Saturday, January 11, 2014

"so, what do you do all day?" / a day in my life

My friend Ann has (had? Not sure if it's still ongoing) a series on her blog that featured various artists at work in their studios for a full day, which I think is brilliant and inspiring. I don't ever get to spend a whole day in my "studio," but I decided I wanted to document a day in my life at home with the girls in case anyone is actually interested in what we do all day since, apparently, asking stay-at-home moms that question is pretty common.

I've been stuck at home for a week due to the extreme cold weather, but to be totally honest, I basically only leave the house at night after the girls are in bed. Phoebe is on such a bizarre, difficult napping schedule, germs are everywhere, and bundling them up and getting them into the car takes an eternity, so it's just easier to stay here. I try to keep Lorelei's life as full and varied as I can: I schedule a playdate about once a week or so; she takes a gymnastics class on Monday afternoons and a music class on Saturday mornings that she attends with one of her parents (we rotate); and at least one other time per week either I or her dad take her out to do something (grocery shopping, coffee/hot chocolate date, etc.). It's a lot less than we used to do when it was just me + her all day, but it's the best I can do right now.

As a result, I work very, very hard to make our days together enriching. I let her pick activities, but I also suggest certain ones or sometimes decide what we're doing to make sure we incorporate fine and gross motor skill work, letter/number learning, imaginative play, music, reading, etc. I know that there are plenty of parents who think I'm stupid, or crazy, to be such a homebody and to let a second baby dictate life for the older child, but this is what works for us at the moment, and my background as a teacher helps me to "lesson plan" the day most days so it's structured and meaningful for my inquisitive two-year-old.

So here's our Friday, moment-by-moment...

8:30am: Jason leaves for work and I put Phoebe down for her first nap of the day. Lorelei asks to watch Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood on Netflix, and I tell her (like I always do) that she can watch only one show today and if she watches it now, she can't watch another one later. She still asks to watch it. I put an episode on, unload and reload the dishwasher, and hurry to photograph the necklaces I made the night before at my belated birthday party + craft night.

Daniel Tiger is pretty much the only show Lorelei watches, besides an occasional Elmo's World segment from Sesame Street or a video to teach number or letter sense; I like it because it's really good character education and we role-play scenes from it to work on social/emotional milestones a lot.

9am: Show's over. Lorelei and I play with her doctor kit for a while, then move on to "inside gymnastics" - something I instituted to get her moving on days when we can't play outside. We use the routines she does at her Monday class and I pretend to be her coach as she does somersaults, walks on our makeshift balance beam, and jumps on a giant floor pillow and pretends it's a trampoline.

Afterwards, Lorelei asks to do some Zumba, so we continue our morning workout for a little longer trying to learn some new Latin dance moves.

10am: Lorelei has a small snack (half a stick of string cheese, 6-7 cheddar bunnies, and some water). We then get out her set of number magnets from MargauxMakes and her container of tiny pompoms. I sing a song we know from a LeapFrog video about putting numbers in order and we line up the magnets from smallest to largest number, then count out pompoms to match each one.

After working hard at counting, we play "pompom fireworks" for a while (we lie on our backs and throw pompoms up in the air so they fall down and land on our heads). Then I do some repairs on Lambeau, Lorelei's stuffed sheep, while her owner observes in a concerned manner.

11am: I hear Phoebe stirring, so I bring her downstairs. Lorelei asks to do more Zumba while I'm nursing, but she doesn't need more screen time and it's distracting to Phoebe, so I stall by saying she needs to pick up the pompoms first. She starts to throw a temper tantrum, so I end up holding her with one arm while nursing Phoebe and singing a favorite song to calm her down. Once Phoebe's done, I put her on the playmat and make lunch for Lorelei (pb&j, raspberries, and some Kashi crackers) and a small snack for myself that I can eat while holding a baby. Then Phoebe and I sit with Lorelei at her playroom table while she finishes eating.

11:30am: We finally pick up the pompoms, then the three of us read a story together. Lorelei decides she wants to play "what's missing?", a game from an episode of Daniel Tiger, so she picks out (with some supervision from me) several items from her playroom. We arrange them on the floor and go through a few rounds of her covering her eyes while I hide one of the objects (under the blanket Phoebe is laying on, chewing on her toys) and she tries to remember which one it is.

Then, suddenly at about noon, another temper tantrum looms on the horizon. "I want to do a craft project," she demands. I try to either do an art activity or cooking/baking with her every day, but I don't have anything prepared yet - I had planned to use her naptime to get something out (twice a month, we do one of the projects from her Kiwi Crate). I put a screeching Phoebe in a safe place and run up to my craft room, grab some wooden beads and yarn, and head back down. Lorelei spends about 15 minutes creating her new necklace while I hold Phoebe and help take off marker caps.

