Naptime Filler

I like to write.  I find it to be a soothing outlet for the many thoughts that twirl around inside my brain but recently I feel like I’ve been drowning with ‘other stuff’ so that when the day is done, the last thing I want to do is think about anything. There is some guilt attached to my inability to find enough motivation to write.

I don’t like feeling that I am neglecting my blog, which is this little corner of franglified fun that I’m really fond of. Yet I still struggle to sit down and write, because it takes me So Much Time to put my thoughts in order. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t love writing. I like it alright but I certainly don’t love it as much as the thousands of bloggers online who are able to produce one post a day. Sure I have at least one thought a day but is it worth writing about, and do I have enough content for an entire blog post? Mostly I don’t, unless I was going to rename my blog ‘Thought of the Day’ and, you know, post that one important thought I had in between the nappy changing, bathroom cleaning and the staring into space I seem to do so much of. Even a post every other day is too much for my poor brain and in the last couple of months, my aim to write one post a week has gone right out the window.

It’s not that I have no time either. Despite the fact that apparently if you have a child, ‘your time is no longer your own‘ and you ‘no longer have time to put make-up on‘, in my case, once I had recovered from the initial shock – and it did take me about three months before I was able to leave my bed before 10 am at the earliest – I actually do have more ‘me-time’ than when I was in the workplace full-time. Not hours and hours (I do DO stuff) but more than the legal work break time. Or maybe it’s the fact that I can take my breaks in block, in the wonderful daily fixture called Nap Time. It can happen at any time in the day and it lasts between 30 minutes and 2 hours depending on… Well, I haven’t quite put the finger on the variables in Little Girl’s case, she sure likes to keep the mystery alive! Nap time doesn’t always happen either, but at the very least there are numerous times in the day when Little Girl happily plays on her own and I can sit down with a cup of tea and last night’s Great British Bake-Off (no more! what shall I do now?). I am a bit mystified by the mums who have just the one child and have no time to do anything at all for themselves but it may well be that I have an unusually easy child. I will internally raise my eyebrows and leave them the benefit of the doubt.

Sleeping child

It’s the most wonderful time of the daaaaaayyyyy!

There are only four things that I absolutely need to do every day, aside from the volunteering I do with my church’s toddler groups (mostly setting up, registration, playing with Little Girl and chatting to other mums with a bit of admin thrown in). I do all of the following things with Little Girl awake:

– Whatever bit of house cleaning I have for the day (I keep it to the minimum and reckon that unless you have a palace, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes a day over the week)

– Washing up and laundry – my goodness does it never end? but again, this does NOT take hours.

– Making dinner

– Playing with Little Girl – it happens throughout the day but I do try to have as much unstructured / on her own play time, because I refuse to become a one-person entertainment machine.

During the magical Nap Time, what then do I do? OK so sometimes there MAY be a bit of washing up, simply because I couldn’t be bothered earlier. By and large, I get on average a good hour of me time, and what do I do with it? I rarely write, that’s for sure. My brain simply refuses to engage that deeply. So instead I :

– Go on Facebook

– Play games online. I am one of those annoying people who send you requests for SimCity Phlegm or whatever.

– Check my emails.

– Read blogs I subscribe to – they are legion!

– Play the piano / sing. This is part practice, part fun. It is my main hobby/source of enjoyment so I do try to spend some time doing something musically related.

– Watch some telly I’ve recorded from the previous night.

I am now going to post this and remember something extremely important I do, which would make me look like less of a lazy arse if only I’d not forgotten it. I’d also like to know what other people manage to fit into their ‘me-time’. Go on, make me feel lazy.

 

This Lazy Housewife Fights Back

When I was a teenager, I used to wish I could finally be an adult so I could do whatever I wanted. It’s got to be the Number One wish of all teenagers, right? And now that I am here, I will be endlessly grateful that I no longer need take an exam unless I want to, that I can stay up late any day of the week and that I’ll never again be told to eat up my greens.

