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.

COVID Update 6521

Just a random number to reflect how many years it feels like we have been in quarantine. Daycare closed so we were staying in a friend’s cabin to quarantine which burned down*. We went back to our apartment, then back to a new place to quarantine with my sister who graciously decided to come to help with child care. Hopefully this apartment will not burn down and on May 2nd, we will start a new plan to live at my in-laws during the week and my parents during the weekends.

Life has been strangely okay. What is harder is thinking about daycare reopening, work starting to expect more of us working parents, and then having to choose between seeing my parents and going to daycare. That seems like an awful situation to me…but maybe things will work out in a better or different way. I am also sure we have already had CV because of a fever bug we had in February or have been asymptotic carriers because MANY people in my building had it and a few were hospitalized. So it would be nice to get a test and know we are unlikely to infect our grandparents.

Life has a weird repetitive nature. I mostly don’t think too much about the future or even the next week. To me, it has been reduced to watching the baby from before I want to until 11 or so, 4-5 hours of work, a short workout, bedtime routine, and then some leisure/TV watching/food prep for the next day, etc.

MG has become soooo chatty. She can say: up, down, ball, book, baby, Mama, Dada, Nana, Moon, Doggy, Mou (for cat), birdie, done, more (she says mo, like a southern bell), yeah, and probably others I’m forgetting. Oh yes, no. If you offer her anything, the response is now no. No! NO!

*true story but I mostly try to not think about it.

COVID quarantine

I’m not under quarantine, but it’s looking increasingly likely that I will be WFH every day in the near future along with R. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what a functional schedule will look like, both under that scenario and if day cares are closed.

In a world where daycare is open:

– Morning routine: this would stay pretty much the same. Wake up, work out, play with baby, drop her off.

– Once coming back, would log-in to work and work. Probably do some house chores on my break, or mini-workouts, meditation, and other screen-free breaks. Maybe a walk sometimes.

– Pick up baby, have regular evening routine. I think also turning off phones/laptops/etc and then not logging back in would be essential to maintaining some normalcy.

If daycare is closed, I would think R and I would work in shifts. First, we’d probably have to move the desk from the living room to the baby’s room. Then, we would have to fold up the futon every day and cover it with a bedspread and it would become the zone to take calls (if multiple people were working at once).

One of us would work from 6:30 or so (when the baby wakes up and vacates her room) until 12:30 or so when the baby goes down for a nap. From 12:30-2:30 we’d both work or socialize or do whatever. Post-nap, we’d switch the on-call parent. We’d probably still want to have a family dinner and bedtime routine so at 5:00/5:30 both parents would stop working and we’d have dinner, etc. If needed, a parent could work again after 7pm (bedtime) but ideally not to maintain a separation of work. The morning working parent would have a longer stretch, so we might alternate who is in that role everyday. And I think, to the extent needed, we would have to be really flexible around work calls.

If S comes to stay with us, you could do three shifts but I’m not sure how that would work. From 6 until 5, you have 11 hours of baby time that one person can cover. So each person could spend 4 hours with the baby and 7 hours or so working. The shifts would be 6-10, 10-2, 2-5 for baby. One person would work 6-2, one would work 10-5, and one would work 6-10 and 2-5.

Now I imagine living in a country with effective federal guidance and proactive testing efforts…