Holidays that Heal

Holidays are time to unwind and relax. If you have been following this blog over the years you will know that holidays and I have a strange relationship.

When I first had children I kept planning holidays that looked like grown up vacations, with plenty of books, time, wine and a good balance of exercise and recreation. The reality of early wake ups, afternoon naps, nappy changes, food and needing to entertain kids (in a strange and sometimes hostile environment) made for a grumpy mummy and a less than good holiday.

As the family got older and grew in number we discovered that beach holidays worked for us. There was always something to do at the beach. The beach. Swimming, long walks, collecting shells, whale spotting, fishing, rook pool gazing, sand castle making……there was everything for everyone. Now we have young adults in the family there is surfing and stand up paddle boarding too. Not to mention the endless photo ops for everyone’s social media feed. Apparently selfies and sunsets are the go. Just saying.

So this last week has been a holiday for all seven of us. And we had what the little people call a real holiday, we took a plane somewhere. We live 3 hours away from a capital city so flying anywhere takes an enormous effort. The road trip to get to the airport is momentous. Then there is the flight and the hustle for the the best seats and being the first to collect the luggage from the carousel. But you know what? It worked for us. All seven of us could carry our own bags and hand luggage. There were no nappies or needs for extra snacks. I was hands free on our journey and for a moment I did relax. A glimpse of what was to come.

We had a great week in Sydney. There was sun and warmth and lots of walking around beach cliff tops, meandering in local cafes, ferry rides and the odd museum and gallery. We spent time with family and dined with old friends. And we had time to read. And reflect.

My man had told the family in jest that this holiday was about ‘healing’. We all laughed at the time. But I think that is what the holiday did for us. We all had to work together to accommodate seven individuals with different desires and needs, we lived in a new space, navigated public transport and learned to slow down.

And as we immersed ourselves in a new place and allowed time to soak into us, creativity is reborn, new dreams, ideas and hopes.

Here is to more holidays that heal. S x

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Taking your Tween, Teen shopping

Shopping with your kids. How do you go? I am not talking doing the grocery run with tired and grumpy per-schooler. I  mean serious clothes shopping for the tween, teen and young adult.
Here is what I have learned.

Waiting.

There is always a lot of waiting. Whilst the mission of our shopping expedition may have been outlined before our departure it always seems to be difficult to stay on course. Looking for a new pair of jeans can evolve to browsing jewellery, boots and a new jumper. Be prepared to muster much patience. See image above-  I got bored and started taking selfies for Instagram.

Opinions.

At times it is seriously important to offer advice about style, cut and fit, even if the comments are not welcome. This is after all the role of the mother to guard against your child (daughter?) showing too much here or there and to be realistic about what style suits them not some celebrity. But there are other occasions when positive remarks are called for – there is nothing more frustrating than not fitting into an outfit because some body part is too big or too small. So encouragement and perseverance is required.

Negotiations.

The adventure to shop for jeans can quickly turn into shopping for several pairs of jeans. So be prepared to negotiate price, payment ( are you paying or am I?) and all the practicalities of making a purchase.

Teaching.

And this outing with your older child can be a great teaching experience – how does EFTPOS work, what is lay-by, budgeting, saving and so one. You can also teach about quality over quantity, buying clothes for seasons and being able to flexible with your expectations of what you had in mind.

Other.

Very often there is a child or two who actually hate shopping. So the ‘buy in bulk’, try on outfits at home and then do the returns later have proven to be great options. This can also translate into online shopping. We don’t have access to the full range of shops for special items – think undergarments, formal dresses, black tie and so on. So shopping together at the computer can be rewarding. Just take care to read all the terms and conditions about returns and postage.

Shopping – I am not good at this, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind shopping. But as an OP Shop Queen from years gone by I find it actually harder to make a purchase when I have choice of style and size. I have been conditioned to look for the treasure and the absolute bargain in the local thrift shop. And you can find great things…..it just takes time, patience and a whole of negotiating of expectations. Teaching your kids to op shop, now that is another blog post in the making.

Shells

I stopped collecting shells some time ago. I didn’t intend to do it. Perhaps it was because my girls tended to leave each beach trip with buckets of shells which we then had to wash, dry and sort. So I just stopped looking. They did enough beach combing for all of us.

 But the reality is I love hunting for treasures on the sand. I am in awe of the colour, shapes and textures of each fragile shell. The pattern and composition. The unexpected act of mindfulness and connection to our creator the beach walk brings.

Tis been so long

It is quite possibly 14 years since I have stepped into this suburban city pool. The girls are splashing around and my man is cutting laps. This is where my boy did a Vicswim program at age 3 or 4 and well, he refused to get in the water after day one. Perhaps not a big deal, but when you are juggling a toddler and baby this kind of stubborn behaviour makes everything go pear shape pretty fast.

