By Emily McClements, Contributing Writer
As I sat down to write this day in the life post, I thought: "This was not really a 'typical' day for us, but, honestly, who has typical or normal days when you have little kids at home?!" Am I right?!
This was a Monday--a day that turned out much differently then I had originally expected but became so much more than I could have even planned for. Keeping an openness and spontaneity is so important to my husband and me. We want to take advantage of days like these whenever we can, because too often they are few and far between in our routine and sometimes mundane day-to-day life.
So, here's a little peak into one day in the life of our family: my husband is a commercial real estate agent, and while his job is demanding, it's also extremely flexible. Our kiddos are Kaelyn, 6 next month; Brenden, 4; and Blair, 15 months.
1:20 a.m. - Interrupted Slumber
My baby is crying in her crib, and my husband gets up and brings her to me.
I nurse her back to sleep, and she sleeps the rest of the night in bed with us, which is our usual routine right now.
I have found that co-sleeping with my babes is the best way for me to get the sleep I need when they are still waking up in the night. And also, I love snuggling in bed with her.
She is most likely our last baby, and I know too soon these nights will be a thing of the past. But waking up at night on someone else's terms and not my own is still hard for me.
5:00 a.m. - Ugh! Already?!
My alarm goes off.
I'm trying to wake up before the rest of my family every morning to get some solid work time in the mornings. I work from home as a blogger and writer, and I'm currently in a really busy season of trying to finish up my first ebook, which I am really excited about.
But, waking up early doesn't always work when you have a baby in bed with you. I try to lay her in her pack-n-play that stays in our room, but she wakes up and starts crying. So I bring her back to bed to nurse one more time.
5:30 a.m. - Please God, let her sleep.
I try laying the baby down again, and she starts to cry.
We're trying to gently let her learn how to go back to sleep on her own, so I pat her back a few times, tell her to go to sleep, and then lay back down in bed so I'm still near her, asking God to help her calm down, so I can get up and do the work I so desperately need to do.
Miraculously, she fusses for just a minute or two and finally falls back to sleep.
5:45 a.m. - And it begins.
I'm up and making coffee. Must. have. coffee.
I love my homemade vanilla coffee creamer, but lately I've been lazy and just using a little raw sugar, splash of vanilla and plenty of creamer. I actually look forward to my morning cup of coffee when I'm going to bed at night.
I settle in a the computer and check my email and respond to several related to my ebook. Before I know it...
6:30 a.m. - The Awakening Hour
My alarm goes off again. This time to remind me to pray.
For the last few weeks I have been trying to pray The Divine Hours after reading about it in the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker.
Basically, it is the discipline of pausing to pray seven different times during the day based on Christian tradition and liturgy. I have found as a busy working mama of littles that it can be really hard for me to have a chunk of "quiet time" everyday to spend with God. But I also realize that I am so desperately in need of staying connected to his Spirit all day long.
My alarm on my phone goes off six times during the day to remind me to pray. (The 7th time is during the night, and I keep telling myself that I will pray when I wake up with the baby, but for the most part, that slips away in my sleep deprived desire to fall back asleep as quickly as possible.)
So far it's been a humbling experience. Some days it goes better than others, when I actually stop as soon as I hear my alarm and pause with my Bible to pray, no matter what I'm in the middle of. Other days, I'll say, "Oh, I'll pray in just a minute." and we all know what "just a minute" turns into in mommy land - the alarm goes off three hours later reminding me to pray, and... Oops! How did those minutes turn into hours?
But it's a discipline that I am working on, and I am committed to sticking with it, even if I'm not perfect all the time.
Anyway, so I open to Psalm 19, and I'm also using the book Seven Sacred Pauses to help guide and direct my prayer times. This first prayer of the day is The Awakening Hour when we thank God for the blessing of a new day and surrender our lives over to Him once again.
6:45 a.m. - Okay, time to get serious... for 15 minutes.
I open up my ebook document and start working on a section where I need to do a little more writing and research. My goal is to get this one small section done before the kiddos wake up to get ready for school.
7:15 a.m. - How is it really only 7:15?
The big kids are up. I make their breakfasts, and they settle in at the table while I make my daughter's lunch to take to school. I have to remind my son, who is still getting used to this morning routine, to sit down and eat his breakfast and not mess around.
7:30 - The kids are getting ready for school, the baby wakes up, and while she babbles to me from her pack and play, I put on my running clothes. My husband also wakes up around this time and starts getting ready for work.
7:50 - The kids are picked up to go to school by friends we carpool with. I appreciate the car pool so much because otherwise I'd be driving to my kids' school three times a day - not my idea of a fun time!
8:00 a.m. - "Me" Time
I strap the baby into the jogging stroller and head out on a run. The weather is perfect - it's been unseasonably warm here these days, but the morning is cool and comfortable.
While I run I usually think about the goals that I am working on in my life, and I also spend time worshiping God and praying. It's a great time to just be alone and quiet with my own thoughts in the midst of busy and filled-to-the-brim days.
