Examining My Life Objectively

Today’s Thursday so I’m Crafting my Life! I’m hard at work on the Crafting my Life e-course. You still have time to register, so drop by my Sign Up! page to find out more about that. While I work on that, I’m shaking things up over here. I’m continuing the “crafting your life” theme through January, in which I welcome guest contributors to share their journey with you. This week, it’s the amazing Alexis.

I’ve been following Amber’s “Crafting My Life” series with interest over the last several months – I think we’re all crafting our lives, whether consciously or not. We’re making decisions every minute, mundane or life-changing, and it’s been fascinating and thought provoking for me to watch her take time once a week to really think about what she values, and how she’s going to implement what matters to her in the way she lives her life. So I was thrilled when Amber agreed to allow me to contribute here. And then terrified. What on earth would I say?

And then in that glorious ten minutes of alone time that is my morning shower, I caught myself wondering what it would be like if I woke up one morning with no knowledge of who I am. If I suddenly had to look out my own eyes at my life as if I were a perfect stranger.

You know, like Quantum Leap. (Please tell me I’m not the only one old enough to remember that show.)
(Amber – No, you are not. I had a crush on Scott Bakula.)

What an interesting thought experiment: what would my life look like if I had the opportunity to see it, exactly as it is, but with no assumptions and no judgment? Like everyone else, I wander through my days with a constant stream of personal commentary going through my mind. Often, in fact I’d say mostly, that commentary is Not Nice.

What would it be like to just shut that voice off for a day? To drop the baggage I carry around every minute; to have no preconceptions about my body, my housekeeping, my mothering – my being.

What would that look like?

Well, first I’d have to fumble for my glasses, or it wouldn’t look like much at all. But after that, what? I’d get out of bed and have a look around. I’d catch my reflection in the mirror. What would I see there? Wouldn’t it be great to see my body as it is? To recognize its health and ability, not knowing I’m twenty pounds heavier than I used to be? To see my curves and strength, and not just the cellulite on my thighs? The thought of looking at my body without judging or hating any part of it makes me a little giddy, I must admit.

Looking around my home, maybe I’d see a pile (or two, or three, or infinity) of paperwork that needed to be sorted through. It would just be paperwork, instead a disaster-area of uncompleted tasks, unfinished business, and work I didn’t get done the day/week/month before. Maybe I’d see the dishes that needed to be done and laundry that needed be folded as just that, instead of guilt-inducing proof that I’m a terrible housekeeper. What a thought: to see things I need to learn to do, instead of evidence of everything I’m not good at. Crazy!

What would that feel like? It’s hard for me to imagine.

What would it be like to walk through my day with curiosity instead of judgment? How would that affect my behaviour, and my interactions with others? I think it would be incredibly freeing, to spend the day with my husband, blissfully unaware of how much it bugs me that he never replaces the toilet paper roll. Or to play with my toddler, absent the self-recriminations for shouting at him the night before to, “For crying out loud, stop doing parkour on the coffee table!”

What would it feel like to simply enjoy my family for who they are? To just be, in that moment, without half my mind telling me what I’m doing wrong?

I bet it would feel pretty good. Incredible, even.

And what would I do?

I’m a classic procrastinator. I start out with the best of intentions, and then put things off and put things off until the deadline is looming, and then the deadline has passed, and then I’m squeezing out a frenzied burst of work at the last possible moment. I’m forever making to do lists and then not doing what needs to be done. It’s a pattern of behaviour I’ve struggled with all my life, and I don’t know why.

Well I do, of course I do. We all do: fear. Irrational, intangible, and devastating.

Just think what I could accomplish if I didn’t have the heavy weight of fear attached to everything I try. Imagine: looking at a to do list, completing a task, checking it off, and moving on to the next one. Just getting things done. Simple, right?

If I was trying to be cool, I’d tell you this is easy for me to imagine. But the truth is that I’ve had to get up and walk away from the keyboard a dozen times while writing this post. It’s astonishing to me to learn how uncomfortable I am with the mere thought of living my life – even one day – without judgment. I think I cling sometimes to that inner voice telling me I’m not good enough. Even though it doesn’t serve me, it’s familiar, and comfortable, and it gives me easy excuses for not reaching further and trying harder.

