School is out, but it’s business as usual

Posted by admin on September 18, 2015 at 10:18 am

The school holidays have rolled around again. And this weekend, working Mums all over the country will be contorting calendars, dealing in dates and navigating their way through various last-minute child care arrangements, as well as calling in favours from friends, long lost friends, family, neighbours and perhaps even distant relatives. Some will be spending a small fortune booking activities to keep the kids occupied.

I feel fortunate that I freelance, and I have a lot more flexibility than most working parents … although it’s not all fun and games.  There are still those stressful times when it all goes pear-shaped and there’s nothing you can do but go with the flow.

…Like the time when my two were really little and I was working a PR job, with a scheduled call to a journalist at 4.30pm. An awkward time of day. I decided to put both the kids in the bath, figuring they’d be corralled and amused for 20 minutes or so while I sat in the hallway, keeping a vigilant eye on them at the same time as doing the interview. My plan worked beautifully. And I really, really enjoyed the smugness – fleeting as it was – that came from the fact that the scene unfolding before my eyes matched exactly the picture in my imagination of the consummate ‘work-at-home-professional’.

It was amazing.

Then the eldest pooped in the bath…. And a small crisis ensued as I hurriedly dismissed the journo, promising to call back BEFORE her impending deadline; not quite explaining the disaster at hand but whisking my two out of the soiled water and into the shower, (with the phone jammed in between my ear and my shoulder, in the vain hope that it would not fall, which it did, only moments later, tumbling into the tub along with the contents of a large bottle of disinfectant).
“Uh oh,” said the toddler, insightfully.
Yes. Indeed.

Then there was the time I had to take an impromptu call from a new client. We were at a shopping centre and my tots were sitting at a table eating ice cream. They were calm, collected and under control, so I seized the moment and took the call. Then I realised I needed to take notes so I grabbed a napkin from the dispenser nearby and a pen from my handbag. No worries.

I finished the call without incident and feeling rather pleased with myself, looked up and smiled at my children who had been perfectly quiet. The. Whole. Time. Although they had also managed to cover themselves completely in chocolate ice cream. So on some totally automatic mummy-driven impulse, completely without thinking, I used the napkin I’d just jotted my conversation notes on, to wipe their grubby little faces.  Ugh.

It gets easier as they get older, sure. As I write this they’re amusing themselves outside flying paper aeroplanes… But without sounding like a pessimist, the truth is, I’m on high alert for calamity. The best I can hope for is that it’s not the hospital emergency department variety. Experience has taught me that something will happen. The only thing I don’t know, is when. And it could be sensational! A terrific ‘what happened on my holiday’ adventure. Or a desperate cry for food. Or  a bit of harmless (but highly irritating) sibling whinging and dobbing. And it will come communicated through a series of high-pitched, high-volume “MUuuuuUUUUuuuuUUMs”. A bit like a burglar alarm. In fact, you might hear it at your place. And when it happens, I’m ever hopeful that I’ll have time to finish typing the sentence I might be in the middle of before I have to deal with the unfolding drama.

But if you’re a client reading this, don’t worry. Really, there’s no need. Because this school holidays I have a fabulous new fail-proof strategy: I bought an enormous bag of delicious chocolate chip cookies. The TV remote is permanently stationed just within reach of my keyboard. I have a stack of DVDs and I know all of their favourite TV shows off by heart.
I’m ready to take your call!

Until next time,



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