Currently viewing the category: "Development"

Gorgeous graphic from Red Tractor Designs



This morning before work/school drop off I had two conversations that really struck a chord with me. The first was with an amazing lady who has taught my children at the beautiful small school they attend here in sunny Brisbane, Australia. She’s a dynamo of a lady, fantastic teacher, and mother of a bunch of kids herself. She’s one of those people who is a ray of sunshine, and the kind of person that you feel kind of lucky to get to know let alone be the person to shape the minds of your kids.

I saw her whilst we were both grabbing a coffee at our local café before 7am. She had already dropped her kids to school and been to the gym and was off to school…at 7am.

We talked about teaching, how tricky it can be to squeeze in the curriculum, stay relevant, cater for individual needs, be innovative and also be inspiring for kids. She has years of experience under her belt, whilst my experience was limited to my ‘prac teaching’ experience a few years ago whilst studying a Graduate Diploma of Education.

I came away from our conversation thinking, wow, we are so lucky to have this wonderful lady as part of our school community and that I still think that teaching is a tough gig.

Once I arrived at school to drop my youngest daughter off at Before School Care, I had a brief but frustrating conversation with two other parents.

The conversation started with one of the parents commenting on seeing this wonderful teacher (who I had just spoken to) arriving at school in her gym gear, with a dress in her hand ready to get changed and prepare for the day.

The comment was something along the lines of ‘how nice it must be to have the time to exercise’ and how ‘easy it must be for this particular lady as she is a teacher and has teenagers’. I couldn’t help but feel a little incredulous and also defensive. I replied that I thought teaching was a tough gig, and that my brief stint highlighted to me how tough it can be, especially if you are also a parent. The response I got was underwhelming and came with a side-serve of eye roll, along with a comment about how nice it would be to have ‘all those holidays’.

I smiled, nodded and continued on my day, signing in my youngest daughter, dropping my sons to school and then heading to the hospital to spend the day juggling caring for my eldest daughter whilst also working remotely.
After giving the morning and those interactions some thought, here’s my take.

Working can be hard.

Working with children can be hard.

Working once you are a parent can be hard.

So it stands to reason surely, that working with children once you are a parent can also be hard.

Right?

It can be so easy to look across and form an opinion on how hard someone’s life/job/family/ situation is when you have not walked a mile in their shoes.

I will freely admit I am sometimes jealous of the amount of holidays teachers get each year. When you work full-time in most other professions, you only get four weeks annual leave a year. Once you have children this presents you with an impossible challenge – spread out your four weeks annual leave to care for your children during their 12-16 weeks of holidays. So unfair right?

Well, not quite when you look at the whole picture. My brief stint of teaching taught me this – teaching is hard, rewarding, gruelling (so much time on your feet! parents expectations! the assault on your senses!) and takes you away from your own kids…a lot.

I also came to the realisation that teachers need those holidays to plan, recover, relax and for some to spend time with their own children, connecting and having fun. How can I begrudge the great people who spend every day of the school term fostering the learning of my kids some time to recover, relax and plan for the next semester/year/subject/group of young minds they will be looking after?

On a related note, if you are there on the sidelines judging and thinking teaching is such a great deal…why not become a teacher? You know why a lot of people don’t? Most people don’t have the patience, resilience and passion to do that. Most people find out what teachers are paid, and think well that’s not enough for me. I know that I didn’t have the patience and right personality to become a teacher. Which makes me feel even more appreciative of the fantastic people who do.

It’s not just teachers, there are countless other professions who cop flak and yet these wonderful people still turn up day in and day out to work, helping others, contributing to society, supporting their families. They do this despite the criticism and judgment levelled at them.

I came away from my conversation with those parents thinking, I really hope that one day they can appreciate how hard teachers work and how life can be tricky for teachers too.

Until you’ve taught a class, worked a night shift, completed a swing as a FIFO (Fly-In-Fly-Out) worker, maybe save the judgement.

A little empathy can go a long way.

