Image credits: @siobhanwatts (left) and @fleaandbear (right) via Instagram
I mentioned in my last post that I had a bit of an off-week last week; I felt like I wasn't achieving as much as I thought I thought I should be, I'd lost my way a bit parenting-wise, the house was a mass of unfinished DIY projects and crochet deadlines - oh, and we were skint. I spent a good few days in a monstrous huff, but did stumble across a few things that helped me work my way out of it, so I thought I'd share them here.
1. Take care of your mind and body
I used to think that the only way to make myself feel better about things was to sit in my pyjamas and eat as much chocolate as I could get my hands on; people told me that I'd feel better if I ate and drank things that were nutritionally good for me, and maybe even thought about a bit of exercise, but I just scoffed and hollered, 'pass the biscuits!' Turns out though, they were actually right - I've recently cut down a LOT on sugar and caffeine, and have started eating way more fruit and vegetables, and drinking green tea.... and, well, it works. Aside from that, I've also started trying to go to bed earlier, rather than sitting at the laptop until gone 11pm, and have been finding time to declutter (six years worth of craft stuff gone in an afternoon!) and craft for joy rather than work. One of my favourite bloggers, Siobhan from Bless the Weather has started the #mymonthofselfcare hashtag on Instagram with Eve from House of Smilla, and it's a great place to see what others are doing, and to get inspiration.
2. Give up on perfection
Ever since I was young, my Mum has watched me drive myself to distraction over my quest for perfection; school work had to be perfect, my bedroom had to be perfectly tidy, my clothes had to be perfectly crease free.... now I'm grown up, I find myself telling my children that they can't always be the best at everything, and that what counts is doing your best - but I still berate myself a LOT when a craft project doesn't quite work out how I planned, or when I don't get a particular work commission. I think the thing I've found that helps the most is to recognise the fact that actually, perfection doesn't really exist and that my best IS good enough - I try to be happy with the fact that I've tried my hardest, and simply move on. (Which I have to admit, is a struggle - I find that steering clear of social media when I'm feeling not-quite-good-enough is an amazing help!)
3. Accept financial help
We don't have a lot of money; my income is pretty sporadic, as any freelancer will know, and Ali works in insurance which isn't massively well-paid. We manage, there just aren't really any holidays, meals out or takeaways, and most of the kids days out involve the beach, woods or park - and if there was ever an emergency, we're lucky in that Ali's parents would be in the position to help. A lot of people aren't in the same boat, though, so something like a car that suddenly refuses to start or a washing machine that floods the kitchen can be disastrous - luckily, in a sea of unscrupulous banks and pay-day lenders with sky-high fees, there's now another option. Peer-to-peer lending is basically banking without the banks - loans are provided by other human beings prepared to put up their own money, and there are no sneaky fees *blows raspberry at banks* Lending Works is one of the leading peer-to-peer lenders, and they're probably the most ethical money service I've come across; they only lend to creditworthy borrowers, there are no repayment penalties, and they provide insurance against borrower defaults, fraud and cybercrime. There's absolutely nothing wrong with having to seek out financial help; almost everyone does it at some point in their lives (and let's face it, what's a mortgage if not a whacking great loan?!) - just make sure you get it from the right people.
Aside from my quest for perfection, trying to do too much is one of my biggest flaws. Last spring I decided (despite having pretty limited gardening knowledge and even less money), that I was going to grow enough food and flowers in the garden to make a pretty big dent in our shopping bill. This was ridiculous for two reasons; firstly, our garden is little more 20sqft, with extremely bad soil and secondly, I had barely any spare time. Seeds went unsown, plants wilted in the greenhouse and as the summer went on I got more and more despondent - not realising that the reason for my green-fingered failure wasn't because I was a crap gardener, but because I was also trying to look after two children, organise school commitments, work full time, finish DIY projects, deal with my Dad's Alzheimers and Ben's autism and keep the house clean. Then I discovered the quote above (which is available as a brilliant desktop wallpaper from Mermag Blog) and decided to stop being so ridiculous - the key is to be realistic with your time, and realise that you're only one person. You can do anything you put your mind to - you just can't do it all at once.
5. Take the time to have digital breaks
This is a biggie for me; as a copywriter, blogger and magazine writer, I spend a LOT of time online and on social media, which can either be utterly brilliant and inspirational - or it can be mind-bogglingly soul-destroying. The shiny worlds of Pinterest and Instagram can be a tough place to be, especially if you're having a bad week and it seems like the rest of the universe is winning at life and absolutely killing it. I can't recommend time away from the world of the internet enough; my favourite thing to do when it gets really bad is to delete all social media apps from the phone and then get back to the real world, whether it's out with the kiddos, off to a local coffee shop or to hide on the sofa with a good book.
Many thanks to The Lending Works for collaborating with me on this post; a true dolphin in a sea of financial sharks!