Tag Archives: working mothers

Aside

Did you see the news today that the child support scheme is so complex that only a handful of experts can understand the rules? If are you one of the 1.5 million divorced and separated parents who pay or receive child … Continue reading

This working mum co-sleeps. Do you agree?

You may have seen this piece last weekend on why the Victorian Coroner has recommended against parents co-sleeping with their children.  Yet millions of mums continue to do so.  Why?  Today, working mum Angela Humphries shares her story…

To us, co-sleeping is a natural choice. We just did what seemed right, and it is an easy solution for time-poor parents. Our three year old daughter has slept with us since she was born, in the early days on a built up pillow next to us and thesedays she has her own pillow and a well-worn groove in the mattress.

I adore sleeping with my child. She is physically next to me, hand in hand or she snoozes in the crook of my arm. Often in the middle of the night, I open my eyes to stare at her perfect chin or feel her warm breath on my face. Of course there are issues; which we can easily resolve with a warm hug, a reassuring pat on the back or some soothing words. Sometimes these are even for our daughter when she wakes mid sleep. We don’t have tear infested nightly rituals with her, it seems to be a treat for her to go to the ‘big bed’ and one that she enjoys so much that bedtime is a special time for her. Not a drama every night with cold threats or as one friend refers to as ‘her daily worst nightmare time’… really… maybe try changing something around? Who wants to cry and feel fearful every 24 hours? Isn’t life too short to have your bubba being upset as their final memory at the end of a long day?

It is also a simple maths equation. We are given our precious children for such a short time. I doubt she will still want to co-sleep with us when she is 14. So I want to use every minute we have, and to choose to separate from her for up to twelve hours every single day seems absurd. That’s 300 hours a month! Over 3500 hours per year! I want that time. I demand it. I will never get it back with her. It is the ultimate in multi-tasking for busy families, I am gaining over 141 extra days with her per year! All while sleeping. No activities, no pressure – just time for us to be together in comfort and doing something that needs to happen anyway. Bonus.

I don’t think I need to justify my parenting decisions, but if you complain to me about the lack of time you have with your child try using the ten hours when you lock them away from you in their cell…..every night.

Angela Humphries is a mum to Sydney, aged three.  You can follow her on Twitter here.

Working Mums Australia’s guide to online shopping

My friend Serena is one of those friends who gives excellent presents.  Special occasions are important to her, and she thinks very carefully about gifts for many people.

When I ask her how she manages to get such great gifts, her response usually starts with ‘www’.

Like the rest of us, she’s very busy and knows that online shopping saves time on transport and parking, as well as being able to be done at odd hours.

And today, she shares some of her secrets with us.   Lucky us 🙂 .

So when is online shopping actually useful?  What can be purchased online these days?

Everything!  I use it for groceries, alcohol, presents, books, clothes, shoes, baby items, bulk nappies, toys, jewellery, computer supplies, electrical items, costumes for birthday parties, party supplies and furniture.

I will always try and buy something online before I go to a shop to find it.  And I always try and buy from an Australian website/Australian company.  Pretty much the only exception to the online rule is jeans – you need to actually SEE how bad your ar*e looks in a pair of jeans.

With supermarkets, do you go for Woolies or Coles?  Why?

I always used Woolies but they have recently changed their website which has resulted in a few functions that I am not happy with, so I have switched to Coles.

For online shopping, I have no brand loyalty to either company or even particularly pay attention to which items are on ‘extra-extra-extra special sale’ this week.  It is all about functionality of the website and ability to be able to search for items easily and place an order very quickly.

Do you use an app?

Woolies has only just started to allow online shopping via an app.  It is difficult to navigate but as it is only the first version, I am hoping that it will get better.  I suspect Coles will be following shortly.

Do you ‘trust’ it with fruit and veg? 

No, unfortunately not.  I have had a couple of bad experiences.  However, to combat this I have organised (online) for an organic fruit and veg box to be delivered from a farmers co-op, usually at the same time I organise for my shopping to be delivered so I only have to arrange for one period of time where I need to be home.

Nor do I trust it for any meat other than packaged organic chicken breasts or mince meat.  But that just means the only shop I have to actually go to regularly is the butchers.  I have found one in the back streets of a nearby suburb that always has parking out the front and often that is the only traditional shopping I do, generally on my way home from somewhere else.

