I’m 39 weeks pregnant and we’re a month into living in a new house. I’m huge, exhausted, excited, distracted, anxious… so it’s fair to say my thoughts have been a bit of a jumble of late.
I turn 36 today and it was only when I acknowledged the mental chaos I’m currently experiencing that I realised what I want to say to mark yet another birthday.
And it’s this: The older I get, the better I get at figuring out WHY I feel the way I do. With each year that passes, I gain a little more self-awareness. And that’s more useful than any birthday gift you can wrap.
Becoming a mum has helped a lot. I can’t expect my daughter (or her imminent sibling) to undersand their feelings if I can’t comprehend my own.
I try hard to make time to work out what’s behind my response to situations. Am I tired? Hungry? Feeling inadequate? Intimidated? Distracted by a timetable my daughter has no idea I’m trying to keep us to? So enormously pregnant I fear my stomach may BURST any minute?
Because nobody’s response to anything is just about what’s happening in that moment. There’s always more to it. Our history, our physical and mental wellbeing, our worries, our hopes, our fears… they all play a part. It’s a wonder we get through the day we’re carrying so much invisible weight around.
When I consider where my reaction is coming from, I handle things so much better than when I don’t. And I feel happier with who I am too.
But of course I’ve only learnt this by reflecting on all the times I haven’t managed things so well. I’m a fallible human being so I’ve let my insecurities, bad habits, and misunderstandings get the better of me LOADS of times. And I’ll 100% do it again. Age can’t magically protects us from that. But the better we know ourselves, the better we get at slowing down and seeing things for what they are.
So at least I know why I feel so overwhelmed at the moment. And I try to bear that in mind when I feel like overreacting to the smallest thing. (What do you MEAN the bakery has run out of jam doughnuts?! I NEED ONE.)
I’m about to have a baby and become a mum of two. It’s no surprise that I’m feeling 400 emotions at once.
What I like about being older is my understanding that there’s no point wasting energy fighting tricky feelings. It’s better for all of us if I acknowledge and lean into what’s driving them instead.
Whether it’s the nervousness I feel about the physical turmoil involved with birth and its aftermath, or the desperation I feel to bring our baby into the world safely and do a good job for them and their sister, it’s all OK. I can’t have all these wonderfully grown up experiences without them.
The only promise I can make is that I’ll do my best and keep learning from every high and low that comes our way. I’m confident my 37th year will be filled with plenty of both…
That I haven’t written anything about the fact that I’m expecting another baby says a lot about what it’s like to expect a second baby.
I’m 29 weeks pregnant and, inevitably, pretty shattered. Looking after a three year old, working, navigating a pandemic, and growing a small person is pretty knackering. We did this on purpose – this is not a complaint – but it is a statement of fact. I’m tired.
But it’s more than that. The real reason I haven’t written about this is because I’ve been distracted by overwhelming feelings of treachery. We’ve created somebody else? To love just as much as our daughter? How could we do that to her?!
All being well, our newest addition will come into our lives in July. We’re all incredibly excited about it. Our daughter changes her mind everyday about whether she’s having a brother or a sister, and speaks so sweetly about how she’s going to help us with him/her. (She also, so far, hasn’t shown any interest in how the baby got into my body beyond wanting me to confirm that I didn’t eat it, and long may that continue.)
We have great chats about how life will be and what an important role she has to play. I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction from her.
I didn’t feel treacherous straight away. We decided to try for another baby for all the reasons you’d expect. We want another child in our family. We’d like our daughter to have a sibling. And I want to hold and smell and dress and stare at a newborn we’ve created again. I found out I was pregnant in November and was so pleased.
And that’s never changed. But as it all became more real, scans happened and my body started to change, other feelings kicked in. I’d stand in my daughter’s bedroom after she’d gone to bed and think ‘How will she ever forgive me? She is the centre of our universe and now someone else will be too. Is she going to put up with that?!’
However, as you may have noticed, we’re not the first people in the world to have another child. Second, third, fourth and more children have been appearing on this planet for a long time. I’m a second child myself and my mum assures me she felt exactly the same when she was expecting me. My older brother seems to have forgiven me for existing, so it all worked out fine in the end!
I think this all happened because I was scared my capacity for love wouldn’t stretch far enough.
It’s a good thing I was already lying down when our daughter was born because her arrival absolutely floored me. The love was instant, beautiful and terrifying, and it’s remained that way ever since. When you’ve already reached such a peak, how can there be room for more?
But of course there just is. I’ve been connected to the baby in my womb since October, and I love them very much. I’m readying myself for an avalanche of emotion when they arrive, knowing full well that you can’t really prepare for such a thing.
I cannot imagine how I’ll handle having two pieces of my heart existing in the world. I’m scared that being a mum of two means nobody will get the attention they deserve, that I’ll always be letting one of them down… and a whole other list of things that keep me awake at night.
But then something happened that made me feel a bit better. I was sitting on the floor playing with our daughter and the baby kicked. Normally it’s just a nice feeling that I find reassuring, but this time it felt different. I was suddenly simultaneously aware of both my children existing together for the first time and it made sense. It’s going to sound bizarre, but I felt space grow in my heart for him or her, right there alongside my daughter. I have room for both. I will love them both, with everything I’ve got.
It turns out that love is like Cadbury products for me – my capacity is endless.
People have asked me how this pregnancy compares with my first. And the answer is: it feels exactly the same and completely different all at once.
Just like last time, I’m large, tired and permanently hungry. I might as well live on the toilet I have to go so frequently. And once again, we have no idea what’s going to come our way during the next 10 weeks and beyond.
But then it’s also totally different. I’m utterly distracted by our daughter. I’m pregnant in a world which is unrecognisable from that of 2017 when she came along. Many people in my life haven’t seen me for a second of this pregnancy, and won’t until our baby’s here. In many ways I’m more rested than I was last time, as I don’t commute or socialise as much. But I’m also pushing myself more at 29 weeks than I ever would have before. I want to get outside with my daughter and have some FUN before I disappear into my own personal lockdown.
Just like no two children are the same, nor are their arrivals into our lives. I can’t give our baby the same experience as our daughter because they’re not being born into the same world. They will join an established family of three. They will only ever know a post-pandemic UK. And they won’t just have toys and clothes waiting for them when they get here, but a beautiful big sister too.
