Saying Goodbye

I’ve woken up to a new reality in the last two weeks. I’ve struggled, I’ve tired, I’ve gotten angry and cried. But it all came to a head the moment my son uttered one powerful question- “Mummy, when will you have time for me?”

 

My inquisitive, intelligent 5.5 year old wonder boy simply asked for me. Not for toys, or McDonalds for dinner, not for a game on the iPad or lollies he knows he shouldn’t have. He came right out and said that he needed me.

 

And at the very moment, short of breath and full of love, I laid my life out and prioritized. I took my business out of the equation and I’m left with more time, more moments with my children and husband and the time I’ve desperately needed to study in.

 

It’s been many, many years since I just felt like doing nothing. I’ve kept myself on the extreme side of busy and then complained that I can’t switch my brain off. I’ve complained of lack of sleep, I’ve complained about lack of support and the lack of time I had to do what I wanted to do for myself.

 

It took my eldest child asking a simple, heartfelt question to get me to stop, switch off yet focus at the same time. I need to focus on my babies, even though I’m always with them, my mind is not. Taking my business out of the equation has instantly meant less stress, more time and more of me to give my children.

 

The writing side will not disappear. Writing is a big part of me and that won’t go away. The business side of writing is something I’m moving away from. I don’t know if this is a permanent move but for now, working on my business is the last thing I feel like doing. And for now, I’m not looking back.

 

I felt so strongly about working for myself, about proving that I could do it with minimal help. But my son caught me out. He proved without realizing that one woman can’t have it all- the study, the part time job, the small business and the family. You can’t give 100% to all these things. There is no such thing as Super Woman and for now, I’m settling on being just a woman and more importantly, being the Mum I love being.

 

I don’t regret this decision in the slightest and will look back in the years to come and remember the breathtaking moment I made the decision to feel better and make the best life for my family. Writing is amazing, but my family is all I need.

Does your job make you THIS happy?

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What are some of the reasons why people aren’t working in their dream industry in their dream position?

Nursing was only one of my dreams which occasionally floats off into the background. Writing is my passion because it really consumes me.

When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing!

What’s stopping you from living your dream?

My Favourite Right Now/ Why I’m Who I Am

Today’s experiences are tomorrow’s memories

{Barbara Johnson}

I’m living my life in the hope that I have plenty of years ahead of me and that my time isn’t cut short. Every part of every day is important to me. I try not to forget the fine details, for these are the ones that will illuminate the landscape of my children’s own memories.

2014 Decluttered

March 1st 2014 is my Declutter Deadline.

My Declutter checklist surmounts to:

- I want to WANT to stay at home and feel relaxed and happy doing so

- I want to spend more time blogging, on Project Life and my photography and of course, more time with my precious children

- I want an area of my (too small) house dedicated to me (so I can write in peace without a blonde goblin attached)

- I need to organise my bedroom first

- I always get sidetracked when decluttering

- I want to be clutter free by March 1st 2014

- The most disorganized cupboard in my house is a tie between my end of the wardrobe and my plastics cupboard

- Something that I don’t need anymore but I’m having trouble parting with is my ginormous book case

A New Year doesn’t mean new beginnings.  Every minute can be a new beginning.

Before I get back to work, I’m getting decluttered.

Follow the 52 week Declutter Challenge on Instagram and upload your declutter-ationary pics!

#declutter52

I know nothing about Australian Politics but I do know this….

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My two reasons for EVERYTHING I do.

I’ve been on Maternity Leave since just before Christmas last year. It has been the most amazing, eye-opening experience. And that’s just the being a stay-at-home-mum part. I gave birth in February to my beautiful daughter and have been the primary carer for my two piplings ever since {my son is 5 next month}. While my husband works full time, I care for the kids, do kinder and childcare runs and all the “mundane” mum tasks. I, however, am relishing the experience because I never got this stay-at-home experience with my first child. It’s been too perfect for words to just be focusing on my new baby and making sure my son feels like he is {more than ever} my world.

