Wednesday, September 08, 2010


It's become clear in the last few weeks. I do not have the time I want for even the basics, much less all the extras I've been trying to fit in. My work lasts from morning until night and then through the night as well. My daughter Katie sleeps like a newborn (read: badly). There hasn't been a night in the last two weeks when I've been up less than twice. One night, between two girls with nightmares, another who wet the bed, still another with a cold, and Katie's regular sleep pattern, I was up eight times!

I haven't been able to nap soundly for weeks, for dozens of reasons, a different one each day -- repairmen showing up at the wrong time, the phone ringing, Katie and Harmony not sleeping at the same time, 1:00 Church, and then because my body betrays me: when I finally carve out a time when my kids don't need me, I can't calm down and really sleep.

It feels like the elements are conspiring against me. Last night, I went to bed early. Within that first hour, I was up three times with children who needed me. I finally got Katie back to sleep but then I was unable to sleep myself for several hours in the middle of the night.

So I'm retrenching. I'm cutting back on all extras. I'm taking a look at the work I do and deciding what I can put on hold. I've already cut out most of my photography and I guess I won't be adding it back in for a while. I don't write like I want to or post on this blog much (for example, I'm going to post this badly-written, disjointed piece of writing even though I know I could polish it up better if I had time). There's plenty I can't cut out, either because I've felt strongly it needs to happen -- my mother's group, some of the exercise I'm doing -- or because it's just the basic work of having a large family -- the errands, the neighborhood preschool, Eliza's dance class, trips to the library and the grocery store, helping kids with homework and reading, Scouts and piano lessons, dinners, laundry (hours and hours of laundry!), and more I can't remember right now. But the rest? I'm going to be looking at it seriously and culling.

I've spent all summer getting organized and doing better with my to-do list and developing a system to keep track of all the stuff I have to do. But you know what? Even if I have time to write down all I want to do, that doesn't mean I have time to do it all. It's time to cut back, to retrench.

I also need to figure out the delegation more. I listened to part of an interview this morning of a mother and her two grown daughters. When they were growing up, she determined that since they didn't have a farm, a large family, or a large home to take care of, she needed to teach them to work somehow. They chose piano. THREE HOURS A DAY on the piano. I don't think my kids need that much time on the piano. However, I DO have a large family and a large home to take care of, plenty of opportunities to really teach my kids to work.

And honestly, they work some, but even on our "family work days" it's rare for them to be working longer than two hours straight. During the week, their zones take them maybe fifteen minutes a day. I don't think any of them needs three hours of work a day, but maybe it wouldn't hurt for them to take on a little more of the responsibility, to take a little more notice of all the work that I do every day and help out.

I hope this time doesn't last forever. I'm sure it won't and I'll be able to keep up with things more, but as long as my baby sleeps like a newborn, I need to treat this time the way I would the newborn period, by being more patient with myself, by lowering my standards for a spotless home and completely organized life, by giving highest priority to my sleep.

Wish me luck.


Dina said...

Amen! I find that if I'm sleeping well, everything is manageable. And it's the reverse when I'm not.

I also find that I can only take a nap if I get someone else to be "in charge". If my DH is home, he's got it under control and I'm relaxed. Even if it's one of my big kids. I give them instructions, take the phone out of my room and peace! I can't nap while the kids are at school (and I have an empty house now on school days!) because the phone rings too much, or people text me, and I can't turn off the phone for fear that someone will REALLY need me. Maybe you can find a system that works for you so you can catch a few winks. Hang in there--sleep deprivation is the worst!

Cynthia said...

Good Luck! Even though my family is small, with my husband gone I am having to learn to let things go myself and to say no to extra things. And I am having a hard time with it! But my health and need for sleep is important because if I get sick there is no one else to care for my boys (not to mention the baby that I am currently growing).

For me the change is only for a few months, but who knows...I may find I enjoy the simplified life, especially since I will have a newborn around. Oh, and fingers crossed that little Miss Katie starts sleeping better for you very soon!

Claire said...

