About Me

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Stay at home mum, previously top PA in various top companies for top bods. Want to be a writer instead.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Return to Work - this time it's personal...

Firstly apologies its been a while since I've blogged. The biggest reason is that I've returned to work. I'm six weeks in now, practically an expert – so that obviously gives me the right to blog about it... So, for those of you that haven’t been in the situation yet, let me tell you what its been like for me.

I found the job through an ex colleague and friend, covering her maternity leave at a company just local enough and double handy for childcare arrangements.

I negotiated 3 days a week and set about finding a childminder for 2 of the days – my outlaws had offered to have her on the third day.

I went to my local council and got a list of local childminders with vacancies and picked out a name I liked, with a outstanding Ofsted rating etc. I phoned her. She sounded lovely, but she couldn’t take on an under two year old. She recommended someone else. I phoned that person (next on my list as it happened), set up a meeting and immediately knew she was perfect. Her house is the right mix of messy and lovely. It's clean but comfortable with a large garden, playroom and massive kitchen/diner with obligatory homely wooden table and welsh dressers dotted about. She is about ten years my senior – another draw for me, say what you like, but in your thirties you still have a selfishness about you that you just don't seem to have in your forties. She has two lovely teenage daughters and has been a foster carer for many years. They have a couple of cute lap cats and a dog that I simply wanted to put into my bag and steal. I'm not a dog person, but this dog is a real sweetheart, small, quiet and soppy as you like with kids. Perfect. My daughter is very happy there – hell I'd like to spend 2 days a week there, painting, cooking, digging, playing... and the dinners she gets! God, I read the diary the childminder does at the end of each day and think – wow, that dinner/lunch sounds lovely...

So, the usual angst of leaving them with someone else, crying, etc... is just not there when I have my work days. Clearly the day with her grandparents is a god send, they love having her and she loves being there. 

My daughter seems to have thrived since I went back to work. I knew in the final months at home, I was failing her, providing mostly a boring day for her filled with housework, telly and play with the same old toys. The childminder is focussed on her finding fun activities and developing her skills, plus the interaction with the other kids of varying ages has bought her speech, motor skills and confidence on in absolute leaps. Aside from that following the days with the childminder and her grandparents she is sooo ready for bed after a full day.

The job I'm doing is mundane in parts and complex in others – enough to keep me interested but not stressful or over wrought. My boss is a good humoured Septic (American) and my colleagues are a mixture of foreigners and locals – friendly but not overly so. There are some differences to working as a full time non mum to working as a part time mum. Your priorities are different and your colleague's level of commitment to including you and getting to know you is somewhat lesser. I'm okay with that, I have lots of friends outside work and a supportive partner and family. I won't lie, I have found being the new girl hard though and lonely at times. Being at home for 18 months doesn’t boost your confidence in social situations, but its getting easier to talk about something other than my baby. On the upside I have a couple of people to sit with in the lunch room and I've started to get to know those that sit around me a little better – day by day.

The rest of it – fitting in the house work etc. – my two delicious days off during the week and what to do with them– well that is all coming together okay, its early days.

My verdict and tips on returning to work:
If you want to do it, then you should give it a try. If you enjoy being at home, embrace it, we are all different and it's not one size fits all even when you have a baby.

Good child care cover is key – if they are happy and safe, you are happy. Childminders are cheaper than nurseries and in my opinion provide flexibility and a chance for you to build a relationship with your child's carer.

The drive to and from work, with the stereo up and the windows down, is the best part of the day – oh and having a whole hour to yourself at lunchtime - read about Mr Grey - don't mind if I do!!!

Don't get a highly stressed job – its going to make it very hard – save that for later in your career or forget it – your priorities have changed.

Get your partner/support network on board – that is pretty important because you need them to be nice to you, help you round the house, pour you a glass of wine after a hard day and give you a lie in at the weekend...

Plan, plan, plan.. getting your routine sorted will help you stay stress free in the morning and when you get home.

