Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tell it like it is Tuesday: School rules gone mad?

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Conversation in our house lately has often turned to all the school rules that keep cropping up at Youngest Son and Middle Son's school. Years ago, there was the 'no balls' rule, implemented after a ball hit another child. This rule didn't last very long. I presume because too many parents would have immediately complained. Already our kids couldn't run in certain parts of the school playground ('too much danger of collision') and the idea that they couldn't even play a game of handball or shoot a few hoops was shudder-worthy.

Middle Son recently informed me that the latest rule to be implemented was that the playground equipment was now to be used as 'an obstacle course' and that students, 'shouldn't spend too much time on one spot of the playground equipment'. Although my immediate response was, 'Whaaaat?' having thought about this a little more, I've come to the conclusion that perhaps this rule was made so that students won't hog the slide or the climbing wall or block the tunnel from use and, at least, it keeps them moving. After all, as I mentioned above, they can't run in most of the school grounds and besides, aren't we all keen to combat a society of increasingly overweight/obese/inactive kids?

But surely this rule would be near impossible to police? Do we really need teachers wandering around the play equipment during lunch asking students to 'move on'? As the mother of a son who was followed in to the school toilets on a number of occasions last year and pushed around by a few of his fellow students (dare I use society's mostly overused term 'bullied'?), I would agree with tv and radio personality, Sami Lukis, who, on one of the morning shows today, said she'd like to see teachers utilise what time they have in addressing bullying in schools.

Hear, hear.

These comments by Ms Lukis came after it was reported today that Drummoyne Public School had banned handstands and cartwheels in their playground. *sigh* Seriously? I mean, British Bulldog, maybe, but handstands and cartwheels? Both are great for core strength, balance ... and it's, you know, EXERCISE.

I know that parents are partly to blame here. Hold on, let me rephrase that. I know that over-concerned parents who want to constantly wrap their kids in cotton wool are partly to blame for all these rules. Some kids come home with a graze on their knee and some parents (like me) will give them a little hug and tell them about the time they fell on the CONCRETE playground at school and ended up with three MASSIVE grazes that later created AWESOME scabs. But other parents will take one look at Little Johnny's knee and next thing they're up at the school complaining to the principle that their child wasn't being supervised appropriately.

Add to that, that we seem to be more and more going the American route and becoming more of a litigious society, I'm certain that most of these ridiculous rules are put in place to protect schools from being sued by over-zealous parents with too much time on their hands and whose children are far, far too precious.

But having said that, perhaps banning running and balls and gymnastics will save one, two, maybe three kids per year from any slightly serious harm, but what will banning these activities do for our younger generation? I'll tell you what I think: It will make them weak. We will breed a society of under-achievers who are too afraid to do anything because they won't want to take any risks in life whatsoever. If we teach our kids that everything is 'too dangerous' they'll never take those chances that will help them to become stronger adults and prepare them for the big, bad world. Not only that, but by stopping kids from being kids we'll encourage inactivity, then you can say hello to more health problems when our kids are our age.

Hell, we may as well give them all gaming devices to take to school so they can sit safely on the ground during lunch and play their hearts out. Sure, their eyesight and their brains will be shot before too long, but at least they'll be safe, right?

*shakes head in dismay*

J
xox

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Let's talk about sex. Or not.

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When I was about eight years old or so, I asked my mother, "Mum, how do people make babies?"

She was looking through her wardrobe at the time, and I was lying across her bed on my stomach. I recall her suddenly looking very uncomfortable before answering, "I'll tell you when you're sixteen."

Yeah, right.

Before I'd even left primary school, I'd read Judy Blume's Forever under the desk one day when I was supposed to be at PE class. I can't remember who had brought it to school, but it was my introduction to sex. I remember feeling 'naughty' because I was reading it. It felt as though I was crossing over in to some forbidden territory.

Then there was a time that I disclosed to my niece (who is my age) on a sleepover at her place one night that when people make babies, they have to be naked. I still can't recall how I knew this vital information (possibly this happened after reading Forever). Certainly, my mother did not disclose this.

My niece replied, "What? They can't even wear their socks?" And I assured her they could not. (Of course, this is very untrue. The amount of clothing one wears depends on how much time one has, or how cold it is, right?)

The next day, my sister and brother-in-law were driving me home when my niece piped up with, "Mum, Jodie says that when people make babies they have to be NAKED." My sister was horrified and refused to make a comment other than, "I don't want to hear you talking about such things."

