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.

 

School morning marathon

IMG_3963I’ve just got home from the school/nursery run. I never questioned prior to now why it was called the ‘school run’ but today as I flopped on the sofa, with my boots still on I feel that I’ve literally run a marathon.

After Izzy’s first exhausting and stressful year at school; my vision during the summer holidays had been to do a bedside yoga session in the morning. I also thought, like my Mum used to do I could start to get everything ready, arranged, and in place the night before … including breakfast. I imagined it would be possible for us to have a calm and enjoyable morning routine this term. These intentions are great, but in reality I just need those extra few minutes to sleep! When will I be able to live this mindful / zen life that I imagined could be possible?  All I really want to do after the school run is switch off and de-stress from this intense workout by switching on the TV to some mind numbing reality show, or girly drama.

I have to change this way of being – this is only the beginning of the second school year! I still have many, many more years of this. I can’t believe am so exhausted by 9am. The rush of adrenaline starts to stream through my body from the moment my alarm wakes me at 6.45. I hear myself shouting instructions, nagging, coaxing them as I try and get my five year old Izzy and three year old Jake up, ready, fed and out of the door. I pile them both into the car, feeling guilty as we could be, should be, walking.

At nursery today Jake runs off, I catch him, take him into his class, where his teachers and I encourage him to let go of my leg. I am impatient, watching the clock, but also not wanting to leave him; he usually bounces in happily. The Nursery teacher reassures me he will be fine once I leave, so with a quick kiss I grab Izzy’s hand, head for the exit, bumping into other stressed mums on their way to work. I’m now thinking; ‘How easy I have it’, and there goes that guilt feeling again. Now Izzy and I need to make it to school before the bell. We speed walk round the corner where we battle the opposite flow of mum’s, buggies, and toddlers leaving the school from their earlier drop off.  I arrive outside Izzy’s classroom handing over her backpack and with a peck on the cheek I watch proudly as she walks in calmly with confidence to her class. Standing there sweating and out of breath, I let out a big sigh, my body relaxes with ‘job done’ as Izzy’s teacher looks at me with compassion. Yes she has seen this all before, and she will again.

I started with such good intentions this morning. I woke up feeling positive and listened to my mindfulness app Stop, Breathe & Think. The three words, resonate as a mantra to life. I’m not sure why, but my life as it is now seems to be running full steam ahead and leaving me behind exhausted.

How can it be this hard to incorporate the mindful practices that I truly need and believe in? Today, the last day of term, I vow that this has to change. There has to be a better way.