Where we pretend we’re in Sherwood Forest for a little bit

Last Friday was a gorgeous day so we went for a drive to do a mother/son activity for a couple of hours. It was something that JJ had been wanting to do for sometime.

Channelling his inner Robin Hood. Day 102/366.

That’s right – archery.

Shooting the target

It’s a great spot near Clarendon called Archery Park and after getting the right bow for your height and strength, you’re shown how to use it on a target 10m away. There’s a few things to remember but it didn’t take us too long before we were let loose to go and do our shooting course.

I chose to do 14 targets where you can shoot from 10 or 20m away with three arrows for each target.

IMG_0201

It was fun. We both enjoyed it and you can see the look of concentration on his face as he goes for the target and gets yet another bulls-eye. According to him he got about ten.

We had to go searching for some arrows that missed the target but managed to find them all, otherwise there’s a fee to pay for lost or broken arrows.

Bulls-eye

It was fun to get out the house in the beautiful autumn weather we’re having.

We finished it off at the nearby Clarendon pub out the front eating lunch together.

A photo a day

Below are some photos from my Project 366 – the leap year project photos.

I couldn’t sleep last night because I’m stressing about getting my work ready for my upcoming exhibition. I ask myself sometimes why I challenge myself because I hate being anxious but that’s my nature. I think too much sometimes – it drives me nuts.

The old and the new. Day 100/366.

This is going to be a trainline extension. It’s very imposing.

Railway extension. Day 97/366.

This house is no longer there. I walked past the other day and it’s an empty block. An elderly woman used to live there and she had a blue heeler who’d worn a track in the dirt where he ran back and to. I wonder what happened to them. Did she move to a nursing home? Did she die? I wonder.

Knockdown house. Day 82/366.

This was taken at the recent Adelaide Festival’s late night club Barrio. It was the end of the world night, hence the ghoulish look.

The end of the world Dusty Boots. Day 75/366.

This is my contribution to Wordless Wednesday.

Sunset colours

Watching the sunset. Day 96/366.

It wasn’t the best sunset – see the band of cloud just above the horizon? But the colours were still spectacular.

And the people – two friends and two sisters sitting on the bench enjoying it.

By the way, it wasn’t a sneaky shot. They knew I was there.

Ivy and One Direction – #OneDirection4Ivy

Blogging is usually a fairly self-serving pursuit but not always. Recently it’s been used to highlight the lack of food situation in Niger. There’s other ways that blogging and social media and I’m hoping that in some small way this will help One Direction take notice of Ivy (pictured above).

Ivy is a little girl who unfortunately spends far too much of her time in hospital due to an immune deficiency. I first heard about Ivy, and keep up with her progress to date, because of her mum, Tiff, who blogs at Three Ring Circus.

I also follow Tiff on Twitter and recently started reading some tweets with the hashtag #OneDirection4Ivy.

It turns out that this famous band – One Direction – are in Australia. I’d never heard of them before this but obviously I’m not their demographic. But Ivy and her sisters are.

They’d all had tickets to go and see them but because Ivy’s back in hospital again (for six weeks this time), none of them can go. One of Ivy’s sister’s started up the #OneDirection4Ivy on Twitter to try and get One Direction’s attention.

Some acknowledgement from her favourite – Louis Tomlinson – would be great, but wouldn’t it be better if they could take some time out of their schedule to see her?  Perhaps before the concert tomorrow night? Hmm? And Louis – Ivy’s drawn a picture of you and everything. She would love it if you could autograph it for her!

You can help by using the hashtag #OneDirection4Ivy on Twitter. Let’s see how this goes.

 

My thoughts on part-time work and being a mum

My work desk

I think about working mothers a lot – probably because I am one of them. I work because I have to. I’m a solo parent and get no child support and if I don’t work I don’t have an income. And I like to work. I like to get out of the house and go to a job.

