Oh how I love this A Kid’s Life series! I’ve had so much fun interviewing families from around the world and learning about their daily rhythms and traditions. It’s so interesting to see what people from other cultures do differently and eye-opening to realise that sometimes a family from the other side of the world does the exact same things that we do.
This interview is with Jen who lives in Tasmania. Jen and I were introduced through a fellow blogger friend (one of the many great things about blogging!) and she was so warm, friendly and willing to participate in this little series. I love how she answered all the questions with so much honesty and humor. Jen talks about the famous “witching hour”, the “mom guilt” and the Lego marathons with her adorable sons.
Other than being a mom and working part time at a small bookshop Jen also owns Dish Pig which is a business that designs and sells stylish, vintage inspired souvenirs for Tasmania. Using modern typography they offer tea towels and aprons that are beautiful enough to be framed or made into cushions and not only used for drying dishes.
Jen is also the author of The Brother’s Trimm blog where she posts about great products for families, arts and crafts and kid’s fashion and literature. She’s also a contributor to several other blogs and has recently started writing for Anorak magazine. Like with many of my past interviewees I’m in awe at the amount Jen does. Please let me in on the secret on how you make it all work!
Let’s hear what Jen has to say about her and her family’s daily life…
What country do you live in?
We live on an island called Tasmania, it’s the southern most state in Australia. I like to think of it as the Hawaii of the Antipodes…without the pretty lei’s, awesome surf and tropical hot climate!
Are you and your husband the same nationality?
No, my husband is from New Zealand and I am Irish.
Do you both work? Or does someone stay at home?
My husband is an executive sous chef, while I am a Jack of all trades. I’m a children’s bookseller, blogger, children’s event organiser and small business owner, running a little homewares business called Dish Pig. I work at a lovely local indie bookshop 3 days a week, otherwise I work at night when the kids are in bed.
How many languages are spoken in your house? What one(s)?
English and a few chosen words in Irish when I’ve run out of patience with the kids.
How many kids do you have? What are their ages?
We have two boys, Jack is a thoughtful 5 year old while Charlie boasts a rambunctious 3.5 years.
At what age do kids start school in your country?
In Tasmania, kids start kindergarten the year they turn 5. In other states around the country it differs. Ridiculous I know. Our boys attend(ed) an early learning centre which introduces kindergarten methods from an early age. This really helped Jack in his transition to ‘big school’ and Charlie is chomping at the bit to get started.
During the school year what time do your kids usually wake up?
Without fail, our youngest is awake and nestling into our bed just after 6. He knows the silent drill until the alarm goes off not long after. Our eldest will usually wake up around 6.30am
What do your kids typically eat for breakfast?
Porridge,weetbix or muesli with a yoghurt, honey and berry topping are on high rotation.
What time does school start? What time does it finish? What is the weekly school schedule?
I drop off Jack at 8.30 for a 9am start with Charlie arriving at his preschool just before 9. Kindergarten differs to regular school, they only attend 3 days from 9am til 3pm with a half day on Wednesdays. From prep upwards it’s 5 days a week, 9-3pm for primary school. After school care is offered at Jack’s school which is a lifesaver for someone like me. I collect them at 5 and 5.15 pm respectively and we are home by 5.30pm
Do your kids learn a second/third language at school? From what age?
Not yet, but French, German, Italian, Indonesian, Japanese and Chinese are all offered in primary schools as part of the curriculum. Not all schools offer all 6 languages. It usually differs from school to school.
Do your kids eat lunch at school or home? What is a typical lunch for your kids?
The boys both eat lunch at school and preschool. They’ll have a sandwich, crackers, yoghurt, fruit (fresh or dried), a mini salad and a bottle of water.
Do your kids do any after-school activities?
Not at the moment while they are still young, but the school offers karate, soccer, film and book clubs. There’ll also be the future guitar lessons I’m sure I’ll be nagged for…
What time do you eat dinner? What’s a typical dinner you would eat?
During the week, we try to eat at 6.30pm, perhaps a little later at the weekend. A typical weekly menu would include meatballs, fried rice, a pasta something or other, sausages with lots of veggies, roast chicken and the friday night obligatory home made pizza.
How much television/computer time do your kids have on a daily basis?
No computer time yet, but TV is usually allowed during the witching hour while I cook dinner. We are a little more relaxed on Saturday mornings.
What time do your kids go to bed?
I have them in bed at 7. Depending on their day and mood, they’ll be asleep in 5 minutes or still be ”reading” at 8.
What are some typical family week-end activities?
Unfortunately Daddy is often working at weekends so I tend to fly solo. We catch up with pals or enjoy a bush walk (we have a stunning selection of native forest and walking trails here). The aim is to get out as much as possible really and burn off the boys unending supply of energy. If the weather isn’t great, we might head to the local museum, visit a market or stay home for a lego marathon.
When do your kids have vacation from school?
This is our first year experiencing school holidays and it seems Jack has vacation time every other week! There are 3 terms here so apart from summer holidays (Christmas – February), there is a couple of weeks break at Easter, June and September.
What do your kids do during the summer vacation?
I hate answering this question as I’m riddled with guilt. Having no family here means we are really stuck when it comes to summer vacation. It’s the busiest time of the year for my husband and I too have to work, so 3 days a week the boys either attend daycare of vacation care. This summer will be our first year trialling vacation care for Jack. My saving grace is that they’re not away from home 5 days a week, otherwise the poor kids would never have a rest. Next year we’re planning a special family holiday overseas during the Tasmanian winter to make up for our summer non-vacation.
What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?
Rice porridge is the norm followed by stewed pear and apple. Then it’s pumpkin time and the palate slowly develops from there.