Such a brilliant part of my leave, and one that has put my mind at ease and reduced stress levels is the fact that I was fortunate enough to be able to receive employer-funded maternity leave, as well as paid parental leave via the Government. It has meant that as well as taking up my new role as Mum of Two, I have also been able to still contribute in the same way financially to our household, which means a lot for my confidence, my identity and for my goals in life. I am woman, hear me roar!!!!

Thanks to the Government, my husband was lucky enough to receive the two weeks paid paternity leave to spend with us at home. It was time where he bonded with his new girl, spent time just being with his son {when he otherwise would’ve been hard at work} and giving me the much needed support in those early days with a newborn.

The hunt for our new PM will come to a head shortly and for Mums and parents everywhere, the Paid Parental Leave and Maternity Leave Schemes could be a deciding factor in where many votes lie on September 7th.

What has this paid leave meant to me? Everything. Most importantly, I have felt I have been able to combine my role as primary carer for my children with secondary income earner. Many families, for example those in a single income situation or for single mothers, may not have this opportunity. This precious time getting to know and bond with my new daughter has been a time I will remember for the rest of my days. And even with the 18 week scheme currently offered by our Government {it will grow to 26 weeks, if Abbott gets in}, I felt extremely lucky.

I can’t imagine that many couples who are considering starting a family or adding to their brood would look past Tony Abbott’s 26 Week Paid Parental Leave Scheme. You can read more about his plans for this scheme here. Some may not like him as Leader of our great country, but to me, family is my priority and if this scheme was to come into action, it would get my vote. Simple.

I put my family first and believe that it is such a fantastic opportunity for women to receive paid leave whilst caring for their young children. As well as providing much needed income at the time, the benefits include: having more time to secure a child care place/sort out childcare programs for when and if your child needs to enter care, women are less stressed upon re-entry into the workforce, women are more inclined to return to the same type of work they took leave from in the first place ({great for employers who want experienced employees} and apparently is much better for women financially when it comes to superannuation, retirement planning and time out of the workforce over the course of their careers.

According to Mr Abbott and his Gang,

“Of the more than 30 countries in the OECD offering a paid parental leave scheme, Australia is one of only two nations that fail to pay parental leave based on a replacement wage”

(Liberal Party, July 2013)

And under this scheme, a mother’s wage will be fully replaced, superannuation and all. Sounds good to me! Let’s hope the promises are delivered upon for all those hopeful parents with their fingers and toes crossed. It’s hard enough to create a baby for most couples, it’s seriously hard work to grow a baby then give birth. So then the ACTUAL hard yacka of raising and nurturing the child with full payment is something I would smile upon.

For me, it has meant stress-free time. I can have those nights where I get no sleep and we have the chance to catch up the next day, at home, where we are comfortable and all I need to do is catch the kids up on sleep, rather than leave them to go off to work in that foggy sleep-deprived state. All you parents out there know that fog, it take so long to lift after a new baby has arrived! It has given me the greatest opportunity to form a strong bond with my daughter. I feel I know her more than I knew my son when he was the same age because she hasn’t really had to leave my side yet.

I know nothing about Australian Politics but I know that this is something I’d seriously consider in my voting plan on September 7th. Anything that help parents gets a stamp of approval in my book.

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My precious bookworm

How do you feel about Paid Parental Leave and Maternity Leave? What do you think could be improved? How would these schemes change your life?

LEJ

My Anti Bucket List- Stuff I Really Can’t See Myself EVER Doing Once or Doing Again

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Taking inspiration from this great article I read on news.com.au in the wee hours of this morning, and following on from my Bucket List post I published not long ago (which you can read here), I’ve decided to make public the stuff which I will NOT do in my lifetime. I’m not thinking short-term, because I will hopefully live until a ripe old age, I’m thinking like well into my 80′s (if I’m lucky).

So as I’m now 31 years of age, I’ve given it my best and come up with a list of 31 things I, Lauren, will NOT EVER do in my lifetime.

Enjoy!

