Sunday, April 22, 2012

Burnt around the edges

This was going to be a very different post.  I was half way through venting all the different things about my stay at home job that have been grating at me.  You see, I've been feeling a little burned out.  But, as I wrote through those things, I also kept thinking how listing the frustrations of my days doesn't accurately reflect my day.  We have plenty of smiles.  Not just forcefully drawn on my face in hopes that they will become natural smiles, but also real genuine happy smiles.  I love my job.  It's just time for a promotion, haha!

So, in lieu of listing everything I'm not enjoying, from hearing "Mommy" said 138 times a day and yelled another 160 times to having a tennis ball dropped in my lap by the Puppy 70 times a hour day, I decided to focus on the things I am doing (or could be doing) to improve my current satisfaction level, and the things I am doing that are not helping.  (See, I did fit it a hint of venting though!)

The things I should probably quit doing:

Daydreaming.  Usually disguised as planning ahead.  Except it's way ahead.  When I'm feeling burned out, I find myself gravitating towards things like looking at houses or homeschool ideas for much older children.  We have a house that is functioning just fine for us as a family.  Yes, there are some projects on my wish list around here that would ultimately make it feel even more like home and a little less like a bachelor pad gone family pad, but we have space, running water, and even a hint of a backyard for Monkey, Old Lady, and Puppy.  And although it is a good idea to save good ideas for our homeschooling future, we are nowhere near close enough to upper elementary or middle school to be thinking about how our days will be structured.  We can't even be certain we will be homeschooling nine years from now.  Dreaming of a different present or planning for a distant future is an attempt at escaping the actual present, but ultimately it seems to backfire.  Rather than helping me cope with or make changes to the current season of our lives here, I begin to experience additional frustration over the things we don't have.

Staying up late. I often end up staying up at least an hour past my self imposed bedtime when I'm feeling crispy.  I spend my time reading articles, watching videos or (see above) looking at floor plans.  I like reading new things.  I do enjoy a good movie or show.  Truthfully, I have an obsession with floor plans.  (Mr. Medic even bought me some basic home design software years ago just for fun.  Instead of computer games, I designed houses.)  However, when I'm at my limit psychologically, it's not a good time to also push myself to my limits physically.  More sleep would help me make it through the day better and I think it's time to get back to having a bedtime.  Maybe even an earlier one right now...

Baking. I love to cook and bake.  It's generally a good thing, as my family has the opportunity to eat healthier foods than if I hated it.  However, when I feel like I can't take it anymore, I have a tendency to bake sweets.  Sweets are my specialty - cookies, cakes, brownies - and become my escape.  And then I eat them.  My body doesn't need the sugar right now.  It's time to be eating a well rounded fresh diet to help my mood and my energy levels.  Moreover, Monkey eats it.  Her sugar highs and lows can't be good for my mood either.  The last cookie was eaten today.  I'm banning myself from baking (or cooking, lest I find a loophole!) sweets for at least two weeks.  We'll see how well Monkey and I are getting along before I pull out the flour, sugar, and butter all at the same time again.

That said, here are a few things I've done or perhaps should do that I should keep up:

Tell Mr. Medic. I did this.  It was great.  I usually hold it in and everyone has to deal with my mood swings and neglect of duties for awhile.  Instead, I took the approach of having a thorough conversation about how I felt with my husband.  He is, after all, my number one supporter, but he can only support in the ways I let him know I need.  Mr. Medic never made me feel selfish.  He never belittled my feelings.  Instead, he spent extra time with Monkey here and there, such as taking her to breakfast while I did the grocery shopping alone (What!?!  I know, awesome!).  As an added bonus, the two of them clearly nourished their relationship some and they now want more time together, which is likely to help reduce the frequency of recurring burn out spells.

Took a walk. I took a short walk to the park with the Puppy and threw some balls for her.  We were gone for 22 minutes.  Both of us loved it.  Walks are shown to improve your mood.  So is playing with a dog.  I did both.  I'd like to make this at least a weekly event.  Monkey and Daddy played board games together while I was gone, which cured the hint of anger from Monkey that she was being left out.  Monkey and I also took the dogs together for a walk another day.  I've decided walks will be her reinforcement for a good Preschool Hour in the mornings.  If each day goes well, that's 4 walks a week, minimum.  And if the Puppy and I get our private walk, that's 5.  Gotta keep this ball rolling.

