Benefits of being an ICT Consultant

Being a consultant is never boring, well, if it is, it isn’t boring for long! I have been a consultant for the last 8 years, within the IT industry. The work has mostly been challenging and rewarding and has often pushed me to do more in order to achieve great results.

For me, the benefits of being an ICT consultant include:

Working with the latest technology

Sometimes when you work for an organisation, you can be forced to use whatever proprietary software the organisation has developed, in order to get your job done. Leaving the organisation eventually, becomes somewhat tricky, as the skills gained while employed may not be transferable to the next place of employment. Being a consultant, the skills gained are typically around a range of software that is marketable. The more you can work for a variety of customers, the better.

Organisations can often have long delays before rolling out to the latest piece of software. Working as a consultant often means that the software that you get to work with is the latest version. As a consultant, you are expected to know a lot about the latest and greatest in regards to technology. Having access to the latest versions definitely makes working more interesting as you get to play with new things before most people get the chance to.

Working in different environments, often

Every new client requires a new induction process of some kind. Being a consultant is like starting fresh each time you get to work with someone new. Instead of working somewhere for years and years, consultancy work can take you to many different clients within a short space of time. Work duration can be for a long period (months or years) or a short period (days or weeks). Working in different locations and the change that comes with it can be very exciting. Change is like a holiday after all. Working as a consultant also means that if you happen to work in an environment that isn’t to your liking, that the chances are, that you won’t be there for long.

Working on different projects

The busier you are as a consultant, the better. The whole point of being a consultant is being able to be billable and marketable within the industry. The more in demand your skills are, the more likely you are to be able to work for a variety of clients, on numerous projects. Project sizes can vary greatly from short pieces, that can be completed quickly, to large projects, involving many people, including both clients and other consultants, that can take a long time to complete.

Constantly learning

In order to keep up with the latest in technology and to keep skills up to date, it is important to continually learn, either on the job, or in your own time. Learning is such a positive thing to do. It not only leads to more opportunities, but it also provides confidence and knowledge in a particular field.

Going outside of your comfort zone

Sometimes, working as a consultant, you have to take on work, just to be billable, even if it isn’t what you are completely interested in. Sometimes, it is this particular type of work that can push you to go outside of your comfort zone. Perhaps you are requested to run a workshop to a large number of clients, or you have to meet with somebody that you would otherwise feel intimated to talk to. Being a consultant means that you have to take on any work that comes your way. Sometimes, it is these pieces of work that challenge you the most and that can actually force you to grow more as a consultant.

Improving soft skills: communication, documentation, presenting

At the heart of consultant work is communication. Regardless of what role you have, from developer to project manager, communication is integral to everything you do. Every step along the way, the client needs to be updated on progress, whether it is from an email, a presentation or a meeting. Written skills in the form of documentation is important to have, as the client always needs to know what changes have come along with the project.

Being an expert in your field

The longer you are able to consult, the more that you are able grow as a consultant. The more you learn, the more you will grow in your knowledge. The more you work with clients and have successful relationships with them, the more you will be seen as an expert in your field.

Meeting and working with amazing people

Probably the best and most rewarding part of being a consultant is all the amazing people you get to work with, whether the people you work with are other consultants or clients at a client site. The people side to consultancy allows you to work with  a greater number of people than if you were to work for the same organisation for  many years. Friendships can be formed, which can also lead to more work in the future.

 

What makes a good team?

I have worked in many team environments throughout my career. Working in a consulting role, I have regularly worked with different teams, both internally and externally to my employer. Some teams I have worked with for a very short time (days), and other teams, I have worked with for longer periods (years).

Throughout my career, several teams have stood out. For those teams, it was the same factors that were present in all of them that enabled us to work together in a manner that allowed us to bring out the best of our abilities and to be successful.

What were those attributes? In a nutshell, the attributes that proved themselves time and again were the following:

  1. Passion
  2. Ability to have fun yet work hard
  3. Reliability
  4. Communication
  5. Helpful
  6. Knowledge
  7. Empathy
  8. Motivated

In more detail, the attributes included:

Passion

Passionate people tend to love what they do and take pride in their work. Passionate people don’t mind change and are always happy to grow and develop their skills and knowledge.

Working with people that had a similar passionate mindset always came with a very positive attitude to the team. Everyone on the team being passionate about what they were doing always paved ways for great things to happen.

Ability to have fun yet work hard

Some projects can have incredibly tough deadlines. The pressure and the stress involved in some projects can be immense, which is why having the ability to have fun yet work hard is so important. To this day, I still cherish a project team that I worked with (for over a  year and a half). At times we were fueled mostly by coffee. We worked incredibly hard, but there was also times where we could laugh and have fun. The fun moments made everything else enjoyable. Working incredibly hard was totally fine because you were working with people you really liked and had fun with. Of all the teams I have worked with, this particular team, let’s call them ‘Team Fun’, will probably always be my favourite.