So today, I’m crafting my life. I’m going to work really hard at looking at all these things through a stranger’s eyes. Enjoy the moments, keep what serves me, discard what doesn’t. And maybe knock a few things off my to do list, just for fun.

What would your life look like if you looked at it objectively? What would you change about the way you spend your time? What one thing would you immediately start to do differently?

You can find Alexis at Wave the Stick and Vancouver Daily Photo. And you can find the super-cool hats for little boys that she makes at Chill Monkeys. Here’s Jacob last summer rocking his.

Re-invent Your Life

Today’s Thursday so I’m Crafting my Life! I’m hard at work on the Crafting my Life e-course. You still have time to register, so drop by my Sign Up! page to find out more about that. While I work on that, I’m shaking things up over here. I’m continuing the “crafting your life” theme through January, in which I welcome guest contributors to share their journey with you. This week, it’s the super-cool Julie Einarson.

I was recently handed the opportunity to re-invent my life. There are a few different ways to see it, really. A funded job search is one. “Terminated without cause” sounds a bit heavy. A fresh start is what I settled on. My mother prefers “fired” but that’s another story for a couch somewhere.

What a gift it has been. Given time and space to breathe, I ended up with clarity. Not just the kind they sing about, seeing clearly now, the rain is gone, etc. I’m talking about the kind of clarity that makes you catch your breath and hurts a little.

I was a cliché. I owned being “she who has it all” and scoffed at people who complained they were busy, automatically measuring them against what I navigated in a day and inevitably finding them nowhere near as efficient or spread as thin as I was. I assured myself my kids were growing up positive and happy, social and participatory, well-fed and clothed. But once I sat back and took in an unencumbered view of my life I saw a different picture. I was barely keeping it together. At work I was tasked with doing too many things, and was not doing any of them particularly well. At home my every move was a calculated effort to get the kids out of the house so I could get to work, or into bed so I could do more work.

Cat in sunbeam
Photo credit: Justin Glass on Flickr

Now I’m a role model. Someone I used to work with told me recently she is “pulling a Julie” and stepping out of the rat race. My choice to be content with a neat and tidy little day job surprised a lot of people. I am simply done with taking on more and battling monster jobs into submission. I have bigger and better things to spend that energy on. People register a myriad of things when I am asked “so what do you do” and I reply “parent, garden, run, write, eat, putter…” Few ask me to clarify what I do for a living after that. Instead we talk about what makes us people. Where our joy lives. What we do for fun and fulfillment.

My personal motto is “leave it better than you found it.” It could be a day – if you learned something, or helped someone, you leave it a better person. It could be a room – I’m a compulsive tidier. It is often my kids. Every day I see them evolve, absorb, experience. Yesterday I joined my daughter lying in a sunbeam with the cat. We discussed how dust specks in the air (okay, maybe not totally OCD for cleaning) were surely fairies heading off to play. It was a magical sweet moment in both our lives. I’m thankful I have the right perspective now to see that.

Julie Einarson served time in the corporate world for 13 years, perfecting workaholism while raising two amazing kids. In the spring of 2010, she rediscovered perspective and now enjoys volunteering, running, and having time to be the mom she always wanted to be. She prattles on Twitter as @Jule_E.

Crafting a Life Less Ordinary

Today’s Thursday so I’m Crafting my Life! This month, I’m hard at work on the Crafting my Life e-course. Early bird registration ends this weekend, drop by my Sign Up! page to find out more about that. While I work on that, I’m shaking things up over here. December’s theme is “crafting your life”, in which I welcome guest contributors to share their journey with you. This week, it’s the amazing Alison.

I have a dream.

This dream began as a talk about what my husband Aaron and I envisioned for our retirement; then it morphed to include what we hope to provide for our kids as they grow up. A random conversation evolved into an elaborate picture of what we want our life to be like and I’m serious when I say elaborate. This isn’t just a list of specs for our dream house or the name of our ideal jobs. This is almost a mission or manifesto. It involves how we earn our income, where our food comes from, what our house will be like, what kind of community we want to live in. It prioritizes family and community and includes hopes of gathering multiple generations together in the same place.

