30th January 2015 Helen 12Comment

My contribution to a blog linky on Mindfulness and Simple Pleasures hosted by Aisling at Baby Steps.


The terrible thing about being a planner * – other than having to listen to the righteous opinions of taxi drivers and spend considerable amounts of time persuading others you never benefitted from the ‘brown envelope’ times, is the terminal need to plan.

* as in the strange species known as a ‘town planner’ – ie my actual profession when I’m not wiping bums, knitting things or waffling here.

I have an innate need to make lists, organise and think about ‘what next’.  I’m a fantastically organised woman (fantastic being my addition, this being my blog and all) and – if I do say so myself, exactly the kind of person you want organising three children and a house move. I know who and what is where and swear by my many little systems as the only way to stay on top of things.

All that good stuff aside, and even after the taxi driver is finished with his rant, being a natural planner has some major disadvantages.  I am utterly awful at simply being in the moment. I literally cannot help myself but to think ahead. I stack up arrangements one after the other and then get stressed when something runs late and I end up doing things half-arsed.  I keep listing the things that need to be done and forget that sometimes ‘doing nothing’ deserves priority too!

To stay sane with three young kids, a job and all those other bits and pieces, I’ve had to both embrace and restrain my ‘inner planner’ in differing ways.  On one level the organising is great.  I’m fairly on-top of the who, what, when and how much of the family diary and I’m pretty good at keeping everything ticking over.  On another level though I’ve taken my foot off the gas and seriously slowed the pace at which we do things. On my first maternity leave I think I was desperate to do everything and be everywhere – possibly so I could prove to myself that maybe life hadn’t changed that much.  Three kids on, we move like a hurricane leaving a trail of sticky destruction in our wake, and I am so much more realistic about what we can do.  Gone are the days of multiple-events and over-booking. If it’s a ballet class afternoon for Yoda, then that morning I barely step out of the house except to do the school run. At weekends we try and have one day at home, and another out an about. Pyjama days are a common phenomenon.

As well as down-scaling plans I, of course, have had to embrace that knack kids have of taking the best laid plans and turning them upside down.  Just this afternoon myself and Yoda headed into town ahead of an appointment to have a mouch around the shops. The little lady was in great form, thrilled at her seat at the front of a double-decker bus and having her mummy to herself for a while. An hour later we’ve cancelled our planned cup of tea with a friend and I’m standing on an Inner city kerbside in a vest top, rancid skirt and long coat, sad child on my hip, our puke covered clothes in a black bag as we waited for a lift home.  These things happen, the plans get cancelled and home we went to nurse a nasty tummy bug.

When eventually this house move happens, the next few months bring lots of changes – new house, new schools and new crèche.  Frustratingly loads of these details won’t be finalised until the last minute and I have to trust that everything will fall into line. Eventually. In the meantime, I’m making sure to enjoy the last days of my maternity leave – which ends next week.  There have been oodles of pyjama days, frequent stretches when I wasn’t quite sure what day it was, and endless hours, days, weeks and months when I revelled in the luxury of being a-stay-at-home-mum.  As always with a young family it’s flown by in a haze, but I really hope that third time round I’ve been much better at sometimes leaving the jobs un-done to take a little time to simply sit back and enjoy.

So, living in the moment, being mindful, call it what you will. It doesn’t come easy to me but I am trying. What more can I do?

For more posts on Mindfulness and Simple Pleasures head over to Baby Step’s lovely blog linkup here.

Image sourced from www.nursebuddha.com

Read my Next Post
Read my Previous Post

12 thoughts on “Unnatural Mindfulness

    1. Oh I agree – and what’s more the being organised makes the rest way way easier. It’s just about balance and pace. Man. I sound wise!

  1. I never knew you were a town planner – how cool! Do you get to turn down planning permissions and things? (And approve them, of course.) Are there entire towns out there somewhere that you can say you planned?

    I am a planner too, but my natural inclination towards laziness stops me from planning too much. At a certain point I throw my hands up and leave it all in the lap of the gods. Children have brought that point much closer that it used to be, come to think of it. Many things are in the lap of the gods these days, like dinner, usually.
    Maud recently posted…Not filed under “sick children”, but it could have beenMy Profile

    1. You are possibly the first person who has ever called my being a planner ‘cool’. I’m quite delighted to have achieved cult status with a following of one!
      Yes and no to your questions. I’m in private practice so mostly work on behalf of developers and for projects but I do stuff for State Bodies too so I sometimes get to wield my power there! Tragically, planning succumbs to democracy and the very slow pace of change so while I’ve written oodles of plans, developments happen in a really piecemeal way so reality never reflects one plan – more a whole dose of them as chopped, changed and bastardised by policitians. As you can see I am jaded!
      These babies and the general sleeplessness of life, added to the futility of sweeping up the floor while a toddler is considering grazing on a croissant, are bringing out my lazy side. But I have to confess high levels of planning still go on in my head.

    1. In a word: stab me. I really, really, really don’t want to go back. Like really. I’m currently talking myself around and doing a terrible job of it!

  2. I only have 2, but still, I too have slowly but surely come to the conclusion that one outing a day is the way forward! My 2 are real home-birds so I am with you on the pyjama days! Crucial! Enjoy the rest of your precious mat leave Helen!

    1. Oh Una I hear you. Mine just love home and would happily spend a week wandering no further than down the road!
      Precious is the right word too. I’m gutted it’s nearly over.

  3. I am always writing and ticking off lists, I run things with military precision but since I started embracing the ‘now’ moments stress levels have definitely reduced. Enjoy your last week of maternity leave, it is never long enough, eh? Thanks for taking part!
    Aisling Lyons recently posted…Bad MotheringMy Profile

Comments are closed.