Weekly Rhythm

I’ve been thinking lately about rhythm. I feel like my life, like that of most working parents in our era of COVID, is just frenetic. I’m working at home or I’m working at work but I feel like I am always (or almost always) working. I spend a few hours during the week doing things that aren’t strictly working but are almost like performing maintenance work on myself so I can survive for another week (making healthy dinner, riding my spin bike, meditating). I really have almost no fun and no leisure.

But – something does change in my life as I go through each week and I am curious about what that is. On weekends, I try not to use my computer or phone for internet at all. I do text people, and video call my family, but no internet browsing (sometimes my kid is being totally insane and I brake this rule for a tiny dopamine hit). This means, conversely, that I spend a disgusting amount of time on the internet during the week, because I am doing my work and I am doing what R and I call “internet errands”. During the week, my laptop is like a sticky molasses from which is it more difficult to extricate myself than to continue doing whatever it is I am doing.

On Fridays, I have 1-2 hard cocktails. I like to get drunk on Fridays! The minute I’m done with work! In recent weeks, I’ve also taken to eating half a pint of ice cream out of the carton! I also try to “finish” work and I have this insane nesting urge to prepare for the weekend. Sometimes, this includes going grocery shopping twice so I know we have ingredients on hand to make any dinner I could ever aspire to. Friday nights also generally involve making a batch of granola for eating a breakfast of yogurt and crunchies on the weekend.

Monday is sort of a hazy day of thank god I survived the weekend. I want to nap and watch TV all day but I don’t. I sometimes have a lot of work and if I don’t, I try to do a lot of personal productive things, from the to-do list I keep that conveniently has all my work and life tasks.

Tue-Th are these sort of hazy days where I get the bulk of my work done and just sort of vaguely exist. I talk to coworkers on conference calls and see my kid for about 3 hours but I’m just a shell of a human being. After bedtime on these days is like I am a zombie. No one knows me and I do not know myself. There is nothing to aspire towards and nothing to help you relax. Sometimes, if I can snap out of it, I’ll do some restorative or yin yoga. Sometimes, I can read (I have only finished 1 (!!!!!) book so far this year). Sometimes, I call a friend. But mostly I painfully pass the time between 7:30-9:30 pm and am thankful when I am tired enough to go to sleep.

On the weekends, we have a very standard routine of inside house time – playground – naptime – playground – inside house time – bedtime. I wash probably 150 dishes a day. We get the NYT delivered and I fritter away a lot of the day reading it while kiddo plays nearby. I almost love to go to the playground and spend a few hours in the frigid air doing nothing. I also love when R is on playground duty and I have alone time at home, which I spend tidying up while listening to a podcast, working out, and showering. Then, they are back. (I know R has the same routine bc he is always in the shower when we come back from the playground). I love also when we all three go to the playground and/or see our playground friends, and life feels a bit like pre-COVID. The most fun we have on a weekend is watching a movie, in two parts.

Jan Reflection/Feb Goals

Oof. What a month. A stomach bug, a stressful client presentation, freezing cold weather. The one shining light was officially creating our indoor pod and having indoor hangouts with them. That was a real relief because it was organized before the weather has dropped to feeling like 20 degrees every day. I did give up alcohol and coffee. Alcohol was easy and has never been a problem for me. Coffee was really rough! I never stopped wanting it and it was brutal to have some early morning baby wake-ups without it. And, I started sleeping from like 9pm to 5am which made me realize I haven’t actually lost my old body clock, but I’ve just normalized it a bit with coffee. Anyway, I am back on the coffee training and grateful for it. Especially on days like today when the feels like is 10 degrees!

There are three things I want to focus on this month:

  1. Having more fun. This has been happening organically through our pod group, but I want to keep shifting weekends and evenings towards more fun, rather than just passive recreation. I ordered a puzzle table so we can do a puzzle in the evenings but store it out of the way, and then I’m also interested in seeing if we can do cooking or crafting or some sort of fun activities. I read this hilarious article on why nothing is fun during COVID (basically nothing is new or spontaneous or social) but I’d still like to find a bit more…pleasure or nourishment or something.
  2. Stop using phone internet. I used to be SO GOOD at this and now I am SO BAD. It started with the election and then ticked waaaay up during the armed insurrection at the capitol. I just don’t need to be doing it. I also haven’t been taking full tech sabbaths. Both practices I want to bring back and I want my phone internet to go back down to 0%.
  3. Decluttering. The Marie Kondo bug has been striking me again…we haven’t done it since before we had a baby (I think actually two apartments ago), and obviously we are spending a lot of time at home. I don’t think I can do an all out effort, but I am thinking about making my own list of mini-categories that can be done post-bedtime and slowly working through some things. Her practice of choosing what to keep versus choosing what to discard always worked well for me.

