Friday, November 15, 2013

Good things can happen after 9pm

Life is nothing but a constant stream of conflicting interests. While I should have time enough for the things I prioritize (a la Laura Vanderkam), I still haven't figured out the secret (time turner?) to managing two priorities at once. There are the obvious conflicts of career vs. family, save vs. spend, etc... that we all experience. But there are also the smaller, everyday ones that I never can resolve.


  • Be "present" with kids in the evenings vs. get chores done so I can relax after they go to bed.
  • Socialize with friends vs. soak up time with kids on weekends.
  • Take advantage of flexibility at work for more time with kids during weekdays vs. get stuff done so I don't have to work evenings/weekends. 
  • And the one that inspired this post: go to bed early to be better rested vs. spend time with husband in evenings.
I go back and forth on each of these, swinging in one direction for days to months and then over-correcting to the other. As one who prefers order and schedule in her life, this drives me nuts. Can't I just pick one way of doing things and make it a habit so I know what to expect from day to day and month to month?

In addition to starting my week on call last Monday, I came down Sunday night with a nasty but thankfully short-lived stomach bug. And it was "Fall Back" day. I was exhausted all week, and knew my sleep would be interrupted, so I simply went to bed at 8:30-9 every night. It was amazing, I woke up alarm and kid-free at 5:30, worked out, had breakfast, and had enough energy to make it through the busy days---until I crashed again at 8:30. I decided to keep to that schedule indefinitely. 

By the next Monday, though, G started looking a little sad when I said "good night" as soon as the kids were in bed. I realized we hadn't sat down and chatted, or even watched a show together, in 10 days. After 8:30 was the only time we had to talk to each other. So Tuesday night I stayed up. I planned to watch one 22 minute show and have one drink...which turned into two shows, two drinks, and then a long but productive conversation about finances, investments, home improvements---things we really needed to talk about but never have the time and energy to delve into. 

I went to bed at 11pm and it was really hard when the alarm went off at 5:45. I decided it was a mistake and went back to the 8:30 bedtime on Wednesday. Then Thursday we had friends come over for dinner (takeout). They came at 6:30 so I figured we could finish up dinner and conversation and be in bed by 9? 9:30? We did finish dinner by 7:30, but the wine and conversation kept flowing, it was so much fun. The next thing we knew it was 10pm. We still had to clean up the kitchen, take the dog out, etc... Another 11pm night. Another tired morning where I actually didn't wake up until 6:20 when B came up to our bed, quickly followed by L. 

The lesson? Stick to the schedule so you're not tiredin the morning? Or don't stick to the schedule and have fun? Something about moderation? Hell if I know.


  1. Can't solve the rest, but we do have a solution to this one:
    "Be "present" with kids in the evenings vs. get chores done so I can relax after they go to bed."

    Kids do chores with adults. Ex. My 15 month old takes the silverware out of the dishwasher and hands it to my 6 year old who puts it away. Adults put breakable things away. Similarly everybody does laundry together. Alternatively, 15 month old gets rags to scrub floor, 6 year old gets counters, parents do other cleaning. (This last is more of a weekend thing for us) etc.

  2. I definitely rather be present with the kids in the evenings, but they often hang around with me while I do light chores or when we're cooking.;

    I totally understand where you're coming from. Most of my friends/family tend to be either extroverted or introverted so many choices seem more clear. I waver between both -- if I get too much social time, I'm exhausted. If I get too much alone time, I get sad. So I go back and forth between various 'choices' all the time.

  3. Stick to the schedule most nights so that when fun happens you can enjoy it.

    We handle being "present" at night by having our au pair do the baby chores. Then I do more work after our daughter goes to bed. I do get really annoyed at my husband when his "being present" in the evenings involves lying on the couch surfing the internet with occasional peeks over his screen to look at our daughter. However, since he doesn't seem to worry about it, maybe I should try to worry less about it myself.

  4. I totally get where you're coming from- something always needs to be sacrificed in order to meet other needs. It's not easy, and so many of my decisions are driven by how exhausted I am on any particular day. But I am a fan of moderation- sleep when I can so that I can handle a bit of sleep deprivation when other important obligations come up.

    So much could be solved by winning the lottery, and paying people to do all the minutiae, right? Sigh...

  5. I swear I commented on this! Maybe I just started to and never submitted it? Who knows. I feel like my mind doesn't even work anymore.

    I think that I said I agree with OMDG. Make it your routine to get the good sleep in and then make exceptions for fun nights like the one you described above. In our house we like to have one night of the week where we know we're going to hang out together. This is important because between the two of us a lot of the other nights are already "taken" and if we don't make it clear that we're going to hang out on the nights we're home together, we end up just being on our computers and then lamenting the fact that we didn't connect when we had a chance. So we make a day that we know we're going to hang out and then we kind of take it easy the next day, because we know we'll have been up late the night before. It doesn't always work that way but we try to make it happen. That is one of our strategies to combat these very real issues.

  6. I think, in life, there doesn't have to be a "big answer." This is the problem with the format of blog posts, generally, which are personal essays. The structure of a personal essay involves the presentation of evidence in the form of a story, an epiphany of how to solve it, then the if there can ever be resolution. I read a lot of personal essays in magazines and internet publications, and I swear I've read personal essays from the exact same writer coming up with different epiphanies at different times. Probably because a different epiphany solves the problem in a way that works for one time, but doesn't for another. That seems to be what other posters are saying here. Normally you want to sleep. Some nights you want to stay up. Both can be true simultaneously!