Sleep Bank

Although Ezra’s stillbirth two and a half years ago prevents me from counting chickens at this stage, Laura’s impending due date in December has nudged me into a contemplative mood.

One object of contemplation is time. I’m told that my free time is due to take a nosedive come December. I already feel like I’m too short on time. Between a full-time job, my modest almost-weekly scuba diving (three or four hours when it happens), and standard issue home economics (money management, grocery shopping, cooking, and other household management), I have very little free time for projects (like blogging, and writing fiction) and a social life that I consider “important” but which are obviously secondary.

Hardly a day goes by where I don’t marvel at someone else’s ability to juggle a 50-60 hour a week job, creative projects, social relationships, and a media diet that far exceeds my own. Although I don’t feel as though I’m wasting my time anywhere, I don’t see how I can’t have a minute to spare and others can accomplish so much more than I do.

I have identified two factors working against me: I truly need at least seven hours a night of sleep, if I’m to be mentally effective, and I tend to execute creative projects in time slots of 90 minutes or more. I imagine that most hypercreative busy people can use much shorter time slots, and operate on less sleep.

I’m reminded of several years ago, where many of my co-workers seemed to have endless money to go out, go to concerts, buy clothing, and generally consume broadly if not conspicuously. By contrast, I just didn’t feel that I had the money to indulge in all of these things. Where was their money coming from? Sure, some of them were probably digging themselves deep holes of credit, but not all were. Later I realized that I was putting a full 10% of my salary into my 401K, and that perhaps in addition to credit, my colleagues weren’t putting aside enough money for a rainy day.

Unfortunately, I’m not “banking” sleep, or if I am, I’m overtaken by inflation and bank fees.

Here’s hoping that taking care of an infant will teach me how to be effective on less sleep and work in smaller time increments. (And here’s hoping that all goes well enough that this is the problem I want to solve.)

2 thoughts on “Sleep Bank

  1. Congratulations, sir. My wife has one due in February and we’re optimistic as well.

    I’ve gone through your thought process a million times and come to some of the same conclusions. I desperately need good sleep every night in order to be effective, and I need time to practice hobbies like brewing and learn new photography skills.

    I, too, marvel at many coworkers who seem to be able to hold down a family, work 50 hours a week, go drinking with friends frequently, maintain hobbies, and more. I think one thing I’m guilty of is glomming many different people into one amorphous person in my mind — the person who seems to be spending too much money is not the same person as the one who has 6 kids, but in my head sometimes they become one entity that I am comparing myself against.

    I’m slowly uncovering cheat codes. Working out in the morning, biking home from work, eliminating “down” time between activities in the evening, drinking less, etc. It’s a process for sure.

    I’m also looking forward to learning a ton from my daughter. We should go grab a (quick!) drink after work sometime soon.


  2. As someone who’s been struggling with this issue (kids-vs-sleep-vs-eating-vs-personal_hygiene-vs-sanity-vs-job_and_everything_else_you_used_to_do) for 6+ years… it’s hard. Especially at first. And then it gets harder. And then harder. And then harder. And then, miraculously, about the time you’re on the verge of losing your mind, it gets easier.

    The first three months are brutal. Neither parent of a newborn gets enough sleep. Be kind, be gentle with each other, and remember to say “no” to social obligations that sound like a hassle. Friends can bring over food for you (very helpful) but they shouldn’t expect to stay and chit-chat (very draining). It’s okay to hole up and be hermits for the first 6+ months — you’re taking care of yourselves and adjusting to a brand-new life.

    Over time, social time gets easier — but it becomes different. A 7pm dinner at a restaurant might seem completely out of the question — especially at first — but after a few years, it’s not so bad. Instead of joining friends for a happy hour, you might consider a visit to the zoo pushing around a stroller to be the epitome of a fun time. As long as you don’t struggle too much either way you’re okay. (By “either way” i mean: don’t dwell on the loss of freedom, but do allow yourself to mourn it. It can’t be fully accepted until it’s acknowledged: things are different now.. it’s hard, my priorities have shifted, i miss doing all those things i used to do with my friends… but it’s all okay and it’s going to be okay.)

    It feels like what i’m saying is over the map here — probably because i’m writing and deleting, writing and deleting — but all in all: it gets easier over time. As the baby grows into an infant then into a toddler then into a child then into a little person, your own freedom comes creeping back over time. For example: i’m almost brave enough now to brew again (now that the 6- and 4-year-old have a better chance of entertaining themselves when i’m busy moving kettles of hot water around).

    (Sidenote: I hear that by the time they’re a ‘tween (~8-12) and then a teen (13+) you get even more of your freedom back — but by then you’re older and you want to spend your time differently. I’m sure i’ll have my own opinion when i get to that point.)

    But yeah, you might be tired and sleep-deprived for a few years. It’s worth it. Be kind to yourself and your partner. Spoil yourselves with little indulgences and kindness. Don’t be afraid to be selfish for yourself and on behalf of your family. You’re all worth it.


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