I do not mean me thinking I know enough to tell you all what to do. I literally mean that this is a self-help post. That is, this post is to help me.
I have a tendency towards laziness. I really quite enjoy pottering about and I have a habit of starting tasks too close to their deadline. For example, if the children and I are going out I completely underestimate how long it will take us to get ready to go out. Then I get narky and miserable as we race to be ready and the children fail to engage with my sense of urgency. These times do not bring out the best in me. Just ask the children. I seem to require this sense of urgency to start a job in earnest and so last minute races to deadlines are commonplace. In the worst case scenario, time runs out and we can’t do what I had planned. Instead of going out we stay in. Instead of doing an activity we do something more mundane. In all of these scenarios I end up feeling deeply dissatisfied and have a horrid sense of wasted time, wasted opportunity and of failing the children and myself. Heavy stuff, to be sure.
This is a story I wish to remember and remind myself of when I’m not planning in advance and getting to an activity or deadline comfortably and happily.
Today was the annual London-Brighton Veteran Car Rally. Last night the girls and I decided to go around the corner and wave at the cars as they drove along the main road. On waking today, we found it to be pouring with rain, windy and cold. These were not good ingredients for standing at the side of the road and watching the cars go by. One daughter announced that she was not going. Another daughter asked what time we were going.
My usual form would have been to decide to have a shower and dry my hair, feed us and then dress us warmly and then 1-2 hours later be ready to go out when it was too late and then apologise and explain why I was changing our plan and not going. But not today.
I kept my pyjamas on, pulled on a track suit and warm socks over them, made 1 slice of toast and ate it very fast whilst getting the wellies out and on. I then dressed the baby very warmly, loaded her into the buggy, grabbed two umbrellas and and our warm, waterproof coats and got out the front door. Whilst in the midst of this I did turn my attention to the sheeting rain though I did just kept going.
We waved at each car that passed. We felt happy when they waved or beeped their horns in answer to our waves . Some didn’t wave or looked the other way; after 12 miles of riding along in the rain we understood that their enthusiasm to wave cheerily had ebbed away along with their body heat and good cheer. My daughter splashed in puddles as we waited for the next batch of cars to appear. We were out for about an hour, with the cold only seeping into our warm-pyjama-cocoon towards the end. Inside the house was dull enough to need the lights on but out on the main road there was natural light, fresh air and a connection to the elements. Outside there was a connection with an event that I’ve been watching since I was a child and a chance to tell my daughter about how my Uncle Pat took me to see the start of the rally in Westminster when I was her age, and how my Mum and brother used to watch it as we walked home from church when I was a child. We smiled at our cocooned baby snug in her pram and lovingly agreed how cute she was. We had moments of quiet togetherness and we jointly agreed that we’d see ten more cars and then go home once we’d started to get cold.
I did what I planned. I enjoyed it. The ingredients that had almost put me off, i.e. the rain and cold, didn’t spoil it. I just felt good for following through on a plan, delivering what I said I’d do for my daughter and for getting out and doing it.
So this is a reminder to me to just do it. The next time I’m considering a bit of procrastination, laziness, lethargy or fear about an event or activity, I want to remember how exhilarated and energised I feel when I go places and do things. Today I stood by a main road, in the rain and watched the traffic. And I loved it. Providing experiences for me and the family makes me feel good. Procrastinating tires me and leaves me feeling fed-up and boring. The ingredients didn’t seem perfect and yet the experience was enjoyable and affirming.
So get off your backside Mrs! Remember the simple pleasure of seeing a plan through. Push yourself through the comfort-zone of leaving it all until the last minute. Seize the day and enjoy the experience. Get on with it because you feel much better when you do. Plan ahead, pre-prepare as much as you can so that the deadline is surrounded by time and space and getting stuff done well, instead of being stifled and strangled by panic and irritation.
We all deserve this of me.