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, 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?

, 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!