A few days ago I stumbled across the Good Men Project‘s post I Lived a Day According to Ben Franklin’s Schedule and it Changed My Life. I envied the author, Tim Goessling, for getting to live by a schedule- even one from 1791. Dividing my day and living in an organized fashion are ridiculous fantasies for me now that I have a newborn. No two days are alike in this house. One day baby naps and I get things done, and the next there are no naps in sight and I end the day crying. Though I was very intrigued and love a good challenge, I figured there was no way I’d be able to also live a day by Ben Franklin’s schedule, mainly because of the 5am wake up. I sleep when the baby sleeps in the mornings (most of the time) and waking before she did just seemed foolish. I talked to Steve over the weekend about living by this schedule for a day and explained that if I did manage to try it, I wouldn’t let it interfere with his schedule, which, you know, pays the bills around here.
Tuesday morning I awoke at 5:20am very confused. The baby had gone to bed when we did, at 11:30pm. The confusion turned to panic as I ripped myself out of bed and stared wild-eyed into the pack and play 2 feet away from where I sleep. There she was, my little daughter, sleeping as she had slept for the past 6 hours straight, an obvious miracle. She was tossing and turning a bit, her signal to change her diaper. I decided that waking up at 5:20 was just as good as waking up at 5:00 sharp, and knowing that this opportunity might not present itself so nicely again, started my day living (loosely) according to Ben Franklin’s schedule, pictured below.
borrowed from Good Men Project’s “I Lived a Day According to Ben Franklin’s Schedule and it Changed My Life.” (click photo for link to article)
5:20am~ awaken with big open eyes, wonder why baby hasn’t woken up in SIX hours, panic
5:20-5:23am~change diaper in the dark while baby screams
5:23-5:40am~ feed on both breasts, baby falls back asleep
5:40-6:00 pee, confirm menstruation is back a mere 11 weeks after birth (even with EBF, no bottles, and no pacifiers), make coffee, learn that Meadowlands Racetrack has ostrich racing, vow to later Google ostrich racing, fill up Brita tank. I reminded a confused Steve of why I was awake by tiredly mumbling “Benjamin Franklin” with a shrug and assured him it wouldn’t interfere with his getting ready to go to work. Things were going well in the kitchen until I became too efficient and overfilled my coffee mug. I could go on a rant here about the inefficiency of a Keurig which only fills coffee mugs half way, forcing the user to brew twice in a row, but I’ll spare you.
Ben Franklin’s schedule clearly stated that I should rise and wash in the morning. The shower would have been a good time to contrive the day’s business, think on Powerful Goodness, and come up with the day’s resolutions but I chose not to shower in the morning for two reasons: 1) I had just showered last night and postpartum/PMSy hormones were already making my skin incredibly dry and 2) I had promised Steve that my Ben-Franklin-for-a-day stint wouldn’t affect his necessary schedule to, you know, go to work and provide for our family. If the baby woke up while I was in the shower it would throw off his usual morning rhythm and so I chose to forgo it.
I sat in bed with the laptop and contrived my day’s business. What did the day hold? Well, the baby is teething so probably the day was going to hold lots of crying and drooling and general unhappiness. The female cat was going to pee in the kitchen because apparently that’s just what she does now and my efforts of resistance are futile. If this day was like the day prior it would end in tears for me, as long days with a baby sometimes do. A walk outside would do us good, so I checked the weather- forecast was for 20 degrees F, with snow showers at night. At 6:15 it was 14 degrees but felt like FOUR, so yeah, probably no walk for us today. I contrived that the day’s business would just go as it was going to go, and that was that. I had no plans for socialization due to the menstruating. No one tells you the first one after birth can be terrifying… I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, instead just wanted to curl up in a ball and rock my cramps away.
After contriving business and whatnot, I addressed Powerful Goodness. I sat in bed with my coffee and pledged to just sit and think for a full 5 minutes. I should have relished this time, as during the day before I had exactly zero time to think and ended the day completely fried, but I only lasted 4 minutes. Not knowing exactly what Powerful Goodness is, I reflected on the day before and forgave myself for losing my patience and temper. I resolved to practice Only Love Today and peeked in at the baby sweetly sleeping and felt the warm wave of gratitude wash over me. God, is she ever beautiful. We are so lucky.Then I remembered my husband and had a moment of gratitude for him. This led to wondering what was for dinner, which led to the realization that today he was going to be gone until 10:30pm. The dread set in as I looked at the clock and realized I had 16 more hours until someone else could hold the baby. Putting the dread aside, I decided to make turkey meatballs and roasted brussel sprouts for dinner, should I have the time. If not: leftovers.
