Wednesday, January 4, 2012


It's a strange thing, losing internet access.  For the past eleven days, arriving home in the wee hours of yesterday morning, the five of us were away for the holidays with my whole side of the family.  For nine of those days we were without wireless internet connection (hence the lack of blogging).  At the Denver airport on Monday evening, halfway home from Los Angeles, I finally had access to the airport's wireless system, and the first thing I did was check on emails, blogs, and a couple of yahoo forums that I stay connected with.

When I logged into my email, I discovered 235 emails waiting for me.  235.  I worked my way through them, and discovered that I could delete most of them without even reading them; about 180-190 of those emails were from various companies trying to sell something (amazon and various other book sellers, h/school or other learning-related companies); yahoo digests for forums that I don't read any more and a few that I do; companies I've purchased from in the past and which continue to send advertising; even a daily email from a website that helps people get organized (clearly I haven't benefited from these).  Some of the emails were from excellent organizations, but when they send one or more emails every day and when I don't read any of them any more, it's just too much.   In the end, there were only a few dozen emails that I genuinely wanted to read and respond to.

I don't know how it happened that I have let so much 'stuff' clutter up my email's inbox, but it seems somehow symbolic of my life.  I have too much crap in my life, too much excess of otherwise good things:  Way too many emails from places/people that I don't care one whit about; too much stuff competing for space in my house; too many thoughts crowding out the really important stuff going on in my mind and heart; too much of my precious little private time checking on blogs and yahoo forums; too much food going into my body; even too much 'kid' at times.  All of these things are good things.  But taken to excess, any of these things are dangerous to one's well-being.  More than that, they take away from other things.

I've said recently here that I thought my priorities were in pretty decent shape.  And while that statement is true to an extent, it hit me hard in the past week that some things are out of whack in my life.  I think this 'cluttering' issue is one reason why I've been so overwhelmed these last two or three months, and struggling with the depression that has been creeping over and through me.  It's not the only reason (and for sure a huge reason is how hard the last seven months have been as we've begun to adjust to our new family), but I think it's a contributing factor.

I need to remove some of the clutter from my life, starting with the sources of those 180-190 emails.  Then I need to reorganize and re-prioritize some other things in my life:  More spiritual input; more exercise; more reading time for quality literature; more organizing in my house; more deliberate times to write; more consistent time to prep for the kids' schooling; more sleep.

As I wrote that last paragraph, I was conscious that every one of those things involve time...something that I am already struggling with in a major not having enough time.  I don't know how to make these changes - particularly if I'm going to add more sleep/rest time to my life. It's a discouraging thought. The second, related, defeating thought that came to mind as I wrote that short list of things is that I don't know how to do/change these things with my very needy and active children with me all of the time.  I need a break from them more often than I get, and for sure if I'm to make some of these changes.  It was recently suggested to me that I consider putting one or more of my kids into the school system rather than h/schooling them.  It's true that this would provide more of the capacity that I'm craving, and I think that one of my two school-age children would adapt readily to being schooled outside of the home.  But that decision would simultaneously defeat one of the priorities that I believe to be in the right place for our family.

So I'm stuck.

I'm being vulnerable about this stuff here.  I hope that I don't sound whiny...but even if I do, I'm putting it out there.  I don't know how to fix what's amiss.  I just know that I'm struggling.  I know that something needs to change.  I even know what needs to change, I just don't know how to go about it.  I'm writing about it because I want to feel committed to doing something about it. And I will.  And I'll keep you posted.


  1. Oh wow, I know EXACTLY what you mean with the time thing. It's so hard, because 'being with the kids' only sounds like you are doing one thing in a day, but it takes pretty much the whole 24 hours and there is NO WAY to efficient-ize it. It just is what it is.

    Sometimes I feel like I want to get so much more done than just 'this', the looking after needy kids who, if they are awake, always want SOMETHING. But the maths doesn't add up. If I want more hours to (for example) write, they have to come from SOMEWHERE. And if I don't have anywhere to give them from, then nothing is going to get them. Which is annoying, but at least it stops me feeling guilty that I'm not giving that time to stuff that seems (and really is) important.

    It's so frustrating. You're allowed to feel frustrated. You're not whining.

    Yikes, what a rambly mess. I just wanted to say that I feel for you. (And also, that since I started taking brain medicine two weeks ago, I find that I have a lot more energy to get stuff done during the evenings - time that I was previously just spending 'recovering' from the day. Life - even with its impossible time constraints - seems a lot more manageable. I would marry this stuff if I could).

  2. Ahhh, thank you Claudia - you really DO get this...AND you made me laugh re: marrying the brain medicine.

    It's tough, plain and simple. I so appreciate the understanding.


