Friday, 1 May 2015

In & Out

Cal in his shop
He calls playing shop "Paying" because his favourite part is getting paid
David and his mini-me ready for a fishing adventure
Bobbin Head mangroves
On a grey autumn day

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

What Kind Of Help Do You Have?

Since having Cal I've been really curious about what kind of help other families use in the way of childcare every week. And exactly how each family (not just mums) balance their work and family lives, and specifically how many hours of childcare, babysitters, nannies, family help they get each week in order to get stuff done. Especially those successful types who manage to work jobs, set up businesses on the side and still manage to go out at night to social things. I think a lot of people like me - who have worked a lot during their kid's younger years - would love to see how others do it. But for some reason it feels taboo to ask, or at least a bit like prying. 

So in the spirit of sharing here's how we do it at the moment. David and I are both freelance and work at home. Cal goes to a lovely kindy three days a week and my mum has him one day a week. When I thought I'd be working full time we increased his days to four days a week, but actually this felt like a little too much for him. He was always knackered by the fourth day and it was showing in his behaviour at kindy and home. So when the full-time job fell through I was really relieved we could drop that fourth day, and now he's much happier at home with us on that day, which we try to keep really chill. 

In those three work days a week I manage to work for freelance clients on copy and branding jobs and also have time to work on independent projects like the editorial travelogue shoot that David and I shot up at Byron last week. I could definitely use another day or two a week to really move things along - especially with building my Australian freelance network here, but for the moment this particular juggle is working well for Cal.

But babysitters. And dates. And going out. Just doesn't happen. I think we feel like he's been with other people enough during the week and I personally always feel really guilty spending even more time away from him, and even more money on childcare than we already do. Also, because David and I both work from home, at the moment we definitely see enough of each other through the week, which I say with love ;)

But sometimes we sneak away. Like this morning when seeing the last sunny day forecast for this week we went down to Dee Why for a few hours. David surfed and I walked up over the headland at Longreef and then down around the rocks where I was completely alone except for a single rock fisherman. It's been years since I experienced that kind of isolation in such a place of incredible beauty and my heart almost exploded from the smells and colours and feeling of freedom. And it's important to treat yo self, right?

Hey people - my lovely friend and an editor of has set up a survey to figure out what Aussie parents want and need from childcare these days. It only takes 10 minutes and it's good to talk to each other about this stuff. Here's the link if you want to join in:

Past a sleepy but watchful pelican at Long Reef..
And out on to the rocks at low tide, which may be my new happy place

Monday, 27 April 2015

When Were You Happiest?

While catching up on mags the other day I read an interview with Cate Blanchett (or Cate Blanket as David just called her) and when asked when was she happiest, replied, "this afternoon." Which I love. I wonder did Cate - like all women in their thirties it seems - stagger hungrily into the arms of 'mindfulness' as I have these past months. I was talking to David about it this morning. I've started the famous Eckhart Tolle book, 'The Power Of Now' and was trying (awkwardly) to explain why it wasn't kooky mumbo jumbo. "What do you mean when you say 'you are not your feelings'" he asked.

For a good part of the past 18 months I was fairly depressed. Everything that mattered seemed to be going great guns; I was working constantly and Cal and David were both doing really well. I had everything I always wanted, but I was so unhappy with the world and kind of sick of myself, especially the voice in my head that shouted at me to work harder, work less, be nicer, don't be a push-over, have another kid, don't have another kid, live in Amsterdam, live in Sydney, get up, sit down - you get the picture.

You are not your feelings. You are not the chatter in your head. This one thought is a way to turn the volume down. Not off, just down enough to hear your own heartbeat. To feel your Self behind it all, quiet, observant and peaceful. And when it's quiet it's so much easier to observe and just be. And instead of pinning all your happiness on some far off goal, it oozes out of everything around you in this moment now. I know I sound Crazy. Like all this sunshine has gone to my head, or that I've started making my own beverages out of cacti, but I can't recommend jumping aboard the mindfulness bus enough. 

I've never been happier than I was today. I spent the day at my desk working across from David. We went through selects from our shoot last week and were thrilled with what we caught (pics to come soon). We had leftovers for lunch in the sun and the crisp autumn breeze. I picked Cal up and we hung at the park for half an hour. At dinnertime David made an absolute cock-up of a meal (which he's only ever done 3 times before) and laughing, I had to eat a bowl of Nutri-Grain instead. And then I put Cal in the laundry sink for his bath, jammied and storied him and that was it. But today just oozed goodness. 
Cal and David planting Watercress seeds the other day - more cotton is obviously better
Reading the instructions
Fire at Watercress farm!
Irrigation / putting the fire out
Sowing the seeds

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Rain Today

See? It's not all sunshine and beaches in Sydney. Here we are on a wet and freezing cold (16 degrees) day. We've been for a swim at the pool and are now staring down the barrel of a Sunday at home. All three of us. Inside together. All day.

But so far it's been pretty sweet. Cal did an excellent job of cleaning his fish tank. I gave him a sponge and some detergent and then wandered off to pluck my eyebrows or something. When I came back he was still at it and actually getting it done, not just squirting soap everywhere and waving the sponge around like a three year old should be. He actually made something cleaner! A first!

And then there was a bbq chicken for lunch and now we're all taking it easy on the couch. So far so good.

Balmoral Beach

Yesterday while I had a bit of a break David and Cal went to Balmoral. Another sunny beach? I hear you groan. But yesterday was cloudless and 25 and I'm glad they made the most of it before true autumn sets in. And while they explored the little island in the bay, I sat in the sun at home and caught up on a bunch of magazines and very little else. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

I Need A Break

My friend just sent me this great article about what mums mean when they say they need a break: It speaks nicely to the unimaginable constancy of mothering. And also how taking a break is not a luxury but a necessity. 

"I want a break, not because I'm bored or restless or craving some fun, (although I am probably feeling those things a lot of the time.) I want a break because I put absolutely everything I have into staying at home with my kids. From the moment I open my eyes in the morning, there isn't a single second of my day where I'm not engaged and on call. There isn't a single moment where I am alone with my thoughts, where I'm not being touched and needed and where demands aren't being made of me. Not a single moment. Not when I'm brushing my teeth or showering or trying to find something clean to wear. Not even in the bathroom."

"There's not a single second of the day where I'm not engaged or on call." Nailed it.

"When I have a break I do whatever I need to do, in that moment, to feel like I deserve to exist. I do what I need to do to feel sane and stable and capable of keeping up with the never-ending needs of my beautiful children."

And they are 'never-ending needs.' The clothing, the cleaning, the feeding, the disciplining. The sound of your own nagging voice all day some days. Especially with a 'threenager' whose job it is to push your buttons by poking your glasses, bopping babies' heads in the park, scooping the goldfish with his digger, and always taking a minute longer to get in or out of his carseat than I have patience for.

The talking, playing, cuddling and having fun is what we imagine when we sign up for kids but no-one can prepare you for the other stuff. And how much of the other stuff there is. 

Often I feel that the essence of being a "good parent" is getting up every day and often doing the opposite of what you'd really like to be doing and doing it with grace. Which sometimes we achieve, and sometimes we don't. But to even try we need a break. Two hours is good. Time to tidy the house a bit, sit at my desk, have a cup of tea, go through photos, write a bit here. Have another cup of tea. Wonder what the guys are up to..

Tea is good, pinot gris at the bar in the art gallery overlooking Woolloomoolloo is better

Bronte For A Surf & Play

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