Treading Water and Fighting Fires


Fire Pit

It’s weird.  This is one of those posts that I am starting and not knowing what I am really going to say.   Well that bit isn’t weird, alot of my posts start like that.   The majority of them though, I know where I am going with it.   With this I don’t.    But I started this blog as a place to get things out of my head and there is a lot that I need to get out of my head at the moment.   Truth be told my head is a mess.

Not in a scary, everybody start worrying about me, kind of way.   It’s normal everyday stuff but there just seems to be so much of it and I am struggling to deal with it all I guess.

Does anybody else feel like that?  An overwhelming feeling of there just being so much to do?    Like everyday?  And that even when it’s all done it is just like treading water.  Or fighting a fire.   Four times I tidied the kitchen yesterday.   Four.  How is that even possible?  That as soon as I clean a work surface and turn around to do something else I come back and it’s covered in crumbs.  And I swear to God that bin that is overflowing is the same bin I emptied yesterday.  Where has all that stuff come from again and why cant the person who just wedged all that stuff in that is balanced on the top not empty the damn thing?

Every time you open a cupboard in this house it is like playing Jenga.   The only vaguely tidied rooms are the lounge and the kitchen, everywhere else is a mess.   Nothing is where it should be.  The only way I can make a room look vaguely tidy is to clear everything off the floor or table and shove it in the nearest cupboard or drawer.   It fixes the immediate problem but long term it is useless.    We haven’t been able to find a tape measure for months.   There are screw drivers in the cutlery drawer.   I can never find a menu for our local Indian restaurant but I know where three are for restaurants in the town we lived in ten years ago.  I can no longer work on my desk as it is a graveyard for boxes, review items, paperwork, stationery, anything in fact that I don’t know what to do with but if I put it in there and shut the door I don’t have to look at it any more.

I have to shut the curtains on that room though when the window cleaner comes or he will think we have been burgled and call the police.

Getting a serving bowl out of a cupboard means moving a whole stack that are balanced on a pie dish.   One wrong move and the kitchen floor will resemble a scene from a Greek restaurant.

It is driving me mad that I just don’t have time to spend tidying anything properly.  To have a proper sort out rather than scratching the surface of something and doing a half arsed job.  Ironing one school skirt and a shirt rather than all the stuff in the basket.

Yes we have a cleaner once a week for three hours but it’s not the cleaning that’s the issue.   It’s the rest of it.  I have often joked that I need a wife and I have never felt that more acutely than now.   You know that feeling when you just want somebody to do it all for you.  So you don’t have to stare at a fridge and think “what the hell am I going to throw onto a plate?” and because your head is a mess you can’t think so you order a take away.  Except you don’t have that thing you always liked but can’t remember what it is called (see point above re menus).

Where you are more organised with your clothes so that you don’t have to run down the garden at 7.30am on a Saturday in your bra and leggings to find a clean top to wear on the washing line because there aren’t any anywhere else?

I was away for three days last week, the prep ahead of time was a bit bonkers, not just making sure that I had all I needed but making sure there was food in the fridge, everybody knew what was going on.  That they knew where the key was for granny should she need an emergency visit.  That Mr B knew what was going on with school runs and exams.   The list was endless.

I came home and hit the ground running with my head full of three days of cheese.  A suitcase of dirty clothes.  1000 photos.   A million blog posts I hadn’t written before I went and now another million to get down.   Yet the first thing I wanted to do was throw the Dyson round the hall as my way of achieving something tangible in five minutes.  Of clearing my head.

My head is constantly buzzing with what I need to be doing right now, what I should have done, what I need to do in the next four hours, what I must remember to do in the next week.   It never stops.  I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about things I need to do.   I lie awake trying to fall asleep in bed remembering the urgent things I was supposed to do that day and didn’t.   Put the Good Wife on though, my favourite programme, and I am asleep in seconds.

Mr B is out of the house for 14 hours a day five days a week, leaving at 6am, returning at 7.30pm if he is lucky, though it is usually nearer 8pm.    He can’t physically do the hour of household stuff that I do every morning before doing an hour long school run and then a full day of work.    To then do another hour long school run, dinner for teens, dinner for us, dog walking, blog stuff yadda yadda yadda.

