Why does everything have to be so hard?

This whole post is clouded by the fact that it’s the end of the semester, which is an extremely busy time for me.  I am severely sleep-deprived (even more so than usual), my health isn’t the best right now, and since I’m so busy, I don’t have my usual mental-health benefits from exercising.  But even knowing this, I am just feeling really tired and discouraged right now.  I just don’t understand why everything has to be so hard.

Things that are WAY more difficult than I ever anticipated:

Getting the girls into the car and buckled into carseats

Potty training

Getting the girls ready for bed

Getting the girls to go to sleep

Doing ANY household chore while the girls are awake

I’m just tired of feeling like I’m CONSTANTLY struggling with someone or something, be it a toddler or a car seat strap, a sippy cup lid, or the top of the humidifier.  I’m plain exhausted, and I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to get enough rest to NOT feel so stinking tired all of the time.

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Rest and time

I know I didn’t succeed in posting twice this past week, so I figured I would at least post once.

Since it’s the beginning of the year, I’ve been seeing a lot of people post about their goals and their words or themes for the year. I have been wanting to think about this, but I never seem to have time to just contemplate. Not that I have time right now. I’m staring at a stack of essays that I STILL haven’t finished, and am not likely to finish tonight. However, thinking of that, has led me to this.

There are two words I’m considering as far as being my focus for 2014. I can’t really accomplish one without the other, though, so I may end up having to work with both. The first word I thought of is rest. The second one is time.

I have been tired since my girls were born. And before that, I was tired because I was pregnant. And before that, I was pretty much always tired for one reason or another. And yes, some of it was unavoidable. I was in my first years of teaching, and I was the adviser for the school newspaper. This meant I was usually working 60-80 hours a week. However busy I was, though, my poor time-management always exacerbated my stress. I have NEVER been good about getting things done without some serious procrastination beforehand. This goes way back to middle school when I would come home, watch TV for two or three hours, and then be up until 10 or 11:00 every night doing homework. I’d always manage to get my work done, and it was always on time, but there were usually several wasted hours in the process.

These bad habits stayed with me throughout high school and even into college. I almost never started my homework on a Friday night or a Saturday morning. Nearly every essay I ever wrote, I was working on until about 5 minutes before it was due. My culminating project for my methods course was a 4 week unit plan, and I still remember (and shudder just thinking about) staying up the entire night before it was due, frantically finishing it up between classes on the day it was due, and then finally turning it in about 15 minutes before the final deadline. I can still remember coming home after turning it in that day, falling asleep around 4 p.m., and sleeping clear through until Saturday morning.

With that project and others, part of the problem was me wanting to make it PERFECT and fiddling with it until the last minute. But I definitely should have started it earlier, and worked on it more regularly, so that I didn’t need to work on it for 24 hours straight before turning it in. And sadly, I can’t even say that that experience taught me an important lesson. I still struggled with procrastination throughout student teaching and even now. Since the girls were born, I’ve really tried to get a little work done every night, but there are some nights when I am just too exhausted, and I don’t do anything. And there are some nights I sit in front of the computer, or on facebook, (or typing a blog!) when I should really just stop it and get to work.

Most nights I am lucky to get 5-6 hours of sleep. We get the girls to bed around 8. Lately they haven’t been going to sleep until 9. And then I have from 9 until I can’t stay awake anymore to do any remaining chores, exercise if I’m going to that day, and get work done. I typically sleep midnight – 5 a.m. And this just isn’t cutting it anymore. I don’t think I ever feel more miserable than when I first wake up in the morning. Getting out of bed feels like torture. And I have to wonder if I could change my whole perspective on life if I could just get a little more sleep. I see what happens to my girls when they don’t sleep enough. They get clumsy, easily frustrated, easily upset, and they just start (figuratively) falling apart. It makes sense if that is also happening to me at some level, due to constant sleep-deprivation. I feel like maybe my life would be a lot better if I could just get some more rest.

