Episode 12: Irene

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In this episode, I interview Irene who is currently studying and working out how to balance that with parenting her son and also being a carer for her elderly mother. She is living with the ever-present heaviness of grief after the loss of her husband and we talk about the sandwich generation, trying to prepare kids for the coming years, and single parenting.

The Lowdown

– Family of 3
– 1 parent studying part part-time
– 1 child at school
– 1 elderly parent


2:38 Sleep
3:30 Made a conscious effort to get better sleep
4:20 Trying to do too much after the kids have gone to bed vs. trying to get everything done during school hours
5:10 People with different rhythms living in the same house
5:38 Who are the people in your family
6:00 Mother and carer
6:24 Management of elderly mother as opposed to doing stuff for her
8:00 The Sandwich Generation
8:42 Quite a high level of sandwich with 3 generations living in the same home
9:40 Very big load being in the sandwich generation
9:44 Mother moving in added to the load but also had advantages for a single mother
10:14 8 am lectures on a school day
10:54 Another adult in the house who can provide child care, increasing adult interaction
11:24 Is extended family living in the same house a German thing?
12:30 Studying
12:46 Balancing study load, ability to still function OK, single parenting payment, university minimum requirements
14:00 Good balance about 12 hours on campus and 12 hours off campus
14:12 Feel like I need to put in extra hours compared to younger students
14:50 Very age diverse friendship group who are very caring
15:10 How to Uni hours and school hours line up?
15:24 Try to make it as 9-3 as I can but there are early and late lectures
15:50 Maximise every minute during school hours for off-campus work
16:00 Very little weekend study
16:40 The 2:30 lecture finishing time and school pickup
17:18 Parenting superpowers
17:20 Listening to my son
17:38 Children’s behaviours related to children not feeling heard
18:06 Making children feel like they are being heard is harder with 3 kids because there are so many immovable elements
18:40 The only child who doesn’t long for siblings
19:50 The superpower of independent play
20:00 The benefit of being a bit bored
20:48 The cardboard box is a great leveller
22:10 Husbands parenting superpower – patience!
22:26 Have less ability to be patient as a single parent living with a lot of pressure
24:34 Emotionally mature child, a big naturally and a bit due to circumstance
25:42 Growing up with responsibility
26:58 Can have responsibilities and still enjoy being a child
28:06 Using screen time differently – a shared activity instead of a distraction
28:50 Different daily rhythms between mother and son
29:52 Pushing out bedtime impacting on my time
30:24 How does that work with a teenager
30:58 Is the compliant child going to rebel more when they are a teenager?
31:54 Giving reasons behind the rules
32:40 Also need to be able to take things seriously even when there isn’t a reason given
33:38 Peer pressure and teenagers
34:12 If it doesn’t feel right don’t do it
34:32 Mistakes are a part of learning
35:18 This time is a good playground for fleshing out learning about the peer pressure issues
36:26 Give them some tools now to use later when the stakes are higher
38:08 What works well
38:12 Routine and structure
40:30 All things hammock
41:20 Has to be between trees – NO STANDS
42:56 What are the downsides
43:10 No one of my generation in the house
43:40 Having to make every decision myself
43:50 Complex and difficult relationship with mother
44:10 Trying to please someone else
44:36 Children being proud of themselves not looking to make others proud
46:46 Having that self-confidence and not looking to peers and others for approval
47:00 If you care too much what your peers think of you it can lead into making poor decisions
47:20 Health issues to do with long-term stress
47:30 Stress
47:54 No one has my back
48:36 Underestimating stress and the effect it is having
49:04 Only when the stress goes away you realise how big it was
49:58 Need to live, not just exist. When health issues stop you living it becomes quite an issue
50:14 The joy I get from study and spending time with my son
50:42 Next steps?
51:00 No changes now thank you!
51:50 Change is inevitable and not that far away
52:32 Planning for a future alone, and the restrictions that puts on things
53:22 Any advice
53:24 Don’t overload yourself
54:04 Gaining knowledge vs. gaining good marks
54:16 Missing children stuff from trying to do too much
54:48 Don’t miss those years with your kids because they disappear way too quick

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That's something I've tried to instil in my son as well, to not try to ever plase me, to do things that make his heart sing not mine   Don't miss those years with your kids because they disappear way too quick