Spirals of erosion/ abundance

Over the new year period I have been reading a book by Permaculture teacher, Looby Macnamara; People and Permaculture. One of the things she talks about that struck me as being particularly relevant to my life at the moment is ‘Spirals of erosion and spirals of abundance. This is particularly timely as I am looking at ‘Design from pattern to detail’ as my Permaculture principle this month. Looby talks about identifying problems in our lives or projects in terms of erosion. What is happening to make our situation less useful, unfulfilling or ineffective? Once we have done this initial observation, we can then find the right place to intervene in the spiral and change it for the better.

I did a big spiralling diagram that explored an issue I am having at the moment with a lack of time and energy. This showed me that a lot of the elements were inter-related. The photo shows the simplified version.


I decided that the root cause was that I need two things to change, I need more productive time to myself (without children) and I need more sleep. Taking this a further step back I saw the place to intervene was in my son’s sleep patterns. Baby S is 10 months old now and has slightly wrapped us around his beautiful podgy little finger.

S was staying up late until we went to bed then sleeping/ feeding/messing about in our bed all night. Please don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with him, I enjoy our lazy evenings of movies and breast-feeding on the sofa, I also love co-sleeping. However the combination of staying up late with S, not getting a great night’s sleep and then getting up early with the girls was taking its toll.

We devised an experiment. If we could get S to nap at a regular time in the early afternoon, then maybe at 7pm bedtime he would be tired. The first day he napped as planned, had a bath, a story, a feed, then went into his cot. He cried, I comforted him, I put him down, he cried, repeat repeat repeat. it was tough. It feels terrible to let your baby cry even for a minute or two when you are programmed to comfort and protect them. He was never left for longer than 5 minutes and he was always safe and warm. So yes the first night was hell for us all. Tears all round. But he did settle in his own bed eventually. By last night, night 5 of the experiment, I only had to go in to him once and he was asleep within ten minutes. This is a revelation for us. It means we have a few hours of grown up time in the evening to talk, read, work, tidy up or watch a movie. I feel calmer, more rested and more able to see how I will achieve my Permaculture diploma work.

It sounds so simple, but when you are sleep-deprived and have wrapped yourself up in a spiral of erosion for so many months, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. Baby S still wakes up at midnight and spends the rest of the night in our bed, but I am fine with that for now at least!

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