Sunday, March 26, 2017

The week in review, the week in view: Week ended 26 March 2017

The week just gone was focused on work and my partner's birthday, and featured a full day out today (Sunday), with not a lot of time left for much else. The house is in a parlous state, I didn't get to training this week, and I dropped a couple of logistics balls pretty thunkingly, BUT I did hit every one of my multiple work deadlines and I think my partner had a good birthday, and we had a great day today making the most of the late summer weather.

I am learning to be OK with a "tilt" model, whereby I accept that rather than seeking some mythical perfect balance in every day / week, I recognise that some weeks will be much heavier in a particular area and other areas will get less love.

So, in a worky week, I might not write anything creative, clean the house, or run any errands, especially if I also have social things on; whereas in a house-y week, I might bill less time but get through some serious logistics, life administration and tidying. I try to make sure that family is never dethroned from its place at the centre, but the other elements of my life can, and indeed should, rotate in and out of importance as the winds blow.

This week coming up is also quite worky, but that's intentional, as I am taking a week off starting from 1 April (the first week of the school hols), so I am trying to get some ducks lined up before I do. Next week's In View will have an entirely different flavour!

- School swimming for youngest every day (me on helper duty Mon and Fri)
- Stations of the Cross: middle kid
- Belonging Day: middle kid
- Completed 4.5 days billable work (Client site: 1 day)
- Partner's actual birthday (out for lunch together, family dinner at Grill'd)
- Dinner with our Mother's Group friends (Sat)
- Bird Nature Walk at Williamstown (this morning)
- BBQ and game meet-up at Brimbank Park (this afternoon)
- Swimming (youngest), gymnastics (youngest), singing (middle), chess (middle) and jujitsu (eldest)

- School swimming for youngest Mon - Thurs (me on helper duty Tues)
- School camp for middle kid (Weds - Fri)
- 4 days of billable work booked (0.5 day client site)
- Personal training
- Cat to vet for check-up and shots
- Swimming (youngest), gymnastics (youngest), singing (middle) and jujitsu (eldest) (No chess as school holidays start)
- End of term and early dismissal (Fri)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Parenting high schoolers

We had a perfect case study in how life is a series of yin and yang moments for one of my kids today.

Firstly I get a message that she's disappointed that she didn't do as well as she'd hoped / expected to on a science lab report - she passed comfortably and doesn't have to repeat the assignment, but didn't ace it by any means. So that made her a bit sad.

Then I get a message literally 7 minutes later - she got a Maths test back that she thought she'd gone alright-not-great in, to find she got 100%. So that made her ecstatically happy.

This was the catalyst for a chat about a few things:

- how marks at school are one, but not the only and maybe not even the most important, measure of how your learning is going - so it's important to not get too invested in them, to the point where it really affects you emotionally, especially with these smaller incremental pieces of assessment.

- how you can learn from the mistakes you make, and especially the teachers' comments, to help you do better next time.

- how no-one aces everything all the time, and it is actually OK to "just pass" sometimes - indeed, it's OK to fail if you can use it as an opportunity to work out what you don't know or can't do. Fail often, fail better, as the old adage goes. I often think we learn more in life (and at school) from struggling to do what doesn't come naturally than from the stuff that's as easy as breathing to us.

High school parenting is a whole 'nuther ball of wax from primary school parenting, but 15 months in and now with two kids at HS, I feel like I might be starting to grok how it's done. (Most of last year I felt bewildered and at sea). It's that balance between engagement and encouragement, and stepping back to let them fight their own battles and manage their own learning, that's been tricky ... but onwards and upwards, to bare-passes and perfect scores and social navigation and enthusiasms and camps and activities and all the rest of it.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The week in review, the week in view: Week ended 19 March 2017

The week just gone was a good one but a big one. The week ahead will be heavier with work, but is otherwise less crowded with life stuff, other than the weekly usual, at this stage.

There are only two weeks left of term now, and therefore only two weeks left til I have a week off work. I'm actually less tired than I was at this time last year, which is nice - I mean, I'm tired, but I'm not overwhelmingly exhausted. I think I am getting better all the time at balancing stuff, which is a good direction to be moving in.

The holidays are going to be very low-key, with a few sleepovers scatttered in there, horse-riding day camp for the middle and gymnastics day program for the youngest on one day apiece, probably a few picnics and a trip to the cinema, and that's about it.

- Public holiday (Monday) - Friends over for BBQ
- Work: 3.5 days billed (Client site: 1 day)
- Eldest kid first inter-school debate (Weds)
- Harmony Day cultural dress day (eldest two - Fri)
- Middle kid: 100% on Japanese test
- Fun Run for youngest (me helping - Fri)
- Vaccinations: middle kid
- Cat ownership transfer completed
- Personal training session
- Coffee with friend / work contact
- Stuck in the freeway accident traffic on Thursday for almost 4! hours!!
- Swimming (youngest), gymnastics (youngest), singing (middle), chess (middle) and jujitsu (eldest)
- Preparation and cooking for birthday party
- Partner's BBQ Birthday Party (Sun)

