Berlin Playgrounds & Family Adventures with Rachel from Racket Design Studio
Welcome to the fifth episode of the Impressive podcast. Rachel Peachy, a design expert, entrepreneur, and co-owner of Racket Design Studio is here to share how it is like travelling with her partner, Paul Mosig, and their two kids while working on projects exploring playground culture and organising exhibitions for their work. Enjoy:
- How to seek out family-friendly international gigs;
- The pros and cons of hiring a babysitter while working abroad
- A three-month stint of homeschooling away from home base
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Impressive is a weekly podcast that sheds new light on the world of parenting. Join host, Dr Kimberley O’Brien PhD, as she delves into real-life parenting issues with CEOs, global ex-pats, entrepreneurs, celebrities, travellers and other hand-picked parents.In an approachable on-air consultation style, she listens to some of the smartest, kindest parents share their latest parenting challenge with their incredible kids. Together they brainstorm solutions and Kimberley offer handy tips and valuable resources to help bring out the best in toddlers, teens and in-betweens. Drawing mostly on two decades of experience as a child psychologist, Kimberley also shares her personal insights as a mother of two and entrepreneur with a passion for problem-solving.
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Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 00:08
Hello, I'm Dr. Kimberley O'Brien, a child psychologist, entrepreneur, and mum with a passion for problem solving and family adventures. Join me each week for practical tips and on air consultations with the smartest, kindest parents and their incredible kids. Find answers faster, do things differently, and take your family further. This is impressive. This episode is sponsored by britechild.com. Now let's get started.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 00:35
This is impressive, a podcast that demystifies a trip to the child psychologist where you don't have to be in crisis to ask a question, I'm Dr. Kim O'Brien, principal child psychologist at Quirky Kid and co-founder of britechild.com, a new app giving parents access to their very own child development expert anywhere, anytime. This is episode five. Thanks so much for joining us. Can you imagine working internationally on a creative project of your choice with your partner and children in tow? What would it look like? I hear you say, how could we make that happen? Well, in the case of Rachel Peachy and her partner Paul Mosig they get paid to photograph and exhibit their work while their children travel with them on field trips. They are normally based in the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney, but when I speak to them at the time of this interview, they are based in Berlin and the focus of this exhibition is playgrounds.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 01:31
Rachel and her family are working on a photography project, exploring playground culture and how different communities interact and engage when it comes to play spaces. Listen up as we explore how to seek out family friendly international gigs, the pros and cons of hiring a babysitter while working abroad and a three month stint of homeschooling away from your home base. What would that be like? And again, how do you make it happen? Well, I'm really pleased to introduce you to Rachel now who'll tell us how it kind of came about and how that's impacted on their family dynamics. So without further ado, here's Rachel Peachy of Racket Design Studio. Thanks, Rachel.
When Sasha was born, there was a break from the ease of working and then there started to be a little bit of tension, I guess, as he got older of who wanted to do step when or, and then we kind of started to do more stuff with him. And then when Jack was born, we kind of really made it more explicit, I guess, that we would do work together as well, if that seems natural. And sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. But in 2014 we did a residency in Berlin, kind of after quite a few years of balancing design and artwork. And they came with us on that and we really kind of made work together photography and video work, and not just solely them being in the work, but them being kind of involved in terms of talking about what it is. And I mean, clearly some points they're more involved than others, but as we started to do work about play, they became much more involved.
And then we did another residency a couple of years later in Berlin. Then it was explicitly about play and doing field trips to particular playgrounds and looking at games and playing and the kind of feelings that come up when kind of socialising or when taking risks and how they feel like there's a lot of rules and demands put on you as a child. Yes. So we talked about that a lot with them and they became a lot more involved. Saha in particular has started to have stronger ideas about what could be included and that I feel like we're at a point where we take his ideas a lot more seriously. I think we wrote about it for quite a while that we were collaborating, and I think that was true to an extent. But I think with anything where you are putting yourself out there and writing, it's probably more an idea than necessarily the complete honest reality. Whereas now I feel like it is definitely moving more towards that, even though it's still always, because any art collaboration, there's always a bit of a power imbalance. Not like an evil kind power imbalance, but just my ideas better actually know my ideas better or that type of thing.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 04:16
Yeah. Do you sit around as a family and exchange ideas or
I think it's a little bit more, Oh yeah, I mean occasionally, but they don't really like that. I think that's a bit formal, I think they teach ethics at their school, and that kind of very formal discussion of ideas like that, only really lasts well for maybe five to ten minutes at a time before the need to be funny or whack off or being silly takes over. And so it's a bit the same with this. I think we might try and have a serious conversation about things, but almost immediately there's the kind of glaze over. So no, I think when we do it, it has to be a bit more spontaneous, And that's when we're traveling or when we're going on a walk or yeah, they're not ready for, you're gonna have a serious sit down meeting about what we're doing.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 05:12
Less planning, more play.
