Chosen lives with no choice

I have a picture of an Edwardian lady and her daughter walking along a pavement while men are busy working on the road. One road worker is stood upright as if pausing from his toil and watches the mother and daughter as they walk past. I can guess what he is thinking, that the daily life of the mother and daughter is perhaps more enjoyable than his. At least that is my perception.

I sometimes feel like that man when I see mothers out with their young children during the day. Working five days a week with my head down seeing my children for an hour either end of the day is tolerable while you are locked in routine.

But take time out, as I did today for my sons birthday, and you realise what you are missing. You also know time is brief and young years cannot be re-lived.

So it is with a heavy heart I return to work tomorrow. 

Here’s to all the working Mums who do it to bring home the bacon but certainly don’t choose this life while the children are young.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

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. 

Working parent guilt

I have a bad case of working mum’s guilt.

The straw that broke the camels back was when my daughter said to me that apparently “everyone’s parents were at the art show today” apart from hers. It was during school hours, we received one email about it, we are both limping to Christmas in terms of holiday allowance to try and cover off as much of it as we can. Despite these valid justifications I still felt inferior, a’sub-parent’.

The majority of parents in our area fall into two groups – those whose spouse earns a packet do they can stay at home and those who can’t afford to work because the childcare far exceeds their pay. This will only get worse as the cuts to tax credits deepen.

(just as an aside I find it utterly gauling that many of the people who voted Tory are retired and earning more through their pension than people in work). 

As one MP articulately put it in parliament today “working people will fall into debt to get the country out of debt” yes Osborne is a w***** of the highest rank. I can’t bear to look at his smug face. 

But going back to my personal bitterness at not being there to scoop up every disappointment my daughter suffers, my only option is to just say ‘tough’ (but put in a nicer way). 

They say working parents are good role models but so far trying to do both jobs just brings out the worst in me and…..apparently…..my daughter.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Twice the sunshine

My asthma has returned in later life. I managed to kick it into check in my younger years but now it has returned.

Not a daily issue for me. Often I have to dust off my inhalers when colds strike, but even so it’s a blight on my otherwise healthy record.

I spent the day helping a relative of mine (on hubbys side) chase after toddler twins who were destined for either a nearby ditch/lake or very deep puddle.

If one has what the other one wants he just rugby tackled him to the ground – there is no delicacy in the request, no skirting round the issue. I am stunned at how physical they are with one another and how different they are in personality despite being identical in appearance.

What makes them more amusing is their Russian/English burble that sounds like an Eastern European minion. They only have one speed, which is to run fast and they crawl over anything that gets in their path. One of them is like a gymnast, one moment he is standing on top of a garden toy car, precariously balancing on the roof. The next he has, in a matter of seconds, scaled a tall climbing frame and fallen through the scramble net, crying not at having experienced a bump but at the fact he dropped his toy car. Once the car us returned he grins and hurtles off towards the next thing that will take me and his mother by surprise.

Twins, like any children, are a fascinating feat of nature. Their mothers are amazing. My relative holds down a full-time legal career too and has a slightly older son – she can be forgiven the odd yawn on a Sunday. In fact, if I knew her better I would have offered her the chance to take a nap while I chased the twins round the garden…….but being a mummy self I confess to having one eye open and one eye shut relaxing in the last of the sunshine while chaos happens and ringer draws in.

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.

Rejection

No matter what age you are, or your situation, rejection is always hard. I was told I was unsuccessful in a recent interview and the member of the panel who interviewed me gave me the corporate version of ‘its not you, its me’. There was a stronger candidate with a bigger skills set apparently. I put it down to an interrupted career of child rearing therefore I dont stand a chance against someone who has worked without a break since University – fair play to them.

It does affect how you perceive other job adverts though, as it discourages you from adverts that could be at the limit of your experience and skills levels. A lot of work goes into the application and interview process so you dont want to time-waste for the sake of either party. Therefore I am tempted to drop a few grand off the salary and play it safe to bridge that skills gap to the higher echelons of the salary bracket. The only down-side is childcare costs which bring the monthly net income down considerably to the point where its in the hundreds rather than the thousands – working hard for not very much is the state of play for any working mum these days,particularly mums of younger children.

