Tag Archives: schedule

2 Ways to Take Back Your Day Without a Schedule

17 Oct

takebackyourdayA year ago, I went to a conference for moms in Rochester called Hearts at Home. It was awesome, and I took away a lot of thoughts, but one of the biggest was the idea that I needed to get our family life on a schedule. Staying home full-time with a 2.5-year-old and a 6-month-old meant that our days were big on crazy and low on sanity. I thought getting on a schedule would help some at least some of my woes.

The only problem was that I’m a spontaneous person. I can’t commit to the same schedule day after day, week after week. I like change! I like doing things differently! I like lazy mornings some days, and a fresh shower and dressier clothes other mornings. I like having the girls take a bath at night some days, and during the day other days.

Emma (now 3.5) is a wild card like this too. I tried and tried to get her to be more predictable and routined as a baby, but she wasn’t having it. It wasn’t until she was over 2 years that her naps finally became a consistent 2.5-3 hours long. Before that, she’d nap anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours. Drove me crazy! To cope, I stopped having any plans of what I would accomplish during naptime because then I didn’t get frustrated if her nap was too short.

Annabelle (now 18 months) was a lot more predictable as a baby than Emma was. She actually put herself on a schedule! Some babies are just like that. We were so thankful that it seemed we had gotten a mellow baby to balance out our first-born spitfire. Then Annabelle learned to walk and WOW, she has even more energy and chutzpah than her sister did at this age. She’s a climber, and doesn’t take No for an answer without a fight.

My desire to take a crack at homeschool preschool this year with Emma inspired another attempt at implementing a daily schedule/routine. An attempt that also failed almost before it began. Which got me thinking… do I really NEED a schedule?

I had several things that I wanted to change about the way things ran in my house as a full-time, stay-at-home mom, that I thought having a schedule or routine would address. I wanted to be more intentional with how I spent my time–my time with the girls and my alone time. I wanted to stay caught on cleaning, laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping better, instead of waiting for bathrooms to reach an unprecedented ICK factor and the refrigerator to contain nothing but olives and maple syrup. I also thought that being on a schedule is what successful, got-it-together moms do.

But you know what? There’s more than one “right” way to do things. The real question is, is the way we’re doing things right now working for our family? The answer to that is Yes. Things aren’t as tidy or clean or straightforward as they would be if I were more disciplined in the Art of Structure, but I’d be constantly fighting an uphill battle against my spontaneous personality–and for what? Part of the benefit of being at home full-time is the flexibility and relaxed pace of life!

That said, I have noticed that there are two things that I not only enjoy doing, but that truly promote the goals I had with a schedule. Those are:

1. Get up before the kids.

When Annabelle regressed to waking up 1-2 times a night around 6 months (and ever since), I stopped feeling like a morning person. I was a zombie until at least 10 am and two cups of coffee. But for the past couple of months, I have been forcing myself to get up around 6 am anyway because I know that it is SO worth it. My day goes so much better when I’ve had time to drink some coffee and think some thoughts before kids start screaming, whining, and demanding cereal.

I also have more energy for Bible study, blog posts, and pretty much everything in the morning. By naptime, my energy is at about half-power (and I often take a nap with the kids if it works out), and after putting the kids to bed, I only have the energy for zoning out with Netflix, or talking to Travis. So the morning is my time to “get er done.”

2. Don’t get distracted by projects or technology.

I am notorious for thinking, “Oh the girls are playing so well together right now. I’ll just spend a few minutes tidying/organizing/sorting/assembling this thing over here.” ::45 minutes later:: “Mommy’s almost done! Then we’ll go outside!” I say as both kids are crying because they’ve started hitting one another out of boredom and their need for attention.

I’m also notorious for picking my phone up to text someone about something timely or important. ::45 minutes later, emerging from the Facebook and Instagram vortex:: “Mommy just has to text my friend about getting together tomorrow. Then we’ll go outside!”

I’m learning that even though organizing and tidying are good and necessary, and Facebook and Instagram are fine when used wisely, there’s a time and a place. Trying to do those things while the girls are awake almost always spells disaster…or at least a house that’s a disaster because the girls tore it apart while I was distracted.