Enjoy xx
Tagged with:
 
coloured pencils of different colors and text school holidays writtten in a green chalkboard I cannot believe that it is almost time for school to go back.  Summer holidays are so long, weeks and weeks of no school, trying to think of things to do, and sometimes (a lot of the time?) dealing with 'bored' kids. To help out a little, here are a couple of winners I have discovered over the years with my gang.
  1. Visit the Libraries in Brisbane. Don't worry if you aren't a member, it's super easy to join!  Check out the library in person or online for holiday activities, our local library has craft, lego, author (last holidays it was Roald Dahl) celebrations.  Best of all it's free!  Most libraries nowadays also lend DVDs, comics, and magazines as well, something for everyone!
  2. Check out your local National Parks, botanic gardens, bush reserves.  Nothing burns off excess energy and curbs cabin fever like a good run around, and some bushwalking.  Pack a backpack, water and first aid kit and you are good to go.  It's also worthwhile checking online first, as a lot of parks have special programs just for kids. Try National Parks Association and Find a National Park in Queensland for information/ ideas.
  3. Have a bake-off.  Split up into teams and have a baking competition, keep it fun though as things can get pretty competitive once the kids start to get into it!  Here are some recipe sites to try... Food to Love, Delicious
  4. Hold a crafter-noon with some friends, take turns with other parents and have a few of the kids friends over for a craft session. Lego/ brick making also works well.  This one works best outside/ on the verandah, and use recyclable material if you can, super cheap and easy to clean up.  Take a look here and My Poppet for ideas!
  5. Have a movie afternoon, make popcorn and snacks. Steer away from new releases and break out a classic like Back to the Future, Goonies, The Labyrinth.  Kids and grownups will love it!
Hopefully that will give you a little inspiration!  Feel free to post any great ideas that work for your gang too! Enjoy xx
Tagged with:
 
Fab print (available here https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/63242982/feels-good-to-get-some-stuff-done-11-x)

Fab print (available here https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/63242982/feels-good-to-get-some-stuff-done-11-x)

Last week I got a fantastic piece of advice from a lecturer. It went like this... Most people, tend to put things off because they don't think they can get the job done, or are worried that when they are done, what they have created will be poorly made/ crafted/ be a little bit rubbish. His advice, just get into it. Prepare well for what you are about to do. Then role up your sleeves and get stuck in. Simple as that! Chances are that what you make, create, write or do will be just fine.  It may even be brilliant! You won't know though if you never get started. Though it doesn't feel that way does it. Sometimes, we put things off for a whole bunch of reasons, kids, illness, life getting in the way. Sometimes though, we just need to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in. What are you putting off? Enjoy xx
Tagged with:
 
Been successful lately?

Been successful lately?

Motivation is a tricky thing to nail down.  How do you get yourself motivated to get up, get moving, make a change, get started, and well, get on with things? Some of the challenges we try to tackle seem insurmountable at first. Giant mountains of stuff to tackle,  decisions to make, which options to choose, where to start... I thought I would share a trick I've been using for a few years now to get your motivational mojo flowing. This trick has helped me successfully complete my studies (with kids in tow),  design and create super cute items for my Etsy store whilst also juggling a full-time career, tackle giant mounds of folding/washing/mess that four kids generate. I call it the 20 minute rule. Pick the job you have been putting off. Let's take folding the washing - which tops my list as the worst household chore ever!  Get the basket/s out, pick a flat surface (dining table or folding trestle table works well), then set a timer. As soon as the timer goes off, get cracking. Only do that task, sort/fold/put away for 20 minutes. Don't try to do something else at the same time.  Just sort/fold/put away.  When the timer goes off, stop and check your progress.  Now you've made headway!  Do you want to do another 20 minutes? Or do something different? For me, nine times out of ten I am happy to keep going until it's done. I have tried this trick on studying, and it works just as well. Set up, ready, set a timer and go!  Read, highlight, take notes, start that assignment.  After 20 minutes I am usually in the zone so will keep going.  If I am not, then I have at least started and it's a lot easier next time to sit down and get into it. Ok, now, what is the job you are putting off?  Can you spare 20 minutes? Go! Enjoy xx    
Tagged with:
 
My little tribe taking time out to think...

