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The last four months have had no shortage of challenges and new experiences. I am not sure whether I have found more enjoyment in nearly falling asleep in my cubical while trying to read a lackluster, I mean incredibly important, legal document, or in wondering on my way home from work if I remembered to brush my teeth in the morning. All kidding aside, my colleague with two children, an infant and a toddler, has the right idea. It is best to keep a bottle of Listerine in the desk drawer!
Considering that my wife and I are only obtaining marginally more sleep now than we were 12 weeks ago, I am amazed how well both of us are still functioning. The human body certainly is remarkable.
Hey New Dad, I thought that you said your son was starting to sleep longer each night?
Yes, we thought so too. Unfortunately, our son sleeping for two continuous 4 hour sessions each night was only a short lived and misleading tease, and we have been right back to barely making it three hours in between each feeding. Thankfully, my wife and I have settled into an alternating schedule, and as a result, we are each usually able to sleep a continuous 4 to 5 hours per night. Perhaps in a few more months we might even be at Mr. Ferriss or Mr. Monson’s level. Truthfully, only needing to sleep 4 hours a day could be not only convenient, but maybe even ideal. Just think of how much more time I would have to spend on this awesome blog!
Despite the seemingly never ending sleep depravity, I feel that my body is beginning to learn to adapt to having just a few hours of sleep each night. For example, in the last 30 days, instead of going to bed right after my son’s 7:30 pm feeding is finished, I now increasingly find myself reading and writing until he awakes at 10:30 pm. Granted, I am likely not performing at my highest level during this time, but I am still productively using my mind. In addition to staying up later into the night, I have also been able to catch up on some household chores and personal tasks that have been cast to the side the last several months.
Now that I feel my energy reserves returning, here is a list of 10 things that I have either done in the last week, or plan to do in the next two weeks, which unintentionally lost their priority over the last several months.
1. Dust the bedroom
Yes, it is true that I have not dusted our bedroom since the week before our son was born. Now, before you judge me, when the list of things to do includes going through the mail that has been slowly piling up, unloading the dishwasher because there are no more clean plates or spoons, heading to the grocery store because you have not eaten any produce all week, preparing dinner, preparing tomorrow’s lunch, and cleaning the last two day’s worth of baby bottles, dusting the bedroom furniture fails to take precedent.
That being said, when I was on the floor last night looking for the phone charger that I haphazardly kicked under the bed, I may have seen a real life dust bunny sitting on the window sill. As a result, before the week is over, I will be spending the necessary 15-20 minutes to properly clean the dust off of our bedroom’s surfaces.
2. Change the bed sheets
Hold on a minute, let me first say that it has not been 4 months since I changed our bed sheets. However, it has not been done so recently that I am willing to disclose how long it has been. Therefore, after I have finished dusting our bedroom, I will change the bed sheets too. Actually, I will likely strip them off, open the windows, and let the bed air out for a while. Once the bed sheets are in the dryer, I will wash our bath towels too!
3. Vacuum the house
While the bed sheets and towels are being washed, I plan on respectably vacuuming the floors, baseboards, and ceiling corners throughout the house. The couches will be getting their turn too because while I was looking for the Roku remote this weekend I found a Peanut M&M in the couch cushion. Aside from the fact that four months is much too long of a time to not vacuum the couches, the cushions are longing in desperation to be turned over and rotated.
4. Take a good look in the mirror
Given the degree of stress that new fathers are under (of course mother’s are too), it is likely that no one at work has had the heart to tell you when you have missed a swath of whiskers under the left side of your chin. Truthfully, in your tiredness, you probably did not even realize that you missed an entire section of your face the last time that you shaved. However, now that you are settling into a routine, it is time to stop testing the graciousness of your colleagues. Additionally, you owe it to yourself to properly lather up instead of hastily running the razor under cold water as you try to get through the morning frenzy before dropping off your son with his caretaker and heading on your way to work.
Once you have finished manicuring the goatee, give some proper attention to the rest of your facial hairs as well. Surprisingly, the extra shot of testosterone that has been coursing through your veins the last couple of months has resulted in the narrowing of the gap between your eyebrows, and those hairs that you used to notice coming out of grandpa’s nose have shown no regard for your youth. Both of these signs indicate that it is time to put the tweezers to good use!
