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Season 2 # 12 Ali Wyllie

Today, I am speaking to Ali Wyllie, who runs the 'Childfree By Choice' account on Twitter - The aim of this account is to take away the stigma of being childfree. It has also evolved to address the division which can occur between parents and non parents by developing mutual empathy.

We discuss Ali's experience of making the childfree choice and how this has been both challenged and challenging. We also explore how this keeps developing as she continues to live it, learn about it and meet other childfree people.

Episode Transcript:

Today, I am speaking to Ali Wyllie. I've gotten to know Ali through her Twitter account 'Childfree by Choice'. The aim of this account is to take away the stigma of being child free. It has also evolved to address the division that can sometimes occur between parents and non parents by developing mutual empathy. We have a really great wide ranging discussion, including what it's like to have a childfree account on social media, Ali's own experience of making the childfree choice and how this keeps developing as she continues to learn and to meet other childfree people. So Ali, I'm delighted to talk to you, as I said, I was really excited. So we we've kind of gotten in contact over Twitter and after messaging on different times, now we're here talking so it's really lovely to talk to you and meet you today. Ali Wyllie 1:19 Likewise, really nice to finally meet you, like I said earlier Margaret O Connor 1:23 As near as we can get at the moment. Ali Wyllie 1:24 Yeah. Margaret O Connor 1:25 Perfect. So yeah, so I was saying, I suppose we we've gotten in contact with each other over Twitter. And I thought that might be a good place to start kind of the the conversation today. So you have an account, childfree by choice. So that is one of your Twitter handles. And I suppose I'm really curious to know kind of what, what's that experience like to have a kind of a very focused, you know, child free by choice account online? How is that for you? Ali Wyllie 1:55 So, it's been going actually a year, because I noticed on my on the Twitter account, I think I set up in July last year. And and I think the key purpose of setting it up was to kind of help help have the conversation. And really try to reduce the stigma, both for those experiencing a bit of stigma and feeling a bit isolated by choosing not to have children, and also potentially reach out to parents or other people in society who who do judge or who maybe don't realize some of the things they say or the actions they take.. how that could affect other people. And whilst it is aimed at those who are child free by choice, there are some overlaps. And I do try and take cognizance of those who are childless by circumstance, be it they...infertility issues or life circumstances, they have not met anyone or their life work or just anything that gets got in the way basically. Though, that isn't the focus because I can only speak from my own experience, which is a choice. And but I have this like I think it's 700 followers now. And it's quite an active account. One of the key things I've wanted to do with it is not just talk about me, me, me, me, me, I do share some experiences. But I'd like to try and open up the conversation and try and be as inclusive as possible and try to encourage conversation. And I think that's worked quite well. Margaret O Connor 3:28 Absolutely yeah. It's quite varied. And yeah, I do I really like the way you put things up in quite an open minded kind of way. And I suppose like that draw on people's kind of own experiences and share so many resources. You have all the different resources available. So yeah, it's a really positive account, I think, which is nice. Yeah, even you're you're you're kind of bio information, I was just looking at it there is 'taking the stigma away, and that you can feel deep love, happiness and fulfillment without being a parent'. It's really hard to get that I don't know how many characters that bio is, it's really short. It is hard to get like a succinct description, but I think that really, that really captures the gist and then like.. Ali Wyllie 4:14 that's it in a nutshell, I think. Margaret O Connor 4:17 Yeah. And you're not saying it's not them versus us situation. You're just saying it is possible, if that's what you want, or if that's the situation you find yourself in. Ali Wyllie Yeah, and I think that's something we've discussed, like earlier, and not even just today, but it's I'm really anti that them versus us. I think and when I say them, I mean, parents. I'm very, very anti the them versus us. Yes, there's times that we can, as someone who's child free, I can get frustrated because a parent might say something to me, but that doesn't mean all parents have that view. And that doesn't mean all parents are going to say something like that. So I think it can be quite, you can read things online or people can say things and it can be quite divisive. So, and don't get me wrong in my early days, I would have maybe I say, my early days of being kind of out as a childfree