Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mum in Profile: Shelley Craft

Shelley Craft is one of Australia's best known TV presenters, made famous in her role as host on Saturday Disney and The Great Outdoors before changing to Channel Nine to front up Australia's Funniest Home Videos, Domestic Blitz and The Block. She and her husband, cameraman Christian "Serge" Sergiacomi, live in Byron Bay with their two little girls, Milla and Eadie and new puppy, Aldo.
C4K: What's a typical day for you and your family when you're filming?
This season of The Block I tried to make sure I didn't spend too many nights away. There really is no such thing as a typical day, but it goes a little something like this. 0430 wake up, do my hair and make up; 0515 leave house, drive to airport; 0630 flight to Melbourne; 0900 arrive on location, shoot till 2100, check in for flight 2200 – land 2400 drive home. Sleep…

Meanwhile back at the ranch, 0700 girls wake, brekkie, Christian gets them ready for daycare, 0900 drop off, collect at 1700, playtime with Aldo (the puppy) 1800 dinner, 1900 bath, 1930 – 2000 bed.
C4K: You and Christian are quite the team, but do you have other child care help when necessary and how does this work for you?
The girls both love daycare. This year Eadie is going 3 days a week and Milla is in for 5 at this stage. When I know what my next block schedule is, I will be able to reassess.

I love to have a day with each of the girls on their own as I feel it is important to maintain one on one time and we all know that is pretty tough in a full household. I have a fabulous babysitter in both Sydney and Melbourne if I need to take the girls with me and a wonderful team of sisters here in Byron to give Serge a hand if he needs too. Just like any family, we all juggle.
C4K: You also have your own business – The Builder App – how do you ever find time to work on this as well!?
For the first year of Eadie's life she lived at my feet under the office desk. I guess having your own business creates that ‘freedom'. I'm not sure how many work places would permit that.
C4K: You must love the down periods when you get a bit of time off to relax and enjoy life in Byron - what do you and your family love to do when you're not filming?
It may seem like I am crazy busy, but I do enjoy a lot of downtime between filming and series. We love the beach and just hanging at home really – you won't get me on a plane that is for sure!
C4K: You've introduced a puppy in to the mix! Must have been an interesting Christmas! Has all hell broken loose?
The girls love having a "furkid" in the house. We sadly lost our two old dogs within a year of each other, so the girls haven't really experienced a house without a dog. Suffice to say, Aldo slipped straight into the family and besides a few too many puddles on the new carpet, he has been a dream. Eadie can't get enough of him. She hand feeds him and cuddles him all day long.
C4K: You're suckers for punishment and are doing your own big building project! How's that working with two small children and a dog?
This is something I try not to tackle with the kids or dog. I am a very good remote project manager and I am sure the tradies prefer that too. I'll drop in in the morning and at knock off, that's about it.
C4K: Christian is obviously a very hands-on Dad, is there anything he's not so good at?!
No, I can honestly say, Christian (Serge) is a wonderdad! He will go for a surf at 0445 to make sure he's back to help with the morning rush even when I'm not working and he is always available for the girls. He is a great cook and a wonderful husband too. I am one lucky, lucky girl
C4K: What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses as a mum?
Strengths: I'm relaxed, fairly free range and I love watching kids movies... They are also my 3 weaknesses.
C4K: What 3 things could you not do without as a working mum?

  1. Flat shoes (I never thought I'd say that)
  2. Non-judgmental family
  3. Supportive work environment

The Block: Fans vs Favourites airs on Channel Nine weeknights at 7.30pm EDST.

Care for Kids

Care For Kids - Annual Child Care and Workforce Participation Survey

It's that time of year when we launch our Annual Child Care and Workforce Participation Survey. This is our ninth year and we're hoping for our best response to date. With the Productivity Commission on child care and working parents issues in play, we would like to know what issues you'd like covered and what issues you face.

Share your child care concerns and an iPad mini could be yours¹

Yes, hard to believe, but it's that time of year again for us to run our annual Child Care and Workforce Participation Survey. This is our ninth year and every year we collect valuable information from you, the parents on the frontline, about issues facing you when it comes to child care.

