I am delighted to be sharing this interview series with you, where I will be talking to a different woman every fortnight about parenting, motherhood, their daily rhythm and what makes a beautiful childhood. So without further ado, let’s meet the mother…
This week, I’d like to welcome Dutch photographer and mother of three Kelly Klockenbrink to Frida be Mighty. I first started following Kelly because of the beautiful photos she takes, and I was lucky enough to get to know the warm and wonderful woman behind the camera. I’m sure you will enjoy reading her answers as much as I do…
Can you introduce yourself and your family?
Hi, I’m Kelly, mother of three (Noël is 6 and the twins Fayenne and Liv are 3), photographer, wife and manager of any and all things in this household.
Do you have a daily rhythm? What do your days look like?
I have been working in this for a while and our days mostly look ok now but I’m still struggling a little bit to get it right. On a typical weekday we get up and start by getting everyone ready for the day. We leave the house at 8 to get Noël to school. We usually go grocery shopping then and are back home around 9. The girls get some free play time and I do things like laundry and other house related things. Around 10 we either go back outside (which I’ll admit doesn’t happen a lot midwinter) or we do an indoor activity together. This can be painting, yoga, playdoh, anything that involves either me being close or us working together. After the girls get to play some more and I either clean up or get lunch ready. We have lunch, play some more (I’m trying to get this to be some quiet time but it hasnt been easy with twins) at 13.30 we leave the house to go pick up Noël and when we return at 14.15-14.30 we have tea and read some books. After this we either go outside or to a garden centre or we play in the house until it’s time for dinner. We eat early, 17.00, because the evening routine takes up a lot of time. After dinner everyone showers, we play a little, read books, brush teeth and by 19.00 everyone is in their beds and I rush to my computer to get some editing work done!
Are there any philosophies or books which have influenced your approach to parenting?
When Noël was still a baby I started reading a lot of gentle parenting articles and they really changed my vision on parenting. Although I struggle to be patient a lot I do feel like the way you approach things can make a huge difference. Now trust me, I’m no saint here, I struggle to keep my cool a lot. Especially when one my girls is having a full blown tantrum. The girls are both very different and Fayenne is pretty high spirited which isn’t always easy to deal with. But over time I have learned what works best in those moments and even though I do get angry when she has one of those moments I now know that holding her close fixes the problem the fastest. I have also really been decluttering our home and it gives such a free feeling. No more stuff we never use, no more things laying around waiting for a never happening second life (in our home that is because I did actually bring it all to goodwill) and I have been doing the same with our children’s’ toys. We’re not minimalists and I don’t think we’ll ever manage to be but we are on the right track.
Many of my readers will know your photography work as you work for Wobbel and have taken beautiful photos of their products which they use on social media, often alongside Grimms products too. But they may not realise that you also do some incredible volunteering. Could you tell me a little bit about your work please?
I own my own business in photography. I photograph a lot of newborns, family lifestyle shoots, maternity shoots, small businesses and weddings. I also work for Wobbel and they are good friends with Grimms so I have shot things like give-aways. I’m also a volunteer for Earlybirds photography. We photograph premature babies in the hospital, which is something I feel very lucky to be able to do but is also very confronting sometimes. Some babies we photograph don’t make it and last week I even had to photograph the funeral of a mother I met in my work for Earlybirds last year who died of cancer. I’m very happy to be able to be of some significance in these situations but it is not something that is done without feelings.
You have three lovely children including your daughters who are twins! Can you tell me a bit about your experience parenting twins?
It has definitely been a wild ride! I remember the moment we found out we were having twins and let me tell you, I was in shock! First thing I was thinking was oh man Noël is going to be completely snowed under! In the end that luckily never happened, he has been a wonderful and caring big brother from day one, even though nowadays his sisters aren’t always the sweetest to him. When the girls were still babies it was very busy and there was little sleep and lots and lots of breastfeeding. And even though I was probably in survival mode I think that that was in some ways easier than actually having to parent them! I love them like crazy and they love each other, but man can they fight! Everything one of them has, the other one wants. At this point I think that is what makes having twins ‘harder’; it’s definitely not the having to care for two babies at the same time or all of the extra laundry, it’s the raising them at the same time that makes this twin thing more of a challenge. But what they say is also true… my hands might be full but you should see my heart!
Which aspects of parenting bring you the most joy?
When I finally have them in bed and everyone sleeps peacefully! Just kidding! That is a lovely moment though but what brings me the most joy are the little moments. When someone runs into my arms just to give me a kiss or hug out of nowhere. When I watch my children play together peacefully (even if it lasts like 5 seconds) or when I see them engrossed in play, when their faces light up because they have mastered something by themselves, when I get some one on one time with one of them and everything just seems to go so much smoother. But the greatest of all things great is when they all snuggle on the couch together and Noël reads them book!
Which parts of motherhood do you find challenging?
Definitely the fighting! And like every other mother (I think) I struggle with all the feelings… Am I doing it right? Should I have handled this situation differently? Am I going to screw them up? Are they still going to love me when they are adults? And many more of those fun thoughts which cross my mind on a daily basis!
How do you make time for self-care, and what does that look like for you?
That’s a good one! Its not always easy to make time for this but I do sneak it in. A long hot shower at the end of the day is on the top of my list I think. I do yoga on Monday night and when I really need to get out I go shopping by myself. Either just grocery shopping or to buy clothes for the children when they need new things or maybe a gift for a birthday or something like that. Also, I am fortunate enough to have a job that is also my hobby. So when I work (even though it’s always at the weekend) I’m basically on a mini vacation! Maybe that sounds corny but it’s true.
What do you think makes for a beautiful childhood?
A calm house, loving people surrounding you, beautiful open ended play, lots of nature time and many, many books.
If you could share one insight or piece of advice with other mothers, what would it be?
Oh gosh I don’t know. I think just to remind ourselves that our children don’t need a perfect mother. They need us. Just to love them and keep them alive. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing – that’s enough!
Finally, what is your favourite children’s book?
Oh there are too many! Ever since I discovered Montessori and what a Montessori book stands for I have really been enjoying reading those books to my children. We love The Polar Bear, The Blue Whale, Lots, The Street Beneath My Feet and many others like that. They are so beautifully illustrated and there is so much to learn – for me as well!