Stream of consciousness 2

On work life balance:

  • Going back on a staggered re-entry to work has its pros and cons. It’s great that I get to continue spending quality time with my son and have a gentle introduction into a new routine. It’s a blessing to be able to use a year’s worth of annual leave to be paid 4 days while only working 2 for a few months. But it’s also hard to leave your baby, even if only for 2 days, as well as try to explain humbly to colleagues that 2 days does not mean 4 days of work squeezed into half the time.
  • It’s hard to get your head back into a position where someone else tells you what to do and what your priorities should be. Even at my level, I still have a boss and that boss has the authority to dictate my time. Even though it’s done really nicely, it’s still a shift in thinking.
  • Returning to work after maternity leave also means a whole lot of extra stuff in your daily routine than was there before. Preparing food, bottles and schedules for the childminder, making sure car seats, prams and toys are all in the right place to get to the right person on any given day, getting up early to feed and get someone tiny ready for their day as well as getting dressed for your own and extending your commute to pick up said tiny person before getting dinner ready, baby fed, bathed and in bed are all new things that are now part of your routine before your working day is actually over.
  • So it’s not just a case of being in the office, then being at home and balancing the two, it’s also about finding ways to merge the two as seamlessly as possible so that the best of both worlds can be enjoyed.

On pride:

  • I want to be confident enough in myself that other’s opinions of me don’t matter. I also want to be confident enough in myself that other people’s opinions of my son don’t matter.
  • I want to be considered to be a good mum (as well as wanting to be a good mum regardless of others’ opinions!) and I need to find a way of believing that, without my son’s actions being the only reflection of it. He’s such a sweet, happy boy and  he’s so well behaved, even if strangers so often only receive his intense gaze as he figures them out and rarely catch a glimpse of the smile that lights up his little face. They don’t know him. I do.
  • I want to find a way of doing both my jobs well, in the office and at home. I want to accept help humbly but not use it as an excuse to be lazy.

On TV:

  • Television is addictive. In particular, box sets are addictive. It is all too easy to collapse after a long day and consume a few hours worth of our current favourite box set (West Wing, House, Friends, Scrubs…) The same quality that I love about movies and television – their ability to transport you away from your current situation and escape for a time – is the same quality that tempts you away from the real world, your life and the things in it that require more energy or thought.
  • Being able to switch your brain off and forget for a while is addictive. Ultimately though, it is less fulfilling than being present and more damaging long-term than switching off the box and reading, writing, listening, thinking or planning – all things I enjoy but put second when the screen beckons.
  • Relaxing by watching television is not the only thing that relaxes me but it’s so hard to remind myself of that. Other things not only relax me but actually rejuvenate me. Man was designed to work – it’s right there in Genesis – and putting some thought and effort into the things that relax me, while it may seem counter intuitive, actually makes me come alive. Overcoming temptation and addiction – even relatively mild – is hard. It will take some work and time but in the long run, will do all of us a lot of good.
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Stream of consciousness

On children:

  • There were things I loved about being a child in a family of just four. I loved our holidays as a tight little unit going off on adventures together. I loved how close we were (all of these things still apply but for now, I want to remember what it was like to be a child in a family of four). I loved our identity as a four. I loved the opportunities we had. I loved the quiet. I loved the strength and confidence we found in each other.
  • When I see a family of four, it reminds me of my childhood; a joyful, rich, blessed, loving upbringing that made me everything I am today and brought me this life I love. Our resources weren’t stretched and being a small family opened worlds of opportunity to us that may not otherwise have been there. It gave us the flexible lifestyle we all wanted and which, especially at the time, was against the norm and made my life as unique as it is.
  • I’m not sure why then, despite all that, I’ve always loved the idea of having three children. I love the possibility of big, joyful Christmases. I love the fantasy of ‘soccer mom’ living a full, productive life, looking after a home and clan of kids. I love the dream of hearing lots of children laugh and play in the garden. I’m realising that none of these things would cease to apply if we just have two children and I think God is changing my heart so that if that is how we end up, I’m OK with that.

On who I want to be:

  • Joyful – even when I’m tired, or sad, or worried, or frustrated
  • Thankful – remembering that the things that wear me down and annoy me can also be the source of my joy
  • Aware of the corporate impact of my sin – particularly my selfishness
  • Hungry for Scripture – knowing that the Word of God can teach, encourage, correct and guide me to be all that I can be, not just for myself but for my family and all those around me

On sleep:

  • Sleep can be subjective. Even if it has been broken, I may well still have got all I need. Even if last night was hard, it doesn’t mean that tonight will be. Even if I’ve had multiple bad nights, it doesn’t mean that all joy has been whisked away. There are always people to help, for which I’m truly thankful and, when really needed, those people help me get the sleep I need to rest my body and mind and come back to life in full strength.
  • I need to remember to pull back the curtains, truly see the new day, take a deep breath, enjoy the early morning air and start my day with hope.

On social media and using time wisely:

  • Scrolling can be soul destroying. It sucks away life, eats away time and encourages many of the thoughts and attitudes that seek to bring my heart down. In itself it’s not bad. I love sharing photos, keeping in touch with friends and finding creative inspiration and encouragement. Rather it is my use of it that forms an unhealthy habit.
  • Instead, I could read, or write, or study the Bible, or any of the other things that bring my soul to life. These things also model positive habits to my son, who is increasingly making me conscious of what I don’t want to encourage in him – unconsciously (he’s only 5 months old) ‘shaming’ me if you will, into a life that is fuller, brighter and wiser than my human weakness tempts me to live.
  • A little self-discipline is going to be required to find my balance again…