Lest you think I’m here to preach from some Zen pedestal, let me tell you about my summer…
Still fresh off a newborn third child (third!), we moved from Oklahoma and my husband’s normal work hours to San Antonio, Texas and back to life in a medical residency. Our third move in three years. Rich started his 12-hour workday schedule 10 days before the rest of us even arrived in Texas. My two rowdy toddlers were headed up by a 4-year-old who missed preschool and his routine and whose behavior tanks every time he looks at a screen. The 2-year-old was a 2-year-old. My nights were interrupted by feedings and my days spurts of unproductive unpacking. I started painting again- and more notably, working under deadlines- as a contributor to my parents’ newly opened art school/gallery in Utah.
In August I hauled all my kids by myself on a 5-hour drive and then 2-hour flight (and back again) to see family and finalize art business. Then I returned home to register my oldest to start pre-K two weeks late, repeatedly attracting attention as the last parent to figure out carpool lanes and bus schedules. Plus, three separate rounds of stomach flu and one trip to the ER for a hand cut on glass….
I anticipated all—well most—of this when I agreed in the spring to contribute to this blog, but by September my life was such bedlam I’ve been seriously doubting that I have any qualifications to give another soul advice. But here’s what I know, and you’ve seen this catchy mantra by Nathan Morris floating around the World Wide Web:
“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.”
What you may not have considered though is that you don’t have a choice. Even if you don’t move every few years as I do, life is constantly changing with or without your consent. What a motivating thought to rock those changes with deliberation, rather than be manhandled by them.
I’m a librarian by training and profession and my instinct, from the beginning of parenthood, has been to gather information- what the sages have already figured out about this nutso job. Some parents don’t like advice, which is cool. But when faced with a first, very difficult baby, I found myself polling every parent I knew- young and old. I read books and articles. I found intelligent friends with which to brainstorm. I clung to the stuff that worked for me and tossed the leftovers. Long story short, I’m here to share my hard-earned research.
This was a rough summer. Not my shining moment. And I’m still not all the way put back together (as evidenced by my still undecorated studio). But what I learned is that after a few deep breaths and some self-evaluation, all my old tricks to gaining control still work:
- Chore scheduling
- Working out without monopolizing precious free time
- Pre-dawn power hour
- Brain exercise
- Quick hygiene
- Dressing to move AND look good
- Keeping the kids (and myself) well-rested
- Creating meaningful family rituals
- Keeping romance alive
- Preserving my identity
- Leaving the house regularly without kids
- Less effort meals
- Living in a space I love
Stay tuned, um, indefinitely. Also, if you particularly want to hear about any of the above topics, let us know and these will go to the top of the queue!