work life balance

What they don’t tell you about being a parent

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If you’re anything like me, when you made the decision to become a parent then you did a whole lot of googling.

You read about the joys of being a parent. The first smiles, the first steps, the first words, hearing them say “I love you” for the first time.

You read about the trials of being a parent. The sleepless nights, the nappy blow outs, the tantrums, hearing them say “I hate you” for the first time.

But what you don’t read about, what no one tells you – is that it can be absolutely heartbreaking.

Your child is like a raw nerve walking around on the outside of your body, and every time they hurt, you hurt ten fold.

Every time they have a hard day, and you see the stress in their little eyes as they hold back the tears… your heart absolutely breaks and you have to keep it together and tell them it’s going to be okay. 

When they fall over and scratch their knee and you watch them trying not to overreact and holding back every instinct to swoop in, when you let them get up and dust themselves off because you know that they need to decide if they need you for themselves… it’s the hardest thing.

Being a parent, it’s incredible. Most days you go to bed feeling totally fulfilled about the little humans you are sharing this life with.

But some days you find yourself up at midnight worried about an event that upset your child that day, more worried than you would ever be if that excact thing happened to you.

Because your children are your rawest nerve, and no matter how much you protect them it’s inevitable that they are going to have shitty days.

And as their parent, it’s heartbreaking to watch. Even though that we know this is a part of life, an important part of life, it doesn’t make it any easier… 

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What a difference a day (or two) can make!

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For the past couple of years, I have balanced a full time job, a toddler and a military husband.

And it’s been bloody tough!

As most of you know, Oliver and I had a very turbulent past 12 months. We did 3 months with a nanny in Canberra, then 3 months solo, then 2 weeks with James home, then we moved to Melbourne and had a one bedroom sublet for 6 weeks close to the city so Oliver went to daycare there and then we finally settled into our new home in Chelsea (another daycare swap for Ollie). I’m exhausted just typing it. Living it was absolutely fatiguing.

3 months ago James moved home, and over the past few weeks things have really started to settle.

Over the past 12 month, I really have burnt the candle at both ends and there’s not too much left. Some mornings I just don’t want to get out of bed. I’m so sick of running from pillar, to post, to the next pillar.

But that is nothing to what poor Oliver has gone through.

This poor kid has lived in 3 states in his 3 years, had 4 different day cares, and has spent nearly 50% of his life away from his Dad.

But these days, things are really looking up. Like REALLY looking up.

Over the past few weeks I have seen this beautiful shift in the relationship between Oliver and James. He has complete trust back in his father’s presence.

He loves his daycare. He has a group of friends, and some great teachers.

He also has a great relationship with our family. We pulled up to my folks house today and he was so excited to see his grandparents. But not, like, over excited. Just, like, it was normal.

And it is normal. 

But there are still are few bumps in our way. His speech is still delayed, he has sensory issues, and he really struggles to cope with his emotions.

As of last week, he also was spending 50 hours per week at day care. Yep, he was that kid. The first to arrive and the last to leave. Our life was a rush, he was also always rushed. We could never, just, be.

But today, that has all changed. Today, is the first day of my life as a part-time employee. Today, I spend more hours with my son that at my work, for the first time in 2 years.

And boy it feels good.

His Dad has also been approved to finished work early two days per week.

That means Oliver’s 50+ hours will now be no more than 20 hours a week in care, and a few with my parents. His attitude has already improved 500% just with the sense of calm that comes with this new us.

We don’t even know ourselves, and it’s fantastic!

How do you balance your work and home life?

I’ve got my cake, and I’m going to eat it!

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Yes, this is one of those inspirational posts that talks about how much we have been struggling and how we are finally getting out of our hump.

But I swear, it’s a good one!

About a month ago, about the same time I wrote a post about work life UNbalance, I realised that we could not keep going the way we were going.

And then Oliver’s speech therapist dropped the A word, autism. And asked if we had had Oliver assessed yet, as discussed (in not so blunt words) late last year.

We hadn’t. We hadn’t booked to see the OT like we had planned, we hadn’t booked the GP for referrals and we hadn’t had the test.

I didn’t have time.  I didn’t have energy. What I did have was a thousand excuses, but none that I could say without being ashamed.

I hadn’t put my son first. I put myself first, and I put my job first.

Queue epiphany.

Then my father had a heart attack. He’s okay- thank God!

I was at work when I found out, like he was having the heart attack when I found out. And I actually thought to myself, I can’t possibly leave work I’m too busy.

Too busy to leave work whilst my Dad was having a fucking heart attack. 

Once that moment of insanity passed I was on the road in no time. I was there when he came out of surgery. I was there, and it meant something to all of us.

It was the first time I realised that tomorrow doesn’t always come, like truly realised. I realised that this magic land of tomorrow where I have the time to spend on my son, and those I love, didn’t really exist.

Not yet anyway, I had to build it myself.

Now I am  a very dedicated employee. I love what I do, I love where I work and I love who I work with. I was TERRIFIED that my work would tell me too bad, and that I could either have this thing called time or this thing called career.

Fortunately I work in an incredibly supportive workplace where I can have both.

Yesterday, I was approved to go part time at work, with an element of working from home. I was offered the full support of my organisation, both professionally and personal. I have never been more motivated to be the BEST employee! 

Today, I booked Oliver in with a psychologist and have spoken with an occupational therapist.

I can, in fact, have my cake and eat it too. And damn, I am going to enjoy that cake (in between appointments!!)

Have you ever had to pick between work and life before? What did you do?