Category Archives: work

Self-help

Mum bought me a self-help book for Christmas. We all got one. I think she worries I worry too much (wonder where I get that from?) I’m not normally into that kind of stuff but I don’t have a book on the go right now so I’ve put it on my bedside table and I dip in and out. It’s well written, the tone is light and it’s not patronising. In fact, it’s quite funny in places and it’s written by a Brit, so it’s not too schmaltzy.

Last night I got quite engrossed in the chapter about how we all live in a prison we build for ourselves – Cell Block A is self-doubt, Cell Block B is fear and so on. I was surprised to discover that one of the ‘cell blocks’ was seriousness. Hmmm. I didn’t know that was something to avoid. It’s definitely something I’m guilty of though. Apparently we’re being slowly squashed by the weight of public health messages and government advice; eat well, exercise, work hard, recycle, be a good neighbour, save money… The result is that we care too much about too many things.

That’s why you’re working too hard to keep the whole show on the road; that’s why you’re stressing so much about bits of the show breaking down.

You know when you read something that just strikes a chord? I put the book down and repeated this to myself. I am so stressed about bits of the show breaking down. Yesterday I had to ask mum to keep the wee man overnight so I could work right through til bedtime. There just aren’t enough hours in my day to run my business, keep on top of the housework and look after a toddler. I mean, how do single parents do it?! Thank God Rod’s back tonight and we have a day off tomorrow. I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax unless I had my two big projects completed and I knew my pride wouldn’t allow my husband to come back to a messy, dirty house.

Yes, I am my own jailer.

The book’s solution to this state of affairs? It’s very simple and very effective. It’s the title of the book. F**k it.

Isn’t that brilliant? I’ve said it out loud a few times today and it’s made me smile. I need to care less about things that don’t matter that much. So it’s taken me half a day instead of half a minute to reply to an email. F**k it. So my hair is a bit flat and there’s a photographer coming because I’ve agreed to contribute to a feature last minute. Dry shampoo. F**k it. So the wee man’s not eating his fruit and I have to give him another yogurt. F**k it. He’ll survive. So the move in date on our Aberdeen pad has been put back ten days. It’s a pain in my ass but f**k it, we’ll go up anyway and stay in the serviced apartments for a while.

It’s so liberating – try it!

So the house is a mess... F**k it, he's having a blast!

So the house is a mess… F**k it, he’s having a blast!

So he's trying to drink beer... Actually, wait, is there really beer in there?

So he’s trying to drink beer… Actually, wait, is there really beer in there?

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Filed under home, work

The lesson of the Big Blue Sack

We don’t have a laundry basket, we have a big, blue Ikea sack that sits on the floor of a walk-in cupboard in the bedroom.

When we’re tired and lazy we fling our dirty washing at the bag and don’t much care if it goes in. If one of us has put a towel in the sack we don’t even aim. The pile annoys me for a few days until I finally get round to hauling it out, hunting for all the socks and pants and separating the whites from the darks.

Rod likes his work shirts washed separately and there are usually those towels and bits of handwashing left over, but occasionally the bag is empty and I see blue. I open it out as far as it will go and put it back in the cupboard, wondering if this time we’ll keep it all tidy.

Going to bed with the knowledge there’s an empty sack in the cupboard is a good feeling.

When the fridge is empty and I’m tired, I do a small shop at the local Spar, knowing that eventually I’ll need to sit at my computer and order the big online grocery shop. When my car gets messier and filled with more stuff, I grab a few empty water bottles on my way out and make a mental note to hoover it at the weekend. When business is busy and childcare is limited, I hit the deadlines and answer the emails knowing that one day I’m going to have to organize those receipts, file those papers and get back to the business plan.

The joy of the full fridge, spotless car mat and organized office is sweet and brief because I know, soon, it’s going to start up all over again. I’ve decided that’s OK.