  1. swim with sharks {even gummy ones- holy moly they creep me out with their slimy skin and streamline swimming!}
  2. go skiing (again) {long story short- think dislocated shoulder after a Lauren-versus-tree incident at high speeds}
  3. eat wasabi (again) {holy mother of burning tongue hell!}
  4. bungee jumping {I have developed an INTENSE, and boy do I mean INTENSE! abnormal fear of heights. It’s bordering on a phobia I think. Yes, self-diagnosed. Lucky I’m only 5ft nothing tall}
  5. abseil {again} {brings back frightening memories from a camp as a child where I was told “it’s okay Lauren, it’s only concrete, you’ll bounce”} {!!!!!!!! is all I have to add to that}
  6. having another child {I’d love to NOT EVER go through another pregnancy, but yeah, give me another cute pipling and I’d be happy}
  7. saying “yes” to everything I get asked to do {I’m a people pleaser and it has really worked against me in the self-esteem department}
  8. Zumba {just no!}
  9. going on another date-date again {happily married to the man of my dreams thank you!} {ps we do go on dates occasionally, I’d like to more often, but that’s the subject of another “how to have more time when you have two little piplings” blog post}
  10. own a bird {again, I’ve done this before. It ended quite badly. I’m not ready for friends of the feathered kind}
  11. like Rachel Danger, the creator of the viral post My Anti Bucket List, I won’t EVER run a marathon {I was built to run up until my early twenties. Now all I run for is cover when my children wake up in the morning}
  12. sky dive {insert terrified scream here. no thanks. keep me INSIDE the plane or ON the ground}
  13. go on a scary upside down, round and round etc ride at a show {again, I’ve done this before but no, never willing to do this again. God bless my iron stomach and its need to stay on stable land}
  14. i will never smoke or take drugs {the most prudish person you might meet, but hey I value my lungs, my organs and my senses thank you very much!}
  15. take on too many clients at the same time {comes back to my “people pleaser” roots}
  16. saying “yes” to everyone and everything {no, just no!}
  17. volunteering to sing in public, which rules out ever going to Karaoke {I sing in my car only, my poor children’s ears….}
  18. walk in the city alone at night {Can’t trust the Victorian Parole Board to keep us Victorian Women safe in the community, so I’ll take matters into my own hands….and most likely become a hermit}
  19. going on a bus tour in Europe { I can drive, I’m middle-aged now, no Contiki Tours with randoms for me}
  20. eat any animal offal or leg of ANY kind {frog, chicken, pigs trotters. EWWWWW. No}
  21. become vegetarian {don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my vegetables and love avoiding meat occasionally, but I can’t see myself passing up a delicious roast chicken or scotch fillet any time soon}
  22. spending a tiny amount on my children for Christmas and Birthdays {I love spoiling them, what can I say?}
  23. visit Iceland or Greenland or Antarctica {Warm old sunny Australia for me, thanks}
  24. FULLY completing a daily “to do” list {there are always things I just don’t get done- maybe I’m trying to do too much. Maybe I need more naps}
  25. ignore someone who I think is struggling {I like to help, Nurses are built like that}
  26. painting our house {I REALLY dislike painting. It’s more tiresome and boring than watching paint dry. And the fumes make me see noises!}
  27. die my hair black {I’m just too pale}
  28. ending my writing career {I’ll die with fingers on the keyboard or with a pen in my hand}
  29. having a good night’s sleep {two children under 5, what can I say? zzzzzzzzzzzzz}
  30. becoming a body builder {I like my womanly curves and pasty, yet feckled skin. No bronzing, weights or protein shakes for me. Just the tiger stripes I earned growing my piplings for a total of 18months- glad I’m not an elephant, two years for each pregnancy would have me reaching for the butter knives….}
  31. AND last but not least- getting a tattoo {scared of the pain, don’t like needles, don’t like the idea of permanent images on my skin, what if I don’t like them in like 5 minutes? Temporary tattoos that come in bubble gum packets all the way for me}

Have you created your bucket list? Now you know what you want to do, it’ll be easy to work out what you DON’T want to do with the rest of your life!

Link your bucket list and anti bucket list blogs below!

LEJ

{A} Little Red Bucket List- there can be more than one list right?

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So as I’m now considered “middle-aged” {at 31?}, I thought I’d start my own Bucket List. I love lists, they rock my world and make it go round. Without them, I’d be lost. Sometimes every “to-do” gets crossed off with a grin soaked in achievement, mostly, I just start a new list!

