Usually I'm a glass half-full kind of gal but lately it's been easier for me to see what's not working rather than what's going really well. A recent post by Sarah reflecting on what's great versus what's hard inspired me to write my own reflection. When one or a few things are hard in life I can use that paintbrush to color everything. Taking a step back to be more precise about what's hard and, importantly, what's not hard helps me to stop globalizing.
+ Very limited time to work or "time off." Essentially I feel like I'm trying to do the part-time work of podcasting and writing with the hours of a full time stay at home mom. I'm also taking very little time to just catch my breath and relax. To get work done I get up at 4 a.m. nearly every day and also trade off weekend parenting with Chris so I can work in the studio. While I'm proud of the content I continue to produce, the process has been much less enjoyable lately. I dislike the inconsistency and unpredictability of when I'll be able to work. I also dislike having short sprints of time instead of being able to relax into my work. This is especially true for my writing which ideally happens when I have at least three quiet hours to work.
How to improve: We need some childcare for Maeve! I'm meeting a babysitter this week (she had to reschedule from last week) and I'm crossing my fingers that soon I could have 8 to 10 hours per week to myself. We're also looking into part-time daycare as another option. This would have the benefit of not having to sneak around the house so Maeve doesn't see me plus Maeve could socialize with other kiddos which I think would be great for her. With Maeve being so shy I'm bracing myself for a hard transition either way but I'm hopeful that more balance waits on the other side.
+ Not enough time with Chris. My foundation to be my best self includes spending a lot of time with Chris. And of course – I chose to spend my life with him after all! But lately we are finding little time for each other and when I step back it's easy to see why: our kids get up really early, Chris's work schedule has been especially demanding, both Chris and I have creative interests that we dedicate our limited free time to, and we have no childcare for Maeve.
How to improve: Chris's schedule should ease up as the semester ends which is this week, hooray! Hopefully that will mean more time for mid-day conversations and coffee dates. And if we connect with a great babysitter or arrange daycare for Maeve we could soon even start to schedule some day dates which would be amazing.
+ Maeve's naps. A month ago I felt nearly in the depths of despair about Maeve's naps. No matter how I adjusted her nap schedule or what I did she cried and cried before her naps. I carried stress about her naps all day. After some counsel from our sleep coach and perhaps just time her naps have improved a lot, from a D- to a B I would say. Maeve's morning nap now feels predictable and she goes to sleep easily for it. She still seems to need a second nap but that one is trickier. I'm thankful for the nap improvements we've seen and know that with each passing week we're closer to a one nap schedule which I think will help a lot.
+ Parenting challenging emotions and behavior. Over the past year, with so much time at home and with our kids, we've had ample opportunity to practice our patient, calm parenting. Isn't that a sunny way to look at nearly a year of being at home and virtual learning? At 6- and 8-years-old, I'm also noticing more emotional differences between Cedric and Dash and how we can best respond to each one. Compared to a year ago I feel that we have more insight into what sets off each of their challenging behaviors as well as better parenting strategies to address those behaviors and emotional needs. (As a side note, last week Erica and I released a Girl Next Door episode all about calm parenting if the topic interests you.)
+ The boys being at in-person school. I am so so thankful that we had the option to send the boys back to school and that we decided to do it. Looking back I do wish we had done it sooner but I don't regret our timeline. We made the best decisions we could this year with the information we had. Each of the boys has bloomed since being back at school, especially Cedric who is getting the kinder experience he was so excited for, and overall family life is so much more enjoyable.
+ My exercise routine. The two hours I spend at Orange Theory each week pays dividends towards feeling happier and healthier. It feels so good to have an hour just for me, to move my body, elevate my heart rate, and to lift weights. I also love being in the company of other people even if I barely talk to anyone else. I'm thankful for the sweat and the community of Orange Theory to be back in my life.
+ My reading life. This weekend I finished reading my 41st book of 2021. This is significant not because I see reading books as a competition of "how many can you read?" but because I feel for the first time in my life I'm nearing my dream reading pace. Reading has been my passion since grade school when I remember reaching into my desk to pull out a novel during any classroom downtime. Escaping into a book is still where I want to go with my free minutes. Rediscovering audiobooks this year has helped me find hundreds more reading minutes each week. Not only are audiobooks (and my Airpods) helping me read more but I am delighting in the audiobook experience of wonderful narrators and taking my book with me throughout the day.
OK, I feel better! Articulating what feels hard right now helps me to see how my two biggest challenges make other things feel hard. For example, I have projects around the house I'd like to tackle and feel frustrated that I haven't done them. But when I look at how I barely have time to do the creative work I love then I can see it's no wonder I'm not making progress on my to-do list. I'm also reminded of what used to be hard but is getting much better and what's going really well.
I'd love to hear what's challenging, improving, and working for you lately if you'd like to share.