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Archive for the ‘working mums’ Category

It’s a wonder any single parent can get out from under the duvet, let alone show their face in public with all these hideous media stories about. Oh, but hang on a minute, we’re all too busy bringing up to children to give a hoot.

No one can have missed the raging debate about multiple birth and underage parenting. I’m not upset by these stories, but I know people really who are. Who are we to decide if a woman has a right to bear 14 children? Well the chattering classes think not and Octomum Nadya Suleman is getting a bashing in the media (we all know she’s got 14 but the moniker for the latest litter just makes better copy).

Can a boy be a father at 12? Well depending the on the results of a DNA test, for now, little Alfie Patten is believed to be that very thing. And yes, people are horrified. And the Mum is only thirteen. The mind boggles at how they even managed it at that age!

These pantomime stories won’t last long – and they fall into the deep dark well of what I call Plastic Parenting. In the same way that glamour models will go up to a FF cup with plastic surgery to get the biggest boobs (and bucks) on the block, these people will go to any lengths to exploit their fertility in what can only be described as the new sport of extreme breeding.

These stories are just fuel to the fire when it comes to single parenting or in fact conceiving children outside of the bedroom. But this goes on everyday without the grabbing headlines. In fact, the real stories are being pushed to the back pages.

The charity Gingerbread published a story recently about it’s research into what happens to families once they break up. Apparently many children lose contact with one parent, about one in three are left with a big question mark above their heads. Why did this happen to me? Is it my fault?

The Children’s Society also published a report, damning selfish parents and working Mothers, because it was so sensationalist, it got covered everywhere and I’m pretty disappointed about the whole thing. The Gingerbread story, a more realistic and poignant snapshot of our times has received a lot less media exposure. If they had decided to run with a sensationalist headline, say, one in three Mothers loses contact with their children after family break up, instead of one in three Fathers, I’m sure a tabloid witch hunt would be underway by now.

Now, I’m just going to get on with the rest of half term and put the newspapers away…

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There’s a photo in The Sun today of a very frail Jade Goody in a wheelchair on with her boyfriend Jack this Sunday just gone. She’s outside the Armani store on Brompton Road and about to go in and choose her bridal gown.

It struck me that while we may walk along the same streets, we are all on different paths. For this is the very same place that Miniminx and I were standing outside of and having a laugh on Saturday. The store has a massive video wall with male models wearing the latest collection. Miniminx was pointing at it and laughing and joking about the dogwalk (her thinking; women walk on catwalks, therefore men must do dogwalks).

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As the weeks go by it’s hard not to think that Jade Goody is being subsumed by a cancer with tabloid newspapers and reality tv at the heart of it’s DNA.

I’m reading her story daily and I can’t believe it’s happening so quickly. We’ve been living in a world where there are many high profile stories of people living with cancer, and beating it; Kylie Minogue being one. It just doesn’t seem right or fair that someone so young is fading so fast.

Initially, I wasn’t sure about the story and wondered if it was just a Max Cliffordism to bring her back to the hearts of the British public with a sob story. But then again, who would engage in such a ploy to further their careers? It seemed so strange, such a bizarre quirk of fate, that the Big Brother reality TV show that launched, and then destroyed, her career would then be the place her death sentence would be announced. I wonder how the production team feel about this? How will they remember her? And will this tragedy make them think a bit more about what they are really signing up these contestants for? I doubt it, they will probably find a new way to spin it and make money.

Do you remember the Kylie effect? Women everywhere got checked for breast cancer and lives were saved, I’ve not seen any evidence of this happening with Jade Goody – although I will be making an appointment for a smear this week as I couldn’t bear to face the same fate. In true tabloid fashion, I am convinced that The Sun will sell many more copies of the paper when she goes – and she knows this, which is why she is doing the deals now. It’s extraordinary.

Jade Goody is England’s guileless icon and quite incredibly, has achieved global fame. She’s a funny girl, a business woman, Mother and soon to be wife. I’m not sure I’ll tune in to Living TV to watch her final hours, but we’ll all miss her. And let’s not forget that she’s a hard working Mum with two young children. That’s the true reality.

