Surrounded by the chaos of a young family, Jessica Lea reflects on motherhood on the farm.

Just as the sun has set, the kids bathed and almost ready to be tucked in bed, I take a moment to reflect on the day, all the tasks I have done and the ones I have yet to complete.

The house at this point is a work in progress, an overflowing washing basket of clothes to be folded and a lounge floor that resembles a game of minesweeper, a block or Lego piece to be avoided as you make your way across it.

Among this chaos is a half-asleep husband who has also been working all day and some happy wild children who should be ready for bed. This is not an unusual scene.

The days between school hours are short as I try to cram in as much as I can get done on the farm between 9 and 2. A trip out to the vets to pick up drench for the calves and a quick stop at home to grab my bike with the sprayer to get a few weeds sprayed before lunchtime, fit in some exercise and a chore or two before school pickup. Usually arriving at preschool in a sweaty mess.

Once the school holidays arrive, we like to make use of the summer with the kids, Ayla (10), Kensi (8) and James (3). There’s still farm work that needs doing but we are fortunate that the two farms we sharemilk move to once-a-day milkings at Christmas which lessens the load a little and we can enjoy a bit of lifestyle, fishing, or lake days, also allowing our staff to take time off to enjoy the summer.

This year we have been fortunate to be well staffed, the last couple of years I was having to fill in milkings when we were short staffed and juggle the kids. Cam and I would often tag in and out especially around calving but there are times when the kids would just have to come along.

Like many other mums I also struggle to fit everything in, work-life balance. The endless lists we create knowing things need to be done at home or on the farm. Somehow, we persevere, fold that washing, milk the cows, bake those cookies, wash the child or mow the lawns, the list could continue. How do we not explode! Sometimes we do, it’s normal. I see so many mums on farming pages struggle to balance everything and I don’t have a magic answer. I can only offer advice that sometimes can help.

Share the load; if your kids are old enough, get them to help with the chores around the house, make them into a game or bribing them works. Sometimes tomorrow is another day, the washing pile will wait.

Take time to go out with your partner or friends and have a nice meal, just getting off the farm, even if you talk about the farm as we do when we’re out.

Finding yourself and taking a moment to do something you enjoy; I like to tend to my veggie garden. It’s my happy place and I try to dedicate a bit of time in the day to get moving. Farming is hard yakka and being a parent isn’t a walk in the park all the time either, they both have their challenges and can really test you.

The last piece of advice I can give is to reach out, if you are struggling there are some pretty neat organisations that are happy to lend an ear. Farmstrong being one I will recommend.