#workingmama vs #girlboss

Over the last 18 months my home life has changed dramatically. I am now the proud owner of a tiny human, Sassa. The journey to proud Mama has been one of many ups and downs. I have learnt so much that has surprised me, inspired me, and changed me. I am a terrible pregnant person, there was no glow, there was quite a lot of complaining, and a mountain of ice cream consumed. I also wasn't a great stay at home Mum during my maternity leave. Now there were other factors (there always are) but I think the biggest was that we had always planned that BorderlineStraggler would be the one doing the majority of the childcare. I like working, I get a sense of fulfilment from my job, and bottom line I earn more money. So throughout my maternity leave I did lots of keep in touch days, there was barely a fortnight that I didn't pop by with the baby, but secretly all of that was to make sure that I kept in mind I was going to have to go back. I couldn't ever get 'into' stay-at-home-ness because that was temporary. Looking back I don't regret that, I have months of happy new baby memories and we have made the right decision for our family.

I went back to work when Sass was 6 months old. the first 2 months were a whilrwind of trying to get used to our new set up. Then I hit the doldrums. It has been very hard to find working Penny underneath all the Mama Penny. Simple things like I have had to change my working patterns, I now get in before everyone else, but I leave and hour before they do. I have a midweek day off, but I work Saturday's. All of these little adjustments have made me feel very unsettled. The tension between Girl Boss and Working Mama was consuming far to much of my nighttime hours (and with a 10 month old there are still a few of those!). How can I manage a team I only see for a few hours a week? How can I make meetings in London but still be home for an evening feed? Should we give up and put Sass in childcare for longer? How can we afford the new patio?

Too much. Too many how's and what if's. And then like all good cliches I saw a quote on a mug that struck a chord with me:

image credit: That's Nice That - Not on the highstreet
I'm giving it a go. I pride myself on being a good manager. I put time in to support my team, help develop them and try to make my team feel valued, but that means being a strong leader, giving them someone to rely on, and a big part of that is having to be confident about the decisions I've made in my personal life. My working pattern actually really suits me. Saturdays are incredibly productive for me, I get more done in the hour before everyone else arrives than I do in most of the rest of the day. So I am going to listen to the mug. I am going to try and balance working mama- hood with girl boss -ness and fingers crossed we'll muddle through somehow!


Mass Observation Exercise

On 12th May I took part in the annual Mass Observation Exercise. According to the website it has been happening since 1981 and involves people keeping a diary about your day, what you eat, where you go all these things. I loved it. I got a little to into it. I mean I had quite a few deadlines that day that may or may not have slipped a tiny bit. The thing I really liked about it was that it felt like blogging. I have been missing blogging more and more over the last few months. There are a few projects at work that have needed blogs and it has been wonderful to stretch those blog-ish muscles again!

The last two years have been pretty tough, and pretty awesome in fairly equal measure. I don't feel the need to recap it all, but I do want to introduce you to the newest addition to our little world Baby Sassa.

A post shared by Penny Allen (@ratsasbigascats) on
At 10 months old she has turned my life upside down to say the least but in the best possible way. I have quite a few posts brewing about being a mum, and a full time working mum at that. But until then, can I just say Hello you lovely people, I'll see you soon.


How does your garden grow?

I have never really taken all that much interest in gardening. I suffer from hayfever, and spend most of the summer months hiding in the house pretending that the hot weather is just a horrible dream. I grew up in a fairly modest garden, lawn, patio, earning pocket money hacking down the enormous laurel bush at various intervals, and drawing on the walls with chalks. Gardening just wasn't a thing we did as a family in my house. Strangely both sets of my grandparents were voracious gardeners and when clearing one house before my granny went to live in a care home I found album upon album filled with images of her precious flowers, but not in our house.

When we moved into this house we were told by people don't do anything with the garden for at least a year. Given the work we wanted to do in the rest of the house I was happy to take this advice and (general tidying aside) we have spent a year watching the garden do its thing. The previous owners planted it to have waves of things growing, just when we thought a bed was going to be empty for the next season a pop of colour would appear, or something we were convinced was a weed would burst into an amazing showing of flowers.

We have tried our hands at house plants and it has been an unfailing disaster. Everything dies. Even spider plants, small children can keep spider plants alive, I remember doing it at school, but in our house? No, they commit suicide.

I researched, I tried to make sure I wasn't watering too much or too little, we ought cheap plants, we bought expensive ones, nothing survived. Then an idea struck me, perhaps it wasn't the plants that we the problem, maybe it was our watering can. There is a vague memory in my mind that I used it for cleaning our deck with some nasty chemicals and it struck me that possibly this wasn't the best ingredients to build an amazing selection of house plants. So I swapped our watering can for an empty milk bottle with holes punched in the lid and tried again.

I sowed some seeds, popped a lid thing on them and waited.

And we only bloody did it! we have seedlings. Everyday there would be coo's of "look how much its grown" and "is that a shoot or a bit of stick?", till now we have a positive bed of seedlings that have been (slightly inexpertly) re potted.

I am so excited to try more. There are grand plan afoot for gooseberry bushes and lavender beds. If you've recently moved and are thinking about taking your first steps into the garden I would certainly listen to the advice of others, leave it a year, watch your garden, see what you like, and then make your changes.

And of course remember don't use your watering can to clean the decking. Ever.


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