Kate Livingstone

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I’m trying really hard to stay positive and avoid the January blues, but it’s hard when we keep getting told how gloomy things are and they’re going to get worse before they get better.

Therefore, I’m choosing to ignore them and look ahead to another year, another challenge ... and it won’t be long till February with spring just around the corner.

This is also the month where the in-depth analysis of where we did our shopping over the festive period takes place with all the major retailers reporting their sales figures.

Business experts can ponder and pontificate all they want on what these show, but the fact is people have only so much money to spend and, particularly at the moment, they are making sure it is spent wisely.

But am I the only one who thinks that the supermarkets would all do a lot better if they took out the self-service tills and went back to staff serving us at checkouts?

I don’t think there has ever been an occasion when I’ve managed to put my shopping through without some sort of hiccup. So much for them being more efficient and faster – I’m still left standing there waiting for an assistant to help sort out the problem.

As for the recording which tells me to “please place my shopping in the bag”, I feel so stupid talking to a machine, but I can’t help myself saying “I’m going as quick as I can!”

I’ve even overheard a shop assistant complaining about them, saying she was cheap labour for her employer so when she went shopping she didn’t want to have to do the work for someone else.

It’s easy to look back through rose-coloured spectacles, but shopping did seem so much more civilised when you went to the grocer and asked for what you wanted then someone gathered everything together.

I suppose that’s really where online shopping comes into its own. But I have to confess, despite always moaning about the time shopping takes up – and I’m the only one in our household who ever goes to replenish the fridge and cupboards – it’s not something I’ve ever tried.

The main drawback for me is not being able to see what you’re buying, but the convenience element of it might outweigh this, so perhaps 2012 will be the year when I finally bite the bullet and do my grocery shop online.

Now for all you busy women out there, I noticed a really interesting article in a magazine the other day. It was all about how you could juggle your commitments to find a better work-life balance.

A couple of headings which caught my eye were that one in five women admit to cancelling a doctor’s appointment because of work and 25 per cent of mums feel they should be devoting more time to their children.

So what was the solution? Well I’m sorry I can’t tell you because I didn’t have time to read the full article!