Short cuts are supposed to be hard. If they weren’t, they’d just be The Way. And as we all know, it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey.

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Be kind to yourself

A blogger I love has just posted that her second baby has arrived and she is blue. All the comments have been very supportive and nearly everyone has said: “Be kind to yourself”.

I’ve been feeling a bit stressed over the past few months and this phrase has struck a chord. The person putting all the pressure on me is me, so why can’t I just be kind to myself? I’ve spoken to a few mummy and non-mummy friends about this and it seems like we’re all at it. We’re all worried about things not being done properly, we’re all stressed about our workloads, we’re all guilty that the people we love aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Why do we do it to ourselves?

I’ve been trying very hard to follow my mum’s advice about replacing every negative thought with a positive one.

When I left the wee man crying at nursery today I firmly told myself he’d be fine in a few minutes, he loves nursery and I would be back for him in no time. When I took a break from my work to make a cup of tea and sneak a few chocolate buttons, I sternly reminded my conscience I do three exercise classes a week. I’m going to try very hard not to feel guilty about taking tomorrow off to take the wee man to an appointment and just play with him the rest of the day.

I wonder where this pressure comes from. Let’s blame the media shall we? In fact, let’s blame Victoria Beckham. She has four children, a tiny waist, a fashion label, a gorgeous husband, millions in the bank and a sunny life in LA. Sure she’s a grumpy cow whose husband cheated on her but you can’t deny the image is good. Or shall we blame the government? The economy is on its arse, everything is extortionate from childcare to petrol, and we all must run as fast as we can to stand still. If I’m honest – brutally, look yourself square in the eye, honest – I blame my pride. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am, I must keep the standards up. I must ensure my business is a success, my house is clean, my hair is shiny. I must raise a well-rounded, happy child, support my husband and go out, be sociable, have a laugh and still be me.

On the whole, I reckon I’m managing all this pretty damn well. My life is full to bursting. Business is good for both Rod and me, the house generally is pretty tidy and clean and we have a fantastic social life. As for the wee man – when he throws his arms around my neck and presses his wee mouth against my cheek I just want to whoop at the top of my voice. He makes me so happy. Seeing him jump on his daddy makes me joyous. Watching all the new things he discovers makes me so proud I could burst. Those are the feelings I need to remember when the bin’s overflowing, the dishwasher needs emptied, there’s nothing for dinner and I have a deadline to meet.

I’m going to be kind to myself. I hope you are too.

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Daddy’s Boy

A lot’s been happening this week. The wee man caught a heavy cold and a stomach bug, I landed two new clients and Rod worked six days late, once having to stay overnight after an 18hr shift.

Yes I am sitting here with a gin and tonic.

Two extremely tight deadlines, a poorly baby and an absent husband meant I wasn’t going to sleep well anyway and the wee man agreed. He was up during the night every night – his best performance being the 1am – 4.10am shift on the night Rod was away. His eating habits regressed to the fussiness that inspired this post and I resigned myself to relying on Calpol to get us through the week.

Then it all changed.

Last night he slept 12 hours straight. Today he ate porridge, toast, yogurt and an orange for breakfast; two slices of toasted cheese and an apple for lunch, two oaty bars for his snack and three fish fingers, a bowl of boiled potatoes, a load of peas, another yoghurt and a banana for dinner.

You know what did it? Daddy.

Daddy bathed him, gave him his milk and put him to bed. Daddy played with him, took him for his first haircut and gave him all his meals. Daddy was there when he went to sleep and there when he woke up and that’s what made the difference.

I’m not bitter about this. Trust me – I got a good night’s sleep and I could stop worrying my child was going to waste away. It’s more that I’m intrigued. The wee man has always adored his daddy, they are very close and I’ve always loved that, but this seems like an extreme reaction. We all want our parents when we’re ill, so I’m sure that had a lot to do with it. And I know he loves his mummy too – his reaction when I pick him up from nursery proves that. It’s just amazing to me that a 17 month old can have these kinds of thought processes. Rod is going to be working this way for another couple of months so we’re going to have to come up with some kind of timetable to make sure the wee man gets enough Daddy time. In a way I’m quite pleased this has happened – it’s so easy to give in to work demands and let family come in second. This has reminded both of us where our priorities lie.

