Friday, 27 September 2013

The Importance of Managing Stress

Our view from the cabin
The importance of managing stress usually smacks me in the head at the most inconvenient times.  Do you find that too?  You know, those times when your kids a cracking apart all at the same time, or when you have time-pressured deadlines looming which require a significant time commitment to meet them.  The events of the past term have converged and put me in a bad spot.  I'm sure you know what it feels like when you're overwhelmed!

When Dh suggested we join him on a trip to Echuca (business for him) I was reluctant.  In my head this was bad timing given all I need to accomplish over the school holidays for Uni.  But I agreed.  He loves to have the company, the kids had nothing better to do and my study is quite portable.  Dh organised a cabin right on the Murray River where our view was stunning, relaxing and intriguing.  We watched the water level rise a number of centimeters while we were there.  Just quietly and subtly, but it still rose!  We took a little trip on one of the paddle steamers (not the one below!), which came all the way up to where we were staying and then turned around to return us to port.

The 'Emmy Lou' on a tourist jaunt
 I returned home on Wednesday feeling a little less stressed and ready to get into some work.  Who would have thought that taking time to relax when you feel like life is most busy would be the answer to the issue of feeling stressed and overwhelmed?  It was so worth it.

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Summer Holiday Plan

It has been decided!  I have a plan for the summer holidays and it includes lots of books.  Frances tells me a holiday, to her, is guilt-free reading and not having to cook.  I don't like my chances on the latter but I can definitely manage the former in bucket-loads.

Those of you who have been reading here for a long time might remember I used to do book reviews for my very dear friend Rel....before I began my degree.  I emailed her this morning to suggest that some book reviewing might assuage my fears of being bored.  She was quick to agree!

So that's my plan.  A LOT of reading and reviewing.  If I can read close to 20 books in three weeks imagine what I could accomplish over six weeks?!  My overflowing bookshelf will need a new buddy to contain everything.

And while we're talking summer holidays, can I tell you something funny?  This morning when trying to figure out how long term 4 will be I counted six weeks and was devastated when Mr Busy told me ten.  In my figuring of weeks I completely forgot November.  Yep...the month with the long weekend and I skipped right over it.  Sad but true.

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Definition of a Holiday?

I have decided my definition of "holiday" needs a little work if I am to survive the busyness of my life with sanity intact.  Over the past three years I have had two weeks a year where I've work and Uni have ceased at the same time.  Two weeks where I've had no responsibilities other than...well...the enormous task of mothering.  And wife-ing.  I know, it's not a word, but let's pretend for a moment!

I've just had a mid-semester break from Unit, during which time an assignment was due so it wasn't really a break.  I'm about to head into school holidays during which time I'll be studying and beginning end-of-semester assignments.  So not so much of a break.  December 13th is looking really good to me right now!  No work, no Uni.

So what do I consider a holiday?  It can't be about not having to be working on something important because that never seems to end, if it's not things outside of family it's my family that needs attention.  Time to stop and snooze.  Time to read a good book in a day.  Time to say "YES!" to spontaneous plans with friends.  In amongst all of that I need to feel like what I'm doing is worthwhile to someone else as well as me.

And every now and then a chance to be away from home really helps too.

I'm planning to take the Christmas/summer holidays this year without studying, since I only have six units (instead of 8) to complete next year.  I need to stop and do something the things that make me feel like I've had a break.  Rejuvenation, renewal, rest.  All so very important!  As well as being able to say "no" the first time instead of later!!!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Parenting Files: A Pet Dilemma

Do you have children who are pestering campaigning for a pet of one particular type or another?  From time to time our children have begged for a pet.  At other times we've had pet-loving friends insist we are depriving our children of all the benefits of owning a pet - you know, companionship, responsibility...that sort of thing. 

I have been the biggest resister to the pet owner wannabe's around here.  I maintain that I care for a husband and three children and that's enough living things to feed and clean up after.  My other insistence is that the best parent a child can have is a sane one and I am convinced adding pet responsibilities to my list of things to remember would tip me over the edge, not to mention that our fences are not up to the task of keeping things in.  I know this because we can't keep things out - dogs, cats, rabbits - they all visit our yard from time to time.

Over the last school holidays, however, I relented and we babysat Jane.  Jane is a spiny stick insect who resides in the VCE Common Room at school (VCE = Yr 11 & 12) and she needed someone to look after her for the three week break.  She doesn't take a lot of looking after.  She has her own 15cm glass cube and all she eats is gum leaves.  Well....this is Australia, we have plenty of those close enough to snaffle without causing problems.  She just requires a daily water spray and a weekly cage clean and replacement of leaves.  Miss Sunshine desperately wanted to have her for the holidays so I agreed, given she's old enough to take care of a stick insect without my intervention.

Or so I thought.

By the end of the holidays I was demanding Miss Sunshine clean Jane's cage and replace the dried-out leaves.  I was grumping at Miss Sunshine for spraying all kinds of who-knows-what smelly stuff around the room and fumigating poor little Jane who likes non-polluted air.  Every now and then I would bring Jane out to sit in the sunshiny family room with clean fresh air to breathe and let her crawl on my hand.  Just so she knew someone in the house loved her.

Jane was a trooper.  She survived.  She even grew.  We know this because she shed her exoskeleton.  And then she ate it in true stick insect fashion.  I'm not much of a pet person but I didn't mind having little Jane around, with her cute little dances.  Miss Sunshine, however, confirmed for me why we don't have pets. 

Jane survived in spite of her.