Accepting Life’s Lemons

So, like most working mums, I pretty much work at full throttle 100 percent of the time. A typical day looks a bit like this:

The regime

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5:30am – rise and get ready (interspersed with getting kids ready because of course they’re also morning kids – sigh). If it helps, picture me precariously holding an eyeliner brush between my teeth whilst helping #2 take his pyjama top off because apparently only mummy is allowed to do this

6:45am – leave for work and a 1 hour 20 commute where I listen to something inspirational on YouTube (like a talk by Marisa Peer or Brenee Brown for the 20 minutes I’m overground)

8am to 3pm – work with a verve that would give Tim Cook something to think about, eating lunch al desko (anything that can be eaten with one hand) whilst challenging my bladder with the ultimate endurance tests (I just need to respond to this last email before I absolutely have to pee)

3:30pm (because who actually leaves on time) – return commute home and of course normal people don’t travel at this time so there are no ‘fast’ trains or ‘short’ platform exits, no no, it’s the full travel experience the scenic way

4:30pm – home, put the kettle on, quick hugs and hello’s whilst hearing both parties’ representations about how the other has aggrieved them (not easy when they’re doing this simultaneously), express my sympathy and feign understanding at their pain, remind them that they are brothers that actually love each other and there’s no need to quibble over that one toy because there are 999,999 in that pile over there they could choose from

4:45pm – kettle boiled, put (some variety of) pasta on – change into home clothes (the dry cleaning bill would outstrip the cost of my work dresses within a week otherwise)

5:15pm – serve up the kids’ dinner with a dose of ‘why is he eating faster than me, that’s not fair!’ on loop

5:45pm – clear up then upstairs for bath and pyjamas (this bit can take as long as you like because it’s dictated by numerous factors including how long they’re on the loo, if they discover a toy in their room they have to play with straight away, if it’s a hair washing day (God forbid), if the older one decides to practice his gymnastics routine – in his pants or naked; somewhat different to the TV gymnastics most people are familiar with – and of course, mood

7:00pm – upstairs for reading time (again this can vary from one book to five however slow and monotone I make my voice)

8:00pm – If I haven’t accidentally nodded off with one of them (happens a lot) then it’s downstairs to root around in the fridge for the world’s speediest dinner or ingredients to achieve the same end (omelettes and stir-frys are a firm favourite) and I’m usually ably assisted by my darling husband who’s also returned home from saving the world (he’s a hospital based optometrist so only comes home after he’s seen the last patient – not a job you could boil an egg by…)

9:00pm – dinner done, we settle down for some TV time but I’m usually robbed of this and fall asleep a mere 15 minutes into watching a re-run of Gogglebox (why is it so compelling watching others watch TV?!)

The bump in the road

Any of it sound familiar? Well, you can imagine my horror when I recently had to undergo emergency knee surgery (I’m fine, don’t panic) and was told that I wouldn’t be walking properly for up to three months. I was in complete denial with a leg locked at 40 degrees yet still messaging my team from A&E to say I’ll be a “bit late” – that was five weeks ago and I still haven’t made it in.

I was obsessed with getting back to work and managing my household because my body knew no speed other than road runner mode. The thought of being ‘idle’ sent shivers through me; what was I going to do? I’m the matriarch, the one people come to for help when they need looking after; the one who can whip up tasty meals for unexpected guests and can host an impromptu kids party with innumerable activities that could give a vaguely decent entertainer a run for their money.

I was so focused on how I’d return to my crazy normality that I ignored my needs in the here and now.

Well, they say everything happens for a reason (I’m not sure who ‘they‘ are but ‘they’ feature in my life a lot and seem reliably knowledgeable). In my case, my injury provided me with the gift of time and a forced halt to the 1200W blender that is my life.  Instead of focusing on surviving through my convalescence, I used the time to take stock and make some really powerful life changes (more of that to follow in later blogs).

So, I thought I’d share some tips for any similarly highly charged people to avoid derailment if you’re stopped in your tracks for some reason.

My survival 101

1. Accept help.

I know on a normal day you can juggle plates on a scale worthy of the Moscow State Circus but acknowledge that things aren’t ‘normal’ temporarily and so it’s ok to allow your loved ones to cook/clean/tidy/nurse you to recovery – they’re only doing it to reciprocate the love you’ve showered upon them so really, fair’s fair.

2. Make lists.

Writing down the things that you want to get done rather than bottling it up in your head, will make you feel like you’re doing something and then you can either delegate the tasks or if you’re up to it, do them yourself. I took the time to put a bit more effort and research into gifts for the three upcoming kids parties my son would be attending as well as booking a long overdue fridge and oven clean. Amazing what you can do with wi-fi, a credit card and an armchair.

3. Sleep.

Seriously, when did you last have the house to yourself and the freedom to do this guilt-free? My last proper night’s sleep was definitely before my kids were born so nestled with my favourite fluffy pillow and a snuggly blanket, I’ve made my own daytime den in the living room where I can keep Come Dine with Me on low volume whilst I snooze (I can’t reconcile sleeping in my bed during the daytime because it just feels wrong). For the days I need a cat nap but just can’t get to sleep, listening to Dr Wayne Dyer’s Everyday Wisdom on low volume sends me gently to la la land.

