I know that I’m lucky that I don’t have to work a nine-to-five job or commute for two hours every day, or bus children around to a childminder’s house before 7am.
As both Jon and I work from home (or, in my case, work from the yard that is at the bottom of my garden) then we can and do spend a good deal of our time drinking coffee, having internet social networking breaks or, in my case “nipping out for a run”.
For the past couple of years before signing up to this blog account, I have been venting my frustrations, selling my foals and sharing general Saxelby chaos using Facebook, Twitter and web forums, with plenty of responses, interaction and feedback from people, many of whom I have never met. Probably the most frequently seen replies to some of my posts are “How do you cope?”, “Are you on drugs?” or “You should be on drugs!”.
For those who aren’t well acquainted with my Facebook page, here are some examples of the kind of status update I’m talking about:
This month’s stats:- During September I have fallen off my bike twice, fallen down the stairs once, been bitten by one horse, broken two plates, raced in one triathlon and one half marathon, hosted one child’s swimming party, drank roughly 180 cups of coffee, collected various children from running, rugby, bowls, netball and sleep-overs, burnt at least three dinners to a crisp, made two batches of biscuits, carried a three year old on my shoulders up “Steep Hill” in Lincoln, locked my husband out of the house once, drank virtually NO alcohol (amazing), sneaked the hound onto my bed once, shopped in Morrisons, Tesco and the Co-op at least three times each, re-wired an ancient wire fuse, delivered one horse to its new home. But the best and most memorable achievement of the month is I HAVE CHANGED NO NAPPIES. This is the first time I have been entirely nappy free for 12 years!
Here’s another one from October:
This fortnight’s stats:- I have mucked out 84 stables, hosted two children’s birthday parties, ran in a 5k race and a 12k obstacle race, had one flat tyre on my mountain bike, burnt two meals, broken one outdoor tap, dug one massive hole to enable mending of outside tap, bought seven things from eBay, been rude to one extremely persistent and annoying cold-calling loft insulation representative, read three books, one triathlon magazine, one dressage magazine, spent 10 minutes trying to work out what was wrong with the volume on my iPod – when I’d forgotten to put the earphones in, made Halloween bats and witches, swam 170 lengths, cycled 68 miles, drank two glasses of wine, approx. 70 cups of coffee and 14 cups of green tea.
A last one from July:
This fortnight’s stats: – In the last 14 days I have mucked out 48 stables, put up two tents and taken them down again, filled up one giant swimming pool, killed two large patches of grass (!) had two extra children over for sleep-overs in the tent, sent three of my children off on sleepovers for 4 days, had two foals born, chased one escapee yearling, Saxy youngsters have had two x 1st premiums at the BEF Futurity, ran 29 miles, biked seven miles, got hopelessly drunk once and marginally drunk twice, been to one charity fundraising party, eaten one Chinese, two packets of hay fever tablets, one packet of ibuprofen, read 1.5 novels, one running magazine, purchased a new pair of trail-running shoes and tested them around a 16 acre cow field, smashed one wine glass and two mugs, made roughly 20 cups of coffee for builders, changed approximately 14 nappies and emptied 2 potties down the toilet (progress), walked into a loaded-with-dead-flies fly-paper three times…
So you can see that, despite being self-employed and wasting far too much time on the internet, I do manage to fit in some activities that don’t involve children or horses and probably manage just as many disasters along the way!
As a keen runner I have learnt that, when a session starts to get tough and the voice in my head tells me to “slow down”, it helps loads if I start counting and focussing on only the next 10 strides at a time.
I got this idea from a running magazine and have found it really useful. I have since developed my own version, which is singing the alphabet song (inside my head may I add, I don’t need to encourage people to think I am deranged) and have used this technique so often that I’m now getting quite good at matching distances to the letters. For example, if I’m running along and spot something that is certain distance away, I often think “oh, that tree is a P” or “that cow is a J, second-time round”. This works because, while I am singing the alphabet song, my mind cannot also be shouting at me telling me to walk.
I also apply a similar method to other areas of my life by breaking tasks up into mini “playlists” lists in my head and only focusing and thinking about one list at a time. For example, if I had get the kids to school then muck out eight stables and then ride a horse before lunch, go to the supermarket, collect children from the bus-stop followed by a meal for seven to cook and then evening stables – the whole day starts to look and sound a bit daunting.
I get around this by absolutely and resolutely refusing to think about any playlist other than the one I’m currently working on. To start worrying about getting to a doctor’s appointment on time when I am mid-mucking out would stress me out, so I have learnt to not do this.
I also apply this method to triathlon competitions, which involve moving from swimming to cycling and cycling to running with timed transitions in between. When I am racing, I only think of swimming whilst I’m swimming, cycling whilst I’m cycling and running whilst I’m running.
A lot of practice at home is necessary to ensure I know what level of effort it is possible for me to maintain in each discipline without causing a decrease in performance in another discipline but, come race day, I only think about one thing at a time and this helps me put in my best effort and prevents the voice in my head from screaming “Stop – too much!!!!!”.
Anyway, that’s what works for me. I am interested to hear other people’s mental strategies.