A day in the life (of a work-at-home mom)

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, and I like chronicling what our daily routine is like — very different now than it was when The Toddler of Terror Baby Boy was an actual wee baby.

I’m always very curious how other work-at-home moms spend their days, and I know working moms are curious about what I do all day. Do I have a lot of free time? (No) Do I get out much? (NO!)

(SIDENOTE: I go back and forth between calling myself a stay-at-home-mom who works during naptime, and an actual work-at-home mom. I *think* the first description is the most accurate, since a lot of work-at-home moms hire actual sitters to watch their kids while they’re working — and it’s more than a few hours a day. Still, I am not just a stay-at-home mom, because that implies that once the kids go down for their nap, I’m free to do whatever — and that is not the case).

At 20 months old, this is how our average day goes — and has gone, since about the 14-month mark when two naptimes became one naptime.

Sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. Toddler wakes up for the day. He’s been in his own big-boy bed since 18 months, so I hear thudding as he jumps down and starts running around his room blabbering. He starts pounding on the (childproofed) bedroom door when he really wants out.

8:05 a.m. I can’t ignore the thudding very long (it’s right across the hall AND broadcast across the baby monitor), so I stumble out of bed to open his door. He is usually very sunny and greets me with a smile. There are also usually books strewn around, from his destruction before I got there.

8:05-8:30 a.m. I change his diaper, get him dressed, and we tidy up his room a bit. Then we brush our teeth and wash our faces together in the bathroom, and I either get dressed or round up my clothes to bring downstairs to the shower. I make our bed and open the curtains, so when we leave the top floor, we’re leaving it nice and clean (yes, I’m very anal).

8:30 a.m. The toddler has run downstairs a few seconds ahead of me, and has undoubtedly opened the fridge and yanked out a few items (the mustard seems to be his favourite these days). I make him put them back, and ask him to hand me the juice jug. It’s amazing that he’ll always do it, even when it’s brand-new and super-heavy.

8:30 a.m. to 9:15ish. I pour OJ for both of us, put water on to boil for (decaf) tea, and then we make (and eat) breakfast. The toddler is inevitabily dragging a kitchen chair over the to the counter before I can even decide what we’ll have — he loves to cook and bake. We make pancakes a few times a week (using this amazing recipe), and other days we’ll have eggs and toast, or French toast. If I’m really tired, we’ll just have peanut-butter toast and cereal or yogurt, but usually it’s something hearty (since we’re both really hungry in the morning).

9:15 a.m. to 9:30ish. As soon as breakfast is over, I wipe off (hose off) the sticky boy and he runs around the living room for a few minutes while I clean up and load the dishwasher. Just like with the top floor, I’m very adamnent about cleaning a space before I leave it. Dishes, especially, are way more disgusting to deal with after the fact.

NOTE: If it’s Friday, this is the point where we’d leave for playgroup. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, there’s a tot swim (if we have the car that day). But if we’re really talking about a typical day, it means no car and no Darling Husband, unfortunately.

9:30 a.m. Once the main floor is tidied up, we head down to the basement. I put on an episode of Today’s Special — my favourite childhood show that the toddler is now OBSESSED with — and leave the bathroom door open while I jump in the shower. It has clear doors, so I can see him perfectly as he watches and wanders around with his toys.

9:35 a.m. I put on makeup (always!) and blow-dry/straighten my hair (only if I’m feeling really ambitious).

10 a.m. The episode is over, and I have to decide if I stop the tape or let him watch the other episode. Usually, I’ll let him continue, and I’ll pop into my office (just off the basement family room) to go through work emails and plan out my afternoon. He wanders in and out of the office (often shutting me inside, so I have to get up and keep opening the door).

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. We either play with toys in the basement, or go outside for a walk — or just a wander around the yard. (We do a lot of wandering, it appears as I’m writing this). It’s been a mild winter in terms of snow, but still a very cold one — at least for an indoor person like me. The toddler never seems to get cold.

11:30 a.m. I convince the toddler to come inside (it’s usually a fight), and get all his snow gear put away. Then we head back to the kitchen and start figuring out lunch. Usually it’s leftovers from dinner the night before, or we make noodles and chicken nuggets or something easy like peanut-butter sandwiches. He is a big fan of canned soup (and I am not), so sometimes he eats soup and I eat a more grown-up lunch (like strange preggo concoctions that involve green onion, corn, and sour cream).

