HOW I’M LEARNING TO GO WITH THE FLOW – LIVING WITH STRONG WILLED CHILDREN

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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.

THE SKY’S AWAKE SO I’M AWAKE -GRO-CLOCK A REVIEW

3 Year Old “THE SKY’S AWAKE SO I’M AWAKE”

Me “It’s 5am”

3 Year Old “But I’m not tired. I want the iPad. I want hot milk”

….and so it begins.

I have a 2 year old who doesn’t sleep and a three and a half year old who is an early riser. Suffice to say my husband and I are a little tired. After writing a recent post about our sleep deprived lives on my blog, several people suggested I try a Gro-clock. Whilst we knew it couldn’t stop our 2 year old from waking frequently, we hoped if we could keep our eldest in bed a little longer we may be able to catch up on some of those missed zzzzzzz’s.

THE DAY IT ARRIVED I posted a photo of it on Facebook. I received lots of comments from other Gro-clock users, mostly positive. Apparently lots of people were already members of the Gro-clock fan club. I was excited to be joining the gang.

THE CONCEPT IS VERY SIMPLE – For anyone who is not already in the Gro-clock club or in the know about Gro-clocks it is meant to encourage your child to stay in bed until YOUR desired time in the morning instead of THEIRS!

HOW IT WORKS IS SIMPLE TOO – you activate the clock by setting the time you would like your child to wake up from both day sleeps and night sleeps (morning time). Once activated, 12 small stars appear around one big star and throughout the night at certain points a small star disappears. This is the countdown until wake-up time. When it is time for your child to get up, the star is replaced with a bright yellow smiling sunshine which stays lit up for 2 hours.

After posting the photo on Facebook everyone was eager to find out how our first night as a member of the Grow-clock– group had gone.

THIS WAS MY EXPERIENCE OF USING A GRO-CLOCK

Night 1

The girls were excited looking and playing with the clock. They helped me set it and we enjoyed watching the cute demo of how it would work (the star winks as it says goodnight and the light saver mode come on). When it’s time to get up the bright smiley yellow sunshine also provide them with lots of amusement. There is also a colourful rhyming picture book included to read to your child all about the animals on a farm going to sleep with the aid of a Gro-clock which the girls enjoyed me reading to them.

 

 

Aware that our 2 year old wouldn’t understand the concept our focus was on our 3.5 year old. We explained that if she stayed in be until the sun shone we would let her choose a present from the shop.

The following morning we were woken by the sound of our eldest daughter padding into our room saying she had lost her teddy bear. It was 4.20am.

Initially disappointed we located her teddy and suggested she go back to her bed. She wasn’t keen and not long after woke her sister up.

My husband and I blearily grunted at each other and discussed why it hadn’t worked. The answer was obvious. She shares a room with her sister and has always been instructed to be quiet if her sister’s asleep. She woke up and we couldn’t reasonably expect her to lie in the dark for 2 hours, even I wouldn’t do that. I re-read some of the comments from the Gro-Clock fans on my Facebook, most mentioned that they encouraged their child to play in their room quietly until the sun came up. Our daughter can’t do this as she will wake her sister. I needed a better strategy.

 

Night 2

So I told her. If you wake up before the sun shines. TRY to close your eyes and go back to sleep. If you Really, Really, Really can’t get back to sleep. Then you can come and play in the lounge with your toys until the sun has come up. You are not allowed to demand hot milk or breakfast UNTIL the sun is shining (and mummy and daddy had had what would be deemed as a lie in in our house).

SUCCESS – I heard her get up and go into the lounge where she played quietly with her my little ponies until I got up. She didn’t make her usual demands until I informed her that the sun was now up and she could have breakfast. She was so excited to see the sun shining and know that she had made me happy she proceeded to run into the bedroom and wake her dad up “daddy, daddy the sun is shining”.

Night 3

Was a bad night for everyone due to coughs and frequent waking by her younger sister. She managed to stay in bed until 20 minutes before the sun arrived and still knew not to demand hot milk or breakfast pre-sun

The Gro-clock has definitely had some positive impact for us with regards our eldest daughter however I don’t feel we have been able to really put it to the test whilst she shares a room with her younger sister who frequently wakes her through the night.

WHAT I LOVED

It arrived quickly – 2 days after confirming my review, it arrived in the post.