This year viability of working is a key concern as is the rising cost of child care, lack of places for the under twos, child care centre time constraints and lack of support and flexibility in the workplace.

Are you finding it hard to juggle work and child care due to time constraints, lack of child care options, travel or lack of workplace flexibility? How much do you spend a week or month? How long did it take you to find child care? Is the cost of child care making it virtually unfeasible to work at all? How much have you paid on a waiting list? Do you still feel valued as an employee? These are all key factors the influence the happiness and productivity of working parents, and by proxy the happiness of our children.

We'd love to know the main issues facing you. Particularly when it comes to financial viability of working, difficulties of returning to work, the availability and cost of child care and employer flexibility.

If these are not the key issues as far are you're concerned, what do you think needs addressing right now?

The results of this survey are widely read by the media and policymakers alike.

By completing our survey you go into the draw¹ for an iPad mini. Everyone who completes the survey will also get a code to get 15% off all Ere Perez Natural Cosmetics and Eco Chic's beautiful range of furniture and homewares with a conscience. 1. terms & conditions

Vacation Care: Get in Quick for Easter

We should all be thinking of vacation care at this time with school holidays approaching quicker and quicker! Care for Kids have published this helpful article to get your started...

Seems like we're just back from the long summer hols and suddenly the Easter holidays are looming. Where does the time go.

The Easter holidays are particularly tricky for parents to negotiate time off. Everyone's just got back into the swing of things post summer holidays. And there's no festive shutting down of the office for any more than the obligatory Good Friday and Easter Monday.

In fact they're quite likely to be two weeks of rubbish weather with housebound small children who've eaten too much chocolate. Hurray.

So if your child's day care centre or family day care closes over the holidays, or if you have young children at school, then get that
vacation care place booked as soon as you can.

If this is your first year on the work/child care or work/school rat race then here are your options:

As well as family day care and other child care services, Out of School Hours Centres often run Vacation Care during the school holidays.

They are usually brilliant and great value, offering heaps of centre-based activities like pet farms, science days, and excursions that are included in the price. However they generally don't take any children under 5.

These Out of School Hours Centres also generally qualify for the child care rebate.

Vacation Care at Child Care Centres and Family Day Care

Child care centres and family day care that don't close in the holidays often take on vacation only children. But as you can imagine, these services are very much in demand from parents of school age kids and those with younger ones whose child care centres do not operate in the school holidays.

So get in quick and sign up. The vast majority are approved child care centres for the child care benefit and rebate, so if you qualify for either or both, you will also be eligible for vacation care.

If you can't get into any centres, then you could also consider
nanny share. Most nanny and babysitter agencies will be open to helping to organise nanny share or ask around your friends who have nannies. They are very likely to be happy to share the cost over Easter.

To look for your nearest available vacation care service, simply
click here.

This was first published on
Care for Kids

Monday, March 3, 2014

How to survive (and enjoy) your first year back at work

Image courtesy of

The first year back at work for many parents is undoubtedly the hardest. Learning to juggle the often conflicting demands of work and home is a great challenge. Learning how to reinvent yourself as a working parent will help you to not only survive but also enjoy being back at work.

Here is an extract of 8 gems of advice from our Working Parents Toolkit on how you can enjoy your career as a working parent.

1. Develop your career resilience

Resilience is your ability to cope with adversity – the tough times. It allows you to deal with change and confront challenges by having tenacity and adaptability – something parents encounter everyday as they nurture and negotiate with their children!

Career resilience is about you adapting to changes in your work environment to meet the demands of your situation – made all the more challenging once you become a parent because suddenly there’s more than only you to think about in the equation.

Here’s how you do it:
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Its only natural things won’t always go to plan. Identify the big-ticket items impacting you and focus your energy on addressing these; forget the inconsequential work and life dramas that will pop up from time to time.
  • Realise you are only human - sometimes we achieve less than we like to deliver.
  • Accept change is inevitable, and good! Just like it’s important that your child changes and grows through his or her development milestones, it’s important you do too. If something isn’t working out, instigate change rather than letting things consume you.
  • Take control of your career destiny – choose your career path and development options rather than letting it choose you.
  • Have meaning in what do and who you are. Be clear about your own self identify and understand what you want to achieve from your career and life.
  • Invest quality time in creating and maintaining meaningful and worthwhile personal and professional relationships. These people can support you during the ups and downs and do wonders for your self-esteem!

