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.

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!

ARE YOU THERE?

The phrase ‘being present’ seems to have become increasingly popular lately. I’ve read numerous articles about how mums and dads need to be more ‘present’ when they are with their children, a partner not being ‘present’ in a relationship. It is certainly easy to get distracted with mobile phones, laptops, iPads, social media addiction, daily chores and work pressures on your mind.  

Whilst I try to limit the amount of time I’m spending doing all of these things when I’m with my children, I have to be realistic, I have chores that need to be done, emails that need responding to, appointments that need to be made etc.  I try to have a balance, however there are times when I’m with the girls,  I find myself getting sucked into Facebook a little longer than I expected, or emails or housework, repeating “just a minute”, “hang on”, “I’m coming”, “I just need to do this and then I’ll be with you”. To which they either shout, “Look mummy”, “now mummy”, louder and louder until I get annoyed with them and give in or if they aren’t getting a reaction from me, they eventually retreat and go off to play.

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