible to have a favourite. I hope you find it relatable, too.
Facing this imbalance at home really made me confront a major theme we're planning to explore during winter about domestic and home life. And I don't mean women in frilly aprons having meat-and-three-veg on the table at 6pm. I mean the trials of empty nesting, divorce, the gender gap in the mental load of running a household and finding a balance with a partner who works long hours. You know: reality. We want to hear about the stories that would be meaningful to you. Where should we visit? Who should we talk to? How do you make it work in your home?
Whether snuck in between watching the kids play sports, a quick lunch during autumn calving or over a relaxing Friday night by the fire, enjoy the read.
This letter appeared in the Ngahuru Autumn 2022 Edition of Shepherdess.
This story is the first in a series where we share, in their own words, the stories of ten women who call Tararua home.
The short course full of “useful little gems” to help identify stress and prioritise wellbeing in yourself and others
Alice Trevelyan, 33, completed the ‘Know Your Mindset. Do What Matters’ programme with her husband, Dave.
This story is the second in a series where we share, in their own words, the stories of ten women who call Tararua home.
I grew up in St Leonards in Dunedin. We have a close-knit family, and all lived within the same block at the time.