The final set of GCSEs start today. We are now in the era of final exams, so new to us as parents, but ironically exactly the system we went through ourselves as students up to 1987. The stress is inevitably high in this system, everything rides on a few hours of written exam.
The weekend has been full of stress-relieving techniques, anything any of us could think of was embraced by the offspring. Sleep happened, good food was eaten. Time was spent outside, thankfully the weather was lovely, sunshine definitely helps. There have been lots of hugs. Time was spent being silly and laughing. Music was played and listened to. Baths were had.
Most of all there was acceptance of what this period is – it is difficult and it is stressful, but it is also short term. In five weeks it will all be done and the offspring seems marvellously aware of that.
Whatever the results end up being, I am incredibly proud of the way he has dealt with this weekend of anticipation and taken control of his own wellbeing as far as he can. He has verbalised feelings, asked for help and taken on suggestions. I could learn a lot from him.
With apologies to anyone who struggles with real sleeping difficulties, I am not sleeping well. Relatively speaking. I am a sleep obsessive and a bit of a zealot. I firmly believe, and a wealth of current books and articles suggest that I am not wrong, that if I sleep well I am much healthier. Both in mind and body. I have never subscribed to the heroic boasting of how little sleep I have had. I sleep well at night for seven hours and can nap like a pro. The offspring have semi-seriously enquired whether I have sleep on my CV, it certainly seems to be a skill.
Recently my sleep has not been as good, I am trying all sorts. The room is as dark as I can make it. I don’t eat before bed, I make sure I eat healthily in the day, I exercise in the daytime, but not too close to bed. Except yoga – and that helps I think. I don’t drink caffeine after noon. I don’t drink alcohol every day – a glass of wine definitely disrupts sleep.
Despite all this effort I can’t stop waking up in the night, I don’t wake up for long and can generally drop back off. I have no idea what time it is happening, as I have turned off all clocks in the light reduction effort. I suspect that part of the issue is that my days vary a lot, I work in different locations, using different modes of transport and with different teams. I tend to wake up feeling bit anxious trying to work out what I am doing today.
In an attempt to offset this feeling of confusion, I have written down a timetable for this morning and read it in detail last night again before settling down. It certainly helped me drop off much more quickly when I woke up in the night and I woke up keen to get the day started, knowing that the slot between 6 and 6:45 involved coffee and blogging. My sleep may not be perfect, but at least I am getting a blog written. I still woke up though, so maybe that is now a habit which will take a while to wear off.
And I am intending a good catch-up nap at the weekend. I am totally aware that anyone with a proper sleep problem is rolling their eyes at this blog – my heart bleeds for you and the real pain you feel.
One of my goals for this year was to be slower in life, to do things with more intention and more deliberately. A surprising manifestation of this has been in shopping. I am not a lover of shopping, I found it stressful – there is too much choice, too much expectation to be buying things to make life better. That never sat comfortably with me.
Somehow this year, I am enjoying shopping. I have not yet managed to totally overcome the impulse to just buy things mindlessly and then feeling guilty afterwards, but a few things have definitely helped.
A decision to be more ethical in my purchasing, specifically about environmental impact of what I buy has been a transformation in my mindset. The fashion industry is one of the major environmental culprits, guilty of mass-producing clothing in appalling working conditions, using and damaging a wealth of natural resources and all with the intention of forcing a complete change of wardrobe every month or so. It seems that a seasonal wardrobe is no longer enough, we now have transition wardrobes, party wardrobes, holiday wardrobes. I struggled hugely and refused to buy anything for ages and then overbought on impulse. I have found a form of clothes shopping I love – charity shops. Not just any charity shop, but a specific few close to home, which I visit in a specific ritual involving hanging out with a teenage son, him browsing for vinyl and DVDs and us both having a fortifying coffee before we even contemplate shopping. So, a new wardrobe and a shared hobby with a teen. Great result.
It is rather odd to realise that I look forward to clothes shopping, but I do. I changed work hours this year and changed them to make sure I could still go shopping. Ok, the coffee and hanging out with the teen are crucial parts, but still, there is also weekly shopping involved.
And it turns out that I have so much to say about shopping that this is going to be a two-part blog post – which is astounding me. Part two tomorrow.
This blog turns out to be a good example of doing something productive in the mornings. I was not aware it was until this morning’s non-exemplary lack of productivity. Or in plain English – I am having a Monday morning. I seriously cannot be bothered this morning. The weather was tough this weekend, I am tired, it feels like light years to the next holiday and the daylight hours are getting uncomfortably short.
All this will pass I am sure, but I decided to forego even attempting a blog and just try and sort out in my head where I am and what I am doing this week. So, I was sitting with coffee, bullet journal and laptop. The latter to check diary in fact.
The teen wandered in and asked, with genuine interest “so, what are you writing about today”. Genuine interest. On a Monday morning. From a teenager. About seomthing his mother is doing.
That, my friends is known as motivation. I did explain – in a VERY non-exemplary manner – that I wasn’t going to write, because frankly I just need to get my **** together.
Actually, it takes ten minutes to have a think about what needs to be done in the next couple of days, it turns out there are plenty of meetings in the diary to keep me on track. So, here we are, a blog.
It’s another one about blogging, I really do need to organise a plan in this. Yet more **** to get together. I am hoping for some enforced downtime later this week, so I may just get around to planning themes or at least have more idea than waking on a dark wet October morning and thinking that I just cannot be bothered.