1. Children’s haircuts. I missed the note telling me when it was photo day at day care last year, so Miss 3 looked like a character from Oliver Twist in her class photo. Oops.
2. Manicures and pedicures. Always difficult to find a half an hour, now almost impossible.
3. Catch ups with girlfriends without children. There’s the odd special night out, but the casual catch ups over dinner are few and far between these days. Social events have to include a babysitter in the budget so they end up a lot more expensive.
4. Boozy Friday drinks. Technically still possible, but everyone knows the best Friday nights are the ones that aren’t planned. These days there’s nothing in my life that isn’t planned!
5. Clothes shopping. By the time I get the clothes I already own washed and folded and some fresh food in the house each weekend, the thought of walking into a Westfields and thinking about this season’s colours is no longer my idea of a good time.
6. Tax returns. Ugh. This one may not be related to having children.
7. Car servicing. See 7 above. Difficult and unpleasant tasks but it’s very difficult to find a day to be a little late because you’re catching the courtesy bus when you’re already *that* mum who skates out the door exactly at 5pm.
8. My own haircut. Once upon a time sitting and having foils done, a cut and a blow dry on a lazy Saturday afternoon was a wonderful thing to do. Now my hair appointment starts with a conversation about, “What’s absolutely neccesary this month?”
9. The dentist. When it is ok to take a long lunch break when you can never arrive early or stay late?
10. Buying panty hose. This one is clearly ridiculous. But I like to buy certain brands and they are not always available in my supermarket shop. Making an extra job out of it makes it a lunchtime task when lunchtimes don’t always happen. I need to stock up once a year!
It’s true that you make time in life for the important things.
Although I find it hard to find time for all of these above, I wouldn’t swap any of them for the 2o minutes I spend reading stories at the end of the day.
Will this be me? Thanks to kleenexmums.com.au for image
We’re taking our big annual holiday next week and Miss 3 is about to experience her first long haul flight.
I am very, very worried. She’s the kind of kid other mums say things about like, “She’s very active isn’t she?” and “Usually you only see boys who won’t sit still”.
Mostly her curiosity, energy and social nature makes me love her all the more. In terms of how we spend 24 hours on a plane together, it’s a little less so.
Some people have good tips for travelling with toddlers. The most useful thing I’ve heard is to talk lots about the trip in advance and break it up into different sessions, so we’re talking about how we’ll have our lunch and then watch some TV and then it will be time for a sleep. And so on.
But I am still worried. The only other long flight we’ve taken was to Fiji just after she started walking, and then we were *that* family, on a plane full of families with small children returning from holiday, that others looked on with pity, a little too smugly for my comfort level.
So we’re researching travel regulations for kids car seats and sleeping arrangements at each destination. We will be staying with friends a bit, and hoping they remain friends. We’re also having lots of chats over our dinner table about the rules at other people’s houses, and how they might differ from ours, but we’ll abide by them anyway. I’m not sure how much a three year old can take in about potential rules made by people she hasn’t met yet, but I’m hopeful some of it is sinking in!
As always, I’ve turned to Google to help me through any problem nagging at me. The site Flying with Kids is, perhaps not surprisingly, pretty helpful. Among a range of other tips I intend to take up, I found this one;
As soon as you board, put your pack of wet wipes into the seat pocket in front of you to keep stickiness at bay.
I will definitely be doing this.
As I see it, there are four key elements involved in making the trip a success. I’m calling them my ‘Holiday KPIs’.
1. Surviving the plane flights without plane-wide shame or divorce.
2. Maintaining the friendships of those dear people who’ve generously agreed to host us in their homes at various locations. The friendships have in many cases lasted many years and considerable distance, so I’m hoping they can also survive a three year old.
3. Miss 3 sleeping when we are all sharing a hotel room. She’s a light sleeper but a fairly well behaved one, but this is a new experience for us.
4. Some time to read my novel, buy some new clothes and maybe get a massage, at some stage.
Kellie is a teacher and mum to Kiara, nearly seven and Tia, four. Today she’s continuing our series on part time work.
About 3 months after having Kiara, I returned to work as a teacher half time where I worked I worked 3 days one week and 2 the next. I felt out of the loop at work on two days week so increased to three days after about a term.
