What happens when the operations manager is down?


To carry on the theme of sleep from my last post….I have just woken up from a speed nap. This is a very necessary skill for a mother and I would highly recommend it, to be able to power nap in a short amount of time, recharging and ready to go for the next round.

This photo above is me speed napping 2 years ago on Xmas day in Dunsborough WA. (note the flat tummy book I got for Xmas! Hmmm).

I inherited this napping habit from my mother who tends to nap instantly and very quickly for a recharge. I just had 20 minutes and feel revived. I woke up and knew instantly what I had to write a blog post about as I have a household full of sick kids and a husband with ‘man flu’. I am the only one not sick at the moment so the school holidays have not been as eventful as we would have liked. It got me thinking about what would happen if I was sick.

What happens when Mum is sick and laid up in bed?

Let’s be honest here, mostly us Mums stay operational when we are sick. However about a month or so ago I was briefly not operational as I had the flu and in the morning when I woke up I decided NOT to get up. Mainly the decision came about due to my husband actually being home as he usually works away overseas. So here I was deciding to stay in bed! I was quite surprised by my family’s reaction. Am I that important to the proceedings? To give a bit of background I am a bit lucky with a husband who does do quite a bit around the home, is a dab hand at the washing, and is a bit of a clean freak. He’s ultra organised and happy to wear the apron, bake and general kitchen duties. However to be honest this has slackened recently due to me being not as busy (ie not working). So it was a bit of a surprise when everyone was temporarily discombobulated by my operational glitch. They are normally much more self sufficient. I think it was the ‘leave me alone’ vibes that are supposed to repel them, that actually attracted them!

So…what happens when the operations manager is down? The answer was nothing! (temporary disablement). In my house on that day everyone suddenly was lost and lonely, and they wondered about seemingly disoriented. It’s almost like a trauma where people can’t think or speak properly, they can’t make decisions and feel a bit anxious. Well that describes my family when I am down with illness. Or should I say down with an illness so bad that I can’t/won’t get up. Might be a slight exaggeration here but you get what I mean.

Here’s the scene….I’m tucked up in my lovely cosy bed feeling miserable. My three kids and husband have flung themselves randomly lying all over the bed saying things like

“What can we do?”

“When are you getting up?”

“I’m bored”

It is nice to be so loved and needed! But I have contemplated this scene many times since and realise that this calls for some serious change management. I don’t have qualifications around change management but I’m pretty sure I can make the basic changes needed to rectify the over reliance on the operations manager.
Clearly it is the result of me doing way too much for my children and being there way too much. Even when I am ill I usually just carry on. I’m sure many other Mum’s can relate to this.

So it’s either doing too much for everyone or I am a control freak! Either way it’s got to stop! I have made a decision to stay down more often. I might develop the odd headache or tummy ache from time to time. Maybe I should get a bit more disorganised, forget a few things and pull into the pub for the odd beer a bit more….maybe if I bury my head in the newspaper and hide all day in the garage that might help too! I am actually just joking here, over exaggerating is a family trait.

I certainly didn’t set out to be the operations manager at home. I’m not sure if any of you can relate to this, but really I thought the job I had taken was ‘Joint CEO’. I have actually been that at work before and managed to earn a great deal more, as well as get breaks and annual leave. However life changes and with my husband working away a lot and myself as the stay at home parent you just do have to step up. But recently I have realised that perhaps I could have created a family thing of all the kids and I stepping up together. It could have been a chance to develop a learning environment for the children around all members of the family coming together to pitch in. Kids thrive on being involved and feeling competent and needed as a vital family member.

Being the Operations Manager at home is a whole different story than at work. At home when the responsibilities are not split equally amongst all appropriate members the balance of family life is lost. That’s certainly how it has felt with our change in life circumstances and responsibilities which required me to be the main caregiver and home maker. Sometimes I feel like taking time off, having time out. Yet I just had 5 days without the kids as they were at their grandparents and I really missed them and it was I who felt a bit lost, even though I enjoyed the peace and the time out without kids.

My family know when I’ve had enough. I am quite vocal and not afraid to let them know! They know that I just need to recharge and then I can access my love of the job again. I admit I am not a 24/7 mother who can give 100% at all times. I’ve met a few of them and admire that they can do that but also question the cost to themselves. On the flip side of this, I once met a mother who routinely gets away for 2 weeks a year without her family. This is a healthy thing to do in my view, although I’m not sure I wouldn’t feel guilty about that. But after the scene that happened when I was sick in bed I’m pretty sure that I should probably give it a go!


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