1. I misplaced my keys again last week. This is a standing joke around here, which I try to find funny although actually I’m mortified. In fact I left them dangling in the front door (of the flat, not the building). Because I was wrangling Pumuckl into his mittens and carrying stuff and evidently my brain only has five short-term memory slots so two children, umbrella, shopping bags, mittens and keys is just one thing too many, and I should just be glad it’s not one of the kids that gets forgotten. I swear I never used to be a key loser, but these days it’s constant. Nothing to do but blame the kids, as for everything else.
2. I feel that this distractedness, this flighty mental unreliability, is intimately tied to the trouble I’ve been having with work. In my mind I’m super capable, because I used to be that way, but truthfully, nowadays I have such trouble concentrating under anything less than ideal circumstances. Which of course never happen. As I’ve said before, I need structure; I need dedicated chunks of work time, and I need routine. I find that at times of disrupted routine, even when I have the time, I can’t focus. I never used to be such a creature of routine. But now it’s essential.
3. Children rewrite your structures completely. Whether you favour planning or spontaneity, children will ruin it. First baby comes along and asserts its own structure: the need for regular naps, feeds etc override any other plans you might dream of making. And while the baby’s schedule rules supreme, it’s not exactly reliable – you can’t guarantee that naptime (aka possibly the only chance you ever have to do anything) will happen at all, or last more than 10 minutes. So in terms of work routine, your structure is basically zero. You have to become a flexible, zen creature of the moment, letting go of any desire to do anything other than what you’re doing right now, to stay sane.
4. Then baby becomes a kid who has playgroup, kindergarten, school, extramurals, and suddenly you have some kind of external structure again – times to be home alone, all going well, but also times to be somewhere, bringing and fetching and supervising – and that can of course be pretty tyrannical too; but (if you are me) it is also awesome, not only to have alone time, but to have (you know where this is going) a structure. Suddenly your days and weeks have a pattern. The externally imposed structure has, in my case, also naturally given rise to a flow and rhythm in my work. Mondays, with no playgroup and with the chaotic weekend just behind me, are for blogging and (fortnightly) writing the newsletter, and for groceries and getting organised. Early mornings (5am) are for the most important, focused work. Playgroup mornings are for gym and Duolingo and more pattern writing or marketing. Afternoons are for whatever I can squeeze into the corners – so, not much – and evenings are for knitting. I try to stay off my computer in the evenings, for fear of getting stuck; you know how hard it is to go to bed when you’re really tired?! When I can’t stick to this, when I have to work in the evening or tend monsters in the mornings, nothing seems to work – I get so cranky. (Yes, even crankier than usual.) Structure, I tell you. It’s everything.
5. On which note, I’ve acquired my 2017 diary. Getting a new diary is always a source of great year-end joy (and yes, it is year-end already; those last two months go so fast, don’t they?). It makes me feel like maybe, magically, I can achieve that structure I crave. (And oh yes, my planner really really does help me with that, even though I never get quite as organised as I’d like.) For the past decade it’s always been the same diary – a Moleskine weekly notebook, extra large. I swear somebody read my mind and designed it exactly according to my specifications. The size, the layout, the soft cover, the minimalism – it’s more perfect than perfect. Every year I briefly toy with the idea of trying something else; I mean, Moleskine do these cute special editions, right? But perfect is perfect. I had a panic a couple of years ago when I couldn’t immediately find it and I thought it was discontinued. Never leave me, Moleskine weekly notebook, extra large. I need you more than you know.