4. Read.

Anything – be it trashy magazines, that book you’ve always wanted to read, recipes to finally use up that packet of buckwheat you bought knowing it’s a super grain but having no idea what to actually do with it; just read. When was the last time you read for pleasure or read something which was entirely unconnected to one of the hats you wear (mother, wife, employee), just reading for you. Indulge yourself, you deserve to and you’ll feel great for it.

5. Reflect.

‘Normal’ life is manic, you’re spread so thin across all your roles and responsibilities that you’re practically transparent.

You’re so busy doing all day long that you don’t get the chance to think about simply being.

Here’s your chance. Close your eyes and think about you; what did you aspire to be when you were a child? Did you achieve that? If not, what happened? What excites you? Do you have excitement or passion in your life? What does it look like? If you don’t, can you make some space for it?

Reflection and coaching during my convalescence has helped me to realise that I love to write and whilst my life and career are happily geared towards the service of others, actually writing is also a medium I can use to achieve this. And this is how my blog was born and I’m sitting here writing to you all, sharing my experience from my warm sofa den whilst my leg is bandaged up.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feel free to share your own survival tips with me!

Until next time.

Photo by Alex Loup on Unsplash

 

New Year, New Start

2019 resolutions

Reena Anand

So it’s the start of a new year (well a Hindu one anyway) and like everyone who sees the new year as a time to make resolutions and set some personal goals, this blog is the first step towards achieving one of mine – more about that in a bit.

About me

So who am I and why am I here? The non-existential answer to this (apologies if you were expecting something more abstract) is I’m Reena, a lady within touching distance of her 40th birthday, wife and mother of two amazing boys who loves to dance, wear outrageous lipstick and… write.

Background

I grew up in a traditional Indian household, did well at school and went to a world class university where I studied Law and subsequently became a property lawyer. I got married and moved to suburbia where I spend my time constantly playing catch up as to whether its Christmas Donation Day or some other ‘Day’, ferociously shopping on Amazon Prime for last minute costumes for the kids’ various school ‘things’ (whilst berating myself and affirming with iron resolve that I’ve got a year to prepare for next year’s event), mastering the under 30 minute meal prep time (hint: usually pasta) oh, and actually working for a fantastic not-for-profit organisation helping to restore justice when things have gone a bit awry. Chuck in a bit of socialising with old uni friends and fellow harangued mums and the odd bit of random Bollywood dancing in the kitchen reminding me of my youth, and that’s pretty much me.

A perfect world?

Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? Happy family, good health, means to pay my bills and a job that makes me feel like I’m righting the wrongs of the world. But (there has to be a ‘but’ otherwise this would be as boring as sin) something didn’t feel right. I kept wondering in those rare moments of peace (you can literally count them on your hands post-children) if this was it. Was this my story to be played out until I retired? And how come the more I devoted myself to my children, the more I seemed to detach from me? What’s that all about because I sure didn’t read any sections on this when I was swotting up on night time routines and baby led weaning?

Zoom forward and I met a super amazing coach (happy to share details). In my first call, I said “I’m not feeling right, I think I need to change my job” and rather than shake her head in the “that’s what you think” manner, she helped me explore my childhood ambitions and my life’s journey. Turns out, I’ve always loved reading and writing which is why I’ve gravitated towards careers where I could do this (how did I not know this?!) and I remembered with crystal clear clarity that I’d always wanted to be a journalist. I’d written articles and published my school’s first ever year book but when faced with university choices and eager to please my parents, I took the safer and more perceptively respected route – and I don’t regret that.

But here I am faced with a choice of carrying on my perfectly pleasant – albeit somewhat disorganised – life or dipping my toe into the unknown.

And this is how this blog was born (I had to Google search what the word blog actually meant – it’s a document logged on the web for those dinosaurs like me who still miss ring binders of paper and colourful tags).

so what’s next?

Now enlightened by the knowledge I’ve buried for over 20 years that I love to write, I’ve decided to put fingers to keyboard and see what comes out. Handing in my resignation and declaring that I’m now a self-professed writer would be neither practical financially or emotionally healthy because all I’d do is stress about writing, not write, stress and so on. So I’m going to do this slowly and see what happens, and I’m inviting you to join me on my journey because it’s always better to have someone with you when you’re walking alone in the dark (that must be an ancient proverb or at least a message from the Metropolitan Police). If you can relate to how I’m feeling or have that inkling of “what would happen if I tried…?” then hopefully you’ll take some inspiration from this and please feel free to share your stories with me.

So this is my maiden blog. It’s quite cathartic (and a bit scary) putting myself out there but I also know that whatever happens, I never want to look back on my life and think “what if…?”. Are you with me?

Until next time, bon voyage (and that is literally the extent of my knowledge of French),

Reena