Have you experienced any delivery/reliability problems?

No, never.  If anything, I am the unreliable one because I can sometimes arrive home a bit late!  I am lucky to live in an area with a high-level of regular deliveries but I have never once found the delivery times to be a problem.

Is it much more expensive than a ‘regular’ shop?

Absolutely not.  It costs the same.  Although I think it costs a lot less when I take into account the value of my time and lack of stress in trying to manage an uncooperative toddler in an uncooperative trolley.  It also takes so much less time because you don’t miss items and have to go back through aisles you’ve already gone down trying to find the item.  Just type in the word and the item appears!

How long does ‘your shop’ take each week?

It took a bit of time initially, but now that I menu plan and have all my lists of favourite items set up, I can do the entire shop, including payment, in 10 to 15 minutes every fortnight.

What do you look for in online shopping?

Free delivery is a big factor.  I know all retailers have their overhead costs but given most of the places I shop with online don’t have an actual shopfront, I think that free delivery should be standard.  Additionally, I like people to get back to me quickly when I ask a question about a product.  Customer service is incredibly important, even on the internet.

Here’s the question we all need the answer to, what are your top sites for internet shopping?

Thanks Serena!   Mums start your clicking!

Shopping for babies and children

The following six have impressive websites, fair delivery costs, lots of cool clothes and gifts and excellent customer service.

http://www.babysgotstyle.com.au

http://www.urbanbaby.com.au

http://www.kidostore.com

http://www.buttonbaby.com.au

http://www.thehipinfant.com.au

http://ittybittygreenie.com.au

This company’s website is ugly and user-unfriendly but they have some great products I haven’t been able to find elsewhere: http://www.minimee.com.au

Adult clothes

This website is changing online shopping in Australia.  They have a great range of Australian designers, lots of products on sale, and they offer free overnight delivery in metro areas.  Amazingly, they also offer three-hour delivery in Sydney for only $4.95: http://www.theiconic.com.au/

This shoe website offers free delivery: http://www.styletread.com.au/

Gifts

http://www.hampersonly.com.au/

http://www.top3.com.au/

http://www.edibleblooms.com.au

http://www.myfavourite.com.au/

Other sites

For anyone who shops for products on sale, these sites are amazing: www.brandsexclusive.com.au and www.ladybub.com.au

It goes without saying that www.ebay.com.au has changed the way we shop forever.  If you’re a Mum and you’re not shopping on ebay already, you are wasting valuable time and effort.  Once you spend some time on ebay you will become a convert to second-hand goods too.

The best reason to shop on the internet is for those little products that you can’t find in shops but change your life.  These are the sorts of products we should be sharing – the things that were never available to us previously because the big shops didn’t want to stock them.  Some of these products (particularly baby-related) are:

http://prambles.com/ These have allowed me to keep using my umbrella stroller even when my toddler continually gets in and out.  I was getting so annoyed with it falling over I didn’t want to use it anymore.

http://www.kozzzee.com.au/porta-snug.html I love the porta-snug.  It has reduced my travel-cot related packing for trips by half and I was able to have it made in the colours and patterns of my choosing.

http://www.dashbaby.com.au has really cool baby wipes cases.

www.motherknowsbest.com.au/tvstrapsgifts.html are the best gadget I’ve found to keep your plasma TV strapped to your TV cabinet

http://www.jellystonedesigns.com fantastic baby-friendly jewellery

Big retailers

I do purchase from these websites and I really want to support big Australian retailers (if for no other reason than I can stop listening to Gerry Harvey’s constant whinging) but until they spend some serious time and money on their websites, they are fighting a losing battle.  Every single one of the websites is limited in product range and is unnecessarily clunky.

http://www.bigw.com.au

http://shop.target.com.au/

http://www.myer.com.au/

http://www.kmart.com.au/

http://www.davidjones.com.au/

http://www.westfield.com.au/

Get clicking and save time!

What are your favourite shopping websites?  Do you have any favourites you like to share?

3 things to do before the end of financial year

I’ve got a guest post at Mamamia today on 3 things to do before the end of financial year.

Regular readers of Working Mums Australia will already know some of these tips, but you can check them out here.

Happy end of financial year!

