Backing up precious memories

For the majority of people, the most important thing that is stored on their computer or smartphone is all of their precious photos. Nobody can ever foresee any disasters, loss or data corruption before it happens. The best thing to do, when it comes to protecting precious memories, is to back it all up on a regular basis.

The following post will cover some of the ways that you can regularly back up your photos and important data so that memories can always be saved and accessed whenever.

Data Storage 

Data storage is an easy way to spread the content that you want to back up, over multiple devices. Data storage can include USB sticks, memory cards, external hard drives, CDs or DVDs.

USB sticks, memory cards and external hard drives are the easiest way to back data up. Memory cards are used in cameras or smartphones, to store all photos and videos.

From the memory cards, data can be copied onto the PC. As memory cards are relatively cheap, I have found that it is best to keep the original copy of the image on the memory card. When the memory card becomes full, copy all images over to the PC, and keep the memory card with all of its images in tact. Then insert a new, blank memory card in the camera. By inserting a new, blank memory card, you avoid accidentally deleting any images or files that were not correctly copied over.

Images and videos stored on smartphones can be copied over to a computer, easily by connecting the smartphone to the computer by way of a cable. Once connected, the computer can detect the smartphone and the images and videos can be copied over. Once copied over to the computer, copies of the files can be made to another medium.

USB sticks are getting bigger and bigger in volume, with more storage being made available, despite the physical size of the device. USBs are great for making another copy of every file that is required to be backed up. As well as the memory card that stores the original copy of the image, the computer that has the second copy of the file, everything can also be copied over to a USB. The USB sticks, along with the memory cards should be stored somewhere safe.

Data corruption can occur on a device. A USB stick can suddenly stop working or become corrupt, losing all of the information stored within it. To be on the safe side, it pays to not only copy all files to a USB stick, but also to an external hard drive as well.

External hard drives are also becoming bigger in volume. It is possible to get 2TB external hard drives at a reasonable price. A copy of all files should also be made to an external hard drive.

External copies 

Making additional copies of the files on USB stick and external hard drive, and storing them externally, safeguards against any loss, such as fire, flood, or theft.

Additional copies of the files, stored on USB stick and external hard drive should be kept at a different location from the original files. An example of a different location would be if the files were kept with a close friend or a family member. This is actually good practice, to have additional copies made and stored at a separate premise.

Hard Copies 

Printing of photos can be relatively cheap, and will provide a physical, hard copy of your images. Generally, photos can be printed from several department stores that have a photo booth facility available. Photos can be accessed from memory card, USB or smartphone. The easiest method is generally from the USB. Prior to getting photos printed, it would pay to sort the photos out into appropriate folders. You may only want a collection of photos to be printed from a large collection. Separating the images first, makes it a lot faster for the photo booth to display the images and for you to select the ones you want.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is another option, and allows for images to be saved online, rather than on any particular device. Once uploaded to the cloud, the files can be accessed by computer or smartphone, with a valid login or password.

Cloud storage is generally free for the first 1-2gb of data, but then requires a subscription fee beyond that.

Examples of cloud storage are: Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive.

Frequency of backing up 

Depending on how long it takes to fill a memory card, you could choose to back your files up either by time, as in every few months, or whenever you fill up a memory card.

If you decide to back things up periodically, you can always set a reminder, or do the backups every calendar month, or at the start of every season. The frequency is up to you. Just think, that the more photos or videos you take, the more you have to lose if anything goes wrong with them.

It’s never been so easy to learn

No matter what your reason is for wanting to learn something new, now more than ever, it is so much easier to be able to achieve. I remember watching the Matrix years ago and loving the scene where Keanu’s character inserted a chip and became a martial artist instantly. It makes me think that in the future we will have greater potential to learn new things, but for now, there are plenty of options available that don’t involve modifying the brain.

Working in technology, I am constantly having to ensure that my skills are up to date. There are several ways that I ensure my skills are relevant. Blogs and online books are my favorite way to get all the relevant information that I need. You don’t even have to be working in the technology field, whatever industry you work in, there are plenty of resources available should you start to look.

The following is a list of resources that I have used. Let me know if you have come across any others that you think are valuable too.

