Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Back to School

My kids started school yesterday. Somehow, I am the mother of a first grader and a fourth grader. The first grader wanted me to wait next to her in line until the teacher led them off to their class, but she ignored me and talked to her friends. The fourth grader started ignoring me as soon as she kissed me good-bye and ran off to talk to her friends. They are both so big and grown up looking these days. The first grader still likes to snuggle, though, and the fourth grader still wants to tell me everything.

I am happy that they are happy to be in school. We still have a lot of summer left here, and I'm looking forward to some future beach trips.

I'm still struggling with focus. Maybe it is because it is still a bit too warm in my office most afternoons? I'm starting to suspect we'll need to install air conditioning in order for me to get through the hot flashes that are in my future. I hate this, but maybe we can also install solar panels and that will make me feel better about it.

But probably the heat isn't the cause of my lack of focus. I've started to think that I am in the period of entrepreneurship that is similar to the 3rd year slump I experienced in graduate school. I describe that slump as having been caused by being far enough into the tunnel that I couldn't see the light of where I'd come from but not far enough through the tunnel to see the light at the end. It isn't quite the same now, but maybe my problem is that I'm far enough into this little entrepreneurship experiment to know that I really, really want to make it work in the long term, but not far enough in yet to have solid evidence that it will work in the long term.

If this is correct, then I need to remind myself of how much I've figured out already, and maybe review and perhaps update my medium term plans for growing my business.

Or maybe I'm just tired. I've had some time off from parts of my responsibilities recently, but haven't taken a day to just do whatever I please for a long, long time. I used to at least take a half day to myself every few months. I'd thought that since my kids are older and less obviously demanding of my energy and since my work is less emotionally draining these days that I didn't need those half days. But maybe I do.

If this is correct, then I just need to take a day off work and not spend it with my kids.

Or maybe the tired goes deeper than that. The last few years have involved working through a lot of things. How I view myself and my goals and my place in this world have all changed, but maybe I haven't really gotten comfortable with where I am now. I'm acknowledging the way my career didn't go as planned, and acknowledging some of the varied reasons for that, and that is really uncomfortable, and is leaving some raw edges that I keep accidentally bumping up against, which then causes trivial little things to bother me more than they should. And that has made it hard to relax and enjoy where I'm at now.

If this is correct, I should probably figure out my insurance and find a therapist to help me get through this work as fast as I can. Or maybe I just need to take more long walks on the beach. Those help a lot, too.

Probably, I should do all of these things. But right now, I have to go make dinner. Surely, I can at least focus on that.

Tell me what you think I should do in the comments, if you want. I don't promise to take your advice, but I always like reading it.


  1. I'd recommend more than half a day for yourself. Half a day, to me, is not enough -- just makes me irritated to have caught a whiff of freedom and then it's gone so soon. Take a week or more; however long you need. My guess is by mid second week you will feel refreshed.

    I spent over a week at home with a sick Smurf (he was really miserable, with a fever, sores all over mouth, the whole shebang). We went to the doctor twice and he spent most of the time literally lying on top of me (across me). I have watched so much of "My Little Pony" and "Scooby Do" and "Octonauts" that it's not even funny. Eldest was at home anyway, and Middle Boy wanted to stay from camp since both brothers were home. This sounds like a vacation, right? Except that it's not. I have to be on. That's the main thing about time with kids -- when we are with them, it's all about them, even when we are nominally on vacation at an exciting place. I personally am always starved for me time, and it seems you might be as well, although you say you are high energy so maybe some of these draining things are not as draining to you as they are to me. My recommendation would be to take a significant time off just for yourself, significant enough that you may consider it totally self-indulgent, and then indulge. I know you said you didn't like movies or TV, but there are books, walks on the beach, coffees/other beverages at oceanside cafes... I think the more we run without rest the worse it becomes and the harder it becomes to recuperate... Years ago half a day may have been totally enough, but perhaps not any more (age and hormones don't help). It's okay to totally take advantage of your self-employed status! Good luck!

