H.I.I.T. 2

I discovered another H.I.I.T. workout today. 

This one is when a friend calls on Sunday afternoon saying that they are near your house and, if you’re in, how about they pop round for a brew – they will bring cake. 

We’re still in our PJ’s, and I might have gone to bed without taking my make up off (not pretty), we’ve just cooked a sort of brunch involving every dish in the house so there are dirty pots covering every kitchen surface and the house stinks of eggs, there’s underwear drying on the radiators, I have no idea what state the bathroom looks like… but a bit of cake would be nice actually. 

Option 1: Say, “Of course, that would be lovely. You have to take us as you find us – but of course you’re welcome anytime!! 

Option 2: Lie! Pretend we’re not home and to prove it, have my husband hold his nose and make some sort of tannoy announcement to pretend we’re at a train station returning from a weekend away. Spend the rest of the afternoon avoiding any movement near the front windows. 

Option 3: Say, “Of course, that would be lovely, but you have to take us as you find us – the house is a bit messy… (nervous laugh / give special glare to husband to assume the position on your tidiness HIIT session starting blocks),… but of course you’re welcome anytime….. how long will you be do you think?… in exact minutes please?!!”

On your marks, get set, GO…..! 

Who needs Joe Wicks?

#HIIT #reallifehiit #reallifeshit

*updated* I’ve just been reminded that this can be described as Scurry Funge: the act of running around cleaning when company is on the way.

Love it! #ScurryFunge

Nothing to do

I regularly look around my house and think of a thousand things I will finally get round to doing if I ever get a weekend with no plans – because weekends are always full of kids’ parties, or a special shopping expedition, or a hangover. 

I just don’t have time to….

 – make that trip to the charity shop with the bags of clothes that have been in the boot of my car for weeks

 – creep into the pig sty that my son calls his bedroom with a massive bin bag, like a reverse Father Christmas 

 – deal with that pile of papers that I should ‘file’ in some sensible folder like my mum says she does 

 – fix that skirting board in the kitchen that fell off six months ago

 – get in the garden and pull up all the dead plants that have been rotting there since last summer. 

Now I actually have a free weekend, and guess what…. I don’t want to do any of those things. And no one can sodding make me. 

I’m going to do nothing

I’m going to achieve nothing

and it’s going to be fucking brilliant.

#balance

Pair-enting

It seems that in most households where there are two parents, there’s one who does the lion’s share of parenting*. For some this is by choice, and for others it’s through circumstance because the other spends more hours at work. It’s physically possible for one of them to be with the children more than the other. But alongside that physical ability comes a mental responsibility, and it’s that part that is exhausting.

Let me give you an example – taking kids to school. The act of moving a child from Location A to Location B. Easy. Just like a taxi service. But hang on, there are a few other elements to build in, because the person who regularly carries out that task of Taxi Parent also takes the responsibility for knowing everything else about school:

  • The Taxi Parent checks if they have homework, reading, a project, a spelling test
  • They read the notes put in their bag, remember they need to take in money for a trip, for some charity day, for lunch
  • They are the person who makes sure they have the right clothes ready – their uniform is washed, new gym shorts bought, coat and wellies actually come home
  • They make sure the child turns up in a costume or non-uniform clothes on celebration days, and on class photo day they dig out the whitest shirt, comb their child’s hair and perhaps clean their shoes.

And so on. And fucking so on.

AND they also become the person who gets to know the other parents; plans time to get the children together outside school; organises helping each other out so one of you can go to an appointment or a meeting that clashes with the school run. The Taxi Parent becomes part of the life saving network we need to call on from time to time, or every Wednesday. They help each other out when one forgets the £1 for a red nose, or that a costume is required TOMORROW and they offer to lend you stripy tights or a magicians hat (they are luckily not using that day).

The other parent, who goes to work very early and comes home very late, probably doesn’t even ponder on these things for a second. Even on the odd occasion they take their child to school, would still ask the Taxi Parent if the child has everything they need because ‘you just know these things’. Because you usually do that parenting task, it is therefore assumed your responsibility even when you’re not there. You’re just temporarily delegating the delivery.

But here’s a really crazy idea. What if it wasn’t? What if the preparation of tasks wasn’t invisibly tied to the delivery of tasks. What if, we could split the responsibility for each task in two?  Let’s try some non-parenting examples first….

  • A pilot flies the plane, but doesn’t build the plane, plan who sits where, or serve snacks to the passengers.
  • The waiter who serves the meal in a posh restaurant didn’t cook the meal – and actually the chef who did cook it, probably didn’t peel all the potatoes.
  • The rock star who sings the song doesn’t necessarily write it and play every instrument.

