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Can you answer this question honestly?

17 May

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I have a question. I know it’s none of my business but I really want to know. It’s not an easy question to answer. Normally when someone asks you this question your instinct is to lie. Sometimes it catches you off guard.

Sometimes you drive yourself crazy asking it of yourself.

To me it is THE question. It’s the only one that matters. Achievements, accomplishments, money, family, friends and possessions aside…none of it matters when it comes to this.

Okay, here it is…

Are you happy?

I know, annoying right? Are you happy. Is anyone happy? What does it mean to be happy? Is happiness even a goal? Is being in a constant state of happiness achievable?

To me, happiness is not a state of being. Happiness is a feeling. It comes and goes, like sadness and anger. So to ask someone if they are happy is a false choice. Happy vs unhappy. I don’t believe either of these is possible as a constant.

I’ve annoyed you by asking the question so I’ll show how I deal with it. I’ll ask myself and you’ll understand why I think it’s a silly question to ask.

Am I happy?

No.

Happy isn’t how I’d describe myself. Satisfied? Yes. Fulfilled? Yes. Happy? No.

Happiness comes and goes. I have moments of happiness. It comes and goes. I’ve felt happy several times today and then I’ve felt sad, frustrated, tired, overwhelmed, cranky, lonely…

I go through so many feelings more than once each day. This is normal.

I am happy with individual things. I’m happy with work but I’m not happy with how cold it is on the bus each morning. I’m happy with my family but I’m not happy with their behaviour at bedtime. I’m happy with my marriage but I’m not happy with how my husband hardly helps out around the home. I’m happy with my home but I’m not happy that we are only renting. I’m happy with how I look but I’m not happy that it seems to be deteriorating at a rate of knots as I approach forty. I’m happy with my health but I’m not happy that it takes me three weeks to recover from exercise-induced-injuries.

So, are you happy?

Or, may I ask, are you satisfied?

We are all a work-in-progress. We are a work-in-progress until we take our last breath. One of the motivating forces for life is the search for happiness. It’s the search, the process, the seeking, the consideration and the hope that makes life worth living and when those moments of happiness come it’s great, when they go we can look forward to the next.

Next question, the last one, I promise.

What do you think it will take to make you happy? We all have something.

To be fair, I’ll go first.

I will be happy when we own our own home again. It’s my current motivation for everything and once we have that home I’ll have another happiness goal that I’ll focus on.

So, what is your happiness goal? I really hope it isn’t a weight goal because trust me, you’ll never be completely satisfied with that. Instead of a specific goal I prefer a weight window – a five kilo window of weight in which you are happy to hover.

Is it a career goal? Have you ever really tried to get the career of your dreams. It’s never too late. I’ve met and interviewed EVERYONE. Trust me when I say anyone can be anything and you can STILL achieve your secret dream.

Is your happiness goal financial. Come up with a plan. Financial goals are great, especially when you can see exactly how to get there and be confident in your process.

Do you want to get married or have kids? I have seen people jump through some incredible hoops to achieve these. Nothing should stand in your way. Never give up. Never.

It’s Friday night. The weekend looms. Tomorrow is ultra-busy and I won’t be happy as we race around cramming it all in. On days like tomorrow when the kids have more activities than I do in a week, I consider myself a facilitator of happiness. I facilitate my children’s happiness. At night once it’s all done I’ll be happy that the day went well. Then that feeling will go and be replaced with fatigue or another fleeting feeling.

I have a project for you. This weekend think about your happiness goals. What are they? Don’t be afraid. Say them, at least to yourself. Write them down even. Because they are worth it. They are achievable. And you too can be the happiest you can be.

Then, when someone asks you, “Are you happy?” you can say, “I’m as happy as I can be, thanks. And you?”

La Dolce Vita,
Jo Abi

Why is it so hard for me to be an organised mother?

4 May

My nook

I’ve always wanted to be the kind of mother who had a school bag nook. I’d carefully and lovingly design the nook in the perfect position in our home. At the start of each day I’d pack my children’s bags and they’d retrieve them from their designated hook on their way out the door. When they arrived home they’d hang them back up without me having to remind them because I’m super organised and so are they. Our family runs like a well-oiled machine.