If you find yourself in my situation, in which it has been over 12 weeks since you last went for a haircut, clear an hour off of next Saturday’s calendar, and get nicely trimmed too.
5. Get some authentic tacos with your partner
After several months of figuring out how to effectively go on an outing with your newborn, you are ready to not only handle this, but to also thrive in the process with enthusiasm. You and your partner have been working so hard that sizzling hot, deliciously marinated meat in between two oil dripping, toasted hot tortillas with plenty of onion and cilantro is both deserved and well earned. So, da me tres al pastor y dos carne asada!
On your way home, revel and bask in the glow of a refreshing strawberry sundae with plenty of whip cream and a cherry on top!
6. Send your partner and her best friend for a pedicure
Although a friendly night out for tacos goes a long way, your partner could likely use, and might also greatly appreciate, a healthy dose of catching up with one of her friends. Therefore, on your way home from work next week, stop by a salon and purchase two vouchers. The only thing left for your partner to do will be to schedule the outing with one of her friends!
7. Plan a date night with your partner
Seeing that you have properly groomed your face, you now look well enough to take your partner out for a nice date.
A date, what’s that again?
It certainly has been a while. Despite how much the two of you might have been on each other’s nerves lately, a relaxing, romantic night out together may certainly be able to help rekindle some of the affection that ultimately put you in this situation in the first place.
Make a nice dinner reservation, perhaps somewhere you would go for an anniversary or other special occasion; ask the grandparents to come to the house to watch the baby; mark the occasion on your calendar; and have a wonderful evening. Do not be bashful, make sure to ask the waiter for another basket of bread!
8. Get your oil changed
After an intimate evening and being filled with a gourmet meal, it is only fitting that the responsibility of adulthood once again cast its friendly shadow. You have already driven 2,500 miles over the recommended amount, and there are two low fluid lights illuminated on the dashboard. Make a pit stop and get the oil changed. Do yourself a favor and get the 10,000 mile service.
9. Pick up a new book and commit to reading at least 20 minutes a day
Choosing to pursue life long learning may not have previously been one of your predispositions; however, how do you plan to instill a healthy love of learning into your child without demonstrating an invigorating example in your own life.
“Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.” – Charles Kettering
In addition to increasing knowledge, enhancing vocabulary, and improving concentration, settling down into a well written novel is a great way to be entertained, relieve tension, and ease stress. As you begin to foster and reinforce this valuable habit into your own life, you will be well preparing yourself to one day encourage your child to do the same.
10. Look through some photos from the last several months
After relaxing for 20 minutes, you are in a much better frame of mind for this last item. As I have mentioned previously on this blog, time feels as if it is advancing more rapidly than ever before. My son is now four months old, fall is arriving, and this summer feels like it has passed in the blink of an eye.
Last week I sat down to browse through some photos of my son and I realized that I did not have many recent ones at all. As a result, I decided to look through the photos on my wife’s phone. I was astounded when before even entering the photo real, I saw her cover photo. It was our son, sitting in an infant seat on the patio. I remember when she took this photo because it was the first time that I fired up the grill after he was born. It was shocking to realize that this photo was taken three months ago, before the summer sun had completely destroyed my tomato plants.
As I began looking through my wife’s photo real, I was reminded of so many things which I had already forgotten: taking our son to a farmer’s market, sitting on a bench while showing our son a nearby lake, and walking our son to sleep at the mall for the first time. Although I have at times identified with the saying that time passes more quickly with each year, recollecting over some photos from the last four months was an exercise which strengthened my understanding that its profound truth is becoming more substantiated and proven in my own life.
Whether from bodily adaption or the inherent ease that is associated with mastering a routine, I feel assured that my wife and I are slowly coming up for air from the deep plunge that has been the last four months. As I continue to think about the future weeks, months, and even years, I am reminded that intentionally finding opportunities to quietly be with ourselves, in reflection and gratitude, is a valuable practice that should help each of us tend to the details of what we value most.