Another Bad Good Friday!

‘Have you got everything? Revision? iPod? Swimming Trunks?’

‘Have you packed your chargers? Tennis racquets?’

As usual on the day we go away I am standing in the hall shouting at everyone to make sure that they don’t forget the one essential item that they cannot live without for a few days.

I have been mentally running through lists for three days, checked in to Ocado three times to make sure our food delivery includes Easter Eggs and a ton of carbohydrates for Son 1 and Son 2. A short Easter break, but I might as well be planning a trip to Madagascar. It will be my birthday while we are away and I have added a few little luxuries to my own bag – a nice bubble bath, a new top to wear on my birthday and a trashy magazine.

Last Easter, my Good Friday was spent running around Heathrow trying to get on a flight to Costa Rica as I had rendered myself unable to board the plane with the rest of my family. This Easter would be different. Continue Reading →

Being Five Years Old – Easter

picture of colourful easter eggsBeing five years old my son has his own take on significant events in the calendar.  He came home from school on Friday with this little gem about Easter.

Me:    ‘How was your day darling?’
Son 3:    ‘Good…..but I’ve got some bad news for you’
Me:    ‘Oh dear, what happened?’
Son 3:    ‘Well you know Jesus?  He is going to die at Easter, then a few days later he is going to come back to life..’
Me:    ‘Well I guess its good that he will come back to life’
Son 3:    ‘Yes, but it’s not good…he is going to miss all the fun, all the Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny!!’

That is all…

Being Five Years Old – Part One

Five Years Old CandleSon 3 is the magical age of 5, just on the verge of turning into a miniature person with his own preferences, ideas and friendships.

Being Five there is a simple rhythm to your life, your school days are all the same, no nasty exams or tests, you just turn up and see what has been laid on for the day.  You don’t need (and can’t use a watch), your days are punctuated by play times and lunch.  At the end of the day (well, 3.30pm), you have a play date or watch TV.  These rhythmic days roll up into school terms that ebb and flow with the seasons. Birthday parties, School fairs, Sports Day.  All come and go, year after year.  Being Five you will have forgotten what the last event was like, so all these events seem fresh and exciting when they come around.

Although I had my two older sons very close together, Son 3 didn’t pop along until more than 10 years later.  Being an older (and now unemployed!) Mum, and having such a large age gap, has made this age more enjoyable and yet more poignant for me.

Short of someone appearing on Dragon’s Den with a ‘Grow Your Own Baby’ kit, I know that Son 3 is my last child. After 30 years of potential motherhood it is over for me.  I can’t remember Continue Reading →

The Work and Family Show 2014 – Shouldn’t we be Balancing Everyone’s Work-Life?

Yesterday I spent the day at ExCel London visiting The Work and Family Show 2014.  I have never been before (the irony being that I never had time before of course), and decided to let fate decide if I should attend by entering a competition for tickets being run by Chiswick Mum on her blog.  Luckily I won and fate let me go (Thank you @Chiswick_mum!).

I was at the show all day and enjoyed some really interesting panel discussions including fine-tuning your job-applications, how to borrow money to start your own business, balancing your life and working flexibly.

Although some of the workshops covered Diversity and Gender issues, The Work and Family Show 2014 doesn’t specifically promote itself as a Women’s event, and a couple of the most interesting panel members were men, so where were all the menContinue Reading →

The Illusion of ‘Choice’..

