Saturday, March 31, 2012

DPCON12 - The aftermath

My head is still spinning with all the inspiration and idea's coming out of yesterdays Digital Parents Conference. If you have never been before, I can't recommend the day highly enough.
I started the day forcing myself to take the steps into the hotel lobby. I was completely filled with terror at the idea of presenting myself at the conference, convinced that groups of 'real' bloggers - people who write consistently, well, and long term - would at best ignore me, at worst sneer at me.
Didn't happen. More than one person cringed and flinched as I checked them in at the registration  table(seriously, if you're feeling intimidated by these things, volunteer to help, there's nothing like a purpose to hide behind to mark the terror), possibly because I squealed in excitement as I recognised either their faces or names.But no-one sneered.
I got so much out of the day, and enjoyed myself more than I imagined.
Parent Bloggers are warm, articulate, crazy, deep, and above all passionate people. I heard stories that made me cry, stories that made me laugh, and stories that made me think.
I have pages of notes and I feel more excited than ever that I have my own little corner of the blogging sky. I met women that locked in my passion for this community. An frankly, I'm in love with Reservoir Dad and considering marrying him when my Husband is finished with me. I've never seen a man with better dance moves.
The lovely Marissa who practically held my hand as we found our little place in the Grand Ballroom. Daisy with the gorgeous red hair and striking green eyeshadow, who threw her arms around me in a giant hug the minute she saw me. Kate, Kellie, Kirally, Kylie, (hmmm all K's) many many more. So many I didn't even get a chance to talk to, but got to listen to in various sessions, or gaze at awestruck from across the room (that's right Louisa Claire, I'm talking about you).
I was so impressed at how many people brought their bubba's. The sessions were punctuated with coo's and gurgles from contented babies, and the occasional wee wail from a baby not quite so contented. I love that there is this little professional niche in the world where mums can balance their kids and their passion without compromise. And the kids were all so well behaved.
I was also impressed with the sheer size and volume of the prizes and giveaways that the conference had been able to pull. Its a testimony to how strong the Digital Parent Community is getting that Brenda was able to pull a trip to Disneyland, 3 Dyson Vacuum Cleaners, an Ipad 3, hundreds of dollars in vouchers, champagne, lindt chocolate baskets, Disney book packs.......And lets not forget the swag bags we were all given stuffed full of the most amazing goodies.
Forget the PR company reps who stupidly suggested that bloggers should not be paid for their hard work. Its quite clear that some highly respected brands do not agree. Screw the PR reps. Have integrity in your blogging and the reimbursement will follow.
And last but not least thank you once again to the wonderful Lasoo who made it possible for me to attend. This was such a valuable experience.
Were you there? Did I scare you when I checked you in?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Knock me down and colour me stupid

I arrived in Melbourne a few hours ago after 9.5 hours of driving along MMBHH (miles and miles of bloody Hume Hwy.) Embraced the niece and nephews, and kicked back to peruse the schedule for tomorrows Digital Parents Conference again (my attendance kindly sponsored by Lasoo!).
Blame it on pregnancy brain, but I completely forgot about the gala dinner. So here I am a trillion km's from home without heels, dress, makeup......Oh my lord. I was nervous enough about tomorrow as it is.
That's ok says me. Its late night shopping! My sister laughed herself silly and took me for a drive to check out my options. Target or Big W. with only 30 minutes till closing time, the curious clerk watched while I frantically tossed on the 6 candidates for a gala dress and ditched one after the other based on hideousness or visibility of bra straps, (not a heap of options in my little overnight bag).
But voila! A floor length black dress that camouflages the bra is the winner. She'll be right.
Should have known good old Target would come through. We'll pretend its not a maternity dress. (I'm pregnant, but not that pregnant that I can get away with maternity wear yet.) We'll pretend my accessories were not scavenged from my sisters wardrobe desperately and that my makeup is actually my colours.
If you are going to be at the conference tomorrow and you see me looking less than glam, just go with it. I'm nervous enough about meeting all my blogger celebrities (consider yourselves lucky I didn't bring an autograph book) without getting one of those up and down looks that identifies every last little sale item.
See you tomorrow! I'll be the one restraining myself from squealing when I recognise you.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I got a little older this week

