Finding Someone just like me

I have become obsessed with sourcing childcare for our children.

We are moving areas so up heaving everything, schools, pre-schools, childminders, tutors…..don’t even get me started on dog-walkers..

The area we are moving too is a lot more populated than our current location. We are spookily for choice with the amount of childminders in the area, but after having contacted 50+ childminders, Nannies and nurseries we gave still get to find someone who can provide before and after school childcare plus holidays, 5 days a week for our children. 

Sure we’ve gad a few come back and say ‘only this day’ or ‘not on that day’ or ‘only one of your children’ or ‘only during term-time’. Then ensues what feels like working out a jigsaw puzzle or a small logistical challenge where you try to piece all the available ‘bits’ of childcare together…mon to wed son goes here, then daughter goes there, then with someone else entirely on another day. 

Welcome to the not so desirable world if passing your children from pillar to post so that you can both earn a living – and a fairly standard one at that. I am not a mother who chooses to go to work. 

The worst thing is, I am not entirely convinced we will be able to sort it, leaving us in the ridiculous situation where we may not even choose to move because of it. Rather put up with long commutes than headache childcare. 

Not sure what the solution is…..maybe be one a childminder myself? 

Maybe I might want to return to my day job after a spell of doing that! 

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

back to school

I slept better on the boat last week. Now I have returned to a double bed on terra firma I can’t get a decent night’s sleep.

I have returned to work and I miss my children. My youngest is with our childminder and my daughter is at a summer club at a smart school with lots of facilities. It’s midweek and both children are tired and emotional, to be frank we all are. I wrote a letter to my daughter and slipped it in her lunchbox to help her deal with nasty behaviour from another child, I then had a word with my husband about concerns with one of the children our childminder will have in her house while my son is there next week. My daughter says he is physical and aggressive yet she won’t be there to look out for my son, so hubby got an assurance from the CM that she will keep on top of it. Thankfully he will only be there for three days.

It’s not as if we have an awful lot of choices.  Living in a small rural village, you have to travel a good 10 – 15 miles before you get near nurseries etc. not to mention the commuting time to work. It’s the price you pay for living in the countryside. That’s why most mothers are either at home or do local part-time jobs. I used to be one of them, but it doesn’t bring home the bacon.

Tonight I put my very tired and emotional son to bed then went to my daughter’s room and also found her tired and crying. She feels like she is back at school already. 

So do I

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

An evolving Eve

I am cold and tired, it has been an exhausting week, hence 2 missed blog posts (£2 in the pot to Unicef). I can breathe a sigh of relief that within a week I have got a full-time job to cover off our financial issues (and consequential wobbly marriage moments), handed in my notice with my part-time employees (albeit reluctantly as it was such a good, but not lucrative, solution around children), contacted my referees, filled out a medical questionnaire, interviewed a childminder and nanny and agreed a start date with the childminder and organised increased hours at my son’s pre-school). Phew! I hadnt realised how stressful organising childcare can be as it is such an emotive choice because they are the most important people to you in the world. However I am very happy with our choice and hope it works out.

Now I have to get my career brain into gear again and my friend (who is an amazingly talented and driven entrepreneur) tweeted a really good blog link on how to be a more productive woman.

The trouble is half of the 7 steps, I am mentally and physically incapable of achieving (such as getting up immediately in the morning and reading as soon as you have woken – I am not even classed as human before 9am. In fact I only begin to ‘evolve’ once the school run is over and I have taken in some caffeine.

See if you can achieve any of the 7 steps (http://www.strangecharmed.com/productivity/7-habits-of-highly-productive-women/)

Good luck!

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Working for spare change

Oh the guilt! Just went for another job interview. Although I hope we get it because we need the money it will mean baby boy going into full-time childcare 8.30 til 5. He has been in a childcare setting of one form or another since he was 9 months old but I have always managed to keep it to no more than 3 days per week. My only saving grace, if I get the job, is that he is now 3 and a bit years old so able to enjoy more of the typical activities on offer at nurseries.

As I browse through potentials though, I start to recall excerpts from a childcare documentary and the grieving family whose daughter suffocated to death in a Wendy house at a nursery. So any websites showing pictures of Wendy houses, particularly those with an upstairs (because the little girl suffocated on the window-ledge/step of the upper storey) made me wobble. 

