|Photo by ODaddyBee|
I'm feeling pretty stressed at the moment. Actually I don't like the word stressed. The word stressed is overused and undervalued. That being said 'I want to shut out the world, preferably by sinking slowly into a vat of chocolate ice cream' is not very succinct. So for now I'm gonna run with stressed. When I'm feeling stressed a curious phenomenon occurs - brown boxes start appearing at my door. They come at all hours of the day and they are delivered by wordless strangers; some of them are big, some of them are small and most of the time I have no idea what I will find inside them. When I am stressed I shop and because I'm a parent I do my best shopping online. I don't just shop online because of motherhood, I do it because it feels so unreal. You see the perfect picture of the pretty thing that will absolutely transform your life from abject drudgery to glossy glamour with one click. You type some magic numbers into the friendly box and then two to five days later, well to be honest, who cares what happens. I'm not really in it for the results - most of the time the item, when in my possession, only reminds me of my lack of self control and makes me feel a little nauseous. So my mission for the week was to accept I have enough without more stuff.
I'd done a big shop, had heat, light and water so I budgeted enough for travel, a pre planned night out and a twenty for emergencies. I found myself stumbling within the first hour of my mission. It is one of my habits to buy myself a coffee from the The Flour Pot after dropping Roscoe at nursery. I was at the door when I remembered I was not allowed my steaming treat and (ooh go on then) almond croissant. I went home and made an effort to make myself a coffee in my favourite mug. It tasted fine, I'm not a coffee snob - as long as it's got caffeine I'm happy but I didn't even finish it. Without the coffee shop ritual and disposable paper cup, it wasn't the same.
The next day I planned some free fun in the sun and Roscoe and I went to the sandpit. There's a lovely little cafe attached and usually I have a coffee and treat Roscoe to a babyccino or mini milk whilst we play. It's not a condition that you purchase something and I've certainly spent enough there over the years to have earned a free hours play but I felt uncomfortable - why did I need to spend money to feel valid?
I thought a change of scene and a mid week trip to grandma's might help. I also knew that grandma's house was full of love and sugar and I would not need to shop if I stayed there. It was only when waiting for the train I realised I had no food for Roscoe for the journey. Now I've been doing this mothering gig for a while now, I never leave the house without a bag full of bribes, sorry, rice cakes. Yet I had. Oopsie, I thought, I'll just have to go to Marks and Spencers and buy the lad some snacks. I had a wonderful time choosing him some fresh fruit. Had I actually created a situation to allow me to spend some pounds? That same evening was the night I had planned to see my friend Gemma. My twenty pound budget played on my mind all evening. Twenty pounds should be more than enough to facilitate a chin wag with one of my oldest pals but this was London. Of course Gemma started the evening by suggesting we share a bottle of wine and before I could say 'budget' she had procured a cold bottle of sauv blanc. Oh well, I thought sensibly, I just won't eat. Of course half way through the bottle my resolve dissolved. I wanted to eat but I only had enough for one meal, 'Do you want to share?' I suggested. Gemma thought it was a fab idea. A compromise! Perhaps this spending thing wasn't as black and white as I had thought.
I had the next day to myself. I found I kept absentmindedly wandering into shops before realising I was not allowed to be there. I found myself feeling quite down. I do not believe I'm a shopaholic by any means but I realised that shopping had become my only hobby, my quick fix. In fact today one of my favourite bloggers Accidental Mum is running her linky #HobbyMums and I have absolutely nothing to share. I needed a plan, the week was not about wandering round in shopping detox, it was about realising I had many wonderful things in my life already. My friend had loaned me a book that he had promised me I would love. I made a plan to spend the afternoon reading it. I was so pleased with myself that, until the deed was done, I didn't even notice that I had gone into a shop and bought a bag of sweets to eat as I read it. How sad that I could not even enjoy the activity I had planned without propping it up with a purchase.
The last couple of days of my mission I was in work. I had no problems not spending because I could distract myself with the tasks at hand and actually I was really productive. I whipped through a tonne of admin and even got stuck into some of the pesky little jobs I had filed in my 'when pigs fly' folder. When I was feeling capable and productive I didn't need the ring of tills to boost my mood.
And so I understood my excess spending was not about not realising I have enough, it was about not realising I am enough. Nothing I can buy can make me whole, I've bought enough by now to know that. So going forward I'm going to look for some other ways to fill my self esteem tank, where possible things that involve my son. I will try and plan my spending so that it feels like a treat and not desperate act of salvation and if I can't afford something it won't be because I don't have enough, it will be because I am enough without it.
Tell me about your relationship with shopping in the comments and if you liked this post you might like this
Want to know my mission in advance? Updates here
Want to know my mission in advance? Updates here