Ups & Downs

April 27, 2022
At least it’s orchid season around here. From the Flamingo Gardens orchid festival, but we have some lovely ones in our backyard as well.

Positive Things:

1- I had a massive clinical catchup day at work and no longer feel panic when I look at my EPIC inbox. I had a light patient day which allowed me to follow up on 25+ results and finish 12 pending notes. The relief when I got it all cleaned out was amazing..

2- I greatly enjoyed watching Sex Lives of College Girls (Mindy Kaling’s latest series on HBO). I finished in about 3 days but was thrilled to find out that not only is there a Season 2, but it’s already in the works and may come out in 2022! Something to look forward to.

3- We have 2 new physicians joining our practice and therefore I’m “losing” one week of call this year that was previously scheduled!! I’m sure our manager loved coming into my office and telling me that. We haven’t hired in many years so this is exciting. Also, this is much needed as our clinical volumes have expanded in the past ~2 years. It’s nice to know that help is on the way!

Negative Things:

(Unfortunately far more than 3 come to mind, but I will share the most salient . . .)

1- Bedtime in our new house has been a disaster. I know I know – give it time. But omg. It was already . . . not good. The amount of jealousy I have for people whose 4 year old just freaking go to bed by 8 pm is just . . . unbelievable. A is fine, but the other two are exasperating. I know we need blackout curtains. CURSE this daylight savings BS! Josh saved my life by coming home around 7:30 pm and taking it over yesterday. But I know I will be back on duty tonight and I’m already dreading it.

2- My reading life has been downright depressing this year. I guess I shouldn’t care, but after several years of really consistent reading (2019, 2020, 2021 were all 40-50 book years) this feels like a change, and not a good one. One would think that being off of social media would help and yet . . . nope. Now I have nothing against good TV (see #2 above) but watching that was actually an anomaly. WHY can’t I seem to consistently read? If anyone has any advice to share for coming out of a reading rut, I could use it.

3- I am going to a virtual conference (Pediatric Endocrine Society) Thursday – Sunday and I am already depressed about it. I will be taking call during that time, which was my own doing — because I needed off to move last weekend, and also because I didn’t want to spend 2 weekends in a row (one on call, one at a conference) away from the kids. But now I’m kicking myself because I am fairly certain it will be hard to get much out of the conference. And I’m also annoyed because I really am craving an IN PERSON conference, which many of them currently are — just not this one. I need some inspiration and some clinical updates and for me, virtual is such a poor substitute which I made even poorer by layering on call. Next year had better be in person (and hopefully in a desirable location!!).

I recognize that my complaints are basically non-problems and that the world is absolutely in a horrifying state right now. I admit I have become somewhat numb to the news. I need to figure out how to channel the right amount of energy into doing something positive in society but right now I also feel like I just need to focus on my job and my family.

Off to run. My brain needs it.


  • Reply L. April 27, 2022 at 7:37 am

    Sympathies on bedtime struggles! One question to think about: what are you doing shortly before time to take bedtime strugglers to start the routine? I had a much easier time of it when I started way earlier than I imagined I needed to, and also when I was calm. Rushing to clean the kitchen and then uh-oh time to get someone to bed never ended well because I was in a hurry and the bedtime routine was one more stressful thing to get through on my way to relaxing. When I could have 20 minutes to do something while Difficult Kid had a final bit of playtime, I could manage the whole process better.

    And a final thought- audiobooks on a speaker/locked device can be a lifesaver. Not all bedtime reading needs to be by a parent. My Difficult Kid loves them. She gets read to, and it distracts and relaxes her.

  • Reply Janelle April 27, 2022 at 7:51 am

    Listening to a podcast about books gets me out of my rut. And setting a 20 minute timer to force myself to read. That’s usually all it takes to get started.
    If you don’t have any go to podcasts might I suggest starting with Currently Reading’s 2021 Top Ten episode. The way they talk about the struggle to pick just ten is gold and even if you don’t find something to read I think it’ll get you in the mood to pick something up.