Anyway, eventually I found out all about 'it' on my own.

I remember vowing that things would be different with my kids. That I would most certainly have 'the talk' with them when the time was right.

In Eldest Son's Year 4 class last year, one of the Integrated Units (what the kids call 'the big question of the term') was on the Human Body. He started to ask about how women became pregnant - how did the baby actually get in there? How does the baby come out?

And you know what I did? I dodged every question. In fact, there may have even been a 'special cuddle' theory thrown about once or twice.

But here's the thing. At first, I thought this may have everything to do with the way my own parents dealt (or didn't deal) with the subject of sex with me. Although I think it is most definitely partly that, deep down I think I really do believe that when kids are nine or ten years of age, they are still so young. Perhaps too young yet to really take all this information on board?

I have a few concerns. Firstly, are my boys really old enough to treat this information with respect? Already the penis, poo and wee jokes are wearing thin. Wouldn't this information just give them more to work with? (Not to mention help them work out what the words to Flo Rida's Whistle song really means?)

Do they need to know the ins and outs (pardon the pun) of sex at such a young age? How does it benefit them to know about it at age eight, nine or even ten? For me, it just feels like this is yet another thing that parents feel they have to introduce early to their kids. Kids grow up so quickly these days, and we expect so much of their young minds. Is it possible this is just another thing we're rushing in to with them?

Lastly, will my boys look at Mr A and I differently when they find out what we've been up to? It's like ... we'll suddenly become more human to them, rather than their parents ... you know?

I think I understand the benefits of telling them sooner rather than later, and that is that they'll hear the correct information straight up. There would be no Chinese whispers between friends confusing or even scaring them. And mark my words ... I don't want to hide this information from them either. I don't want them to think that sex is dirty or wrong or embarrassing.

So, I wonder, if you're a parent, what age do you think it's appropriate to explain sex, pregnancy and birth to your kids? And how would you tackle (once again, pardon the pun) it?

J
xox


Monday, July 9, 2012

Hol-i-days

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Funnily enough, up until a year or so ago, I wasn't really a huge fan of school holidays. I love my children - absolutely 100% doodly do - but having them around 24/7 is sometimes ... challenging.

I have three boys. Three kids is not really the perfect number at times, it seems. One is always left out, and the one left out is usually annoying the other two, so, you know, there are squabbles and wrestling and tears and 'he won't leave us ALONE!' type situations going on ALL the time. Sometimes, that's not much fun.

Seeing I can't give one of my kids back (and most certainly do not WANT to - even though there are days I threaten one, two or all three that I'll sell them on eBay), the only other option is to have another child to even up the playing field.

Bahahahahaha...are you serious? Sorry, Mum - not gonna happen.

The obvious answer - always voiced by Mr A at the start of each school holidays when I start up my, 'The kids are driving me insane,' mantra - is to throw them in holiday camps: soccer, basketball, tennis, swimming - that sort of thing.

But I have a problem with that for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, my boys hate those camps. They just want to hang out at home, and seeing I'm here, I don't see why they shouldn't. When I was a kid, I loved just hanging around the house. Mostly, anyway. Over the summer break it got a bit boring not having a pal to hang with, but even though they fight occasionally, my boys have each other. They're buddies.

Secondly, the school holidays are a celebration of no scheduled activities. We have those in spades during the school term, not to mention having to get up by a set time each day just to get to school. The fact that, during school holidays, Eldest Son will often come in to my bedroom at 9am and say, 'Mum, you better get up. It's late," is just plain AWESOME. Getting them to a cold, wet soccer pitch by 9am from Monday through to Friday is even more work for me than when they're at school, seeing that we live about five houses from their school.

So now, school holidays are actually something I really look forward to.

I like not having to get up via my annoying alarm clock each morning.

I like that there is no sport scheduled (even if it's just one weekend - seriously, the soccer season is so damn long, do we really need to drag it out any longer by having a match the weekend after school breaks up, and the weekend before the new term starts?) OR training. I can certainly do without standing around in the cold until it starts to get dark two afternoons a week.

I like that I don't have to prepare packed lunches. I mean, yes, I usually end up making lunch for my kids anyway (they don't starve), but not having to make three lunches prior to 8am each morning is SO luxurious.

I like taking the kids to the park in the morning and not at the end of the day when it's getting cold and all I really want to do is remove my bra and get in to my comfy PJs at 4pm.