Large planet, small planet
     This weekend the press produced yet another series of articles about women leaving it too late to have children.  Apparently the Chief Medical Officer is worried that women are postponing having children or choosing not to have any at all.  I feel qualified to comment as I had children at 31, 33 and 43.  I didn’t ‘choose’ when to have any of them, they arrived with very little input from me. I only know of two friends who formally announced that they were ‘trying’ and then got pregnant in less than a year.  ‘Choosing’ when to have children is an illusion – like choosing your preferred state school 4 years later.  Usually there is no choice as such, just a set of planets in erratic orbits suddenly synchronising and producing their very own Big Bang.
       In my Twenties I announced that I didn’t want children.. Continue Reading →

Back to School

       Today my 3 sons went back to school.  They all had very different Christmas breaks and all went back in very different moods.  It made me realise just how short childhood is these days.
       Son 3 is 5 years old and in Reception year at school.  I think that there is every chance that if you analysed it, being 5 is just about as good as it gets at Christmas.  He wholeheartedly, 100% KNOWS that Father Christmas is real, and more importantly, he KNOWS that Father Christmas lives at Bocketts Farm in the week before Christmas.  He has no doubts and always gets the thing he most wants for Christmas (this year’s random request was for a toy horse – simple!).  For him the last 3 weeks have been a constant stream of family visitors, special meals, chocolate treats, cinema visits and playdates.  As always the final day of the holidays is reserved for a visit to the Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum.  His ‘dinosaur phase’ is now in its third year and doesn’t show any signs of fading. Continue Reading →

New Year Hopes Not-Resolutions

I have never broken
a New Year’s Resolution…fact.  Truth is I have never made any to break.  Rather than give up drinking
in January, I did once pledge to drink every day for the whole month.  Something that I achieved way too easily.  However, since I am currently at what can only be described as a turning point in my life, I am allowing myself a few very simple ‘hopes’ for my new life in 2014. Continue Reading →

2013 – What did I learn?

I didn’t expect much from 2013, just another year grinding away in the same old job 11 hours a day, a bit of commuting and then all my ‘real life’ squeezed in to the periphery.  I knew I was fed up,  I even hoped that I would be made redundant to spur me into changing my life, but each round of redundancies left me untouched, sitting, staring at my wall of computer screens.

My back ached all day, every day, from being slumped in front of a screen for more than 20 years.  For 18 months I had physio for my knees, knees that simply didn’t work anymore as my legs had forgotten how to work properly.  My physio pointed out that I wasn’t alone, I am part of the first generation who have sat still for decades, we are the guinea pigs that prove that technology might save time and headcount, but when you reach the point of conducting your whole life from a screen then you are no longer living your life…or using your body parts.

Don’t Underestimate the School Gate Mum

The thing I have most enjoyed about unemployment (apart from extra sleep) is having a bit of extra time just to talk to friends and to make new friends and contacts.  Conversations take a different course when you tell people you are career changing and there is a genuine outpouring of enthusiasm for your project which spurs you forward.
When I was stuck in the hamster wheel any conversation that touched on work would end abruptly after the question ‘And what do you do?’. My answer would be ‘I’m a Banker’….tumbleweed. I don’t think this was a media-driven hatred towards Bankers (although sometimes that was certainly the case), but in conversational terms it is a dead end.  Now I say ‘I’m not working as I am in the middle of a career change’. ‘Ooooh, what do you want to do?’ people say, excited for you.  After 15 minutes you have opened your heart and got to know this new person on a different level. Continue Reading →

How Not to Take Your Family to Costa Rica

‘Have you got Esther?’  the lady at the Virgin check-in desk asked.
‘Who’s Esther?’ I asked
‘No…sorry… do you have an E-S-T-A?’ she tried again.
I guess the blank, confused look on my face answered the question.

It was 7.00am at Heathrow on a Good Friday morning.  The airport was relatively quiet and my family was excited to be starting our trip to Costa Rica, meticulously planned more than six months before.  We had a detailed itinerary, and I had made sure that every detail had been covered.  Except I didn’t know about ESTAs.  Our family travel usually takes us East and we hadn’t been to or through the US for a few years.  The check-in desk is not the place to find out that a special licence is needed to travel to the US these days.  The Virgin staff pointed me to the Internet Cafe upstairs and explained that it was possible to buy the ESTAs online and they were often quick to get approved, but that they can take up to 72 hours.  My heart sank. Continue Reading →