The Work-Life Balancing Act – How To Keep Your Head Above Water

Gone are the days of families supported by one salary. The cost of living means this is not a feasible option for most.

Plus, the primary caregivers (women mostly) in many cases, want to work, in some capacity, as I do. We want to contribute financially, learn, develop and achieve in our own right.

My husband works full time and myself 4 days a week. Many of you will know from experience, getting to the end of each week equates to the same level of organisation necessary for a basic military operation. Our week requires getting four different people to four different places, on time, five days a week, each accompanied by a bag of appropriate accessories. Missing a drop-off window will have a knock-on effect on all the subsequent and any mixing up of accessories could lead to significant upset or embarrassment for any party. The stakes are high….

Whatever your week looks like, it’s a tough gig but it’s not impossible to succeed (99% of the time anyway) without going insane. Here are a few things I’ve figured out over the last few years:

Be organised. Obvious, but this is a daily struggle for me!

  • Get bags, shoes, coats, and lunches ready the night before.
  • Know what your morning implementation plan is, who’s doing what?
  • Food plan and shop online. I can’t stress enough what a difference this makes.
  • If you can afford it, get a cleaner. I can’t afford it yet but when I can, I will. It’s one of my biggest weekly stresses.
  • Don’t do everything yourself – if you have people to help then use them; a partner, parents, in-laws. Be specific on when and how they can help.
  • Don’t take on too many extra things – It will only add to the strain of your busy week. I have been guilty of this. You don’t need it.

Take that ‘me time’ at work. Make sure you take a lunch break; read a book, get some fresh air or talk to your friends. Be an expert in something else for a bit, be ‘you you’ for a while, rather than ‘parent you’.

My Family

But then leave it behind; ensure there is clear separation between work and family time, this is difficult with today’s technology, but don’t miss one of those lovely ordinary moments because you were checking your email.

Have a couple of things for yourself – It’s OK you know. Make one of them exercise, it will boost your energy levels and relieve stress, don’t underestimate its value. This year I am also learning some Spanish (via the duolingo app). It just takes 20 minutes here and there and I love it.

If you have a partner on this journey, then be kind to each other; whenever it’s possible my husband and I have a weekend lay in, him on a Saturday and myself on a Sunday. It’s a life-saver some weeks.

This is a tough juggling act for sure and if you do feel under constant strain then it’s probably time to tweak something. Otherwise, you’ll have the odd week when you feel like you haven’t done anything well, but don’t give yourself too much of a hard time, you’re probably doing a much better job than you imagine.

 

Published in association with Raring2Go Worthing

Raring2Go Worthing

 

 

Babe, The Sheep-Pig

“Are we really going to see a show about a pig that wants to be a sheepdog?” My 4-year-old asks me. Followed by “What does a sheepdog do Mummy?”

Well, if she doesn’t know that then I guess describing a pig trying to herd sheep may not actually sound that strange!

I am, however, at 37, knowledgeable in the role of a sheepdog and a big fan of the original 1995, Dick King-Smith film, Babe. Therefore, I had quite high expectations of this stage adaptation by David Wood.

As we walk into the theatre we are greeted by 4 sheep on stage, (people in fluffy costumes). And they are just, ‘being sheep’, bleating, chewing & interacting. This is such a lovely touch, my daughter thought it was really funny. Great start!

We begin at the sheepdog trials and then swiftly into a flashback on how we arrived there. Which I’m not sure was necessary, it’s a concept that just wouldn’t be understood by young children and the audience was young, mostly under 10.

So, we meet Farmer Hogget who wins a piglet in a ‘guess the weight’ competition at the local fair. Here enters the star of our show, Babe. Played as a puppet, where at first, I wasn’t sure if the puppeteer would be a little distracting but actually, he was quite brilliant, watching the little pig’s head and eyes continually moving and responding to its surroundings meant you never took your eyes off the little fella.

Babe The Sheep Pig

Babe is taken under the wing of the farmer’s loyal sheepdog Fly and once her pups have gone (a heartfelt moment in the show) Babe asks if she can teach him how to be a ‘Sheep-Pig’. Babe settles on the farm befriending all manner of creatures with his polite & friendly approach. And after a heroic effort to stop ‘Sheep Rustlers,’ he saves himself from the Christmas dinner table by proving his usefulness.

