How I Saved My Sanity in January

School goes back next week.

Although, I’m no longer a teacher so I don’t live by the term, die by the term. And, my little rascal is still a few years off school (and his daycare largely stayed open in January - thank goodness!).

So why does it matter to me at all?

I don’t know about you, but it always feels like there’s a different energy around the place in January. Even for those of us continuing to go to work, we’re conscious of so many other people either away on holidays (sigh) or navigating the work/kids on school holidays juggle. But more than that, I’m a little bit of a (whispered) control freak. Honestly, I can’t remember what came first. The teaching term or routine addict. The chicken or the egg. But that’s how I roll.

And January is a month where routines tend to slip a little. There are occasional later bedtimes, both for adults and little ones, pushed back or skipped naps, or unusually busy days. While that allowed our family more social flexibility, we certainly paid the price some days. Okay, okay so we also have an almost-two-year-old on our hands, which probably accounts for plenty. At any rate, it’s become abundantly clear that both he and I are natural sticklers for routine (much to the chagrin of my spontaneous husband - we’re still working on finding that middle ground).

So, how did I find some structure amongst the free-fall of January to keep my inner (sometimes outer) control freak happy? And, to feel like I was having a bit of a holiday in my own city some days?

We chose activities for the whole family. By that I mean, we selected either kid activities that we were happy to do, like visit the new Ground Up exhibition at Scienceworks. Or adult activities where toddlers would be welcome, like hanging at the super-relaxed bar and eatery Tallboy and Moose in Thornbury.

We used babysitters. With parent babysitters temporarily out of action, we were happy to pay our fabulous local babysitters for the privilege of dining out for our wedding anniversary and to just have some adult time.

We took naps or had down time. Some weekends were really full, so we made sure to take the opportunity if ever the toddler slept to sleep too, or simply rest in front of the cricket. To reset, and to find some more energy for when he woke.

We socialised with other families. This gave the little ones some instant friends to play with, and made ‘another trip to the park’ loads more enjoyable.

We tried new experiences. We went for pho and pizza, mastered the art of the babycino, explored Scienceworks, found a new water play park. We mixed it up.

In a funny way, I think I need January to reset myself, to reinvigorate and re-energise, to exercise my spontaneous muscle and to just free-fall. Knowing full well that, by February, everything will be back in its place, just as it should be.

Happy end of January everyone (and to my fellow control freaks, we’re nearly there!).

P.S. If there was anything on your Jan to-do list that you didn’t get to and I can possibly help - just sing out! Copywriting, editing, proofreading, hit me up! Piles of washing, cooking, bill paying, I will politely decline.

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7 freelancing locations to mix up your workday

I was staggered to learn recently that freelancers now make up around a third of the Australian workforce. Although, perhaps I needn’t have been so surprised. Having recently joined the ranks as a freelance copywriter, I can certainly attest to the benefits of the lifestyle. I am my own boss and the hours are more flexible which suits my young family. Things can get a little lonely though, especially when you’re used to a bustling office or workplace. You may need to mix up where you work not only to stay motivated and inspired, but to keep company with other like-minded folk. My desk is the kitchen table, which makes me very portable. When I need a change of scene, I just pack up my laptop and planner and off I go. Coworking spaces are brilliant if you’re seeking a community of freelancers and creatives to work alongside, but there are plenty of other alternative spaces that might work for you.

Need focus?

Try a library! All libraries have different vibes, with some offering lovely views and even indoor/outdoor spaces. Explore your local neighbourhood or head to your state library for an environment that is reliably calm and aids concentration.

Hunting for inspiration?

Look no further than a cafe for excellent people watching and fascinating conversation snippets. Select one where the atmosphere and playlist suit your work style and, if you’re going to settle in, try to choose a quieter time of day. Pop onto a communal table or bench and order a meal or at least a couple of drinks to maintain a good relationship with the staff.

Errands to run?

It’s a freelance work day but the errands won’t run themselves. Leave the car at home and catch a tram or train instead, using that time to work productively. If you miss out on a seat, pop on a podcast to motivate you and use your Trello board or planner to help you organise the day ahead.

Craving collaboration?

Loads of coworking spaces are popping up all over the place - pick one that suits your vibe and try it for a day. If you need to put your head down, others will understand. If you want to chat or need a break, there will be people happy to oblige!

The great outdoors your thing?

A local park might just be the thing you need if it’s a lovely day. The best part? You can stay as long as you like.

Fancy some motivation?

Remember the good old days of group school projects? Camping out at a friend’s place in the afternoon made work so much more fun and the work got done with minimal fuss. Bring nibbles or coffee and try working side by side at someone else’s house. It may just be the productivity nudge you need.

Got the travel bug?

Take a workation! On Instagram recently, I saw a snap of a bunch of freelancing creative types who took themselves off for a couple of days and rented a house to work. This idea ticks so many boxes - change of scenery, collaboration, motivation, inspiration. I’m yet to try this idea but I think it sounds fantastic.

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