In the same way that you never really own an umbrella – you’re merely its guardian until you leave it on the bus for the next person in line – you are never fully in the driving seat of your Best Laid Plans bus when children hover into your life. Plans will aft gang agley, as Robbie Burns so astutely penned.
So, how can we deal with plans going agley and not allow our sanity to agley off with it? Everyday worry is one thing, but when things swerve off course is when your resilience is properly put to the test on this mothering road. So here are my 5 tips:
1. Let them eat cake: in these batten down the hatches times such as when pox attacks and plans go out the window, don’t beat yourself up about 5 a day nutritional concerns for your small people. Maurice has eaten “get better crisps” pretty much all day today and he will be FINE. Shame about Freddie’s chocolate biscuit before 9am, perhaps, but hey these things happen. Needs must.
2. Worrying is pointless. I worried and worried about Maurice getting chicken pox and meaning we couldn’t fly. But…it happened and worrying about it for all that time didn’t make it any easier to handle, or change anything. Worrying is a pretty futile activity. Whether it’s worrying about social media angst or worrying about huge world problems, the outcome is always turmoil for your wellbeing but no positive resolutions hit upon unless you can let go of it. I’m now worrying about when Freddie will get it and how severely. But I’d be almost better worrying about what to make Kim kardashian for tea if she happened to pop round this afternoon. Pointless waste of brain reserves. If you can, distract yourself with practical things like making food (/opening crisps) and conjuring up activities for two boys who are flat-bound for days with no garden. So: less worry, more action. Doing stuff will help the positive head heroes chase away the worry bears. Strategise, plan, organise, write thoughts and feelings down to make them coherent, but don’t worry.
3. If you have to worry/stew/mull with anger, give yourself a time limit and assign it to a practical job: worry while you’re opening the crisps. But no longer.
4. Peppa pig will help you. If she hasn’t got any pearls of wisdom herself, Daddy Pig will. As a freelancer I personally rely on his mantra of “I’m an expert at…”. Visualise yourself excelling in everything you do.
5. If the panic stations worry brigade have taken up residence and appear to be refusing to budge, try to blast them out with endorphins. I currently plan on going for a run when my husband gets home from work. Or at least, walking briskly to the corner shop to get a bottle of wine. There’s no doubt about it, exercise and anxiety are difficult to find in the same room. I know which room I’d choose if given the choice. So if your brain is churning and even if you’re stuck in the house with two small people and no sunshine: do star jumps, walk up and down stairs, do a yoga sun salutation. Anything that diverts your attention and gets the blood flowing will have a positive effect. Ultimately, be like Dory and just keep swimming just keep swimming just keep swimming…