Don't feel guilty, worrying about work/the child. Live in the moment you are in.

If you can, try and go back part time, it really is the best of both worlds.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Myths of Motherhood - In my experience

Dear All,

I'm sorry I haven’t written a blog in a while. Let's blame 2 people. My mum is one. She advised me that I ought to stop writing derogatory things about myself in my blog. Of course, she and I both know most of what I say in my blogs is just a caricature of my real life, but she's worried that you guys reading, don't. So, as a result, I dried up on what to write about – I mean, really, who can be arsed to think of a bunch of positive stuff to say about themselves or the world in general? Not I.

The second person is my writing teacher. Yes. I have one. I go to a group once a month or so and we discuss our current writing projects. She told me during our last meeting that she read my blogs, “despite the fact that she had no interest in the subject matter.” Initially I was a bit miffed by this. I spent a while wondering how I could make the blog more universal and not just about mum-related stuff. But, I've come to the conclusion I probably can't at the moment and i think that's okay for now. Btw, my writing teacher is a wonderful and talented lady and I of course completely tuned out whilst she said she “enjoyed my blogs very much, despite not relating to the subject matter.” Such is my talent for soaking up constructive criticism (sorry mum, I know I said I wouldn’t put myself down).

So, anyway, I'm back and I have been thinking for a while that I would write about the myths of motherhood and what, in my experience, actually happened to me after the arrival of my daughter 16 months ago. I used to worry a lot about what things would be like if I took the leap and had a baby. Then, during my pregnancy I was of course subjected to lots of teasing about the pitfalls of parenthood, by those that already had kids. At this point, you've pulled the pin out of the grenade and it's just a waiting game, so clearly, I loved hearing about all the terrible things that were just months away from happening to me.....NOT.

I'm not going to discuss the medical stuff here btw, because that is different for everyone and frankly you don't need to hear about it. I will just say, I had all the drugs available during labour and it really wasn't that bad.

Anyway, as regards of the rest of the usual “motherhood myths” here are my top five, and remember these are just in my own personal experience. Just so you know, I'm constantly being told how “lucky” I am that my daughter is so good and well behaved. Nothing to do with our parenting you see, just luck..... GRRR!!

Myth 1 Your social life is over.

Answer – incorrect

My experience: Your social life is different. Your friends still want to see you and you still need to be the same person you were before becoming a mum. My social life has slowed down due to lack of money, but things will come round again and my friends – who I see roughly once a month for a glass of wine and a chat – will still be there. Meantime, you do other, cheaper, daytime stuff, or email/facebook and text each other instead. If a friend drops you during this time, they were NOT your friend anyway. Plus I've made five or six new really good friends as a result of playgroups and ante natal classes.

Myth 2: The relationship with your partner will be strained and all the physical stuff is a thing of the past.

Answer – incorrect

My experience: Its a lot more complicated than before. You are basically working together to bring up this little person. You need to agree on loads of stuff about discipline, food, sleep, going out, new experiences and all that jazz. But if you've picked the right partner you'll already have very similar ideas on the subject. You are more tired and you have less time for each other but having a baby together is the most fantastic thing you can do with someone you love. It's like forming your own exclusive club. And as for the “other” – you just have to try a bit harder than before (excuse the pun), it's the same as being in a relationship long term really. Some women feel differently and lose their mo-jo a bit after a baby – the first few months make you feel a bit repellent to sex (lack of sleep, baby sick, nappies, yukky clothes, your body feels a bit funny etc), but there are things you can do about it. Do not worry about all that – I personally think its never a foregone conclusion that you will go off sex, unless you stop fancying your partner for some reason. Luckily this is not a problem for me :-)

Myth 3: You can't get washed and dressed or out the door before midday.

