rmc28: (rmcf+fcdf-3)
I approve of this modern fad for teaching signing to children in places of childcare and education.

Charles has been demonstrating his school "Christmas songs" to me, complete with signing.
Nicholas can communicate "food", "nappy", "please/thankyou", "full", "more", "sleepy" and (as I just discovered) "cuddles".

It's not that we don't have toddler communication frustrations daily - but it makes the basics So. Much. Easier. I tried teaching myself signing for Charles, without much obvious success. The nursery staff are much more consistent and so both Nico and I have learned to be.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I can run 5km any time I want to, and I find I like it.  Thank you, developers of Couch to 5k.

I'm seeing my dad and my youngest brother tomorrow.

On the way home from after-school club last week, we passed the newly-opened "Little Gym" which turned out to be "non-competitive gymnastics for children", with classes from 3 months upwards.  Both children had trial classes last week and loved them, so I have coughed up for 12 weeks of classes. (Ouch for the wallet and there go our Saturday mornings for the next few months, but they were both so enthused.  I get to join in N's classes.)

N is big enough and strong enough to sit in the rear seat on our standard bike, which makes the work - nursery - kidsclub - home commute much easier.

Which is extra helpful because we got nursery places and work patterns sorted just in time for Tony & I to each start working a 4 day week from 1st July.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I share looking after our house and our children with someone I love very much. I make sure there is enough food for all of us, and that the house stays warm, and that the money we have pays for all the things we want to have and do. I make sure that we all have time to do fun things, and that each grown-up has time when they don't have to do any work or looking after children. I make sure that there is always someone to look after the children when the grown-ups are at their jobs or doing fun things.

When we want to visit friends or family or new places, I plan when we can go, and how much we can spend, and how we will get there, and where we will stay. I share the food-making and house-cleaning and all the other work of looking after a house but I think I do less of all of these than the other grown-up, because I do more of the planning and money things.

One of our children is only a baby and I do more of the looking after him because of the way he eats right now, but as he gets older, it will be easier to share looking after him, as we do with his older brother.

I don't get paid for any of this, and it used to be expected that women would do this work for free and never do any other sort of job. Some people still seem to expect this. I would be very sad if this was the only job I did but I think I am good at it when I don't have to do it all the time.

It takes a lot of money to pay for people to look after other people's children and sometimes that means it is hard for both parents to work in a paid job when their children are small. Sometimes one of the parents is happy to stop paid work and look after the children, but sometimes both of them want to stay in their paid work, but one of them has to stop anyway. Sometimes it is the one who is less sad who stops but usually it is the one who gets less money, whether they are sad about it or not, and whether or not the job they do is important and they are good at it.

Parents who stop doing a paid job to look after small children usually find it hard to get as good or well-paid a job again when the children are older, and they and their family usually have less money for the whole of their life than families where both parents were able to stay in paid jobs. Those parents may never do the things they are good at again.

Sometimes people who run businesses try to keep the parents who work for them in their paid jobs, so that the business can use the things they are good at. Some businesses pay for looking after children, or let parents work less for a while until the children are older.

The people-who-run-the-place-where-we-live say that parents have to be able to ask to work less until their children are older, and they help pay for some looking after children while parents are in paid jobs. This helps the parents who want to keep their paid jobs and it helps their families have more money, but it also helps everyone because the parents are happier and are doing jobs they are good at rather than being sad at home.

I used to think this was a boring thing to talk about until I had children and saw how many parents stop their paid jobs who would like to keep them, and learned how much money parents with low-paid jobs lose over their whole life when they stop working to look after children.

Now I think maybe everyone would be happier if all parents had enough money to pay for looking after children, so that they could really be free to decide whether to stay in paid work and how much to work. Parents who decided to stay home should still get the money because their work is important. I think it would take a lot of money to start with but I think in the end it would save a lot of money, make a lot more jobs, and stop a lot of people being sad.

[Written with the Up-Goer Five Text Editor http://splasho.com/upgoer5/ 
This started with me trying to describe the unpaid work that I do but then the personal became political.]
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I restarted work! Mondays and Tuesdays only. Tony is not working on those days, and brings Nico to me at lunchtime. We heat up lunch in the little kitchen microwave and sit together at a table in the foyer of my building. I eat and cuddle my baby and feed him, and most times I also take him off to the ladies' loos and change him, and almost always I get to show him off to a passing colleague or three. And then I give him back and go back to the office and work for another 4 hours.

I love it: being back at work, feeling useful and competent, but not having to go too long without my baby cuddles, and getting to do a big feed rather than a big pump at lunchtime. It's not quite as good as the conference creche but it's SO much better than going all day without seeing my baby at all, and a huge improvement on the work pattern we did with Charles where I went from 0730 to 1330 without my baby 5 days a week and didn't see Tony properly except at weekends.

All the updates are on [community profile] c25k but basically it's going well and I am liking it more than I thought I would. I've had a cold this weekend which has kept me indoors and I am missing it more than I expected.

Going well, though I have been less good at getting in my weekly hours since starting work. There was a tutorial yesterday at Hill's Road and I was too ill to go, which annoyed me.

Charles turned 6 last weekend and we held a party at home for some of his schoolfriends (note for future reference that "colouring in pictures" which I'd thought of as an easy-to-join-on-arrival activity kept the assembled children happy for nearly an hour). He asked for an Angry Birds theme and we did our best, including commissioning this most excellent cake from [twitter.com profile] planetxanna (it was delicious too):

Pay cake #1: Angry Birds. On time! on Twitpic

He seems to be enjoying year 1 of school and certainly it is stretching him a bit harder than Reception. We are supposed to get him to read out loud to us for 10 minutes a day and we probably manage it 80% of the time. He has started spontaneously reading out random signs on the street and titles of books we leave lying around. It is really, really cool to see him starting to use this skill as a tool for himself rather than just something we or school ask him to perform.

