“Fear of missing out (or FOMO) is a form of social anxiety – a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying event.” (Wikipedia)
When a friend introduced me to the concept of FOMO, the relief of being able to put a name to my condition was palpable. FOMO explains the symptoms I have laboured with for years: a diary as full as Katie Price’s bra and a purse as correspondingly empty; that sick, sinking feeling when I realised I really couldn’t make a family party, a night out with my work friends and a school trip to the theatre all on the same night.My husband has never suffered with this condition. For him, one engagement in a month borders on a social whirlwind. When we had been together for about two weeks (and I had already started to mentally write a wedding guest list and name our future children) he mentioned casually that he didn’t like to arrange more than one night out in a week. It was almost a deal breaker. On reflection, one of the main reasons he was keen to have children at all was the ‘get out clause’ they would give him. What better excuse to turn down a night out than “we can’t get a babysitter” or “baby has been unwell”?
For me, however, having children has only exacerbated the problem. They have brought with them a whole host of separate events which I can’t possibly turn down. Baby rhyme time, craft afternoons, children’s parties. Anything advertised with ‘Children’s Activities’ in a ten mile radius, I am writing down in my diary and dragging them along.Added to this is the fact that I am more knackered than I have ever been in my life. No longer can a full week of ‘busy-ness’ be recovered from with a morning in bed; weekend lay-ins are for wimps according to my offspring. After five days of prising them out of bed for school like winkles from their shells, they leap out of bed on a Saturday and Sunday ready to live life to the full.
But, despite their early rising on a weekend morning, they are in no rush to get out of their pyjamas and leave the house. Often I am pulling them away from a perfectly contented game or colouring-in session with promises that they will ‘have a great time’ wherever we are going. It has taken a while for me to realise that they were actually having a ‘great time’ at home, just pottering about and playing with their toys (it’s their father’s genes.)I don’t want to paint a false picture here. I genuinely enjoy (almost) all of the events that we attend but sometimes my ‘FOMO’ backfires on itself. Time seems to be shooting past since William and Scarlett arrived. Days, weeks, even months are disappearing never to be recovered. Gradually I am realising that, by filling my diary with a million things to do, I actually AM missing out. Missing out on just being with my children. No plans, no rushing around and no opening/closing times to panic about. At their age, our happiest times are making a tent out of the duvet and laying under it eating bourbons from the packet.
Therefore, I have made the decision that these more relaxed moments are the ones that I will be making sure I am not missing out on. From now on, my diary will be taking second place and I will embrace an empty weekend as an opportunity to just hang out and see how the mood takes us. We might go out, we might stay home, but we won’t be dashing from one place to the next in the fear that we will miss out on something. Because the ‘something’ we don’t want to miss out on is right here.
And if anyone tells my husband he was right, I will deny everything.