 Getting a tad adventurous, but thinking that all of this is totally achievable.

take my children to my favourite places in Australia: Blinman, Chambers Gorge, Sydney {TICK!}, Ayers Rock, Perth, Port Douglas, Broome, Darwin, Cape York Peninsula and Margaret River

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(Image courtesy of emurun.com.au)

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(Image courtesy of http://www.queensland-australia.com/cape-york-map.html)

learn another language and speak it fluently whilst holidaying in that country (I pick…….French!)

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(Image courtesy of my.englishclub.com)

finish renovating our house {to my satisfaction} and at four long months and counting to paint a small room {over many stretched out weekends, I might add}, this will be no mean feat!

Painting our new room. If only it was the fun, creative kind.....

Painting our new room. If only it was the fun, creative kind…..

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publish a children’s book or series of books {if I get keen} and have my kids provide the illustrations- topic/s yet to be decided. Ideas?

Master Nearly-5's morning masterpiece- Pirate Island Hotel, complete with treasure map, his grandmother (who is now an Angel) and his baby sister, who fights pirates.

Master Nearly-5′s morning masterpiece- Pirate Island Hotel, complete with treasure map, his grandmother (who is now an Angel) and his baby sister, who fights pirates from her crib.

attend the World Pipe Band Championships one year {well, I lie. I’d like to do this every year!}

Very inspired after watching the Grade 1 Heats live from Glasgow Green {little known fact about Little Red- I play{ed} the bagpipes}

You can tune in here:

http://new.livestream.com/radiomagnetictv/theworlds2013

{Remember the time differences people!}

collect every Disney DVD known to cartoon and human kind {for my kids. No, I lie again. For me}

yes, I have some of these.  BUT I want ALL of them. *Hint Hint Santa!*

yes, I have some of these. BUT I want ALL of them. *Hint Hint Santa!*

live long enough to see my grandchildren {yes, I want lots of these cute goblins} get married

of course they will take after me!

of course they will take after me!

complete a photography course

an {old} shot of the hills in  the Toolangi State Forest

an {old} shot of the hills in the Toolangi State Forest

raise my children to be happy, healthy and helpful human beings

we'll keep climbing hills, and hopefully some mountains too.

we’ll keep climbing hills, and hopefully some mountains too.

  • start an online supportive community for young mothers who have lost both their parents {in my world, which a lot of the time, just includes me, this group is in high demand unfortunately!}
the most beautiful, kind soul you could have ever hoped to have known. My precious Mum and I shortly afetr I was born. I miss her more than words could describe.

the most beautiful, kind soul you could have ever hoped to have known. My precious Mum and I shortly after I was born. I miss her more than any words could describe.

What’s on your bucket list? When did you realise a bucket list could help kick-start your dreams into reality? Getting everything down on paper can make what you want clear and gives you direction. We all get a rush from that feeling of achieving a goal or having a wish come true. It spurs us on to achieve more and more, reaching higher every time.

i want to be this person.

i want to be this person.

LEJ

Organizational Skills- Optional. Stamina- A Must.

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So this morning Master Nearly-5 had his first “I don’t want to go to kinder”, “I can’t put on my velcro shoes today“, “I don’t want that breakfast”, “I’m about to explode” meltdown. Set off by Miss 6 Months giggling at him crying, Master Nearly-5 was hysterical. “Tell her to stop laughing at me, it’s not funny!!!!’ he screamed as he tried to get ready. I must admit after an hour of tears, repeated outfit changes thanks to giving birth to a reflux-laden baby, spilling the milk and literally crying over it, and falling over in the driveway in full view of the neighbours, I had had just about enough!

Pushing my patience, testing how far the boundaries stretch. Using the waterworks as a tool of his sneaky trade. Master Nearly-5 is going through a phase which requires me to be super on-the-ball and strategic about my choice of words and actions.

After sorting through the drama that was the first waking hours this morning, the Master was settled with his kinder friends and playing happily. So where was this boy as I stood crying over milk this morning? Ah, that’s right. I’m Evil Mum apparently, the Mum that yells, that punishes and makes rules instead of strawberry cupcakes. And the Kinder Teachers aren’t like Evil Mum, so best behaviour is part of the show.

