girl sitting on bed with computer

by Denise Brodey

Someone’s been working in my bed, I say to myself. On my comforter, there are folders and sticky notes. My laptop, iPad, and phone are all plugged in. The wires crisscross the bed making it look like the land of lost chew toys. Luckily, this teething pup has somehow missed the pair of scissors lying on my pillow and the pens and Sharpies nesting inside the wrinkles of my sheets. I look at my favorite duvet and think, caps be on. Please caps be on. Sitting on my favorite pair of Caddis readers and hearing them crunch beneath me is the final insult.

It’s time to get my work-at-home life together. Here’s how I did I beat what I call Roomfusion.

The  Ultimate So-You-Can-Rest Routine

10:30 screens out. 

At 10:30 an alarm on my phone goes off signaling it’s time for bed. I put the phone in the charger and turn it off. I go screenless. With the exception of maybe a little television, I don’t watch much after 11:00.

11:00 tea time. I take a few sips and usually forget about it. When my kids are home from college they like to remind me: Mom, don’t you want to make the tea you never drink? It’s become a joke, but it is really part of my routine.

After abandoning my tea, I wash up. Then I close all the doors and shut off the lights. This routine offers a physical cleanse and spiritual closure.

11:30 reading is fundamental. On a good night, I’m in bed with an actual book or magazine, not a Kindle. Even my upstairs neighbor, who is very petite but walks like an elephant, can’t bother me. I have a pair of noise-canceling headphones at the ready. The $300 I paid for them is worth it. The sound blockage is key to settling down.

Back-up plan: If I am still not sleepy, I try to practice listening to my breath. I have an app for meditation called UnPlug, but of course, it’s on my phone. No phones in the bedroom. It’s best that way anyway. Breathe awareness is really weird for me. It’s strange to pay attention to something I never think about all day. It makes me think about my mortality. This can be unsettling. Note to self: Maybe no more breathing exercises in the night.

The Back-up Back-up Plan: If I’m awake to see the bedside clock read 12:00, that’s it, I’m triggered. I bolt upright, pissed. My tea is now cold. My brain is still on. My upstairs neighbor is beginning to thump around (or up and down, sometimes…you know what I mean). It’s the witching hour.

The solution: a legal pad and a pen. I write down everything I can possibly think of that is worrying me: When did my neighbor’s dog get so big and scary?  Why is my garage so hard to park in? Speaking of small, those dents on the right side aren’t looking all that small anymore. That could be pricy to fixKeep writing stream of consciousness.  For me, the pricy ding leads me to worry about a tiny crack I have in my tooth—the dentist is also pricy. Speaking of teeth and chewing, Why do I always put off grocery shopping? I like shopping. I should shop for gifts for all my friends who read my posts before I hit publish. I will give each one a bottle of wine. No, maybe bourbon. On the subject of drinking, I write down: Am I drinking enough water? Not a huge concern, but it’s there.

I pour every little thing out of my head and onto the pad. When there is no more room on the page, I crinkle up the sheet of paper really loudly (there’s something very satisfying about that). I toss it in the recycling, careful to close the door behind me. Again, I have found that if you ‘mindfully’ close things, it provides closure and maybe even sparks a little joy. If nothing else tires you out, all I can say is, print this routine and read it three times slowly. You’ll fall asleep in no time.