Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The hard truth

Last week I shared how I've been travelling with life now that I'm working full-time.

It felt really good to be honest about the challenges and that I'm enjoying the change too.

I've got to admit though - there was a time that I would have been ashamed to confess publicly that I was working full-time. My ideals have certainly evolved but for a long time I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mum and always be available for my kids. I thought I'd be neglecting them and I wouldn't be able to meet their needs if I was working full-time.

This is very much not the case and I've been so proud of how easily the kids have adjusted to me being around less.

I've always been told that kids are very adaptable and resilient and I can see that this is true for my children. Both Miss E and J-Man have taken the changes to home life in their stride and are very proud of their Mum. 

I have to add though, that despite moving in a positive direction and loving this new life of mine, I haven't felt as resilient of my kids have.

There have been some really tough times.

I think if I hated my job or had lost my passion for a career than I would have thrown in the towel.

There have been several nights where I have sobbed to my husband out of complete physical and mental exhaustion. My favourite phrase in these moments is, "It's just too hard. It all just feels too hard."

But as is typical with me, a good teary and vent with my man makes me feel much better. It doesn't make the challenges any easier but the cry and the chat makes me feel like someone understands.

The first two weeks in my new role rendered me completely and utterly exhausted. I would get home and fall onto the lounge where I would stay until dinner was served. I'd then tuck the kids into bed after they were showered and crawl into bed myself. Sleep was priority and the only way I could survive.

I started to worry that this wasn't sustainable and that constant fatigue was going to become unbearable. But it was my sister-in-law who reassured me. She reminded me of what it was like when we would go back to school after the school holidays when we were kids. And I knew what she meant. In those school days I would feel so tired during the first week back after the holidays as I adjusted to the faster pace and the relentless routine of the school term. Being reminded of this made me realise that the exhaustion soon passed back in those school days and I quickly adjusting to school life again.

It just took a little bit of time to adjust.

I've got a better handle on things now, despite the long days.

This comparison really helped to reassure me with adjusting to full-time work. And it was so true. Within a couple of weeks of running the full-time work treadmill I felt on top of things and work and family life felt manageable (not perfect, but manageable) again.

It's all still busy, and there's still days that test me. I've just learnt to roll with them, knowing that a new day and a fresh start will come with the sunrise.

I'm much more realistic about expecting how much I can achieve and I've lowered my expectations around the state of the house. For the most part I don't sweat the small stuff.

My biggest challenge at the moment is enjoying my weekends. Working and travelling all week means that my weekends are jam-packed with washing, cleaning, housework, groceries, food prep, family admin, and the list goes on.

The result is me having a very short fuse and a low tolerance to pretty much anything and anyone. This makes me a cranky mummy (and wife!) because I'm so damned SPENT!

It's a juggle, and I'm not going to pretend that I've got it all together. But it's certainly all a lot more do-able than I ever imagined. A supportive family, and school-aged kids probably has a lot to do with it.

Above all, a positive attitude, ambition and stable mental health is essential.

Monday, 8 December 2014

"I was crying big, Mama tears..."

Tonight I attended my son's preschool graduation.

Yes, you read right. It was a graduation for preschoolers.

But don't be too quick to raise that right eyebrow and angle your head away from your screen in a passive, "WTF?" kind of statement.

A couple of years ago I probably would have been the first to scoff at the idea of a preschool graduation. I'd be sitting right beside you wondering what the DEAL was with a graduation ceremony for... What? Colouring-in between the line?!

I can hear the sarcasm in my voice as I cynically questioned why on EARTH five-year-olds needed a formal ceremony (complete with capes & mortar boards) to graduate from pre-school.

              Our happy graduand

But that was then, and this is now.

Now, I'm ridiculously proud of my almost-five-year-old boy for ending his pre-school years. He made it! But moreover, I'm amazingly proud and DUMBFOUNDED that I survived his early years. I made it through the sleepless nights, the toilet training, the endless questions, the constant coaching, and all the tedious moments in between that demanded ENDLESS patience.

We did it!

As over-joyed that I am that young J-Man has completed his pre-schooling and walked away with an adorable, pint-sized preschool diploma, I am equally DEVASTATED.

You see J-Man is my baby. He may not wear nappies or cry for me to pat him back to sleep, but he is still my baby. And I'm sure he'll loathe me for saying this, but when he's 16, 21 and (dare I say it?) 41, my J-Man will still be my baby.

By baby I mean that he is my youngest. My little guy who was last from my womb and last to be cradled to sleep in my arms. 

He may be strong and tall now. He may be curious about bugs, trash packs and ALL things science, but he is my baby. 

And it hurts to see my baby grow up.

Tonight when I proudly watched him formally graduate from preschool (it's OK I snigger when I say it too...) and be lovingly labelled the class "Park Ranger", I was crying big, Mama tears because my little Park Ranger is growing up. 

He's got his own personality, his own crew of boisterous BFFs, his own talents and motivations and his own amazing life to lead. And tonight I got a glimpse of the big journey he's about to go on.

Seeing him leave pre-school made me realise that he's one baby-step closer to flying my nest. As proud as this made me, a selfish and maternal part of me doesn't like it...

Not one bit!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Christmas Craft

* This is a sponsored post by Moose toys. All opinions expressed are my own.

On Saturday I took the kids into the city for our annual Christmas day out. We saw all the gorgeous decorations, met Santa and admired the giant Christmas trees. It was a big day.

When we got home the kids were SUPER excited about Christmas. I decided we needed to do a quiet activity to calm them down... And rest our feet after a long day out.

So we did some craft.

Normally the idea of doing craft with the kids puts my head into a spin, but this time it was fun and mess-free.

I mentioned Beados here a few weeks ago.

