A couple weeks ago we had a really rough week around here. Henry had a couple nights of awful sleep, and then I inexplicably had a couple nights of terrible insomnia, and our babysitter was out of town so I tried squeezing work in all the little spare moments throughout the week instead of my concentrated two days. The result was escalating exhaustion, tension, and anxiety that finally exploded in a massive Saturday morning sob fest. During one park date where I was so tired, and I told my friend Anna that I was sucking at being a mom that week. She corrected me to point out that I was only sucking at enjoying being a mom. So true.
On the whole, I would say that we have been doing pretty well over here since Henry’s arrival-thanks in large part to the buckets of help extended by our near and dear. But a couple weeks ago? There was definitely a couple days where I was not, not, NOT doing ok. I hate that feeling, that slipping-out-of-control-too-tired-to-function-weepy feeling, but it did prompt some constructive reflections on what wasn’t working in our lives, what needed to change, and what little things made days better. I took a couple weeks off blogging (what?? You didn’t even notice?? Ouch.), which I rarely do, but it seemed the healthy and wise thing to invest time elsewhere. I’ve been reveling in these best practices over the past couple weeks, keeping them around me like a buffer from rising stress and they have helped – even in the miss of busyness and travel. In the spirit of the life hacks I shared last spring, here are the best practices of now.
Go back to what really worked. After Henry was born, I felt that it was impossible to lay out concrete goals for every day, because who knew WHAT the day would bring, whether naps would happen, etc. My beloved notecard system seemed out of touch with our current reality. But things change, babies grow, naps evolve and stabilize, and I realized that I needed to go back to that system to be more productive and avoid getting overwhelmed with tasks coming later in the week.
Constant Nesting. Everything in my life is better when my space is pleasant. One night I went to Target after Henry was in bed and spent way too long browsing, and way too much money purchasing, candles. But you know what? Lighting pretty candles around my home on gray days and in the evenings makes me love being here more. It soothes me, makes me look forward to hunkering down and working. I vacuum every other day, keep things tidy, and have flowers or seasonal decor from time to time, because I know that my mind reflects my space and if one is cluttered and ugly, the other will be too.
Indulge in habits. I have worked on loving the little habits that fill my days, thinking about them and anticipating them. Crap night where none of us slept? Good thing I get to have coffee in my favorite cup in the morning. Too much work to do? Luckily I can look forward to an afternoon in my favorite coffee shop to tackle it. Wrapping pleasant routines around unpleasant realities makes all the difference in how I move through my days.
Chug that water. I have ALWAYS been a water chugger… but somehow the busyness (and recent coffee love?) have basically relegated me to a state of constant dehydration, which is definitely not ok while nursing. I’m trying to make myself chug water before coffee, when I pass through the kitchen, before nursing, etc. It seems silly, but the mere act of intense hydration makes everything in life better.
Sleep like a baby. I am so obsessed with baby sleep information. I love reading about sleep cycles, sleep developments, associations, object permanence, etc. It doesn’t always result in Henry sleeping, but it does mean that I usually know the scientific reasons why he isn’t and there is comfort in that. But one day, I had that light-bulb moment where I realized that I basically sleep like Henry. Too tired? WON’T SLEEP. Not tired enough? WON’T SLEEP. Bedtime not almost exactly the same every night? FORGET ABOUT IT. I’m trying to be better about having better bedtime habits because my sleep has a direct impact on everything else.
We are doing better around here now. A couple weeks of better sleep and best practices has me feeling calmer and happier in everyday life. This is a pattern that repeats itself so much in life. Things are good, we stop focusing on what makes them good, they spiral out of control, regroup. Repeat. But hopefully the cataloging of what makes life work will make the good cycles last every longer and longer.
What are some of the best practices you fall back on when life gets hard?