I saw something on my facebook feed about how we’re doing goal setting wrong. Instead of having aspirational goals that you’ll probably never achieve, try having really really modest goals. It’ll make you feel better and help you prioritise. I like that idea. “My husband and I will never fight!” – yeah, nah. “I will say ‘I love you’ before bed every night” – ok, yeah, that sounds do-able. Apparently the easy goals system can be a useful tool in managing depression, which makes sense. The idea is to make the goals easy enough that they become habits, but not so easy that you’re doing them already.
With a new baby, we’re finding it difficult to make sure that everyone’s needs are met. I thought the easy goals system could help. A short list of achievable priorities that we can do every day. I wanted to pick a goal per person and one for the house. The idea was to choose things that build the resilience of each family member so that we’re all better able to handle not having our needs prioritised at other times.
For the baby: At least one nap each day of at least an hour and a half. This means one nap in which we don’t disturb him by putting him down when he’s peacefully asleep in the carrier, or taking him out of the pushchair, or getting up off the bed myself when he’s fallen asleep nursing next to me. Just once a day, let him be. It’s not so hard if I make it a priority. Right now he’s in his pushchair outside, bundled up and facing away from the wind. I would have brought him in but he doesn’t transfer well, and I’m working on my goals!
(Update on day three: this is working well. If I let him have one good nap then he doesn’t have meltdowns in the evening from being overtired and it doesn’t matter if the other naps are catnaps. On days where it’s just me with both, the good naps will mostly be on me during the little dude’s nap, which is license for me to lie down too.)
For me: Have something to eat and clean my teeth before 9am every day (amazing how easy it is to forget to do this when the baby cries out). Have a shower before bed.
For the little dude: At least half an hour each day in which one of us plays with him and he’s our primary focus. It’s so tempting to let him watch videos or play by himself while we try and get stuff done, but then it means that come bedtime he tries to drag out stories because he hasn’t had enough attention. This also isn’t that hard – it could be as simple as sitting next to him while bub is in the baby carrier and reading stories, or even watching videos with him, arm around him. I forget sometimes that our physical presence is hugely important, until he reminds me by saying “mummy yie down in me bed, no mummy doodnight”. It could also be putting him in the bath earlier and having a bath with him, or taking him to the playground and pushing him on the swing for half an hour while bub is asleep in the pram. It’s very do-able if I remember to prioritise it every day and structure my one-on-two time to take it into account.
(Update on day three: this has made a big difference. When I’m with both of them, I find it hard to decide how best to manage their competing needs. Do I split my focus, e.g. holding baby while talking to little dude? Do I focus on one and let the other one have a meltdown? Do I try and involve them both in an activity, holding baby on one knee, little dude on the other while reading a story? A bit of each of these is needed, and I feel sometimes like a triage nurse dealing with the most urgent candidate for care while earnestly telling the other that the wait won’t be long. Giving myself a single target each day for each child has so far helped me to feel less like I’m dropping all the balls all the time.)
For my husband: Take lunch to work.
For the house: Put the dishwasher on before bed. Even if it’s not full. It makes the chores so much more manageable.