Reinstate preschool.  I love planning activities.  I love teaching Monkey addition, and showing her the continents.  The only thing I regularly wish I could have from work while at home is the classroom.  We hadn't been doing much for preschool around here, so I revamped it and re-included it.  I considered the things I wanted it to include and the space I wanted to do it in.  Crafting is something I enjoy, but right now, my daughter has been my higher priority, so I elected (after bouncing it off Mr. Medic and Monkey) to take my crafting items out of the office, and replace them with our school supplies.  My old two cabinets are now the craft cabinet and the subjects cabinet (all of my supplies are now stored in the old school cabinet).  I spent a days thinking through an appropriate schedule.  We are now doing "preschool hour" four mornings a week (M-F, minus gymnastics day).  We have a dedicated schedule for the hour, which I plan to detail in a different post, but we can ultimately move around when we do it as necessary.  I'm enjoying watching it take shape.  So far, so good.  We are both enjoying it, with the prospect of a walk after, and I expect only minor tweaks to be necessary as we establish ourselves.

Workout videos.  I haven't done this.  I really should do this.  Likely, doing my 10 minutes videos would improve my mood almost as much as a walk, but would ultimately help my body even more.  I am challenging myself to do this before bed tonight.  We'll start there.

Clean. A clean house can be a huge mood elevator.  Our house has been bouncing between clean and dirty.  I need to get back into a consistent fifteen minute pick up every night.  I used to set the timer for fifteen minutes after letting Old Lady out, while she ate her before bed snack, and just pick up.  No scrubbing, just putting things back in their place.  In spite of not following a consistent pick up routine, Mr. Medic and I have fortunately not let dishes get crazy, and I've done some odd jobs here and there.  When I complete one, I feel better.  I just need to keep going with that.

Self-Manicure. I don't paint my nails, especially my finger nails, except about twice a year.  I think the real point here was that I took care of myself.  It was a double manicure of course, for Monkey and me, but we enjoyed it.  This week has been pretty bad on the "getting dressed and doing my hair" scale since I've felt like climbing out of bed should secure me "Mom of the Year" each day, but taking the time to paint my nails has reminded me how much better I feel when I'm taking care of myself.  Maybe tomorrow I'll even coordinate my clothes to my polish.  Ooh, wouldn't that be a womanly thing to do, haha!

Last, but not least, redefine this post. After writing half the original post about things bothering me and deleting it in favor of writing things I could take action on, I feel better.  I spend most of my life a pretty optimistic person, and seeing all those complaints, that I couldn't take much action on, turned my optimist switch back on.  I feel relieved.  Not that I'm not still crispy on the edges, but I'm remembering that in the middle, everything is in tact and I'm ok.  With a little effort, and my supportive husband, I can turn down the heat and let the next batch of choas bake up just right!

What do you do to help yourself get through the crispy times?  Anything new you're going to start trying?  Or maybe stop trying?


  1. I don't mean this to be an intrusive question....

    But I was wondering if/when you plan on having monkey #2?

    I'm asking because the thought of teaching one everything I want to teach while having another seems overwhelming to me, but I really want 2, so I was wondering if you had a plan on how to integrate it all.

    1. It's interesting you ask this at this particular point in our lives. We don't have it all figured out. We're going round and round with the second child topic in our home right now. Ours goes three ways: 1-Stick with just Monkey. 2-Seek another animal :) via adoption. I've wanted to adopt since childhood, early preschool age so that the kids are only a year or two apart. 3-Birth another animal. I am recently unexpectedly drawn to the idea of having another child the typical route.
      I have been struggling recently with how to put my thoughts on "paper" for a post itself on this. Mr Medic is very supportive of all three options. His only request is that we figure it out soon, because he is getting "too old" (his words, swear!) to be making more babies! You've inspired me to do more digging in my head and write about feeling pulled in three separate directions.
      As for integrating the education of two children at different levels seems challenging, I figure if a mainstream teacher can teach to 25 students, who are also technically at varying levels, I can teach to two! I also hear that once both children are "school-age" it's not too difficult to blend their education while offering additional separate work at their individual levels.