Warenting- Working parents everywhere are going to relate to this witty and humorous blog. We are interviewing the fun and fantastic Katie, the face behind Diary of A Warent. She brings a safe space to working parents everywhere. Learn, laugh and relate to these fun posts that will hit home. Katie and her husband are working parents themselves, so you will feel that you are in great company. Find out how Katie got started and what it is like in the day in the life of a Warent.
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Katie, tell us a bit about your family.
Well, I live in a leafy suburb about an hour outside of London, with my husband and our two daughters. My eldest is a super-smart, super-sassy threenager. She’s Goldilocks blonde, has the most adult expressions I’ve ever seen on a child, and she’s hilarious. My youngest is a roly-poly 10-month-old with a beaming smile. She has just transitioned from the ‘bum-shuffle’ to crawling at the speed of a racehorse, and we call her, “Grabby Grabberson” because she’s at that delightfully grabby age, where phones, jewellery, hats, glasses, hair, noses … they’re all fair game.
When did you decide to create Diary of a Warent.
The cogs in my little brain are always turning. I’m curious, emotionally driven and VERY analytical. You can imagine how delighted my husband is about the latter 😉
But, these often frustrating traits enable me to ‘see’ others (I think). To tune in to people’s deep-rooted motivations and unconscious thoughts or behaviours. So, you had better believe that I do the same for myself.
I look for the root cause of everything that I feel strongly about. I seek to replicate the good and find a solution for the bad. This means that I’m incredibly reflective and self-aware, and that’s helpful. But, I’m also self-critical and self-conscious; a HUGE pain in my own ass.
Diary of a Warent was born out of the need to solve a pressing emotional problem. I’m currently on maternity leave version 2.0, and a few months in, I felt completely lost. I was, and for the moment still am, genuinely happy being with my baby full time. In fact, I’m not ready for maternity leave to end yet. It’s been a joy. But even still, I began to feel completely and utterly UNsuccessful. In turn, that shattered my confidence and sapped my energy. I felt like somebody else for a while; a stranger to myself. And so, I started writing. I used it to unpick some complex thoughts and feelings, which culminated in my blog ‘Success wears many hats’. It was the best therapy session I could have asked for.
‘Diary of a Warent’ became a home for my writing, and an evolving project to keep my mind active. And now, I’m working on making it bigger and better; something I’m really excited about. It’s just the simple matter of finding more hours in the day!
What is “warenting?”
Diary of a Warent came about so organically that I’ve only recently started to consider how to articulate ‘warenting’. And I am, of course, writing a new blog about it.
Defining ‘warent’ was easy; a working parent. Those bustling about every day, trying to provide for their family and raise their children right, whilst chasing a career.
But defining ‘warenting’ is a little different. It’s not about simply describing what working parents ‘do’. It’s not as black and white as, work + parenting. Actually, it’s more about ‘the experience of being a warent’.
I like to imagine ‘work’ a little like a music festival, with warents as the performers. As we earn an honest living doing our thing on life’s stage, we showcase our talents and hope that someday our name will be up in lights.
Warenting is our ‘access all areas’ festival pass. It’s noisy, messy and manic. On the one hand, it can make us feel overstimulated, overwhelmed and overcrowded, craving silence and serenity. On the other hand, it’s like waiting backstage to step into the limelight; exhilarating, nerve wracking, energizing and exhausting in equal measure.
But as warents, we’re merely the supporting act. It’s our children who are headlining the main stage. We are their biggest fans, their roadies and crew, all rolled into one. We’re behind the scenes, setting everything up for them to be rock stars at life … and in doing so, we’re often late for our own show.
But when the day is done, we close our weary eyes and we know that it’s all worth it. Because theirs is the best music we’ve ever heard.
How does your blog unite warenting parents?
Warenting is a shared experience. A HUGE percentage of women in the workplace, and an even bigger percentage of men, are parents. Some are up all night with a teething baby, some are anxiously missing out on their child’s first day at school because of a work trip, some are dealing with teenage trauma, and almost everybody is juggling drop-offs, pick-ups, housework, meal times, bedtime time and a whole plethora of daily ‘sh*t to do’, with almost zero downtime.
If my husband and I scrape together a couple of child-free and semi-relaxed hours at the end of a long day, we count ourselves lucky and usually crack open a bottle wine … then naturally, we waste the evening staring at our phones 😉
When you think about it, every workplace has a metaphorical army of warents, just trying our best to power through whilst staring adversity in the face, one way or another. Work is our military march … but sometimes it feels like we’re marching alone, when in fact, we should be a united front.
I should say, that not every work day is a battle. Some days are an absolute triumph! Don’t you just LOVE those ultra productive days, when you’re bossing it and running on adrenaline like some kind of untouchable, super human Career Colonel!
And then other days, you feel like you‘re down in the trenches in the pouring rain. It’s on those days when we’re on the front line of warenting warfare, feeling battered and vulnerable but too afraid to show weakness, that we need a battalion by our side, to watch our backs, fight our corner, and haul us out of the mud. Because there is safety in numbers.
