Tag Archives: work-life balance

Its the little things

Half way through the week already? The long weekend means that while the week feels like it is just starting, it is half way over. Which, on a cold, wet day, when staying in bed with a good book, or curling up on the couch with a dvd and some crochet is more appealing than venturing out to school and work, is a good thing!

Tonight I am pondering the little things that can happen in a day to turn a frown into a smile. While my day was not a bad day (I didn’t have to leave work to address issues with any children – yay!) by the time I got home I was feeling a bit flat. Contemplating the ongoing juggle of trying to be a competent employee and leader while also being a supportive parent to a child with ‘issues,’ and the way this is perceived by my colleagues, had me overthinking my work-life balance once again. This is not a struggle special to me – so many parents face it on a day to day basis. Trying to be a good employee, and a good parent, when the two don’t always sit well together. Combine it with a healthy dose of judgement from the media, other parents, extended family, and so many of us feel that we can’t win, no matter which way we turn.

Of course, my life is actually quite good. I have a supportive work environment, where I can have flexible working arrangements, where my staff understand that sometimes when my phone rings I need to run out the door, where I am paid very well to do a job that I like. The ‘issues’ that my family face are not insurmountable. No one is terminally ill. My children are healthy, intelligent and loving. We have a warm home, good food, warm clothes and the ability to be safe. I have found a creative outlet that keeps me sane when the walls seem to be closing in. The fact that some of my colleagues don’t see it that way is really about them, not about me.

But my mind was working through all of this, and I was wondering whether I was kidding myself that I can keep making things, be respected professionally, keep my kids safe and supported, when one little thing came along to make me stop, celebrate a success and remember that, in fact, I don’t really care about my ‘image’, but I do care that I am succeeding in many ways in my life.

The little thing? I opened up the Etsy website, and there, on the front page, in a handpicked treasury of bright and lovely things, was one of my bags. Yes. One of MINE!! The kids were thrilled, I was excited, and the world stopped spinning out of control and returned to it’s normal axis.  (It was featured as part of a treasury that you can see here.)

I let go of all the overthinking, all the teasing the problem until a new angle could be found, and just smiled and got happy. Perspective is a wonderful thing!

And having a clear head means that I can celebrate my other small successes of the last few days, and that we had a lovely family evening because I was no longer flat.  At dinner we have a tradition of each of us reporting our ‘best thing’.  The artist-in-residence had us enthralled with the report of her drama class, the boy had a list of 16 ‘best things’ that had us all smiling, and the eldest chick waited patiently to tell us the news of her class’ work in preparing for their theatrical performance.  So lovely to just sit and enjoy our time together – no TV, no fighting, and no stress.

On a personal level, I  had my first appointment with a personal trainer yesterday in a new bid to start improving my fitness.  I was very upfront about the need for the children to attend the sessions with me, and I think (hope) it is going to work.  The amusing part was watching the boy, at 6, spending most of his time wanting to lift weights in front of the mirror.  It starts early!

My recent efforts in getting more organised about this blog have paid off too, with a few new followers (hi and welcome!) and realising that sometime this week I passed the 200 follower mark (combining facebook and the blog). Another sign that I am doing okay in my own small way!

On the crafting front I am making up a custom order for a colleague who wants a bag for weekend wear, and wanted a zip up pouch to go in it (at my suggestion). So, here is the pouch I made – without a pattern. Something small – but I am proud of it!

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And finally – I offered to crochet a beret beanie for a friend who dropped in the other day and was admiring the black one I made for the artist-in-residence. While the children were training at martial arts last night I sat and started a new hat. And, in a first, did not have to unpick it once! I have about three rows to go to finish it, but for now – looking a little like a purple sea creature – here is the beret.

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So, as the mid-week ‘hump’ goes, my week is alright.  As I fall towards the weekend my approach will be to continue putting one foot in front of the other, remembering that my family is more important than anything else in my world, and that I am one of the lucky ones.  I wish you a great second half of the week, and lots of things that you can celebrate as successes.

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Ladybugs and quiet time

This week I am playing with appliques of ladybugs.  I have put a couple on a library bag for a special little girl in Melbourne, and one on a special bag for my middle chick.  As part of a strategy to help her through a rough time she has a bag with special things that she chose in an afternoon of op-shopping on Monday.  When she needs time to collect herself, she can take her bag of special things and have time alone to play with them.  So the bag needed to be a bit special too.