One of the problems is that our vision is so elaborate that it sometimes feels like it will always be just a dream. We aren’t sure where to start, we don’t know if it’s too outrageous to be realistic, and we often feel like total weirdos because we aren’t doing what everyone else is doing. In the here and now, prioritizing our family has meant a much lower income. We drive a beat up old mini-van and we are still renting, but the flip side is that I chose to stay home with my kids while they are young and we started our own business so that Aaron could do work that was meaningful to him and set his own hours.

On the days when we wish we had a house to make our own (with a workshop, a greenhouse, and a sewing room); or when our friends take vacations to tropical beaches; or when I’m going stir crazy as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, it’s easy to feel like we’re doing something wrong and that our dream will never be realized.

Here’s the funny part: I’ve actually done this dream building thing before—I should understand the process. One summer, we rather impulsively got married and bought a 40′ school bus to convert and live in (in the middle of Vancouver no less). We spent five years there, living in my sister’s backyard. Over that time, we were able to pay off our student loans, learn the value of community, develop a deeper relationship with my sister and her children, understand the difference between a house and a home (particularly hand built shelter), and appreciate living with less. In short, it was a transformative experience. We had a vision of a life less ordinary and we were able to craft exactly that. Our little sprout of a dream materialized in a way that was exactly what we needed even though we could never have foreseen the end result or the magical way it all came together.

I have this rather stunning example of a time when we went out on a limb in a big way and had it work out. This should be all I need for positive encouragement that we are capable, that we know how to do this, that crafting our lives is an achievable feat. Sometimes that is how it works. Sometimes this example gets me through my doubt and uncertainty.

Other times it isn’t enough.

The reality is that it doesn’t seem to matter how many times you do it or how capable you are, crafting your life is a big scary deal. Crafting your life doesn’t mean following everybody else and doing nice safe things. Crafting the life that you want means acknowledging your individuality. You have specific values and dreams and they may not fall in line with what society tells you is the right thing to do. Putting those thoughts out in the open and admitting that you’re willing to go for it (and even risk failing) also means embracing your vulnerability. While it takes a lot of courage, most of the time being vulnerable makes you feel anything but brave.

My past experience informs my present journey to create the life we want for our family and I draw on it for courage and inspiration. I also draw on it to remind me that this process isn’t about knowing what I’m doing. I expect to feel doubtful and scared and uncertain at times. I expect that creating a life that is meaningful to me won’t always feel comfortable. After all, learning and growing rarely does. So go ahead—embrace your fear. It will be OK.

Alison spends most of her time with a 2 year old and a 5 year old and is currently gestating a surprise third baby who will be joining the family in February. She and her husband traded in Big City bus dwelling life for a small town and the freedom of self-employment in the shape of GROW tree care. She blogs at BluebirdMama, knits, dabbles in web design and spends one morning a week running the office of a midwifery clinic (to keep herself sane). She is also one of the fabulous interviewees for Crafting my Life!

Crafting “Me”

Today’s Thursday so I’m Crafting my Life! This month, I’m hard at work on the Crafting my Life e-course. Advanced discount registration for people on my email list ends this weekend, so sign up at CraftingMyLife.com if you haven’t already! While I work on that, I’m shaking things up over here. December’s theme is “crafting your life”, in which I welcome guest contributors to share their journey with you. This week, it’s the fabulous Sarah.

A large part of my life is spent working with others. From the kids at the preschool, interacting with clients via email, phone or in person, to keeping the daughter happy and healthy, and loving the husband (and friends and family), there’s not a lot of down time. Yeah, yeah – I’m not alone. I know most of you are crazy-busy people living the same type of life. But, when do you make “me” time? Really. When DO you make time for yourself? I want to know so I can do it, too!

