Painted linoleum floors, postpartum PT, and learning to sit down
It has been tough to string more than couple of words together the past few weeks. The days are going by quickly and I’m shocked that we’re edging in on August, but around 3 pm every weekday, time seems to stand still, and there aren’t enough Otter Pops in the universe to hasten the coming of bedtime.
I am looking forward to a new school year, but my inner teenager shudders at store end-caps already filled with college ruled spiral notebooks and crayons. I wish for a carefree end to summer for my children’s sake, and I wish for a return to normalcy in schedule for my sake.
Both older boys have asked me in all earnestness at some point during the summer to homeschool them, and then reneged on the request when I explained that school at home would still, in fact, involve schoolwork.
I did consider the possibility for about 2 hours; I even got so far as to text a couple homeschooling friends, asking what their discernment process had been. Then Dave went out of town for the weekend and all thoughts of teaching my little darlings math and Latin were ejected from my brain by 48 hours of solo parenting.
We’ve had a good summer, and I’m glad we’ve been able to spend so much time together. I’m also glad I am not responsible for their mathematical development.
I’m trying to implement some better time management strategies to help realize some of my perennially-deferred goals. I’ve been waking up earlier than the kids most mornings and forcing myself to produce for 30 minutes or 1,000 words – whichever comes first. I’ve also strapped the trusty old FitBit back on to hit that 10k step count each day. All of the swimming and early morning gym-haunting has yet to result in any visible results to my postpartum return of form, but I do feel better when I move.
Oddly enough, my body seems to be responding better to gentler workouts. I think I am probably so depleted from back to back pregnancies that strenuous workouts were further taxing an already stressed system.
Gentle walking and stretching seem to be what my body craves, so I’m trying to honor that. The physical therapist I’ve been working with has indefinitely ruled out running, which I’m going to be honest, is actually a huge relief! It’s great to just let go of that part of my identity, for now, and embrace what is rather than lamenting for what once was. Not by slipping into depressed inactivity or anything, but by really embracing a period of physical recovery and rebuilding. And by spending a small fortune on vitamin and mineral supplements.
I’ve come to realize that I usually exert a lot of time and energy in the postpartum period beating myself up – mentally and physically – straining to “undo” something that can’t actually be undone. Whether from sheer exhaustion or just experienced maturity, I haven’t been able to cow my body into submission this time around. When I hit the wall, instead of redoubling my efforts and crashing through it, I curled up at the base of it and took a nap.
It has been pretty eye opening to be honest with myself about what my body needs, and about the tremendous personal cost of having a baby. I don’t “bounce back” physically, though when I was younger I could grit my teeth and sort of fake it.
At 35 I don’t seem to have that same resilience. But I do have a little more wisdom and lots more experience, which seems to me to be a fair tradeoff. So when the baby sleeps, I sit on the couch with a toddler and read a book, or stare vacantly into space, or sometimes do some dinner prep.
Mostly though, I’m sitting down a lot (always with intentional and improved posture!).
Stretching. Going for walks around the block with the bigger kids and not gritting my teeth in frustration that I can’t run the laps we’re making. Spending a decent amount of time and money going to therapy, and just generally investing in myself. It feels decadent. It also feels almost disastrously overdue. It feels a bit like I’m backing away from the edge of an abyss, step by faltering step, and reclaiming some ground that was (necessarily) ceded during the chaos of the past two years of home buying and selling and baby growing.
The real sign that I’m recovering and starting to get my head above water? My urge to paint has been restored.
Last weekend when Dave was gone I pulled the trigger on a long-desired flooring update and painted the linoleum in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom. I’d put the kids to bed and then creep downstairs each evening to tape and paint and after about 4 nights worth of effort (and 4 overnight drying periods) I’m just about finished with the whole project.
For around $60 bucks our lower level looks like a different house altogether, and I no longer feel like I’m peering bleakly into the mists of time while mopping spaghetti sauce off of hideous yellow linoleum. Time will tell how sturdy the “porch and floor” paint proves to be in an indoor application, but anything is better than our before pictures.