I am in no doubt whatsoever that we’re in for a right time of it. We’ll be exhausted, pulled in every direction at once, and we’ll feel inadequate a lot of the time. But after almost three and half years as parents, we’re pretty used to that.
What I do know is that I will love them and that we will do our best, for both our children. And that as long as we’re doing that, we won’t be letting anybody down at all.
I realised early on in lockdown that I was going to have to cut down on how frequently I said ‘Hi’ to my husband.
I don’t need to greet him every time he steps into the lounge. He doesn’t need me to ask if he’s OK every time he visits the kitchen. And I can let him have a bathroom break without requiring a life update from him on his way back.
But after shifting from ‘normal’ London life, where we were separated by long commutes and office hours and social lives, to permanent togetherness at home, there was a certain novelty to our situation. Oh look! It’s you! I like you! Let’s catch up!
Like so many couples, we suddenly became co-workers as well as life partners in Spring 2020. Our home is no longer just the place we return to to recover from interactions with the outside world. We do everything from here now. Work, play, shop, socialise…albeit from behind a screen.
It’s an intense way to live, even alongside your favourite people on the planet.
Of course, in many ways we’ve been co-workers since the day our daughter was born in 2017. Becoming a parent means taking on a massive full time position between you, alongside whatever else you do with your lives. And it’s up to you to figure out who does what.
We were a team before we became parents. But now, when our daughter is at home, we’re a team with hourly targets that have to be met otherwise all hell breaks loose.
Taking on this enormous, emotional and exhausting role together changes how you speak to one another. Day to day questions become more functional. “Has she had her milk?” “How much lunch did she eat?” Text messages are largely about groceries. And we mainly use WhatsApp to share speed-typed takeaway orders, written from a still-not-yet asleep child’s bedroom, or photos of her on a swing.
There are of course countless lovely bits. When we do get a task-free moment, we get to talk about the things that only we understand. How funny she is when she tells us what to do. That we can’t believe our baby knows how to spell her name. How terrifying it feels to love somebody this much.
Ever since she came into our lives, we’ve learnt how to work through each day and do the best job we can. So we had the foundations in place to get us through this time. (And thankfully very low expectations about how many nights out we’d have in a year.)
Nonetheless, it’s bizarre not having the option to spend time apart, or to socialise beyond our laptops.
As a couple we’ve always prided ourselves on having healthy lives, friendships and interests beyond each other. Our time together has been all the better for it.
But, like everybody right now, our independent selves only exist if we make space for them. Disappearing upstairs to read alone, or out for a walk with a podcast playing, gives us a little healthy separation.
I like to think that even though it’s odd being in each other’s space all the time, so much togetherness has brought about a whole new level of intimacy we might not otherwise have achieved.
I know from just a second listening at the door whether a work call he’s on can be interrupted. He knows what I look like when my work’s going well, and when I need a confidence boost. And I know precisely how many drinks and snacks he’s had each day from the number of cups and plates I clear from the office. (Sure, some of these insights I could live without.) It’s nice to feel connected on a whole new level.
I think this period has made us better at communicating too. We’ve lived in such close quarters for the past 12 months, we’ve had to be willing to just say what we think and need, or else make an already stressful situation harder.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing, we’re only human after all. But when I look back on this time, I will see yet another stage of our lives that we’ve come through together.
It goes without saying that I am not glad this pandemic happened. It has been catastrophically awful. There are, however, aspects of the life we’ve been forced to live within its context that I want to keep even when it’s finally over.
I like feeling less alone with the rolling list of tasks that come with looking after a child everyday. I like that my husband sees our daughter every morning and night, rather than having to commute and missing out. And I like collecting her from nursery together. That used to be the stuff of dreams.
Though this has been an intense 12 months, it’s made me realise that we don’t need much of a break from each other. What we need more than anything is the option. The chance to look at a week and choose to pop a meal out with a friend in the diary. The opportunity to schedule a ‘big’ night out we’ll suffer for the next day. (In my case that would be one that involves a single sniff of alcohol and returning home after 8.30pm).
We also need the chance to spend time as people rather than parents elsewhere. To go out just the two of us in clothes without an elasticated waist. To eat food and drink drinks somebody else will clear away. And to do it all while our daughter has fun with the grandparents she misses so much. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I would pay good money to bring that day around sooner.
I went to a medical appointment recently and was gone about three hours. When I got back my husband said he’d missed me, and I was delighted. He hasn’t had the chance to miss me for ages.
I’ve felt flashes of worry about how one remains exciting to their partner in times like these, but then I’ve batted them away. This year has been about survival, slowing down, and doing what we can to help each other get through.
If we can do that and still want to carry on sharing more than just a Wi-Fi connection, that’s exciting enough for me.
After months fearing my creativity had gone forever, all of a sudden I found writing ideas coming back into my head. Thank goodness!
But then when I tried to get them down, I found I couldn’t until I’d first typed out what it feels like to live in the world right now. I can get conceptual and maybe even have a go at a funny or two when I’ve worked through my lockdown state of mind.
So that’s what this is. A lockdown diary entry, you could say. An acknowledgement of the vast level of emotions involved with pushing through the beginning of 2021.
I’m normally relatively balanced, but it’s tricky to remain so all the time through a global crisis.
I find I make too much of the good moments that occur – which of course they do – because joy is at a premium right now. My daughter will laugh at something in the park and I’ll say to my husband: “She’s having fun, isn’t she?! I’m so glad we came out! This will really set us up for the rest of the week, don’t you think?!”, whatever that means.
And when the lows occur – because I watch the news or run out of play ideas or I see that it’s raining AGAIN – I get lethargic, grumpy, and I can’t even be arsed to put my socks on, because what’s the point? I lose perspective and dive into my phone, where I can assure you the answer absolutely does not live.
Having so little variety in our lives is exhausting. The end isn’t quite in sight, but it is there in the distance, we know it is. That’s a huge motivator to strive on and keep the faith, but it’s also a while away. It’s perfectly normal to be struggling right now, however big or small the difficulties this pandemic brings you.
I saw a post on Twitter that said “We should assume that nobody is OK right now” which has stayed with me. I try to keep it in my head when I go for a walk or collect my daughter from nursery. Everybody is, at best, sick of this, and at worst, having a truly awful time. Whichever end of the scale you find yourself on – and I consider us to be at the very lucky end – it’s still all right to acknowledge that this is hard. Most people are going to find living through a pandemic difficult.
