Top 5 (workplace) phrases that drive me crazy

When I returned to work after maternity leave, ask brain already a bit frazzled from baby number two, I was gobsmacked at just how many new phrases had found their way into office speak in the year that I had been off. These ones are used on a daily basis in my place and I must fess up, I know I am guilty of using them too. Cringe.

So here’s my top 5 phrases that drive me crazy (in the workplace) Read more on todays’ Listography over at Kate Takes 5.

1. On the same page – As in, lets make sure we both agree and are saying the same thing before we present this / tell someone else about it. On the same page suggests we’re reading a story to one another.

2. Let’s syndicate / socialise that first – As in, lets share our idea or proposal with the people we want to agree to this and get them ‘on board’ before we officially tell everyone its what we want to do. In my first week back, it was suggested I socialise a document with two key people before I sent it to a wider group by email. When I asked the question as to how to socialise a document (still claiming baby brain for the first week or so) I was told to email it to them!

3. Touch Base – As in ‘I’ll touch base with Geoff before we go to the meeting to make sure we’re on the same page.’ Frankly I don’t want to touch anyone I work with anywhere thank you.

4. Take it off line – As in, we’ll discuss this out with this meeting. Let’s just say that then.

5. Circle the Horses – I really don’t know what this means. I think its the opposite of ‘going round the houses.’ I think it means being sensible and checking in with the appropriate people first, ensuring you’ve thought of everything and considered all options before settling on a final solution. I hope thats what it means because I used it this week and received lots of approving nods – jeez – I might have committed to doing something completely different and be totally unawares.

Cringe indeed.

A useful equation – Mum Plus Business

I have long been a supporter, sick nay champion, discount of ‘mums doing their own thing.’ Like many others, I too grappled with the challenge of having a baby, considering career options and thinking about business ideas that would allow me to positively strike a balance between spending quality time with my family, whilst doing something for myself and earning a living to boot.

At the time I felt I had no skills to talk of which would naturally fit with home working or lend themselves well to business opportunities that could flex around my family.  What I did have however was passion, enthusiasm and buckets full of desire to do something. And so, whilst on maternity leave with my eldest, I set up a lovely little lifestyle business, which filled a gap in the local market at that time.  As well as giving me confidence to do my own thing, and proving the mantra I set down to the kids that “we can do anything we try” I could also work it fabulously around my family. Since then I know and have actively encouraged many other mums to do similar things and put their skills and talents to great use in their own business.

Five years ago, I’d have loved to have been able to use the services of Mum Plus Business, an innovative free online service to help local mothers form business partnerships. Mum Plus Business is a hugely useful resource for mums and expectant mums of all ages, backgrounds and with different levels of experience. The key aim of this venture is to connect motivated local mothers in a similar position, who can collectively support each other whilst also complementing each other’s skills. In certain cases an individual may be lacking the confidence, motivation or skill set to independently create their own company but can be very successful in a partnership. Maybe a mum has already thought of a business idea or she could be the perfect match for someone looking to launch a business. The site is brimming with helpful resources to support the setting up of a business, the writing of a business plan, as well as useful contacts, information and helpful tips that those in the know have shared. There is a quick online database search facility, which allows mums to select their local area and the business sector they are interested in, in order to generate possible pairings.

The response to Mums Plus Business has been very positive, and already they have developed partnerships with local Jobcentre Plus centres and single parent organisations such as OnlyMums, not to mention being nominated for the Mumpreneur Awards 2011.

I’m looking forward to hearing about many successful business pairings that have started with Mum Plus Business. I’m no mathematician but Mum Plus Business is one web resource which definitely equals fantastic!

Guest Post: Mummies United = Fabulous!

Lovely readers – I’m delighted to welcome my first guest poster to Super Mummy. Whilst most guest posters on other mummy blogs already have their own blog, look this lovely lady simply has a story to tell which resonates with me and I expect many others, and where better a forum for her to share it with like-minded folks, than here.

I hope you enjoy.

I hope you are inspired.

Over to K….

Well what can I say, I am still bowled over by the fact that a good friend asked me to write a blog article for Super Mummy, this is for a number of reasons

1) I’m completely flattered she thinks I have something of note

2) I’m a terrible writer i.e. 20 words when 2 would do and erm what is a ‘blog’ anyway?

3) What would I write about?

Perhaps I should explain………..I met this super mummy two years ago through a mutual friend who thought we would have ‘something in common’.  After our initial meeting over a cuppa and pleasantries exchanged we’ve never stopped talking!  It is amazing the similarities between us but the bond that keeps us together is that we are career driven ladies who became mummies and suddenly “BAM!” there was an almighty shift in our priorities.

We both returned to work for the same corporate organisation (having never met before) after the birth of our second child and, let’s face it, anyone who goes as far as having ‘number two’ knows it is a whole different ball game.  Forget the every weekend coupley long lies, it’s now the ‘darling you lie in on Saturday and I’ll do Sunday.’ Forget being able to talk to each other without two little voices going ‘mummy / daddy’ until eventually one of us gives in and says ‘what is it?’.  In fact, forget ever finishing a cup of tea / conversation or having a lie in ever again for the next 10 years (or at least until teenager age.)

