Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Cleaning (Mentally, Anyways)

All this lying around resting my leg has left me feeling desperate to clean, which is exactly what happened when I was put on bedrest during my last pregnancy. Only then it was for a whole month, which meant people were coming in to help, and also we had no children at that point, which meant no one was running around emptying the bathroom drawers, or scattering raisins and dry cereal throughout the house. So it didn't make me as crazy, even though it was a longer period of time.
Today I have felt somewhat normal, although my knee is still weak and wobbly and my nose is running. But I have put away some laundry, which has been folded and waiting for a week, and I slowly and carefully pushed the vacuum cleaner around a bit to try to make a dent in the thick layer of dust and dog hair and crumbs which seems to have settled throughout our house even as the unseasonal snow was settling outside of it.
The settling of these things, snow and otherwise, has conspired to put me in a very bad mood the last few days. More and more I am realizing what a control freak I actually am, though I would generally deny it. When things don't go how I think they ought to, or happen when I wish they would, it's hard for me to shake the pouty, gloomy mood which takes hold. Which is a nice way of saying, when the dishes are piling up and I can write my name in the dust on top of the microwave, yet I am forbidden to clean and no one else in the house is quite as, shall we say, motivated to do it as I am, I turn into a bit of a bee-otch.
I feel less depressed today, which I am pretty sure is directly related to the sun, which is finally shining again, and the weather, which has finally broken forty degrees after taking a dip into the twenties the last week. It's still cold, but it's like, "Oh, this is a little chilly for April," and not so much like, "Why does God hate the Midwest and play these horrible little games with our heads?"
Anyways... Not sure where I was going with this. Just making the general point that I need to be more flexible, I guess, and more realistic about cleaning expectations (and expectations in general.) I mean, our house isn't even that atrocious. It's probably how most people's houses are all the time, and it doesn't bother them at all. It's not exactly unsanitary or about to be condemned. It's just not perfectly tidy and hasn't been dusted in almost two weeks, plus dear God there were dishes sitting around for days!
I don't know why I can't just let it be, and know that someone will get to it eventually. I don't know why I can't enjoy this time of resting and having a reason to be lazy. This is a perfect day to eat my Easter candy and watch TV. Instead, I sit and stew and glare at the mess and make lists of all the deep cleaning tasks which I plan to do in each room just as soon as my knee heals.
The other day I got all tearful talking to Jim about how afraid I am of the whole adjustment period when the baby comes. For the first time, I will be outnumbered during the day, and things like housekeeping and showering are definitely going to be lower on the priority list than they have been. The fact is, I may not have daily time to myself in the afternoon for many many years once this baby joins us, and I am beginning to feel terrified about that. Just going from two naps to one with Addy was a big adjustment for me- I used to shower and do my hair during the morning nap, and then clean the house in the afternoon, or nap myself. And of course blog. Now, I almost always use her nap to squeeze in a nap myself. Cleaning has already shifted on the priority list.
Jim reminded me that I could always- gasp!- get up before the kids and shower and get ready early. Or plan some cleaning time in the morning, bright and early before breakfast! But I remember newborn days, and the way for months I had no schedule whatsoever and my days and nights blurred- things still got done, even sleeping, but all on Adelay's timetable, and I just revolved around it. Now there will be two different timetables I must work around, Addy's and the baby's, and I am feeling, selfishly and childishly, resentful of the squeezing out of my own personal timetable.
Last night I got out the photo albums from Adelay's first months, and remembered her sweet smell, her impossibly tiny little hands, and the way she would fall asleep on our shoulders and nap on our chests like a contented kitten. That helped a lot, remembering all the tender things about newborns instead of dwelling on the exhausting and overwhelming things.
But seriously, if anyone has any advice at all, even little things, about ways to adjust to a toddler and a baby without losing all order and sanity, feel free to pass it on.

8 comments:

Jennifer said...

I feel exactly the same way you feel.

I'm scared to death of the lack of schedule, lack of free time, lack on cleaning time...

