Black Friday

I have been totally distracted over the last week. I guess you could call it my pre-Christmas overload. I had believed I had learned from my previous Christmas mistakes of leaving things to the last minute and getting stressed and burned out by Christmas Day. I had vowed to start getting myself organised around Halloween in order to take it all in my stride. But instead I got completely sidetracked by the new phenomenon of ‘Black Friday’.

At first Black Friday was all about the great gifts I would buy for others. It was the last week of November and I felt a sudden panic that it was nearly a month after Halloween, and I still hadn’t started my Christmas preparations. I also feared I was going to miss my window of opportunity to ‘bag’ a great deal.

By Tuesday of last week it seemed that there were so many bargains that I couldn’t keep up. I started to write down all that we might need so that we wouldn’t miss out on the ‘bargain of a lifetime.’ From 15% off here, to 20% off there, and up to 50% off high price items, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. My head was awash with products that I wanted, needed, or might want or might need, and of cause not forgetting the Christmas gifts that I could buy for all those friends and relatives. It was in hindsight totally addictive.

I spent hours on the internet searching various high street department stores, designer brands, and my favourite online only stores. From homeware, makeup, to kids clothing, I had to cover all my bases. Finally on the Saturday night the high of my Black Friday madness started to fade and I started to come down. I began to get annoyed with my husband, frustrated he was not getting on board with the Black Friday fever. I’d started bombarding him with questions “Peter, what clothes do you need at the moment? Peter what you need is some… or Peter have you ordered anything yet?” My frustration was with his lack of motivation and urgency.

By Sunday I was totally washed out and with little to show for all my efforts. Mostly the hype was ‘to good to be true’ and there was nothing that was the ‘deal of the year’.

Finally I said to myself ‘never again will I be suckered into this sickening mass-consumerism’ and today I woke up thinking; ‘Yes it is over!’. But no: I awoke to the news that it was now ‘Cyber Monday’ and I spent the day holding myself back from searching out for the last final offers of this exhausting and endless retail sales marathon.

By 8pm the emails were still rolling in, with retailers trying to entice me with headers such as ‘Tick tock. Have you seen our cyber savings?’

I felt that it had to be the end of the last offers. The onslaught of advertising had to end today. But we shall see what tomorrow brings.

I never used to be this way, I used to hate sales. I think it could be since having the large expense of kids that has changed my ways. Or maybe I have inherited this habit from my Mum, she loves sales and rummaging about for deals. I go in her house and she has mountains of products that were 3 for 2 and wardrobes filled with bargains that she has never worn. I never wanted to be that person. I want quality over quantity, and to buy only things I truly love. But I also know that I do not want to be paying over the odds for something. I now just can’t purchase anything without googling for voucher codes. I suppose it is just getting the right balance.

Prior to the onslaught of emails and TV radio and banner adds I had been looking forward to organising a new tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving in my household and teaching the children about gratitude.  In fact, I had begun to prepare a blog post telling you about my ideas and enthusiasm to adopt Thanksgiving for the values it could instil before Christmas. Unfortunately my plans got overridden by various household duties, unwell children and the biggest distraction of all “BLACK FRIDAY.”

Please return here next year and I promise you I will have my priorities straight.

 

Lesson #2 Finding a fresh perspective… when I’m in a funk!

Driving in the rainThe day just started out miserable. As I looked out of the window I was greeted with thick cloud, howling wind and pouring rain. To top it off I had also woken up full of my son’s cold/cough.

It was last week Half Term holiday, and we were visiting my husband’s parents in the picturesque Lake District for a few days. The four of us had driven for five hours two days before, and it had rained constantly since we had arrived. Waking up to the knowledge we had a five to six hour car journey back to London suburbia in the rain filled me with dread, causing my mood to be as heavy as the clouds. To top it off I had to go on an hour round trip to a ‘Steam Train Museum’. Could my day get worse?

I admit, my attitude was poor. I huffed and puffed as Peter drove up into the mountains towards the museum – in torrential rain. The children oblivious to my mood, wriggled and giggled in their back seats, excited to be able to see real trains like Thomas the Tank Engine. With tension filling in the front seats I put some music on.

“Why should we bother in this rain? Why can’t we just turn around and go home? What is the point? We’ll only get stuck in rush hour traffic later, on our way back home.” I muttered to myself.

I was never sure Peter heard my whiny comments, but to deepen my self-righteous mood, Peter, not listening to the sat nav directions took a wrong turn, which then added another twenty minutes to the journey.

IMG_4010Finally we pulled in to the old railway station and met up with my in-laws who had come separately in their car. First impressions were bad; an empty puddle filled car park with an old carriage and single large shed, which we presumed were filled with train engines. Rain pelting down, we headed for shelter in the cold damp-smelling shed.

Seeing the children’s excitement as they saw the old steam trains, I thought. ‘How can I turn my mood round? What can I get from being here?’

As the children ran around with glee, I took out my iPhone to take photos of the them with the train carriages. It was then I began to see how interesting the train carriages looked on camera. The colours and patterns of the trains looked great. My mood instantly changed. Suddenly everything seemed more vibrant interesting and positive, and before long I was as inspired by steam trains as the children were.

After seeing the old steam trains we noticed crowds of people starting to fill the platform. There was great excitement as the old steam train pulled in full of tourists.  As the whistle blew the train slowly departed with more people on board. With the noise of the engine, the glowing coal fire, and the smoke and steam, the atmosphere was electric.

I asked myself; ‘How could you ‘not’ fall in love with steam trains?’.

Lesson # 2 Finding a fresh perspective and inspiration when I’m in a funk!

We all know part of being a parent is being selfless and putting the children’s needs above our own. Often we turn off our childlike curiosity and see things in black and white, and as something to just get through, to grin and bear.

iphoneography on this day was my saviour, creating a distraction and a project to see everything in a more positive and creative light. So now, when my old eyes get tired and worn down with day-to-day grind, the iPhone can give them a fresh colourful new perspective.