I haven’t been to the toilet alone in almost 15 years, so I would say that parenthood has changed me. Life before kids (BK?!) meant sleep-ins, going out for breakfast, ordering what I wanted, eating the whole thing on my own, reading the paper uninterrupted and creating the day away.
There’s really no such thing as ‘normal day’ in my life after kids (AK), but there’s loads of hair braiding, farming, baking and making. What we do and how we do it changes with the seasons.
I honestly don’t think I had any idea what to expect of motherhood; everything that came with the territory has been unexpected. What has surprised me the most is that babies grow up. When we decided to have a baby, it never, ever occurred to me that one day I would be parenting a 14 year old.
What I wish I’d known before I was pregnant was that you can make the most beautiful, creative birth plan, but babies have plans of their own.
The best parenting advice I’ve been given is to follow the advice they give you on airplanes: put my own oxygen mask on before helping the girls with theirs.
I’m happiest, most fulfilled and most Kate Ulman when I am creating. The best creative advice I’ve been given is that even if you’re not feeling creative, sometimes you have to just start the process and make crap to get yourself in the zone, and hopefully creativity will follow.
On becoming a farmer…
In 2001 we spent months driving around Victoria looking for properties to buy and move into, when we found ourselves walking through an organic apple orchard just out of Daylesford. I picked an apple and passed a bit of it to six-month-old Indi who was on my back, and when we saw her delighted reaction, we knew we had found our home and our farm.
Daylesford Organics is a small certified organic and very biodiverse family farm in the hills outside Melbourne. We grow veggies, keep chooks for eggs, manage the forest that makes up half of our land and have thousands of fruit and nut trees, including almost one thousand apple trees.
When times are tough, what keeps me going is my intense love affair with Mother Nature and an unwavering belief in living a sustainable and dirty existence – and a partner who shares my dreams.
The best farming advice I’ve been given is to be patient. Don’t rush things. Stand back and watch how things change over seasons, and then make your plans.
Farming organically is about being kind to the planet rather than just about growing food. It’s healthier farming, it’s safer farming and it’s yummier farming.
Mostly children love working alongside their parents, and being surrounded by delicious produce doesn’t hurt either. Farming is fun.
I feel like there are so many opportunities in motherhood for creativity: from dressing our kids, to styling their hair, arranging our houses, planting and growing our gardens, singing lullabies, making up bedtime stories, making cool lunchboxes and planning birthday parties, all the way through to painting, knitting, blogging and scrapbooking. I guess seeing our everyday world as a creative opportunity is what makes life the most fun.
On having enough time…
Honestly, I just grab moments whenever I can. I never sit down without my knitting, I prioritise craft over housework and I take photos of what we are doing all the time. I wish I could carve even more creative time out, but then my kids would probably never eat.
How did I come to be a baker, knitter, crafter and author? I’m not sure how to answer that question, because all of those things are just who I am. It’s like asking me how I came to have blue eyes.
What does it mean to you to be an Australian creative, who is also a mother?
Our house is nestled deep in a forest of eucalyptus and backs onto the Wombat State Forest. Where we live can’t help but influence my creativity and my work.
43-year-old Kate Ulman is a baker, knitter, crafter and author. She lives and works on the Daylesford Organics farm in Victoria with her farmer boy, Bren, and their three children, Indigo, 14, Jarrah, 11, and Pepper, 7. Visit her blog Foxs Lane, follow her on Instagram , Twitter, and Pinterest.