I like wearing my pyjamas ALL day some days.

I like letting my kids wear their pyjamas ALL day some days too.  

Yes - I rather like the school holidays. 

You?

Jodie
xox

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Addicted

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Now my kids are all in school, I've often toyed with the idea of returning to work. I'm fortunate that's an option for me right now. (Counting my blessings, and all that.) I guess I'm thinking of this year as my 'gap year'. The one during which I can indulge in stuff I haven't been able to do since having kids. Like the writing course I'm taking (I'm on to my second, actually), weekly tennis lessons (women are sometimes given a hard time about tennis lessons - I'm not trying to be fancy, I'm just trying to exercise in a fun and social way, okay?), and helping out in the Library at school. Youngest Son's class come in on the afternoon I'm there, and I scan their books and say, 'Thank you for shopping at the Library. Please come again!' They think it's so funny. I love entertaining Kindy-age kids. When they get to Year 5 your jokes suddenly become 'SO embarrassing'. Sigh.

But I digress.

I know I don't want to go back to my job pre-children as a Secretary/PA. I worked for a large Australian bank before I left to have Eldest Son in 2002, and although I enjoyed the first few years or so there, eventually I couldn't get out of the place fast enough. In my job, I was surrounded by many intelligent, talented and passionate people in banking, but there were just as many (if not more) money-hungry, arrogant, ladder-climbing, self-centered and greedy employees (mostly managers and higher) I dealt with daily. *shudders*

Over the years, I thought working in a book shop would be fabulous. To be honest, I'd still like to do that, but I've come to realise I can't afford to. Because I am completely and utterly addicted to buying books. I can't stop. I buy them far faster than I can read them, and since recently discovering online bookstores (yes - I was a little slow when it came to the online shopping world), it's become even easier to indulge my addiction.

I knew the old bedside table book stack was climbing. I mean, it was impossible to miss because I see it every night before I climb in to bed. In actual fact, it got so high at one point, I became concerned about sustaining a possible head injury whilst sleeping should the stack suddenly become unsteady, so I moved a number of books to the bookshelf in the study. (Out of sight, out of mind?)

Just recently, I jokingly referred to the number of books to read as '147' to a friend. A bit of an exaggeration, but it did get me thinking about the number of books awaiting my perusal. When Chrissie Swan tweeted the other day that she had over thirty books pending, I finally counted mine up.

Are you ready?

Okay, here it goes...

I have 31 books in my 'to read' pile.

There. I said it.

I know I have to stop. I must. Otherwise I'll never catch up! Admitting an addiction is the first step, right?

Perhaps if I do return to work soon, a job working in a Library would suit me better?

What's in your book pile at the moment...and more importantly - how many books are in it? What's  your addiction?

Jodie
xox

Friday, June 1, 2012

100 RPM - It's here!



It is here. 100 RPM - One Hundred Short Stories Inspired by Music has been published!

To get your copy, and support a worthwhile charity, head on over to Amazon and grab a copy. Off you go then. I'll wait. ;)

To read more about how the collection was put together, check out my last post here.

Thanks again to the talented Caroline Smailes and all involved for putting together such a great eBook, and to Nik Kershaw for writing the intro. A special thank you to Kelly Clarkson for inspiring my story, Gone, in the collection.

And finally, congrats to all the writers involved. I've downloaded my copy, and I'll be reading all your stories ASAP!

Jodie
xox

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Coming soon




Remember when I briefly mentioned in this post that I had entered a flash fiction comp earlier this year?

Well, here's the full story: In January this year, I was sitting around the house one day during the school holidays checking out Twitter. Which, to be honest, is not something I find much time to do these days. But that day, I needed a distraction. (Doesn't any mother need some distraction at times when their kids are home 24/7 and getting up to mischief?)

I saw a link for a flash fiction competition that caught my eye. I followed it and found author Caroline Smailes

Caroline decided to launch a writing challenge to celebrate the launch of Xbox Live TV, and its integration with YouTube. The challenge for Caroline was to put together a collection of flash fiction (100 word) stories inspired by songs on YouTube, to be included in an eBook and then published on Amazon. ALL proceeds from the book were then to be donated to the charity One in Four (a registered charity in the UK which provides support and resources to people who have experienced sexual abuse and sexual violence).

