Why You Should Always Have A Current CV

Curriculum vitae written on typewriter

It’s been over 12 years since I worked for someone else. What have I been doing in that time? That’s a good question, I sometimes wonder myself.

But the truth is I’ve been raising and managing a family. DH helps of course, but he works full time, so during the day when the kids were young, or now when they are sick, or go to activities or need ferrying around, then it’s usually up to me. We have four children, and no family support, so working for someone else hasn’t really been an option. The childcare issues have just been too costly and have seemed insurmountable. I am a vet by profession, and it’s not a very family friendly job if you are a woman. The hours often go beyond the remit of most childminders and there are not many nannies who want to take on a household as busy as ours. We have looked into it on occasion, but once we’ve done the maths it just doesn’t seem worth the worry and stress.

So I’ve worked for myself,  doing bits and pieces, as and when. I haven’t earned a lot and I’m forever working around the school run and after school activities. But I’m hoping it won’t always be like this.

DD1 is nearly 14 and  DD2 is 12. In a few more years the younger two will also be at secondary school and I will be free to explore more employment options. But in the mean time I’m trying to find a bit more non-clinic work and a couple of weeks ago I saw a link to a job that I could do from home, during hours that could suit me.

I pulled up the application form and began filling it in, feeling excited and optimistic. Then I came to the last ‘question’. ‘Please attach a current CV’, it said.

My heart sunk. My CV was anything but current.  In fact, I believe the word I was looking for is ‘defunct’. I didn’t even have a copy of it, as it was last seen on the computer before the one I had before the one I have now.

In desperation, I turned to DH who showed me his CV but he works with computers so that was no help at all. Some of my friends have been in the same boat as me, returning to work after years off, and one directed me to this site. It gave me detailed instructions on how to put together a CV after over a decade out of work, and outlined ways to minimise the gap in my employment history, explained how to put together a personal statement and suggested alternatives to standard employer referees.

I won’t lie, it took me days to piece together my long-ago employment history. I wish I had had a copy of my old CV for this purpose alone. But I got there in the end.

So now I have a CV. I’ve sent off the application but it’s been a couple of weeks now, so I guess this time it’s a no. *Sad face* as my kids would say.

But all is not lost. I still have the work I do for myself, so I’ll soldier on with that and keep an eye out for anything else that could suit. But this time I will have a CV ready to go. I am prepared.

So if you are at home, and are not working for anyone else while looking after children, then see if you can take a moment to put together the bare bones of a CV. Type up your previous employment history at least.

Because you never know when it might come in handy.


My Sunday Photo

We’ve had a bit of rain this week, so one of the dogs decided  the ground was soft enough to dig a hole in the woods and try and climb down inside it.

I’m pretty sure he could smell or hear something crawling around underground as he eventually dug a series of holes in a line. He was completely caked with mud by the time he’d finished.

My dogs never learn. I can’t take muddy dogs inside for a nice warm bath or shower, so they end up under a cold hose in the garden. Neither of them enjoy the experience.

dog in hole

My Sunday Photo

My Sunday Photo

Last Thursday we came home to find the cats chasing this around the kitchen windowsill. There was some squealing from DD1 at the size of it and I admit I didn’t believe her at first. I thought she was probably making a fuss over a damsel or crane fly.

I rescued  the poor thing and took it outside. It’s wings were a bit battered, and I was worried that it might not be able to fly away. It sat on my hand for a bit, whirred its wings noisily for a few seconds, then took off into the blue autumn sky while the dog and I looked on.


dragonfly and dog

Mr Nobody

With six people, two dogs and two cats living in our house, you wouldn’t think it would be possible for someone else to live here and not be seen, would you?

But apparently that’s what’s happening. What else can explain what happens in our house on a regular basis, other than that we share our home with a ‘Mr Nobody’.

According to our children ‘someone else’ leaves the dirty socks in the hallway. ‘Someone else’ stuffs food wrappers behind the sofa. And ‘someone else’ is responsible for throwing the sofa cushions onto the lounge floor and constantly misplacing the remote control.

And if I calmly point out that these objects are not where they are supposed to be and make enquiries as to whether any of my cherubs knows anything at all about the missing object or mess every one of my offspring widens their innocent eyes and wrinkles their smooth brows in what can only be genuine confusion.

‘It wasn’t me’, they inform me quickly, often before I’m able to explain to them exactly what I’m asking them about. They are obviously concerned about my rising blood pressure. They are such lovely, caring children.