person, there was defense mechanisms that I put in place, I could get angry, I could be triggered by comments, and I possibly did categorize parents into the one group. And I'm trying my best not to do that. I think it's that doesn't help. Margaret O Connor That's really interesting to hear. Because I think maybe sometimes people think that the decision to be childfree is like oh I've made that decision now, it was like, you know, last Monday, I decided that this is what I'm doing. And now it's done. And I don't think that's really how it goes. You know, I think it does feel like more of a process, like you'll make the decision at some point. But there can be, yeah, maybe a deepening of that choice. So it does feel like that for you that you know, it's changing for you? Ali Wyllie 5:57 Yeah, I think it's definitely been a process, I think, for me, and so I'm quite out there that I've never ever, ever wanted children. And even from my earliest memory of it, it's been, I think I was six years old, and I was in a swimming pool. For some reason me and my sister, were talking about pregnancy or something like that. And I remember thinking that that is gross, I will never do that. I don't want to have children. And I also remember thinking I wanted to be a granny, but I didn't want to be a mom. (laughter) And, you know, I kind of liked the idea that you could play with them, and then give them back. And, and then over time, it was never really an issue. It was just forgotten about, it was just something that my friends might talk about children, if that was just part of the conversation I'd just kept quiet about. But then as I grow older, and it suddenly became a really relevant part of my life, and it became a conversation with the person I was with at the time, I was very clear, I didn't want children, then it kind of climaxed into a huge issue with his mom who would beg me to have children, the pressure was insurmountable. And I think I then realized what a big issue and well, it wasn't such a big issue, but it became a big issue. And, and that was quite an ugly period of my life. And I was quite suppressed and oppressed. And it was, it was, it took quite a bit of time to decompress from that and work my way through it. And I think from those experiences, I never want anyone to go through that. I want people to know that no matter how much begging you might have from in laws, from parents, that the only reason to have a child is if you desperately want a child. And if that's the case, I wish you all the happiness. If you don't want to have one, I just believe passionately that you should never be talked into it by someone. Yeah, that's kind of.. so in a way, it was a bit of a progress for me, because it was a non issue until it became such a huge issue. And then I suppose, you know, that relationship ended. I met my fiancé now and that did become a relevant conversation again, because you have to then say, right, by the way, I don't want children. And that can startle some people, it can be, though you then go around through it and you test yourself, you might see a little kid and you're urging yourself to think something affectionate about it, or imagining the cute moments with little children that you could have. But that would, there just was never ever an urge or desire or a want. And I've never wavered in that thought process at all. Margaret O Connor 8:34 Ok, yeah, I mean, God, there's loads in that and I think lots of people could relate. So I mean, it's quite abstract for a while, until it becomes very real. And that can feel very testing because even like, even in that process, did you ever kind of think, oh, right, like, you know, this is real now I have to kind of make.. it's kind of like actively making the choice, you know, not just abstractly you know, that but must be really difficult. Ali Wyllie 9:04 I think I think probably up until then. So let's say that was about seven or eight years ago. I think I so I kind of refer to as it, I would have been early 30s when I came out and said to people openly that I didn't want children because that's when it became relevant when it became.. people would be asking or and and that was when it was really a factor in my life and that was when a lot of attention or focus was given to it because of people's reactions. And you know, people say you know, you'll change your mind people, which is my biggest, biggest (laughter)... that one does still probably get a rise out of me and does still trigger me because it's the offensiveness that someone thinks they know your mind better than you know. And, and I think a lot of the time people don't realize how much thought consideration and research you know, I again, it's not a competition. I'm hugely not wanting to create a dichotomy between it, but I've probably put, but I definitely have put more research and consideration into the child free choice, I suppose, than a lot of people do into becoming parents. I've read hordes of books and listened to podcasts and read articles. And you know, so it's not just a simple choice that you make, just like that. Yeah. As you know, yourself