Iknow we all love holidays. But this year, I was looking forward to my summer jollies even more than I normally do. Not only was I jetting off to see one of my best pals in her new habitat, but I was also stressed, worn out and in desperate – and I mean desperate – need of a break.
I was so excited about this break that, in a drastic shift of packing tradition (which normally sees me whirlwinding around my house at midnight, throwing stuff into a suitcase), I started packing two weeks before our departure day.
I was absolutely on it. Picking up pressies for our hosts and hunting a strange shopping list of items that they can’t get over in ‘their world’. I’d had a pedicure, stocked up on pet food and packed pressies and birthday cake candles for my son, whose big day fell while we were away. Nothing had been forgotten or overlooked. Nothing.
So imagine my disappointment when the great day finally arrives and the gentleman behind the immigration desk points out that my son’s brand spanking new passport, which had just arrived by FedEx a week before, was missing a UAE visa.
Three hours waiting for our baggage to be taken off the plane (which isn’t fun with two young hungry, thirsty kids during Ramadan, when there aren’t any coffee shops open); an hour in a taxi back from Abu Dhabi; a full day of toiling to sort the situation and re-book flights; and finally, a long 24 hours later, we were back at the airport, only to be refused again because – believe it or not – my visa was two weeks out of date.
I can hear you saying, “What a complete dufus” (or something similar). But in my defence, no fewer than three immigration staff, four airline staff and two other adults had seen my visa and not noticed it had expired. It was something to do with the way the date was written back to front in Arabic style – at a glance, it looked like it was expiring in 2014, not on 14th of July 2013.
Either way, the result was the same and, for the second day running, we waited while our bags were taken off the plane and sent to arrivals to go home and sort the situation out (new visa, new Emirates ID etc).
We eventually left the country and had possibly our best holiday ever, but not before I’d done some serious research to try to get to the bottom of my organisational nightmares. The whole episode had me wondering, why, oh why, I find it so difficult to stay on top of the endless lists of life admin – visas, bills, ID cards, kids’ injections, dogs’ injections, cats’ worming tablets, car servicing, credit card payments, the nanny’s contract renewal, villa lease renewal... it goes on, and on, and on.
Frankly, just keeping on top of day-to-day stuff – like groceries and keeping my house free of clutter – stretches my organisation skills to the limit. And even then, my house, desk, car and handbag are still overflowing with junk.
When chatting to a few friends about the unfortunate visa mishap, bemoaning the unfairness of it all, I had a revelation and declared, “What I need is a wife. Yes. A wife would be perfect. Someone to help me keep on top of all of that stuff. Or perhaps a life PA?”
In desperation, I started to look online at support sites for the organisationally challenged. There is indeed an Institute for Challenging Disorganisation in the US. However, it implied that my constant state of chaos could be in some way related to ADHD, or autism. Hmmm… Well I wouldn’t go that far.
After a bit more web searching, bingo! – I found the National Association of Professional Organisers (Napo – www.napo.net). It was a revelation. An epiphany – like reuniting identical twins who had been separated at birth. This is exactly what I need in my life. A professional wife! And if there is such a need for it that there is an entire association, then it can’t just be me. The website explains, “Facing more and more demands with less and less free time, consumers are struggling to manage their days and conquer the clutter and chaos building up in their lives.” That is it!
So I went off on my holiday, relieved at finding a light at the end of the highly cluttered tunnel. All will be fine. On my return, I will get organised. I may not even need a professional. Perhaps all I need is to resurrect my 2013 diary from the depths of my handbag, move the unused filing cabinet in from the garage (and start using it) and write in permanent marker the tips from the Napo website on to my forearm.
Fast-forward 20 days and I arrive back from holiday to find my water has been turned off, my mobile has been disconnected and my nanny needs a new visa. I think I need to get a wife after all.