But of course that’s not quite the whole picture, and not just because I’ve got me a baby and the late nights exist not so much by design but by the will of a howling gremlin. With adulthood come some responsibilities that I have been surprisingly slow to address in my life. I have made flippant comments in the past about the fact that I am lazy, and whilst I laugh about it, it actually has some negative impact on my life and I am now at the point where I need to do something about it. Two things in particular I have had to look to make some changes: cleaning and finances.

English: This is a picture of a stiff whisk br...

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Cleaning

When I lived in other people’s houses, I could never remember to do my chores and had to be nagged all the time. It was not exactly the end of the world then, but now that I am in control of my own house, it has some bad consequences. Whilst I could justify not doing much housework when I was doing a three-hour daily commute to London, now that I stay at home there is something awkward and slightly shameful in the fact that the first thing Badgerman does on a Saturday morning is to clean the bathroom. If I can find a couple of hours a day to read blogs and play games online, I should be able to find a half-hour to hoover the floor. And yet, for the last seven months I have got by with the bare minimum. No more my friends.

I was inspired by Jen, a blogger who writes at I Heart Organizing about how she orders her life and who I quite frankly wish I was more like in this area (even though such tidiness is a bit intimidating to me). And she makes lists! There is nothing that fills me with more satisfaction than making a good old list. Fighting laziness really is a battle for me, and I need visuals to help overcome the sheer effort it takes me to do anything. So this week I made a cleaning rota with daily, weekly and monthly goals to tick off and hopefully it will help me get on with it. I do have an uncomfortable feeling that making the list was the most fun I am going to have with this one.

Finances

In addition in a few weeks my maternity pay comes to an end and I have to find ways to implement our family income.

First thing, I am going to have a meal rota. I know, loads of people do it but I’ve never needed to until now and it requires the kind of discipline I struggle to implement in my personal life (not professionally though, I am a super organised PA I’ll have you know – go figure). Impulse buying is not good for our purse so I am going to give it a shot. We’re going to have theme nights and I might even made a funky menu board like this incredible blogger Clair whose ideas for a board and menu planning I am totally going to steal right, left and centre. If it’s not fun, I know it won’t last and I LOVE the idea of a board; I got loads of other ideas from Pinterest. I’ll keep you posted on how it develops.

And then finally, I am going to go self-employed and offer piano lessons for beginners and French tuition. This is a Very Scary Thought. I have given piano lessons before but never French, because school = shudder and I didn’t want to relive any of it even by proxy. But it was a long time ago and I really feel that it is what I should be doing.

All in all, I’ve had quite a lot of thoughts in the last week or so and I am pleased that it might actually come to fruition. It makes me feel almost adult and possibly a little less lazy.

Intentional Parenting: thoughts from a lazy mum

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I think I might have mentioned in a previous post that before I had my daughter, I had no idea what sort of mother I wanted to be, or indeed whether I was going to be any good at it.

I’ve always felt that I was at a bit of a disadvantage in the ‘motherly instincts’ department. For one thing I used to make babies cry. Where I grew up in France, I used to go to a church where they had a crèche during the service. I knew from a very young age that it was not a good place for me to be. Babies used to take one look at me and their little faces would collapse. I always thought babies and young children looked suspiciously like they knew far more about the world that they let on, and I never knew how to be around them or what to say to them. My younger sister on the other hand was and is a natural. Young children would run to her from across the room with trust shining in their eyes and great big smiles on their faces and she was like a second mother to them. I don’t know how she did it but part of me started to believe that I would never generate this kind of reaction in a child. It just wasn’t me. I was probably not made for it and I would make a terribly cold mother.

I also felt that I would likely fail at mothering because I hate housework. I thought that to be a good mother, you have to desire and enjoy keeping a home and have good china for the special guests. But the truth is that I am not particularly house-proud. I like a house to look lived in and I cannot abide anything to do with cleaning the place. I will do it but it is the worst kind of chore to me. I am not tidy, I do not like ironing clothes and I despise dusting, hoovering and cleaning. And the fact that I hate every moment I spend cleaning led me to believe that I was not cut out to be a mother. When your model is Marmee from Little Women, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mum and the 50s American sitcom woman, you can start to develop wrong ideas about what it means to be a mother.

