Weaning from the Cursed Box

A spending challenge is always good practice, but the thing I’ve really been feeling I need to cut back on is computer use.  I don’t begrudge myself the time I spend writing posts, this feels pretty healthy. A way of processing my life, which right now needs a lot of processing. But all the other bullshit I do out of pure addiction, the just wasting time stuff. I’ve really got to knock it off.

Right now is my blessed moment between kiddos. The Babe of late wakes at 5:45. Ugh. But at least that gives me time to ogle him for 20 minutes, then we go out and take a walk which puts him back to sleep (are other babies like this? Both mine woke early, but only had about 20 minutes of happy time before getting fussy and wanting to go back to sleep) and I can still be back home by 7 and have, theoretically thirty minutes, sometimes more (sometimes less), to think and write my own thoughts before the Toddler wakes. The thing is, what I’ve been doing is trying to eek that time out, because she does play pretty well by herself first thing in the morning, and just staying on the computer, and then being annoyed when she starts to distract me (ie: get my attention). How hideous! That is tops on my list get rid of. So, rule one: when the Toddler wakes, keep myself open to her, and the moment she tries to catch my eye, close the computer and be with her. Don’t know if I will need to be more specific with myself, we shall see. Then throughout the day, none of this popping in to the computer to check my stats (oh yes, I do, it’s sooooo embarrasing).

I believe it’s hugely important to allow, encourage and even gently require kids to play alone. And I’ve sort of been, without thinking it through, using that as an excuse to tell her, “Not now, sweety. I’m working on something. In a little while.” And I do think that’s a great lesson if I’m in the middle of a cooking project, or folding laundry, or any other active activity. But obviously if I’m staring at a glowing box half the day, she’ll want to too. Duh. Anyone could figure that out, right? Our kids follow our lead to a frightening degree. Those little sponges don’t miss a thing, so look out! She has started whining, “I wanna watch a movieeee” every time she has any kind of lag or low feeling. And it seriously disturbs me!!! We gotta nip that sucker in the bud!

Where I’m waffling is the afternoon “nap.” The Toddler doesn’t take one, you might remember, and while I was pregnant and packing up our entire lives for this move, I started to allow her to watch a movie in the afternoons because, you can’t argue with that it is a kind of rest. And I myself needed that afternoon break like crazy. I didn’t feel too bad about this. I mean, I know, do I want to teach her to turn on the TV as the only way to rest her brain? That’s fucked. I should instead sit down with her and read to her for an hour, or take her for a walk (riding in the stroller is very resting, for her anyway). But, can I muster the energy to take away my afternoon break? A mama has to keep her sanity, above all else. If she really just sat down to a movie once a day for 40 minutes or so, it wouldn’t bother me that much…. It’s this new using it to solve all her problems that really freaks my shit out.

Here’s the other thing, and this is really how the movie watching spiraled out of control. Baby naps. I mean, what the hell am I supposed to do? Our house is small, and no room is removed and quiet for Little Guy’s naps. Let alone the actual putting him to sleep. And of course, I’ve birthed another Sleep Fighter. How can a four month old fight sleep so hard? So it takes me 20-40 minutes to put him to sleep and what’s the Toddler supposed to do for that time? She’s still of the age where she wants to at least be in the same room as other people. If not up on the bed with them, snuggling (read: jumping). Don’t forget, in case it’s been too long since your last baby, that the little buggers take four or five naps a day. Especially when they’re such light sleepers that the naps often don’t last more than 15 or 20 minutes.

No, I mean, seriously. What am I supposed to do about that???? Any ideas welcome.

Oh, back to computer rules. Another problem is that I await my moments like a true addict, any time I have to myself, like if Hubby takes the kids for a walk, I just immediately think computer. Gross. I’m a project person, really I am. But my projects are all getting usurped by the computer. I love writing about them (kumquat syrup coming soon!) but I have to actually do things to write about them! So, one idea is to limit myself to one hour per day. If I get it in the morning, so much the better, otherwise, I can make up in the afternoon if I get the chance. But for now anyway, I’m going to limit myself to just mornings, and save any afternoon breaks for project time.

Okay, I’d say that’s just about enough time spent at the bar, telling my drinking buddies all about how I’m gonna quit!

See ya’z later, tomorrow mornin!

ps. Yesterday I used my afternoon break (Toddler in the bath, good thinking huh?) to weave. Good for me. Some of the first weaving I’ve done since we got back from our xmas break. My loom had just been sitting in the corner, shooting me dirty looks.

9 thoughts on “Weaning from the Cursed Box

  1. Oh man. I feel for you!

    Here are my suggestions:

    1) No guilt. Wanting to weave is great, but if you’d rather sit at the computer then do so. Or you can try this site http://www.marktaw.com/getbacktowork.htm
    which was recommended to me.

    2) W needs a pre-school, or a play-date swap or fricking headstart. Seriously. We can’t be the be-all/end-all of toddler stimulation and they need other kiddo time. It’s so worth the $.

    3) Babies can cry for 15-20 minutes while they are learning to put themselves to sleep. It’s a skill. They don’t learn it if they aren’t allowed the time to figure it out. Set the timer if you feel like a bad mom. When it rings, comfort him. But give him time to figure it out.

    4) Sahid plays in his room if he’s not tired. I lock the door from the outside and I can hear him singing in there. He’s whined once, and only cried when he was tired and needed to take a nap anyways. It may be too late for W, but it might work for D.

    5) Your needs are just as important as the kiddos. So if you are tired and strung out you can’t take good care of them. And you’re a great mom.

    Those are my suggestions,

    Andrea

  2. I’m on my feet in a standing O! You’re giving me strength to move back from a similar challenge in this housebound present I’m in.