Kirsten

Online shopping tips for working mums from Natalie

As a single working mum of Madison (6) and Angus (4), I find online grocery shopping a lifesaver.

Wrangling a trolley around the supermarket isn’t my idea of fun at the best of times, but add tired, hungry kids at the end the day and frankly, I’d rather poke my eye out with a sharp stick.

I’ve been buying my groceries online  for about 6 years now. My provider of choice is Woolies Homeshop, because they were operating in my area when I started and a few friends had recommended them. I’ve never had any major problems and no reason to change.

COST

Online shopping is more expensive. But for me, the sheer convenience makes it a no brainer. It’s totally worth the extra money. Having said that, I don’t think it’s very much more expensive  – and in some ways online shopping saves me time and money too.

A lot of the specials you will find in-store are now available online and are often easier to find than in a regular shop. There’s a Specials section and Homeshop currently has a ‘Half Price’ and a Buy More, Save More page with multi-buy deals. You can also save money by buying things in bulk like toilet paper and washing powder without having to think twice about the logistics of lugging them home, because they will be delivered to your door.

I also think I sometimes spend more during a ‘regular’ shop because of impulse buys, whereas with an online shop, I’m much more likely to stick to a list.

TIME

Then there’s the time saved. I keep a shopping list on the fridge and add to it as we run out of things. Before going online, I have a quick think about meals and lunches for the coming week and add the things I need to the list.

When you log on, you can go to your saved lists and select all the items that you regularly buy. They keep a list of your ‘favourites’ which keeps everything you have ordered on it, or you can make and save your own lists. This is super convenient and means that you then only need to use the search or browse functions to look for new things or specials.

There’s a nifty new Reminder that suggests a few items that you regularly purchase that you may have forgotten just before you check out and whilst I would usually frown on this sort of suggestive selling, it actually has helped me to remember something that I had left off my list on more than one occasion.

The beauty of online shopping is that you can place your order anytime, anywhere. I regularly place my orders using the iPad now. I often do it in front of the tv after the kids are in bed. Once I placed an order whilst having a pedicure (that’s multi-tasking for you!).

An online shop takes me 15-20 minutes if I’m fully concentrating or half an hour if I’m multi-tasking!

DELIVERY 

Obviously one of the costs of online shopping is delivery. Homeshop has a sliding scale from $13.00 for a small shop (less than $100 value) through to free if you spend more than $300.00. For me, delivery usually costs $5-$7 but for the convenience of having the groceries delivered to my kitchen – that’s money I’m prepared to pay.Woolies has recently changed their delivery windows though to 3 hour windows which I find less flexible than the old delivery options. In the old system you could pay a slightly higher delivery fee for a shorter delivery window.  This was very convenient because the hardest thing can be trying to coordinate your availability to be home.

If I want an after work delivery window, it now means booking in a 6pm-9pm delivery window to make sure I can be home in time. Usually this works out but I have had one delivery after 8.30pm which isn’t ideal. It can also be hard to commit to be home for a 3 hour window on a Saturday with sport and parties and all the things busy families have to do on weekends.

I always include fruit and veg in my order and have generally been pretty happy with the quality. Only once was the fruit quality poor and in that case (it was mangoes which were very ripe), they didn’t charge me for them and sent me double the quantity I had ordered, so I blitzed the pulp up and froze it in portions – mango smoothie anyone?

TIPS AND WARNINGS 

One thing you do need to watch is how you set up your substitution options. As a general rule, I select no substitutes. I order the brand, size, flavour of a product I want because that’s the one I want and if it’s out of stock, it’s out of stock. My sister recently received a men’s moisturiser as a substitute for the out of stock men’s deodorant they had ordered?!? Sometimes, I will allow substitution for essentials like bread or milk, especially if it’s a night delivery and I know I need the product the next day.

My kids always eagerly await the arrival of ‘the Woolies man’ and they help me pack away the groceries and check the items off the list as we go. For me, online grocery shopping is a time and sanity saver that takes some pressure off and gives me more quality time with the kids and as such, I highly recommend it.

Things It’s Hard To Find Time For

Alarm clock Polski: Budzik

Alarm clock Polski: Budzik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

What do you find it hard to fit into your life?

Part time work. Tamara’s story

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.