The Wonder Years: Erin Short

The Wonder Years: Erin Short

Parents of small children are amazing. You are juggling all the juggles; keeping small humans alive, a house (vaguely) tidy, feeding yourself and others, dressing yourself and others, maybe working, maybe exercising, maybe pursuing passions. The first years can feel frantic one day and magical the next. We believe these are the years we’ll look back on with a wistful smile. The Wonder Years series chats to other parents about the highs and lows of parenting and finding joy (or at least some sanity) in the simple things.

To kick off our content series The Wonder Years we spoke to Arti Mae founder Erin Short about parenting two little ones, beach days and slowing down. Erin lives on the Sunshine Coast with her partner James and children Arthur (3) and Maeve (11 months). She is a creative director by day for local agency The Various Artists and alongside Arti Mae, her and James run Drifters Campervans, a van rental business. She’s all about the juggle!

Describe your perfect family day:

We’d start with an early morning beach trip, before it gets too hot, and spend a few hours relaxing, swimming and building intricate sand cities for Arthur’s cars. By mid-morning everyone’s hungry so we grab brunch at a local cafe. As it’s my perfect day both children sit quietly at the table, eat all their food up and no babyccinos are spilt! The afternoon is spent at home, playing together and swimming in the pool. 

Your favourite thing to do with your kids?

As an activity, a camping weekend is hard to beat. Fresh air, surrounded by nature, warm evenings under the stars = bliss. 

Otherwise my favourite thing to do is just to observe them. Arthur is old enough to get engrossed in play and I love listening to his stories and watching how he interacts with the world. Maeve is at that beautiful age where she is delighted by the smallest things and constantly surprises me by learning something new. I still pinch myself that I made (with some help haha) these two little human beings with their own personalities and quirks; it’s so surreal and so normal at the same time.

What are you most proud of about your children / your parenting? Any parenting wins?

Such a hard question! It’s hard to know if it’s just their personalities (or mine) but I’m pretty happy with how chill they are. We can take them most places - food shopping, house hunting, friend’s houses with no other kids - and gennnerally speaking there’s no whingeing or discontent from either of them. Maeve is still little enough to just carry around but it never feels like a insurmountable task to get shit done with two kids in tow. Gotta be doing something right...right?!

Any embarrassing stories/fails relating to parenting?

I remember the first time I thought I’d failed at parenting…Arthur was about 10 months old and not walking solo yet but he loved to push his wooden walker about. He got fed up walking across the room to hit a wall and I got fed up turning it around for him so I took him out on the street so he could roam free. He was delighted! We spent 10 minutes trotting up and down, I took photos and videos of his happy little face. And then we were back inside, I was absolutely mortified to find he’d taken the skin off his big toes. I hadn’t even considered putting shoes on him and his poor little baby feet weren’t made to be dragged along bitumen. Of course he healed pretty quickly but I felt like I'd damaged my perfect little baby – the mum guilt was high that day.

What have your children taught you?

They taught me to stop trying to do everything at once and just slow down. Maeve particularly, because she’s the second baby and I’m acutely aware of how quickly time flies on by. With her, I more easily accepted the bad nights or days (ok, months!) when she would only nap on me because I’m more aware that everything passes and babies go through such phases of change. I can confirm that at 11 months old she sleeps in her cot (and now I miss the cuddles).

How do you juggle being a small business owner with small children?

A lot of late nights working. Much less doable when Maeve was little and not sleeping because you can’t go to bed a 11pm if she’s already woken twice and you’re snatching sleep between feeds/cuddles. But I’ve always been a night owl and my brain fires up once the sun goes down so I'm happy working for an hour or two in the evening. I’d love to try that thing where you get up at 5am and start the day – but it’s just not me.

Best advice you were given about parenting:

Something along the lines of “every child is an individual; they won’t be like their mates or even their siblings or parents so don’t compare them” I love this sentiment so much. As a parent it’s hard sometimes to let go and let your kid make mistakes or do things their way (especially if you know your way is 10 million times quicker) but letting them explore the world on their terms feels really important to me.

Your advice for new parents:

As above; don’t compare your baby to anyone else. Remember everything is just a phase so even the bad days will be a distant memory - but also don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Never play the game of “who is more tired” with your partner; everyone is tired, nobody wins And lastly; don’t listen to other people’s advice (especially from well-meaning strangers in the supermarket).

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