Monday, May 23, 2011

Simple Graces

For both encouragement and insight I became very interested in looking at the schedules of other working mothers as a way to further organize my own routine so I too could walk the tightrope that is the work/life balance. I also found it helpful as a building block to understanding pumping schedules, unique though they are, as I was not around anyone who was actively pumping at work.

This may seem overly detailed but somewhere out there it might be of help to a mother pressed for time who could use encouragement knowing that she is NOT alone, she CAN do it and anything you set your mind to as a priority can remain that way if you're organized.

So here is our schedule (typical workday) at present:

5AM - Mama wakes up!

5AM-5:15/5:30AM - pump (for freezer stash or to add to any shortages prior day)
5:30-5:45AM - shower/get ready
5:45AM/6AM - pull out lunch, freezer packs, finish packing purse and dress
(sometimes I am also blending a smoothie or cooking rice)
5:45AM - Winter wakes up! (or Mama gets her up)
6-6:15AM  - get Winter ready / grandma comes in!
6:15-6:20AM - grandma prepares bottles, Winter nurses, grandma/mama talk
6:25-6:35AM - drive to train station,spend time together in car
6:46AM - train leaves!
8:35AM - arrive at work, sterilize pump parts, organize lunch, fill water bottles
9:30AM - 1st pump break
12:15PM - 2nd pump break / eat lunch / work / check on Winter
2:30PM - 3rd pump break
3:40PM - run/walk to subway
4:03PM - train home!
5:35PM - touch down, grandma/grandpapa's house to get Winter (nurse on cue until departure next morning)
6-6:30PM - grandpapa drives us home / we visit briefly
6:30-8:30PM - cook/eat dinner, pack bag for next day, measure milk, change into PJ's, use sling to continue nursing as needed and shift Winter from floor, chair, rocker etc. story time!
7:30-9PM - Winter dozes, goes to crib. Mama scrambles to finish above!
9-11PM - quiet time! reading, movie, writing, studying, house chores, pumping
11-4:49AM - nurse 1-2x as needed, sometimes more sometimes less (no crying or outburst due to co-sleeping)
5AM - we start again!

You'll notice 2 things missing from the above that will drive any mother's limited amount of time into the ground. Laundry and bottle sterilizing.

Wanted to note that as of now I wash my diapers and handle clothing laundry on Thursday night and Sunday afternoon. The diapers that come home from daycare stay with Winter's grandma who handles pick-up/drop-off. Grandma tackles the diaper bag and replenishes (including sterilizing the bottles) so that the next morning my job is simply to provide her with the milk. We fell into this routine naturally because both grandmama and daycare use pocket diapers so she can do one big load as she pleases and I wash my flats and fitteds at the end of the week. We've stashed a reserve of clothes at her grandparents so that the only laundry that builds over the week is the outfit she comes home in and my own. Since I personally have not ever used a bottle with Winter this also reduced us shuttling bottles back and forth. Baby food I make on the weekend and freeze, then give to grandma in batches every few days. Winter has fresh food at night and on the weekends with me.

Now, moment of silence.

The reality is, every mom once she unloads all that she does in a single day has a schedule that asks the world of her and then some. What I have learned in listening to the various schedules and methods of juggling is that we all need support both verbally, practically and otherwise. I've heard repeatedly that you should find a way to do something small for yourself, each day, which brings me to what I call simple graces.

My simple graces are found on my train ride home. I sit, stare at out at the world passing by me as the train pulls through the landscape like a chariot and it is the most calming, mind numbing, meditative state I've managed to find for myself and I embrace the peace. I find simple grace in the peace of my home. I may be a party of 1 but my home is a calm, warm and peace filled environment. Less is more. I find grace in the meaningful moments gained with my parents who, after 15 years of living in different states, short visits and a rapport relegated to e-mail and phone calls, I now see morning and night. I find grace in the few but intensive friendships that have tangled even tighter with love and protection around me, and now my daughter, as we weathered yet another life change together. My grace is in each new person Winter and I meet in our new home that shows some small act of kindness.

My grace is in coming home and finally feeling fulfilled.

I am a devoted follower of the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh and he has a wonderful book called Present Moment Wonderful Moment. Its mindful verses for mundane tasks like brushing your teeth, washing your hands and other simple encounters.

Here are fragments from the last pages of the book, all of which I have found to be true:

We can practice beginning anew at any moment of our lives. As humans, we make mistakes. Without these mistakes, there would be no way to learn to be more accepting and compassionate. When your life is meaningful, happiness becomes a reality...Every one of us is capable of this. - Thich Nhat Hanh

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