The fuel tank and doing too much

My husband has had a cold recently which means he’s been snoring more than usual. And he snores a lot at the best of times. I’ve taken to going to the spare room at about 3am, where I sleep very soundly until it’s nearly time to get up.

But the other night I couldn’t settle. I had stuff on my mind. And the main thing keeping me awake was the thought that my daughter’s friend would be staying over in a few days and I’d need to wash the sheets on the spare bed. The things that worry us in the night feel very stupid in the cold light of day.

But I spent the rest of the day feeling unsettled, out of sorts and worried. I know we’re supposed to be ‘mindful’ and live in the now, but I’m not that person. I’m the person who is whoever one step ahead, thinking about where everyone has to be next, whether they will have time to have tea beforehand and whether I need to put the recycling boxes out.

That day I did need to put the recycling boxes out. My son didn’t have an exam, but he wanted me to take him to town and pick him up. I was worrying about the cost of the vet for Eric and genuinely concerned that Wilfred might need to go too. My daughter was playing cricket and needed picking up from the cricket ground. My car was very low on fuel. My younger son was sunburnt, tired and aching from an athletics tournament. I was waiting for a piece of work that hadn’t come in. I needed some information to finish another piece of work. My younger son had a new athletics club to go too, which meant more logistics into an already over-stretched week. I’d been invited round to a neighbour’s for the evening with some other women from the village, some of whom I didn’t know. And I didn’t have anyone to look after my daughter (I can’t leave my daughter and my eldest together for more than about half an hour). I didn’t know who would be taking the boys to school the next day. It was very hot and I needed to put bottles of ice in the guinea pigs’ hutches.

All of this stuff was whirling round and round in my head and I couldn’t relax. And I know how lucky I am, I know how badly people have suffered in the last few weeks. All those terrible incidents were there too in my head. I was reading about Grenfell Tower and feeling terribly, terribly sad for what those people were going through.

And then I had a lull in my work. So I went to put fuel in my car. And for the first time in three years I actually remembered which side my fuel tank is. And then I looked down at my hand in horror. My head was so full of worries and logistics that I’d put £39 of unleaded in my diesel car. Had I really done that? Please don’t let me have done that.

I went to pay and I checked with the lady. Had I put unleaded in?

I had.

Fair play to that lady. She told me not to move my car and went and put cones around it at the pump. I phoned the AA. They could help – and quickly too – but it’s not a free service. In facts it’s £199 to drain the car, safely dispose of the fuel, put something in to decontaminate the fuel tank and then give me a little bit of diesel. I had no choice. My worries had overwhelmed me and this was the price I paid – £39 of wasted petrol and £199 to sort my car out.

When I told my husband what had happened, he was understandably not happy. He said it’s because I do too much. Of course I do too much. I know I do too much. But how do I tell a 13 year boy he can’t go to an athletics club or an 11 year girl she can’t go to tap dancing?

So I will continue to do too much, but I will keep a VERY close eye on what goes into my fuel tank.

The fuel tank and doing too much, Car, Fuel, Diesel, AA

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I can completely see where you’re coming from, about having too much on your mind, and then making mistakes. I once drove off, leaving the front door of the house wide open! In London! Luckily a kind neighbour called me, to tell me…. It’s all very well someone saying you’re doing too much, but things need to be done….

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    • Eek! That’s not a good mistake to make! My mum left the patio door wide open on my wedding day and we were gone for 24 hours, but nobody broke in!
      It’s very hard not to do things that need doing!

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  2. Oh no what a nightmare!! It is how life is sometimes, I struggle with the whole mindful thing too, I have tried it but it doesn’t work for me. I do sleep quite well lately but I will sometimes wake up because of something silly. We all do too much too but I don’t think I would have it any way. I don’t think you will do that with the petrol again. I did it once on the way back from Yorkshire and £250 later I finally got home. It is such an expensive mistake to make, you won’t do it again.

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    • Eek! I definitely won’t make that mistake again. At least I made it locally, rather than a long journey. I’ll be honest, I haven’t even tried mindfulness. I just know it’s not me at all!

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  3. Sarah,

    I clicked on the link to the related post from three years ago, “A very good idea…”. There does seem to be a recurring theme!
    Do you have a “DIESEL” sticker somewhere on the fuel filler? Or on the dashboard, or on your key-fob? These simple reminders can be very effective — for instance, when I’m driving on the other side of the Channel, at the start of each journey I tell myself: “Drive on the right!”, and I’m sure this has prevented a few awkward moments…

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    • Ha ha, I had to click on that post myself because although I remembered it was about the carpet in the garage, I hadn’t remembered it was about me nagging and moaning! All those gripes are still there three years on!
      My fuel cap actually has the word ‘diesel’ on it, so I really don’t know what went wrong. I think I thought I was putting diesel in it until I saw what was in my hand 🙁

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  4. Oh dear. We’ve all been there – doing stupid things whilst trying to take on too much. Lack of sleep alone can do that to you, then you had stress on top. I find that taking a day to myself every six weeks or so – going to a spa / blogging conference or just out for lunch can really help the way I feel. It’s nice to be yourself instead of just mum for a few hours.

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    • Taking a day for yourself sounds lovely! This is something I never do, apart from blogging conferences, which I normally do once or twice a year. Sadly I can’t go to any this year! x

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  5. Nightmare!!!
    I do daft stuff like that all the time when am stressed – try and find some time just for you x

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    • Thanks very much! It’s reassuring to find that others do it too, but I definitely need to find some times for myself. x

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  6. These things happen, but ouch at the cost of sorting that out. We all do silly things and sometimes we get away with them and other times we don’t – I left my back door open for 3 hours when I was out the other morning. Thankfully all good.

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    • That was a relief! I think we’ve al done that too. I won’t be putting the wrong fuel in my car again, that’s for sure!

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  7. Oh that’s my worst nightmare. Thankfully I’ve mostly had diesel cars where you can’t put an unleaded nozzle in. Although I did put unleaded in once, but only about £2 before I realised. So I paid for that, then topped it up with diesel and it was ok. The garage must have wondered what the hell I was doing.

    Hope things calm down a bit, and you get a bit more headspace. Holiday time needed!

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