I then changed schools so went back to full time- and was pregnant again by the end of that year. When Tia was born, I opted for three days a week again, having Mondays and Fridays off.
When I changed schools when Tia was two, I was asked to work four days a week and I was not ‘allowed’ to reduce my fraction of time until 1/2 way through Term 1. I worked four days a week for the next 25 school weeks. And have been working full time since.
Unfortunately my current school principal has grown children interstate and eats, sleeps, drinks, and breathes work and just doesn’t understand the way other principals I have worked with seemed to. I also get dinner time and late night or early morning calls about work. Aargh!!
My employer definitely got ‘free work out of me’ when I was being paid to work four days a week. I would take my Friday load home with me, only to return to post it notes all over my office door, computer, chair, pigeon hole and what seemed like everyone wanting to “just catch up with me for a minute”!! That usually turned out to be a minimum of 7 minutes.
My pay decreased but my load was the same. I was doing my full time job with less pay- which was partly when I made the decision to return to full-time.
In the past I changed my work time and patterns according to how I felt I was going! I think teaching is a perfect career for part-time work, especially when you can share a class with another mum. They understand and don’t mind swapping days when appointments have to be made on work days. It’s truly sharing the load. 🙂
I loved working three days a week. I loved the fact I could be a mum and a professional.
I could do my work at work, my mum and home stuff on my days off and weekends were time for all of us without the thought and stress of washing, ironing, cleaning etc.
Tia particularly loved my days off last year. She said only today, “We don’t have Fridays together anymore do we mum, cos you have to go to work now.” She shook her head “All cos of those naughty kids!”
I often spent my Friday afternoon helping out in Kiara’s classroom. She loved that.
I am sure they will never thank me for going to work, earning money and buying them ‘things’. They have and still do, thank me for the time and things we do together. That is worth way more to me than any pay I have ever received. ❤
Luckily for us mum and dad live close by and are happy to help out with caring for our girls. This enabled me to return to work, knowing my babies were being loved and looked after.. I knew they would be cuddled if they were sad, upset, hurt, sick or just because any of them wanted to. Now Mum and Dad drop Kiara at school and Tia at kindy. And I know the same 🙂
My day off last year did fit with Mum and Dad having a day to themselves, which they spent it volunteering for Meals on Wheels.
I understand why those that have family looking after their kids say they are not they would have gone back if I had to put my kids into childcare centre. This is true for me but I didn’t have to think differently, so I’ll never know!
I have friends who say the same about leaving their kids with family rather than childcare!!
It’s never perfect. I beat myself up mentally for EVERY thing I think I miss- assembly, concert, sports day excursions… Or when they are sick and I can’t stay home. I do the same when Tia is having a ‘mum I just want you day’.
When work creates the pressure, I just get to the work things when I can, prioritize! I am very organised at work, and work hard. I leave home at 7:15am, drop the girls at mum and dad’s place, then drive 45 minutes to work. Sometimes when I get there ‘people’ want to give me a hard time about arriving at 8:30am, which is when I am officially supposed to start. I get the same sort of reaction if I leave at any time between 4:30 and 5:00pm – which is not very often! The Department of Education says we can leave from 4pm onwards except staff meeting night which is 5pm, so this is pretty unreasonable.
Three days a week with Monday and Friday off was ideal. I loved the fact I could be a mum and a professional…. My perfect solution!
Do you think employers get lots of ‘free work’ from mums who work part time?
Tamara Kudiarskyj-Latham is a mum to Nikolai, 3 and Aleksandr, eight months
Tamara worked Saturdays when Nikolai was four months old to save for a holiday, but after six weeks decided it wasn’t worth it. Her work on Saturdays was providing respite care for parents of an autistic child. She returns to work today after the birth of her second son last year.
The real reason I started working Saturdays after Nikolai was born was that my husband Mark had been asked to be best man at one of our dearest friend’s wedding and the location was Bali.
How could we say no? But we had no money with a new baby. We had saved for being on maternity leave but not enough for a holiday. We made the decision quite selfishly. We really wanted to go and this was the answer. We didn’t feel that I would be losing time with Nikolai as I wasn’t working through the week and so, yes, the extra money was worth it.
