Thursday, July 29, 2010

Work-Life Balance - Where Are You?

To cut a tediously long and dull story short, I've been trying for nearly a year now to find a job. I think the count is around 150 jobs applied for, around 15 interviews and 0 offers.

I even took up the Government on its very generous offer to fund retraining in order to become more employable, so I completed the Cert IV in Training and Assessment, with the lofty goal in mind of becoming a hospitality trainer. I already had administrative qualifications as well as years of experience in both administration and function managment roles, so this seemed like the perfect next step in my career.

Sadly it seems that my hard-earned bit of paper is utterly worthless without experience under my belt. The fact that I have actually "unofficially" trained countless hospitality staff on the job over the years appears to mean nothing. I even approached several organisations regarding unpaid work experience and didn't even get a return phone call from any of them.

Yes, I am a single mother. Yes, this does have its challenges. Yes, it does mean that I can't be quite as flexible in working hours as I rely on childcare centres and have to accommodate their hours of operation.

On the other hand, my years as a single mother have also given me valuable skills - I am now the Queen of Multitasking, a very quick learner and can type like a speed demon even with one hand, as practiced whilst simultaneously breastfeeding and surfing the internet! I've also developed more patience and a much deeper sense of compassion for others.

Many employers seem to have either no idea or no interest in the vast pool of talent lurking in homes across Australia in the form of mothers, many of whom are keen to re-enter the workforce. All we ask for is a little flexibility, whether it's with working hours, the opportunity to work from home, or a combination of the two.

I know I'm not alone in my dilemma - I know many intelligent, well-educated and professional women who, after taking time out to have their children, are struggling to find positions which allow sufficient flexibility in order to find that much-discussed "work-life balance". Granted, I do also know quite a few who have found the perfect role, or who cope beautifully with standard full-time hours, but they seem in the minority.

As election day looms, I have been thinking about how our next government can address this issue, and all I can think of is to promote policies encouraging (or requiring) businesses to take a more family-friendly approach. Yes, I can see why businesses would want to hire someone with no restrictions on their time or energy, however the cost to society in funding pensions and FTB benefits for unemployed parents is extremely high, so surely a balance can be found.

I hope so, anyway!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The best smell in the world

Last night my 11 year old wandered aimlessly into the kitchen after his bath, with his nose quite literally buried in his new book. I sort of looked at him sideways, and he caught me looking, blushed and confessed that the smell of a new book is his favourite smell in the world.

Well, I darned near self-combusted with pride, love and nostalgia right there and then. M is a mini me when I was that age in so very many ways - not so into the whole sports thing, completely absorbed in fantasy worlds, magic and make-believe, an avid reader, keen budding chef and yes, he even adores 80's music classics, thanks to the TV show Glee.

This is what he was buried in last night - The Necromancer,by Michael Scott, 4th in a series he's enjoyed reading over and over so far!

It's probably entirely selfish, but it's so wonderful seeing your own child share so many of the same special interests and delights that you enjoyed as a kid. Even now we still like reading the same books, and have both read the Harry Potter series from start to finish at least 10 times.

The keen interest in reading has also had huge academic benefits as well. His teachers have assured me for a few years now that he has by far the most extensive vocabulary in his class, as well as quite a talent for writing stories.

I think it's such a shame that reading has lost the appeal for kids that it used to have. I completely understand why, with the whole WWW up for grabs with the click of a button, and books being made into movies almost before they're actually published. I still mourne the fact that so many kids (and adults) are totally missing out on the excitement of opening a new book to its crispy and delicious-smelling first page, putting your feet up and letting the story and your imagination simply take you away.

I'm so glad M gets it.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

New baby in the family

Introducing Mya. Mya is a blue tortoiseshell Burmese cat, and has literally stolen our hearts in the 4 days she has been with us.

We got her from the wonderful Charmaine at Charob Burmese on Sunday, and since then she has given and received hours of cuddles, slept cuddled up to my neck, tapdanced on heads and done things to chicken necks that no chicken would approve of.

Here she is cuddled up to my other baby:

Thank you for joining our little family, gorgeous kitty!


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bag Lady

I like being a bag lady! These are a couple of the bags I've made this week. Apologies for the rather crap quality of the photos but they were taken with the phone as I seem to have misplaced my camera!

This is a large tote, fully lined with solid base panel for stability:

This is a smaller tote I made out of the most gorgeous retro sunglasses print fabric which I simply had to have!

This was the first one I made for Miss Z to keep her mini fairies in - so now she wants more mini fairies to put in it!

Time to get back to the pins and patterns, because a cousin in England has just ordered 4 bags giving me free rein on colours and fabrics - fun!