Pumpkin is almost a year old, and I still haven't fully settled into our new life. I am doing much better than I was during those first few months, when I often couldn't even figure out how to find time to eat lunch, and we have settled into some routines, but I don't yet feel I've truly found my balance in my life as a working mother.
We are doing some things well:
1. I am constantly learning more ways to have both Pumpkin and me get what we want, so that we can accomplish our daily tasks with less crying. For instance, last night I discovered that if I let her attempt to feed me her sock and I dramatically failed to catch it in my mouth, we could go through our post-bath routine with giggles instead of tears. I thank Playful Parenting, by Lawrence Cohen (which I read a month or so ago) for helping me learn to "follow the giggles" and be a more relaxed parent. This, and the previously mentioned routines around going to and coming home from work have made me feel like the time I get with Pumpkin is truly good time, which minimizes any guilt I might occasionally feel about being away from her for 40 or so hours each week.
2. Hubby and I have instituted a couple of routines of our own, to help us stay close as a couple even though we don't really have the energy for the traditional "date night". We both work in the same general area of San Diego, so we try to meet for lunch once a month, to have some time for adult conversation without interfering with anyone's sleep. We also like to have a beer together on Friday nights, after Pumpkin has gone to bed. I worry less about the missed sleep when I know I have the weekend and its promise of a nap or two ahead of me. This particular habit is nice, because we used to go to our local pub most Friday nights for a beer or two, and found that this was the best time for just talking to each other like we did when we first got together. I'm happy to report that drinking beers at home works just as well. I think it has something to do with the beer.
3. I have found a way to keep reading for fun, which lets me continue participating in the book club I've been a member of for many years. I read every night while I pump, right before bed. Even though I'm multitasking, I find the reading time helps keep me sane.
There are some things we are not doing as well:
1. Neither of us has really figured out a new exercise schedule. Hubby does better than me at this, but that is not hard because I frankly suck at this. I have some amazing scenery that I could enjoy on a lunch time walk, but I do not take lunch time walks with any regularity. My goal is to go twice a week. I have yet to meet that goal. I really miss yoga and the martial arts I used to do, but have absolutely no idea how to fit a regular workout class into my schedule. I know that I just need to pick a class, sign up, and go... but this necessarily means less time with Pumpkin, which is a hard trade off to make. I've toyed with trying the T-Tapp thing that Moxie and many of her commenters are so fond of, but have yet to do anything about it. Luckily, nursing is keeping my weight down, but I miss the healthy feeling I have when I am exercising regularly. I really need to work on this, or they might ask me to leave San Diego. The city has an image to keep up, after all.
2. My to do list at home is out of control. I have financial chores that need doing (for instance, I should be rolling over a small IRA I have right now), home organization that needs optimizing (our office is a disaster), work clothes that need buying (I actually work with some women now, who might notice that I wear the same outfits every week), Pumpkin clothes that need sorting (she grows out of things so quickly), and general housekeeping that is let slide far too often (the guilt I feel every time I pull a fluff/mommy hair ball out of Pumpkin's mouth is intense)... you get the idea. And before you blame Hubby and think he is not pulling his fair share- his list is at least as long. We clearly need a better plan. My suggestion is to limit our chores to one day, but so far that hasn't worked out in practice.
3. I used to play fiddle in a session at a local Irish pub once a week. I clearly can't do that with the same regularity anymore, but I would like to try to go once a month. I have not come anywhere near that. Part of the reason for this is that Pumpkin's poor sleep habits mean that time playing fiddle is time I probably should be sleeping, but that is not the whole story. I don't really know why I don't got out to the session more often, but I would like to fix that.
I think part of the reason I have not found my new routines is that I keep catching myself thinking this is just a temporary disruption to my old routines, and things will go back to "normal" sometime soon. Of course, I know that is not true. However, the old routines were my normal life for many, many years. I know that the old normal is gone, and the joy that Pumpkin brings to us more than makes up for any loss I feel about that. But I haven't found my new normal yet. Maybe I never really will. Maybe life with a child changes so rapidly that this feeling that I haven't quite figured out how to make it all work will be the new normal. What a disturbing thought!