I am afraid this week’s post will have nothing to do with science. It will be a post that you might read on a mom blog. I have been dreading to post my version of “A day in life of…” for this reason. However, I am rather inspired to write on this topic this week (ok, I am already past the deadline and I could not put my thoughts together on other topics…)
When my first daughter was born I was a project scientist at a university and went back to work when she was three months old. At that time I so wanted to stay at home and stare at and take care of my beautiful girl all day. The daily routine at that time was, wake up, get ready, drop her off at day care, work, pick her up, go home, cook and eat dinner, put her to bed, wash bottles, and go to bed myself. I had at most 2-3 hours a day to spend with my baby. That seemed eternally too short to me.
When my second daughter was born we moved for my husband’s work and I had left my old job without any prospect in the new city. With compounding reasons I decided to stay at home. I was fortunate to get what I wanted.
Depending on how you look at it, I am not the only one or there are not too many who choose this path.
So here goes a day in life of an “opt-out mom”.
7:00am – I wake up on my own. Some days by this time we have a visitor in our bed. Not this day, as my 4-year old finally went to sleep around 11:30pm the night before. She did have almost 3 hour afternoon nap, and she was not tired at night. It was my fault for letting her sleep for that long, but I just hate to wake up a napping kid. I do have to wake her up in the morning in time to leave for preschool, and she will not be happy.
7:30am – I get up and get ready. The girls are still asleep. I mentally prepare myself for the wrath that is about to ensue when I wake up my 4-year old as I wash my face.
8:00am – Time to wake the girls up. L (4 year old) opens her eyes as I enter her room and is not happy. I smile at her but do not approach. I peek into M’s (2 year old) crib and see her still asleep. I exit their room once to give them time to wake up. When I go back in, the girls are cranky. I pick up M to get her dressed; she is easier. L is a daddy’s girl – she is nicer to my husband. He distracts her by telling her he is leaving for work. L jumps out of her bed and follows him to the door. When she comes back, a long negotiation of what she wears commences. For a long time now, she refuses to wear nothing but pink and purple dresses. After failing to convince her to wear a pair of jeans, or a new blue shirt from her grandmother, I at least get her to wear leggings (pink) under her dress.
8:20am – Breakfast. I want to diversify, but it is always cereal or toast, and fruit. I prepare L’s preschool lunch. Sometimes I make an elaborate bento box lunch. Most days a sandwich, two types of vegetables, and one type of fruit. I eat scraps of food left by the girls for my breakfast.
9:00am – Time to brush teeth, wash face, and tend hair. This morning however the girls decide to have an impromptu tin whistle recorder concert. The squeaks are unbearable. I carry one girl at a time to the bathroom and get them ready to go out of the house.
9:20am – Leave for L’s preschool. We live 6 minute car ride away from preschool. This week is a Teacher Appreciation Week. I am a co-class parent in L’s preschool class, and have been organizing and coordinating parent volunteering for this week. I go in and give potted flowers to the teachers, and turn in documents and submit collected money to the administrative office. I understand everyone is busy, but sometimes being a class parent is just willing to be ignored (just like when I served as a steering committee member for establishing a postdoctoral association at a university, and no one responded to my emails).
9:40am – I see my friend with three kids whose husband just left for 2-week business trip. I stop in my track to check in with her. We decide to check out a new bakery. I think about all the things I planned on doing that morning, and the most important thing for this day did not even register at the thoughts of chocolate croissants.
10:00am – The new bakery is not open on Mondays so we go to another. They did not make any chocolate croissants this day (@#$%^&*!). I order a turkey and cheese croissant, cardamom raisin bun, and tea. My friend and I catch up on our weekends. Her all three kids had stomach virus and vomited all weekend. She also tells me that whooping cough is going around our school. I express my anger and lament (mostly anger) at anti-vaxxers. We both worry about baby siblings of students at school who have not completed vaccinations. M soon gets bored when she finishes her food, starts walking around and eating crumbs off the floor…
10:40am – I glance at my phone, and it indicates I was supposed to meet a handylady at my house at 10:30. How could I have forgotten? I rush out of bakery and back home. This is unfortunately typical of me, forgetful and/or clueless. Sometimes even being organized and putting in calendars does not help.
11:00am – Luckily the handyladies waited at my house. I talk with them what we wanted them to do, and I go inside with M.
11:30am – I check my email and social media as M plays by herself. She is very good playing by herself, humming songs on her own. Sometimes she asks me to stack blocks, help her with putting diapers on her baby doll, or read a book. I oblige. I also try to tidy up a bit, but then resolves why bother when the girls will undo everything I do almost immediately.
12:45pm – Time for lunch. Most of the time it is leftovers from the night before. Sometimes I cook pasta or fried rice. Today we have a sandwich and some vegetables.
1:20pm – Time for preschool pick up. It is a bright sunny day. I realize I forgot to put sunscreen (PSA) on L. The kids are outside for one hour before pick up. L tells me that she made something for me for Mother’s Day at preschool. Her teacher tells her it was supposed to be a secret. At least that’s what I think they said, it was spoken in a foreign language that I don’t speak.
2:00pm – We come home, and the girls are fascinated by what handyladies are doing. I put M for nap, and let L play around. I also want to put L to nap, but if I did, I would most likely doze off as well. So I wanted to wait until the handyladies were done.
3:00pm – The handyladies are done, and I try to put L to sleep. Since she only had ~8 hours of sleep the night before, she should at least nap for 1 hour. She insists she is not tired and wants to watch TV. I tell her no TV unless she takes a nap. Sometimes I feel that all I do is to bargain with my child. This does not seem the best way, but I do not know how else to do it. I do doze off. L does not. She asks every 10 minutes if it was 4pm, which is when I told her she should at least sleep until.
4:00pm – Because L did not nap, I tell her she cannot watch TV. She gets upset and wails. I stand firm. I was recently told that I am too easy on my kids. I make threats but do not go through. I have been try to be stricter since then. I wake up M who slept for 2 hours. She is clingy for next 20 minutes.
5:15pm – I start on dinner. The girls are out on the deck spraying water at themselves with spray bottles. Sukiyaki for dinner tonight. Quick and easy. All meals to be made under 20-30 minutes, or the girls will destroy the house or themselves.
6:30pm – Husband comes home, and we have dinner. No dessert unless they eat everything on their plate. I thinks this one is a good bargain.
7:00pm – L asks to play princesses with me. An evil mom that I am, I tell her I would only if she plays scientists with me. She says yes because it is worth that much for her, and all of the sudden I am not quite sure how to “play scientist” with a 4-year old in a living room. Do we pretend to mix stuff? Look at stuffed animals with a magnifying glass? I need to be more prepared next time. When we play princesses, we talk more about being brave and independent. L asks if what she puts on herself makes her beautiful. I tell her it is what is in her heart that makes her beautiful. Poor L. Do I indulge her in girly dreamland a little bit longer or pound feminist ideas from the very beginning?
8:00pm – Bedtime routine starts. Kids are not tired while adults are. Tonight both girls were asleep by 9:30. Big improvement from the night before.
9:00pm – I wash dishes and tidy up. The next three hours are usually spent on writing, crafting, processing pictures, playing a board game with my husband, folding laundry, or surfing internet. I want to go to bed early so that I can go for a run in the morning, but that takes discipline that I do not have. I try to be in bed by midnight.
When M turns 2.5 year old, we plan to enroll her in preschool. One question is how hard would it be for me to “opt-back-in”.