Twice as much trouble, twice the lack of sleep but definitely twice the fun. Gradually, the sleepless nights subside and they become fabulous little friends and you wonder how on earth you ever survived before they came along.

So, back to my fabulous friend and our common bond – we tend to find ourselves in the same place at the same time.  Both of us strive to juggle home / kids / shopping / hubby / house / work.  But the truth of the matter is whether it ‘can all be done?’ and more importantly ‘do I really want to do it all?’  My pregnancy journey was fraught with mishaps and to this day I am convinced stress played its part. I took the decision of reducing responsibilities at work and very shortly after became pregnant with my first child.  This was the start of me making subtle changes, not because I wasn’t good at my job or didn’t want to do my job but because it was what was best for my family.  That was 5 years ago and I have been adjusting ever since.

I have long since got over the guilt of trying to be all things to all people and fit with what was expected of me.  I find myself looking to carve a new path for my family and live a life by design on my terms.  So, I am pursuing alternative income opportunities outside the corporate world and meeting some fabulous people along the way –  all like minded mummies who juggle BUT this time it’s on our terms and fit around the family.  What a fabulous sisterhood, I like to think of us as Mummies United.

So, where am I on this path?  Well I am plodding along nicely thank you very much, some days I have a little spring in my step and other days I struggle to get off the starting block but that’s life and where my fabulous friend comes in since we tread the same path daily.  We help, support, encourage each other since we know that anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Recently, I’ve introduced my kids to Dr Seuss and ‘The Cat in the Hat’, a book I loved as a child and came across this fabulous quote which I’ve pinned to my wall.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…………”

The old ones are still the best – oh the places we’ll go!

Packed Lunch, Gym shoes, Calpol.

We’ve all done it, here cure haven’t we?  One of the littlies complains of a sore tummy or is a bit on the warm side and not too fussed for their Weetabix of a morning, seek but we pack up their school or nursery bag, page dispense cuddles and a spoonful of Calpol and send them on their merry way. The reasons why we do this vary from person to person, but a recent poll by the Daily Mail indicated that just short of 30% of 2000 mums asked were concerned that taking time off because their child is poorly would result in them losing their job. If those numbers are anything to go by, I think I fall into the ‘very lucky’ category. My organisation makes provisions for the fact that as working parents, it is inevitable that at some point one of our offspring will be struck by dreaded lurgy and we need to be there for them at home. It doesn’t stop the feeling however that somehow, we’re in the wrong as working parents for wanting to be at home with our poorly children.

I’ve had many instances in the last four years where one or other of my brood have had an ailment of illness that has precluded them from going to school or nursery on the basis of them either being a) genuinely too poorly that I wouldn’t dream of letting them leave the house or b) slightly under the weather but sporting a runny enough nose / sticky enough eye / higher than normal temperature (despite being fine in every other way) that nursery won’t allow them across the threshold in case they start an epidemic.

Despite my boss being very understanding, and not a working parent herself,  I can’t help dreading having to tell her I can’t come in because one of the children is sick or that the nursery have called and simply insist that I collect a very hot and bothered two year old.  My boss trusts me and knows that I’m a big enough girl to know what I need to do to get the job done on those days where I just can’t be in the office, the buck stops with me at the end of the day if I don’t deliver what I need to. But I still can’t help feeling bad.

I do recall being back at work only five or six days after a year of maternity leave, and receiving a call from nursery – Little Monster Blue has conjunctivitis. Whilst my first and very natural response was a feeling of sorrow for my little man as its a yucky ailment and not very pleasant at all, I quickly moved to wondering how long I could get away with staying in the office before leaving  to collect him. Quite simply, I was afraid of telling my boss that I had to go.  I had absolutely no reason to be, but well, it just doesn’t look great, especially to my colleagues who have just seen me return from my year long ‘holiday’.

And to top it off, there has been many a time I’ve been called to collect a nipper who has been really under the weather and by the time I’ve gotten to nursery (and after a dose of Calpol) he’s running amok dressed up as a cowboy and swinging a pink leopard print handbag. Yes, really. Now I don’t for one second suggest that the carers at nursery shouldn’t have called, quite the opposite, I secretly believe this is my two-year olds way of getting me back for those mornings where a spoonful of Calpol has helped me get out the door and into the office when perhaps a longer morning at home filled with cuddles, cool drinks and CBeebies might have been the better option.

I have to confess also that I am guilt ridden when I think of the time where I played to the ‘off you pop, you’ll feel better when you get there’ approach when it was nursery photo day.  Poor Little Monster Blue was actually suffering from tonsillitis (though I absolutely didn’t know that at the time) and I have a photo collage full of prints of the little guy looking downright sorry for himself. Gulp. Bad mummy.

