Hee Haw with Mr Wonky Donkey

CRAIG SMITH, author of the runaway best-seller The Wonky Donkey, chats with KINETA BOOKER about life as a parent in Queenstown while being an internationally-acclaimed musician.

You wrote Wonky Donkey long before you were a parent. What inspired you to get into kids music?
I was a full-time musician. Then I would get stuck inside on a rainy day with nieces and nephews, so I started playing fun kids/family music for amusement. That’s how it started.

How different is life for you now that you’re a parent?
When I have my daughter, it tends to be all-consuming. I can’t tour right now like I used to, but I’m trying to convert that non-touring time into creative time and also, of course, special one-on-one time with her.

Do you try your new music out on your daughter to get honest feedback?
All the time. And it helps — my own in-house market research unit!

Your favourite family tradition?
We have a family log cabin down south that we go to for fishing, hunting, trekking, kayaking, sitting around fires and relaxing. I love family time down there. We’ve had it in our family since I was my daughter’s age.

What sort of Dad are you?
My daughter’s mum and I separated about two years ago, so while she is with me, I do it all. I pick her up and drop her off to school. I make breakfast, lunch and dinner. Read her stories at night and go on adventures with her when she’s not at school. I paraglide a lot and have my tandem license. I’ve flown with her several times, and she loves it!

The thing that you enjoy most about everyday life with your little family?
Seeing my daughter’s confidence grow, seeing her smile, laugh and learn.

What surprised you most when you became a parent?
Cliché I know but, you hear about what unconditional love is, but to experience it was beautiful and surprising.

What’s your top parenting tip?
In this day and age, it’s hard, but try and give yourself as much time to do what you need to do with your kids. If that means sacrificing money (spending less time at work) to gain more time, you may pay things off slower but if that’s  possible, take it. Having time to do what you want with your children is the most precious time, time you can’t reclaim. However you do it, find more time.

How do you juggle being a working Dad?
It’s hard, but I’m in the fortunate position that I can slow my touring down to be with my daughter more. The flip side is I have much more time to be creative because I’m touring less.

The Wonky Donkey is the international bestselling picture book phenomenon written by singer/songwriter Craig Smith and illustrated by Katz Cowley. Its bestselling sequel, The Dinky Donkey, was published in November 2019, and in November 2020, The Grinny Granny Donkey will be published simultaneously in New Zealand and Australia by Scholastic.