You cannot put a price on a setting where you know your child will have a good and safe experience while you are working. But when this cost eats significantly into your earnings you wonder why you do it in the first place.

Then there is the issue of the dogs, we can’t bear to part with them so that will be £200 per month so they get a decent walk everyday. 

With any luck I will have some spare change at the end of the month to pay for parking at work..

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Finding another me

When a Mum goes back to work, organising childcare is both complicated and a real emotional wrench. When I picked up my baby boy from pre-school today, he helped himself out of the school as soon as he saw my car pull up. I picked him up and he pressed his little chubby cheek so close to mine and cuddled me so tightly. The lady who runs the school had to tell him not to run out of school again because its dangerous but she wasnt as stern as she would have liked to be because he was just too cute. Although he is 3 he knows how to work the look. That is going to come in very handy when he is older.

I also face the issue of what happens with our 2 Jack Russells, who will have no-one to spend the day with when I return to work. I need doggy day care too. In fact the more I think about it, the more I realise how much of our current lives depends on me being at home working part-time.

But….as readers of my previous blog posts will know, somethings gotta give.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

A womans job…

So have just been offered an interview with my old job from a decade ago, but now with more responsibility and more money. I have to go for it for the sake of my marriage health and our financial health but it saddens me that I will have to miss out on two full weekdays at home with my son together with the ‘top and tail’ hours I get either side of pre-school. In life, particularly with children, time is precious and in the early years especially because it doesnt take long for them to lose that innocence and morph into a streetwise, wise-cracking teen-like character overnight.

He has another year and a half to go before school so still quite a chunk of time to miss out on.

I remember when I returned to work when he was 9 months and crying as I handed him over to the nursery.He was fine, it was just me. Mums work regardless, its when they do the other less important work that brings in the money that emotional attachments, responsibilities and duties are maxed to the limit. Female emancipation means just doing more and more. A friend once said her brain can only hold the equivalent of an armful’s clutch of laundry and that a few dropped socks are inevitable if you get too ambitious. I can relate to the dropped socks.

My mum recently gave me a mug with the words ‘ a woman’s work is never done so why start’?

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Luxurious children

I hardly saw my children today.

It gave me an insight into life as a parent working long hours, seeing their children briefly in the morning before school drop-off and then getting back past their bed-time.

I had about half an hour with my son before my Mum took over and I was back out working again until 9.30pm. I am contracted to do 10 hours a week, so it does mean that I have done most of my hours in one day. But this is the daily reality for some parents working ‘compressed’ hours, where they either leave early before their children wake-up or get home late after bed-time, in some cases not seeing their children at all during the week. A family member has been forced to do that because she was raising too many eyebrows returning home ‘early’. The increase in salary on compressed hours is also too good to miss.

But time with your children is too good to miss and it can be missed easily. How many times have you heard a parent say ‘one minute I was dropping them off at primary school, the next I am packing them off to University’.

Just where does the responsibility to earn money stop and the responsibility to be a parent begin?

I’ve even got a friend whose child goes to nursery while she is paid to look after someone else’s children.

There are several factors parents are trying to struggle against: cost of food, cost of housing, cost of fuel and low earnings.

In this environment children are a luxury and so is spending time with them.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Work not working out.

I spent 30 minutes of my life this morning listening to HMRC’s ‘on hold’ music. I’m a Mum so of course I was doing other things while the music was crackling through the phone’s loudspeaker, tipping poos out of a potty, answering the door to a courier, cleaning the kitchen. Typically when they finally answered I was speaking to someone else on the other line.

I dont know why I bothered. We are desperate to get into a circumstance where we qualify for help with childcare costs so that things arent so tight, particularly now hubby has had to take a paycut. However, nothing can be amended in advance of a change in income and, for some reason, because my new job is inly 10 hours a week, I dont qualify for help with childcare at all – I have to be working 16 hours. So thankfully I have a second job lined up although this is on a casual contract with no guarantee of hours. So I need to work out the ‘average’ hours over a four week period for the HMRC to take a decision.

So basically it is very difficult to earn and have children on low to average earnings. Would they rather I stayed at home and claimed JSA?

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

The price of enjoying being Mum

In addition to my daughter starting back at school yesterday, my baby boy started back at nursery too. He wasn’t at all happy about it. When I arrived he clung to my legs like a limpet to a rock and was weaving in and out of them like a fish circling round the one and only object in a small goldfish bowl. 