Last year when I was out of work for a few months I felt like I’d lost my identity. Sunday nights became different to what they used to be. They used to be nights that I’d dread because I had to go to work the next morning and the weekend was over for a few more days. Now that I’m back in the workforce I still don’t enjoy Sunday nights but I’m bloody grateful I have a job to go to the next morning.

Having a baby certainly changed things in the workforce for me though. It doesn’t matter how family-friendly organisations say they are, when it boils down to it, for the most part, they aren’t really because the workplace is geared towards the five day a week worker. It’s so ingrained that I think it’s hard for a shift in this thinking. Things have changed over the last couple of decades but shifts are happening very slowly.

I had nine months off work before and after having my baby, and when I went back to work I didn’t get my original job back. Their excuse was that it was a full-time job and as I would only be working part-time they really needed someone in the job full-time. Job share wasn’t an option. I got a few bits and pieces to do, and was quite bored. I don’t think they kept their honour in the maternity leave bargain and I suppose that was their right as my employer. I stuck it out for a year then moved onto another job within the same organisation, picked up an extra day of work and said goodbye to the job that had been cobbled together for me.

Ever since then I’ve managed to be able to work part-time, and I’m talking ten years. I’m sure that if I was really ambitious on the career front then I’d work full time and have a ‘high-flying job’ but I don’t want to work full-time and to be honest I don’t think I want the executive job (subtext I don’t want the expected hours of an executive). I like a challenge and I can handle responsibility but when push comes to shove, I value my non-work life more. I’m only going to have a young child once in my life and I want to be around as much as I can while he is young. Plus he’s expressed to me that he doesn’t want to go to after school care every day. I’m more accountable to him than to any employer at this stage of his life.

It makes it hard when applying for jobs though as there aren’t that many jobs that I want that are advertised as part-time. However, I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been able to negotiate working one less day a week in the jobs I have had.

With part-time work though, there’s inevitably someone who makes some sort of ‘joke’ comment about your part-time status. That used to annoy me when it happened but now I just brush it off instead of taking it personally. And there’s people who are envious of my part-time status and I remind them that I get paid less. But I also advcoate part-time-ness as much as I can because I think more people should do it. Believe it or not you get used to living on less and the world doesn’t stop if you’re not at work one day.

Processes can be put in place to cover emergencies, and hey, I’ve been called on a day off if needed. That hasn’t happened that often, but I’ll never forget one time when my son was still quite young and used to wake up at 5.30 every morning. I’d been up with him early and brought him into my bed and we both fell back to sleep only to be awakened by a phone call from my boss at 8.30. I can’t remember what it was about but I know it was trivial and I know I was very annoyed to be wakened. I felt like it was a ‘even though you’re part-time, you’re still on my payroll and I’ve got access to you whenever I need during  my working hours’ type call.

I also know that working part-time has meant that colleagues have had to do somethings on my days off that I would normally have done but I’ve covered for them in return. After all people go on holidays and have sick leave don’t they?

But while my working hours have been part-time I’ve also organised extra childcare to go into work early for a breakfast presentation, go away to a conference, work on a weekend and I’ve done work from home. My type of work being with the internet and all, means that I can work from anywhere. News flash – I DON’T HAVE TO BE IN THE OFFICE TO WORK. In fact, I’m more contactable now as a part-timer than I ever was as a full-timer 20 years ago because of technology changes. It’s a real pity that organisational change can’t happen half as quickly as technological change.

I don’t have the statistics to hand but I’m sure I’ve had less sick days as a part-timer than I did beforehand. This is not including the first year of my son’s childcare where he caught every bug and passed it onto me. I reckon I’ve also been more productive while at work because I know I’ve got less time to do my work in. As Fridays have mostly been the day when I’m not in the office, I haven’t been able to participate in the Thank God It’s Friday Let’s Talk About What We’re Doing On the Weekend drawn out chats or the Friday afternoon drinks.