What this one really comes down to is discipline and trusting God: discipline to wrangle my spontaneous and time-sucking habits into spending my time intentionally and wisely; and trusting God that when I prioritize what He prioritizes, I get joy and He gets glory. Even if that means I get nothing done but spending time with my girls because they were clingy. Even if that means I forego dishes and laundry to spend time reading the Bible. Even if that means I hardly ever blog anymore because I’m reading books about parenting instead (this is true).

Doing these two things gives me the foundation for the day that I need to manage the chaos and challenges of being home full-time with two young kids… without being on a schedule!

In the Swing of Things

9 Nov

One of the hardest things about moving back to Minnesota was the ‘stalling’ of normal life. We spent 3 months living in a town an hour away from where we knew we were moving, so it was very impractical to get involved in anything, in either place. Our lives were essentially on hold – especially, it felt, for me. I was a stay-at-home mom for the first time since being on maternity leave. I didn’t have a house to manage, decorate or organize. I didn’t have any activities or obligations. I was floundering.

God used that season to test my faith, and stretch me beyond my comfort zone. I was reminded that growth never comes from doing what’s easy or comfortable – only from being pushed beyond what we think we can handle. That said, I’m glad that season is coming to a close!

Emma and I finally have some semblance of a ‘normal’ weekly schedule. (With Travis’ crazy work schedule, our family’s schedule still isn’t normal, but hopefully it will be more so by the beginning of next year.)

I joined MOPS, which meets about 2 Mondays a month (some months only 1).

I enrolled Emma in an Early Childhood and Family Education class, which I attend with her, called Time Together on Thursdays. We do crafts; learn animals, songs and sign language; and play with other kids.

We have been going to the same church for the past month or so. We’re not ready to commit to being members yet, but we like what we’ve seen and heard so far. And we’ve met a lot of great people, which has been so nice.

I’m in a book study with 3 other ladies on Thursday nights. We’ve been reading The Home Experience by Devi Titus and while she’s very southern and some of her suggestions are impractical for mothers of preschoolers, it has been a great encouragement in this season of staying home to study how being a wife and mother is a valuable, worthwhile calling, and how I can bless those around me by taking it seriously.

And finally, starting next week, Emma will be going to daycare one day a week on Tuesdays – so that Mommy can have a break and pursue her dream of writing a book!

It is very nice to have life starting to look more ‘normal’ again. I’m glad, though, that it has taken as long as it has, because we have been able to be intentional about what we’re filling up our weeks with, instead of just adding stuff for the sake of being busy.

Now if my husband were just able to stop working so much, we’d be set!

Schedules, Lists and Plans

6 Mar

First off, I’m sorry that I’ve been completely MIA from my blog and from reading your blogs. My head is spinning with everything that is going on right now, and blogging/reading blogs has fallen way down on the priority list. But I will get caught up eventually!

In the midst of the current chaos, I have been maintaining my sanity by keeping schedules, lists and plans in various areas:

Meal-Planning:

Whenever I get busy, lazy or tired, dinner is one of the first things to go. Poor Travis has had to deal with more than his fair share of frozen pizzas, ‘whatever you can find’ and ‘breakfast for dinner’ dinners. Add to that a complete lack of inspiration for dinner ideas and it was a mess. Then two things happened: I heard of ZipList, an online tool that lets you file recipes and add the ingredients to a shopping list organized by aisle. And I was also inspired by nHerShoes to assign each night a dinner theme, thereby giving a little more structure to what to make. Added bonus: more variety!

I have been doing this for about 3 weeks now, and while it unfortunately hasn’t helped me spend less on groceries (need to start working on that too!), it has been a huge success in helping me make actual dinners, and get away from my handful of rotating recipes (which are great to have, but we needed to mix it up badly!).

Budgeting:

I mentioned back in January that I’m taking over the finances in our family. Well, we haven’t had time to sit down and go over the bills and stuff, so Travis is still handling that. But I have been tracking our budget and spending! After my mind exploded trying to track our credit card, checking account, bills, income, etc. via an Excel spreadsheet, I was inspired by Mel at Winners Wear Yellow to use Mint.com. So. Much. Easier. And it has a nifty button you can check to carry over any unspent funds to the next month, taking the guesswork out of those expenses (like auto and house maintenance) that typically are spent in large chunks, but (ideally) saved for monthly.