  • Reply Shelly April 27, 2022 at 7:52 am

    I’m not sure I have any great ideas for you other than to say I also really struggled hard with bedtime, especially when the kids were younger. At around 10 my son shifted to pretty much going to sleep on his own (he’s 12 now). My daughter (she’s 9) requires me to be with her still. It’s getting better where she will read and fall asleep but I need to be upstairs with her. When the were younger though, it was hard. I also never had the kids who would just want to go to bed and it was always a struggle to get them both to settle. Hang in there. I like the idea from L. for audio books. Maybe that would help bring the energy down?

    Also planning and executing a move along with your usual busy schedule is enough to throw a reading routine off. I hope you cut yourself some slack and can see it as a blip. Maybe picking the most fun reads to get started back into reading again?

  • Reply Sam April 27, 2022 at 8:02 am

    When I was in a reading rut and really stressed, I asked friends with similar reading tastes to text me books they had loved recently. It was a nice way to connect with friends far away, and I found some great books that I added to my library hold lists, which helped me get back into reading.

  • Reply Seppie April 27, 2022 at 8:03 am

    We got paper blackout shades from Home Depot as a temporary fix a couple of years ago, and it has been good enough that I still haven’t spent the time/money/energy on a permanent solution.

    They cost like $12 and then you just cut them to the width of the window and stick them up. The adhesive that they come with doesn’t work, but command strips keep them up. They are a bit of a pain to raise in the mornings. And they aren’t super stylish, but we already had curtains on the windows, so I don’t really care how they look.

    Could be a good temporary solution for you too!

    • Reply Perfectly Cromulent Name April 27, 2022 at 2:35 pm

      This was what I was going to say. Can you order blackout curtains/shades from Home Depot/Target/wherever for delivery, then hire someone from TaskRabbit or whatever to come hang them if you or your partner does not have the capacity to hang them? I’ve really embraced the “It does not have to be prefect, it just has to be *done* mindset in this season of Covid era life.

  • Reply Kathryn K. April 27, 2022 at 8:05 am

    Don’t beat yourself up on the reading. We all go through cycles. After reading a LOT the past few years, maybe you just need a bit of a break from it? Since this is purely for your enjoyment, don’t feel like you need to force yourself to do something you’re not feeling pulled to do right now.

    • Reply Danielle April 27, 2022 at 11:04 am

      I don’t have time for a well thought out response this morning, but as a Librarian I’m 100% on board with this advice.

      • Reply Catherine April 27, 2022 at 9:43 pm

        I absolutely agree with this. However, if you really feel like you’re in a rut, find new sources of inspiration for reading material. I know you follow Modern Mrs. Darcy, but another social media/online presence I’ve used for reading suggestions is Parnassus Bookstore. It’s an independent bookstore in Nashville owned by author Ann Patchett. Parnassus has a weekly online video they put out each Tuesday that talks about some of the new books coming out that week in both hardback and softback that they are excited about. It’s fairly short and can now be viewed on YouTube so you can avoid the mindless scroll on Insta. Also, if something isn’t grabbing you, you can always put it down and return it to the library. If you aren’t engaged in a book, there’s no shame in not finishing it and finding something that grabs you. Also, try shaking up genres.

  • Reply Keren April 27, 2022 at 8:14 am

    I’m not sure why,but my reading so far in 2022 hasn’t been that great either, I read less ,I DNFed some books, I thought it will be better this year because the library is open,but so far not a great reading year.
    Virtual conference is indeed inferior to in person one. Last year I had a chance to attend two conferences right after in person conferences were restored ,one of them offered an option to attend it virtually as well,I don’t think I would have been able to focus on the lectures for a whole day had I been at home watching it on my computer screen. And meeting people is a very important and fun part of conferences ,also all the stuff around the conference. Attending a virtual conference while you’re on call doesn’t sound like a very good combination.

  • Reply AnnaM April 27, 2022 at 8:34 am

    Like others, my reading has stalled in 2022 also and verging on two DNFs discourages it even more. I think we go through cycles as someone mentions and that’s okay—reading will always be there!