Instead our bags are piled on a chair that is always so full we can never actually sit on it. I dig through the artwork, notes and toys to find the bags to pack them and then yell at the kids as soon as we arrive home to put their bags on the chair. Sometimes they listen.

The pile of school bags on the chair often collapses and only in the middle of the night to create maximum terror and panic.

I came across an amazing website called The Organised Housewife and her most recent post was all about how she’d craft the perfect nook for her family. I want to be just like her!

My style of parenting is complete chaos, despite the best of intentions. We’ll have a good day here and there, a good week but something will happen and chaos reigns. Sickness, extreme fatigue, forgetting to buy ham, a washing machine that is on the blink…

This month is has been moving house.

I can’t quite describe the challenge of viewing houses with three reluctant children who you have warned in the car on the way to behave so the agent doesn’t put a giant red cross across our application with a note saying, “Nightmare children.” We viewed several houses but each had a non-negotiable issue like no air conditioning, a giant tree in the backyard that had killed all the grass and created a mud pit, too small, too far from school…

Then, I found our new house or should I say, our new house found us.

I viewed a house near where we are now and it turns out it’s owned by a friend who approved us immediately. And, it has a school back nook!

Six retro hooks hang in the kitchen near where we have put our fridge. It is the PERFECT place for school bags. This house has been waiting for me.

I’m a more organised housewife in this house by default because they hooks are pre-existing but just like this amazing house that is cleverly designed for maximum living pleasure, I too plan to create a schedule that works, take the vitamins necessary to complete said schedule and make the most of life with a nook.

The nook is a metaphor for the kind of mother I’ve always wanted to be. The nook symbolises a mother who doesn’t forget birthday parties, who uses proper name tags on items, who attends P & F meetings, who uses sticker charts to moderate her well-dressed and clean children.

The nook has raised the bar and I plan to meet it.

A new era of motherhood has arrived. My children aged 9, 5 and 3 can look forward to a functioning home with no yelling, no last minute drying of the school shirts on heaters the morning of, plenty of ham and red apples in the fridge and set chores which they will complete without complaint because the organisation is infectious.

Lazy Mum or Fun Mum?

4 Nov

I didn’t realise I’d become a lazy mother until I was looking after an only-child one night at my sister’s house. This gorgeous little girl shone a mirror up to me that I will never forget. Yes, I could use the excuse that I’m a lazy mother because I have three children and work, and that particular night I was in charge of seven children in total. But the bad habits I’ve developed really have no excuse.

One of my favourite Oprah quotes is, “I always say moms have the toughest job in the world if you’re doing it right.”

It started with the setting up of our regular ‘movie party’. When my sister has a night out I take my kids to her house and we rent movies and set up some pretty brilliant snacks. We all grab pillows and blankets and take up positions on the lounge room floor and settle in for a night of movie-watching and grazing.

I asked them to eat a slice of pizza first. Not the healthiest choice but I hadn’t had time to cook dinner because I’d come straight from work. We all ate a slice and then the movie snacks were poured into bowls and we pressed play on what turned out to be a very funny pirate movie for kids.

We piled our plates high and I watched in amusement because I knew they’d put heaps of food on their plates, have a nibble and then forget all about it.

“I’m not eating any more junk,” my little mirror said, pushing her plate away. She’d eaten one slice of plain cheese pizza, a handful of lollies and – obviously used to a much healthier diet – she rolled back and proceeded to suffer a massive stomach ache.

Next, I couldn’t find everyone’s toothbrushes at bedtime so I skipped it. I know they were all in the bathroom somewhere but I was feeling a little weary and ordering them all to use the toilet was about all I was willing to do.

I put the little ones to bed first. My nephew was sick so I gave him medicine and then – skipping the bedtime story, relieved none of them demanded one – I tucked them into bed and then spent the next hour running in and out of the room trying to get them to fall asleep.

