A BAD HAIR DAY

I don’t know why I woke up like a bear with a sore head this morning. Perhaps it was the fact I drank too much red wine last night? Perhaps it was because today was just going to be one of those kind of days, the kind of days when you just feel flat and sorry for yourself. You see now and again, and particularly, for some reason today, I get fed up with the discussion around money in our daily life. I know there are a gazillion people worse off than us. I know I’m lucky to have all of the amazing things I have in my life. But some days, the discussion just gets me down.

Frustrated, and in an effort to save some cash, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I took the scissors out of the bathroom cabinet and like any hungover, grumpy, frustrated bear with a sore head would do – I cut my own hair. I mean seriously how hard can it be?

I should mention that I am not a hairdresser. In fact, my only experience in the hair cutting department was with clippers when I trimmed an ex’s hair almost 2 decades ago and cutting hacking my 4-year-old daughters curly locks last week. My daughter did mention afterwards that she looked like a boy. If I’m honest her new cut does bare a strong resemblance to the bowl style that was so fashionable back in the 80’s and early 90’s. That said, all things considered, I  thought I did an ok job. It was straight (ish) and with her continued aversion to washing or combing her hair, the new do was considerably easier on the eye than the nest that had been growing there previously.

I had a taste for it now.

As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, my arms bent and hands contorted like an octopus, It soon became apparent to me that cutting one’s own hair is incredibly awkward, unless you are double jointed or indeed, an octopus. Initially tentative, I made a few small snips here and there. Soon I was feeling more confident and began chopping larger clumps of hair off and placing them into the bin. I couldn’t really tell how it was going at the back but from the front, it seemed ok.

Unfortunately my husband’s facial expression when I walked out of the bathroom suggested otherwise and only added to my bad mood.

So, it’s fair to say the day didn’t start out on its best foot. Although my bad mood came and went throughout the day, on the whole, it clung on like a quivering crustacean to a rock. I knew I was being dreadful, like a spoilt ungrateful brat. I couldn’t look my husband in the eye as I moaned away with my self-pitying tirade.  I willed a wave to splash me in the face and wash my bad mood away with it far out to the horizon.

That’s when it happened.

I got way more than I bargained for.

The wave came. It didn’t just splash me in the face. It enveloped me, sweeping me up in its undulating swell.

The girls, of which I have 2, requested some music. We dug out the cable for the iPod docking station and began to recharge my iPod. They waited patiently for the iPod to charge. I went out of the room for a moment. When I returned the music was playing and my 2-year-old daughter was held up in her  Daddy’s arms giggling hysterically as he danced with her around the lounge. My eldest daughter, age 4, was on the sofa laughing. I bundled her up into my arms and began swinging her round and round dancing to the music. We danced and laughed until we felt dizzy.

Rushes of ecstatic joy and gratitude ran through my veins. How did I get so lucky to have these 3 people as part of my life?

I was no longer a bear with a sore head. The day wasn’t so bad after all, even if I did have a terrible hair cut.

We need to listen to music and dance more.

 

 

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AN EXPAT AUSSIE CHRISTMAS

‘Twas the night before Christmas, it was 28 degrees and the sky was light and blue.

I have experienced a total of 6 Christmases in Australia. Two from my travelling days (2001 and 2006), and four since we made the move here in 2011. No matter how hard I try, I still find it strange Christmas shopping in the sunshine and donning a bikini and Santa hat on Christmas day.

This year we deviated from a bbq and opted for turkey with all the trimmings (even sourcing bread sauce from the UK). Our children are now two and three so are beginning to get into the Christmas spirit (well they liked the fact they got a chocolate for 24 days and that some man was bringing them presents). I, like many parents, have exploited the fact that Father Christmas was coming using it daily as a form of bribery on the lead up. Sadly, as with last year, they totally freaked when I took them to meet the big fella in person at the David Jones Santa’s grotto – #nofilter #nophoto.

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They were a little happier waving to him from afar as he flew by our house in a helicopter two days before – something I have yet to witness in the 30 UK Christmases I’ve experienced.

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HOW NOT TO DO A FAMILY HOLIDAY TO BALI

The pre-holiday build up was chaotic. I had written lists, new lists, and lists within the lists. I had sourced info from mates who travel to Bali frequently with young children and I was feeling confident that we had everything covered. Every type of mosquito repellent on the market had been sourced, transfer to hotel arranged, travel insurance bought, toys to keep the children amused on the plane purchased, local Bali Nanny confirmed, and of course money and passports in order.

Gone are the days of partying until the break of dawn, my husband and were united – we wanted a relaxed family holiday, intending to max out on the Nanny. The day before travelling, I sent my husband off with the kids so I could begin the mammoth task of packing. It started well as I fastidiously ticked items off my list. However it wasn’t long before the list was abandoned in favour of a more ‘chuck it in just in case’ approach took precedence.

The next morning we woke early (standard with 2 under 3 year olds) and set off in the maxi-cab to the airport. The idea was to arrive at the airport with plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast, followed by the obligatory gander around duty free, maybe even a beer and then all aboard the plane, flying off to paradise for our first proper family holiday.

As we queued up at the check-in desk our 2 girls were busy entertaining the other passengers, informing them that we were going to Bali. We were all on a high and grinning like Cheshire cats, we stood at the desk and proudly handed over our 4 passports.

“I’m sorry Sir, you won’t be able to fly today” the lady at the check-in announced casually. Like she was telling us the time, like it was just so normal and like not gonna bother us in the slightest.

WTF?

My husband and I stared at the lady in disbelief. Was she winding us up? Ha ha, very funny – now give us our tickets lady. ‘Silly Billy’ as my 2 year old would say.

