Sunday, August 21, 2022

Planning for planning

 It has gotten to the point, friends, where I have to sit down and PLAN to PLAN. Like, that is how divorced from the process I have become.

 I would blame summer, but I think this is part of the pandemic, working from home since my baby was literal DAYS OLD and having NO CHILDCARE EVER. I have just sort of gotten used to having life wash over me, and my whole existence has been reactive. BUT NO MORE!!

I think I have been waiting for Minnie to stop waking up at night, thinking that when I am sleeping all night, then I can wake up early and get my ish together before the rest of the fam wakes up. That’s a huge thing about me— I really need some time before the day begins to begin my own day. Maybe that’s working out first thing (although out of necessity I have found that I will exercise every single day, even if I can’t do it first thing. I want to exercise early, though.) More than that, I need time  every single day where I know I will have no child responsibilities to do work that requires deep thought. Any kind of creative work (not blogging—-that I can obviously do with interruption, hence the eleventy billion typos) fits in here, but so do the tough planning and admin tasks for my job. I can’t even really do work like that during nap because I never know exactly how much time I have to be baby-free. I also HATE to do this work at night. The admin takes are unpleasant after a long day but doable. Ditto grading papers, etc. But writing? Nope. Never happening after bedtime.

Anyway, listen: Minnie still wakes up once or twice to nurse and maybe also have a bottle and then goes right back to sleep. It’s like 1 or 2 15-minute wake ups, and I go right back to sleep afterwards. So on a bad night, I wake up for 30 minutes? Ok, that’s not excuse, right? Right. I need to set an early alarm and drag myself out of bed in the morning to at least schedule and send the most important emails of the day and maybe write. (Actually, I need to write. I can handle the first batch of email in the evening in front of the TV— not ideal, but not too terrible).

(Min is really not a self-soother: that’s when she twists her hair and yanks it out. It’s better if we just go in to her room and help her go back to sleep. Sometimes Ben can do this, but she calls for the person she wants on the monitor, and if she says “MOM,” then that’s what she means. If she wakes up between 5-6 am— 6 is the magic wake up time—I will go feed her real quick and put her back to bed. She is invariably angry about this, so Ben spends the next hour or so on her floor on a yoga mat encouraging her to go back to sleep. Sometimes she does until 7:30 or later. Sometimes he dozes, and she plays with the dolls in her crib until 6. I like this routine, though, because when we read Goodnight Moon, she says that the old lady whispering hush is Dada and the baby bunny is Ninnie).

My tentative plan for fall is to wake up before 6 and triage my day and exercise. If I can work up to also writing for 25 minutes in the morning, I will absolutely do this. I need to wade through the September waters and see how morning chores shake down, how late I can push my work out and still get myself and or kids out the door on time, etc. Something I learned in July when I did yoga every day, though, is that I have plenty of extra time for exercise, and finding this time throughout the day is easier than I like to pretend. So maybe it’s just writing I should be doing and the rest is an excuse not to write. 

Okay, so revised tentative plan is to check email, schedule send whatever needs to be addressed, and triage the next day in the evening after the little kids are in bed. Then I can start every morning with writing and then exercise.

I also need a plan for my WFH days with Minnie. I don’t want to be reacting to toddler whims all day long. She needs a really predictable schedule for activities. Like, we need to go outside at the same time every day, etc. I have tuned back in to Busy Toddler on Instagram and a going to work on planning 3 new home activities every week. Up first is painting. We are going to to a box mural in the back yard, paint ice cubes, and paint inside on big paper. I have big lans for making seasonal sensory bins, too, so I’ll keep you posted. My friend Meghan does an excellent job with home school preschool, so her blog is really useful here, too.

I just caught up on all the back episodes I have missed of The Girl Next Door podcast, and I adored the whole episode on time management. Something really useful for me was the idea of planning how to use nap time. I think I end up so exhausted from parenting by the time nap rolls around that I am more likely to do housework than work work that needs my mind. This is not the best use of my time, so I need to figure out how to plan housework in my parenting day. Any ideas for this one?

 It’s also tough because nap time is not time I can count on so I can’t really use it for focused, creative work. Sometimes laundry with an audiobook really does feel like the best use of my time. I am planning to be more intentional with this time, but I also want to make it easy for myself to transition to the no-nap life whenever Minnie gives it up. Still thinking about this chunk of the day, but, to be honest, I have never thought strategically about it before.

One HUGE thing I need to avoid is scheduling kid appointments on my work on campus  days. This is dumb. I mean, it didn’t used to be dumb in the early days of COVID when we really couldn’t take a baby anywhere, and I needed Ben to be home to make other things work. Now, though, I need to just suck it up and drag Minnie to the dentist, the ortho, the doc, etc, like I used to do with the other kids in Before Times. Unfortunately, I have already screwed up September and early October scheduling things on campus days. No more, friends! You heard it here first. I DO still need to figure out how to cram my own upkeep into my work days, but this should be the last year I feel the squeeze. Minnie will go to part-day preschool when she is 3, and the world will once again be my oyster.

So there you have it! My plan for fall semester planning. I will still use our shared Google calendar for activities, my Outlook calendar for work, and my neglected paper planner, of course. I just need to be gentle with myself on the reintroduction of this mindful approach to my day. By October 1, I want to have firmed up all of my routines. In semesters past, it has taken me through almost Thanksgiving to find a good rhythm, and we just do not have that luxury this year.

My darling time thief:


  1. Anonymous10:27 PM

    God bless you! My "babies" are in their late thirties and are parenting their own kids now. But seriously, I wish you had been my neighbor or co-worker or faux big sister when I was struggling with all these parenting and job issues so many years ago.

  2. I just had a thought. Have you considered voice to text on the elliptical? I have come to accept your level of productivity, but if you could write WHILE you exercise, you could get a two-fer...