 Reliability

Working with people you know will be there when you need them is paramount to your success. Being able to rely on your team members reduces stress, as you don’t have to take on more work, or work blindly while they are not available. Thankfully, most of the teams I have been on, I worked with people I could rely on to be there whenever needed. The teams I have worked on that have had people I couldn’t rely on, led to more stress and delays in delivering work. Reliability is a must for team performance and successful outcomes.

Communication

It has never been so easy to be able to communicate with everyone. The way people communicate is always improving, whether it is in person, email, phone, or chatting. Communicating regularly with your team is a fantastic way of keeping up to date with any regular updates or changes that might be going on.

Helpful

I read recently in an article (I forget which one) that being helpful isn’t a good trait to have. I beg to differ. You can have a team member that is passionate, fun to work with, reliable and communicates well, but lacks the knowledge needed to get the job done. Having someone on the team (or having a team of helpful people), will ensure that the knowledge is shared among everyone.

Knowledge

When I first started as a consultant, I was blown away by how incredibly smart everyone was that I worked with. The information that my workmates knew on any particular topic was immense. At first it was almost overwhelming to be around such brilliant people, and then I became inspired by it. Acquiring knowledge isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. I have learnt that learning consistently over time is better than investing time and effort into short intense bursts. Working with people that know a lot is inspirational. It reminds me daily that you can never learn too much or that you are never too old to learn new things. Technology is always changing, and with that comes the need to learn, in order to keep up.

Empathy

Sometimes bad things happen. Working for a long time on a project, or within a team, chances are that someone (or several people) will have bad things happen personally, that could affect their daily work. Being empathetic means being able to understand what the person is going through, or if not understanding, allowing them the chance for them to find their feet when they need help the most. Being in a great team, means that sometimes other team members may have to work harder in order to help someone through their rough patch. Additionally, people starting in a new environment may feel nervous or shy. Being empathetic means understanding what they are going through and allowing them time to adjust so that they too can fit in and feel relaxed and comfortable in their environment.

Motivated

Motivation affects so many aspects of a team, and is what drives a person to do well. Great teams that I have had the pleasure to work with, have all been motivated to be successful, this has definitely been the case since working as a consultant. Motivation, like passion, has its own level of energy that allows people to get things done. Motivated people want to come to work in the morning and they want to get things done.

 

All of the above traits are not only linked to a specific team, but can also be found (if you’re lucky enough), within a company culture. Working with positive people is incredibly inspiring. We are at work for a significant time of our days. Being around people that inspire and cultivate success is a rewarding way to spend your time. I have been fortunate to work with amazing people. Hopefully as you are reading this article, you are working within a positive team too. What makes a great team for you? Were the attributes the same for you? Or were there other attributes within your team that were not listed? If there were, let me know. I would love to hear them. I would also love to hear from you about successful teams you have had the pleasure to work with.

 

Image courtesy of Brock Sperryn

Returning to work after a prolonged absence

This week has been my first week back to work after having had a year off on maternity leave. The first week, especially the first day back, is always the toughest. It is tough because it means the end of a period of your life, that if like me, you especially treasured. I loved my time off to bond with my baby and also appreciated the extra time I had with my eldest before she starts school next year.

I don’t know whether it is the personality of my second born, or whether having an older sister that wasn’t stressed, helped, but my baby girl was actually upbeat and happy the first and second morning that I had to return to work.

Normally a baby that loves to sleep in, she must have sensed something was up on my first morning, as she was awake about one minute before my alarm went off. I have no idea how she knew, but once she was awake, there was no getting her back to sleep again. I allowed extra time in the morning to  feed her and cuddle both girls. Even though she was awake, I was actually glad for it. I even got a happy wave from both girls before I left. The morning was so peaceful and lovely. It actually came as a pleasant surprise.

With my first born, it was a different story. My first day back, she too woke as my alarm went off (how do they know?), only she wasn’t happy, she was devastated. She knew something was up and that possibly we wouldn’t be together. She spent the whole time I was getting ready, sobbing great, big tears. I believe I cried all the way into work. What a great look that would have been as I walked back in to the office!

It is with relief, that the second time around has gone off almost smoothly. I say almost smoothly, as today, being my second morning, would have been perfect, had my baby girl not hit her face, from a fall, trying to wave goodbye to me. She is just learning to walk, and has reached a clumsy phase of step-step-fall.

