Friday, 13 May 2011


I just got off the phone with a woman from our bank who had called me out of the blue to sell me emergency household cover. She wouldn’t let me get a word in edgeways, then after ten minutes when she had finally convinced me it might be a good idea to sign up, she asked the make of my boiler. She put me on hold for a minute, then came back and told me they wouldn’t cover our boiler. You’d think you might check that before wasting ten minutes of my precious time you moron.

Then I got to thinking, ten minutes, I couldn’t give just ten minutes to this poor woman just trying to do her job. And I was multi tasking at the same time (putting clean sheets on the spare bed) so it technically wasn’t wasted. Since when did life get so busy?

I’m sure we have got busier in recent generations. I can’t remember my mum being this busy or maybe she just covered it well. Because she never seemed to be as harassed as me and she was always available to me and my brother, night and day. But it seems that these days we feel the need to fill every available second with activity. Gone are the days of sitting with a coffee and the paper, or watching something on telly just because it’s on (and not fast forwarding the ads). It makes us feel guilty somehow. Or maybe that’s just me. But with all the busyness I worry we are missing out on the really important stuff. Which for me is spending every available second playing with my kids (and the man of course), something that all too often gets pushed to the bottom of the list of priorities behind housework and other menial tasks.

The other day I was talking with a friend about my writing group. She said “Well, at least it gets you out of the house.” Out of the house? I don’t need to get out of the house thank you very much, in fact I need valid reasons to stay in the house. My own sanity does not seem to be a compelling excuse.

The fact is I love to be a busy bee. I’m in my element when I’m flapping around with far too much on my plate. Doing nothing just makes me think too much, and as I’ve said before, thinking too much takes me places I do not care to mention let alone discuss in public.

I recently saw an ad looking for freelance copywriters, I was itching to brush up my CV and send it off, but my ever sensible best friend answered in the affirmative when I said “but maybe I have enough on my plate as it is?” I am always looking for new things to do, and taking on new activities. I hate saying “no” to people, and I like to keep life interesting.

I don’t think I’m alone. There is a plague of busyness at the moment and it’s not just confined to mothers. Men, women and especially children are affected by it. Even when I was little I remember having swimming on a Monday, Brownies on a Tuesday, piano on a Wednesday, Thursday was a rare night off, then tap dancing on a Friday and trampolining on a Sunday. And I had a slow week compared to many of my peers.

These days the options for kids are even more plentiful. From about a million different kinds of martial arts to Kumon (that’s a system of Maths and English to those saying “Wha?”), drama classes and different types of Scouts, not to mention team sports and debating clubs. The list is endless. For the first 2 years of son number 1’s life we went to at least one group or activity every day. I couldn’t bare the thought that he could be missing out on some vital part of his social or physical development by not being sung to, learning sign language or play musical instruments. When son number 2 came along I finally realised something. It’s me they need to spend time with, not some crazy failed drama student prancing around with a bubble machine and bizarre poems. But I sometimes wonder how I’m going to cope when son number 1 starts school and all the serious activities start up. How on earth am I going to juggle his activities with mine? It’ll be even worse when son number 2 gets older. Thank god the man doesn’t do much.

I think all of these opportunities are fantastic. How lucky we are that we have the choice to have all of these things in our lives. Or maybe not.

How long has it been since we just sat down as a family and enjoyed our time together? Even just sat down me and the man for a good old chat? No, these days when we do sit down we are both stressed because our V+ box has reached critical level and we need to watch some of the dross and delete it lest it not record something really important (of which there is very little if any). And neither of us are actually watching it anyway because we both sit there tapping away on laptops.  Seriously. It’s rubbish really. V+, Sky+ all supposed to make our lives easier when in fact they just add to our ever expanding to do list.

The thing is do we really care about watching the stuff on our V+ boxes, whether or not the house is tidy or getting extra cash from working longer hours so we can afford expensive holidays? Surely what’s really important is people. Not stuff, not money, not the house. Maybe we could do with a bit more cash or a new kitchen, maybe the fireplace would look better painted white, but unless it means more time with the kids who are growing up so fast, too fast, and the man (likewise) it should really come at the bottom of our to do list.

So this weekend I am going to have some family time. I’m looking forward to seeing my cousin and have a rare child and man free catch up. And tomorrow we’re having a family get together to celebrate my great Auntie’s 95th birthday. I’m going to ask her if she remembers whether or not the kitchen was finished, or maybe it’s the family dinners and games played together that fills her memories. I bet she wasn’t dashing her kids off to Kumon.

For the family day I suggested I make my Auntie V a birthday cake. I was told this was a great idea, but me being me I couldn’t do just one cake. So this morning I’ve been on a baking mission, there’s a lemon layer cake, 12 individually iced cupcakes and a friendship cake. And I’ve already done 2 work outs, fake tanned, various defuzzing missions, got son number 1 off to preschool and back, practiced animal sounds with son number 2, completed son number 1’s infant school application and written this blog post and it’s not even lunch time. Well... I was up at 6. Me, take on too much? Never.

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