I am hoping that with the end of GCSEs in sight this week I might feel a bit more together.  There are only two more later this week, and in fact this morning’s is the last one at 9am.   This means there are no more 6am calls until September.   That feels weird in itself.

Maybe that’s it.  Maybe it’s all about my youngest baby growing up and no longer being my baby.  GCSE’s are nearly over and the hours of revision and sitting down to do past papers are behind her.   They are all now just fire-pit fodder.    Ceremoniously being burned as they are no longer needed.     It’s about her approaching sixth form.   Thoughts of university.   Heading off to the Foofighters at Wembley in a couple of weeks.   Making train journeys and having days out without me.   Growing up and having fun.   Whilst I just grow old and vacuum the hall.

Am I getting old?

Am I just tired?

Is it that I just need to lie on a beach for a week?

Or is that I really do just need a wife.

Anyone interested in the position, apply within.   I will pay you in waffles

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  • I’m exhausted just reading about your to do list! You always have so much on, and in fact, I think you juggle it brilliantly. I often feel like I am just about keeping my head above water, with 2 businesses, a blog, a 4 year old, and I think about how great the extra time will be once she starts school in September. Then I end up a mess because my baby is growing up, so nope, you aren’t alone, and I think anyone who tells you they don’t get those feelings is a liar. Big hugs to you lovely xx

    • In some ways I am relieved Andrea that you feel like I do and it is not just me and then I feel sad that you are feeling as I do! It’s exhausting to even think about isn’t it?! I am sending you Berocca 🙂

      • OMG, I have just discovered Berocca, where the hell has it been all my life?! Reckon you could throw a waffle in too? I am yet to try one of your epic waffles and really feel like I am missing out. But yep, some days like is too exhausting to even think about.

  • Could have written this post! I wrote about the overwhelming responsibility of being a parent a few weeks ago and all the little details which go into each day. It’s so hard. All day long. I often feel like I’m running around in circles trying to catch my tail. One recommendation.. Throw all the menus away – nearly all of them are on Just Eat. Much easier. Hope you feel better soon. I hate days when I feel like that.x

    • oh my god. Great top tip. And it gives me something else to burn I have a new found love of burning things because it means you can toast marshmallows too.

  • I would totally apply for that position. As much as I dreaded having to go back and live with Dad, one of the things I have enjoyed (and it took a while) is less pressure to keep on top of the home. I mean I keep everything tidy, but it’s not my home and so I feel so much more relaxed about things like housework. Another thing I’ve relished is being forced to declutter after leaving my home of 23 years. It has meant that my mind is freer (have I spelt that right??). I was pretty bloody ruthless about it too and only ever keep a minimum of stuff around me – my life is currently contained in a small metal box I’m paying £30 a week for. Maybe you need to declutter? Frees the mind that’s for sure. Nothing a week or two in Barbados wouldn’t cure right? 🙂 x

    • If we could afford Barbados I would there like a shot tomoorrow. No summer holiday booked this year. Maybe that is adding to my tiredness. I definitely need to have a ruthless decluttering. I know I will feel better and I am so pleased you managed to do it. That must have been a great feeling, a real sense of freedom. I need to take a leaf out of your book and go on the attack!

      Thanks for commenting Kate.

  • I got a huge sense of achievement by spraying the bathroom taps with limescale remover yesterday. Then looked down and notice a completely filthy bathroom floor. The garden’s a mess, it takes twice as long to complete one task but at least I finally hit publish on my first blog post for months.

    How about paying someone to collect and do your ironing – might be money well spent and give you some breathing space?

    I’m going to use what little motivation I’m clinging on to, to Google “best waffle maker” xx

    • Hitting publish is a huge achievement! Squirting Pledge into the air is another good one. Smells like you have dusted, but without having actually done it.

      Best Waffle Maker? Well I can help with that 🙂 Google Sage Smart Waffle. And then use it to cook everything including omelettes. But that is a different story

  • Having read your blog it too made me sigh with a little relief that I am not on my own. I constantly seem to have STUFF that needs my urgent attention yet I know I am organised and I know they will all get done. I constantly crave a week on a beach any beach where I can sit and make lists!

