Have you ever thought about how having children changes things. EVERYTHING. ???
I always kinda knew that it did. Especially the big things. You know, like quality one-on-one time with your spouse, quality of sleep, the number of new places I am going to have to find in order to keep a chocolate stash hidden (grin)...those sort of things. It comes along so gradually though, that while some of these changes DO feel momentous and sudden and life changing, others just seem to creep in on me gradually. For instance, it never occurred to me that we would possibly spend more money on toilet paper. Until about a week ago. Grin. Food, yes, toilet paper no. I have no idea what I thought was going to happen. Did I imagine some little paper elves would be busily working away in my garage by dead of night, fashioning some extra pieces to surreptitiously insert into the middle of each toilet roll, unbeknownst to the sleeping inhabitants? Now that would be rather interesting. But no, I just didn't think of it at all. But then it's not like we've run out or anything. That would be unusual. We are loo-paper stock-pilers, you see. We buy on good sales and hoard. Not tonnes and tonnes (at least I don't think so - would you consider 2-3 12roll bags to be tonnes?). But there are other things I am running out of. A good sleep routine, for one. And designated exercise time, for another.
The sleep issue is problematic and apparently, long-term. I am beginning to admit what I have suspected for some time. Once you become a mother, it is all downhill in the sleep department. Yup, that's about it in a nutshell. Very deep, I know. What I've noticed, from talking to other new mums, is that most of us have trouble sleeping well. We all seem to suffer from the same dreaded disease of disturbed sleep to some extent or another. If it isn't the toddler waking us in the middle of the night, it's a new baby. If it isn't that, then it's a neighbour's barking dog, or a sudden need to use the bathroom, or we simply wake up wondering why on earth we are awake, again, in the middle of the night. And the older women I talk to (or my friends talk to then tell me about!) don't seem to be doing much better. That sucks. Completely. Here I'd thought things would get better once Munchkin started sleeping through the night. And I guess they are gradually getting better, but he's nearly three and still wakes probably once every second night, at least. When he is well, which he often is not. Then of course there's Boyo coming to bed at 1-2:30am two nights a week. That sure doesn't help in the 'trying to get more settled sleep patterns' department. I was thinking though, that once Boyo was off night shifts and Munchkin was sleeping through consistently (as in every.single.night - please, please, please can it be soon?!), I was thinking that then I'd get to sleep better. But it appears that things do not ever simply return to pre-motherhood days. It sounds like far too women simply sleep more lightly, less soundly, and generally less well once they become mothers. Ugh. So I'm running out of sleep. Good quality sleep in particular. Waiting for cooler night-time temperatures. At least those will hopefully come this year. I can always hope better sleep will too.
It is not really surprising when you are a student with a preschooler that you would run out of time. But HOW the time factor is outworking is interesting. I am struggling to get enough consistent exercise. Now this is important. I really value being as healthy/fit as I can be. I'm not worried about weight, I've spent too much of my life trying to put weight on/being told I look anorexic or that people wish they were me. I realise that weight is only one indicator of a healthy body and one we focus too much on in our culture. But I want to be able to walk without puffing, to know that my heart and arteries are getting enough of a workout to keep me ticking along for many years to come.
At the moment, I know I'm not. It's the ever present changing routines thing. One of those other things that having kids does to you. Routines change. A lot. Frequently. Not usually of my desire or benefit. I try not to run my life around my child. I really don't want him growing up thinking that the sole purpose of his parents is to pander to his every wish. I want him to know that we love him deeply, but that we are also people with dreams and hopes and other responsibilities as well as him. So I try not to change everything just for him. But still, there are some things that just NEED to. I don't 'do' lunch, for instance. If you want to have lunch with me, you can't. Unless you want to come to my place, or are happy to eat at 11:30am at the latest. Because I have a child who actually still needs a sleep, so we head home every day to ensure he gets one. I've worked out it is simply not worth the trauma of evening tantrums to miss a sleep, so it's got to be a pretty good occasion these days for Munchkin to be up at lunch time. Even on Christmas Day he headed to bed while the rest of us had our Christmas Day desert. So there are some things you just don't negotiate, some things you do because your child needs it and they are the child and you are the adult. But still, I try to keep some balance between being Mummy and being Amy. And in the exercise department, there has been too much Mummy lately. And too much Student.
I've been very blessed to be able to walk often since before Munchkin was born. We live right next to an incredibly beautiful walkway, so the incentive to get out and about is quite high for me. I love being outdoors, and will invariably head out in even the worst weather, if just for a few minutes of wind and rain. I lost all the baby weight from having Munchkin (which was considerable - an extra 20% of my bodyweight), by a LOT of walking. But lately, it's been missing. I'm finding it harder and harder to get out to start with, and am then finding that when I do, it's still not enough. We were walking to my parents 2-3 times a week to feed the chooks. But first the hot afternoon weather, then Munchkin starting kindy (we now feed chooks 2 days a week on the way home after kindy) has meant that the car has seen far more action than my legs! Then when we do head out for a walk, Munchkin wants out. He insists on walking. Which he should, considering he is an active, nearly three year old. He loves being outside as much as I do, and I feel mean depriving him of the chance to walk, run, or meander (which is more usually the case!) his way along our walk. I want to nurture a love of the outdoors and healthy exercise in him, so giving him the chance to walk every time we go on one is important. But also INCREDIBLY time consuming. He looks at everything. I do understand. I recall many walks with my family in which I was a hundred metres down the path from them (or so) picking flowers or watching a bird, to then having to run and catch up. Boyo is still not used to my sporadic stop-start walking routine. He is a 'get from point A to point B in the shortest possible distance and time' person. I can walk fast enough to keep up. I just invariably need to take off my sweatshirt, or pick a flower, or rearrange my sock or something.
Two days a week are now almost completely consumed with study/preschool. That means less time to see friends on other days, less time to do housework, less time to do everything. Including exercise. It's throwing a lot of things out of whack, but the exercise is the most noticeable. When we would used to have gone for a walk a couple of times a week, we are now either studying, grocery shopping, or popping in to see a friend.
So the issue is not Munchkin. The issue is that we have entered a new phase in the exercise department and I didn't really see it coming. I need some new routines. Again. Sigh. Since realising I wasn't getting enough exercise, I tried walking in the morning before Boyo headed out to work/polytech. But it got too dark after about two weeks! So now I'm trying evening walks. Once I got my head around the fact that they will take up considerable time in my evening and that this might actually be okay, I've been really enjoying them. I've forgotten how nice it is to get out alone, to walk without having to watch over someone else, to just BE (Boyo stays home while Munchkin sleeps). I'm still not getting enough, but some walking is better than nothing. And the spin-off is that I'm also getting much-needed 'headspace' too. Time to think, to pray, to process as needed. Or to do not a single one of those things and instead just walk. I'm only managing about 30 minutes at the moment before it is too dark, and only about 4-5 days a week. I probably need to be doing at least 45mins and doing it every day of the week. Especially coming towards winter. I have terrible circulation, and exercise is one thing that makes a huge difference. I've thought about walking during the day on a study day. I even did it once this week, but that was more because my brain was so clogged up with glug from this cold that I couldn't think straight to save myself, so I figured a walk wasn't going to lessen my ability to get my study done! I've also thought a bit about other forms of exercise. Not very much, I must admit. I enjoy walking too much. Running is definitely out, the other things I've considered have been in the 'I will most likely forget to do that, or be completely unmotivated even if I do remember' department. So I'm left with walking, and wondering still what to do with our changing routines. At least the basic routines might manage to stay the same for a couple of years. Maybe. Mostly. Know what I mean?