Monthly Archives: August 2014

Image source

Give that man a cleaning list! How to stop nagging and cure male-patterned-untidiness.

My man is not lazy. But he is blind. Well, he has to be right?

He doesn’t see the scum that develops in the bathroom sink from his accumulated shaving slivers. Or the fact that our cutlery draw is  currently housing a million toast crumbs. Or that the floors need sweeping or the windows wiped, or the fresh laundry taken off the clothes line.

Like I said. He isn’t lazy. He is not intentionally avoiding these jobs. He just doesn’t see them.

We have lived together for 6yrs and in that time I’ve not been able to dissuade him from certain habits that make me want to pull out tufts of my hair and skip about the house in a dance of rage. I mean how hard is it to throw a used tea bag into the rubbish instead of the sink I ask you?

I’m obviously exaggerating here. And despite a few bad habits (which don’t seem like they’re going away any time soon) my man is actually a pretty tidy guy. I have heard of way worse, and my fella’s untidiness is more a result of his hectic work schedule than it is anything else. But I can’t help but notice that he struggles to use his initiative when it comes to cleaning and I have to ask him to do chores. Repeatedly. I have become that awful nagging woman we all promised ourselves we would never be. And, six years later, my fella has just tuned out. Much like this bloke: 

All this makes me wonder…. why are men incapable of using their initiative around the house?

(Note to haters: this is not supposed to be lumping all men into the same category – some blokes are super into their cleaning and require no nagging, I know. But this is what I know to be true en masse, based on 33years of conversations with girlfriends).

So is there a way to cure male-patterned-untidiness?

“Just give me a list” my hubby says, “and I will do everything you want.”

“But you shouldn’t need a list” I complain, thinking that’s just one more bloody thing to add to my already long to-do list. “There are jobs all around the house right in front of your eyes – I shouldn’t have to instruct you!  I am not your mother!” I say.

“I just don’t see the house as a priority” he grumbles. I cut him off before he can start moaning about having two kids, running our mobile Physio business, and generally living our life.

“It makes me feel better when the house is clean!” I say. (Because truly it does. My stress levels are way less when the pillows are lined up neatly on the sofa. I know…what a freak.) 

“So give me a list” he repeats.

Righto. I decide to play this game. In less than 60seconds I’ve bullet-pointed a heap of items. His load is heavy because I’ve had a c-section recently and need to take it easy. The list wouldn’t normally be so long.

I expect him to baulk at the list and huff and puff like the grumpy Scottish wolf he can be. #lovehimanyway

Instead, he just says thanks, and makes a start on some of the easier tasks.

Is it really this easy? Or is my man just an all-round good bloke who is happy to chip in, but just needs some general direction. Are we, as nagging women, missing a trick by not helping them to help us? 

If all I need to do in order to sacrifice a week’s worth of nagging is write down a 1min to-do list, then I’m all for it. 

Anyone else got tactics to share?


My irrational vs. rational sample list

“I can’t bake a cake” and other self-limiting thoughts

My anxiety level seems to be building of late, and I am exhausted from running mental marathons. It seems that my thinkbox has started to overheat on this endless circuit of irrational thinking that it has been looping.

I have no clinical background to support this metaphor, but to me, a ‘normal’ person’s thoughts will roll around inside their heads like a fine London mist. A few light raindrops that aren’t overly troublesome and nothing that the help of an umbrella won’t fix.

An anxious person will have a thunderstorm raging inside their head. With that much ‘noise’ going on, it can be hard to make sense of anything. All your effort goes into managing the rain that relentlessly pummels you. Your umbrella is no use.  You try to control the thoughts that come wave after wave, but it is pointless. You decide, “heck, it’s not even worth going OUT in this weather” and you lock yourself up inside. You don’t think you will be able to survive this storm.

In short, I feel like my anxiety makes me lose my sense of perspective. I become irrational, and panicked as I sweat the small stuff. My molehills become mountains. I become increasingly scared of failure.

I give up. And I end up missing out on things because I’ve been too afraid to try. And too afraid to fail.

I call upon my friend and fellow anxiety sufferer, Ashleigh, for advice.

Ash is one step ahead of me because she’s already sought treatment for her condition, and now feels like she has the armour she needs to protect herself from the effects of irrational stress. She tells me about a management strategy recommended to her, and one that she found a useful lesson in finding perspective.

She tells me to draw two columns on a page and write down anything that I believe to be irrational. I am then to counterbalance this with a rational argument, thus making myself pause and reflect on what’s going on inside me. It’s an opportunity to get off the mental racetrack and stretch for a while. I decide to give it a go.

