Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Rest, Rest, and Rest Some More

Hi, hi, hello, hi. It appears that I will eventually recover from this cold/flu/possible allergy thing, though it's not quite done with me yet. (I know. It's endless.) As predicted (but initially resisted), the only thing that works to get rid of it is rest. There were some other things which helped ease my suffering from the symptoms, but rest is what does the healing job. There is absolutely no way around this.

I find this to be frustrating. I am an Enneagram 1, and my inner critic is not down with just doing nothing. My inner critic thinks I should recover faster. My inner critic does not think that taking a short nap after returning from an early morning cat care job is acceptable. My inner critic wonders if I have seen the state of the kitchen lately? Or my disaster of a desk? My inner critic asks if I've figured out the budget for the rest of 2019, and if I shouldn't just get up in the night to finish that?

My inner critic clearly needs to shut up.

Because overall, things are going well. I no longer feel like someone has filled my sinuses with concrete. My energy levels have come back up to a level which allows me to get most things done without feeling like I need to sit down every few minutes. I booked a holiday for late September/early November, and that gives us all something to look forward to. Pascha is coming up this weekend, and we've got a plan to keep it as low stress as possible. So my problems right now are small, it seems.

For example, I'm experiencing dinner-making burnout. I just don't feel like making dinner anymore. I love cooking, but suddenly it seems that I've made enough dinners. Why does my family still want to eat dinner? Haven't they done that enough? Apparently not.  But they do seem to have accepted mediocre dinners pretty readily. Mediocre is better than nothing, and they know it! And also I got a bunch of pizzas on clearance, so there's a backup option in the freezer if necessary. Let's just keep it real.

Also real? That I have other things to do besides complain about making dinner to my audience of 35 willing readers. Like grate cheese for tonight's mediocre dinner of quesadillas heated in the waffle iron. Off I go.

Monday, April 15, 2019

A Quick Note About Resting (and How I've Been Doing It Wrong)

Aaaaaaand...we're back to the cat photos. You're welcome. I took that photo while lying on my bed today, massaging my face with frankincense and lavender oils to try to get my sinuses to stop making my whole head hurt. It was nice, lying there with the cat nearby. I'd say it was nice to smell the oils, but I honestly couldn't smell a thing.

I'm spending three days trying to recover from the cold/flu/who-knows-what that I've had since early March. I thought it would be gone by now. I took little breaks! I did! But my problem has always been not being able to allow myself to take the kind of rest I really need. Sometimes I'll take as little as possible, and other times I will take not quite enough. Logically, I know that I need it. Practically, I see all the things that need to be done and figure that if I can drag myself out of my bed to do them, I probably should. This is a lie, but it's one that I apparently believe, as I keep doing things instead of resting.

Spoiler alert: that doesn't really work out. And yet, today I started on the project of swapping my winter wardrobe for my spring/summer wardrobe when I had vowed to rest. I meant to do it! But there I was, contemplating which things were truly for winter and which were more transitional between winter and spring.

I also did laundry.

And some dishes.

But then I laid down. Many times. In between the laundry and dishes. Because some things that can wait turn into absolute disasters if they are not attended to in a timely manner. I did what I had to do, in order to not suffer terribly later. I don't have a solution for this. All I can do is spend these three days lying down as much as possible and hope for the best.

For the long term, I am trying to build things into our lives that will mean that I get more rest overall. I took a free online course about increasing energy, and I'm going to incorporate some of the strategies I learned as well. (If any of them work, I'll let you know.) But none of that helps me now. What will help me now is lying down as much as possible. And that is hard for me, but I am going to do my very best.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A New Day in Our Week

For most of the years we have been home educating, we have had a four day school week for book work, leaving one weekday for whatever else we wanted or needed to do. This worked out brilliantly - much of the time we would have an extra activity booked one day a week, but when we didn't, we'd take Friday to just relax a bit and get extra things done. This year I didn't build in that day, as we consistently have our Wednesday group that takes us away from book work fortnightly, and on alternating weeks we almost always have a day out planned. It became clear to me last week that we still really need it scheduled in, and that some weeks we need more than one book work free day.

It does seem a bit lax to only do book work three days per week some weeks, but in the end we always manage to get through more books than were on our curriculum plan, so this is not a real problem. It's a perception problem. Because most children attend school all five weekdays, it seems like doing less would make us slackers. But we don't actually do less. Absent the need for classroom management and answering the questions of thirty plus students, we can get a lot done in a short amount of time. So four days as standard is plenty, and three days can also be enough.

Therefore, recognizing that we needed a bit more time to develop some key skills, last week we added a new day to our homeschool week. It is Cleaning and Project Day. This will normally take place on Thursday, and the key skills that will be developed will include cleaning, not complaining because your mother doesn't want to be everyone's maid, and not begging for Minecraft instead of doing something else creative.

