Friday, 6 July 2012

Tides Are Changing

Last time I wrote about the juggle of life - of working, of parenting, of wife-ing, I received a comment from a helpful anonymous commenter that "you chose this and you should suck it up". Clearly that wasn't verbatim - but it might as well have been.

Needless to say, I shut up about talking about family life - and since then I've shied away from sharing family life.

But the thing is, I think that's what most people can relate to.

This term brings another new change for our little family. A new and fresh load of guilt for me to either drown in, or choose to swim to the surface, flap about and save our souls. I'm choosing the latter.

Recently Matt was announced a semi-finalist in the Moran Portrait Prize (bravo Matt!), and within the same week he scored a really, really great job. It had been a long distance between good things for us. It's been a tough year, despite all the hilarity I can muster, it's stretched us to our limits trying to make ends meet, and trying to juggle the mundane.

The flip side was this.

Tiny goes to preschool Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
Matt's job is going to be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. 
I work Tuesday - Friday.
The Doctor goes to school five days a week.
Can you see the gap there? The gaping big hole in our week?

Luckily I could switch my day off. So I did. I'll be hanging with Tiny on Thursdays now, and joining the hordes battling Monday-itis.

By design we both work part-time so someone is home with the kids. That is our choice. We chose to have less of an income because family life is the priority for us. And now things are shifting, and we've got to shift with them, and move, like sands through the hourglass.

We've got Tiny going to a different preschool on Fridays - which weighs heavy on my heart. Her current preschool couldn't take her for another day, so I see this as a test. If it doesn't work - we will have to shift again. We'll change things around, switch things up. And I still need to find a solution for an afternoon school pick ups.

I wish I could ask someone at school to pick up my kids one day a week. But since I work - I haven't really struck up any relationships with other mothers to go out on a limb and ask. And it's a big ask, isn't it? To ask someone to take my children home once a week. Is it? Isn't it? I don't know. I've lost perspective now because this change feels so immense for us. I feel the distance even more acutely I think because I am at work. I leave early and don't get home 'til late. The distance and disconnection between work life and family life can be spectacularly damning.

The whole idea that it takes a village to raise a family is an awfully romantic notion. But Matt and I are playing dual-triple-quadruple roles of Mayor, Town Crier (that's me), counsellor, worker bee - we are the village people.

I wish things could have stayed as they were. They were hard, but we had our routine. The smalls had one of us. But I guess this is an evolution of our family life.

This is not a pity party. This is me grappling with what to do next. What's our next move?

the image is Tiny and her cousin P's culinary adventure in the garden this morning. They were cooking. Boy, those little girls, they love to cook.


Hannah said...

I love honest writing.
Do it more, screw the others, I'll be reading.
I don't have any advice, I guess you just remember the most important thing for your family and then feel your way. I never have "other mums" to ask either, thank f for grand parents...

Reannon Hope said...

Aaahhhh the juggle, I know it well. We are the best of frenemies...
Ask the mums to help you out, they honestly won't mind. I bit the bullet last year & asked a few mums to help me out. My two boys went to different friends houses twice a week & another day another mum dropped them home. This year it's down to one day a week & they still don't mind. Just ask them....
When we moved from NSW to WA we moved from ALL our family. We left our village, our people but slowly we are rebuilding. We both still play most of the leading parts ( me more so now hubby has gone back to FIFO work doing 4:1!) but slowly & cautiously we are casting supporting roles, bit parts in our village. It took about 4 years but it's all coming together. Just keep re-assessing, change the things that don't work & ASK FOR HELP!! They can only say no...
I like this honest talk a lot. Don't stop xx

Kirsten said...

Awesome post Lexi. Post about this all you want. It's exactly our conundrum. Do we work four days each or one person full time, the other part time in something that's not so sexy? Do we rent closer to the city so we don't have a crapola commute and do more 'interesting' work or do we stay where we are and where our kids are happy in school and childcare. It's a toughy....
We have had offers of help from other mums but I feel bad imposing....I dunno. Meh.

Cass said...

Great post Lexie. We too have had a tough year, with Jeff not having worked since December and I only work part time so it has been a big stretch for us. Thankfully he has just gotten a part time job although we will still be struggling until he finds something full time. It does get easier once both the kids are at school as it is easier to ask for help. I'm with everyone else, ask another mum if they can talk the kids one afternoon, maybe they need someone to take their child one afternoon but they too don't want to ask. See if the office can put a note in the newsletter or even just in the Dr's class. I'm lucky my work hours allow me to pick the kids up from school but I often take other kids home if their mums have trouble one week and vice versa. That is one thing I love about our school it's not too big so I know a few mums across different grades, this has also come about from out of school activities. One thing I would say, if you school/grade has them is go to parent functions. We have mums nights out for each grade once a term and it is a great way to get to know the other mums. Is there a class parent for the Dr's class, maybe you could talk to them. Try and go to as many school things as you can, P & F meetings even, yes they are a pain after work but you get to know other parents. Sorry this ended up being so long, but hopefully I've given you a few ideas after being around the school "life" for a while.