2. Find a professional mentor

Seek out someone you know and respect, either in or outside your organisation and industry, who is prepared to be a mentor or sounding board, particularly during those first six months back at work. Share your challenges and wins and discuss ways to deal with the tough work or family challenges that are thrown your way. As they say, “two heads are better than one”.

3. Create a 5-year career and life plan

As life circumstances change, so too will your aspirations, motivators and anxieties – that’s normal. Having a clear career direction and knowing how that fits with family will give you clarity and meaning about what is important to you and what might need to change in your life as a result.

Set yourself some career goals or aims that inspire you and give you peace of mind that you are on track; during the hard times revisit these and make adjustments. Even if your plan is to eventually follow a different career path or to downshift your career progression and development for a year or more, your career goals will help you stay focused on your true objectives and what is important to you in life.

4. Seek career coaching or counselling

If you feel directionless and unsure of your career goals and are struggling to manage the whole work-life balance in reality, consider seeing a professional career coach or counsellor who can help you work through what’s important to you.

5. Reinvent yourself as a working parent

Be realistic. Some things you used to do before won’t be able to be achieved necessarily in the same way now. Being a parent is not an ailment, something we should be ashamed or feel second-class about – quite frankly working parents are amazing. You and others will marvel at your ability to juggle getting the kids ready in the morning, having time to walk the dog, dropping your partner to the train station, taking dinner out of the freezer, then arriving at work by 8.30am prepared for a meeting! But they won’t marvel if you don’t tell them...all too often parents accomplish all of these things quietly and without complaint, never sharing the load or even venting their reality.

It’s important to create boundaries and communicate clear expectations of what you can and can’t do, what you will need help with, and what flexibility you can give and will need in return.

6. The grass isn’t always greener

Many parents report staying-at-home and raising kids as the toughest (whilst enjoyable) job that they have ever done. When things get hard and you feel like your options are limited, focusing on ‘how green the grass is on the other side’ is common. We focus on all the things we don’t have or that aren’t working for us versus the positive things that are. Before making any momentous or drastic life and career moves, objectively weigh up all the pluses and minuses of your situation. Focus on what is working well for you and how you can tap into that more. Isolate the core issues that aren’t working for you and brainstorm alternative options.

7. Reflect and celebrate milestones and achievements

Whether times are good or tough, make time to reflect on your situation. Personal reflection can give you perspective and help you realise just what you’re capable of. Get away from your everyday surrounds to help you get mind space for a few hours.

Reward yourself in whatever way works for you when you have achieved something you are proud of no matter how trivial it might be to others. For example, being able to drop your children at care without a flood of tears from you and the child, or the fact that you survived a tough week.

8. What about career progression and development?

A common fear for parents when they return to work is that they may be sidelined for promotion or somewhat marginalised because they work. Your fears might be real or perceived; the only way to find out is to ask. Yes, ask.

The reality is if you don’t have confidence in your own capability, you can’t expect others to. If you don’t have an idea of your career direction you can’t expect others to create it for you.

In other words, no one can give you confidence or develop your career for you, you need to nurture and develop it yourself (leaning on others for input and support when required). It’s about harnessing your strengths and drawing on your experiences so you can put your best foot forward whether it’s about negotiating a pay rise, the next promotion, or flexible work arrangements. If you undersell yourself and your capabilities, you not only do yourself a disservice, you effectively permit other people to stereotype you or discriminate against you. Your level of job satisfaction is likely to take a nose drive.

Be proactive and review your career plan, discuss options with your manager, partner and other relevant people to support your continued learning and development. If you are focused on the next career promotion, be upfront, so your manager knows your intentions and aspirations rather than leaving them to guess or assume.

Extract from the Working Parents Toolkit.
Kate Sykes, Rebecca Harper, Karen Miles, Emma Walsh