I use the following not just for technology updates, but also to learn new things. You can never learn too much.

Library 

By being a member of my local library, I not only have access to thousands of books, but I also have access to al of the electronic books and audios too.

Libraries within South Australia (SAPLN), all grant access to the online content. In addition to the online books, access to magazines is also granted. I personally love the magazines. The magazines that are available are the same ones that I previously used to subscribe to. I love that I can read them all for free.

In order to access the books or digital content, all you need is a valid library card.

Blogs 

I have been using blogs to keep my skills up to date for many years. In the technology space, there are plenty of blogs that you can read and subscribe to. By subscribing, you never need to miss a new post.

I work with Microsoft technologies mainly, the blogs that I follow are mainly from Microsoft, or some of the key developers.

To locate any blogs on a particular topic, all you have to do, is enter the blog topic and add blog in the search path, for example: neuroscience blogs. A list of blogs relating to the search topic will be displayed.

E-Books 

E-books makes it so much easier to be able to read, as you can carry a whole library of books with you, wherever you go.

My favorite technology books can all be accessed online from Safari Books Online. Safari Books Online is a subscription service that you pay for. The thing that I love about the subscription service is that, with technology books, most books become outdated rather quickly. Having access to the books online, means that you never have to worry about outdated books cluttering up your office space, and the books are always the most up to date and relevant at any time.

With Safari Books, you not only have access to electronic books, but also to videos.

Podcasts  

The easiest way to access podcasts is directly through your smartphone. Podcasts can be regular people having a chat on a particular topic, or it could be professionals covering a subject in greater detail.

Podcasts are free to download. Subscribing to a podcast means that you never need to miss out on an episode when one becomes available.

Courses 

Some universities around the world, now offer short courses that can be completed by anyone, at any age. The courses can be free, or for a small amount of money, can include a certificate on completion.

The courses can be accessed either by an app on your smartphone or from a website.

Examples of some of the sites that offer the short courses are:

Lynda.com has a subscription fee associated with it, but, if you have a library card within South Australia, you can have access to Lynda.com for free. For more details, just go to this site:

http://www.libraries.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=1602

Apps

Installing apps on your smartphone is an easy and extremely convenient way to learn new things. There really is no limits to the amount of information you can learn from new apps. Most apps have built in notifications, so if you want to learn something every day, you can be sent reminders.

In addition to all things technical, I love learning piano. There are apps that can teach you how to play. The app I use is called SimplyPiano. It tracks whatever I play on the piano with whatever I am supposed to be playing on the smartphone. I love it. Learning to play piano has always been something I have wanted to do, as is learning French, which I am able to do with the app Duolingo.

YouTube 

Finally, if you’re a visual person and prefer to watch videos when learning, then YouTube is a great place to start. Chances are, someone somewhere has already posted a video on exactly whatever it is you are wanting to learn. Best of all, it’s all free.

As you can see, from the list provided, there are ample opportunities for learning something new. It doesn’t matter if you are learning something for work, a hobby, or a special interest, anyone can learn something new, at any time. The positive impacts of learning are numerous, worthy of a blog post in its own right.

What are you learning? Is there anything you wanted to learn but haven’t? What is stopping you?

Hire a parent

Today, I was looking at LinkedIn, when something caught my eye. A person had written a post on how they had hired a lady who had been out of the workforce for six years, due to her being a full time stay at home mum. The person writing the post, said it was an excellent decision to hire her, as she was an excellent fit for the company.

It got me thinking about the many ways I have actually improved as a worker since having my children and the skills I have developed along the way.

Multitasking   

As a parent, you constantly have many things on the go at any time. It always pays to remember exactly where you got up to with any task.

In the workplace, anything can interrupt your train of thought, a phone call, an email, someone wanting help. Being able to switch between whatever you are working on and the task at hand, and then resume where you left off is an excellent skill to have.

Focus

Being able to focus on one thing at a time, for long periods of time is something that has definitely increased since having children.

Attention spans of children is generally rather small. The window of opportunity to be able to focus on something usually only happens in small amounts. In the workplace, being able to focus is actually a real joy to any parent, especially if they can get their work done without any distractions.

