#powerparents Alissa Anderson
Describe your Family
Our family relocated to Fulham from Alexandria, Virginia USA in August 2016 for my husband’s work. We discovered we had been selected for the position in May 2016 and needed to rent our house, rent a house in London somewhere, find schools, move/store property, move the car, find a new home for our elderly cat, have eldest daughter take the 11+ exams, etc. in less than three months’ time! While the girls handled everything like champions, the move away from home, the new home/school environment, and some intense bullying at my youngest’s new school made for a challenging first seven or eight months. We feel like we’ve just settled in and are trying to take advantage of everything the city has to offer, knowing our stay in London is finite. Most often, it feels like we’re juggling three or four too many balls and have everything held together with cellotape, but we’re in it together and are trying to remember that.
Where do you work
I work for a US defense contractor as a Program Analyst. I previously negotiated contracts for the company, but needed to move into a less time-sensitive role while living in London.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
With a degree in International Business, I had hoped to serve in an embassy. Sometimes adulting means you need to have a job for the sake of an income. It would be lovely to have a career that I’m passionate about, but I’ve chosen to earn a solid income with job security for the sake of being able to enjoy weekends and holidays with the family. I wish I were good at tap dancing like our favourite Bea & Co. star of 42nd Street!
Describe your typical working day
We’re vertical at 6:30 a.m. – our two daughters are in different schools quite far apart so the morning routine needs to begin early enough to be fully awake by the time school starts! Lately, breakfast has been a fruit smoothie with yoghurt. Deliciously Ella bars are handy for when we’re running late.
I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home as I support a US company. It’s been terrific to have a job and the salary, but I work US east coast hours which tends to make cooking dinner a challenge.
Work top tip, mantra or motto
When angry or frustrated at work, write the email in a Word document, then never send it. It helps to write it down, but the working world is too small to burn bridges. John Oliver created a clever website called Scream into the Void where you type out all your anger and emotions into “the void” to get it out of your system, then it disappears into the void. Cathartic. http://screamintothevoid.com/
Favourite family trip, hangout or activity in London?
We do not do well sitting around the house. Downtime invariably equals sister-fights. We tend to always be out doing something – seeing a show, walking around a park, exploring a market. It does mean that our house is loaded with so much laundry that it’s formed its own worker’s union, though. Seeing a show with inexpensive last minute tickets is our favourite thing to do lately.
Our favourite trips so far have been to Amsterdam (http://www.houseboatrental.amsterdam/), Paris, Cyprus, Ireland, Munich for Christmas markets, Wales, and Somerset. We try to find something un-touristy in each city we visit. Among other things, we’ve done caving, people-powered roller coasters (https://www.zipworld.co.uk/adventure/detail/fforest-coaster), trapeze school, gorge hiking, horseback riding, parasailing and cooking classes. The kids have told us that if we make them go to one more castle, museum or palace, they’ll throw up (despite the fact that they live in Europe).
Best piece of parenting advice you ever received, or would pass on to others
“This too shall pass.” I wish I had had a sign in our daughters’ rooms when they were infants and little to remind me of that. It seemed like every day brought some new illness, bone break or other emergency. It may seem like the end of the world in the moment, but tomorrow is always a fresh start.
Favourite way to unwind, escape or reset from work and home life?
Call Bea & Co with an urgent S.O.S!
What do you most hope your children will have learnt/ will learn from you?
I hope our children will, above all other things, be good people. I don’t care if they aren’t concert pianists, brain surgeons or rocket scientists. I do care that they are ethical, kind and decent human beings.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve got a stack of books I’m hoping to read at some point. I just picked up Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan and N-W by Zadie Smith. They have great reviews and I’m looking forward to reading them. At the moment, though, they’re collecting dust on my nightstand. It’s tricky to find the time for something as “indulgent” as reading a book!
What did you last see at the theatre?
Alice’s Adventure Underground at Waterloo Vaults and Stomp. We try to see as many shows as we can to take full advantage of our experience here. We buy a programme from each show and have a terrific collection now for keepsakes. We’ve loved seeing our favourite people from Bea & Co. in shows and cheering them on.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Burt’s Bees lip balm and paracetamol.
What’s in your handbag?
Everyone else’s stuff. Moms are one-part Sherpa.