005: Berlin Playgrounds & Family Adventures with Rachel from Racket Design Studio

4th December, 2018 Posted under Impressive

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This is 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 organizing 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

Enjoy the Episode

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About Impressive

Impressive is a weekly podcast that sheds a 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.


[00:00:08 – 00:00:29]: Dr. Kimberley O’Brien welcomes the listeners for yet another episode of Impressive.

Doctor Kimberley: Hello, I’m Doctor Kimberley O’Brien — a child psychologist, entrepreneur, and mom with a passion for problem-solving in 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.

[00:00:30 – 00:00:33]: This episode is sponsored by BriteChild.com. Now, let’s get started.

[00:00:35 – 00:02:12] The fifth episode begins with Doctor Kimberley introducing her guest, Rachel Peachy, an entrepreneur, a design expert, and the co-founder of the Racket Design Studio. She then presents to the listeners the highlights of this episode of Impressive.

Doctor Kimberley: 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 Doctor Kimberley 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 can we make that happen?” Well, in the case of Rachel Peachy and her partner, Paul Mercy, 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. 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 would 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.

[00:02:13 – 00:05:24] Rachel Peachy talks about how her children, Sascha and Jack, get involved into their work, which is mainly on photography and video work. Even children do have their creative thoughts on their parents’ work. But being young, there are instances when they seemed less interested with this type of discussions and more engrossed in playing.

Rachel: When Sascha was born, it was a break from the ease of working, and then there started to be a little bit of tension I guess as we got older. I was like who wanted to do the stuff where I know, and then we kind of started to do more stuff with him. And then, when Jack was born, we’ve kind of really made it more explicit, I guess, that we would do it together as well, if that seems natural. And sometimes, it doesn’t, and sometimes it doesn’t. In 2014, we did our 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, with them being kind of involved in terms of talking about what it is. And, I mean, clearly, sometimes they are more involved than others, but as we started to do work without 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 experience field trips to particular playgrounds, and looking at games, and playing. And the kind of feelings that come up when you kind of socializing or when taking risks, and how they feel like there’s a lot of rules and demands put on you as a child.

Doctor Kimberley: Yes.

Rachel: And we talked about that a lot with them, and they became a lot more involved. Sascha, in particular, has started to have stronger ideas about what could be included, and then I feel like we had a point where we take him a lot more, his ideas a lot more seriously. I think we wrote about it quite a while, that we’re collaborating, and I think that was true to an extent. But I think with anything where you’re kind of 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 towards that even though it’s still always because any collaboration is always a bit of her power imbalance.

Doctor Kimberley: Yes.

Rachel: Not like an evil kind of power imbalance, but just like, you know, “My idea’s better,” and actually, no. My idea’s better, that type of thing.

Doctor Kimberley: You sit around as a family and exchange ideas or…

Rachel: Yeah, I think it’s a little bit more, I mean, occasionally, but they don’t really like that. I think that’s a bit formal. You know, I teach ethics at their school and that kind of very formal discussion of ideas like that. Like, it would only really last, well, for maybe five to ten minutes at a time before, you know, they need to be funny or block off, or been really it’s over. And so, it’s a bit the same with this. I think like, when my chime has a serious conversation about things, but unlike almost immediately, there’s that kind of place or errand.

Doctor Kimberley: Yes.

Rachel: Yes. And so, no. I think when we do it, it has to be a bit more—

Doctor Kimberley: Spontaneous.

Rachel: Yeah, I think so. If that is why we’re travelling all the way, where we’re going when at work, they don’t really feel like they’re going to have a serious sit-down meeting about what we’re doing.

Doctor Kimberley: Let’s plan in more play.

Rachel: Yeah, I mean, they’re much better in that realm and sometimes, we are, too, we’re like, we’re making things. They’re still not as interested in the, in the discussion about what it means and why we’ve done some thinking.

