The Ringmaster: Lauren Kozica, Paddington
Text KATE PASCOE SQUIRES
Photography KATE PASCOE SQUIRES
Lauren Kozica is the ringmaster behind The Ring Around community, a genius concept that offers a stream of events for parents… kid free/guilt free… and almost all with a side order of hilarity. Exactly like the girl herself. Lauren nails the nuanced humour of parenting (her Instagram account is testament to this), reasoning that just because we’ve had babies, it doesn’t mean we need to lose our selves.
Talk to me about your Slowdown. How does that idea resonate with you?
I look back over the past few years and chaos comes to mind. Moving across the world, 34 weeks pregnant with an 18 month old really kicked the chaos off … it was game ON from there. I got used to the idea that life was just ‘go go go… juggle, juggle, juggle!’ I wish I had adapted the slowdown method back then. The concept of slowing down is so simple, but can be quite challenging when you’re in the thick of it.
Fast forward to now and instead of spending every minute alone scrolling on Instagram, planning my life, responding to emails and sending 38 Whatsapp messages to my girls group… I’ll take 15 minutes to go outside, lie on my back and listen to the birds. It sounds ridiculous, but when was the last time you did nothing?
This year you created The Ring Around community, inviting like-minded mums and dads to come together, kid-free and guilt-free… a space where parents can be parents, whilst staying connected to their individual selves. How did this concept come about?
After my second son was born, I found that I was either lurking around playgrounds talking pumpkin puree and nap schedules, or I was drinking 10 margaritas in a dark, loud restaurant, deliberately avoiding kid chat. I wanted to create an environment where I could turn up as Lauren – mother of two boys, sleep deprived and a little anxious, but able to connect with other parents and engage in an activity that didn’t relate to raising tiny humans.
Did it scare you to put yourself out there in this way?
It was effing scary! I have little experience in community building and zero experience in event planning. To say I’ve been winging it since day one is an understatement. One thing that builds my confidence is that, when it comes to being in the parenting space, we are all in this together and we can all relate to one another – so as long as I stay genuine, I feel a sense of ease in what I’m doing.
There’s so much perfection on Instagram, particularly in the parenting space… did you feel vulnerable when opening up about the not so perfect parts of the job?
I think I’ve always had a no bullshit approach to life. I love taking the piss out of myself and those around me. Life is too short to strive for perfection and perfection doesn’t even exist… nothing is ever perfect, especially when it comes to parenthood! I honestly feel so exhilarated when I put my vulnerabilities on the table. Laughter is also the best medicine, so if you can laugh at your shitty day, others will too.
Through The Ring Around events and workshops, you are really connecting to parents on a one on one basis. What do you think parents are currently struggling with the most? And on the flip side, where are they finding their joy?
It’s no secret that mums can often feel incredibly isolated and detached from their world and individual self, especially in the first year or so postpartum. 1 in 5 new mums will suffer from some form of depression and it’s a subject that has really only recently been publicly spoken about, especially on social media. There are some incredible resources for those needing professional support and advice, but I like to think parents find joy in doing this whole raising kids thing together! They say it takes a village… so The Ring Around aims to provide the village with some good old fashioned fun.
Do you agree with the premise that we all need to slow down at times or do you think we can really do it all?
Oh no one can do it all. That’s nuts! If you don’t slow down from time to time, you have no space to reflect, appreciate or refuel – and I think that is so important, especially when it comes to parenting. If I were to just race through these chaotic years attemping to ‘do it all’, my biggest fear is one day I would wake up when my kids are teenagers and I’ll think “when the fuck did that happen? I wish I had been more present, I wish I had said no to more”. Everyone says these years just fly by, but at least if you take time to slow down and appreciate the ‘now’, you have a better chance of holding onto those moments for longer.
Has there ever been a time when you have surprised yourself with your strength and resilience?
When I was 22, I lost my grandmother and then, three weeks later, I lost my mum. I look back on that time in my life and my mind literally explodes. Over the years, I’ve had so many people ask me how I had the strength and resilience to get through that and stay in one piece. It’s definitely something that, to this day, still surprises me because I don’t really have the answer.
I think strength and resilience is in your DNA and some people have to work harder than others to achieve it. While I think I was born a pretty strong and resilient person, I can also break easily too. It’s taken me a long time to acknowledge that.
For those of us who are walking our own slow down path and searching for the strength to deal with all that life presents, do you have any ideas to share that might assist us in our journey?
I think the more time you spend getting to know yourself and refueling your energy tank, the more room you create within yourself to deal with all that life presents, good and bad. I feel like we often place so much emphasis on being equipped to cope with negative situations, but I think it’s just as important to make space to appreciate the beautiful and positive moments that life presents as well.