  • Reply MK April 27, 2022 at 8:49 am

    My now 6-year-old son and I used to struggle bus with his bedtime, and podcasts have been my saving grace! Once we are done with our nighttime reading I queue up some podcasts on my phone and stream them through a speaker in his room. With the apple podcast app you can set the play to stop after the current episode or after a certain time. He really liked the Mrs. Honeybee podcast (Honeybee Bedtimes Stories) for a while, but is now more into Bedtime history (short episodes so you have to queue up a bunch in a row) and Nothing Much Happens (which is an adult bedtime podcast that I happen to love).

    To be clear, bedtime can still be a struggle (seriously, how can they move that slowly when its time to go to bed!) but at least I don’t lie there every night! I give him a choice of 2 nights a week I lay with him for 1 podcast… but otherwise I get to go to my own bed… where I read my own books! Just finished the Midnight Library and I thought it was great!

  • Reply KGC April 27, 2022 at 9:03 am

    Bedtime is so hard. I don’t actually know if you’re looking for advice or commiseration but I’ll offer two things: 1) I agree with the commenter above who said that it takes longer than it should. Think you need 15 mins for teeth-brushing and bathroom and getting kids in bed? Make it 30-45. I am ALWAYS happier when I double or triple the time I need because literally every second past 8pm that mine aren’t in bed makes me infinitely angrier and things spiral. So now I just start earlier or reap the consequences. And 2) sleep consultant. We pay experts for lots of other things and sleep should be no different if it isn’t going well. I used one after my second kiddo was born and it was fantastic. Most sleep consultants have either pre-packaged programs or will do one-on-one consulting and they may just have ideas you haven’t thought of. Something to consider?! Best of luck!!!

  • Reply Courtney April 27, 2022 at 9:08 am

    We are in the thick of bedtime struggles with my almost-4-year-old. The routine and shenanigans take 30-60 min, followed by reading and trying to negotiate more/longer books, and then the snuggles. It’s no wonder you don’t have energy to read! Two things help me read: 1. Keeping a long but short chapter-a-day book going, like Anna Karenina currently and War and Peace last year. The routine or habit helps. 2. Find a page-turner, even if it’s not a “good” book. Whether romance or mystery or thriller. Something you’d read on vacation to keep you coming back and help you find the downtime in your day. Or maybe it’s just not the season for reading with the move and everything. Or sometimes choosing between unpacking one more box or sweeping/wiping down counters/decluttering and reading. It’s a hard choice; but sometimes, something has to go.

  • Reply Coree April 27, 2022 at 9:15 am

    Oof, yes, I’m over online conferences, I find it really difficult to maintain my attention. I wonder about a really engrossing audiobook might help reclaim your reading mojo. Maybe your eyes and brain are just tired.

  • Reply Erica Sparky April 27, 2022 at 9:24 am

    I’m in two book clubs so that does keep me in check for reading at least 20-24 books a year, but sometimes those aren’t exactly what I *want* to read. So I always have something fun and interesting downloaded on my Kindle as a reward for finishing my book club books. Sometimes it’s just a fun modern romcom book (I just recently read The Happy Ever After Playlist, The Friend Zone, and The Love Hypothesis) because honestly, my day job is hard enough and I just want to read something fun and easy when I’m not reading scientific papers. I personally can’t listen to audiobooks – I lose track of the plot and have to rewind a lot.

    Get those black out curtains ASAP! And maybe get the kids to buy in to the new bedtime routine with some kind of reward. Like if they can do 3 nights in a row without drama you can take them to get ice cream. My kids tend to cooperate more when they have something at stake.

    • Reply Erin April 27, 2022 at 11:40 am

      I’ll second the rec for all the books mentioned here! There are a few authors that I KNOW I love and that have fast paced, page turner type books that instantly draw you in. The ones mentioned definitely do it for me, and get me out of a reading rut. Another one who is almost always a winner is Taylor Jenkins Reid. But if that’s not what you’re feeling right now? Oh well, there’s no rule that says you have to read a certain amount.

      I also LOVED Sex lives of college girls – it was great! Have you watched Sex Education on Netflix? Somewhat similar vibes. I do watch some shows without sex in the title but hey, both were really great and drew me in instantly.

  • Reply gwinne April 27, 2022 at 9:27 am

    I’m sorry it’s feeling so rough right now!

