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Parenting I've had it with January, is it nearly over?

Mum Margaret Lynch says she’s had enough of feeling like a failure for not getting fitter or healthier in the coldest, darkest month of the year.

WHAT KIND OF monster came up with the idea of overhauling our lives in January? After the Christmas holidays, and the excessive tins of Roses and daily three-course roast dinners that went along with them, we were somehow expected to jump up and grab a slew of changes (and a set of weights) with both hands, ready for our lives to dramatically change in every possible way.

We were supposed to become the very best versions of ourselves and bounce back as if we weren’t overfed, overexposed to family and stone cold broke from the festivities. The thing about January though, is that I hate every second of it.

It’s cold and dark, and I am deeply miserable. I can see my breath when I wake up in the morning and I wish with every fibre of my being that I was barefoot on a beach somewhere, instead of trudging out to the car with a pot of lukewarm water to defrost the windscreen again.

Getting out of bed is a struggle, and the kids still have to be physically separated from their duvets. I start and finish work in darkness, and the roads are crammed with cars. I haven’t a bean in the bank account since Christmas, I’ve a cold that won’t budge, and yet this is the month we are supposed to be getting every aspect of our lives in order?

Have we really thought this through?

January is already a minefield. It is naturally filled with enough misery without removing carbs. It’s a battle of wills for the first few weeks. Determination and willpower versus the bleak grey elements. Nature puts up a fair old fight, cutting us off from every last piece of joy, until we agree to give up.

I am here for the collective realisation that hits around the third week, that January is for hibernating, not pulling on gym leggings at 6 am. That’s not to say that getting healthy and fit isn’t the right thing to do, anyone with half a drop of common sense knows it is, just maybe not in January? Maybe in a month where the air doesn’t hurt to breathe? Can we give it another bash in June? (Please don’t remind me of this in June).

Anyway, I have a theory about the January resolutions push. I think it serves the economic cycle well… you start off strong with good intentions, buy all the fancy products and foods and organise that gym membership you’ve been putting off. You might give it a good go for a bit, a fair effort, but inevitably fall over, fail, and drown in your own shame.

Even the very best of intentions to become financially organised, physically fit, vegan and self-actualised all fall by the wayside. So can we just agree to throw in the gym towel? It’s very cold, to be fair. We can try again in June. Let’s just survive January. If you enter February still intact, you’ve done your job. Congratulations.

The toughest week

Last Monday, 15 January, was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year. As it turns out, Blue Monday is just a marketing ploy that captured imaginations, so it’s not a real thing. It can’t hurt you.

What is real, to my mind anwyay, is this coming week… Blue Last Week of January Before Payday. This is the worst. We all know the rhyme, 30 days hath September, April, June and November, all the rest have 31, except for January which has 487. The days might be short, but they stretch forever. Will we ever get paid again?

We need to brace ourselves for this seven days coming… if you can be sure of one thing, you’ll get the last and the largest of the January bills this week (especially the shocker of your energy bills from running the heat at Christmas when you were pure flaithiúlach with that thermostat). Also guaranteed, everyone and anyone will come knocking for the latest instalment of fees for the kids’ activities, and if you hope to have a family holiday this summer, you won’t be able to afford one if you don’t pay the deposit this week.

This is the week when I kick myself and say, ‘Why didn’t I become a civil servant, don’t they get paid every two weeks?’ or ‘Why don’t I have a January vault set up, I swore I would do it last year?’. You get the picture.

But listen, if we weren’t supposed to be anxiety-filled shells of ourselves in January, then the days wouldn’t be four minutes long. If we were supposed to do Veganuary we wouldn’t have a deep ancestral longing for stew all month long. And if we were supposed to start running in January, it wouldn’t be pitch black until 10 am with the roads as icy obstacle courses.

Stay home, stick on the heated blanket and forget about the outside world. Payday is just around the corner, followed by the St Brigid’s long weekend, and then that one day in March that’s really uncharacteristically sunny and sparks feelings of hope that we might have a nice Summer.

Everything else will simply have to wait for a month with actual daylight hours.

Margaret Lynch is a busy, working mum of two, living in Kildare and wondering if Adulthood is really for her. 

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