Well, I started thinking about it, and decided I should figure this out myself. I shouldn’t rely on others to help fix me – I need to be able to fix myself. You see, I was starting to twitch a bit, to not be so shiny, and be a bit ornery. Let’s face it. I was a lot ornery.

Something had to give. It was time to change my ways and really get serious about taking care of me. “I” should be a big part of my life, just like working with others. At the end of the day I feel so fulfilled and proud to have helped and encouraged others in a positive way. It’s awesome to be working with young minds promoting creativity and healthy self-esteem. I’m glad that others find my writing informative and educational, and want to read and use my ideas. Most nights I sleep pretty snug-as-a-bug in my bed with a warm fuzzy feeling deep inside.

But, I was still getting a bit rough around the edges due to lack of “me” attention.

In fact, I needed a lot of assistance all over the place. My wardrobe consisted of clothes from 1990, my hair hadn’t been cut in quite awhile [Amber: 6 months for me], and I actually didn’t own any closed-toe shoes. Being a mom is awesome, but it totally sucks out all my motivation to be a hot-mama. I’d lost my internal drive to look good. It just didn’t matter anymore.

It was time for a “me” intervention.

I started by making an appointment at a salon and blocking off time for the husband to take care of our daughter. Both of these things instantly made me feel guilty (typical). But, I was determined, so I stuck to the plan. I shared with friends and family my intentions of getting to know “me” again and caring for myself. I figured if I told others about my plan, I would be more inclined to keep up with it (you know, that internal fear of disappointing others…).

The hair cut went well and it felt great to do something without the babe. I also did some shopping all on my own and purchased a real pair of shoes that didn’t go flip-flop. I gave myself an internal pep talk and promised myself I’d keep it up. It only takes a couple of minutes in the morning to toss on a quick application of mascara and shiny lip-gloss, right?

I stuck to it for a week. Then I was back in the yoga pants and living mascara free.

No, I didn’t fail. I finally realized that, yeah, I would love to look kick-ass every day of the week, but I don’t. How I look on the outside doesn’t change who I am on the inside. I’m not in high school anymore and even though the majority of the world
still judges the book by its cover, I’m a happy and well-adjusted human being.

My husband thinks I look hot, so I should, too.

During my “me” time experiment, I learned that it is important for me to make a date with myself once a month. I totally benefited from taking the time to do something just for me. But, putting extra stress on myself to “look the part” wasn’t
necessary. The kids at preschool don’t care that I’m not wearing the latest winter-trends. They just want to squish clay. My clients don’t care where I picked up my eyeliner. They want motivational articles.

So, at night when I’m all tucked-in-tight, I still fall asleep with a smile on my face and am way less testy the next day. I’ve found the way to balance my “me” time with my regular routine – and it’s working.

I’m still wearing the tinted lip-gloss, though. It makes me smile a little bigger.

Sarah is a part-time stay-at-home-mom to her daughter and part-time preschool teacher that likes to write a lot. When she’s not doing fun art activities with her babe or making something yummy in the kitchen, she’s busy cleaning, organizing, diapering, and working toward world-wide peace. Sarah has a degree in art education and has worked with kids of all ages for over 10 years. In her free time, Sarah likes to read books, take naps, and eat chocolate. You can find more of her writing at sarahlipoff.com.

My Life as I Know It

Today’s Thursday so I’m Crafting my Life! This month, I’m hard at work on the Crafting my Life e-course. Registration opens this Saturday for people on my email list, so sign up at CraftingMyLife.com if you haven’t already! While I set that up, I’m shaking things up over here. December’s theme is “crafting your life”, in which I welcome guest contributors to share their journey with you. This week, it’s the amazing Danielle.

I am listening to my dear friend from my ‘Mommy and Me’ group talk about her meeting that day, which included a catered lunch. I remember from my corporate days it calling it a ‘working lunch’. My mind wanders to the days of getting dressed up, make-up freshly applied, and marching out the door to the land of adult conversations, budgets, and any other gossip that circulates the four walls that eat up a work day. My desk housed trinkets that motivated me during the times when the boss’s problems became my problems. When I stepped out of the office, the stress stayed at the office.

