Because I’m as young as I am, it’s bewildering when a pregnant friend asks me some question about having a newborn at home. Although it never feels that way, I know that all of my mommy friends are older than I am, and it sometimes feels strange to be the go-to gal for baby questions. It’s understood, of course, that I don’t have all the answers, but I know very well that it’s more comforting to get an answer from someone you know than to look something up in a big, fat baby book (not that I don’t keep one around for questions in the middle of the night!).
One question I’ve had a lot of trouble with until now—really a question expectant mothers and non-pregnant friends alike ask me—is what my day looks like. I feel terrible when an eight- or nine-month pregnant friend asks me that, and here I have a baby on the verge of walking and I still can’t pin down what exactly it is that we do all day.
I’ve wanted to pull together some sort of play-by-play for an average day for a while now, and wouldn’t you know that right as I felt ready to start typing, Jacob’s nap schedule changed! (For the better, I might add—two naps instead of two or three, but longer ones. Hooray for both of us!) Be that as it may, I’m still going to attempt a “day in the life” of Lindsay and Jacob. Bear in mind that never, on any given day, can I expect all of this to happen. There is always a change in the plan (ha ha), even when I try to anticipate one. Such is life with a baby!
Disclaimer: I didn’t feel like we had a “routine” until Jacob was about eight months old. And by “routine” I mean 1) he slept at regular intervals for regular durations, and 2) (less important, in my book) he ate three big-boy meals at regular times throughout the day. I’m still not sure how often he nurses; some days he wants more milk than other days, and I always offer it a couple of times when he’s not interested.
6:30am – I wake up to sounds of Jacob playing in his crib. If the day starts before 6:30, I change his diaper, try to nurse him, and then if he doesn’t look sleepy, I toss a couple of toys in the crib with him and go back to bed. Keep in mind, he’s already been up to eat at about 1am and 4am, give or take.
7am – After a diaper change and a quick nursing session, we go out to the living room to play. I eat breakfast while watching the morning news, and Jacob plays around me.
7:30am – Jacob has his breakfast. I would have us both eat at once, but for a couple of reasons—wanting to watch the news, my morning prayer time, and my needing to finish eating an hour before I receive the Eucharist at Mass—this works better.
8am – More playing. Sometime in the next hour, we’ll both get dressed.
9am – Morning Mass. Jacob smiles at his best friend on the planet, the lady who sits behind us. I try to be prayerful while doing the aerobics it takes to keep Jacob happy when he would perhaps prefer to be playing.
9:30am – Quick stop at the grocery store on the way home, for whatever we need for lunch or dinner (or my random baking adventures) that day.
10:00am – Back at home, Jacob nurses again while I pray for him to take a nap. Sometime between now and noon, he will take a one-cycle (forty minute) nap, and I will get some work done in the other room. Sometimes this means he’s in his crib for two hours, quietly playing before or after. Once he starts to sound upset (and I really miss him), I get him, check diaper and desire to nurse again, then head out to the living room.
Noon – Sometime around noon we have lunch together. Preparing lunch often involves me using my legs to hold the doors of the cabinets containing the cleaning supplies and trash closed. I would put child-proofers in, but we’re moving in a week, and it’s not worth it. We’ll be more diligent in the next place (although I think they’re already installed there—score).
12:30pm – We’ll play in the living room, and wherever else Jacob is interested. Most of our playing these days is Jacob cruising around, checking everything out, while I supervise. I’ll sometimes email or write while I watch him, and sometimes I’ll read aloud to him. Two birds, right?
2:30pm – Crankypants makes an appearance and it’s time for another nap (after nursing). Depending on whether I gauge sleepy levels appropriately (and honestly, on whether I’m patient enough to wait for him to really need a nap), this can be a replay of the earlier nap, i.e. some time spent playing in the crib before it gets quiet and I peek in to see a sweetly sleeping bear.
4:30pm – Jacob gets up again, and we do the diaper and nurse check. Since it’s finally starting to cool down, we’ll go out to the park for a walk. This is as much for me as it is for him. I’m sure he’d rather be playing now, too, but I’m constantly relearning how important exercise is to my mental and physical well-being. Chasing him around just doesn’t burn enough calories yet!
5:30pm – Back home, Jacob has dinner (too early for mine). We’ll talk, or sometimes I’ll read to him. Who doesn’t love good dinner theater, right?
6pm – Bathtime! Jacob likes to hang out in the bathroom while I run his bath. He’s interested in the pipes behind the sink. So far he hasn’t broken anything, but I’m not about to give him even a toy wrench to play with in there. No floods, please! After Jacob’s clean, we splash for a while, until the eye-rubbing really gets going.
6:30pm – After he’s out of the bath, we dry him off, spread goop on him for his eczema, and get him into his jammies. Crankypants may make a return if this takes too long, especially once he’s lying down. But we persevere, and before you know it, we’re on our way to the rocking chair to nurse one more time.
6:45pm – I sing hymns and oldies while Jacob nurses. This is the longest nursing session of the day, and probably my favorite. He gets sleepier and sleepier, but hopefully he doesn’t totally conk out. If he does, he’ll be up in another two hours to finish whatever he didn’t get to eat. If he just gets drowsy, once he’s finished, I’ll pick him up and snuggle him for a few minutes. Then I’ll lay him in his bed, tell him I love him about a thousand times, and leave the room. Once I clean up the bathroom and the dining room, I’m trying to take a few minutes of prayer before I jump into the adult evening routine.
It’s a busy, but fun day. Working other things in is always a challenge, but things pretty much always work out for the best—whether it’s a trip to the park, lunch with a friend in Manhattan, or a deadline I need to meet.
Rereading this before I post it, I realize this would have sounded totally overwhelming to me a year ago. But getting to this point, this routine, this knowledge Jacob and I have of each other was a gradual process. Nothing with a baby happens instantly, and if you give things their own time, they will fall into place seemingly on their own.
Mothering lesson of the day: Trust in God, trust in time, trust in yourself.