Saying NO to learn


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

Work Life Balance

In the last few weeks I have had several conversations with women who find the daily juggle of work and life overwhelming. Some women are too busy to recognise that they are not paying enough attention to their health, their partner, their children. Others are mindful of everything that they are not doing – they are not present with their kids, they are not physically available to help anyone. They have blinkers on, to do lists tattooed to their forehead and very little room for error. But I have experienced this first hand in recent weeks. Sickness, fatigue all conspire to push you over the edge and each ball comes tumbling down. Who thought of this juggling anyway?  

At the same time I know that control quickly, cunningly becomes our idol. We are more interested in staying in control than achieving any meaningful sense of balance. My ability to control ‘life’ is more important than how I love my husband, how I serve my kids, how I help my neighbour. If you cannot let go of all the balls you have in the air, for fear of failure or disappointment then you need to talk to a trusted friend. And this is me, right now, today. Too many balls and tight ropes. Most of which I have contrived to put in place. @#&%&!

Noone achieves  a work life balance. There is no such thing. We are called in this life to be all that we can be for His glory. One ball at a time. One day at a time. For He is in control.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 9

A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life

A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life: how to have it all, do it all and keep it all together. 
Juanita  Phillips is a respected Australian journalist currently working as an ABC presenter. Her epiphany that a vintage pressure cooker could help to save her fledging endeavour into motherhood and the juggle of work and family life is compelling read. I really enjoyed  her candid and honest account of the hardship of doing life with two small children, the stress of a huge mortgage, juggling a career in the public eye, a marriage and more.
In her 2010 book, Phillips reflects on family life, food, how we use our time, keep our home, nurture our family and cook. Her research into how women in generations past had to work to complete the laundry, food preparation, cooking and cleaning is sobering. No longer do we wake at 4.30am on a Monday to light the copper to undertake the weekly washing!

The final focus on the pressure cooker and the recipes like the “7 minute risotto” are interesting. I don’t think Phillips started with a broad cooking repertoire before being forced to cook for her family. So the concept of pressure cooking has appeal in our time poor and green aware culture. And I actually like the book. It has made me reflect on those early years of small children and what daily life looked like.

But sadly the undoing of it all for me was this. In Chapter 5 on Family Phillips makes suggestions for surviving the work/family juggle.

 “Commit to staying together until your oldest child turns five. Don’t make any life changing decisions before then. The first five years of parenting are by far the most difficult – both mothers and father can suffer post natal depression and heightened anxiety levels- and it’s no mystery why many couples split up during this time.” (p 158)

I read this and applauded her. It is so hard doing life with small children. I know this. It is so refreshing to hear someone in the secular world advocate staying together. But in the research and reading for this review I noted that her marriage is now over. And she is now partnered with a prominent politician.

I know things happen but guess I am disappointed. The pressure cooker is a great idea and one I am keen to try out. But maybe Phillips needs to do more than encourage her readers to ‘commit to staying together until your oldest child is five.’ To survive, thrive, to see the fruit of our labours as mothers and fathers we need to commit for life – to each other, our children, our community and our maker. Otherwise, life becomes just one big pressure cooker.