But in an employer’s market, mums are not so appealing as employees, especially so in these leaner, meaner times.

The upside of this news however is that it buys me more time with my children and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon helping my daughter spend her birthday vouchers in the high street. I was impressed with her choices to update her bedroom – a lamp and a bin – very grown-up. She also observed me giving money to a homeless person in the subway and I said to her I hoped he would spend it on something remotely healthy. As we walked back past him later, his bottle of orange juice was rolling away from him, so I picked it up and gave it back and noticed he had a big pack of chocolate cookies too. My daughter saw that the money had been spent to make his life more bearable and it was good to know it may have helped him in some way. Thankfully he also had a sleeping bag and warm gloves. I cant ever recall seeing a homeless person in this particular city before and wondered what led this young guy to sleep rough in a subway. I reminded my daughter that he may be someone’s brother and/or son – therefore we turn a blind eye to no-one.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Its late

Its late, I have just filled out a job application after a day trying to work from home and look after a baby boy with a high temperature. We are due to fly out of here on Saturday and I really hope that a) baby boy is feeling better (straight on the phone to the Docs tomorrow morning for stronger antibiotics); b) everyone is feeling a little less tired and more energised; c) that I can finally get some sleep by finally clearing all the thoughts in my head (like that will ever happen).

I will be packing tomorrow night so this will be my last blog for a few days. More money will go to Unicef in offline fees so that can only be a good thing. 

I blog every day to raise money for Unicef, if you can help the campaign and donate, visit my page on Unicef’s site.

Sorry for the incredibly short post tonight but I will make up for it with stories of my travels.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Giving life events the ‘nudge’

I have been contacted by Save the Children to sign a petition to encourage William Hague MP and the UN to ensure the protection of children during Syria’s conflict by negotiating the following three point plan at the peace talks taking place later this month, they are:

– Not to prevent life-saving aid from reaching children

– Do not target, or use for military use, hospitals and health facilities

– Do not use explosive devices in populated areas

It took less than a minute to sign the petition so if you can add your name to it and help Save the Children reach 10,000 signatures please visit the petition site here.

Earlier today I experienced the number one problem of working Mums – an ill child at nursery. Turns out he has an ear infection and thank God for my Doctor and antibiotics, which will hopefully kick-in in time for our flight on Saturday. I am amazed at how quickly his temperature shoots up and relieved that calpol, a must have in any mum’s arsenal of life’s must have’s, quickly brings it back down again. I cant imagine what it must be like for mothers who have nothing but water to ease a fever.

It highlighted the problems I may have if I decided to go for a new job opportunity that has cropped up. It means more hours, less time with the family, but potentially a better lifestyle long-term and eases the earning pressure off my husband. So do you opt for the short-term or long-term? My answer is to apply and let fate do the rest. I am a great one for giving things a little ‘nudge’ and then like a river, just go with the flow of events.

Try not to, laugh, but my husband is getting his first wax treatment tomorrow (I know it is hysterical). He is going for the back but was tempted by the beautician into having his eyebrows too. I will let you know the results tomorrow 😊

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – it would be great if you could donate to this campaign – any contribution would make my day.

Thanks for reading.

 

Remote working

My apologies for the lack of post last night. Baby boy has been struck down with yet another bug (caught upon his return to nursery after recovering from chicken pox). I then duly received the bug and felt generally rubbish and the accompanying headache pushed me into bed earlier than usual.

Having thought that baby boy was better today and that his appetite had picked up, I let my friend buy him a gingerbread man, which he absent-mindedly chewed for 30 minutes before projectile vomiting it around the kitchen. After the clean-up, I then phoned my boss to explain why I wouldn’t be in for the second day this week in a row. Aware of the to do list growing and my mailbox spouting unread mails like a weed, I logged on earlier and spent most of tonight until now working. Us working Mums are rather good at being Night owls – bed-time is the only me-time.

But thankfully (or not depending on how you look at the work/life balance), I can work from home thanks to remote access to work files and emails – Microsoft and the like haven’t invented a way of placating an ill toddler remotely though….

The invention of laptops also makes working on the move possible, including bowel movements (sorry but I like to multi-task).

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

Thanks for reading.