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Are you a label conscious, ethical, organic shopper?

If you want to know, here’s a little simple quiz for you.

1. Do you decorate your trolley with Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade and Soil Association labelled products?
a) yes always, my shopping saves the planet
b) maybe, depends who’s looking
c) never, it’s too bleeding expensive and a rip off

2. Do you make a pont of checking for the Soil Association label?
a) as a matter of course (I only buy products with it on)
b) why would I need a Soil Association label, is this the gardening centre?
c) oh god never, it’s far too pricey

If you answered yes to c) that means you’re a canny bargain hunter, yes to b) means you’re absolutely normal and yes to a) means you are a total shopping freak suffering from organorexia like me.

I spend an inordinate amount on organic produce and even though the supermarkets are pretty good, it does irk me that organic costs more but I wouldn’t trade down on many items, especially milk, meat, vegetables and eggs.

If we’re caught short of milk and I can only get non organic, standard pasteurised, I’ll pass – even if we have to have dry cereal and black tea for breakfast. And that’s why I’ve coined this malaise organorexia.

It’s by no means life threatening but it’s very inconvenient at times. And I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking, if it’s not organic, I’ll go without.

And it gets worse once you have a child – with the epidemic food scandals and health scares, organic food seems the only option. But where do you draw the line? I used a very expensive organic milk formula after breastfeeding, and I had to order it in to my local health food shop. It was a real pain, but I would never have touched any other products.

Motherhood tests your mettle when it comes to health, especially when you want to give your child treats. I’ve tried all the wholefood sugar free sweets and they rate very high on my Crank-o-meter. Carob coated raisins result in on thing for Miniminx and that’s a good few trips to the loo and no sugar buzz – which misses the whole point of scoffing a bag of sweets. The same goes for corn syrup lollies and Panda Liquorice, so I just can’t buy into it all 100%. Green & Blacks will just have to suffice but I’m not by any means going to pretend that we avoid the sweet shop on high moral grounds.

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At kids parties, I have found myself surrounded by frenzied Mums who have shunned the party bags and passed round gelatine free organic sugar free sweets ‘Oh the little pet adores them’ they say smugly (and I’ve secretly wondered if it’s the non-organic botox that gives them the smug look). While it does really annoy me sometimes, and it seems like social oneupmanship, I know they’ve got a point.

So if you’re organorexic and feeling lonely, you can always check out sites like Hippyshopper to find that you’re not alone! Please send me your top vegan and organic sites, I just can’t get enough!

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As I sat down to enjoy my beautifully prepared lunch yesterday, things took a drastic about turn. My cosy domestic bubble burst in the manner of a very large party balloon being pricked by a very large, sharp pin.

My mobile phone trilled, !NUMBER WITHHELD! flashed on the screen – Ok, better put my professional/together voice on!

‘Hi, can you talk? It’s me, how are you?’
‘Yes, sure I can talk, fabulous thanks and you?’
‘I’ve got something for you’
‘Great, what it is it?’
‘It’s a blah-di-blah-di-blah at blah-di-blah? Yeah? Interested?’
‘Wow that sounds great!’
‘Read the spec, I need to send your CV to them today, they want someone to start immediately’
‘Sure (choke on flapjack silently) I’ll have to you within the hour – I need to change it. I’m not sure it’s working – I’ve had my CV appraised and was told it would cost £350 to put right’
‘Yeah, that social media thing on it, no one gets it.’
‘OK, I’ll dump it’
‘Good idea – get it over, be quick’

And then three job specs came through on email. Three job opportunities! What a bloody shock. I caught myself suddenly having to think. Life could change imminently. This little adventure of unemployment could soon be over. Shit.

As with all things work related, thought was quickly galvanised into action and I dragged my CV out of the document folder – grrrrrrrrrr. I gave myself an hour to rewrite it in a comprehensive and chatty fashion – yes, I’m a dyed in the wool deadline addict.

