Nearly two weeks since my last blog post (that sounds dangerously like a confession) so my plan to write about happy things has not really worked out. That’s not to say that I have been unhappy for the last fortnight; I have certainly not been unhappy, but I have probably been too busy to notice the happy things enough to blog about them. Things I do remember being happy include: Book Club night (that’s always a happy time); getting my hair colour done*; I’ve had two days off with all the family off together.
It’s been a busy time and I have been feeling the effects. T started his mock GCSE exams last Monday and they finish tomorrow. He hasn’t been too stressed, as I’ve said before, he doesn’t really do stressed. I have been a bit tetchy, wondering if I am doing enough as a parent to support him through this time: I have made sure he has food to eat and an ear to talk to if he needs it and have encouraged (I suspect nagged, but I have been trying not to as that’s a sure fire way of ensuring he doesn’t do anything) him to revise at every opportunity. I’ve also made sure he has down time to chill out and relax. His last exam finishes at 10.30am tomorrow and then he can relax a bit. Until the revision starts ramping up again, with no let up until May next year.
I saw a friend last week and she noticed I was a bit quiet and as we parted she told me to be kind to myself. It was such a lovely thing to say that it made me stop and think. I haven’t been very kind to myself of late. I have been eating badly, not exercising at all and I have felt myself going into hibernation. I don’t like going out in the dark. I don’t like the dark evenings. I try and make things cosy, but then I don’t want to DO anything.
Despite her words, I am still not eating brilliantly (I have had a bit more fruit but my stomach always goes into mutiny mode when I get back on the fruit and starts to bother me – not a great incentive to eat well) and I haven’t exercised. But I have booked a last minute spa day with my lovely Mrs F and we go tomorrow. I can’t wait. It’s an excuse to switch off from the world, no phone, handing over the reins of being the “emergency contact” to K for the day and just laying around reading, chatting and eating (relatively healthy) food. There is a downside to this day of indulgence – I need to get my body out of ‘winter mode’. I have to rid my legs of the layer of fuzz that I like to cultivate over winter, I need to paint my toenails and, the biggest horror of all, I have to bear my skin to the world (well, the other layabouts at Champneys) in a swimming costume. This does not feel like being kind to myself but I know that after a day with Mrs F doing nothing (other people like to do exercise classes, use the gym, swim 50 lengths – not us) I will be feeling tip-top and my fuzz free legs and lovely pretty toes will be the icing on the cake.
With 4 weeks to go until Christmas there is a danger of going into Panic Mode. I have to confess that I do have lists on the go. I managed to go List-less in the summer but I don’t think I would be able to manage the festive period without a few lists. I am keeping them simple and few, but they will stop Panic Mode being invoked. I never used to get overly excited by Christmas. It seemed a lot of fuss for one day and a lot of build up to a day that never lived up to expectations. That’s because my expectations were always too high. I dreamed that no-one would argue, no-one would be unwell, everyone would love every single gift they were given, every toy would work and it would be The Best Christmas Ever. In recent years my expectations have been more realistic and I have been able to relax more and enjoy it for what it is. A time of trying to fit everyone in, of trying not to get swept along with it all and end up spending way too much money on stuff that no-one really needs.
I have a couple of traditions: I like to buy a new board game each year for us to play over the festive period and the kids get new PJ’s on Christmas Eve; I buy a piece of gammon that I cook on Christmas Eve – because Mum always did when we were kids; I have certain decorations that I have to put up and I like to buy a new one each year and mark it with the date. I don’t normally like to put the tree and decorations up too early – a fortnight before The Big Day at the earliest. This year I am feeling ready to get into the spirit of it as soon as possible – but worry that I will be over it by the 10th December, so I am holding off. We have a busy couple of weekends coming up so I won’t have much opportunity anyway – it takes time and can’t be rushed. My favourite meme (not sure that is the right word) to do with Christmas decorating reads “I’m sorry my OCD made decorating the tree together a horrible experience”. This sums up tree decorating in our house. Other people can pass me the decorations and suggest places but I have overall control. And I rearrange it several times over the ensuing days and weeks. It’s not nice, it’s not fun for anyone else, but I can’t help it. Maybe this year I will try. Maybe.
I am quite excited by the start of Advent tomorrow. Not for any religious reason – I just like the countdown. This year I have bought a new advent calendar. We used to have those perpetual ones that have pockets on them to put chocolates in, but my kids are far too grown up for that (apparently). So, I have a lovely new wooden one and I have a new advent candle (another tradition of recent years) and I have bought a big box of chocolates (because although they are too grown up for the advent calendars, of course they still want chocolates) – ones that we all like and coincidentally come with 24 in a box, which I have numbered for each day of Advent (six each!). We will light the candle each evening and whoever’s turn it is can eat their chocolate and move the marker along on the advent calendar. I don’t know if anyone else will find it as lovely as I do but that’s fine by me.
* I’ve had my ‘winter colour’ done. I haven’t had it done for a couple of years so it has come as bit of a shock. A has said a few times “will it lighten up as you wash it?” which leads me to think she is not too keen and as my chief stylist I am a little concerned (she did say it’s brings out the colour in my eyes – permanently red!) But, I’ve had some kind comments and even my two bosses noticed and muttered that it looks nice so maybe it’s not too bad.