Somehow age has never really had an impact on me. The years go by, but in my head I'm still the same teenager that lived it up in the final years of high school. 
This is how I think of
myself still
Those were the years of no rules, too much disposable income & plenty of time to spend it. And yeah sure, kids happened, and a mortgage, and a whole lotta kilo's but im still ME right? I'm still cool. And the me in my head is not old (or overweight). 
So this week when the NRMA sent me a lovely little letter congratulating me on achieving 10 years of membership with them, I actually felt like cancelling my roadside service. NRMA was just something I joined because that's what you did right? Especially if you didn't want to learn anything about the inside of your rattly, second hand car but didn't want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere. It was a stuffy, grownup service to purchase, but at 20 when you are only pretending to be a grownup it makes sense.
So 10 years later when I got the silver membership letter it was a rude awakening. Not only am I not still in those glory years of doing what I want, when I want, with no rules. I'm not even a little bit cool. Not even a smidgen. My hair lives in a ponytail most days, makeup is something for occasions, and lets face it, I carry plenty of extra kilo's around that are like old friends.
Would I exchange my household of responsibilities and commitments for those glory years? Hell no. My little 10 month old who is more like a puppy than a baby these days is the reason my hair never makes it out of a ponytail. And my 11 year old on the brink of being a teenager gives me plenty of vicarious living. And my comfortable husband who is carrying plenty of his own old friends these days is like the most delicious slipper - reliable, always there, and the part of the day I can't wait to get home to.
I'm letting go of those glory years. I will start to see myself as who I am now, instead of who I was then, and I think I have some beautiful years ahead of me.
Incidentally - did you know that if you call NRMA about your roadside service when it falls due for payment they can quote you a 3 and 5 year premium? Save 5%, and pay the current annual premium for the service instead of incurring annual increases. Noice. Have to call them for that little gem though.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Redundancies penalising mothers

I feel angry this week. Angry for the women I work with, angry for myself, for a lost benefit that I felt so secure with.

The right to flexible workplace arrangements is only a new one. But its a valuable one. The right to return from Maternity Leave, with a reasonable expectation that an employer will  accommodate a flexible work arrangement that will allow a women to better balance her family and her career feels like it has been compromised for me. Not just when returning from maternity leave either, anytime when you have young children and need a particular balance.
Its not like I even took strong advantage of this right myself. The most I asked my boss for was to be placed in a role where it would be suitable for me to finish at 4:30 each day. I need this in order to get back to daycare before it shuts. And in a company the size of mine, this need is not hard to fill.
But I have seen my colleagues return to work part time, job sharing, in less orthodox work hours, working partly or wholly from home etc. And this is right. It is right that these skilled women, who gave themselves to the role so much before building their families, who will give 100% while raising their families, and will be more committed to their roles than ever, should be given the support to balance everything.

But it occurs to me now, looking at the new organisational structure at work, that there is no room for any of the flexible workplace arrangements currently in place. It is a clean structure, with no allowance for part time workers, or work from home, or unorthadox hours. By doing a spill and fill (all staff have to reapply for their roles, and unsuccessful staff will be made redunanct), Heads of Departments are in a position to ignore the more challenging employee's with inconveniant family needs in favour of employee's able to traditional roles and hours. Mothers wanting roles in this new structure need to be willing to abandon their precariously balanced family needs and embrace longer or less desirable hours, all in the name of job stability.

This makes me angry. I covet the right to a flexible workplace arrangement, and I valued my company as being one that always championed this right. What is going on at work right now feels wrong, like a loophole is being abused in the process of structuring a new future for my company. I don't believe it was deliberate, but it is definately a by-product of the process we are currently going through.

This is my ranty pants vent this week, have you been in this position?