That is all. Onto February!

January 2021

I just cannot think about a full year of resolutions, but I do want to get back to making monthly goals.

For January, I gave up coffee and alcohol. Alcohol has been absolutely fine but I am REALLY missing coffee. I’m fine drinking tea, but apparently I only want to drink tea with cookies. There is something about the total satisfaction of coffee that I WANT. But it honestly doesn’t feel like caffeine addiction, as much as the pleasure of it.

My other goal is to have some more fun. I want to get to the point of thinking about what would be the most fun activity to do at night, rather than falling into bed or watching TV on auto pilot. I am honestly struggling so much with this. Maybe I should put some sort of fun audit on my list.

Other stuff has been mostly good — working out, meditating, sleep, eating, etc. so just want to focus on the stuff above.

What a Year

I have been struck, as is pretty usual for me, to do a recounting of this year and a planning ahead for 2021. But every time I start to think about this year I just stop. I don’t really want to go back. I keep thinking about the holidays for 2019 – MG’s first. She was sick from daycare and basically up all night for November. Then she was a bit better and she – and then all of us – caught HFMD for Christmas. I spent my birthday feverish in bed. By February she was better and we felt like we had survived a really difficult window and things were turning a corner. Her birthday party was probably the last time we had people in our house.

From there, it has been a total shitshow. WFH with her, the total fear and panic of living in NYC in March and April, the house fire, five months of living with parents and in-laws. When daycare reopened and we moved back home it was like reaching the promised land. There were a few rough weeks of transition but since then, our life has been stable and happy once again, even in light of occasional COVID quarantines, masks, no indoor playdates, etc.

But it was hard again for other reasons – I had a miscarriage at 7 weeks, the fear and panic of the election. I just feel so wrung out and tired, like I need three years to recover from this one. And we still had it easier than so many people. We have stable jobs that paid us the same amount even when we were doing childcare half the time, we didn’t lose any loved ones to COVID, we didn’t get sick ourselves. But it was so hard in so many ways.

I have been looking forward to 2021 but softly. Thinking about doing a weekly tech sabbath which I have been finding really restorative and a way to bring the pleasure of boredom back into my life. And I long, I honestly long for, a cold rainy weekend day when indoor play dates are allowed once again and the kids can play with trucks and the adults can have some pizza and wine and we are all warm and dry and safe. I feel thankful and I am filled with so much longing.

October

October! This is often my favorite month of the year. I love the back to school feeling, the fresh air, the beauty of the leaves, Halloween, etc. This year obviously feels a little different. I feel like we’ll blink and a whole COVID year will have gone by. Plus, it is very steeped in election anxiety for me.

I’ve been using a paper planning to do hourly tracking – for work stuff, but also what I want to do in my breaks or after bedtime. It has a spot for daily habit tracking but honestly, beyond meditation and exercise, I don’t even have any daily habits that I’m into. The only things I can think of are daily focused reading, using my lightbox, and eating a lot of veggies. I’ve started incorporating more veggies into my day – like having a snack be just some veg and some fat – and I feel like that is good for my winter mood.

So some daily habits: exercise, meditation, light box, veggies, reading.

We’ve been in a nice weekend routine as well: mornings at one playground where we often run into other families in our daycare, a lunch and nap, and then evenings at another playground with our friend and her kiddo. Very simple but very nourishing. Lots of snacks (R realized that if we ply MG with snacks in a typically American fashion, she can go multiple days without having a meltdown).

I’m also trying to focus more on my present – rather than thinking about the election or a second wave or daycare closing but…easier said than done.

Back in New Yak

We’ve been back in NYC for about 3 weeks. It has been like going back to an easier but still familiar life. I can’t believe how much leisure time I had in my day before COVID. Even sitting down to do some writing…I can make a cup of coffee, organize my workspace, turn off my email and just write. Without having a full third of my brain elsewhere or knocking (which progresses into crying) outside of my door.

