Tuesday 27 November 2012

Finding balance

Sometimes people think our family is unconventional.

It's true we do some things differently to others.

But really there is a lot of how we live that is super doop old school.

Mr Girlfriend is the breadwinner.

He gets all dressed up in his ace outfits of awesome and heads into the city where he works in an office.

I stay at home and look after the kid side of things.

I cook and mostly don't clean...well I do clean but you know I don't love it.

I do the laundry.

I organise paying all the bills and getting any of the housey organisey stuff that needs to get done.

I organise the shopping & cook dinner for everyone every day.

BUT .....

Doing all that stuff is HUGELY time consuming.

It really IS a full time job.

I look at families that have two people working- either part time or full time- and manage their children as well and think they are totally amazing.

I think we all spend our entire lives as adult's trying to find the balance.

Balance between family & work.

The balance between work and family is a constant tug.

Working enough to get the money to keep the financial stress as low as possible.

And then the modern fascination with feeling like you need to LOVE your work.  That places another pressure on everyone.  Or is it just me that thinks that 'loving your work' is a new thing?
Is it wrong to go to work to be able to invest in the other parts of your life that you love?

Don't get me wrong- it is super ACE if you do what you love for work- but I think the pressure to find a job that you LOVE is huge.

What if the other part of your life is what you love the most?  And work is a means to make that how you want? Is that ok too?

It's all so hard isn't it? Finding that balance.

Was it always so complicated?

Do we have to love everything we do?

There are some things in life that you just have to DO and that don't feel good- right?

I don't think it is healthy for our kids to NEVER have a hard time at stuff. I think it is healthy to NOT win all the time.  To feel the sting of disappointment.  To struggle sometimes to achieve something.

I know it is not very popular but I think learning resilience has far greater merit than being a winner.

It is not easy to watch your child struggle but sheesh it feels great to watch your child gain the courage to stand up and try again.

I think people are super dooper LUCKY to be able to do a job they LOVE!  

Bringing up five children is an expensive enterprise.

And having five was what we always wanted to do.

A very considered choice.

Our family is the part of our life that we enjoy the most.

But there are all these things to think about ~

Being home enough to balance the need to be with your family.

Finding time to be with your partner.

And then the hardest part of all.

Finding time to be you.

I am thinking about this a lot.

I guess I always am.

I am grateful to have been able to be around as all of my children have been small.

But there is just one more year left before my fifth and final child will head off to school.

And for me it will be the beginning of a new path for me trying to contribute more financially to the family.

In the time leading up to this I am busily thinking about how I can best do that & still retain the ability to be around for the kids.  Even though they are at school there are lots of things on that are great to be able to be around to be a part of.

Do I do something with the work I do here & make it earn some income for me or do I just find a job that I can walk into & walk out of every day?  

The balance will be tipped again and we will have to find new ways of living our life with balance.

I wonder if any of us ever really achieve it?

Or whether the scales keep tipping?

I have said it before but I think it takes a lifetime to find the balance between life & work.

Summer totally means Salad  season right!
My kids love taking salads like this for lunch.
This salad is totally PACKED with nutritional goodness & lovely textures.
You can add all sorts of goodies- think roast veggies, beets, goats cheese, fetta cheese- just use your imagination!
This is a meal in itself (GREAT for kids school lunch) or just sooo good with any meat. 

  • 100g freekeh 
  • 100g Quinoa
  • 100g Green Puy lentils
  • 100g chick peas
  • 100g puffed corn
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, cut into 2cm rough chunks
  • 4 oranges (3 for the salad peeled and cut into chunks and one for the dressing)
  • loads of dill, basil, coriander, parsley & mint- or any herbs of your choice chopped roughly. Don't be shy with the fresh herbs!
  • 4 tblspoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 4 tblspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground Cumin
  • S & P
Prepare the freekeh, quinoa, lentils and chickpeas according to the instructions.

Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl add the EVOO, the cumin, the juice & zest of an orange & the red wine vinegar and mix well.  Set aside.

Add all ingredients into a large bowl , pour over dressing and combine well.

Adjust seasoning and serve.

I have been really enjoying Poor Moon's self titled album this week. A couple of them are members of Fleet Foxes and you can hear their music in this album. It's really lovely.
I love this clip too. Do you?


  1. Yes I am SO with you! Totally agree that we all need to do hard stuff sometimes and manage difficult feelings and be conscious about our choices. More money for more stuff or more investment in relationships? Not such a hard choice really...
    Am going to make that yummy looking recipe-soon. Have made the chinese peppery lamb one a couple of times and it's amazing!

  2. I remember when I was at the end of high school, deciding what career to pursue and mum said to me she didn't love her job, it was a means to an end. My idealistic youth was horrified and of course now I totally get it. I do not love my job, but I love what it allows me to do in terms of being around for my family and it is enough for me that I don't hate it.
    I always hold onto the adage that we are all just doing the best we can as parents. There is nothing more or less at any moment that I can give and I am happy enough with that. All I can give is my best and of course the mother guilt sneaks in that I should be doing more of this or less of this. I am also lucky enough to have my weekly craft night of me time.

  3. I grew up as number 4 of 5. My mum never declared how much she loved her work but ALWAYS maintained "You bloom where you're planted". I love this! It is something I really want my children to take on board. So much in this life is out of our control but the ability to not only cope, but do your best in these situations builds such resilience and appreciation for your strength and skill!

  4. I spend a lot of time thinking about this too. Sometimes I wonder if it was better back when women weren't expected to go to work. Looking after the children and the home was their job. Because it is a full time job! There's a lot of pressure today to do and be everything. A great mum, a career woman, a good wife and lover, and we have to look good too! My mother in law says it never used to be like that. Sigh.

  5. Wise words and delicious food as always Ruth. Balance is tricky. I home-school our children purely because of our isolated farm location. Balance between being a mum, wife and teacher is always difficult. I do NOT always love home-schooling, it can be frustrating and is very time consuming. But, as you said...these are the choices we make. For now I am hanging out for the holidays :) I agree with your words on disappointment, struggle and achievement too, these are all parts of real life aren't they?

  6. I've found the balance thing changes over time too as priorities too - my first job I was peachy keen and willing to spend a lot of time at work becuase I loved it. Nowadays I enjoy my job, but it's a means to an end - it's what let's me pay for my 'real life' outside work!

  7. Whats Freekeh??....looking for the * cooks note

    1. Freekeh is basically young green wheat that is harvested much earlier than usual-when the grains are till soft. It is roasted & then sun-dried & has a gorgeous nutty flavour. it is HUGELY nutritious- loads more protein and about 4 times the of fibre of comparable grains & is also low GI. It also seems to be able to be eaten by people who are usually Gluten intolerant.
      I buy mine from a middle eastern grocer but if ou don't have access to one of thoseYou should be able to find it at a good delicatessen, organic grocer or health food store.

  8. I can echo every word you have said here! My no5 will be starting school too and I'm looking out for the right job that will fit with everyone. No point me working to earn money if I can't take the kids to the activities I'm working to pay for, no point being so stressed that no one has fun. It has been great being at home with them all, and I think the older ones need me just as much as the wee ones, but now it's my time to use my brains/gifts/talents and hopefully we'll all benefit. I want my daughter to know she has options and that the world is her oyster.

    Thanks so much for expressing it so well!

    Sandra x

  9. Oh the elusive balance... You know that I struggle with this - I worked full time for a lot of Poss' younger years, but then school arrived, along with a diagnosis and suddenly the balance was thrown.
    We gave it some time; tried to find it again, and then when all else failed, I tried some at home time.
    After a while I needed to contribute financially again, and I needed something for me... so back to work I went.
    And as you know - I just resigned again.