The clock is lightweight with no sharp edges so would be safe for a child to play with (as both mine did).

The user guide is SO straightforward to follow and they really have thought of everything

If the light is too light throughout the night – you can change the LED setting

If the child plays around with it – you can lock it so they can’t affect the settings

If they can’t see it for any reason – there is an audible alarm

If you want the same system for day time naps – you can set it for day time naps and sleep times so you don’t need to re-set it

If you want to show your child how it works – there is a demo mode

They even remind you not to let your child see how you set the key lock….sound obvious but as I was working through the manual I very nearly did it in front of my daughter who continually surprises me with her knowledge of technology.

There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about it. I feel confident that if our daughter was in her own room it would work. I intend to keep using it to encourage her to stay in bed longer and as soon as her sister is a little older we will explain it to her too so hopefully they will both use it.

The Gro-clock is available to buy for $59.95 and can be purchased online at: http://au.gro-store.com/gro-clock.html

I was gifted the Gro-clock but did not receive any payment for writing this review

After sending my review to Gro-Store they provided some additional feedback:

Hi Lucy,

Thank you for sharing your review.

I have read your review, it seems that the product was unsuitable for your situation and appreciate the angle you have had to take.

We would normally recommend that you use the clock from as early as 2 years of age, you mention in your article that your youngest was too young to start but we recommend starting the product as early as possible and feel that this is the ideal time for you to start.

We encourage our users to start with the book first and then introduce the clock. We also encourage people to start the process very slowly, if your little one wakes at 5am and you want to get them to sleep longer we say to increase the time to say 5:30am and then when they achieve this goal increase the time and so on. Therefor we probably think that this will work better on your younger child. To further encourage children to respond we have a reward chart that you can use this helps to keep them motivated. (See attachments)

http://gro.co.uk/blog/latest-news/gro-clock-top-tips-and-reward-chart/

Thank you again for taking the time to review our product. Happy for you to share on your blog as you feedback is invaluable.

Key Account and Marketing Manager

A FAMILY MINI-BREAK IN HAWKESBURY

We don’t go away very often as a family. In fact the last time we did all go away was nearly a year ago. The reason for this is because our 2 year old still doesn’t sleep. The idea of all being in a hotel room together feels like self-harm to our already sleep deprived little minds.

When my husband first suggested that we join him on a work trip to Hawkesbury (he was going to the races with work), my initial reaction was, NO WAY. He then suggested that we could get a separate room for the girls and given it had been a long time since we last went away, I agreed. He booked us into The Sebel Resort and Spa in Hawkesbury

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THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOR A FABULOUS CHILDREN’S BIRTHDAY PARTY

I have been to, and seen pictures of, kids birthday parties where tables are laid out with everything colour co-ordinated …even the food! I have seen amazing cakes in the shape of Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine or a fairy-tale princess. Whilst I totally appreciate the effort someone has gone to in order to achieve this, it’s not something I’m too obsessed with myself. To be honest there are too many other things for my little head to worry about:

  • What should we do?
  • Where should we have it?
  • Who should we invite?
  • What food should we provide?
  • How much food should we provide?
  • How healthy should the food be?
  • How much sweet stuff should we have on offer? Will the parents leave hating us for sending the kids loopy on too much sugar?
  • Should we have alcohol?
  • Should we provide entertainment?
  • Should we provide party bags?
  • What should we include in the party bags?
  • What cake should I do?
  • What if the cake looks awful? Worse – what if the cake tastes awful?
  • What if we’ve ordered too much food?  Worse -What if we don’t have enough food?
  • What decorations should we have?
  • Should we have a theme?
  • Do we have a backup plan in case it rains?
  • The biggest fear by far – WHAT IF NO-ONE COMES?

When my first child turned one we invited every single person we knew, bought way too much food and booze, heaps of party decorations and cups, plates and napkins all in the same colour. We held the party in our back yard which is sea facing and on that day it was gale force conditions. After spending the best part of an hour fighting with banners and balloons and pink pompoms whilst simultaneously trying to stop the matching pink plastic table cloth blowing away – I admitted defeat. Most of the banners ripped within 30 seconds and all except one balloon popped before anyone arrived.

For her second party I still hadn’t learnt my lesson and did exactly the same – same location, same issues.