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There are days when I would quite like a bag of special things and a bit of quiet time myself.  Today is definitely one of them.  Children who are tired and upset, with a mother who has to explain to them that I am human and make mistakes, means that it has been a long evening.

The return to work brings new challenges – I am only working part-time hours this week to continue to support the children in their transition to school, etc (gee an ‘etc’ can cover a lot of things) – and I had forgotten how hard it is to work part-time.  I feel like I am hardly there, and just getting the hang of things when I have to zoom off again.  I have a longer day in the office tomorrow, and actually move into my new office, so that might help the settling in process.  I suspect that this is just the next lesson in how to find balance in other areas of life.

The return to work means that there is a small slowing down in the creative process…..although being at work has allowed me to sit with a couple of people and nut out what they want in their custom orders, so it has upsides too.  But for tonight the machine cover stays on, children who are a bit overwrought have had extra cuddles, and I am going to bed early.

More ladybugs might be in order – a special bag for me for when I need quiet time (I am thinking it can hold a crochet hook and some yarn…..and perhaps chocolate.)

Changing plans

If I have seemed a little quiet over the last few days it is because my internet provider, through some weird clerical error, managed to release a modem to a new customer on Saturday that had the same number as mine – so my internet died when they connected his! It was out for about 48 hours, but my withdrawal symptoms were sad to behold….clutching at my phone, checking mail every few seconds and squinting at facebook….. before recognising that the world was probably still turning without me there to monitor it……and letting go!

The forced break from one of my addictions was quite good – I started watching the DVDs of season 3 of Downtown Abbey that I borrowed from a friend. I am not normally a fan of ‘period drama’ but this one has my attention! So I sat and crocheted and folded washing and enjoyed watching other people dealing with changes in their lives and their world, and regained some more of that precious balance I am always chasing.

I also took a break from ‘sewing with obligation’, as one of my friends puts it, and instead finally did some work on the blocks for the quilt for the boy. I am being a bit adventurous with this one and making up the pattern as I go.

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The ‘big blocks’ are based on a tutorial for a pineapple block that I pinned on Pinterest, and I had drawn up an elaborate plan of what little blocks would go with them…….but on the weekend I started playing with the pieces as I was sewing them, and came up with some different blocks, so am rethinking the whole plan for the quilt!

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 It was always going to be a scrappy sort of quilt, so that all the different things that the boy loves could be reflected in it. Then my mother sent me some of her stash and included leftovers from his cot quilt – so they are in the new quilt now and I love the ties between the old and new – and he does too! I am glad that I have taken some time with this one – it means that I have had time to think about what I want it to be in a more measured way.

The children returned to school today for the start of their new school year. There was much excitement and anticipation this morning, and quite positive reports this afternoon, so I am hopeful for a smooth year. The boy had a few issues last year that the school and I have been working through with him, so we are all praying for a better year for him, and today seems to have started well. After 6 weeks of holidays it is a nice change for us to be back to our familiar routine again!

I am playing with ideas for changing our routine slightly, and had a chat to my ever-supportive boss today about a new role and some new hours. I will go into the office later in the week to sort out the details, but it looks like I will be able to take on a great new role, keep developing my non-crafty career, and be able to pick the children up from school most, if not every, day. If that comes off I will be very happy – I just have to firm up the ‘before school’ arrangements so that I can start work early. Babysitters are being called, so the plan is starting to take shape!

I have a few more days before I return to work, so am now drawing up the next lot of lists – the ‘things to get done before full time work intervenes again’ type of list. Grocery shopping was ticked off the list this morning, along with a trip to the charity shop to deliver bags of clothes, toys and shoes that the children have finally relinquished. (The girls voluntarily gave up all their dolls – without me suggesting it! Yay! All those ghastly “monster high” and “Barbie” dolls that I objected to have gone without a fuss!!!!)

Achieving things on the ‘ household to do’ list means time for crafting tomorrow I think! I am toying with some ideas for pillowcases for my Etsy shop – possibly with crocheted edges (which could work well as the kids have a martial arts class tomorrow night!) and am also playing with ideas for birthday gifts. The children have hit the ground running with party invitations – they have come home with one each today – plus a beautiful friend of mine has a birthday with a zero this weekend, so I am playing with fabric, sketching up ideas and putting the creative thinking cap on.

A bit of creative inspiration arrived in the mail this morning with a gorgeous fabric order. I got smart this time and ordered a bit more yardage of each, so that I have room to play and make things for myself as well as for selling!
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So stand by for some bright creations over the next few days (if all goes well and the school doesn’t call………)