Yeah. I mean they're much better in that realm and sometimes we are too, where they are making things, they're still not as interested in the discussion about what it means and why we've done something.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 05:25
Rachel, can you tell me how you managed to construct this lifestyle for yourself? Where you travel and you get to do creative things and then you also produce books. I wanna hear about the book as well, but maybe just to start with how other parents could create something similar for themselves.
Well, I mean we've been very lucky. After doing a lot of artwork, we started to do a couple of graphic and web design projects and then that kind of snowballed. And so Paul and I have a kind of ongoing business of doing that. And yeah, I mean we've been really lucky. We haven't had to develop that too intensely and it's been able to support us. And because we can work through the internet to, I mean, it's not always ideal to be moving around and working. It does make things more complicated, but it does mean that if there's an opportunity, we are more likely to be able to take that. Yes. I mean we do make some money from our artwork, but it's say it's like 20%, 80% kind of split.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 06:30
Web design business, which is Racket. Yeah.
Yeah. And graphic design.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 06:36
If people wanted to learn more about Racket. Should they just go to the website?
Oh sure. Yeah. I mean we're trying to redevelop that at the moment actually. I mean, the difficulty of doing multiple things all at once is that we, we've been trying to redevelop our own site for maybe three years now.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 06:52
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 06:55
And what about juggling school? So you're homeschooling them now. Have you done bits and pieces along the way? How does that work and how do the kids feel about traveling?
Yeah, I think they're mixed. They're excited by it and they enjoy it. And then when things are difficult or long, two days ago we traveled from Florence up here and it was a pretty long day and that can sometimes take a toll as it does on anybody. But that's fine. It's fine for them to have difficult days. We had a little kind of exhibition at the end of our residency and for a few days that was difficult because we were quite busy and so we had less time to focus on what they were doing. That's the hard bits I think. Whereas today we've kind of settled down more and Paul's doing some work with them on their writing and stuff.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 07:45
And so Rachel, you know, talked a bit about cultural differences. Have the kids noticed any cultural differences in the playgrounds when it comes to connecting with other kids or Yeah, what is that? Tell me about it.
Not this trip yet so much because we haven't really been in any playgrounds, but when we lived in Germany a couple of years ago, we lived there for a year. It was definitely really different. I mean I think we were in Berlin and for one, because most people live in apartments, the playgrounds are really full all the time because everyone has to leave the apartment every day because it's very have to because the tension of being inside all the time. So they're full. They're really full. So compared to the kind of playgrounds in the mountains where everyone has a lot of space, so they don't really use them in quite the same way. So that's kind of one thing and another, they're more independent and parents are over there somewhere and they're not really around in quite the same way. So kids are left to themselves a little bit more, I would say the kind of perceived danger of them.
I guess they're more dangerous in some ways. I mean there's higher sections and more moving parts and things like that. So I mean Sasha tends to think as our older son, he's thinks the parks in Australia are quite boring. But I mean there's definitely being more interesting ones built. Not necessarily in the mountains but around. Yeah, I mean his German wasn't good enough to have really intense interactions necessarily socially, so he was mostly kind of parallel playing to other kids. But he didn't kind of say anything particularly, I don't know. I mean there's other little things like there's a lot of water parks in Berlin and kids in the nude in just a really public park and there's no worry particularly about that. And that wouldn't happen in Australia. I don't think we have a different view of that type of thing.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 09:37
I'm just thinking about the media in Europe, is there still a big focus on stranger danger and or why do you think that's different?
I don't know if it's just because as a community, everyone is in these public spaces together more often and a wider range of people. I feel like parks in Australia, they're either four kids with their parents there and that's kind of it. And whereas a lot of the parks that we used to go to, I mean everyone was there, everyone that lived around that area was there and the kids park was part of that kind of space. And so the kids, it's just like we're all living here. And so maybe if you see those people all the time, not, you're not friends or anything necessarily, but if you see people you're less likely to be worried about them. I guess I'm not entirely sure of course, but in Australia I kind of notice that we seem to put things in very intense little silos. This is a space for this and nothing else can happen in this space and this is space and etc. I mean we found it in Italy, not necessarily in parks or anything. So when we were in Florence people in general were really kind to the kids more so than in Australia. Just general strangers in public and even if we went to the people we were doing the residency with really talk to them. They were valued members I mean not really adults, but not kind of an annoying addition. Yes, I kind of get this very mild, not kind of really intense, but this mild thing that kids in public in Australia are a little bit tolerated, not absolutely. It's a great thing that they're there as well and we'd go to a restaurant and people would give them a bunch of cherries or an extra bit of bread. The children are out in the world.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 11:30
It sounds great for parents.
Yeah, yeah, totally. Well it does. It kinda makes them happy, makes everyone a bit, yeah. Well it was really genuine as well. It didn't really seem like it was being done just as some type of expected thing or anything.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 11:46
Yeah. So lovely. It sounds so good.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 11:50
Can you tell me, have you had any epiphanies or breakthroughs since you've been traveling that you feel like have changed the way you parent your kids or the way that you live your life?