with all of your clients. Margaret O Connor 10:31 Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And the pressure so like, because it comes down to then, it feels like it's it is a real choice. Like, did you feel you had to make a choice, like, between your partner and, and the possible lifestyle that you might have had there and this other choice? Ali Wyllie 10:51 Yeah, I think for me, I knew. For me, I knew I was never gonna have a child. That wasn't.. the pressure and the begging and the ridiculous comments. And I think so that was the very first child free piece that I wrote about the pressure and, and that when that was in Tanya's childfree magazine that she did. So that was the first childfree piece I wrote, and it was, it flowed really easily, it was very natural to write about it and feel the feelings I felt at the time. And I, when I look back, I would have handled it entirely differently now. But I class myself as a recovering people pleaser, so I didn't I wanted to please this woman, but having a child for her was a bit far fetched (laughter) even for a people pleaser. But no answer would have sufficed except for okay, I'm now pregnant. So. And I think the reason it, it didn't cause the relationship to end. But it would have been a huge factor, because he just thought it was something between me and his mother. It wasn't... We weren't singing from the same hymn sheet. He didn't necessarily provide the the union. Yeah. So it was it's an experience I'm glad I've had, because I think it's brought me to where I am now. If I hadn't gone through that, then I wouldn't be so vehemently vocal about things. Margaret O Connor 12:26 Okay. And yeah, suppose I was going to ask did it change how you kind of felt or approached things after that. So that's a real, like a personal challenge. That's something you, even just how you said there, like it was really left to you to deal with and kind of decide how to approach so yeah, how did it impact how you approached it? Ali Wyllie 12:45 So at the time itself, and probably for a good year or two after, it really gave me a lot of anxiety, I felt very much like I wasn't good enough. I was ostracized in society, I was completely alone. Everyone, I was abnormal, because everyone around me was having kids. And whilst don't get me wrong, a lot of my friends and my family were very, they never questioned it. But it was still in my head so abnormal. And so I kind of question well, why don't I want kids? That's really, you know, but I knew I didn't want them. I knew within my heart, I really didn't want them. So I couldn't just, appease society and appease the this woman who was then in my life. And so I suppose the anxiety it gave me was quite.. It had me second guessing myself a lot. And it had me kind of, I thought it would be a lot easier to have a child to fit in with friends, to fit in with society. And I think as well, some people have said at that time, you know, if I had even just said to my ex's mother, well, I can't have children if I if I, but I kind of thought and I understand that, you know, a lot of the time, those who are childless by circumstance are.. there's an empathy, there's a pity, there's an understanding, there's a kind of protective arm around the shoulder, and there there, I'm really sorry. And they should they should get that I that I can't even begin to imagine the trauma and the upset of that. So they absolutely need to get that. And but I suppose and people say, well, why don't you just say you couldn't have children, but I didn't think I was honest. And I didn't think that was fair. It might well be that I can't, I will never know. But I think I needed to be able to stand up and be who I was, and have courage to say out loud - I don't want to do this thing that everyone in society harks on about. And if it means that I'm quite isolated, and people think I'm a monster, and people don't understand me, and people come up with all sorts of comments such as you'll change your mind, you'll regret it, you won't know happiness. Fine, but at least it's authentic. And it doesn't kind of steal, not steal the thunder, but it doesn't try to borrow empathy from the childless. So yes, it would have been so much easier if I could have used that. But that is a lie. It was lie so. And I had to own it, I think. Margaret O Connor 15:13 Okay, the harder harder route. Yeah. And what helped you then? Because that sounds really tough, you know, for that year or two feeling like that, what helped you to get through? Ali Wyllie 15:23 Ahm..the end of the relationship definitely. And getting away from the pressure. Yeah. And, and I think I then had, I started a small business, I was working full time in a really demanding job, I started embracing my own life. So I think the end of any relationship is can be can get back to being who you are. Suddenly, I changed a few lifestyle habits, I'm really immersed in my own, in me, I found out who I was again, and and I kind of really threw all my energy and drive and focus into becoming a kind of better version of myself and not giving myself such a hard time. And I think trying to find