Organizational skills 

Playing outside all day as a child and coming home when it got dark seems to well and truly be a thing of the past. Now, more than ever, parents have to organize how a child’s day is spent. Play dates are no longer spontaneous, but are carefully planned ahead of time, as are daytime activities and any trips together as a family.

Being organized at work is key to being able to get the most amount of work done, in the best time possible. Knowing what needs to be done and when is crucial for any job.

Time Management

Getting anywhere on time with children is a challenge in itself. It doesn’t matter how much time you have to get ready, there is always a crazy rush at the end. In fact, I have always found the more time I have to get ready, the longer everything takes.

Arriving on time, anywhere, always fills me with a sense of accomplishment. Prior to having children, I always aimed to be on time, but now, now it is even more important and even more of a goal. It’s like something I have to prove to myself. I can do this! I can get where I need to, when I am supposed to.

Conflict Resolution 

It doesn’t matter if you are working with difficult people, or separating children from fighting over a toy, knowing how to achieve peace and handle conflict resolution is key.

Prior to having children, conflict resolution wasn’t even something that bothered me, or I had to think about. Since having children, I realize the best way to handle conflict resolution is to think fast, quickly separate warring parties and find ways to keep everyone happy.

Communication  

As soon as I became a parent, I felt like I had joined a sort of group. It didn’t matter if fellow parents had completely different backgrounds, age, how many children, career, stay at home, whatever, we all bonded over the fact that we had children the same age and were going through whatever challenge came from having children the same age, at the same time.

Through parenting, I have found that I can communicate with anyone and everyone. Mind you, after caring for children all day, communicating with adults comes very easily. Perhaps too easily.

Resilience 

Resilience is a skill that is really encouraged from kindergarten onward. A child breaks something, or plans change, and if they don’t have resilience, the child falls apart and the day is ruined.

Knowing that children model their behaviors on their parents, I have realized that I have had to become more resilient myself. In the past, if I had broken something that I really loved, I would be really upset. Now that I have a little audience, watching me, I have realized it’s probably best not to overreact and to deal with any losses calmly.

Resilience in the workplace is also important, as often things won’t go your way. Someone could get a promotion you had wanted, or your job could change that is not to your liking. Being resilient means that you are better able to bounce back and turn any negative situation into a positive one.

Learning to be resilient as a parent has meant that resilience in the workplace is a lot easier to achieve.

Change Management 

Parenting is constantly changing. Take having a newborn for example, as soon as you have found a way to shower in peace while your baby is happily sleeping, they learn to crawl and suddenly everything in your house is dangerous and showers are something that has to be carefully planned.

Children are constantly changing and the way you are required to parent them, constantly changes too.

Change management is the skill of being able to accept that change is inevitable and to embrace it, rather than fight it.

Working in the technology industry, the only thing you can count on, is that change is guaranteed.

So yes, in summary, I totally agree that parents should be hired. Parents that have stayed home looking after children, have gained a whole swag of skills. They might have been out of the workforce for a period of time, but in all honesty, I can’t imagine a tougher, more demanding boss than a hungry and tired toddler. At least the working hours are a lot less in the workplace.

Returning to work mantras

As my returning to work is becoming more and more a reality, a sadness of leaving my girls has started to kick in.

I am incredibly fortunate that when I do return, that I am able to return in a part time capacity. Fortunate, because I genuinely love spending time with my girls. I wish I could be with them all the time, but it isn’t possible for me to do so. Working part time is my best compromise.

I can’t help but feel sad at the thought of being away. The last twelve months have literally flown. I have loved my time off so much. I mean, some days have been tough, tiring and exhausting, but even on the toughest days, there has always been beautiful moments that has made everything worthwhile.

What helps me to accept my return to work, is all the positive mantras I say to myself.

  • By returning to work, I want to be a positive role model for my girls
  • I want my girls to know that when they grow up, that having children won’t mean the death of their career
  • I will make every effort to make my time with them count
  • It’s important for me to have a focus in life that is separate from my family
  • By returning to work, I will get to use my brain and have regular adult conversations
  • Time apart from my family will only help me appreciate them more
  • I actually love what I do. I studied and have worked hard to get where I am in my career. I don’t want to give it all up.

