A Year in Review

It truly feels like a miracle that Jason and I have survived the first 10 months as working parents. We have adapted quickly to our new lives without much drama. With that said, this year has been hectic and I am super relieved that we have a moment to breathe during the Christmas break.

Just kidding. We have been trying to pack as much adventure as we can into our days so that all three of us collapse into a heap of exhaustion at the end of the day.

But as it is the end of the year, it is time for reflection and I have so much to be grateful for.

I am grateful for

1. My village

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Some of the most important people in our lives

I’ve written briefly about this before – Jason and I are insanely lucky to have a very supportive extended family. I’ll probably harp on about this for the rest of my life because I understand how hard it would be to parent without a village and I don’t ever want to take this for granted. Charlie’s amazing grandparents are the reason Jason and I can go to work with our minds at ease, can have the occasional baby free outing, and get a break from reading the same Hairy Maclary book for the 7th time.

Charlie has formed a close connection with his grandparents and aunt and often runs to the front door if he knows they are visiting. I run towards the shower because I know this will be my only chance that day.

2. Flexible working hours

I was quite nervous returning to work after about 10 months of maternity leave. I was worried about how I would adequately do my job while still being able to watch my baby grow up. I talked to my manager about working a 32-hour week with flexible start and end times (I usually work 6:30am – 3pm). I am much more productive because I am often at the office earlier than everyone else and I have more time in the afternoon to spend with Charlie. Having only four work days a week means that I am much more selective with my projects and am careful not to over promise.

3. Online communities

Between work, family, and an ever changing schedule, I can’t commit to a regular coffee group. Although I can’t meet parent groups physically, I feel like I’ve found a great wider support network of parents online. Through reddit, Facebook groups, and instagram, I’ve met a bunch of super awesome mothers who are always willing to share a bit of advice, offer support, and, of course, memes.

An online community means that I can also pick and choose when to engage (often on the bus to and from work) and when to switch off without worrying about offending anybody.

4. An amazing little boy

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Charlie: easily the best part of my year

No matter how stressful my day has been, a smile from Charlie is sure to improve my mood. His vocabulary has increased immensely in the past month which has made everybody’s lives a lot easier. My aunt tells me that his good temperament is just a stage and that will get tough soon but, for now, I will just enjoy every moment as it comes rather than stressing about what may or may not happen. It has been a real privilege watching him learn and grow into a bright and curious boy. I am so proud to be his mother.

Goals for 2019

My goals for the new year have been inspired by my friends and family, and center around getting fitter, healthier, and make more time for connections.

1. Host crappy dinner parties

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First crappy dinner/breakfast party of 2019: featuring bacon, berry compote, ginger loaf and badly made pancakes

One of my favourite aspects of being on maternity leave was that I had a lot of time to meet up with friends. Because my schedule was relatively empty, I was always keen to receive guests for a cup of tea and some biscuits. Since returning to work, attempting to organise a catch-up has become quite a mammoth task. Juggling multiple schedules and commitments has made the task near impossible – even more so when you factor out Sundays (need to get up early for work the next day) and decide that the house needs too much cleaning to receive guests.

I discovered the crappy dinner party from theKitchn and was instantly on board with its low-key approach to entertaining. The crappy dinner party involves no prior cleaning, no special trips to the supermarket, and acting surprised when your friends just “happen” to drop by. The focus is purely on enjoying the company and seeing each other more often.

Of course there will always be a time and place for a good dinner party (when the stars, and schedules, miraculously align) but, for the most part, I will stick to pot lucks and movie nights.

2. Eat breakfast everyday

This was something I was good at during pregnancy and throughout maternity leave because I told myself I was feeding my baby. I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit since starting work because the early starts and workload pressures I put upon myself often meant I don’t have an appetite or just forget about the meal altogether.

I haven’t really come up with a plan of action for this goal except just to do it. It seems like a simple task but breakfast is quite easy to skip when you’re engrossed in another task. I will start off with a reminder in my phone and tracking on My Fitness Pal.

3. Take any opportunity to get moving

As with breakfast, my motivation to get out of the house and exercise quickly dwindled when I went back to work. I would be exhausted by the time I got home each day and only want to lay down on the couch after sorting Charlie and I out with afternoon tea, dinner, and a bath. I constantly felt bleh.