The transition has been okay for MG. The first week was pure unhappiness when she was at school, and we’re down to about 30 minutes of unhappiness when we drop her off and then mostly happy all day. And miraculously at school, she sleeps for 60-90 minutes longer than at home so her mood is so good. And when I pick her up, she’s so chatty and happy. She’s sleeping more, eating more, drinking more milk from a cup. I feel the decision to bring her back was right.

The guilt around my parents is slowly easing as this becomes the new normal for us and for then. We have been doing outside visits which are nice and I’m willing to see how it goes for now.

 

Habits

March, April, May, June, July. Five months of quarantine for us and 3 months or so of having a pretty static routine (different houses, but the same two houses and more or less the same daily schedule). Long enough, as I read in a newsletter, to set a whole new era of habits even if you weren’t intended to. Long enough for stuff to sort of slip up on you.

Time for a habit review.

Daily habits have included: meditation and exercise (sometimes just MS, sometimes the elliptical if I’m at the ILs). Those have been pretty solid. I feel like I use the internet waaaaay too much – on zoom meetings often for a few hours + internet browsing + phone general waste of time. I’d love to cut that down. I definitely have this ennui after bedtime. Like, what is there to do? Often, I choose lazier activities rather than more rewarding ones, like vegging out rather than calling a friend. My social life has definitely dwindled down to just texts. I do spend a lot of non-directive time with the baby which I like a lot, and read a lot. It would be nice to have some more variation in my day…I’m not even sure what that would look like but more walks, more mini-trips, stuff like that.

Overall, seems like I’ve stayed pretty even but could swap some less enjoyable leisure time for more nourishing stuff like calling friends, making a new meals, taking a mini-excursion, etc. Voila, life is solved!

Making Plans to Go Back

Our daycare reached out and we are making plans to go back. I have so many feelings about this.

I have absolutely missed having a chunk of time away from the baby everyday…AND I have grown use to spending all day with the baby and will miss having that.

I look forward to going back to our apartment…AND I worry about life without backyards to play in like we have now.

I look forward to not having to live with my parents/in-laws…AND I want to cry when I think we may not see them again for quite a while.

Life has definitely been altered because of CV. My parents are high-risk and risk-averse in general. Living in a geography with a winter climate, and without a car, and in a dense city, I’m not sure if we’ll find a way to safely visit them. At the same time…I really want to start trying for a new baby and don’t feel into the idea of being pregnant and not living in my own house on a permanent basis. So we will go back in August. I think the baby will be very happy with it, R will certainly be very happy with it, and I will likely adjust. But, I really worry for my parents and how they cope.

 

 

What to take with us?

I read an interesting piece on why we should use the CV pause to evaluate what to take with us into life when we are able to return to “normal.” It gave me food for thought. Of everything I used to do, I only miss a few things: going to the library, going to the playground with MG, and seeing friends. My brain has adjusted to a surprising level of nothingness. Things like going out to eat, going to museums, anything NYC-specific, all seem like things I can do without. Going to the office I can definitely do without. I’ve always been really good at living in my own micro-neighborhood. Since having the baby, we have done all of our errands and excursions within a 15-minute walk of our apartment except for trips to my parents (when we tended to stay within 15 minutes of their house). So what would I take with me from this time?

  • shorter work days
  • more emphasis on simple pleasures (a post coming up about this)
  • leisurely pace for everything, because there is nowhere to be
  • social events being an occasional delightful event rather than obligatory
  • less time in front of technology (I try to leave my phone somewhere after the work day, and take the rest of the day as a tech break)
  • spending a lot of time with family

Rebuying

I have a resistant to buying online in the best of times and that resistance is especially strong now. It’s been interesting to me that without any of my favorites, I’ve just created a new staple wardrobe out of all my backup options that were in the apartment. I have one pair of pajama pants and one pajama sweatshirt. A daytime fleece, light sweater, and vest. Three pair of day pants: two black leggings (one slightly thicker and with pockets), one pair of jeggings. A pair of waterproof boots, a pair of birks, a pair of toms. And that’s…pretty much it. Some tank tops I rotate through under my clothes. If it’s nighttime and I’m washing my PJs, I wear my backup backup outfit of linen pants, a t-shirt and a cashmere cardigan which my sister calls my chicest office.

There is some stuff on my need to buy list. A new pair of minimalist sneakers, a raincoat, another pair of sweats would be nice for laundry day.  Buying back my tried and trues, like my favorite face soap. But overall, I have a sense that I’d just like to…mostly not.