We use US Bank and because of security measures for logging in, Mint.com can’t automatically update our account balances and activity. But I can still manually update it, so it works out. It has helped keep us on track and while we are still going over in some categories, we were a lot less over than we were before. Progress!

Running:

I’m training! For a race! I’m 3 weeks in to a 10-week training plan. My longest run so far has been 4 miles – which used to be nothing, but now was the longest run I’ve done since July 2012. I’ve also been doing some cross-training via videos at home and I have to say, it feels GREAT to be back working out regularly. I’m averaging only about 3 times a week, but it’s been nice.

A few things about the race (Hot Chocolate 15k on April 19 in Minneapolis) though are cramping my style:

1) I realized it’s on Easter weekend. We were going to have the race weekend be a little husband/wife getaway sans baby but we have to be with her on her first Easter! So boo on that.

2) Travis is studying for the California Professional Engineers exam, which is like the Colorado PE that he took back in 2012, except even more intense. So he’ll be studying a lot between now and the race, which means I’ll have to watch Emma.

3) It’s still winter in Minnesota. Like, majorly winter. And the town where Travis’ parents live doesn’t have an indoor track, so I’ll be relegated to running on the dreadmill. I don’t know if I can handle that.

Needless to say, with all of those factors, I’m not absolutely dead set on running this race. I’m still going to train for it as much as I can, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I’d still like to run a race before getting pregnant again (ahem…), but flexibility is the name of the game right now.

And that’s all I have time for! I’ll be back tomorrow for Emma’s 11-month update!

* I was not compensated by ZipList, Mint.com or Hot Chocolate 15K for this post. All opinions are my own.

A Day in the Life {At Work}

18 Nov

Before I went back to work, I looked online for examples of what working mothers’  schedules looked like. How did they handle dinner? When was bedtime? How did they get stuff ready for the next day? After scouring the interwebs, I didn’t really find any examples of workday schedules. So I thought it would be interesting, and hopefully helpful to some, to write a “Day in the Life” post about a typical day in the life of a working mom (and a 7-month old). 

I also wanted to mention that at first, going back to work and figuring out what to do when and how was very overwhelming (I seriously made about 15 different schedules trying to ‘nail it down’). But after a week or 2, we fell into our own rhythm and it works pretty well. Mornings when Travis isn’t home are definitely more hectic but we manage. Anyway… here was our day last Thursday.

3:00 am – Emma’s crying. She sounds pretty upset. I find her on her belly in her crib. Since she usually wakes up to nurse about this time, I nurse her and put her back down after bouncing her a little.

5:50 – Emma’s crying again. Usually when she wakes up for the day, she’s happy and just coos in her crib for a while. Not today. I find her on her belly again! Silly girl. It’s like she forgets that she knows how to roll over. I change her diaper, clean out her stuffy nose with saline drops and a bulb syringe, and nurse her.

6:15 – Emma plays on her playmat while I let the dogs out, feed them and brew a cup of coffee. I turn on the news and play with Emma while I drink my coffee. Ahh…

6:35 – I give Travis his 10-minute warning (he was up late playing hockey) and feed Emma mango for breakfast.

6:45 – I put Emma in bed with Travis while I jump in the shower. Then I do my hair, makeup and get dressed while Emma jumps in her jumperoo.

7:10 – While Travis dresses Emma, I make my lunch, get the bottles and diaper bag ready, make another cup of coffee and 2 pieces of peanut butter toast, and load my car with the following: purse, breast pump, pumping cooler, Emma’s bottle cooler, diaper bag, lunch bag, water bottle, peanut butter toast and coffee mug. So much stuff!

20131114_174059Travis was going to pair magenta pants with this shirt… I will never understand what goes through his mind regarding color combinations. 

7:30 – We’re out of the door on time! I eat my toast in the car as we drive to daycare.

7:53 – Arrive at Charlotte’s house. We chat for a bit and then I drive to work.

8:28 – Arrive at work.

9:50 – First pumping session. I get 5 oz!

