I LOVE MONDAYS

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What’s not to love? The alarm signalling the start of another week of newness. The opportunity to begin afresh. Perhaps akin to a New Year on an ultra minute scale. Unlike the New Year, I do make resolutions for the week. As for this week, I have made a promise to myself, and to my husband, that I shall be productive and I will absolutely, definitely not procrastinate. 

With the exception of house or anything baby admin, for which I’m the proud owner of Excel spreadsheets, I’m one of those people that hoards ‘To-Do’s’. I get so caught up in the catharsis of making the To-Do list, and smugly revelling in my productivity at its creation, I don’t quite get around to its completion. To make matters worse, and in my bid to procrastinate further, I’ll often (whilst aiming to tick an item or five off my list) contemplate why I’m such a procrastinator*, and/or watch a vlog on ‘being a more productive human’, and ‘living your best productive life’ amongst other obnoxious titles.

Consequently, thanks to past Georgia, this last weekend has been one of overwhelm (on my part), and shock (on Rich’s part): ‘You have items on here dating back months’. Actually Rich, a year. Maybe two. And sadly, I was more caught up in revelling in his underestimation of my disorganisation (I blamed his puritanical indignation), than in (rightfully) owning my own shame.

Nonetheless, there’s nothing like a 10 week (and a bit) countdown to the biggest life changing event to stimulate even the laziest of us to start hitting life admin like no tomorrow. I mean, what’s the likelihood I will be any more likely to tick these items off when I have a squawking baby in tow?! Therefore, and despite the physical and mental pain I am expending in addressing them, I am doing just that.

In case you’re also struggling with procrastination, and you too despair of advice like ‘create a fake deadline’ or ‘find an accountability partner’, here are some tips which make ticking off that To-Do list semi-bearable:

(1) Create an exhaustive list.

That means everything you need to do is in one place. I’ve only recently started using the reminders app on my iPhone (thanks Rich). Rewind a couple of months, I had lists spread across ripped sheets from notebooks, in my phone notes, in Word docs, Excel sheets…Needless to say this is/was a quick-fire way to losing sight of the scale of your problem. N.B. In contradiction to how it might seem, I’m not inherently disorganised. Rather I’m all or nothing, and for a long time I’ve been all nothing…

(2) Ensure your list is realistic.

Will you really send thank you cards a month post-Christmas? Accept you’re an ungrateful recipient, you’re unlikely to receive a gift next year, and move on. So I wasn’t guilty in this regard, but there were tons of ridiculous items on my list, and Rich (despite my protestations) was right in questioning whether they a) warranted a spot on the list, and b) the mental energy I was expending on them. ‘Paint nails’ and tasks from 1.5 years ago certainly didn’t, and so I painfully removed them.

(3) Ask your people for help.

My parents and Rich are now the proud owners of some of the tasks. After all, we all know you must share. This tip will especially appeal to the dictatorial natural leaders among us.

(4) Mentally note (or set a reminder for a specific time…a far more aggressive way of tackling those tasks!) each evening before bed,  which items you will address first thing in the morning. Emphasis on first thing. You must face them head-on when you’re fresh, and semi-raring to go for the day.

(5) Switch up your environment.

This works for digital life admin only. Not so well for tasks like cleaning the house! If you’re a coffee tyrant like me pre-pregnancy, find a coffee shop and deposit yourself and laptop in a comfy seat, where high on caffeine you can pretend you’re having fun ticking off those tasks.

(6) Costs and benefits shake-up.

Ensure the benefits to you of completing your To-Do’s outweigh the costs. On a most basic level, consider rewarding yourself as you go. One item, one cookie…or perhaps if your procrastination has been as acute as mine, you’re better sticking to something non-food based.

(7) Tip for the future: If a task takes less than 5 minutes, do it immediately.

Don’t even add it to your list. I’ve spent triple the time needed on simple tasks because they’re so old that I have to search my addled brain for what they’re in reference to, and/or locate the necessary documents hidden way back (amongst junk mail) in my inbox.

(8) If all else fails, accept you won’t do it, and stop wasting energy beating yourself up over it!

I’m sure if you started this article wondering why the title, you’ve probably figured out by now, that yes, I procrastinated in my writing of this post until Tuesday. As you can tell, it’s a long road ahead for me, and my procrastinating way!

Oh, one last tip: don’t be tempted to read self-help guides on addressing life admin. These are the ultimate in procrastination. Incredibly, I found I had to physically prise myself away from the below.

