Sara Jane Oakeshott, mum of three with one on the way does not take the limelight very often. She tells FOCUS about her busy life behind the scenes … raising a young family and being the glue that keeps this busy family together.
When we stepped into the Oakeshott home, it was a flurry of activity! At 8am everyone was dressed and ready for their day. Sophie (6) takes command in welcoming us, beaming smiles and ready for school; Olivia (4) also eagerly as energetic and inquisitive as to who her guests were, while Angus (1) concentrates on breakfast.
Once the introductions were over, Rob, who is used to all the attention, kindly takes a back step behind all the girls and his son so that we can find more about life in the Oakeshott household, according to wife Sara Jane.
> We hear you and Rob are expecting baby number four – congratulations!
Thanks, we always wanted to have a big family and I am confident that this will be the final addition to the household.
> Your family life is obviously really busy. Give us a brief snapshot into the average day in the Oakeshott household …
I guess our household would be fairly similar to most families with young children and working parents. Our eldest daughter Sophie (who is 6) started school this year, and Olivia (who is 4) and Angus (who is 1) both attend pre-school and childcare two days a week.
The children also participate in other activities such as ballet, swimming, gymnastics and soccer, which means some days are definitely a bit crazier than others.
> How do you find a balance between spending quality time together and Rob’s busy life as a politician?
I believe the work, life, family balance is a challenge for most families and most mums and dads – not just a politician’s.
While Rob’s job takes him away from us a lot, which can be difficult, it can also at times be very flexible – which suits an active and energetic family like ours.
Rob’s job also provides a lot of opportunities for our children to experience new activities and meet a lot of new people, so we try to include family time with some of Rob’s work commitments, and it seems to work well.
As for Rob and I, a quiet weekend at home managing to get the kids to bed nice and early is always great. Let’s face it though, with 3 young children and another on the way, regular quality time for the two of us is most likely a few years away!
> What are some of the activities you all like to do as a family?
Anything outdoors! In summer, long mornings and afternoons at the beach are always lovely. We also enjoy taking the kids for a bike ride or trek along our great coastal walkway paths that stretch along many of the beaches in our area.
> Being a wife and mum are full-time jobs themselves, but when you’re not focusing exclusively on these roles, what else keeps you busy?
Well, I work two days a week at the Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council as their project officer, which involves writing funding applications and implementing various programs for our indigenous community.
This has been a great job for me and I’ve met a lot of new and interesting people, as well as making some great new friends.
I also like to stay reasonably healthy and enjoy swimming or running on the beach. Other than that, finding time to read a good book is always a bonus.
> Rob’s career involves a lot of travel, and he has to spend some time away from home. How have you and the children adjusted to this?
Rob has been a member of parliament for nearly as long as I have known him, so for me him being away and travelling is something that I am very familiar with. However, Rob travelling now that we have a growing family can be difficult and tiring for everyone.
The children understand it is part of Rob’s role to travel and to be away, and they seem to cope very well. We just try to get into a reasonable routine, and the weeks seem to fly by. We try to travel with him every now and then, and we are grateful that Canberra is such a fantastic and interesting place for children.
Travelling with Rob also gives us a chance to catch up with family and friends who live in Sydney, Canberra and the Southern Highlands.
> What do you like the most about living in the Port Macquarie-Hastings area?
I grew up in Port Macquarie and have lived here for a lot of my life. I think the one thing that has stayed true for me over the years is just our beautiful beaches and the easy lifestyle that Port Macquarie offers; it really does make it a great place to bring up your family.
> Election time must be particularly stressful for all of you. How do you cope with this added pressure?
Yes, election time can be difficult – especially now that the children are old enough to understand what an election is all about and the competition between candidates that occurs.
To cope, we try to keep our house ‘as normal as possible’, and I usually focus on making sure the children are healthy and happy and that their routine doesn’t change too much. Overall though, we just try to take each day as it comes and count down the days till polling day!
> Do you, Rob and the children have any future plans or dreams e.g. travel?
Just getting through the next few weeks of an election campaign would be great at this stage, and then we’ll move on to preparing for the arrival of our newborn baby at the start of October.
Into the future, when possible I would love to travel with the family, but for now I’d settle for a healthy and happy family and we’ll see what happens …
> Thank you Sara Jane.