But how do I make time for more sleep when I don’t have enough time to get my work done as it is? This is where time has to come in as well. If I were to honestly assess my use of free time over a week, could I find more time to get done the things I need to? If I could actually dedicate two or three hours EVERY night of doing work for school, could I get caught up and then possibly ahead to open up more time for sleep? It’s worth trying.

All of this is easier said then done, though. I’m trying to train for a 15K race right now, which requires at least an hour of exercise six days a week, and more like 2 hours on long-run days. I have essays to grade in three classes still that I’ve had since Christmas break. And I know that when I string together a week or so of literally no free time for myself, I start to feel like I’m losing my mind. I need to really think this through and come up with a plan if I’m actually going to make any real changes. And to do this I need time. But I want to try. I’ve been able to make real changes in other areas of my life: fitness, nutrition, cooking our own food. I would LOVE it if in 2014 I can make some changes in this area too.

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Blogging more in 2014

I want to write about so much right now. I want to write about Christmas, attempting sleep-training (again), Imogen dancing to a Care Bear song and her love of music, training for a 15K race in March and trying to keep up with Jillian workouts while I’m trying to increase my running, and about the ongoing struggle of balancing parenting, work, and things I want to do like write more, or organize our pictures, or clean the mess that has taken over my office. The problem is (and always is) not having enough time.

I would REALLY like to set the goal of blogging twice a week throughout 2014. Writing is something I want to do more of, and I know later in life I’ll be glad to have anything recorded at all from this time that often feels like a complete blur. So I want to write about more of it. I just know that realistically, I won’t always be able to meet this goal. So do I set it and try anyway? I know that if I DON’T focus on it, I am likely to repeat a similar pattern as last year, when I barely posted at all. 

So for now, this is the plan. Unfortunately I have 60+ essays that I had hoped to get graded over break that I’m STILL working on and need to focus on right now. The other things I want to write about will have to wait until later. Continue reading

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Time for an update

The last few weekends with the girls have felt different from most of the previous two and half years of their lives.  It’s difficult to articulate exactly. It’s still a lot of work. I’m still incredibly exhausted and very grateful that they’re still taking a nap. But both girls have become much more interactive and responsive. They talk about things a lot more, now that they have more words and better memories. We know when they like something because they continue to talk about it. And they’ll say if something was “really fun” or “a little bit fun.” 

Fun is a good word to describe how I would characterize a lot of our time together now. Not that previous times haven’t been fun. And not that everything is super easy now. I’m still having to play referee a lot. Getting both girls to get their diapers changed and get into their high chairs, or both diapers changed and into the car, still feels like a daunting task. But we’re able to do more things together, either just me with them, or even all of us as a family, and it feels a lot more enjoyable and less stressful than it ever has before. We’re all able to walk around the block when we have to walk Nieve before going somewhere. We’ve taken them to church two times now, and they’ve done a reasonably good job of keeping themselves occupied by coloring and not fighting or fussing too much. Saturday morning I laid out an extra exercise mat (and then later a third one) and they jumped around and “did Jillian” with me, and I was able to get through the whole video.  They still asked me to pick them up (I declined) and they fought a little (I had to stop the video twice and separate them, hence the third exercise mat) but I actually got all the way through a workout, and it felt really good.

I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. The girls only have a vague understanding that these are days different from other days, but they hear us talk about what’s going to happen, and they tell us excitedly, “Go to Nana Papa’s house on Thanksgiving! Go to Montana on Christmas! Snow in Montana! Grandpa Alan’s boat!” I love their enthusiasm and excitement, and I wish I could have more of that in myself. In the meantime, I’ll borrow from them. And I’ll try to remember it as I’m laying them down for bed for the fifth, sixth, or seventh time.

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Bedtime’s gone from bad to worse

A typical bedtime used to involve laying the girls down, then having to go into their room a few minutes later and change their diapers, lay them down again, then possibly one more time after that.  Little did I know I would come to think of THIS as the good old days.