It took all my energy, just to get out the door this morning. After what has seemed like weeks of grappling with this child I love so much, I let out a sigh of relief. It took all my patience and skills just to get him out of our house today. I did it!

For those who don’t know, Master Nearly-5 is completely healthy, physically and mentally. No underlying concerns. But WOW, he hasn’t been the easiest child to nurture of late.

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As all the mums (and moms) would know, when you fall pregnant and give birth, a lot of your parenting dreams can fall by the wayside. Not everything turns out as you planned. And there’s little you can do but just accept what you can and use the supports around you.

Your friendships turn into play dates. Relaxation, it turns out, is the point at which the matchsticks you’ve used to prop your eyelids open pop out and you fall into a deep sleep. Sleep now includes time fighting for an inch of doona, fighting for mere minutes of uniterrupted slumber with three in the bed, which becomes four in the bed on weekends. The tiny child, who needs you the most wakes you up for a feed and with that, you realize it’s not long before the sun will be up and all you’ve got will be needed again. And yes, you really do need to do it all again. For many more years yet.

People ask “what’s happened, are you okay?” when my house isn’t a complete mess. People comment “Oh it must be great to have a sleeping baby at home”- Miss 6 Months DOES NOT DO DAY SLEEPS. So no, it’s not so great. My husband wonders why I’m up until all hours doing things that could be done in the daylight. The brain of a mother never swtiches off, is what I constantly need to remind him.

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And it’s at this point that I find myself this morning. For someone that’s usually so organized in all facets of life, seeing the milk on the floor, watching Master Nearly-5 fight to within an inch of his childhood to not have to go to dreaded kinder (who’d want to go somewhere where you can eat when you want, spend time with your friends, have a nap if needed, read a good book or two and get really messy with paint and or bubbles?) and having Miss 6 Months teething and in pain, yet still managing to laughing at us both really woke me up.

You can be the most organized Mum in the universe- one who labels jars of spices, has a clothes sorting system for lights and darks and never EVER washes them together. The Mum with children who are enrolled in 18 different activities on a weekly basis and activities and times never get muddled up. The Mum who has a completely finished to-do list each day and everyone is still happy and smiling. One who never misses an appointment or arrives late thanks to great diary keeping. That Mum who can visit four friends for play dates in one day and still manage to cook a roast dinner before bathing the kids. But if your Missus and Masters want to tantrum and fight, to demand a “day off” from kinder, or to just plain test you, it’ll take all you’ve got to get back on track.

It makes you take a step back and realise just how tricky parenting can be, when you truly believe that work work achieves more than house work, when feeding yourself needs to be accomplished in a matter of two minutes, give or take a few moments of heart burn. When adult versus child negotiation skills are the first on your CV. When just going grocery shopping requires you to turn into an octopus combined with event planner and child-wrangler all in one. And I really need to get a new internal memory card- I missed five things off my shopping list last night and didn’t even take Master Nearly-5 and Miss 6 Months with me. I went shopping alone, for me-time, yet they were all I could think of.

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So before I return to work work this drizzly morning in Melbourne, here’s a friendly reminder from one busy Mum to the next: I typed this entire post whilst wrestling with Miss 6 Months, making phone calls to electricity companies and trying to eat my own breakfast, so just go with the flow. And go easy on yourself. Event though the tantrums are difficult to cope with in the midst of one, it’s all part of learning to be part of a family. If washing doesn’t get done, it’s ok. And definitely don’t cry over spilled milk. You’ll look like a “silly goose”, according to Master Nearly-5.

LEJ

Blog Challenge from a Little Red Fan- When Have You Felt Out of Place?

Before I go on, take a look back at my post about how having confidence shapes you here.

