New beginnings

End of the road

It’s a funny old time right now. Its my last day at work and I’m at that crux between leaving one career and starting a new one elsewhere. I feel the sadness and nostalgia of leaving where I am now, but the excitement, anticipation and (I must admit) anxiety of starting somewhere new. I haven’t really written about my experience of making the decision to leave a job I quite enjoy at times, and an organisation that I am rather fond of because I haven’t been quite sure how to process it all. In all honesty, I think it’s been a bit of a shock to the system. As much as I had considered the possibility of a potential career change after returning from maternity, I hadn’t actually expected it to materialise so soon. It all just kind of happened in a bit of a whirlwind and a blur and I’m not sure it’s quite sunk in yet. The last four weeks have flown by and it’s only really now that the gravity of the changes ahead are starting to dawn on me. It’s not the first time I’ve changed jobs in my career, it’s not actually the first time I’ve left my organisation, but for some reason it feels like a bigger risk this time round, albeit a calculated one. It feels like there is so much more riding on it and I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a parent now or because I’m older, but I suspect it’s both.

So where I would usually feel excitement in the weeks leading up to leaving an organisation, and most certainly wake up feeling ecstatic on my last day I instead feel a slight angst which I just can’t seem to shake. The thing is, it’s just all a bit ridiculous because I know that this is a move that makes sense from a family, career and financial perspective. The role couldn’t be more perfect if I wrote it myself. It was like I wrote a wish list of things I wanted in a job and someone tapped me on the shoulder then dropped it into my lap. It is that ridiculously perfect. I feel like shaking myself, slapping myself and then telling myself to SNAP out of it!

I can only liken how I’m feeling to the scene in the first Sex and the City film where Charlotte is overly anxious and worried after finding out she is pregnant after she thought she would never be able to conceive. She expresses her angst with Carrie, convinced that something will go wrong because only good things have happened to her in life. How good things can’t consistently happen to one person. That somewhere down the line something bad will happen to them. That is how I feel right now. Like my good luck streak is going to run out somewhere along the line and I’m scared that it will be with this move. I have been so fortunate, lucky and blessed in my life. Good things have happened to and for me in almost all facets of my life. I am genuinely happy with my life and the way it has turned out and I would like to believe that things can be as good as they look on paper. That I can be as happy in my new role at a new organisation as I have been here over the last four years or so.

So am I on the cusp of the start of an exciting new future or an epic fail? Who knows, only time will only tell so watch this space..

 

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Role models wanted

Work - Life Balance Image

As I sat down at my desk this morning and settled into reading the post maternity coaching materials that popped into my inbox asking me to think of three women I know who are great role models, I realised something quite profound. I can’t name three role models. In fact, I can’t even name one. Of course you can always call on the Sheryl Sandberg’s and Oprah’s of the world, yada, yada, yada. But these aren’t people I actually know. These aren’t people who I can actually emulate and model myself on. These aren’t people I can talk to and ask questions. This is a problem.

I have been at my current organisation for over four years, and whilst I have been here I have met and made the acquaintance of some lovely and rather fantastic women, some of whom I now call friends. Yet in all those years, I have never come across anyone that I have ever considered role model material – either as a successful woman in leadership or more importantly now, as a working mother. There are plenty of women doing well, women who are respected. But would I say they are role models, no. Because despite my organisation introducing and supporting various working parent initiatives and enabling true flexible working (it does exist!), I have not seen any women demonstrating that it is possible to have and do it all. By that I mean, be amazing at what they do and still have the time to see and spend time with their families. Of course there are plenty of working parents in my organisation, but all too often the ones that are staying at the top of their game are the same ones I have seen still sitting in the office or online beyond the hours of what would be considered bedtime for most children. I was horrified to hear not so long ago of a considerably senior woman in my department who completely overlooked her young daughters birthday and tried to arrange a client meeting on that day, only to be reminded by a colleague as to why that date probably wouldn’t work for her. I don’t want that for myself or my family. I want to be successful and respected at work, but not at the expense of quality time with my family. So it’s a bit of a conundrum, which actually led me to my very recent decision to leave an organisation that I really do love being a part of. It’s not their fault, they really have tried to enable and empower working parents. The problem I believe actually lies in the culture and fabric of Consulting. An environment which lends itself to and favours young, carefree, childless 20 something’s. I’m not saying that you can’t be a family orientated 30 something person. You can. Just don’t expect to be home for bedtime if you want to get ahead. Consulting is a world where clients expect and demand the best, at all times, and rightly so. Sometimes that means working very long days to deliver. Sometimes it means working away from home for days, weeks or months on end. Sometimes it means making and changing plans at a moments notice. Flexible and adaptable are our middle names. All these things that sounded so glamorous and exciting when I started out are the very things that terrify me now that I have a family.