If I ask, it seems Mr Nobody is responsible for leaving empty packets in the cupboards and fridge, knocking all the wet towels off the drying rack, spilling ribena across the kitchen and trying to shove that one last piece of rubbish into an already full rubbish bin.

Because no other bugger owns up to it and what other explanation can there be?



The City Of Light With Kids

For our summer holiday this year we took the train to Spain, after stopping over one night in Paris. We stayed in a little 3 star hotel near the Bonne Nouvelle Metro Station, just 0.6 miles from Gare du Nord. We did take a taxi from the Eurostar terminal to the hotel, in fact we had to take two. When we first arrived we were besieged by drivers offering us vehicles so we didn’t have to join the official taxi rank. The queue was very long, so this did seem an attractive option but the cost was going to be 90 Euros! This did seem a bit steep, and they eventually went down to 70 Euros. In the end we decided to stand in line for an official taxi after all, but there wasn’t a car big enough for us and our luggage. So we took two, each of which cost us 12 Euros.   And so we avoided making a rather expensive mistake on our first evening.

Our hotel was fine for one night, but we wouldn’t have wanted to stay longer. The single beds were very narrow, but it was clean and tidy and had WiFi.  The kids were happy because we had McDonald’s for dinner.

Then, after we had spent a couple of weeks exploring Spain (Barcelona, Sitges and San Sebastian), we caught the train back to Paris for a couple of nights.

Paris sunset

The two oldest girls have actually been to Paris a couple of times before, but they were too young to remember anything. And we have taken the girls to Disneyland Paris about 8 years ago, when they were 1, 3 and 5 . Again, their memories of this are non-existant/fuzzy. I’m glad we took them when they were little, even if they have little or no recollection of the trip, because I have photos that PROVE we all had a fantastic  time.  Travelling with older children, especially tweens and teens, can be tricky. We found it much harder to balance our desire to stop and look at things with their desire to only do what they thought was going to be fun. When they were little, they had been happy to run around in circles and explore where ever we happened to take them. Now there has to be a whole lot of compromise going on.

For the last three nights of our summer holiday we stayed at an Air Bnb apartment near the Pantheon; there was more than enough room for all of us and it had a piano for DD2 to practice her exam pieces on. The location was fantastic and the lure of all those famous French places just outside our door made it relatively easy for the kids to put down the internet and explore.

Paris is full of great buildings and things to see and do, but we only had two full days there so had to be careful not to overload our schedules. The only thing worse than dragging a reluctant toddler from tourist attraction to tourist attraction, is trying to do the same thing with teens and tweens!

kids outside Notre Dame

We walked down to Notre Dame and joined the ridiculously long queue that folded around on itself many times so we could take a look inside. Some of the kids were more tolerant of the queuing than others, but it moved pretty quickly and we were inside within 20 minutes. DH and I would have liked to look around a bit longer but the kids were impatient, and wanted to go and feed the pigeons instead.

feeding pigeons Notre Dame

These birds weren’t the filthy, disheveled London-variety pigeon. They were fat and glossy and still had all their toes. There was a man hanging around doling out hand fulls of birdseed if you gave him a few coins. The kids loved the birds using them as a dinner table and no one got pooed on.

By this time people started getting hungry so we wandered across some seriously lock-heavy bridges in search of lunch.

Locks on Parisian bridges

Lunch was very French, which meant only half the family ate anything, and then we got cabs to the Eiffel Tower where we had a tour booked. This enabled us to skip the line for tickets at the bottom of the Tower and we  went up to the 2nd and 3rd floors as a small group.

Blue skies and the Eiffel tower

We all wore headphones which made it possible to hear what our guide was saying at all times no matter how far away from him we were, so we all learnt a lot about the history of the tower. Even the kids paid attention, although DS spent most of the tour pretending he was a spy.

A spy on the Eiffel Tower

I’ve seen, and been up, the Eiffel Tower a handful of times now, but I always love it. And the look of the kid’s faces when they first saw it, was worth every tantrum and argument. DD1 really wasn’t keen on using the elevators to go up, but she coped and managed to recover enough to pose for cheesy group photo at the top. I know, but it’s got to be done!

kids up the eiffel tower

We spent about 3 hours at the Tower until everyone started complaining of tiredness/hunger/boredom, then we grabbed taxis and headed home for dinner.

