Gettin the groove back

I don't know who the artist is!

I don’t know who the artist is!

Life is starting to feel a lot more settled. I’ve been back to work (part-time) for a month and we’re starting to find the rhythm of me working. The feelings of being overwhelmed are gone, I’m adjusting to my “baby” boy walking and transitioning to being a toddler, and I feel like I actually have some time to myself again.

We love our new place. It feels gigantic and yet, it doesn’t take a million years to clean/tidy. Part of this, I think, has to do with how much I got rid of before we moved. I’ve been thinking a lot about housekeeping and the “zen” of tidying lately. I downloaded The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up because the entire internet is freaking out about it.  On Amazon.com it has over six thousand reviews and it’s still rated 4.5 stars. As I’ve been reading through it slowly, there are some things I’ve accidentally applied as we moved and as we had been feeling increasingly squished in the 800 square feet of our previous apartment.

Rather than obsessively colouring all the time, I started reading a bit again and I picked up my crochet. Though life is intense with a pre-toddler, a marriage to maintain, a house to not let fall into squalor, and friends to enjoy…. I’m finding a flow.

Update on my morning routine with baby

A few weeks ago I posted about how I needed to re-establish new routines for my life with my five-month-old. Well,  I have resounding good news for you: IT WORKS. It’s been great! My morning now looks like this:

  • Wake up, make coffee, drink a glass of water
  • Hop in the shower
  • Feed Jack (Willy gets Jack when they wake up and they play together until I’m done in the shower)
  • Eat breakfast With Willy, put on make-up (it makes me feel like a real person)
  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Jack goes down for his first nap and while he naps I do my first round of cleaning for the day.

By the time Jack is sleeping at 8:30, I have already accomplished so much, that I’m able to sit down and enjoy the silence. I’ve even CLEANED stuff. I’ve realized that I need to get something done like this first thing in the morning before laziness/ tiredness sets in. It’s really easy in the afternoon to “justify” not doing any cleaning because I’m tired or whatever excuse that comes up.

You know, I was really sceptical about the difference having my shower first would make. One day I was having a bunch of moms over and I had to maximize my morning so I hopped in the shower first since Jack seemed to be fine waiting to eat. It revolutionized my morning! Instead of waiting till his nap and showering, now I can use that time to do other things.

I’m very pleased with myself. Now I need to make sure I don’t get lazy with the cleaning because that’s been the best part of all: I don’t feeling gross about this apartment I’m sitting in all day long.

Rethinking my morning routine

Photo by jencv

Photo by jencv

I guess its been a few years (!) now since I first wrote about morning routines. Since then I’ve had varying success and most recently since my son was born, continued varied success.

I’m sure you can relate. If you couldn’t you likely wouldn’t be following this blog.

You have a good routine or daily organization system going and then something happens and it messes it up. You fumble around for a little (or months?) until you remember it doesn’t have to be this way!

And so you reboot your system and try again.

This happens to me all the time and is the reason I tell people not to give up on a system until they’ve failed in this cycle a few times. If it worked for awhile then there’s hope. If it never ever worked then you should probably keep looking.

Routines

Since Jack was born I’ve had a few different routines that have helped me stay sane. For awhile I did at least 2 loads of laundry a day: one in the morning of Jack’s barfy clothes and one in the evening of his cloth diapers. Now I have more clothes and more diapers so I do laundry every other day.

Other mornings I had a routine of waking up, starting coffee, drinking a glass of water, feeding Jack, then shower and get my day in order during his first nap.

Then that got messed up.

So here I am working on a new routine to help me have a decent day despite the unpredictability an infant can bring. There are other routines that I would like to establish so that I don’t have to decide what I want to do or feel like doing. Because I will never feel like cleaning. Ever.

I went back and read those blog posts again and actually found them helpful!

Things that are helpful in a routine

These days I need habits that will help our life work more smoothly. This means that things like laundry, dishes, quiet times and meals get done naturally rather than haphazardly. I think something I need to institute is a consistent wake-up time. I usually wake up when Jack wakes up, which was 6:30 for a long time, then 7:00 for a long time, now it’s 7:30. I think I actually had better days when he was waking up earlier, even though I always needed a nap.

The other thing that has helped me operate well is dealing with clutter quickly, whether it’s unloading the dishwasher right away so it can be loaded as dishes are dirtied, or fold and put away laundry right away. (Sidenote: I have never folded laundry or put it away until Jack was born so let’s just all do a slow clap for me right now because I’m finally a grown up. It only took me becoming a parent).

So we’ll see how this goes! If anyone has any tips on what worked for them (or their mom) please leave me a comment!

Alone but not lonely (until I am)

Photo by Mo Riza

Photo by Mo Riza

Willy came home from a night class on Monday – the first class he’s taken since the winter semester 2012 (a year ago). It was 10:00PM when he got in. He came over to me and looked a bit sad and said something like:

“You’ve been here all night alone!”

“Yes,” I didn’t get where he was going with this

“And you did this almost every night last year.”

“Yes.”

