I’m learning – or trying to accept, at least, that it’s okay to not always live up to my Balabusta aspirations.
Pregnancy hasn’t been as easy for me this time round as it was last time. I feel heavy, I am constantly tired, seem to fall ill all the time, and everything is a strain requiring that I expend energy that I don’t have. I feel anxious that I can’t do everything I need to do as well as I would like to do it (or in some cases, at all).
I know that everyone says that when you have a baby you need to be kind to yourself and concentrate on the essentials. It doesn’t matter if the house isn’t always perfectly tidy and if everything is ‘just so’ or not.
I know that you can’t always do and achieve everything – of course I do, but I don’t feel it. Perhaps it’s a weird pregnancy nesting hormonal thing.
It meant a lot for Marc and me to have our own house, and we vowed that we would look after it. We lived in it for about a year and a half before Abigail was born and we kept it spotless. I worked full time and was travelling to Guernsey every week for two days for work and even so, I managed to make enough food for the week, for the days I was away. I managed to keep an exceptionally tidy home. Was it easy? No. But it did get done and I took pride in that.
Now that we have a delicious dark curly one to look after, and another on the way, things are different. I rush to work in the morning. I rush back, pick Abigail from nursery and start the wind-down to bed routine. By the time that is done, it is 7pm. I have been awake since 6am. Believe me when I say that I don’t have the energy to cook and tidy the house. All I want to do is sit in one place and relax, and anyone who knows me knows just how unlike me that is. Normally I fill every hour of spare time with ‘doing’ something. Cooking something. Tidying. Pottering. Sewing. I’m not an idling away the hours person.
So lately I have been feeling sad and frustrated with the growing gap between what I would like to do and what I am able to do in reality. I should emphasise that this pressure is wholly self-inflicted. I suppose a lot of it comes down to the dreams I had about how I would run my home. I wanted dinner to be ready when Marc came home, not to be scrambling to make it as he scavenges in the fridge. I wanted orderly cupboards. Homemade soup at all times. Fluffy cakes as treats. The house to be clean and tidy and a perfect meal on a beautifully laid table for Friday night. The reality is different: toys on the floor, washing in the basin… you get the picture.
Clearly, I have to re-adjust my expectations, and I am finally beginning to do that. But it is slow work. All it took was Rosh Hashanah for me to make plans as though I had the time and resources of Martha Stewart. I planned the dips I would make, the cinnamon challah, the sides, etc etc. I wasn’t taking the day off work the day before, so quite how I thought I would get all that done I don’t know. Clearly I’m tired and deluded.
I ended up falling ill and finally having the justification to do what any sane person would do: I bought most of it in from Manna Deli.
I need to keep reminding myself that there are more important things right now. There are hugs to give and books to read and a mess to make because one day, before I know it, Abigail won’t be chucking things off shelves and clearing surfaces with a swipe of the hand – she’ll be off with her friends and I’ll walk around the house missing her and wondering what I should do with my time and finding the options trivial. Now is just not the time of my life where I can always have fresh flowers in the hallway and run a perfect home.
Enjoying every phase of life for what it is. Understanding and accepting my limitations when I know I am giving my all. Having realistic expectations… all important life lessons I need to learn.
I need to remember how lucky I am despite the mess and exhaustion to have gone from this:
And so that this post doesn’t end up just being one big long whine, I thought I would list some of the things I do to help myself get things done and run my home smoothly. I’d love it if you shared your tips in the comments section below – I’m sure there is much I can learn from you all, and I definitely need all the help I can get!
1. I try to cook bigger portions than we are likely to eat, both so I can freeze meals and so that there are leftovers because leftovers = less cooking!
2. I have my shopping delivered. Life is too short to spend in the supermarket. I add things to my virtual basket as soon as I need them or think of them, as there is nothing more annoying than doing an online shop and missing something off!
3. I meal plan. Marc finds it remarkable how long it takes me to do an online shop. This is because everything on that shop has a purpose. At least I know what I have at any one time and what I will be making for dinner… sometimes that is half the battle.
4. Ingredients on hand - I always keep certain things in the house which mean that there is always a dinner option. Storecupboard ingredients such as passata, pasta, rice, olives, couscous, tinned corn and pulses etc. In the freezer: peas, chicken pieces, salmon, bagels, challah and milk.
5. Eggs are so versatile and a wonderful dinner option when all else fails (shakshuka!).
6. Couscous: my answer when I haven’t got time to prepare a carb for dinner. Anything which is healthy and edible just by pouring water over it is a winner in my book.
7. Hoarding household essentials and keeping tabs so that there is never a risk of running out of toilet paper and the like.
What else can I do to make life easier? Bring on your hints and tips, please!