Monthly Archives:

September 2023


SWB On Being ‘Ironing Bored’

We’re back to the grind, the weather is bat-shit crazy and the children are coming in wet and sodden. As the laundry mounts, how do you stay on top of it? Is it possible to keep up with domestic drudgery without losing your mind?


Ironing. That can be bitch, can’t it? But my advice is this: if an item looks like a pain to iron, then leave it in the shop. It is not deserving of a place in your wardrobe or a place in your life. Same goes for an item with ‘special washing instructions.’ Items such as this can GET IN THE BIN. A professional organiser once advised to clear your home of any objects which give you work; need your time or make your feel bad. There are things aplenty in this life to fulfil all these roles. Clothes shouldn’t be one. It’s #SecondHandSeptember so if any of the above applies to something you own, then this is an ideal time to drop off to our nearest charity shop.


Thankfully,  ironing pile in our house is greatly reduced these days, but this didn’t just happen by accident. I try to treat our recently laundered clothes with respect, i.e., I don’t adopt LSB’s approach which is to pluck the stuff off the line or out of the tumble drier and chuck them all crumpled into a basket. I’ve taken @tidydad’s advice, and started to enlist all the family’s help with laundry, sorting into piles and folding pronto before sending them off to put away. Doing laundry is lonely! Nobody should be sifting through a basket of socks, fruitlessly looking for a match. I now pull the basket out when we’re watching an episode of Modern Family and set to it.


I also don’t tend to iron much of LSB’s stuff anymore. Often he works from home and just wears a tee-short. Also, to my absolute delight, in his present job he doesn’t have to go to London and look smart while he talks to a lot of pretentious pricks. It’s taken a load off.


My mother-in-law ironed EVERYTHING. Pants. Towels. Socks. Sheets. No, no, no and HELL NO. The Mothership used to stand and iron fifteen shorts on a Sunday night for the week ahead, so my dad, my brother and I had a clean shirt everyday. I must admit that I will never reach this level of domestic prowess.


Occasionally though, I might need to iron something. Say a dress I really love, or if the kids have left their uniform in a heap and a quick fix is needed to take the bad look off it. My mantra is this, ‘never perfect, always better.’ Same goes for all the housework chores. But say, like on we ta day like this and I’m not teaching, I might say, iron a few things. This  is the ideal opportunity to embrace ‘luxury ironing.’ This is where you make a cup of tea, or pour a glass of wine should it be later in the day. Say 11am. (JOKING). Then I pop on a podcast such as The Uncanny* on Radio 4. Honestly, sometimes I get so engrossed I start looking for things to run the iron over. Who doesn’t love a spooky story with no rationale explanation?


This is how I deal with the monotony of household chores if no one is around to help. Earphones in with spoken word radio or a decent podcast so I feel my brain isn’t turning to mush. (‘Everyday’s a school day with you,’ says LSB.) But it works a treat and makes it all that bit easier. And should you be stressed out as the chores accumulate and need some sensible tips delivered by someone with a compassionate but no-nonsense air, then I recommend listening to KC Davis’s audiobook, How to Keep House while Drowning. 


The bottom line is this- whatever you have to do, make it more fun, whether you’re listening to @U105, Radio 4 or feasting on a new episode of The Bear. Happy Tuesday everyone.


*Show in The Grand Opera House coming to Belfast in November. Keep an eye out!




SWB on Modern-day Mishaps

It’s the horror of the modern age. Not nuclear armageddon or another strain of Covid. Or God forbid, a third lockdown with the kids. No, the real terror of modern life is sending a text to the wrong person. The sinking feeling when you hit send,  knowing your missive is winging its way to the wrong recipient, and there’s dang all you can do about it.

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s absent-mindedly banging a kiss on the end of a WhatsApp to a colleague, or worse still, in an email to your boss, confusing them with your loved one.

And that’s just a cringe fest and there’s no harm done.

But with our interactions with friends, the absence of a simple ‘x’ can signify that all is not well, and can be interpreted as being passive aggressive if you habitually use one. The lack of an ‘x’ can signify a peevishness, hint at a hurt, and be the verbal equivalent of  ‘I’ve had enough of this.’

Then there’s the people who aren’t kissers or huggers IRL and don’t want to become one in the digital arena after. Do you send an ‘x’ in your communications with them because you ARE a digital ‘x-er’?

It’s all very complex. But this is small fry, in comparison to sending the wrong message.