He wouldn’t make eye contact with any of the nursery teachers and every time they attempted to engage with him he buried his head in my trousers. So, wary of the need to get to the office, I extremely reluctantly extricated him from my shoulders like a little baby monkey and handed him crying to one of the teachers. I then felt awful on my way to work and quickly picked up the phone to ring and check he was OK as soon as I got to my desk, as I also needed to explain to them that he no longer needed dummy as I had got rid of it both day and night. I was worried they might look for it in an effort to calm him. But sure enough when I called he had stopped crying and was playing with the toys Phew!

When I went to collect him at the end of the day, he was playing at the other side of the garden with a toy car. It took a while for him to spot me, but when he did he made a bee line for me with a big grin on his face and arms outstretched and nothing was going to get in his way. He then gave me the longest cuddle I have had from him and I couldn’t help but cry. It was slightly embarrassing to be all weepy so I blamed the hormones to which the nursery manager asked “are you pregnant?”. I said that I wished I was only so that it would be a better excuse for my sentimental behaviour. I am not normally a tearful person but I couldn’t help it, it was a reaction that came from deep within and I had no control of it whatsoever.

I then wondered how many more mothers were going through the same feelings as me and I was thankful that I only have to work part-time. It must be so hard for both parent and child to be in full-time childcare at such a young age. I think it is a shame that the Government are seeking childcare that is more affordable and cheap. Why can’t at least one parent enjoy the early years of a child’s life? As those years don’t last long and once passed they are gone forever. Too often parents miss out on precious time together with their children during the early years just to sustain a certain lifestyle. I would choose a smaller house and a cheaper car any time if it meant I could enjoy my child’s early years. Weekend parenting is not what having children is about.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. Check out my fundraising page and donate if you can here.

Thanks for reading.

Schwim swimming

Well this week has been shit. Holed up in the house with a poorly baby boy suffering from a tummy bug and nasty ear infection simultaneously – how is that fair? Plus of all the weeks to be away from the office, it couldn’t be worse. Me desperately trying to grab moments in front of the laptop to chip away at the tombstone of work tasks, my husband sporadically helping out with childcare when it fitted in with him. Why is it OK for him to focus solely on work, yet my default is work and childcare simultaneously? How is that fair? But don’t get me wrong baby boy has had most of my undivided attention and I have loved every minute of his extra requirement for cuddles. He likes cuddles anyway but when he is ill is is extra cuddly.

Tonight I made a bid for freedom of the house, work and tasks and had a blast just driving alone to my local leisure centre (when I am on my own I go slightly crazy behind the wheel – traction control comes on rather too much if you get my drift……oh and scuse the pun). I then enjoyed a session of swimfit, which is a great concept. Rather than endlessly ploughing up and down the lanes for what feels like eternity like you are an amphibious tractor or lawnmower, swimfit gives you some drills to do – anything from 10 lengths to 200 plus. I did around 60. The worst bit was kicking with a float – I seemed to be going nowhere fast. But even better is the amount of calories you burn per drill. According to my drill sheet (which is very usefully laminated and provided with a neat little waterproof stand so you can glance at it while you are in the water) I burned about 570 calories. 

But on my return home, rather than thinking ‘oh goodI have burned all those calories’, instead I am thinking, ‘oh good I wonder how many rich tea biscuits I can scoff’. I am a bit of a granny when it comes to treats, I like biscuits and tea-cakes and scones and cups of tea – its got worse since I have been the wrong side of 30. 

But back to swimfit, my 7 year old has done the shorter length drills and really enjoys doing them so highly recommend you give it a go next time you are at your local pool. 

This was the drill I did tonight:

Swim 20 lengths warm-up in your favourite stroke

(rest for 1 minute)

Swim 10 lengths in your second favourite stroke

Swim 4 lengths at  a fast pace in your favourite stroke

Kick 4 lengths holding a float

Swim 4 lengths with a pull buoy

Swim 4 lengths in your favourite stroke

1 minute rest

Then 4 lengths fast in your favourite stroke

Then swim 10 lengths in your second favourite stroke

Then swim 10 lengths in your favourite stroke as a swim down (cool off)

Enjoy!

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you can donate to the campaign, please visit my page on Unicef’s website.

Thanks for reading.