Ken, Experience Designer, shirt from Frank & Eileen, tee from Engineered Garments.
Jade, homemaker, top from Cotton On, vintage skirt, watch from Swatch.
Oliver, top from Elly, pants from Luven.
Jessica, secondhand dress.
All shoes from Dr. Martens.
We gathered Ken & Jade’s troop in the Grain Traders diner, one of the projects that Ken was recently working on. The family of four, rounded off by Oliver, four, and Jessica, two, were full of energy, even early in the morning. Ken and Jade met through a mutual friend, and have been together for nine years since, and it’s clear that the duo make up an inseparable team. The family came in synchronised colours, even dressing up to match the interior of the store, and the kids had a fun time running around in their boots, even doing a little dance to the music that was being played. Fun fact: at one point, Ken used to be a professional dancer, and perhaps that’s where his kids get their grooves from. At the end of it we sat Jade and Ken down for a chat about how they manage to keep everything together.
Do you think your styles have changed at all, since you became parents?
Jade (J): I think it’s a bit more fuss free. Less jewellery, because it gets caught on stuff.
Ken (K): But at the same time when we do dress up we make more of an effort, because we don’t get to dress up so often. So it’s kind of an extreme, between really casual to going all out.
J: Yeah, like over-the-top dress up just because you can! It’s like “yay, I get time to dress up”.
K: Any chance you get.
Sometimes the little things can make or break an outfit. What do you personally look for when it comes to shoes and accessories?
K: Comfort, for me. It has to be comfortable.
J: For accessories, it has to be something that is versatile, that I can wear with a lot of stuff, and not get caught easily on things.
K: For shoes, I like a purity of design, in a sense, without too much stuff on it. So it’s just nice leather…
What are some of the items in your wardrobe or on your dresser that you can’t live without?
K: My wedding ring. And really comfortable v-neck shirts.
J: Simple singlets, basics. And I have an ivory bracelet that goes with everything.
If you could wear a uniform of sorts for the rest of your life, what items would it include, and why?
K: I think it would be a comfortable, cotton v-neck shirt, preferably in a neutral colour like grey, and a pair of jeans.
J: If you go to that extreme then yeah, it would be jeans and singlets, but I wouldn’t want to wear that for the rest of my life! (laughs) I like to dress up, so that would get boring.
When it comes to dressing Oliver and Jessica, what kind of styles/pieces do you look for? Jade, do you do do most of the shopping/styling in the family?
J: Yeah, probably, but Ken also gets special pieces for the kids that he finds. He’s really good at dressing them, so he always does something really weird — but still looks good! I look for things that are colourful and cute, stuff that you can’t wear when you’re older, so you should do it when you’re younger. Animal prints, loud colours, tutus; just having fun with their outfits. Because you’re only a kid once!
How do you (try to) balance your work life and family life? Or what are the little things you do to make sure that neither one is compromised?
K: We have at least one date night every week, where it’s just me and Jade. And then we also have one planning night, where we just plan the week together…
J: And make sure we just spend quality time with the kids. If it’s a really busy week then we see what pockets of time we have left to make sure we intentionally spend time with the kids.
K: It’s all about being intentional. So if we know that this week, for example, there’s a lot of weddings and the kids won’t be seeing much of us, we make sure that there’s at least two nights that week that we do something really intense with the kids.
What’s the one thing you think you should be doing more of, or that you wish you had more time to be doing?
J: There were things, before, that we wanted to do more of, like holidays and quality time, but now we’ve done this planning thing, it’s really helped and we’re quite intentional about what we do.
K: I guess we’re pretty good at the moment.
J: We’ve been married for nine years, and we’ve had kids for the past five years, so it’s taken a while to get to this point. It’s only this year that we started doing this intentional planning every Monday night.
K: We used to do this sort of envisioning once a year, but now we do it once a week. So that’s really helped. Because it’s about one-ness, so when we share, then each week she knows exactly what I’m doing, and she knows what I’m doing. Like even when she’s home doing stuff, I’ll know what she’s up to, so we feel more like we’re doing it together.
J: You feel more like a team, because you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s like, okay, today I need to focus and really invest in the kids, because he’s going to work, and coming home late. It just helps you get in the right mindset.
What is one thing that you’ve learnt from each other over the years? What have your children taught you as well?
K: I’ve learnt that there are things that you can do, for example, going on holiday or having an expensive dinner, whether it’s with the kids or with Jade, that are just temporal and don’t last a lifetime. Then there are things that can happen, like a conversation, or writing a letter, or something meaningful that will be eternal. So I’ve learnt that the eternal things are usually the small conversations or small things that impact the person’s or the kids’ lives.
J: Connection for us is pretty important. We always have to spend time with each other and just see how each other is. We don’t do so well when we have too much time apart.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced, as young parents?
What’s your favourite thing to do together as a family?
J: The kids love swimming. We just like hanging out.
Oliver, have you gone swimming recently?
Oliver (O): No. (Is it because of the haze?) No, that’s because the swimming pool is broken. J: They’re retiling the pool!
Do you miss swimming?
What else do you like to do? We heard you play soccer.
O: Yeah if anybody wins they get to be the goalkeeper. (So everyone wants to be the goalkeeper?) Yeah, I was the goalkeeper because I won. (Are you a good goalkeeper?) Yeah!
K: We also like going for walks, to the Botanic Gardens for example. They love nature, they’re quite outdoorsy.
J: We don’t like iPads. Sometimes you have to do it, but at best we try not to.
In light of Dr. Martens’ #standforsomething campaign, as a family, what’s the one thing you stand for? What do you personally believe in, be it at work, or in life?
K: Valuing people.
J: Loving people. Making a difference in the world.
K: Bringing God’s love to people — that’s really important to us.
J: Making sure that people realise that they are loved, and bringing tangible evidence of that love into the world.
K: Everything we do — the way we teach our kids, or even for Grain Traders, and feeding people right — stems from that belief as well. We just want to treat people right.
J: In my spare time I volunteer in mentoring and planning events for varsity and university students. I’m also passionate about getting people involved in community service projects and overseas mission trips, because I believe that we can all make a difference to make the world a better place.
Who is your all-time favourite musician or band? Or the artist that you’re currently into at the moment?
J: Kwabs! (laughs) We’re both currently into him at the moment. And that guy, the young guy, the one who plays the piano — the English one, what’s his name? We’re into English bands at the moment.
K: What, Years & Years? I wouldn’t say he’s our favourite!
J: But into at the moment, lah!
K: I would say for her she’s really into old-school R&B. I love Red Hot Chilli Peppers, U2.
J: I like Erykah Badu, really old R&B stuff!
K: Yeah, I like more rock.
If there was one thing you’d like to say to each other, what would it be?
J: We say most things to each other all the time!
K: Bubble loves bubble? Those are just our nicknames for each other.
J: It was just like, you’re so cute, you’re like a little bubble, and we just started calling each other bubble! (laughs)