I began removing all links to my work on the worldwide wonder web which I’d lovingly searched out in my first jobsearch sojourn. Boo hoo – my social media CV was lame and had to be put out to pasture.

Then taking the advice of my CV appraiser, I dumbed down the font (apparently it was distracting and would mean my CV would be straight in the bin), I removed the bolded type (apparently incredibly distracting and annoying and would mean my CV would be straight in the bin) and I added some editorial around my work (apparently just listing it would be incredibly annoying and distracting etc. etc.). The finished work was much better and I spotted a most embarrassing typo – I’d spelt Communications as communciations – which I swiftly changed. Cringe – my usual faves are brest regards and daft copy which never go unnoticed, thankfully I’ve never committed the cardinal sin of typing pubic relations as many of my (former) colleagues have. I digress, as I pressed send message, I breathed a sigh of relief and waited ten minutes before calling the recruiter.

‘Hi – I’ve sent you my redraft, it’s much better’
‘Thanks, I’ll pop it across’

Ten minutes later, !NUMBER WITHHELD!, I knew it was her…

‘Darling, what was your last job title? I can’t see it on the CV…’

Oh god, in my panic I’d left it off.

‘Don’t worry I’ll change it and pop it over.’
‘Thanks (choke), speak to you soon!’

With that done it was time to pick up Miniminx – we did the weekly shop and went hideously over budget. By the time we got home I was feeling tired and irritable.

‘Sorry, Mummy is feeling a bit cruddy’
‘Don’t worry Mum.’
‘It’s just that there’s all these job thingies.’
‘Yeah great, you need a job.’
‘I don’t know if I want to work, I like being at home and doing my blog and writing.’
‘Well it’s tough Mum, I’d rather be at home all day but I have to go to school. Sorry but you have to go to work’

And so I heard a small version of myself deliver the bare naked truth…Mummy needs to get a job.

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After a sleepless night, coffee seemed to be the solution, but oh, how wrong can you be?

My day is an empty sandwich; I’ve done my good deed for the day.  This morning, I walked Miniminx and her class to their swimming lesson at the local pool – think herding cats across the M4 and you get the picture.  And tonight I’m toasting my Sister’s birthday at the Dorchester and off to the theatre, think sophisticats and you get that picture 😉

But in between?  Yikes, I’ve totally screwed this day up…1 large cappucino + 2 supersized mugs of coffee thick with sugar later and I have percolated a huge sense of panic; I MUST log in to messenger, facebook, linkedin, my new ning thing, my blog – check, refresh, check everything…look at other blogs, check the news, google anything, everything, something, otherwise I’m going to miss out (on what, I’m not really sure).

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.  Only a dummy wouldn’t look for the latest jobs.  I hit the jobs boards, page down, page down, click, click…nothing new, same old, same old. Exhausting.

Oh my god, yes!  That critical appraisal of my CV I got, I MUST reread it immediately and take notes, and I must, I must rewrite my CV – it’s so rubbish.  Or, should I pay them £350 to rewrite it for me – a ‘simple investment in my future’ the email says, lazy way out says me.   But I’m far too embarrassed to even think about sending my CV out to anyone now, apparently the font is wrong, wrong, wrong.  I’ve not sold myself well at all for someone of my professional standing and even worse, the lay out is distracting!  How the hell did I ever get work before, it must have been a complete fluke!!!

Oh, I know, how about all those other exec-jobs-subscription-only web shites sites I got a guest subscription for, should I cough up?  Nah, bad idea. No money coming in remember?? (I refrain from kicking myself for fear of falling off my chair, I’ve already nearly trapped my hand in the bin lid by leaning from my seat to pop something in it with one hand and trying to close the lid with the other hand – well, it seemed like a good move at the time).

Oh, there’s a thought, why don’t I retrain as a plumber? Where’s that email I got in my junk folder on hotmail yesterday….? Oh god, where is it, have I deleted it?  I’m sure there’s a fortune to be made out of drains…and now I’ve lost the blinking email.