One of the things I’m finding hardest about lockdown is how much bigger disappointments, mishaps and imperfect interactions feel than normal, because our usual distractions aren’t there to give us perspective.
I’ve found myself becoming oddly nervous when we do leave the house to go to the park for the 4000th time. I’m scared I’ll have an interaction with a parent that will go badly and I’ll think about it day and night for the next three weeks. I get nervous when I drive in case I do something that makes another driver think I’m an idiot. I worry that I’ll make a bad call in the supermarket, get too close to another person also in pursuit of hummus, and chastise myself for days for putting my chickpea consumption before public safety. It’s a tiring time to be alive.
I think it’s the lack of connection in our lives that’s making me lose faith in my ability to interact successfully. We’ve all gone from seeing friends and family everyday/week/month, to, in most cases, not seeing them at all, and not knowing when we will again.
I didn’t realise until it stopped being an option the extent to which I used to top up on conversation, laughter, relationships. Those connections inform who we are. They fill is up. As I’ve written before, there are so many things that I like, I don’t like, I miss, and I don’t miss about the life the pandemic has forced us all to lead. I don’t want every element of our previous world back, not by a long chalk. But I do want the freedom to help create a world we all like more. I want that back right now.
It dawned on me this week that as well as feeling distant from the people and places we love, this time will have made us feel distant from ourselves too. Without structure and variety and the option to make plans, I’ve definitely felt a part of myself fade.
That’s not to say I don’t love being with my husband and daughter. They are my entire world. But not being able to experience different things either with them, by myself or with others has had an impact. We’re all a product of our environment and when that environment shrinks, we do too.
How I feel changes day to day. Sometimes I’ll get some fresh air, chat to a friend or play really mindfully with my daughter and I’ll think ‘Yes, I can do this.’ And then others I won’t have such clarity. Everybody says it, but the only answer is to take it day by day, and to be kind to yourself as you do.
I try to keep this in mind when I feel a special kind of parenting guilt that the pandemic is happening at all. A global event that is in no way my fault. I think a lot of my anxiety and emotions are wrapped up in wishing that I could give our daughter a better time. More options. Time with the people she loves. She’s absolutely fine and hugely fortunate to still be going to nursery a few days a week. It’ll just be nice when we can do more again.
My focus on her means I don’t always have time to feel my own sadness about not seeing Grandma (my mum). Or Uncle Adam (my younger brother). Or Auntie Lexa (one of my very best friends). Because when I’m done saying “Soon! We’ll see them soon, I promise!” to her, I realise that I have no chuffing idea what ‘Soon’ means, and that I hate that.
When normality – whatever that looks like – returns, I’m sure I’m going to be nervous and awkward as hell when I finally get to spend time with people beyond my household. I’m going to fret about losing the aspects of restricted living that suit me and that I’ll miss the guaranteed family time that has bonded us more than ever.
I’m also going to be ecstatic to go further than my local park. To see London again in all its glory. And to hug the people I love.
Mixed, complicated, messy feelings are all part of the deal when you’re a human being. I write this blog because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a go at expressing them all. In fact, I find it really helps. I hope you do too.
I woke up one morning and realised that my thoughts are constantly swinging between the things I like, the things I don’t like, the things I miss, and the things I don’t miss in this strange new world. So I thought I’d write them down.
I haven’t included ‘I don’t like that coronavirus exists and that people are suffering because of it’ on this list. Hopefully that’s obvious. I’ve focused instead on the more trivial, everyday highlights and low points of living through this time.
I found turning them over in my mind and noticing how closely they live alongside one another a useful, grounding process. I hope it makes for a nice read for you, too.
I wonder – what would your list include? Sending you much love and strength for the coming months. Here we go:
I like having a dishwasher.
I don’t like that emptying and refilling the bastard will probably qualify as my most consistent form of 2020 exercise.
I like going to the park.
I don’t like only going to the park.
I like looking at the plants we bought when lockdown began and knowing that, with the right levels of sunlight and hydration, we’ve all got through this together.
(I don’t like to talk about the fern accidentally scorched to death on the bathroom window sill during the heatwave. I let everybody down that day.)
I like being a mum more than ever.
I don’t like how frequently I’ve heard myself say ‘Soon!’ to my daughter when she’s asked when we can see her family and friends, despite having no idea what ‘soon’ means.
I like that, thanks to all this time at home, I’ve finally managed to put together a proper skincare routine.
I don’t like that it hasn’t taken ten years off my face yet. To whom should I address my letter of complaint?
I miss having a diary populated with things to look forward to, and the confidence that each one will happen.
I don’t miss living in such a fast-paced, demanding world that time at home as a family felt like a luxury rather than a given.
I like that there are so many ways that we can connect with people these days.
I don’t like that, at the moment, there aren’t many that don’t involve a screen.
I like working at home, not having to worry about public transport, knowing I’m going to be able to collect my daughter on time, and having ready access to all my biscuits, all day long.
I don’t like never having the option to go and do my work somewhere else, hang out with nice colleagues, read a book all the way there and back on the tube, and experience the novelty of returning home again.
I miss going out for nice cocktails in nice bars.
(I have a child, I’ve been missing that for years.)
I like that I no longer feel daunted by empty days ahead at home. We’ve found a new rhythm and learnt that just a handful of components make up a good day. If we can have some play time, fresh air, music, stories, space to ourselves, and parenting support from Hey Duggee, most of the time, that’s enough.
I don’t like to think about the impact that hours and hours listening to the Peppa Pig playlist on Spotify during lockdown will have had on my ‘Most listened to’ list for 2020.
I miss hugging my family.
I miss hugging my friends.
I don’t miss not quite knowing how to make physical contact with acquaintances, getting it wrong, and having the embarrassment wake me up every night for a week.
I really miss my nephews.
I like the excuse that cooler weather (and my now eight-month long sense of entitlement to consume ANYTHING I LIKE if it makes living through a pandemic easier) gives me to drink a hot chocolate packed with marshmallows every single day.
I imagine I’ll miss my teeth when they’re gone.
I like evenings where I leave my phone upstairs and spend a few hours pretending it doesn’t exist.
I don’t like that every time there’s a change or bad news, I descend into a scrolling frenzy, like perhaps the answer to all this is in my phone somewhere if only I could find it.
I like the incredible impact that just a few minutes with a book before I go to sleep has on my sense of calm.
I don’t like the insane effect this year has had on my dreams. Can a girl not take just a few hours off this chaos?