Now I understand why there are so few women at leadership level in some organisations. Because certain types of careers and families just don’t mix. I am expecting a move back into Banking will be almost, if not equally as demanding as Consulting is. But I need that, because I am one of those crazy career driven women that wants and needs to work. But I move in the hope of achieving the holy grail of work life balance, and of course of finding some role models along the way, because goodness, us working mums need them!

Did this post resonate for you? I would love to hear from you if so!

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photo credit: Tanja FÖHR via photopin cc

The milk is gone..

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Its official. We have stopped breastfeeding. The milk has gone.. After five consecutive nights without a dream or night feed our breastfeeding journey came to an end back in May. Interestingly it wasn’t anywhere as traumatic, difficult or emotional as I thought it would be. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Easy almost. Dropping one feed, then another, and another, gradually transitioning from breastfeeds to formula feeds. Three weeks on and we had gone from exclusively breastfeeding to exclusively formula feeding, with no fuss from the little lady and no discomfort for me. No leaks, no engorgement. Nothing. It felt comfortable (figuratively and literally), natural and most importantly it felt right for both the little lady and I. What surprised me the most though, is how easily the little lady took to formula feeds. After her rejection of expressed milk from a bottle in her early months I was expecting some degree of resistance to the move to formula, but there was nothing. She happily accepted formula feeds as soon as I introduced them which made the whole process a lot easier and a lot less emotional.

Stopping breastfeeding is something that I was expecting to be difficult. I had considered stopping before, but when it came to the crunch I wasn’t ready. The thought of it was fine, but the reality of stopping was too hard. Too emotional. Too personal. But this time round it just happened, much without me thinking about it after realising that the return to work was looming on the horizon.

Two months on and it feels like we were breastfeeding a million years ago. You forget how quickly things move on with a little one. But in the moment things always seem like so much more than they are. Hours can feel like days, days like weeks and weeks like months. The smallest things can consume you without you realising it. I can barely remember how those early days of breastfeeding felt, a journey that I never imagined would last so long. A journey that I wasnt even sure would begin. A journey that was almost cut short. But a journey that I am so glad we made.

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Independent little lady

Applause Please

Something has happened over the last three nights that I have daren’t to speak openly about for fear of tempting fate. The little lady has slept in her own cot, in her own room through the night, not once, not twice, but three nights in a row *cue applause*.

Whilst the little lady has slept through the night since she was about five months, a lot of it has been a co-sleeping affair with her flitting between her bed and ours. I got to the point recently where I started to wonder if she would ever get to the stage where she felt secure enough and confident enough to sleep on her own all the night through. Like a mirage, I started to daydream about waking up in the morning to find the little lady standing in her cot in the nursery waiting for me to pick her up. Surprisingly though, like everything else it has happened just like that. Overnight. Although it wasn’t quite as fluffy as my mirage. For one, the first morning it happened I felt like I’d been hit by a sledgehammer as a result of some very unbroken sleep from getting up to check on the little lady throughout the night, and secondly I didn’t even make it to the nursery, it was the husband who went and got her in the end. But I guess the point is that it happened. The strangest thing is however, that after months of wanting our bed back, the husband misses her and I don’t sleep as comfortably as I remember. I sleep lightly, up at every squeak from the little lady to check whether she’s ok, and when I do stumble back into bed, it just doesn’t feel as comfortable as it used to. So once again, something that we thought would be an adjustment for little lady actually turns out to be more of an adjustment for us parents.

There is nothing groundbreaking about this post. It isn’t supposed to be showy offy (I know those aren’t actually words) and in your face, although I realise it may be just a bit. I just wanted to share it with other parents out there who may be in a similar position with their little ones to show that sometimes (most of the time) these changes just happen. They don’t always need to be coerced, or stressful or upsetting. Sometimes patience can be rewarded with a happy, confident child who can and will sleep through the night independently at their will. I know this approach may not work for everyone, I know all children are different, but it worked for us and I think that is worth sharing.

After months of broken sleep, after months of sharing our bed, I feel like I can genuinely say it was all worth it. I didn’t plan to do it this way, but I’m glad we did.

