The looming housework

I may be partially writing this as an explanation for anyone who is visiting us this weekend.  As we have a family celebration, there will be several.  My house is a bit grubby.  It has not always been so, in the past I have had a strict cleaning routine and have even paid for a cleaner.

Something in the past few years changed.  I don’t seem to care so much. The house is clean enough, but so far from spotless, or even tidy, that I feel like I am a different person from the one I used to be.

Partially this is because my offspring got older and my work hours increased whereas husband’s decreased. And it was still only me that really worried about housework.  It is not and never has been me that just does the housework.  (I need to write another blog post about just division of labour in the home – or caring for children).  The issue is the concern, the anxiety, the waste of my emotional energy caring about it.  No one else in the family cares.  They do the chores, but don’t think it is necessary to prioritise domestic tasks. They get done if we have time – there is no emotional involvement with vacuuming carpets, there is not judgement on the state of the bath.

So – I changed my outlook.  We are relatively clean and tidy, so it is very liveable and hygienically safe. Instead of me worryinga, we all just have a quick tidy up and clean when it looks like it needs a bit of extra effort, but all together and in a really limited way – just an hour at a time.

And instead of cleaning or tidying – I am writing this blog.  I can’t do everything, but I can do things which are productive, rather than those which are actually not important.  Although – visitors for this weekend may rest assured, I do think it is important to have a quick clean up this weekend.

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Watching them light up

One of the most fascinating aspects of parenthood is seeing the loves and passions that your offspring develop. In my very limited experience of only two offspring, they’re not the things that energise me.  And of course, they change all the time, at a sometimes alarming rate.

Sadly academic study has not always been one of those passions which fire up the offspring here. I say sadly only because they spend a fair amount of the year in academic study.  But some of that study does interest them, and I try and get them to see that in amongst the general complaints about having to attend school.  I guess many of us do jobs which don’t make us passionate.

One of the tricks of life for us all at any age is to indulge in the stuff that makes us feel awake and energetic.   Sometimes that can be the video games or the latest box set – however much I try and deny that in my parenting, there are phases when the newness of a game and the fact that all your friends are discussing it, is genuinely exciting.

That said, the inspiration for this blog is much more active.  One of the offspring gets hugely energised by skiing and we indulged that yesterday as a last-day-of-holidays treat.  The burst of energy he gets from the sport has definitely got him through the last day blues and even out of bed a couple of hours earlier than has been usual over the last couple of months.

It’s one of the most delightful things to see as a parent too – offspring totally focussed and refreshed and enthusiastic.  If only this particular passion were not quite so expensive.  And slightly more convenient in terms of geographic location. This could be yet another reason to consider that migration to Canada.

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we were just about the only people who decided skiing is a good way to end the summer holidays

Letting go of disappointment

Disappointment is when there is a gap between what I expect and the actual reality of a situation. Life is filled with all levels of disappointments.  There are some major ones in my life which I interestingly, do not focus on at all. Too big and too painful togo there. The minor ones I work on dismissing all the time.  It seems to be the medium disappointments that take me down.

In this case a holiday that did not go to plan.  A conversation yesterday made me realise that I cannot let this one go.  This summer an idyllic week of relaxing and exploring with dear friends and spending a precious week catching up together turned into a tearful and stressful reaction to the sheer awfulness of Ryanair’s customer service.  Ryanair cancelling flights in what feels like an arbitrary manner and then offering no support or replacement flights to their customers meant we were left with a mere three days together.

And in case you were wondering, three days are not enough to recover from the stresses of daily life (which is the point of a holiday after all) let alone a hideous four days of trying to communicate with uncooperative customer services and trying to get a family to a holiday destination in order to make the best of a really bad job.

I know, first world problems and all that.  But Ryanair makes a huge amount of money from people having the first world desires to fly somewhere hot for a holiday.  It’s not ok to be so horrible in your business dealings.

Maybe that is why I cannot let this one go.  Being a horrible company when you are financially successful and have a captive market is unjust.   There are many issues with our capitalist society, treating your customers or your employees badly feels like the pits.

Somehow though, I need to stop being angry and work out how to carve out some more time with those lovely friends who bore the true brunt of the disappointment.  Because I suspect my disappointment is not going to change the behaviour of Ryanair, it just makes me feel grumpy.

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the pool waiting quietly for the holiday to begin properly

Summer problems

Obviously there are no real problems with summer.  Summer is a beautiful, gorgeous, energising time of the year.

I adore the long summer holidays for the break from the routine that can start to feel oppressive.  Now that the offspring are older, the summer really gives a sense of ease.  Only me to get up and get out in the morning.  A feeling of fun in the evening as we hang out and do things as a family instead of execute a finely tuned evening of activities, transport and eating which are seemingly designed to test our life skills in every way.

The summer holiday mornings are especially precious, with a delicious combination of more sleep and more time spent with the husband.  They are more tired though, as early nights seem to disappear in the change to the summer routine.  But that just means more coffee and chat.