Answer: Depends, generally incorrect

My experience: It will depend on the person, but I'm fairly quick at getting ready. Add into the mix that you've got to feed, wash and dress your baby as well, it might take a bit longer. Particularly at first when you are still getting used to packing your baby bag or whatever. Give yourself time, it will become second nature after a few weeks and months. I still leave vital things at home and make mistakes in that dept, you'll get used to forgiving yourself about it. A friend will usually rescue you and you'll do the same for her another time. As a rule I usually get up at around 7ish, do housework, get something to eat and get ready and can be at a 9.30am playgroup no bother.

Myth 4: Your body will never be the same/you'll gain loads of weight and it'll never come off.

Answer: Incorrect

My experience: This one worried me – ALOT. I was already overweight and I'm a short arse, so I thought I would become this hideous short fat woman if I ever had a baby. However, I didn’t gain much during my pregnancy – just remember its not an excuse to go nuts and eat everything. When my daughter was born I was fortunate enough to breastfeed for a few weeks and that meant all my weight dropped off quickly (it burns loads of calories). As months have passed my stomach is slowly returning to normal. It wasn’t all that great to start with, so I'm fine with it now. If you moisturise a lot and don't eat your body weight in chips/chocolate/muffins during the pregnancy, you will probably be fine. If not, join the gym after you have the baby – it can be your “me time” activity. Lots of the women who I meet with babies have great figures and don't have this issue at all. We all worry about our stretch marks I think, but that’s because you have to compare yourself to the perfect bodies in the media – which is an issue for anyone who hasn't been air brushed!

Myth 5: You will never have time for yourself again.

Answer: Incorrect

My experience: If you have the right partner, a nice mum and dad and supportive in-laws like I do, you will get a break quite regularly. I still read books, have baths, do my nails, watch my favourite programmes etc. I find the days rush by and I have to cram in time to eat or sit down, because I'm playing with my daughter, going out or doing housework etc. Don't get me wrong, I do have days where I feel I haven’t had a minute to myself and I want to scream. Usually once the baby is in bed I take a drive somewhere and play the radio really loud. Which helps me. Overall I'm lucky, my baby is in a good routine – which was pretty easy to establish – and I have lots of support. I'm not afraid to ask for a break – it makes me a better mum if I'm relaxed and refreshed. If you don't have that support, think of how you can be closer to your family or make friends in your area, because it is vital to your general enjoyment of life!

So, those are my top five myths and my experience of them. Overall, I think your babies are only this reliant and dependant for a few years. Soon enough they won't want to walk on the same street as you, because you will be the most embarrassing person on the planet. When that happens you'll get all your freedom back and your social life will start full swing again. This time round without all the angst of your younger days.

So, if you are pregnant, new to motherhood/fatherhood or whoever you are, I hope you are enjoying it and remembering all the good things about it. I have been guilty of wishing it away, as much as anyone, but on days like this when my daughter naps for nearly 2 hours (bliss) and she's the funniest, most loving person I could ever wish to meet – then all the difficult stuff fades to total insignificance and I feel sincerely lucky. I have never achieved anything else in my life that has made me feel that way.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

My Facebook Rules

Hello All,

Disclaimer before you read this: - I may have had PMT whilst writing some of it.   I may have been thinking of a particular person/incident when I wrote this, but I still want you as my friend and I don't want you to get upset if you recognise yourself, so read this as a bit of silliness and entertainment.

I'm pretty sure I've done a few if not all of these – maybe you have too? So read on, and please don't unfriend me after.   Seriously, please as I only have about 60 odd Facebook friends. Pathetic.

My Facebook rules:

1) I'm not a “friend collector” on Facebook. If you are on my list, we are either friends right now and see each other regularly, or we used to know each other in person and I really liked you. Or we're related and regardless of that I'd choose to be real life friends with you anyway. If we knew each other in a past life and I thought you were a d*ck, then I will ignore your friend request. Simple as.