I like how much more time we’ve spent outdoors this year and that it’s made me stop and appreciate the incredible beauty of trees, flowers, blue skies, squirrels, autumn leaves, reflections in a river… I’d better stop before I break into song.
I don’t like having to cross an outdoor catch up with a pal out of my diary because the weather’s decided to be a TOTAL DICK and make it impossible.
I like that my husband is now here every evening to help get our toddler ready for bed and to have time with her at the end of a working day.
I don’t miss receiving a text message from him at least once a week to say he wouldn’t see her before she went to sleep.
I miss the freedom to have my mum to stay, to go to the café near me that she loves, and to see her fall asleep on the sofa with her arm around her granddaughter in front of Stick Man on the TV when we get home.
There’s nothing I don’t miss about that.
I like that we grabbed at precious opportunities to spend time with some of our favourite people whilst we could and that they felt exactly that; precious.
I don’t like worrying about whether my friendships are still going to be there when all this is over.
I miss believing that the only thing standing between me and an orderly home was more time in it.
I don’t miss being upset about having a messy house. Why not get every toy in the world out at once? We can’t pretend we don’t have plenty of time to put them all away again.
I like that one of the most unexpected discoveries of 2020 is that our daughter cannot get enough of dancing to Think About Things by Daði Freyr. No matter what else is going on, that always makes me smile.
I miss dancing at weddings.
I like going for a walk around our local area first thing in the morning and feeling 3000% better for it.
I don’t like how few opportunities we’ve had to wander around the rest of London this year (but I do know that we’ve appreciated it so much more when we have).
I like that months without childcare showed us how much our toddler likes going to nursery, how much more content she is when she has time doing her own thing, and that we don’t need to feel guilty for doing the same.
I don’t like that just as she’s starting to really enjoy playing with her friends – and I can start having slightly more substantial chats with their parents whilst she does it – playdates are off the table.
I like how much more acutely aware I feel of the amazing ways our little girl has changed during this period, because we’ve slowed down and had time to notice.
I don’t like that there have been days and moments this year that I’ve wished by, but I’m sure she’ll understand. It had nothing to do with her, 2020 has just been a bit odd.
I like every second of every day that we’re safe and well.
I don’t like it when the grind of living through this time makes me forget how grateful I am for that.
I like that there was a boiling hot day in the summer when my husband and I managed to drop our daughter off for a day of fun at nursery, drive down to a pebbly beach, swim in the sea, eat fish and chips, down an ice cream, and then drive home in time to pick her up. We’ve not had much time to ourselves this year, but when we have it’s been wonderful.
I don’t like that it sometimes crosses my mind that only seeing my face/hearing my voice/tolerating my anecdotes about the trouble I had locating the correct bin bags in the supermarket might drive him up the wall, but I really haven’t got time to worry about that on top of everything else.
I like how firmly all this time together, these highs and lows, and all these lessons we’ve learnt about what we each need to be happy, has bonded us as a family.
I don’t have a downside to share to that.
I like that despite the relentless madness and sadness of this year, there have still been so many lovely moments, and how much good it does us to stop and notice.
I don’t like to focus too much on how long it’s going to be before we can share more of them with the people we love, but instead on how good it’ll feel when we do.
If my husband is getting tired of my daily step count updates, he only has himself to blame.
I’d been having a few episodes of low mood. I just felt a bit sad, lethargic and lost. All pretty common feelings during a pandemic, I’m sure.
At first, I let it go and figured it was inevitable when you’re living through a global crisis. If this is the worst thing I experience during this time, I thought, I’ve been very lucky!
I had panic disorder a few years ago, and I think it’s made me think that I need to wait until I feel really bad before I take steps to feel better.
When anxiety ruled the roost, I’d only feel calm for a few seconds each day. I’d wake up feeling OK because I’d momentarily forgotten that my brain was on fire. But then panic would kick back in, and I’d commence my (then) routine of sweating through the day, until bedtime came around again and I could have a break.
Therapy, time, and support from good people got me through it, and I’m fine now. One is never so bold as to say they’ve beaten a mental health condition – because the bastard might hear you and return. But I will say that, for the most part, I’m in charge now, not my panic. And that’s a pretty chuffing big deal.
So, having been through all that, when I feel myself take a different type of dip – like a mood slip or another form of anxiety – I’m not always quick enough to do something about it. I’ll say to myself: But I don’t feel like my head is about to explode! I can hang out with friends without wanting to sprint out of the room at the earliest opportunity! Everything is OK!
But just because the disorder’s in check, it doesn’t mean other things can’t affect what’s going on in my head. And that there aren’t things I can and should do to boost my wellbeing.
During my most recent bout of lowness, my husband said “Why don’t you try getting up earlier?”
Now, in the interests of honesty, I should admit that my first response was fury. Was he saying I’m lazy? That I don’t pull my weight? Or did he hope that if I spent less time in bed I’d have fewer dreams to bore him with?
But of course he didn’t mean any of that, and he had a point.
Our little girl is almost three and, all being well, she’s usually up for 12 hours of the day and asleep the other 12. So when Leon and I are done eating, tidying, failing to choose something to watch on TV, and sleeping ourselves, there’s a little time left to do whatever we want with (as long as one of us is in the house, of course).
I find parenting so tiring – and lockdown/pandemic era so endless – that my strategy had been to sleep for as long as possible. Because who wants to make these days longer?!
But it’s hard to go straight from bed to full throttle mum-mode. One minute I’m asleep, dreaming I’m already up and powering through my to-do list, and the next it’s MUMMY! CAN I HAVE SOME MILK AND A BISTIC (biscuit)? MUMMY COME IN MY BEDOOOM! It can be quite an intense way to start the day.
So I’ve started going for a walk. Just for half an hour or so, ideally first thing, when it’s still quiet and a bit chilly.
I’ve devised a special route just for this. I walk up the road we aspire to live on one day, around the park filled with pretty flowers and the world’s busiest squirrels, onto the high street for a reminder that buses still go and shops still open, into a café if I feel like treating myself to a hot chocolate or a pastry or both, and then home after doing a loop around the other park that’s nearer home.
I walked around this park when I was heavily pregnant with our daughter, blissfully unaware of what was to come. Then I’d go home and watch The Office U.S bloopers on YouTube all afternoon whilst I still could. Later, we took her there for her first trip out as a newborn in the sling. I must have checked her 50 times to make sure she was OK.