Caroline originally aimed for a collection of 33 stories. Instead, after receiving over 350 entries, she ended up with 100 stories for the project (hence the eBook's name). The winners were announced in this post on her blog.

The eBook, 100 RPM - One Hundred Short Stories Inspired By Music includes my own entry: Gone, (inspired by Kelly Clarkson's song, Already Gone). 

By the time I found Caroline's post, the cut-off for all entries was at the end of that day. I figured: I'll just give it a whirl and see what happens. And to be honest, I didn't think writing a 100 word story would be too difficult. Ha! Boy, was I wrong! 100 words is a couple of paragraphs or so, and to get a whole story in to so few words is really challenging. 

In any case, I came up with Gone, and figured I'd just enter it and see what happens. (As my Dad always says to me, 'Jodie, you've gotta be in it to win it.') I was so amazed and over the moon when Caroline's email arrived a day or so later announcing my entry had been chosen to be included. I've experienced some big highs with my writing in recent times, but admittedly, this was the biggest by far!  

I'm so excited about the book. The introduction has been written by none other than singer/songwriter, Nik Kershaw. Remember the song, Wouldn't it be Good that featured in the 80s flick Pretty in Pink (one of my favourite films EVER)?! (It's the only movie I can directly quote from, and my Year 12 ball gown was, you guessed it, pink satin and lace!)

Anyway, I've been fortunate to see a copy pre-publication, and it's a great read. I feel so privileged to be included amongst so many great writers. Caroline and all those involved have done a great job getting the eBook together.

Publication day is 31 May. Stay tuned, people!

J
xox

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Memories of Mum

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My mother doesn't drive. Never has. My Dad started teaching her at one stage, but Mum never followed the lessons through and never got her driver's licence.

As a result, she and I walked everywhere. Unless, of course, we had to travel a distance not suited to walking. Like the time at age seventeen when I had to see a specialist situated a number of suburbs away from our home. I grew up in Perth, and the public transport system wasn't particularly flexible back then. It took us two buses and two hours to get to that appointment; a fifteen to twenty minute (at most) car journey.

About a ten minute walk from home was a small shopping centre. Apart from the weekly food shopping that was carried out at the local Coles in the next suburb - that Dad drove us to every Thursday evening after work (followed by fish and chips for dinner) - on the occasion Mum needed a little extra during the week, we used to walk to the local shopping centre together.

Mum always took her wheelie shopping bag with her. It was brown vinyl. Or was it blue? I can't really recall, but I can still picture Mum dragging it behind her, our matching long, white boots clicking on the pavement as we walked in unison to the shops. She would fill the shopping bag with all the basics, and home again we would travel.

The older I got, the more daggier I thought the vinyl wheelie shopping bag was. Eventually, it died, and I never thought anymore of it.

That is, not until many years later - now a mother myself - when I spied a collection of them in a hardware store one Sunday afternoon. They appeared updated and more practical. As soon as I saw them, I thought of Mum and couldn't help but smile. Eventually, I purchased one myself from a garden centre which also stocks a variety of knick-knacks for the home. Mine is pretty funky. It's green with multi-coloured stripes on the lid and various pockets that store my purse, my iPhone and whatever else I need to take with me to the shops.

Sometimes, the boys pull it along for me. Youngest Son has made numerous trips to the local fruit market with me and the wheelie shopping bag in tow.

I was pulling it along a few weeks ago after a spot of fruit and vegie shopping up the road, walking slowly past my sons' school up the pathway to home. The street is so pretty this time of year, with flowers growing on the trees along our nature strip, their branches bending over the pathway. As I walked, I thought back to the days shopping with my Mum all those years ago, her own shopping bag in tow, and suddenly my eyes welled with tears. Now, living on the other side of the country, I see my parents rarely these days. I miss them.

However, my wheelie shopping bag is a small reminder of all the simple things I enjoyed doing with my Mum as a kid, like walking to our local shops with her. Having my own wheelie shopping bag brings me just that little bit closer to her.

I am my mother's daughter.

Happy Mother's Day, Mum.

J
xox

Friday, May 4, 2012

Getting picky

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I think everyone gets to a stage in their life when they realise they can't do everything, please everyone or have it all. It's just not possible. And there are too many 'things' that get in the way of us really, truly enjoying and embracing our lives.

We all have certain commitments that we have to keep, but there's a lot of stuff we do even though we don't want to, or, more importantly, don't have to. We just do it because we feel obliged to. Or we justify doing it by making excuses like, 'It'll only take a couple of hours of my time anyway.'