During our second day in Paris, we visited le Jardin du Luxembourg and paid out some money so the little kids could sail boats on the boating pond.  There was no technology involved, just sails, wind and sticks. Looking back we should have probably hired them a boat each. Either that or made them share a stick.

Sailing boats in Jardin du Luxembourg

Once our time was up and we’d retrieved the boat, we headed off to the Musée d’Orsay for some Art.

Musée d'Orsay from the back balcony
I love Musée d’Orsay. I think it might be my favourite gallery in the world. It’s fairly compact but it has space for kids to explore, and a lot of the art exhibited is really interesting. It’s also got a cafe and plenty of loos and places to sit. We spent a good three hours meandering from room to room and recognising works of art here and there. Even DD2, who had made the most fuss about having to put the internet down and leave the apartment, was impressed when she saw this hanging on one of the Gallery walls.

Vincent Van Gogh 'Dr Who' Painting

Being a Dr Who fan, she wanted to inspect it closely for a concealed Krafayis; luckily she managed to do so without setting any alarms off.

I could have spent another couple of hours in this Gallery, but again the kids were getting hungry and tired so we decided to quite while we were ahead.

That was pretty much all we did in our two days in Paris. Kids slow you down quite a bit, but the good thing about Paris is that it’s only a couple of hours from London by train, so we almost definitely will be back to visit some bits we didn’t get to see this time.


When Is It Time To Drop An Activity?

If you’ve got children, you have probably enrolled them in some sort of after school activity at some point.

Swimming, football, dance, drama, music, brownies or beavers, gymnastics…the list of opportunities is endless.

Sometimes these classes are truly child driven. Your child loves to dance or sing or kick a ball, so you find a class that allows him or her to do what they enjoy, with the bonus of an audience.

But other times, the child has not asked for lessons or classes in this particular skill. You, their parent, choose the class because you think they would like it or it would be good for them. You might have chosen it because you’d have loved to have done it as a kid, or you may think the class is essential.  Lots of little girls end up doing ballet because their mothers were never allowed lessons and many people consider swimming classes essential, for example.

Ballet lesson

It doesn’t matter why your child(ren) started the class, unless they really, really adore them, the chances are high that at some point they are going to come to you and say they don’t want to take lessons any more.

What do you do? Do you let them give up straight away? Or do you insist that they finish the term? Do you listen to why they want to stop? Or do you just say sorry you don’t like it, but you have to keep going?

I tend to do everything I can to encourage my kids to continue with an activity that I think suits them, but I’m fine for them to stop after the term has finished if they haven’t clicked with it. I’ve let them give up gymnastics, trampolining and various after school clubs after it became evident that the child and the activity were not a good fit. I don’t feel at all bad about these decisions.

I have also stopped lessons that the kids have enjoyed because they were too expensive, or didn’t fit into our timetable. Stage school ( Ballet/singing/ acting/ tap and modern dance), gymnastics for DD1 and karate for DD2. I did feel a little bad about making my children stop these, but our schedules were just too full.

Karate Kid
But there are a couple of things that I’ve insisted my kids continue with. Brownies and Beavers, because they are social and cheap; swimming until Y6, because it’s a life skill and music lessons, because they are all quite musical and being able to play the piano ( and one other instrument), are great skills to have.

And just recently DD1 and DD2 have come to me and told me they no longer want to play with a local Youth Orchestra. They have been with this group for 3 and 2 years, and it’s taken up 3 hours of their term time Saturday mornings, as well as many evenings for concerts during those years. It’s hard work but the standard of music is high and up until now I think it’s been a good use of their time. Recently though, DD1 and 2’s enthusiasm has waned, and this term they have decided they don’t want to go back. They are still learning two instruments each and are playing in their school bands/orchestras so they are not giving up completely; they just want a break from playing in youth orchestra.

Initially I tried to persuade them to continue but in the end I’ve let them give up. I have spent years ‘encouraging’ ( IE making them practice) them to develop their musical ability and they have done really well.  They are in years 8 and 9 now, they are busy with school work and they are getting too big to ‘force’ to do anything they really don’t want to do. And I don’t want to put them off music completely, who knows, if I back off now, they might go  back to it of their own accord.

If you have a child that loves an activity, for goodness sake let them carry on with it if you can afford it or you can fit it into your lives, but if your child hates something he is doing, or has no affinity with what they are learning, then what’s the point? Life is too short, surely?