There is such a thing as too busy

My Friday posts on Facebook often start with ‘Wow! What a week!’ because each week feels so busy. All weeks have paled into comparison to this last week. Seriously. I started the week feeling completely overwhelmed and decided the only sensible decision was to cancel almost all of my appointments so I could get on with the websites I have on the go. A great decision but even that didn’t make the week feel any easier.

I’ve always prided myself on being busy. To the point that the counsellor I saw a year ago said she suspected I used busyness as a mask for dealing with the complexities of life. This didn’t make me stop, think and slow down. Life with 3 kids, their other parents, my partner, a neurotic dog and running my own business means that there isn’t much time for rest and relaxation. This has never bothered me before but this week has been a real test as to what one person can achieve. On the one hand, I have achieved a lot, not just in web design and proposals but all the back end of running a business is starting to come together. On the other hand, it’s time to slow down and whilst it doesn’t mean I won’t be taking on less work, I will be reviewing my systems and queueing websites so life doesn’t feel too stressful and as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.

Never ask your child what homework they want to do

I love the way the school handles Home Learning, the kids get fortnightly homework plus at the beginning of each term there is a sheet with a range of activities and the kids have to pick 2 of these to complete each half term. They can choose which 2 they want to do.

With only a week until half term my eldest son decided it was time to put down Fortnite (just kidding – he was threatened with never being able to play it ever again if he didn’t do his bloody homework) and crack on with his Home Learning. So far so good. He chose the ‘create a castle using any medium you like’ task. The problem here is the ‘using any medium’. My piggy son immediately declared the only medium he wanted to work with was cake and left me to sort out the finer details. Basically. To bake it for him. I said it was such a big job we’d have to donate the cake to the Harvest Cake Sale. He said no. He wanted to keep it at home. Brilliant. 

With my best friend who is a professional cake maker having to make an emergency trip to Australia I was well and truly on my own with this one. She lent me a book of ‘easy childrens cakes’ and promised me it was going to be fine. Just buy a lot of Swiss rolls were her parting words.

Long story short – my son will not be choosing his own Home Learning activities from now on. We are drowning in cake (not a problem for my partner!) and I have to repeat the process this weekend when baking my Nana’s 88th birthday cake. At least it’s not going to be a castle this time. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

Take a moment to remember what it’s all about

During my crazy week of busyness one of my sisters had organised for a group photograph of Dad’s children and grandchildren to be taken so Dad can be given it for his birthday. As it wasn’t my job to organise getting all 21 of us in the same place at the same time, as well as being a cheap option for a present, I readily agreed.

The reality on the day, the 5 of us, our partners, 10 grandkids, my Dad and Step-Mum and 5 dogs was chaotic. My Step-Mum was taking photos, 2 dogs had run off and the kids were playing an energetic game. I took a moment to give my partner a hug, was talking to just him (harder than you think with so many people vying for your attention), and didn’t realise anyone was watching us until my sister called my name and snapped our photo.

The rest of the day was just as crazy, with most of us back at my sister’s house. A portion of the room was taken over by my partner, hairdressing, another 4 family members had turned up, including 2 (very cute) babies, I was giving some WordPress training to one of them (adult family member, not the babies) and it was only when we arrived home, after the kids bedtime, dealt with a phone call to a friend in crisis and finally sat down just me and my partner, that I realised how I dealt with all the chaos calmly and enjoyed it. I swear it was because we had that quiet couple of moments, just us, that set me up for the rest of the day.

I enjoy chaos and being with all my crazy family. Taking a moment to recalibrate and check in with my partner who is only just getting used to being surrounded by so many people at once, made it even better. I’m going to try to remember to do this more often and you never know, there may be a few more photos like this in the future.

People can change your perceptions of things

Other than swimming, which I don’t seem to be able to do without the kids and on one memorable occasion in the summer, my friends dog, hanging off me, and the occasional dog walk, I am not a fan of exercising. I’d like to say this is a temporary thing but I hated P.E at school, only ever went to the gym in a bid to lose weight and have threatened to end our relationship if my partner tries to make me go running with him.

I have attempted to be someone who runs in the past and over the course of a few years (many years ago) have had a Personal Trainer. I’m not saying the last one gave up Personal Training to become an artist *because* I was so mean to him, but it probably factored more than once in his career change decision.

I’ve been busy interviewing for next year’s 5 Minutes With… project and having built Daniel’s website earlier this year, I was ridiculously keen to interview him. Have a quick look at the site and you’ll see why. He is a Personal Trainer who is not in it (just) to torture people who want to get fit, via the medium of exercise, he views health and lifestyle change as a journey and has a Holistic approach to peoples wellbeing.

Talking to Daniel was fascinating – hearing his own journey from school to office work to setting up his own company was incredibly inspiring. He shared some quick wins of how to incorporate movement and look at what you’re eating during work time as well as the thought process behind determining long term lifestyle changes.

Daniel’s changed my (long held) perception of Personal Trainers and that they’re not just doing it because of their own love of exercise, but to help people get healthier and make more informed choices. I’m not saying I’ll be exercising regularly in the future but it is now on my radar and should I decide to embark on getting fitter, I’ll be going by Dan’s ethos of do the exercise that makes you feel good, don’t put yourself off by doing stuff you hate. I’ll keep you posted.

*You can read Daniel’s interview here: Five Minutes With….. Daniel Wallis

Mental Health should be spoken about

Wednesday was World Mental Health Awareness Day. It was amazing to see so many people speaking out and posting about their own struggles with Mental Health. I constantly find myself talking about the pressures on our generation and the generation below us. One of my most used quotes is ‘women are expected to mother as though they don’t have a job and work as though they don’t have children’. We’re expected to be all things to all people and at the end of the day there is very little left for ourselves. It’s no wonder that people are leaving the traditional workforce in droves to set up businesses that work around their lives. After all, our commitment and daily routines shouldn’t just be focused around our jobs. A lot of the small businesses I work with also have a social conscience – raising money for charities, using eco factories in a bid to protect the environment or setting up membership groups and coaching facilities that help people to achieve a good work-life balance. By this I don’t mean fitting in physical time for both work and family, it’s about ensuring you’re emotionally fulfilled and not at full stretch all the time.

My go-to person when having a day where I’m struggling emotionally is Brené Brown. Her words about vulnerability, courage and imperfection really speak to me and I love the way she uses her research and links it to her personal experience to tell a story. This particular quote (above) reminds me that our imperfections are what makes us able to relate to people. We all have them, they make us unique and rather than beat ourselves up about our imperfect lives we should be talking about them openly. What we’re finding difficult, when we feel like an abject failure because we’ve made a mistake or our lives aren’t picture perfect.

Ironically Mental Health Awareness Day was the day that I ended up in an emotional puddle of exhausted crying with my partner. Life was just too hard that day. I was expecting to feel like a failure because I was finally admitting that everything had got on top of me and I was struggling to give 100% to all the different areas of my life. He immediately went into the ‘what he can do to help’ mode that he’s so good at and a weight lifted. I realised I wasn’t in this alone (I kinda already knew this but sometimes it’s good to be reminded). I can’t send my partner to all of you reading this to help when you feel overwhelmed but please, do talk about it. Talk to friends, talk to family, arrange to see a counsellor because having good mental health is fundamental to having a good life.