Siren stopped wanting to go to bed in the last couple of weeks.  At first I thought she was just having a bad night, then a bad couple of nights, and now I don’t know when it’s going to end.  Imogen was being a trooper through it all at first, but now it’s seemed to jar something in her as well, and nobody around here is getting much sleep.

Siren has been sleeping in the guest room because the girls *seem* to do better when they are separated, but it doesn’t seem to be helping tonight.  We got the girls into their cribs at 8:00.  Almost immediately Imogen started calling out “Mama!” Will went in and changed her diaper.  Siren started crying, so I went into her room, picked her up for a minute, and then laid her down again.

A mere few minutes later, Imogen said, “Mama! Mama!” I let her call for me for about five minutes, then I went in to lay her down again.  She asked me to change her diaper, but I checked her, and she was dry.

Siren heard me in with Immy, and started to cry.  I went into Siren’s room, picked her up, then laid her down again.  All was quiet for a couple of minutes.

A little bit after that, Immy called out again.  I let her call for almost 10 minutes, then went upstairs, picked her up, and laid her down.

A few minutes later, Siren started crying because her musical puppy had stopped playing music. (It goes for 20 minutes.)  I picked her up, hugged her, started the puppy, laid her down, and left the room. 

And then, a few minutes after that, Imogen started calling out “Mama! Mama!” HER puppy had stopped playing music.  I picked her up, started the puppy, and laid her down.

And now I’m waiting. It is now 9:05 p.m. I have spent an hour picking up and putting down tiny children, with very few minutes in between to try to get anything done.  The house is a mess (and the toys MUST be picked up so that Nieve doesn’t eat them when she’s in the house during the day tomorrow.) I need to pack things for the girls because they are staying at their grandparents starting tomorrow. And I have the ever-present stack of grading that never gets done because I have lost an hour (or more) at night to put the girls to bed multiple times.

I hate that I only seem to write when things aren’t going well…but things aren’t going well. I am EXHAUSTED all of the time. I almost fall asleep on my drive to work in the mornings. The last three weekends I’ve stayed up late Saturday night, until about 4 a.m. Sunday morning, to try to get grading done. Morning workouts have disappeared, and my evening ones have been very spotty the last two weeks.

I just have to wonder if I can truly be a good mom and a good teacher simultaneously.  It seems like one area always has to suffer due to the other. Never mind that ANY free time has gone out the window. I just feel like I’m teetering on the edge.

Hopefully this week will help, though.  Tomorrow Will’s parents are going to pick the girls up from daycare and take them back to their house for the rest of this week.  It’s conference week at my school, so I have to be at the school until 7:30 tomorrow night, and then I have conferences scheduled throughout the afternoons for the rest of the week.  Will is going to a workshop in Portland Wednesday night, and will be gone through Friday night, and I just didn’t feel like I could deal with conferences and the girls (and their lack of going to bed) all by myself.  My “big plan” Friday is to come home in the afternoon and go directly to bed.

I guess I find myself wondering the same old question: if I didn’t teach, what would I do instead?  What kind of job could I get? Could I make enough money for us to get by? Is there something I could do at night so that the lack of money could be compensated by not having to pay for daycare? Teaching is going well.  I have a nice schedule this year, and I like my classes.  But even under the very best of circumstances, teaching is a lot, A LOT, of work. I’m at school from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. minimum, until 4:30 or 5 when Will picks up the girls, and then i go home and work for two, three, or more hours, and I always feel like it’s not enough. I know that it will get better as the girls get older, but I hate feeling like I’m missing their young years, wishing them away, because my job is so consuming. Yes, we do get the summers to compensate, but they go so fast. It’s hard to try to live your whole personal life in the two months of the year you have any free time.

