Breakfast, lunch, dinner…repeat…

Yet again, I found myself spending my weekend drowning in a sea of recipe books.

I used to like planning meals, Hell, i used to ENJOY going to the supermarket.

But, people, those days are gone…long gone.  Planning meals is getting harder and harder by the day.  I buy food, and the kids…well…eat it.  So, then I have to buy more food.  And more food.  And more food.

And I’m not a totally organic-straight-from-the-source-of-nature kind of mum, but I do prefer home cooked meals and I am really conscious of how much fruit and veggies the kids are eating.   I find myself pondering over lunch boxes trying to calculate the protein, carbohydrate and vegetable portions that each person in the family has eaten.  Not too much sugar, too much salt, too much wheat.

And…we haven’t even got started on dinner yet.  Have we had red meat this week, fish too many times?  When will the kids have afternoon activities,  impacting what time we can eat?  When will we be home from work, will there be time to cook?  What have we got in the freezer?

Did I miss the deadline to do an online shop, yet?

This is one of those things that i just KNOW I have to get organised, otherwise it becomes a thorn in my side and an unnecessary decision that has to be made each day (apparantly there are only so many decisions you can make in a day, so you want to save it for the good stuff!).  I am so happy when my weekly meal plan is posted and we have a fully stocked fridge.

However..it has somehow become MY job, when it used to be shared with my husband.  But because I didn’t mind it, it became mine, and somehow I have ended up being the planner, the shopper and the cook.

I used to have a spreadsheet of weekly meal plans, with corresponding grocery lists.  Yep. I was one of those people.  Those spreadsheets gave me goose bumps of satisfaction. But they all needed re-doing with a family of four now in mind.  Plus I need breakfasts, lunches and dinners all to be included.  I’m exhausted.

So, I started scouring the internet for ideas to help me and , not surprisingly, there are websites that you can subscribe to that send you meal plans and shopping lists (although a lot of them are in the US…which is fine but then you have the seasons all backwards for what fresh food is available).

And then I decided to try Hello Fresh (no, this is not a paid commercial…ha ha…although, Hello Fresh team, please feel free to send me free boxes).   They deliver a box each week with a list of recipes and ingredients to cook them.   Two things ticked off at once, but still a home cooked meal.  Awesome sauce.  At least that is dinner sorted.  PLUS, the recipe cards make it easy for ANYONE (yep, that’s you husband and kids) to step in and cook.

But here’s the thing.  Now I feel guilty about it!!  Yep,  bloody guilt!  Is this being lazy? is this wasteful?  another ridiculous concept in the modern age?  First world luxury?  And, should I be ashamed of myself  that I can’t find the time to pop down the shops to feed my family?

Sigh…well, I’m just going to have to shake that off, because, frankly, guilt is a waste of my brain space.   Outsourcing things is smart, not wasteful.   And maybe some time in the near future,  I will find the space and time to enjoy planning and cooking meals again.  In the meantime, I can just bake slice with the children at the weekend instead.

On that note, I’m hungry…what’s for lunch?

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Got something you need to talk about?

 

Talking about it helps…. I know, not exactly a new concept…we all know this is the case.  And anyone who knows me would most likely tell you that I have ZERO trouble with this concept,  I talk hard and fast.  I am,  generally speaking, a sharer.  When I am down, the first thing I want to do is talk to someone…or at least, that’s what the perception is.

The reality is, when I am feeling really down, sometimes it takes me a while to share my thinking. I worry that people are going to get sick of me “whinging”.  I fear that I might share something that I wish I hadn’t later.   I don’t want to be pitied, I want to appear strong and capable.  And sometimes, I don’t talk because I can’t figure out how to articulate what I want to say, my mind is just a whirlwind of feelings, ideas and thoughts and I can’t seem to harness what my point is.  So why share that???  Sometimes I am rushing around too much and failed to make the time for simple chatting,  then when I do…it comes pouring out like an avalanche (my mum is often subject to these types of outpourings)

But there is no doubt,  that when I finally find the time and space to sit down and have a good hearty chin wag with someone…I inevitably feel better.  Pretty much always

And writing can help sometimes too.   I’m not religious at all about writing a journal, I wish I was much better, especially because my memory is terrible and I don’t want to be old and can’t remember anything about my life.   Sometimes I write my journal like I’m expecting someone to read it,  jotting down memories and ideas.  Sometimes I write but hope that no one ever reads it.   But getting the rumbling thoughts out onto paper helps to put them in some kind of order and allows my brain to settle into them.

Either way.  Better out than in.

Things always seem so much more enormous when you are tackling them on your own, in the inner workings of your own mind.  Another perspective can make all the difference,  or just simply freeing your own thoughts from inside is enough to stop them ruminating and smothering you.