All in all, it is a good time where time seems to stretch a bit further.  And so less gets done.  There’s the rub.  That feeling that I have loads more time as the deadlines are softer means I don’t gets things done.  The running has fallen by the wayside.  The blogging has been non-existent.  This morning it occurs to me that I have not really looked at my diary or the to do list all week.  There are advantages to the morning rush of the school term.

But for now, let’s enjoy these last few precious days of the relaxed routine.

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there have been holiday mornings of photographing sunrises.  Delicious

 

 

Rebel Rebel

I had a quiet weekend this weekend, followed by a Monday evening with very little planned.  And I didn’t really fill any of that time with anything in particular.  We browsed some shops and drank lots of coffee and hung out with some friends, but it was all very low key.  Yesterday evening I flicked through a magazine and browsed social media.  Just, you know, kicking back and doing nothing really.

That feels so deliciously counter-cultural in these days of even our mediation or prayer time having an app associated with it, even our strolls through the park leading to a move streak on the wearable tech measuring every step I take between the coffee machine and the outside sofa.

I am as guilty as anyone of being sucked into the concept of what “gets measured gets done”.  This month, I am going to rebel against it.  I may not be able to rebel against the demon circles of Apple Watch just yet (that is an addiction too big!), but I am easing off on making sure I run three times a week or yoga twice, or meditate every day – or whatever other blather I hold over myself.  It is the busy season at work and I have got myself into a busy season elsewhere in life.  So, in the bits that I don’t need to make busy, I am going to very deliberately not measure or record or even worry about them.

Let’s see how long this lasts?  Now, let’s switch on the coffee machine, I have 15 minutes before I need to work.

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Some of the coffee has been iced.

 

 

 

The Morning Run

I love running.  That is not a sentence I ever though I would write. I started running last year in my late 40s.  I was overweight and I have asthma – neither are indicators of a good runner.  But both were the reasons to start running.  My breathing was getting worse, so some cardio vascular exercise was needed.  I was keen to make sure I build some muscle tone as I lost weight.  Weight loss is about eating the right things, but exercise helps the muscles to increase as the fat decreases.  Running was, frankly, cheap and convenient, but I hated every single run of the couch to 5k programme I followed.  Every single one.

Still I persevered and just kept running three times a week for something between 20 and 30 minutes. One day I was in Plymouth on one of my regular visits and I ran along the sea front.  And about 5 minutes in I thought “I love this”.   That was it – my turning point, I remember it so very distinctly.

Today I am once again in Plymouth.  Thanks to a warm night and a neighbouring seagull family who decided to start their morning routine at 4am, I woke up tired and bleary-eyed, but very quickly the thought that I had a run to look forward to popped into my head.  And tiredness was put aside.

In fact, I interrupted writing this to go for the run, it felt weird to be writing about running when I really just wanted to be running.

I don’t love every run, but it’s a good life lesson.  We can’t love everything we do, sometimes we just have to carry on and do it.  But this morning was a great run – one too many hills at the end, but you know what, it just felt all the more satisfying. This is a run that also ends with a treat of coffee staring out to sea.   Perfect.

A perfect run?  Who would have thought I would ever write that?

 

Fear Of Missing Out

I really didn’t think I really suffered from much FOMO until this evening.

I get it mildly when everyone is at a party except me.  But I now realise that it is much easier to accept that I have chosen to do whatever else it is I am doing and to be really present in my evening out, rather than thinking on the one I am not part of.

I have yet to work out why people take such huge pleasure in telling me I missed a great night though.  I may be too nostalgic and looking back with rose coloured glasses here, but I am sure that we used to reassure each other that “you didn’t miss much” or “oh it was the usual people saying the usual things” or “never mind, we’re all meeting up again next month, let’s make sure that date is right for you”.

Not so much any more.  I think it shows that we are beginning to condition each other to make the fear of missing out bigger and more anxiety-inducing.

Nevertheless, I do a ton of very cool stuff, trying to do everything makes me ill and I prefer to be healthy and just do one thing thanks, so the FOMO has definitely dissipated as I have got older.

Except for when the sun shines.  Then it becomes close to anxiety-inducing as I feel the need to spend as long outside as I possibly can.  The current warm spell is exhausting me simply because I feel the need to be outside when I really want to be asleep in my bed.  This evening I am away with work on the coast, so despite feeling travel weary and possibly a bit dehydrated, I had to walk along the seafront.  And walk.  Until I felt so tired and hungry I was getting a bit tearful.  It still took a stern internal talking-to to make me go and find food and rest.  I have even interrupted writing this to pop back outside to see the sun set.  I couldn’t, wrong angle, but I did see the moon instead. But seriously!  The sun will shine again, it will be warm again, why do I feel this desperate need to be outside for every possible moment?  I am inventing a new ailment of fear of missing out on the daylight.  It may hit those who live in the more northern areas of the country hardest.