The concept of warenting, has unity at its core. As a collective, we need to offer warents the tools and support system necessary to ‘fight the good fight’ and of course, to WIN at work. Then, we are quite literally ‘in business’. We’d be a force to be reckoned with. Better still, a WORKforce to be reckoned with.
I am delighted to have coined the term warenting and to be writing about it with honesty and a splash of colour. Shall we start a #warenting movement?
For those willing to call me Officer, I’ll happily lead the charge.
Actually, I’ll lead a cavalry. On horseback is just cooler (*imagines the sound of thundering hooves).
You use wit and humor and a lot of heart in each post. Tell us how this recipe is so important in order to reach parents.
That’s a huge compliment, thank you. I should confess, that writing with heart and humour is very deliberate. I also love to include analogies (can you tell?) and the occasional anecdote.
Come to think of it, an acronym for my writing style is HAHA. Heart, Analogies, Humour and Anecdotes. Thank you for that marvellously self-indulgent revelation, and “haha” to that.
For me, HAHA lights my literary fire. It challenges me to be creative and importantly, it’s fun and purposeful.
For the reader and fellow warents, I hope that it enables people to immerse themselves in the words. To feel what I feel. Ultimately, reassurance that we’re on the same page.
Lots of warents get in touch to tell me that they resonate with my writing … which I love! That’s what it’s all about. One person recently commented, “it’s like you peered inside my brain”. I doubly love that one.
When warents talk about defining “success” we get a range of explanations. What was success to you before you became a parent and today?
The ability to define success after having children, is the exact reason I started writing.
For me, success before I had my kids was pretty one dimensional. And frankly, that was all the motivation I needed as a responsibility-free whippersnapper with the world at my feet. It came down to 1. how much money I was earning, 2. my job title, and 3. bettering myself. 1 and 3 still apply.
However, with each new day as a mother, I began to reshape my sense of self and my priorities. My definition of success stretched and changed, just as my body had.
My husband always said that I look like an owl, so perhaps this new outlook is actually wisdom? … Or delirium? … I’ll let you know.
For me, success will always include my professional accomplishments and financial stability. I personally need that version of success. It excites me, makes me feel good and it’s how I support my family.
But there is so much more to add now. Sooooo many more dimensions! Success is a matrix.
To quote myself (sorry not sorry), “Success wears many hats. Professional success, financial success, parenting success, relationship success, family success. Sometimes it’s just ‘keeping your sh*t together’ success. What matters is how we define our own success, and in turn, respecting each other’s unique versions”
After ALL, we’re ALL just trying to do it ALL.
Tell us about warenting, and how society and businesses are trying to be more inclusive of warents.
This is something I’m becoming increasingly passionate about. And, surprise, surprise … I’m writing about it.
When I think and talk about warenting, I’m often referring to our behaviours and attitudes. Ultimately, I believe there should be an intentional focus on improving inclusivity and unity for those working their arse off (in the professional sense) whilst raising their kids, somewhat simultaneously.
There are some great early initiatives surfacing in support of warents. For example, Maltesers (part of the Mars Wrigley mothership) have recently launched a campaign with Comic Relief (much loved non-profit in the International Development space) to give a voice to working mums. Bravo to them! They’ve also released an interesting new research paper, highlighting some of the challenges working mums are facing. As a warent myself, it’s a very relatable read.
In fact, there are a number of national and global brands thinking more progressively and making inroads to improve support for their hard working warents. Sky, Twitter, Netflix, Goldman Sachs, Cisco … to name a few. But, the road is long (“with many a winding turn”, if you like The Hollies) and there is some way to go. Think of these initiatives as the ‘starting gun’ for a long distance run. Now, to make it to the finish line.
Who’s for another analogy?
Imagine that you’re a runner. Your legs are your career. They take you places and can propel you over the finish line. Now, imagine trying to run whilst carrying a baby on your hip, a toddler on your shoulders, or giving a child a piggy-back. Suddenly, running is so much harder. It requires more strength, more energy and arguably, more determination.
Your heart is your children. They are your PB and your motivation to dig deep. They keep you going when you’ve got butterflies in your stomach and your legs have turned to jelly.
Your brain is your confidence, your grit and your self-belief. Your mindset can make you run faster than ever, or stop you in your tracks. And, I speak from experience when I say that becoming a warent can make you question your ability to win.
So, what if your arms were a warenting support system? Handing you a water bottle when your resources are low. Clapping and cheering, when you need a boost. Taking the weight off your back, so you can run a little faster. And helping you up, when you’ve just wiped out.
Have you ever tried running without using your arms? Just watch Ussain Bolt sprinting for the win. Better still, watch your kid running for fun! Their arms and legs work together.