I can’t handle this, I can try and fidget out this cappucino-neurosis, but I’m actually going to get a life, switch off my lap top and go and do something more interesting instead. 

Now, where are my glad rags, it’s time to get glammed up…

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All in all, it’s been a pretty good week so far – I’m over the moon to be listed on Alpha Mummy – and I’m really looking forward to a fantastic weekend which won’t really end until Tuesday. Three birthday parties and my own belated birthday present – a trip to see a show. One of my greatest friends takes me to the theatre every year for my birthday and we go next week, I never know what we’re seeing until we get there.

I’m taking it easy today and will be lolloping on the sofa as I did a major work out with my personal trainer yesterday, he may be fit but I look more like this at the gym…

I got a bit of a knock back today. I’ve been rejected at first stage for a freelance job (that means on sight of CV in my world) because I’m not relevant. Well, that’s a bit of lie actually, I’m just being melodramatic…other people are more relevant apparently. From what I gather, there are just too many candidates around for too few jobs. I did the old peashooter/moon trick again yesterday (that’s what I call uploading your CV to apply for a corporate job…see here). I’m spending my days following up on job options and there’s nothing at my level around, I’m overqualified for what’s out there or too restricted by the commute. I simply refuse to spend three hours commuting and missing out on seeing my wonderful Miniminx.

As usual at this time of day, when I’ve exhausted the usual avenues of searching for work, I’m left wondering what I’m going to do. I need some inspiration as I feel like I’m going round in circles at the moment. Do I just start up my own business and dump the career and do my own thing?
Or do I just tough out the next few months? I’ve got some options up my sleeve at least but for now I’m going to get creative again and finish my collage…it could be a good career move!

On days like these, this is the song that always lifts my spirits – INNER CITY BLUES, MARVIN GAYE – I found it on youtube…go on, have a listen, I might just have to play it again, it’s just brilliant, the lyrics resonate completely with our times even though the track was released in 1971

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In an effort to keep myself occupied I’ve decided I’m going to really work this blog world. Personal blogging is hugely different from professional blogging and I am finding it a challenge to keep going. It’s more to do with ego keepy-uppy than anything else – how do you stay a) motivated while unemployed b) able to write dazzling copy c) not sound like a moaner?

The truth is, things are just not hot on the job front. I’m going to have to reinvent myself and learn some pretty new tricks in order to stand out from the crowd. The social media CV just ain’t working. Every recruiter I speak to says it’s hugely competitive out there and there are hundreds of candidates, when only a year ago there were few and far between. When I apply for jobs on corporate web sites, I feel like I’m aiming a pea shooter at the moon. My CV disappears into the ether, I get an acknowledgement and then nothing. Boo hoo.

I’m used juggling career and family and social life and addicted to high octane living, travel, pressure, deadlines, excitement and now my wings are clipped. So while I can chill out and take stock, I really need to feel engrossed, entertained and/or that I’m gaining or learning something and this morning that is how I didn’t feel until I got a few calls and managed to have a bath and get my face on. So what else have I done to do (btw I never add in the 7-9am school run mania, maybe I’ll post on that another time…)

So what have I done today??

Meetings missed = 1
Sick children needing picking up from school= 1
Job opportunity = 1
Cigarettes = 8
Coffee = 2 extra strong
Tea = countless
Cooking = tom yum soup from scratch (may share the recipe one day…)
Social invitations = 2 (thankfully)
Bloggering about = 4 (hours!!!)
Quirky events = 1 (discovered foxes have excavated so much under the garden shed it’s about to fall in the hole)

And it’s only 3.30pm…

And let’s not forget today is one of the most important days of this century – yep, Obama inauguration. It’s unavoidable and fantastic!!! I hope this spells the end of the credit crunch but it’s going to be a hard one to pull off. I’ve said it more than once, 2009 is the last year of the naughty noughties and boy this is one hangover to end all hangovers…

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