- School swimming for youngest - 4 days (me on helper duty Mon & Tues)
- Stations of the Cross: middle kid
- 4.5 days billable work (Client site: 1 day)
- Partner's actual birthday (family dinner)
- Dinner with our Mother's Group friends
- Progress passport applications to the next step
- Personal training session
- Swimming (youngest), gymnastics (youngest), singing (middle), chess (middle) and jujitsu (eldest)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

At the Park (Poem)

dusk on a late summer Saturday
the sky pearlescent in blues and pale lemon
clear as flowing water; the evening star
shining steadily with its planetary light

the dog pants and laps at spilled water under the drinking fountain;
the child spies a friend and sprints away
to join a group chattering in Russian and Arabic
whirling fast enough to fly on the whirligig

a mother in an abaya swings a tiny toddler in a bucket seat
and a family barbecues sausages, the smell overtaking everything

down on the oval, a mixed spaniel breed chases a tennis ball 
the frenzy of joy in every twisting bounce
just barely out of reach of the cricketers training on the pitch

a man and two small boys hit shuttles back and forth
the ground littered with the small white objects

babies fret and are soothed, while preschoolers chase each other 
and the air trembles with life
laugh cry injunction affection gossip comfort longing memory hope

earth turns, and darkness comes;
but not here.
not yet.
not quite yet.

- Kathy, 18/03/17

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The week in review, the week in view

A friend of mine, every Sunday night, notes down the stand-out things that happened in the week just past as she is making her to-do list and schedule for the week to come. She calls it Review and Plan, and I think it's quite a nice idea - it allows an acknowledgement of and reflection upon the high points and challenges of what's passed, which can feed into forward thinking.

I have adopted a similar sort of idea myself and have been jotting down a few things each Sunday for most weeks this year. It occurred to me that this blog would be a reasonable sort of place to put these notes (when they don't include confidential or sensitive information, which they sometimes do). The blog is hardly read these days anyway, so I feel like I should focus on its secondary purpose of serving as a family record and aide memoire rather than thinking too deeply on reader preferences.

So, for future-me, here is The Week in Review, The Week in View for the week 5 March to 12 March 2017.


- Work: 4 days billed time
- Wedding anniversary Tues (lunch out Wednesday, Hellenic Hotel)
- Eldest kid braces off
- Middlekid first Blue Light Disco
- Eldest kid first jujitsu class
- Adopted neighbour cat - Roxy - as they ate moving!
- Health generally good - youngest recovering from viral illness from previous week
- Friend's daughter for sleepover Sunday night


- Friends for BBQ dinner Monday
- Minimum 3 days billable work
- Eldest's first interschool debate Weds night
- Personal training Thurs
- Get passport photos done!
- Take cat to vet and get her registered
- Eldest and middle: Harmony Day  (cultural dress) on Friday
- Youngest: Fundraising fun run on Friday
- Middlekid: Vaccinations at doctor, Friday
- Husband's birthday BBQ lunch: Sunday

Looking back, I see that last week had some fairly significant things in it, and that this week is going to as well. Onwards and upwards ...

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Mental Health Days

Last Tuesday, I gave myself a Mental Health Day off from my regularly scheduled life. I decided on the Sunday that I would take a day out to go dress shopping, go see a movie, and generally pootle about NOT working, NOT doing housework or chores, and NOT doing family stuff. Just for the 6.5 hours the kids were at school, I thought, I'll have a little break. February was a very challenging month, and I felt like I needed it.

Well, my plan was almost derailed - typically - by a sick kid, as I had to go fetch my 8 year old home from school at lunchtime on Monday. I was resigned to losing my MH day, but miraculously, she woke up alright on the Tuesday and went to school (she got sick again that night and ended up being home Weds-Thurs, so this was literally the only day I could've done this).

I went to a shopping centre, drank fancy hot chocolate, looked at dresses, and took myself to a session of "Hidden Figures" (which I absolutely loved). The whole time, I felt slightly guilty but not very much. I really, really needed the time out, and I'm sure it did me good. I went back to my work and caring duties on the Wednesday very refreshed.

So, with this in mind, I've decided I'm going to schedule myself another Mental Health Day before term one holidays start at the end of March ... but this time I am NOT announcing a date for it, EVEN IN MY OWN MIND, so the universe has less prospect of messing with me! I'll just play it by ear and seize the day when the moment is right.

I mean, I'm much luckier than most - I take at least half, and sometimes all, of every second Wednesday off to have time with my partner (we do brunch or lunch, and occasionally catch a show); and I usually knock off for the week by 2:30pm on Fridays so I can ease into the weekend with the kids. Sometimes, too, I take a whole day out from work to stack appointments for me and the kids if I need to (it IS possible to do passport photos, haircuts, dentist, physio, PT, doctor and kids' extracurricular classes x 2 all in one day - ask me how I know!) Although multiple-appointment days are hardly relaxing, the fact that I can do them without finagling leave from work is a great boon, and I am very aware of that.

That said, taking a weekday once a month-ish to do no work, no housework, and no running around is a different level of great. And I just thought to myself - well, why shouldn't I? I've accepted all the risks of freelancing, some of which bite quite hard (the uncertainty of income thing is a huge one); why shouldn't I occasionally get some personal, rather than familial, benefit from the way I work?

Call it a self-employment perk, or a self-indulgence even, if you like; but as long as I'm able to, I'm going to have a 4- to 6-weekly Mental Health Day.