I mean something that you kind of always know, but maybe it's more kind of really in there that things are just constantly going to change and there's not much you can do about that and that if something's bad at the moment, it probably won't be like that forever. The good times won't either I guess. So just don't get up on that. Yeah, the fact that what we are thinking at the moment actually there's been a bit of tension I think when we're in an enclosed space for too long and the kids, they really love each other but they'll fight with each other and so then they'll need to spend time apart. So one of us is going to do something with one and one with another. And I think we tend to forget that we need to do that because sometimes it can be more difficult I guess it's like, oh it'd be easier if all four of us went and did this because then we all wanna do that or something like that. But yeah, that thing of one of us spending time one on one with the kids and not as some type of exercise but more like that, you know, forget that that dynamic is really lovely and you kind of learn that, Oh yeah, that's right, I really love hanging out with Sasha, with Jack or with Paul even separately. It's really different. The dynamic of four people is always gonna be compromised when you're still working on that one.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 13:25
Sounds very familiar. I think with any family, just change of those dynamics can just break it up, and Rachel, I just wondered also about your creative life and your professional life. Have you always managed to maintain that while you've been parenting or do you sometimes go more into mum mode and forget about your own pursuits? How do you keep the balance?
Yeah, I don't know. I'm pretty selfish. No, I mean, but also we also, again when we're living at home in the mountains, my mum lives in an apartment at the back of our house, but I mean she has a full time job as well. But it just means that there's three of us, not just two of us. And so that's amazing.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 14:07
Yeah, nice one, good support.
And I know that's not something everyone can just find. It's not like you can work towards that. But that's really been amazing for us. And it's just the little things, it's not long periods of time or anything but oh that half an hour where Paul and I both have to do something or those things. I mean those little tiny times mean especially when they were younger that time when you have a shower or whatever.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 14:34
Yeah, incredibly helpful. I mean there's been a couple, one project maybe a month ago, it was a design project and it became quite intense and we were just working really ridiculous hours and that was the one time I think Sasha said this sucks, I don't like this and that was really fair enough and I mean we didn't either and that was one of those things where I was like, yeah, I know. So that doesn't happen very often but occasionally.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 15:06
And do you ever call on anyone when you're overseas to get a babysitter when you're in work mode? I always find that such a juggle if my partner and I are away working and we want to bring the kids but then it turns into a family holiday more than a professional experience because we feel limited by not having that extra support.
No, it's difficult. I think Paul actually my partner finds that the most difficult in terms of artwork, it is what it is and there's no kind of necessarily deadlines on it. So it doesn't necessarily have the same, even though it's like can be emotionally kind of challenging and you are like, Oh I'm not getting this done fast enough or it doesn't have that while we're traveling anyway. If we're having an exhibition at home, that's a different thing. And we would ask for support at those times when we're installing something. But when we're traveling it doesn't quite matter as much. But with, it does get a bit stressful with the design work and stuff, but there's actually just nothing we can do. We just have to, yeah, I really need three hours now. Can you guys go and do something or yes, whatever. The first time we went away for a few months when they were younger.
We did try a babysitter when we were in Germany, but I can't say it was entirely successful. They didn't like it at all. Actually there was one girl but they really didn't like her. And then we met a Swedish girl and she kind of looked after them a bit and that was a bit better. But I think they found it quite weird because we don't really do it at home because my mum's supports us. So bringing in that they were just like, what is this that might have had more to do with the fact that they've never really learnt the kind of structure of having a babysitter necessarily.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 16:49
So it's hard to say. One of my friends in Berlin used to look after them sometimes when we lived there and they liked that and that was kind of great, but that was generally more for social things, not for work things. I mean, basically we can't do that. So we talk about with them that you'll have to read or draw or do something for a couple of hours while this specific thing is happening. And then we always have, which isn't always great but is what happens is that we work after they've kind of gone to sleep.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 17:22
And last question, I feel like I have to wrap it up, I'm so thankful for your time. I wondered how you go settling back into Australian culture when you come home or does it always feel like a pit stop and that something new and exciting is around the corner?
Oh no, no. We love, I mean we love living in the Blue Mountains in Australia and in Katoomba and we really love it there, the space and I mean we have a garden and we are kind of used to eating from that and all that kind of thing. So we really do love the kind of settled nature of that and our house, which you've been in for a while now and the structure of that and no, I definitely feels like home and a place where we know well and the rhythms of it very well, I guess because it's a small place occasionally the idea of doing something more dramatic and interesting. So it's more that that's the home base. Yeah, absolutely.
Dr Kimberley O'Brien: 18:24
Now if you liked that episode, you might also be interested in sharing that with your friends or a psychologist or educator so feel free to go to your podcast app and click on share to send it to someone who might also be interested. And if you like to find out more about child psychology related things, you can go to our website www.quirkykid.com.au and check out our fact sheets for more free learning. Or alternatively, you might even like to go and check out britechild.com, that's britechild.com to find out how you can connect to your very own child development expert anywhere, anytime. Thanks so much for joining us again this week on Impressive. I look forward to being with you again next week as we interview more interesting parents who are doing things differently. This was Impressive.