Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mommy Needs to Recharge

I just gave Pumpkin her bath. She behaved beautifully (an unusual event these days) and objectively, watching her play story time with her bath toys- she put the alligators in time out for biting the bear and the froggie- was pretty darn cute. But I was nowhere near as engaged and playful as I'd have liked to be. By bath time, I'm like Petunia's swing when its batteries are running down. I'm going through the motions, but without the bells and whistles that make it fun. After a full day of caring for Petunia, my mothering battery is running low.

I've been trying to figure out how to recharge that battery during my last few weeks of my maternity leave. (I return to work part time in January, and then full time in February. Working recharges my mothering battery- which is one reason why I'm a happy working mom.) When Pumpkin was this age, my solution was long, hot showers with nice smelling shower gel. Pumpkin would sit in her bouncy chair, and miraculously be fairly content. Sometimes, she would even fall asleep. This practice is getting harder to justify as my region sinks deeper into drought. Also, the bathroom in our house is not big enough to allow me to bring Petunia into it in her bouncy chair and close the door, and the hot shower is less rejuvenating with a cold draft blowing in from the hall.

I've tried to consider my almost daily walks with Petunia to be "battery recharge" time, but I'm not fooling myself. I take those walks to ensure Petunia gets her afternoon nap when she needs it, and to try to make it possible for me to squeeze back into my pre-pregnancy pants.

Blogging helps, but frankly it takes too long. I can't always squeeze in the time when I need it the most. Similarly, I can't quite see how to make room for a regular yoga class yet, although I'm sure that will come with time. Petunia is sleeping really well, but the flip side of that seems to be that she wants to nurse every hour when she's awake, making it hard to schedule an exercise class.

Does anyone have any ideas? What do you do to recharge your batteries? So far, I've been eating cookies, a practice that I'm going to have to stop (or at least scale back) if I don't want to have to buy a completely new wardrobe for my return to work next month.

9 comments:

  1. paola4:16 AM

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said Petunia wants to nurse every hour when she is awake ( a fair trade for having a baby sleep well at night.) Both my kids nursed every hour until they were 6 months old and then could go an hour and a half ( of course this was only when I was around or they were in motion, because with my MIL they could go even up to 3 hours without a feed). The point being, I was far too knackered to do anything else. Sure they slept at night and so did I, but I spent the whole day with a child attached to me, draining my energy supply. The last thing I felt like doing was anything 'fun' to unwind or recharge my batteries.

    Like you, my daily walk turned out to be the only way to relax and have some time off from the nursing. Fortunately it's something I enjoyed before the kids came along too. The down side was it only added to my exhaustion.

    We are pretty lucky to have my MIL live with (and babysit for) us (well in a seperate apartment, not exactly in the same house), so our socaial life didn't really change all that much when the kids came along. I guess in the end, this is what really helped recharged my batteries. Being able to go out to see a film, have a beer with friends, go out to eat, really made the difference.

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  2. And this would be why I'm a happy working mom too! I can completely see where you're coming from, but I don't really have any solutions.

    For myself, as an introvert, I need "alone" time and I really love to read. Recently I've discovered that if I can get E tucked in to bed I can sit with my back against her bed and the book held up high so she can see the pictures. Since she is tucked in there's not much moving around, she's out of my line of sight, and I can read her the story. So I'm almost feeling alone, I'm getting to read (so what if I'm reading fairy tales), plus it totally counts as quality time!

    So if you can figure out precisely what it is that makes you feel recharged...maybe you can put that together with something that will be enjoyable for Petunia too. Based on the shower description, I'm thinking baby-massage with some sweet smelling something spritzed in the air. Or maybe one of those foot-bath things with built in massage - you could snuggle her while pampering your toes. Or maybe you need to not be in physical contact with her in order to recharge. Good luck! I know I never did figure out something like this when E was little.

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  3. I totally hear ya on this. I'm sure you'll get to a place where you have time for you soon. Or in a few months. Whichever. ;-)

    For me, it's usually reading or playing on the computer. These days, I will hand off both kids to the hubby and take 30 minutes to an hour to be by myself and read or play games on the computer. It doesn't happen every day, but often. Also, once both kids are asleep, I sit down on the couch or in bed and read/play on computer. I can usually get some time then. Oh, and I'm able to recharge some when nursing or holding the baby to get him to sleep by either watching TV or reading (thank goodness for booklights!).

    BTW, I'm reading The Thirteenth Tale, which @paola recommended. This book is AWESOME! If you are looking for a book to suck you in with a remarkable tale, I highly recommend it.

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  4. paola8:20 AM

    @caramama

    I totally agree!

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  5. Daily recharge time comes when Daddy's home from work and can share the load. Twice weekly, though, I go to my knitting group for a few hours SANS TODDLER. Pure bliss, even with a few challenging personalities in the group.

    I don't know what I might do when a second arrives (still speculative, alas).

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  6. It must be so hard with two of them to manage now! I too was way happier and better adjusted once I went back to work. Got enough quiet solitude at work to revel in the noise and bustle when I got home.

    I used to take off to Starbucks for an hour every day when Pynchon came home from work. Just an hour. But regular, and out of the house every day, by myself.

    When my sister and I were little, my mom did this too, only she booked a neighbour teen to babysit every day from 3:30 to 4:30.

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  7. This is the reason I so look forward to the days that I go to work =)

    For me, recharging means alone time without kids. Even doing something pleasurable with them--a nice walk or baby massage--doesn't count. When I first stayed home with my kids, finding this "me" time was very hard. I usually just waited till my husband came home, threw the baby at him, and disappeared to my bedroom with the laptop to Web-surf or read.

    Now on my days or weekends at home, I find that I still sometimes need a break from the kids. Going to the gym to work out or staying up far too late reading are my favorite escapes.

    And yes, working outside the house makes me a far happier and saner mom!

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  8. I only have one E to contend with and I've always been in awe of moms with more than one kid. How do they do it? How do they stay sane with no nap time? How do they keep up?

    I brought E to work with me until he was 9 months and it was such a relief when he started daycare (although that weekly check still stings). It's also a relief when he goes sleepy time and we get a break.

    I find just any "alone" time without kid under foot serves as my recharge time. Either being a potato on the couch, or scrubbing the floor.

    Sounds like you're doing a great job either way!!

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  9. Something I discovered with babe #2was to secretly read with a head lamp while nursing her to sleep. I'd put the headlamp behind the pillow with the book so the light wouldn't shine on her.

    My down time/recharge/being indulgent activity is reading and I never got to do it with #1. I'd lie there nursing him just dying for some mental activity.

    The other thing I love, which came late is an ipod and having lots of podcasts of news, comedy shows since that was something else I felt I was deprived of when caring for my infants. I hide the pod under the pillow, hit play and get to hear what is going on in the world etc. while the kids fall asleep. luxury!

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