    1. Yes to the paper blackout shades if you do not have time/energy to invest in the real thing. I used them for YEARS in my old house and need to get a few again. Adhesive worked fine in our case.

    2. It seems to me as an ‘objective outsider’ that both the book issue and the bed issue have to do with expectations vs. reality of right now. You are a person who reads regularly. You will do so again. Maybe just not as much as you think you “should.”

    3. Bedtime…..yeah. Say more about the actual problem? That it takes a long time? That they resist? I also continue to find bedtime frustrating but most of that truly has to do with the fact that I don’t want Tiny Boy to keep calling me into his room. That’s really my problem, not his 🙂

    • Reply Beth April 27, 2022 at 10:39 am

      Yes, we have the paper blackout shades in our bedroom taped up with duct tape. It’s not beautiful but it works. We have a weirdly shaped window alcove so curtains were too much work.

  • Reply Julia April 27, 2022 at 10:10 am

    Bedtime solution: insight timer “Yuri and the dragons” – we get about half way through and my son is out cold every time. It’s magic. (He says the sequel, jasper, is scary fyi…)

    • Reply Julia April 27, 2022 at 10:17 am

      And regarding in person work conferences… I just did my first since the pandemic last week and surprise, now I have Covid.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 27, 2022 at 10:26 am

        Gah! Ok fair enough … that does suck. I hope you recover quickly!

  • Reply Diane April 27, 2022 at 10:13 am

    I feel like sometimes media consumption, like food consumption, adapts to the season in life. For example, when I have a hard work season, I’m more likely to gravitate towards easy quick pleasure snack food and media that goes down with very little effort. I think the trick for me is to set myself up with snack food that I know I will like and won’t make me feel gross- so in addition to the chocolate pretzels and fruit gummies, i stock up on fruit and hummus and string cheese, so when I get off work, I can have both the quickly craved snacks and the more healthy ones too. Your comment on your reading slump made me realize that I do this with media too- when I know that I’ll be working long hours, I download fun, light books and give myself permission to put aside the Pulitzer Prize winners until I have more bandwidth. Of course some nights after a long day at work I veg out in front of the tv with chocolate pretzels, but also this way, some nights I feel like it’s just as easy when I get home at 11:30pm to eat a banana with peanut butter and read a chapter of a fun book. (Of course when I get home at 11:30pm I should just go to bed, but that’s a whole other issue!)
    I’m coming up on another tough week at work and I’ve started reading Dial A for Aunties. The first chapter has been so delightful I can’t wait to read more. I hope it will be long enough to get me through the next few weeks!

    • Reply Caitlin April 28, 2022 at 7:27 pm

      I haven’t read either one yet, but the sequel to Dial A for Aunties just came out—Four Aunties and a Wedding. So if you like Dial you have another one lined up!

  • Reply Beth April 27, 2022 at 10:38 am

    Not sure this will work for you, but here is my firm policy for reading success:
    1) Reading is for fun. I do read or listen to non-fiction audio books for self improvement but I always ALWAYS go with my gut. Last year I listened to a bunch of financial independence books. This year, I’m on through hiking the AT or PCT. I don’t question it, I just read what I want.
    2) I do not track reading. See item 1. It’s not work, there’s no quota, I do it because I love it.
    3) I usually have 3 active books – 1 audio book, 1 on my phone (Kindle app) and 1 physical book. When I’m running or doing chores, audio book. When I’m at the doctor’s office, book on my phone. At night when I’m winding down or when I take a lunch break, physical book.
    4) I quit books with zero guilt. If I’m not into it, I drop it.
    5) Find a series I like and stick with it. I absolutely love a good series because I can just keep reading it without much effort. I just finished the Mary Russell series and there were 17 of them. I read the Maisie Dobbs books before that (16 in the series). You may not like that kind of book but there are plenty of series in other genres. Now I track all of the authors I like and put their new books on hold at the library.
    Also I did not realize I had such strong feelings on this topic. 🙂

  • Reply omdg April 27, 2022 at 10:39 am

    10 people from my department recently went to a conference in Tampa, and surprise! Three got Covid at the conference. Fortunately, nobody got seriously ill. It’s everywhere. My daughter has it now, and she got it playing outside with some friends over the weekend. Joy.

