Before 2021, I had been trying to develop better habits and routines. At the beginning of the year, I was a new parent, and my schedule was complete chaos. We lived by my daughter’s schedule of seemingly random naps, diaper changes, and nursing.
That’s not to say I didn’t have time. I knew parenting would take a lot of time, and I was fortunate to have parental leave from work to spend with her and the family. However, I wasn’t constantly busy. In fact, I actually had quite a bit of free time when she was nursing, napping, or being watched by someone else.
The catch is that I just never knew when or long how those gaps of free time would be.
Since then, my daughter has been incredibly cooperative by sleeping and eating well. Over the past year, we have slowly incorporated more parts of a fixed, daily schedule of wake-up, meal times, nap times, and bedtime.
That schedule changes month-to-month as she drops naps and eats differently. However, it’s consistent enough on a day-to-day basis that I can develop new routines and revise them a few weeks later.
The biggest shift in my routines is moving personal activities from the morning to the evening. Before becoming a parent, mornings were mine: I could wake up when I wanted to fit everything in before going to work. Evenings were less regular to fit various social activities.
Now, mornings are hers. I sleep in as much as I can, and then it’s a rush to get the family fed and ready for the day. However, my evenings after her bedtime are clear, so I can get more things done.
Do one thing at a time.
Above, I said that we live by my daughter’s schedule. It’s true, but I’m not compelled to live by her schedule: we choose to live to by her schedule. We decided to be parents, and I should be present when I’m doing it.
When I’m watching her play after dinner, it’s very tempting to pull out my phone as a distraction. Often, I don’t even know why: it’s just a habit.
It takes some amount of willpower not to, but my daughter provides extra motivation. She loves devices, so if she sees my phone, she will stop playing with her toys and grab my phone. I don’t want her to be distracted, so I don’t distract myself.
Overall, I think this goal has been mixed. Although I do well with playing with my daughter, I have more frequently multitasked other chores, like baking cookies and watching Star Trek at the same time. I also caught up on years of podcasts on my new commute.
I don’t think most people consider that a problematic type of multitasking. However, I want to try to mono-task even chores more frequently just to see what it’s like. Maybe I’ll appreciate the chore more by focusing more fully on it. Or maybe I’ll realize that I really dislike a particular chore and need to figure out how offload the work.
Like many people stuck at home during 2020, I started out the shelter-in-place by crushing through my TODO list and entertainment backlog, like putting together lego sets or doing jigsaw puzzles. Then, I figured out how to fill my schedule with new routines and virtual activities.
A few months in, I ran out of things to do. I wanted to be productive, but it didn’t really seem like there were things worth doing.
I generally like to keep myself busy with activities, routines, and to do items. I’m a precrasinator: I try to get things done faster with the promise that it means I can more completely relax later.
However, the pandemic and parenting have made me realize that I’m uncomfortable when I get to the point of being done and having nothing to do. Having reached the end of the apparent to do list, I’m more restless than resting.
So, I’m trying to reframe my day-to-day life. If I won’t actually just relax later, then I should savor the moment itself. If life is in the journey and not the destination, then I should enjoy chores and routines now.