My little tribe taking time out to think...

As we grow older, it can get harder and harder to carve out time in the day to think. Reflect on life, how things are going, what went well, what went pear-shaped.  All the healthy reflective thinking we are meant to do in order to grow as individuals, as humans. Sometimes, life can get in the way.  Life can be complex, boring, monotonous, crazy and altogether unpredictable. None of which is conducive to thinking. One of my favourite ways to think and reflect is to ask myself a series of questions.  The lovely talented Pip Lincolne does this by way of 'Taking Stock'. This month I am breaking the mould and taking stock at the beginning of the month... Making : cushions and gorgeous sundresses ready for This Grand Life Cooking : veges, new types of the kids to try (current faves are asparagus and corn) Drinking : loads of cold water (it's sunny Brisbane folks!!) Reading: Country Style, How to Decorate, Lonely Planet's Guide to Australia Wanting: annuals for the garden Looking: at beachy holiday destinations Playing: Scrabble, family is becoming addicted!  Bunch of nerds that we are... Deciding: What role I would like to tackle back in my science/ corporate career Wishing: my gorgeous puppies would stop chewing...everything! Enjoying: my garden, the hard work is paying off! Waiting: for the right house to come along Liking: the jacaranda blooms in the backyard, a carpet of purple! Wondering: if I should paint a watercolour series inspired by our family farm Loving: the warm weather...most of the time! Pondering: career moves, there are some interesting roles around! Considering: buying a house...again...yikes! Buying: house plants, succulents, ferns, it's a jungle in here! Watching: Restoration Australia...oh my goodness, it's brilliant!  Fab show hosted by Sibella Court Hoping: the school year comes to a quiet uneventful end for the tribe Marvelling: at how tall my little tribe are getting...I am fast becoming the shortest in the family! Cringing: at the hating on social media.  What on earth are people thinking posting nastiness? Needing: to keep going to the gym, am getting to love it again! Questioning: old house, new house, renovated or not? Smelling: the garden, loving the change in scent as all of the flowers bloom Wearing: white shorts and Birkenstocks, a lot! Following: Noticing: the kids taking an interest in big issues, refugees, world conflicts, some hefty issues to think about for young minds. Knowing: I need to stop procrastinating and decide on that beachy holiday...stat! Thinking: about how to best balance work, my gorgeous family, and my creative pursuits Admiring: positive creative types (Clare Bowditch, Pip Lincolne, Dawn French) and ambitious corporate types in my life (will keep those names to myself) Sorting: through toys, it appears they have bred and now we have a bucket-load which are making their way to new homes before Christmas Getting: ready for another creative market...soon! Bookmarking: the Halcyon House website, seriously cool folks Coveting: vintage finds, I need to find a spare weekend to do some quality rummaging Disliking: negativity, I seriously do not understand why people feel the need to write bad/nasty/awful comments! Opening: a new section on my Etsy shop...watercolours and prints!  Yay! Giggling: at the awesome pearls of wisdom which come from my gorgeous six year old. 'Mum, you look the same as when you were young, except for your crinkly eyes, they look more smiley now!'  I will take that as a compliment and move on. Feeling: excited about the end of the year, and a wee bit nervous about heading back to work Snacking: carrots and hummus, blueberries and cashews, on high rotation. Helping: out at school whenever I can.  It's a busy time of the year! Hearing: Mark Ronson, kids fave CD on the way to school   Here's a list via the talented Pip Lincolne (Meet me at Mikes) for you...  Takes some time out to think, and if you are feeling like sharing post a comment with your answers, or a link to your blog post... Making : Cooking : Drinking : Reading: Wanting: Looking: Playing: Deciding: Wishing: Enjoying: Waiting: Liking: Wondering: Loving: Pondering: Considering: Buying: Watching: Hoping: Marvelling: Cringing: Needing: Questioning: Smelling: Wearing: Following: Noticing: Knowing: Thinking: Admiring: Sorting: Getting: Bookmarking: Coveting: Disliking: Opening: Giggling: Feeling: Snacking: Helping: Hearing:   Enjoy xx
Tagged with:
 
My first week back at work with my eldest kidlet...her expression says it all!