10:30 – Back at my desk for snack time!

20131114_10322311:30 – I’m still hungry so I eat lunch.

20131114_11285812:45 – Second pumping session. Only 3 oz this time.

1:10 – Back at my desk.

1:50 – Snack time again! I am a bottomless pit today.

20131114_1352042:40 – I’m yawning so I go get a peppermint mocha from our on-campus coffee shop with a co-worker.

3:30 – Third (and final) pumping session. I get 3 oz.

4:30 – Leave work to go pick up Emma. I’m done for the week! (Usually I leave at 5, but today I need to pick Emma up early.) On the way to my car, I run into a co-worker who had a baby 3 weeks after me but then moved to our Seattle office. We catch up for 10 minutes.

5:05 – Pick Emma up from Charlotte’s. She had a good day at daycare, with one fussy period, and has been awake since 4:00.

5:30 – Get home. Emma has a poopy diaper, so I change it and feed her pureed spinach/banana for dinner. It’s the first time she’s tried it and she really likes it! Then while Travis watches Emma, I make dinner for us – homemade macaroni and cheese with mixed veggies. It’s the best I could do – I need to go grocery shopping tomorrow. (Often, Travis makes dinner while I feed Emma.)

20131114_1824396:30 – Bath time! We read Emma some of Little House in the Big Woods while she splashes. Then we put on her diaper, lotion and jammies, sing a song and pray.

6:50 – I nurse Emma.

7:15 – Emma’s asleep! I’m glad that she went down easy instead of being wide awake for another 30 minutes. I drink a couple glasses of wine while Travis and I watch Breaking Bad and hang out.

9:20 – Bedtime!

11:30 – Emma’s awake. Ugh. Apparently she traded going down easy with being awake for 2.5 hours in the middle of the night. After nursing, letting her play in her crib, bouncing, rocking and everything else, I’m at the end of my rope. We let her cry for a bit until she gets really upset and then Travis goes in to get her back to sleep. It takes him about 30 minutes.

And that’s a wrap!

……………………….

If you missed A Day in the Life {At Home}, click here.

Emma: 5 – 6 Weeks

16 May

This coming Sunday, Emma will be 6 weeks old. It’s amazing how fast the time is going, even though the days (and especially the nights) sometimes seem to last forever.

After talking to the triage nurse last week and making the changes to my diet and breastfeeding style that she recommended, Emma still hadn’t seen much improvement. She was sleeping a little bit longer, but not really crying any less. So I called again this past Monday and they had us come in that same afternoon. While we were there, Emma gave the pediatrician and nurses a good dose of her crying – red face and all. After examining her, the doctor decided that Emma most likely has acid reflux. So she prescribed Prevacid for Emma to take once a day and said that we should see some improvement in the next 7-10 days.

We’ve already seen some improvement. It’s not night and day difference but Emma is now frequently alert and happy for 10-15 minutes after she eats, and has tolerated sitting in her swing, cradle or car seat several times without crying immediately, like she was doing before. She’s also developed a less severe level of crying – it’s not always just ear piercing wails. And we’ve also been trying to put her in her cradle or swing at night instead of just holding her, and she has stayed sleeping several times for up to a couple of hours – also an improvement. But she still has her inconsolable moments.

It’s hard to not be discouraged and frustrated at this whole situation. We love our daughter so much and want her to be happy and comfortable, but we’re also struggling with severe sleep deprivation, and trying to not crack when she’s fussy or crying uncontrollably for what seems like hours on end (in reality, it’s only 30-60 minutes at a time) is hard.

This has been our typical routine lately with a baby who only wants to sleep being held:

Approx 1 am: I get up for the middle-of-the-night feeding; Travis goes to bed after his ‘shift’

1 am – 7 am: I stay up with Emma, feeding her every 2-3 hours, then rocking her to sleep and attempting to put her down – usually she starts making noise after 20-30 minutes. I go pick her up because I don’t want her to wake up completely, causing me to have to get her to sleep all over again. My main desire has been to avoid a crying baby, but I realize this isn’t a good strategy for getting her to sleep apart from me, so I’m going to work on changing this.

