I remember it well, the summer holidays that is - and with four children to manage around my role as Finance Director, it took military precision.
Many parents reading this will be in the thick of it and most of the time, it's the mums who arrange it all. Not having a gripe here, that's just the way it is.
With holiday childcare costs averaging 2.5x that of after school care and less than 30% of councils having sufficient provision of holiday childcare for 4 - 11 year olds, planning summer childcare is a nightmare for many. (Family and Childcare Trust, Holiday Childcare Survey 2017).
So, if you are in the middle of what should be some of the happiest years of your life and instead you are stressed, tired and longing for the new term, I can totally empathise.
I can also urge you to get together with other parents from your child's school and request that in future the school opens up and offers holiday childcare or let's another provider use the premises. This right to request was announced by government in October 2015 but only 4% of local authorities report it making any impact on holiday childcare provision.
That's not going to help now though is it? So, when you're a woman who 'has it all' - job, children, partner etc etc and you're therefore supposed to be living the emancipated dream, what can you do to get through to September?
Might I suggest one thing. Go up to bed 20 minutes early each night and write about the day - get it down on paper or on your tablet, the funny things the kids said when you picked them up from the Sports centre, what you made for tea, the fact that you were really miffed when husband came in and collapsed on the sofa with a beer and told you how rough his day had been, while you were throwing washing in the machine, feeding the dog and making tea all at the same time. Honestly, just get all the ordinary stuff that goes on every day, down in a journal. Get into the habit of it, it becomes your friend, your counsel, just let it all out onto the pages.
I promise you, when the children have grown and you look back, it's all a blur. You'll only remember odd events, usually the big things, but believe you me, the real stuff is the never ending swimming lessons, the giggles at bedtime, the yelling "Get in the car, NOW!"
I have approximately 40 journals under our spare bed and over the last 3 months I read 28 of them, one for each year of my son David's life. He's just got married and I made him a huge scrap-book filled with those everyday moments and photos and what was number 1 and what was in the news etc etc. He is totally overwhelmed by it, as I was reading all those pages of being a Mum. Honestly I'd forgotten how crazy life was back then but how I wish I could have bottled it. Reading the journals is the next best thing.
Final suggestion, book onto our Women on the Up programme https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/women-on-the-up-blackburn-tickets-3578441916, a 6 month programme of coaching and mentoring support for female managers/business owners. It will keep you on track, resilient and hopefully sane as you navigate your way through the maze of everyday life.
Consider the stream.
It does not worry about whether it is flowing in the right direction
It just flows.
It welcomes the rain...
Because it renews.
It does not need adornment
It is complete
It sparkles in the sunlight.
It has many voices:
A giggling gurgle, a soothing swirl and the crash and roar of a sudden downpour.
It doesn't ask
It doesn't want
It just is.
Consider the stream
and dare to dream that you too could learn to be
Wendy Bowers 5.8.17
Hi Role Supporters
We all know that time is precious and it's hard to find any of it for ourselves, never mind giving it away. But I know from experience, that giving it wisely and to our next generation, is an incredible thing, so I'm asking you to spend just a few minutes reading the below.
I have been approached by Fiona Langan, the Young Chamber Manager at the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce. The Young Chamber is a legacy project from the Chambers Centenary year and is beginning to gather some real momentum.
The programme, launched in January 2016 by the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, is one which schools and colleges within the Chamber’s area can join to boost career prospects for pupils and students. Overseen by, and with accreditation from, the British Chambers of Commerce, its aim is to provide a real and meaningful understanding in young people about business, jobs and careers by exposing them to the diverse range of industries within Lancashire.
One of the schools that belongs to the Young Chamber is Balshaw’s High School in Leyland and they have asked Fiona to assist with a “Preparation for Life” Day organised for their Y11 students on Thursday 7th September. The plan is for business volunteers alongside teachers, to deliver a series of sessions throughout the day which will really help students confidently step into higher education or employment.
Fiona is looking for volunteers to deliver one or two 30 - 40 minute sessions about Presentation Skills to 40 x Year 11 students.
