Last fall we decided Julian wasn’t providing nearly enough excitement in our lives. Obviously, we needed to up the difficulty level. To accomplish this, Jaeger took Calvin to India for Christmas while Julian, our au pair, and I visited my mother in Washington state. Jaeger came home for a week1 and then left this week for China, this time by himself, leaving me responsible for both Julian and Calvin. After China, Jaeger will be home for another week before moving to San Francisco for his new job. I will be staying in Colorado with the kids, and our au pair, until the school year has finished. Though, I do have two trips scheduled to visit Jaeger in San Francisco2.
After Calvin and Jaeger left for India I worked for an additional week before flying to Washington. During that week I got a chance to try being a single parent with just one child. We do have an au pair but she works 8 hours a day taking care of Julian while I work for pay. Personally,I think 8 hours providing childcare is more than enough for anyone to have to deal with so only rarely do I use her as a recreational babysitter. Julian and I survived and the experience turned out reasonably well.
Then we went to visit my mom. Our au pair came with us but I didn’t work most days and took primary care of Julian. Then, Julian and I flew back to Colorado while our au pair took an official week of vacation. This meant that I was Julian’s exclusive caregiver for essentially two weeks. That, combined with Julian getting sick, made him especially clingy which toward the end was starting to make me feel claustrophobic3. However, we survived. The first work day our au pair was back Julian spent most of the day screaming, I work in my bedroom so I could hear it all. However, by the second day he had resigned himself to letting the au pair take care of him again. Being back at work was wonderful and allowed me to have more patience to deal with Julian the rest of the time. I’m really amazed by women who can spend all day, every day, with their children, and not go insane. I’m a good mom but I would not make a good stay-at-home mom. It’s not my gift.
On Tuesday Jaeger left for China. I’ve been using this time to prototype strategies for taking care of the kids by myself for the next 4 months. We’re only a couple of days in, and haven’t survived a weekend yet, but so far I think things are going pretty well.
* 6:00-6:30 – Julian wakes up. Sometimes Julian tries to wake up before 6:00 but I really resist and refuse to turn on the lights. Depending on when he last ate, I may feed him.
* 6:30-7:00 – I wake up Calvin and then shower. Julian comes with me into the bathroom which is mostly baby-proofed if the closet door is closed. Julian amuses himself by playing with the bath toys on the bathroom floor. One of Julian’s favorite games is to drop a toy into the bathtub and see how long it takes me to pick it up and give it back to him.
* 7:00-7:30 – Calvin gets the choice every morning of granola, oatmeal, or fruit toast. He finds this boring but they’re all easy for me to make so he’s out of luck. Usually he picks fruit toast. I make the fruit toast and pack Calvin’s lunch while Julian crawls around on the kitchen floor trying to open the baby-proofed cupboards.
* 7:30 – Our au pair comes on duty. This is where I cheat as a “single parent”. She takes Julian, who is often ready for a bottle, or depending when he actually woke up, a nap, and leaves me free to quickly clean up breakfast and make sure Calvin is basically ready to leave for school. Calvin is allowed to watch TV before breakfast, once he has his school close on, or after breakfast once he’s brushed his teeth. This is his only TV on a school day.
* 7:40 – I take Calvin to school. We aim to leave at 7:40 but depending on how grumpy he is it may take longer to get out of the house4. Fortunately, his school is only 5 minutes away.
* 8:00 – I come back and start work. I usually try to start the work day walking on the treadmill as it’s very easy to triage email and catch-up on everything while walking. I find it a little harder to do thinking tasks while walking, not sure why. I think meetings would be great treadmill time except the treadmill is loud enough it’s distracting for everyone else. I also have to make sure Julian isn’t downstairs while I’m walking because he’ll get upset and want me to take care of him instead of our au pair. In any case, I try to work for an hour or two on the treadmill as this is often my only exercise of the day.
* 2:30 – I quit work and drive to pick up Calvin, leaving Julian with the au pair. I usually get to school 15 minutes before school ends and relax in the car reading a fiction book for a few minutes before picking him up.
* 3:00 I usually walk into the school to pick Calvin up, instead of using car line, because I seem to learn more about his day that way. Often I’ll find Calvin is writing, reading, or drawing and I will wait 5-10 minutes to allow him to finish up his project. Depending on how busy his teacher is I sometimes get to exchange a few words with her while I wait.
* 3:00-4:00 – This varies depending on the day. Toward the beginning of the week Calvin and I will do a quick produce run to the grocery store before going home5. On Fridays I usually pick Julian up and then we head off to the library to return books and pick up new ones.
* 4:00 – Calvin works on his homework. I start cooking supper, roughly following the menu for the week.
* 5:00 – My goal is to start eating supper around 5:00. This provides time to clean up before Julian has to go to bed.
* 5:30 – We’re currently taking a short break from solid food while Julian’s stomach gets back to normal. However, assuming he has solid food for supper, as soon as supper is over I take him up for his bath. I usually can read a couple of paragraphs while Julian baths. Right now I’m using the time to read house staging books.
* 6:00 – Bath time is over and we go back downstairs where I clean up the kitchen. Usually Julian is in a pretty decent mood at this point and Calvin will often play with Julian which both seem to find amusing.
* 6:30 – I feed Julian a bottle and put him to bed.
* 6:45 – I tidy up as much of the house as I can get to.
* 7:00 – I read to Calvin.
* 7:30 – Calvin goes to bed and I finish tidying up the house.
* 8:00 – I often will watch a half hour of TV. While taking care of Julian over Christmas I discovered that I cannot use this time to read fiction. It’s too easy to keep reading way past when I need to go to bed. TV provides some entertainment for the day without hooking me enough that I go drastically past bedtime. At the moment I’m watching The Expanse in half hour spurts, which is not how it’s designed to be watched. I’d really like to find a light-hearted, yet non-stupid, sitcom I could stream but nothing I’ve run across recently has inspired me.
* 8:30 – I go upstairs and read a non-fiction book. So far, it seems that non-fiction is sufficiently soothing without being engaging enough I’m tempted to stay up past my bedtime.
* 9:00 – I turn on my audiobook for the night and go to sleep. The audiobook is usually by Bujold or Pratchett and is something I’ve listened to many times before. It stops my brain from obsessing about whatever my brain wants to obsess about and lets me fall asleep and go back to sleep after dealing with Julian’s nighttime wakings.
* The rest of the night – Julian still isn’t sleeping through the night. Before Christmas he was down to once a night but since he was sick he’s currently at around 3 times a night. I’m hoping he’ll go back to just once a night soon.
So far so good. I’m not sure how the weekend will go yet.
What I’m really scared of is when we start trying to sell the house. While I’m trying to work lots of small tidying times into my schedule I’m afraid it’s not going to be enough to keep the house ready for showing. I suspect I’m just going to have to get up a little earlier in the day and probably sacrifice my evening time. Hopefully we can go under contract fairly quickly so I won’t have to keep up the intensive cleaning for too long.
(And yes, it’s past my bedtime now but it’s a Friday night so I can take a nap tomorrow when Julian does. At least, that’s the plan.)
- During which the entire family got the stomach bug ↩
- Toward the end of February Calvin and I will go to “tour the area” and then in March I have a library conference coincidentally located in San Francisco so I’m leaving both kids with Jaeger’s mother while I go to my conference and spend the evenings with Jaeger. ↩
- Jaeger was around the last week but Julian would refuse all food and scream louder and louder until I came and dealt with him ↩
- I really can’t blame him, I’d usually prefer sleeping in too. ↩
- I get most of our non-produce groceries delivered either weekly or bi-weekly. ↩