2) If you write a status update that is clearly about a personal problem and only give a little teaser like;

“I can't do this”
“It's all over”
“Grr why do I bother?” .....or the worst one
“At the hospital” and a sad face icon

... I will (almost) never respond: “What's up?” This is clearly a dig at someone or a cry for attention. Be outright about it, tell us the whole story or if you are peed off with someone say it to their face, don't post it on Facebook. Unless you are going to play the whole thing out for us, don't tease us with it. Lets face it, most of us love a bit of drama... especially if it isn't ours.

3) If you are pregnant, I will be so chuffed for you when you announce it on Facebook. I will want to know how you are getting on during the next few months. Daily, or minute by minute updates of what is happening might bore me a bit. Sorry. Harsh. But true. There is always an exception to this rule though.

4) If you are arguing with your husband/wife/partner – don't post about it on Facebook. It's just not cricket.

5) Photos- don't put photos of me up without letting me vet them first. Only if you are absolutely absolutely sure I will like the picture, then you can post it without the vetting process. Btw – I hate about 99.9% pictures of myself.   If you show me this courtesy, I will extend it back to you.   And DO NOT scan and post old and embarrassing pictures of me. Seriously.

Although, actually if it is a group picture, then I guess I'd have to say, these rules may not apply. It's not all about me after all.   Right?   No...okay.

6) Ditto for videos taken down the pub. You know who you are. Although eventually I may find the drunken rants funny as opposed to mortifying.
7) I may unfriend you if:
I start censoring what I say or post in case you might be offended/upset.
If I just realise that we weren’t really friends in real life and I don't want you knowing all my business.
If you say something really judgemental or racist and mean it – an example someone who started ranting about the riots last summer. Seriously, dude, shut up. This isn't Netmums coffee house you know...

8) Controversial: I may be completely on my own on this one and out of order but I find it a little strange when people talk extensively about the death of a loved one on Facebook. I'm not sure its the right place to be honest. Your relationship with them was special and should remain so. Facebook is for silly banter and photos. Sometimes it is the right way to honour them, this really depends on each situation.

9) If you only ever “Like” my statuses and never comment, it makes me feel that what I am saying is boring. Either that or you are a bit scared of actually putting a reply comment out there about it. Grow a pair and say something...

10) Bad spelling, bad grammar and shortening words (b4, cud, h8) makes me cringe so much. Particularly if you are not a teenager.

So, that is my list, it's not exhaustive. What are your rules?   Is one of them “Stop posting links to your blog Sarah, they bore me?” :-)

A friend once described Facebook as “a chance to show off about everything” - which it kind of is, but regardless I love it.

I love seeing pictures from holidays, nights out and people's kids growing up before my eyes.

Most of all I love that I can easily chat to my friends and family members that are spread all over the country, that is completely invaluable to me.

As I said, please don't unfriend me now.  Otherwise I will be like that kid on South Park...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Am I boring you? - The Pie Chart of Worry

It's true I am a bit of a worrier. I think most women are really and that part of us just hypes up a 100 times when we become mothers. That is my theory anyway. Since my daughter was born I have had bad dreams almost every night I think. Mostly where she is represented by a kitten or a tiny doll or something like that and I forget I've got her and she falls down the toilet or out of the window...

That was a bit heavy wasn't it? Sorry. Anyway, this is another post about worrying. Its not my appearance this time. The other worry on the top of my hit list is “Am I boring you?”

There have been lots of social situations in the last year that have made me ask that question. I sit there quietly with friends I've known for years, racking my brains to see if I can add something to the conversation that doesn't start with my daughter as the subject.

I'll get over it. I think I'm still feeling like a newbie at all this and sooner or later I will believe that I don't need a job to validate myself or to be interesting company.
I did confide in a friend about this once. She asked “Well, did you talk about work alot before?” Honestly I don't think I did. I have never really thought that talking about the ins and outs of your work place would be of interest to anyone but you and perhaps your work colleagues, so I've never really done it.
The trouble with this mind set is that my life has altered totally by giving up work, you of course have your original set of friends who are there for your sanity and to remind you who you are (literally and metaphorically), but then you need mummy friends too. You need them to do things with, so that you can see and speak to adults during the day. Which means you have to go to play groups and make an effort to chat.