My little friend wasn’t happy with her sleeping arrangements. She wanted a different blanket and she wanted her bed to be made up properly. Used to throwing my kids on a mattress with a pillow and a blanket, I wasn’t even sure I knew where the sheets were and told her to lie down. I tucked them in and they were asleep in minutes, thank goodness. If she’d had trouble going to sleep I’d pledged to search for sheets for her.

There are several good-mummy steps I skipped that night. From what I can figure they include but are not limited to serving the pizza with a side of salad or at least carrot sticks, setting up some healthy choices along with the movie snacks like strawberries or fruit skewers, locating toothbrushes and reading bedtime stories to all and making the beds up properly. I also failed to wash the dishes, choosing instead to spend the evening watching movies and reading Facebook posts. And I neglected to do the uni work I had assigned myself that evening which means I’ll have to get through it the following evening, cutting down on mummy time once again.

Yes it was a bad day but I have these more often than not. The bad days where the kids don’t brush their teeth, where I don’t fold the washing and where I skip bedtime stories are outnumbering the days where I do all these things and the stupid thing is that when I have a good mummy day we all sleep better. We are all happier and more secure.

I am kicking myself up the butt. Tiredness is something I will no longer use as an excuse for skipping crucial steps in a good parent’s routine. It’s not that bloody hard. Time for me to STEP THE HELL UP.

My good-mummy-catch-up-list includes but is not limited to cleaning their rooms properly, taking them for a check up at the dentist, buying them news shoes and clothes, buying new books to read at bedtime including all the classics, installing a games night one night a week for Guess Who and Monopoly and not just buying the fruit and veg but actually serving it. And heaps more hugs and kisses at bedtime.

I can’ do it. Say it with me, I CAN DO IT!

 

Spring is here and we have nothing to wear

8 Sep

Is it Spring already?

For about six months I’ve had a pile of ironing I’ve been diligently ignoring. As the weather became cooler my need to iron became less. That pile of dresses, short-sleeved shirts and floaty tops wasn’t needed and I have an aversion to ironing. It is the household chore I loathe. So I didn’t iron them for six months.

Then Spring arrived.

Last night I ironed for one hundred and forty-two minutes, which is the duration of the movie The Hunger Games. If there hadn’t been a good movie to watch on Foxtel I doubt I would have gotten it done. I ironed for over two hours and I am now ready for Spring. There were clothes in there I had forgotten about. I am wearing my black crop pants and floaty blue and white top today. My daughter is in a cute little dress and the boys are in wrinkle-free shirts. But I ran out of time to do my husband’s ironing. Had the movie gone for longer (and it was such a brilliant movie I wouldn’t have even minded) then his would have been done too.

I’ll do it tonight if I can find a good movie. I figure if I put on a good movie once a week and get the ironing done I can remove it as an issue in my life.

That pile of ironing has been TORTURING me. No matter how much I’ve cleaned and achieved, I’ve been able to see it in the corner of my eye saying, “Bad mother, bad wife, fail, fail, fail.”

I ‘cracked the back of it’ last night and tonight I should be able to ‘bring it home’ so to speak. I find I need motivating sayings and mantras to get all the housework done these days, especially ironing. Always the ironing.

Two years ago I tried to become the woman I’ve always wanted to be (efficient and not in denial about how many clothes needed ironing) and I bought myself a red and white ironing board and a red iron. Trendy and practical. It was fun the first couple of times but then the novelty wore off and the pile began to grow again.

Pretty much the only items of clothing that are regularly ironed are my son’s school shirts (I try to get away with not ironing his pants). My husband’s work shirts should probably be ironed but he could do it himself (he chooses not to and I empathise with that choice) and he is eventually covered in grease anyway so there’s not much point.

So tonight I need another really good flick. It was hard to iron while sobbing during a particularly sad part in the movie but the rest was quite invigorating and I got a lot of the ironing done.

Whatever works for you when it comes to doing boring/horrible/tedious tasks then do it. For example, I only get uni work done while eating mint chocolate, cooking dinner is done while catching up on social media and I mop but I need to listen to something besides Nick Jr and The Gummy Bear song! Beyonce works, or Nicki Minaj! Although be careful mopping to her song Starships. I almost dislocated my shoulder!

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