We have been looking forward to going on holiday for months. For weeks now all the talk round the dinner table has been of ‘when we are on holiday we will be doing this or that.’.
And now on the eve of taking our much longed for break all I can feel is panic. Panic because I have so much still left to do. I have been up to the wee small hours many a night this week completing jobs for work and the house which I somehow find myself feeling I must do before I go on holiday.
It is the same feeling I get when Christmas comes. Somehow I must have every outstanding thing done before December 25 or something dreadful will happen. If I leave it until December 26 this will mean I have failed. So I find myself on the eve of one of the best days in the year, if not the best, ironing the last of the laundry so I don’t have to wake up the next day and see an outstanding basket full of creased garments.
The same thing happens when I go on holiday. I feel I can’t truly switch off until every last thing which has been niggling away at the back of my mind is finally put to bed. So in a punishing schedule I have completed list after list of outstanding jobs - just so I can have a few nights where I don’t wake up in a cold sweat worrying about some form or other I have failed to fill in or some part of the house I have forgotten to take a duster to.
I wish I could just tune out the moment I leave work or leave home but sadly my brain works overtime and I find I am berating myself for the most minor of misdemeanours. As my other half keeps telling me: “Just leave it – the world won’t stop if you don’t do it.”
But my guilt complex kicks in and rather than worry about someone else being dumped with my unfinished jobs, I will work myself silly to try and get things done.
Despite all this though, I fear I don’t get any real satisfaction. I then just fret that I have let my children down – as I frantically try to complete some last minute details on my days off I fear I fail to spend the right amount of time with the offspring.
The other day I was so intent on bashing away at the computer in the time between the baby sleeping and waking that I failed completely to respond to my children clamouring to be taken to the park.
When I finally surfaced from behind the screen I rushed round scrabbling together what leftovers I could find in the fridge into something which I hoped could vaguely pass for dinner. By that time the sun had slunk behind a cloud never to be seen again that day, putting paid to an end- of-the-day meaningful trip to the park.
Last week the other half and I made a pact to spend at least one day at the weekend devoted to family orientated things. We realised we were spending far too long doing menial jobs – from shopping to washing, ironing and cleaning – and the children were being fitted in around this.
Our resolution was to make the menial tasks fit around our family instead. Our biggest fear is we will wake up one day and the kids will have flown the nest and it will be too late to make that time up with them again.
When we first became parents none of this really seemed relevant. Bringing our small baby daughter home was a novelty and the weeks and months which followed were filled with nothing but pleasant memories as we shared the duties of looking after our most treasured possession.
When our son came along a few short years later again it again seemed fairly straightforward. But the third baby seemed to just throw any sense of control we may have thought we had out of the window. Now there is no doubt who rules the roost – and it is not us.
If there had been a handbook telling us what to expect at different stages of our journey into parenthood I am not sure we would have believed it. Would there have been a chapter dedicated to how to wash mascara and lipstick out of a baby’s hair after she has ‘got dressed just like mummy.’
Nothing is really ever out of their reach, it appears.
Now Sheffield City Council is asking parents just like us to help them in a survey for parents and carers. The idea is that the views will help to plan, deliver and commission appropriate services in a more effective and efficient way. If you have 10 minutes to spare I would really recommend filling it in on line. For information visit: www.sheffield.gov.uk/sps