There have many instances in my life, as far back as I can remember, where I stand still in a group of people and realise I’m a bit different. At primary school, my friends were going to their beach houses for holidays and proudly speaking of their time away collecting shells and riding waves. Then there was me, standing up quite shyly in front of the class, talking about sleeping in swags (no tents, or rarely a tent to house my family in for the night on our trips away), going to bush pubs to play pool with my dad, driving through fast-flowing waterways in our dust-covered Troopie (who Dad fondly named Bertha) and never, EVER, was there a mention of hotels, room service, theme parks, shopping or expensive restaurants in my show-and-tell stories. And no one paid attention because no one could understand what this experience was like at a young age without actually living it. Our trips were about the experience. Firing guns into the central Australian red sand, being so covered in flies you’d have to wear a net over your hat permanently, eating food out of eskis for weeks on end, being “showered” by our mums in rivers with buckets of fresh (freezing) water, playing with Aboriginal children at the local shopping mall (a pub, a general store and a petrol pump in the middle of nowhere) and your Mum being asked “how much for the two girls?” by an Aboriginal family, being grateful for a pub lunch every so often, waking up in the middle of the night and realising that you are sleeping right underneath a sprinkle of stars that no one else can see from this viewpoint except you. Waking up to bacon and eggs cooking on a fire and not having any electricity to use but the motor of the Troopie to power the cassette player. Our childhood experiences were exceptional and I felt out-of-place, maybe a little misunderstood, talking about them as a child when no one knew where Innamincka or Tibooburra were. No one my age had heard of Burke and Wills or the Dig Tree. No one cared. I know where I’d choose to travel along if I was given the Oodnadatta Track or the Tube in London. But as I grew up, I realised that my experiences and their uniqueness were helping me to feel more comfortable with being me.

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As I became a teenager, I had accepted that I wasn’t like any of the typical girls who went to the private school I went to. No overseas trips to boast about, I didn’t own horses, I lived in an average suburb and we never knew any sort of extravagance. Being taken out for dinner to a restaurant was a great night out in itself. I never felt hard done by, or like we were missing out on anything. You don’t miss what you don’t know, right? I was totally into music from a young age and my taste took a few people at school by surprise. My choice of instruments to learn, bagpipes to name the most “strange”, shocked and stunned. I began to feel not so much out-of-place, but comfortable with being me.

I didn’t rock the in fashions, but still looked respectable. I didn’t drink underage or do drugs (I still don’t even know how to smoke a cigarette- an “achievement” I’m significantly proud of) so anyone would think I was a bit weird. I can see some of my old friends saying “What have you been doing all your life if you haven’t been to Thailand or Bali?” but I’m just happy where I am and always have been. All my friends were following trends. I never did really. There comes a point in time where you go from feeling “out-of-place” to being “happy in your own skin”. And it’s a momentous milestone I think. I think reaching this new-found place in your life can make all the difference between living a happy life and living life a tortured soul.

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As I became an adult, I was still getting comments, even from family members “Geez you’re weird, but I still love you”. Over silly things like what I found funny. My favourite songs. What I wanted to wear. Comments I’d make and things I’d cry over. Suggestions for things to do on a weekend. It’s so much easier now to shrug those feelings away, the ones that seek to separate me from the person I am comfortable being now.

I was thinking about how much I’ve changed as a person and as a grown woman since having my two children, since I became a nurse and more recently, since I started my own business. And I think that when you feel out-of-place, you can think about it from two perspectives. You can feel gawky in your own skin and not feel snug being who you are and showing people who you are. Or you can take a good look around and remember that not one person is the same from the next and we all have flaws and strengths. Maybe the people you associate with aren’t being true to themselves and that makes you feel out-of-place, because you are forthcoming, upfront and confident in how you feel about your place in the world. As the old advice goes, you only feel the way others make you feel. You only feel this way because you accept the way others treat you. And of course, if others treat you differently and you don’t have the emotional capacity to be strong and be yourself, you will most definitely feel out-of-place. I really believe in accepting people for who they are and loving them regardless.

Surely there is something to love about everyone. I embrace the weird, the unique, the peculiar, the amazing, the bizarre and the uncanny in everyone. I don’t expect the same good fortune back but at least I know where I’m at and where I’m headed. I like the same comforts as the next person, but I’m content and always ready for a challenge.

So in answer to the Little Red Fan who asked about a time I felt out-of-place, I can’t give you one. I’m happily living a life that allows me to be me, to be my quirky self. I wouldn’t trade it for routine for one minute!

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When have you felt awkward and out-of-place? Have you learnt to accept what you cannot change? I’d love to hear about how you have overcome feelings like this to become the brilliant, inspiring people you are today.

LEJ