Kelly McDonough is not only a mum to five beautiful children all under the age of 10 but somehow manages to find time amongst packing lunches, school runs and house work to run her own business, Always Me. If ever a woman knew anything about juggling work and family, Kelly would be it.
Just in case she wasn’t already busy enough, Kelly will be contributing to Tinitrader as a guest blogger, and we had a chat with her about her background, the pros and cons of having such a big family, and how she ever finds time to relax! Tell us a bit about yourself and your background
I’m actually a registered nurse which I’ve been doing for 12 years but in the last couple of years since having our fifth baby I’ve left nursing and focused more on my business which is Always Me, where I design cot valances and bed valances. There called cot skirts made fun and bed skirts made fun. I love writing and am always on the lookout for new and interesting things that make our life as a busy family easier. I am constantly on the hunt for anything that is going to help us out as a big family.
What led you to start Always Me?
Basically I couldn’t find valances that were interesting for our cots. Because we’ve got so many products and kids things I wanted to use extra storage space under the cot so I wanted to hide it all but I couldn’t find anything that I actually liked. I started off just having some plain ones manufactured and then that’s just developed into using design and hand paint on different designs. As well as that I do custom design. Anything that takes advantage of the extra space and adds a bit of something special and personal to our kids room.
Tell us about your family
I’ve got five kids. One girl and Four boys. My oldest is almost 11 and my youngest is 2. The last few years have been pretty hectic. There ages at the moment are 10, 9, 6, 3 and 2. My husband is a paramedic, so he shift works and tries to help me out as much as he can with the business.
How do you find balance between family and work with 5 kids?
There is not a lot of balance. I find something drops off. If I try and focus too much on work, the house work slips, whereas if I focus too much on the house I get behind on my orders and my business and I don’t get enough time to put into it all. So there’s not much balance, if I get enough time on one thing, I take it and there are other days were its all over the place. So we just try and fit it all in where we can but there are a lot of late nights, my work hours are pretty much 8am-12am.
What is the hardest part about having a large family?
All the different demands of each child. Because they are all growing into different stages they all need different things. So your time might be helping one with homework or projects and another thing might be running someone to or from football or soccer. Then you’ve got the demands of the small kids were they just need your time and patience. So really, it’s trying to give everyone the piece of you that they need and trying to make them all feel special and counted and not just lost in the mix. That’s the hardest thing….then of course there’s the washing and the cleaning
What is the best thing about having a large family?
I couldn’t imagine it any other way. It just feels normal to us to be busy and when they do get along its fantastic. They are friends and they look out for each other and they just get used to be around each other. Seeing them all grow up together. I’m from a big family and my husband is form a small family so for me it feels normal but for him it seems chaotic but it just works. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Do you ever get time to relax and if so how?
Not a lot of time. We try and make a little bit of time when the kids are all in bed and my husband is home where we will sit down, turn everything off, and just sit outside and chat and just be on our own, which is nice to have that peace and quiet, and just talk without the interruptions. I love reading and online shopping and all the little things and anything that I don’t normally get time to do. We don’t get time to get out a lot on our own, so if we do get a chance, if someone bravely volunteers to babysit we take the chance. It’s just pretty much we enjoy the piece and quiet and catch up on just being ourselves.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Usually our day starts about 5am with the two youngest. Then from there gradually everybody else wakes up, usually everyone is up by 7.30. On a school day we are out of the house by 8.15. My husband is normally not here in the mornings, he’s either on a night shift or he’s already left at 5. Usually it’s me running around making breakfast, lunches, finding shoes and all the other things that seem to get lost. Then we do the school run. After that we usually stop at a park or the little ones run outside, have some morning tea and burn off some energy outside and I try and quickly answer some emails and book some orders for the courier. Then after that I make a block of time to spend with the boys by themselves, so I try and put my phone away so I’m not distracted. Then they go to bed and I try and whiz around and do half an hour of house work or cook dinner before I get stuck into work again and then we are back in the car at 2.15 to pick the kids up. We are then home by about 3.15, which is the afternoon bedlam of noise and hungry, tired children and homework. The little ones are always excited to see the big ones and the big ones don’t want to see the little ones. Then we start dinner and baths about 4.30, then they start going to bed at about 6.30 and are all in bed by 8.30. Then it is time to start work again. When I say it I think wow that seems really busy…. I think in about 5 years I’m going to look back and think I don’t know how we did that but I am glad it’s done
In what way will you be contributing to Tinitrader?
I just want to make sure any information I found out as a parent or that I’ve come across as a mother and a business owner is brought out to other parents who might be looking for something similar. Basically just trying to find things that either parents are interested in, that might make their lives easier or just really cool things that they may not have thought about or seen, just bringing those new things and novel things out into the open. So hopefully just finding a few little secrets or helping out with a few of the things that I’ve experience in my 10 years of parenting that might help someone else and at the same time might help me if I come across something new.