The music is a folk-infused, toe-tapping delight, with some instruments played live by this multi-talented cast. Also dramatic in parts, to add atmosphere and weight to certain darker elements of the story.

We found ourselves easily picking up this little gem and singing along:

“Here’s our Babe, let his heart never fail. He’s a clever lad this pig, with a curly kind of tail”.

An extraordinary adventure continues to unfold for our little pink hero as he finds his much less aggressive approach to sheep herding very successful. But how would he fair at the big show that Farmer Hogget is planning to enter him into, against other sheepdogs and sheep he doesn’t know? Fly, as any protective parent might, ensures he has an edge, in the form of a ‘sheep password’.

The set and staging are very clever, transitioning niftily between the scenes, the costumes wonderful (the brief appearance of a wolf is spectacular) and the mixture of dressed-up people and beautiful puppets for the differing roles works really well.

Babe The Sheep Pig

The story is aimed at young children and the message (there’s always a message), addresses prejudice and rudeness, whilst looking to reinforce self-belief and the importance of kindness.

“This will leave your heart warmed and your soul firmly uplifted for the rest of the day. As this little pig beats all the odds to come out on top”.

Find more family shows from Worthing Theatres here >

Father Christmas Needs A Wee!

“Father Christmas needs a wee, he’s been drinking drinks since half past three”.

As many of you will know, you don’t need to say a lot more to a four-year-old to make them chuckle. This had their attention straight off, as did the hip-hop entrance of Father Christmas onto the stage for this adaptation of the popular Nicholas Allan children’s book – Father Christmas Needs A Wee!

Here we meet Elfie, the Chief Elf, she is charged with helping Father Christmas ‘FC’ (her abbreviation) get everything ready to deliver Christmas presents to the world’s children. He’s a little disorganised shall I say and slightly distracted…by everything! So Elfie is there to help him focus on the task-in-hand, it’s a big job and the delivery window is short, it requires expertise on a ‘magical’ level.

After telling FC she doesn’t want a repeat of last year, in the same sort of tone I speak to my 4-year-old about shouting, jumping & sharing, Elfie and FC are set to go. (*Last year he ate and drank every tasty treat left out for him so before they had finished he really really needed a wee!).

Father_Second_Image.png

They work hard together all night, singing & dancing their way through each present drop-off. But FC can’t help himself and each time Elfie turns her back he tucks into the treats & drinks, including ‘Mincey P’ mince pies10 cups of tea at No.10. And so inevitably it happens again, before the night is through Father Christmas needs a wee! His efforts to ‘go’ are foiled by small children waking up and guard dogs on the loose.

In fact, he is so distracted by needing a wee (I mean who wouldn’t be?), he actually forgets to leave the presents behind! 

“What with all these drinks in mind, I forgot to leave the presents behind”.

Can he rescue the day by dropping off the presents in time and make it home before having an embarrassing accident?

There’s singing, counting, clapping, cheering and a lot of wiggling. This is the perfect build up to Christmas with its pantomime feel & audience participation. The songs are creative, funny and wonderfully silly, which I applaud. If you can’t be silly at Christmas, when can you be?

My favourite part (yes, at 37 years of age) was this little ditty.

“You’ve got to wiggle. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, cross your legs and then you’ve got to Jiggle. This is the song that stops you needing a wee”.

I am still singing it a whole 24 hours later and will most likely at some point in the near future get to test out this theory. Let’s hope it actually works!

Find more family shows from Worthing Theatres here >

Tot Rockin’ Beats

What Are You Doing On New Year’s Eve?

To be honest I’ve always hated N.Y.E. When you’re young you ‘have to’ go out but everywhere is twice as expensive, you can’t travel far as transport is twice as expensive and you’re normally too pissed on over-priced cocktails to make it to midnight anyway.

Then when you have kids you ‘have to’ stay in, nobody wants to babysit for you and anyway, your children haven’t mastered the delicate art of laying in in the morning, so you’re normally too tired to make it to midnight.

It all feels too much like hard work for me, with little reward.