Ever since the kids discovered a delivery of these colourful craft beads they have been pestering me to use them. But I was worried it would be a stressful mess of sticky beads.

It turns out I was wrong.

We followed the instructions and created some Christmas decorations while taking advantage of our Christmas spirit.

Our Christmas Beados creations

A few beads rolled onto the floor but after I reminded the kids that ALL beads needed to remain on the family room table (I'm a drill sergeant with mess), they learnt pretty quickly to be more mindful with their creations.

J-Man enjoyed using the specialist Beados tools and investigating how the special 'tweezers' worked. He buzzed around us but wasn't really interested in making a design.

Miss E got right into it and made a colourful fish of her own design. She also used the template provided and made a gingerbread man, and made a love-heart.

Miss E and J-Man loved getting their craft on

I took the opportunity to ignore my huge pile of washing that needed to be folded and let my creativity take over. 

I created a Santa, an angel, a star and a snowflake while we listened to Christmas carols.

I'm not sure who enjoyed this activity more - them or me!

Our gingerbread man, Christmas star, Santa and angel

I really did enjoy myself. I know it sounds hard to believe, but crafting with Beados together really allowed me to be present with the kids. I was calm and relaxed (for a change) and I could tell the kids were relishing in me just being with them.

We really needed a quiet activity like this. 

We were out of the sun, away from our screens and happily and quietly together.

It would have been a different story a couple of years ago - those little beads would have made an impossible mess before the kids could follow my instructions. Another reason I'm thankful my kids are out of that preschooler stage!

If you're still looking for Christmas gift ideas for your school-aged kids definitely check-out Beados. They might even give you some peace and quiet over the long Christmas holiday break. Plus if you enjoy the therapeutic peace of quietly colouring-in pictures with your kids (admit it - you love it!) then you'll love the quiet process of designing with Beados too.

Are you a craft lover or hater?

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Working full-time is no walk in the park

You know what? Working full-time and being a mum, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a grand-daughter, a sister too... It's not a walk in the park.

I'm really loving working full-time but my GAWD, there really is so much less time in my week to give time to my relationships.

In some ways the change to my life is good. Like I feel like a better mum, even though I'm around less for the kids.

When I'm with them I'm really with them. I'm not "over it" or exhausted from dealing with their demands all day. I love hanging out with them because I've missed them and WANT to hear their little stories and see what they've been obsessing over all day while I've been at work.

I've also realised how much I HATED the morning routine with them. Getting them up and racing to get them ready and out the door for school and pre-school each day made me snappy and stressed. I did the hard-yards with those crazy mornings, but now I don't deal with that at all. I walk out the door at 6am and the morning rush is up to their Dad and our Nanny to handle. No complaints here!

I've had a lot of people ask me how I'm coping with the daily commute to work. Living in Wollongong means a 90 minute trip to work in Sydney each day, and a two hour trip home from work each afternoon. I've had many looks of sympathy and concern from friends and colleagues when they learn of this. But you know what? I LOVE the commute. This is going to sound horrible, but after seven years of being a stay-at-home-mum and dealing with my (darling) kids all the time, the commute has given me freedom. FREEDOM!

I now get four hours each day all to myself. No kids hanging off my hip. No chubby fingers tugging at my skirt. No one calling "Muuuuuuum!" from another room. No one interrupting me just as I finally sit down. No whining and no demands for snacks or entertaining.

That's right, now I just get peace and quiet in a crowded train carriage. No interruptions. Just me, my podcasts and my social media feed. It's heaven for a worn-out mum!

But as much as I see the positives of working more, I'm also feeling the negatives too. Like I just don't have the time I used to have for spending time with my friends and family.

I miss them. I feel guilty for not being able to give the people I love more of my time. But the reality is I barely have enough time for myself.

I work, I travel, I spend my spare time with my kids, and squeeze running the house somewhere in between. Catch-ups with friends and family, dates with my husband, exercise, blogging, TV viewing, baking and anything else I once enjoyed doing all have been pushed to the side-lines.

I'm sure there's working mums who have completely nailed the balance of all these things, but right now I'm just doing the best I can - and it really looks far from perfect.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Christmas is for SHOPKINS

* This is a sponsored post for Moose Toys. All opinions expressed are my own.

I know some of us are in denial, but Christmas really is just around the corner.

According to my calculations there's five-and-a-half weeks until that big guy dressed in red abseils off  our pergolas and miraculously leaves presents under our Christmas Trees.

Or in grown-up terms; there's just three more pay cycles until that big fella surprises our kids with PRESENTS!

In other words? It's crazy-close to Christmas Day!

So if you haven't yet finished (haha!) your Christmas shopping, or if you're looking for some stocking-stuffers for your cherubs, you need to take note of what I'm about to say.

You see, Moose Toys sent our family these teeny-tiny toys last month that I thought nothing of. 

"Meh! More colourful, plastic to fill our toy box with!"

Ohhhh how wrong I was!

These bright and happy toys of which I speak are called Shopkins, and they have brought a whole HEAP of joy to young J-Man and Miss E's world.

If you're familiar with Trash Packs, they're a less "yucky" version of these. They come in different sets to suit your budget and are complete with rosy-cheeks and happy smiles.

Shopkins, quite simply are tiny, personified grocery products that you'd find in the supermarket.

And my kids ADORE them.

They come in little collector packs (perfect for stocking-stuffers)...
Larger starter kits to kick-start your kids' collection...

And there's play-sets too with a mini supermarket, bakery or fruit shop to excite your kidlets...
I can't quite explain exactly what it is with this line of toys that kids love so much - but they just do! Perhaps it's the excitement of being encouraged to, "collect them all!"?

They don't break the bank either with a collector pack as little as $2.99 from Big W, Target, Myer and Toys R Us.

Take a look:


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