The tale of the woman with no wriggle room

A few weeks or was it months ago now(?!) I was heading over to Honkers with Rob for work. We had Grandma lined up to step in for 4 days, things organised, diaries sorted and a tight schedule for our turnaround. I was talking to a mate at dance class about it all before we left, saying how we were going to leave at 4am for our early morning flight, because it meant that the girls would go to bed knowing we were there etc etc…when she said to me “doesn’t give you much room for error”. I left dance, kept thinking about it for hours and days after and eventually completely agreed.

I changed our plans so we left the night before and stayed up in Sydney, ripped the bandaid off for the kids and gave me/us some room to breathe. I knew in my head that we should have done that from the beginning, and yet I felt guilty/whatever that I pushed it to the ultimate test before having to get out of there.

I still haven’t been able to stop thinking about this idea, after the fact. How often I do this in every part of my day/week/month/year. How guilt or weird perfections and expectations that we live up to, leave us often with no wriggle room. No space for errors.

I have seen and heard from so many different women in the last day or so about how frazzled/anxious/tired/angry/OVER it they all are. I did an Instagram story yesterday about how irrationally angry I was, dropped a couple of swear words and laid it out there and I think I got almost 80 messages from women saying ME TOO.

This morning on Facebook and Insta I watched more blogging friends and online people I follow talk about their anxiety, all these feelings that come with the end of the year…it seems that it might be the moon, the time of year or just the fact that we all have our periods but everyone has their tinsel in a tangle!

Maybe it’s that the year is coming to a close and all those “things” that you were going to do, like lose this or write that, or achieve that, or save for this…never eventuated.

Maybe it’s that all those things that made you unhappy this time last year, still make you unhappy.

Maybe it’s that it’s day 339 of the year and on every single one of those days you have wiped the bench maybe 4-5 times each, unpacked the dishy that many times or more and no one really gives a shit.

Maybe it’s that we create so many expectations for ourselves that we are just plain tired.

Instead of all those ‘should haves’ that I know I talk to myself about daily or weekly, we change them to ‘could haves’. A simple letter can change so much don’t you think?

Maybe we give ourselves a little more wriggle room because we need it.

Maybe we give ourselves a bloody break for once in a while.

I have until next Friday before the kids break up from school (thank you NSW Public School education system). I could be getting frazzled about the fact I have not started Christmas shopping or all the things that need to happen but I dead set could not be BOVVERED.

I have found myself (thanks to the weather) couch bound. Working sure, but on the couch with slippers on. I am not getting Maggie dressed if we can avoid it. I am keeping expectations about everything super low so no one can be disappointed. It’s toasties for dinner! Pancakes if you like! We have so few days lefts before school holiday madness begins that now is the time to take time for YOU.

Get a coffee and drink it in peace.
Mentally prepare yourself for those piles of STUFF that come home on the last day of school that you just want to set fire to rather than deal with.
Think of all you HAVE achieved this year.
Do whatever it takes you get ready for the next few weeks.

For me, I am going to do this:

Lay on my couch.
My hot green velvet couch.
Focus on the good stuff I’ve done from BIG work stuff, to the fact that everyone in the family is fed and happy and warm and happy.
Get ready for the fighting between my kids that happens at the start of EVERY school holiday.
And remember that next year, I might need to give myself a little more room to get stuff done.
And that’s OK.

Are you feeling all this shit too?
When you stop to really think about it, you’ve done alright haven’t you?
We all have.


  1. Tracey Galea says

    Great writing Beth, as usual. This year I’ve found myself with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which shows no sign of letting up. I’ve had to let go of all the things I thought were expected of me as a wife, mother, friend, sister and employee. I can’t do the usual cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping, gardening, socialising and working to my usual standard (which resembles a mad woman). And guess what, the sky has not fallen in. WHAT A REVELATION. It doesn’t mean I like it but I’ve made peace with it. For the first time ever I am taking 4 weeks off in January – to do nothing – a holiday at home if you will. We need to be kind to ourselves. The rest of the stuff is going to happen regardless.

