Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Anti-Advice

Is it just me, or did becoming a mother come with about 500 pieces of conflicting advice on every topic imaginable – sleeping, feeding, education, childcare, working, not working, brain development, foods, allergies, formula, breastfeeding, toilets, nappies, bedding, clothing, toys, drinking, eating, holding, settling, rolling, crawling… and I seemed to be saddled with all this from multiple channels about 10 minutes after announcing I was pregnant! It’s no wonder that us mothers feel overwhelmed from the start and afraid of so many things.

So to all the future or currently wondering mothers out there – here is the anti-advice I wish I had received when contemplating motherhood with all it’s quirks.

1. Calm Down – It’s not likely to be anything life threatening. Your baby will be quiet and active at different times of the day than a regular person until their own rhythms come together, this doesn’t mean that they have a problem. They may pick up a cold, a cough, a slight temperature or a strange habit as they explore their surroundings, but none of this is usually cause for a visit to the doctors office where they are likely to pick up more germs. Your baby needs you to be the calm person in the room and ignore the overactive imagination of your mother in law / well meaning friend / fellow mother.

2. Ignore The Hormones – You will be amazed what the first few weeks of motherhood hormones make you do. All of a sudden, you are completely overcome with love and protective instincts and you will try to do it all and be all to this little creature. You need to let other people in (especially your partner) so that they understand from the moment you get home that this whole journey is a partnership. Start as you mean to go on and don’t try to do it all – let your partner / mother / friend do the night feed, the nappy change, the calming down. It’s important that your baby be comfortable in more than one environment.

3. Your Baby Is You – There is a lot of generic advice out there on what babies should be doing at what point and when to introduce something to them and what is appropriate and “normal”. Your baby is not “normal” – s/he is incredibly special because s/he is you and is wired just like you are. Try and tap in to that and find the right solution, not fit them in to what the book / site / person says should be occurring.

4. Failure Comes From Expectations – Don’t put firm expectations on what your baby will and won’t do because they aren’t able to work with you. They can take their cues from you, but they are not able to know that they are meant to be asleep at 715pm at the latest, so expecting them to do this will make you feel like a failure. Keep expectations to a minimum and work on getting slow and steady wins rather than a baby who performs.

5. Your Mother Did What Was Best – And just like everything else in life, what is best in one generation doesn’t necessarily fit what’s best now. Your mother / mother-in-law / friendly aunt will have wonderful advice on how they did things, but you are now in charge so don’t let them take over and re-create your childhood. Let your life lessons influence your child from the moment they are born.

But the greatest anti-advice of all?

Stop listening so much and have fun with the mothering thing. Babies are not only resilient and strong, but hysterical and endlessly fascinating. Don’t lose the wonder to panic and if you feel yourself doing this, talk to someone – share the burden of worry and let other people help you. A fully rounded child needs interaction and guidance from a lot of people in order for them to be independent and thoughtful adults.

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It’s Me. Deal.

Sarah Redmond Avatar

I hereby give notice of my intention to provide myself with work that I feel has meaning.

This does not mean that I will necessarily change my job, but I need to craft my position so that I can do more of things which provide value to people and less of things which hamper a person’s ability to provide meaning to their own jobs.

In essence, I will not

  • participate in bureaucratic pencil pushing nonsense because someone higher up than me thinks it’s a good idea
  • make things more confusing for someone rather than go the extra step to give them enough information to make it simple.
  • take on more work than I can be expected to keep track of
  • agree to timelines which are unrealistic
  • apologise for non-delivery on areas out of my control
  • complain about the 10% of my job which will always be nonsense because that’s what any office workers job is.

but I absolutely will

  • put my hand up for work in my area of interest
  • refuse work which may move me upward in the chain if it doesn’t fit with what I see as an area which also grows me personally
  • calmly and confidently keep my boundaries and insist that others respect them
  • direct anger at the person who made the decision, not the person who is delivering the decision contents.
  • insist on being trained for work before I’m expected to do it.
  • insist on being developed for my next role, even if a vacancy isn’t available.

I’m happy to move on if things don’t fit. I’m not afraid of taking on challenges and I’m completely unafraid of speaking truth to “power”. I can choose what my life contains and do not suffer fools lightly, but will give everyone a fair chance to gain my respect. I adore intelligence and will unashamedly ignore the stupid suggestion – there are such things as stupid questions, comments and decisions. In the same breath, I extol the virtues of frivolity and am perfectly happy sitting in this often hypocritical seat.

And this is my pledge – I am getting too old to play the game, so I’m changing the rules.

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Finding The Balance

This post first appeared on the Mouths of Mums website

For anyone who isn’t reading about Marissa Mayer, she recently became the new CEO of Yahoo and had a baby, all in the same few months. Her decision to come back to work and not allow “working from home” by Yahoo employees has caused a lot of debate over the right balance and women’s choices in returning to work.

I’ve had a lot of struggles coming late to the parenting game. By the time I became a mother, I was well on the way to a promising technology career, just said “I Do” to my best friend and we had both talked about, but not decided on, children in our future. I was planning a wedding, we had bought and started renovating our first home and life was finally feeling a bit closer to complete.

