This interview is with Niki (mum_flew_over_the_cuckoos_nest) who is, quite frankly, a marvel. With five children, she manages to post honest but charming photos on her Instagram and you can learn more about the challenges her family face in terms of their health on her blog. They’ve definitely been on a journey over the last few years, and I feel as though they deserve to be celebrated.
1) Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
My name is Niki. I’m 37 and I’ve been with my partner Alex for 21 years. We have five children. Brandon 20, Jade 18, Gracie 9, Georgia 5 and Ella 3. For 12 years I worked as an orthopaedic nurse but recently took a break to look after the children so I’m now a SAHM. Alex is a manager for a company that distributes stock for a shopping Channel.
2) If you could give one piece of advice to an expectant mother what would it be?
To be honest. There’s loads of advice I would give but I would say trust your Instincts. You will know that child better then anyone else. You will learn the cries, the babies personalities and your life and routine is unique to your family. So your instincts will tell you what feels right for you. This will come with everything from routine, feeding, bedtimes down to your child being unwell.
3) All of us parent differently and have different values. What is your most important parent value?
I think it will probably be…be a nice person. A small gesture can make a big difference. When I was a student nurse I remember someone saying ‘treat every patient like you would want your nan to be treated’ now unless you hate your nan then this is pretty explanatory. When my girls say someone was crying in the playground or had no one to play with I encourage them to go speak to them. Ask them to play. Invite them into your game. They may not take up the offer but at least you offered. You never know what’s going on in people’s lives so small gestures can be big.
4) What motto do you try and live by?
I love the quote ‘Everyday may not be good but there’s something good in everyday’ Being a parent is hard hard work. Trying to juggle raising children that will hopefully grow into decent human beings. Managing a home, working etc can take its toll. Kids are not always aware of the daily pressures us mums face and sometimes make life difficult for us. We also live in an age where we are judged at every opportunity on the decisions we make. It can also look like everyone else is living perfect lives but Remember every child will throw a tantrum, will embarrass you and Play up at some point usually in a public place. Don’t dwell. Don’t compare. (Easier said then done when your having a crap day) Cope with the bad and enjoy the good. Something good usually happens. Even if it’s when they whisper ‘I love you mummy at 9 o clock at night melting your heart after you’ve wanted to throttle them the entire day for horrific behaviour (may have happened to me this week)
5) What are your hopes for your children?
Firstly to be happy. Whatever that maybe doing. I also hope they realise that me and their dad love them more then anything and that we may have not always got things right but we did our best.
6) Your three year old daughter has epilepsy. How has this impacted your family’s life?
Ella was diagnosed with epilepsy in January after we woke at 4.30am in the morning when she was lying next to me (Many parents disagree with co sleeping. This saved her life) having a seizure.
At 5am I glanced at my 3 eldest children standing on the stairs as five paramedics dealt with their little sister. It’s an image I will never forget. They had woken confused to the drama happening in their home unaware of what was happening to their little sister.
Ella was post ictal following the seizure for 30 minutes. She didn’t blink, move her eyes, move and we couldn’t tell when she was breathing. They have since dealt with many ambulances Turning up at our house all times of the day.
Ella now has a seizure plan and she’s allowed 5 minutes before an ambulance is called.
Family life is hard. The mornings when I have had to phone the school to say the girls are going to be late because their sister has had a seizure and I’ve been dealing with her (their dad works 1.5 hours away and this is the reason I gave up work) or the times I’m trying to sort someone else to pick them up from school because we are in hospital.
But in some ways it’s made us stronger. We have pulled together because we’ve had to. My other children are very protective of her and have seen a lot in the last 8 months.
7) your two youngest daughters have problems with their kidneys and you recently gave up your job as a nurse to look after them. Do you think there is enough recognition in society for stay at home mums in society these days?
No I don’t. I am always, or at least I feel I should justify why I’m not at work. People seem to ignore the fact that I worked very hard for many years. Yet because I’m taking some time out it’s all irrelevant. This all comes back to not knowing what’s going on in people’s lives.
If people just concentrated on their own lives and not worry about what’s going on in other people’s we will all get on so much better.
8) You have five children. Do you find people want to pass comment on this and have opinions on it?
I have to say, I have never dealt with any negativity. Or none that I know about. I may get the odd comment in jest or ” do you have a TV?” But mostly people have been fine.
9) Your eldest children are young adults now why your youngest three are under 10. Do you think attitudes to parenting changed between your eldest two and younger three?
Loads has changed from weaning to car seat regulations but the biggest change is every parent seems to think it’s their right to comment and judge every other parent on every aspect of raising children. I appreciate we now live in a world where we share so much but even positive stories will be judged and negativaty will surface.
I’m quite thick skinned and I’m also very confident in my parenting abilities but others may not be. So comments can be hurtful or make a perfectly capable mum question her abilities. I really think we need to support one another more not knock each other down at every opportunity.
10) Parenting is tough and beautiful all at the same time. Can you tell us about a tough time and a shining moment that you’ve had as a parent?
I think the tough time has been since Ella was born. Especially as a baby. She screamed non stop Day and night. So much so I constantly took her to the doctors as she seemed to be in pain. It wasn’t crying it was a heartbreaking scream.
At the same time Georgia was also crying non stop and her kidney infections had just started,
They both screamed non stop and looking back now I don’t know how I coped. That went on for 7 months until Ella was rushed into hospital with a severe kidney infection. She was so poorly but after that her screaming started to settle. Unfortunately we didn’t realise it was the start of a lot of kidney problems for both girls.
For the shining moment I think it’s how well they have all coped. I’ve watched how strong and brave they all are dealing with everything that’s going on and I’m proud of every single one of them.
I loved learning about Niki and her family – I hope you did too!
Instagram – mum_flew_over_the_cuckoos_nest