When I get home, my hubs let's me know before he leaves for work that the contractor is coming to our house at 11:00 to fix our broken front picture window, and he'll come back home to help. Good to know.
9:00 a.m. - Work Time
Our sitter arrives. She's been watching the kids once or twice a week since the spring, so that I can have uninterrupted work time. There's no way I would be able to finish writing and working on my book right now if I didn't have her help.
I make myself a second cup of coffee, hand the baby over to her, and head upstairs to our office/guest room to work and write. I jump in the shower quickly before sitting down at my computer.
11:00 a.m. - Don't Wake the Baby!
The baby is napping and our sitter is leaving to pick up my son from school, so I come downstairs to work while she's gone. My hubs and the contractor arrive, and right away they start banging and hammering to remove our front window pane, and I pray that it doesn't wake up the baby!
11:40 a.m. - They're growing up too quickly!
The sitter and Brenden get home, and I give him a hug and ask him how his day was. He pushes me away and screeches, "MOM, why do you ask me that every single day!" He grabs the sitter's hand to lead her outside to play, and while I'm thankful that my kids love her, I do feel a little twinge that while my kids are away at school and I'm working, that I'm missing out on some of the little moments of their lives.
But for now, we know that we are called to have our kids in public school, and we are so, so thankful for the amazing public Montessori school they attend. I head back upstairs to finish working, while the guys continue to work on fixing the front window.
1:00 p.m. - Just life
Work time is over, so I come back downstairs.
I really can't say enough how important it is for me to have this time for uninterrupted work. I think often, mamas who read blogs wonder how the blogger does it all with little ones at home, too. What I have found, at least for me, that I definitely can't do it without help! When I finally found a sitter to help watch the kids so I could work, it changed things so much for my work time and my time with my kids and family.
When I get uninterrupted time to work, I can close my computer and leave it when my time is up, so that I can focus on my kids, my family and my home. Without that time, I struggle to juggle it all and usually things end up getting pretty out of whack.
So, I sit down and nurse the baby, read a book to my son and talk to him about his day. Then the kids play and watch the guys who are still working on the window.
I start on the daily chores, emptying and filling the dishwasher, pulling a load of laundry out of the washer to hang on the line and getting the filling for dinner cooked and into the fridge, to make dinner time a little easier.
2:00 p.m. - Afternoon Pick-Up
I wish it was a coffee break. But instead, I have to pack up the kids into the car and head to the school to pick up my daughter and her friend and drop off her friend at home.
3:00 p.m. - I love spontaneous family time!
We get back home, and I suggest milkshakes and running through the sprinkler since it's 90° outside! My hubs is finally done with the new window, and while we're all sitting at the table drinking our shakes, he suggests, "Hey, why don't we go to the beach?"
I look at him incredulously - that was totally unexpected, but something I've been wanting to do with the kids before these last lingering days of summer weather are gone. It's a school night, but sometimes you just gotta throw caution to the wind and enjoy these fun, spontaneous, memory-making times with the family, grabbing the moments when you can because they can so quickly slip by.
So, we pack up the kids and the beach stuff and head out to Lake Michigan. It's about an hour drive from where we live.
5:00 p.m. - Burgers and Fries
We stop at our favorite local, seasonal burger joint--it's only open for a few more weeks--and grab a quick dinner that may or may not haunt us later. But, oh! It tastes so good!
5:45 p.m. - It doesn't get better than this!
We're at the beach, and the kids run down to the water to yell back to us about how cold it is. It's perfectly calm, the beach is basically deserted and we set up our chairs, dump out the beach toys and settle in for a wonderful, relaxing evening together.
We swim, skip rocks, build sand castles, chase seagulls, sit and talk while the kids play, and basically bask in the amazing creation and beauty of our family as the sun sinks lower on the horizon. The water looks like glass and the sun blazes orange, with rings of pink and red and just a hint of purple into the blue expanse of the sky.
We linger until the sun has set. And a few minutes more, because it may be the last time this year.
Then we brush sand out of every crevice, change kiddos into pajamas and settle in for the car ride home.
The kids sing songs instead of falling asleep, like I thought they would, still riding high on sweet scents of water and sand and wind and another summer that has passed by.
9:30 p.m. - Sleep Sweet
We get home late, and their little bodies are so tired they have to be carried into their beds. Gladly. And it's the easiest bedtime we've had in weeks.
And hubs and I follow not long after. It was a good day.
These are the moments I live for, the ones I grasp on to when the kids are melting down and the days are long, and the hours sometimes longer. The moments that seem suspended in time when it's just us, and all is right in the world. These are the times where I think my heart could burst with love for these precious ones that God has placed in my life.
These are the days, the work and the play, that are the fabric of our family. And at the end of these days, as my head sinks down onto my pillow, and I cannot keep my eyes open for one more second, I cannot thank Him enough.