By Rebecca, Contributing Writer
There really is no such thing as a “typical” day in my house. I grew up without a mom, so becoming a mother four years ago was quite challenging to me in that I didn’t have an example of my own to emulate. This resulted in a kind of go-with-my-gut approach to parenting that works well for me some days and not so much other days.
We also went from a one-kid household to a two-kid household seven months ago after the birth of our daughter, and I honestly think we’re still trying to recover. Throw into the mix the fact that my husband was laid off from his job of ten years back in June and there’s yet another element to make our days anything but ordinary.
We have a loose weekly schedule that includes things like grocery shopping on Mondays and family outings (or field trips to go along with our son’s preschool curriculum) on Wednesdays, a load of laundry every day and specific times for work, but there are weeks that these things don’t happen when they’re supposed to or even at all. We try to have grace with ourselves and each other through it all and know that this crazy time of life isn’t permanent. All too soon, the tiny people we’re raising will be big people and the struggles with naps or long, sleepless nights that permeate our days right now will be a thing of the past.
I love these day in the life posts, not only because I get to see a glimpse of the lives of other women, but also so that I have a record that I can look back on some day to remember what life was like for me during a particular season. I’ve done these back when I was still in college as well as when I only had a one-year-old little boy and didn’t work from home. I can reminisce about these times fondly, but also be thankful that I’m no longer struggling through some of the more difficult stuff!
Various Early Morning Hours
If you want to be technical, my day starts in the wee hours of the morning when my 7-month-old daughter wakes up. She was an amazing sleeper until she hit about six months and suddenly decided to start waking up every few hours or so (some nights every hour!), but usually (if I’m lucky!) I’m able to nurse her back to sleep fairly easily.
We’re up for the day for good this time! My first task of the morning is changing a diaper, then I start in on my daily reading. I try to do this first thing in the morning as it’s really the only time of day I have to myself … sort of (generally my daughter is climbing around on some part of me while I attempt to read, so I often read out loud to her to try and keep my concentration). Right now I’m working my way through Jesus Calling, A Jane Austen Devotional (because I’m kind of a Jane Austen dork), and Glimpses of Grace (because I’m also kind of a Madeleine L’Engle dork).
While my husband takes a shower, I set up our “arena” in the living room which basically consists of a large, baby-safe area, blocked off by a bench, couch cushions, and random pillows, where my very active daughter can roam FREE! I’m also doing a very loose preschool curriculum with our 4-year-old son this year, so I read him his books for the week while I nurse our daughter.
My husband is out of the shower, so I start breakfast. While the eggs are frying, I also start boiling some water to brew kombucha and throw some frozen chicken bones, water, and apple cider vinegar into the slow cooker to make stock. Confession: I haven’t made kombucha in months. I write the date on the jars so I know when to stop brewing them, and I see that it’s been two months since I last brewed any. Today, though, today it will be done!
Breakfast is ready! We gather around the table and our son picks a story from The Jesus Storybook Bible for me to read, then we pray and dig in. Most weekdays we have scrambled cheesy eggs, avocado, yogurt, bananas, tea for me, coffee for my husband, and some fermented cod liver oil. For our daughter, we’re introducing solids very slowly using the baby-led weaning approach (which we also did with our son). When she gets solids, it’s generally some avocado, banana, and egg yolk.
We’re finished with breakfast and it’s time to lay my daughter down for her first nap. I nurse her to sleep while our son and (mostly) my husband clean up after breakfast. I’ve really struggled with her nap time routine, but I also struggled with my son’s routine so I try to keep in mind just how temporary this is. Some days it takes a while to get her to sleep. Some days it doesn’t take any time at all. Some days she won’t even go to sleep. Thankfully, today is right about in the middle and it takes about 20 minutes. I’m relieved as she has been really fighting naps, so this is a minor victory for mama!
While she sleeps, I head into my “office” to get some work done. We live in a very small house, so we converted a corner of our master bedroom closet to my office area and I’m able to work quietly in there while still keeping an ear out for her.
I come out of my office and my husband heads off to do some work of his own, which can be anything from consulting work, studying for a class he’s taking, or job searching. Our son and I continue his “classwork” for the week and start gathering the ingredients for pumpkin spice loaf. This week’s curriculum theme is dairy products, so we made butter using the jar-shaking method the day before and today we’re making some bread to eat with the butter! I crack the eggs into the bowl along with the other wet ingredients and my son asks if he can stir it with the whisk. He ultimately just ends up jiggling the bowl around a little and telling me the eggs are dancing, but I’m glad for anything that gives him a love of cooking.
I pause breadmaking to get my daughter who has woken up from her nap. I change a diaper and then strap her on my back in my mei tai before heading back to the kitchen. After I stick the bread in the oven to bake, we finish the kombucha since the tea/sugar mixture has cooled enough. I pour everything into the jar, then put the mother/SCOBY in and pour the old kombucha starter liquid on top. My son proclaims that the mother is all tucked in and helps me write the date on the outside of the jar.
I take my daughter off my back and change a diaper then nurse her while my son asks no less than five times when the bread is going to be done. (“Soon!”) She then goes in the living room play area while I start a load of diapers to wash (I did not take a picture of the dirty diapers – you’re welcome!).
I strap my daughter on again and we tackle cleaning the two bathrooms. Confession: it’s been weeks since I cleaned the bathrooms. I somehow manage to clean the toilets once a week, but all the other surfaces in the bathrooms are another story entirely. Today, though, I’ve got an hour-and-a-half of nothing else scheduled or planned so the bathrooms will finally be cleaned! My son helps me by wiping various things with a cleaning rag and asking me when the bread will be done. (“Soon!”)
