Having been raised in the First Church of Thank You Notes and Being Nice to Everyone (At Least To Their Faces), I usually pause to let the red spots of irritation clear from my vision before chirping something about squeezing a shower in betwixt the dirty diaper changing.
Only after my last bout with the "What Do You *Do*'s?" - often asked by other parents, by the way, presumably of human children - did I realize that I myself asked that same question one year ago, while expecting with Master P & contemplating the stay-at-home possibilities. Still practicing law at the time, and having cared for a newborn at no time, it was around the 7-month-pregnant mark when my frantic "Newborn daily schedule help SOSOS" Googling began.
I enjoy a good indigant rage as much as the next Junior Leaguer, justified or otherwise, but it struck me that most of the "What do you *do*?"-ers might not be accusing me of having a pretextual baby in order to scarf bon-bons all day. Rather, they might be in the position I was not long ago of genuinely not knowing what in Hermes to do with a live human baby for a 24-hour period.
So in the spirit of stepping off my soapbox - every so briefly, mind you, as I do so enjoy the judgy air up there - I attempted to write down some examples of what exactly it is I do with Master P on our average day. Yes, I wrote a list; truth be told, my days now often zip by so quickly I can't remember what it was I did, and of course "Making googly faces, Noon-1 pm" isn't quite so easily quantifiable as time spent drafting a contract once was.
Bear in mind also that this is a schedule in motion; that is, with every phase of Master P's development our day evolves. The near-10 month old infant schedule you see below is very different than what it would have looked like six or seven months ago, when the "eat-poop-briefly-sleep-wail-to-eat-again" newborn chaos ruled the day (and never ending night. Gah.).
A final, important note: not to get too Yoda about it, but to a large extent, you just "do" a day with an infant - there is no parenting book containing the Magic Right Answer of How to Spend Time with a Baby. Believe me, if there was I would have found it. You just . . . figure it out. It's less scary than I imagined pre-baby, pinky swear.
My stay-at-home mom "inbox"
All Times Approximate - in fact, you should always read "-ish" into everything here:
(7:30 am): awaken to chirping from the nursery, followed by:
- 1 bottle (Master P's; mine comes later)
- Blearily snarfle down breakfast & load laundry while watching Master P entertain self in his play yard; feel lucky this is one of those days when he will entertain himself for a brief moment
- Watch Master P empty contents of kitchen drawers, I re-stack drawers; repeat
- Make Master P giggle by attempting situps; debate whether baby or abs laughing loudest
(9:30 am): attempt morning nap (Master P's; mine comes later)
(10:00 am-10:30 am): actual nap
- Think virtuous thoughts about completing chores like calling bank; instead, speed read 3 chapters "Bossypants" while fearing imminent baby wake-up
(11 am): mealtime (Master P & me both), bottle (MP only. Sigh.)
(Noon - 1 pm): walk, ie, pretextual exercise for people watching purposes
(1 pm - 1:45 pm): chase MP up & down hallway; MP removes books from bookshelf, I replace; repeat
(1:45 pm - 2 pm): Snack (MP)
(2 pm - 3:30 pm): Master P nap while I fling self into shower / attempt to silence barking dog / pray gardeners don't wake MP / change out laundry / check email / breathe
(3:45-4:15 pm): Mealtime & Bottle (MP)
(4:15-6 pm): Non-pretextual errands*, including Target trip not costing more than $75 (!)
- *Allow me to translate: as a new parent, often you'll grab onto any excuse to leavethehousealreadyOHMYGOD - yes, even those of us who love our stay-at-home gig - and running a quick errand at a large store where you could (a) presumably be getting something of vital importance for the household. Presumably. Also, (b) be accomplishing (a) in a place where a hypothetically screaming baby isn't entirely out of the ordinary.
(6 - 6:45 pm): Whirlwing of car unloading / pet feeding / mail sorting / trash . . . uh, putting outing? / Master P playing
(6:45 - 7:30 pm): Master P's bedtime meal, bottle, bath routine, in crib by 7:30 pm
(7:30 - 10:00 pm): I sit very still for about 10 minutes, then prepare & eat dinner if the Anonymous Husband is coming home to eat, clean kitchen/living room area, re-commence sitting still
Like with any job, there are some days when it's tedious, and your boss, Mr. No-Nap, is being patently unreasonable. Where you're out of entertaining baby babble by 3:30 pm. Where you'd pay for an adult, any adult - not even one you like very much - to come over & provide grown-up conversation and maybe a diaper change for just 5 minutes. On those occasions, quitting time and Mommy's snack / bottle time can't come quickly enough.
It must be said that the good days far outweigh the bad, however. No other job has given me the satisfaction that b eing home to see Master P crawl for the first time has or seeing his two-toothed smile gazing up at me while I read his bedtime book ("Goodnight, Moon" for those keeping track). This stay-at-home-stuff certainly wouldn't be the right job for every mother, but it is it for me, and I'm hugely grateful even on the rough days that I'm able to do it.
Now here's the part where you dive in & tell me I'm doing it all wrong. Ready? Set? Go...