What mantras do you have? Do they help you to focus on the positives? Have they helped you?

I am hoping that if I say the above to myself often enough, that it will stop me feeling sad, and will help me to focus on the positives instead.

I love my family and I want them to be proud and know that their mum loves them, whether I am with them or at work.

 

Me time for the first time in a long time

Today, both my girls are going to get looked after by their grandparents for the afternoon. It’s the first time I have ever left both of them, and not had any plans. I know they will be in the absolute best care, as their grandparents love them so completely. It feels a little strange to be away from them.

Spending time apart is going to become a more frequent occurrence as I will be heading back to work soon. When I do return to work, I don’t want it to be a complete shock for my baby girl. I also need to get used to being apart so that I don’t miss my girls dreadfully too.

When my first daughter was born, I always imagined that separation anxiety only occurred with the baby. I was surprised that parents feel separation anxiety too. When my girls were born, I have always felt connected to them. Being apart is tough. I can only imagine that it is tough for them too.

My eldest daughter absolutely loves time with her grandparents. It’s the highlight of her day. I know my baby will love it too. She may not even notice that I’m not around.

After nearly 10 months of constantly being together (more or less), the question remains, what do I do with my spare time? It will only be a few hours. I can’t go wild. I have thought about getting a massage. My back and neck could really do with one. I could perhaps go to a café and have a coffee and eat a slice of cake without sharing it. Or, I could come home and do some housework. Housework with children always takes at least five times as long to get anything done.

What about you? What do you do when you have finally got some time to yourself?

Mindfulness from a child’s perspective

Prior to having children, I would fill my days and evenings up with so many things to do. I was always on the go. My life was a blur. In fact, at times, I would play the song by Blur, titled “Out of Time” to remind me to slow down.

It’s lyrics included the lines:

“And you’ve been so busy lately

that you haven’t found the time

To open up your mind

And watch the world spinning gently out of time”

I would listen to the song, and I would try my best to notice everything around me: the sunset, the weather, the day or night, whatever, and just relax.

Before long, I would fall into the same trap, and become incredibly busy again. Days, weeks and months would fly by. I constantly lost track of time.

And then my girls came along. I was forced to slow down. It was definitely hard at first. Hard, because I have always seen myself as a high achiever. It’s hard to go from achieving everything I set out to achieve, to feeling lucky if I managed to get anything done in a day.

But I did slow down, and I soon discovered (much to my surprise) that I liked it.

Slowing down taught me so much. It taught me that I could take time out, and that doing so, actually gave me more enjoyment and energy to get everything I wanted to do, done, and if I didn’t get it done, it wasn’t worth stressing over.

Slowing down allowed me to destress.

When my first child was a baby, she would pick up on my moods. She would know when I was stressing and trying to get everything done. She would fuss until I breastfed her. I could never resist her. I would stop whatever I was doing, and would go into her room, sit on a comfortable chair and feed her. She would cuddle into me, and whatever it was that I was stressing about would no longer matter. Even as a baby, she knew how to calm me.

As she has gotten older, and my youngest has been born, my life has become busy again. My children have continued to teach me to slow down.

Ways that my children have taught me mindfulness include:

Put down my phone

Putting my phone down and focusing on them, not only gives them my undivided attention, but it allows us to actually have quality time together.

Working in IT, and loving technology by nature, this one has actually been tough for me, as I always checked emails or messages constantly and would use my phone for various reasons. Putting my phone down and only using it at certain times of the day (nap times or if the children are happily playing or sleeping) has helped me to switch off. I’m no longer a slave to my phone.

Learning to put my phone down has also been good for when I am out with friends. People that are present in my life get the highest priority with my attention than those that are not. Emails, texts and phone calls can wait.

Slow down and notice everything

Children never seem to be in a rush, unless, you’re at a playground or somewhere fun, and then they are constantly on the go. At home, they seem to notice everything, no matter whether they are inside or outside.

Australia is home to many different types of spiders. Some are harmless, and others can leave a very nasty bite. I am grateful to my eldest daughter for having the knack of always being able to spot spiders, particularly the nasty ones before my baby does.