[00:05:25 – 00:06:24] Rachel tells that parents should grab opportunities where they can relate to, and that can make their lives easier for them. On the side, she promotes Racket, which is still being redeveloped at the moment, where the listeners could seek help for designs for web and print.

Doctor Kimberley: Yeah, Rachel can you tell me how you managed to reconstruct this lifestyle yourself where you travel and you get to do creative things, and then you also produce books. I want to hear about the book as well, but maybe just to start with like, how other parents could create something similar for themselves.

Rachel: Well, I mean, we’ve been very lucky after we’re doing a lot of artwork. We started to do a couple of graphic and web design projects, and then that kind of snowball. And so, Paul and I have a kind of ongoing business of doing that, and we’ve been really lucky. We haven’t had to kind of develop that too intensely and it’s been able to support us. And because we can work to the Internet, 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’re more likely to be able to take that.

Doctor Kimberley: Yes.

Rachel: I mean, we, too, make some money from our artwork, but it’s, I’d say it’s like 20%-80% kind of split.

Doctor Kimberley: Yes.

Rachel: So, we’re able to do it from…

Doctor Kimberley: Your well-presented business, which is Racket.

Rachel: Yeah, and graphic design. Yes.

Doctor Kimberley: If people want to learn more about Racket, they just go the website.

Rachel: Oh, sure. Yeah, I mean, we’re kind of 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 maybe three years now.

Doctor Kimberley: Always a juggle.

Rachel: Yeah, totally.

[00:06:55 – 00:07:44] When both parents are busy with work, parenting can be hard. But Rachel and Paul let their kids adjust to the situation. And so, eventually, they’ve come to work normally even with the kids are around.

Doctor Kimberley: And whether that juggles with school, so you’re homeschooling them now. Have you kind of done bits and pieces along the way? Or how does that work? And how do the kids feel about travelling?

Rachel: Yeah, I think they’re mixed. They’re excited by it and they enjoy it, and then when things are like difficult and are long like two days ago, we travelled from Florence up here and it was a pretty long day, and that can sometimes take a toll as it does on anybody.

Doctor Kimberley: Sure.

Rachel: Yeah, and maybe that’s fine. It’s fine for them to have difficulties. 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 bit I think whereas today, we’ve kind of settled down more and Paul’s doing some work with them and have some writing stuff.

[00:07:45 – 00:11:49] Rachel compares how parks in Berlin are used with that of public spaces in Australia. She shares that kids can move and socialize more freely on playgrounds in Berlin. She adds that these parks are not only for them but for everyone’s use.

Doctor Kimberley: And so, Rachel, you talked a bit about cultural differences. How would the kids know there are some cultural differences in the playgrounds like, when it comes to connecting with other kids? Or what is that like? Tell me about it.

Rachel: 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, that playgrounds are really full all the time because everyone has to leave the apartment every day because it’s very, you know, you have to do this like, give attention of being inside all the time. So, they’re full. They’re really full. So, like, compared to that kind of playgrounds in the mountains where everyone kind of 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 the parents are kind of over there somewhere and they’re not really around in quite the same way. So, it’s kind of left to them. It’s also a bit more, I would say, that kind of perceived danger of some, 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, Sascha tends to think as the older son, he thinks that parks in Australia are quite boring. But, I mean, there’s the interesting ones built not necessarily in the mountains, but like, around. But, yeah. I mean, his German wasn’t good enough to have really intense interactions necessarily like, socially. So, he was mostly kind of parallel—he’s playing to other kids. But he didn’t kind of say anything particularly, you know, I don’t know. I mean, those 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, there’s no wary of particularly thinking about that. I wouldn’t… that wouldn’t happen in Australia. I don’t think, I think we have a fear of that type of thing.

Doctor Kimberley: I’m just thinking about the video in Europe. Is there still a big focus on stranger danger, and why do you think that’s different?