12:30pm: Naptime. Luckily for me, Lorelei is (now!) a great napper most of the time. She usually tells me that she's tired and wants to take a nap around this time every day, and getting into bed is almost never a battle. Such a far cry from her first year! Once she's settled, I nurse Phoebe and tuck her in, too. Then, at a little after 1pm, it's back downstairs for another, larger snack (I eat lunch in shifts) and a little bit of work time on a project I started last week.

To be honest, sometimes most days I don't even bother starting anything during this time - I just check my email and stuff food in my face, because the girls' naps usually only overlap by about 25 minutes. But I know I'm blogging this, so I feel pressure to not just watch CSI: Miami. Today, I watch it while sewing something.

2pm: For the past 20 minutes, I've been on Instagram and Facebook, waiting for Phoebe to do her 45-minute wakeup. Looks like she's sleeping through - hooray! Now I'm a little frustrated that I've wasted the time online, because this amount of time to myself NEVER EVER HAPPENS. Seriously. I should probably go buy a lottery ticket or attempt to walk on water or something. Besides when we had visitors at Christmas, the last time I got both girls to nap this long simultaneously was when Phoebe was in her sleepy newborn phase back in, oh, September. This is nothing short of amazing.

2:45pm: Lorelei is up - earlier than usual (she tends to sleep until at least 3). Phoebe got up at 2:30, and I anticipated having some nice alone time with her while Lorelei napped, but I guess that's not happening today. I feel guilty about Phoebe's lack of one-on-one time with me a lot...but that's for another post.

3pm: Time to shake a rattle while simultaneously playing Sneaky Snacky Squirrel! Lorelei has moved on from puzzles (at the moment) to wanting to play board games a little more, which is a nice change of pace.

3:30pm: Snack time. Lorelei gets a slice of my favorite cake, and I do too. She asks to play some more "what's missing?", so I oblige while bouncing a baby on my lap. Then it's time to nurse Phoebe and put her down for her last nap because she's getting crazy fussy.

4:10pm: Lorelei gets out her doctor kit again, and this time she makes her My Little Ponies her patients. I wish I had taken a photo of her, since it was pretty cute, but she's playing so happily by herself (very rare) that I take advantage of the opportunity to do a little quick cleaning and shovel some slush off our walk and driveway that will otherwise turn to ice as soon as night falls.

4:30pm: Independent playtime's over, apparently. I have Lorelei help me pick everything up off the floor and then we vacuum the living room and playroom together (I use the Dyson, she uses her Fisher Price popper).

4:50pm: Phoebe's up. Lorelei comes upstairs to "help" me change Phoebe's diaper, then we come downstairs and play with Phoebe together (Lorelei likes to "read" [recite from memory, obviously] books to her) while waiting for reinforcements to arrive.

5:10pm: Daddy's home!

So, there you have it - sort of. Due to the long naps from Phoebe who normally only ever does 45 minutes at a time (Shoot. Me. Now.), it seems a bit lot more relaxed than usual and therefore isn't a totally accurate depiction of my normal life. I guess that's what you get when your kids know the world is going to be reading about them. That baby is such a show-off - don't let her sweet little smile fool you!

Don't forget to check out the day-in-the-life posts on Ann's blog - and I'd love to know how you spend your 9-5, too!


  1. I love reading things like this in general, and it's fun to get a sense of your day in particular as well, my fellow teacher mama of two ;) It sounds like you have a nice routine going, though I'm sure it feels crazy on some days, as it does for all of us. I'm a serious homebody, too. We rarely go beyond our own street on weekdays, and when we do, I usually end up regretting it. I'm grateful that we have half a dozen come to spend their mornings with us on those days, but I do love our quiet afternoons, too. Ah, and those nap overlaps. It's rare that my big girl naps at all, but when she does it is a treat!

  2. If it makes you feel any better (? - not sure if it will), until he was about 10-11 months, Calvin NEVER napped longer than 45 min at a time. He made up for it at night, but I totally hear you on that one. Your day sounds lovely, and glad to hear yet another parent who loves Daniel Tiger. We just watched our first episode and I really liked it, too. Good to have suggestions. :o)

  3. Thanks for this!! As I prepare for baby # 2 and what our new life will look like I am obsessed with how other people organize their time. I've been working for 16 years straight and the thought of an unstructured day is terrifying to me. Love the idea of a lesson plan.

  4. Also...I'd tell you what my 9 to 5 looks like but as a working's super rushed and depressing to put down in writing how little time I get with Alex as is:( So...I will try and remember that during the days when I am home and minutes feel like hours with two small babies and not much adult interaction!!