Years ago I was a guest blogger for a Day in the Life series (sadly, I can’t actually find the link to that post and don’t even remember the name of the blog). It was a lot of fun…and also a completely different season of life. Abby was still having milk in sippy cups each morning; Levi was just a dream in our future.
I don’t miss that season but also, I miss that season. The sweet little cheeks and zippered pajamas and morning snuggles and soothers and wobbly first steps.
Days now are busy in a different way. No sippy cups or diapers, but lots of activities to juggle. Extracurriculars are just starting to ramp up for the fall; I think we’re – comparatively – an unscheduled family, but even still our calendars fill up quickly
There are also no naps and as much as I loathed naps (literally the very first thought that crossed my mind when I found out I was pregnant with Levi was: “Oh no, I have to do naps again!”), they were a great way to break up the day.
Also, early bedtimes. I can’t believe a few years ago the kids were asleep by 6:30 pm each night. I didn’t know what I had coming. It’s not unusual for one of the kids to still be awake in their rooms when I’m falling asleep.
This post covers specific life happenings on 19 October 2021, an overcast and cool Tuesday, but I’ll fill in details about how our schedule generally shakes down during weekdays.
6:30-6:45: Wake up
We all woke up a bit early this morning, so while John got Levi showered (I am not great about staying on top of regular bathing for the kids), I set up shop in bed with my laptop and started clearing out the inbox accumulation from the previous evening/overnight. There was some low-hanging fruit that I tackled immediately and I read through the rest so I had an idea of what to triage when the dust settled from our morning routine. I also read my Bible for the day (using The One Year Bible). I checked the temperature (6 degrees, brrrr) and dressed appropriately for the conditions, made the bed, and was out the bedroom door before 7 am.
About once a week or so I’ll get up around 6 am, slip out to the living room and read my Bible or tackle some communications. But most of the time I succumb to the warmth and comfort of bed until close to 7 am. When I manage it, though, even getting up 15 minutes before the breakfast routine feels like a huge win. Apparently not enough of a “win” to sacrifice sleep, though. I know about all the early-morning high achieving types, but I have just never been an early morning person. In an ideal world, I’d sleep until at least 7:30 am every morning, but that is many, many years away.
I almost never set an alarm. We just always wake up (or get woken up by the kids). Someday we’re all going to wake up at 8:30 am, incredibly well-rested and late for work and school. Until that time, I just let the kids/the sunlight wake me up.
7:00 – 7:50: Breakfast + prep for school
Because of how our Atlantic time zone currently aligns with Australia, John has an important work call at 7 am Tuesday mornings. While he paced around talking (and helping prep bookbags), Abby emptied the dishwasher. I’m going to write more about chores soon, but this is Abby’s main household responsibility.
It was an oatmeal day, so I helped carry hot bowls from the microwave and prepped Levi’s (cinnamon, lots of banana, milk, a bit of brown sugar and a sprinkle of chocolate chips). Abby does her own from scratch now and I love this breakfast independence!
We needed laundry started, so I sent Abby down to put on a load, while I did some final lunchbox prep.
Getting up a bit earlier this particular Tuesday was great, but generally it feels like there is not quite enough buffer. It’s not because we have that much to accomplish (I almost always have lunchboxes ready the night before), but everyone is slower and more sluggish and no one is particularly keen to brush teeth or hair, load the dishwasher and put on socks.
Getting the kids in socks is a daily battle.
While the kids eat (most often oatmeal, their favourite, or cereal/toast) we go over their weekly memory verse for Bible Club, read a Bible story, and then I read a chapter from whatever book we’re working through or grab a few picture books from our weekly library haul.
Right now we’re reading Anne of Green Gables and the kids are all in.
7:50-8:30: Walk to school + return
John is able to take his call while walking, so he set out with Levi first while I locked up and donned my headband and finger gloves. I get cold easily, so always need to be mindful of the conditions and wear lots of layers. I had to run to catch up with Abby which helped warm me up despite the chilly temperatures. We were quickly joined by one of her friends so it was a happy family crew +1. For 5 blissful minutes, I walked in the middle of the two groups and enjoyed peace and quiet. Then I caught up with John and Levi and since John was occupied on a call, Levi was happy to walk with me and we had a great chat the rest of the way to school, culminating in a footrace which left me extra toasty.
He beat me, as he always does. That boy is fast.
It’s about 20 minutes to get to school on foot, and we aim to do this every morning. It’s a huge source of happiness for our family and a great way to start the day. Plus, it means before I make the first cup of coffee, I’ve already walked about 5 km.
