Career, Foodie, Kids, Lifestyle, Parenting, School

A working mum’s nightmare

It is depicted in movies such as “I don’t know how she does it” starring Sarah Jessica Parker and “Bad Mums” starring Mila Kunis.

It is the school bake sale.  The one that requires parents to bring along a home baked donation to help fundraise for the school, community or charity.

Now I actually enjoy baking.  I love (usually) to bake the kid’s birthday cakes and on occasion make some great cakes for friends and family as well.  But the school bake sale is just too much.

And here is why:

  1. They are always on a Wednesday or Thursday – so I can’t make anything on the weekend and it be remotely fresh for sale. I cannot do any nice cupcakes or biscuits. Whilst I know that they can be frozen and defrosted – that isn’t really for me.  School Hot Tip – do it on a Monday or Tuesday please!

 

  1. Dietary Requirements. I am totally aware of the nut free requirements of the school environment. I have friends who children are anaphylactic.  However, the process for the school bake sale requires a label highlighting all ingredients and individually wrapped items all ready for sale.  So not only do I need to bake, but also prepare, label, wrap and if available volunteer at the sale.

 

  1. Money. Money. Money. I thought this time I would be clever and try and think of an item I can make on the weekend, that would stay fresh. I GOT IT!  Chocolates!  I purchased a few packets of chocolate melts from Spotlight, in pink, green, yellow and white.  Melted, then poured into moulds.  Once ready packaged them up into little clear plastic bags.  Added some cute wasabi tape to seal and Viola! Ready to go. I enrolled the kids help, it was a great weekend activity. BUT – it cost me a small fortune.  All those melts ($10 per pack) plus plastic bags and wasabi tape – let’s just say whilst easy and weekend appropriate, it was a little expensive.  Plus, I have to give the kids $5 to purchase items on the day so all in all lots of money spent.

I love being part of the school community.  It is great to be involved in the bake sale, the kids love it and obviously it is a great fundraiser.  I will continue to keep trying my best to contribute.  But gee – can they make it a little easier on us working mums?

 

 

 

Kids, Lifestyle, Mum Guilt, Parenting

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has come to an end, and like many mums I was lucky enough to spend the day relaxing with my family.  I was spoilt with a nice breakfast, a new pair of pj’s and a fun filled day with the kids.

I received hand-made gifts from the kids this morning, with them all bringing tears to my eyes like most years.  This year I received a wonderful hand-written card by my son.   It was a beautiful card, one that makes your heart melt in wonder that I actually created this amazing, caring young boy.  This year however I took additional meaning from the words he had written.

In it he had written that I was the best mum ever.  He thanked me for looking after him, said I was beautiful and pretty.  On the front, he had written a few words that in his opinion described me and these included helpful, loveable, kind and nice.  After the initial overwhelm of love and emotion that usually follow these gifts, I took time to reflect on the adventures of a being a mum.

 

I would like to think that I am a good mum, but we all have our days.  I raise my voice, I count to three, I sometimes lose my mind on days where they just don’t listen.  On most days, I think I can do better.  Most days I rush around, trying desperately to get to school pickup and not be late.  Most days I raise my voice and juggle a million things.  Most days I feel guilt for working when I think I should be home cooking a brilliant meal, fresh for the dinner at night rather than reheating something I made on the weekend.  Most days I feel I perhaps don’t pay enough attention, work from home too much or am too busy doing the work around the house.  Sometimes I forget to read to the kids at night, sometimes it is just too cold to go to swimming lessons and sometimes a bit of cheeky take-away is all that can be mustered after a busy day or week.

BUT, what I realised today, after reading the hand-written card, was that the way my child sees me verses the way I see myself is truly different.  I always think I can do better and strive every day to make positive changes, however my son sees me as a kind, helpful, loveable mum.  My son knows that I am here for him, that I love him and that he and his sister mean the world to me.  But to really understand this, has taken me many years.

I now realise that I am a good enough mum.  That whilst some days are a little challenging, I am doing my best and doing it with love.  I have raised two small humans and I know from their behaviours and communication that I have raised them well.  Two beautiful souls who are just starting their journey into life, who I will continue to guide and hold their hands with kindness and love.

So today on Mother’s Day I want all the mums reading this to know, that you are good enough.  No matter the shitty days we might have, the challenges that are thrown our way or the growing demands on our time, we are doing the best we can and we are doing it with love – and that my fellow mums is all we can do.

Do it with love.

Kids, Lifestyle, Mum Guilt, Parenting, Returning to work, School

Your Village

As described in Wiki  –  A village is a human settlement or community.

We are all part of one and all need one, in some shape or form.

Whether it is family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, other parents, or even sporting team mates, as humans, we need human interaction.  We need people to talk to, to listen to, to be with.  According to the TED Talk by psychologist Susan Pinker, our social lives may have a direct impact on our longevity – therefore your village may actually help you live longer.

As busy working mums it is hard to build and maintain a village – but it is extremely important that we do.

So how do you do it?

Think about your closest 3-5 people.  They may be your partner, your parents, your in-laws, your siblings or perhaps your best friends.  These are your core.  These are the people you would most likely lean on when you need to, and you should.  This core group would be who you might call for a babysitter if you need one, for help doing something around the house or for some emotional support if you are going through a rough time.  This is your inner village. They are on your speed dial and you are on theirs.

But, it is just as important to build and maintain people in your wider village.  These might include your neighbours, work colleagues, school mums, potentially people in your weekly yoga class or gym session.  These people may not be the ones your call on for a helping hand at home, but these are the ones you might reach out to for socialisation, a quick after work drink, a weekend coffee catch up or a playdate with the kids.  These are the ones that will help keep you strong in your own identity, this is where your conversation may not involve the kids but perhaps include building your social interests and help ignite a fire in your belly.  It may keep your creativity alive, your personal space full and leave you feeling fresh and supported in your life vision.