  • Reply Nelle April 27, 2022 at 10:43 am

    How I get out of a reading rut: Go to the library and pick out a stack of books that catch my eye. Start one of them and if it doesn’t grab me after ~30-40 pages, put it down and start the next one. I like to have abundance and just be honest with myself that some of my “should reads” I’m just not in the mood for at that time. I find when I work from a list I am always tempted to pick out something totally outside the lines (I’m a Rebel type personality though, so that’s probably why!)

    • Reply Keren April 27, 2022 at 3:39 pm

      There are pro and cons to a list, especially with library books,. I used to go to the library and browse the shelves and pick up whatever books that caught my eyes. Then I sometimes ended up with a pile of books that I didn’t like. I do not have a problem with DNFing, but when you pick up 4 books and you don’t like 3 of them there’s something a little depressing about it and it kind of ruins your reading momentum. However sticking to a strict list is also too constraining and it might make you miss good books.I like a combination of books that are on my list because I know I really want to read them and some random books I pick up.

      • Reply Nelle April 27, 2022 at 9:47 pm

        Well, the nice thing about library books is that if you pick them up and don’t like them, you can just return them!

        I keep lists but sometimes I just need the serendipity of browsing.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns April 27, 2022 at 10:46 am

    Ugh, I’m right there with you with bedtime struggles. Luckily my husband and I switch off every night so that helps. We do a lot of calm activities leading up to bedtime like reading, puzzles, coloring, etc, but he insists we stay in his room until he falls asleep and he often naps at school. When he naps it takes forever to fall asleep. He’s moving to a new room in a couple of weeks and there is a shorter nap/lots of kids don’t nap in that room so I am hoping things improve. Weekends are much better. We start bedtime at 7:30, he’s asleep by 8:10 most days. When he naps on weekdays, we can be in his room until 8:45-9:15. I read on the kindle ap on my phone and that helps me not get frustrated by the process. But I would like to get back to not needing to be in the room. I’ve thought about doing a short membership to Dr. Becky’s new platform so I could check out her sleep course. We did her course on navigating meltdowns and it helped so much so maybe she could give us the tools to fix bedtime!

    As far as the reading issue goes, definitely cut yourself some major slack since you just moved and had that move hanging over you for 4 months! It can really impact your motivation. My recommendation would be to be ruthless about DNF’ing books. If you don’t feel drawn to read it, move on. And try to find some fun, fast-paced page turner type of books. Throw out any expectations about what you should be reading and find something you will enjoy, whether that is romance or a thriller or a mystery. I also want to say that in the Things Savings My Life podcast episode on BOBW, you talked positively about your reading so maybe go back and listen to what you said on that episode! I think the upholder in you is putting too many expectations on yourself right now! You’ll get back to reading, this just might not be the season for it right now with call, conferences, moving, etc!

  • Reply Kat April 27, 2022 at 11:48 am

    I have a 4 yo who really likes to delay bedtime. We hired a positive parenting consultant (because of other acting out that got exhausting) and her 2 biggest pieces of advice were to 1) practice a LOT of encouragement for even the tiniest things (e.g, “you didn’t squirt toothpaste aaaalll over the counter, great progress!”) and 2) schedule special time even if it’s just 10min totally interrupted and make it a thing on your calendar at regular intervals so it’s a big deal. This makes my 4yo feel like she has my attention and I recognize her, and she’s doing better! The stalling/not wanting to go to bed might be a ploy for more time with you/more attention even if it is negative attention. Just my experience but I hope it helps!

  • Reply Amanda April 27, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    Joining you in commiserating on 4yo bedtimes… it is very tough in our home too. Sharing a couple of things that have somewhat improved the situation in case it is helpful for anyone else: 1) I started a bribe of getting to have a friend over if 4yo stays in bed the full night for 10 nights. This seems very motivating and the child has been staying in bed much more often 2) I try to have my own pjs on, skincare done, and hot tea ready at bedtime (which sometimes pushes it later than 8p), and just go to bed early myself if child gets up, comes in my room, etc.