As she kept talking I thought of my work day now. After the breakfast dishes are cleared, I flip on a Wiggles DVD and tap away at my pink Netbook to make a noon deadline for a client back East. My face is clean from a stolen-moment shower. My hair drips onto my keyboard as I didn’t have time to blow dry it. My three-year-old appears to ask if she can do her paperwork beside me.

Trying to keep my train of thought, I pass her crayons and blank paper to keep her happy until I can finish the copy that I need to email. My youngest toddles up to me demanding to sit on my lap. I scoop her up and bounce her while typing with one hand.

My office dynamic has surely changed. When I was winding down my maternity leave from my first child, I fell ill so my leave was extended. As I recuperated, my employer went under. While I was pondering my next move, I got pregnant again. I discovered there is not an employer who will hire a pregnant mom with bad morning sickness. I became a permanent stay-at-home-mom.

As my darling second child grew beautiful and my eldest started pre-school, I wondered what I should do to bring home an income. Four people living on one income is tough. I never expected to be a mom when I was told I could not. It tore my soul at the thought of leaving them every day and missing their milestones.

I began exploring the world of self-employment. I quickly realized I could not make a product worth mass selling out there on my own. Also, I could not bake for my friend’s company who had offered me a job on weekends when my husband was home with the kids. During the late nights consoling my teething tot, I relied on my phone for entertainment, surfing social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

On a dare to myself, I began to answer the general call of websites asking for article submissions. They were published. Then, I was getting asked by newfound clients to write copy for their various projects. I also took an online writing class for fun and ended up getting published on the company’s site.

The validation of being creatively accepted while doing diaper duty gave me the confidence to keep going with freelance work. The pay is coming. Starting a new business that is me is exciting. It is not 9 to 5 job; the hours are all around the clock. It is flexible so I can travel with a wireless device to keep me plugged in. My catered lunch involves a drive-thru on the extreme days. If a wannabe freelancer mom saw my ‘glamorous’ job, she might think twice.

I am fortunate to work with and for amazing people, all the while being my daughters’ full-time mom.

Danielle is a work-at-home mom of two miracle daughters living in Langley, BC. She is a regular contributor to The Momoir Project and writes book reviews for Women’s Post website. Danielle’s work has also appeared in many other parenting websites and in print such as: The Yummy Mummy Club, Sweet Mama and Oh Baby Magazine to name a few. Danielle has a special space in her writing for motherless mamas. She has been one since she was 10 years old.

Finding Creativity

Today’s Thursday so I’m Crafting my Life! This month, I’m hard at work on the Crafting my Life e-course. I’ve announced registration and pricing, look at me go! While I do that, I’m shaking things up over here. December’s theme is “crafting your life”, in which I welcome guest contributors to share their journey with you. This week, it’s my friend, the fabulous Jen.

Many years ago I went to school to be a writer. After a year of general arts courses focused on creative writing, I opted for a two year professional writing diploma program at the local college. I felt a professional and technical education would provide me with some sort of speech writing or instruction manual writing employment while I idly sat at home in the evenings and penned the next brilliant Giller Prize winner. Upon graduation, I needed a job to pay my bills and since writing jobs aren’t generally advertised in community newspapers, I took a no-brainer entry level position in a warehouse. The mental pressures of the position were fairly non-existent and I suddenly had freedom and a modest disposable income. I was out late regularly enjoying seedy music in seedy bars. Becoming a writer was forgotten.

Back in the child-free stress-free days

Fast forward a decade and I was still with the same company, having been promoted to various positions. The so-so but reliable pay, the low mental draw on my brain, and the non-threatening habit of a Monday to Friday 9-to-5er had made it easy to stay. Now married and pregnant, I said goodbye to my co-workers as I set off on maternity leave in June of 2008 with mixed feelings. Becoming a parent was life changing – so much so that as my maternity leave approached its end I was vehemently opposed to returning. The job that had been decent enough for more than ten years was suddenly the Worst. Job. Ever. It didn’t reflect or fit me, and was everything I didn’t want. I couldn’t be the “me” I had become.

