Staying Home

Standard

I’m now heading into well over one month as a stay-at-home parent. I don’t want to comment on whether it’s going well or not, but here are some things I’ve noticed.

  • I generally love it. And Alya seems to as well.
  • Not setting an alarm clock = totally wonderful
  • Not having to make/pack lunches + a bag of baby stuff for the day = wonderful too
  • Not stressing out about work situations = a welcome relief after many months of hard work
  • Figuring out how to fill the days = sometimes still a challenge, sometimes magically easy.

I still want to have a general structure to our days. We don’t. I expect I’ll be working again at some point, so maybe I just haven’t taken the time to create the home schedule I know we would enjoy. Or maybe I’m just lazy. Or obsessed with my still-long to-do list. Or maybe, schedules are over-rated. In any case, our days look like:

  • Wake up when we want to, often around 8.
  • Get breakfast … eventually.
  • Read, nurse, play, some crafts.
  • Eventually (usually) leave the house. Maybe the park, library, groceries … Some days lately we’ll end up out for most of the day once we leave.
  • Very occasional visits with friends. Not often enough.
  • Bedtime varying from 5:30 – midnight; naps sometimes.
  • Lots of books. Loooooooots.
  • And not enough cooking. I’m hungry and she eats too much bread.

I do try to engage her in what I’m doing, but sometimes she’s not interested, and sometimes I’m just not doing much.

And finally: fitting in other work while looking after a child is very hard, and possibly counter-productive. I sometimes try to get small tasks done, check email, etc. Maybe it’s because she is still readjusting to having me home, but I don’t get much time to myself (1 minute? sometimes more if she’s absorbed in something & I’m beside her). Getting tasky also detracts significantly from our bonding, and when I get out of the “being home” headspace, I’m more irritable and enjoy her less. Is the lesson to embrace what I’m doing when I’m doing it?

I am intensely curious to hear how other people organize their at-home days. Do you fit in other work? Multitask? Play a lot with your child or encourage independence? Set up activities & preschool-like work? Get out a lot and play with other kids?

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6 responses »

  1. You have only been home a month so you guys are still figuring out stuff. For me one thing I feel is so important for my boys is for them to know how to entertain themselves and how to play or do something alone. It is needed for mommy insanity and is a life skill to learn. I feel there is a whole generation of people that don’t know how to be alone or entertain themselves. They are so used to always being busy going from one thing to the next and having constant attention, that they don’t know how to play alone or justmbe by ourselves, while still around others. If that makes sense.
    I have a semi structure to our days. I always try and stay home 1-2 days a week. Than other days we go to playgroups, Have playdates with freinds, go to parks, beaches or sometimes errands. On days we are going out or having play dates at home, we are up and eaten and dressed by 9am. Than out, than home for lunch around 12 or 1230, than nap for the youngest 2 and quiet time for Ethan (if my boys don’t nap, they have to play quietly in their room for an hour). Than afternoon we play, do crafts, play games, etc. Days we stay home I might do more of a preschool type morning (will be doing a school morning 3 mornings a week once sept starts), or once in a while we have a lazy unstructured morning 🙂
    Than supper is always 5-5:30pm. Than bedtime at 7pm. I have a pretty good schedule and try and stick to it as kids thrive in an organized daily routine with the bigger things, like when we eat, sleep etc. I feel than they sort of know what’s coming next and they relax more and enjoy like as children like knowing what is going on and routines. That said I am flexible and some days we do things differently if we are going out etc.

    • Thanks Rosanne! This is roughly the schedule I want to have. I’ve realized a few reasons why I haven’t done it yet, including the fact that I’m not yet really officially a stay at home mom. I’m looking for work, and have a bit of work on the go too. But I’m motivated now to make even more of my time with Alya, including getting her together more with friends!

  2. Multitasking is definitely over-rated – truly, we can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. I remember hearing a documentary on CBC about how our culture thinks it’s a much desired skill but not really possible.
    I also remember during my early career days trying to bring work home when Myles was a toddler. I quickly stopped that because I couldn’t get much accomplished, became frustrated and he sure wasn’t happy with me. Totally non-productive and made me feel like a bad mom.
    In my opinion, most of us, children and adults, do well with a schedule but not everyone thinks that way – especially here in the Arctic. Mother Nature rules here. This time of year we don’t have darkness except for a couple hours of twilight around midnight- 2am so local people, not tied to a clock, stay up late – I often see kids playing baseball when I’m getting ready for bed. I try to keep to a schedule because I love my sleep but it’s really hard when the sun refuses to stop shining. While winters are dark, I love being able to sleep well.
    In terms of learning at that age, I wouldn’t worry about pre-school-like work – they will have lots of time in school and the best learning will come from being with you doing normal home stuff. But that’s my Waldorf experience talking.
    Sounds to me like you are doing it just right so if we don’t hear from you for a while, we know you are focused on your priorities. Enjoy.

    • Hi Joy, yes, I think a lot about the normal home stuff! And Waldorf! I guess my main frustration with myself is not being proactive enough about activities & play dates with her. But I’m glad I put this out there, because now I feel very motivated to get more on it! Plus, I totally appreciate your comments about different cultures and priorities … I personally am not big into total stimulation all day, and enjoy quiet time :).

  3. Since we both work (ugh, you know the ambivalence there!), it’s basically a must for us to have a consistent start and end of the day (within an hour or so). On Fri – Sun when I am home all day with them, what happens in between those start and stop times is verrrrry loose. Since my best “me” is in the morning and early afternoon, I try to totally maximize that time as 100% kid time. Ignore messes, tasks, etc. Then, when there is down time (naps or whatever), i’ll get chorey stuff done. Sometimes those tasks never get done. Here is exactly how today went: Got up around 7:00 and just followed her lead on this and that play. Then we all went to breakfast. Then painted some (those easily washable watercolor things for about $1). Stroller ride (confession: i like to multitask snacktime and stroller ride because they can sort of eat and look at the scenery and it works well; they ate farmers market peaches and it didnt matter where the juice dripped!). Ella had her nap at 12ish (never veers far from that time.) That was the time Riley and I “rested” (she refuses to nap anymore) and cuddled on the couch and watched the “Rescuers” (remember that little cartoon mouse movie from early 70’s?). Then we played with her toys some. Ella woke up and we had popsicles on the porch. A friend came over with two little boys around same age of ella and riley. (I was very skeptical because Riley is a little timid). We played with the hose and they all got in our blow up kiddie pool in back yard. It was so much more fun than I thought it would be. Baths. Ella down at 7 pm. Riley down about 8:30 (that’s our major book time). Then went back in about 20+ times after that for more cuddling, one last goodnight, find her doggie purse, find this, find that, etc:). During the whole entire day, these are the only tasks done: couple baskets of clothes folded, dishes done, a tiny bit of straightening. that is IT.

    Sorry for the ultra long comment. Bottom line: I “use up” all my best energy on them, and then get around to house and chores with my more blah self. That, plus a consistent start and stop time of the day has generally worked for us.

    I love your posts! I secretly hoped more free time would mean more posts, alas, hasn’t panned out that way! hahahaha

    • Thanks for this! I am not great at putting Alya first the way I want to, so thanks for the inspiration. Even if she is doing stuff with me and leraning by doing chores, that’s still her first if I have that goal in mind …
      Yay for loose time, plus some firm deadlines! I failed at that tonight … oh well, try again tomorrow.

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