LionessLady said...

Some people are so jolly rude aren't they?! I dont know why they'd go to the effort of commenting only to be rude and snarky!

Good luck with the changes. It most certainly is a juglle, but somehow it all works out in the end. Wish I could help with the school run but the commute from Melbourne is a real bitch!

Mrs Smith said...

Oh love, I hear you loud and clear. We've done the low income and the juggle and the one person home and now the two of us five days a week. Now we are me 4 him 5 and a half. The best approach is not to suck it up (who was that helpful bastard?) but exactly what you are doing - suck it and see. Guilt sucks. Who needs it? I am sure you are handling it far better than you give yourself credit for. Much love and good wishes to you from someone who has tried many permutations and when they stopped working, did something else. Back yourself. You know what's right for you and your family.

Little Pinwheel said...

lexi... i would have tiny in a heartbeat. she could rock it with us in the afternoon, but maybe we are too faraway? I get this dilemma. I too am having a moment with maybe pulling the little guy out one day a week, but to juggle the chaos of little guy with work an extra day would be hard. It is a battle of what to do. i wish I could give you the answer.

you don't need to suck it up... this is reality and life. We all have these moments, and you have every right to say that it is hard. (I was told that my blog sucked yesterday... nice.... but to my surprise, two readers jumped in, and basically told anonymous to take a hike)...

Like someone said to me, it is my blog, and I should be able to share what I like. I love your blog. Always have. You rock, and I know that for a fact. I love that you mix it up, and I love it all.

Enjoy your weekend, and remember your smalls are always welcome to rock it with my little people x

Hazel said...

Lexi, that commenter is awful, they either don't have children or a job or both.
Sorry I don't have any suggestions, but have got my fingers crossed that something works out for your family.

little betty said...

This parenting caper is a juggle - no doubt about it! School pick ups are hard and coordinating work schedules is even tougher. After a few years on struggle street, due to my university retraining (and kiddy production), I've started working full time (with 3 kids) to establish a new career and it is just hard, hard, hard.

I think you should speak to the Doctors teacher about potential parents that you can ask for pick up help. Maybe one of his friends.

Alternatively, maybe book him into OOSH care one day of the week. For us, having one day of OOSH care for my Kindy kid reduces our overall childcare bill because of the CCB % thing.

Blog about what you want and stuff those shitty anon commenters. Keep it real my friend.

Sally said...

Oh dear. Just thinking about the juggle is exhausting!

It is such a romantic notion that it takes a village to raise a child. It is utter crap. Well for me and my mob anyway. And for many other people too. No accomodating grandparents - apparently it is "their" time now and they're all, all four of them, just too busy to fit in grandchildren. No aunt and uncles either, they're jobs are very demanding and it would be too difficult to expect that they'd put a reminder in their phones so that they call the nephews and neice on their birthdays! ... or Christmas! ...and a card or a gift - well again that really why should they?
We are in a situation that when it comes to filling in the emergency contact information on the child care forms we just have to leave it blank... because for our children there really is only their parents.

... anyway sorry Lexi for the rant. I just get so pissed off about it. Especially since said peeps would all identify themselves as left-wing social value types! In name only - not when it actually comes to any actual effort on their own parts. I just get so cranky.

... but it is worse for other people. In my role at work I was ready court documents about a woman who was dobbed in my her neighbour to child-welfare for leaving her four children under seven years unattended. The woman was in labour and there was no one else in her life available to care for the kids. Rather than help her out the neighbour dobbed her in. Really! What is this community in which we live? She eventually surrendered all five children volunteering to child services because she just couldn't cope.

A village my arse.

BOB & MABEL said...

It is a battle for those of us that don't have willing family to fall back on. My youngest is at Pre school this year and although I am desperate to go back to work the hours make it very difficult to. Even when all 3 are at school it will be a struggle with before and after school hours.
I hope you work it out soon and congrats to your hubby, beautiful painting of you.

Mon Alisa Design said...

You'll find your path m'love. No-one has the answer to parent hood. We all just have to feel our way through it and do what we feel is right. And I'm sure that you'll get there :)
I'm one of those mums who does the school run for other parents. My friends all joke that my house is the drop zone as I literally have other peoples children day in and out....and I must say that I love it. Alot of them work out of town which can make it near impossible for them to pick their children up from school or get them to extra curricular activities. I'm happy to help them and I love the being around children. It gives me an excuse to be a silly billy. All their girls come home singing songs from Dirty Dancing because thats what plays in the car (and Dolly too of course).
Never ever change. This is your blog and you have the right to write whatever you want to. I prefer to read about parenting/family stuff because thats what I relate too. And your blog is one of my faves so poo to that nasty commenter with nobs on.