The bread is done (finally!), so I pull it out of the oven to let it cool. My son wants a piece NOW. I tell him he has to wait until lunch time so it can cool off. He doesn’t much care for this.
While the bread is cooling, I fill a pan with water to make hard-boiled eggs for my son’s lunch. Then I empty all the trashes in the house and sweep the bathroom floor.
I get the rest of lunch started.
Lunch time! Our mid-day meal is usually a smorgasborg of leftovers and whatever else I can find in the fridge. Today my son is having hard-boiled eggs, steamed broccoli, homemade sauerkraut, and, of course, some pumpkin bread with the butter he made. I’m having hot dogs, broccoli, and pumpkin bread as well.
We clean up after lunch. My husband rejoins us and while I lay our daughter down for her afternoon nap, my husband reads our son a few stories before he starts his afternoon “quiet” time and my husband returns to his work time. I use quotes because, really, I don’t think quiet is a word that 4-year-old boys understand all that well. Every so often, he actually takes a nap during quiet time, but this happens few and far between these days. Usually he just plays, looks at books in his room, and asks every so often (or sometimes every five minutes) when quiet time will be done.
As with her morning nap, the length of time it takes me to get our daughter to sleep for her afternoon nap varies each day. Some days there’s absolutely no hope of getting her to sleep, so I bring her back out to her “arena” area so she can play while I sit on the couch and get some work done. Today, though, she falls asleep relatively easily and I head back into my closet office to work.
Like clockwork, she wakes up after about 40 minutes (right now it feels like this phase will never end). There usually isn’t even a buffer of in-between consciousness. She’s either completely asleep or completely awake. I do try to get her to go back to sleep, but she lets me know that she’s not interested. So I change a diaper and we head back out to the living room so she can play while I finish what I was working on.
I finally get a shower today! Hooray!
I head back to the living room to play with our daughter. Her current favorite activities include rubbing her two new tiny teeth on random objects, climbing all over me, and grabbing the cat’s tail. The last one on this list has caused me more than one heart attack in the last few months.
Our son is up from his nap, so he snacks on some raisins. He likes to wander around and play with his train set while he eats so it takes him about a half hour to finish them.
I get supper started. Tonight we’re having roasted chicken thighs, carrots Vichy, and roasted Brussels sprouts. The chicken takes two hours to roast so I have to get it started early, but this is one of the easiest main dishes I make since all of the prep takes about five minutes. By the time I’m done with the side dishes, it’s all ready to go together.
I start preparing the carrots and the Brussels sprouts. In some ways, I find cooking cathartic. Leading up to supper time, I can sometimes convince myself that I just don’t have the energy to get everything on the table and we should rely on our old friend Chipotle again. But then once I start peeling and chopping, I’m on auto-pilot and I find that I’m able to just think while my husband plays with the kids. I have a chance to work through all the half-baked thoughts I had throughout the day that were interrupted for whatever reason. I think it provides me with a little needed mental “down time” after spending most of the day with two tiny people.
Supper is on the table! We’ve been lighting a beeswax candle during our evening meal recently per our son’s request and I think it might have to become a permanent ritual as it’s a great and easy way to set a calmer mood during the meal.
Supper is done and clean-up begins. I get our daughter ready for bed while my husband tackles the kitchen and my son (supposedly) picks up the living room. We’re still working on that last one….
It’s time for bed for our daughter. Her daddy and brother say good night to her and I take her into the bedroom. She usually goes to sleep pretty easily at night, which I’m truly thankful for, and tonight is no different. I nurse her to sleep while listening to an audiobook on my iPod. This is really the only way I get to “read” these days.
She’s asleep so I (once more) head into the closet office to get a few more things done on the computer. I use this time for anything from work (which is what I happened to do this night as we had a big bundle sale coming up) to meal planning to balancing the checkbook. I have at least 40 minutes until she wakes up the first time, so I try and get as much done as I can so my husband and I can spend some time together in the evening. Usually she only wakes up this one time in the evenings and then sleeps for a few hours, but there are also bad nights where she’s awake every hour. Luckily those are rare.
Meanwhile, my husband is giving our son his bath. They’ll read stories and then I’ll head in to our son’s room to tell him a “tiny friends” story which is this goofy series of stories about a tiny fox, tiny penguin, tiny panda bear, and a tiny kangaroo that I happened to tell him about one night and now he wants a story about them every night. If anyone has any suggestions for more tiny friends adventures, feel free to let me know! I’m running out of ideas!
The kids are in bed and my husband and I get some time together! He makes pumpkin pie smoothies for us and it happens to be a Thursday, so we watch a football game together. I like watching football with him because, well, I like football, but also because we can chat when there’s not much action on the field. We’re all about the multi-tasking!
Bed time! I don’t always go to bed this early and sometimes push myself to midnight or 1 am just so I can get a few more things done without interruptions, but I always end up regretting it the next day. I’ve been trying to be better lately and I think it’s been good for me.
I didn’t get the diapers switched out of the washer (which also means I didn’t actually wash any clothes today), I didn’t take our son for a walk (since we don’t have a yard, I try to take him for walks as much as possible), and there were probably several other things on my to-do list that didn’t get done. But I was able to cross off a few things and no one died or was seriously injured, so I call the day a success!
What season of life are you in right now? How have you learned to accept it with grace?
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