How to be happy – it’s time to celebrate life!

Helga Weber / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Coffee without caffeine, beer without alcohol, coke without calories – we’ve become experts at denying ourselves things. In fact we’ve become so good at it we actually feel better when we manage to stop ourselves from enjoying the things we love – chocolate cheesecake for dessert? No thanks, I’d rather have a mineral water, we say, priding ourselves on our willpower.

Would you rather lie on the sofa and read a book scoffing a box of Maltesers or put yourself through a punishing routine at the gym for the fourth time this week? Gym of course. And what about another glass of red wine?”Oh, no thanks – I’m going sober this month.”  I feel so much better about myself, we say, with a strained face.

We have our teeth professionally polished, we’re constantly trying to improve ourselves and do good deeds to lead more wholesome and longer lives.

 A nation of spoilsports 

Whatever happened to us? We’ve become a nation of spoilsports and bores, so obsessed with how we look, our fitness levels and whether we can manage to stretch out our lives like chewing gum by denying ourselves any form of pleasure –  we’ve forgotten how to live.

I’ve recently stumbled across the musings of an Austrian philosopher by the name of Robert Pfaller – who believes life is only worth living if we eat, drink, celebrate and sleep with another. Well, hear, hear! I say.

Silliness for the sake of it 

Mr Pfaller defends silliness and having fun for the sake of fun – without worrying too much about the consequences and whether denying yourself that sinful cheesecake or sneaky fag will really make you look better a few years from now or if a month of teetotalling will really add a few years to your life.

And even if you do manage to buy yourself a bit of time through abstinence- will those hours, months and years of ignoring hunger pangs and pulling sour faces at more free-spirited souls really be worth living?

True pleasure will never result from a cost-benefit analysis, according to Pfaller. In other words, if you’re constantly worrying about tomorrow and the consequences of your deeds – you’re not ever able to really enjoy yourself.

Skinny dipping, smoking, drinking…

As you can see Mr Pfaller has made quite an impression on me. He made me think back of my student years – of dancing on tables, skinny dipping, smoking and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow, blowing a whole months’ salary on a pair of shoes and scoffing entire tubs of ice cream in the middle of the night.

That was before the adult me stepped in with a stern face, stopping me from flirting with strangers, tut-tutting every time I lit up until I finally quit and making me feel bad every time I pour another glass. There’ll be a price to pay, my adult voice says. You’ll have a hangover, you’ll get fat, you’ll get wrinkles, you’ll make a fool of yourself, you’ll die…

Well guess what – a hangover is a small price to pay for a few hours of respite from life’s demands, I’m fat any way, I have wrinkles even though I stopped smoking and used sunblock, I make a fool of myself even when I don’t mean to and I am going to die any way…

Straight-jacketed minds  

Have our lives become too regimented, our minds too straight-jacketed by what society thinks and expects of us? Should we shake off the shackles and live a little?

OK, I know – we have children and having a smoke on the school run or a quickie with a toy boy in the shed will not go down very well, but maybe there are different ways in which we can learn to let ourselves go a little and reclaim some of those delicious delirious moments of wild abandonment and true happiness we experienced when we were younger.

My TIPS for happiness 

Here are my tips for lightening up but be warned – you won’t lose weight, get fitter or learn anything from it – you might just have a bit of fun.

  • Go through the house with a black bag and throw out everything that gives you a bad conscience – diets, to-do lists, the bathroom scale, self-help books. Smile as you feel a weight lift of your mind.
  • Watch your children at play – now join in. Lie on the carpet, make bad toilet humour jokes and giggle uncontrollably. Now throw a full-on tantrum – kick your legs in the air, shout at the top of your voice and refuse to eat your vegetables. Demand more cake.
  • Make sure your neighbours are not at home and the kids are fast asleep. Check again.  Now take your clothes off and dare your husband to chase you naked through the garden…
  • Don’t run, do yoga or any form of physical exercise other than sex for an entire week.
  • Dance on a table – just make sure the table is quite sturdy.
  • Have another glass of wine, eat that slice of cake without feeling guilty. Enjoy every sip or mouthful as if it’s the last thing you’ll ever taste.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry – ever again!

Let me know how you get on!

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Any other bad mummies out there?

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Any other bad mummies out there?