So…just a reminder (probably more to myself than to you)…don’t forget to create opportunities for cups of tea and real chats.

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Seriously, my career does NOT make me a bad mother…

Sorry peeps but I have to get onto my soap box for a small moment this week.

Miranda Devine published this short article “Don’t let your career make you a bad mother” the other week, and not surprisingly…it has caused a bit of a stir among the media.

Admittedly, when I first heard this article being discussed (on the Mamma Mia webcast), I immediately went into battle mode.  WHAT THE?  This is OUTRAGEOUS!  As they debated it out on the webcast, I found myself yelling at the radio … how dare you imply that I am a bad mother simply because I choose to go to work.

Feeling a tad defensive Claire?  Ahh…yes… possibly.

The thing is, I am a little bit sick of these silly arguments and inflammatory articles (which, mind you,  I’m sure was designed to do exactly what it has done).   Because when you break it down,  the whole argument is completely flawed by the fact that the analogy she is basing her assumptions on in the article…was, infact,  a woman who was both a mother AND a doctor…and by all accounts it appears that she managed to do both these things successfully.

Because actually,  the reality is not the either/ or debate it is made out to be.

It is not simply a choice between being a crazed career woman who palms her children off to nanny’s while she selfishly talks on her mobile phone (have you seen the movie Storks? Please reference for classic stereotypical example of career parents) OR  an obsessive stay at home mother, who spends all her time at the school canteen and frowns on mothers who dare to bring anything but sugar free home baked cookies to the Fete Bake stall.    Sure…there would be some people who sit at these exaggerated ends of the spectrum but most of us normal people would sit somewhere in the middle.

Our prioritization of our jobs and our kids may change from year to year, month to month, day to day even.   And there are so many other facets of our lives that define us. If I wasn’t a mother, I would not cease to exist or add no value.  But I am a mother and yes…I do work.  I am also a wife.  I am a friend. I am a blogger.  I am a really bad but enthusiastic dancer.

When I choose to “prioritise” dancing around the lounge room instead of doing homework with my kids,  does that make me a bad mum in that moment.  Hell no.  It makes me really hilarious and cool (just for the record)…and it makes my kids roll their eyes and laugh.

So PLEASE can we stop having this conversation.   We do not just have Option A and Option B on the table.   We have a plethora of choices,  and we need to stop judging people for the choices they have made.

At my funeral,  I hope my children talk about what a wonderful, caring Mum that I was.  My colleagues talk about my passion for my work.  My friends and husband talk about my general awesomeness.  Then they all do some daggy dancing at the wake.

Rant over.

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One of those days…

Gosh… I so want to get back in here!

So far, it feels like my day is not going to plan. I got up to take the dog for a walk,  but when I got dressed and walked outside with the lead… I realized it is raining (much to the dog’s confusion).   I had a message from our grocery delivery service saying our goods were on the doorstep…they are not.  I decided I would use this time in the morning productively and do some work.   Can’t log into the work system.  Then my son got up and said his ear is aching and he doesn’t feel very well.  All this, and it hasn’t even hit 6.30am yet.

I can feel myself being sucked into a bad mood.  I’m sooo not looking forward to this day.  It would be really easy to just walk straight back into bed and climb under the doona (especially because it is raining!).

I know this is a vital point where I need to catch myself.  That if I continue with this thought process, by the end of today I will be wound up like a super spring coil and I will most likely blow my top (most likely at poor unsuspecting husband or children).

I need to shake it off.  At the end of the day, nothing actually disastrous has happened.    I just need to revise some of my plans.  I am adaptable!  I can do this.

For times like this, I do actually have a list.  Here’s my “get out of the funk” list:-

  • Have a bath
  • Listen to happy music (ideally including dancing around like a maniac)
  • Walk/Run
  • Cup of tea on the front veranda
  • Headspace app meditation
  • Write in my journal
  • Write a blog post

Ha!  Hence why I am here.   Writing my thoughts down on paper always seems to put them in perspective, catch them before they get out of control.

Right…lets go start this day again.   Put on some music, get the kids up for school, do some daggy dancing.

Any more ideas for my “get out of the funk” list?  I’d love to hear them…

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Blissful moments…

I’m lying on my back, bobbing on the surface of the water.  It was cold when I got in,  a refreshing hit from the heat of the sand and the sun.  But now it feels warm, like a salty cocoon.   The waves are coming thick and fast, but I’m far enough out to just float over them,  rocking me gentle back and forth.

I can see the sun glistening off the curves of the wave tops,  the cliff tops, splatterings of colour from umbrellas and towels across the beach.  And I can hear laughter and the screams of children splashing and falling about.   My husband is falling asleep on the beach with his hat over his face.  My daughter is lying next to him, drying out from her recent swim.   My son is jumping off the wharf, I can see his face strained in concentration and then bursting with happiness as he launches himself off the platform.