I’d love to hear from others who can relate to this experience – are you a family that co-sleep, are you trying to figure out how to make that transition? Or have you already made that transition, how did it work for you, did it just happen or did you have to help things along?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/42andpointless/8062417131/”>42andpointless</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Five things to do when stuck on a train

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This morning I made a concerted effort to get out of the house that little bit earlier with the intention of getting into the office that little bit earlier. Because I know it’s going to be one of “those” crazy days. Not only will I need to catch up with what I’ve missed in the office from my two non work days last week, but I have a course first thing in the morning. Oh, and I wanted to go to the gym and at some point squeeze in some lunch. So yes, it’s definitely going to be one of “those” days. The plan was to sneak in early, get everything set up and maybe check a few emails before my course. But right now, at the time that I should be pretty much sauntering into the office, I am still stuck on my train. Because it seems that train network too is just having one of “those” days. So if I have to be stuck on here I want to use that time productively, and with that comes a list of five things to do when stuck on a train!

1. Catch up with your emails and texts. I don’t know what it is, but I pretty much always have an email or text that I’ve forgotten to go back to. So all this extra “free” time being held captive on a train is a great time to catch up with them.

2. Blog. Well, I figured I may as well blog about this unforeseen, everyday situation. But you could also use this time to check your stats or catch up with your favourite blogs.

3. Sort out your photos. Urgh. The limited memory on my iphone is the bain of my life these days. I forever have an alert reminding me that I have just about no memory left, and I know that if I just sorted out some of my photos I could fix this. But I just never seem to get round to it. Since I’m stuck on a train I suppose I could go through them *sigh*.

4. Have your breakfast (I would if I had it with me), do your make up (I don’t but plenty of others do!), paint your nails (if you’re feeling ballsy enough) or whatever it is that you would usually do first thing when you get in the office that you could do on a train. If you’re feeling gutsy or pissed off enough you could claw back some of the precious time that the train company has stolen off you.

5. Catch up with the news. I love reading the daily mail online. At one point I was even a bit addicted to catching up with its trashy news reports. I can’t help it but I love it. I definitely have a good excuse to read it now, what else am I going to do once I’ve finished actions 1 – 4?!

So there you have it, five things to keep you occupied when your local train provider decides to hold you hostage. At least today we have decent air con, aren’t packed in like sardines and have 3G – it’s practically first class, NOT.

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Five things to do when baby sleeps

Number 5 Brick

Since I went back to work three weeks ago it feels like I have literally had no free time. Because no sooner do I get home from work does the bath and bedtime routine begin, swiftly followed by dinner and unfortunately at the moment, more work. So whatever minuscule “free” time I previously had, has been completely obliterated. But whilst I am ridiculously tired most of the time, I am also very happy. So this isn’t a complaint, more of an explanation as to why my blogging presence has been so lacklustre of late. With that in mind, I have decided to start of a whole new series of short blog posts focused around “five things/reasons/tips/tricks” that will allow me to still blog with the very little time I have available at the moment.

So while I write this on my day off sitting on the sofa with the little lady snoozing on me, I find the inspiration for my first post in the series; five things to do when baby sleeps!

1. Paint your nails. A difficult feat for any parent, especially a new one. It must be timed precisely. Ideally at the start of what you anticipate to be a long nap. A bottle of seche vite, or equally super duper I can’t believe its dry already top coat is essential. As are your wits about you. Not to be attempted by the faint hearted.

2. Have a brew, and chuck a biscuit in while you’re at it. Because there’s nothing more annoying than the million and one cups of half or even a quarter drunk cups of lukewarm tea that you’ve consumed since becoming a parent. Theres always something standing in between you and your cuppa these days; a nappy, the washing, lunch.. So sit down and take a load off. Because you’re worth it.

3. Online RETAIL, I repeat, that’s retail, not food shopping. This time is not about maintaining the household, however tempting it may be, it’s about you! I must admit, I seem to do more browsing than actual shopping these days, but it’s almost as fun putting things into your basket before you close the tab. I mean, I actually impressed myself the other day when I recalled the exact shop that someone in the office had brought their dress from. I spend a lot of time online. Don’t judge me.

4. Go to the toilet. I’m not usually one to talk about my toilet habits, but after being reduced to sometimes going to the toilet whilst the little lady is in her bath makes me feel like this is worthy of a place on the top five things list. You know the saying that you don’t know what it’s got till it’s gone? Well I didn’t realise that applied to going to the toilet on your own until I became a parent.

