Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wrestling with Mom Brain

So I'm taking the time that G is watching the Backyardigans to post in my blog. I am having trouble being productive, now, what with the toddler and the newborn. I haven't figured out how to get things done. I feel like there should be a trick to it, somehow.

Somehow, I have the feeling that it's about organizing my time and about building up a routine.

I made a promise to myself that I would revise my novel by the 15th of May. It was supposed to take me one month. I think I'm a week into my challenge and I haven't done squat except for printing it out.

You know, before I was a mom, I could take a whole week to focus on myself and go deep and explore my creativity and work my way up to the writing--- I no longer have that luxury. Not with diapers and making lunch and washing dishes and going to playdates and breastfeeding. And not with the way I collapse in exhaustion at the end of the day when they are finally both asleep at the same time.

So how to focus on the project?

I guess I'll take my tiny opportunities to do my thinking about my project... like during Backyardigans. Work up my writing practice in small steps. I really have to learn to take advantage of those free minutes I do have, instead of turning to some mindless time waster, like surfing the web or watching tv that I'm not even all that interested in.

One thing about having kids is that it can be really motivating. When I was in my twenties, there seemed to be so much time to get my career started I could play around and explore and practice. Now, I know I have limited time. I really do. Both during the day and in the future, because the kids needs are always going to be there, and they are going to be demanding.

I need to learn to use what time I do have and use it wisely. I have no time for the insecurites that plagued me when I was younger. I need to take my creativity as a business, instead of as the romantic life style it was when I didn't have kids.

What steps do I have to take?

1. I need a calendar with a schedule-- both for daily todo items and for whatever is scheduled for that day. Also for deadlines. I also want to be able to keep up with my household duties there, so they don't interfere with my writing time or my brain space. Menu planning, bills, appointments, even cleaning schedules. And I would also like to use it to keep track of my personal goals.

2. To focus in on those personal goals... I need to clarify my ultimate goal and set a deadline for it. Then I need to break down the steps I need to take to get there. Put each of those steps on their own deadline, write them down in my schedule, and take them as seriously as I would take the deadline for paying bills.

3. I need to set aside a regular time for my project. And I need to work on it during that time, no matter how tired I am or how many dishes are in the sink. However, if the kids mess up that time, don't go to sleep or whatever, that does have to come first. And then I have to be flexible and make up for that missed work time later-- no matter how tired I am.

4. I need to take my needs seriously. I need to not blow myself off for a moment of laziness. My REAL needs need to be prioritized over the momentary sense of ease, which is often about fear-- non confrontation.

5. Speaking of non confrontation, I need to ask for help. Firstly, I should request solo time from S. Mom needs time off. I shouldn't be the one who is always sacrificing for the family. Perhaps I should also be asking for my family to babysit sometimes, and not just when I have a doctor's appointment, but on a regular basis. If it were a regular schedule that my sister or father watches the kids, then maybe I wouldn't feel so awkward about asking them to sit. I do have to get over my discomfort with asking for help from others.

6. I think I also have to be forgiving of myself. Because, frankly, I am not at my creative best. I suffer from baby brain and can barely speak a coherent sentence, let alone write one. So I need to allow my work to be less than perfect, or I will never begin, let alone finish. Even if you don't have baby brain, you should release perfectionism-- it's stifling neurosis. I know, I've been fighting my perfectionism for years. I can use this rambling blog as an exercise in letting go of perfectionism. So expect babbling.

7. I need to make being creative a habit. Writing in my blog and/or journal. Maybe painting or doing collages might help. Listening to good music, reading good books, looking at art. You'd think this might be difficult with kids, but this can actually be such a great thing to do WITH kids, even little ones. Taking them to the museum or in and out of galleries. There are so many of them in my neighborhood, why don't I take advantage of that? Playing music, even non kid-music, while playing and dancing with G or putting the baby to sleep. Maybe I should also try reading more than just picture books to the kids. Fairy tales, chapter books. Or maybe I should remember that I love reading and make that my downtime, just before bed activity instead of the more mindless activities. I could make collages with G-- even though he is slightly young for it. Why be afraid of him making a mess? That's more of the perfectionism stuff. I could also do that project I recently heard of... Project 365, I think it's called, where you take a picture everyday to document your year. That's something that can be creative and incorporate the kids.

I tell you, even now I am confused... mom brain, or maybe even this cold I have. I have no idea where I have gone with this entry. Don't know where I started or what I have said along the way. And I'm going to leave it that way. I'm not going back to fix it. I'm allowing it to ramble imperfectly. Maybe later I'll discover I hit on something important.

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