My first week back at work with my eldest kidlet...her expression says it all!

It's half-way through the week, and I am in midst of my weekly routine.  Along with my writing here and creating hand-made pieces for my Etsy store I have a science career that I am just as passionate about. It's now been 10 years since I had to learn the fine art of balancing being a Mum with having a career.  The time has flown by and along the way I  have picked up some tricks and tools to help make it an enjoyable ride for everyone. So with that in mind, I thought I'd share a my top five tips for returning to work and finding balance between home and work (WARNING - some of these are a little harsh, I was tempted to change/modify/water down what I was trying to say, but decided I may dilute the message):
  1. Remember...nobody is as interested in your kids as you are.  You are the Mum (or Dad) so it's your role to believe that your kids are the coolest/funniest/most special people in the world. Put yourself in your co-workers shoes...  Replace 'baby' with 'cycling', then imagine if you would regale a non-cycling enthusiast with all the details about your bike, the rides you've done, how the Tour is going. Falling asleep yet?  Same applies to kids and babies. I know it's sounds a bit harsh, but it's true.
  2. Treat each role with respect. When you are at work, work.  When you are at home or spending time with your kids, then be present.  Simple right? Try and keep a clear line between the two.  There will always be times when your worlds collide, however day-to-day show respect for both sides by focussing on where you are.
  3. Take the time when you are on maternity leave, no matter what the duration, to think about what you want when you return. Do you want to keep your skills current? Progress your career?  Interact and socialise with adults? Earn money for your family/lifestyle/future?  Whatever it is, own it.  Being a little fuzzy about why you are back at work can make the whole situation a lot tougher.  Be honest with yourself.
  4. Don't apologise for returning to work, or staying at home.  Be proud of your decision either way.  Women, men, society in general can be tough on women and men and the choices they make in having kids and raising them.  There will be enough critical analysis of your actions without adding to it yourself.
  5. Find a way to carve out time to be you.  Whether it's exercise, reading, getting creative, meditation, whatever takes your fancy! Find a way to be kind to yourself and do it daily. Don't feel guilty, know that it's critical to take the time to make sure you have the energy to put your heart into all parts of your life.
I hope there is a little chestnut in here to inspire you to be proud and own your choices and also appreciate and respect your friends choices. Enjoy xx
Tagged with:
 
Hello Spring!  The first day of the month feels like a fresh start in a lot of ways. It's the first day of Spring and sunny Bris-Vegas is being true to form, the days feel warmer and brighter already. The kids are well and truly into the swing of things at school. I am now unpacked, settled and well, also appear to be wearing the same thing day in day out. Well, at least it feels that way! Skinny jeans and top, plus boots. The main reason for my 'uniform' is that it's easy to throw on jeans and a top and be out the door super quick. No easy feat when you also need to get four kids out the door in some semblance of order before lunchtime. So, it was perfect timing to read about the gorgeous Fox in Flats Style Dare for September! I signed up in a flash... Here's the lowdown...
Fox in Flats Style Dare

Fox in Flats Style Dare

  Want to join in?  You can follow up over on Instagram and Facebook...come on, you know it's going to be fun! Enjoy xx
The finished product!  All set up yesterday at the Mummy Tree Markets...

The finished product! All set up yesterday at the Mummy Tree Markets...