I now edit a Bad Mums Round-up for Britmums every month – no prizes for guessing why they chose me.
The purpose is not to name and shame, but to share your imperfections, guilt and failures to make us laugh (not in a nasty way) – but to make me and hopefully some other mums feel a bit better about ourselves. Tweet me @CheneKoscielny your bad mummy posts – and I’ll include them in the round-up. Go on – I know I’m not the only one who’s not perfect…

How NOT to start your day… and other tips from an imperfect mum

A minion from Despicable Me close-up

Me in the mornings – how you don’t want to be

I am walking hand-in-hand with an unidentified handsome male on a deserted beach. I can taste the salty breeze, my companion – he has the same profile as George Clooney – turns to look at me…

The alarm on my mobile phone rudely interrupts my dream. I try to block out the sound, but the beach and the mystery man have gone and then I remember: It is 5.45am. This is MY hour, my window of opportunity in the next 24 hours to do something Just for Me before my day is swamped by other people’s demands and desires.

So, I get up quietly, slip on my airline socks and my husband’s fleece and sneak downstairs with my laptop to write on my novel or what I hope will one day become my novel. This is pure bliss, escaping into a different world of interesting characters created and controlled only by me.

A scene from a badly scripted sitcom

Like Cinderella dreading the moment when her carriage will turn back into a pumpkin, I watch the hands of the clock creeping closer to 6.45am, which will signal the end to my solitude, my calm and inner peace.

From the moment I wake up my daughter at 6.45am our house is transformed into a maddening, hysterical scene from a badly scripted sitcom.

My husband has woken up by now, grumbling about sitting in the traffic again while scavenging through his wardrobe for an ironed shirt. (He does his own ironing of course)  Any minute now the daily hunt for his company access card will kick off. He will be crawling around under the sofa, rustling through the washing basket and the boys’ toy box – cursing under his breath and accusing every woman and her dog of stealing or hiding his yellowing mug shot resembling someone on Prime Suspect.

Mutiny over breakfast

Poster of white text on red stating keep Calm and Carry On

More calmness needed in the morning

From downstairs my daughter starts her daily rant about the lack of choice on the breakfast menu, having dismissed 15 types of cereal and a selection of fresh fruit. Wait till she has a family and see if she’s still so keen on rustling up eggy toast or Nigella’s pancakes on a weekday morning.

The next one to surface is Max, 4, who solemnly announces that he’s not going to school today because his best friend stinks. This, rather than being a reflection of his best friend’s poor hygiene, is his latest ploy to try and stay at home because the novelty of school has worn off after just two weeks.

“I hate phonics. All we do is phonics. It is rubbish,” he moans through his Cheerios.

My husband, thankfully, has now left the house – minus his access card and dragging the overflowing bin behind him as he forgot to put it out the night before.

Child cruelty

The last one to rise is my 9-year-old son, Lukas, who tries to stay in bed as long as he can to resist my attempts at forcing him to do his 11-plus homework.

(If this sounds cruel – it’s not. We’re talking 10 minutes of maths or learning vocab instead of playing Fifa14 on the I-pad.)

Things start accelerating from about this moment. I realise there’s only an hour left before everyone has to be ready and out the door, including me.

My daughter is walking up the hill to the bus stop, the four-year-old is lying on the floor in front of my bathroom naked, refusing to move and Lukas is trying to see if he can take 30 minutes to put on one sock, one eye on the clock.

A race against time 

Max is refusing to get dress. I scream, cry, plead… in the end I challenge him to a dressing contest. I am halfway into my bra and knickers when the doorbell rings. My daughter has forgotten her bus pass and will now be late unless I drive her up the hill to the bus stop.

Lukas, seizing the opportunity, claims he absolutely can’t work out how many halves there are in three and a half without my help and downs his pen. Max, meanwhile, starts wailing because I’ve won the dressing contest unfairly as I had to quickly pull on my jogging bottoms and T-shirt to drive my daughter up the hill.

By the time I’ve deposited Lukas at the middle school 10 minutes late, having returned home once to fetch his forgotten football kit and dragging Max into the infant school, kicking and screaming, I’m very low on humour and badly in need of a strong coffee.

I return to my home office, climbing over discarded shoes and dirty washing, ignoring the mountain of breakfast dishes in the sink, ready to start my working day.

Does this sound familiar? What are your strategies for making the mornings easier?

If your mornings are more successful, please send me some tips and I’ll do a follow-up post with tips for other badly organised mums like me.

Scrabble letters spelling 'bad mum' words

Bad mums round-up on Britmums

And by the way, I am the editor of a monthly bad mums round-up for Britmums.  If you identify with my struggles and imperfections, drop me an email chenekoscielny@gmail.com or tweet me @CheneKoscielny your imperfect, humiliating, bad mummy posts and I’ll include them in the October round-up to make other mums feel a bit better about ourselves.