I hope people offer some advice here...we both need it!

Swistle said...

I feel as if I ought to be racing up to the front of the line to say "I have tips! I have tips!" and yet I am blank. I've brought newborns home to join older siblings twice now, and yet...I don't really remember how the coping happened. I remember thinking various things such as "Break it into pieces" (meaning don't try to clean the whole bathroom at once, just try to EITHER scrub the bowl OR wipe down the sink), but I'm afraid that the thing that helped the most was letting go of a little of the control thing. I can't always manage it, but I get better with each baby. And the other thing that helped was knowing that it was a stage, and that things would feel more normal later.

Swistle said...

Incidentally, for the first month, I remember thinking, "This can't be done. This can't be done." I was reluctant to say so here, not only because experiences differ but also because that particular experience seems negative--except, a friend of mine had the same thoughts at the same stage, and I was so relieved to find that someone else felt that way. Especially since she was 4 months ahead of me and could tell me that the feeling didn't last, and that things got better every week until it felt as if she'd ALWAYS had two children, and she couldn't remember how things had been with just one.

Mommy Daisy said...

First just remember how you had to adjust with the first child. Now it seems second nature. You'll just adjust again.

This also makes me think I'm crazy some days for wanting more kids. Because I know I'll have the same doubts and concerns. When it really comes down to it, though, I know it will be great and wonderful having more children. I'll think back and have a hard time seeing my life complete without them.

But for now I'll see what advice others give you, and just hold onto it until needed.

Shauna said...

"Jim reminded me that I could always get up before the kids and shower and get ready early." ha ha ha! I don't think Jim remembers what it's like to have a newborn.

Me, I learned to let things go a little more (I'm very much a Type A, so this is a big deal!). Laundry gets done when it gets done. Dishes get done while the kids are playing independently, and they sit in the sink until that moment comes. Dinner is things which are baked or crockpotted (less cooking time). Or dinner is made after the kids go to bed and heated up the next day. Hamburger helper anyone?

Grocery shopping is done after the kids go to bed. (Sounds horrible, I know, but it's actually really is nice because the store is EMPTY and I get the best parking space in the lot. And the shelves are fully stocked.)

You'll find a way to make it work. Try to establish a schedule or routine, that'll make it easier. Addy will learn the schedule and she'll be able to help keep things on track. It isn't easy, but you'll find a way to make it work for you and your gang.

Lisa said...

I'm with Swistle on this. I feel that I should be the first to offer great tips, but can't seem to remember how the adjustment period went. I do always remember telling myself the time of having a very newborn baby and toddler is a pretty short amount of time. It also helps to just "let things go". I know that's easier to say than it is to do.

I also remember the terrified feeling I had about brining home a new baby with my toddlers, but you know we all made it each and every time. You will do it and my best advice is not to be afraid to ask for help from family or friends.

You'll do great!

CAQuincy said...

It's all a blur to me. Both for the second and the third. I do know that I sent the oldest to her day care provider's twice a week (after both baby #2 and baby #3) and that helped. Especially since she decided to stop napping right as #2 was born--but only for me. She NEEDED to go to my friend's house if anything so that she would sleep--and the rest of us could, too!

Cleaning was most definitely NOT a priority.

I don't remember anything else..... Just that I made it through. And you will, too.

Lisa said...

My only tip is, accept any help that is offered.
We only have one child, and I am a Type A to a fault. I remember obsessing about the mess in the beginning and feeling guilty when family and friends were helping me keep up on my house work...In retrospect, I shouldn't have given it a second thought, everyone was happy to help and I will do the same for them! The first 7 months of my son’s life have passed in light speed and the tidiness (or lack thereof) is really inconsequential. Give yourself a break in the beginning; don't be so hard on yourself (why do moms always do this?). Know that you'll find your way eventually, partially by prioritizing and using your time efficiently and partially by learning to let it go. Nobody is Martha Stewart; the real Martha Stewart has lots of hired help