Nowadays I write and read pool side. Last year I managed to complete an entire MOOC while the kids swam each week. But I feel for the young Mums, anxiously supervising wet kids, swim lesson meltdowns and their own entry into the water. Do you remember? When you don’t have the right post baby bathers, when you haven’t seen the inside of a beauty salon for years and you are struggling to feel respectable doing the 5 metre dash from chair to pool? Girls I remember….but hang in there. The day will come when you can let them swim without getting in, when you too can cut laps and enjoy the freedom of the water again. You will have time and you will get your mojo back. 

Food Connects

I have a man that cooks. In fact he loves to cook, when there is time. I have encouraged him to make more time because we all enjoy his food. And I think the process of preparing and cooking a meal is quietly therapeutic. Some days I would disagree with this idea (think frazzled Mumma with no time to cook) but for the most part cooking allows us to love, to share and to connect with each other. The food becomes a meal which becomes a shared activity of love and our life together. Enjoy your food today and be thankful for the hands that prepared it and the one who provided it.

Having it all Kinda Sucks

image: pexels.com

 There are mommy blogs, parenting websites, teaching articles and lifestyle writers who clog up your social media feed with pretty pics. I am guilty of following it all. Sometimes it is great inspiration, other times it is eye candy on some days there is a tip worth implementing that saves me stress and time with the kidlets. And then there is an article that literally stops you in your tracks. Put down your coffee cup, stop multitasking and read the article fully. S.L.O.W.L.Y.

Amy Westervelt’s raw and candid article about working from home days after the birth of her second child puts the whole “Work Life Balance Debate” in perspective. Well, at least a new framework for women to ponder. A challenge. A reprimand perhaps. A reflection.

I would really love to know what you think about Amy’s insights. Here is a sneak peak:

Here’s what I think is going on: this whole “having it all” business has been grossly misinterpreted by our society at large. The purpose of all that bra burning back in the 60s was to give women choices. You wanna have sex without getting pregnant? Cool, hit that. You’re pregnant but in no position to raise a baby (or were sexually assaulted and impregnated, or are pregnant with a severely ill or deformed baby, or any number of other scenarios)? No problem, you can choose not to have that baby. You want to go to work? Do it! You want to stay at home and raise kids? Great. You want to do a little bit of both? Groovy. You want to be stylish and wear makeup? Or frumpy and never wash? Hey, you do you.
Doing all of it at the same time was never the idea. By that definition, single working moms have been “having it all” for ages and yet society does not hold the single working mom up as the goal for women everywhere. No, no, that’s just what happens when you’re poor and have no choice. Except actually, that’s what happens to all but the very very rich when you encourage women to work and have children but don’t change any other part of the world they live in.
No woman (or man, for that matter) ever said, hey, you know what would be great? If I could get up at 5am, make breakfast for everyone, then get dressed (with heels, natch), drop my kids off at daycare, go to work for 10 hours, pick the kids up, come home, cook dinner, clean up, put the kids to bed, work in bed ’til midnight so I don’t get behind at work, then do it all again tomorrow on 5 hours sleep.

Even if your life does not look like the rat race described above, you may catch yourself doing crazy stupid things that require great juggle and execution, for NO reason. Well at least no good reason you can recall when you took on that new job, volunteer position, art class, extra study load or the books for the family farm. No good reason.

The truth is we often get ourselves caught up in the extreme sport of family life work balance. We add more and more to the do list, we fail to stop doing anything and then we wonder why we are exhausted, sleep deprived, have no energy for sex, love and an adult conversation. And usually all of things we are doing are GOOD things.

Our capacity to keep giving and keep juggling is limited. But on most days we fail to acknowledge that very fact. Our smartphone out smarts us here. Our smartphone knows what capacity it has – 67% battery life left. It also slows down when we leave too many apps open and occasionally it will glitch and freeze. Me – I am not sure I could tell you how much battery life I have left. I assume I can do it all, always. And then I wonder why I struggle to get out of bed of a morning or why I cannot listen to three conversations at once on the car ride home from school.

Amy Westervelt’s confession about having it all has got me thinking again. About how I can be my best, how I can thrive in the place I have been called to be now. And not succumb to the grand ideas of chasing it all at once when my battery is about to die. How about you?

Saying NO to learn

image: pexels.com

Focus focus. This could be me this week juggling family life and a surge of ‘work’. My work is a strange beast at the moment. I am a research student and I am exploring some areas of great interest to me- women, leadership, learning and thinking about living in a rural area. I am trying to pull together some new ideas about how living in a rural space impacts women’s identity, especially those who are working in leadership roles in education.

I am reading, writing, interviewing, transcribing, reflecting, reading again and yes, doing more writing. (I have another blog life here) I would love to know how you juggle your life  and its demands – family life, work and study. Whether you are doing an online course, research, some vocational training or professional learning I am interested to know how you create space in your schedule to do all that you have to  get done. Do you outsource household tasks? Do you rely on extended family to help with child care? Do you and your partner play tag with home duties? Are your children expected to do more?

Perhaps this question is even more important. What do you say no to, so that you can keep on learning? Tell me, please! xx