Think about it: in the last three months, what have you done that later you wished you hadn't? Attended a function you didn't really want to go to in the first place? Caught up with a 'friend' who either annoys you, puts you down, or both? Wrote a blog post because you thought you 'should' because you hadn't for a while? Reluctantly signed up to join a school committee because someone pushed you in to it, even though you have nor the time or inclination to do it?

I've become picky this year. That means I'm not doing stuff that perhaps I did before because I thought I 'should'. When I was back in Perth in December last year for a wedding, I was showing my eighty-four year old mother photos of my trip to New York with Mr A last year. As we came to the photo of the snow-covered courtyard outside MoMA, my mother sighed and said, "I never did get to see snow."

I thought about not going on that trip to New York. When Mr A suggested it, I thought, 'Am I being selfish leaving my kids for a week just so I can holiday?' I really struggled with that concept and my ultimate decision to go.

But you know what? It was a WEEK. Seven days. Okay, it was really ten days by the time we flew there and back, but still...ten days out of ten years of parenting. And really, what was the downside? Mr A and I got to connect like we hadn't connected in years. I got to see a city I've yearned to see for a very long time. My kids got to spend some quality time with the grandmother that lives interstate and they see only occasionally. My mother-in-law got to spend time with the grandchildren she loves and wants to spend as much time with as she can.

It was win/win. All around. It hurt no one.

I don't want to get to my mother's age and feel the way she does. I want to look back on my life and remember all the wonderful things I did, and just as much, I don't want to waste my life filling it with unnecessary commitments. Life is far too short.

So, sometimes I'll say no. Sometimes I won't go to that lunch I don't really want to attend. Sometimes I won't take my kids to soccer training if we feel like spending an afternoon playing Monopoly. Sometimes I'll get a babysitter, and Mr A and I will head out on a date.

You know why you should do this too? Because before you know it, you're in your eighties (God willing) looking back on your life wishing you'd seen snow.

J
xox

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writing stories again


Over the past year or so, I've not only rediscovered a love of reading fiction, but I've also experienced a renewed love of writing it.

I wrote a lot of fiction during my school years (both at school, and in my spare time. Gosh. Remember when there was such a thing as having 'spare time'?). The creative writing section of my English exam papers was the only part I could truly rely on to get me a pass mark on my paper. (I was terrible at comprehension and only mediocre at essay writing.) But once I left school, I stopped writing fiction altogether.

When I started blogging in 2009, people around me started saying things like, 'You should write a story!' I laughed the suggestions off. I hadn't written fiction for so long, and I was convinced I couldn't do it anymore.

However, last year a fellow blogger and friend on Twitter (thanks Susan!) linked to InkPaperPen where Gill hosts a writing exercise called Write on Wednesdays ('WoW'). The first week I tentatively checked out WoW, Allison Tait (a very talented writer, author and blogger), was hosting a 'Master Class', and the subject was 'Romance'. This used to be my thing: writing romance. So I decided to join in, and was hooked.

During the summer school holidays earlier this year, my confidence in writing fiction had increased just enough for me to enter a flash fiction competition on a whim. My 100-word entry, along with ninety-nine others, was chosen to be included in an eBook to be sold on Amazon later this year. (I'll tell you more about the eBook as more details come to hand.) Having a win under my belt with an albeit very small fiction piece, was further encouragement for me. One hundred words is not a lot, but it's a start, right?

And so, I decided to tackle a creative writing course that I will start next week through the Sydney Writers' Centre. I've chosen their online course because it suits me to do it in my own time, and from the comfort of my own home.

Wish me luck, will you? I'm nervous. But I'm also really excited to be doing something I've wanted to do for a very, very long time.

J
xox

Saturday, April 7, 2012

For the love of Aussie fiction

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In my teens and early adulthood, I read a lot of fiction. As the years passed though, I read less and less (and when I did pick up a fiction book, I mostly stuck to the classics like Jane Austen, F Scott Fitzgerald and Charlotte Bronte), and instead, I started reading mostly biographies.

I'm not sure why my fiction reading decreased so much. I know that I've always had a fascination with the real lives behind the public persona's of celebrities (think: Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn for example, not The Kardashians). And historical figures have always intrigued me. Especially those who held powerful positions, such as Henry VIII. In fact, I've always loved hearing stories from anyone about their past, hence the interest in biographies and autobiographies. (Tell me the story about how you met your partner, and you'll never find a more attentive audience.)