When we are outside, everything has to be studied and noticed, whether it is the birds flying above, the leaves that have fallen down or the clouds that have formed in the sky. One day, my eldest was looking up at the clouds. I stopped what I was doing to join her. We both laid down on the grass, and when we looked up, there was a beautiful rainbow affect in the clouds. It was so lovely. Had I not stopped, I never would have seen it.

A whole new level of appreciation for art

Before children, my creative outlets were dancing, playing piano and photography. Photography, I would find particularly relaxing as it would always force me to relax, be calm and live in the moment. I have kept up my photography, for fun, as the children have grown.

Art, wherever children are involved, is generally incredibly messy. I can’t say I was ever a big fan of doing art with my girls when my eldest was younger, as, by the time I had gotten everything out, and everything was messy, she would be bored and I would spend longer tidying than we would ever do being crafty.

Now, as she has gotten older, art is something that we all seem to enjoy doing. Playing with color and being crafty has started to become something that is rather enjoyable. There’s definitely a lot to be said for the resurgence in coloring books for adults. Coloring is definitely a relaxing way to spend time being mindful.

Bubbles

Bubbles are one of those things that makes anyone, regardless of age, completely happy. I think I love blowing bubbles just as much as my daughters do. That said, only my eldest can blow bubbles. My baby would probably drink or spill the solution if she managed to get her hands on it.

Flying a Kite

I’d be lying if I wrote all about flying a kite and how that totally makes me feel zen like. I’m sure it does, or at least would do, if I only pulled out my (my eldest daughter’s to be precise) kite and flew it.

That’s the thing with parenting. There is never enough time in one day to get everything done. I imagine that flying a kite with the kids would definitely make me more mindful. It’s definitely on my to-do list. As is, attending the kite flying festival that’s held locally once a year.

If you have flown a kite recently, how did it make you feel? Were you super relaxed and aware of everything awesome around you?

What are some other ways that you have learned to be mindful? How have you learned to slow down? Or are you constantly rushing around, wondering how you will ever get everything done?

Learning to be mindful is definitely a work in progress. It is so easy to become completely busy and fill every moment of every day. If our kids can teach us one thing, it’s definitely to slow down and notice everything around us at any given moment.

 

 

 

 

 

Parenting while sick

Parenting has its challenging days at the best of times, when everyone is actually feeling decent. Parenting while feeling sick is incredibly tough. The only thing I am grateful for, at the moment, while currently feeling absolutely dreadful, is that I haven’t started back at work. At least the only thing I have to feel guilty about is cancelling all plans while trying to return to some level of normality.

The toughest part for me while feeling sick, is not being able to do things that I had planned to do with my girls. Being the last school holidays before heading back to work, I had wanted to make every day count, with something fun planned most days. So far, I have been flat out unwell for almost a week and it’s been tough. Tough, because there’s no rest. Doctors orders have been to rest and limit movement. Try telling that to a five year old that is full of energy and a 9 month old that wants to explore everywhere and has no concept of danger.

Illnesses take longer to recover from when you’re unwell with children. I’m sure I would have recovered sooner, had I had the chance to spend a day or two recuperating.

Still, looking at a positive, the girls can, at times distract me from how bad I feel, as they are my focus rather than how I am feeling. It’s not all doom and gloom.

I am grateful for help I have received while unwell. The biggest help has been in the form of keeping my eldest daughter occupied so that she hasn’t gone crazy with boredom. The break has meant that I could focus my energy on one child and I could rest when my baby was napping.

Seriously, where would we be without support from friends and family? They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that is completely true when the primary caregiver is out of action.

Don’t wait until your sick to grow your village, help and support can come from anywhere, family, friends or parents at your child’s kindergarten or school. If, like me, the hardest thing will be reaching out and asking for help. I reached out this week for help when I needed it, and I am so glad I did.

Learning to be more organized

Today, I have been lucky enough that my baby girl has had two naps. Lately, it has started to be only one nap. I’m sure she’d always love two, but it is generally hard to get her to nap when I am racing around taking my eldest to kindergarten and then later, picking her up.

