The Mum Network

Inspired By: Louise Oxford, Wife, Mum, Teacher oh, and 7 children!

The response to our first Inspired By interview was phenomenal, so it’s back for a second week and this week we’re profiling an incredible woman who Inspires The Mum Network.

Meet Louise Oxford. Louise is one of the most phenomenal women I know. She’s a loving wife, a dedicated mother and she’s a high school teacher. Louise would say she’s no different to any other working mother but there’s a big difference between her and other Mum’s I know. Firstly, she has 7 children, yes 7. Six robust and active boys and one beautiful girl aged between eighteen and one and a half.

The second reason she’s phenomenal is because, in the brief pockets of time I get to spend with Louise at birthday parties or social events, she always leaves me thinking about new ways to approach old challenges (yes, she’s the mother who inspired my coathanger obsession in a previous post HERE!). She inspires me to be a better, more calm and organised mother and despite the mountains of experience she has with kids of all ages, she never comes across as condescending or more knowing. She’s down to earth, always looks like she’s just walked out of a beauty salon and has the best relationship with her kids that I’ve ever seen. As one of 5 kids herself, she comes from a large close family where her siblings are her best friends. We asked Louise a few “Inspired By” questions and it’s worth reading every word, there are some real gems in this one:

What’s your greatest achievement?

Juggling my family and my career

What is your definition of success?

After a day’s work, feeding the kids dinner, bathing, homework x 6, reading a story to the younger ones or bribing an older child to read to a younger one, solving one or two dilemmas of the teenage world and getting everyone tucked in bed safe and sound including hubbie (making sure the dam wi-fi is turned off as someone is always trying to smuggle some technological device into a bedroom to speak with friends at all hours of the night)

Success is sitting alone in peace in front of the television armed with the TV remote, a cup of tea and a bar of chocolate .Priceless!

How important is family and extended family in your life? What part do they all play in your day to day life?
Family is all encompassing for the most part family is your greatest support and at times what would appear to be an insurmountable obstacle. Alan and I always wanted a large family he was an only child and did not have a very happy childhood. I think that’s what makes him such a great dad that he tries to give the kids what he never had. I am one of 5 children and had a very happy childhood . I have 3 sisters and a brother all of whom I am very close to. My two younger sisters live in walking distance to me and our children are all good friends and go to the same school we help each other out . My dad passed away from liver cancer two years ago that really shook our family to the core he was all about family and invented lots of rituals and traditions that we carry on today like celebrating St Nicholas the Dutch tradition we put out clogs which get filled with gold coins and we eat far to much food in the true Christmas spirit and then go round the streets looking at all the Christmas lights. My family immediate and extended always give me inspiration and at times leave me in desperation but that is family.

What’s been the biggest change you’ve noticed or changed yourself in parenting and teaching over the last 10 years?

I think I have chilled out a little. I’m not sure whether that comes from my teenagers telling me to take a chill pill,calm my farm or being told to get real!! I have realised that it takes a village to raise a family. Take help and advice when offered and ask for help even if that is as simple as getting someone in the local shop to help you to the car with your shopping when you’ve called into the shops for bread and milk and come out with a a trolley load and 3 or 4 hungry kids in tow .

Take on and implement the advice from others if it fits use it and disguard what doesn’t work for you and yours. With parenting I have learnt some times when you least want to give your child a hug that’s the time when you need to the most. Try to be a river rather than a rock especially in dealing with those teenagers reverse psychology is also quite effective as is bribery with a tuckshop order for the younger ones. In fact money seems to appeal to all ages even the 18 month old seems to have a handle on it go figure!

Technology is the biggest juggernaut of change to impact both my family and my teaching in the last decade. You cannot escape it but you can use it as a tool. I have just joined facebook this week to stay in touch with my 18 year old son who is overseas in LA after finishing his HSC.! Now there another whole chapter for discussion. Can I tell him not to swear on his profile page or will he defriend me and then I have no portal into his world (Yes I can that’s my job ).

Whether in the class room or at home its iphones, ipods, ipads ,i need. I need your attention can I have some eye contact with a human instead of a screen no skype does not count. Don’t get me wrong I love technology but as with most things its great in moderation.

Hot tip: Just remember if you teach in a room where every child has a laptop the only way to really know what’s really going on is to teach from the back of the room where you can see what their looking at on their screen.!

What is the response people usually give you when you’re introduced as “Louise with 7 children”

Oh, Oh ,Oh You look great for 7 children. Does that translate to “You look great for 7 children but crap for two?” Most people are fairly positive I get asked “Don’t you have a television?” I’m sure people think we are into natural family planning (Did you plan to have that many?) or “Are you fundamentalist Christians? or “That’s a lot of baby bonuses” The baby bonus is a recent phenomenon and is not really a bonus more a couple of electricity bills or morgage payments for those who know the cost a raising a family.

I would love to say we are sex maniacs are are currently in counselling. Seriously most people are strangely fascinated in a positive way. Lots of older people i.e. 50 plus say “I wish I had more children” or “you’re so lucky”. People become even more gobsmacked when they find out I have 6 boys and think we were just trying for the girl, it’s not true, they are all great.

