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.

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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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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What Happens When Daddy Goes Away?

When my husband asked if it was ok if he flew to the UK for a couple of weeks with work a few months ago, I swallowed hard and said “of course it is, we’ll be fine”. We have a three-year-old and a 2-year-old. I can count on one hand how many times the two- year-old has slept through, my husband is very much aware of this plus the fact all of our family are in the UK, hence his concern at leaving me to cope on my own.  

As the time for his departure drew closer I tried to maintain my positive mind-set, I wanted him to go away guilt free. Whenever the self-doubt began to creep in I reminded myself of some of my friends who cope amazingly with husbands who work long hours or are away a lot and aren’t often available to help out with the kids. I have one friend whose husband was away in the army for 6 months when she was looking after two very young children without any family close-by. I also have friends who have separated from their partners and therefore frequently have to manage alone.

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What Age Is It Ok To Tell Your Kids Off, I Mean Really?

So it’s dinner time. My 3.5 year old and 2 year old are sitting at their table whilst I wash up the pile of dishes that has mounted throughout the day in the kitchen. But the truth is, they aren’t actually sitting at the table…not really…there are several get-ups to dance to the wiggles, lots of chair rocking which has already resulted in tears for one of them when she landed on her ‘bum-bum’ on the floor and the constant visits back and forth to the kitchen requesting hands to be wiped despite telling me they haven’t finished eating.

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