My second child’s first birthday party was cancelled as we were all sick.

When my eldest turned three we opted for a joint (5 months late) 1st and 3rd birthday party for both. On this occasion I wasn’t taking any chances with wind so the location was a nearby park. Entertainment was sorted thanks to the playground and cycle track. I still battled with balloons and banners. It wasn’t so windy but several balloons popped as they blew against the tree branches. At this party I was late arriving (my husband had gone ahead of me). A friend and my mother-in-law kindly helped set up however they had to contend with mine and her children demolishing everything and trying to ‘help’. I didn’t care. As long as the food was enjoyed, I was grateful for the help.

My three-year-old had requested a dinosaur cake. I messaged my friend who makes amazing cakes. She suggested I make a chocolate mud cake with green buttercream icing and then knock together some fondant dinosaurs. Easy! She even sent me a picture of fondant dinosaurs to copy. It was the peak of summer and a particularly hot few days leading up to the party. I bought green, pink and blue fondant and enthusiastically set out to make these cute dinosaurs. Did I mention it was nearly 40 degrees? My friend did inform me afterwards that even she doesn’t attempt to make fondant decorations in the summer months. The first one wasn’t too bad. It bore absolutely zero resemblance to the picture however it did look semi-dinosaur like. I then made a couple more but my creative flare must have been a fluke as quite frankly my children could have done a better job than my other attempts. After several hours spent sweating in the kitchen I showed them to my daughter. IMG_5604She smiled and agreed when I told her they were dinosaurs. We said good night to them, popped them into a Tupperware container and I poured myself a huge glass of wine. The next day when I opened the Tupperware my little dinosaur trio were all sick. They were cracked, one had fallen apart entirely and one had lost all of his spikes. As there was no Dr for fondant dinosaurs nearby, I took a trip to Kmart and grabbed a heap of plastic dinosaurs. In the end the cake was a mixture of my sad looking fondant dinosaurs and their better looking plastic counterparts. The good thing was the cake tasted good (apparently) so all was not lost.

I’m writing this now the day after my youngest child’s 2nd birthday party. This was technically her first proper birthday party. I found myself in a new predicament – who do I invite? Should I invite all of my 3-year-olds’ friends too? My 2-year-old doesn’t really have any friends. She is still at the age where she plays independently of most other children except her sister. After a great deal of procrastinating I decided to open it up to most of the people who know the youngest too.

This was the first party I had done that wasn’t in the peak of the summer. As it is now spring I was hopeful the weather would be perfect. Not too hot that we need shade, if we have it down at the beach, not too windy and fingers crossed no rain. The day before was the worst rain we have had in weeks. I was a little concerned given I didn’t have a plan B. At least I’d ordered an online shop to be delivered with all the party food. On this particular day our delivery driver decided to go AWOL. The store couldn’t track down the driver so after waiting nearly 2 hours for the delivery to turn up, lots of swearing and tears by me and my 2 girls who were climbing the walls to go out,  I took the girls to our friends house for the play date we had planned. Not long after arriving there I received a phone call to say that the driver was at our house.  I drove home to see what state the shopping was in after being left outside in the rain. Luckily it survived.

On the day of the party the weather cleared. It was so hot we moved the location to a different part of the beach in search of shade. I spent 30 minutes fighting the wind with banners and balloons and after nearly decking it off the wheelie bin – to which my 3 year old had already said “mummy you really shouldn’t be climbing on there” I gave up. She then fell off the bench she was perched on. Meanwhile her younger sister who had climbed on top of the picnic table, was pulling all of the plastic cups out and laughing hysterically as she watched them blow away.

This party was different. The serviettes, plates, cups balloons and banners were more of an eclectic collection of the remnants of previous parties so there was no specific theme or colour scheme as such. The cake was baked by my friend’s mum. All I had to do was decorate it (easier said than done for someone who is severely lacking in the artistic department). I opted for pink buttercream and sprinkles in the shape of a number two. The wind prevented a candle blow out but all in all it was a good party and my husband and I only had one row the morning of the party.Roseanna's 2nd birthday

Whilst the parties I have done may not look exactly look good enough to share on Pinterest or Instagram, they have always turned out ok in the end. I have come to the conclusion that as long as there is a cake of some description and that a few children turn up….it’s a success!