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*Such contemplation is never wise when you’re prone to obsessive introspection. Although, just in case you’re interested, I’ve narrowed it down to (a) stress…doing the items makes me feel stressed?!, and (b) perfectionism…I want to complete the items ‘just so’, and wait for the ‘perfect’ moment. Because of course, everyone needs to achieve perfection in mundane tasks like ‘sorting pension’…

PREGNANCY MYTHS: DEBUNKED

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So you don’t fall into the trap I did, of thinking everything would be hunky dory, and you’ll feel, and more importantly (at least to those amongst us who are vain) look amazing, I thought I’d cut the crap we’re peddled and tell you the honest truth. FYI, it doesn’t consist of picture-perfect preggos, manicured to within an inch of their lives. These mystical creatures are consigned to the pages of Vogue and Cosmopolitan. But just in case you are, or happen to know a unicorn, please let me know. And then divulge all your secrets.

Disclaimer: These are my realities, and they may not be everyone’s. But I’ve got a feeling they may well be.

Myth # 1: Everyone will know you’re pregnant from the moment you find out, thanks to that magical ‘preg-aura’ you exude.

Reality: If anyone has worked it out before you’ve rammed the news down their throat either in person, on social media, over the phone, in letters, through carrier pigeon, or any other medium at your disposal, it’s because a) you’re puking your guts out at work, b) you’re clutching your bloated 5-week belly (this was me), or c) they’re your mum.

Myth #2: You will cry at everything. Especially cute [insert: puppies, kittens, your other half…you get it].

Reality: You will cry at everything you’re not screaming about. Except when the store doesn’t stock ingredients for the meal you had planned. Then you will cryscream. Think a cross between heaving snotty sobs, and snarling.

Myth #3: You’ll vomit loads, and that proves your pregnancy is healthy.

Reality: Not everyone suffers from morning sickness. These lucky people (I was one), are already panicking they’re doing something wrong, so please refrain from gloating in between sick burps that vomiting means your pregnancy is on track.

Myth #4: You’ll pee a lot.

Reality: You’ll pee non-stop. You could power a hydroelectric plant with your pee, and then some. Woe betide (get the pun?) anyone that breaks that dam.

Myth #5: Your bra size will go up a cup or two.

Reality: Your boobs will expand to a gargantuan size, beyond human-sized proportions (it’s all relative right?!), and you’ll yearn for your flatter-chested days, in between grieving for the flawless territory those monstrous blue veins now occupy.

Myth #6: You will crave chalk and/or dirt. Or you know, just start snacking on gherkins dipped in ice cream.

Reality: The craving for non-comestibles is actually known as pica, which is a) pretty rare, and b) rather dangerous. As for the gherkin-eating, I’ve been known to eat straight from the gherkin jar (not an innuendo) on the walk home, post gym and pre-pregnancy, but not since. On the one occasion I a) had a proper (marked only by its weirdness) craving, and b) marvelled at the ingenuity of aforementioned craving, I was devastated to learn that a bacon, marshmallow and peanut butter sandwich, is in fact known as a Bacon Fluffernutter, and hence I was not indeed a nutter.

Myth #7: Your lustrous locks will grow so long, and so thick. “Rapunzel? Is that you?”.

Reality: Your prince could scale a tower with that mane. That’s if the barrel loads of grease didn’t loosen his grip.

Myth #8: Your nails will grow longer, and stronger than ever before.

Reality: You could enter the Guinness World Records with those armadillo claws. And for those ridges. And for those cuticles (is it normal for them to cover half the nail?!).

Myth #9: You will glow.

Reality: You will (definitely) sweat buckets, and (potentially) develop cystic acne to boot. Oh, and unlike during your teen years, you won’t have toxic chemicals/medicines at your disposal. So say hello to your new zit friends, they’re here to stay.

Myth #10: Cometh the second trimester, cometh the new (old) you.

Reality: Weeks 13-24 you’ll be waiting for your metamorphosis. Weeks 25-27 you will feel like the old you again. That’s it, you’ve had your lot. Move on.

Myth #11: You’ll don a ‘Baby on Board’ badge, and the sea of Londoners will part.

Reality: You got yourself into this mess, and your fellow commuters aren’t about to get you out of it. You will still be tackled to the floor when boarding the tube (non-Londoners should substitute tube for metro or subway) for prime position by the pole. Especially by chippy, middle-aged men. Their taxes are already funding your embryonic brat don’t you know?!

Myth #12: People will treat you with the respect you have rightfully earned from getting yourself up the duff.

Reality: You will be treated with disdain, especially by aforementioned chippy, middle-aged men.

Myth #13: Everyone you know will be as delighted as you are about the bundle of joy you’re cooking, and want to join you on this magical journey.

Reality: Some friendships will fall by the wayside. But don’t despair. These weren’t the Thelma and Louise bonds you thought they were. Plus they’ve got nothing on your new mummy friends.

Myth #14: It’s 9 months of joy.