12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. We sit together in the dining room eating lunch. If he’s being finnicky and won’t eat — or I’m at the end of my rope and need a break — then I’ll put the TV on the kiddie Treehouse channel for him, and I’ll read a book while I eat. It’s amazing how much better he eats when he’s distracted, although I do recognize that it’s the same phenonenon that causes adults to mindlessly binge on potato chips while they watch TV.

12:30 p.m. He plays with his living room toys while I clean up in the kitchen and load the dishwasher again. We go through a LOT of dishes now that he eats off real plates, with real cultery, etc. I also probably have to scrape noodles off the dining room hardwood.

12:45 p.m. We head back up to the top floor, brush our teeth, change his diaper, and read books until naptime. He is always visibly getting tired at this point, and knows this is his last shot to run around for a while, so often I’m reading outloud in his bed while he scales the walls or something.

1 p.m. Naptime! Curtains are closed, the toddler is snuggled in his bed (armed with a soother, a water cup, a light-up ball, a Glowworm, and assorted books). He doesn’t usually protest when I close the door.

1:05 p.m. I grab a sweater (it gets chilly spending a couple of hours sitting at the computer) and take the baby monitor, stop off in the kitchen for water, and then head downstairs to my office.

1:10 p.m. to 4 p.m. Work time for Mama (freelance writing and project management). Sometimes the toddler wakes up around 3:30, and other times it’s just past 4 p.m. You never know, so I just work as quickly as I can. I usually do laundry at the same time, since it’s right next-door, and I can pop over and switch it around as needed.

4 p.m. Toddler is awake. I like when he wakes up happy, and I can hear him blabbing over the monitor and running around his room. I don’t like when he wakes up cranky, and screams until I go up and get him.

4:01 p.m. Change his diaper, open his curtains, and we spend a few “wake-up-slowly” minutes looking out at the backyard — discussing if there are new deer tracks, if there are any doggies outside, if there might be kids sledding, etc.

4:03 p.m. Tidy up his disaster of a bedroom (books everywhere again) and head downstairs. Depending on when he’s woken up and when I expect to have dinner ready, we’ll either have a snack (cheese and crackers, etc.) and then play, or we’ll begin making dinner right away. Usually, it’s snacktime (because I’m hungry, too). The toddler sits on the counter and helps me make the snack. He especially likes dipping the knife deep into the peanut butter jar.

4:20 p.m. We clean up from our snack, and either head outside or sit at the kitchen table to do a craft. The toddler loves markers (chewing them) and crayons (taking the paper off), but his particular favourite is the paint daubers (sucking on them AND painting with them). We make pictures or cards or holiday projects. At this point, I don’t have a particular spot for his artwork, but I really need to figure something out.

4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. We usually make dinner at this time. The toddler drags his ever-ready kitchen chair up to the counter, and helps me measure or pour or stir. If it isn’t something he can help with, I make a big deal out of the frozen vegetables — putting them in measuring cups so he can pour, putting the water in measuring cups, etc. Then I give him a spoon and he’ll stir those frozen beans for ages, very proudly!

5:30 to 6ish. Dinner-time. This is the point in the day when I really wish Darling Husband was home, because it gets very lonely. The toddler does not really talk, so our conversation is pretty one-sided. If I get desperate, I’ll put one of his Signing Time DVDs on while he eats (and I’ll read a book). This would *never* happen on the days Darling Husband is home for dinner, but I will admit to caving sometimes when I’m by myself.

6 p.m. The toddler plays in the living room while I clean up from dinner. If I’m emptying the dishwasher, he’ll run in and help me — passing me all the cultery so I can put it away. Or he’ll dig out the silicone bakingware and start playing with it. His playing often involves filling things up at the water cooler, so it gets messy quickly.

6:15 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. Once the kitchen is clean yet again, our “evening activity” is usually either baking something or playing in the basement. We often bake things for Darling Husband to take to work for him and his friends. The toddler LOVES baking, and it’s one of the few times when he’s pretty obedient and calm, so I like it, too. If we play in the basement, it’s always some sort of roughhousing that involves making a blanket fort, or chasing, or tickling — anything to tire him out. We also do puzzles, play with the Potato Heads, and make block towers. I’m very tired at this point, but he isn’t! Sometimes I fold the laundry at this point, if he’s busy playing cars or something.

7:25 p.m. We clean up the toys for the final time (hooray) and head two floors up for bathtime. He helps me put the laundry away while the tub is filling, and then we get out his container of shampoo and bath paints. He dumps every toy, every bath paint, and the bottle of shampoo into the tub (I’m always careful to leave my cell phone out of reach at this point). He’ll try to dump the towels in, too, if I don’t stop him in time.

