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10 questions with Emily Writes

Traditions are great for families, so we’re starting one here at Family Times – asking a parent 10 questions. We get dozens of questions each day from our mini-me’s, so what’s 10 more? This issue, popular author EMILY WRITES is in the spotlight.

What do you play loud and proud?
My kids are going through a Queen stage so lately we have had Queen playing very loud. When I’m alone I prefer some Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant, Nick Cave or Portishead.

Your top parenting tip?
Reject perfection and just embrace the joy.

Worst parenting advice you’ve ever heard?
Almost all sleep advice is terrible. We need to change the narrative – most babies don’t sleep through the night for a long time. I wish it wasn’t considered such a milestone. We would get rid of most of the godawful sleep advice overnight if that was the case.

Most surprising thing about parenting?
I was surprised by how much it has changed me. I expected I’d be the exact same person just with a baby. But I’m profoundly changed, the whole experience so far has been very transformative and by far the best thing I’ve done in my life.

Favourite quote?
“There are parents who have waited their whole lives to love their children” – [NZ poet and writer] Chris Tse.

Who would play you in your biopic?
I would love it to be Kate McKinnon. I adore her.

A hindsight tweak you’d make to 2018?
Not taking time out when I was clearly about to have a burn-out, I should have asked for help sooner. It’s a regret but it taught me a lot about looking after myself.

Favourite family tradition?
We don’t travel at Christmas anymore and it’s wonderful. We stay in our PJs most of the day and we have a water fight and a nap in the afternoon. I have learnt that all children want is your time and I find I can’t give that easily if I’m travelling all over the place and stressed out about presents and driving the country. I love our tradition of just doing the easiest thing at the end of the year, it resets us and reminds us that all we need is each other.

What are you reading at the moment?
Omar Musa’s second collection of poetry Parang. Omar is a Malaysian-Australian poet from Queanbeyan, Australia. He’s so enchanting, just mesmerising. I am also reading Plum by Hollie McNish which is beautiful and funny and silly. I am about to dive into Headlands: New Stories of Anxiety collated and edited by Naomi Arnold. I can’t wait to read that – it’s so important that we share our experiences of mental health.

Practical parenting/social media advice?
Take naps. Be kind to yourself and your children because nobody knows how to do this – not us the parents, not our children either. We are all muddling through and doing our best, bumping into each other and saying sorry is important. Online: Assume positive intention, even if people are horrible. Remember you’re loved.

Emily is the mother of two lively small boys. Her first blog post in March 2015 went viral, reaching more than one million people in a few days, and her blogs remain popular with a broad group of readers. Her first book Rants in the Dark: From One Tired Mother to Another was published by Penguin Random House NZ in March 2017.

Reviewed by Ruth Agnew

Is It Bedtime Yet, the brilliant follow-up to Rants in the Dark, is another collection of essays about the “hilarious, hair-raising and heart-breaking” experiences of parenting, but this time Emily’s unguarded writing style is complemented brilliantly by essays from “friends”. The diversity of contributors provides a glimpse into the lives of blended families, rainbow families, full-time fathers, solo parents, older parents, parents with demanding jobs and more. We learn that, deep down, we are all bonded by our indefatigable love for our children. That, and our desire for a good night’s sleep.

I have never cried this much reading a book, and from such a range of emotions. Emily’s opening essay, ‘Welcome to the World, Mama’, had me sniffling at the heartfelt message, while Jessie Moss’s searingly honest account of navigating her six-year-old’s diagnosis with a genetic disorder almost broke me. The order of essays is extremely well thought out and a few pages later I was literally crying with laughter at ‘Translating the Crap We Say At Coffee Group About Our Kids’.

Emily Writes is, in my opinion, a national treasure, a taonga for Aotearoa’s mamas and  papas.

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