One of the most jarring dimensions of co-parenting is the irregularity of our biorhythm. And it’s one of the most challenging to resolve. From day to day or week to week, we have different combinations of people coming and going from our home. This can effect everything from our sleep to our daily schedules to our ability to allocate resources for all that needs to happen on any given day.
Teddy started traveling between two homes when he was a little under two years old. At that time, my body simply could not make sense of his comings and goings. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, every night, and not know for a beat if my child was in the house or not. This was incredibly strenuous for my nervous system. There were also the endless negotiations of Teddy’s needs, our pets’ needs, household maintenance, my work, my / our social life, and my self-care.
Three years into the practice of co-parenting, I’m still in a constant state of experimentation about how to get it all done as smoothly and coherently as possible. But I have developed a few very regular practices that have helped me regulate my biorhythm. For example, I walk the dog every morning, no matter what. On mornings without my son, this happens at 7:30 a.m. On mornings with my son, this happens after school drop-off, closer to 9 a.m. (I work from home and have the flexibility to do this.) And every night, I soak in a bubble bath before bed, no matter what. These rituals bookend my days. Because they provide unstructured space amidst an extremely high-structure and high-performance life, they help ground and nourish me. They wake me up and settle me down. They don’t cost me anything other than time, and they are possible whether I am in parenting mode or not.
I’m going to be going into much more detail about ways to regulate our biorhythms in the coming weeks and months. For now, I’m curious about how you negotiate the fluctuations of your daily rhythms. What kinds of self-care work for you? What kinds of rhythms can you keep consistent no matter who’s in the house—or what you’re responsible for? What are you going to try next?