    1. You're probably right... maybe the first thing is a nice self-indulgent day off! I have a few project plans to finish first, though, so I can take a day off without feeling like I might be getting behind. Once I plan out the work, I can see that I have the time to take and take it without guilt, usually.

    2. I agree with this - what about a weekend trip by yourself somewhere relatively close? Personally I love just checking into a hotel downtown, but you could do something more interesting if you preferred. I try to do this once a year - leave Friday, come back Sunday.

  2. Please don't install PV electric panels to run A/C. I meant to blog about it, but never have enough time. But, some scientists in AZ ran the full radiative transfer calculations and noted that putting PV panels on a house INCREASE the need for A/C b/c:
    1. they absorb heat and get really, really hot
    2. they prevent your house from radiating heat after sundown
    3. this makes homes more miserably hot at night, when people are home
    4. PV panels exacerbate the urban heat island effect

    Low cost, low energy alternatives:
    1. Get a cool roof that reflect sunlight.
    2. coat your windows to reflect heat
    3. install an attic fan (if you don't already have one)
    4. install a ceiling fan in your office
    5. install cellular shades
    6. open your windows at night and run a whole house fan to exchange warm indoor air with cool outdoor air.
    7. run the smallest unit that will cool your office for the least amount of time needed for you to feel comfortable and productive.
    8. landscape to help cool your house. (Sunset has good garden design books that explain this.)

    1. That's interesting about the solar panels and heat. The big push I see here now is for solar water heaters more than solar electricity. I wonder if that is why?

      Regardless, we're not doing anything for awhile, because anything we might do would cost money and we're still restabilizing our finances after the remodel. The remodel included ceiling fans everywhere, and usually that is enough for me. We just had a run of hot days that pushed my tolerance. The forecast is for coastal clouds to increase the rest of the week, which will help!

      In non-whingey moments, our actual planned next step is an attic fan. Also, we finally have decent curtains coming for our living/dining room and I expect that to help keep the house from heating up as much during the day when no one is around.

    2. Anonymous11:45 PM

      Hi BMGM, is there a paper about this effect? I 'd be very interesting in reading about it.
      I don't believe that this effect is very strong, since the pv cells are typically set up with air circulating behind them, so that they don't get too hot. They work better when cooler. Also, often only a part of the roof is covered. Solar thermal on the other hand really gets hot, especially in summer, when you don't use all the energy and they have a higher heat capacity. Even then you don't cover your whole roof, though.
      I'm writing software for simulating the energy requirements and temperature of buildings, as well as solar collectors. (Both types) we neglect this effect though). Our calculations show consistently, that air exchange during the night has a huge impact, (depending on weather and building of course) I'd try this first.

  3. Anonymous8:42 AM

    Perhaps a visit to your doctor is needed to check your B12, iron, cortisol levels etc. Sometimes burnout is a physical thing. This is what is happening to me. I am working one day and resting the next. There appears to be no good solution other than rest and vitamins. GMP in my experience sick kids is hugely stressful and no break even if resting with them. - S

    1. Inspired by S's post, I bought some B12 this afternoon, along with some heavy-duty vitamin D (was found abysmally low on last blood draw, on account of me never being in the sun). I will perk up, it if kills me! :-)

    2. Hope it works. Vitamin D is difficult to raise with pills. I have to get sun to raise my levels. But the B12 should work.

  4. I am feeling similarly, and I know it is because I need a REAL break. I took four days off this summer, and all were for camping or weekend trips. Our spring break trip is always fun, but still involved parenting. I haven't had a full day to myself since February. Add in a very hard summer of work, and I am burnt out.

    Now that we have the school holiday calendar, I need to divide up the holidays with my husband (or find a babysitter), so I can schedule a day off alone!


Sorry for the CAPTCHA, folks. The spammers were stealing too much of my time.