“You just sat around all alone,” he said, and then after a beat added, “No, actually, that’s not true. You got things done while I was gone at school.”

A light when on in my head. “Yes I did, didn’t I?”

And that, folks, was when I realized the difference between last year and everything I got accomplished versus this year. The presence of my husband verses  him not being around as much.

I’ve been thinking about this all week (while procrastinating writing this post). Whenever I’m all alone in the house, I’m motivated to do things. Whenever there’s someone around, that motivation dies. The mornings when Willy isn’t around when I wake up (which is rare), I get up, have a shower, read my Bible, and have  a full morning. When he’s away or there are other people around, I’m a bum. I don’t always read my Bible ( I do always shower) but… it’s just different.

This is my guess as to why: I’m an extrovert, who sometimes cherishes my alone time but when there’s too much, I go stir-crazy. At first when I was getting used to Willy being away at school, I watched all the movies I wanted to that he didn’t. I was like a kid in a candy store. But that got old fast and I realized I was quickly going to rot my brain and waste my life. I was also getting stir-crazy so that’s when I got productive. But when people are around, it messes with me. I feel like I need to be chatting with them, engaging with them. I have a hard time ignoring my husband when he’s around. Like when I’m reading my Bible, it feels private and personal (despite the fact that I often end up telling him about what I’m reading thinking after… see where this gets confusing?) and so I feel a bit abashed to know people are seeing me doing it.

This past Friday, a bunch of friends were going skating. I decided to stay back because I get sore feet when I skate and can’t stay out as long as others, making me a kill-joy. I wanted to do something social, but I asked a few friends and they were all busy. So, I was left alone, which I wasn’t particularly excited about.

But I remembered I hadn’t baked in a while and so I did that. I ended up really enjoying my evening alone!

So I think the lesson here is that I need to institute some time where I’m actually entirely alone, without anyone around — even my dearest loved one. It wont be Monday nights when Willy’s in class, because I’m taking a class, too.

Motivation: found

Just as quickly as my motivation left, it returned. One piece of information changed my attitude completely. It’s a bit bizarre, actually. I’m not sure why my attitude was dependent on these details. I went from not having zero desire to pursue any of my goals, to realizing I was being an idiot. What changed?

Fall came.

Yes, it’s that time again. When exercise is no longer a luxury or a middle-class hobby, it’s an act of desperation in order to keep on top of my mental health. When my morning routine is a way I keep on top of all of these things because they’re all crucial to me keeping my life in order. I don’t think it’s any coincidence I first posted about morning routines exactly a year ago. Fall, for me, is very pretty torture.

But you know what? I don’t really want to run anymore. I’m working on that one. I used to really enjoy it! And now all these people who started running after me are totally overtaking me in distance covered etc. They’re all running 5, 10ks. People posting their half-marathon times on Facebook and I’m experiencing deep regret over my public declarations.

But that’s kind of the whole point of the public declaration: so I will be shamed/encouraged into continuing.

Building habits when you love change

I was texting with my mom today and she was asking me how I was doing being away from home for so long. I kind of laughed it off and blamed her for turning me into someone who gets antsy when I’m any one place too long. We moved a lot growing up. I’m fairly sure that’s turned me into someone who craves a change of scenery every so often. I haven’t lived consistently 12 months-in-a-row in one place in over 10 years. Last summer we spent a month of the summer in Florida, then two weeks away from home in Canada. The summer before that we spent a month in Paris. The summer before that I spent a bunch of time all over. You get the idea. Even at work, about every three months I’m itching for even a slight change.

I’ve learned to love habit and routine. It’s a little bit of normal in a whole lot of change. Change I like, change I choose, but change nonetheless. These daily habits help me adjust. They’re predictable. This summer few things are predictable except that I load the dishwasher and run it after lunch and before bedtime. The TV is off all day long until 7 or 8PM and then my in-laws turn it on and watch it until they go to bed. I have a coffee at 1PM. These are some predictable things.

It’s possible I’m a weird genre of people who like change. At times the comfort derived from habits borders on OCD. Eg: Willy will try and get me to walk a different way to work and I get weird. It makes me crazy (thanks to The Power of Habit I understand why!). I walk  one way to the metro in the morning and a different way back from work. That’s just how I do it.

Keep at it

Despite the fact that I find comfort in these routines, when there’s so much change it can take a lot of work to rebuild routines or start new ones. For the first few weeks here I had a morning routine that I was enjoying. I have no idea what derailed it but I haven’t done it in easily a month. Now I’m trying to go back and restart it. It will take some effort at first. The momentum will come as I enjoy the routine. I will feel less and less like I’m working at it.

But it’s almost a fact in my life that some sort of change will come up in my life, there will be another blip on the radar and I’ll have to fight for consistency. It’s predictable. It’s almost a routine in itself. Fail. Start up again. Succeed. See things start to nosedive. Correct. Succeed. Fail again if I’m not giving it the attention it requires, or if I’m stressed or something.

It’s a pattern I’ve noticed and I’m working on.

Are you someone who likes a lot of change? Are you able to form good habits despite your enjoyment of change?

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