And I’m trying really really hard to take in every piece  of this blissful moment. Because actually, my mind is still racing.  I’m thinking about what we might cook for dinner tonight.  I am wondering if my son is getting a bit exhausted (last night he was up at 1pm with a headache…has he had enough water?).  Does my daughter have her suntan lotion on?  Where is her hat?  I’m actually still a bit annoyed at my husband because before we headed down to the beach he was sitting staring at his phone, caught in another world of social media, messages and chats with work.  A world where he spends far too much time.

I have to consciously bring myself back into this moment.  Remind myself that joy general comes as little pockets across the day, not as a blanket across every single thing that happens.

And so,  I’m making a special effort to remember every little piece of this moment.   This little blissful pocket, from our lovely holiday.  Like a snapshot in my mind.  As I take in each thing,  it feels like someone has plugged me into the wall socket and bit by bit I’m charging back up.

Are you taking time to charge up so you are ready to jump into life?

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Three words for 2017…

It’s nearly back at work time for me.  I’m both disappointed that the holidays are coming to an end, and somewhat excited to see what the new year might hold.

This morning,   I saw this post from Suze Muse and it got me thinking about what my three words for 2017 (yes…I am totally procrastinating from getting back to real work… just roll with me here)…here’s what I think they might be.

Adventure – 2017 feels like a year to “lean in” for me (unfortunately that phrase seems to have lots of connotations, so I like the idea of adventure instead).  This year I want to try new things, take some risks, throw myself in head first.  What will that mean?  I don’t have any idea just yet.  Does the idea both excite and freak me out? totally! there is still a huge part of me that loves the coziness of my comfort zone.  I think I am happy there…but am I?

Curiosity – I’ve learnt that approaching life with an overarching sense of curiosity can help you feel calm amongst the chaos,  to manage the things that life inevitably throws at you as simply an opportunity to learn and think.   Curious about what parenting strategies are working and which ones are clearly not (yep…I’m not failing, I’m just experimenting).  Curious about why I might feel anxious or frustrated some days.  Curious about the people around me,  the world around me.  Curious to learn and discover more about people and culture that might help me with my work.

Consistency – I could be really boring and have something about exercising more and eating less…or about finally adding meditation of some description in to my daily routine.  Generally speaking though, this ends up creating a peak and trough kind of situation where I’m really “good” for a period of time and then fall off the wagon and I am “bad ” for a while.  Where I really want to get to and what really works,  is starting to be consistent about the things and habits I really want to change.    Movement, relaxation/mediation, writing, eating nourishing foods, reading with the kids… all these things are habits I want to build into my regular routines. It doesn’t need to be hours, it doesn’t need to be all out…I just need to keep turning up….consistently….after all, they say it is what you do most of the time that counts, not what you do sometimes.

What are the three words that will define your 2017?

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What do I stand for at work?

I have a new boss at work, and it occurs to me that they  knows nothing about me…except perhaps the things that other people may have said.

Which has led me to stop and really think about my brand and reputation, because I guess it has been a while since I have had to think about selling myself and what I stand for.

I have been reading Lead like a Woman by Megan Dalla Camina and Michelle McQuaid and there’s a whole chapter about brand and reputation. And I have to confess that I kinda skimmed over that bit a little bit… I mean, I have that nailed…don’t I?

But then, here I am, it’s 1hr before my first meeting with the new manager and I’m thinking…who am I? What are the most important things for them to know about me?

What do I stand for?

And…even scarier…I’m not sure I know the answer.

I mean, I feel like I have done lots of soul searching over the last few years. I’ve deep dived into my work life balance. What it means to manage all the different pieces of my life, how I prioritise the things that are important. I have a fabulous vision board on the wall of my study, with things like “laughter and friends” and “road trips and adventures” …because I know these things are important to me.

And…I have done strengths survey’s and I know what my tops strengths are, like leadership and team work, and that I thrive the more I get to use my strengths.

But…my brand…in a work context….I’m now feeling a little under pressure. This is my chance to start off on the exact foot I want to. To frame the things about me and my history…and what I what I want in the future in the context of the brand and reputation that I really want…express my point of view… I’m not sure that my opening statement should be …I love road trips and adventures?

So, I guess, now I know why there’s a whole chapter in the book (and a whole lot of other books written on this subject). And it seems like now might be a good time to go through some of the worksheets. I’m sure it will all come flooding back because I have thought about this before… and this might just be the timely reminder I need to check in and see where I am at.
Do you know what you stand for? after all, who knows what opportunities might be lurking around the corner…

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Rainbows, rainbows, rainbows…

I absolutely love rainbows,  there is something about the sweeping colour across a bleak sky that just lifts me up and puts me in a better mood.