5. Blog, read a blog, read a book, watch tv… Ok, so this ones a bit of a catch all, but whatever your thing is, do it. For me its blogging and reading blogs. Take some time out to catch up with whatever it is you like to do. Even if it’s just for five minutes. You’ll instantly feel a little bit more connected to the world and in a different head space.

And that’s about it folks! Because no sooner will you have you finished going to the toilet whilst your nails dry, will your little bundle of joy be conveniently rousing from their slumber. I don’t know how they do it, but their timing is always scarily impeccable. So heed my words people and be quick about it, because there is no time for dawdling!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/5122442725/”>Leo Reynolds</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Old receipes, bank holidays and Morrisons

When Morrisons and Brit Mums selected me to be a Morrisons Mum over the May bank holiday weekend I was pretty ecstatic. I never seem to be one of the people who gets picked to do things like this, I’m usually one of the people observing others on the sidelines with a slight tinge of envy. So no sooner had the working week come to a close on Friday, had I raced down to Morrisons on Saturday morning. I was there for about an hour, with the little lady patiently sitting in the shopping trolley probably wondering why mummy had a slightly crazed, excited look at her face whilst we zig, zagged up and down the isles.We had been once before but had to cut our trip short and never made it past the first few isles. Since I had the luxury of time this time round, and no husband to make sure we went round in a logical (and probably sensible) way, I found myself doing a few circuits of the store. I particularly loved the presentation of the fruit, vegetables and herbs at Morrisons and found myself returning to it quite a few times during the shop!

Fresh veg

Fresh spices

Fresh herbs

When I finally conceded that we should leave, it was the little lady’s lunch time after all, we (ok, I) had managed to spend £102 (£22 over the £80 vouchers from Morrisons, whoops!). In all fairness though, it was all very, very good value because of Morrisons new lower everyday prices. I picked up some pretty amazing bargains which I like to call “mum’s star buys”, including an eight pack of coke for £2.64, a four pack of Plenty fat rolls at £2.93 and a bumper box of Twinings Everyday Teabags at £2.00 (an essential purchase, ahem) so I think its fair to say that the slight overspend was completely justified.

All in all, I managed to do a weeks worth of shopping with all the things we would usually buy, but for a fraction less than what we would usually spend which I was pretty happy with. I decided before we went into the store, that I wanted to make a bit of an event out of the bank holiday and invited some family round for Sunday dinner, and a dish that I hadn’t attempted to make in six years – beef bourguignon and potato dauphinoise. One of the best dishes I have ever made, and was too scared to attempt again after its critical acclaim many, many moons ago. The timing was right so I went for it. I got three of Morrisons best cuts of braising steak fresh from the Butchers counter for a very reasonable £6.64, a lovely bottle of red wine which was a bargain at £5.99 and a slab of Morrisons Emmental at £2.05 amongst other ingredients. To go with it I decided to make a fresh fruit salad and picked up some pineapple £0.69, strawberries £1.69, blueberries £2.00, raspberries £0.99 and mango £0.69 to go with the kiwi I already had at home. I was going to attempt to make some chocolate fondant, but my track record with them is a bit hit and miss so I decided to pick up a few at Morrisons instead for £2.50, along with a couple of Creme Brulees £2.00 and a tub of Kelly’s (straight to your thighs) Cornish clotted cream ice cream on offer at a bargain £1.99. There were six of us at dinner which meant it worked out at an unbelievable £3.24 per serving for dinner and £1.92 per serving for dessert. That’s just over £5 a meal per person!

After pretty much half the day in the kitchen, a lot of it trying to make head or tails out of my vague six year old recipes, I finally had a meal that lived up to its reputation. The beef was thick, tender and “melted in your mouth” as my husband put it, the dauphinoise the perfect accompaniment. Dessert went down a treat. The fruit was ripe and fresh and “how a fruit salad should be” according to my sister-in-law and the puddings just the right touch of sweetness after the richness of the bourguignon. The pictures I took don’t really do the meal justice (I can’t say im known for my blog photography!), but lets just say that I didn’t have any regrets about reviving one of my favourite dishes for the bank holiday weekend. Thank you Morrisons and Brit Mums for making me a #MorrisonsMum!

 Beef Bourguignon

Fruit Salad & Chocolate Fondant

 

DISCLAIMER: we were given £80 in Morrisons vouchers to spend in store on a bank holiday shop as a Morrisons Mum.