Today, I’m so grateful that the grandparents are picking the eldest up, so that I can actually let my baby sleep.

The house is peaceful. Everyone is relaxed. It’s lovely.

I often think how different it is with the second child.  With my first born, any trips or arranged play dates were planned around nap times. With my second, the poor thing just has to go with the flow more. She doesn’t seem to be suffering. If anything, she seems to sleep so much better at night time. This could be because she is so much more exhausted. Thankfully she’s a happy baby.

My days are starting to become a little more predictable. It definitely took a while after my baby was born and my life to stop feeling so chaotic, looking after two children. The biggest shock for me, going from one (almost self sufficient) child, to two, was the sudden lack of any me-time. I always felt like a headless chicken, running around the house. I felt exhausted all the time and used coffee to wake me up and come alive.

I still use coffee to wake me up and come alive. Ahh coffee…

As the fog has started to lift, I have found that certain things are actually helping me to stay organized and in control. I have found that preparing as much for the next day, once the girls have gone to sleep, really helps with my mornings. One thing I can almost always guarantee is that the nights I don’t get everything ready, is going to be the same night that the girls have terribly broken sleep and that my sleep is utterly destroyed, from looking after them.

Preparation is definitely key.

What are some of the things I do? I get the lunches ready, clothes picked out (for everyone), books, bags, forms etc all ready to go. Once everything is picked out, prepared and ready, I tidy up the mess from the day.

All of this might sound completely obvious, but to me, having spent the last 9 months in a sleep deprived state, I felt I was too exhausted to see. My days would be trying to get everything done while the girls were awake. Doing so always took significantly longer to achieve, as I was always stopping half way through to spend time with the girls, rescue them from whatever misadventure, feed them or perform any necessary nappy changes.

I have never had a routine. I have always gone with the flow. I have found that routines actually have such a positive impact on my girls. I am hoping that before heading back to work, that I will have a routine that works for me too. So far it seems to be helping.

Mornings are definitely a lot easier and are definitely a lot quieter. Previously, it was always a frantic rush trying to get everyone ready and out the door. Now, I can actually relax, and enjoy my coffee. I certainly have a long way to go to becoming super organized, but have definitely found that careful preparation has significantly improved our mornings.

Do you have any routines that help you stay organized and helps your days to go smoothly? What works for you?

 

Me before them

Having had my two girls later in life, I certainly have had plenty of time before I became a mum. Before becoming a mum, I was pretty much career focused. I didn’t leave having children until late because I was career focused. I was career focused because it was what I had. I had been with my partner for 8 years before I fell pregnant. He is a lot younger than I am. I waited until the time was right for both of us. I am so glad I did because having had my girls and the impact it has had on our lives, I realize how much better it is that we were both ready.

From a career point of view, I had all the time in the world. I had deadlines, as everyone has, but they never bothered me. If a piece of work didn’t get completed during the day, I could just finish it when I got home. I always knew I would get stuff done. I didn’t feel pressure.

Because I could finish work whenever (one of the joys of working in IT is that you literally can work anywhere), I was free to catch up with friends at lunch. Additionally, if I wanted to, I could stay back late, whether to work or to be social. Where I work, it had a pretty amazing social side. Before kids, it seemed we were always doing something fun after work.

When not working, I could go to the gym and exercise or, as I preferred, to go for walks along the beach after work. I was pretty slack with my gym membership. I would say that (possibly like most people), I would go regularly to begin with, but would start to slacken off, the longer I paid the membership.

Weekends were either socializing, or playing computer games. Since I was child, I had always played games. For me, it was nothing to spend a marathon session of 12+ hours in a day/night playing a game and really getting immersed in the atmosphere of it all.

I could stay up late, knowing that I didn’t have to be anywhere the next day. It was great, and the sleep was fantastic! I loved waking up feeling so refreshed and so rested.

The house was tidy.

Life was good. Life also became really predictable.

Soon, my life started to feel like a Monopoly board game for real. Pay bills, buy property, collect your wage (thankfully I have never gone to jail). Over and over again. I truly started to feel like my life felt empty.

