I should practice yoga now

We’ve been down with a cold, laryngitis, tonsillitis, cough, fever, from the beginning of February until… now. LittleOne is still taking antibiotics, and I’m so tired. I had to take several days off, sick leave first when I was ill, then annual leave whet L and LittleOne were ill. I feel tired, behind with work and under pressure to catch up – not that anyone has pressurised me (yet) but I wasn’t able to go to the office, so I worked from home when I could and I was off when I couldn’t. And in the middle of it I had my first performance review, which was OK but this situation left a bitter after taste because instead of pushing to do my best I had to… Well. I did do my best. I managed to do some work, while also taking care of my family. The issue is that I’m supposed to take responsibilities at work. For L is even more difficult, because he’s already a manager, so he can’t put his work aside like I can (actually, I’m probably better organised and I’m able to complete my tasks within my working hours. But that’s near to impossible to prove, to compare.)

In the meantime… LittleOne has grown so much. He can talk better and better, mostly in English, but understands Italian equally well. So he speaks English, we reply in Italian and so on. He’s well behaved, even with the antibiotics didn’t give us any trouble. He slept in my bed while he was ill, but since the fever passed, we told him he could go back to his bed, and he did. Pallino was so different. Certainly more challenging for these practical things. My parents came to visit us for a week last month, and he still asks them to come back when we talk (heart breaking). He’s the sweetest boy ever, I spent a week cuddling him and that was great. He loves playing with his cars, just like Pallino loved his super heroes at that age, and with his little kitchen, where he cooks lovely cakes (mainly made of cars). He tells me when his nappy needs changing, but doesn’t want to use the potty yet. He likes to lick his food first to check the taste, and then eats it and demands seconds and thirds.

Pallino is almost 6, is learning to swim and loves it. He plays football and basketball at school, but is not enthusiastic about it. He loves maths and making elaborate drawings of machines of his design. He wakes up in the morning thinking about new devices he wants to invent. Suction cups to climb on things and grabbers to pick up toys from afar, and alien spaceships etc. He practices yoga at school, they use it to teach the children meditation techniques, it’s great. So at home we do the Cosmic Kids Yoga classes together when he needs to calm down. Sometimes he still goes overboard and ends up in trouble at school. Like today, he hurt a friend’s hand accidentally, they were playing together with some pieces of wood. The teacher was not amused. I was not amused. I know things like that happen, but I also want him to be aware that he’s strong, and must become responsible for the way he uses his strength, especially when he’s playing with a girl. He’s only 5 and doesn’t understand the consequences of his actions fully. But I’m mum to two boys, and they will be men tomorrow and I want them to be aware of their physical strength and use it for good. No easy feat for me.

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Today’s question

Most of the large projects I come across at work are late, even years late compared to the initial plans. Meetings often go along the lines of “my project is xxx much late, they haven’t done yyy and zzz that obviously needs to be done, and now I’m trying to patch it up by doing xyz”. And since this is not uncommon, I started thinking. Are we so bad at planning? Or is there some sort of satisfaction in having to save the day? Is it because we count on the fact that we work better under pressure that we don’t put enough time in our plans? Many of us feel they’re constantly facing emergencies, managing crisis.

We have a client who is managing a project that is almost two years late. They ask our company for a task and they want it urgently. But really? Can’t we pace the work without stress and produce something more valuable? or is it the opposite, if we had more time, we wouldn’t be so efficient?

I don’t know the answer. I do know that our society is full of people who are stressed out, don’t feel they balance work and private life well, don’t have time to do what they want to do and have to sacrifice their families, hobbies, health. So there must be something wrong.

I know what you’re thinking. I’ve just rediscovered the wheel. Capitalism doesn’t exactly work. We tend to consume more resources that we have, be it our planet, our health, our time. My question is are we doing our best but we make mistakes? is it intrinsic in human nature to set unrealistic expectations and fail?

Help needed

I’m down with a bad cold. LittleOne has a cold and cough as well, but he bounces off quite quickly every morning, while my head spins and I’m sleeping even less than usual. I’ve missed two meetups with friends and I really needed to talk, I feel miserable.