  • I 100% get where you are coming from!! With Nick now working overseas quite so much and being away more than he is home, I completely understand that feeling of drowning under the mundanities of life and feeling stupidly knackered at the end of the day, and THEN remembering that I haven’t put the bins out/replied to that important work email/filled in form for youngest at school/helped struggling older teen with “life” in general………..however, I will say that if you can possibly find a day to have a brutal de-clutter (pretend you are moving out and have to pay to put everything into storage…….do you really need all those serving bowls for example?) it will make you feel so much more in control and if not “on top of” everything, at least as if you are giving it a damn good go!! Good luck! xx

    • Thanks Polly. Funnily enough as I stood in a professional kitchen smaller than my own last week and looked at what he achieved with the space he had, and the equipment compared to the cupboards and shelves creaking with clutter I have I vowed to pull them all out. THen I got home and looked in a cupboard and thought “sod that” and shut the door. Needs to be broken down into chunks I think. Because no, I dont need all those serving bowls. Or 87000 plastic boxes from the Chinese that “might” come in useful. God I am turning into my granny. Maybe I should go on Hoarder Next Door and get them in? 🙂

  • God, we are all feeling the same aren’t we? I was up until 1am this morning sorting ‘stuff’ Slept so much better for it though. I can lend you a tape measure in return for you finding our masher? We’ve been using a fork to mash potato for 2 months rather than declutter and find the bugger!

  • I am exactly the same.Although I don’t have a cleaner and I am a single parent.I am sat ironing a shit load of clothes, whilst last nights dinner plates and breakfast bowls fill the sink.There is a duvet on the kitchen floor, as my washing machine leaks, when it works.The second loo has a leaky radiator and is in dire need of repainting.The living room is a mass of clothes that I’m either ironing, putting into those vacuum packs or in a bag for charity.The loo needs cleaning.The beds were stripped this morning, they need clean stuff put on.I might get around to doing that before the kids go to bed.I’ve also got a meal to make, a school run to do.Oh and two guest posts for important people to do and that’s even before I even think about updating my own blog.You’re not alone and it’s really shitty, mundane and I can totally relate.I’m looking forward to Britmums live but not with everything that comes after and I’m determined to be e-mailing brands the Monday after the conference.I really am.

  • I am totally with you. I like an organised house, and yet mine is littered with scraps of paper, books, forms to fill in, piles of work not yet done, plates, mugs, clothing – it’s chaos. I like lists, but my diary is one big block of writing that I can’t even read to see what needs to be done. Firefighting is exactly what it is. I’m not sure even a wife would help – I’d lose track of where everything is! I need a PA

  • Oh, I know how you feel. My house is so disorganised and full of crap. Everywhere I turn I find some piece of tat that has absolutely no use at all, or I’m treading on bits of mislaid lego. I have a tidy up everyday otherwise I can’t think straight in the mess – but when I say tidy up I actually mean shove everything in a cupboard (I dare not open the door to the cupboard under the stairs anymore).

    But this morning I got even more stressed out / peeed off with the state of the house that I thought ‘F*** it’ and I’ve been filling up bin bag after bin bag of crap we don’t use and don’t need. I’ve only done the utility room and half of the kitchen so far but it feels so good! I have been ruthless and am going to try to do the whole house this week if I can.

    Knowing me though the whole house will need doing again next month! Xxx

    • I am thinking I need to do that. I know I do feel better for a cleared house. Cleared mind and all that. I think I might try and sell some of it on Gumtree, then at least I can earn something from it at the same time. Is there a market for second hand pizza menus?!

  • You have just described my life! The only difference is that my eldest baby starts school in the autumn so I haven’t had to deal with exams yet. I’ve also been back at work for 6 weeks after maternity leave. I suspected that I didn’t like my job any more before I went off, now I know I definitely don’t. So finding career change advice for adults is now another item on the list of stuff.

    Take care, hope you can get a break of some kind soon.

  • Very interesting! – and Very true!!