an acceptance with myself. And it wasn't actually for a couple of years after that. So now chronologically if we look back, so maybe five years ago if that, that I even found child free resources, but I don't think I'd looked for them before. I just didn't think.. I'd never sat on Google and typed in I don't want children or I just didn't even..I didn't even think that there would be many other people out there. I thought.. I was very, yeah, I didn't think they'd be many whereas (laughter), as we know, there's, it's huge. And it's growing, which is personally very nice to feel you're not alone. Margaret O Connor 16:48 Okay brilliant. And, yeah, so, uh, yeah. So again, progressing from that, I suppose getting a bit of headspace and practical things going on. And then the decision to kind of be quite public about it or, you know, kind of take on that awareness raising role. Is that just kind of a sign of how comfortable you are with things now? Ali Wyllie 17:10 Yeah, I think so I found myself with a little bit more time on my hands. And just due to a change of circumstance, moving in a career, a career break from my job moving house, and country, and so on, and a pandemic. And I'd actually thought about writing a book about being child free. And, and then the more research I did, the more I saw how there was a lot of books out there, there was a lot going on, which was brilliant. So many books, I just couldn't, you know, it's all, everything's there, which is brilliant, I wouldn't be coming at it from a unique angle. So I've nothing further to add to what's already out there. So, and although I was trying to come away from social media, as much as possible, I ended up creating the child free by choice Twitter account, okay. And that was really just to connect with other people who are child free, and really just highlight, it's okay, you're fine, if you're being judged, or you're being pressured. And then over the year, it's kind of grown. I'll share resources. If someone's talking about being pressured, there's always an resource that I can pull out to share with someone if they're talking about something, an experience they're having, and they feel alone with that experience, be it pressure from a partner, pressure from mother in law, pressure from society, issues with their friends. So there's always something I can find that can be quite relevant. And it's so it's nice to have things in one place, perhaps, to have these discussions and just help ease isolation that I experienced with it. Margaret O Connor 18:48 Ok...fantastic. And what has the response been like? You're saying you have over 700 followers, so that's really good. But yeah do you get much interaction with the page? Ali Wyllie 18:58 Yeah, I've been.. Yeah, very much. So I mean, I I'm quite active on it, I will I try to post up once a day or once every couple of days. And which I suppose helps. And then I and so I'll interact with comments, or if people you know, I don't just put something up and then switch off for a couple of days. And so that's why I think it's grown because it's, it's quite interactive. And I couldn't tell you how, in the early days, it I can't even remember what I put up or how I but it will have changed in its character and its tone. I certainly think my conversation or my stance has changed over the year just from all the reading, listening, and learning from other people that I've done. And, and I don't want the Twitter account to be inciting any hate towards any category. I don't want the Twitter account.. I want to be empathetic and to say, you know, if someone's having a poor experience with friends who might be a parent, and they think it's that's the reason then absolutely empathize with it, but it doesn't then mean let's hate all parents, you know, so I'm trying my best and I might sometimes be, I might get it wrong. And I'll often get it wrong. But I don't mean to, I'm still doing my best, I'm still just a little old me trying to kind of come at it from an open angle. I try and use humor where I can but also help other people see, feel seen and understood and recognize they're not a bad person for not wanting children. So I think that's the.. there has been a lot. I'm quite surprised I've not had that much hate yet. I kind of brace myself sometimes for it. And what I am trying not to do, because every so often in the early days, I'd go through the childfree hashtag. And I would have a wee look at any kind of conversations that were going on that maybe weren't on my radar. And sometimes, if there was a conversation going on, that was just ridiculous. Like, I don't know, just as an example, I think there was a recent one, what what do people without children even do with their time or, you know, things like that, which are triggering. And it's, and really, I just shouldn't get involved with that. Most of the time, I don't. And every so often, someone might tag me in it that that's why sometimes. So I might have a follower and they'll tag me in something as you know, the child free by choice voice, you need to answer this or sometimes I feel like I have a duty to get involved, even