This week it’s hit me that I do everything at 100 miles an hour and I don’t know why. There is no need for it whatsoever and it has to stop because I’m running myself ragged. I’m always rushing, always scurrying about, always getting stuck in to a list of ‘jobs’ that I’ve given myself despite the fact there are rarely any actual deadlines and I’m starting to feel like I don’t make enough time for what’s really important – enjoying my partner and children.
When I was at work, I had to meet tight (and very often unrealistic) deadlines on a regular basis and I made damn sure I achieved what I had to do – even more so when I returned from my first maternity leave working part time. I think I felt like I had something to prove so being efficient was even more imperative. Obviously, I had to be at work on time and always was, in fact I was usually early. On my last day before maternity leave this time around I was told not to take my time getting to my 10am meeting. I still left home at 7.30am aiming to be there for 9am, and made it by 9.15am (when you’re 37 weeks into your second pregnancy and you need a wee, you HAVE to wee).
Yesterday, my daughters and I went to visit my Grandma. I called her the day before, to see if she needed anything, and told her “We will be with you by eleven thirty”, to which she replied “Oh there’s no rush, just take your time”. So why was it that at 9.45am I was barking at my poor two-and-a-half-year-old that we were “going to be late” if we didn’t leave soon?! Late for what? Grandma wasn’t going out, she had no expectation on when we should arrive and there was absolutely no need for me to be darting around the house, getting stressed.
It’s the same on a Friday morning when we go to Baby Gym. By 9.30am I’m usually sweating, throwing things into the changing bag and yelling at Rose to find a jacket. It starts at 10am but you can arrive anytime you like. They don’t lock the door, they don’t charge you more money if you’re there after 10am, coffee isn’t served til 11am anyway and my lovely Mummy friend who I meet there doesn’t have a judgemental bone in her body – in fact, a big hug would be more likely than a raised eyebrow if we did arrive later than normal, looking a bit flustered.
It’s dawned on me that I’ve turned my family life into a job, with a list of tasks to be completed (set by me) and usually with a tight timescale (also set by me). I pride myself on being organised and feel rewarded by doing things well, being thorough, and getting sh*t done, but why on earth would I put this pressure on myself?! Am I missing being at work? No way, José. Do I enjoy being stressed? Absolutely not. Do I wish I was calmer, happier and less huffy with the girls? Wholeheartedly.
The to-do list is going to stay as I’d only feel panicked without it and I know how important routine is in helping children (and adults!) to feel stable, so I’m definitely sticking with that, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to relax more and remove some of the unrealistic deadlines I set myself. Historically, a ‘deadline’ was a line drawn within a prison which a prisoner must not cross – for fear of being shot. I need to accept that a lot of the deadlines I set myself are unnecessary and hold no horrific life-threatening consequence.
When 4pm hits and Rose asks me to play, I won’t say “I’ve just got to put the tea on” and then not return because I’ve been distracted by putting the bins out, making packed lunches, washing up, emptying the tumble drier, feeding the cats and putting washing away – I will put the tea in the oven and then go and play.
If the bins don’t get put out, there’ll just be two lots the next week. No-one will get shot. If the cats don’t get fed, they’ll miaow more loudly. No-one will get shot (well, it depends how loud they are). If the tumble drier doesn’t get emptied, the dry washing isn’t going to disappear (sadly). No-one will get shot. If I keep missing invitations to play with Rose, she might stop asking me, and that would hurt more than any gunshot wound. Here’s to sometimes being late, sometimes being messy, but always being PRESENT. I’m putting it on the top of my to-do list right now.