Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New parenting 101: Redefining the word "schedule"

Everyone warns you before you have a baby to "get your sleep now because you won't once the baby arrives!" I assume the implication is that you can somehow stockpile your sleep. Well, obviously you can't. The good news for me, though, is that because I was (in retrospect) getting such horrible sleep throughout much of my pregnancy and it was at its worst in the final two months, I am actually getting better sleep now than I have in almost a year.

What people had warned me about that is true, however, is that I'm having to seriously redefine my waking hours and the concept of a schedule and productivity.

I used to be able to make a list of five relatively substantial tasks that I could tackle in a couple hours on a Saturday morning. Now I feel like that same list takes me at least a week to complete. I figured this would be true as we prepared for Natalie's arrival, but I don't think the degree to which it would be true struck me until last week when Matt went back to work.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about this fact; instead, I'm actually kind of embracing this new lifestyle and the less-intense level of expectations that comes along with it. Like I was telling my friend the other week, I have a to-do list, but the good news is that on any given day I don't actually have to do anything besides sustain the life of a tiny human (no big deal!). It's rather freeing.

Still, in an effort to keep myself goal-oriented I am keeping two running lists. One list contains everything I'd like to get accomplished eventually, which I'll define as in the next several months. The other list is my daily to-do list.

I've written before about my non-negotiable daily tasks. These still hold true with some slight adjustments. Here's generally what I always have on my to-do list:

1) Wake up and immediately make bed before Natalie starts fussing. Bonus points if I can put away last night's dishes before she wakes up, too.

2) Eat breakfast while doing the first nursing of the day.

3) Shower and change clothes.

4) Eat lunch.

5) Pump 1-2 times per day.

6) Make sure I'm giving Natalie lots of stimulation: reading, activity gym time, tummy time, toy time, etc.

This may seem absurd, but making the bed, showering, changing clothes and making sure I've fed myself well during daylight hours are critical to my daily routine and my sense of sanity. I could stay in my PJs all day, but that would make me feel pathetic (I know because I've done it a couple times already).

Additionally, so many of my hours are taken up by nursing that it's easy to overlook that as one of my most essential duties right now as well.

I also keep having to constantly remind myself that interacting with Natalie while she's awake is an important part of my job right now. Because she doesn't give much feedback yet, it's sometimes easy to forget that age-appropriate stimulation is still important to her development. The amount of hours she's awake during daylight hours is starting to increase, and she's hinting at the very beginnings of some social smiling, so hopefully soon she'll seem more like a little person than a little blob.

Each day I add a couple more items to that day's to-do list, and I am not satisfied unless I complete them. These change daily and I write them down to motivate myself to get them done. I am giving myself credit for accomplishing mundane tasks that before I did not even think of as accomplishments.

For example, yesterday I wrote three thank you notes and I mailed a gift at the post office. Those were the only two to-dos I required myself to accomplish yesterday on top of my regular to-do list.

Today my to-do list includes washing the new bed sheets I picked up over the weekend, emptying the dishwasher, giving Natalie a bath, and finishing reading a set of short stories. (Note about the sheets: I picked up a set of cotton percale bed sheets two years ago once I discovered that these are supposedly the longest-lasting kind of sheets. They really are holding up well, and I decided we needed another set because I am disgusted by how much I am continuing to sweat at night and how frequently I am washing sheets as a result. Postpartum night sweats are no joke. I am ready for that to end -- will it end, or am I doomed to be a sweat monster for the rest of my life? Moms, you tell me.)

As I hope you can tell, by giving myself significant credit for emptying the dishwasher I have clearly downgraded my definition of daily productivity.

And that is fine.


  1. I feel like my night sweats went away by about 6 weeks or so - they don't last forever!

    Can't believe the little miss is one month old already!

  2. I was the same as Katy, and thank goodness because waking in the middle of the night sweaty and cold to nurse a baby and then return to wet sheets was not fun!