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!

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 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…

 

 

March

It’s March! And super Tuesday. I am still rooting for my #1 (Liz!) and have a dream where there is a contested convention and she gets the nomination, and then Stacey Abrams is the VP. A girl can wish.

Life is holding pretty steady. There is a big coronavirus scare happening (the first NYC school closed) and we have done nothing to prepare. I’m not that concerned about it, mostly because it doesn’t affect babies much.

Here are things I’ve been thinking about:

  • daily habits and routines (this is like a constant focus area for my mind, I’m not sure why)
  • how nice our group of friends is, and how grateful I am to have so many close friends in walking distance of our apt and a sister who takes the train over every weekend to hang out with us
  • having another baby…
  • this summer and how to organize the weekend so we can go to the beach
  • working 80% time for 100% pay for meeting 100% of job expectations (I read a very, very interesting quote about this and have been thinking a lot about it)
  • the racism that was well alive and kicking during the civil rights movement and how it was often in direct coordination with the police and state, so you could murder someone, brag about it, and even today it may be un-prosecuted
  • how to not touch my face. I have been working on this (see coronavirus scare) and it is SO HARD. It takes a lot of self-control.
  • how to better organize our crazy bed situation (one futon being used a bed, one full-size mattress and box spring on the floor being used as a bed), one full-size mattress on a bed frame not being used, and a crib. And how to “solve” this problem in a way that is sustainability for the various iterations of beds and bedrooms we’ll need in the next decade or so.

I haven’t been in the habit of doing monthly check-ins or making formal goals. I have been building a great MommaStrong daily habit which makes me feel awesome.  Other than that, I’m not really in the mood to commit to anything.