Cool, calm and collected?

mmmmmm not really as I have an exam tomorrow. But I think I have done what I can, my notecards and mindmaps are ready for me to look at in a panic tomorrow morning, my pencil case is packed and I have my directions to the venue. As much as I enjoy studying I am really looking forward to 5.30 tomorrow afternoon when I can relax (at least for 6 months when I will be doing it all again!). Please send positive thoughts my way at 2.30 tomorrow and fingers crossed there will be questions on recruitment, reward and consultancy approaches.

And as a friend pointed out to me today ‘stressed’ is just ‘desserts’ backwards so here’s to a tasty pudding tomorrow night!


saying goodbye

I am sad to report that Rosie our goldfish has died. Now this isn’t that much of a surprise as she did come from the Hook a Duck stand at the fair and so her life chances were fairly slim. However we did our best by her, bought her a big tank with a filter, some plastic plants and a little rainbow to swim under if she so pleased. So we are holding on to the fact that her few short days with us were at least happy ones.

Luckily I spotted it first so the hard part was breaking the news to our little girl who had won Rosie last weekend and was very excited to have a pet all of her own. There were the expected tears and the heart breaking question of ‘Was it my fault? Did I feed her too much?’. We had to explain that we didn’t really know why Rosie had died but we think she had been happy with us and we will bury her in the garden later (and pray that the cat doesn’t dig her up).

It reminded me of how hard it was to explain death to her when my granddad passed away earlier this year. We are not religious so steered clear of talk of heaven, focusing on the fact that he had had a long and happy life with his family, that he was old and poorly and that his heart had stopped beating. It then got into a bit of a biology lesson about the heart and blood pumping round the body. As she was only three she soon forgot all of this and moved on to something else. But she does come back to it from time to time, especially if other people talk about him and asks where Great Granddad Roy is and we have to explain again. As she is a bit older now I think she understands it a little more and has asked when she will die which was a hard question to answer. I try to be as truthful as possible with her but didn’t want to say ‘I don’t know’, so focused on the fact that most people don’t die until they are very old and she had lots of years to go. I imagine there will be lots of difficult questions I will need to answer in the future.

She hasn’t yet asked if we are going to get another goldfish and if she does I am not sure what my response will be – I don’t want her to think that when something dies it can easily and quickly be replaced. And besides I didn’t want a goldfish in the first place!

In praise of praise

I have just read a couple of interesting blog posts here  and here which talk about about the importance of praise and recognition in the workplace. Basically the upshot is that being praised or recognised at work improves employee engagement and motivation. For many though this seems to be a once a year event at the annual performance appraisal and in many cases the ‘well done’ is quickly followed by objectives for the next year. The articles suggest that praise should be timely, specific, focused on the end goal and given often. In many ways this is very similar to the process that we have followed with our little girl (well tried to at least) when trying to teach her things such as table manners, using the toilet, cleaning her teeth. She even has her own sticker chart and rewards if she achieves a certain target each week. I can’t say for certain it is working – behaviour this week suggests otherwise – but we shall persevere.

The parenting books I have read (read might be a misleading term, skimmed maybe) suggest that it is important to focus on the positive behaviour rather than the ‘failures’ and when the behaviour isn’t as expected to deal with it quickly and then forget it.  A recent post by Dave Goddin picked this up talking about how school children are expected to make mistakes – it is part of the learning process. His post went on to consider how the workplace is different as failure tends to be viewed as a deficiency. Others have posted about how we treat failure at work and its consequences (What Goes Around and Thinking about Learning). I have no bright ideas about how to solve this problem but may be there is something to be learnt from the process of parenting.

As a parent you don’t tend to get much praise, the little ones you take care of are not yet advanced enough to recognise all the wonderful things you do for them everyday and I haven’t yet had an annual appraisal! I think you take your ‘recognition’ from a different source, more intrinsic, such as the joy at watching them learn new things, gain more independence etc. And just occasionally you may even be able to inwardly rejoice when someone compliments your child’s behaviour.

So while I may be missing out on my own personal sticker chart and rewards but at least I get to set my own objectives!

One of those days….

On today’s performance I don’t think I will make the short list for ‘mother of the year’ and it’s not as if anything that terrible happened.

It was more an accumulation of lots of not great things – not having enough sleep; little girl getting upset this morning as daddy is away for a few days; her then forgetting her water and hat so I had to go back to school with them; a hot walk into town where I forgot half of the things I needed to get; baby boy falling asleep on the way home meaning he didn’t want a nap later (and so I couldn’t do any revision); a very smelly poo done during the school run (by baby boy!) and of course I didn’t have the changing bag so had to come home with the noxious aroma filling the car; then he wouldn’t lie still when being changed so said poo nearly ended up smeared all over the carpet; and then to cap it all off little girl had the mother of all tantrums when asked to have bath during Charlie and Lola.

So everyone is having an early night, the children have been dispatched and I have a cup of tea, chocolate and a hot bath waiting for me. The revision will just have to wait until tomorrow.