Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Admitted procrastinator

I'm going to make a confession: those of you who have imagined me busily and efficiently working around the house all day long, cooking a delicious three-course dinner for my husband every night, and keeping every item of our clothes or bedding crisply ironed, might just be disappointed by what I'm going to say.

I've been a procrastinator lately. A bad one! Don't get me wrong: the dishes are always done, and most often we've had clean underwear. But it takes me longer to start my day in the mornings, I feel less energetic, less gets done, and in the end, I feel less effective.

Some of it, I'm sure, is about pregnancy. Yes, I'm more tired than usual; I have less energy, and normally need a nap during the day, something I wasn't used to before I became pregnant. And sometimes I just need to put up my feet and rest. Also, some of the general sense of disorientation I've been feeling lately can be attributed to the notorious "baby brain" phenomenon. However, there are also other reasons.

One is rooted in the adjustment I naturally had to make - adapting my routine to my husband's. While I'm most energetic and efficient as an early riser and early sleeper, and normally feel the need to slow down starting from late afternoon, my husband is more active in the late evening and night, and hardly ever falls asleep before midnight. Because it's difficult for me to fall asleep before he does, I stay up late, get up late, and feel that the most productive hours of the morning were lost. Since this is more about my biological clock than anything else, I'm not sure I can do much about it.

Another factor is simply lack of motivation, which in turn has a number of reasons: one, I'm not used to being home alone. When I lived with my mother, there was always someone to tend to - my mother or grandmother - someone to talk to, and usually there was a cat or two at my heels. Having someone else's immediate needs to remember during the day kept me alert and on my toes.

Two, in our old apartment I felt lack of motivation to work hard, simply because it wasn't ours. "What's the point in scrubbing the sink?" - I thought to myself, - "What's the point in removing stains from walls? It's not ours; it's rented; we're moving soon" - and so I let the sinks become disgustingly dirty. Painting the walls was never even a consideration, because we knew we're staying only a few short months. In our new home, I immediately felt a burst of fresh energy.

And finally, I realized that whenever I worked hard, I felt the pull of a good book or the computer, thinking to myself - "We're going to have a baby soon, and I won't have much free time. How sorry I'm going to feel for not taking enough time to rest while I could!" - I still think a pregnant woman shouldn't overtax herself, and I believe it's better to approach the birth of a baby as rested and relaxed as possible, but I have to admit I've been using this as an excuse to slack off.

After much thinking on all of the above, and realizing I can and should do something about it I gradually started feeling a motivational change, which is slowly leading to better use of time. I believe it's very important to establish a good, solid, efficient routine before our little one comes along, because it will be much more difficult to do afterwards. Also, this time I have at home as a new wife with no children yet, is a treasured privilege. I can do special things for my husband. I can complete household projects which will be much more difficult to accomplish in a few months. There's so much to do, including but not ending in preparations for the arrival of a new baby - and like I discovered, the sooner I roll up my sleeves and start working, the more motivated I feel.

29 comments:

Beth M. said...

My advice is that you get used to going to bed before your husband does. I know that's not ideal, but you will probably have to do this after the baby is born anyway, just to get enough sleep.

My husband is also a night-owl. In the summer, when his schedule is more flexible (he is a teacher and gets summers off), he often ends up sleeping all day and awake all night. Even when he doesn't go to those extremes, he is usually up past midnight.

Since our daughter (18 months old) is generally up around 7am each day, I can't stay up with him every night without leaving myself short on sleep. And I definitely can't sleep all day because I've got a toddler to take care of!

So, I go to bed when I need to, whether he is ready for bed or not. If your husband persists in a late night schedule, I think you will find yourself having to sleep without him sooner or later. You might as well start now and get the rest you need during your pregnancy. Do talk to your husband about this though.

Terry, Ornament of His Grace said...

"While I'm most energetic and efficient as an early riser and early sleeper, and normally feel the need to slow down starting from late afternoon, my husband is more active in the late evening and night, and hardly ever falls asleep before midnight. Because it's difficult for me to fall asleep before he does, I stay up late, get up late, and feel that the most productive hours of the morning were lost. Since this is more about my biological clock than anything else, I'm not sure I can do much about it."

This describes me and my husband exactly. I compensate most days by taking a short "power nap", usually during the first half hour my little one's naps, which lasts about an hour and a half. It really does give me a little extra burst of energy and I'm able to stay awake a little later to keep my hubby company. And I'm still able to get up at my usual 5:30. Some nights he retires early with me.

As for your procrastination issue, as a wise young woman recently commented on MY blog, "you can't be perfect all the time." :-) Take care of yourself and your little one. I'm sure things will come together around the house as you start to do a little at a time.

Bailey said...