  2. I really really don’t like this time of the year any more. For me there is no magic at all, just bloody hard work, exhaustion, bleeding money and tiredness that beats the newborn stage. Why do I do it too myself every year. Because I don’t leave wiggle room, I don’t demand help, I allow perfectionism to take over and I think I am the only one who can do any of the things. I will join you on the couch as soon as I’ve just done…..

  3. Yep, being a mum working outside of the home every year I have a few less ($/!s to give, especially when it comes to all the things I SHOULD be doing. I’m slowly learning to say no to stuff and make this crazy time of year as stress-free as possible. Our calendar is still insane over the next few weeks, but not feeling like I HAVE to make handmade gifts for everyone from the kids teachers to the postman does take some pressure off!

  4. Oh Beth! I can relate to this so much!
    I’m a working/studying single Mum to 2 girls aged around the same as yours. My girls are shuffled between their dad and I every few days – which works ok because he lives close. I feel like I’m constantly trying to cram everything in my 2 days off a week.

    And this morning as I’m rushing out the door to my eyebrow appointment, the gorgeous real Xmas tree fell down as I closed my front door. Shit. Doesn’t it ever end?
    So tonight I’ve decided we will not be rushing off to swimming classes, instead stay home, have a relaxed dinner and finish putting up our Xmas decorations…..and re do the bloody tree!
    And I’m going to take your advice and stop beating myself up about the stuff I didn’t get done this year. Instead count my blessings with a coffee and a mince tart on the couch!

    Merry Xmas to you and the family xx

    • Sounds like a great plan Sharon – well done on getting through year of solo parenting. Hats off to you guys! And as for the fallen tree…that has happened a few times to me too and it’s SUCH a pain in the arse. Good luck and enjoy tonight x

  5. yes beth give yourself some slack!
    I hate an early morning flight! when one lives in the country it is a bummer!
    you have had a busy year your home looks wonderful children all intact and you look super cool!… btw I love your new hair colour with streaks if i’m seeing right!
    I hate any kind of pressure to perform so I give myself heaps of slack!
    my jasmine is flowering!!!
    happy days!
    love mxx

    • Enjoy that sweet scent! We have had the rain and cold and the fire on for 2 days now…absolute Christmas heaven and given me permission to do not much!

  6. Amen to that.

  7. well – i quit my school job end of last term and have been on holiday ever since. Enrolled back into fulltime uni starting January 22 to do teaching. Teenagers in the house. Zero end of school stuff (3000 at school so parents don’t go to prizegiving unless kid getting a prize). Zero activities. 8 Christmas gifts to buy. One 3-4 hour Christmas Day event to go to. We’ve scrapped other family side as no-one wants to travel this year. I’m literally sitting around the house doing not much with nothing to do. It is wonderful. No pressure from anyone or anything and teens do their own thing. Has taken many, many years to get to this point! I just might have my mental health back! We’re alright.

    This is such a stupid time of year – other side of the world does not have a school year ending as well as Christmas. Do what you want – not want anyone else expects you to do! I no longer feel society expectations on me – that includes Christmas!

    • Oh Kimberley I hope you enjoy this time – you deserve it!

    • If it’s any consolation, kids in the U.K. and their parents are also melting down!!! We have two more weeks until the end of term and I’m not sure how we’re going to make it. It’s dark and cold, everyone is run down with bugs and viruses and the little ones are just over school! Hope everyone makes it to Xmas in one piece. ???

  8. I hear you, I’ve had to just breathe today as my 6yo ”baby’ broke his arm in Queenstown the day before we flew home yesterday and it’s now in a cast for probably the entire 6 weeks his has off school. No swims in the pool despite it being a million degrees and our NY camping holiday at Byron will be tough. BUT I’m just being grateful today he fell 2 metres on his arm and not his head and we’re not facing a much more serious scenario. I’m taking time to just be grateful today. Love this post x

    • Oh Em no!!! Hope he is OK. I’m sure it will be an adjustment for the holidays but like you said, it could have been so much worse. Hope recovery is swift and not painful x

    • Emily invest in a limbo and life will be so much better, a waterproof sleeve for showering or light swimming actives
      Available on line from a Queensland company

  9. I got up at 1am because I was lying in bed stressing. Got out my Book of Lists and wrote on the left hand side a list of all the things I was worrying about. The wrote on the right hand side what I needed to do to fix things. Lo and behold quite a few I cant or dont need to fix. NOT MY PROBLEM. Then wrote a to do list for today and felt MUCH BETTER. I carry far too much stuff in my head. When I unpack it I feel so much calmer. So my suggestion is to make a list. Then went to sleep!