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Chuntering on.

This is my relaxation. I know, for some, writing is not restful.  It is for me and this is a great way to start my day.  By the time I leave for work, I feel like I have done something productive, got my thoughts in order, practised one of the skills I will use for the rest of the day and have had some fun in the meantime.

I could be spending more time with the family at this point, but those who know me and my family will know that our circadian rhythms are not actually in rhythm.  I am the morning person around here, so I wake up thinking and talking.  Everyone else stands up and starts the morning routine, but are not particularly interactive.  In fact, they seem to have quite an adverse reaction to me blethering on at them in the mornings.

So here is my space to talk, get the brain working, whilst everyone else eats and dresses.    After a while, we all meet up in a more similar place and able to talk.

That’s the theory anyway.  I have a ton of other little jobs that I could be doing in this time though. This morning, I have resolutely put them aside in favour of this.  Mainly because I have noticed that getting up to write a blog is fun, so I wake up a bit earlier.  Last week I decided to use the time to do some other things instead, and found my body refusing to wake up to do chores.  Hardly surprising.  I have the same reluctance to wake up and do some exercise straight away, although that is equally useful.

As you may be able to tell, it is still silly season around here and my thinking is hardly high level as I am very tired.  So, this is an exercise in what my mother calls ‘chuntering’.  Thanks for not telling me to shut up.

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So, what’s the weekend for?

Feeling as frazzled as I am, I need to head into the weekend with a strong sense of intentionality, so I have an aim over and above the list of appointments.  My aim is to “settle”, to find a sense of everything being ok overall.

I think everything I have booked into the weekend will fit into that.   There is a lot planned though, so I am trying to reframe it into feeling like a refreshing and reviving weekend.   It all starts with an amusingly titled appointment to “eat large cakes”, which is an attempt to treat offspring doing exams at the moment.  And it is a good thing to see first thing in the weekend diary.

Add to that a delicious evening catching up with friends at an evening of champagne tasting.  Oh yes, champagne tasting; I would love you to think that is a normal Friday evening for me, it’s not.  But I am loving that that is what I am doing this weekend.

Then I have a lot of new things and learning in the plan – a happiness and wellness conference and seeing some new writing at the theatre.  To be honest the theatre sounds a bit harrowing, but I have been meaning to attend the RSC’s Mischief Festival for years. This is the year.  Although, maybe getting out my head into some real problems will help with getting some perspective.

To balance it all out is a day of resting and relaxing with family to celebrate some of the fathers in the family.  That will definitely be less relaxing if I forget to do the shopping for it, though. I do need to keep an eye on the boring chores as well as the fun stuff.  That said, I do feel I need to take a couple of days off some of the other chores I have surrounded myself with and rest a bit.

Here’s to a weekend of settling.

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New blog routine

Up until now, all of these have been written first thing in the morning.  But it’s the busy season at the moment, with various commitments and a lot going on, and frankly sleep is slightly more beneficial than blogging.

But sleep is making me blog this evening instead.  Or rather lack of it.  I am a great sleeper, it’s definitely my top skill in life.  It’s also the canary in the mine of health and wellbeing.  If I stop sleeping, there is something wrong. And I stopped sleeping a couple of nights ago, not in a huge way, I just keep waking up.  I can drop off again, because I am determinedly not engaging in a thought process, but that ability will wear off as I get more tired, I know.  So instead of having the day start with getting thoughts in order, tonight I am going to end the day with this habit.

Now, to work out what is keeping me awake.  I think it is an accumulation of things and I don’t really want to give credence to my fears. I am feeling overwhelmed, by a quantity of issues, rather than one thing in particular. I suspect what I am not doing very well is writing down everything I need to get sorted and then working out where to start.   In a peculiar way, my fear is writing everything down, because then I may just realise that I can’t do anything.

The problem with feeling overwhelmed is that it becomes harder to find a way to get the job done.  I am starting the inevitable downward spiral into feeling that I can’t do anything, I am hopeless at everything, the best thing to do is run away.  This is my very typical dramatic catastrophising of everything into something way bigger than it should be.  Tonight’s catastrophe is that someone has criticised something I put in place and I feel bad about having to deal with a difficult situation and potentially hurting someone’s feelings.  I seem to think that running away will help.  I know it won’t, but right now, that flight instinct is huge.

To add some perspective, I have handled the situation well.  Two things went wrong tonight on my watch, one was solvable this evening and so it was resolved and hopefully all will be fine.  The other issue felt much bigger.  So, I did what I will hopefully come to accept was the right thing, I listened to the concerns and I promised to deal with them.  And I will deal with it at another time, when I am not feeling overwhelmed, not today.

And meanwhile, I need to remember everything good that happened this evening, because lots did. Perfection is not mine on this occasion, but I need to not forget the good stuff, there was much much more of that than the bad stuff.

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