And then my girls came along. Oh how my life changed! When my first was handed to me, I actually felt like my brain had been rewired. It was the strangest feeling. I went from being career focused to suddenly becoming so attached to this tiny creature that was so completely dependent on me. For the first time, I stopped obsessing about emails, computer games, TV, anything. All I could do was stare and hold her.

Returning to work the first time was such a shock. Prior to going on leave, hardly any of my workmates (mostly males) had children. When I returned, it seemed most had also had babies too. The dynamics in the office really changed. Suddenly any random chats by the coffee machine were in regards to our children and not what we got up to on the weekend.

My working days reduced from five per week, to three days. I wanted to spend as much time with my girl as possible. I was so happy and grateful that I even had the option of returning part time.

The biggest shift in my working day, came in the amount of effort I spent, trying to get everything completed within the day. I never worked so hard and remained so focused all day long before. I had to. I knew that when I got home, my baby girl would be wanting all my attention. I worked harder than ever before. I also think that having spent a year off with my daughter, I learned to multitask. Being able to go to work and focus on one thing, actually felt good. It was amazing how rewarding it felt to complete something. Not to mention go to toilet on my own!

Socializing is definitely different since my girls came along. Instead of late nights out, drinking with my friends, my preference is catching up for a coffee at a café nearby. Play dates and days out with my girls are how I tend to spend my days.

I have given up on ever having a gym membership. I spend most of my time running around after the girls. That said, in an attempt to get fit again (‘move it before you lose it’ is my inspiration), I have started exercising when the girls have gone to sleep. If I have any energy left.

My house will probably be tidy once the girls are teenagers (or not). I can live with that.

Oh and sleep, what’s that?!? Past Facebook posts where I brag to myself about how well rested I was, make me cringe. At least I slept, once upon a time. I will sleep again. I’m pretty sure of it.

Before my girls came along, life was predictable. Life was fun but life wasn’t complete. Since my girls came into my life, my level of happiness has increased significantly. Life is unpredictable and sometimes chaotic. It is definitely exhausting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I much prefer the new version of me. Debbie Version 2.0

 

 

Countdown to the end of my maternity leave

Almost a year ago, I commenced my leave. I had approximately 7 weeks leave prior to my one year leave-without-pay starting. At the time, it felt like I would be on leave for what would feel like forever. I have been fortunate enough to be able to take as much time off as I was able. It’s something that I really do appreciate every day. But the time has definitely flown. Now, with only 3 months left before returning to the workforce, it feels like  I have no time left and that the remaining time will be over in a blink.

I’m determined to make the most of the time off. I want to treasure this time, as I know it will be the last time I have any extended leave booked.

Before going on leave, I had so many plans in regards to what I expected to achieve while on leave. I had raised a child already, surely adding another to the mix couldn’t be that difficult?

My partner purchased new laptop for me. A gift I really wanted, as I was convinced I would have plenty of time each day to ‘nerd it up’ and ‘get my geek on’ by doing everything technical, so that when I returned to work, I would not only be able to keep up with technology, but would be completely ahead of the curve ball.

With my laptop all shiny and new, I had made a list of all the books I was going to read, and all the technologies I would master.

And then she was born. All that mattered was feeding, loving, and nurturing her, all the while, ensuring that her big sister ‘s life wasn’t impacted too greatly and that they would form a bond together that would last a lifetime. No pressure.

All things technical was instantly swapped with all things tiny. My priorities shifted completely.

I can’t even say it was the first time it had happened. It shouldn’t have been a shock. Prior to my first being born (literally days prior), I had signed myself up for a bunch of courses I thought I could do with all my ‘free time’. A previous avid gamer, I would spend my weekends playing video games. Prior to my first being born, I bought a lot of games I was convinced I would play. Those games, now 5 years old, still remain wrapped in their plastic.

I should have known better.

With only three months to go, the question remains, will I spend the time learning frantically all the new technology trends before heading back to work, or will I take time to smell the roses, enjoy all the baby cuddles and make the most of being needed so intently?

What did you do while on parental leave? Did you achieve everything you set out to do? Or like me, did priorities change the instant you held that beautiful bundle in your arms?