And now she’s almost three and obsessed with the swings, and we’re there all the time so she can play.
Being in that park on my own is a treat because it’s brief. And, because it’s such a significant place, going there for a walk and a think – and a sit down if I can get away with it – helps me get back in touch with myself and how I feel, and it helps.
When my HOW DARE YOU response to my husband’s suggestion that I start setting an alarm passed, I realised he was onto something. I looked back on the days leading up to my mood drop and saw that I’d hardly walked at all. Sure, I’d done playground trips and nursery pick-ups, and I’d gone to and from the kitchen 900 times. But I hadn’t walked for the sake of it. I hadn’t had time outside on my own.
In lockdown, we got good at helping each other take our daily exercise, as we needed it to survive. And just because we’ve got more freedom now, it doesn’t mean we should stop making the effort to move for the benefit of our wellbeing. We still need fresh air, space and to keep moving to help us stay well.
So I bought a Fitbit, which tracks the number of steps you take each day, your heart rate, your sleep, and other useful health-related info. I wanted something to hold me to account and make me walk – even when I think I don’t want to – and to give me proof that I’m trying.
Leon tolerates my delighted cries of “Ooh it just buzzed! I’ve done my 10,000 steps!” because he knows it’s for the greater good. It was all his idea after all, and I’m grateful for that.
When I’ve finished my morning walk, I head back up our road, open the front door, and am greeted with a ‘Mummy’s back!’ which I love.
I make breakfast, I give out snacks, we play, we go out, we eat food, we come home, I put on films, I clean up, we read books, I find lost toys, I hold my little girl when her emotions take hold, or she’s had a bump, or she’s frightened of a monster I can’t see, or she just wants a cuddle with her mum, and I sit with her in her bedroom at night, and I tell her that I love her and that we’ll have more fun tomorrow, until she drifts off to sleep once again.
And I’m better at it all, and I feel so much happier, because I went out for that walk.
I’m old enough to know that most people don’t give a damn that it’s your birthday. But, seeing as you’re here, I’ll tell you that I just turned 35. *releases single party popper into the ether*
This is the first time in a while that my age has felt significant. I see it written next to other people’s names and think ‘Woah, they must be a REAL grown up.’ And then I see it next to mine – a woman who still can’t let her feet out from under the duvet at night in case a scarecrow bites them – and I realise that’s not necessarily the case.
But that’s fine, I like getting older and being reminded that the idea we’ll have it all sorted out by a particular age is a joke. One thing that is guaranteed though is that the more years you live, you more you learn.
And that’s why for the last six years, the birthday gift I’ve given myself is time to type out the lessons I want to note at this particular point in time. It’s great to have it to look back on. (This was last year’s series of hot takes).
So here’s this year’s big five.
1. Accept your decisions – good and bad – because without them you wouldn’t be where you are
By 35 you’ll have racked up a good few decisions that you look back on and think “What on earth was going through my head when I did that?“ I’ve certainly got a strong number, and while it’s super fun to wake in the night and dwell on my own idiocy, I’ve come to realise that they all form a crucial part of our stories.
If I hadn’t taken that terrible job, or experienced that heartbreak, or had that regrettable hair cut for so many years, life wouldn’t look the way it does now. And I wouldn’t have the knowledge and experience I need to keep making better choices.
I think the same rules that apply to your CV apply to life in general – if you can explain what everything you’ve done has taught you, it doesn’t matter if you made a few ill-advised moves along the way.
2. Those moments when you feel like you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing often mark the start of something exciting
Just when we thought we knew what we were doing as parents of a toddler, we decided to start potty training.
We kicked off and within minutes I went straight back to feeling like I did when I first became a mum – totally unprepared, out of my depth, and terrified things would never get easier.
But of course they have. I realised as the week went on that I wasn’t just afraid of the messy reality of teaching a little one how to go to the loo, but also of what teaching her this meant. Independence. The more she learns, the less she’ll need me, and that’s a scary prospect for a parent to face. But it’s also essential and, when I remove my hormones from the situation, incredibly exciting.
All of the best decisions I’ve made in my life – going to university, making new friends, starting a relationship with my husband, having our daughter, pursuing the career I want – frightened the life out of me.
But it’s often that fear that proves this is something you really want to do. Because if it was out of the question, you wouldn’t entertain it. But if you’ve gone so far as to let yourself imagine the possibilities, it might just mean you should go for it.
When we go on holiday (remember holidays?) my husband and I have a rule that if we’re umming and ahing about whether to go on a day trip/do an activity, we always do it, because then we can’t regret not trying. And applying that to daily life has helped me a lot. I don’t want to regret not doing things, however scary they may seem.
The ‘I have no idea what I’m doing’ feeling doesn’t become any less daunting just because you’re a grown up. But you do at least have enough experience to know that you’ll figure it out before long.
3. The pursuit of perfection will destroy you, so let it go
I want my daughter to grow up knowing that everybody makes mistakes. What matters is that we pick ourselves up, understand what went wrong and what we learnt, move on and do better next time.
It’s a perfectly simple concept for even a two year old to understand, and yet, at 35, I still struggle to remember it.
I’ve been particularly hard on myself recently when I’ve made a mistake or a bad decision. Whether it’s something I’ve done whilst driving, something I’ve said, or a parenting choice that’s backfired, I’ve been giving myself a really hard time about it.
I wonder if the current environment has something to do with it. Life feels more fragile, precious and scary than ever right now, so any false move feels significant while our stress levels are heightened.
I’ve always struggled to forgive myself when my interactions with people haven’t gone exactly as I’d like. Despite numerous attempts to stop caring what other people think, the truth is that the older I get, the more I care. I get so few chances (particularly at the moment) to see or speak to the people I love, it feels like it really matters that it goes perfectly when I do.
But of course we can’t control how things go. The only things we can control – in any situation – are our words and our actions. And there’s a world of other factors that also play a part, so we can only ever do our best.
When it comes to parenting, trying to do a perfect job will not only destroy you, it’ll destroy you before 7.30am. There’s no way anybody doing such an emotional, unpredictable, and exhausting job could get every single element right all the time.
Despite my best efforts I make wrong calls numerous times a day. I also make the right call a fair amount too, but if you think they’re the moments my brain likes to put into a montage to show me when I’m lying awake at 3am then you’ve very much misunderstood the tone of this blog.
But the longer I’m a mum the clearer it becomes that perfection isn’t the goal here. Happiness, safety and good health is. There’s nothing like living through a global pandemic to make you realise that’s more than enough to ask for.