The first few weeks were fine and it worked for us because each week we stayed focused on the fact that Mark was going to be spending quality time with Nikolai and developing a father son relationship with him, and I was helping families with children who had a disability and using my work brain again, but it did become hard work. Weekends were when we spent quality time as a whole family and what ended up happening was that I would work all day Saturday therefore Sunday would be ‘chores day’ – shopping, cleaning washing. I did start to feel extremely guilty being ‘the mum’ and it did bother us, so after about six weeks I was able to find a replacement. Fortunately we did go to Bali and had a wonderful time as a family 🙂
We are in a trickier situation after having our second son Aleksandr. I was supposed to be returning to work three days per week (we had financially budgeted for this and it is what I worked on returning to work after Nikolai). However a month ago the Director of the Childcare Centre told me there was only a spot for two days and if I wanted it, I had to take the place four weeks before returning to work. This means a drop in pay and having to pay for the 2 boys to attend child care on only one wage. Hmmmm, the ruthlessness of child care!
So once again finances (unselfishly this time) have become an issue and the talk of working weekends has come round again. Yes, I have spent hours on the phone to Centrelink finding out what the maximum hours I can work before we start to lose benefits. You have to, and I think it’s amazing we get what we do to support mums to return to work. Yes, we’ve talked about how difficult it would be for Mark after working all week and then having both the boys at the weekend, and yes, we’ve looked at it as a blessing in disguise as I will get to spend precious time with Aleksandr whilst Nikolai is at daycare for the extra day.
So here we are again. This time we are both unsure of how it will go with working a weekend but we may not have a choice. Whatever we decide we will just do what we have to and make it work.
As for the perfect number of working days, I don’t think there is an answer with so many situations to take into consideration but I would love two days. With that combination, you still have the work balance of exercising your brain, talking about things other than your children and knowing after one day of work, only one more to go. The difficult situation especially in my job is can I get my work done in 2 days? Probably not. And is it financially viable? Well we will see.
There’s no perfect answer, but everyone has an opinion. For most families, it depends on such a complex set of circumstances, not all within their control. Our needs change from time to time as well.
Every family is different but it’s a challenge we all face, so we’re presenting a series of special guest posts on part time work over the next week. We’ve got some mums with really different stories to share, so there will be something for everyone.
We’re not trying to show any ideal situation – in fact the opposite – but by asking mums to share their stories and what worked for them we can probably all learn something. Those with young children can think about what they might need when the school years start. Those with one or two children can think about their plans if their family expands. And all of us can think about what can be done to make life easier for those of us juggling it all. I’ve written elsewhere about ideas for the childcare rebate and public transport, but there’s no single answer, so please share your ideas.
I’m certainly no expert on part time work. I work full time. This wasn’t a deliberate strategy, but when I got pregnant I was in a job that was simply impossible to do part time, so when my baby was nearly one, I applied for another job with more flexible hours, less travel but still full time. I had an agreement with my new employer that I would develop a proposal to reduce my days when I could tell them I’d found a way to get the job done in fewer days. Two years later, we’re still waiting. This is partly because my employer is great about so many things. I work from home one day a week, and I can often take time off for the important things when it’s needed.
It’s also a bit selfish because I think I’d still get calls on my day off if I had one, and I hear too much about mums who are paid for four days but actually work five. If I’m going to do that, I’d rather have the money and the flexibility that working full time brings, like having a cleaner to help keep things ticking along at home.
We also want mums to take part in our poll. We know that the answers are more complex than just a number of days but please give us your answer and tell us your story in the comments.
The more stories we can share the easier it will be for others 🙂
Do you ever sit in traffic and wonder whether your life would be easier if the trip to and from work didn’t take so long?
Every. Single. Day.
Every day I do the budget (time and money) for walking, cycling, bus + train and driving options. I usully end up with driving, because the time part of the equation is such a precious one. But I often wonder if there is a medical condition called Mummy Road Rage.
I imagine the typical sufferer of Mummy Road Rage is someone with kids in day care – one that charges by the minute when you are late. They may be single or without family close by for backup. Occasionally their boss asks them to work late, or an urgent project keeps them back a few minutes. And then the race is on. An accident on the route home or a day of heavy traffic can be a disaster.
I have occasionally diagnosed myself with Mummy Road Rage, and then wondered how many other cars are on the road with drivers in the same situation. It’s possible there are millions of us.