7:15 am: Travis gets up, makes his coffee and puts Emma in the Baby Bjorn while he works at his desk; I go back to bed for a couple of hours

9:30 am: I get up and take Emma from Travis, feed her and entertain her for however long she’s happy, maybe doing tummy time while I take a few sips of my decaf coffee. Usually she starts crying (with no warning!) and I get her back to sleep by putting her in the Baby Bjorn with her pacifier and bouncing on the exercise ball.

20130510_165744

Sacked out in the Baby Bjorn

10:30 – 5:30 pm: Travis works while Emma and I go through the continual cycle of eat, awake and sleep. She typically goes 2-3 hours between feedings, with naps that are usually 45 minutes – 2 hours long, but it’s still far from predictable. During Emma’s naps, I either do chores like dishes and laundry (if she’s in the Bjorn), sit with her in the glider or watch TV while she sleeps, or (rarely) take a walk. Since she’s started crying so much and often, we’ve been hesitant to take her very many places because it’s so hard to soothe her without all our props and she’s really not a fan of being buckled into her car seat. Though I discovered today that driving on the highway with the windows down makes a wonderful white noise that puts her to sleep! (hopefully not just a fluke)

5:45 pm: Travis gets done with work and takes Emma while I ‘make’ dinner – usually reheating leftovers of a meal from our church friends. I eat and then take Emma so Travis can eat.

6:30 pm: We bathe Emma if it’s a bath night. If not, I feed Emma and either Travis or I put her pajamas on and swaddle her.

7 – 7:30 pm: I go to bed while Travis stays up with Emma. This strategy evolved at first because Emma’s such a loud sleeper that I was awake anytime she grunted or sighed (which is a lot). Lately we’ve done this because Emma sleeps the longest if she’s held. She’s actually gone 5 hours between feedings a couple of times (which is sleeping through the night at this age) but only while being held. The longest she’s gone in her cradle or swing is about 2.5 hours I think.

10 pm: I get up and feed Emma. When she’s done eating, I give her back to Travis and go back to bed.

{and the cycle begins all over again…}

20130509_140223

In short, we have no time to do anything but sleep, take care of Emma and work (in Travis’ case). Most days I don’t shower, brush my teeth or change clothes. Even though we’re technically surviving this way, we’re both frequently close to losing it. Something’s got to change. So we’re going to start being more intentional about putting her down to sleep in her cradle or swing instead of just letting her sleep in our arms. It may be more painful at first and involve more work with getting her back to sleep if she wakes up, but at least we’ll be headed the right direction instead of just throwing in the towel.

All that said, the Lord has faithfully given enough grace for us to get through each day – whether it’s a little bit more sleep, Emma not fussing for a few hours, delicious meals from friends, warm sunny weather, lots of babysitting offers, or the fact that Travis works from home (so amazingly helpful!). I’ve been tempted more than once to drown in self-pity because of all the things I haven’t been able to do, like get out on more runs, maintain personal hygiene or sleep longer than 3 hours at a stretch, but God has helped me to be aware of that sinful, joyless tendency and to instead be thankful for the mercies He does provide. Just like He provided the Israelites enough manna for a single day, so He provides me with enough faith and hope in His promises to stay the course for one more day. I know we will look back on this time and see His faithfulness stretching to the skies. I don’t know what I would do without Him, or Travis!

The Taper Crazies

11 Jun

So I’m beginning to see what people mean when they say they hate tapering. At first, I couldn’t see a downside to once again embracing 3-mile runs; having time on a work day to do something other than eat, run or work; and being able to replace miles with minutes of sleep. But then I encountered the worst part about the taper:

My brain.

And now I understand: the taper crazies are all in the head. They’ve been there on every run since my 20 miler, cursing my legs when won’t move like they’re supposed to (and following the rabbit trail downward spiral of what that could mean for race day…). They keep me up at night, wondering why in the world did I decide that running 26.2 miles sounded like a good idea? and CRAP, the marathon is less than 2 weeks away. They suggest that my legs won’t be fully recovered by race day. That my brain won’t be fully recovered by race day. Every mile on my training plan that I don’t run is like a stain on my conscience – what if that mile was the difference between succeeding and failing?