4. Whether you like a feeling or not, at least accept that you’re feeling it
Allow me to share my incredible time saving method.
Instead of beating ourselves up for feeling nervous ahead of a social event, stressed out by a heavy workload, or still scared of the dark at the age of 35, how about we just… accept it’s how we feel. All of a sudden our problems are cut in half as we no longer have self loathing to deal with too. We can focus instead on exploring why we feel this way, and what could help us feel better.
I spend so much time trying to mentally push away feelings that I don’t think I should have. I lose hours feeling ashamed of my fear, frustration, or upset and guess what? It just makes matters worse.
We can’t help the way we feel. The way we respond to each situation is entirely personal. So our time is better spent listening to what that feeling’s trying to tell us, rather than hoping that if we berate it enough for existing it’ll just disappear.
5. I do my best work as a human being when I slow down and think about what I’m doing (don’t we all?)
It’s when I trick myself into believing that everything has to be done in a rush that I make decisions I’ll later regret.
And it’s when I react NOW rather than waiting a few seconds to think, empathise, breathe and then speak that I’ll end up saying something I’ll wish I hadn’t.
Since the world plunged into lockdown, there have been few reasons to rush at all. And though I wish I’d learnt it in different circumstances, the lessons this has taught me about the importance of slowing down are invaluable.
I’m a better mum when I take a moment to consider the world from my daughter’s point of view before responding to her 55th request for a snack before 10am. And I’m a better wife when I stop and think about whether I’m really angry because my husband has forgotten to change a toilet roll, or because I’m tired from living through a global crisis and need to go to bed.
We’re all better people when we try and see the world from other people’s perspectives and consider how our actions could affect others. Right now we’re being shown in the bleakest way possible just how crucial it is that we do.
As I head into my 36th year, I want to keep all of this in mind. To be more empathetic. To make good, thoughtful decisions. And to be kind to myself when I inevitably slip up and learn more lessons along the way.
I’ll look forward to telling you all about them when my birthday comes around again next year. Thanks for reading.
So it is possible to be organised enough with your meal planning and food shopping to avoid going to the supermarket twice a day, everyday. Who knew?
My husband has done truly wonderful and thoughtful things for our family during lockdown. But I’m sorry to inform you that removing his empty coffee cups, plates and chocolate wrappers from our office at the end of the working day is not one of them.
When I thought perhaps my daughter would enjoy doing an online workout with me I was wrong. She lies down the moment it starts and doesn’t get up until it’s over, and I respect that decision.
Buying a set of houseplants is a bit like having a load more babies to look after. Except these ones come with INSTRUCTIONS.
Though spending so much time at home with a toddler is far from easy, there is no human being on earth who could make me laugh so frequently as she does – and laughing helps.
The best way to check how stressed I’m feeling is to fall asleep and see what my dreams look like. Oh hello ALL OF MY FEARS ACTED OUT IN TECHNICOLOUR. Perhaps I am a little closer to the edge than I realised.
I can write with my daughter bouncing up and down on the sofa next to me, leaning on me, attempting to push me off my chair, saying “Can I help you, mummy” and punching my keyboard… you name it. It’s not my preferred way of working, but I now know I can do it. She is simultaneously the cutest and most destructive co-worker I have ever had.
Related: I have also learnt the importance of the ‘save’ function.
My phone is both crucial to keeping me connected to the outside world, and the item most capable of making me feel disconnected from myself when I forget to use it wisely.
There’s a reason everybody is baking so much during lockdown – it helps. You can look at it and say “Well, if I achieve nothing else today, at least I made that.”
…There’s also a direct link between my husband saying he’s going to exercise, and me wanting to bake something unhealthy. My commitment to balance in this marriage knows no bounds.
There is no greater high than coming up with an activity to do with your toddler and seeing them actually engage with it for more than three seconds.
Related: melting chocolate and using it to make chocolate buttons was a great thing to do with our daughter because a) she seemed to genuinely enjoy it (particularly the part where she poured the whole bowl of hundreds and thousands we were using as decorations on the kitchen floor) and b) I got to eat everything we made.
It’s astounding how much simply tidying up a shelf or sorting out the cutlery drawer can do for morale when you’re spending this much time at home. Of course we have little time do such things, but when we do find a window – wow, what a boost!
Finishing the day with a walk by myself with my headphones in and a podcast on – the sillier the better – does more for my sanity than I ever could have imagined.
…And when I feel I don’t have the energy to go on that walk, that’s when I need it most.
Limitations on the amount of time you can spend outside make you appreciate the insane beauty of flowers, trees, birds, the sky… all of it. I won’t be taking those things for granted any more.
If your two-year-old insists on listening to their audiobook of The Gruffalo enough times, you will become able to recite it on demand. I’m not sure this will prove a useful skill beyond my lounge, but I’ll chuck it on my CV anyway.
I can ask my mum to hold the phone a bit further away from her face so that I can see more than just her chin during a video call as many times as I like. It’s clearly never going to work.
Just because you found being a parent difficult today, it doesn’t mean you will tomorrow. Hang in there.
The bar for what classes as a life update worth sharing with other people has never been lower. I’ve got some new address stickers for our wheelie bins! I’ve started adding mascarpone to meals and it’s great, isn’t it! I thought there was a spider on the kitchen floor but it was actually a ball of my hair! I don’t care if you care, I have to talk to someone.
There’s a time and a place to let your husband know how much it irritates you that he doesn’t tidy up as he goes whilst cooking, and the second he places the meal he’s kindly made in front of you is not it.
There’s nothing like spending every hour of every day with a toddler by your side, copying your every move, to make you realise how much of your life you spend with your hands on your hips (the entire time, apparently).
My capacity for guilt as a parent is so huge that I even feel guilty that my child is having to cope with living through a pandemic, despite the fact that I PLAYED NO PART IN BRINGING IT ABOUT, OBVIOUSLY.
I don’t need to spend anywhere near as much time explaining myself as I thought. Don’t want to have a video call tonight? Don’t. Need a night off your phone? Have it. Only free to work at set times because you have a child? It’s all OK. This period has taught me how much better I feel – and how much more helpful a person I am to know – when I own my circumstances and stop apologising.
There’s something touching and heartbreaking about seeing your child step aside to let strangers pass in the park and say “We need to give people lots of space” even though they have absolutely no idea why.