I went for a job once that was advertised as part- or full-time and when it came up the interviewer said that the job was full-time and they had to have someone there all the time so part-time wasn’t an option. This was very black and white to them – there was no middle ground at all. I didn’t get the job and I don’t know if that was the main reason but it certainly put me off working there had I been offered the job. After all, if there was no flexibility around working hours then would there be flexibility around other things? My instincts told me no.

I’ve seen it time and time again too, working mothers discrimination that is. How different would it be, I wonder, if more of the decision  makers were carers or mothers who understand what it’s like to try and juggle caring for someone and working.

As I wrote this I wondered what others thought so I turned to the internet to do some research. I’ve linked to one article above, but I also found this paper ‘Working part time‘ written 11 years ago and unfortunately still relevant now.  It was written by Beth Gaze for the Law and Justice Journal for Queensland University of Technology. She says that while women’s and children’s lives have altered enormously because of more women working outside of the home, men’s lives have hardly changed at all.

She also concludes that, ‘… the challenge is to increase the spread and acceptability of part time work for men and women, and to increase the acceptability of caring for children for both men and women. Developing a better model of part time work and its rationale is an important step along the way.’

I absolutely agree with this but am at a loss to suggest how to effect this type of change.

I’d love to know your experience. Have you worked part-time in a professional capacity? Has it affected your career do you think? Other thoughts?

ADDED: After I published this post I read an article that Justine Musk wrote about women and ambition which really resonated with me and tied in somewhat with the theme of this post, including this bit, “Having babies and raising children – especially as a single mother – requires an ambition all its own, especially in a culture that pays lip service to motherhood without awarding it any real status or economic value.”

I’d written above that I don’t really have any career ambition but I am ambitious and not just because I’m a mother.

A bit of linky love

Incy wincy spider. Day 328/365.

I’m doing some blog cleaning. I should be doing some house cleaning – but there you go. I found this in the drafts folder from just after the ex (who’s now officially not my ex anymore) broke up with me.

__________________

What a week I had last week. It was one of those I feel like I’m in too much turmoil to write.

When I feel like that I just can’t go near this blog. I find it really hard to turn off my feelings to put on a false front. Just as well my living doesn’t rely on this blog but I guess if it did then I would have had to front up here.

So instead of just feeling crap, here’s some things that diverted my attention.

On parenthood and kids. Kids being a 49% pain in the ass and 51% the most sublime joy you ever felt. That 1% making all the difference.

A mummy blogger dropout. Blogging should be fun, it shouldn’t have to be a challenge or about the next giveaway. One perspective anyway and something I know that other ‘mummy bloggers’ struggle with, me included.

Another ukulele convert. I don’t need to say anymore. Everyone should try it. It’s a load of fun.


Seeking shoes that will last the distance

A shoe as a planter pot. Day 88/366.

I’d like to know where one can buy decent shoes that last for longer than two months for a very active boy whose got size 8 men’s feet and still growing.

I’ve bought him more expensive shoes and they still don’t last very long – I’m talking two to three months tops. I’ve given up spending that bit more when it doesn’t guarantee that shoes will last that bit longer.

As he is still growing there’s no point buying a whole bunch of different shoes for him. I tend to get him one pair of sneakers and when they wear out buy him another pair. This means that he has one pair of backup shoes until I buy the next pair and we get rid of the backup shoes, or as you see above, donate them to the school garden.

I bought him boots when he was younger and even though they were slightly more sturdy they still fell apart.

My son, as mentioned above, is very active. He’s nearly always on the go so he needs something he can run around in that’s comfortable.

He goes to the type of school where wearing sneakers is okay, he doesn’t have to wear  black leather school shoes for instance. In fact I can’t think of any boys at his school that do. And even if I went down this path, would they last? Or would I get my money’s worth before I had to get the next size?

I can’t afford to spend $100 or more per pair of shoes that will only last a short time and I’m guessing that even these shoes would only last a certain length of time before he wears them out.

So, other parents in a similar situation. What do you do? Have you found a type of shoe for an active boy that will last until it’s grown out of? I really want to know.

If a shoe company reads this, I’m willing to try out your shoes and write about them here.