Oh, don't we all procrastinate? I was just thinking about this lately...I had a bad week full of bad attitude and such because schedules changed. I think the most essential thing in anti-procrastination is a schedule *written* down and posted wherever you'd see it first. Sometimes I can wriggle my conscience out of that schedule-in-my head--words rarely don't. And secondly (probably should've been firstly) a self-disciplined, strong spirit: No, I may not read for even the teensiest second until that laundry's off the line and folded. :) God bless your endeavors!

Karen said...

If it helps, I got some extra reading done when I was up in the wee hours feeding babies or just unable to sleep in general. So there will be some time to get some reading done in your future!

blessings,
karen

Julia said...

I can completely relate to this. I go through periods where I'm doing great, keeping up with routines, and on the ball. Then there are periods where I am just plain lazy. I'm 100 times better than I was when we were first married, so I can remind myself of that. I was a slob then. I mean I was embarressed to have company. Now it's sometimes messy and sometimes I'm behind on dishes or laundry or the toilet gets a little gross, but not like I used to be ten years ago. You're new to this wife thing. It really does take a big adjustment mentally. I wish I had realized that at the time because I was really hard on myself.

Julia said...

Also, I should say flylady helped me tremendously. www.flylady.net

TheRetroHousewife said...

I have to agree that you need to try to start going to bed before your husband. Pretty soon you will have a baby that wont care if you have had enough sleep lol. Also, not all babies sleep all day, mine didnt even as a newborn so you cant count on a nap. You will have someone to tend to all day everyday as soon as the wee one is here.

I do really think its important for you to relax because you will never again have this kind of quiet and time to do so (well not for years and years and years) But I do see how it can turn into an all day relax fest. My advice would be to set aside planned blocks of time to just have Anna time.

Dont worry about your biological clock, your baby will fix that for you lol. I used to be a night owl, up until 2 am and sleep until 10 am. Now Im up by 7 at the latest (used to be 5:30) and I have turned into a person who is most effective in the morning.

Jenny

Jera said...

I've always felt a lack of motivation when I got up late. For as long as I can remember, far into childhood, I always felt demoralized when I woke up after sunrise. And then somewhere along the line, I became a non-morning person, making it very hard to get up in the mornings. Add to that the fact that my kids are up at 5 AM and the only down time I get is when they are in bed after about 7 pm, effectively making evening the start of my chores/free time... I'm a pretty sleep deprived, non motivated person! And what you said about your old apartment, "why bother when we are moving soon" SO applies to me too! We just moved and I'm ashamed to say that our last place was a MESS (and a dirty mess at that).

This is what worked for me. It may not work for you, but this got me motivated enough. I chose seven categories of tasks that absolutely had to be done per week. Of course, there's always light housekeeping like dishes and cooking and all, and those are done every day. But these are tasks beyond that. My tasks are:

1. Household day (deep cleaning, de-cluttering)
2. Errands day (for the store, post office, bank - all the trips at one go)
3. Self-care day (to spend some time on taking care of my body, i.e. doing my hair for the week, doing my nails, and also to devote extra attention to my husband such as with a massage)
4. Craft day (for ongoing projects, sewing, painting a room, etc)
5. Office day (for budgeting, paying bills, doing rebates... paperwork.)
6. Baking day (well, this one is obvious!)
7. Day of Rest

Other than the seventh day being the day of rest, I do change the days around a bit as needed. For example if I know my husband needs to run errands on Wednesday, I'll add mine to his to save time and money. And then re-arrange the rest of the week accordingly. But other than that, my categories of tasks stay the same.

Might something like this system work for you? It's really helped me get motivated and efficient, and not put things off forever.

Also, just as a warning - the first few months with a newborn may be cozy and relaxing, and may be so difficult you want to cry yourself to sleep every day. My second baby has been a mellow, easy-going little thing, and she didn't really affect my routine. My firstborn, however, has been SUCH a feisty, crying, colicky baby who NEVER slept. I was literally unable to put him down for the first six months of his life, not even for 10-20 seconds. And forget about sleep. I hope that you get a mellow baby, but just be aware that the routine you establish before the baby comes, can nevertheless be thrown off drastically in those first weeks/months(/years). But I'm sure you're already aware of this; I just HAD to caution anyway.

Blessings,

Jera

Mrs. Anna T said...

Jera: I use a homemaking schedule which is a lot like yours, with a few changes (for example I'd rather have craft time every day, instead of a "craft day"). Of course it varies, according to our needs.

Naturally, I don't presume I can keep the same routine when the baby is born. :-) Consider just the simple fact that now I do laundry on average once a week, and with a little one around, well, it's bound to be more!!

What I meant about establishing a routine before a baby arrives is more along the lines of, if I'm undisciplined and unorganized now, what will happen when there's a new little one on my hands?!

Amanda said...

