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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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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Protected: Daddy’s Boy

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Protected: Choosing a nursery

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Protected: So proud I could burst

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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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Filed under work