Erin Mallinder is the co-director and digital publisher of Mamma Knows West in Melbourne and editor of the Mamma Knows East website. It’s an online guide provided for parents looking for kid-friendly resources in their local community.
Thinking her experience as a primary school teacher of six to seven year olds and 10 to 11 year olds would be the perfect background for motherhood, Erin quickly realised that compared to the relative orderliness of teaching, motherhood’s 24-hour ‘on switch’ brought an unexpected level of exhaustion and chaos.
With her youngest having to be in hospital for two weeks before coming home, Erin says it was the longest fortnight of her life. At home, on the other hand, two weeks will fly past.
“It’s the shortest and longest time, all in one. Some days will seem like years, others are gone in a moment.”
You’re a new person now
“I thought I’d learned patience through my teaching, but it’s a whole new world with your own, Erin says. “You discover endless patience and learn new skills every day. You have to be more grown up when you become a mum”.
On the flip side, Erin says she has rediscovered her own childhood and remembers being a kid again as her own children grow and learn.
“My creativity gene has re-emerged and I found a new side of myself through photography. And I’m more passionate about my work with Mamma Knows East because it’s so meaningful and relevant to where I am in my life now.”
“Motherhood can be a lot of laughs. One of the most memorable moments was when Eliza sat up in bed one night and announced ‘I can’t sleep, I need a haircut.’ This was especially weird, because up until then, she had never had a haircut. We were gobsmacked.”
Connecting with tribe
Erin has found that it’s vital for her sanity to get out of the house and find connections through formal and informal mothers’ groups. “You’ll probably find them through your local library or just by going to coffee shop meet-ups with friends.”
“Just a brief change of scene can mean a lot,” she suggests. “You’ll share what you’ve learned and ask about what you need to know and have a few laughs. You’re not alone.”
The Pines, Erin’s local plant nursery, has thoughtfully combined a café and playground and is the perfect one-stop meeting place.
“It’s easy because the kids are in and out of the car once. They can play together while you relax and talk and keep an eye on them. And you can pick up your garden supplies there too.”
Three generations on Mother’s Day
“Mother’s Day will go all weekend for us, as there’s my grandmother, my mother and me to celebrate. Sunday is my day and time with my mum and grandmother will be on Saturday. We’ll just take it easy (no shopping) - just walking the dogs and avoiding the crowds. Relax. It doesn’t have to all happen on one day.”
About: 'Those who mum' series
Meet 40 women across Australia, from as far as Cairns in North Queensland to Baldivis in Western Australia, as part of a 40-part editorial and portrait series that celebrates the faces of women and mums from across Australia.