  10. Also, you are so right Beth. Put on your own oxygen mask first. Thanks for both reminding us and giving us permission!

  11. Yep. It does get easier as they get older, but I had two finishing Year 12 this year and the palaver has seemed to DRAG on and on. I am past getting too excited about Christmas, because it ends up just being ME who does everything (decorations, gifts, wrapping, shopping, food, drink). Well – everyone else is grown up enough to do things too if they care that much about it! How good was the rainy weather? I did almost nothing – no washing, vacuuming, shopping, ironing or cleaning. Went out to dinner on Saturday night. And the world didn’t end! Look after yourself and enjoy your green couch!

  12. Get that margin, girlfriend! I learned the hard way to make room for error because I’m a dead set klutz and I will fuck shit up every time. Now I allow for my fuckery. Maybe I should call it my “dickhead margin” haha.

    I want to lie on that couch and watch The Crown and drink a gin with you x

  13. Bang on!
    I just scheduled some wiggle room in my school holiday program, booked the kids into care for a day that im not working (first had to get over the guilt about that) and now I have one whole day to spend alone. By myself. I can’t remember the last time I had this. Time with self!! I’m extatic.

  14. Debbie Screen says

    Do you know Beth, I think that is one of the most beautiful photos I’ve seen of you (not that you don’t look gorgeous in others). Your eyes and mouth look so soft and relaxed – perhaps taking heed of your wise words pays off and/or that green couch is magic in more ways than one!

  15. Can I just say how much I love your couch? I may have commented before, but I’m saying it again. Big Heart eyes.

    I’m seeing a life coach over the next three months. I’m doing it for me to deal with the disappointment of my family, they are narcissistic little shits. (Mother and sister) I always have expectations that this Holiday will turn out different, but they don’t, so I’m trying to change my mindset.

    2018 goal….go away for the Holidays!

  16. Sam Spring says

    Hi Beth

    You are ‘on the money’ again.

    It is 4.36am. I have been lying awake for the last couple of hours trying to sort things out in my head about why I feel so overwhelmed. Finally I gave in and picked up my phone and there’s your post.
    Our move had been a great thing for the girls, a fabulous new school and friends, clean air and a great environment.
    For me however being the project manager for our build this year and single parenting at least 3 nights a week has been a tough change. I left my best mates in Sydney and haven’t got out there to make new friendships as I have been managing trades (and for the last 8 weeks this bloody lawn) Our ride on due to arrive tomorrow which should give me an hour or two more in my day.
    So here I am feeling completely unsupported and inadequate and guilty that I feel like that because they are only ‘first world problems’. I have a beautiful house, mainly healthy kids and a loving husband and we are warm, safe and well fed but …… I am done! Bring on the summer sun and a new year.
    Thanks for all your real words all year. Take care x

    • You are most definitely allowed to feel ALL those things and more! As soon as things settle down with the build it will get easier…promise! x

  17. It would be a lot easier if my school offered vacation care. I luff this time of year but it is stressful getting all my files ready before the holidays. I love all the fun present buying stuff but work is very pressured. Dying for my holidays!

  18. Beth thank yo so much for you beautiful kind words, just what I needed xx

  19. Great post Beth! I can so relate to this and when reading your story I can feel my anxiety creep in. But I am very happy to say that this year I have learnt to lower expectations, enjoy the small pleasures and take it one day at a time. Or sometimes even one hour at a time. Don’t get me wrong I still lose my shit and get totally frazzled, but with practice this is getting less often. I mean it took me having a huge breakdown, ending up being hospitalised, moving our family 600km for a school term to get better medical support, moving home again and my husband changing the way he runs our business to be more involved. It has been worth it though and I love hearing that more and more people like yourself are realising that we don’t need to aim for perfection all the time and its not selfish to have self care time, its vital. Wishing you and the fam are wonderful Christmas.


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