Reality: It’s 9 months of joy, stress, panic, excitement, happiness, and everything in between. However, you wouldn’t change it for the world. Only the baby that comes in its place.

If I learn of/remember (reality #1: baby brain is real) some more myths to be debunked on my crazy, wild journey, I will be sure to share these with you in due course. Just in case you’re under any illusion, I love (most of the time) pregnancy. And I especially love (always) my baby boy growing inside me.

‘ARE YOU REALLY GONNA EAT THAT?’

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Has anyone else found that since becoming pregnant, their diet is everyone else’s concern? Whether it’s to enquire how much/little I’m eating, how balanced/unbalanced my diet is, or how healthy/unhealthy my snacks are, it seems everyone wants in on my alimentary action. If you are/have ever been pregnant, I will safely assume that you too have been on the receiving end of this avid fascination in your comestible choices. It’s funny isn’t it? And by funny, I mean absolutely, completely, and entirely infuriating.

I’ll tell you what is funny though. The idea that up until 6 months ago I was a capable, functioning, and adept woman of the world, able to meet my nutritional needs without advice from anyone, and everyone (family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers you know who you are!). Yet no sooner had I peed on a stick and had my ‘with child’ status confirmed, I was replaced with an ill informed, witless, and more rotund version of myself, who supposedly lacks agency over my body and the decisions surrounding its nourishment. Strange how that happens!

I’d like to think people proffer menu suggestions to me out of caring for my unborn baby. However, given I’ve faced a number of digestive issues which have seen me add hundreds of additional foods to the NHS ‘avoid’ list during my pregnancy, it can be hard to swallow when the ‘advice’/’care’ is so often gift-wrapped in a perfectly timed (always when I’m about to bite into a sandwich) look of admonishment, and handwritten with condescension, ‘are you really gonna eat that [silently insert: you irresponsible, silly preggo]?’

When I was 17 weeks pregnant, looking very much like my pre-pregnant self, and at the point of still only being slightly fed-up with people’s concerns over my (impending/future/potential/inevitable) pregnancy weight gain, I asked my midwife about being weighed. She informed me, that assuming an individual had a healthy BMI when they were weighed at their booking appointment (I did), and they don’t have a history of an eating disorder (I don’t), they don’t concern themselves with the mum-to-be’s weight. How refreshing! Granted, I’m willing to accept this practice may not yet be the norm, given (and despite anecdotal license to exaggerate) I’ve read online that some women are still berated by their midwives for gaining a pound above their recommended weight. Nonetheless, it’s worrying that despite my midwife’s lack of interest, people still want to bother themselves with mine or any other pregnant woman’s weight, and as a by-product what she eats. I would love to know what a) motivates this unwanted nutritional advice, and b) makes everyone but the pregnant halfwit an expert on the aforementioned nutritional subject matter.

Most recently, I’ve had comments about ‘all’ my snacks. For clarity, I probably carry two types of nuts, possibly a flapjack or rice crackers, grapes, and at least a litre of water on me at all times now. Why? So I can make sensible food choices when I’m out and about, and I am able to resist the urge to throw a few choice words in the direction of the individual doling out food advice when my hanger sets in! See the thing is, I’ve been an intuitive eater for a long time now, and I’m not about to stop. Sure that may mean I gain a few extra pounds over the next 11 weeks, given my spike in hunger levels, but it’ll also mean when my body no longer needs to store up fat for breastfeeding I will drop them. So please don’t judge me as I brazenly demolish a scone/bag of tortilla chips (small in case you’re wondering) in two swift bites on the tube.

Funnily enough, and since it may come as a shock to all you helpful advice-givers out there, my baby’s health is my primary concern, and I will ensure I’m eating well for him. Therefore, please don’t worry on our behalf. However, just in case you do work for the pregnancy food police, or are in the least bit interested, here’s what I’ve eaten so far today: porridge with oat milk and blueberries; two Sour Squirms (yum); a handful of cashews and Brazil nuts; an avocado, cheddar and habanero chilli relish sandwich; a glass of orange juice; and one Cadbury Creme Egg (mainly so I could list it here…oh and Easter is on the horizon). Given it’s still early, I’m sure a whole lot more will be added to that list. Sorry not sorry.

Therefore, please bear this in mind. However it is shared, unless an individual (pregnant or not) solicits your nutritional wisdom, you can bet they don’t want/need your advice. This isn’t a rant, nor even a moan (really…). More an expression of wish, that anyone considering giving a pregnant woman food advice, even if they ‘got so so fat’ during their pregnancy and ‘want you to avoid’ their mistakes, first takes the time to look at their own regimen. Maybe even ask themselves, ‘are you really gonna eat that?’