I don’t tend to make new year’s resolutions these days, although this year I am having a half-hearted crack at something I have hoped to achieve for the last few years but failed. Only if it comes off will I tell people about it, which is probably the best way to do these things. If at first you don’t succeed, who’s going to know?
That said, there is one other habit I have in mind to break, akin to another I made about a decade ago when I kept saying the word ‘sorry’ in almost every conversation I would have with someone, apologising for things that there was really no need to apologise for. ‘Yes I’ll hand you that piece of paper that’s on my desk that you have only just asked for… sorry…’ or ‘sorry… let me reach over you for that empty mug so I can make you a cup of tea… sorry…’ – you know, that sort of thing. Saying ‘sorry’ so automatically all the time will not do anything whatsoever for your self-esteem or sense of standing and I am pleased to say I have pretty much stopped doing it.
But sorry I digress. This year I have another verbal tic, bordering on Tourette’s, that I need to conquer. In fact I did it just then.
I am talking about the phrase ‘I need to’.
Now, cast your mind back to those hazy pre-parenthood days and you will probably agree that anyone without kids or any other such responsibilities can most probably count the list of things they need to do on a daily basis on one hand. Basically they need to get up, they need to go to work, they need to eat and they need to sleep. And that’s about it really. A few household chores along the way, perhaps, whoop-de-do. Those were the days, weren’t they?
For parents – well, that list can be multiplied by 10 at least – and that’s for each child. All household duties certainly escalate, making meals, tidying up. Then there are things like packed lunches, after-school activities, bedtime tasks such as sorting the baths, making sure teeth are cleaned and stories are read and homework is done.
And this is before you get to anything else that you need to do. Earning money, for instance. Sorting your own wardrobe and other essential matters that have long taken second place to bringing up children. And don’t even think about relaxing in front of a film for an hour or so unless by relaxing you mean falling asleep after 10 minutes.
No, parenthood is a 24/7 job – and yes, long after they are out of nappies.
Of course, we have all known this for a long time, but it is only over this Christmas holiday that I have become conscious of uttering the same phrase over and over while I am busily loading the dishwasher or running around the house gathering together the dirty laundry.
‘I need to… I need to… I need to…’
Normally my mind flicks onto one of them only to remember the others a few minutes later.
‘I need to… I need to…. I need to…’
Again I pick one of those, then as I am doing it, I recall the ones I didn’t choose.
‘I need to… I need to…. I need to…’
And so on and on it goes. It got to the stage where just saying those words was driving me bonkers and making me even more aware that I had all these things that needed doing.
I haven’t discussed this with the wife as of yet. I kinda know what she would say:
‘Oh, you need to write a list.’
To which I’d quickly counter: ‘BUT THAT’S ANOTHER THING I NEED TO DO…’
Even so, she’s probably right and maybe one day I will get around to it. But my fear is that it will be a list I will never be able to finish writing and even if I manage to, I will spend the next three hours staring at it and weeping.
No, better to tackle one task at a time in a random order. And if I find myself saying ‘I need to’, I figure that I am approaching breaking point and I change tack and think of something ‘I want to’ do. And if I am feeling daring, I go off and do it, even if it is just for five minutes.
Like this blog, for example. I can’t hang about, though. I need to sort the school uniform for Monday and then I need to…
There I go again. Sorry.