7:30 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. Bathtime! I sit on a towel on the floor, and he splashes around in the tub. I wash his hair (he always holds out his hand for shampoo to “help”) and make faces when he drinks the tub water (but don’t really care if he does). I sing and sign Old MacDonald and act it out using his bath toys, and try to get him to make the noises. He can do a pig (he just sniffs) and sometimes a duck (“Wack wah”). He’ll always sign “horse” and sometimes even says it, too.

7:50 p.m. I pull the plug, and he immediately starts putting his toys in their bucket. We have the whole routine down to a science, and it’s funny to watch him carefully hang the puff on the tap, and put the soap and shampoo in their spot on the edge of the tub. I dry him off and sit him on the counter, combing his hair and putting his cream on. I am not very good at combing his hair — Darling Husband does a much better job.

7:55 p.m. Time for a nighttime diaper and fresh jammies. Then we head downstairs and he picks out his snack. I stand him on the counter and he opens the cereal cupboard and chooses what he wants. Lately, he’s been all about the Raisin Bran, for some reason. I pour myself a bowl of Rice Krispies (pregnancy craving) and we sit together in the dining room to eat. He always ends up eating a good portion of my cereal, and I happily let him — anything to fill him up for the night. If he’s being fussy and doesn’t want any cereal, I’ll give him a few sticks of marble cheese or a piece of bread and butter, and there’s a good chance he’ll eat that.

8:10 p.m. Cereal bowls cleaned up, and then we’re back upstairs to brush our teeth. I *have* to brush my teeth after having milk (or anything really, but milk is one of those must-brush things), so the timing is perfect.

8:15 p.m. The toddler has picked out his books, we’ve closed his curtains and shut his closet doors, and we’re lying in bed to read. He has a very large book collection, so sometimes we read a chapter from a longer book, or a few short kiddie books. We usually conclude with Goodnight, Gorilla — a very cute board book where you have to make up most of the dialogue yourself.

8:30 p.m. Bedtime for tired toddlers. We sing two verses of Bye Bye Baby Bunting (one with Daddy going hunting, one with Mommy going hunting — I’m a feminist, after all), then we say prayers (this one), and it’s time for lights-out. Because the toddler can’t be trusted to have a lamp (seriously, the place would be in ruins … or flames), I have to climb out of his toddler bed to turn off the light. He, of course, climbs out, too. I open the door (for a quick departure), turn off the light, and then pick up him to put him back in bed. He stays this time, and I slip out the door.

8:35 p.m. Ahhhh. Making it to this point in the evening is a relief. If I have more freelance work to do, I go downstairs to my office and work. If I don’t, then I watch a few recorded TV shows (and fold the laundry, if I haven’t yet), or just go straight to bed and read (I’m in the middle of the final Hunger Games book, so I’ve been choosing reading over TV for almost a week now).

10:30 p.m. Lights out for Mama. If I’ve spent the last two hours doing something fun (like watching TV or reading), then I’m in a good mood. Sometimes I work straight up to this point, and then I’m tired and cranky. It’s much better to end the day on a good note, so I much prefer the days when my work is done during naptime.

***

After reading through it all, my average day does seem pretty boring. It feels boring sometimes — and very lonely, for sure — but I still enjoy being at home. I like that I can keep up with the housework as I go, so the place always looks pretty good. I like that the toddler and I can sleep in as late as he’ll let us, and we hardly ever have to set an alarm. I also like being home for meals, and getting to choose what I feel like at that moment (rather than eating something I’ve packed the night before).

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our quiet little everyday life!
xo

5 Comments on “A day in the life (of a work-at-home mom)

  1. Sounds like your days have a great flow and routine, which we all know is so important in the lives of babes and kiddos. Will be excited to read the day-in-the-life post with two babies in the mix! You're going to do such a great job as a Mama of two 🙂

  2. Your day doesn't sound boring at all! I know the Toddler keeps you very busy! 🙂 Thanks for the playgroup and lunch dates! Us mamas have to stick together!

  3. I found you through one of your comments on the Smackdown when I realized my kids will have the same spacing as yours when my second is born in September. I just love day-in-the-life posts from other moms and really look forward to seeing how you assemble your day when you add a newborn to the mix. (Also, I look forward to being motivated by your innate tidiness, which I lack.)

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