  3. This has been me the past 2.5 years - when the kids came our life changed so significantly (of course) but our possessions doubled or tripled. All those things were dragging me down. I found blogs and read things about how you don't need a better organizer - you need to get rid of a lot of stuff.
    Ruth, that really shook me up. While giving away things didn't help cure the depression, it certainly helped. It took a long time to get it done and I'm still working on it. Parenting our children is very, very tiring and you need to just do a little at a time. A drawer one day, maybe a cupboard or a shelf on another day. Baby steps.
    Take care and be good to yourself!
    Thinking of you,
    Michelle Q

  4. Ruth, I get it too. I'm glad you got a chance to get away from the normal routines and see some family. I hope it was good! ~Liesl

  5. Dear Ruth,
    I hope you had a wonderful time in CA with both your immediate and extended family, hopefully the change in scenery, weather, activities, and Geoff's eleven days of shared child care brought you some much needed support and comfort. This is my first time to comment on your blog which I follow intermittently, I'm a little nervous to give you advice because I do not want to offend you in any way. I believe you need to incorporate some quality "me time" in your day and/or once every couple of weeks. I think this would provide you with the necessary time to rest/recharge/rejuvenate, so that you can continue to manage your ongoing extremely active household. Start with planting a seed with the kids, that each of them is going to have some "quiet time" each day, when they need to find something to entertain themselves by themselves without bugging anyone else. (This is of course needs to be simultaneous!) Set a timer, start with 15 min, and each week add another 5 mins. Get their input as to the kinds of things they could do to fill the duration, ie read a book, watch a movie, play independently. Beyond this, try to arrange child care so you can have an afternoon or evening out with Geoff or a friend or by yourself. Your folks did it for you on your anniversary, perhaps they could babysit for you once a month. Perhaps the kids bedtime routines could be modified so that they learn to fall asleep by themselves (only lay with them for 10-15 minutes) This would give you some more free time to yourself each evening before you tumble into bed so exhausted. Don't be afraid to give them a little "tough love," they will survive as we all did! Please accept this food for thought with an open mind, I am concerned about your well being. Stand back and take a moment to review your routines, as sometimes one can't see the forest for the trees! In the meantime, please take care of yourself! Affectionately, Lesley

  6. Hey Les -
    No offence taken whatsoever!! I appreciate your thoughts and concern, and know that they are rooted in love. I do need more alone time to recharge my batteries - no doubt about it.

    Adoption issues complicate quiet time ideas and bed time routines for sure, and both of these things bring up issues for our younger two; the trauma that they've been through means that we often can't use methods that are pretty much the norm for a lot of families. I sure hope the day will come, though, when there's a little more flexibility to be had!

    I like the idea of having someone come in for a half day every couple of weeks, just to give me a little bit of time and space. That sounds pretty great...I'm going to explore resources on this front.

    Yeah, the forest is pretty thickly treed right now...I totally agree. I'm going to be working on this.

    Les, thanks for your comment, and for braving the 'comment hemisphere'! You're welcome to comment any time!! Love it...and you.

    BLessings, and thanks again.

    R xx

  7. I am an organizational nerd, it's one of my favourite things to do. I know of two good websites for this. One is She does cleaning schedules and weekly challenges. The other is and they have a 52 week organization challenge.

    I know I am far from being in your situation with 3 kids but for me if my house is not clean and organized I just can't function. It feels so good to get rid of stuff! I actually just emptied Oz's room since people gave us more toys for Christmas. The poor kid isn't home yet and I'm already cycling through his clothes and toys. ; )

    I think of you often and I think you are amazing. Lots of love, xxxx

  8. Hi Ruth,
    Yes clutter on all fronts is such a huge issue for me, too, so thanks for bringing it into the light for consideration. In terms of you having some time for yourself, to rest, declutter, etc., you're probably contemplating a range of creative solutions - in that five seconds of free time you have everyday! :) For me, even prior to having a part-time job, I had regular paid childcare during the day. My kids LOVE Julia, our Friday morning friend, and she's worth every penny. She's an excellent tiger and transcriber of exotic new recipes that involve much sugar, marshmallows and sprinkles. I know of other homeschoolers, too, who engage lovely, creative adults to be with their children up to two full days a week. Homeschooling doesn't mean YOU have to do it all by yourself, and that if you're struggling to stay sane(understandably) your only option is public school... it's one option amongst many. I usually find that once I've named a problem as you have (and things have gotten desperate enough!) a light shines in and new paths emerge. I hope this "pep talk" wasn't too out of line! Would love to get together at our house this time, if you're mobile, or we could come to you again. The boys loved it!
    Take care and I'll be thinking of you.

  9. Hey Ruth! Thinking of you & praying for your family. Things have to get better in time, so hang in there! Your kids are healthy & normal, so they have to grow up, and definitely will give you more time as their interests broaden. You can do this!

  10. Ruth, if I had a nickel for every time someone suggested that I put Wubalem in school...I would have a lot of nickels. And just because I go mental some days, does not mean that school is the right answer either. I shudder at the thought of how our life would look like once she got home from such an intense social atmosphere. And maybe I would have a break during the day, but while our attachment is still so shaky, spending 6+ hours, 5 days a week away from me, isn't going to help things either. Breaks yes, but school? NO. Not yet.
    That being said, self-care is HUGELY important for the long term success of this journey...I am really only starting to make it a priority now, mainly because I feel like, I actually have a bit more energy to think about it now! I hope you can find some ways to take care of yourself that seem achievable! Things are so easier said than done sometimes!


  11. I think getting out of the house one afternoon a week is an excellent idea. I also have 3 kids, similar in age to yours. I know that I need a break from them from time to time. I think it actually makes me a better mom! I often wonder how the kids feel, do they need a break from me? Or from each other? It is hard to spend all day, every day with anyone! Your determination amazes me! You give so much of yourself to your family, it is not a failure to give back to yourself!