I'm reminded of a quote I just read:

"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it."-Margaret Thatcher

I have the tendency to put things off. I think I'm going to blow up and frame this quote.

Anonymous said...

You've received lots of good suggestions here, Anna. It's been so long ago that my children were babies; I do remember, however, how cranky & out-of-sorts I became from lack of sleep. Sometimes I think I did things on "autopilot". After my third child was born I functioned pretty much this way. In fact, I would look at pictures taken during the first couple years after he was born (a gathering of some sort) & have only a vague recollection of being there; or somebody would talk about something that had happened, & I'd think "I don't remember that." And I really didn't....because I was functioning on very little sleep! Please, get your rest when you can.

As to the scheduling matter: somebody mentioned that whatever schedule you use now will likely be changed anyway, & it's probably going to be true. But I think, in reply, you said that you were talking about overall efficiency of thought & action....in my opinion, a good tack to take. If you make your movements count, you will find yourself being able to dovetail, so to speak, your household tasks. I do not use a written out schedule, except when I go to town for shopping & errands, but when I wake up each morning I have a broad idea of how I will spend that day. And I operate a bit the way my mother did, some days of the week having fixed tasks. But give yourself time. You are still new to homemaking....from where I sit, you have the most important characteristic necessary to successful homemaking: a willing heart! I'm sure you will find your way. :o)

fondly, Brenda

His Wife and Their Mommy said...

I was very tired most of my pregnancies as well. but closer to the end I got very energetic and I always had my hubby to help with housework and stuff like that..

Michelle Potter said...

I can empathize. I'm not much of a morning person anyway, and that's compounded by my tendency to stay up until my husband is ready for bed, even if I would have liked to go to bed earlier.

I was just telling my husband that I need him to help me get started in the morning by making sure that I am already standing in the kitchen when he leaves. Otherwise I'll lay in bed until he's leaving, and then I'll sit on the bed with my smallest children for a little while, and then maybe check my blogs and email "real quick" before I make breakfast. This morning it was 8:30 when I made breakfast, and my husband leaves at 7:30!

Aelwyn said...

Thanks for this post! I can definitely relate, especially to the husband being a night owl. My husband is also a teacher and summer throws our whole household off.

Nap when the baby naps. It does help.

Sarah-Kate* said...

You'd enjoy my sister's latest (Sunday, August 24) post on her blog:

http://gombojav.blogspot.com/

She's expecting her sixth baby, doula, childbirth instructor, and just the best big sister EVER! :-)

Judy said...

Anna,

relaxed = good; rested = good... but please be careful that you are being active enough that your muscles are still being challenged. My best birth experience by far was my 3rd child - the one whose pregnancy I started working at a local consignment shop, on my feet for a few hours every weekday (and unfortunately during which time I discovered his father had been cheating on me for years.. but I digress)..

My point is that the physical activity of working at that consignment shop exercised my body enough that the birth was very, very easy.

Please make sure that while you are resting and relaxing, that you're not doing it so much that it ends up hampering your body's natural ability to give birth.

That said, don't worry too much about not getting craft time. If you work on some crocheting skills now, that's something that can be done while holding / nursing a new little one. I have done that with my youngest quite a bit (especially as he loves to be held, and was fussing when put down for long). It lets me feel that even though by holding him I can't be dusting or working on other household tasks, I can still contribute work-wise. It's a little more difficult to crochet while holding him now, as he likes to play with my yarns and is more mobile. But he's also happy to be in an exersaucer and playing with toys as long as I'm right there talking with him. :-D

Mrs. Anna T said...

Judy,

Don't worry about me not getting enough exercise. :o) With a new house, and so many things to arrange, that's hardly a concern. I spend a lot of time on my feet every day, and would spend more if it weren't for the swelling.

Joslyn said...

Hi Anna. I am not pregnant, and I STILL hate ironing. That's the one thing I really dislike, probably because I know I'm not doing it right and our ironing board seems weirdly shaped. Sometimes I think I put in more wrinkles than I take out.

Anyway, regarding body clocks...both my husband and I used to think we weren't morning people. He was more of a night owl then I was, but neither of us got up before 8. Then my husband decided to go to the gym in the morning, and since I was living/sleeping/eating breakfast with him, I shaped my schedule to his.

Over the course of a few week, we both, to our surprise, became morning people!

When I do go to bed earlier than my husband, he misses me, and comes into the bedroom to at least read next to me. (He is so sweet.)

My point is, I think that together, a husband and wife can "reset" their body clocks for later or earlier, if it means they get more time together that way. Since most babies seem to be on an earlier schedule, both you and your husband may have to become morning people by necessity.

Perhaps if you go to bed a little earlier, your husband may miss you too and want to be with you, and the change may just naturally (though gradually) occur.