    So, if you happen to find some sort of magic formula, I would love to hear it... until then, I will keep walking the tight rope.

  10. This really touched a nerve with me Ruth. My 20 yo daughter who is 2 years into her degrees is still scratching around looking for alternatives as they are not her passions. We always tried to tell her she could do anything and to find what she loves, but sometimes this doesnt happen, it didnt with me and it hasnt with her. This has left her feeling like she's "running out of time". But there comes a time that you just have to finish SOMETHING!! I now wonder if those words are really so helpful and supportive or if they just create a sense of failure in the 90% of kids, (lets face it)), that dont find their passion. If you dont have the passion or love, then what you need is discipline to complete the study need to get a job

  11. I'm on the search for balance too Ruth!It's such a juggle sometimes.

    I think you should do what you love, do something with what you have made here, it'll be almost like work and me time together...


  12. Oh, YES! I agree that the pressure of having to love your job - as well as be on top of everything else in your life - is a newish thing. It forces us to centralise the earning-work far more than I think we need to. And gives rise to all those people who go onto TV shows because they "love" doing x and therefore believe that doing x for money will be the pinnacle of awesomeness. I tend to be adapt Mark Twain, believing that something that is a joy becomes a chore as soon as it bears the burden of obligation.

    Having said that, all the best with trying to make this a going concern, or finding something that you can breeze in and out of once the youngest is at school.


  13. I think what you say about the pressure to LOVE your work is entirely true - and really is only an option available to the lucky few. For most work is a means to a paycheck, not to fulfillment and those who find that it is both are very lucky.
    Such a thoughtful post. My baby started school this year too. First time in 13 years that I have had everybody in school and in some ways it has been a busier year than ever which is kind of funny. And I know that I am ridiculously privileged to not have to work or make $$ the primary question when considering what sort of work I want to do.

  14. Wow... so in my head right now!! I am looking at returning to work in a minimal capacity right now, going through the resume updating, registering with recruiters and all that jazz... also toying around with my work from home idea and having a crack at setting that up at the same time. I know I won't LOVE it, but I will like it, and I know I'll come home to my family and appreciate them all the more for having had a little time away. I'll also enjoy the extra freedom that my financial contribution will give us, we are comfortable as we are with me at home, but if I earn even a small amount, we have just that little bit more room to breathe.

    Also, that salad will be happening on a plate near me very soon... I had something similar from a cafe the other day and have been wanting to have a go at recreating it!

  15. lady cakes...it is full on isn't it? i stay at home with my three boys and am a farmers wife. not much different to you except having to learn to make slice at a moments notice for shearing...we too very carefully considered our choices when we wanted children, because i was a latch key kid and was not going to have that for my kids...and now, my youngest is off to 3 year old kinder next year and the question is being posed a lot to me - whatever will you do with yourself next year? well, i think i will just keep on keeping on if you don't mind. i'm sure that when your youngest goes to school the housework doesn't just magically do itself. bloody hell i wish! my daily washing ritual will continue, my daily provision of meal after meal after meal to hoards of hungry boys will continue. there might just be a little peace time, a super moment of stolen time to just sit and ponder my navel and the wonders of clogs. and sew! oh to sew. like you i marvel at those who can balance work with home life, i'm just not super organised, it doesn't work for me. my husband the farmer, he is happy. my husband the shire councillor, he is busy, but he too is happy. me, wifey at home with my boys, super happy. we are happy, we have enough. whatever we don't have we probably don't need. am i happy at home? yes indeedy. was i happy in my past career prior to kids? yes indeedy. it took me a long time to find this peaceful path, to be content. i still struggle somedays, with the lack of appreciation that sometimes happens, with the constant washing, with the constant whir of the dish washer. but now the only pressure on me is from me. i am choosing my own adventure. we don't live in the city though, and the pressures are always there. there is nothing here to spend any money on even if we had it. but we are all fed (and bloody well fed thanks to you little lady) we look hip (with a hat collection to rival your fair boys) and with a penchant for clogs too....that you can purchase over the internet of course! i believe that if you find a job that you love, you never have to work a day in your life....be that the job that pays you financially, or the job of dad, or the job of being mum. you might wear 3 job hats, and surely out of all of those, you can find the one that you love, and enjoy it everyday....as always, thanks for another honest post lovely lady xo