Things that I have been grateful the second time around, returning to work, has been:

Grandparents

Having access to grandparents that genuinely love my girls is an absolute relief. The times that the girls are with them, I know in my heart that they are well looked after and are loved. Grandparents are also brilliant at sending regular updates throughout the day. I love that I am able to check my mobile, and see videos or photos of my girls playing and having fun. It really helps me to settle in at work and not feel any distress.

Transitioned my baby into childcare 

As mentioned in a previous post, I transitioned my baby girl into childcare, a month prior to going on leave. Doing so was great not only for my baby girl, but also for me. I actually wonder if parents feel separation anxiety more than their babies. Sure, babies definitely hate being away from their parents, but it surprised me, that I too, hated being away from my girls. I think it is because, as a parent, you worry about anything happening to your child when you are not around to protect them, or that they might need you and you are not there to comfort them. Having time to transition my baby girl, gave us both time to learn to be away from each other, and to realise that other people can care for them too.

Great place to work

Returning to a workplace that you know, and feel welcome, can make a huge difference when returning from a long absence of leave. I have been lucky in that aspect, as I have always liked where I work. I’m passionate by nature, so only ever want to work where I am happy. As much as going back to work was a shock to the system, at least going back to somewhere that I actually enjoy, was something to embrace, rather than be stressed out about.

One of the loveliest things about returning to work, has definitely been all the new toys I was greeted with. Working in technology, I always love playing with new things. I loved that I was able to use things that had never been used by anyone else. It actually felt like a fresh start.

Having a year off, it seems that change is inevitable. Working with technology, I understand that change happens regularly. Software applications are always changing, and new features are forever being rolled out. I am used to change in the workplace, so have been prepared for it, but I haven’t been prepared for all the changes on the way to the workplace. Simple things, like train ticket machines at my local train station have recently been implemented. A passenger must swipe their ticket before entering the platform. A simple change, but for someone, like me, that is always running for a train, and only ever barely making it, this is a significant change. Train timetables also were different since I last boarded a train. Once again, not a big problem, but if you are also like me, and you calculate exactly what train you need to be on, to ensure that you get where you need to at exactly the right amount of time, this can actually come as a shock.

If you are heading back to work after a prolonged absence, then my advice to you is:

  • Check and double-check any changes that might have happened on your route back to work. Roadworks could delay your trip in, as could newly altered train timetables.
  • Get up earlier than you need the first couple of weeks until a routine forms. As difficult as it might be to wake up early, it will be a lot more enjoyable, getting ready when you are relaxed, then when you are stressed and trying to get out of the door as fast as possible.
  • Try to get enough sleep. Sleeping, the night before going back to work, was near impossible for me. I think a mix of adrenaline and not wanting my leave to end, were keeping me awake up all night. I felt tired on my first day. A better sleep the next night, and I felt so much better the next day.
  • Keep positive. If you have small children that you are leaving to go to work, the more positive you are the better. I don’t know how they do it, but children seem to be able to pick up on a nervous vibe. If you are stressed, they will be too and it will just make leaving all the more harder.
  • Prepare everything the night before. I have found already that having everything prepared the night before really makes it so much more quicker and easier to get ready in the morning. I would rather be reaching for my second coffee, or cuddling my girls for the fiftieth time, than deciding which outfit I should wear.
  • If you are catching transport, than make the most of your ‘me time’ and do what you want to do: read a book, play a game on your mobile, learn a language, or write a post for your blog.

Returning to work is tough. Over time it will settle down and you will feel like you are back in control. The best thing you can do is be kind to yourself.

You’ve got this!

 

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 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?

 

 

In the beginning

Everything that is new, has a beginning. Every idea, every thought, every journey. For me, this blog, this entry, is the beginning of what will potentially be, something that I hope will be inspirational, not only for myself, but for other people all over the world.

You see, I love to learn and I love to be inspired and grow. I hope that through my journey, that I can inspire and grow others along the way.

My desire for a work, balanced life has come from having two beautiful girls that I treasure. I love my time with them and would love to make the most of our precious time together. I also want to be a role model to them and to let them know that I can be a great (not perfect) mother and that I can still achieve whatever I set out to. I want to inspire them.

Along the way, I plan on asking (interviewing) other people on how they are able to achieve a work, balanced life. I work in the IT industry. It will be fascinating to find out what it is like for other parents, working in other industries. Do they get support to raise a family as well as grow their careers or are they forced to work 50+ hours per week?

I hope you will join me on my journey. I hope we can inspire each other to learn and to grow and to also take time out, in order to enjoy time with those in our lives we love and care about the most, while fulfilling our own needs.