Forget resolutions, having a list of things you DON'T want to do is much more achievable
Reverse bucket list: Write down what you never want to do – and stick to it (posed by model)
Before I had four children, there were many small things about being a mother which, I now know, I didn’t take into account. Obviously I recognised parenthood would be emotionally and physically painful (very), expensive (very) and rewarding (sometimes). But I hadn’t delved thoroughly into the minutiae of day‑to-day life as a mum.
Frankly, if I’d been planning a business buy-out, I’d have done more ‘due diligence’ before committing than I did when I embarked on the huge commitment that is parenthood.
Who’d have thought, for example, that I’d have to do homework again two decades after last handing it in Or that I’d be eating dinner at 5pm on weekends Or that I could go on holiday only when everyone else with children went on holiday (And, therefore, endure hellish return journeys by car, bus, train or plane that would involve tortuous delays.)
I’m not exactly sure at which point during the seven-hour drive back from Cornwall after the festive period that I felt under my seat for an ejector button, but I think it was after the five-year-old vomited chocolate muffin over me, before we discovered the baby’s three-day constipation was cured or as the dog cocked his leg on the buggy in the back of the car.
When we got out at the services, I was actually relieved it was pouring with rain so that when we entered the building to clean up, at least a little of the in-car odour had been washed away.
Back on the road, while we were parked up in the traffic jam that was the M5, talk turned to New Year’s resolutions.
‘I’m going to sort out my anger issues,’ Gracie-in-the-middle, aged seven, said with unusual maturity. She is a tempestuous child, so we all agreed this was a worthwhile resolution. My knees thanked her in advance for not biting them in rage any more.
The eldest offered up: ‘Chew with my mouth closed’ — admirable and beneficial to us all. And the boy, aged five, volunteered that he would learn all the lyrics to Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) so we could get past the ‘All the single ladies’ (repeat) part of the song.
More from Lorraine Candy…
LORRAINE CANDY: And so my back-to-work countdown begins… with a lock on the biscuit tin
LORRAINE CANDY: Cold mince pies for breakfast. Babycham for elevenses… I’m in hog heaven!
LORRAINE CANDY: I'm all for bulk buying… if we're talking gin or chocolate or Hobnobs
LORRAINE CANDY: Christmas boot camp has begun – and even the dog's got to fall into line
LORRAINE CANDY: Don't sniff that Pritt Stick, kids, or you'll end up like Keith Richards
LORRAINE CANDY: Which child would I rescue first from a fire I’d decide after saving the handbags
LORRAINE CANDY: Wrestling a gorilla naked would be less painful than talking to men like this
LORRAINE CANDY: They should replace your big office chair with a cactus, said my grumpy Gracie
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Unfortunately, the car sickness makes him peculiarly delirious and he rambles on relentlessly like an annoying, drunken, elderly relative on New Year’s Eve. It’s amusing initially, but by hour six you tire of the repeated questions, especially if you’re not drunk.
‘Is Heaven on Fourth and Broadway’ he asked me for the fifth time.
‘No,’ I replied, ‘as I said before, Heaven is a questionable concept, but every time you ask me where it is you’re one step further to finding out.’
Personally, I don’t do resolutions. It’s rare for me to think more than 15 minutes ahead, so resolutions are meaningless. But I had stumbled across a novel idea earlier (on the internet) which I offered up in lieu of resolutions: the reverse bucket list.
Instead of writing a list of things you want to do before you die (a bucket list), you write a list of the things you don’t want to do (confront your fears, eat beetroot, etc.). This is more achievable.
So, before I die, I will not be doing any of the following:
Teaching in an inner-city school. I once believed I had the patience and teenage mindset to be a teacher; having had kids, I know this is a ridiculous fantasy and not a reserve career.Going on a detox which involves cutting out alcohol, caffeine or sugar from my life.Going on holiday with people who refuse to drink before 7pm.Skypeing anyone. I won’t survive another: ‘Oh I can see you, yes I can! Hang on a minute, no I can’t. There you are! Amazing . . . gone again’ conversation. Play Scrabble. I may be a journalist, but a meerkat knows more long words and is a better speller than me.Find out who or what a Kardashian is. The moment someone told me it was nothing to do with Star Trek I lost interest.Ask Mr Candy to show me the ‘I can see your pancreas’ video he made of my last C-section.Call the receptionist, whom I consider the world’s rudest and most unhelpful woman, ‘Frumpy Pig Skin’ (it’s a Shrek-related insult) under my breath.Panic. It’s over-rated.Get in a car with my children unless I’ve taken enough sedatives to fell an elephant and all its relatives.
Lorraine CANDY is editor-in-chief of ELLE magazine.