In the first in our series on stay-at-home parents, Chelsea Houghton, 24, is glad to be with her children, Zélie, 15 months, and Gianna, four months, while embracing a self-sustainable lifestyle on a large section in Christchurch. Their home suffered some damage in the February earthquake but they hope to return to normal life soon.
OHbaby!: What was your job before kids?
Chelsea: I did communications and youth work for the Catholic Youth Team.
OHbaby!: What are the best and worst things about being at home with the kids?
Chelsea: I love sharing in the children's growing and watching their interests develop. It is often busy and challenging but it's great being the chief teacher and nurturer. My least favourite part is not having a moment to myself.
OHbaby!: How do you get a break?
Chelsea: The internet is a good way to socialise and escape and recently I started a blog. But the best way is getting the girls to bed and having an evening with my husband.
OHbaby!: What's your top tip for when everything turns to custard?
Chelsea: I bundle the girls in the pram and go for a walk - even just around the garden. We grow vegies and fruit and have chickens, so looking at what is growing or at the chickens is calming.
OHbaby!: What's the day's best part?
Chelsea: Probably meal times and before bed. It's nice to eat together and, if it's food from the garden, it's fun to pick, prepare and eat. It's a chaotic time, but satisfying.
OHbaby!: Do you think your children are better off with you are home all day?
Chelsea: I think so. It would be more difficult to do the things we do if I wasn't home. We are avid gardeners and try to be self-sustainable. We make pasta, do baking, preserves and whatever we can from scratch. We try to eat in the "locavore" way - this means trying to eat things grown locally, including trading homemade things.
OHbaby!: What do you miss about your old life in the workforce?
Chelsea: Having lots of contact with people outside. As a stay-at-home parent I could go a whole day without talking to anyone except my husband and babies.
OHbaby!: Do you find others judge you for staying home with the kids?
Chelsea: Sometimes you get that impression. I find people are harsher about us being young and critical about us having two children so close together.
OHbaby!: What is your parenting philosophy?
Chelsea: We hope to give our girls a "traditional" upbringing and so we try to do a lot ourselves in the way our grandparents and parents did.