    Anyone who puts himself [also includes the fem variety so calm down!] out for others and who is of a reasonable IQ is bound to live in a constant turmoil – it goes with the life style. I used to be just the same but these days – as I’ve got a bit older – I find I have no problems with mess. I am surrounded by tidy spaces in every direction and I don’t have any concerns! Just takes a bit of planning.

  • This sounds like my life! Apart from the cleaner – I need a new cleaner (the last one doesn’t clean anymore, grrr) but I’m literally too busy to get one.

    The one way I try to stay vaguely in control is to keep a handle on the clutter. Once a week I do a tour of the house with a bin bag and charity shop bag and chuck a load of crap away. It took a while to get my ruthless hat on (I would feel a weird sentimentality towards the oddest objects) but now I don’t think twice. I love decluttering!

  • I’ll start by saying that you don’t need a wife haha. I feel exactly the same as you and I’m sure Kirsty does too.

    I completely relate to this, all the way through I was laughing to myself as it’s almost exactly how I feel about my home. Except my little one isn’t taking exams but he is growing way too fast for me to keep up with.

    You’re doing a marvellous job, so sit back and enjoy that lovely garden of yours and warm yourself by the exam papers 🙂

  • You’ve already relieved the pressure by admitting there is pressure…and helped other pressurised beings along the way. There are no easy answers, but something that works for me is to pick one thing and do that well. I usually pick cleaning as that feeling of organisation is better than an orgasm. Sorry. Back to you. Feeling powerless tends to make things feel far worse. You have already started to wrestle some of that power back.

    Here. Always. Mx

    • And there in four lines is it all in a nutshell. Mess does make me feel powerless, you are so right that I just need to take control of something.

      THanks for commenting Mel.

  • I totally get this Tarnyar, it’s like groundhog day sometimes, the whole make mess, clear mess thing in the kitchen and the pressures that add on when you go away. I always run about like a blue-arse fly before a few days away, to get things ready for when I am gone – and when I come home more needs doing than when I left. Gah!

    But yes to the wife position, waffles just so happen to be a currency that I understand!

  • Oh T! I think sometimes its our attitude too. I have friends that are not bother by untidiness and i swear to God they are a lot happier! In my house it’s the floor full of toys, crumbs and other little things. I should vacuum twice a day to keep it all tidy but i am afraid it;s just impossible. I just hope there will be light at the end of the tunnel. I am starting some meditation exercises this week so i am really hoping it will work!

  • when my kids were still living at home i had no idea how i was going to get anything done and why i was constantly picking up behind everyone. I hear lots of people with either small children or whose children ar enow in their 50s say ‘make the kids do it, give them chores’ but the reality is if I do that I have another activity to manage, enforce and issue sanctions for. i stopped worrying a good few years ago about winning every battle and not worrying about the ironing pile and i was much more relaxed as was the entire household.

  • Oh I know exactly where you are coming from! …my blog name says it all.
    I think Kate is definitely onto something- less stuff, less things to make a mess with. It is so hard in our consumerism driven world though!
    The other thing that frustrates me is when you think you are winning then shit always hits the fan. A dishwasher breaks and it takes 30minutes of your day to arrange the engineer to come, 2 days for him to arrive & then wait in half the day to do it. Or an idiotic invigilator decides to interpret the rules through his own bizarre lenses and delays a test you’ve been studying for by weeks.

    I reckon we just need some special me time to sort through it all in an alternate universe, so time doesn’t actually tick while we sort it. Does that make sense?

  • I knew when I saw that title I had to click on this and yep! this is my life! Always, ongoing. As soon as I seem to get back on top something comes along to knock me back down again. I need a cook, secretary, cleaner and admin assistant and then I think I could probably cope. Actually throw in a childminder too.

  • I have a load of half written posts like this in my head, you have reminded me what I need to just do is write what I want to. I feel like I have more time than I did, I’ve cut back loads of stuff that was stressing me out, but now no inclination to do it all.

  • Yup, am there. Trying to work 16 hours a week, start a charity, keep my blog functioning, be a semi decent wife, mother, house leaner, cook, nurse… and all that I’ve got on my plate. My mum worked, kept the house immaculate, and was a great mum, and had it all together, I seem to remember, I often wonder how she managed it all! I’m glad it’s not just me, it makes me feel better that others feel like this too!