Have we lost the ability to stop in a busy world?

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How my friends with older children didn’t laugh at me I will never know (other than they are lovely).

“I’ll have plenty of time soon,” I said confidently. “When Freya’s at nursery two mornings a week.”

What they already knew, of course, is that there is never enough time. Fast forward four months and I’m laughing at myself.

Sometimes I feel like I’m on one of those challenge programmes, you know, like 60 Minute Makeover, where I have a set time to get everything done and always, always, just about scrape by.

When she’s not with me I feel the need to do ALL the jobs. Shopping, cleaning (especially all the bits I’ve previously ignored *cough* skirting boards), prepping, admin. You name it, I cram it in so there isn’t a minute spare.

The first few weeks I purposely kept myself busy so I wouldn’t think about her sitting alone crying my name in the corner of a classroom (which couldn’t have been further from the truth) but I seem to have just carried on.

The lists in my bullet journal get longer and longer each week.

It’s like I feel the need to justify my existence, if I’m not working or looking after Freya, by not sitting down at any point during the 2.5 hours she’s away.

I seem to have forgotten how to just…be still. And I have that Ferris Bueller quote buzzing about:

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Even with the luxury of time (I mean maybe 15 minutes or so not the entire morning) I just can’t stop – even though I’m sure the skirting boards could hold the weight of dust for another couple of years, at least.

I’m not sure who I’m trying to prove myself to. Mark would be the obvious choice, as he is the one “at work”. He’s really not bothered and in fact said I deserved a break after a pretty full on few years.

I know we all have busy lives, a never ending “to do” list but somewhere in the back of my head, tucked behind the sleep deprivation, it feels like I’m missing the point.

Hot Pink Wellingtons

Maths – No More Passing The Buck.

“You’re just not getting it, are you?” The man said in a tone that made it clear he was losing his patience with my obvious stupidity.

Later, as I was retelling this story to Mark, he stopped me at that point and said: “That’s when you went ballistic, right?”

Wrong.

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Standing at the tills in the high street shop, even though I knew, I KNEW, I was right, something stopped me from pointing out he was being incredibly rude.

And that something?

Simple maths.

I’d gone to the shop to take back a dress I’d bought Freya which came down to her ankles. The deal was the dresses should have been £8 each but if you bought two you got them for £6 each making them £12 and saving £4 (every little helps).

My plan was that I’d pick a different style from the ones in the same deal and swap it.

I explained it politely to the man.

He nodded.

He scanned the old dress.

He scanned the new dress.

He said: “That will be £2, please.”

I reached for my purse before I realised that no, that wasn’t right.

He pointed at the receipt and said: “You only paid £6 for the old dress and this one is £8.”

“I know but if I buy two dresses I get them for £6 each. That’s the deal. I have two dresses but I want to swap this dress for that dress using the same deal. I shouldn’t have to pay anything.”

He tried to explain it to me.

I tried (again) to explain it to him.

Then he resorted to insulting my intelligence.

I really hate rude behaviour (and I’m quite capable of saying so normally) but maths is my achilles heel. He was so adamant that he was right that I felt a tiny tingle of doubt; maybe I had got it wrong after all? I started to get bit flustered, even considered giving him the £2.

I’ve been feeling cross about it ever since.

I’m not sure when I realised I was rubbish at maths. Junior school, maybe? Certainly in high school when I was placed in the lower set (I got a D in GCSE maths, for the record).

It’s something of a standing joke within my family now.

The strange thing is, it’s not really the hard stuff I struggle with – I really enjoyed algebra, for example (maybe because it has letters in it!), and later, at work, I quite liked picking my way through council/company reports trying to work out where the money had gone.

It’s the basic stuff, especially if it’s on the spot, where I stumble. My brain just doesn’t work that way. Never get me to work out splitting a bill – unless you’re willing to pay for a bit of my lunch (at least that’s my excuse).

In those long months of pregnancy, I worried about who would help Freya with her homework (because, clearly, I didn’t have enough things to think about) but I told myself “Oh, Mark can deal with that side of things”.

This man made me think.

Passing the buck is no longer good enough.

I don’t need to be good at everything but I do wonder whether I’ve switched off to even trying now – and that’s not a great lesson to teach Freya. “Oh you can’t do it, let someone else do it for you.”

That’s why I found myself insisting to the man in the shop that I was right. I was just about to ask him to get his manager when he suggested refunding both dresses and starting again.

He gave me £6 back for some reason.

“I’m sorry it’s all coins,” he said, which was a bit bewildering.

“That’s ok, I’m going to give it back in just a second.”

He did his thing, eventually scanning the two dresses I wanted. They were indeed £12 and so I pushed the coins back across the counter to him.

I saw the exact moment it clicked in his head what I’d been asking.

I’m not sure what was going on.

Maybe he couldn’t put it through the till any other way. Maybe I didn’t explain what I wanted well enough but there was no need for his rudeness.

He did me a favour in one way because I’m determined to start having a go from now on (and I’ll hopefully get better at it).

Have you ever worried you’re not good enough in a certain subject or don’t have the right skills to be able to help your child?

 

Is Living In A Flat With A Child “Selfish” Parenting?

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Have you seen the story doing the rounds about a couple in America who were sent an anonymous letter accusing them of being “selfish” for raising their two boys in an upstairs flat?

The typed note, clearly from a neighbour, says “shame on you” for not having a “yard” with “a swingset” or “trike to ride when they want to”. Because obviously a house with a garden is not only the dream but also attainable for everyone.

There are many reasons why people live in flats. From a lifestyle choice to the financial benefits and lots in between. And, of course, ultimately it’s no one else’s business – unless you’re the phantom, judgemental letter writer, who has made it so.

Apparently the “selfish” parents want to live near the beach and that’s why they are living in a apartment. If that’s the case, I don’t blame them. How lovely to bring up children with the beach on the doorstep. The chance to play in the sand, paddle in the sea/ocean and enjoy the fresh air as often as they want. Surely that trumps a “yard”? Even with a swingset (which nearby parks should also provide).


Does Freya miss out by not having a garden? Actually I would say she benefits, if anything, because we go out and explore more. Plus she gets a different swingset at each – even better!

From a parenting point of view we give her the best life, filled with things we things are important, we can –  and living in a flat enables us to do that. I’m sure the American couple are the same, at least according to the news reports which followed the note being revealed. I don’t think you can ask for much more than that?

Personally, I don’t think this letter is about “selfish” parenting at all; it is something entirely different.

Noise.

I get it, I do. I’ve seen it from both sides.

Having lived in flats for more than a decade, I know how cross I used to get at being woken up – although in my case it was by adults who should know better, not children. Did I write nasty letters? No, I bought earplugs and got on with my life.

Unless you can afford a detached house, you will always have neighbours – in a flat you just have more of them. We obviously try and keep the noise to acceptable levels – especially in communal areas – although children now call all but two flats (one is empty) in our block home and so we are all roughly in the same (loud) boat. I actually quite like the noise, it feels comforting to know there are always people about and I think I would really struggle in a house.

I bet the letter writing neighbour has been disturbed by the children but they can’t really complain about that so they are attacking the parents (and making themself look ridiculous in the process).

The letter ends: “I don’t know this but I doubt either of you had to grow up in these conditions.”

These conditions? A loving home, with an entire beach as a playground. If they didn’t, I’m sure they wish they did!

What do you think? Is flat living only for people without children?