This motherhood thing is pretty awesome.

Fortunately for me, my husband and I made the decision for me to stay home. We found ways to make the family books balance. I took on a child-minding position with a friend’s little one, we cut out most disposable cash suckers like eating out and movies, I accepted a brainless data entry position a few evenings a week, and a work from home contract position I love landed in my lap. Our set up has been working great for almost three years now. But lately, that niggling little part of me keeps whispering, “You wanted to be a writer.” Things are good but I want great. I needed a tipping point. I wanted more creativity.

Choosing to add creativity in your life is a scary thing. It’s easy to follow a routine and get up every morning and do the same things and fill your day with the same tasks. It is incredibly hard to choose the unknown. As enjoyable as my days are being an at-home parent, they still lack creativity that feeds my soul. One can only make so many paper crowns, pressed wax paper pictures, and tracings of feet.

leaves + wax paper = toddler fun

I’m aiming to promote more creativity in my off-time. Instead of writing a list of New Year’s Resolutions to inevitably crumble away by March, I’m writing a list of 12 Crafty Projects I Want to Complete in 2011. I’m a big fan of to-do lists. I like crossing them off. Injecting creative craftiness into my life and writing a public list will help. Filling my off time with a pre-determined to-do list will help. As a contributor to the household income, however, I couldn’t suddenly devote all my time to painting giant canvasses in the garage or sewing flannel jammies. I needed a realistic balance of doldrum worker bee and creative individual.

My options for taking the leap to achieve balance were a little overwhelming. When I sat down and started planning a way in which I could achieve the balance of worker bee and creative individual I had to give myself permission to experiment to find the right solution. Going back to school or finding a creative full time job were both options, but options that meant full time daycare for my son. I am not yet ready to give up my days with him, however, so after searching, planning, and a little bit of good timing, I’m teaming up with another mom to launch a boutique marketing consultancy devoted to providing writing, editing, social media coaching and strategic guidance to small businesses in and around our hometown. Our skills and schedules complement one another and it is work I deeply enjoy doing. I was thrilled when our first client paid me. Me! Paid for writing! This is the paid creativity I had been seeking.

Having my own business allows me scheduling flexibility and I can choose how much work I seek. Most importantly, teaming up with a like-minded individual does two things: we share the stress (and joy) of owning a business and we are able to empathize when our role as mothers has to take priority over our role as business owners.

I think the lesson I have learned in all of this is that crafting my life into the one I want to lead takes effort and work. But the balance I feel now is worth it and I am grateful for what I have.

Jen Arbo is a stay at home parent living and working in New Westminster. She is the operations manager for the Royal City Farmers Market, one half of the creative force behind Hyack Interactive, and occasionally contributes to Tenth to the Fraser. She makes a mean cup of chai and blogs about her family’s life at The Arbolog. You can catch her on Twitter @jenarbo where she is often extolling the virtues of fine chocolate and socks that fit snugly.

Crafting my (Future) Life

Today’s Thursday so I’m Crafting my Life! This month, I’m hard at work on the Crafting my Life course. So, to give me a break and shake things up a little, December’s theme is “crafting your life”, in which I welcome guest contributors to share their journey with you. This week, it’s my good friend Amanda, better known as pomo mama.

I love being a mum; it’s my most recent career change, mostly fun but totally exhausting. I’ve gone from small animal veterinary practice to lab work, from a PhD studentship to post-doctoral studies, from an academic career track to unemployed new immigrant, and finally from trailing spouse to mature new mum, picking up a small home business en route. It’s been quite a ride so far, and there’s still some mileage left.

‘Mature’ motherhood has taught me it’s good to stop and sniff the roses, but not to the exclusion of Real Life. For a while it’s been nice to get off the career roller coaster and take stock. While I enjoy being a SAHM, the totally 100% domestic life is not for me. I need external stimuli, a degree of financial self sufficiency, and validation in order to function. I need to feel I’m contributing more than scrubbed toilets and a nutritious meal.

How? Career planning is suddenly a game for the whole family.
It’s not just me “going out to work”.
Welcome to job search: the motherhood edition.
Welcome to crafting my future life.