Take care of you lady x

katiecrackernuts said...

You'll handle it all with flying colours and kids are resilient. While you're agonising Tiny just goes on and while ever she feels safe and secure knowing your family will always make things right, she will be fine. Honest. You all will.

ohsewrosy said...

Lexi, I get it. This conundrum. And I'm totally relating to it. Similar stories for mine lately. But we see the light. Bright shining light (no, not dying-kinda light!), good things are gonna happen light. I work 4 days a week and have a little one in school & one in daycare. After years of worrying/guilt, I now embrace it and make it work. And my kids are HAPPY. That's it. What counts. Keep the real life stuff coming. I love it and it's so good to hear some honesty coz life can be great and it can also suck. Your blog has created a community, and for people that don't like it, it's simple - you don't belong - so leave. For me, I look forward to all your posts, am thoroughly entertained and/or really get what you're saying. Keep it working it Lexi! Amy

Shontelle said...

Yes, juggling the wee ones is so hard! But can we go back to the anonymous commenter that put you off writing about this stuff? It really shits me that when someone has something negative to say they do it anonymously. Really peeps - grow some balls and put your name to your opinion! Ok, rant over.

I hope you find a solution. I think the pre-school years are the trickiest - no after school hours care and the drop off and pick up times are so late and early respectively. I am lucky and only work one day a week and have great support from my mum - but even that one day can get tricky when she's got something on and at times I've had to pull the pin on work.

Lovely Lindsay said...

"...choose to swim to the surface, flap about and save our souls..."

best words.
needed them.
thank you, friend.
love, lindsay

My Messy Room said...

Oh gosh dont change! Your honesty about all aspects of your life, good times, hardships, work, kiddies is what makes your blog so personal and successful.. it's the girl chat at its best!

Where do you live? I can help one day a week if i live close to you as i have mondays at home.. email me via the store, dont be shy!

There is no doubt that this city can wear you down so you both just have to do what works for you best.

Is there after school care close by or at the school for one day? I have found that the small fee is worth every cent for the stress it has alleviated getting there on time (even though i have the guilts cause he is in kindi). but he loves it so much.

Have you thought about asking a mum of a child he is friends with? keep it casual and like another reader said, they can only say 'no'. i think you would be surprised at how many mums would help.. if you ask.

And finally on the upside of working mondays - at least you now get all the monday public holidays off AND if you have the friday off on the occasion, you get a 4 day weekend... there is always a positive! xx

Lisa McLean said...

Oh how I could relate to your post Lexi!

'Tides are changing' are words ringing in my own head as I sit at home for the third week sick. I feel so lucky that I am usually a healthy person but having a virus take over your body and blood tests come back to show that you are run down and being told you have to stop certainly brings to head what is maybe not working in daily life.

The juggle of work and kids and how we all mange it is so personal yet we all have it in common. We all have different levels of copeability (is that a word?) and we must adjust as life moves and kids grow.

I am now wondering have I taken on too much, how can I better balance things and make daily life run smoother so everyone is happy and healthy. Its not easy to get it right and most of the time we question ourselves.

What I have realised over these few weeks is it is important to call on people around you to help when times are tough - and in return I am sure you would offer help when they are in need. If family aren't around, we need to reach out to other mums who understand. Hoping you find a new balance soon.

Also, love how you keep it real in your posts - your family is part of you and your blog is about you - so of course you should write about them and your daily life!

Kayles said...

Hi Lexi,
I am one of the stalkers on the net, often reading, not often commenting.
Keep writing what you wish, this blog is for you and nobody else, we all chose to read this, and if we don't like it, the honesty of what you say and what is happening in your world, then it is just as easy for any of us to no longer read.
I do love how people comment, but are just gutless to leave a name. Hiding behind a screen can make some people bigger than they are.
We all have our own issues to deal with and maybe this person's comment was made on a bad day.
Don't let one person's comment, whom you don't know, define or change who you are.
Your blog is for you, to help you vent, share, laugh, enjoy.
Keep writing as you would always.

Luna said...

Lexi, I hope you and Matt find a solution soon. Bugger what that commenter wrote, the negativity that some people write may also be a reflection of themselves. Anyway, who's blog is this yours or theirs? My fingers are crossed for you too.

Linda said...

I can't believe no one responded to this post? Thanks for sharing Lexi. My husband and I both work part time to care for our three kids and it is tough in a lot of ways but great in others. Financially it's hard but we know it's for a short time. I'm proud of how we have done this on our own with no help from family (we have no village either!) and our kids have a great relationship both parents, plus we share the housework/shopping/school dropoff and pickup burden!