When the babies were only a few weeks old, and I was completely overwhelmed looking after two tiny newborns and a rambunctious toddler, four o’clock was a very hard time. Everyone was tired, wound up, hungry, and I was desperate for my husband to come home from work. I was trying really hard not to fall into the abyss, and the long, dark days of winter didn’t help this feeling.
To deal with it, I made four o’clock ‘Dancing Time’ – when, no matter what we were doing, we’d drop everything and put on some energetic music (sometimes even Just Dance videos on YouTube) and let out our pent-up energy. One of our regular dancing tracks was Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’; the uptempo beat and f-you lyrics the perfect antidote to a stressful, relentless day. Even the babies loved being jiggled about in the sling and some of Jake’s first giggles were as he watched us fling about our limbs energetically.
The song has continued as a favourite, instantly cutting through our bad moods and grouchiness. It made it onto my first running playlist, and it’s still there 18 months later, pushing me on when I’m lacking energy. Last summer Lucas requested it almost every time we got into the car, and by July could sing along with Taylor through to the end. He insisted that she was singing “shake it, ahh” – not realising that it was her accent and stylised voice that disguised the word. In the end I agreed with him as he got so upset trying to convince me and it seemed a petty thing to argue over.
‘Shake it Off’ still makes me smile whenever I hear it. Partly because of these precious memories, and because it’s apt for a time when I’ve struggled to let go of negative influences in my life. “Haters gonna hate” – it’s teenspeak that I’m 20 years too old for, but the sentiment is true. The song contains good advice for my children, too. I’d like them to grow up to be resilient, to assume they can achieve anything and everything they want to – to be able to shake off negativity rather than getting drawn into it.
And if you’re not a fan of Taylor, you can always check out the Beef Seeds’ bluegrass cover of ‘Shake it Off’ instead – it’s worth a listen!