The session times are:
Session 1:- 9.20 -10.20
Break:- 10.20 -10.40
Session 2:- 10.40 -11.40
Session 3:- 11.40 -12.40
Session 4:- 13.30-14.30
Session 5:- 14.30-15.30
If you feel you can help in any way please contact Fiona on FionaL@lancschamber.co.uk.
Why do we try to do so many things at once? Not just the little things that we try to cram into a day but big things too like moving house, changing jobs, writing a thesis?
Even when we try to plan to ensure that these big things don't come at once, they often do. Hence, hubby and I are currently 3 weeks from completion on selling a property whilst managing the renovation of another, converting our loft -oh - and my son gets married this Saturday, which is necessitating a military style operation to get my wheelchair bound Mum up and ready and to Clitheroe and back. Plus, my lovely son asked just last week if 20 guests could come here for drinks and a buffet afterwards! (This Saturday is supposed to be a very low key event, just the legal bit with a quick glass of something afterwards, as the real celebrations are 2 weeks away in central Wales which is a whole other story and project!)
I know you will relate to this, we're all working through the big things in the background at the same time as juggling the day to day drops offs, taxiing kids about, remembering birthdays, last minute meetings, shopping, tea, homework, study, cleaning, dentist etc with work, but how can we keep going, keep calm and keep smiling?
No matter how impossible it seems, you have to create regular space to get back to centre. To switch off from the rush of thoughts, images, words and sounds that are bombarding you non stop. To lose that 'beat the clock' feeling which is damaging your spiritual, mental and physical health.
To 'centre' yourself and clear some head space takes more than a few minutes of deep breathing, (although taking a few deep breaths and slowing your heart rate whenever you remember is great for your health).
When I need to get back to centre, I go and sit on a big oblong boulder at the foot of Boulsworth Hill. (That's the view on the photo). It's about 1.5 miles away, all on a gradual incline, so it's good for a leg stretch too. Once there I pour myself a cup of flask coffee and just sit, sip and breathe. Even if it's a bit grey, looking up at that landscape, unchanged for hundreds of years calms me, and after literally ten minutes listening to the curlews and a sheep bleating occasionally, with nothing else other than me and the elements, things are back in perspective. As I walk back, answers present themselves to questions, solutions arrive re problems, gratitude replaces resentment. Amazing what a big stone slab in the middle of nowhere can do!
I can be there and back with that all important cup of coffee in one hour and ten and boy is my family glad when I've taken that hour out!
Decide what 'centres' you - gardening, the gym, a dance glass, a cycle ride, yoga - it's good if it involves exercise. Give yourself an hour as many days as you can and longer at weekends. Use those great organisational skills which you demonstrate daily keeping your life crammed - to free up sacred space. Without it, you won't be able to cope with the little things, never mind the big ones.
At the end of my first year in business, I was sent notification of the National Book Keeping awards. I recall much internal questioning such as "Had I been in business long enough to prove anything?" "Was what we were doing really anything special?" "Was I being over optimistic?" These were National Awards. But not one to avoid a challenge, I set to one evening, completed the long application form and dutifully provided details of people willing to give me a reference.
Two months later I was at the Nat West head office on Thread Needle Street, nervous, but proud to be being interviewed and 6 weeks later hubby and I were at the Barbican with me shortlisted! I came runner up........
to the Army!
Now, all these years later, I have been asked to judge the forthcoming Barclays North West Women's business awards and again I am very proud. This time I am encouraging all of you ladies who have not yet applied for a business award to 'give it a go' and for several reasons. Firstly, it makes you stop and analyse your business/career. Secondly, it gives you an opportunity to get some first hand feedback from clients and colleagues. Thirdly, it's a great promotional exercise, giving you content for marketing and PR, especially if you are shortlisted. It's a great experience, apply here http://events.barclays.com/ehome/index.php?eventid=239310&
If you enjoy my blogs, you can read more of my work in my book available here www.amazon.co.uk/Words-Walks-Wisdom-Wendy-Bowers/dp/1671172353