I’ll try to whip up a full tutorial one of these days for all my curious Instagram friends, but it was really one of the easier DIYs I’ve attempted.
For now, feast your eyes on the improvement:
What is the rest of your summer shaping up to look like? Are you eager for back to school time, or relishing in the last month of summer? My kids go back relatively late, as I understand, not resuming full classes until August 27th. I’ll have a second grader, a first grader, and a three day a week pre-K this year, which means I’ll be backing 13! lunches! a week! Come to think of it, summer can go ahead and stick around for a couple more weeks…
Thanks for this. It was a perfectly timed read for me today as I was battling a migraine likely triggered by trying to make jam while watching the half potty-trained two year old, stopping every few hours to nurse my three month old baby and and supervise and feed the hungry 4 and 3 year olds. Of course I’m physically depleted! But why do I forget this so quickly? I feel like every few weeks I have to take a breath, step back from the multiple things I’m foolishly taking on and admit that I can’t do it all and need more than a quick catnap every few days. It’s starting to become apparent that I’m the reason there’s been a lot of yelling at the kids lately, and they are simply being kids. I like what you said about being gentle with yourself. So, thanks for the reminder and the honesty!
I love how kids respond to what they think a different schooling situation would give them! We home school, and just reading how many lunches you’ll have to pack a week affirmed our choices for this next year (that would be daily morning anxiety for me)! When our oldest asked to be sent to her local school, I had to find a way to gently tell her, “Honey, you know you’ll still have to answer questions like right now (11am), but you also HAVE to wear clothes there?” She looked down at her t-shirt, undies and bare feet and said, “oh, never mind….” We do Spanish instead of Latin so I don’t go crazy, and yes, I wanted to send the kids off to school when my husband’s schedule was unpredictable, too. It is all such a discernment process–lunches and the drop-off/pickup lines are monumental deterrents for me–I would rather lesson plan & figure out how to simultaneously teach 4th, 2nd, K and big and little preschool than face the logistic challenges of sending everyone out of the house. It’s all what we’re called to and where God grants peace.
I would love to hear the follow up on how the floor paint holds up for you! Our kitchen is very dark, and while I would LOVE to overhaul it with new layout, appliances, and flooring, our budget would not. So I entertain the thought of painting and breaking free from the feeling of cooking underground. If my kids weren’t underfoot all the time (we also have 5, 6th is on the way), I definitely would have long ago stripped & painted the walls and cabinets. It might wind up as a school project: safety, art, measurements, reading directions…what else can I fit in there?
This comment is becoming post for you, but also: Amen to the necessity of “self care”–or finding the ways to teach ourselves to really take time to replenish from the ‘tremendous personal cost of having a baby.’ I think it took me a long time to figure out recovery was going to need to be tailored to ME. Specific physical therapy for what my babies put my body through has been amazing $ to spend for the peace of my family seeing me in less and less pain, my kind of books, my kind of rest. To some, that’s painting a kitchen floor, for some it’s some kind of craft, for some it’s a bubble bath, but it’s totally a process! Thanks for sharing yours!
Well dang it, Jenny, 😝 you just got me doing the math and I’ll be packing 15 lunches a week come September! Considering they’ve been living on PB sandwiches all summer but go to a NUT FREE SCHOOL, I will take my messy house and busy days gladly over that craziness for the time being. Although yeah… I’m stoked for Mom Time 2.0 when I’ll have just 1 napping kid at home.
Ha! Evie asked multiple times last year to home school, as in her head that would involve her lazing about the house devouring all the books she can and playing outside whenever she feels like it, the end. And truly, nothing like solo parenting to immediately make you reassess your goals! Also, right there with you in the self care dept. I feel like I’m just waking up to the fact that my body needs healing and major strengthening- I feel like the last several years have been a blur, and my physical self got hardly any attention (hello, vast diastasis recti!). Time to remedy that!