chanaleh: (breathe)
[personal profile] chanaleh
I came home one night (a Thursday) a few weeks ago and promptly had a meltdown over the fact that I constantly feel like I'm too tired to do anything useful. That is, I only have one or two half-hour scraps of baby-free time in a day (at least on weekdays), and even though there are surely small pending tasks I could fruitfully accomplish in that half-hour, all I want to do is sit down and stare at the ceiling. Same on weekends during baby naptime: I think all morning about the things I want to work on when she goes down, and then once it happens, all I do is sit and veg.

Etrace, of course, said he could relate big-time. I fear it's gotten even worse for him since then, because Aria (who used to sleep until at least 9am reliably) has lately decided 7:45am is a grand time to wake up for the day, and since that's just when I'm scrambling to get ready for work and out the door, it means he's got to get up then too and mind her. Whereas he usually doesn't come to bed until closer to 1am (he likes to make sure he takes the dog[s] out after midnight).

I at least can usually take myself off to bed as soon as Aria is asleep. Which should still mean I can get to sleep by 10:30pm -- but then, in true self-defeating fashion, I sit up reading Facebook and playing iPad games until 11:30. And then the alarm goes off at 6:50am -- if I can even sleep until then. And then I sit in bed reading Facebook for yet another half hour. I really am starting to feel like I need a social media detox, not from the content, just from the practice. What else could I be doing with that 90 minutes a day that would be more beneficial? Art? Journaling? Exercise? Pretty much goddamn anything, that's what, but sleeping would be a good start.

On the plus side, we managed to do something yesterday that we've been putting off for some weeks: hold a yard sale to start dealing with the MomTrace possessions and general garage cruft. Unfortunately we didn't get much traffic and ended up only making $17 (not even enough to take ourselves out to dinner afterwards, although Etrace made a fabulous roast beef on the new Weber grill instead). And it makes for a long, tiring day, even when we don't get started until 10am. (And then we stayed up late to watch the Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere... awesome, but still tiring.)

But it did mean we finished by loading up Etrace's car with the first batch of Goodwill donations, which we will hopefully go drop off tonight. Incremental progress. And then maybe we'll go out to dinner anyway. And go buy new shoes for both him and Aria. More incremental progress.

Dining out (see two posts back) and sleep hygiene aside, it's hard to know what to do to take better care of ourselves and each other. Etrace speaks longingly of "having a day off", but even when I'm home on weekends to take over childcare and some of the meal prep/cleanup, there's always so much looming house stuff to do. We did claim her naptime last Saturday (a week ago) to do nothing but watch a movie together, and Sunday for some additional quality time. But that still doesn't equate to "a day off".

Another problematic aspect is that it starts to feel like a zero-sum game where the best thing we can do for each other is take Aria and get out of the way. Locating a babysitter was a conscious step in service of getting us some shared downtime, but I don't think we're going to be able to do that more than once a month.

And it's worth pointing out that, us both being creative types, there's a difference between "downtime" and "creative time". Both are important to make time for, but they aren't interchangeable (although they can sometimes mix). Etrace does have band practice once a week or so, which (even though it's also cause for aggravation a lot of the time!) is his chance to make music, as well as get out of the house and hang with his friends.

My closest equivalent seems to be going to synagogue on Saturday mornings. On random weeks, if we have nothing to do during the day and the timing works out just right that I can decide at the last minute to go, I'll take Aria with me -- a win for everyone since Etrace gets some quiet time at home, I get to socialize, Aria gets to socialize, and everyone at shul gets to play with her! But I've been signing up to read Torah once every 4-6 weeks, and on those days I try to leave Aria home with him so I can participate unencumbered. And it's admittedly refreshing.

Aside from that, there's never much "day off" for me in the picture either. One of the visions I actually cling to for months on end is my birthday holiday -- when my work gives the day off, and unlike any other random work holiday, I feel entitled to go out for the day and do WHATEVER I WANT BY MYSELF. Haircut! Pedicure! Clothes shopping! Starbucks! "Treat yo'self!" Of course I do run out for haircuts and such at other times of year, but it's the idea of having several hours to fill at whim that feels so luxurious, instead of begging an hour here and half an hour there.

One could, of course, argue that I might arrange to take such a day out *more than once* in a year without the world coming to a halt. In fact Etrace offered me the option for Mother's Day of going out and relaxing by myself without them... but I didn't really want to; it seemed contrary to the spirit of Mother's Day. :-) My birthday, though, I'm all over it.

Oh, and, technically I am taking a vacation next week, except that the occasion is a weeklong visit from my mom, so it's not exactly downtime even though it will be fun times! Hopefully some extra downtime for Etrace though, if he can chill at home while we take Aria and go run around/pay social calls.
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