Little Sarah (8years) gets dragged to rugby ,soccer, cricket she is proficient discussing in most boy issues. Sometimes we need to have little girl time, I tell her we don’t yell out Oi Oi out the car window to people to get their attention I tell the boys she is not a WWE wrestling partner nor do I want to find her packing down in the front row with them in a games of rugby as her brother knocked out one of her teeth in a tackle lucky it a a first tooth and was wobbly. She can be quite the princess at times but she knows there is only one queen in the house and that’s me although she does give me a run for my money and is muched loved by all.

Those boys can keep you busy. When the boys were younger before going to anyone’s house I always use to stop at a park or sporting field on the way and get them out and run them around like a mini boot camp so they would sit and be reasonably behaved for at least half an hour. People would say your boys are so good just sitting there drinking their water. Little did they know they had run around and oval 15 times had done 20 sit up and 20 push ups and were exhausted I just said yes thanks they are good aren’t they.

What do you wish people would say when they met you?

Hi this is my friend Louise just let them get to know me for 10 minutes before unleashing the Louise is pregnancy machine introduction line.

Your husband and yourself also own your own company, what’s the most difficult part of owning and running your own company?

Alan is great he is a fantastic plumber and runs a great business he is honest ,reliable and good at his job I thinks that’s all that people really want a tradie that does the job properly comes on time, cleans up and doesn’t over charge. The biggest issue is staffing keeping everyone happy and finding good plumbers. Is this where I get a plug for the company Alan Oxford’s Plumbing and Electrical.

What makes a good teacher?

A good teacher is one who knows their students. A teacher who builds a relationship with each student and fosters through that relationship a love of learning. You need to find what kids are interested in for example sector nines are skate boards, COD stand for call of duty probably the biggest selling game on for game console players or what app is cool, what song is hip when you engage with kids on something they are interested in you can incorporate it into an authentic learning experience in any curriculum area.

Who inspires you and why?

My mum and dad are great role models for me they both have worked very hard to achieve their goals. The only place where hardwork comes before success is in the dictionary. They have taught me to be positive to try to turn lemons into lemonade and develop and attitude of gratitude. Thanks mum and dad.!!

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do?

I would probably be a nurse. Anything where you got to work with people in the service industry. When I was at uni I used to work with developmentally disabled adults helping people and trying to make a difference by lightening someone’s load is a good goal to have.

What advice would you give other women considering having a large family and working?

There are lots of negative nellys out there saying how can you do that. You just have to do what’s right for you and your family there is no rule book or right way. You and your partners way is the right way. Sometimes it one day at a time. I try not to look to far ahead you never know what’s around the corner. Sometimes I say to myself you can’t eat and elephant chunk it down into bit size pieces but then again I am very good at eating did I mention my chocolate addiction? Finally having a great , supportive partner the kids survive you must try maintain you and your partners relationship at all levels as this can be the collateral damage in a busy household and if this unravels so will everything else. No one is perfect or has it all together despite the glowing introduction above. I’m not sure who Lara is talking about in her introduction I’m sure my children could dispel a few myths in that introduction thank goodness you don’t see me in the morning coming down like a tornado shouting commands clutching some random toy and waving it in the air as if it were a sword as I sweep through the house and children scatter to all ends of the house grabbing up school bags ,socks, shoes etc. I am sometimes Glenda the good witch but quite often in the morning or on a bad day the wicked witch of the west.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself at 21 years old?

Use a condom. Only kidding!

If you were on an island, what 5 things would you take?

I am assuming this is like survivor. My husband he’s very handy, fishing equipment, a flint, blankets, tarp. If I was on a five star resort island I would still take my husband but the other answers would change!

If you could invite any 5 celebrities or well known people to a dinner party are your house (dead or alive), who would they be and why?

Does it have to be at my house can we go out? Well any night out is a good one so Dr Chris O’Brien one of the country′s leading head and neck cancer surgeons, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive and almost inevitably lethal form of brain cancer, Dr Fiona Wood the doctor who led the innovation of spray on skin after the Bali bombings also a mother of a large family. Hamish and Andy for some light relief. Stephen Heppel a leading education expert on the changing world of teaching. A quote of his that I really love about teaching or dealing with kids in general is” Involve students/children in decision making, challenge them to reach goals that are beyond their own expectations, to achieve what is possible not what is expected.

What’s your idea of an ideal Saturday night?

Movie and dinner with my husband without the kids. Boring I know but so good.

What’s your favourite meal to cook?

Spaghetti bol iit lasts for 2 nights 3 if you do tacos on the third night and the mince gets better each night because the flavours get better with time another hot tip. I should write a book!

Finish this sentence: “My hopes and dreams for my children are……

To be healthy and happy. If you’ve got your health you’ve got your wealth! But a little money along the way would be great especially if they could look after their mum. No money in teaching unfortunately but alot of personal satisfaction. This lady did say to me there is a old Chinese proverb .One parent can look after 10 children but 10 children cannot look after one parent. I better find myself one of those good five star retirement homes.

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