#Weekthings 2 (11 Feb) – Prioritise like a parent
After giving birth to a healthy boy of 4kg in the middle of December, I had to bid farewell to the familiar routines and flexibility I’ve gotten used to over the years. Life as I knew it changed.
My world is like the moon constantly and forever in the orbit of the earth that is baby. Like gravity, I’m uncontrollably drawn to this tiny precious creature who can’t do anything on his own. He who needs to be fed, cleaned, changed, held, and soothed around the clock.
I’m a Doer. I’m a productivity nerd who prides myself in getting things done. I like to fill my days with numerous tasks and won’t feel at ease until I get the majority of them done. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. Proof that I used the day well. And since usually, I was able to get through most of my todos, it didn’t matter the order in which the tasks were completed. But now, between caring for the little one and trying to find small windows of rest, there just isn’t much room to fit the todos that make my day feel productive. At least, not in these early months of baby minding in my experience.
For example, I started drafting this post shortly after giving birth, and only now I’m publishing it more than a month later. I was proud that since I started weeknotes early last year, I was able to write a post every week. So needless to say, I was hugely disappointed when I broke that streak.
The thing is, improving my writing was just not as high of a priority for me at the moment. And I definitely don’t have the luxury to fit it in on a strict regular basis. I need to care for this little human whose little neck can’t even support his head yet and demands nearly all my time. He’s my priority. With the little time I have in between, I need to make sure I can continue to function, both physically and mentally. That includes getting rest whenever I can, maintaining personal hygiene, making sure to eat, and keeping myself mentality sane such as getting fresh air, alone time, and some physical activity. All so that I remain in decent shape to continue caring for my baby. Any additional windows of time are a bonus. And since those precious pockets of time are unpredictable and vary in length, I need to prioritise aggressively. I can no longer just pick what things I want to get done first knowing I’d get through them all. I have to focus on what needs to be done first. If not, I may not be able to get to it until it’s too late. While learning and self-improvement are important to me, I’m learning to accept that they just have to be put on the back burner, for now, until there’s capacity.
Simple things like going to the post office can be a logistic challenge with a newborn if my partner is tied up with work. We tried to take our baby to get his passport photos taken. We aimed for a window when baby shouldn’t be fussy between feeding and changing, yet still, by the time we arrived at the photo Center, somehow it was always only minutes before the shop’s closing time and it was too late to get photos taken that day. We had to go back another time. Needless to say, I was quite annoyed and disappointed. A simple trip felt like a huge undertaking.
Our home, although has always been a bit unorganised, I was able to do my part to help in keeping it reasonably clean and orderly. Now just folding up laundry and putting clothes away in between the time I have is tricky. I had to put off a lot of these maintenance and cleaning tasks which only made the place all the more chaotic and consequently more stressful to live in.
It’s so frustrating. I am not used to simple things being so complicated. I felt like a failure and put myself down for not putting in enough effort. Why is it that it’s so easy to be harsh on oneself and kind to others?
Whether I like it or not, sleepless nights, aching body, lack of energy and the inability to plan my days are my current reality. Adjusting and accepting that has been challenging. But resisting it is even more painful. Trying to reach for that previous normal life and pace only causes me distress and disappointment.
So now it’s a good day if I can complete more than one task in a day. Bonus if I can do the task without any interruptions! So prioritise I must. I choose the baby over certain freedom and control over my life. I choose sanity over cleanliness so our home is in constant disarray. I prioritise my partner’s rest over mine, so he can be in a reasonable shape for work. Having one of us being a zombie is enough.
I thought I knew how to prioritise, but it wasn’t until a baby came into the picture that I fully grasped what it entailed and how to apply it. I have now even more respect and admiration for parents.
As a parent, one must prioritise and prioritise hard. Instead of giving myself numerous things to do, I tell myself that if I can get just one or two tasks done in a day outside of baby care then it’s a win. For someone like me who loves to be on top of things, putting things off can feel extremely difficult. I hate the feeling of being constantly behind and not doing enough. But the truth is, many things can wait. I just have to learn to let them if I want to keep my mental well-being intact. Having this baby has forced me to deprioritise and let go of things.
I think it’s good for me.