However, once I started blogging, I also started meeting authors on Twitter and Facebook. Mostly Australian authors. 'Meeting' these people, and getting to know them, made me want to read their books.

The first Australian author's book I picked up after meeting her online, was Kylie Ladd's, After the Fall. I loved it. (And her follow up, Last Summer, was also brilliant.) I also interviewed her on Mummy Mayhem, and she was very generous with her time, and wonderful to 'work' with - not to mention that she really is a genuinely nice person.

The same can be said for the talented, Lisa Heidke. The first book I read of Lisa's, was What Kate Did Next, then I read Claudia's Big Break, followed by her latest novel, Stella Makes Good. (I have yet to read her first fiction title, Lucy Springer Gets Even...but will get there!) I loved all her books, but it was Stella that I thought was particularly outstanding. It was one of those, 'can't put it down' reads.

The latest offering from an Aussie author that I finished reading about a week or so ago, is Fiona Higgins' new book The Mother's Group. As soon as I had it in my hot little hands, I couldn't wait to read it. It sounded right up my alley, and it was. Fiona's book reminded me of my own experience with Eldest Son as a new mother, and the dynamics of my own mother's group. I loved the book. You can read about it here.

The other day, I was looking through the Australian fiction section at my local bookstore, and found a copy of Sara Foster's book, Beneath the Shadows. It had a silver sticker on the front cover with a five star rating - 'a stellar read' - with a money-back guarantee. I read the first three pages and almost forgot where I was. Gripping. It's going to be my school holidays read.

I'm so glad I've rediscovered fiction, and that in the process, I'm supporting Australian authors. Fabulous fiction tales are well and truly back in my life.

What fiction are you reading at the moment?

J
xox

Monday, March 26, 2012

More than words

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No doubt, you've noticed I have a tag line attached to my name up there on my site's banner: More than words.

I thought about what I wanted following my name (it seemed too bare up there without one). Apart from nothing at all, I tossed around the following:

Writing, loving, living
One word at a time
In my opinion

and various others I can't recall.

I settled on 'More than words' because firstly, I am more than the words you see written here. My whole life is not laid out on the table for the world to read on this site, nor was it when I was writing over at Mummy Mayhem. That's not because I'm trying to keep things from you.

The word 'authentic' gets thrown around the blog world a lot, and I think some people confuse choosing to keep some things private as not being 'authentic'. Not true. Authenticity is about the way you choose to share information and how you portray yourself to others. Are you expressing your true opinions, or playing the fence-sitter because you don't want to rock the boat and perhaps get (who you deem to be important) people off side?

But anyway, I digress.

The reason I don't (and didn't before) share everything is because I want to keep some things for myself, and I want to protect others that are a part of my world.

Secondly, it's a reminder for me to not allow myself to get too hooked in to the blogosphere like I did last time. That's not a reflection on other bloggers or my readers. It's all about me.

I spent a lot of time reflecting about blogging after I finished up MM. Eventually I came to realise that I spent a lot more time blogging and reading blogs back in my MM days than I should have. My real life suffered a bit (even though I refused to see that at the time).

My tag line for MM was 'Escape the mayhem for a little while...', and that's precisely why I started that blog. I felt a need to escape from the daily grind of parenting. Just for a little while each day. And I wanted others to feel they could escape the mayhem of their own lives and join me. Problem was: I escaped all too often.

Originally, when I started MM, my plan was to blog just once a week. I never stuck to that. As soon as I hit 'publish' that first time, I was hooked. Then when I started receiving comments on my posts, I was hooked even more, and thought the more that I posted, the more people would read. And I couldn't let my readers down. Oh, gosh, no.

I was justifying all the blogging at the time, because a) I really hadn't made time for myself since Eldest Son's birth almost eight years before - therefore, I felt I deserved it; and b) I was mostly blogging at night, and I figured that it wasn't interfering with my time with my kids anyway.

However, it was interfering with my time with my husband, Mr A. Picture this: me on the couch every night, laptop in front of me, tweeting, facebooking and writing blog posts. Every. Night. Where was Mr A during this time? Usually in the study, on the computer himself. Working (but not always). Reading online newspapers...passing time, basically. After all, I wasn't available, was I? What else was there for him to do? Even though I didn't really realise it until much further down the blogging track, my blogging was getting in the way of our relationship. Our relationship wasn't bad, but it wasn't what it could be either.

