Parenting is the opposite of boring. It may be challenging and exhausting and joyful and uplifting from minute to minute and (truly) moment to moment, but it’s anything but dull. Because that sh*t is always changing.
Recently — in addition to Gwen evolving from baby into full-fledged toddler/little person with big demands, which is a lot to adapt to in and of itself — we’ve had three new routines to figure out. And, guys, it’s a serious work in progress.
1. New school. Like many families, this year’s back-to-school time also meant new-school time. And the transition was thankfully pretty easy for my daughter. She ADORES her new school. They have a huge outdoor classroom, and she loves it. But, for me? Well, I went from having my husband do pick-up and drop-off three days a week and not needing to give her breakfast or pack a lunch (her old daycare did all that) on those days to me giving her breakfast at home solo (with a very food-grabby pup), packing a lunch and doing drop-off and pick-up four days a week. Changes, yo.
2. New work times. Along with the new school duties for me, I also had a new schedule for work. Instead of three full days to work a week, I now work from about 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. four days a week. Going from having three large chunks of time to write and work on large projects to four small chunks of time has been, well, interesting.
3. New gym situation. I’ve loved my gym time with Gwen. But, as she’s become more mobile and more unwilling to miss out on the fun by being restricted in the affectionately named and previously loved “Gwen pen,” it’s made things a bit more interesting. And I’ve had to get creative — really creative (see above). With the help of fellow gym members, we’ve found ways to make Gwen (safely — got a spotter!) a part of the workout, create her own obstacle course for her to work out and play on, and taken turns jogging or walking with her in the stroller. While hilarious and fun when it works, it’s made gym time more scattered for me for sure.
How to Deal With New Routines
Now that I’m almost two months into those new routines and feeling much more confident and in the flow, I’ve learned a few things.
1. Don’t expect to get it right the first week … or month. You’re going to forget things, make mistakes and generally feel overwhelmed. Totally normal. Go easy on yourself.
2. Try, try, try again. You know the saying about if at first you don’t succeed — and it’s true. Try something one way, learn from the experience, re-group, try again and repeat until you find something that works. For example, at first it felt like I had to work like a madwoman to get anything done — and email took over because it always felt like I was drowning in it. A single hour-long call or appointment could wreck my whole to-do list. I began waking up at 5:30 a.m. to help get quiet time to write, but after four days in a row of it, I ended up burnt out — and exhausted by the time Gwen was up for breakfast. So, now I wake up early only one or two days a week to write, have Gwen stay late at school and pay the extra $25 another day, and everyone is happier.
3. Ask for help. I’m not one who thinks to ask for help. I like being able to do it all. But with these changes, I knew that in order to be a better mom I HAD to ask for more help. Hence the extra time at school and asking my parents to occasionally come to the gym with me to help wrangle Gwen. And, seriously, even one solo workout a week and a couple extra hours of time alone during the day has been SO beneficial. It’s taken some of the pressure and stress off and even allowed me to squeeze in a regular 12-minute meditation.
Of course, I know that as soon as I feel “settled” in new routines, they’ll change again. Gwen will have a week off of school, or she’ll start doing something new or life will just change. In which case, I’ll start this whole process over. Again, parenting is hard because that sh*t is always changing. But, it’s also kind of awesome to grow and evolve along with your kids, right?
What new routines have you settled into this year? —Jenn