I mean, seriously, who might want to be friends with a 35 year old woman who wanders around muttering “its Wednesday, right? I'm sure it was Tuesday yesterday...” then counts off the days on her fingers to check. Or – the fool proof way, check Sky Planner for what programmes are on that day. “Sopranos”. Definitely Wednesday!

Is it terrible that now I've started going to these play groups, that when I meet the other (usually) women at these things, I'm secretly pleased when they are a bit boring and can only really start a conversation by saying “so, how old is yours then?” Ahhhhhh, big exhale. Its not just me.
For funzie's I created a pie chart of my worry list. What would your pie chart look like?
I'm a bit worried – is this blog boring?

Blue: My appearance/grey hairs
Red: Is my child happy/safe/normal
Yellow: Money
Green: Massive global disasters
Burgundy: Am I a bore?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Are you "that" friend?

Hello All,

Following a recent night out with some girl-friends it dawned on me that I was “that” friend. You know the one.... Unable to handle her drink as well as everyone else. Unable to identify the round at which you have a coca cola and not another beer. The one that wants to go on to the next bar/club, as opposed to go home, despite it being really late. The one who, once inebriated, forgets about her actual life and imagines she is living in a movie where she is young, slim, beautiful and, of course, the worlds greatest dancer. Secretly she knows she has got the moves – she's Baby Housemann from Dirty Dancing, she's SJP's character in Girls Just Want to Have Fun (can't remember what she was called..). Everyone in the room is sitting there thinking, wow, I've never seen choreography like it, she's amazing....er, ahem.... Have I said too much?

Anyway, in some people's eyes “that” friend is, to be frank a bit of a pain and a liability I expect. I wouldn't know of course – because, it's me.

So, the question is, should I try and change from being “that” friend? I'm not sure I could even if I wanted to, because its basically down to the fact that as much as I love it, my body is intolerant to alcohol. It floods my system quickly and poisons me for days after, my brain then blocks this out, just in time for the following weekend/outing with the girls. So, I'm doomed anyway.

I'm relatively lucky that most of my friends don't seem to mind me playing this role, well, they've never moaned about it to my face anyway. I'm also lucky in the fact that my other half is, I suspect “that” friend too. He's completely blasé about being a nightmare on a night out, absolutely no shame and I find that really liberating. Plus we've had some great nights in and out together. Having a few beers, doing the leg dance* and turning any board game or xbox game you can think of, into a drinking game, until the silly hours of the morning.

The up-side of being “that” friend for me is that I'm always willing to squeeze all the possible good time out of a night out, have a laugh, get up on the dance floor and stop for a burger on the way home. Generally speaking I'm not unpleasant when drunk, I laugh too much, I dance like a complete spack and then go home and pass out. I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I've argued after a night out. But I did once snog a cab driver (many many many years ago) – which is pretty unforgivable...

I still can't say with any conviction that I'd rather be the person who has a coke on the 6th round, remembers the whole night with clarity and wakes up feeling absolutely fine the next day. For me that would be a crap night out. Who's with me brothers and sisters???!!!!

(*copyright Daz)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Keeping up appearances..

Hello All,

So, we're over the first few weeks of January, I'm still a bit low on energy and enthusiasm, but feeling a bit better than I did.

Something that I think about a fair bit on and off and I'll bet you do too, is what I look like when I leave the house these days.  I've had 30 odd years of stories bombarding me about the fact that when you become a mother your appearance goes right down the list of importance and you end up looking like some sort of baby-food covered bag lady; your figure has gone to hell, you have terrible hair, no make up, dark circles and bags under your eyes. On top of that your fashion sense takes a dive and you wear comfy, practical clothes and shoes instead of pretty, sexy or smart ones.