Thankfully none of it has turned out to be a factor in my ability to be a good mum. Little Girl is not aware that her mother used to strike fear in little babies’ hearts, which is a bonus. But having her has highlighted the fact that I am inherently lazy. I don’t want to be lazy, but I am. Being active does not come naturally to me and I have to work at it on a daily basis, especially now that I am responsible for a little one. I would describe myself as a person who likes to ‘be’ as opposed to one who likes to ‘do’. I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with either state but add a drop of laziness to the mix and you may have yourself a problem. Now with a baby to educate, I cannot afford to spend the whole day sitting around drinking cups of tea and watching DVDs like I did in my last month of pregnancy.

My practices as a mother are shaped by who I am, warts and all so I am increasingly aware that as my baby gets older, I will have to be more and more intentional with her parenting. I cannot just hope that she will be OK. I am responsible for shaping her early life and giving her a good start. In my professional life, I am not lazy. I am a good worker and I even clean the work fridge… So for me to beat the laziness in my personal life I know that I need to plan the education of my child like I would a work project. But I still want to enjoy it. I do not want it to become a chore. That said it is early days in our parenting journey and I haven’t yet sat down to put my thoughts for the future in order but here are some things I do at the moment to make my life easier and help me enjoy myself.

    1. Feeding a person: Breastfeeding was tough at the beginning but after a horrendous few weeks we suddenly got it and it has enabled me to relax and see these times as bonding times rather than a ‘thing’ that must be done. Most importantly, I cannot force my baby to eat if she doesn’t want to. She gets to decide when to stop. Sometimes it’s 2 minutes, sometimes it’s 10 but it is always her decision. Choosing to do self-feedingwith solids is an extension of this idea that feeding times do not need to be stressful for either of us. I was getting anxious at the thought of doing separate meals for her and forcing purées into her mouth. Thankfully there will be no need for this, if her scoffing down lasagne last week was anything to go by.
    2. Sleep is of the essence: Co-sleeping is part of the attachment parenting ethos. I didn’t set out to do this but it has worked for us and made me a much happier mum. At six and a half months, Little Girl still has her side-cot, although sadly she is starting to outgrow it and we will be moving her to her nursery during the half-term holidays next week. The benefits for us have been: better bonding, easier for breastfeeding, less noisy sleep for her and much better rest for me. And she is able to fall asleep on her own in the evenings, despite advice I was given that it would be difficult because she would be too used to have me near.
    3. Security: After a traumatic birth, I wanted to make sure that my baby felt as secure as possible. Co-sleeping is part of this. I also make sure that breastfeeding is a relaxed and quiet time, and that I do give her some attention; Little Girl likes to hold my hand when she is eating. Changing time is also a time of interaction, especially with the extra wriggling these days! I sing to her and give her a little massage, sometimes just hands or feet. I hope that having safe places in her home life will instil in her the confidence to be adventurous when out in the world.
    4. A loose routine is better than no routine: I didn’t like the idea of pushing a routine on her so I really just follow Little Girl’s lead on this one. And she has got one, it just isn’t quite like clockwork. I try to listen to her rhythms and facilitate them as much as possible.
    5. Time for me: I enjoy motherhood, I really really do. And if our family can afford it, I want to continue to do it full-time until Little Girl starts pre-school. But I don’t want all of my time to become Little Girl’s time. How can I teach her patience if I am always available right now? I need me-time. For me, it has been starting to blog in earnest and discovering new communities online. My life is being enlarged from reading other people’s ideas and their beautiful writing. It is easier to live your life in a bubble full of the ideas and beliefs of your own tiny sub-culture than to have it scrape against someone’s Other experience and be challenged. I have much to lose in doing so, but also much more to gain.

This post is part of the Practices of Parenting Carnival hosted by Sarah Bessey on her blog, where you can find more parenting stories from other bloggers.