Maternity Leave was over before I could say how does this pump work? My husband Luke and I had just barely inched out of the first and second-month-trenches only to find ourselves heading into the ring with the newest threat to our sanity: job schedules.
(A pic of me and Luke on the heels of our son’s first 8 weeks of life.)
Prior to labor, no article of clothing in our house stayed dirty for more than a day. My “nesting” was more like “burrowing,” and we were ready. I would adjust the throw pillows on our bed just so each morning in preparation for Baby B to enter the world. (Let’s put a pin in this topic for a later post called “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: My Addiction to the Pillows that Luke Sees No Point In.” Don’t worry, the newsletter you signed up to receive will let you know when that goes live. Wink.) A clean house was not hard to maintain at week 38 when my pre-motherhood self had already taken leave and all the dishes could remain spotless.
But then the emergency cesarean happened which made the mopping process difficult for a while. And then the baby’s reflux had me giving our burp rag drawer a pep talk before every feeding: Gonna need all hands on deck, fellas. It’s time. And then, OUT OF NO WHERE our dog (who I have begun to refer to as The Issue) began to stress shed every time the baby cried, and my level of handling it was all the way at “nope.”
And work was to be added to all of this.
I don’t remember a ton about those few weeks leading up to going back to work (at a job that I love, no doubt). They were truly a blur of survival. But I remember they were laced with a few solid anxiety attacks concerning milk supply, and questions about when would be the magical time to shower, and wonderings over how the things that barely fit into the nap times of my maternity-leave-day would now need to fit into slots even smaller. Like washing bottles, and cooking us more than popcorn, and getting that darn dog hair off of the floor.
(A pic of me looking at the evidence of The Issue’s stress collecting on every inch of our carpet.)
I’ve been back at my job for going on two months; and as with the first two weeks postpartum, I remember thinking, “I will never feel different. This will never not be hard.” But then one day, you adjust a little bit. And the next Monday doesn’t feel like what the last Monday felt like. And you try some tactic or hack or system that helps what needs to work, work. And that hard thing falls in with the groove of everything else and you realize that your momma capacity is a fierce thing indeed.
One of those systems that has added most to my sanity (and quite frankly, saved The Issue from her impending eviction) has been following this housework schedule that I feel I need to share. It is giving us back our weekends without me feeling like either the cleanliness of our home or our freedom to rest and reset on Saturday has to suffer.
I call it…
How We Get Things Cleaned & We Also Get a Weekend
MORNING BEFORE WORK: Make Beds, Empty Dishwasher, Rotate the Laundry/Put One Load in the Wash
EVENING: Fold & Put Away Laundry, Load Dishwasher, Wipe Down Kitchen Cabinets, Sweep Kitchen (or in our case, press start on The Issue’s saving grace: Roomba), Do the Chore of the Day
Chore of the Day
MONDAY: Clean Bathroom/s, TUESDAY: Dust & Empty Trashcans & Recycling, WEDNESDAY: Vacuum, THURSDAY: Mop, FRIDAY: Swing Day/Catch Up Day, SATURDAY: Sabbath/Rest, SUNDAY: Grocery Shop/Meal Plan & Yard Work
1ST WEEK: Clean appliances, 2ND WEEK: Wipe down walls/baseboards/doors, 3RD WEEK: Clean inside of windows/blinds, 4TH WEEK: Wipe down cabinets
(A pic of me running Roomba for the first time.)
So our dog is still with us, and our army of burp rags is getting cleaned again, and we survived some of the harder parts of work-world-reentry, and we have big plans to sip our coffee this Saturday and not sweep.
If you are in those first weeks of one of the many transitions of new-parenting (be that early postpartum, going back to work, partner going back to work, daycare, etc), we hear you when you say you don’t know how it could ever not be hard. But next Monday won’t likely feel like this Monday. And the Monday after that will be even more different.
Here’s to working it out one little trial-and-error system/hack/tactic at a time, sharing those with each other, and eventually looking back and seeing that the hard thing leveled out and we landed. Again and again.