Rachel: I don’t know. 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 like, I feel like parks in Australia, they’re really for 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, like, everyone. Everyone that lived around that area was there, and the kids’ park was part of that kind of space. And so, the kids, you know, it’s just like we’re all living. And so, maybe if you see those people all the time not like you’re not friends or anything necessarily. But if you see people, you’re more or less likely to be worried about them, I guess. I mean, I’m not entirely sure because in Australia, I’ve kind of noticed that we seem to put things in very intense little silence like, this is a space for this and nothing else can happen in this space. And this is this space and etc. We found it in Italy not necessary in parks or anything.

So, we moved in Florence that people, in general, were really kind to the kids more so than in Australia. Like, these stranger dangers in public, are like, and even if we went to, I mean, people who we’re doing the residency with really talked to them like they were valued. They mention picnic, I mean, not really like adults, actually. But not like kind of an annoying kind of addition.

Doctor Kimberley: Yes.

Rachel: I don’t get this very mild, not like kind of really intense that this mild thing that kids in public in Australia are a little bit tolerated like, not necessarily, like, absolutely, it’s a great thing that they’re there as well. And we go to a restaurant where people would give them like a bunch of cherries, or like, an extra bit of bread. Or like, yes, it’s great. The children are out in the world exactly where we are. They’re like in a better world.

Doctor Kimberley: Love it. It sounds great for kids.
Rachel: Yes, yes, totally. What it does is it kind of makes them happy, makes everyone a bit happy. Well, it was, it really was genuine as well. It didn’t really seem like it was being done just as some type of expected thing or anything.

Doctor Kimberley: Yeah, so lovely. It sounds so good.

Rachel: Yeah, yeah. Actually.

[00:11:50 – 00:13:23] Being confined for closed spaces for a long time might trigger tension between children. To lessen this, it has then become a suggestion for the family to do some things for a short period of time separately. But Rachel thinks the dynamics of their family are compromised on this.

Doctor Kimberley: Can you tell me, have you had any epiphanies or breakthroughs? Because you’ve been traveling that you feel like… or changed the way you parent your kids, or the way that you live your life?

Rachel: I mean, something that you kind of always know, but maybe it’s more kind of really innate. The things are just constantly going to change because there’s not much you can do about that, and that if something’s bad at the moment, it probably would feel like that forever, at good times, when either, I guess. So, just, you know, the fact that what we were thinking at the moment actually, there’s this been a bit of tension. I think when we’re in closed spaces for too long and the kids are like, that they really love each other, but they’ll fight with each other. And so, we’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 could be more difficult. I guess, it’s like, it’ll be easier if all four of us went to do this because they wouldn’t, you know—

Doctor Kimberley: Yeah.

Rachel: –because we all want to do that. It was something like that. But, the thing was like one of us spending time one-on-one with the kids are not some type of exercise that more like that you forget that dynamics is really lovely and you’ve kind of been, “Yeah, that’s right and really lovely,” with Sascha, or with Jack, or with Paul, or even separately. It’s really different. The dynamics of four people is always going to be compromised. We’re still working on that one.

[00:13:24 – 00:17:29] Rachel reveals that to balance her life as a mother and an entrepreneur, she needs someone other than Paul, who works along with her, to look after the two kids. She tells that they’ve considered hiring a babysitter when they were in Germany. But it gets hard when the children become particular to whom they’ll get along with.

Doctor Kimberley: Yes, sounds very familiar. I think with any family because change of these dynamics can just break it off. Okay, that sounds good. And Rachel, I just want to know 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 ‘mom mode’ and forget about your pursuits? How do you keep the balance?

Rachel: Yeah, I don’t know. I’m pretty selfish. No, I mean, when we’re also again when we’re living at home in the mountains. My mom lives in a kind of apartment at the back of our house.

Doctor Kimberley: Yes.

Rachel: But she, I mean, she has a full-time job as well, but this means that there’s three of us…no, just two of us. And so, that’s amazing.

Doctor Kimberley: Yeah, that’s one good support. I love it.