Nicholas is three months old, almost certainly teething (dribbling, gumming hard down on things), smiling at people with great enthusiasm, failing to sit up but wanting to, sleeping midnight to six most nights plus several other naps each day, continuing to breastfeed plentifully and remaining beautifully baby-chubby. He is getting the hang of hitting and grabbing things on the baby gym but would mostly rather be held/carried in a sling.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[I wrote this for LibDemVoice, where it was published yesterday]

A baby in a sling makes an amazing Conference icebreaker. Over the five days I lost count of the number of people who stopped to admire my darling and ask questions, to the point where occasionally I gave the answers without being asked ("11 weeks", "Nicholas", "no, not after the Leader, after his father's uncle). During the day when I wasn't carrying him, I frequently got stopped and asked "where's your baby?".

"In the crèche," I would reply, and almost always got the response "There's a crèche?"

Yes, there is a crèche at conference, on site inside the secure area and just a few minutes walk from the auditorium. It runs from 8:30am to 6pm and the cost is subsidised by the party to ensure access for all parents. The staff are qualified professional childcare workers. They were wonderful, asking me about my son's routine and adapting to my preferred parenting approach. We managed breastfeeding-on-demand via text message most of the time, but I was also able to block out times when I needed to be completely uninterrupted, such as when I had a speaker's card in for a debate.

The crèche allowed me to fully participate in the business of conference: debates, votes, speeches, lunchtime fringes and at one point a campaign meeting. Without it, I could not have attended at all. With the crèche, I had the best of both worlds: regular cuddles with my son grounding me in between policy debates & ministerial Q&As.

My mother tells me that as a baby I was part of a protest at Liberal Party conference about the lack of crèche. The front row was filled with activists and their babies for the Leader's speech. The following conference had a crèche. It remains vital for keeping activists included and involved after they have children.

This week I return to work part-time, while my husband reduces his working hours to cover the days I am working. I realised during conference that if I had similar close good-quality childcare at work, I would happily be returning full-time, able to fit in my eight hours a day around three or four "baby breaks". Sadly there isn't any such childcare available, so part-time it is for now. 

I am glad and grateful that party conference has set such a high standard for keeping parents included.  Nico and I will be back in the spring.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I wrote a blog post which was accepted for and published on LibDemVoice today. Here's what I wrote (behind the cut):

Read more... )

I did a quick check-and-response to comments at LDV at lunchtime; I'll do more this evening (there and here).
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I did both digging and ballet on BH Monday, which caused me to feel rather creaky as I changed after the class.

On Wednesday I did some necessary shopping in town, equipping Charles for hot weather. His feet have grown again: he's now a 6F in the right foot and a 5.5G in the left. I followed the nice assistant's advice and got his sandals in size 6G; they have velcro straps so are pretty adjustable too. Also did a swift trip round Boots and got 3 pairs of shorts and 4 tshirts. Now he is equipped.

Once home I cooked a vast pot of veggy pasta sauce, as I'd promised to make a family meal for one of the local NCT members who is undergoing chemotherapy. Thanks to Jonny this was merely a bit rushed rather than complete panic, as he took Charles off while I chopped and cooked. I always forget how long chopping takes. I decanted the family's portions into chinese containers and just dropped them off in time by bike. The idea was to have the rest of the sauce for our own dinner but I was too hot to eat hot food so had a cold snack instead.

On Thursday I joined Ben et al for a picnic on Parker's Piece. Charles ran around a great deal, and ate a fair amount of my pizza and generally had a whale of a time before we cycled home just before sunset. Then I took him and Jonny to Tesco because I'd failed to get Sandra's goodbye present on Wednesday. We were able to get other useful stuff to justify the journey, and Charles decided that he is now old enough for the trolleys with little cars on the front (he even did up the strap himself!) Unfortunately they don't let you take those out of the store because "people leave them all over the place and they damage cars" and Charles expressed his opinion of being transferred to a standard trolley at the top of his voice - at least we were leaving.

Yesterday was Charles's last day with Sandra. Thanks to those friends who gave me advice with the reference (I went with ending 1, the explicit explanation about the smell of smoke). I turned up with present, hand-made card with photo of Charles on it, and reference, but then got all emotional, and just handed over the bag with it all in and explained I'm not good at goodbyes. Sandra said she wasn't either and we retreated to laughing at the cat being silly. We sometimes run into her at the shops and stuff, so it's not goodbye forever.

Then swimming in Impington, for which I bussed there and walked back. My hair dried on the walk back, and I drank several pints of water on arrival home. Only two more lessons now before I go back to work full-time and can't take him any more, but it looks as though I may be able to get someone to take over my last 5 lessons. I must make an effort to get contact details for some of the other mums before I finish, I will miss chatting with them.

Work continues rather busy and I find myself looking forward to the extra 2.5 hours per day I'll have in June, while at the same time trying to make the most of my remaining afternoons with Charles. The lovely weather helps.
rmc28: (glowy)
I gave our childminder notice today, and in just over 4 weeks time Charles will start with a new childminder whose home is completely non-smoking. I've never sacked anyone before and it required a lot of screwing my courage to the sticking post.

In the event it went better than I had feared, not least because I could be genuinely truthful about regretting leaving her. I made it clear it was the smell of smoke in the house that was the issue, not anything else.

My next task is writing her a good reference. I assume the Done Thing is to keep that as positive as possible and skate over the fact of leaving and why we did so.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

September 2017

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