So, has Dan Flanagan found the solution to this age-old problem, with the quite brilliantly name ‘Tot Rockin Beats’ event? A big N.Y.E party in the afternoon (4pm – 7pm) that everyone can come to; you, the kids, the babysitter, the next-door-neighbour, the dog and your Gran (*maybe don’t quote me on the dog thing?).

This isn’t the first instalment of this brave adventure, I have been invited to two others in 2016 but unfortunately couldn’t make it to either. You know that feeling when you couldn’t make it to the party and then everyone’s talking about it the next day? Yeah, that.

So I now have my Tot Rockin Beats tickets for N.Y.E and based on the huge success of the last two, I feel like the 16-year-old who finally has a ticket to the party of the year. I should say ‘whoop’ or something like that shouldn’t I? Oh and furiously boast about it on Facebook and SnapChat (though, at 37, I don’t have any idea what that actually is?)

So what does my first N.Y.E out in 7 years have in store for me?

  • At the Worthing Assembly Hall, with 1000 other people – #1in1000
  • Dancing to classic 80’s & 90’s tunes played by real DJ’s (Yes!).
  • Karaoke with Dave Benson Philips. (Legend!).
  • Soft Play. (Apparently it’s not sweaty or smelly, hurray!).
  • Authentic Sicilian food, ice cream, face painting, art and Jive dancing.
  • Welcoming in the New Year at 6pm (no painstaking ordeal to stay awake until Midnight).
  • And a bar……praise the Lord….there is a bar people.

Something for everyone, no?

We’ll be home by 8pm and the kids will be knackered – everyone wins.

I’m most looking forward to dancing ‘like no one’s watching’ with my daughter and getting away with being very silly under the guise of being an ‘active’ parent.

I’m taking my husband & our two children, my sister, my niece and nephew. We are all really excited about going ‘Out-out’ on N.Y.E for the first time in years! And then when I fall asleep at 11.56pm I won’t feel so bad about not welcoming in 2017, as I’ll already have done it, in style, surrounded by (nearly) everyone I love the most in the world.

Come and join us –  Tot Rockin Beats N.Y.E > 

Tickets are £15 for adults, £10 for children, £5.00 for OAP’s with under 3’s free of charge and available from the box office on 01903 206 206 or from Worthingtheatres.co.uk

Alfie White Space Explorer

Round the planets, round the rocket and round the fire. What’s in the rocket ship? So so so off we go! Is what my daughter sings to me when I tell her we are going to see a show about a Space Explorer. I think that means she’s excited?

On arrival we are transported to 1967, the era of the big Space Race. Not important to a 4-year-old, it could have been set in any period of time but to the more advanced in age, this makes sense.

We meet Alfie White, a young boy obsessed with space. Alfie lives with his grandma, in a flat on the 8th floor and is scared of alien invasion. His dad mysteriously disappeared 2 years ago and he’s a bit of a loner. His classmates don’t really share his love for space and all this makes him quite naturally a bit sad. But, he gets by.

What starts with a tall tale gone wrong, turns into a wonderful space-inspired adventure to find Alfie’s dad. And ends up with him actually finding much more; new friendships, a love of singing, dancing & Jazz music and a rekindled relationship with his grandma.

Alfie’s co-pilot for this mission is Meg Harris (the most beautiful girl at school), she ignites a longing in him to find out what happened to his father, so together they set off to look for clues to his whereabouts.

Alfie White Space Explorer

We are whizzed, whirred and rocketed through the story. Spurred on by an old photograph found in Alfie’s grandma’s bedroom, of the mysterious Eddie Dark, who Meg recognises as a Jazz musician. Our pair then land their spaceship at the Jazz club to find important information, they then zoom off (AKA take the bus) to a record shop for more investigation.

The show is incredibly engaging, heartfelt and funny.

The two actors fill the space so well, the dialogue and constant movement are fast-paced and full of energy, holding the attention of my daughter throughout. There really is no time for little minds to wander off, as they do sometimes.

After finding out who his father really is, Alfie is much happier at home and at school. He sings, he dances, he has real friends and is finally comfortable in his own space.

Mission Control: “Thank you for a lovely afternoon”. “Over and out”

Find more family shows from Worthing Theatres here >