Monday, 22 April 2013

Organisation (the one where I seem a whole lot more organised than I am...)

In order to try and balance our crazy busy working weeks, we have had to become organised on a whole new level.  At times our house runs like a well oiled machine, other times its struggling to start but for the most part, we are pretty good at this!  The still time in the evenings has become the time to fold washing, sort washing, do washing, hang out washing... When I used to read, I now vacuum.  No time for loafing about - all those tiny Lego bits need to be picked up for the 10000th time this week! I am sure you all know what its like.

And time for just the two together as adults of us is minimal - sometimes we do the dishes together!  And sometimes he takes out the cat poop at the same time I am out dealing with the dog poo - romantic times here.

But you know, you have to keep organised and in control of the mess or it will take over.  And no one is happy in a messy house.  So here are a few things that have helped me and  may help you a little in managing your busy weeks.

1. Plans meals and menus for the week
Every weekend I sit in front of the my entire shelf of cook book and plan the menu for the week.  It's part of my Saturday morning ritual - one of the children brings the paper in, Steve makes the coffees and I check out what Neil Perry is cooking that week.  This often becomes our Saturday night dinner too (thanks Neil - the taco's were fantastic).  Then I flip through my cook books finding things to cook.  I have to take into consideration that Stella is a fussy eater, which, I might add is the most stressful part of the whole process.

I try and include one pasta dish, one rice dish, one soup/stew, one meat free dish and one baked beans dinner (everyone needs a bakes beans dinner and its often our Tuesday night fare).  As we get in at around 6:00pm our week night meals needs to be fast and simple.  No time for fancy plated up drool worthy dishes.  If they are not fed by 6:30pm the children will be (more ) feral.

Weekends are when I get the chance to spend more time in the kitchen cooking up a feast, which I love doing.  On Sunday nights I also cook Mondays dinner, like a lasagne, that I can easily re-heat when we get in on Monday night.  Wednesday is my day 'off' so cook a more involved meal and I also cook an extra dinner to have on Thursday night. There will be another post soon on the recipes and the way I balance the cooking for the week.

2. Have a wall planner
It doesn't have to be fancy and I say the simpler the better. After trying desperately hard to remember when piano lessons where, due dates for school notices and when appointment were (and eventually failing at it) I got hold of this wall planner from Kikki K.  Its plain - no cute puppies or Scottish castles.  Its just an A2 pad with 30 tear off pages, one month to a page.  I just write in the month (with my Kikki K stamps of course) and add the dates and off I go. As Stella can read, its useful for her to keep a check on when her events are on. (This is not an advertisement but the Monthly Planner here from Kikki K is on sale at the moment). 

3. Buy in bulk
There are stores, a large American one in particular, where you can buy things in huge bulk quantities.  I admit that the store and its " in your face crazed frantic consumerism" makes me feel ill but I concede that when you are on a budget there are savings to be had.  Much of the criticism surrounding a store like this is that its American owned however for the most we only buy Australian products there.  We usually buy flour, toilet roll, cat litter, canned tomatoes and cleaning products.  We sometimes buy their Australian free range chicken and organic pork.  Other good places for bulk buys are local Continental supermarkets (for canned tomatoes) and the German supermarket (you know what I mean).  Buying some things in bulk is about savings but also about having plenty on hand.

What tips do you have for being organised? I would love to hear them.

Sunday, 14 April 2013


I cannot believe how much time has passed since I was last here, posting about a costume I made.  Looking back, I am amazed that I actually had time to make that fox costume, let alone blog about it.  In the past 12 months things have changed rather dramatically in our house; it's be turned upside down and inside out.

Almost 12 months ago I returned to work 4 days a week. To paid work, outside the house, with other adults, in a big tall building with computers and responsibilities. The decision to go back to work was difficult to say the least. What would happen our family - who would care for the little people, how would they be cared for, who would collect them, who would clean the house, walk the dog, do the shopping, buy the wine and generally keep things a float?

I believe that for most women returning to paid work outside the home the decision is not an easy one.  For some women its about their career and striving for greatness in their chosen field and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  For many women its about achieving greater economic security and about contributing to the costs of running a home and a family.  And for some women, they have no choice - without work they would not be able to feed their families.

I guess our decision was an economic one mixed with my desire to be back and a part of the working world that I did miss.  I had been in the very privileged position of being able to stay out of the paid workforce for over 6 years.  During that time I was able to add to the family income a tiny bit through grandy and baa but after losing Alice and then having Louis, this little business was put on hold. 

Living on one wage for 6 years was at times difficult but we managed to pay a mortgage and live pretty nicely at the Blue House near the beach.  But a move to inner city Melbourne meant that our dollars did not stretch as far anymore. I am not entering into that ridiculous debate about working mothers vs stay at home mothers - for the most part I think that debate is whipped up by people who love to see women feel they have to defend their positions.  I have done both.  Both are hard. There is resultant mother guilt in both. I think we should support each other - so enough on that.  

So I went back.  To the same organisation that I used to work for.  Going back was a huge adjustment to say the least. Like I mentioned here it is a balance that involves precision timing and forward planning. It was a big adjustment for the family.  And for me.  I went back to an entry level position after leaving a senior position.  And I can admit that some days my ego takes a beating.  I smile and get on with my job but spend a lot of time thinking about how I could run this show...

In a perfect world we would have an extended family in our street looking after our children. But its not the case so Stella spends a great deal of time in before and after school care and day care for Louis.  There are good bits and bad bits but thankfully, mostly good bits about the care we have for the children.  They genuinely enjoy it and that makes it all so much easier.  The fact that we live 200mtrs from school and 900mts from my tram stop at the day care front door is a huge bonus.

Like a lot of aspects of a adults life, the return to work has been good and bad all at the same time.  Of course there are contradictions and inconsistencies like feelings of guilt about cooking popcorn for dinner and then days filled with great relief that I don't have to be there to battle to day time sleep circus.

When it comes to parenting and life in general, I believe that you have to do what you have to do to make it work. 

*Every day I work I take a photo of my watch at the time I am heading home.  You can follow me on Instragram 'grandyandbaa'