Yesterday we turned a corner.  Little Monster Blue is poorly once again (we’re not a disease ridden family generally, I do believe nursery breeds everything but the plague, and it is that time of year isn’t it?) but this time Super Daddy got the nursery call, and bless him he was there in a flash. This morning when it was clear that LMB would be banished from nursery if we dared take him anywhere near the place, Super Daddy donned the stay-at-home-parent mantle and I went to the office.  Sad though it is, there was something fairly empowering about me being able to say, yes I have a poorly child, but here I am. Aren’t I dedicated? Aren’t I committed? Look at me, I’m showing how much of a priority my work is to me.  I rang home ever hour to check how he was of course. I looked at the clock and gauged that he’d be finished watching his movie of choice (Tangled!) by now.  I ate my lunch wondering if the wee scone was able to manage his.  I dashed out of the door at home time, took my rightful place beside him on the sofa, and settled down for an afternoon of CBeebies.

And that made everyone feel better.

Being there

I have just successfully managed to get my boss to agree to me reducing my hours at work.  Obviously I am talking about my ‘proper’ work, sildenafil i.e. the place I go to where I do grown up things like present papers to Executive Steering Groups, engage stakeholders to work collaboratively towards critical deliverables, develop project plans and change the date on my weekly programme status reports. Not the one where I wipe snotty noses, build Hello Kitty jigsaws puzzles with my eyes closed  and iron what feels like the contents of the entire children’s clothes section in M&S on a weekly basis.  As at today, that work still remains unpaid in hard cash terms.

No, this turnaround from ‘Throw it all at me, I can do it!’ to ‘Perhaps I need to redress the balance just a little,’ coincided with Little Princess Pinks’ first week at school. Up until then, much in the way of advice on the matter of mummy working / children schooling had been extremely conflicting, from the ‘it gets so much easier to do it all when they are at school’ to the ‘trying to get everything done, especially when you need to factor in homework now, is just so difficult’.  I decided (in the stubborn way that I often do) that I would make it work.  After all, I’m *ahem* supermummy.

I’d never entered the unknown territory that was the After School Club until I decided that my working pattern would remain as was, and we would quite simply have to make use of said club as a means of childcare for LPP from a Monday to Thursday.  Decision made, but still battling with this voice in my head which would occasionally bellow in my ear – ‘Are you really sure?,’ we set about registering, booking and arranging all childcare requirements from school bell at 3.10 to which-ever-one- of- us-could- get- there- first (but somewhere in the region of 5pm) at the After School Club.  From day one, it niggled and niggled at me.  It just wasn’t part of the master plan.  I have very clear memories of my mum picking me up from school, taking me to the library where I would choose six books (yes, even back then I was a read-y / write-y book geek) and off we’d trot home for milk, biscuits and homework at the kitchen table.  I remember the hours mum spent with me, reading, drawing and answering countless ‘but why’ questions, and so along with primary teachers 1 – 7 and the entire cast of St. Kentigerns Academy, she is to be credited with me turning out fairly okay.

But, we ploughed along regardless.  After School Club it was.  Until day one when I arrived to pick LPP up after her first full day at school and after school club only to find her in floods of tears (despite being dressed up as Snow White which is usually a smile-inducing activity in our house.) I had to fight with myself not to stuff the cheque I’d just written to pay for the month hurriedly back into my handbag, whisk her away in a stealth like manner, yelling ‘Thanks, it’s been lovely, but we won’t be back any time soon’ over my shoulder as we made haste for the door.

Now, I know day one will always be the tough one, and the most logical part of my being says the same as everyone else is thinking – I know she’ll settle and I know it will all come good.  But I couldn’t argue with the part inside me that said, ‘You know what you need to do.’  I should have gone with my gut in the first place.  After a week of number crunching, case building, looking where we could cut the cloth accordingly, putting forward a request to my boss, seeing LPP settle more and more into the After School Club (well, it was always going to happen wasn’t it?) we got to the point this week where it was a done deal.  I’ll be an even parter-part-timer in the workplace and hopefully a there-when-I-really should be mummy.  Conversation with boss and bosses boss was very much in the realms of ‘don’t for one minute think I’m any less committed, because I’m not.’ And truly, I’m not.  In fact I already anticipate that I’ll put in more than I’m contracted to, as it’s an unwritten and unspoken rule that part-timers need to prove their worth, part-timers need to show just how productive they can still be, no slippage of quality, no dumbing down of the old grey matter.  Still on the career ladder, perhaps just teetering on the edge as opposed to two feet firmly on the rung, but still there and hanging on.

So here we are, from next week, I’ll be picking LPP up from school, and after school club will become a great option for us when I just have to be in the office late in the afternoon, or when school holidays come around and between us we still don’t have a enough annual leave entitlement to cover all the days needed.  Little Princess Pink has already expressed some disgust at the new arrangement in the form of “BUT I LOVE THE DINO CLUB – THEY HAVE PICTUREKA!” however, shes coming round.  I’m not sure if it was the grand plans for French on a Tuesday or swimming lessons on a Wednesday that did it, or perhaps it was the promise of Tuesdays being solely restricted to library visits and milk, biscuits and homework at the kitchen table.

One day, I hope she too will reflect fondly on it, knowing that us mummies only ever try to do our best by them.

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