Yesterday I was part of the lovely Mummy Tree Markets at Everton Park. I had a lovely morning, my gorgeous sister helped me with my little tribe (super huge thank you!!), lots of lovely customers to chat too and friendly stall holders to gossip with between customers. One of the questions I got asked quite a few times was 'How do you find time to sew with kids?' Which is a good question! So I thought I'd give you the honest, no holds barred answer. There is no magic silver solution where I can make more hours in the day. The simple  truth is I schedule in time for me. Just like you would book in a playdate for the kids, a doctor's appointment or a class at the gym. I carve out time in my day to be creative. Sometimes it's half an hour, sometimes it's a block of a couple of hours.  Then there are days where it's a few 10 minutes blocks scattered throughout the day. The point is that I  make time to do something creative every day.  My creative loves include sewing, drawing, designing and writing. Being creative makes me feel energised, happy and accomplished when I finish a project. Just like exercising releases endorphins and makes you feel good, being creative gives me a sense of achievement and fuels my imagination and energy reserves. Which makes me a more content person all round, not to mention a whole lot more productive in all of the other parts of my life. So it is absolutely worth the effort to carve out time. Why not try it tomorrow? Start with 10 minutes. If sewing or writing aren't your cup of tea, how about baking? Or gardening? Here are  a couple of my favourite places to visit and some creative folk to inspire you...
  • The lovely, clever and very creative soul Pip Lincolne from Meet Me at Mikes. Plus she's funny to boot!
  • For the literary buffs and writers out there - have you visited Allison Tait's website? A fab writer, generous giver of advice for writers who are just starting out, plus she'll even give you a friendly nudge to just get on with it...
  • Cinta from My Poppet - subscribe, visit regular or buy one of her digital creations. Take your pick! This clever lady provides the perfect inspiration for crafty folk.
I'd love to hear what inspires you to get creative! Enjoy xx
Tagged with:
 
The glorious south-west, we miss you WA!

The glorious south-west, we miss you WA!

This week marked one month since our epic trek across the country to make Brisbane our home. Ok, maybe epic is overstating it, but this time last month as I geared up for the last week in my office, I felt overwhelmed. I was staring down the barrel of packing, cleaning and winding up our lives in one house, while planning, packing and getting set for our lives all the way across the country. In one week. Saying goodbye to friends, colleagues and the lives we had made for ourselves in sunny Perth. We donated, sold, gave away and gifted over half of what we owned. Simplifying our lives as we prepared to head East. As we embarked on what turned out to be a huge clean up, I found myself realising how much had happened, how much had changed since we moved to sunny Perth in 2008. I began to realise our kids weren't babies anymore, we were now a family with no pets (how we miss our girls), and that it was a good time, the right time to be closer to family. As I mopped the floor one last time, while the kids burned off their nerves/ excitement, I took the time to think about all the great times we had exploring sunny Perth, and looked forward to finding new places to explore, hang out and have fun in Brisbane. Now, here we are.  Almost unpacked, getting settled, seeing a lot more of our lovely family and beginning to discover all the fab places we can go in Brisbane. Yes, it was a pretty epic move in hindsight, but I know now we made the right decision. Have you ever made an epic move? Enjoy xx
Allowing my tribe to take risk...rock climbing!It’s a familiar battleground. Homework o’clock. Understanding, encouraging, cajoling, threatening, pleading, and any other tool I have in my arsenal in an attempt to ensure the kids are receiving a good education and we are not going completely loony trying to get EVERYTHING done. One of the major quandaries I seem to be coming up against lately is finding the balance between stepping in and stepping back. Helping your kids is one thing, becoming a helicopter parent is a whole other can of worms! Where do you draw the line? Take maths. The kids now have Mathletics (an online learning portal with a bunch of tests and ‘live challenges’), worksheets and timetables to learn by rote (yep, those are still old school). Then there are the incidental maths type activities, cooking (weighing and measuring, counting, sorting… The perfectionist in me wants each of the kids to get every  question right, to have every worksheet completed, neatly and on time.  Perfectly and correctly. No mistakes. I find I have to draw a line though because it can be a slippery slope to becoming THAT parent who possibly, no definitely, completed the assignment and then got disappointed when they ‘only received a B’. I think kids need to learn what frustration, failure and pressure to get things done feels like, and they need to know it’s ok and perfectly normal. We all make mistakes sometimes, become angry when things don't go our way and frustrated when we are struggling to master a new skill. It's ok to admit that and then work through it. That's what can ultimately help us to become independent and build our confidence, and find our way. There was a great article in The Age about how we can build resilience in our kids, and how it can be a great life lesson and skill to take into adulthood. What do you think? Do you allow your kids to fail or feel disappointed?  Or do you think there is plenty of time to learn those hard lessons? Enjoy xx
Tagged with:
 
Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.