To celebrate our "Mom's who carry it all" this week we sat down with our friend, Ainsley Arment for a Q&A! Ainsley is wife, mama to 5 children ( and 1 adopted pup ), founder of Wild + Free and author of "The Call of the Wild + Free"
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m a mother to five children and a rescued Pomeranian named Clementine. I spend my days homeschooling, fending off squirrels to keep my garden growing, and sneaking-in a few hours of work each day for this amazing community I get to be a part of. A few years ago, I started an Instagram account called Wild + Free which has become a movement of homeschooling mothers all over the world. I wrote a book called The Call of the Wild + Free and compiled the new book Handcrafts. My husband Ben and I started a retreat center called the Wild + Free Farm Village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, as well, where we love hosting gatherings for this community of mothers and their families.
How were you introduced to Parker Clay? And what is your favorite bag to carry when you are with your kids?
I discovered Parker Clay on Instagram a few years ago, but since then, I have enjoyed collaborating with you guys at various Wild + Free conferences. Believe it or not, I own about five bags from Parker Clay (I’m kind of a big fan). I most often use the Miramar Leather Backpack when I’m on the go or traveling with my clan. It’s been with me in England, along the California coast, and our most recent trip to Florida. But I use the Merkato Signature Tote when I run off to the coffee shop to work. My newest fave is the Eden Carryall, which I didn’t even know was missing from my life. It’s the perfect size and has so many compartments inside, which I love.
As you know, this series is all about Motherhood! Tell us what motherhood looks like for you right now.
Motherhood can be overwhelming when I’m focused only on the outcomes. Every day, I try to remind myself that this is a process, and one day does not define me as a failure or a success. In the midst of so much panic, fear, and uncertainty in the world, I can spread a blanket in the backyard with tea and scones and read aloud to my children. I can help them find the perfect climbing tree at the park, and all is right with the world. I can start a garden and let the tender care of plants settle into our souls and provide the much-needed peace of wild things.
Talk to us about doing it all - YOU DO SO MUCH! What has been your greatest accomplishment personally and your greatest accomplishment professionally? How do you pause to celebrate those moments?
I’m an introvert and seek slow peaceful rhythms as a natural part of who I am. My days aren’t filled with meetings, activities, or phone calls. But I do have to pull away for a few hours each day to get the work done. I’m surrounded by a team of amazing mothers who help me run this organization. I’d say my greatest accomplishment is keeping a healthy balance in my household. I don’t want my children to ever say that I wasn’t present. The work is always the first to go.
What's on the horizon? What are you most looking forward to this year?
We’re hosting two Wild + Free conferences this fall, one in California and one in Franklin, TN, and we’re currently rescheduling our European event and retreats at the Farm Village due to the coronavirus. I’m also working on a new book project that will take most of the year to write. But I’m most excited about our slate of monthly content bundles, which is the heart and soul of Wild + Free, providing encouragement and support to this community.
What has been one of the most valuable lessons or experiences you’ve learned through carrying it all in motherhood?
I’ve learned that I can’t do this alone. I need sisterhood. I need community. There are scores of other mothers out there who are going through the same thing and yet still feel alone. We may not be able to come together in physical settings due to social distancing, but we can do the next best thing: we can support and encourage each other in our online community. We can mother together.
What advice do you have for a woman who is about to become a mother for the first time?
Trust your own mothering instincts. As mamas, we’re conditioned in the early years to relinquish our role to the “experts” and let other people make the decisions about what’s best for our children. We can learn from other people, and they might have insightful things to share, but we are the true experts on our own children. Before we can reclaim childhood for our children, we must reclaim motherhood for ourselves.
This is a strange time in our world to say the least - how are you balancing it all? Any tip to share on how you can survive and thrive through it?
Some days, I feel tinges of anxiety and fear. Other days, anger and frustration. And even other times, I feel complete peace that all of this will turn out okay. This is not an easy time, and we as mothers bear much of the emotional burden for our families. In lieu of these emotions, I try to inject as much joy and laughter in our home as possible. We play card games like “Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza” at the table after dinner. All seven of us go for bike rides through the neighborhood like the spectacle we are as a large family. And we make each morning special with homemade sourdough bagels, protein smoothies, and eggs in every way imaginable. I don’t want to waste this season of hardship. I want to turn it around and make even the smallest moments count for our family.