Thinking on Powerful Goodness was actually really nice. I still don’t know what it means, but it feels great to do.
Sipping my coffee, it was time for the resolution of the day. Uhh… “Don’t lose my mind?” Does that count? What about “Don’t throw up when changing a poopy diaper.” “Try and eat breakfast before 3pm?” No, those didn’t sound right. I made 3 resolutions, one work-related, one home-related and one sanity-related. I would update a page on my website, fold the (2) hamper laundry in the family room, and start the Orange Rhino Challenge of no yelling. I didn’t expect to accomplish all of these, and placed the Orange Rhino Challenge as my priority.
Prosecute the present study… hmm. I scanned the original Good Men Project article for what the author thought that meant. Oh- “I took “contrive day’s business” to mean I should set out some goals for the day and “prosecute the present study” as me setting up a clear plan on how to accomplish them.” This made me laugh because my clear plan on how to accomplish the day’s goals was just “KEEP IT TOGETHER.” I decided my clear plan would include doing anything and everything in my power to get my infant to nap. With the teething and growth spurts she hasn’t been napping for more than 15 minutes during the day and it’s been very trying. Infant massage has been helping, but getting her back to a 2 or 3 nap routine (which I can tell she needs) has been impossible. So, “Get that baby to nap” became my (vague) clear plan for the day.
Then, breakfast. While the baby was still asleep I washed some blackberries, which I put atop a big bowl of old country muesli. It was heaven. By 7:30am I had eaten, blogged (albeit a very short post), written in a few personal side projects, beaten a level in Candy Crush, read a chapter of a book, taken pictures of the baby and texted them about, and stretched.
While Ben Franklin scheduled his work from 8am-12pm and 2pm to 6pm, my workday lasted for solid 15 hours. From 7:30am until Steve stepped through the door, my time was spent wiping drool, changing diapers, scrubbing the kitchen floor, freaking out on the cat (totally failed at my Orange Rhino Challenge a few hours in… very un-Ben Franklin-like of me), swaying/rocking/dancing with/singing to the baby, nursing, doing everything in my power to get her to nap, making mental notes, thinking about coffee, organizing individual messes into piles of mess, and cleaning the house. I kept forgetting my goals of the day and had to constantly check my morning’s notes to remind myself to fold the laundry (done at 6:30pm), update my website (fail, but I did some tinkering to my business’ Facebook page), and not yell (complete and utter fail). At around 1 I was able to read a few more chapters of a book, just as Ben Franklin would have done, and even heated some lunch.
Through crazy persistence and some (read: lots of) luck, the time I put into helping my daughter nap worked, and she took a short afternoon and long early evening nap- this meant I had time to make dinner! Roasted brussel sprouts and turkey meatballs: a dream come true. I also had time to get an array of other neat house-stuff done, none of which included doing the dishes or laundry. The actual text from me to my husband stated: Try not to kill me when you get home. There’s stuff everywhere. But I swear I have a plan!
Ben Franklin ended his work day at 6, at which point he tidied up, ate dinner, relaxed, and reflected on his day. I didn’t get to reflect until I quietly crawled into bed at 11:30 (unlike BF there was no way I was staying up until 1am). I thought about the goals I had set earlier, what I accomplished, what good I had done. I thought fondly of the majority of the day, which was spent cuddling with my baby and providing what I could for my family with what limited time I had. I thought about how to anyone without a child, my day might seem really stupid, lame, boring, or unproductive. Then I thought about how little I care nowadays of the opinions of others, how everything I need I have, and how much better life is with naps.
As I drifted off to sleep, I again addressed Powerful Goodness, something which Ben Franklin only did in the mornings (according to his schedule). My mind swelled and caved around thoughts of the universe, why we’re all here, and what makes me happy. I didn’t come to any huge conclusions or figure out the meaning of life, but I did fall asleep peacefully, and awoke this morning with a strange sense of contentment. As a new mom, I can’t even begin to think about the possibility of considering following Ben Franklin’s daily schedule every day, or any schedule any day for that matter- but I will try to continue to address Powerful Goodness as often as possible to keep me centered, humbled, and thankful.