This all changed when my work started a 10,000 steps challenge for the month of August and I was putting in extra effort to increase my step count for the day by following fitness videos on YouTube (Popsugar Fitness was my favourite). When September came, however, I was seconded into another company and I no longer had the same motivation from the month before. I’m back to feeling lethargic and tired.

Now that Charlie is more active, we can make the most of the lovely summer weather to run in the back yard, go for short walks in the local bush, and go for longer family day trips in the weekend. During work, I will endeavour to take the stairs over the lifts, jump at opportunities for site visits, and maybe even get off the bus a stop early.

4. Significantly reduce waste in my lifestyle

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Presents in old paper shopping bags and reused ribbons from Christmas Day

I am a big fan of the current spotlight on our environmental footprint and how wasteful our lifestyle can be. I grew up in quite a frugal family so some of the concepts such as using shopping second-hand, up-cycling, and growing your own vegetables were quite familiar to me (although now, instead of associating it with being poor, I associate it with being smart).

I have already made small steps towards this goal in 2018 by getting into the habit of taking my swell bottle, reusable straw, and chopsticks with me everywhere, using my keep cup (and opting to have a sit down coffee if I forget it), taking reusable shopping bags and produce bags to the supermarket, and composting our veggie scraps for the garden.

I am keen to further reduce my waste footprint by copying what I have seen from my friends and on social media:

  • bring my own reusable plastic containers for meat at the butcher
  • learning to repair items instead of tossing them out
  • seriously considering the longevity of items before purchasing
  • reuse old wrapping paper or don’t use it at all when gifting

Dear readers, what has made you grateful in 2018? Do you have any advice on how I can achieve my goals for 2019? What are your goals for the upcoming year?

Michelle’s New Normal

Michelle was suddenly thrust into motherhood when she and her husband got chosen for adoption! Her experience transitioning from a career focused woman to working mama with no real discernible routine – this is something I’m struggling with at the moment so it was very comforting to see that someone else has made it work! Read about her journey below…

Name: Michelle

Occupation: Corporate Event Manager

My Tribe: My husband Jason, my son Cooper (18 months) Bronze the dog, Wok the cat, 3 goats Billie, HeyHey and Masala, 2 chickens Fro & Frofro. And let’s not forget our gorgeous friend/aupair Lea.

Continue reading “Michelle’s New Normal”

Tara’s New Normal

Tara returned to work when her son was nine months old. Her story really resonated with me as I returned to work about the same time. Like her, I experienced a lot of mum-guilt but eventually realised that going back to work was better for our family in the long run. Read about how this boss mama manages to fit so much into her life – her family, graphic design business, building her first home, and remembering to take some time out for herself!

Name: Tara

Occupation:Graphic Designer + Boss Mama 😉

My Tribe: My fiance and I are fairly new parents, with one young wee rascal called Theodore. He is 18 months old.

Continue reading “Tara’s New Normal”

Rachel’s New Normal

Like most parents, Rachel’s new normal is constantly changing and being reassessed. Each day carries a different routine and different activities. Although her family live far away, she has a great village of neighbours and friends to call on. Read about how Rachel’s family schedules their days (Wednesday coffee and lolly cake sounds fab!).

Name: Rachel

Occupation: Registered Nurse

My Tribe: We are a family of four – Sam, Henry (2), Hunter (16 months) and myself.

Continue reading “Rachel’s New Normal”

Nikita’s New Normal

I loved reading about how Nikita gets her younger boys involved in simple household tasks and finding inspiration through the awesome online parenting community! Read about some of the factors that influenced Nikita’s return to work and how she is finding balance in her new normal.

Name: Nikita Murray

Occupation: Early Childhood Teacher

My Tribe: Myself & my husband work and play alongside our 3 boys, Patrick (almost 13), Jack (almost 6) and Soren (4) & tbh we’re considering trying for a girl one last time!

Continue reading “Nikita’s New Normal”

Sarah’s New Normal

The latest super parent to share her story is Sarah. Read about how she handled her transition back to work and how she maximises family time in the weekend.

Name: Sarah

Occupation: Senior communication advisor

My tribe: We’re a family of three: me, hubby and our almost 2 year old daughter, Jas.

My village: My parents, hubbys parents, our extended families, our friends and the many Mum’s I met during Jas’ first year through walking groups, Waikato Home Birth Association, Kangatraining, SPACE, Le Lache League… and online Mum’s too!

Continue reading “Sarah’s New Normal”