It goes without saying that these are strange and unsettling times.
We started our lockdown with excitement and enthusiasm. and then found that we were struggling to get a foothold upon which to build any kind of structure.
Go with the flow became the new normal.
Turns out, I’m not very good at going with the flow though, because what it actually looked like wasn’t much of a calm stream kissing the pebbles as it flows to the sea. In our house what it looked like was me being unable to get up before 9am because I’d been working (at extremely low productivity level) until beyond midnight the night before. My late start then meant that breakfast wasn’t happening until 9.30 and then we’d get into at least an hour of “please can we get dressed and take the dogs out?” and then once the dogs had been walked it was lunchtime. The afternoon might then be all about painting for her (getting stuff out, making space for it to dry in, clearing it all up again for me) or it might just be TV watching. Without any kind of structure, I never felt I was “free” to get stuck into anything that I wanted to do. Then we’d have dinner and she’d play in the bath and then it would be Harry Potter time and then suddenly it was 9pm and she was still in my bed chatting and not in her bed asleep. So then I’d start attempting to work and the cycle began again.
Last night I had to admit defeat. I was feeling broken with exhaustion and frustration because I wasn’t achieving anything. And I’m not even talking about writing the next great novel here. My friend Rebecca posted a thing on Facebook inviting us to state our 3 intended achievements for that day. I wrote, without a hint of irony, that my three things were walking the dogs, only eating cake twice and reading the seed packets so that I had a scooby for what I was supposed to be doing in the garden. That was it. And I only managed two of them. I still haven’t read the seed packets and that was at least three days ago.
Something had to change.
There had to be an in-between that worked for us both.
Tilly and I had a great chat on our dog walk today and we discussed the bits that we were enjoying and the bits that weren’t really working and how we could make it better. I would always much rather engage her in this kind of decision making so that she feels she has some ownership of both the big picture trajectory and the tiny daily steps we are taking to get us moving in that direction.
She decided that finishing story time at a proper time was probably a good start. She liked my suggestion about having a rhythm that would work in the holidays as well as when school work started coming through again. So what we’re going to work with is both of us being up by 7.30, scrapping the faffing over getting dressed which will enable us to have the dogs walked by 10am. This then means we both have a couple of hours of the morning where we do things separately so that I can work and she can build her Minecraft empire or whatever she’s focusing on that day. We have lunch together and then in the afternoons we do fun stuff. Mondays we will bake. Tuesdays will be nature focused – either outside or “research” (her word). Wednesdays will be writing. Thursdays will be art and Fridays will be sewing. Weekends, she assured me, we could just chill out.
I feel so much better for having this loose plan to follow. It feels un-prescriptive. It feels like fun. It feels like I might find a work life balance after all.
I’ll let you know how it goes!
How are you finding your rhythms? Xx