Christmas shortcuts for working mums (Part One – gifts)

If you’re a working mum, there is every chance you scanned over this headline thinking, “Surely I don’t have to panic about Christmas yet?”

If you made it this far, congratulations, because today we start our series on shortcuts that will save you time, hassle and stress.

Some mums live for Christmas.  They carefully wrap their decorations in tissue paper in early January and store it carefully in a regular place.  Others of us chuck the tree in a box mid-January and drag it out to the shed, and then wonder how it got so dusty eleven months later.

Fortunately in 2012, the Internet is our friend.  We’ve moved beyond having to race out to Toys R Us at midnight on December 23, and can leisurely peruse presents from home if we wish.

The challenge with Internet shopping can be quality assurance and leaving a little time for postage.  Most good websites will tell you their last shipments before D-Day, but as a general rule for this year, aim to have everything done this year by Friday December 7th (when the good tellie has finished for the year anyway so if you spend this evening on the Internet you won’t miss anything good).

Ok, so where to go?  You could check out our Guide to Online Shopping published earlier this year which has some useful tips and lots of suggestions but our finalists for Christmas 2012 are:

1. www.myfavourite.com.au  has a wide range of options so you can shop for nearly everyone in the family.  You won’t end up buying golf balls or book vouchers. Next day delivery, an optional gift wrapping service as well as clever and thoughtful ideas. And no need to drag a three year old through a shopping centre 🙂   I’ve done one bulk purchase this year and found that everything arrived on time with the quality of each product as high as it appeared online.

2. Etsy.com is for those who like presents that look as though they picked them up in a local market where they became friendly with the artist. Who said shopping online had to be different? Etsy is billed as “unique handmade and vintage items directly from independent sellers around the world”.  I haven’t made my purchases this year but have had very strong recommendations on delivery and quality and there are some beautiful items.  There is also an App so you could do your thoughtful and personal shopping on the bus to work if your technology allows…  Convenient!

3. Your favourite supplier.  Who said everything had to change from last year?  Which shop gave you the best bang for your buck, range and service last year?  Check out their online presence.  You may be surprised to see that many Australian retailers are finally getting their act together with decent websites and online ordering. Companies like Napoleon Perdis offer an excellent range and good online systems despite having a significant retail presence.  They’ve finally worked out how we like to shop!  And one of these days ClickFrenzy will work.

If your favourite Australian retailer fails you, we can recommend stores like Disneystore for quality children’s products, easy to navigate websites and reliable, affordable delivery.

4. Finally, remember the best  advice working mums can give to each other  – forget the guilt and take a few more short cuts.

Teenagers love Itunes vouchers, most kids love plastic junk that breaks within a few weeks and adults love wine and chocolate.

It might be a cliche – but if you’d be happy to receive it, don’t be ashamed to give it!

Next in our series on Christmas, shortcuts for hosting Christmas Day.

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Does another mum need your help? It’s not always black and white…

Before I became a mum, I didn’t think I knew anyone who’d suffered from postnatal depression.

Now I see lots of people (mums and dads) who, whether they’ve had a diagnosis or not, seem to have one or more of the symptoms.

We’ve probably all experienced at least one of them at some stage, including;

  • Sleep disturbance unrelated to baby’s sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Crying – feeling sad and crying without apparent reason OR feeling like you want to cry but can’t
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control, unable to cope
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Negative obsessive thoughts
  • Fear of being alone OR withdrawing from family and friends
  • Memory difficulties and loss of concentration
  • Feeling guilty and inadequate
  • Loss of confidence and self-esteem

It’s not my place to diagnose anyone, but I do think being a mum increases your awareness of how tough the job can be.

Isn’t it odd that one of the most joyful experiences in life can be so damn difficult? It really is one of life’s great mysteries.

It’s post-natal depression awareness week, and the experts want us to know that it’s not always black and white.  Given most of us have bad days, there is a grey area where it’s hard to know whether you, or someone around you, need help.

PANDA (the Post and Ante Natal Depression Association) is the only specialist national organisation that raises community awareness of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after birth (perinatal period); and provides support services to families to assist in their recovery.

Since having Miss Three, I have often wondered about friends and acquaintances who may be experiencing symptoms of postnatal depression.

I believe that too often we discount what mums are experiencing because ‘being a new mum is hard’ and ‘sleep deprivation is normal’.  Of course these are true, but they also make detecting and addressing depression a lot harder if you think whatever’s happening to you is normal.  If you’re also given the impression that everyone else has the same experience as you but seems to ‘cope’ better than you do, that makes seeking help a lot harder.

It’s tempting to barge right in and ask mums who are having a tough time how they feel and whether they need specific help, but sometimes the person isn’t a close friend so I’ve adopted a more subtle approach.  I often ask them how much help they have around them, and how they think they are coping.  Usually they know that something is wrong but they aren’t sure what it is, or what can be done about it.

I’ve suggested they mention how tough they’re finding it to an expert – and asked how they feel about talking to their GP or baby clinic.

Twice now, these people have made contact with me later to tell me that they did indeed mention it to an expert, who has referred them to services and they now seem much better, happier and more rested and are  enjoying motherhood significantly more.

I am very relieved, and couldn’t be happier for them.

Have you – or someone you know – ever  needed help?

Did you say something, or were you too worried?

Kirsten

If you are concerned that you are suffering from post natal depression, the  National Perinatal Depression Helpline 1300 726 306 which provides counseling and support to those living with depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after the birth of a baby. Operates 9-7pm Monday to Friday (EST)

Disclosure: PANDA invited me to a very lovely dinner in Sydney to discuss and learn about post-natal depression awareness week.   Thanks to them and the other bloggers for a lovely night out and all the great work they all do helping new mums.

