The Rainbows & Unicorns team is exploring ideas for regular columns and thought it would be interesting to read about a day in the life of other parents. Some of us work outside the home, some of us are stay-at-home parents, and others fall somewhere in between.
Hi! I’m Lauren, one of the Rainbows & Unicorns team members, and blogger over at OnFecundThought.com. I’m a part-time WAHM. My husband, DH, also works from home—but his long hours mean I’m the primary caregiver to our 13-month-old daughter, V. I also do all the shopping / cooking / laundry, and most of the cleaning. Here’s a glimpse into a day in our life!
5.00 am: V wakes up and nurses. Some nights she wakes earlier, but 5.00 am is a solid nursing slot. She nurses for 15 minutes and goes back to sleep easily.
7.15 am: V is awake for the day. I’m usually pretty groggy so I put some books and toys in her crib. She’ll happily entertain herself for up to 30 minutes.
7.45 am: V nurses for 5-10 minutes, then I change her diaper and dress her. She is learning how to walk but prefers crawling, so I choose leggings and a t-shirt instead of a dress that will trip up her knees. Some weekend mornings, DH will give V breakfast to let me lie in.
8.00 am: Breakfast is usually a piece of multigrain toast with peanut butter. I supervise over a cup of coffee. And try to remember to unload the dishwasher.
8.20 am – 10.00 am: Playtime! I vowed our small, open-plan living space not to be overrun with baby paraphernalia, but oh, how things change… As a freelance part-time work-at-home mom, I have since concluded that a baby gate blocking off an area rug strewn with toys is a small price to pay for being able to sit on my sofa and write/design. I have my once-a-week work conference call which I am now free to do without a squirmy baby on my lap! On Mondays we have music class, which we both love. V seems very musical (I used to teach piano so have an inkling about these things) and it’s good for her to mingle with other tots. Our friends, H, a boy her age, and his mom, R, are usually there, too.
10.00 am – 12.00 pm: I nurse V until she is drowsy and then put her down for a nap. On a good day, V will sleep for at least two hours, although recently it’s been an hour and a half. This is her only nap of the day, so I try to make it count: I catch up on important emails, do some writing, or make phone calls. I also make a point of spending time with our dog who, sadly, doesn’t get the amount of attention he used to… I don’t run errands in the morning so as to avoid her falling asleep in the car. She has lots of energy, so a car nap amounts to a power nap, which really messes up the late morning nap. On Wednesdays, my mother-in-law comes over to help. In the early days after my caesarean, she did all the cleaning, made meals, changed diapers, and washed pump parts. Now that I’m more self-sufficient, she plays with V while I work on a writing/design/household project. How lucky am I to have such a fabulous MIL?!
12.30 pm: Lunch! V loves feeding herself so I stick with foods that she can easily eat with her fingers. Favourite meals include eggs scrambled with coconut oil and peas, or a fish cake with a squeeze of lemon and a piece of toast.
1.00 pm – 4.00 pm: After lunch is my opportunity to run errands, and V always comes with me. Out and about, I wear her in our trusty Tula—she’s still mostly on my front, but she is so heavy now (26 lbs/11.5 kgs) that I need to start wearing her on my back. I’m glad she enjoys sitting in the shopping cart because my shoulders get strained after a while. She likes to know what things are, so I point them out to her. And, without fail, I will hear at least two people say, “Wow, look at that red hair!” V’s dad works from home, so he’s good about helping me bring in the groceries; but he works very long hours, usually seven days a week, so I am definitely the primary caregiver. Most days I’m juggling baby, work, house, and keeping in touch with friends and family, most of whom live thousands of miles away. But this part of the afternoon is the time when I try to get us some fresh air. In the summer, I’d take V to our complex’s saltwater swimming pool, but now that the weather is cooler, I try to walk the dog with V in her stroller.
4.30 pm: It’s teatime, so I usually want a cup of tea. V has a mid-afternoon snack while I make a pot of Earl Grey. DH and I normally enjoy our afternoon cup with a piece of chocolate or a few cookies, but V is getting old enough that she wants some too… (I guess I’ll have to forgo my sweet treat if I want to enforce my no-sugar rule!) After tea, V plays in the living room while I prepare dinner. A few times—basically, if she’s cranky or wants to be in the kitchen with me, instead of 10 feet away in the living room—I’ve let her watch Sesame Street or Signing Time while I slice and dice. I learned the hard way that waiting until after bedtime to start meal prep means we’re not eating until 9.00 pm. By getting a head start on assembling the ingredients, we can eat at the more reasonable time of 8.00 pm. I actually try to cook a large batch of vegetables to last me for a few days. What doesn’t get eaten gets turned into a hearty soup!
5.00/5.30 pm: Suppertime for V! Dinner is usually our leftovers, like gnocchi or stir-fried veggies. I have only three rules about my daughter’s food: 1) she doesn’t get sugar in any form, except fruit; 2) she gets vegetables at every meal; 3) I refuse to be a short order cook. This means she eats pretty much what we eat, so a lot of that is organic and made from scratch, even if it’s just scrambled eggs on toast. And there are days I give her an Ella’s Kitchen pouch and supplement with fresh fruit.
6.15 pm: Time to wind down. If dinner was on the early side, V is in the bath. It’s not part of our bedtime routine because baths invigorate her! She loves to splash around. V has a lot of energy so I make a point of helping her unwind. If I remember, I show her it’s getting dark outside, to kickstart her melatonin. Otherwise it’s a bit of quiet play in the bedroom. Then the bedtime routine starts: draw the curtains, diaper, pyjamas, a final breastfeed, books, white noise machine, brush teeth, quiet cuddle, then lights out. Sometimes she protests for a couple of minutes, but most nights she goes down without any fuss.
7.30 pm – 11.00 pm: DH and I have dinner and watch a TV show (we’re currently watching The Affair, The Walking Dead, Broad City, and Angels in America). I spend the last hour or so of my evening writing blog posts, goofing around on social media, reading (I’m currently reading Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates: Answering Tough Questions and Building Strong Families, HONY Stories, and Oranges), folding laundry, or tidying up the living room ready for the next day’s onslaught of toddler mayhem…
11.00pm: Contacts out and teeth brushed, I creep into bed. Banjo follows me and usually flops on the floor at the foot of the bed. V still doesn’t sleep through the night consistently so she is prone to waking up at this time. She’s been sleeping better since I dropped the 11.00 pm nursing. On a good night, she’ll sleep until 5.00 am. On a bad night, she’ll wake every 75 minutes…or less…
Today was thrown off schedule because I was up every hour last night—V may be teething and Banjo had diarrhoea. So today I did not take a shower and we slept through music class. Nor did I make it to the post office or cook more chicken and rice for the dog. And V screamed in frustration on and off all day. ARGH!
But I did finish making my Rainbows & Unicorns Secret Santa gift! And I made a batch of tomato sauce, with enough left over to freeze, and we ate homemade pizza (blue cheese, red onions, and green peppers) which we enjoyed with a glass of (well-deserved!) red wine.