No, I probably shouldn’t be letting my daughter chuck the tubs of water filled with food colouring she plays with in the garden all over the flowers we’re attempting to grow. But I’m just so happy that she wants to help, who cares if the sunflowers come up blue.
It’s incredibly difficult not to let the vast levels of anxiety involved with simply leaving the house during this crisis spill out into your parenting. When it inevitably happens, noticing, slowing down, and taking a moment to be kind to everyone – including yourself – helps.
It’s been said a billion times before but this is unchartered territory. If you feel like you’re not great at this, it’s because there’s no way you could be.
No matter how many weeks and months we spend at home, it will never be enough to get all the laundry clean, dry and put away, so I may as well stop trying.
Our marriage is at its best when we take the time to spot ways to make life easier for each other. And that can only happen if we keep talking about how we’re feeling.
There’s a difference between both being at home all the time, and actually spending quality time together as a couple. We still have to put the effort in and that currently takes the form of a takeaway and a chat on a Saturday night. I look forward to it all week.
A typical day as a mum for me right now looks like this – I’m knackered all day, unsure as to what we should do most of the time, delighted when there’s calm, ecstatic when there’s joy, gutted when there are tears, game for every cuddle I can get, and so very ready for a break when bedtime rolls around. And then the second she’s asleep, I miss her. Get comfortable with feeling 45 emotions at all times and you’ll be the greatest, most content parent there’s ever been.
It is entirely possible to be both grateful for everything that makes your life good and your problems manageable, and free to mention that you’re finding this situation somewhat trying. We are all a lot of things at the moment.
Whatever you’re waiting for – whether it’s the delivery of a new office chair, some much-needed flour, or for the time when you’ll get to hug your family and friends again, it will come. Hold on.
I had an idea last week to write a list of things I wanted to keep in mind while we all stay at home to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus. I’m so glad I waited until we’d actually experienced a full five days at home trying to live and work and look after our toddler before I wrote it. Optimism is essential right now but so is a strong dose of reality, which I think we all got this week.
This is not an attempt at advice. There is no pandemic experience on my CV. This is just a list of stuff I want to keep in mind to help maintain my perspective (and sanity) in the weeks and months to come.
It’s also an excuse to communicate with the outside world. Hello out there, I do hope you’re OK and staying safe. If nothing else, this should at least help you pass a few minutes.
1.You don’t suddenly have to become a different kind of parent
When this all kicked off, the internet became flooded with tips for things to do at home with children, which is great.
But as always, if we’re not careful, we can suffer from the flipside of social media: comparison syndrome. As I’ve discussed before, since becoming a mum I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time feeling inadequate because I don’t have the exact same skills and ideas as every other mother on the planet.
But I want to remember that I don’t suddenly have to become a nursery nurse, children’s entertainer and Blue Peter presenter all rolled into one just because we’re suddenly spending so much time at home. Yes I will try some new things and find nice ways to entertain our daughter. And we’re adapting our routine to make the best of the current constraints. But that will do. Normal life was working well for us, so the closer I can keep our days to feeling like they usually do, the calmer we’ll all feel.
2.Television is not the enemy
People talk so much about children and TV so I won’t harp on – all I want to say is this: my toddler, just like me and her dad, needs to wind down sometimes. She gets tired, she needs a bit of space, and she likes to catch up with the characters she loves. So at certain times of the day, we let her watch some telly.
This period we’re facing is bizarre, unsettling and weirdly knackering, so I’m sure she will end up watching a bit more than usual, should it make sense for us and her in the moment. An excess is bad for everyone, but the odd dose of comfort won’t do anybody any harm.
3.What I wear has a huge impact on how I feel
I gave birth to our daughter in November 2017 and we were then indoors most of the time for months. That period taught me (along with a million other things) how strong an impact my appearance has on my mental wellbeing. To feel like the day is worth doing, I need to look in the mirror and see somebody who would be happy to open the door to a human being who doesn’t love them unconditionally.
I don’t mean I need to put on a chuffing dress and heels to feel like a person, I just need actual clothes. My pyjamas are the best things in the world at bedtime, but if I’m still wearing them too late in the morning, and I’m not doing so because I’m resting, I start to feel sad. So getting up and dressed like I’ve got somewhere to go is a must for me.
4.We won’t all feel the same way at the same time
At separate points this week, all three of us had a moment when our current living situation proved too much. Leon got stressed out. I had to leave the room as the mess, noise and unwillingness by some residents to just EAT THEIR DINNER was doing my nut. And then – because why should she be left out – our toddler declared, if only through her body language and disproportionate irritation with her snack bowl, that she too was finding this situation to be bullsh*t.
It sounds ridiculous, but I hadn’t realised that we wouldn’t all necessarily be in the same place emotionally at the same time, and that that would be a challenge to manage in itself. Sometimes our daughter just needs us to hold her. Sometimes Leon needs to go out for a run by himself. And sometimes I need to eat an entire easter egg in front of The Mindy Project undisturbed. If we can all just do our best to give each other what we need during this time, it’ll make getting through it easier.
5.Any amount of time outdoors is worth having
We can’t go far and we can’t go within two metres of other people, but we can still go outside. Even just ten minutes outdoors can make all the difference. It’s easy to feel like it’s not worth the effort, that if you’re not going out somewhere proper then you might as well not go out at all, but even just a small dose of fresh air can make everything look brighter.
We’ve started going for a run about in our local park in the morning to let off steam and it’s become the highlight of our day. I hope that when this is all over we carry on treasuring every opportunity we have to play together outdoors.
6.Gratitude does everybody good
It’s good for people to know we’re grateful for the difference they make to us, and it lifts our spirits too to step back and acknowledge the things we appreciate. I said at the start of the year how grounding and therapeutic I find jotting down a list of things I’m grateful for each week, however small. I definitely want to keep doing this, to help me spot all the lovely moments that are punctuating our days as a family during this peculiar time, whether it’s fresh air, good health, cuddles with my daughter, or every bite of Cadbury’s chocolate I can get my hands on.
7.Make time to read
Reading makes me feel calmer than pretty much anything else. Because this crisis is so distracting, I’ve found that I’ve defaulted to sitting and scrolling through my phone rather than thinking about what would be a more relaxing use of time. The more lost or unfulfilled I feel, the more I find myself on my phone but it usually just makes me feel worse. So I want to actively decide to use the rare chunks of time I have to myself to read a book instead.
