This past Sunday, the sun was shining in Tipperary and the air had a bit of warmth to it. We are nearly at the end of calving on the farm, with ten to go, and it has been a long few weeks – for everyone, children included. Now, the girls are on their Easter break and with the nice weather on Sunday, I didn’t hear any fighting over what to watch on Netflix, whose turn it was to hold the remote, “Please Mummy, can we play Minecraft?” or “Please Mummy, can I watch your phone?”

My kids saw me finish my coffee and go outside to spend the day in the garden – and they followed. Then, they didn’t come in for the rest of the day. They even had their first official lunch of 2023 “al fresco” on the veranda – an array of snacks they prepared themselves as part of some elaborate hotel game they were playing.

I made homemade pizza for dinner and when I finally convinced them to come inside to eat, they finished everything on their plate – half starved from their day of running around in the tepid sunshine. They slept well, too.

Later that night, my husband and I commented on how nice it was to see them run around and play imaginative games (ok, I did hear them re-enacting TikToks on several occasions, but I digress). We spoke of our mutual distaste for their obsession with YouTube and how the few gadgets we keep in the house (television included) almost always make them spend their days fighting. We recently started turning off the wi-fi in the mornings – when the kids ask why it isn’t working, we simply shrug our shoulders. Instead, they watch programmes on Pop or RTÉ Junior – and the fighting over what to watch is generally solved.

I’m not sure if lying about the wi-fi is a parenting win or a flop. Parenting in these high-tech times can be scary but in this case, it has made a huge difference to how my children interact and speak with each other. Maybe the odd parental omission is beneficial.

I was so pleased to get out into the garden on Sunday to work off some of my own stress – it isn’t easy being mom, journalist, farm attendant, chef and housekeeper. The last thing I did before shutting down my computer on Friday last was read this week’s backchat column from Margaret Leahy). She speaks about the many ways people can start growing their own food and why everyone should try it out. Whether it’s a small patch of spuds or this is the year you finally invest in a polytunnel, I have to agree with her – growing your own fruit and vegetables gives you a thrill which is unmatched in many ways. It’s also great for your mental health.

This year I hope to finally get some fruit trees planted and – fingers crossed – upcycle an old polytunnel which is currently sitting in my brother-in-law’s yard. Our home and garden is a constant work in progress, but there’s no other place I’d rather be. And who knows – if I keep making a point to get up from the work laptop, the kitchen or the farm to get outside for some exercise and enjoyment, my kids might continue to follow.

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