And then came Grace. As any mother is likely to tell you, the addition of a tiny baby filled me with more capacity for love and strange emotions than I thought possible while simultaneously draining me of every ounce of energy I had and giving me reserves of strength I feared I would never possess. Becoming a mother immediately made me want to apologise to my mother for everything I had ever done and cry about the innumerable possibilities that would face our baby girl in her life.

A few months later, being at home with Grace started to feel a bit restrictive. I loved our time together, but the inability to get things “done” and cross them off my daily list started frustrating me, so I thought I should go back to work and thankfully, I could do this from home. I started out one day a week, then two, then I wanted to get out of the house, so I looked at childcare options. We live in a country area, so getting one day, then two days childcare each week was no problem and while I wrestled feelings of motherly guilt every day I dropped her off, I knew she was safe, well fed, well loved and stimulated because of the particular childcare centre we had chosen.

There were judgements made of me when I went back to work, both within and external to the family, but I started to feel like I was more… me. The things that frustrated me at home (a feeling of never ticking things off a list and of not “contributing” in a fiscal sense) started to quiet. But I couldn’t get the balance right. Working part time is a strange thing – you always get saddled with a full time load and you never quite feel like you are seen as a full partner to the business, but since I was still the primary parent, I never quite felt like I was doing that job well either.

When I returned to work full time, we put Grace in childcare four days per week and her grandparents looked after her on the fifth day. My days are long, especially when I do the childcare drop off and pick up and my husband is away, but I feel like I have myself back again. I can contribute to my chosen field, I have ensured that Grace has the best and most stimulating care I can give her and she has the ability to socialise with children her own age and developmental time frame. She has room leaders not only dedicated to her care, but trained in providing a framework within which she learns and grows. She has generational contact with the grandparents and our weekends are magical because they are so special.

But most of all, I feel now that I am providing her with a strong, confident and solid female role model. I don’t put myself last in our family, I have time to myself when I need it and we are all getting the daily stimulation we need. I won’t lie and say it’s easy, it’s a constant logistical battle, but one that I’m slowly realising works for us.

What we have done is not for everyone, and I think that the general argument about a woman’s return to the workforce needs to appreciate a number of different viewpoints, mostly valuing any choice a woman makes that allows her to be a person that makes her confident and feel worthy.

I understand, but don’t agree with not allowing telecommuting – for my mind, it offers women options, while allowing them to bridge the responsibilities of home with those of the office. Taking away options and choice means limiting a woman’s potential once they have children.

 

For the working and non-working mothers out there, how have you found your balance? Have you found that family or societal judgment has framed your actions?

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Little Things?

The little things don’t feel little anymore. I’ve managed to catch a “little” cold, something that 15 years ago I could have willed away through stubbornness. It’s been three days now and it feels like it is settling in for a long vacation in my muscles. It got me to thinking what else is showing my age.

Getting up from the floor – having toddler around means there is a constant up and down of playing on the floor to climbing on the kitchen bench or up to the top bunk, then down again, possibly within the same five minutes. I’ve noticed that I try and talk her in to staying at the same altitude just so that I don’t have to figure out how to get up again. I can’t get up without the aid of something (even if it’s just the floor) whereas I used to be able to get up without using my hands at all, just push up through my feet (I totally remember doing this because it was a big thing in my group of friends and yes, I realise this meant we needed to find something else to occupy our time)

On a related note – I’ve got to lose weight.

Going Out at Night Doesn’t Even Sound Good in Theory Any More – It used to be that making plans and organising nights to catch up or party were awesome, even if the biggest of crazy nights never quite lived up to the hype, we still did it all. Now the thought of the planning stage terrifies and defeats me. How did I used to do it? My nights began at 11pm whereas now, that counts as a crazy late night if I’m not  falling asleep on the couch and drooling on my arm. Just knowing that I have dinner plans makes me automatically think of excuses of why I have to leave early – I hope this phase ends soon

On a related note – kids are the best excuse ever.

I don’t own clothes I can’t wear to work except “lounge” attire – I have a pretty decent work wardrobe – I’ve curated a few cute dresses that can be worn in hot or cold weather with a few changes in cardigans, jackets, stockings and shoes and I’m rocking the block colour. But when I go shopping for anything that isn’t work clothing, I end up buying yoga pants and soft cotton t-shirts. I bought a pair of jeans after my husband forced me because I didn’t want to go jeans shopping but which are now considered “dressy” non-work attire. An time I now go out at night with friends, I wear work clothes because I don’t have a choice. I keep forgetting that I have a life outside work, sleep and being a mother. Lucky my friends are forgiving!

On a related note – must buy more support undergarments

I’m totally buying in to the anti-aging propaganda – Now, I’m not one who honestly thinks that a few slaps of expensive cream will make me look ten again, but there are certain products that  am convinced make me look better – Alpha-H for one, anything L’Occitane for two and mascara – oh mascara, you are always there for me to make me look wake and together with myself. I’m subscribed to a bunch of boxes to see if there are products worth investing in, but so far I just seem to think 90% of them are all the same – a moisturiser is a moisturiser is a moisturiser, it just depends on it’s emulsification level as to how it feels immediately and in the short term.

So things that got no thought at all for my first 35 years of life are all of a sudden becoming issues. I hope there’s no further decline, but of course, I do know how unlikely that is.

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