Somehow, during my “lost years” a game plan mysteriously appeared.

  • what do I want to do?
    • what did I love most about previous jobs?
    • where do I want to go?

I’ve had the relative luxury(?) of being unemployed since landing in Canada. It’s given me time to volunteer and rediscover what I am passionate about, what makes me tick. I’ve developed new interests, learned new skills and it’s been a valuable resume gap filler.

  • and how do I want to do it?
    • full time vs. part time? Weekdays, evenings or weekends?
    • from home or away, or both?
    • entrepreneur CEO, freelance, or salaried? portable career?
    • one job, two jobs …. portfolio career?

This summer I had a job interview. Let me tell you, nothing makes you concentrate more on fitting a job in with family life than being presented with an outside chance. I physically felt sick at the thought of full-time childcare, and wasn’t too happy at the thought of a five-day-a-week commute. Working with other people appealed to me but so did mixing it with working from home. I didn’t get the job … but it did make me solve some practical matters.

It was also at this stage that I nixed any ideas of either re-qualifying in my primary area of work, or concentrating solely on my existing business. The former meant re-visiting lecture notes from approximately 25 years ago and tackling species I’ve never dealt with professionally, and the latter … well, I make jewelry for pleasure and would like to keep it so. I realised I also find it a bit of a cliché – SAHM making jewelry, selling it on Etsy and so on. Once I took myself the “mummy r(o)ut(e)” of diapers, bibs, breastfeeding, personalised jewelry and back into the world of tech, writing, science, and social media I was much more inspired. Nothing against making stuff for kids, but I don’t want to be limited to that world in ten years time.

  • further education and networking

So how do I get there? My biggest hurdle is elusive Canadian Work Experience or Qualifications. Sadly, it is much easier here to get a foot in the door with home-grown talent so I am considering going back to school in a program which has a good practicum component. Having classmates will also deliver that much needed kick in the butt .

My current volunteer projects are now more focused on developing skills, portfolio and useful networks. Sounds cynical but everyone benefits. I’ve also immersed myself in the world of LinkedIn . Even as a lurker it’s a great resource for finding out what kinds of jobs are out there these days, and how to bag one.

  • domestic life re-organisation
    • child care and parenting
    • housework and domestic admin

Getting closer to re-entering the World of Work (not that I have left it in the last seven and a half years) means re-evaluating. For instance, what do we do about child care? For me, full-time is too much and so I’ll try to carve out employment from home or part time. The Wee Guy is testing out two days per week after-school care (and loving it). But then there are the domestic duties, the parenting and all the other ‘stuff’ which keeps family life afloat. My husband has offered to work at home one day a week (I think he’s been looking for the excuse!) which would be great for the Wee Guy. However, although he’s a very involved dad, he’s not practical with regard to household maintenance or day-to-day parenting. I’m not prepared to add to my workload and stress in order to earn more money for the household.

We’re trying equally shared parenting. He now has housework, greater involvement in the before/after-school routine, and his share of the admin e.g. form filling, insurance issues, and so on. In return, I’m picking up the tab for after-school care, in addition to meal planning, school runs, and weekday childcare. His workload may have increased but in all honesty, I’m not going “back to work” if he’s not willing to fill his share of the household duties. It is ultimately in his interest – a happy wife is a joy to live with. We both have to change.

I’d love to tell you I’ve got it all sorted out. I don’t.
I’d love to tell you it’s all clear in mind. It isn’t.
I’d love to tell you it’s going to work out perfectly for me and mine. I can’t.
What I can tell you, is that nothing is set in stone. Plans can be changed even at my “relatively advanced age” (thanks Marianne).
But for the first time in a number of years I’m feeling more optimistic about making this motherhood thing work. Stay tuned.

Born, raised and educated in Scotland, Amanda moved to Canada in 2001 with her husband, where she now combines work as a parent/homemaker with running a small craft business. You can catch up with her at pomo mama design, and on her personal blog. You should also check out the fabulous necklace she made for me for Mother’s Day.

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