11 Questions with… Christine McNaughton. #bdk11Qs
04 Jun 2018
Welcome to “11 Questions with…”. This edition’s guest is Christine McNaughton.
Whenever I see the saying “In a world where you can be anything, be kind”, I automatically think of Christine.
She has a giving nature, genuine personality, and gentle outlook on life. One of the nicest people I know, Christine will go above and beyond to ensure her family and friends are always taken care of. I am truly blessed to call her a friend, and hope you get as much out of her “11 Questions with…” interview as I did.
11 Questions with… Christine McNaughton
1. Elevator pitch… tell us about yourself.
I’m a city girl, living in the country (on a small island in the middle of Lake Huron in Northern Ontario). I was born in Toronto, grew up in Montreal, taught in Japan for two years, taught in Toronto for a few years, and then moved to Manitoulin Island. I was vegetarian for most of my adult life, and then somehow ended up marrying a beef farmer. I work from home doing Digital Strategy and Community Management.
2. Your spouse… tell us about him.
My husband’s name on the blog is Farmer John. John and I were set up on a blind date when I first moved to Manitoulin Island. Mutual friends of ours (the owners of Gordon’s Park Eco Resort) thought we’d be a good match. Here we are, 12 years later! John is the type of guy who will give you the shirt off his back and help you out before helping himself. It’s an amazing trait, and sometimes I wonder if it is a blessing or a curse.
3. Your kids… tell us about them.
We only have one child… our daughter, Little One. She is 9. Little One was born at 28 weeks, and weighed 980 grams at birth. That’s 2 lbs, 3 oz. She had a rough start and spent the first three months of her life in the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Little One is a happy, healthy, funny kid, who loves science, art, reading, cooking, baking, and making her own bento lunches (see my Instagram for her lunch creations). She wants to become a NICU nurse when she gets older so she can help save little preemies like herself.
4. Do you have any pets? Tell us about them.
We have a two year old black lab mix and her name is Cupcake. Cupcake is a lovable three-legged dog. She was in a farm accident when she was 4 months old and had to have her leg amputated. That doesn’t stop her from having fun though! She can run 30 to 40 km/hr on only 3 legs! We have two cats, Spike and Princess Peach, three rabbits, Thumper, Marshmallow, and Georgie. We also have 29 hens, 2 roosters and over 100 head of cattle. The cows aren’t pets though.
5. What have been your biggest challenges as a parent?
My biggest challenges as a parent is knowing how to balance my time. With Little One’s activities, my work, the farm, the house, and everything in between, it makes it hard to have some “Shhhh” time. By that, I mean just quality time with Little One, chilling out and not doing anything in particular. I feel that like most families, we get caught up in the busy lifestyles that we have created, that we forget to take time out and just breathe.
6. If you could pick any career in the world for yourself, what would it be, and why?
Though I love what I do now, I would LOVE to be a full-time travel writer or a food writer. Before I got married and started a family, I traveled a lot. Every chance I had to get on an airplane, I’d take it. I had been to more Asian, Caribbean, Indonesian countries, and U.S. states than I have my own country. I’ve only been to five Canadian provinces! As for the food writer part? I love everything about cooking and sampling different types of cuisines. If there’s a particular meal I enjoy at a restaurant, I often try to reproduce it at home from the tastes and ingredients I’ve committed to memory.
7. Growing up, who inspired you the most?
Growing up, my grandparents inspired me the most. My grandmother was a school principal in the Philippines, so she inspired me to go into education and become a teacher. I taught from 1998 to 2012, before deciding to work from home as a Digital Strategist and Social Media Community Manager. My grandparents were the kindest, most giving, most hospitable people I knew. My grandparents used to watch us after school. They’d have “merienda” (snack) ready for us when we got in from school. They’d help us with our homework, and we’d sit in the kitchen watching them cook supper. The kitchen to me always was a place of learning. If you think of it, it’s the heart of the home and of the family. It’s where family discussions and talks about life happens. Anyway, my grandparents were always ready to lend a hand to everyone they knew. They used to set an extra spot at their table just in case someone was to drop by. My grandparents taught us about the importance of family.
8. How do you balance work life and family life?
This is something I am still learning how to master! I actually find work life and family life hard to balance. I work from home. I have client work all day. We also have a farm which I help my husband operate. John is a full time farmer, and also drives school bus and owns and operates a saw mill. We have to wear many hats to survive on the island. Then there’s Little One. She has lots of activities and a social life that leaves me exhausted. There’s piano, and kids’ club, and acro, and ballet. I had to put my foot down, or she would want to do countless more!
I guess what I have been learning to do to acquire some semblance of balance in my life is making sure that I TAKE TIME to just “be” with my family… unplugged from devices and the rest of the world. I try not to spend too much time online after work hours, because my family (and I) need that time together. We take breaks and do things outdoors together like go for a hike in our hardwood forest or go to the beach. Even in the cooler months, we go for walks or visit the waterfalls nearby. I have to admit that since having my concussion last year, I have been forced to take it easy. It was like a huge warning… like someone was telling me, “Hey! Slow down! Stop overworking yourself, or else your health and your family will suffer.” It was a forced break, but now that I am still in recovery, it has taught me to pace myself and really set a limit on the work I do… and to enjoy “Shhhhh!” time with the family. It was Laurel Crossley who told me about “Shhhh!” time. You know, when families just take that break and just “be”.
9. What advice would your “current self” give to your “just about to have my first child” self?
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. That’s okay. Don’t stress out about things you have no control over. It’s okay to make mistakes. That’s how we learn.
10. Has there been a piece of advice you were given about parenting that really stuck with you?
Yes. When we finally brought Little One home from the hospital (she spent a very long time in the NICU because she was a preemie), people kept telling me to sleep when she sleeps. Get rest when baby is napping. The dishes, and laundry, and everything else can wait. They were right. Rest was much needed! I wish I had listened to that more than I did!
11. What advice would you give to new parents?
I would tell new parents that they need to do what works best for their family. What works for one family may not work for another. Leave any guilt aside. Make mistakes. That’s how we learn. Be easy on yourself. Parenting is sometimes hard, so we don’t need added stress of trying to be perfect. Don’t try to be a perfect parent. Be a real one.
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Stay tuned for our next “11 Questions with…” feature.
Thanks for reading!
“11 Questions with…” is an on-going feature. I will be interviewing parents with the same 11 questions, who like me, live in the digital world. The goal is to examine different perspectives, advice, challenges, and experiences from how people parent their children, and live a successful work / life / online balance.
With all the challenges of parenting these days, we could all use stories from fellow parents, who may have already gone through a similar experience, or were offered advice that you could use.
If you would like to be interviewed for an upcoming edition, please contact me at email@example.com.