There are teams of people and they work together.

Sometimes the rock star does write the song, because they want to, they can do, and that’s their choice. That’s wonderful.

So can we apply that to pair-enting? It might be possible….

  • The parent who puts dinner on the table could be supported by another who plans the meals, does the shopping, or even prepares and freezes a meal at the weekend.
  • The parent who dresses the child could be supported by another who puts a wash on, or empties the washer or perhaps irons some clothes.
  • The parent who bathes the child could be supported by another who cleans the bathroom (or organises a cleaner if you can afford it)
  • The parent who makes sure homework is completed could be supported by the person who talks to their child about their homework topic of Romans or practices spellings while on a car journey.
  • The parent who got up early with the kids on Saturday to take them to a sports activity, could be supported by another who gets up with the kids the on a Sunday and gives them an extra hour sleep or a bedside brew.

I know not all of these work for every couple or family, we’re all different. Single parents, I fucking salute you if you carry all this on your own. But are there maybe other ways we can ask each other, friends and extended family to help us with the supporting roles?

Sometimes the parent who takes on the responsibility for tasks doesn’t even think to ask for help from the other, who therefore don’t know it’s a problem until they are sobbing by the washing machine screaming that they just can’t do any more sodding washing – I have definitely been guilty of that in the past – “but he might do it wrong and shrink something!”. Yep, he might. But so might I – actually there’s no ‘might’ about it, I’ve ruined loads of clothes over the years. We learn from experience, and so will our partners.

We can spread the load, we can be part of a team. We might even learn to trust each other – given lots of time and a few mistakes made on the way – but wouldn’t that be worth it?

  • I’ll pack the clothes in the suitcase, you make sure we have all the toiletries.
  • I’ll buy him new swimming shorts, you take him swimming at the weekend.
  • I’ll buy the birthday present, look up directions to the party venue and make sure there’s petrol in the car, and you can take her to the party.

Pair-enting is a gift we can give to each other. Our kids see everyone being part of a team, and of course as soon as they are old enough they can do their own bloody washing. Then hopefully they’ll grow up to create families of their own where pair-enting is just, well normal.

*I’ve not done any scientific research, I’m too lazy. These are just my own observations, and you should absolutely feel free to think I’m talking out of my bottom. Or share your own blog with actual evidence that proves me wrong.

The Mum / Life Balance

For quite a while now I’ve been focused on getting my Work/ Life balance right. In younger life we’re told to work hard, play hard. Then parenthood came along and I felt I needed to work hard, mum hard. So where does the play part go? 

When I do (happily) sign up to nights out with friends, I’m subconsciously calculating the correct amount I time I need to dedicate to my kid, before or after, to balance out time away from him. These are the rules that Mother Guilt has set for parents. 

It’s not actually about the night out, because of course he’s asleep for most of that – it’s the day after when I just can’t be arsed going on a day trip or getting the monopoly out. Sometimes I force myself to do stuff half-heartedly and end up grumpy and shouty which makes my hangover headache even worse, and my kid has a shit day. Nobody wins. Sometimes I think, it’s best to lay off the drink or come home early so that I can be extra special Supermum the next day. Pay the debt. Restore the Mum/ Life balance. But that’s not right either is it? Is it?

I look back on my pre-kid life where it felt normal, actually humanly natural, to balance a big Saturday night out with a restful Sunday. If I’ve thrown some big shapes at the discotheque, my body should have as little movement as possible the next day, otherwise my head may literally fall off my delicate body. Mathematically that makes sense. But of course life is not two-sided scales – life is 3D. Balance is much more complicated. 

My delicate body does need that rest. My head might not actually fall off, but it won’t be at its best. So why make my kid spend time time with my broken head? Is it not better to rest up and THEN be Supermum later? Or even tomorrow?

And here’s my big revelation…. my boy doesn’t actually want to spend every minute of his weekend with me. If I offer him a morning playing board games together he’ll hesitate for a millisecond before saying ‘Erm, maybe later mum. Can I play on the Xbox first?’ 

I’m now seeing that Mother Guilt doesn’t exclusively visit parents. My boy also has an inner voice telling him that he SHOULD want to spend his every waking moment glued within his mother’s loving embrace. But honestly, 3 minutes is plenty. Perhaps longer if we’re snuggled together on the sofa watching a film. Otherwise, he has boy things to do. He wants to spend time with other people, he wants to spend time on his own. That’s OK. In fact that’s fucking brilliant. 