I do allow a small amount of Minecraft once the cleaning is done, but I'm not keen for this to be a day in which my kids rush through cleaning tasks and then glue their faces to screens. So they do a little Minecraft or other screen time if they want, and then they pick something else to do. Today, Z finished sewing a skirt that's been in process since January. E ate ice cream and got out her big doll stroller. I made orange syrup and some applesauce.

Honestly, the main point of this day is the cleaning. It is, in a way, selfish on my part, but I believe it will benefit the family as a whole. As I mentioned in my last post, feeling peace in my surroundings helps me be more patient, and of course it's a good thing for everyone when I feel peaceful instead of shout-y. But I also want it to be possible for everyone in our family to clean up easily and without a lot of stress. When things get too messy, it feels overwhelming to my kids to complete the task. By cleaning regularly, we avoid that trap.

I'd also love to be able to have people over without having to do more than a quick tidy of the bathroom. Up to this point, I've felt that we have to plan at least a week in advance to have people over to our house. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but I have realized that it would be nice to just be able to ask people to come over and know there will be a place for them to sit, and they won't be tripping over things as they walk through the house.

So on Thursdays, we start by cleaning and tidying. It's nothing special - our house won't pass the white glove test when we are done. In fact, today we didn't even vacuum all the rooms, and you can tell if you look. But the bathrooms and kitchen got cleaned, and everything that we have out throughout the house got put away where it belongs. These are the things that must happen every week on this day. This is not my kids' favorite thing, but it doesn't have to be. Frankly, the cleaning part isn't my favorite thing either. But then we all get to do projects, and I think that might become one of my favorite things. I hope that my kids will come to love this, too.

I also hope that this gives us the extra space we need to feel less rushed. Both kids have complained of this feeling lately, and so my hope is that as we take this day away from book work each week, they will feel the freedom of getting a little work done and then having the rest of the day open up in front of them to do whatever their imaginations can conjure up. Whether we have four full days of book work or have had an special group or activity thrown in, this day will be there for us, just waiting. I'm excited for it. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Adjustments and Plans

I have been going to IKEA a lot lately. This is partly because there is one quite near to me now, but also because I've decided that organizing is what will make my life worth living. Well, okay, not worth living, but easier at least. And it brings me joy to look out into my laundry room and see everything in containers, with a clear path to the back door. I put down a rug out there. It is glorious.

And I mean that. Sometimes it really is the little things that make a big difference.

For the past month, I've had a cold, the kind that settles in the chest and makes it feel like I'll never take a full breath again, and I'll always be tired. I am very nearly over it, but now we've had the time change to British Summer Time, and so I'm contending with that lost hour of sleep. But at least I am not tired in the sense that I feel like I cannot do anything beyond the bare necessities, which was the reality of most of the last month. I realized as I was finally coming out of the fog last week that it is very hard to slow down my life when I need to, and that's when I made my plan to amass a large quantity of clear IKEA storage boxes, as well as a lidded basket to put our sofa blankets in.

I understand that the connection between needing to slow life down and amassing storage containers may not be obvious, but allow me to explain.

A lot of my life is spent getting things out and putting things away. I need to move around my house efficiently to get things done, and certain spaces need to be clear for me to complete tasks. It also falls to me to make sure that our house is ready if we have guests over, and while I can delegate some of the tasks, ultimately whether it works out or not is up to me. All of these things are easier if the house is organized, and I didn't realize until I was sick for a month that my organizing efforts thus far hadn't gotten me to a place of ease in tidying. I still endeavor to keep the house in a happy medium between hoarder and minimalist, slob and neat freak, but I was falling behind on basic tasks because it was just too hard to do my work without tripping over something or finding something in my way. When I was exhausted and not feeling well, it made me feel like just giving up and letting the place go to ruin.

So I took a look at what wasn't working, and I've been adjusting some things. My plans won't solve every issue, but even with a few small changes, it is easier to do what I need to do. I can get the vacuum out more easily now. I can walk through the laundry room without a rolled up piece of carpet tripping me. There aren't ziploc bags of carefully sorted old clothes of Z's falling off shelves. The sofa blankets aren't piled haphazardly on top of the back of the sofa. These things didn't seem like they'd matter much, but they do. Not only are things functioning better, but they look nicer, too. Now, the messes that exist (because there will always be messes in our space, most likely) don't look so messy. The house feels more peaceful. I feel more peaceful. This spills over into other areas of my life. Of course it does.

I wrestle a lot with feeling that some of my priorities, particularly when it comes to home improvement, are selfish. My husband and kids really don't care of the house is organized or neat. But I know that they do care if I am stressed out. My kids like me better when I have more patience. I wish I could just be serene in any circumstance, but I'm not that far advanced in my personal growth yet. So I will change what I need to change in my physical space order to be more of the person that I want to be in my heart. I'm not sure how many more trips to IKEA it will take, but I'm open to any number.