It wasn't until mid last year, when I suddenly stopped blogging so much at night (it had started to lose it's shine for me by then), and started watching Mad Men with Mr A, or just sitting on the couch talking to him, that I realised just what our relationship had missed out on. We reconnected, and I believe these days we're closer than we've been in years.

But then I started sneaking in blogging time during the day with Youngest Son around. Once again, I justified it: He got a lot of one-on-one time with me, and had done for years (unlike his brothers). A bit of blogging here and there wasn't going to hurt him, and besides, he was getting FREE STUFF from PR companies (yet another aspect of blogging life I eventually struggled with, which I'll write about some other time) sending him lots of toys and the like - all thanks to my blog.

However, eventually I realised how much my blogging was influencing our time together, and just how much he was noticing it.

The first clue was when he was playing with his doctor's set case. Instead of using it as a case for his medical instruments, he had it open like a laptop, and told Mr A he was working on his blog. Then there was the time he told me, whilst playing playdough, that he was going to let his kids play with playdough too when he became a Daddy one day, so he could do work on his blog. Then eventually, I would hear myself some days getting annoyed with him when he would interrupt my blogging time, and eventually I realised: this is not good. Did I really want my son growing up remembering his early days with his mother as a time when all she did was have her face planted firmly in front of a computer screen? Did I want to keep saying, 'No,' to his requests to play with me, because I had to stick to my self-imposed (albeit loosely structured) blogging schedule? Was my blog really worth it?

And there was something else: I became moody. I was feeling pressured to get out posts full stop (not by anyone other than myself), but also to churn out posts including the products I'd been sent (and liked). After all, I was grateful for them. Then there were the additional weekly posts that I'd set for myself that I felt I had to maintain for my readers, because I'd started them (although, not surprisingly, when I didn't get around to posting them at times, the blogging world didn't fall apart). (Today, when I read back on some of my blog posts at MM, I'm not overly impressed. There are a few I'm proud of - that I took my time writing - but the rest are just...fillers. Blogging for the sake of blogging. It had never been my intention to do that.)

Guess what happened? Blogging suddenly became a chore. And it was interfering with my family time and making me a grumpy mother and wife.

Eventually, I started to pull back. Not just from blogging, but from Twitter and Facebook (wonderful social media tools, but also HUGE time wasters if you allow them to be). And the more and more I pulled back, the more I realised how much I really did need and, most importantly, want to spend time with my family. Quality time. None of this, 'Hey, you build this puzzle whilst Mummy does some stuff on her computer,' business. Nuh-uh.

Although my kids were initially upset they wouldn't be receiving anymore freebies when I announced I'd finished up MM, I honestly think they quickly didn't care about that stuff in the end, because they had something better: me.

Maybe, if I'd been better at time management, or was prepared to wake at 5am every morning to blog (I know that some bloggers do this), then it wouldn't have been such a big deal. I'll never know the answer to that.

'More than words' reminds me that I have a life outside writing. Although writing is important to me, it isn't all that I am. Besides, there's no point being a writer if you don't make the time to create life experiences to write about, is there?

J
xox

Monday, March 19, 2012

Back on the merry-go-round. Sort of.

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Well, hello there.

It's been a while, hasn't it? When I wrote my last post on my previous blog, Mummy Mayhem, I really wasn't certain when I'd be back...if at all. To be frank, I enjoyed my blog-free time so much, that up until a few weeks ago I wasn't planning to return at all.

For various reasons, however, I've decided I still need a small space here in the Blogosphere. With the emphasis on 'small'. I won't be here in the same capacity as I was when I was writing at MM. Not at all. I couldn't possibly take that on again (which I'll get to next time).

So, think of this blog as more of a website that has a blog attached to it. I plan to write here occasionally - when the mood takes me. I also want to link to other stuff I'm writing (although, I haven't been actively doing much of that lately either. I've just been too busy with life!). I won't be writing about products or services or posting recipes. This is simply a space for me, my thoughts, my opinions and my words. And if anyone wants to join me...here I'll be (albeit sparingly).

I'll tell you more about what I've been up to since I left MM soonish. In the meantime, I just wanted to say hi, and welcome.

See you soon.
J
xox

Kleenex Mums Posts



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