Zen and the art of sleeping alone

When I wake up in the morning, it is usually to the brief beeping of an alarm, a steady (and desperate purring) or a little face next to mine asking me for pancakes. In all of these instances, my husband is still asleep.

I've always been a light sleeper. To this day, my husband reminds me of the time I woke up to the sound of him taking off his belt. (He still can't believe that shooshing sound woke me.) He and my son are sound sleepers, and I am sometimes jealous of their ability to sleep through a cat crawling around the bed because she is unhappy with the fact that she is on a diet.
This is my cat. She likes to sleep in the middle of the bed.

But I digress. The point is that I am able to leave the bed in the morning and start my day without interrupting my husband's sleep. And one of the reasons that is possible is because we have a king-sized bed. I've talked jokingly before about not co-sleeping with your husband (and was pleased when I saw a similar slate.com article on the same topic last week), but now I feel like I have to go a bit on the defensive.

You see, a recent British study has suggested that sleep position is a reflection of a couple's intimacy. Survey respondents who slept close to their partners reported being the happiest. The results suggest that couples who drift apart in bed may also be drifting apart when they are awake.

Or, you know, they might just be really tired and need a good night's sleep.

These are the types of surveys that make me laugh: The ones that are so vague (did any of these couples have children and were those children trying to sleep in the middle of their parents' bed?) that they are really only good for a fun read. I feel the same way about the theory indicating that babies cry to keep their parents from having sex, and thus, more babies. Was it a worthy read as I thought back to all those late-night feedings with my son and sleep-starved days? Yes, I laughed, but I'm not inclined to believe it.

So, I'll keep my spot in the bed next to my wonderful husband, sleeping not too close to him and not too far away - within reaching distance, but each of us with our own space. Because you know what makes us a really happy couple? A good night's sleep.

When's the last time you slept alone in a bed? Was it a good or bad night's sleep for you?

Why I'm not busy anymore

I am not busy.

I am a working mom to an adventurous little guy and a needy cat. I am a woman who likes to travel with her husband, maintain a blog and a often-neglected but still beloved podcast, and who enjoys cooking and forces herself to exercise.

I work more than 40 hours a week in an office where everything is an
emergency, I eat at my desk and I haven't had the time to call my friends in weeks. I use my car to wind myself up or down for the day, and I have rediscovered yoga to hang on to the thin thread of calm that I have left.

But, I am not busy.

I say that for a few reasons. First of all - my life could always get busier. We are all healthy, my son hasn't taken up any after-school activities I need to ferry him to, and we only have one child to keep track of. At work, we could lose people on my team from staff reductions or people resigning or I could get handed a lot more projects to work on.

My other big reason is that I am tired of living in a culture of busyness. One where we are always connected to work and one where we try to one-up each other with what we get accomplished before 8 am, or how late we stayed up last night to work on something. I feel nothing but sadness when I see emails from my coworkers that came in during a weekend.

So, I say that I am not busy. And most days I believe myself. On the days I don't, I focus on the following things:
  1. I don't need to interact with media every day. My phone can ring/buzz and I can ignore it. It's usually not that important. 
  2. Work is for work. Home is for family. I am thrilled to see that other countries like France and Germany are trying to make that distinction on a national scale - I'm making it a distinction on a personal scale. (I don't enjoy working from home, anyway.)
  3. I am an organized person. Lists are my friends - as long as there aren't too many of them - and they can help me find the time I need to find to get everything prioritized and accomplished.
And for the most part it works. I feel occupied, but not busy. I feel balanced, but not slammed. I have down time to just sit and breathe for a moment.

Do you feel overwhelmed with too much in your life? What are you going to let go of to free up some of your time?

It's never too early to start planning Mother's Day

For anyone who does not realize this: Mother's Day is a big deal. It is a chance to tell your Mom how much you love and appreciate her.

And, for me, (and with the help of a little technology) it is the chance to drive her a little crazy.

Let me back up a bit. I love my Mom. She is a talented woman, a fantastic writer, a hands-on grandmother and loves to try new things. She is up on her DIY craftiness as well as technology. So, I use that love of technology to drive her crazy just in time for Mother's Day.

You can play along with your own Mom:

Game 1
Text your Mother a picture of yourself every day for two weeks leading up to Mother's Day. See how long it takes her to ask you what you are doing. Respond with, "I just thought you wanted to see more of me." This works especially well if you have children, because she doesn't want to see you, she wants to see her grandchildren. Bonus points if your Mom calls you weird.

Game 2
Works the same as game one but with just pictures of the cat.

Game 3
Send your Mom a text about the things you love about her every day for a few weeks leading up to Mother's Day. They can be sweet (Mom, I love the way you would brush my hair out until it shined.) or a funny remembrance (Mom, I was just thinking about the time that frog came into the house and you threatened to kill all of us if we didn't handle it - classic!)

Game 4
Play I Spy with your Mom via phone. Call her when you know she isn't able to answer and say, "I spy with my little eye something pink." Then hang up. Repeat the next day, even if she doesn't call you back with an answer. It's good form to take anything she says as a correct answer - she did call you back after all. (Cool Moms call back.)

Game 5 - for moms who don't enjoy text games
Cut up a picture of the two of you and send her the pieces in the mail for her to assemble like a puzzle. Bonus points to you if you leave one piece out and wrap it up for her next birthday/holiday.

The point of all these silly games is to go beyond the flowers and cheesy cards. Make Mother's Day fun for you and your Mom. As for me this year, I actually can't say what I'm going to do, because my Mom reads my blog. And that would ruin the surprise. (Love you, Mom!)

What Mother's Day gift are you wishing for this year?

Why Mommy needs alone time: Part 2

My last post left off with an annoying child in a grocery store and a study about children being more aggravating than they used to be.

Let's deal with the child first.

His Mom didn't budge. That boy said her name about 200 times between the checkout line and the door, at which point she turned to him and said, "I already told you, 'No.' And that was my final answer."

I caught up with her in the parking lot and (because I talk to strangers) said, "Nice job sticking to your guns, Mom. That's the way to raise a man." She smiled at me and we had that Mother-to-Mother moment that is often only captured in movies on the Hallmark channel.

Now let's deal with that study.

Are children really more aggravating? I doubt it. If you read the study, it's all self-reported data. But a lot has changed in the past 15 years: The economy, which parent stays home with the children, technology and our attention spans. I have a feeling that everyone's stress levels are running a little higher than they should, and children feed off that energy.

What to do about this? Why not take a page from your parent's playbook (thanks, Mom!) When I was little and fairly certain I was about to drive my mother over the edge, she sent me outside to play. (Or to my room to play if it was night or raining.)

And so that is what I'm doing now. My son is perfectly capable of playing by himself with the obscene amount of toys that he has. When he has asked me the same question for the fiftieth time, I ask him to go play in his room, and I can let go of my stress. When we both feel better, we can meet up again and talk about our emotions.

Because, let's face it: We all need a little alone time.

What would you do if you had a whole day just for yourself?