Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A definition of true friendship

Recently I wrote a wonderful piece by EnglishMum recently and felt inspired to respond with a post of my own and today I was reading the workshop prompts as set by Josie and she referenced the same post so I thought to myself that this was a sign so here's my take on sisterhood.

I have been blessed this week because someone whom I met when I was going through a very difficult time in my life, has come to stay for a couple of days. I had had prior notice that she might be coming but it was not until I received her text yesterday evening that it became real.

The funny thing was that she arrived to a house in chaos. We had recently received the girls' new bunk beds in the post and my OH had promised to assemble them last night. This was no easy task, it took four hours and A arrived in the middle of it. The mattresses were still in the guest bedroom, there was packaging all over the place and her first words were you should have told me it was inconvenient to which my response was no don't be daft, it will be fine and besides I really wanted to catch up with you. We have not seen each other for 10 months and could easily be that long before we see each other again. She concurred with me by saying that that was exactly what she wanted as well. In the end the girls were up until about 10pm which is an incredibly late night for them. They had a second dinner with us and we all had a Chinese take away because it was just easier.

I was all set to change our plans today because I was keen to spend time with her but she insisted that we kept the girls' original playdate with friends at the splashpark and tagged along. I offered her the opportunity of going shopping but she was keen to spend time with us all and it was lovely. In fact I was so grateful to have her in the car because I was able to leave her watching over my eldest who was fast asleep whilst I nipped into Sainsburys for her school uniform and some sandwiches - there was not enough time to get a picnic together before we left.

I am conscious that as I write this, I am not really defining what sisterhood means to me. It is the ability to reconnect instantaneously with someone without conscious effort. It is picking up the threads of conversations, thoughts and ideas where one left off months or years earlier. It is appreciating everything that the other person is. When I look at my friend, she emanates calm and that may be because she is a highly spiritual person, it may just be her nature. She also has an incredible capacity to give. She realised today that even though the girls were exhausted for different reasons they were going to struggle to sleep so she went upstairs and sat first on the youngest's bed and then on the eldest's bed and patted them to sleep. They loved this unexpected treat and it was so thoughtful because they did need the rest. Other things I value about her is her creative thinking powers, our conversations are always rich and often take unusual twists. I feel that I always have so much to learn from her in terms of her insights into situations.

In short I am grateful that I have her in my life. Such friendships in my experience are rare and I prize them highly. I have not named her because she is a very private person and I respect her wishes to remain anonymous. So what does sisterhood mean to you, what are your experiences of it?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

All change

This photo is about the only one of the holiday which has me in it too. The interesting hair style was thanks to my eldest who insisted on doing my hair before we left the tent! The photo was taken on a fabulous day in Le Jura. We managed to do something that OH and I used to love doing before having kids which was walking in mountains. The girls did really well considering it was quite steep; they only had crocs on; and the youngest is still only two!
As a Mum I have found that enjoying motherhood has come more easily for me as the girls have left babyhood, gained increasing independence and have been able to converse with me. Yes there is the cute factor when they are babies but having mine as close as I did (15 months apart), much of the first two years passed in a fog of exhaustion.
Why all this reminiscing because everything is about to change. I found out today that I will be starting a contract with a large blue chip company in the middle of August which will mean three days a week in London. What does this mean? The good news is that I will know my monthly income and have access to regular adult conversation. However the cost will be less time to do fun things with my gorgeous girls. It was today whilst we were at an Under the Sea potluck lunch with the eldest's postnatal group that I got confirmation of my start date.
I say all this and yet I do believe that if we suck the marrow out of life, there will still be plenty of opportunities to have fun. Being in London so regularly will also give me an opportunity to catch up with some wonderful people that I have not been able to see whilst based in Hertfordshire like Callie. So you could say plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose. However you look at it, it is exciting and I am really looking forward to this new phase whilst making the most of the time I will have with my girls until then.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

How to get the most out of the summer holidays

As the end of term nears, it's tomorrow for us, I am conscious that there is a long period of unstructured time coming up and I have a business to run! At times that seems rather daunting and I was rather taken with the superb idea given on this blog of writing a weekly planner so that the kids can see what we are doing. It will certainly help with my eldest's rather constant refrain of what are we doing today/ tomorrow or who are we seeing Mama? I have now been tagged by Sam Pearce over at Mum's the Boss to come up with my own holiday manifesto which gives me free rein to put my thoughts down on paper so to speak and make them real - thank you Sam. There may well be some reference to the fab top tips provided by Louisa on her blog which is a must read if you find yourself in the same predicament as us.