though I am not the gatekeeper of anything. But again, I try my best to come up with something that isn't antagonistic, that isn't.. very often its in the heat of the moment, and it was maybe not what I should have written. But um, yeah, I mean, Twitter's got some huge positives. But that's so I'm not doing that as much kind of looking through the hashtag. And that I think it's great to have the conversation and the reach is phenomenal. And I think since I've started writing quite a few articles on my, one of my.. what brought me to tears several times is people reaching out to me who say, who are maybe parents or who said, oh, I've, I've never thought about it like this, I've been putting pressure on my cousin and telling, I've been telling her she won't be happy without a baby. And now I realize from reading this, well now I'm not gonna say this so you know, and that that's really, that's made such an impact on me, because that's all I need. If one person doesn't put pressure on those around them to have children just through something they've read that I've put up, that's that's my, my day made. Margaret O Connor 22:44 That is brilliant. Yeah, I mean, I think .. I'm sure you've written more but I've probably read five or six of your articles that you've had on it's medium I've seen them published on. And like they're so yeah, I suppose empathic is the word you know, you're absolutely owning your story. They're not judgmental, but they're, they're very clear. It was very relatable. So maybe that's just me (laughter). And but yeah, I suppose you're like, one of them is was the was at the top in the parenting section. So ironically (laughter), but reaching, I suppose reaching an audience that, you know, I suppose it's great, you know, we talk to each other as the childfree community but really speaking to other people is kind of where the change happens isn't it so it's amazing to see that. Yeah. Ali Wyllie 23:36 I think that's actually we, I think, probably about six months ago, that's something I realized that within the childhood community, we can all kind of discuss things. Say yeah, I experienced that too. Yeah, me too. And we can we can work together and think, and talk about things and feel understood and feel seen and feel related. But then how do we make positive, impactful changes? How do we educate those around us that actually, you know, most of the time, we won't change your mind, we're not going to regret things, we are happy, we are fulfilled. We're going into this with our eyes wide open.. all of this, you know, we've all got our own reasons or non reasons, it might be like a simple, I just don't want children. And so actually, that's something that I'm really pleased about that. My pieces that I'm writing are reaching, most of the audience will be parents or people who want children later on in life or, or even grandparents or just people who don't necessarily have much to do with the child free world. And so then reading something they know nothing about and they can see things in a new light. So instead of just thinking, oh, my friend, Joe is 55 years old and doesn't have children, but has always said she doesn't want children. Instead of looking at her with pity or with, you know, hopefully, we can start to look at people by what they say they want in life or what they chose in life and not judging it. Not thinking oh well that will mean your life will be less than. So. Margaret O Connor 25:04 But that's so important. And just that, you know, that's I suppose recognizing it as a choice that that's your choice, you do that and this, whatever this is, is my choice, and I'll go and do that. So I mean, that's really, it sounds so simple when you say it out loud (laughter). Ali Wyllie 25:22 And it is simple. But unfortunately, it's one of these topics that that is just so deep rooted and ingrained in every culture in society that and especially as a female, you know, you hear the audible gasps around you, when you say out loud, you don't want children, so many heads turn.. so Margaret O Connor 25:44 And you were saying you feel you've become kind of less maybe reactive to those comments or questions that might come in new situations, what has helped you with that? Ali Wyllie 25:56 I think the amount of conversations I've had, I think the amount of I've had my time and my chance of venting, I've shed enough tears to float a ship in relation to frustration and anguish and upset and I've, and it's never, I've never wavered in my choices, just the reactions from the outside world or not or feeling isolated, or, you know, losing people from your life because your worlds just go in different directions no matter what you do to try and stop that. But I think, you know, the amount of books I've read, podcasts I've listened to, articles I've read, articles I've written, it all really helps to process things and every so often, you'll come across a new phase, a new phrase that really get you really get, and I think it was was on the Childfree Girls podcast, or maybe Uprising Spark and they talked about how they had someone who talked about the when your child free by