SUSANNA REID: I tried saying 'yes' to everything

From red carpet to real life…SUSANNA REID: I tried saying ‘yes’ to everything – and it’s left me exhausted!

  • Susanna Reid shares her week of saying ‘yes’ to everything, and what followed  
  • Broadcaster says goodbye to her healthy eating as Great British Bake Off returns
  • Susanna has decided to take more time for her family and will stop her column

Do you ever have a day that you fear will end before you’ve got everything done? Monday was one of those for me.

After a 4am start, then hours interviewing experts on Covid and Government policy on Good Morning Britain, I helped pack my eldest son’s belongings into the car and drove him an hour-and-a-half to his new university halls.

We unpacked his stuff, did a food shop and then I drove back. Once home, I decorated the kitchen for my youngest’s 15th birthday, wrapped his presents and cooked his favourite dinner.

Susanna Reid shares her week of saying ‘yes’ to everything, and what followed

Later I read briefings for the guests on the next day’s show and crawled into bed. I hadn’t had time to call my mum, check in with my dad or write this column because I had run out of hours in the day.

How did I get to the stage where I never have a spare minute? I think part of it is the fear of not grasping every new opportunity.

A few years back, as a self-help addict, I read a book by the American TV executive — and creator of Grey’s Anatomy — Shonda Rhimes. It is called Year Of Yes. It encourages women to break out of their shells and say ‘yes’ more often.

I gave it a go. I’ve always loved challenges, but this isn’t the answer. The truth is women have a tendency to say ‘yes’ even when we’re at tipping point. The challenge is saying ‘enough’.

One friend told me I should make a ‘The kitchen is closed’ sign to hang on the door after I described a night of dishing up dinners of various descriptions at different times including an entire meal at half-past midnight.

Last week Andrea McLean admitted to feeling perilously overwhelmed, which Susanna wrote had struck a chord with working mums including herself

But when you work long hours, you never want your children to think they’re not a priority — so something else in the schedule has to give instead. Inevitably, the thing to go is time for yourself.

After my exhausting time on Monday, I kept thinking about Andrea McLean’s candidly honest account — published last week here in Femail Magazine — of feeling perilously overwhelmed, and couldn’t shake a growing sense of recognition.

My ITV colleague, who is a presenter on Loose Women, a loving wife and busy mother of two, will have struck a chord with so many working mums when she revealed she reached breaking point as she tried to ‘do everything and be everything’.

Off-air gossip… 

The delayed start to Strictly means the only professional my friend Ranvir Singh has been paired up with so far is a chiropractor.

‘I’ve got special insoles in my dancing shoes to help with my flat feet,’ she tells me glumly.

She’ll soon get swept off those feet once she’s partnered up. 

When I read about her book, This Girl Is On Fire, I messaged her to tell her how helpful her account will be to others in the same boat. People — I must confess — like me.

While I haven’t felt myself on the edge like Andrea, I have had times when I have looked at myself in the mirror, dark circles under my eyes, a to-do list coming out of my ears, and said: ‘Susanna, you need to slow down.’

How many of us say ‘yes’ over and over again? Another school project, another dinner for friends, another teenage taxi shuttle service.

The pandemic has made us all take a long look at the way we lead our lives. At the beginning, I was caught up in the grip of nightmares that left me sobbing when I woke up.

I would dream of being in dangerous situations where people were hurt or injured. The night terrors eased as the months went on. But all the uncertainty means I want to spend as much time as I can nurturing my family and friends who were getting the ragged ends of me too often.

Of course, like Andrea, I am lucky to have a glamorous job I love and lots of support. But there comes a time when instead of juggling endless balls in the air, fearful that one will fall, we gently and carefully put one down.

And that is why, after a fantastic year writing this column, I am handing over the baton. It has been an extraordinary year to be engaged with Mail readers as we went into lockdown together.

Having watched the Prime Minister announce new rules on Tuesday, I’ve decided I need to find the time to focus on my nearest and dearest.

I want to see my dad more often and spend more time with Mum. I want to support my eldest through his strange first year at uni and do a better job helping my younger two with their homework in preparation for a school year that may go online at any moment.

Thank you for all your feedback. You have shared your views openly and honestly, and I hope what I have written has made you think or even reassured you.

I may look like I’m in control on TV, but underneath I’m trying to hold it together like we all are. Here’s to busy mums everywhere and the power to, occasionally, say ‘enough’.

It took a pandemic to get my teens on hols with me 

Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves play the agony of a doomed marriage brilliantly in new BBC TV comedy drama Us (pictured with on-screen son, Albie, played by Tom Taylor).

But as I watched it on Sunday, one thought bothered me: who gets their teenage son to go with them on a three-week sightseeing tour of Europe? ‘I’m effectively backpacking with my parents,’ wails Albie, as his dad bores him rigid with a guidebook.

When I persuaded my three to go to Mallorca with me this year, I felt sad as it was probably our last family holiday. While other midlife viewers watched Us in awkward recognition with their partners, I was envious they’d got their teen to pack his bags.

Thank goodness Bake Off’s back – but there goes my healthy eating  

At a time of national crisis, thank goodness for the butter-creamed wonder that is Bake Off.

Just as the Prime Minister finished outlining all the reasons to be gloomy this winter, Paul, Prue, Noel and newcomer Matt Lucas brought out the bunting and the marquee.

Contestants: Hermine, Sura, Rowan, Marc, Laura, Linda, Mak, Dave, Loriea, Lottie, Mark and Peter from The Great British Bake Off 2020 (left to right) 

I have interviewed Prue Leith a number of times. She once caused uproar on GMB when she called for a ban on school packed lunches for being filled with sweet treats by doting mums. I felt great trepidation as I dared to ask her whether she saw any conflict in her healthy-eating message while also promoting cake on a popular TV show.

She looked over those famous red spectacles and said witheringly, ‘Of course, it’s a very obvious one, but that is the competition.’ That was me told.

Actually, I am a bit worried, I’ve only just got back to healthy habits after too many custard creams in lockdown.

I don’t know how I’ll resist the biscuit tin now we’re back to watching all those delicious creations every Tuesday.

I’m hoarding loo roll, too!

While everyone rails against the Covidiots who are panic-buying toilet rolls, can I put my hand up and admit I have stocked up?

It doesn’t feel like a good time to be running low on basic supplies.

I didn’t go mad with a huge trolley-load, I just added a few essentials.

Anyway — I reckon that one person’s panic-buying is another’s sensible preparedness.

Along with one extra pack of toilet paper, I bought some UHT milk and pasta, plus biscuits.

You never know  . . . 

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