Monthly Archives: October 2012

Yes stress!

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No…it’s a simple word. In fact it’s one of the simplest words so why do I have such trouble using it?

Actually, that’s not entirely true as I spend large parts of my day saying No! to my children. No, you can’t have biscuits for breakfast; No, you can’t wear Heelys to school; No, you can’t play Angry Birds on my phone again, etc, etc…

But when it comes to the big wide world beyond my front door, No is a word that I’m afraid to use as liberally as I should. This is not to suggest that I’m an all-giving, ever-generous, totally accommodating individual. It simply means I’m a mug!

Yes is a much easier word to swallow. You get a better reaction when you say Yes. People smile, people thank you, people like you more. And don’t get me wrong, Yes has a lot going for it. Yes can open doors and create opportunities. Yes can lead to new experiences. And Yes keeps me busy, connected and involved.

But Yes can also be completely and utterly exhausting! All too often, after an overuse of the word, I find myself over-committed and forced to compromise. There aren’t enough hours in the day for all the things I say Yes to. It’s hard to stay organised, calm and in control after one too many Yeses. And my stress levels and energy stores are difficult to manage when my default response is Yes.

So as negative as this may sound, I’ve decided its time to reacquaint myself with the word No. It will be a self-conditioning exercise that will test my will power and audacity. But it might just pay off if I find the time to relax and enjoy my free time, my hobbies, my family and friends and my sanity that little bit more. Yes?

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Food fights!

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I’m beginning to realise that starting my Facebook fast and a diet in the same week was a tad ambitious.

I’m a self-confessed comfort eater; I eat when I’m frustrated, when I’m bored, when I’m fed up, when I’m on my own (or with a baby that won’t judge me) and simply when there’s nothing else to do. I eat healthy food and junk food; homemade food and shop bought food; my food and the kids’ food (when they leave it on their plates or when they’re not looking).

And for a child who wouldn’t touch anything other than cheese and crackers until the age of five, I eat a big variety of foods; from hearty English fayre and spicy curries, to exotic seafood and garlic snails. I’ll also eat sushi, chips, cheesecake and pasta at any opportunity.

But much as I love food, it is rarely a friend to my hips. Pregnancy has always given me a ‘Get Out of Dieting’ free card that I’ve enjoyed so much that I now have four kids. But shifting the baby bulge is never as fun. Breastfeeding certainly helps. I know, I know….I would say that wouldn’t I, but it’s bloody true. The downside – breastfeeding makes me hungry.

Dieting, like Facebook, can leave me feeling jealous of my nearest and dearest, particularly those who can polish off multiple Krispy Kremes without a second thought (“Let’s buy The Dozen. It’s much better value” – grrrrrr!). The friends blessed with miracle metabolisms and tiny appetites are difficult company to keep when I’m daydreaming of Mars bars every five minutes. Even mealtimes with the kids can challenge my weight loss willpower. All too frequently I find myself stood in the kitchen, clearing away their dinner plates and finishing off their unwanted pizza. And our weekly trip to the sweet shop is starting to feel practically masochistic. Thankfully, my chocoholic brood are selfish sweetie eaters so only on the rarest of occasions am I able to scrounge a square of Dairy Milk.

Even when I’m trying my hardest to keep track of the calories, I unwittingly scupper my efforts. Its the ‘Chips off Another Person’s Plate’ principle. When grating cheese for a sauce, a handful or three will inevitably end up in my mouth but subconscious calories don’t count, right? When making sandwiches for lunch boxes, eating the discarded crusts wont matter surely? But my biggest downfall is drinks. We’re constantly reminded of the fattening effects of a lush lifestyle and no one wants a beer belly or pinot paunch. But as well as the odd pint and cheeky vino, I am also a bit of a Coke Head (fat coke that is, diet coke is for wimps) as well as a Starbucks addict. My world was recently shaken when I discovered that Chai Tea Lattes are a staggering 300 calories a cup! Sad face 😦

It’s been a week since I started my Facebook fast and I’ve already lost the weight of my obsession. It feels great! But in the meantime, as I look for new ways to occupy my time, I now need to condition myself to stay away from the fridge.

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Facebook….friend or foe?

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Facebook….friend or foe? I’m undecided so perhaps a Facebook fast will help me to work this out.

I remember first joining Facebook some gazillion years ago when FriendsReunited was its biggest competitor and you could post your holiday snaps without fear of your boss seeing them. Back then I accepted friend requests from everybody and anybody including a few random (and quite questionable) American frat boys, presumably on a mission to make as many FB friends as possible.

And at first, Facebook was a fun, frivolous and fascinating website where I could catch up with old school friends and laugh at embarrassing photos of myself pissed and posing. But fast forward a few short years and it can now feel like a competitive online environment where I’m inundated with information, updates. and advertising. Who’s been on the most exotic holiday? Who’s children are the most beautiful/clever/amusing? Who’s business has the most Likes? And fundamentally, the all important one…who has the most Facebook friends?

My own compulsion to share my daily routine, constant whereabouts and general musings with my Facebook family is draining. This is keeping up with the Jones’ to the extreme. Weekends and holidays are documented in detail with a series of check-ins, photo uploads and status updates. ‘Abbi Ayers is at Science Museum’, ‘Abbi Ayers is pissed with 4 others – at the Jolly Farmer’, ‘Abbi Ayers is pulling her hair out in a ten mile tailback on the M25’. This overwhelming need to share everything from the mundane to the momentous is addictive and infuriating.

If I’m honest, I ‘facebook’ (as such an adjective is now acceptable and fully understood) because when I take my kids to museums, I want credit for my parenting prowess. I facebook to show that I still have the semblance of a social life and can ‘party hard’ after a few pinots. And sometimes I facebook just because I’m looking for sympathy, kinds words and compliments. But then again, doesn’t everybody?

We all have those FB friends who update us with their inner most feelings and emotions, wearing their heart on their virtual sleeve for all to see.
“Having a terrible day and may have to jump off a bridge later”
Facebook sometimes feels like an awkward dinner party, a tense coffee morning and a bad date rolled into one. Social media needs clear cut social etiquette; otherwise I remain confused and concerned about how best to respond to suicidal status updates.

Then there are those that update you with their every move throughout the day, checking in everywhere and anywhere. Check-in at Nobu – you’re cool! Check-in at Tesco – you’re a fool!

But it is my own obsession with Facebook that irks me most. With my iPhone at the ready, I can check-in, post pics and wax lyrical anytime I want. All too frequently I find myself in places and situations thinking, I could put this on Facebook.
Why, why, WHY?!

Then there’s my tendency to check for Facebook updates throughout the day. I read an article recently that said 48% of Facebook users (aged 18-34) check the website as soon as they wake up, with 28% doing so before they get out of bed! Maybe I’m not alone in my obsessive FB behaviours but when I find myself ignoring my kids to look at photos of other people’s kids and updating my status in a traffic jam, it’s time to concede that enough is enough!

So I’m starting a Facebook fast. I still plan to do interesting things, take photos of my family and keep in touch with my nearest and dearest, but I will refrain from documenting the details online. I will delete the FB app from my iPhone and will steer clear of my PC to achieve absolute abstinence.

And chances are, if you’re reading this blog (as a result of my shameless plug on Facebook), you too could do with a detail detox.