I’ve been researching about au pairs and nannies. Having help at home would relieve some of the stress on us, but having someone living with us might be too much… also if dealing with Pallino is hard for us, it would be harder for someone who’s young and not trained in childcare. But he can be lovely if he has all the attention he needs so having a person whose job is to play with him every afternoon could be good.  I’m still unsure. A nanny would be more expensive and also is not quick to find one that is available when we need. It is undoubted that we can’t make it all by ourselves though.

Spirited

The last few months have been particularly hard for me. Pallino has been more challenging, LittleOne doesn’t sleep weel and my energy level is constantly low, I’m finding hard to cope. So I started researching Pallino’s behaviour (because this is what I do when I need help) and I found the book Raising your spirited child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Spirited children are those more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent and energetic, in her words. And I found Pallino described there perfectly!

The book starts with a discussion of the different temperaments and personality types. I’m an introvert, Pallino is mostly extrovert. So he likes talking talking talking and I lose it because I need some quiet time. I have reflected on this for myself in the past and find it true, I do need time alone to recharge my batteries, even if I need people as well. In fact, an ideal Saturday for me would be: stay in, snuggle up in bed, have breakfast late, go for a short walk or shopping trip and back home, watch a movie all together, no plans. For L, who is an extrovert, is get up and out of the house until bed time. It’s stressful even to write it down for me. And yet, if I spend the whole day by myself, I don’t feel happy, I need to see people, and if I don’t plan something and get out, I don’t see anyone and feel miserable. Tough.

Another chapter is on intensity. Both Pallino and I have intense responses to the world. I can bottle up until I explode. My feelings are always strong, good or bad they be. And Pallino is the same, and this is why is so crucial to diffuse a bad mood before it builds up.

Pallino has always been “spirited”. As a baby, he wouldn’t stay in his buggy, he had to be carried at all times, and always facing forward, even when he was to little to do it (according to what was appropriate for other children), he wouldn’t play on his own, he wound never sleep when I met other people, he wouldn’t sleep without us at night. And then he’s intense about his friendships, things he likes and dislikes. When he sets his mind on something, he won’t change. He likes to be independent and in charge. He can express himself brilliantly. He’s amazing, but does require all my energy.

On balance. Again

These days I’m having this debate with L. I’d like to do things by myself. Yoga, playing the piano, joining a book club, this sort of things. He thinks it’s selfish, because the time we don’t spend working is for the family. The children need us, they’ll grow up soon etc.

If achieving a work/life balance was difficult, thinking about a work/family/life balance seems impossible. But isn’t life the same as family? I’m not convinced. When I was single, I struggled because it seemed that doing activities by myself was pointless. I wouldn’t cook unless I was cooking for a guest, I wouldn’t go to the movies unless I had company. Now I struggle to be by myself, to listen to my thoughts. I think you need to know yourself and find the balance that works for you. Having young children teaches a lot about yourself, but you can forget any kind of balance.

Our time together is very little. We both work full time, which means the children spend every day every week at the nursery and school from 8.30am to 6pm. Then we pick them up and start the bedtime routine straight away. At 8-8.30pm they sleep (when it goes well), we are exhausted and ofter go to bed. If one of us is away, the other has to look after both of them and it’s even more tiring. Hence the endless discussions on what we’re allowed to do outside the home. Can he go to that presentation in the evening? Can I go to the book club? But then there are days when we’re out for work and we can’t not do it, so adding any other day out becomes asking too much of the other. The result at the moment is that we don’t do anything. We work, we put the children to bed, we collapse in bed or go back to work. I do try to play the piano when I have a little energy left, but it’s rare honestly. And I do feel energised when I meet people out of this routine, but it’s not nearly often enough. We end up arguing. Should we just wait patiently until the children grow up? Were they disciplined kids who go to bed at the same time every day without too much fuss, I’d have so much more energy. But they’re not, and we have to live with our two lovely strong willed challenging little persons. I think there is more to me than being their mum. The struggle goes on.