Fail Fast


“Fail Fast” is a tenet of some management methodologies (eg: Agile) that basically involves swiftly identifying when a project or sub-project is not working, giving up, and moving on. I like the idea because I hate wasting my time. Unfortunately I am not great with the notion of failing in general (for myself). But I guess sometimes you’ve just gotta call time.

We’ve been in Zurich for four months now and I’ve clocked up what I’d deem as a few failures already. So with a mind to “fail fast” and move on, I’m outlining them here.

Germanfail: I haven’t loved my German classes. I picked one of the cheapest courses I could find as I’m generally a believer in trying the budget option first because sometimes it’s great and why spend more (eg: lots of Supermarket own-brand groceries), plus I think it’s easier to justify paying extra for better quality than it is to “shift down” once you’ve tried the so-priced best.

I’ve found these classes a disappointment on a few levels.

  1. Childcare: I could not take advantage of the childcare they provided (another reason I chose the class) because they would only let me use it if I put P in both days of the course, but I only needed it for one.
  2. The teacher: I don’t like to knock people doing their jobs so I won’t go into details but I don’t think the teacher is great, nor has she created a particularly conducive learning environment IMHO.
  3. The students: at least a third of the class never does their homework and have started asking me (rather than the teacher) to explain stuff all the time, which is tedious and distracting although, admittedly, also slightly flattering. Some of the students don’t seem to “get” a lot of the exercies or understand the fundamentals of grammar and one of them doesn’t even know how to read an analogue clock/watch. This is not me saying they’re stupid or lacking intelligence – I believe they just haven’t had much exposure to education or the methods of learning. But the upshot is – it slows things down and is dull for me because I mostly do “get” things pretty quickly.

SOLUTION: I’ve taken matters into my own hands and found a class that seems a lot more suited to me. The new school is called Bellingua and says it’s for “committed, fast learners”. According to the website, 75% of its students hold a uni degree so I’m assuming they won’t be nearly so mystified by what I consider fairly basic language exercises and grammar. I start on Monday.

WHY IT’S STILL A FAIL However, today in my normal class (I plan to do both classes concurrently for a bit) I was surprised to discover that most of the other students are continuing to the second unit in the same school with that same teacher. Am I the asshole? I also feel sad not to have successfuly made friends with any of the students (again, maybe because I am the asshole?). I mean, I like them, we say hello and have had a few good conversations, but there’s nobody I would exactly seek out to hang with. Fail.


Housewifefail: My next fail is as a housewife. I don’t think I’m cut out for this job. I hate cleaning. I’m reasonably organised but I’m inconsistent with planning. I hate cleaning. I don’t mind cooking but I don’t always get my A into G with it. I hate cleaning. I am fine with grocery and other shopping but I seem to end up buying a few bags of groceries almost every day, and getting HI to grab a few more bits on his way home from work, which is inefficient and surely costing us more. I hate cleaning. Laundry I am, dare I say, quite good at although I want to wash every day, which is a bit impractical. I hate cleaning. I’m cool with paying bills and doing admin eg: chasing up the real estate agent for our house sale in London etc. And did I mention I hate cleaning?

SOLUTION: This one is trickier to solve. We can’t afford a cleaner right now because I’m going to be spending extra money on the German classes (see above). But actually writing this out has made me realise that my main issue is a bit of disorganisation and my hatred (irrational?) of cleaning.

WHY IT’S STILL A FAIL: If I’m completely honest, housewifefail stems from the fact that… deep breath… I’m finding it extremely hard to deal with my change in status from roughly-equal-working-person-in-a-partnership-involving-small-child to housewife. I don’t think it’s fair of me not to do the cleaning and run the house since I’m not earning money (except from some freelancing, which will also be somewhat curtailed by the increased German classes, see above) and that was basically the deal we struck. Plus, although I hate cleaning, I love it when the house is clean and it depresses me to see it messy, dusty and dirty so I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I think I need to learn to love it. Or at least accept cleaning as part of my “job” now. Possibly if I schedule it better, it won’t seem so hateful and overwhelming?


Friendfail: Acquiring friends here feels like it’s moving at a glacial pace. I was prepared for this but it doesn’t change the fact that it feels very shitty not to have “critical mass” of pals to hook up with yet. And, while I’m not sure quite what I could have done differently, I can only blame myself. I haven’t put myself out there enough, haven’t tried hard enough, haven’t doggedly followed up the small friendship leads I’ve had. So I’m a bit of a proud, aloof, shy adult sometimes… I don’t wanna run after the popular kids in the playground begging for scraps. But I’m sad to say that I feel the housewifefail and resentment would be much mitigaged if I had a few more local cronies. And, of course, the fact that I haven’t bonded with any of my German classmates is another fail on this front.

SOLUTION: Try again. Try harder. Do things differently (?) Well, maybe the new German class will deliver on all fronts – giving me a new set of people to befriend, a new sense of purpose and identity, plus, of course, winging me on my way to being able to make friends with native-speakers and thereby opening up whole new avenues of potential buddies!

WHY IT’s STILL A FAIL: Because I feel like shit right now and the house is a mess. Thanks for reading!


  1. The course will be a winner. It doesn’t hurt to be selective; it’s better to be alone than with irksome types. Re housework: You need to embrace the filth and lower the threshold. Undisturbed dust is good dust. Fail? Imagine your life was one of those movies where some girl goes and lives somewhere else for a year. You’re still in the early montage showing her finding her feet, “fairly contented yet restless”. It’ll get better. Some ‘caught in the rain’ whimsy is bound to be coming your way soon!

  2. Feel free to shove this blog in our faces more on FB. I was thinking you hadn’t posted in here in a while and now I realise you have and I’m catching up.

    Anyway, ha what Marnie said above – lower the threshold. But for everything. Need to be a less productive, less intellectual, more plebby person to make friends easily, enjoy not earning much and cope with.. * the plateau. *

  3. I agree, tout your work on Facebook!

    As to becoming “just a mum”… Well it’s something I’ve had to come to terms with. I empathise so much with how you feel. I’m sure I used to be a competent manager/team player /participant at meetings/work lunches… Now my achievement is making lunch for everyone except me and dressing three kids. It bloody wears you down, the hit to self esteem and how you’re seen by the world is hard to accept.

    Personally I schedule the cleaning, that helps me to feel less “lost”. Monday morning :clean the bathrooms. Saturday morning :wash the sheets. I try to do one biggish clean up/day (like vacuum, or mop, or clean kitchen) and the rest is spot fires.

    But let’s return to how depressing it feels to even need strategies to deal with the shame and judgement SAHM can feel. I’m not really ok with it. But I know now it’s a phase. It will end, in a lot of ways life is LONG. I’ll be a card carrying useful member of society again one day. Now to go make sandwiches….

    1. Katy – I feel like a cad. I always thought you were pretty OK with the SAHM thing and admired you for it because you seem to do it so well (as you do most things). I don’t know if I feel heartened or saddened to discover it’s something you struggle/d with too!
      I’ve also had some valuable and even inspirational advice from my mother-in-law about this stuff. She is a huge advocate and shining example of the successful and fulfilling post-baby-years career so there definitely is hope.
      Thank you for reading and for your comments (and for everyone’s comments on here or privately). It really means a lot to me and it helps! x

  4. Chin up, it’s *normal* to take many years to find a community of friends in a new place! (I don’t think London can have been quite the same, as there were quite a few folk from Australia already/soon after you arrived). Also … it gets harder for everybody as the years progress and people naturally get more involved/specialised in certain things. So, you’re neither an arsehole nor failing, it’s just a tough gig. X

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