Returning to workforce

As I write this, I have just wrapped up my first week back at work after a year’s maternity leave with my second (and last) baby.

And it’s been great.

It’s been great seeing my colleagues and getting myself reacquainted with all the work that’s happening. It’s been great being myself again, and actually having time by myself on the train or on my lunch break. Even having some time to focus on work without also keeping an eye on the kids so the baby doesn’t eat a book (a real possibility) has felt like a luxury.

It’s also been great seeing my 5-year-old excited about going to the childminder’s after school and playing with other children, eating new foods, and then buzzing about his day as we walk home together. It’s been great seeing my one-year-old bonding with other babies and the staff at his nursery, and then coming to pick him up and give him loads of kisses and cuddles, all the sweeter for the time we spent apart.

And I’ve thought, “This is how a return to work should be.”

But it is a million miles away from my first return to work, which was a disaster that marked the beginning of one of my unhappiest periods of work life.

So what’s made the difference? There’s some luck involved, but there’s also a few things I can’t help but think have made the difference between miserably job hunting after work and looking forward to Monday. Continue reading “Returning to workforce”

When the world is getting you down

I have seen a lot of people suffering lately.

The rise in ultra-conservative politics. Deep division in our societies over what feel like key issues. Hurtful actions and language towards women. People rising to positions of power that fill some people with a sense of fear, injustice, or powerlessness.

We consume the news like an addict, looking for relief from the very thing that troubles us.

So I wanted to write a post in the hopes it provides some balm, some inspiration, for responsible self-care. Continue reading “When the world is getting you down”

Enough is enough (in a good way)

I was listening to the Happier podcast episode 187 where co-host Elizabeth Craft was talking about going away for the weekend with her family. As a TV writer, she’s super busy with her new show that’s just been picked up, so she was struggling to get away early on Friday to go camping with her husband and son. Instead, they went without her to the campsite on Friday night so she could work late, and she joined them the next day and they all came back together on Sunday. She was remarking how great it was, and by the time she got there it was like she’d been with them the whole weekend. And her son Jack got to ride on the train and get some quality time with his Dad.

I’ve frequently been caught off guard by something that seemed lame or not quite good enough that ended up being perfect for my son.

Sometimes, enough is…well, enough. Continue reading “Enough is enough (in a good way)”

Don’t underestimate the power of small things

This photo is of two postcard-sized paintings I painted and framed recently. They now live over the bookshelf right next to my favourite armchair.

In the past week, I have also completely overhauled my website (with professional-quality photos, which my talented husband shot for me as I had no photos of myself without the kids). I did some research around my coaching business, wrote some content for this blog, mowed the back garden, gathered another bag of stuff to take to the charity shop and a bag of clothing scraps to recycle, and sorted some clothes to/from the loft as my boys change their clothing size. Alongside all of these tasks, I also managed to have time to read for pleasure (George Eliot’s Middlemarch) and for learning (Paul Gilbert’s The Compassionate Mind), go for coffee with my husband, take my son to a park for a playdate after school, and go for a run.

This isn’t a list designed to brag (though reading it back I’m afraid that’s how it comes across…sorry about that). It is to demonstrate the amazing power of small things.

I have learned this simple truth time and time again before forgetting and then rediscovering it. But there’s a reason “Little and often” is one of the mantras I repeat to myself: little things, done every day, make a huge difference. Continue reading “Don’t underestimate the power of small things”

Simplify and getting rid of the junk

This morning I watched The Labyrinth with my five-year-old. (Aside: I am so happy he’s really old enough to appreciate and watch it with me!)

And one of the scenes that has always stuck with me, and which struck me even as I watched it today for the thousandth time, is when Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) finds herself in the junkyard.

A hunched woman with piles of junk on her back tries to convince Sarah that her material possessions is what she was looking for. But as Sarah handles her various possessions – a teddy bear, a wind up dancer, a lipstick – Sarah remembers she is looking for her baby brother, who she needs to save from the Goblin King (David Bowie).

I am deeply repulsed by this image, of the darkening sky over a land of junk as far as the eye can see, as solitary figures dig to add more junk to their hunched and overloaded backs.

And whilst the metaphor is heavy handed and made for all ages to get, it remains powerfully apt for me.

We are drowning in junk

From the plastic piling up in our landfills and oceans to the rise in self storage because we have more stuff than we can fit in our homes, there is too much stuff.

And our homes have also become bigger than they once were. The 1905 workers cottage where I live was originally even smaller than it is now, having been extended during its lifetime to build a third room upstairs and a tiny kitchen and bathroom downstairs. I can’t imagine how a family of four might have lived here when it was just two rooms downstairs and two upstairs.

And the junk isn’t what we’re looking for. Continue reading “Simplify and getting rid of the junk”

Do as I say, not as I do

There have been several times when I’ve caught myself telling my five year old something and feeling like a hypocrite. Like when I tell him to calm down and yet I know how much I struggle to contain my emotions at times (a work-in-progress I write about here frequently).

It got me thinking about all of the lessons I (try to) teach my son regularly that I could do with following myself. A bit like the popular Everything I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. And the more I thought about it, the more things sprang to mind. Here are a few of my favourites. Continue reading “Do as I say, not as I do”