Updated: Jun 2, 2020
I taught my children a few life lessons at the start of lockdown. This involved them having to guess what bills we had to pay and how much each one was per month. There were some interesting answers:
· Electric £250 per month
· Water £300 per month
· Food £250 per month
Electric, despite them being on the X Box ALL the time, thankfully it’s not that expensive. Water, less. Food, double it. We all love our food.
It has made me think though if I could, what lessons would I teach my younger self. When I started to write I was surprised how long the list was. It would take a lot of time to explore them all, so here’s three I have expanded on;
How to take care of your finances.
Now I am 40, I should have my shit together. By shit I mean my money and by that I mean, I should know exactly what my monthly outgoings are and where I’m up to. Well, I don’t. Not all the time anyway.
I take the Ostrich approach, finding a little bit of sand to bury my head in. Whilst it's great because you can't see what’s happening, it's also not ideal as things catch up with you. And don’t forget your ass is sticking up in the air so you can get bitten on it.
I have online banking, so I should be able to track what I am spending. I do this but here’s where I fall…. If it’s coming up to payday and I still have money left in my account I feel like I need to spend it. It’s almost a compulsion to get rid of it. You know the old saying about money burning a hole in your pocket. Well, this is me, I’m sure if I were to speak to a therapist about it, there would be some deep routed reason why I do this.
If I check and see how much money is in there, I know I will want to spend it, so by not checking I don’t know and thus don’t spend it. I keep my fingers crossed that I won’t go overdrawn. I’m not completely ignorant though. I have set myself a limit, whereby if my balance drops below it, I get a text message telling me. This is great, it means I know how much money is in there which then means, yes you guessed it, I want to spend it.
Maybe I should book that Therapist appointment?
It’s ok to have an opinion.
This is a tough lesson to learn and a tough one to put into practice.
I grew up in the age of children should be seen and not heard. That pretty much sealed my fate of being able to express an opinion. As time went by, life happened, my self-worth and self-belief at an all-time low, I had faded into the background. I didn’t see the point in having an opinion about anything and if I did, would anyone listen? What if they didn’t agree, I would then have to argue my opinion which I didn’t have the energy to do.
This is an area of my life I am still working on.
For my younger self, I would say, it is ok to have an opinion. Express it without malice and know your facts. Not everyone will agree with you and that’s ok. Listen to and respect other people’s opinions. Try to understand their point of view by asking questions. You may learn something new or you may find yourself agreeing with them. Or you may maintain your view but at least you have listened.
One of the most important skills in life is to listen.
It’s ok to have a small circle of friends
Growing up, I felt I needed to have lots of friends, I think we all did.
My eldest is going through a stage of feeling he hasn’t any friends. It may be a side effect of lockdown but he has said this before when he was in school. He is judging his position based on the number of friends not the quality of friends.
I don’t know if this is something you can teach children though. As children we want to fit in, if this means being part of a big crowd, some of us will sway that way. What would my advice be?
I can share my experiences of how I felt I never fitted in. That I didn’t enjoy being in a big group of friends, I couldn’t be myself and I found it overwhelming. Yet I still felt that I needed to have a large group of friends, so I swayed that way. Luckily I found somebody like me in that big crowd and we made our circle, just the two of us. A circle within a circle. That's how I got through.
Today, I have a small circle and it's not within a big circle. I know I can rely on them and I know they have my best interests at heart and vice versa.
Today isn’t 25 years ago. I didn’t grow up during a pandemic, I didn’t have instant access to social media and the pressure that it brings. What preparations have I had to parent today?
I guess every day is a school day so I’ll keep on throwing myself in and any mistakes I do make, I’ll learn from them. We’ll learn from them together.
And therein lies another lesson, you learn from your mistakes.