choice, it's not just a decision you make, you are making that every day. You're that' don't just six years ago go I don't want children, you're constantly reassessing. It's a decision you make every day. And it's very relevant to, you know, parents, people have decided to have children decide to have children decision made, but they build their life towards this. They know, right we want our children in three years. So where do we want to live? What car do we need to have? What jobs do we need to do? And that's a decision that they have to plan for that. But similarly, for the child free, we have to make decisions every day, we knowingly go into our life and go, right. This is what I'm doing. Am I good with this? And it's so I suppose my journey, learn, I still learn, I still listen to things and hear different perspectives. And it's always interesting. You always, it can be great when something resonates that you've just not thought about before. Yeah, that's that's how it is, that works for me. And sometimes not everything does. But I think the amount of work I've done myself, I've never do you know, back it seven years ago, I could have done with a counselor (laughter). But again, I would never have imagined that would have been a role that someone specialized in at all. Yeah, no, I kind of did my own unofficial work, I guess, which has helped me be less triggered by comments and less reactive. Margaret O Connor 28:23 But then that helps conversation doesn't it and I'm not saying that the child free person has to take the responsibility of educating everyone, but being able to have that conversation, I suppose if, if I or whoever isn't having a hugely strong reaction, then that kind of implies as well yeah, this is just what I'm doing and it's quite normal, or it's okay, or I'm fine with it. So you don't need to have an opinion. You know, I suppose how we, how we have those conversations, tells a lot about it as well, it's the context as well as the content. Ali Wyllie 28:53 Definitely. And it shows the kind of the peace and the acceptance of yourself and of your decision. So Margaret O Connor 29:02 It's not always easy, but it's a nice thing to aspire to (laughter). And we were talking a little bit before around that idea of, you know, not falling into that kind of them versus us debate. Because I was thinking I was saying to you know that can be really off putting to people who maybe aren't sure. So like, they're not sure if they want kids or not. And they might see if they do dip into maybe some child free groups or some common sections, I guess, and some things that it can be very, it can be quite divisive, it can be a bit aggressive. You know, there's there's language and and there's a lack of empathy from both sides sometimes, so that can be really off putting because it can be like, well, where do I belong if I'm not like really staunchly child free, but I'm not sure if I want to be parent. It can feel yeah, like where where do they belong? Where do they go to? So yeah, trying to have more collaborative, I guess conversations is really, really important for for well, for everybody. But for that reason, yeah. Ali Wyllie 30:14 And absolutely. And obviously, I'm not, I'm not a counselor, I'm not. But if anyone came to me and asked my opinion and said, oh, gosh, I know you've chosen this lifestyle. I need to pick your brains because I'm on the fence. I would never say don't kids have no way, you know, I would have would have a really good conversation about it. And I'd kind of go through the, you know, what do you want from life? What do you like about life? What? Where does? What did you think when you're a kid? Where? Why would you want kids? Or why do you think you want kids? We'd have a serious conversation, I would never try to persuade anyone not to because I, I fully understand that for so many people, it is a brilliant source of joy. They feel huge love and fulfillment. And I do not doubt that. And for some people, that is such a right thing. And they are fantastic parents. And so if it's right for someone, and they want to do it for the right reasons, absolutely. And I wish them all the best. And so, but similarly, so that's why it is sometimes quite frustrating, because I suppose some childfree people going to some parents, they could be persuaded, you know, even if they're like, I don't want children oh, but you'll love them if when they are your own. I don't like children, oh, but you'll love them when they're your own. My life's great and I'm really happy, oh, but there's a hole in your life and you need children.. there's not a hole in my life. I don't need children. So some people, instead of thinking, well, hang on, let's assess are children right for you, you know, and they're right for many, many people. They're not right for other people. So and I think we need what we're trying to do, I suppose as a child free movement, It's that there's no wrong or right. Yeah, that's possibly what it comes down to as well. We're trying to show that not having children by choice is not wrong and as valid. Margaret O Connor 32:05 Yes, so it really is holding the space