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Choosing a nursery

It was a surreal experience obediently following a chatty young woman through rooms draped with crepe and filled with children.

“Do you have any questions?” she perkily asked.

“Yes – what the hell am I doing here?” was what I didn’t say because I was trying very hard to pretend everything was totally normal.

I have a 14 month old child and I need to find him a nursery so that I can cope with the extra work I have slogged my guts out to win from several new clients.

I am not a child myself, however much I feel it. I am responsible for a hell of a lot all of a sudden, including a small person and a business. Therefore I have been diligently researching inspectorate reports, doing my sums, forward planning workloads and now visiting nurseries.

So far we’ve seen three, but the one I’m most excited about is scheduled for tomorrow. It’s the only one I had heard of when I started this sobering journey, so there’s a certain comfort in that. It’s also the closest, sits halfway between affordable and extortionate and the two staff I met when I popped in to make the appointment speak beautifully. I know we’re not really allowed to say things like that. The thought police forbid it. However, I am a journalist and a grammar pedant, it’s important to me that the wee man learns to speak properly.

I’ve been interested to see a baby asleep on a changing mat (that’s pretty bad, right?), toddlers with their hands pressed against the window watching other children playing outside and nursery staff whose breath smells strongly of cigarette smoke.

I’ve spent the first 14 months of the wee man’s life keeping him away from all conceivable dangers. I’m not prepared to hand him over to anyone who isn’t professional. Private nurseries are businesses and pretty lucrative ones at that. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the one I choose to have the same high standards as any other business I choose to spend my money with. The stakes are never higher than when they involve your children.

I’ll post tomorrow when we’ve visited the magical fourth – fingers crossed!Image

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So proud I could burst

 

As the one who is always behind the camera, this picture means the world to me. Julie Broadfoot came to take some new headshots for my business and took a few extra of the wee man and me. I never expected anything so lovely – thank you so much Julie!

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Fit your own oxygen mask first

I ate my breakfast at 12.10pm today.

Here’s why:

and on and on and on….

All I wanted was for this to magically fill

As I have tried to explain to my poor, long-suffering husband – it’s not what I have to do it’s how much I have to do. And the fact I never finish a task. Never.

I have been trying to get back to work over the last few weeks. I’ve been trying to figure out how best to wean the wee man. I’ve been trying to keep my house in some kind of order – and it’s just all too much sometimes.

But it’s OK – because I have learned some valuable lessons along the way:

  • It’s OK to spend a fortune on organic fruit purees because when you tried to make your own last night the smoothie machine woke the baby
  • It’s OK to think a smoothie machine is the same as a hand blender
  • It’s OK to think a whisk might do the job so you don’t need to buy a hand blender
  • It’s OK to spend ten quid on a hand blender
  • It’s OK to completely lose the plot when you lift the bin lid and it still hasn’t been emptied.
  • It’s OK to cry a bit when you mention the unemptied bin on the phone to your husband
  • It’s not OK to make him the scapegoat for everything that’s untidy in the house
  • It’s not OK forget to eat so that you have no fuel to deal with your crazy day
  • It’s OK to call your granma and ask her to help out with the pureed carrot recipe
  • It’s OK to ask granma how to store pureed carrot
  • It’s OK to call your dad and ask for advice on dealing with stress
  • It’s not really OK to burst into tears so that he has to pull in on the way to an important meeting and console you rather than prepare his notes
  • It’s OK to admit that you’re finding it all a bit overwhelming
  • It’s OK to ask for help
  • It’s OK to blog when you really should be tackling that three foot to-do list

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