What Do You Do All Day?
Time is a really interesting thing. When I was still working outside the home, it felt like the hours, days, and weeks just flew by. At work, I would be so engrossed in what I was doing, I sometimes had to set a reminder to pop up on my computer and tell me to go nurse Nora over lunch (although full boobs helped to do that too), and I was always dragging myself away from the office at 5:30 to get her from the sitter. At home, things moved a little slower, but I was still trying to cram things in. Even when I was working full-time I wanted her to get the same experiences that a baby with a 100% present mama would have, so we spent evenings and weekends going to tiny yoga, play dates, mama and baby groups, LLL meetings. We went for walks over the Hudson and in our neighborhood – everything was go, go, go from one thing to the next; she had a routine of sorts at the sitter, but not really one at home, because the schedule was always different.
In June, when I was first staying at home, it was wonderful how much time we had. In between unpacking boxes, we played, napped, and explored slowly on Nora-time. But, it was amazing to me how quickly she set the pace and led us into a routine, especially at bedtime.
Now, she’s firmly entrenched in the nighttime schedule, starting with dinner at 6:30 (when we allow her to feed herself, no matter how messy she is going to get).
(Thank goodness for the giant, sleeved, plastic-y bib Laura brought!)
Then straight to the bath to clean up the food she’s smeared from hair to knees, and at least 15 minutes of water play. Then tooth brushing
(which comes with a song, as many activities for babies do)
and jammied play
until story time (three, at least), nursing, and she’s asleep in her crib by 8:30.
The nighttime ritual is just that – a ritual Nora knows and loves, and that we have learned not to mess with. It’s the one time of day when we try to keep everything the same, and really just focus on her – which means you don’t want to walk into my house at 7:30 unless you are ready to see a kitchen full of dirty pots and pans, a dining room table covered in dishes and smeared with food, a bathtub littered with toys (and, on the floor, her clothes and diaper), and the living room strewn with books and blocks and stuffed animals. None of that gets cleaned until she’s in bed, and sometimes not even until after she’s in bed and I’ve had a chance to just sit.
The funny thing about time is that it fills up very quickly. Two months ago, I felt like I had all the time in the world. Last week, I felt like I was looking for the pause button on life again. Before, I had a void of time left from work; now we have schedules again and lots of things to do, in what feels like not enough time to do it. Most days start around 7 am, and even though Chris is home in the mornings, we haven’t yet figured out a good division of labor for his off-work time (more on that soon). There’s almost always dishes waiting to be washed and toys to be picked up. Between Pip’s fur and Nora’s new habit of dropping food she doesn’t want, I clean the floor once a day (or twice or three times…). I run all of the errands for the house, manage the budget, do the laundry, bake bread every two weeks, take the dog for walks, babysit 6-7 hours per day (1-3 times per week now, but full-time starting the 11th), and try to cook actual meals (including a real breakfast, since that’s our one consistent family meal) — all the while entertaining. It’s multi-tasking at it’s best, and it takes way more skill now that she isn’t just content to nurse for 45 minutes or jump in her jumper.
I’m still trying to get out of the house everyday so Nora can see new things
(like the touch tank at the Maritime Festival)
and (maybe the real reason) so I don’t go stir crazy. Lately, we’ve been going to the Early Childhood Center (ECC) to play when she gets bored and grumpy in the house.We also have to take walks when I can’t get her to nap at home.
(It seems she has a window for nap time, and if we miss it…watch out.)
Then after a busy 14 hour day, when she’s finally asleep, I have a few moments for Facebook, email, and blogging (which I want to do more regularly, if I can figure out how!). At night after she goes to bed and I clean the house, I might have an hour or two to read or surf around on the internet, before I have to crash to get ready for the 2:30 am wake up (not to mention the next day, when we do it all over again). Or, if I can manage without some downtime, this is when I would squeeze in my freelance/consulting work, but lately that’s not really been happening either, and I’ve been wondering whether it’s even worth it.
If I ever thought that stay-at-home moms live lives of leisure, I’ve definitely realized that isn’t the case.
Sure, we have a lot of fun doing some of our favorite things:
climbingwalkingswinging (of course!)
We have a lot more flexibility for things like visitors, since “vacation time” doesn’t factor in. I love knowing that I’m taking care of Nora and Chris, and I wouldn’t trade any moment of it for what life used to be like…but it’s still work, and housewife or homemaker or stay-at-home-mom, whatever you call it, it’s still a job. And this is only the shortened version of what I do all day.
Loving the photos (as always)! Don’t forget that child care for other children – even if it’s in your home – isn’t much different than having another sort of job as you really have to devote almost 100% of your focus to their needs. The most important thing is that you’re feeling good about what you’re doing. Having a day that flies by because your engaged and present is exponentially better than a day of wandering aimlessly. What doesn’t get done today can be looked at tomorrow. 🙂
Hi, it’s Laura’s friend from Facebook. 🙂 I love the Carolyn Hax piece about raising children (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/22/AR2007052201554.html). It’s a similar thread of thought about how full/busy days “home” with children are. It also sounds like you accomplish a lot during a day! Cute pictures. We have a baby Stella doll too.
Wow, Lauren, thanks for the link! That’s great; I hadn’t seen it before. It definitely is true, that everything takes longer with a kid. I didn’t realize that before, but it sure does. I also think I understand now why some women say they could never be stay at home moms – we definitely have days when a babysitter and a 9-5 sounds like a vacation. 🙂