There’s a lot of other good stuff from the blogosphere around on this at the moment.  Some great links are below.

Good Golly Miss Holly

Life On The Hill

Random Ramblings of a Stay At Home Mum

Denise Whelan.  Life’s Stories 

Do you go home on time?

Are you one of the 2.2million Australians who left for work this morning with no idea what time you will leave tonight?

Or are you the working mum who sneaks out the door on time because you have to race to day care before they start fining you for not getting there before 6pm, while resentful colleagues note that you are ‘leaving early’?

Being in either of these groups isn’t much fun.

Working late – and being expected to – isn’t fun or reasonable for anybody.

Even when we think we’ll leave on time, more than one million of us get it wrong and stay an extra half an hour, and a further 1.2 million report staying more than one hour, according to new research from The Australia Institute, which runs Go Home On Time Day

The Australia Institute’s Executive Director Dr Richard Denniss said over the past twenty years we have heard a lot about workplace ‘flexibility’, but the problem for many workers is that child care, train timetables and life’s other commitments aren’t that flexible.

According to Dr Denniss:

This new data shows why so many Australians find it difficult to juggle their work life and the rest of their life. Working long, or very unpredictable, hours can place a lot of strain on people’s relationships as well as their physical and mental health.

The survey found that around 3.2 million Australians experience stress or anxiety as a result of their working arrangements, with 2.9 million experiencing a loss of sleep and 2.2 million reporting adverse impacts on their ability to meet family commitments.

Check out this great infographic.

If symptoms persist, take a dose of Go Home on Time Day. Love it.

Managing working time is one of our Five Ways Working Mums Can Take Better Care Of Their Mental Health which you can read all about here.

Do you go home on time?

If you do, are you often first out the door at your workplace?

Kirsten

 

 

 

Is a skim cappucino a mummy drink? What’s your caffeinated beverage of choice?

Is a skim cappucino a mummy drink?

Recently, for health reasons, my caffeinated beverage of choice has moved from a skim cappucino to a long black.

I seem to have noticed, and it may just be my perception, that the baristas of Sydney are treating me with a little more respect.  A little eye contact, a cursory nod as they hand over my morning cup of energy.

I wonder what my change means to them?

It made me think – is a skim cappuccino the drink of mums?  Have I been communicating – through no other mechanism than my breakfast order – that I am a mum?

All this time I thought my work clothes, heels and makeup allowed me to shrug off my suburban mum ways and appear, even just during daylight hours, to be a part of the inner city trendiness that is my work community.

Perhaps not.

Have I been uncool all this time?

Have I become more cool by giving up dairy?

What’s your caffeinated beverage of choice?

Kirsten

What does it take to be a good mum?

Do you know what it takes to be a good mum?

If you do, can you tell me?

Seriously, the University of Western Sydney is researching the pressure placed on mums and they’d like our help.

The study look looks at how we judge good mothering.

Dr Kate Huppatz, from the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at the University of Western Sydney, says that;

Whether a woman is judged to be a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ mum is often based on a range of factors – from how much independence and discipline they give their children, to their own physical appearance in the playground

If you have a view, and would like to help out, please email Dr Huppatz on k.huppatz@uws.edu.au

More information on the study is available here.

I think a good mum is one who ensures her child’s physical needs are met, does her utmost to keep them from physical and emotional harm and makes sure they know they are loved – by her and others around them.

Note there is no mention of organic food, breastfeeding, co-sleeping or music lessons.  I think all of that is simply extraneous and you can be a great mum regardless of your options and choices in these areas.

That description also covers most of the mums I know.

What do you think a good mum does?

Kirsten

Which is tougher – pregnancy or motherhood?

Mums to be expect to enjoy a glowing pregnancy but the reality is fatigue, information overload and a sagging sex life, according to this report from Lisa Power  in the Daily Telegraph today

Ladies, wait til that kid gets born!

According to the report, 60% said fatigure was the hardest to deal with.

I can’t imagine what the other 40% said.

My theory is that pregnancy fatigue is nature’s way of getting you ready for months, perhaps years, of sleep deprivation.  I suspect if you went straight from your pre-baby life into the reality of life with a newborn, there would be even more post-natal depression around than there is now.

Did pregnancy meet your expectations?

Which was harder for you – pregnancy or being a mum?

Kirsten

Breaking news: nearly half of Australian mums back at work before their youngest turns one

A report in The Australian today says that almost half of all mums in two-parent families are back at work before their youngest child turns one.

Is this true for you?

Is this why it is impossible to find a child care place for kids aged 0-2?

The story, written by George Megalogenis and Sophie Gosper, also says almost all the mothers who went back to work in this period took part-time jobs with fewer than 25 working hours a week.

You can read the full piece here but you need a subscription to The Australian to read it in full, so here are the key points:

  • The trend for mothers returning to work has accelerated in line with higher rates of female education and rising property prices.
  • This generation of women have jobs worth going back to and the typical mortgage requires two incomes to service.
  • In the mid 1980s, the majority of mothers in two-parent families waited until their youngest child was three before returning to work.
  • In the mid 1990s, the benchmark had fallen to two years.
  • About two-thirds of mothers with jobs are employed part-time while their children are in preschool.
  • By age three, though, more than half the working mothers are in full-time work. Sole parents are the exception to this pattern.
  • Most are still at home when the youngest child is aged 4-5.

Do these figures represent your family, and your choices?

If your family part of an Australian trend?

If you are new to Working Mums Australia and interested in more about part-time work, you may be interested in the personal stories of Juliet, Tamara and Kellie, who featured in our series on part time work a while ago.

They shared their stories, choices and influences to help us all work out a way to muddle through this challenging set of decisions  🙂