I always feel a lot more fulfilled when I’ve found time to make something. Whether I’ve tried a new recipe, drawn a picture with my daughter or written a blog, I feel better for it. I’m not overwhelmed with free time – that concept flew out the window the second I became a mum – so I want to make the most of any opportunities I have to be even slightly creative. For example, baking a batch of rice crispy cakes could class as a form of artistic expression, couldn’t it…?
9.I will never regret having extra time with my family
Extra time together in all its forms, however tricky to navigate it may be, is a gift. I’ve another blog brewing about how much I already know I’m going to miss our daughter being two years old, so I want to remember that this is actually all bonus time with her. And though I wish it was in different circumstances, having her dad around so much more than usual is great.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re a week in, I’m shattered and would not say no to a bit of space if it was available to me. But there are numerous lovely moments to be found amongst the chaos, and we’re lucky to have them.
10.Make the time to communicate
Just because Leon is working here, it doesn’t mean I’ll know how his day went unless I ask. Sure, I’ll know that our daughter decided to join him for a conference call and serenade his colleagues with a rendition of Baa Baa Black Sheep, but there might be other stuff he needs to unload. We still need to talk to each other.
Our daughter remains a two-year-old and, as such, not the best at articulating how she feels. Although this situation is exasperating at times, I need to make sure I stop and explain to her what’s going on, and help her tell me what’s up too. This will never stop being true, our current situation has just highlighted how quickly things will crumble if I don’t.
And regular check-ins with other friends and family are important as well. Finding the energy to get back on your laptop after a day’s work for a video call is a bit tough. But it’s worth it to share laughs and updates with people I don’t get to see everyday. A pandemic is a crazy and scary thing to live through. I want to remember how important it is to stay in touch and help each other through it.
11.If we look back on this time and our biggest complaint is that we felt bored and cooped up, we will be the lucky ones
There are thousands of people who are putting themselves at risk everyday by carrying on doing their jobs. And there are plenty of others for whom this crisis is much scarier than it is for people like me.
Having to stay home, work without childcare and cope with how strange and apocalyptic life feels right now is hard, and I’m all in favour of allowing ourselves to acknowledge every feeling we experience.
I also know that it will help me to keep going when this period feels endless if I remember that these are all entirely bearable hardships, and that if we all just keep doing as we’re told, we’ll help bring this crisis to an end.
We spend a lot of our adult lives learning how to tell people that we want things to change.
We go on training at work about how to give feedback. We listen to radio phone-ins about how to ask fellow commuters to be more considerate. We read agony aunt column after agony aunt column about how to get our spouse to PLEASE JUST CHANGE THE TOILET ROLL FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE FOR THE LOVE OF ANDREX.
And whilst there is of course value in finding ways to make the imperfect better, my plan for 2020 is to spend more time pointing out the things that make me happy just as they are.
A couple of years ago I started keeping a gratitude list. Every week I make a note of the things – big and small – that have happened that I want to remember and that prove that life is great. I’d seen somebody on Twitter recommend it, so I thought I’d give it a go, and it’s done me the world of good – not just because it’s healthy to be grateful for what you have, but because it’s made me realise what really matters to me.
I kept a list every week in my 2019 diary, and though the exact words differ from week to week, the same themes come up time and time again. Cuddles with my daughter. Seeing her laugh. Time chatting to my husband. Moments to myself to read or watch TV. A catch up with friends. A really excellent cake. A visit from my mum. Managing to stay awake throughout an entire film (this happened approximately twice in 12 months). Proof that I’m keeping my mental health in check. Space to do the work I want to do. Our home.
There are weeks when I’ve noted down special events – new exciting projects, birthdays, trips away – but most of the time, each item on the list is a reminder that it’s the simple things I’m most grateful for. It’s a written collection of all the day to day bits and pieces that could easily go unnoticed, but that are actually my favourite parts of all.
The importance of acknowledging the good became even more apparent to me last year when our daughter got a nasty eye infection. All of a sudden we were in paediatric A&E being told we’d be there overnight so that she could have antibiotics pumped into her little veins through an IV. We caught the infection straightaway and the necessary steps were taken, so all was largely fine, but it was also a bit scary. And it involved spending time in hospital, which is always difficult, particularly when children are involved.
All I wanted the entire time we were there was to go home and back to normal. It made me realise how much I loved our life and that all I need to be happy is to be free to live it, together.
And though that thought process wasn’t new, I wondered if I’d ever actually mentioned how much I liked things, just as they were. I KNEW I’d mentioned how much better life would be if only the bins were emptied more regularly and if we changed a lightbulb more than once every DECADE, but had I said: “Actually, everything we have is everything I want. Nothing else matters”? I’m not sure. So I started.
I’ve tried to take the time to stop and acknowledge when we’re having a nice time, and to tell my husband and my daughter how much I enjoy our time together. I’m an organised person, so I spend most of my time living in the future, planning for the next meal I need to cook, groceries I need to buy, or stain I need to try and fail to remove. And though the world must keep turning, I don’t want to forget to engage with what’s happening now. I don’t want happiness to be something I only recognise retrospectively – I want to notice it in the moment. The future will be here soon enough.
We’ve tried to make it the norm as a couple for us to tell each other when we’re struggling. We let each other know how we’re feeling, we talk about why that might be and what (if anything) can be done, and then we try to move on. It’s not about brushing tough stuff away, quite the opposite. Discussing hard times is as normal as chatting about what’s on TV, so the hurdle isn’t finding the courage to bring it up, but figuring out how we can tackle it together.
And I want it to be just as normal to chat about what’s great. It’s not about living some smug, insufferable life where we pat ourselves on the back all day long, it’s just about making sure we don’t forget that we’re lucky to have each other and that we’ve not forgotten the time when all we wanted was everything that we’ve got now.
My husband reminds me regularly of this Kurt Vonnegut quote, which I love: “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
So that’s what I’m trying to do, this year and beyond. Notice. Life can be incredibly difficult. Surprising in glorious ways, and shocking in others. So the least we can do is acknowledge when it’s good, and let the people around us know how happy they make us.
And I’ll be keeping up with my gratitude list too. Stopping to note down the funny, touching, meaningful joys I’ve taken from each day is the cheapest form of therapy I’ve ever known, and I strongly recommend it. And it’s a lovely thing to look back on at the end of the year, too.
So that’s my intentions for 2020 officially documented, and I’d love to know what yours are, too. Happy New Year.