Of course I know I’m being ridiculous. I know that it’s better to take things easy and listen to my body, rather than be a plan-following Nazi (so that’s what I’ve been doing despite the taper crazies). But it helps to hear other people say it too:

Listen to your body. Don’t worry about cutting short or skipping a workout if you feel tired or sluggish. The taper is all about recovering from the effects of a long distance training schedule. Remember that it’s not the training done in the taper that will help you on the marathon day. Rather, the gradual buildup of distance over the last few months that will get you across the finish line… Think of the taper period as running to simply keep your legs moving…. The tapering period serves no benefit for increasing fitness for the marathon day; the fitness was acquired in the previous months of training. If you feel tired or sluggish, listen to your body, not your training schedule and skip a workout or two. {source}

Self: Remember this – You are not screwing yourself over by skipping a run when you legitimately feel horrible (or by cutting a run short when it’s 85 degrees outside…a story for tomorrow). It’s good for you to run at a slow recovery pace, even if it is mentally painful, hurts your pride and makes you doubt your ability to run faster.

The taper crazies have been exacerbated by my exhaustion. Not only does my body not want to run physically, my brain doesn’t want to run mentally. Even my stubbornness has taken a few hits this past week and thrown in the towel early and often.

So I’m asking God to let these shorter runs revive me. To freshen my legs and my outlook. Remind me why I love running, even though right now I want to dramatically swear that I’m never running again after this marathon is over.

As for the other aspects of tapering, I’m going to do all of my remaining runs in the morning. Even though I’d rather get back into my morning routine, it’s just too. darn. hot. to run after work anymore.

I’m also going to cut out alcohol, eat fewer sweets, drink at least 64 oz of water per day (not including water during runs), eat more protein (chicken and salmon this week!), and really try to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night.

Have any advice for conquering the taper crazies?

Week 15 Training: 5/28 – 6/3

8 Jun

I’ve been exhausted this week. Two mornings, I’ve woken up as late as 7:15 to get ready for work, even though I went to bed at 9 pm the night before (that would be 10 hours of sleep). The other mornings, I’ve gotten up at 6 or 6:30, which is still later than usual. Yesterday, I was dragging at 1:30 pm and had to go buy an iced coffee (mmmm… iced coffee). Maybe it was last weekend’s 20 miler but I hope my body gets it together sometime soon here – we leave for Alaska TWO WEEKS from today. Gulp.

Anyway, because of that, this week has been a lesson in being joyful even when life is a mess and I feel behind on everything. I actually have kind of appreciated the challenge because it’s a lesson I really want to learn (and a lesson that will take a long time to learn).

Last week was the pinnacle of marathon training. Now I just have to coast injury-free to the start line.

Monday: 800 meter swim + 45 minute easy hike

First swim in a good 5 months. Breaststroke felt good, front crawl majorly rusty. Swimming outside is awesome.

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 5.11 mile run (58:31; 11:27/mile)

This run was MEH. Decent but not great.

Thursday: 10.04 mile run (1:54:24; 11:23/mile)

First 4-5 miles were MEH – legs felt tired and stiff. But last 3 miles were GREAT – legs felt light and fast. Weeee!

Poor Man’s GPS Splits: 

1 – 12:12
2 – 12:18
3 – 11:37
4 – 11:29
5 – 11:25
6 – 11:40
7 – 11:24
8 – 10:21
9 – 10:41
10 – 10:43

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 20.1 mile long run (3:52:44; 11:34/pace)

Sunday: 1.75 mile walk with Mom and dogs (untimed)

Total Running Miles = 35.25

My running total for May was 133.43 miles (April was 111.68), bringing my 2012-miles-to-date to 424.11, over half the way to my goal of running 700 this year.

I said it before, but I’ll say it again – after being sidelined in 2010 from running a full marathon, I feel very blessed to be on this side of my 20 mile long run with no injuries. Nothing. No twinges. No lingering aches. Just exhaustion, apparently. I’ll take it.

(Oh, and it’s a very surreal feeling to be able to write: “on this side of my 20 mile long run.” I ran 20 miles?!?!!? It’s kind of an awesome feeling. I can’t imagine what 26.2 feels like!)