  16. what a special post from my Grand Girl and what special comments from all you great girls out there doing it so conscientiously for your families and yourselves. It gives me tremendous hope for the future of your children that they have such thoughtful generous mothers. Actually I'm still old-fashioned in the belief that it's important to love your job - whichever of the myriad that you are already doing. It makes such an enormous difference to be doing something that brings you satisfaction and joy - and conversely everyone feels the weight of a person in the family who is dissatisfied with their job. Like Whitney says, to feel content is so precious. I can tell you all too - for future reference -that being a grandmother and being retired is something wonderful for you to look forward to too.

  17. I doubt many of us ate truly happy with the work/life balance. I think for me it's more about what I can live with. About a year ago I finally accepted that I'll never have a " career" I'll only ever have a "job" because I can't sacrifice any more of time with my kids than what I do now. As much as I know I'm capable of doing more than my existing job entails I just don't want it! I always thought that when my boys were in school working would be easier but it's not, it's much harder. Now that I am finally pregnant with our third I'm looking forward to being home full time with all my boys full time for a while. I know it won't be for as long as I want but I'll take what I can.

  18. My advice is to really take time to find the right fit. I did lots of emergency teaching and sessional work when the kids were little. stuff that I loved but would fit around them. Then some 'proper' teaching which, whilst great takes up soo much time outside of school time! I'm back full time now - they are uni/final years, but as a librarian. Its so perfect - great job and NO out of hours work. I only ever miss teaching about mid dec when my teacher friends are off on summer hols!
    But even though I love my job, and relished the years spent at home with them, the balance is so hard to get. I just took a week off to get some housey stuff done! I guess theres no solution except to enjoy your days and the rest will look after itself!
    trust me - you'll blink and they ate grown - you can't get this precious time back!

  19. are grown, not ate! that never stops!!!

  20. You know I Iove this, LOVE. The all illusive balance.
    I am lucky, I do (most days) love my job.
    But the balance is always tipping, changing, even with older, self reliant kids they need their mama and papa. Sometimes more I think, in different ways than when younger.
    I'm with you, I think we are always searching, and the balance is always shifting, though I'm not sure I'd have it any other way. x

  21. this is such a lovely post! so true!

    some people just look at me and think why oh why would she want all those kids as I walk into school with one strapped on me, one in a pram, 3 walking with me!
    I'm happy where I'm at at the moment and so lucky to be earning money from home because I totally had this vision that I'd stay home forever and never earn a cent and I have no idea where I thought the money was going to come from.

    The more kids I've had the more I've realised we'll need money coming in from me and it's nice to know that there are different options out there and I don't need to go back to boring old banking!

    fingers crossed you get to keep creating delicious food for us

    I actually think (if I had the money) that I could employ a full time Alice from the Brady Bunch and she'd never get a moment to sit down or take a break! something always needs to be done around here or someone needs me!


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  23. A little note about the bread winner when I was a kid...
    There was a LOT about my dad I didn't know...
    ...I didn't see him much
    ...he worked...a LOT
    ...I ASSUMED he liked to work
    ...I ASSUMED he loved the business he built
    ...I ASSUMED wrong!

    As soon as the last kid finished secondary school he high tailed it out of town to the country to raise beef.

    When I came to realise that he'd stuck around for us...to give us the education he wanted for us...it made me love him more AND really, really respect him.


  24. stay home, work is crap. mothering is hard but so much more eternal.


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