I have been lucky enough to be part of a new mums group during the first year of my daughter's life. So, taking those ladies into account, I'd say that this is completely untrue. We all re-gained our figures, some did better than that (Nuff respect Miss Pett) and when we meet once a week we all look washed, groomed and distinctly un-bag ladyish. In fact, of everyone, I'm probably the scruffiest. I have always been one that goes for comfort over fashion I'm afraid.

How about my more seasoned mum friends? Nope. They always look good too, everyone has their own interpretation of style; smart jeans and flattering cardi's, sporty, the Ugg boot crowd or Gok-tastic hourglass dresses and waist cinching belts. So where has this bloody label come from?

Why do I critically look at myself in the mirror with the three nano seconds I have before leaving the house and think, "people will see I'm a mum and judge me for letting myself go..." or worse, they won't judge you at all and you'll just be written off as a woman completely. "She doesn't need to dress up, she's a mum now.."

And what about our partners? The daddy's? I wonder what they really think. They used to have a carefree partner who had time (and money) to spend on her appearance, and now, not so much! It's a good day when you remember to check your top for stains, before you leave the house....

So, what's the answer? I have thought about this a bit. It's having an eye for (or shopping buddy with an eye for) a few good wardrobe items, tops and trousers that will look smart. Its convenient beauty products that work well and don't cost the earth and it's most definitely, having a baby that naps once a day for about an hour, allowing you to spend a bit of time on yourself... And of course if you are at work all day, then you'll have to make sure you do a bit of pampering in the evenings once the kids are in bed. Just Sky Plus that telly programme and watch it later....

My top three time savers/beauty life savers:

- Sanctuary Thermal Detox Mask - five minutes on in the bath or shower = lovely skin.

- Yves Saint Laurent - Touche Eclat – miracle under eye stuff

- A good pair of hair straighteners, will turn unruly crap hair into something presentable.

If you've got any good ones, please let me know in the comment box!

Thanks for reading my drivel and look out for the new entry soon.


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New Year Blues

Hello all,
Happy new year friends.  I hope you had a great time whatever you got up to.

I personally have never been that big on going out on n.y.e, all the cab hassle and paying to get in to a pub that you go to all the time for free - I find it's usually a bit of a let down. 

Then, horrors, the week following New Year, does tend to be, at least for me and some of the folks I've been talking to, a bit of a downer in general.  Lots of build up to Christmas, lovely presents and family gatherings, parties and going out with mates. Then, bam! a big gaping hole and zero cash - because you got paid on 20th December or whatever and now you are beyond skint till...well....ages.  It leaves people feeling a bit deflated I think. 

It's freezing cold and dark outside, there is no social stuff happening (unless you work for a cheap skate company who do the xmas party in January to save money).  You wonder; what will I do this year, what shall I aim for?  Where am I going in life....?

So, how do we abate the January blues, I hear you ask? 
A couple of possible answers I have thought of:
-If you are a girl (or a man with no shame) - apply fake tan, makes you feel and look thinner and better looking. I recommend Loreal Bronzer. No muss, no fuss.
-Make some holiday plans or at the very least a weekend away to look forward to. I have my beloved VW Beetle festival, Bug Jam in July - horray! Thanks to a benevolent friend buying my ticket as half birthday/half chrimbo present.
-Make some resolutions, maybe go on a detox or a diet, eating all that processed and crap food won't be helping your moods.
-Lastly, (deep breath..) have some s.e.x. Those who know me, know I don't talk about all that stuff too much, however I honestly believe it cheers you up, keeps you de-stressed and living in the moment.  So, if you can safely and healthily do that, then I highly recommend it to pass the cold January nights.

Having said all this if you are single/having a dry spell or if your partner is crap in bed and all that is best avoided, then chocolate and wine it is...(forget the detox).

In terms of my other promises in previous entries, I haven't tried anything new yet (Zumba DVD gathering dust on the shelf) and I haven't discovered a cure for under eye dark circles and bags.  Although I can tell you one thing - Loreal Youth Code under eye stuff - does not work.  I got it for Christmas and so far I don't look young and fresh faced. Drat!!!