Rachel: Yeah, I mean, and I know that’s not something where I can just like, 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 like long periods of time or anything. But like the half an hour where we both had to do something [cool]. I mean, those little, tiny times, I mean, especially when they were younger, the time when you have a show.

Doctor Kimberley: So helpful.
Rachel: Yeah, incredibly helpful. We’re having, this one project maybe like 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, Sascha said, “This sucks. I don’t like this.” And that was really fair enough. I mean, we didn’t either and that was one of those things where I was like, “Yeah, I know.”

Doctor Kimberley: Yeah.

Rachel: Yeah, that doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally.

Doctor Kimberley: And do you ever call on anyone when you’re overseas? Do you get a babysitter when you’re in ‘work mode’? I always find that such a juggle. You know, if my partner and I are away working and we want to bring the kids, but there are chances of family holiday more than a professional experience because we feel limited by not having that extra support. What do you do?

Rachel: Yeah, I know 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 necessary deadlines on it, so it necessarily have the same even though it’s like, it can be emotionally kind of challenging and you’re like, “I’m not getting this done fast than I thought.” It’s not, it doesn’t have that while we’re traveling, anyway, like if we’re having an exhibition at home, that’s a different thing. And we would ask to support at those times when, you know, we’re instilling something for it. But like, when we’re traveling, it doesn’t quite matter as much. But with, it does get a bit stressful with the design, working stuff. There’s actually nothing we can do. We just have to like, I really need three hours now. Can you guys go and do something?

Doctor Kimberley: Of course.

Rachel: You know, 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. I can’t say it was entirely successful. They didn’t like it at all, really.

Doctor Kimberley: Okay.

Rachel: Yeah, actually, there was one girl and they really didn’t like, and then we met a Swedish girl and she kind of looked after them a bit. That was a bit better, but I think they found it quite weak because we don’t really don’t do it at home because we have mom’s support, so bringing in like that to go are just like, “What is this?” That might have more to do with the fact that I’ve never really want the kind of structure of having a babysitter necessarily.

Doctor Kimberley: Yeah.

Rachel: So, it’s hard to say whether 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, that was generally more of the social things not for work things. I mean, yeah, basically, we can’t do that, so we just, I mean we talk about with them that this, you have to kind of read or draw or do something for a couple of hours while these specific thing is happening.

Doctor Kimberley: Yes.

Rachel: And like we always have, which isn’t always like it is, what happens is that we work after they’ve kind of go to sleep.

Doctor Kimberley: Go to sleep.

Rachel: Yeah.

Doctor Kimberley: I think that’s fair enough.

Rachel: Yeah, yeah, totally.

Doctor Kimberley: It works.

Rachel: Yes, right. Yeah, yeah.

[00:17:30 – 00:19:13] To wrap up the interview, Doctor O’Brien asks about the idea of settling back in Australia. For Rachel, even though they get to travel and explore other countries, she still finds Australia as the home base for her family.

Doctor Kimberley: And the last question, I feel like I have to wrap it up and say thank you for your time. I wondered how you guys settling back into Australian culture when you come home? Or does it always feel like a pit stop and that’s something new and exciting is around the corner?

Rachel: No, no. We love, I mean, we live in the Blue Mountains in Australia and in Katoomba, and we really love it there. The space and I mean, you know, we have a garden, and then we’re kind of used to eating from that, and all that kind of things. And we do really love the kind of settled nature of that. And our house, which has been in for a while now and the structure of that, and… no, it 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, we occasionally like the idea of doing something more dramatic and interesting. So, it’s more that that’s the—

Doctor Kimberley: Home base.

Rachel: Yeah, absolutely.

Doctor Kimberley: Now, if you liked that episode, you might also be interested in sharing that with your friends, or a psychologist, or educator that you know. 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 at 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 B-R-I-T-E-Child-dot-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’ll look forward to, well, being with you again next week as we interview more interesting parents who are doing things differently. This was Impressive.

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