Mothering one child with illness would be difficult enough, but could you imagine mothering multiple children with illness? Tonight, I’m sharing my interview with Paige, a mum of 4 gorgeous children – 2 of which have different forms of illness – and small business owner as well! I hope you have your cuppa ready for this wonderful interview with an inspiring mum who is powering through it all with the love of her kids and her passion for her business.
Hi Paige! Thank you so much for joining us this week for our April edition of the Real Mums series – talking about mothering a child with illness. As a way of introduction, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
Hi and thanks for having me. I’m a mum of four young ones, two girls aged 8 and 6 and two boys aged 5 and 2. I also volunteer at my children’s school and work from home running my own business so life can get pretty crazy sometimes, but we are finally starting to settle into a routine now. I am a firm believer in mums helping mums and the ‘it takes a village’ approach. I feel we are all in this together, and should be raising each other up and lending a helping hand when ever possible.
What does an average week look like in your household?
Now that my eldest 3 are in school full time, our days a slightly different, and mostly revolve around school runs. My youngest boy goes to daycare 2 days a week now as well. One of those days I work at my older children’s school, and the other I work on growing my business. On the days my son is home, we often go to the park, or for play dates with friends, or sometimes working in our new herb and vegetable garden or seeing to our fruit trees.
How did you find out about your daughters’ diagnoses of cognitive language impairment, possible ADHD and shock induced seizures?
My oldest daughter has had trouble with her language and reading for some time. Her school has been providing a range of assistance for her which has been wonderful, but we have noticed that there has not been a great improvement so, on the schools advice, myself and the school have started the process to get her checked for a cognitive language impairment. This can be a lengthy process as there are many specialists involved along the way. Depending on the outcome of these tests, we will then be moving on and start looking at ADHD as both conditions can have a similar affect on a child so can be confused for one another. She was also recently prescribed glasses as her eye sight isn’t very good, We are hopeful this will help improve her reading.
My youngest daughter was diagnosed with having shock induced seizures in October 2015. Before then, she had had 5-6 seizures, one being that October. Because there is a family history of epilepsy, the doctors at the hospital decided to order for some tests testing for epilepsy. They where negative. The doctors then decided it was shock induced because of the infrequency of the seizures and that every time she had had one, she had gotten a fright first, such as receiving a injury or falling over. She also has atopic dermatitis (eczema) which makes her more sensitive to heat which means she can have a seizure if she gets too hot as well. Luckily this has not yet happened, but it is something we both have to be aware of.
How did these diagnoses impact your family?
I think it has impacted us in a positive way. I myself am now a more patient, and understanding mother and person in general simply because you never know what challenges another person is facing in there own life.
Do these conditions/illnesses change how you parent these children? If so, in what way?
These diagnoses have slightly changed the way I parent. With my eldest daughter, I have had to become a lot more patient when it comes to things like reading and homework as I now have a better understanding of how hard these things are for her. With my youngest daughter, I now panic a little when she bumps her head or has a fall in case she has a seizure, and with you eczema, it has meant we cant use certain types of soaps or washing powders etc because they will aggravate her skin.
On top of looking after your children, you have started your own business called AlterBubs. How did you come up with the idea to start this business?
I have always wanted to start my own business, since I was 12. For years though I kept putting it off and putting it off for one reason or another. After both of my daughters challenges and diagnoses, and after the birth of my fourth child, I had decided that working from home would be easiest so I could always be available for my child if they where to get sick or need time of school or something. I had spent some time thinking about what I wanted to do when I realized I had spent at that stage almost 9 straight years changing nappies, and was a big fan of reusable cloth nappies. So that’s what I decided to do. I then started one online store selling only nappies, but quickly changed it to AlterBubs as I wanted to include a whole range of baby goods, not just nappies. I am now in the process of creating a whole new eczema friendly baby skin care range inspired by my youngest daughter which I am very ecxited about.
How do you fit everything in? What is your secret to running a business a being a mum to 4 children with various needs?
This has taken me some time to work out, but have finally figured it out. Every night before I go to bed, I write out a couple of work related things and housework related things I need to get done the next day, I then circle the most important ones. I wake every morning at 4am and spend some time working on the circled work related project before the children wake. This gives me a good 2 hours of uninterrupted time to really concentrate on what I need to get done. I then do some housework while my children are having breakfast and getting ready for school. After the school run for my older 3, it is usually morning tea time for my youngest. I then finish off some house while he eats his snacks. Its usually then naptime, which allows me to get a few more work related things done. Then play time for the afternoon until school pick up.
If you could share some advice or encouragement for other mums facing similar circumstances, what would you say to them?
Be patient and remember, it’s not your fault. Be kind to yourself as well as your child. So many mothers forget to take care of themselves as well. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Make time for yourself.