Here’s a taste of the inner workings of my mind. It is but a small sample of the thousands of thoughts that race through my head each day, but from this short list a pattern seems to be emerging.

My irrational vs. rational sample list
My irrational vs. rational sample list

“I am a bad baker. I’m poor. I have no taste. I have to give up blogging. I’m a bad mother…..” There are so many more irrational thoughts than I can fit onto one page.

“My partner would rather be at work than at home with me”; “I’ve not got enough time to exercise”; “If I change lanes when I drive, I will have a crash”;….. 

It is alarming to see how negative my thought stream is, and how the smallest of things (me not being able to settle my baby to bed) become huge dramas in my mind (my child will have sleep issues for the rest of its life and it’s my fault!).

With the advent of each day  I’m going into battle with myself. And at the end of a day, I’ve waged a war. No wonder I’m drained.

But what concerns me more is not the negativity in itself, but how self-limiting these thoughts are! I just give up, afraid to try something only to be judged and found wanting.

Upon reflection I realise that underpinning everything is a colossal fear of failure. This in itself is completely irrational. We only truly fail if we do not try.

My first list has led to some keen insights into how my thoughts shape my behaviour. A moment’s quiet reflection has helped me realise that the clothes I choose to wear, or the calibre of the cakes I make, do not define me.  And these decisions certainly do not warrant the hours of unnecessary energy I invest in them.

C’mon Paterson. It’s time to realise that when you take a break from all that worry, you start to see all that is wonderful.


Tales from an epic tantrum survivor

This can’t be happening. No, no, no – it can’t be. I had expected some trouble. But this just takes the cake. It’s 9pm and I have only just managed to put my toddler to bed. She has
bimageeen tantruming non-stop since 6pm. I wouldn’t call it tantruming actually. More like an audition for the role of Satan in Hell’s latest musical production. I reckon she’ll land the part.

My newborn baby went to sleep easily enough, much to my relief. I had been anxious that my toddler would demand – as she had done the night before – repeated kisses and cuddles with our baby, to the point where even the baby got fed up and started screaming.  I tried to bribe my 3year old with sweets if she promised she would leave the sleeping baby alone and go about her business as usual.image

She promised.She took the sweets. And then she started stomping her feet because, surprise surprise, she wanted to give the baby a cuddle. “Here we go again”, I thought, and my hubby and I stomped our own feet, in unison, with a resolute “no.”

No matter how much we explained that the baby was sleeping and that babies need sleep to grow, my child refused to listen. She was far to busy having fits and rolling around the floor to hear our patient and caring explanations.

Despite our best efforts (including distraction, bribery and ultimately threats) this behaviour continued for hours.

Then baby woke up.

And here I am, at 9pm, feeding a hysterical baby who I had to let cry it out while I sung my equally hysterical toddler to sleep. My partner tried his best to ease both children. But a  one-week-old only wants his mum. As, it would seem, does a 3year old. His efforts were wasted, it pains me to say.

Because I am a second-time mum, I’m experienced enough to know this moment shall pass. It feels like an eternity as you look at your heartbroken child, choking on her own snot and red with frustration at the inability to express her feelings. But this eternity is simply a night – just one night.

And though the nights are long, the years are short.

Unlike with my first motherhood experience, I wasn’t ashamed to reach out to friends and professionals for help. I called Parentline  which has child psychologists who talk to you for free. I asked for some tips, and got some excellent advice. The most interesting point being that introverted children like my daughter struggle harder with change. They are usually clingier children, looking for reassurance in new social situations and will often find it only from their parents. In this case, the new baby represents the biggest change in her universe to-date, but where is her support system? Mum was in hospital and nowhere to be found. And this dad bloke, who is normally working a lot, is suddenly here 24/7. That in itself is unusual! She is having to learn to cope with all this change without the help of mummy, and she doesn’t have the right tools yet to do it. No wonder she is lashing out!

First cuddles

It might feel like it but I know that this is not a forever problem.  This night will roll onto the next one. And then the next one. The anxiety I feel that I have scarred my daughter for life is balanced by the advice of my friends and experts that I haven’t. Her reaction may be more severe than some, but she will ride this wave and end up unscathed on shore.

The love I bear my daughter is enough, and  soon enough she will take this in her stride. Sometimes we have to ignore our worries and trust that our children are stronger than we give them  credit for. Or, at least – I sure do hope so! Here’s to a better night ahead!