My default setting

Daily life’s been a bit of a slog round these parts lately. Not because of the twins, who are mostly pretty good company (bar the usual 4yo shenanigans), but because I’ve had back-to-back viruses since the end of October, a high-pressure December deadline, and then a manic Christmas, plus the constant rain is also getting us down. Then there’s my friend Emily, who is also finding life hard-going, only she has a better excuse than me because she’s growing another human at the moment. On days when either of us is struggling to keep their head above the parenting water, the other often steps in like a virtual cheerleader (along with our mutual friend Kelly). We offer each other words of advice and suggestions about what to do with the hours of the day that are stretching ahead of us like a marathon, and generally try to be as empathetic and supportive as we can be.

What’s really interesting is that by offering someone else advice, you find out more about yourself and how you dig in when the going gets tough. What you suggest is naturally what you would do yourself on a challenging day. You get to know your default setting, if you like. And what Emily and I have found is that, despite being great friends and having a huge amount in common, our default settings are polar opposites.

twins playing

My go-to decision on a day when I’m struggling is to leave the house. My preference is to go somewhere outdoors. We’re lucky that where we live  we have a plethora of options at our disposal – we can go and feed the ducks at the local lake, head to the forest, choose from a large selection of playgrounds or explore one of the many country parks in our area. I think this habit of getting out started when the twins were tiny. I found the sound of two babies wailing impossible to cope with when we were inside the house. And so I’d load them into the monster truck double buggy and walk, and walk, and walk. The crying didn’t feel nearly as deafening once we were outside, and eventually they’d fall asleep. I walked miles round our little corner of south east London (where we lived until the twins were 18 months old).

As they got older, the practice of escaping the house when it all got too much stuck. Trying to distract two small toddlers with an interesting activity such as baking or crafting frequently felt like a complete impossibility – one would engage, but the other would refuse, and by the time I’d persuaded the protester to sit down, I’d have lost the other one. So we’d go out instead. We’d seek out entertainment outside the confines of the four walls that often felt completely suffocating. The thought of spending an entire day at home was, to me, unimaginable.

Once the twins turned three it got easier to spend time at home. They play together now, often immersing themselves in imaginary play that leaves me completely redundant for a stretch of time. The idea of not leaving the house all day is suddenly a lot less terrifying. But my default setting is definitely still fresh air. Even on days at home, we will more than likely go outside to scoot on the road (we live in a cul-de-sac) or play in the garden. It’s how I let go of my stress, and it’s the first thing I think to do when tempers are fraying.

Head over to Emily’s blog to read about how her default setting differs completely from mine.

What’s yours?



2 comments to My default setting

  • I’ve just been over to Emily’s… I definitely need to do a big clean up, open windows, organise, write lists and then spend time outside – I always feel better if I blitz house and get on top of things and then head out :)

  • I am similar to Emily, I need to regroup, stay in, keep people close and close the door to everything else. Once I am recharged I can face things outside my door again

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