Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Change For Good

A few weeks ago, maybe longer, I had a lovely (and emotional) coffee'n'chat with MrsH, an Aussie, who's lived in the USA and now down the road. They left Sydney about 12 years ago, and have bought a house in a delightful village and they are here for now.

The timing was perfect. I was really struggling with the long hours G was working, I missed his company at night, and MissM was missing him and taking it out on me. In protest of his long hours, I subconsciously stopped cooking dinner, as he never knew what time he’d be home. We’d grab whatever was easy depending on the hour. Pulling things from the freezer and popping them into the oven was the norm. We were eating anytime from 8.30pm onwards unless it was so late, he’d grab something on the way home.

This was not what we were used to, not how we wanted to live. It was taking a toll on us in many ways.

Our conversation quickly moved onto our own experiences of moving around the world, and ending up in Greater Winchester, the various coping mechanisms we use to fit  in, how we keep busy, make friends,  difference with one child vs 3 and more.

She’s flat out with 3 kids at three different schools and a husband who travels constantly. Her friends are in the village where they live, she plays tennis twice a week, and that’s about it.  

Asking her how she copes with 3 kids at 3 different schools and a husband who is away a lot, she simply said, I have to. She shared with me some tough love lessons about being the mother of three school aged kids, and the wife to someone who’s rarely home.

She eats dinner with the kids every night. If her husband is home to eat with them great, if not, there’s a plate in the fridge ready for him to heat up when he gets home. She’s in bed no later than 9.30pm. OMG that’s so early – it has to be she said quite matter of factly, otherwise I’m too tired to cope.

Other friends in similar situations are so used to their husbands being away that when they are home it’s a (lovely) bother. Some friends have said it’s easier when they are away; the house and kids seem to flow better.  One friend tallied up her husbands business trips to just over 6 months in one year!

Timing is everything when it comes to life lessons, and for me, the AHA Moment happened at this point in time. Several friends might read this and think 'what? We've had the same conversation!?' 
And we have. And I did listen. The circumstances weren't right for me to act.

While G’s home late, he’s home. Obviously this transition period of him working/living in Dublin Monday – Friday will end as soon as we all move in August. It’s learning to cope with the long hours that needed my attention.

There have been some huge changes in my life; all were life lessons (some more than others). One of the biggest changes in my life was the based in theory, and change management practices, and teams and helped me understand CHANGE was when I was on the management team at News Ltd in Sydney, launching NewsColor to the newspapers.

  • CHANGE has phases.
  • CHANGE needs to have buy-in from all concerned parties.
  • CHANGE needs to move in the same direction.
  • CHANGE is a team effort.
  • CHANGE needs to be thought out well.
  • CHANGE needs agreement from all parties involved for it to be truly successful.
  • CHANGE is a lot of fun.
  • CHANGE is constant.

Sometimes CHANGE is thrust upon you and you simply aren't ready for it. The breakdown of a relationship, a death of a loved one, an international move, being made redundant at work, dealing with growing kids, aging parents, moving house, gosh, just simply day-to-day life is full of change – all these (and more) are changes that we simply have to deal with.

Some changes are more like challenges. Apparently these ones make us stronger.

Some changes teach us lessons. These ones give us wisdom that we didn’t have before.

Some changes are brought on by ourselves for we were foolish beforehand.

Numerous friends are corporate single mums Monday – Friday and I’ve always admired how they just get on with things. The husbands simply fit back into the family’s lives and not the other way round. But it’s just as MrsH said – and the time was right for me to listen and learn. This sounded a bit rude to me at first, but now I get it (this is the lessons learned type of change, so good change)

I knew before G completed his first week away that MissM and I needed to re-evaluate our week to see how we’d best manage ( I was scared we’d fail miserably)

We talked about some of the things we could do together to make our time fun. MissM suggested we cook and eat dinner together every night.

Homework/bath/dinner/bed is more streamlined – tho not sure why as G was never home for this bit. Maybe I’m more committed to MissM being in bed promptly so I can be in bed early. Maybe we’re managing the changes around us really well and it’s just working!
MaMaybe we’re being normal, cos we can. Maybe this is what having a nearly 9 year old is all about.

I am taking advantage of going to bed early while G’s in Dublin. I’m hoping it will be my ‘thing’ by the time we move. Lights out by 11pm (that’s early for me) mid week. So far so good! I’m not so tired, which is already a bonus.

In Japan, G would be home at a reasonable hour, see MissM before or at bedtime, and we’d cook dinner and eat, then if he needed to work, he’d do so from home. We’d have a coffee together, and he might grab an hour of TV to relax, before going back to it.

I miss those nights. So does he. We hope to regain them.

Obviously as he climbs the corporate ladder things change. I’m not that naïve.

Obviously as MissM gets older, things change. I’m not that naïve.

It’s not that I want things to stay the same it’s just that they’ve changed so much, so quickly and there’s been limited opportunity for me to keep up.

So for now, we (MissM and I) are coping with the CHANGE thrust upon us as a family by changing the way we do things to suit the new situation.

CHANGE is constant and needs involvement and agreement from all parties.

It’s not ideal, but we are managing and the most importantly, we are all happier than we’ve been for months.

With friendship

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