    My saving grace with wee ones was theater of the page. I discovered early that my light sleepers had huge imaginations ready to be employed in verbally acting the story out, voices etc! I couldn’t get enough.
    Homesteading required so much additional work, (fire,water etc.), that book and baby craft were my ‘down time/ creative outlets’. Later, you were my ‘adult connection’ plus weaving in the village, kiddos in tow.

    You’re working it girl. Proudly and well.

  3. well done CJ, slay ‘dem demons!

    I also have a substance abuse problem, and it’s the same as yours. I think it’s the lack of adult conversation…my partner goes away 2weeks outta 3 to work, and some days the only conversation I have is with my 3 year old. Who is adorable, right? But then it ain’t exactly mind blowing.

    So I put restrictions on myself too, and also let myself feel ripped off if I wanna too. It’s part of being a modern-day mamma I think. Too much crap too do and only the one set of hands.

    Good luck. Oh, and as for the sleep thing, there’s no easy solution if you don’t want to make them cry it out. My first was exactly the same as your two. Only slept at night for about 90 mins at a time, and even that was in our bed. He’s still a terrible sleeper. Our daughter though, only 3 months and she’s sleeping through the night from 7 til 6am. But I did it how my grandma did it this time – bottle before bed, lay straight down at the first yawn (and if not, before!), and she puts herself to sleep. Of course, now that I’ve said that though I bet I have a shocker tonight!

    I was at a naturopath a week ago and she said to me “you must feel like you’re being eaten alive some days’ – it was the first time someone had actually nailed how I felt straight out.

  4. The mind is not a machine. I have found, in construction, as well as life in general, that time spent “doing nothing” is critical. The subconscious works in the background during this time and accomplishes amazing things that come in brilliant, unexpected flashes of insight later. Having your sleep uninhibited, staring off into space is probably becoming even more important. Although, I will not say that the computer is the only, or even the best way to do it. A walk or the dishes can at times accomplish the same effect. One way or another though, it’s good to cut yourself some slack sometimes.

  5. Hi! I just found your blog, and I love what you have to say about the cursed box. I’m right there with you at the bar, sucking it down, much more than I think I should. (I do find great inspiration and down-time reading blogs, but there has to be a limit.) I run an early childhood program, so have 6 kids in the house including a baby and several toddlers (at one point, all of them were under 3). So I have some nap advice: I think nap is very important for young children (and those who care for them), whether or not they sleep. I have an established 2-hour mid-day nap time, and though most of my day is very flexible, nap is not. The kids know that at nap time they are expected to sleep, and I spend a good chunk of time helping them get to sleep (singing, rubbing backs, reciting poetry, whatever it takes for each child). I value the individual together-time. Once they’re settled, I leave for my alone time (the room they nap in is gated.) If someone doesn’t sleep, once they’ve given it a good try, I tell them they can read or do something quiet (they bring stuffed animals to nap, and there are a few puzzles in the room, but mostly, they go through heaps and heaps of books). They nap all together in one room, so if another child wakes, they may whisper together or read together, but should be quiet. (Of course, “quiet” has a different meaning for toddlers than for me, but I just want them to try to keep it down.) When I’m putting the baby down for other naps, the bigger kids play together (it helps, here, to have more than one toddler!) in a room I feel is safe enough for me to be out. I’ve also put the babies to sleep in a sling by pacing about the room where the others are, and then move them once asleep to their beds. Or, if there’s a toddler who needs to be near me while I put the baby to sleep, I’ve put them in a pack-and-play near me with a heap of books, or read to them on my lap while bouncing the baby (who sleeps in a hammock). I hope some of this is helpful!

    1. thanks for all the great advice. unfortunately, i’ve tried it all and apparently have some incredibly stubborn sleepers. my babe definitely won’t fall asleep if i’m reading, or if there’s any noise at all in the room, or adjacent rooms. and so you’d think maybe he’s just not tired, but if i wait and try later, he gets into over-tired screaming stupors.
      as far as the toddler goes, i truly tried as hard as possible to re-instate the nap and completely failed. she will take a nap but not until 3 or 4 o’clock, and then she’s almost impossible to put to sleep at night. the thing i did wrong i think was to let her fall off the nap schedule in the first place. but i’m fairly certain it’s irrevocable now…

      1. a possible last-ditch suggestion, if you’re willing to try homeopathic stuff – teething tablets (hylands). my kid was sleep resistant (she’d fall asleep only while nursing. and wake up the instant the nipple was out of her mouth.) and she’d get exhausted and worked up and too frenzied to fall asleep – but teething tablets helped some (i assume because of the coffea cruda).

        also, one of the things that seemed to give her trouble was me drinking cow’s milk. the la leche league book had a word for it which i don’t remember, but cutting out cow’s milk helped some. dunno how applicable that is for you.

        good luck and my sympathies =)

  6. The one thing I never had the opportunity to try, living remotely, was time away with reliable sitters. Kids are resilient and benefit too, from a bit of independence from Mom.
    If you have a laptop, you might just try flying the coop a couple of times a week.
    I know writers, (Louise Erdrich comes to mind), who somehow managed to escape to their writing locations, a few times per week, while raising big clutches. Everyone gains.

    At least that’s what were told. The validation, that parenting is huge, is a great help.

  7. I’ve had people tell me for years that i should write too. Looks like we started at about the same time!
    i never did figure out what to do about the short napper. i’m still trying. he’s almost two i’m lucky if i get an hour from him in a day. it is so hard to function around all that. the idea of a sitter is great, but they cost $$$. My mom gives me two hours a week, but that might get me a load of dishes and laundry caught up, maybe a shower or a few minutes of blogging if i’m lucky. it’s just not enough time to actually get anything done. Having a kid with food allergies who is also in that complicates things even more. soooo stressful! hang in there!

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