family · fitness

Shifting priorities: Bettina is in survival mode

A month and a half ago, I returned to work after maternity leave. In a way, it was like coming back after an extended holiday: insanely busy. I spent the first three weeks in Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting just catching up. Then, as soon as I felt I sort of had a handle on things, my partner – who is now on parental leave – realised that contrary to what we had hoped, Europe’s major scientific funding body had not moved its application deadline to June because of Covid. The deadline is now 20 April. It’s my husband’s last chance to apply; next year he’ll be too old (well, too many years after completing his PhD) for this particular grant.

A picture of a woman (not Bettina), buried under a stack of books. This is sort of how I feel right now, except I’m buried under a stack of Zoom calls, laundry, dirty nappies, and reports for the finance module of my MBA.
Photo by Pixabay on

Result: partner is now working every free minute he is not watching baby. This means that I’m on baby duty essentially every minute I’m not working. This leaves very little time to exercise. When I can’t go for a run on my lunch break, or put the little one in the buggy and run with him after work, I basically can’t do much. (On Thursday, partner watched baby for a bit longer while I did half an hour of yoga after work. It completely reset me. The man is a saint.)

It’s Covid, so we can’t spontaneously hire childcare, and our son’s daycare spot doesn’t start until mid-May. Our cleaner retired just before he was born (it was well-deserved and I don’t blame her). The house is a tip. Again, it’s Covid, so we didn’t manage to find a new one until next week (I realise that we are very privileged for being able to hire a cleaner in the first place). I decided to apply for an executive MBA just before I got pregnant, well, and before a global pandemic hit. I was meant to start last March, but it’s Covid (are you spotting a pattern yet?) and we didn’t start until September because they kept holding out hope we’d be able to have in-person classes, LOL, so now I’m in the thick of it when I was meant to be on a semester’s break.

I know it’s “fashionable” to complain how busy you are, but honestly? It’s just all a bit much right now. My priorities have shifted: I’m in survival mode. Eyes firmly set on 20 April. This too shall pass. I have leave booked in for the first week of May, and whether we’re able to go anywhere or not, I’m going to enjoy it. Now I just need to get through the next six weeks somehow… and get a run or some yoga in every once in a while to keep me going.

Have you ever been in survival mode? What got you through it?

8 thoughts on “Shifting priorities: Bettina is in survival mode

  1. Bettina, it sounds incredibly busy and it sounds as though you are doing what you can! Props to you and I hope it shows down a bit in the summer!

    1. Thank you! I hope so too, but I really think it will. Just having daycare will already help. And hopefully once more people are vaccinated, we can travel, and it’ll get easier to get help with the baby outside of daycare.

  2. The only thing that gets me through hectic times is to compartmentalize. I make prioritizing to-do lists, and allow things like housekeeping to take a backseat to getting through only what is essential to be done. Sometimes just knowing the pace will end soon is enough to help keep my sanity. I wish you, and your husband, best wishes with your academics and a new baby. It sounds like you actually do have a handle on it.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 Knowing it will end definitely helps. Also just the fact that it’s getting into spring and the weather is getting better helps too! Housework has definitely taken a back seat over here. I’m a little embarrassed to show our new cleaner the disaster zone she’s walking into…

  3. Good luck! Not sure I’ve ever been in that much survival mode, but I hope you get through it vaguely sane. In the past its helped me to put on the blinkers (Scheuklappen) – anything not absolutely burning the house down gets ignored, and if dinner takes longer then 10 minutes it’s not an option. I’m going back to work after mat leave in May so I’ve been following your journey with interest 🙂

    1. Awww, congrats on your baby! How old is the little person? Yes, tunnel vision definitely helps. Just get the most important things done and don’t look left or right!

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