for for all options within it. So not automatically swinging to one or the other kind of not extreme but yeah, either either side, but I suppose. Ali Wyllie 32:18 Don't get me wrong, it's still nice, if I meet someone who's child free and on your, or you know, they're gonna be childfree, that they don't want children and you're like yes, I can invest in this relationship because I know I'm not necessarily going to lose them or yeah,(laughter) so for my personal internal side, but I wouldn't necessarily. Yeah, it's a nice little bonus celebration sometimes. Margaret O Connor 32:41 Okay. Absolutely. Yeah. But you're not trying to actively recruit (laughter). Ali Wyllie 32:47 No...Nor persuade friends who don't have children not to, absolutely not. And I'm very often the first person that some of my friends will call if they're pregnant, or they're trying for a baby and it's and I will absolutely celebrate with them and, and be a shoulder for any of their frustrations through the process. So and just be there just show a normal friendship, empathy and support. So Margaret O Connor 32:58 Lovely. And at the risk of asking you what you do with your time (laughter), what are the things that being childfree kind of allows you to do, what other kind of passions do you have? Ali Wyllie 33:23 My my life now is very different to a year ago. I suppose, a year ago and beyond, because that's when I moved, I could do, I was doing a job that involved all hours, I would get held on overtime, I did all sorts and I went away with work quite a lot. And it just never mattered. And I could run my own business as well. So I, I fitted more into a day that some people would fit into a week. And I'd be training quite hard 60 70 mile a week running, and doing all sorts of yoga and dog walking and stuff on top of that. So I didn't have like, I'd be up at half five in the morning and be in my bed at about 11pm. I didn't I barely had time to scratch my arse, let alone look after a child you know. So it just allows me to lead a really full life. Now, I suppose life is a little bit quieter, but it's for me, I don't even.. if I look after friends kids, which I do not regularly but and I enjoy it. I enjoy their company. I do get frustrated with them. I don't show it. I show them patience. But a day or so is enough for me. And sometimes a couple of hours depends, you know, on the kids,(laughter). It's hard work and it's, I'm not interested in in going through that. So the monotony of three square meals a day, dressing and washing them all. It's just not. It's not for me. So I can do other things with my time that I can kind of invest with. So at the moment my writing is taking up a lot of my time, which I'm really enjoying. I am. But yeah, getting out into the hills, doing lots of running all of that takes up. And don't get me wrong. A lot of parents do that as well. I'm not saying if you want to run and do this, this you can't have kids. People who manage to juggle it all, I am in awe of. But I think I've learned that I don't have the headspace to do it all. Margaret O Connor 35:22 Yeah ok, that sounds nice. And you're involved as well are you in a in a kindness thing...? Ali Wyllie 35:32 So it's just a, I'm quite a project person, I've gone through quite a few projects. And in the last month, I've set up a publication on medium which is called Spread the Ripple, which is basically a place for stories of kindness. So anything from stories of like, interaction with strangers that is based on kindness, just simple little interactions that mean that showing a bit patience to those around you. And from playing about on medium in the last four or five months, I noticed there wasn't an awful lot of, well there were no publications that are active about kindness. So it's something I thought I could just kind of set up, I created the Twitter and Instagram handles, which I don't use an awful lot. But the stories are there's normally two or three stories a week. And it's can be all sorts of random, there was one recently about that kind of almost like a kindness train, I think it was a kidney transplant getting..Yeah, so there's also the way things turn out and the ripple effect of kindness. I read a book about the five side effects of kindness so I put a story up with some of the things I learned from that. And it's nice to have little boosts and, and it's a very stark reminder, when I'm reading three, four stories a week on kindness is a very stark reminder of practicing kindness yourself. And I think there was one I published today, which is about you know, remembering to be kind and a lot of people's regrets in life is when they haven't shown enough kindness. So, and we all have it, I can look back on my past and highlight areas that I was maybe too impatient, too frustrated, too angry to respond to something with kindness. And I think we could all do that a little better. And so the more that's on my radar, the more that probably does then play into my childfree by choice account. if someone puts up something antagonistic or something, then there's no point in fighting fire with fire as much as you sometimes