We made it through another week around here. The temperatures are in the single digits and the heater broke (it just got fixed – phew!). The baby is in peak fussy time (5 weeks). Everyone has colds. We had a snow day on Tuesday. My husband was traveling. It has dawned on me that I have another book coming out in 3.5 months. There have been low moments, like the epic 7-year-old meltdown over online multiplication homework last night, or the violent fight between the 3- and 5-year-old over who got to open the Sophie the Giraffe baby gift some friends sent us. Good times.
Of course, I don’t really think I’m in “survival” mode. There’s just a lot going on, and more constraints on my time than there will be in other seasons of life. In addition to getting lots and lots of help, I’ve been using a few strategies to stay (mostly) sane.
I’m prioritizing sleep. To be sure, this is easier said than done with a newborn. My approach is to pump and then go to bed as early as I can. I’d like to stay up and read or watch TV, but if I can get to bed by 10, I can get somewhere between 6.5-7 hours before the 4:30-5 a.m. feeding. The one night I hit the sheets by 9:30 was even better! (I’ve eagerly outsourced the midnight-1 a.m. feeding; this is also key). Unfortunately, I have a hard time going back to bed after I’m done feeding at 5:30 a.m. or so. That just feels like morning. I tend to lie there. So…
I’m exercising when I can. The upside of a treadmill is I can squeeze it in. When I was lying awake at 5:45 this morning I decided to get my running clothes on. I went downstairs and did 20 minutes on the treadmill. It’s not a lot, but it’s 20 minutes better than nothing. I’m running the Broad Street 10-miler on May 3, so I will need to start getting serious about running soon. I did a few 5ks on the treadmill this past week.
I’m making extremely limited to-do lists. This is all about managing expectations. With four kids, even with two adults around, the sub-zero temps mean I’m not doing much beyond glancing at email until about 9:30. One adult waits with the 7-year-old at the bus stop while another stays inside with the baby. One adult does the preschool run while the other stays inside with the baby. By the time the other kids are out the door, it’s time for the baby to eat again. But then things calm down, and I can write the occasional article (like my review of Ron Lieber’s book in the WSJ yesterday: Google “The Price of Privilege WSJ” to see whole text). I can manage 1-2 phone calls or specific-time events (e.g. a class party) per day. I can blog.
I make to-do lists days ahead of time. This is the corollary to the above. Even if I recognize that I can’t get to something today, putting it on the to-do list for 3 days from now reminds me that it will get done eventually. I plan my weeks ahead of time in general, but now I’m also creating lists for upcoming weeks, not just the next one.
I let it go. A downside of being somewhat housebound is that I see various household (and kid!) projects that would be good to do. But there will be a time to clean out my car, or get the 3-year-old to give up her pacifier, and the weeks when I have a baby stuck on me are not it.
How do you get through crunch times?
Photo: Or you could always just stick your head in the snow…