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.

img_3983-2

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.