As I was writing this, Siren woke up again, and I had to go lay her down. I will wrap this up soon, and then I will start the laundry, and then I will grade vocab quizzes, and then I will grade essays, and then I will pick up the foam blocks in the living room, and then I will pack the girls’ diapers, dishes, toys, and other necessities for their trip, and then around midnight or 1 a.m., I will go to sleep, and I will wake up at 5 a.m. tired. 

And if I wasn’t teaching, I could just go into the guest room, lie with Siren in the guest bed, and I could snuggle my baby.

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Morning Workouts – Week 2

I managed to workout in the mornings 3 days the first week, and 5 days last week. Two of the days last week I woke up at 4:30, the other days at 5:00. I have yet to attempt to wake up at 4. I will give that a try on this coming Tuesday, the first day of school.

Waking up in the mornings has been TOUGH. A couple of times I wouldn’t have gotten up except that Siren and Imogen woke up and needed their diapers changed. After doing that, it would have seemed silly to go back to bed, so I stayed up.

But waking up in the mornings is always tough. It honestly doesn’t feel any easier an hour later, and if I can remember that, it’s easier to get out of bed.

On the positive side of things, it feels SO good throughout the day knowing that my workout is already done. After the girls are in bed, it’s really nice not to have to change clothes and motivate myself to get moving. So I’m really hoping I’m able to stick with this. I want to keep track of how it feels when I’m being successful with it, so that if I slip up down the road, I have something to help me get back on track.

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Can I become a morning exerciser?

I did a pretty good job last year of exercising consistently.  I started during the summer, usually doing 6 days a week.  I did a decent job of keeping it up during the school year. I think I averaged working out four days a week, and there were only a few weeks here and there when I skipped exercising entirely. 

I was able to keep up my routine by beginning exercise right after the girls went to bed.  The problem is for at least the first part of last year, the girls were almost always asleep by 7:00 p.m.  Now we’re lucky if we get them into bed by 8:00, and we usually have to lay them down a couple of times before they go to sleep for good.  Some nights it’s been as late as 9 before they are actually asleep.

This isn’t going to give me much time in the evenings, so I’m hoping this year to become a morning exerciser.  The problem with this is I literally need to be out of bed at 4 a.m. and going as soon as possible after that to get in a workout before I need to be hitting the shower at 5 a.m.  I have enough difficulty getting out of bed as it is. Making my wake-up time an hour earlier isn’t going to be easy, but I want to try.

I have two weeks until school starts, so I’m trying to start getting into the habit now.  This morning I woke up at 5 a.m. and went running.  I only snoozed the alarm once, got up at 5:09, went downstairs and changed, and then I was out the door by 5:30.  I ran for 30 minutes (add 10 minutes for a 5 minute warm up and cool down) and was back around 6:10.  The girls were sleeping when I got back, but apparently had heard me leave because Will said he had to get up and change them and lay them back down at 5:30.  So waking the girls up could become a problem.

I’m hoping that overall, working out in the morning will save me some time.  Try as I might to get going on my workout RIGHT after the girls go to bed, I know many nights it took me 15-20 minutes to change and really motivate myself to get started.  Then afterwards I would feel SUPER hungry, and I would need to eat a snack.  So it would be a minimum of 30 minutes after I was DONE working out before I got started on my work for the night.  I typically have at least 2 hours of work to get done for school on week nights, so I really need all of the time in the evenings that I can get.  I’m hoping that by moving my work outs to the morning, I can focus on work after the girls go to bed, and then head to bed earlier myself.  I just don’t know if I’ll be able to get to bed early enough to face waking up at 4 a.m.

So today was day 1.  I’m going to attempt to do this 4 days this week (Thursday we have plans to go hiking.)  And I’m going to try to do it 5 days next week.  The only days I HAVE to be at work these next two weeks are Wednesday and Thursday next week, and we start later than usual on those days, so they’ll be good practice to see if I can do it on an actual day of school.

So today was day 1.  I’m going to see if I can make this change, and if it helps.  Here’s hoping.

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