I didn't think either myself of my husband could change our body clocks, but to my surprise we did, and now I prefer early to bed/early to rise. It seems to fit in better with married life.

USAincognito said...

Ah, yes....procrastination! We all have done that off and on! :) And I am definitely one who will procrastinate if given the chance. Just because I have a very busy and weird work schedule. There are days I do not do anything but sleep, read, sleep some more, eat, and then go to work. lol. And then there are days I am all over the place running around like a crazy woman! haha!! Don't worry....we all have those days/weeks where we just do not have the motivation to do much of anything. *hugs*

Jennifer said...

I have always considered myself to be a night owl. But since my husband must leave the house for work by 5:15am, he needs to be in bed no later than 9pm. And while there are a few nights where I'll go to bed later, I usually don't for two reasons. 1.) I miss my husband and we pray together at night. If I come in later, than he is asleep and we don't get to pray. And 2.) my children have not learned the art of sleeping in! At least 2 of them are up and moving by 7am, so the days of sleeping 'til 9am are gone!

But I must admit that I have found I actually do work better if I'm up and going by 7am. Then I'm also ready to go to bed with my husband at night.

I, too, recommend that you go to bed earlier now, instead of later. Every babies schedule is different, but usually they are "early to rise, early to bed". And even though your husband is more of a night owl, like I am, it would be a lot easier if you both get into the habit of going to bed earlier before the baby comes.

Jennifer

Julie said...

Hi Anna,

I always enjoy hearing your thoughts and sharing your life. I read this post with interest, as I have faced these same issues. From the looks of the comment stream, many of us have!

But procrastination aside, as I read the post two issues seemed to bubble up to the surface… submission and your schedule. I think I’ll just leave the first topic here in your comments and email you the rest, as it opens a can of worms you may rather not!

1. Submission
You are very conscientious about submitting to your husband, but I’m not sure I understood your meaning when you said, “…it’s difficult for me to fall asleep before he does”. Does he resent it if you go to bed sooner? (Because, before you married - not that long ago - you probably slept just fine I would imagine.)

Have you talked with him about the impact his schedule is having on your efficiency? I don’t mean getting in his face and demanding things, but making an appeal to him, as some alternatives present themselves…

A. He may be perfectly happy for you to go to bed and rise earlier than he does.

B. If he wants your schedules to be aligned, he may actually find that he benefits from an earlier schedule. (As is the case with my husband… but that’s another story!)

C. Even if it’s not his preference, he may graciously choose to adapt himself to your needs, rather than having you bend to his.

Just a thought.

Julie

Anonymous said...

I do hope you cut yourself some slack, being pregnant and all. I bet your husband's highest and best goal is for you to have a healthy baby and pregnancy. Blessings.

Bethany Hudson said...

Oh, Anna, I can completely relate. Especially when I was pregnant it was difficult to get motivated. Sometimes I think those seasons where we don't want to begin the work but push through and care for our home simply because it is our duty and we love our homes and husbands can be richly sanctifying. When we do our duty as unto the Lord even though we don't feel like it, I believe He honors our efforts and helps to make us holier and strengthen our characters. We all have seasons of procrastination, but pushing through it like you are is a sign of good character, and I'm sure that you will see the benefits of your efforts.
Blessings,
Bethany

Mrs. Anna T said...

Julie,

Of course it's not like my husband would tell me not to go to bed before he does. :-) I just, well, love to fall asleep while cuddling with my husband, that's all ;-)

My husband comes from work very late each night, and often going to bed early would mean having NO time together in the evening.

Joslyn said...

Oh, your husband has a late-ending job, I didn't realize that. He may then need time to putter about in the evening and "wind down" from work. I remember that when I was single and had a high-stress job in the city with late hours, followed by a 2-hr commute, I couldn't go straight to bed. I was too wound up from work. (I do not miss those days!)

Julie said...

Anna,

Oh, I SO understand that :0)

Julie

Candylei said...

I am happy that you are doing so well and don't have morning sickness. I wanted to ask what are the crafts you do that you referred to in your post? Did you start knitting, by any chance?

Mrs. Anna T said...

Candylei: I'm currently crocheting an outfit for the baby (the one which I posted a picture of some time ago), now that we're done with moving I'm back to it in full swing. I'm also knitting something simple, mostly so I won't forget how to knit.

A. Muschette said...

Oh my, you read my mind in this post! I am a new mom-to-be, and also, I admit I have been a procrastinator. I am so glad I found your blog. I can relate to you and appreciate your thoughts on homemaking. Today is one of those days when my energy is not at its highest peak and I still have my regular duties to fulfill (i.e., dishes, bedroom, bathroom, etc) it make me exhausted just thinking about it!

I am adding your blog to my favorites.

Please feel free to checkout my blog: http://newwifememoirs.blogspot.com

Thanks again,
Nisha