want to. But if you can go in and say, well, this is my experience, or this is, I think, very often people just want to be right. Margaret O Connor 38:00 But absolutely, but I think I have to say as well, I think the people that I've gotten to know if it's virtually or through through social media have are really supportive. Like there's people who will always, you know, you see this kind of the sharing and the retweeting and the nice comments and, and there's some genuinely amazing content. And you're really like, this sounds patronizing but really, like mature thought out content, and even look at probably five seven ten years ago, that just was not there. So I mean, it's an amazing in terms of childfree content and resources. And so it's lovely to see that, and I think, for again, from my experience, people are really welcoming into that as well. So that's, yeah, I know, there's both sides. Ali Wyllie 38:52 I think and without sounding too, kind of cliched, it's become such a community. I really do feel welcome and supported and seen and understood. And I think one of the best things for anyone in life is to feel seen and understood, to be told, yeah, this is what this is what you're saying and no one's trying to change your mind. They are saying I understand. I and whether you agree or not, the community normally will all agree with your choice, but just to feel that there's other people who have similar thought process to you and it's huge for your well being, it's huge for people to feel less isolated and and that there are others out there and a lot of people out there, you know, it's really rocketed from even from the short time I've kind of been involved as it were. Margaret O Connor 39:49 That's fantastic. And is there anything else you'd like to bring up or anything that we haven't got to cover? Ali Wyllie 39:56 I don't think so. It's such an open conversation isn't it? Margaret O Connor 40:01 Yeah, I think you've kind of summarized it there. And I really do think that's what your your account achieves is just, not just, but you know, putting information out there in a very empathic, non judgmental way. If it resonates with people, great. And if it's new to people, it's presented in such a nice way that it can, it can make, they're able to connect to it so and it is very active. I'm not as as good on social media, I'm like oh you're so good and goes, you're always like, oh she has comments up again or questions and resources, I'm like oh god, I need to be more organized (laughter). I'm not as good as that but I aspire, aspire to your your level of consistency. But no, it's been really, really fantastic. And it's so lovely as I said that connection, even like, just with messaging, you know, we have been messaging each other kind of questions or whatever, it is just so lovely to be able to do that. Knowing that you're you're operating in that context, you know, that you don't have to explain or the ooh how will this go down kind of thing is lovely. It's so so important. Ali Wyllie 41:11 Definitely, and I think actually, it's been really open. So I can't remember for the life of me what it was about, but I remember messaging you about one of your podcasts, and I just was like, oh, is this my take? And you know, and it was really it was like okay yeah. And it was really kind of, there's a very open attitude and people. People see maybe because of the judgment they've received, so they seem more open to kind of, say, this is what I perceived. What do you think, or what's your take on this? So maybe it's just my interpretation, and then from speaking with other people, so it's nice seeing things in a different way? Does that makes sense? Margaret O Connor 41:55 Yeah you explained that perfectly. Yeah. Yeah, that's a really good point. Actually, I haven't kind of thought about before. Yeah. So willing to ask the question and see, am I maybe missing something or maybe I haven't just fully grasped it? Ali Wyllie 42:05 Yeah. And then maybe even be yeah. And then maybe be willing to kind of reassess what they had thought originally or what their interpretation was and think right okay. And see it through a different lens as it were. Every day's a school day anyway. Margaret O Connor 42:23 Yes it never stops, it never stops (laughter). Brilliant. Well look it really it's been lovely, lovely to talk to you. And hopefully now that you're you're in Ireland, we might manage an old cup of tea, at some point when restrictions allow. Ali Wyllie 42:23 That would be lovely. Thanks so much Margaret O Connor 42:39 I really appreciate you taking the time. Thanks so much. Thank you. Thanks very much to my guests for taking part and to you for listening. I would love to hear your feedback and any suggestions for other topics you would like to see covered in this series. I would also love to build a community of like minded people. So please follow the Are Kids For Me pages on Facebook and Instagram, if you want to find out more on this topic. I look forward to hearing from you and watch over the next episodes coming soon. Transcribed by

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