Giving up the guilt

Since I have started my search for the perfect job I have been considering how our lives will change once I am working. One of the specifications for the perfect job is flexibility as my husband and I want to share child care responsibilities. This has led to lots of metaphorical discussions along the lines of ‘if I started work early two days a week could you go in later and do drop off’. Obviously until I get a job and know what days/hours I am working no decisions need to be made so we are just exploring what might be possible at this stage. Interestingly though I feel like I am asking a favour, that the responsibility of looking after the kids is solely mine. I even thought that I would make the packed lunches the night before so that hubby wouldn’t have that task in the mornings!

I have read lots of articles and blog posts about the curse of the working mum, not just the practical task of juggling responsibilities but the sense of guilt that accompanies it.I have read Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ recently and she says we have to stop beating ourselves up and feeling that we have to aim for perfection. I have been guilty of falling into the guilt trap recently and worrying about the impact of me going back to work especially on the children. When faced with an opportunity recently I even caught myself thinking about all the ways it wouldn’t work, why I couldn’t do it and why I wouldn’t be very good at it. I know this stems from fear and a slight lack of confidence about returning to work rather than reality. Anyway I have given myself a strong talking to and I am giving up the guilt.

Going back to work will mean changes all round – some of these will be tough but others will be great (like being able to go on great holidays!). I am lucky in that my husband is very supportive and is willing to pull his weight with the kids and house stuff. The kids have coped brilliantly with the changes that moving to a new country required and I am sure they will take this change in their stride to. The house might not be as tidy in the future and we may not always be able to sit down to a meal together but life will still go on.

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It’s been a while

My last post was entitled ‘Oh dear’ and started with an apology for my infrequent posting – over a year ago! However in my defence I do have a new blog which is capturing all the ups and downs of our move to New Zealand. However I felt this post might be better here as it concerns an issue I have talked about previously – identity.

After 4 months in New Zealand I am ready to go back to work. The children are settled in school and with the childminder so I now have the time as well as the inclination. I feel much more comfortable as a ‘stay at home mum’ here than I did in the UK but while I love the coffee mornings, trips to the park and beach I miss work, miss being part of a wider team contributing to something. So my issue with identity has moved on somewhat. I have been spending time working on my CV and am struggling with my ‘professional identity’. A new twitter friend (@dds180) has posted recently about not fitting into a neat occupational box and this is how I feel at the moment. I don’t feel that I can say ‘I am a …….’. My last job title (Head of Business Intelligence) whilst sounding impressive is fairly meaningless out of the context of that organisation and doesn’t reflect the breadth of my role there. My skills, knowledge and experience cover a number of areas but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am an expert in any of them. I know what I am good at and know that I can add value to an organisation that can be flexible enough not to pigeon hole me. The trick however is finding that organisation.

It has been a very long time since I last looked for a job (Twitter wasn’t even around then!) so it is all a bit daunting especially after some time out of the workforce and in a new country. I am taking it slowly and am focusing on having conversations with people about the NZ jobs market, the different sectors and my skill set. I am spending some time thinking about what i want to do, what strengths I want to focus on and how I would like to develop. My online network has been incredibly helpful and it is great taking some of those online connections into ‘real life’. I know I am lucky in that I have time on my side – I don’t need to find a job right away, it is more important that I find the right job.

Oh dear

Mmmmmm I am not very good at this am I? It has been 3 months, 3 weeks and 2 days since my last post. Can I plead mitigating circumstances? Actually it is just life, general busyness due to kids, Christmas, studies etc so it isn’t much of an excuse. And I can’t promise that things will get any better but I will try. In fact I am only really posting today as I feel guilty – I have written a guest post for another blog and didn’t want my own to feel neglected.

Studies are going OK I think, though am playing catch-up after being ill last week. I have done my OU residential which was interesting, challenging and frustrating in equal measure. My favourite moment was during the first session’s introductions – we were going slowly round the table with people talking at length about their roles and then we came to me, it was great to see everyone’s heads pop up as I said ‘I don’t work’ though not sure if they were jealous or just felt sorry for me. Anyway that state of affairs will soon be no longer as my consultancy project has been agreed and as of March I shall be earning a small (but honest) living as a freelance consultant.

In other news I have met up with some Twitter peeps for the first time which was great and have arranged another meet up with a new person. I am also planning to attend the Connecting HR tweetup in April and the unconference in May so am broadening my horizons. Really looking forward to meeting people after conversing with them via Twitter.

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!

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.

Back to school

I love this time of year and the ‘back to school’ vibe. It normally doesn’t affect me too much as the Open University is pretty much a 52 weeks a year affair. However, this year has been very different as my four year old has started school. So far all seems to be going well, she is enjoying it and was even awarded ‘star of the week’ last week for settling in so well. In fact she seems to be coping with this change much better than her parents. For us it feels like we are sending her off to fend for herself for the first time. Though to be honest she did go to nursery for a couple of mornings a week from 18 months old so it’s not as if it is the first time we have sent her into the wilderness.  I think it is more the psychological difference as the nursery were always very keen to keep us involved and informed on the practical stuff such as whether she ate all her lunch and her development.

I know it is early days yet and there hasn’t been time to get to know the teachers and staff at the school but information is pretty hard to come by – mostly based on notes in the school bag. I have no real idea of what she is eating at lunch time as at four years old she isn’t that informative herself – she told me yesterday that she had a slice of bread for lunch! The other concern is whether she will make friends easily as no one else from her nursery ended up at the same school and there are only a handful of girls in her class. I am probably focusing on my own hang-ups here as I struggle to make friends sometimes.

I suppose I should take my cues from her – she is really enjoying it and I am sure if anything was bothering her she would tell me. It’s all part of the learning experience for her and for me – learning to let go a little.