“You passport only has 5 months left on it. You need 6 to travel to Bali” Her lips remained stoic like in their pose, I was desperately willing her mouth to turn up at the ends, a cheeky smile followed by laughter and ‘only joking, Silly Billy’. It didn’t.

I stared across at my husband. He looked at me. 30 seconds of everlasting silence. I felt sick. I looked at the girls, still giggling and rolling around on the floor repeating “Bali, Bali, Bali” over and over again.

My husband’s initial reaction, anger. As was mine. Only his, with the lady on the check-in desk and mine, with him. I asked him a few weeks before if all the dates on the passports were ok, obviously I reminded him of this fact. I immediately regretted saying it. I know nobody had died BUT…this was our family holiday, the one we procrastinated about for months, the one we have looked forward to for weeks, the one we have used to bribe our children with in order to get a modicum of good behaviour, the one we chose specifically because you can book a nanny to help you and babysit and it doesn’t cost the earth and they are amazing with kids and we might actually get a couple of nights out together. It was the one family holiday that we were all so excited about, at that precise moment it meant everything to us. We’ve both watched the airport shows and seen people turned away at check-in for one reason or another, but that was them…we wouldn’t be such Silly Billy’s.

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PICK YOUR BATTLES

Last Saturday our 2-year-old was struck down with tonsillitis. The out of hours GP confirmed it and prescribed a course of antibiotics which we administered and she took.

On Monday morning she seemed back to herself so I took both girls shopping. My 3-year-old, who was running around, bouncing off the walls at 6am, suddenly took a turn for the worst just as we arrived at the shopping centre. Sensing that we were not going to have a fun morning of retail therapy, I retreated to the car.

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SURELY MOTHERHOOD AND BLOGGING COULD ONLY COMPLEMENT MY RESUME?

 With my youngest daughter now settled in daycare 2 days a week I decided it was time I re-joined the paid workforce. If any of you read my  REFLECTING ON MY MILESTONES OF MOTHERHOOD post or A FISH OUT OF WATER IN THE BIG, BAD CITY, you would know that this was a big milestone for me. The decision was filled with the emotion of accepting that my days being a full time SAHM were over and that my girls are growing up and needing me less. There was also anxiety around what job I would do and how my time out of the paid workforce would be received by prospective employers.

I’ve essentially been a SAHM for 3 and a half years. That said I feel like my ability is exactly the same as it was. Also having spent the last 12 months writing a blog I have not only kept my mind active, I have also learnt a whole heap of new skills. Surely motherhood and blogging could only complement my resume?

The first problem was, there are hardly any part time jobs available. There is not a great deal of choice and of course the competition is fierce.

The first job I applied for was a part time home based recruitment role.

With over 10 years’ HR and recruitment experience, I felt certain that I would have no problem getting it. In fact the only issue I thought may be more to do with the fact I didn’t have experience recruiting in that particular sector. I was pleased to receive a quick response from the owner of the agency yet was disappointed and surprised by his feed back

“You don’t have recent recruitment experience therefore I won’t be progressing with your application” WTF? I felt annoyed. If he had said “you don’t have experience recruiting for that sector”, I would have accepted it – that would have been a fair comment.

I started to wonder what exactly has changed in recruitment in the last 3.5 years. I asked a few people in the industry – the conclusion was ‘not a lot’ and certainly nothing too major that an experienced recruiter couldn’t pick it up. Having spent years informing people why they have or haven’t been successful for a particular role, I wondered if this was some form of karma. I know that I often favoured a candidate with more recent experience, assuming they would be easier to transition and if presenting to a client or manager, easier to sell-in.

The point is, people (me included) assume that when you haven’t worked for 3.5 years you will have forgotten everything, have baby-brain or that it will be too much hassle to train you up. Now that I am one of those people I can confirm that I am just as capable of starting a new job now as I was before. Whenever you start a new job there are new systems and processes that must be learnt. It’s very unusual to go into a job that has the exact same systems in place. The only difference now that I’m working part-time is that I probably work even harder, don’t have time to stop and chat but I do have to leave on time.

I considered a few junior roles but they just didn’t cover the cost of having 2 children in child care in Sydney.

For the first time ever I started to panic that I may struggle to get a job, something that has always happened so easily for me before.

I have now found a temporary position with a boutique recruitment agency 2 days a week. It was advertised on the mums the word Facebook page.

This experience really made me understand why so many women feel the pressure when they go on maternity leave to return to their jobs as soon as their maternity leave has ended. Whilst I know many do so because they love their job and feel ready to return, I also know many feel pressured to do so in case they can’t find anything at a later date. The fear of not finding something suitable part-time after a gap makes them return to work quicker than they may have chosen to.

So far, the transition from SAHM to part-time working mum is going well. I knew it would be challenging; getting two young girls up and out of the door, driving the car to double kindy drop offs, finding parking spaces and then grabbing a bus to the city. But I’ve surprised myself how well we are all coping. There are still tears at drop-off (particularly the youngest). However, the pictures I see of their day and the excitement I get from them when I collect them as they fill me in on their antics, re-assures me that they have had fun.

The job I’m doing is busy so the day flies past. Before I know it I’m flinging my belongings into a bag, kicking off my heels in favour of flats and legging it out the door. Back on the bus, to the car for the first pick up then a short drive for the second pick up. I’ve had a productive working day, bringing some dollars in and have collected two happy, tired children.

Laughing and chatting as we drive home, sometimes the eldest drifts off to sleep. As we land back home one of them will inevitably have a meltdown about something and dinner and bath time can either be heavenly or hellish. But that’s the way it always was. Once they are dressed in their pjs with a beaker of hot milk it’s time for cuddles and stories on the sofa. All is calm and I’m hopeful bed time will follow soon for everyone. Then Daddy walks through the door and their little legs try to run as fast as their hearts are beating. Bedtime may be a little later tonight – but that’s ok.