I have a confession to make- I hate new year! New Year’s Eve is always a massive let down (what the hell are you supposed to do NYE when you have 3 small children??) and I hate the false promise of January and the endless resolutions it brings. It’s not that I don’t mean to stick to them- if I resolve to do more exercise or lose half a stone or be more organised, I genuinely want to do those things! But the pledges are made at a time that is not representative of normal life! Over the Christmas holiday we have two adults at home and no school run or homework or routine or places to be or extra curricular clubs! On Boxing Day morning my parents had stayed over so for the first time ever, Jon and I went for a 5km run* together (*he ran, I ran for 2km then practically threw myself down in a puddle and sobbed about how unfit/fat/unable to run I was and had to be dragged for the remaining 3 back to the car!) But in real life, the option to go for a run together isn’t there without putting other people out or a logistical effort that makes you wonder if there is any point! There are always ten other things on the to do list that I prioritise over that run, partly because I hate it, but also because the to do list is a never ending story! Factor in the additional tyre around your middle from all the cheese consumption, perpetually dark days that give our family the complexion and parlour of the undead and not having been paid for 6 and a half years and January is just not my favourite time of year!!
And while we are on confessions, my feet are quite frankly, rank! They are a perfect picture of a ‘before shot’ for a cracked heel cream. I always mean to use the pumice thingy on them. I mean to rub moisturiser in them or put on one of those gross but satisfying foot masks that makes you shed a layer of skin like some weird foot shaped snake! I mean to take off the nail varnish that I applied sometime in the week before George was born almost 8 years ago and reapply a smooth new layer instead of just layering more and more on top of the chips on the odd occasion I’m going out and people will see my toes! But it just seems to be one of those things I never quite get round to! Like exercising. Or reading. Or just sitting and watching something on TV without also simultaneously doing an online Sainsbury’s order and typing up the minutes to the last PTA meeting!
You may wonder how I leapt from one to the other and I agree, the link seems strained. However, the reptilian and disgraceful state of my feet are quite indicative of my approach to the current buzz word of ‘self care’.
December and the run up to it in our house was mental! Esme has a birthday at the end of October and Ted is mid November so it always feels like I jump on a hamster wheel at some point around the middle of October and struggle to keep up with the pace until the sweet release of the day after Boxing Day! I chair the PTA at the kids school and there is a huge list of things to do for the Christmas Fair and Carols in the Woods and Santa visiting the classrooms and on and on and on! For those of you who are sick of being asked to send in money and cakes and ALL the CHRISTMAS, spare a thought for those of us who have a dining room tables groaning under the weight for 350 teddy bears, all of whom need washing, drying and labelling for the Teddy Tombola! The amount of things that needed doing were just relentless and every night for a month before, after I’d put the kids to bed, I’d be sat making posters or wrapping stuff of making fudge! I’m not complaining, I’m happy to do it and am proud of what we achieve each year, but its full on! My mum had a big birthday in early December and we hosted a party for her. Again, a brilliant night was had by all and we were more than happy to do it, but… full on! We’ve had to have major work done on our chimney and living room as the original builder saw building regulations as something of an optional extra- huge amounts of stress, panic decorating so we could get a tree up, dust EVERYWHERE! Then there is the small matter of ALL the gifts and ALL the food and ALL the wrapping and ALL the concerts and ALL the bastard elves and Christmas Eve boxes and tired children and washing piles and housework and jobs and nights out and….. BOOM! Head explodes!
One aspect of January I do like is the feeling of suddenly being a bit less busy. You don’t have presents to wrap or cards to write or potatoes to peel on loop! But suddenly having this time has made me reflect on how low down my priority list I place myself. Our boiler packed up the day before New Year’s Eve so my husband took the kids up to his mums for a bath leaving me home alone for an hour. That would have been the perfect opportunity to sit on the sofa and read my book or catch up on some TV I’d missed or write (which I haven’t done for so long! Worst blogger ever!) or do any of the above while wearing the foot peeling mask thingy I bought ages ago but don’t find time to put on. But instead I ran round the house, trying to find space for Christmas toys (there isn’t any!) and clearing out drawers and wardrobes to make space for new Christmas pants while surreptitiously flicking a duster round and hoovering with my spare foot!
Part of this is the relentlessness of 21st century life. Everyone is busy busy busy! Everyone is trying to juggle a job and family and friends and Netflix! I’m back to teaching two days a week, I’m trying to be a good mum, I’m trying to cook well and keep on top of homework and not let the washing pile get so out of control that it starts to spill out of windows and doors like pant shaped ectoplasm! I’m trying to make time to cuddle George through the sadness of losing our dog last month or to talk to Esme about the million questions she has about the world at the minute or to take joy in the beauty that is Ted and his hilarious take on everything! But a huge part of it is also my personality. I am a busy and productive person. I take on too much and say yes to too much and like to be busy. I am not very good at switching off. I get twitchy if I’m still for too long and am not very good at thinking ‘it can wait, I’ll do it tomorrow’. I’m especially not very good at doing that if the alternative on offer is something ‘for me’. If I sat down with a magazine knowing there were toys all over or reading records to fill in for the kids or an online food shop that needed doing, well I just wouldn’t! But in reality, taking half an hour a day to pumice stone my feet or to write or read or listen to a podcast or bake for no reason wouldn’t bring the house falling down around us! I need to try to find some way to dial down my mind and energy levels occasionally!
Ted is at nursery on a Wednesday morning meaning I get 4 hours each week child-free. I can’t think of a time in the last year where I have used that to go for a leisurely shop, or meet friends for lunch or do a gym class. I mentally map out weeks in advance what I’m going to do on each of those mornings. Sometimes I plan in an hour for something nicer that isn’t putting away washing or cleaning or frantically trying to buy forgotten nativity costumes or PTA stuff, but inevitably that’s the last thing I do and time slips away meaning I’m lucky if I have time for a luke warm brew. From now on, I’m trying to put my ‘thing’ in first and stick with it. This morning I was going to go for a run but found myself lacking in motivation but at least stuck to the principle and wrote for the first time in a good few months instead! And I’m glad. The house hasn’t fallen down, social services are not knocking on the door demanding I hand over the kids because I’ve prioritised something that isn’t directly about them, they’ve still got clean uniform to wear tomorrow and the world hasn’t imploded!
So my New Years resolution is simple. When we go on holiday at the end of March, I will not have dry cracked heels! I will take five minutes every night to scrub away that dry skin and I will book in to have a pedicure to rescue my poor, reptilian, rank and disgraceful feet! That is my life changing pledge! And who knows, if I can start with this, it might even lead to being able to sit on the sofa in an empty house with an actual brew one day!
Happy New Year! (Ps at what point do you stop saying that?!? And what is the correct etiquette for the lull between Christmas and new year?? Happy new Merry Christmas Year?!?)