Oh boy....that sounds like my little Katy. The only reason I can even get on the computer at all is that she spits up if I nurse on the go. That earns me severals hours a day of sitting and snuggling with her - but it's not like anything else gets done. My current schedule is playing, schooling, and taking care of the kids during the day. All housework now takes place after 8pm which stinks. Like you said though, there is only so much you can let go of when you have little kids. The laundry, the dishes, the sweeping all has to be done - no maid service is coming! (to bad, huh?)

I hope things calm down for you soon and little Miss Katie gives you a rest.

Joy For Your Journey said...

That can be a frustrating time of life. Although I am not sure it gets better. I was just thinking that it seems like I get a lot less done now than when my kids were small, but that might be because I have figured out I don't need to and can't do everything I would like to do. Hopefully over the course of my life, I will get everything done though.

I am sorry you are getting up so much during that night. That is so hard. Can your husband help at all with that? Or maybe you don't want to have both of you up all night, but still, maybe on the weekends he can get up and you can sleep. Just wondering . . .

Handsfullmom said...

Dina, you're right. I got a nap this afternoon (thanks Kristen!) and feel great now; but every other day has been hard without the sleep.

Cynthia, I sympathize. You've got so much to handle and all on your own. Three more months now, right?

Claire, I hope your Katy starts sleeping better too.

Joy (Lori), my husband is absolutely useless at night. He's great with our kids during the day, but he could sleep through a trainwreck! He couldn't do much with Katie anyway since I'm the one who's breastfeeding. I did try to have him get up with one of the kids having nightmares, and he said something crabby, rolled over and grunted when I tried to wake him up. Of course, in the morning, he has no recollection of being awoken at all! And you're right, it really doesn't help to have both of us tired and crabby during the day, and if I do say so myself, I'm a lot better at being patient and kind even when I'm exhausted. Him? Well, he'd probably be great after 11 years of experience. =)

Mostly Diane said...

I am so sorry it has been so hard for you. I know it is just draining to be up so much with kids. I am not a very emotional person, but when I am up at night a lot everything makes me cry. I don't even know myself. I will keep you in my prayers.

I don't know if you can afford another thing, but you might want to consider having some one come in just to clean your bathrooms and kitchen a couple times a month. My sister in law is doing so while she trains for a marathon and it is only $50 a month. For me, I think I would keep things clean just for the house keeper and be more stressed. But maybe if I was hardly sleeping and I KNOW your house work/cooking/tending/teacher/refereeing load, I wouldn't mind paying some one to help.

Jacki said...

Everything appears worse for me and I am not a happy mommy when I am sleep deprived. I hope you have more peaceful nights soon!
Pass on your knowledge about the simplifying when you figure it out! I think its something we all have to adjust every so often. I admire your positive attitude.
Thanks for blogging!

staceysmotheringmoments said...

I'm sorry things have been so crazy. It seems that life is like that. It goes in spurts. I hope your baby starts sleeping more. I'm sure once you are getting more sleep, you'll have more energy and be able to add things back in. You do an amazing job and are an inspiration to me! Hang in there!

Maryanne said...

I'm thinking of you and hoping that Katie starts sleeping better soon! Sleep deprivation is so hard to deal with. I wish I lived close and could take your kids so you could get in those well-deserved naps.

Lisa6Kids said...

The old adage that 'many hands make light work' is so completely true and you are fortunate to have many hands!

In a few years you will have more help than you know what to do with!

One thing that has blessed me So much has been to let the 4 older kids take over kitchen clean up. I never have to worry about the table setting, clearing, wiping. No dishes or mopping. The kids do this daily and with 4 of them doing it, it's very quick and painless.

They also do the separating and switching of the laundry. My husband ( and me to a lesser degree) do the folding because I like it neater so it will fit in the drawers.

Hmm..I think I need to carve out some time for a blog post on housework and delegation.

swedemom said...

My period of serious retrenchment last year taught me that there are times and seasons when it is vital to the health and sanity of the mother, not to mention the children. Being so sick and then pregnant made me realize that my children had to pull their weight. I couldn't do it anymore. It's hard though, when you want to do more than time or health or energy are able.

swedemom said...

My period of serious retrenchment last year taught me that there are times and seasons when it is vital to the health and sanity of the mother, not to mention the children. Being so sick and then pregnant made me realize that my children had to pull their weight. I couldn't do it anymore. It's hard though, when you want to do more than time or health or energy are able.


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