Years ago,  a friend was replying to a group chat about a night out. She sent a few dates when she wasn’t free as she was in the throes of a new romance. Anyway, the pal who was organising the shindig wrote, ‘We’ve been sidelined AGAIN, of course, because Jane’s* out with bloody Paul.’ Except she sent it to the group chat, and not to the friend she thought she was sending it to.


Jane admits now that she was totally infatuated and a tad hard to listen to, but she did marry perfect Paul and still invited her mate to the wedding, which I think was very magnanimous.

But it’s a tough one, because when you do send a message like that, you reveal what she really feel, and the person can go back and read it over and over again. I suppose the old adage, ‘If you’re not going to say something nice then don’t say it at all,’ still holds true.

Nearly everyone has a story about when things go terribly wrong. While at uni, an old friend of mine went to a gig with a girl he fancied. They were having such craic that he got a bit ahead of himself, and sent his flatmate a message telling him to vacate the premises, in anticipation of having the house to himself. Of course, he sent it to the girl instead, who told him he was a presumptuous git. He went home alone, and with a flea in his ear.

The rule is, be careful. Be very careful. Or better still, leave the blooming phone at home and give yourselves some time off. We always feel we have to be checking and scrolling and texting. Bring a book next time you go to a cafe- far less chance of any bother!

*names have been changed to protect the guilty


SWB on a September reset

‘I call September the ‘slidey’ month’ said a friend yesterday. When I inquired how so, she explained: ‘because if you don’t carve out time for yourself, you get caught up with the kids and suddenly it’s January.’


Was ever a truer phrase spoken? To me it’s a bittersweet month, tinged with sadness that the longed-for summer holidays have passed, but blended with relief that a routine for the wee buggers is re-established.


Aside from the melt of sorting the kids out for school, I think there is a collective ‘Thank f**k’ from parents,’ (and let’s face it, mostly mums) that they don’t have to scour the internet for summer schemes and annihilate the bank balance in the process.


During the holidays I feel a constant hum in my head, as though a little wasp has made its home in my earhole. I can’t properly relax as I’m constantly ‘on’- painfully aware that my children are around and might need me. Don’t you get tired of being responsible for someone else’s happiness for two months? I find it very grating.


Hence this is why yesterday, I responded with unprecedented enthusiasm when my friend Jane asked if I’d like to join the 6.30 (am!) running group. Initially I said No. No no no. Again no- I’m not a morning person, I said. But then, capricious creature that I am, I did a u-turn quicker than the Tory government under Truss.


In a moment of unusual clarity, it struck me that this is EXACTLY what I need to reset after my summer of pastries and rosé.


We need time for ourselves! said Jane, who has four children, yet always appears  buoyant and put-together. But she wouldn’t be, she told me, if she didn’t prioritise her needs, and at present, pre-breakfast is the only time she can guarantee it.


I agreed. How very life-affirming to claw back uncompromised ‘me’ time before the demands of children and animals. (Poor auld LSB- he doesn’t even get a look in here) I also need an incentive to stop drinking wine in the evenings. I love wine. I savour the first sip over dinner before shifting to the sofa, glass in hand, for an episode of Modern Family with the girls. For me, this ritual says, “I am off the clock. I am not leaving the house to take anyone anywhere. See my arse? It’s glued to the seat.’


But this is not good.  In the mornings I am sluggish, and feel defeated before the day’s even begun. Action is needed.


Lynette Fay in the Irish News agrees that September is a much better month to reset than January, which makes perfect sense to me, with its soft golden light and autumnal glow. Last New Year, I’m ashamed to admit, I spent a over a hundred quid signing up to an online group called The Six Pack Revolution, inspired by a Guardian writer’s experience. Readers, I lost no weight. I couldn’t stick to the food plan and nearly gave myself a hernia doing the exercises. ‘I’m on a diet,’ I kept bleating miserably to the girls. ‘STOP going on about it!’ they implored. So I deleted all the emails from the coach, left the Facebook group and drank some wine to celebrate. I put it down to a moment of insanity.


But this morning, wait til you hear! I set the alarm, and at six twenty-five, I met four lively ladies on the Ravenhill and we ran five km. There was barely a ripple on the Lagan and all was calm and serene. I haven’t described EVER put the words ‘Monday’ and ‘serene’ in the same sentence. I had one glass of wine with dinner last night, cleaned the kitchen and I did ten minutes of Kundalini yoga before bed. Jane’s husband tells her she’s created a ‘Movement’ and I think he may be right. If I do this a couple of times a week, I’m hoping that the benefits will trickle through to the rest of the day, and maybe, just maybe, to a much more positive mindset.