4.06.2011

daily life management

Life with baby definitely requires a new form of management, even for a compulsive organizer. Part of the problem is that I don’t even have the time to organize the way I want to. My life feels more hectic, less scheduled, out of control. I don’t have as much time to plan my day or my week, and struggle with how to make it all happen during nap time. I have a lot on my plate - I work from home, have a high-level volunteer position and another less intense volunteer position. So how do I manage it, with diapers to wash, baby wanting to be held and a Mountain Man to be fed?

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I don’t. I have had to simplify my expectations of myself, I have had to say no and have had to accept that everything I do is less-than-perfect. I forget things, I’m late all the time, I feel flustered and disorganized. But I make life work, and these things have helped.

I try to get up a little early - at least before the Pie wakes up. I get the Mountain Man’s breakfast put together, pull his lunch out of the fridge and start the coffee. I start a load of laundry if there’s laundry to be done, clean the kitchen up a little and sit down to do a little bit of planning for my day. I make a list of the things that are critical for me to do that day and try to deal with only a manageable amount of work. I make lists elsewhere of ongoing projects, things that don’t need immediate attention, notes to come back to later, reminders for another day. I also make dinner plans, check to make sure I have my ingredients, try to remember to thaw anything that’s frozen, and figure out when I need to start cooking and what steps can be done in advance, during naps. If the Pie is still asleep once this is done I’ll sit quietly for a few minutes and do my “meditation”.

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I open my computer and check my email, clearing and deleting any junk first thing. Then I assess which emails need to be read and without opening them, I flag for follow-up. I know this is like mud in the face to an organized person. I prefer to touch things once. But when I never know how much time I have, it is nice to be able to come back to my inbox later and immediately see & start chipping away at those emails I need to read & respond to without getting bogged down by or losing track of other “fun” emails or things that are not “important”.

If the Pie is still asleep, I’ll pour myself some coffee, grab some breakfast and start getting into those emails or start working on my to-do list. Around 10am my sister comes to babysit so I can actually get some work done.

Between the time my sister is babysitting and naps, I have anywhere from 3 to 7 hours a day where I can be truly productive - accomplishing work, volunteer, housework, cooking, errands, writing, reading, showering, etc. Most days showering doesn’t get accomplished. Most days cleaning gets minimally accomplished, but I operate on Minimum Maintenance now.  I end up spending any free time reading or writing.

Once my sister is gone and the Pie wakes up from her nap, we play and try to do easy chores like folding laundry or picking up toys (which then get immediately dumped out of the basket in a circle around where baby is sitting!

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If the Pie is happy in her jumper, I’ll start cooking dinner, or baking, or cleaning up the kitchen. We’ll sometimes go on a walk if it’s nice out, or run an errand. Then it’s nap time again, and another opportunity to work, do chores, get dinner going, pay bills, write, whatever.

By 5:30 I have to get dinner started for real if I haven’t already.Once the Mountain Man is home we eat, clean up the kitchen, pack his lunch, he plays with the Pie, exercises, takes a shower and we’re off to bed for another day.

Trying to keep my days as simple as I can, trying to minimize obligations and scheduled meetings, and trying to be ready to jump into work or chores or nap time at any moment helps. Having a to-do list, a detailed calendar and my “not now” lists keeps me on-track and (somewhat) sane. Having a few blog posts written ahead and having a loose calendar of my posting helps immensely on those days I don’t have time to write or when the words or ideas aren’t coming.

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But the biggest thing for me is giving up, in a sense. Giving up on being as productive or efficient as I used to be (did you notice I have 17 different start-times for dinner? Sometimes it gets made at 11am and put in the fridge to be reheated later.) I have had to learn to be opportunistic instead of scheduling my days. I have had to give up on being able to accomplish any task in one sitting.

I’m sure as the Pie gets older my schedule will become more clear and consistent. For now it’s days filled with partially-finished tasks, to-do lists and toy circles. For now, dinner will get done at some point and work will never be fully accomplished. I can’t be as efficient but I can manage if I am realistic about what I can actually manage.

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