So here I am, with my feet up, writing, dossing, resting. And there he is, in a different room, happily playing without me. Later we might watch a film, snuggle up on the sofa, together but still resting. This week is half term, I’ll be back in full-on mothering mode, and I will Mother the shit out of him, as my best self, rested and all the better for a night out with adult friends. 

Mother Guilt ignored. Mum / Life Balanced restored. 

Unbalanced and proud!

It seems we all get reflective at the end of the year. I’ve been re-reading old blogs and seeing how much life has changed.

When I started this page in March I didn’t tell anyone it was me. I felt like Batman, with a secret identity!

Until then I was pretending I had my shit together. No-one needed to know that my house was a bomb site, or that I didn’t play constant board games with my family.

No one needed to know that I was having counselling because I wasn’t coping with my vestibular illness. I could say on here things that I wouldn’t admit to anyone outside my family. It was like extra therapy.

But then lovely people started to Like some of the posts and send me messages saying that there are lots of us feeling unbalanced, but pretending we’re not.

Some people shared that they have the same vestibular illness as me. But most just recognise that constant juggle of a too-busy life, keeping all our plates spinning. It’s been great to share a laugh or a rude word when we let one of our plates spectacularly smash on the floor (and quickly try to sweep it up while no-one’s looking).

So I got the confidence to take my Bat-mask off.

Ironically it’s made me feel much LESS Unbalanced. It’s made me *genuinely* celebrate my unbalanced life and count my lucky stars that I have so much going on, that I just can’t fit it all in. It’s helped me accept that some things just won’t get done.

img_2594So now I’m standing tall, if a little wobbly sometimes. I’m proud to say out loud…
My name is Julie, and I’m Unbalanced.
Sometimes literally, sometimes mentally, but nearly always with a smile.

And a foul mouth. Let’s not fucking forget that.

Thank you to everyone who has liked this page, or sent me a message, or shared a story of your unbalanced lives. It’s amazing to know that you lot are Unbalanced too (please take that as a compliment!).

Here’s to a Happily Unbalanced 2017 for us all.

Xxx

I’m a Tapas Mum

Since going to see the film ‘Bad Moms’ I’ve been thinking about which stereotype of the mums I most relate to. Stay at Home Mum; Working Mum; Single Mum; Yummy Mummy etc etc. I’ve decided none of them sound quite right for me. So how about a new one… The Tapas Mum.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve never ‘wanted it all’ as the phrase goes to describe those who want a perfect family, great career and to be a permanent Goddess in the bedroom and the kitchen. I’ve never quite believed in that!

I do like the idea of having just a taste of each though. A little bit of everything. Like choosing a few small Tapas plates, instead of a massive portion of one meal.

For example:

  • I don’t need to be a high-flying, top of my organisation, cracking-through-the-glass-ceiling, role model career woman.
    But I do want a job that I enjoy and that I feel I’m pretty good at. 
  • I don’t need to be perfectly turned out in full make-up and 4 inch heels whenever I leave the house.
    But I do want to feel good when I go out to nice places. 
  • I don’t need a perfectly presented show home and a manicured lawn.
    But I do like to be able to relax in the evenings without spearing my bum on a pile of toys or yogurt-smeared cushions.
  • I don’t expect to have weekly meet ups with my girls for cocktails, dinner and dancing.
    But I do enjoy the occasional chance to get together with a friend or two for a brew or a shit-load of wine. 
  • I don’t need a pre-planned date night and a massive bunch of flowers delivered on a whim.
    But I do appreciate the times we get to go out and be a couple in a kid-free / no judgement, adult environment. 
  • I don’t expect my kid to be an Olympic-level athlete, mastermind of science or musical prodigy.
    But I do want him to have nice manners, have enough confidence to have a go at stuff and laugh a lot. 
  • I am never EVER going to be Nigella Lawson, in cooking skills or body confidence.
    But I will occasionally make a nice family meal that tastes half decent and give my husband a snog by the sink. Sexy! 
  • I most certainly don’t bake delicious pastries for the school summer fayre.
    But I do show up, donate a load of supermarket-bought chocolate for the tombola, and happily hand over every coin in my purse for the lucky dip. I even buy and eat the cakes that other people have made (that’s really not a chore, I really love the school fayre!)

Being a Tapas Mum is pretty great. So what do you say… can we create a new stereotype?


(This post was also shared on SelfishMother.com)