  • Reply Sunny April 27, 2022 at 1:49 pm

    Just offering sympathy, not solutions. It is nice to hear about another parent who struggles with bedtime. Our bedtime routine takes soooo long and last night one kid cried when I said we didn’t have time to play a board game. This was the 11-year-old, so getting older doesn’t solve all bedtime struggles. Post-Spring Break routines have been rough for us, and I imagine moving to your new house has thrown off your routines. Another note: I have definitely had the experience when I registered for a virtual conference but then ended up not being able to attend much of it or really focus when I did attend. I felt guilty about it but then I decided to just let it go. It is what it is. Be kind to yourself, SHU!

  • Reply sbc April 27, 2022 at 6:08 pm

    Not sure what the precise problem is with bedtime so this may not work, but can you kill two birds with one stone and tell the kids you will stay in their room for a certain period of time after you do their routine as long as they are quiet and in bed and then use that time to read (with a kindle, book light, or an audiobook with headphones)?

    • Reply Elizabeth April 28, 2022 at 11:37 am

      I also sit with my kids when they are falling asleep, and I use this time to read. I have a rule for myself that I can’t have my phone with me when I’m in their room. I read a physical book, with a headlamp. This is when I do 90 percent of my reading! Makes me feel much less frustrated about needing to spend my evening down time in their room.

      My kids also struggle with settling at night. After complaining about this s to my kids’ doctor for years, she okayed melatonin for them. Honestly, they both get such a tiny dose, I’m not sure it actually does much physically, but psychologically, it’s really helped both of them to settle. Getting their dose is a small trigger for them that it’s time to settle in bed.

  • Reply Jenn N April 27, 2022 at 6:13 pm

    I JUST got out of my 2 month (!) reading rut and for me it all has to do with only reading my absolute favourite type of books. For me that’s thrillers and mysteries so I read The Paris Apartment and Death on the Nile and it’s completely changed things! I think I was focusing too much on what I’d like to read hypothetically in an ideal world vs what I was actually enjoying reading, if that makes sense. Do you have a no-fail genre or author?

  • Reply Amy April 27, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    I was in a big reading rut recently and this is coming from a librarian! I recently took a corporate job and found my reading tapered off a lot. I’ve decided to start keeping my book near with me and go for that rather than picking up my phone to scroll. I also keep it next to the couch so that I read rather than watching tv. It’s helped a bit. I’ve also been reading only things that really interest me. It’s so much easier to read when I don’t feel like I’m forcing it.

  • Reply Coco April 27, 2022 at 10:44 pm

    i’m also in a reading rut… reading very slow/little since march. not sure what caused it though. I am getting back to it slowly, aiming 30 min before bed. So far it’s going well. But I’d like to spend hours on lazy weekends to read more…. will get there someday 🙂

  • Reply Amy April 28, 2022 at 9:07 am

    Re: bedtime, I will just say that I don’t think it’s surprising that it’s a struggle right now. Your kids just moved too. They’re in a whole new environment and have left what was probably the only home they’ve ever known— I’d have a hard time sleeping too. Give it some time and consistency and it will get better.

    (Also — there will always be war, famine, injustice in the world — do not apologize for experiencing frustration in your own life.)

  • Reply Amy April 29, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    My 2 cents of advice:

    1. Bedtime- can you talk your nanny into staying late/doing bedtime some? I solo parent a lot and gleefully outsource bedtime at least one night during solo weeks.

    2. During one desperate stretch of horrible sleep I taped aluminum foil to the windows of my kids bedroom. Pitch black. Yes I looked like I was afraid of alien invasion, but it worked great!

    3. Book idea: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. This book was a pure delight and I highly recommend!

    4. Book idea: maybe give audiobooks a shot? I have some great recommendations if that’s up your alley.

    5. Reading: maybe this is just a season of not reading for you? You can still be a reader, just one who needs a break. I took a break from reading much for years because it just didn’t fit my life at the time, I didn’t have the attention, etc. I’ve bounced back and am enjoying reading again. But there is no guilt to be had for taking a break from a hobby that doesn’t fit into the season you are in.

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