In order to run, we need powerful legs, a focussed mind and a healthy heart. But to WIN, we need a strong pair of warenting arms to give us enough momentum to move forwards … and, to catch us if we fall.
Warents should be each other’s arms. Intentionally and strategically. Our training partners, running shoes, support leggings and sweatband (à la 1980’s, if you please), and most definitely, our anti-chafe balm.
Working parents and guilt. This is something we all struggle with. Do you have any tips or advice for parents who are feeling guilty about how they divide their time?
I personally find mum-guilt (or whatever you want to call it) absolutely relentless. So, perhaps I’m not the best person to be dishing out tips on the subject. What I will say, is that what makes us feel guilty every-damn-day is usually either unavoidable, or irrational and a half.
But, guilt is the heaviest weight to bear.
Most parents are a bit like Atlas, the Greek god of strength and endurance. Though, usually with a little less muscle and a lot more muffin. Atlas was ‘condemned to hold up the heavens for all eternity’. A great weight. And also, a great analogy for the guilt that parents lug around. Not being (impossibly) perfect parents is a weight that we carry on our shoulders with the stoicism of Greek goddesses and gods, and the radiance to match. Ok fine, that’s a lie.
Being a warent, and not able to make every moment of the day available to our children, can make the guilt even heavier.
I once learnt an excellent sales methodology that teaches not to waste precious time on things we cannot control. We need to focus instead, on what we CAN control and what we can influence. Sometimes, we cannot control the fact that we have to leave our little’uns behind in order to earn a crust. We have mortgages and rent to pay, and hungry mouths to feed.
But, we can influence their perspective and teach them valuable life lessons. We can choose to be who we want them to see. And of course, we have complete control over showing them our immeasurable love.
And if you go to work for YOU, because it’s something that you personally need, then good for you! Doing things for ourselves can make us better parents.
I saw one of those sarcastically amusing memes recently, which summed it up nicely. I’ll spare you some of the ‘choice language’ (though I personally appreciate a punchy swear word, from time to time) but to paraphrase, “I’m not going to feel guilty about having time to myself. ME TIME! I’m going to feel guilty for treating my family like *BLEEP*, if I don’t have me time”.
And maybe it’s just me, but what I remember most about my childhood are two things. I remember the moments that felt traumatic to me, and I remember the moments of joy … not an awful lot in between. So, chances are, the things making us feel guilty are forgettable.
Let us focus our time and effort on ways to minimise trauma and maximise joy.
During lockdown, you put your creativity to work and wrote The Crocodile with the Crooked Smile. Tell us about this book and what it was like writing during this time.
Firstly, thank you for the unsolicited plug!
In the blur of 2020, I wrote a series of stories for my firstborn. She was a squidgy little newborn at the time, and as prisoners of lockdown version 1.0 (yawn!), I used writing as a way to keep my mind sharp, prevent insanity from cabin fever, and leave a literary legacy for my little bundle of chub. It was also a good way to justify my semi-permanent ‘butt print’ on the couch.
In 2021, I commissioned a brilliant illustrator to bring one of those stories to life … and so, The Crocodile with the Crooked Smile became my unofficial ‘second born’.
It’s a rhyming story about kindness and strength, with an anti-bullying message at the core, and is enjoyed by children of all ages. Plenty of grown-ups too. I had hoped to give Julia Donaldson a run for her money, because a girl can (and should!) dream, but as it turns out, I’m nowhere near talented enough 😉
Since becoming a mother, bullying is a subject that increasingly bothers me. I find it hard to stomach the mere thought of my kids being bullied, and I know any parent worth their salt will relate to that.
If our children experience bullying, directly or indirectly as so many do, then let them find inner-strength. Let them develop an unshakeable sense of self-belief. And let them be kind to others, with the knowledge that kindness is not weakness. That’s what The Crocodile with the Crooked Smile is actually about.
But sshhh, that’s between us. My daughter just thinks she’s learning funny new words for a hippo’s backside.
Where can people buy this book?
It’s available to buy on Amazon (and linked from the Diary of a Warent website too).
I’m a proud member of The Anti-Bullying Alliance and half of proceeds from book sales go to a wonderful little non-profit organisation called BulliesOut. So, THANK YOU from all of us!
Where can our readers reach you on social media?
I’m a proud introvert (yes, it’s a thing!) so social media isn’t exactly my forte, but I’m enormously grateful to those who like my writing enough to follow @diaryofawarent on the usual social media platforms. Some of which I hate 😉
Keyboard warriors need not apply. Though, I will gladly take you on.
Thank YOU from ME!
Heartfelt thank you to everyone and anyone who has taken a genuine interest in Diary of a Warent and the subject of warenting. Please do take a look at www.diaryofawarent.com
And for any cynical people who may have their doubts, don’t sweat it. It’s ok that you’re wrong 😉
As they say, “we cannot force someone to hear a message they are not ready to receive, but we must never underestimate the power of planting a seed”.
So, here’s to the future of #warenting. Who’s with me?