Per Wednesday's post, I've had to do a little re-evaluating. I was trying way too hard to do way too much every afternoon - and I was getting tired. I was focusing my efforts on trying to do everything I thought a mom should do, as it related to the girls' lunch time, playtime, and nap time. But something needed to give, because I wasn't getting the rest I needed. Oh, I was napping. But it wasn't necessarily when I was tired. I was working it in completely around the girls' schedule...which is important. But given the fact that I have a full-time au pair whose primary responsibility is to help me when I need it, there's no reason I should be skimping out on rest.
Of course - asking for help is hard, and delegating certain tasks to Paola, our au pair, is tricky. Not because she can't do them, but because I don't want to miss out on story time with Deirdre, or tummy time with Bernadette. But I have to remember that if I make myself sick, I'm going to be missing out on a lot more than just that.
That said - I'm a boundary gal. I need to acknowledge my limitations, and then create a few hard and fast rules (which can be slightly bent, of course) to help guide me to do the right thing when it comes to taking care of myself. I like feeling good - and I like having energy for my girls - and I especially like when my girls don't see me get too tired. So based on those three goals, here are the realities of my day that I need to start working around:
1) I have a witching hour, and it's 2:30pm. I can try and deny it, but it doesn't do much good. Every afternoon, once the little hand is on the 2 and the big hand is on the 6, my brain goes to mush, my body goes limp, and every ounce of me needs a nap. Sure, there are some days when I have a little bit more energy than others, and I don't seem to run out of gas until after 3pm. But on most days, by 2pm, I can feel my body start to lag, and my mind begin to run a little slower. By 2:30pm - I'm toast.
What does that mean? It means that at 2:30pm - I shouldn't be doing anything, and I mean anything, that requires any level of exertion, brain power, or coherent thought. Does that include negotiating with my 2-year old on taking a nap? You bet. Does that include figuring out if Bernadette is tired, hungry, or fussy? Uh-huh. Does this mean that anything that needs to be done at 2:30pm (like the two examples just mentioned above) has to be handed off to someone who isn't exhausted, like a handy-dandy, super responsible au pair? Absolutely. At 2:30pm, my head should be on a pillow and my eyes should be closed. No questions asked.
Avoiding that moment of absolute fatigue is a beautiful thing. I've tried it, and it works. I sleep better, I eat better, and I "mom" better. It's like your body gets extra brownie points for not reaching that point of exhaustion. You haven't been completely depleted, so when you recharge, you get a little more energy than you bargained for.
Of course, this takes some strategizing. I make sure I spend quality time with Deerdee in the morning and mid-day, so that when I leave to take my nap 30 minutes to an hour before she does, neither of us feel short-changed. I also try and time my nap early enough so that I can get at least an hour of rest before Bernadette wants to eat again. It's working beautifully - as long as I stick to my end of the bargain.
2) Middle-of-the-night feedings deserve middle-of-the-morning naps for mom: Who do I think I am? Invincible super-mom? (Yes - but doesn't every driven, motivated lupus patient/mother/mid-thirty year old?) Ideally, we're finished with night feedings for awhile, but I need to admit that in the event that I'm up at night, I need a chance to catch up, mid-morning. I can't wait for that 2pm nap. I get too tired, and too cranky. And who wants that? Certainly not my household.
3) Our au pair is here to help. So I have to let her help: In figuring out what I could let go in order to maximize my time with the girls and minimize my fatigue level, I thought of a few household chores that Paola could help with. Utilizing her as best I can has to be a priority - I can't get hung up in trying to prove to myself that I can run the household single-handed. That's not a good use of my time. What is, however, is teaching her to order our groceries online, or showing her where the girls' clothes go after she launders them, or asking her to keep tabs on the dishes, the kitchen, etc. What's the use in trying to keep control of these things when, in doing so, I'm losing control of my fatigue level, and potentially, my status of living well? Forget that - I enjoy my life too much to worry about feeling like a slacker when it comes to household stuff. Why not ask for and accept the help while I have it? I'd curse myself come October when Paola leaves.
There you have it - my three newest goals of the day. Oh my. Now it's out there in writing - now I'm going to have to stick to it!