1. See this time as an opportunity
I am conscious that this holiday represents a turning point for our family. Come September my eldest will be in school which means no more holidays at off peak times. No seriously it has much larger ramifications. The friends that she has known since she was born live 30 minutes away so will not be going to the same school. Many of their Mums have or are in the process of going back to full-time work so holidays and weekends are going to be the only time we get to meet up. Our postnatal group is meeting next Tuesday for the first time since the rash of birthdays in April. Karie, a professional photographer, has come up with an under the sea theme and we have all responded in terms of what food we are bringing etc. It will be a blast. I have already sent out feelers to some of the others to make sure we have dates in the diary.

2. Catching up with people further afield
I have a university friend who has two girls just a little older than my two but the same 15 month gap who I only see in the summer so that makes this time special. We have agreed the week we will meet but not the date so must get on with that. We also have plans to catch up with my cousin who has two kids and a pool in her house and the bonus is that her Mum who lives in Oz will also be over. That is great because it is a mini break for me and the girls aa my cousin is definitely "the hostess with the mostest" and provides fab food and refuses any major help. A very close friend is also coming over from Zurich for a month and we hope to have at least a day with her and her family which will be brilliant as we only just saw them when we were over there on hols and our two eldest kids played really well together.

3. Mixing business and family life
We have a date to get together with a fellow coach and her son over the break and I am hoping that there will be one or more opportunities like that with people who I respect hugely on a work front and could enjoy hanging out with thus giving our relationship a new dimension. If you feel you fit into that category and I have not been in touch do drop me a line.

4. Enjoying the time we have together
I am very conscious of the need to enjoy this time and that to actualise this thought, my mantra needs to be just that. I don't think that is going to be difficult though because I am aware that we are coming to the end of a phase. Come September it is likely that I will have a contract which will mean I will be working three days a week for a long time. This means I am already feeling that every moment we have together is precious because there is less likely to be free time going forward and so I am less concerned about organising playdates as I want to hold onto this time.

5. Decluttering
We still have clothes that no longer fit either of the girls and I am sure there are loads of toys they have grown out of. I am definitely going to take some of the toys to flog it! at MAMA on Friday mornings as it will help clear the space. I am considering finding a professional ebay seller to sell some of the other stuff because I can never find the will to do it and whatever money I make, I know I will just be grateful for the space.

6. Days out
Having special treats is a key part of the summer holidays. We plan to spend a few days in North Norfolk and get in some beach action. We are lucky because it is my youngest's birthday in August so that will provide another focal point in the holiday period.

7. Having quiet time
Ensuring there are non-manic days or at least slots in the day so that I can talk to the eldest about school; practise her fine motor skill; and prepare them both for life with an au pair. Now that they are older it is easier to get out of the default mode that we must keep busy to save my sanity and their sanity.

8. Maintaining nap time
My 4 y/o still has a sleep most day as does my 2 y/o. This gives me and them time to regroup before we start again in the afternoon. It is vital to the smooth running of the day. I try to ensure that I either get my feet up with a book or still my mind so I can cope with the onslaught when it all starts again.

So I hope you have enjoyed this post and that it has inspired you to approach the holidays with a spring in your step ;-) It has certainly help me gain clarity on how I am gearing up for the forthcoming holidays. Do share your thoughts in a comment below so I know who has popped by.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Yo I'll tell you what I want what I really really want

I had great fun today sharing some of my thoughts on the secrets to success in business with a group of really inspiring Mums who are managing to have their cake and eat it (literally and metaphorically). Seriously I mean create some of their identity through doing something they love and spend time with their children. We also enjoyed the most fabulous looking and scrumptious tasting cupcakes made by Louisa so any MTBHerts event is worth attending for the cakes alone.

What people thought the session was going to cover and what it actually covered were two quite different things. Some wanted practical advice on how to niche though in some cases they really had done it already and interestingly others thought it might cover that sticky one for Mums and that is how you create work life balance (WLB). It covered neither of those in part because WLB is such a personal thing in terms of what it means to each of us; and I have a belief that marketing/ nicheing and other such "how to" topics come after a much more fundamental thing and that is understanding what you really want.

As one participant explained, she has no problem with working in her own time to 1.30am if necessary or at weekends because she is passionate about what she does. In fact there were many there who felt that way about their work but there were many like the Spice Girls who still had no clue as the song says So tell me what you want what you really really want...I wanna I wanna I wanna I really really really wanna zigazig ha. And despite seeming clueless about the direction of travel, the Spice Girls made their fortune.

Anyway that gives you a taster of our session for which I was grateful to receive some really fab feedback from participants which always gives me a glow (a bit like the ready brek advert). If that was not enough I was able to take some of the scrummy cupcakes home for my tribe which made the whole day even more worthwhile. I leave you with some of the evidence ;-)