Working abroad in Australia, Costa Rica and New Zealand

Hats Off To All Career Mums

I now feel the need to mention that I am currently striving to be a super mum. I get up at 5.30am six mornings a week to exercise. I have three kids who all need food, clean clothes, love, attention, reading practice and exercise. And a hubby whose needs overlap with the kids in several areas. Husband and wife are both busy setting up a new home and home business in a foreign country and are still jumping through hoops to do this. For example, yesterday the whole morning was taken up with a trip to Maroocydore half and hour away to get our medical cards.

But that one-off chore isn’t really the problem. I find that there are always things to be sorted out because we’ve only just moved to Australia. There’s life insurance, medical insurance, standing orders to be set up or stopped, bank accounts to be opened and closed, term deposits to be opened in the hope that we can earn some interest on our house money, gardens to be weeded and mowed, a pool to clean, teachers and kids to help at school, shopping, cooking, cleaning, car maintenance and so much more.

What I’ve actually never been able to understand is how mothers who work full time actually manage to fit it all in and still have any time or energy left over for their family and themselves. Some women make it look effortless too. Always in a stylish outfit with brushed hair and make-up, always talking patiently to their children, never rushing or breaking into a sweat despite the tropical climate. Heck knows how they do it, but I am striving to be more like them! One key area I am determined to save time on is cleaning. To this aim I am dropping my standards as much as possible while still maintaining minimal hygiene and some semblance of tidiness. In Costa Rica I was blessed to have the wonderful Rocio come to our home for two full days a week. Not only did she handle all cleaning, laundry and cooling with quiet efficiency but she also provided me with lovely company and acted as a great Spanish teacher. I miss her cleaning and sympathetic ear.

On the networking front I am getting on well with the kids’ teachers who all seem to be lovely, professional or friendly. Several of them even manage to exude all three of those qualities. On a scale of one to ten of how happy I am with the kid”s school and childcare I would give an eight. I think that this is partly because I am so grateful, after a year in Costa Rica, that my children now have the opportunity to spend time with well-trained and highly experienced teachers in a caring environment with excellent facilities. The local state school here is a huge contrast to Luke and Medium’s school in Costa Rica. There I had to buy desks and chairs for them as there weren’t enough to go around. There didn’t seem to be any books at the school. One time I noticed that Medium’s pencil supply was constantly dwindling and he said that other children broke them. When I asked Medium’s teacher about it she said “Oh yes, it’s terrible” and produced a huge back of broken pencils from her desk. She went on to tell me that there was nothing she could do about it, that some of the boys were very badly behaved and there was a lot of violence in the school. Not exactly the kind of thing you want to hear from your child’s teacher. Another time Medium actually had to have stitches in his head when falling over as he ran away from classmates who were throwing rocks at him. This time it was put down to the usual child’s play and the protagonists were never punished as they said it wasn’t them!

At the boy’s new school there is a library, music, PE and Italian lessons and clean classrooms full of bright artwork, books and games. I’m looking forward to helping out with reading three times a week in Medium’s year 2/3 class. One of the nipper mums recommended I volunteer to work in the school tuck shop. She reckons it’s a great way to get to know the teachers, kids, school news and gossip and as a bonus your kids get a free lunch on the day you volunteer. I really want to do that. But how to fit it all in! In Costa Rica I was aiming to write for two hours a day when the kids were out. Here I would like to boost that up top four hours. Four hours isn’t really enough of course and even that will be hard to fit in. I will need to be truly disciplined in terms of getting home fast after dropping them off. I won’t be able to go surfing during the working day and things will get even tighter when we start cycling to school on a regular basis. I should be able to do it though so I can keep updating this blog regularly and also finish off that half-completed novel.

I can’t drop the exercise though. It’s pretty essential to my physical and emotional well-being now. I am attempting to train myself to run three times a week for 30 minutes each time simply because this is the fastest and most efficient way for me to get some aerobic exercise. I am already able to run for 24 minutes in three eight minute slots and have worked out that if I carry on at this rate I will have achieved my goal some time around July! Slow but steady wins the race.

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One Comment

  1. Lisa August 30, 2013 at 2:09 am - Reply

    Annabel–This is lovely! So sweet and personal. I truly appreciate your willingness to share details like these. I’m a huge fan of International Living magazine, and I so enjoy stories of how others make life work abroad.

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