Now that you have identified your village – how do you maintain or even build it?

Well this part can take some work and time – both of which can be in short supply for us working mums.  However, start by reaching out and getting in touch with 2 or 3 people and organising a weekend catch up – either individually or together.  Have friends or colleagues over for dinner or meet up for an after work drink on a night when you don’t have to rush home.  If you can’t leave the kids, perhaps opt for a playdate with other mums and build your group from there.  It can be just for an hour and doesn’t have to cost a cent as you can meet at the local playground.

Once you start it is important to keep up the momentum.  This doesn’t mean becoming a big social butterfly and being out and about all week (unless you want to), but keep a regular rhythm and catch up often and see how you go.

Do you cultivate your village?  What tips do you have to create and build a village?

Kids, Mum Guilt, Parenting

Mummy Guilt

Mummy guilt is so ingrained into my life that I simply cannot remember what life was like before kids.  You know, that really carefree feeling of enjoying yourself without the emotional pull of perhaps what you should be doing or feeling or being?  Don’t get me wrong, having kids is by far my greatest achievement in life and I love them to bits, but I would love to get rid of the mum guilt that has slowly crept into my life and has unpacked and is now living there.

I call it mum guilt as I always thought that as mums, the primary carer, it was only us who had this feeling.  I certainly hadn’t really ever heard of many dads getting it.  But I am here to tell you they do!  Just as much as we do apparently, they just don’t verbalise it as much – at least my husband doesn’t.

I think in today’s world were many parents both choose or need to work on top of juggling the myriad of other parenting elements, guilt is a feeling that many of us get.  So what are some tricks to abate the guilt a little.

Take regular me time.

Everyone needs to feel their version of normal, neutral, you.  Take some time each week and do something to recharge your batteries and to give back to yourself.  Time is limited, we are all busy, but even half an hour a day is enough to give back to yourself and isn’t too much time that you start feeling the guilt about not being with the kids.  Things such as read a good book or flick through your favourite magazine, take a long bath or meditate, watch your favourite TV show or listen to a podcast, go for a walk or do some exercise at home or even have a weekly manicure or do an at home beauty treatment.  Whatever it is that you take joy in, do it and make it regular.

Playdates.

I don’t know what it is, but I feel reasonably relaxed and connected after a playdate.  A time during the day or weekend where you and your kids meet up with another parent and their kids.  As mums we can chat over coffee or wine and the kids can run around and keep each other entertained for an hour.  Not only is your child having a great time but you are also connecting with friends and feeding your soul.  Win:Win.

Let go of nostalgia.

I think many of us grew up with mum at home. mum driving us around to all our activities, mum organising our birthday’s, mum spending time in the school seeing us achieve.  Unfortunately as the years have passed time has changed.  Life is generally more hectic now and time is valuable.  The way we were brought up with mum always being there is simply just not what is realistic now.  Many of us would love to have the baking abilities to cook all the birthday cakes – but sometimes it saves at lot of time and panic buying a cake and you know what, that is ok.  Sometime we can’t always be at school daytime functions due to work commitments, and it sucks, but it is ok. There will be many others.    Sometimes other members of the family or people from your village may need to do school pick up or drop your child off to a sporting activity and that is so normal now, that kids are very accustom to it.  We often want our kids to experience what we did, the great family times we had, but in reality that is never going to happen because times have changed. Do what you can do and miss what you can’t and try and find a happy medium – life is much better there.

What is the number one activity that you do that gives you mummy guilt?

, Holidays, Kids, School

School Holiday Juggle

In Australia, if you are working full time you accumulate four weeks of annual leave per year.  If you have a partner and they also work full time they also accumulate four weeks of annual leave per year. If you don’t take any holidays together that equals eight weeks of annual leave per year.

If you have school aged children they amass around 11 weeks of holidays over a 12 month period.

Best case scenario you are three weeks short and that doesn’t take into consideration that you may be forced to take leave at periodic times of the year (Christmas shutdown anyone?) which may coincide with your partner reducing your total household annual leave even further.

So what are we to do?  How do we juggle this?

The maths is solid, if both parents work, we don’t have enough time in the year to look after our children.  It is a battle for everyone involved, but to help with figuring out a solution, here are some tips that may assist;

  1. Use your village

Your village is important.  Whether that is family who can come over and watch the kids for a few days, perhaps your neighbours or friends – even other school mums who may be home.  All of them can help, so reach out and get assistance from your village – just remember to return the favour.

  1. Work from home

If your workplace is flexible, then working from home is a good option.  Not always ideal, especially if you have active kids who need your attention often.  However you can usually get a jump on work early, spend some time with the kids during the day then finish of your work hours later in the day.

  1. Take your child to work

Some workplaces offer support to working parents by way of areas designed for kids to enjoy.  A small room set up with games, colouring, a TV and other such activities mean that you can get to work and do what you need to while your kids are only a few steps away.

  1. Leave without pay

Depending on your workplace policies, taking leave without pay may be an option for some people – although not ideal.  It may be something that your workplace is happy to offer and you are happy to take and if it works for you then grab it and go!

  1. Vacation Care

Many schools now offer before school care, after school care and also vacation care programs.  Whilst they come at a cost, they are professionally run on school grounds, by skilled educators who organise a range of fun activities and keeps them occupied for the holidays. A great option which kids actually really love.

No matter what your situation, the maths doesn’t lie and school holidays can be tricky for everyone.  Choose the right option for you and your family and don’t look back.  If you are happy and healthy and your kids are happy and healthy – that really is the main thing.  Don’t worry mama – you’ve got this!