Recently I’ve seen so many rainbows and I love this visual reminder of such an important metaphor, because, you can’t have the rainbows without the rain.   And yes,  I have been complaining a lot about the rain too recently.   It is supposed to be Spring time where I am, and whilst it is usually all about sunshine and flowers at this time of year for us,  this year…Winter seems to want to hang around a little bit longer.  Quite frankly,  outstaying its welcome.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a little bit of winter …snuggling up in front of the fireplace,  drinking hot drinks and eating comfort food.  But there comes a point towards the end of the short days and long cold nights that I start to get over it.  I’m feeling grumpy and fedup,  I’ve put on extra weight due to the winter hibernation and I’m really hanging for the sun to come out and just make me toasty warm.

Yet,  to no avail this year, as the rain and cloud have continued long into Spring (and, mind you, all through my recent vacation).

And then, out of the blue, I look up and a beautiful bright rainbow is shining through the clouds and my complaining immediately stops.

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Of course, this applies to so many other facets of my life.  It is easy to get caught up trying to eliminate all the “bad” parts of the things I have/need to do,  in the hope of having days jam packed 100% full of joy (Surely this is not too much to ask?).   But, the reality is that you can’t experience real joy unless sometimes you experience the sadness.   It reminds me of Inside Out, the kids movie where the feelings are all represented by characters in the  child’s head.   They try to ignore sadness and make it just go away,  but it doesn’t work,  they ultimately realise they need to let the sadness out to fully experience the other feelings …clever clever

So,  thank you rainbows, for shaking me out of my winter blues and reminding me that every cloud has a silver lining or at least, a big shiny rainbow with a pot of gold.

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Whatever you do…don’t mess with my sleep…

All the articles I have read of late are touting the importance of sleep.  Apparantly on average we need about 7-8 hours of sleep a night , Arianna Huffington is such a big advocate in her book Thrive .

I have figured out that I am someone who needs about 9.   I love my sleep.  I don’t sleep in, but I take great pleasure in going to bed in the evenings.  Jumping into that bed and snuggling down for the day is one of my favourite moments of my day.

And then I had kids…

Anyone who has kids will tell you that they are sleep killers.   I remember the first few weeks of my first child, wandering around like a zombie and then realising I hadn’t slept for longer than two hours in a row for nearly two months.   Don’t even ask me about my second!!    And the thing is,  after a while, you get so used to being tired,  that you don’t even realise that you are half the time.  Back at work full time after 6mths and running around like a maniac…I found myself at the doctor saying “I don’t understand what is wrong with me, I am just so fatigued all the time”…gee…I wonder?

But…the kids are a bit older now (sending a little bit of hope to all you mothers with young kids out there)… and I have moved back into the wonderous space of having a whole nights sleep consistently for days in a row.   The kids can get up on their own at the weekends and watch TV.  Leaving me to wake on my own and perhaps even spend a little time reading before I get out of bed.

Except,  now, I have become a bit of a sleep monster.  I am no longer in any way tolerant if my sleep is disturbed.  Don’t mess with Mum’s sleep. You will live to regret it.

You see…every now and again the kids still get up in the night.  “I’ve had a nightmare” they say…or “ I have growing pains” or my personal favourite “I can’t sleep”.   That tap on the shoulder I get in the middle of the night (like I didn’t hear them banging around and turning the lights all on, on their way in here, I’m just pretending to still be a sleep in the hope they will go away) and the whispered “Mum”  .

Then I turn, like a crazed devil woman…”WHAT? ” I hiss… I march them back to their rooms with zero sympathy for whatever plight has drawn them to my room.   I turn all the lights back off, I ignore their little pleas and I go marching back into my own room.   And then I lie looking at the ceiling.  Feeling soooo annoyed that my precious sleep has been broken.  Thinking about all the things I have to do the next day and trying not to let the rising panic of not being able to get back to sleep and the fear of being tired all day engulf me.

Then I feel bad… things must have been bad for them to wake the beast from her slumber.

So then I find myself slipping back out…tip toeing back to their rooms and just double checking they are OK.  Giving a little cuddle.  Reminding them.  “Remember…mummy REALLY needs her sleep…it’s important”.   And go back to bed feeling a little calmer.

I finally get back to sleep.  I’m not proud of my behaviour but I think at least I am teaching the kids that it’s not a good idea to disturb mum’s sleep unless it really is an emergency…so they will learn not to do it anymore (please see  Admitting your Mistakes…see..I am good at it!) .

Except then… it’s 6am and I feel a tap on the shoulder…  “Mum….my ipad won’t connect to the internet…will you fix it?”… I think my eyes might have just flashed red and that may have actually just been a growl that came out of my mouth.

Yes people…don’t forget…sleep is important…but if you have kids…good luck to you…

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