For my entire life I have always said I will be the one to stay at home with my children, raising them. Fortunately, my husband works hard enough that I am privileged to do so. For the 28 years of life before baby, I idealized this dream. I could see my babies and me cuddled up reading books, napping together, going for walks, visiting the art museum, cooking meals together, and getting some housework done.
While I love staying home with my 6 month old baby, IT IS SO HARD. I knew it was constant work, but I guess you never know until you’re living it. I feel like many people in my life assume I sit around watching Netflix while the baby takes extended hours naps and breastfeed the baby every 3-4 hours.
Nothing is like I imagined or like these people assume.
Lucca is healthy, alert, progressing perfectly, adorable, and a full time job. Motherhood is full time! Especially when you are exclusively breastfeeding a baby (breastfeeding is the right choice for us, I am not complaining, just explaining).
Here is a typical day in our hectic, sweet life:
John wakes up 6:45-7:00 to get ready for work, take the puppy out, make a pot of coffee, and feed the puppy and kitties. I wake up when Lucca wakes up, usually 7:30-8:00.
We get out of bed, I change his diaper and lay him in his crib so he can play 5-10 minutes. I run to the bathroom, make up the bed (it might be my only completed chore!), grab coffee and oatmeal or vegan yogurt, and go back to get Lucca.
We then go into the living room so he can play in his jumper or pack-n-play and I can pump breastmilk [hopefully] 5-15 minutes while eating breakfast. For the next 30 minutes to an hour, he plays and I drink my coffee and recover from waking all night with him. If he’s content, I will get us dressed. If we’re leaving the house, I will brush my teeth holding him, rushing while he’s calmly playing and going back to check on him, or rush to brush them while he cries for me to come back.
I feed him on demand, sometimes that is every 2 hours, sometimes less. No matter what our schedule is, when he needs to eat, I feed him. All day. *Again, this is just how it is. I am not complaining.
By 9:30 he is either napping, fighting a nap, we’re on a walking nap, or we are at a local activity. I love activity days because that usually guarantees a decent nap afterwards! His naptime usually goes like this: change diaper, breastfeed, turn on white noise sound machine, turn on Krishna Das if he’s extra fussy, nurse him to sleep, slide in a pacifier once he’s asleep, and then TRY to place him in the swing or bassinet. If he wakes up, he’s usually wide awake and we will try again in 30 minutes to an hour. If he had a rough night, I make sure he naps early or we go for an hour long walk so he will slumber in the stroller.
When he naps – 30 minutes to one hour and 30 minutes – I try to drink coffee, do the dishes, maybe pump, sort, fold, or start laundry, maybe a little yoga stretching, and/or brush my teeth. We never know how much time I’ll have to do everything or anything.
After his first nap, we take Lizzie out and get groceries or play some more. My coffee is cold, and I chug it anyway. We avoid car rides unless it’s for fun because he still cries most the drive. I restart the washing machine.
John comes home for lunch, and if Lucca had a short morning nap, we’ll try for another one around then. Most days John will make me a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich or I stand in the kitchen eating hummus and carrots while Lucca snoozes.
When early afternoon hits, we play some more, read books, do more laundry, try another nap, and begin preparing for the nighttime routine to go smoothly. A lot of my life these days is preparing for the next thing – a diaper change, bathtime, dinner, the evening walk. When my mother-in-law comes over twice a week for a few hours, I make the salad for dinner, vacuum, do the dishes, put away laundry, feed Lucca when he gets fussy, pump in an attempt to store some breastmilk, and/or do a training hour for teaching yoga.
By the time John gets home, we are ready to go on a 2-3 mile walk on the trail near our house. That walk has become one of the best times of my day. We both discuss our days, frustrations, plans for the future, plans for renovating the house, and how we want to raise Lucca. Lucca rides in the carrier on me, and John has Lizzie. Our little family. Minus the cats, who I’m sure are glad we are all gone for an hour.
Once we’re home, we go into Lucca’s bedtime routine, which he is very familiar with. In fact, he gets quite upset if we sway from it. Around 7:15, Lucca is enjoying naked time, and I take the fastest shower ever. He then gets his bath, pajamas, bottle with Papa, and then I rock him or nurse him to sleep. Over the recent weeks, we have gotten him to sleep all by himself in his bassinet until we go to bed around 10:30. Some nights I have to go in and comfort him back to sleep, some he stays asleep for 2-3 solid hours.
During those two hours, we eat dinner, do the dishes (do they ever end!), fold laundry, pump for tomorrow’s bottle, and watch a show or read. Having a little time to ourselves has been wonderful for our marriage! I have missed my husband.
When we get to bed, I’ll nurse the baby and put him back into the bassinet or cuddle and fall asleep insanely fast. We wake up every 2-3 hours to slurse (sleep + nurse). Slowly, we are getting more sleep at night.
My days are filled with neverending breastfeeding, lots of laundry, dishes, cloth diapers, preparing, some crying, smiles, pets, and LOTS of running around. Staying at home is no piece of vegan cake; it is truly hard work! Without pay. How does that even work??
But I wouldn’t have it any other way… most days 😉