9:00-2:30: Work + home management
With a recent uptick in my work responsibilities, the time after getting home until bus pickup is all about work. I moved the laundry over to the dryer (the washer completed its cycle while we were away), heated up a mug of tea, and settled in to work on e-mails. I manage three different streams of communications/distinct working roles; while I try to keep the streams separate, realistically I am often toggling back and forth between these three areas simultaneously. I worked through to 10 am, and hopped on my first call.
This virtual meeting was wonderful. I had been confused and stressed by a daunting responsibility that seemed beyond my skillset. I got some much-needed encouragement, along with practical support which left me feeling better positioned to be successful on the project. We tackled everything on my meeeting agenda and I left feeling like I had a clear action plan for next steps.
I went immediately into another meeting, switching hats (figuratively) as I went. This second call was also great as I shared the results of months-long work and negotiations on a particular project. After I gave my presentation and assessment of the situation, one of the attendees actually awarded me “brownie points.” Am I too old to admit this comment boosted my mood for the whole day?
I typically don’t eat much lunch (I have struggled with energy issues for years and really do find that intermittent fasting helps me battle against morning fatigue), so try to power through lots of jobs in this time. This Tuesday I felt hungry, though, so had an apple, sparkling water (lime), a coconut flour PB ball, and about 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds. Just enough food to give me an energy boost, but not enough to trigger an afternoon slump. After 2 hours of intensive video calls, I actually took a lunch “break” and spent 30 minutes on creative writing projects, and then worked through my daily Bible Study (I’m participating in a 7-week study with my local church, which has 5 weekly at-home study sessions which take about 30 minutes to complete).
Then back to work, this time in the downstairs office, until 2:30, when it was time to completely shift gears…
2:50-5:00: kids return + activities
I typically walk to meet the kids at the bus stop and then we’ll saunter home together. Abby often walks ahead and checks the mail. When we get home, we unload bookbags…and then comes the task of filling the time. The kids tend to be on the grumpy side with each other and want to play with friends (which only works if they stay separate).
Lately I’ve been trying to structure this time with off-site activities. We’ll go visit a friend, go for a longish drive, do errands. Instead of me fitting these jobs/duties/activities in while the kids are in school, I figure they might as well come along. Also, extracurriculars are ramping up in the next few weeks so 1-2 afternoons a week will be filled, for Abby at least, by different clubs/lessons.
This Tuesday, we had a birthday gift to deliver to a friend who lives out of town. Levi ended up arranging a spontaneous playdate at the bus stop, so Abby and I headed out alone. It was lovely. We stopped at the post office to deal with some packages that had accumulated. Next up was the birthday parcel delivery, which morphed into a relaxing 45-minute visit complete with homemade cake and warm cider. On the way home, we stopped at a consignment store to drop off a bag of toys and kids’ clothing. Hooray – another giant bag of things out of the house. Plus I had $25 on my account.
Our final stop was the grocery store. I like to shop at least twice a week; this way I can buy fewer things each time, it takes a lot less energy to put things away, and I buy less fresh produce in bulk, so things don’t spoil in the fridge (I love to have a near-empty fridge).
It is so much easier to do errands with only one kid in tow. Also, Abby is such a practical help at the grocery store. She asks to go off to get specific items, insists on pushing the cart (but can do this capably enough that she needs no supervision, so my hands stay free the whole time), and she loves loading items on the belt and then bagging scanned items. This grocery order also involved buying some newborn-sized diapers for a friend’s little baby. We dropped off the diapers, enjoyed some baby cuddles and collected Levi in time to get home for supper at 5:30.
5:00-7:30: Supper + cleanup + bedtime
Supper this Tuesday was leftover meatballs, rice, peas, salad/raw veggies and hummus. The meatballs were in the slow cooker and I just needed to microwave the rest. Meatballs are a family favourite, so there was not a crumb left on anyone’s plates. Always a very satisfying feeling.
We try to eat supper by 5:30ish, depending on John’s work schedule. This never takes as long as it should – the kids usually devour their food so they can get outside to play with friends. Post-supper time tends to be unstructured and a lot more casual. While the kids help remove items from the table, I work on kitchen cleanup while they play. Depending on the weather, their moods, and my energy levels we start the bedtime routines around 7:15, but this can vary. I like to have them settled by 7:30, but that rarely happens anymore. They both love to come out for water, bathroom breaks, or to let me know some toy got broken, a tooth is wiggly, etc.
John works at least two evenings a week. This Tuesday was one of his working evenings, but after supper he had enough time to listen to Levi’s reading homework, help make Levi’s bed (we’d done his sheets in the morning wash), and see that he got dressed/teeth got brushed. Meanwhile, Abby headed off to find a friend and came home successful, so they worked on art projects in her room for an hour without any need for parental input.
While the kids were entertained – by John/a friend – I tackled prep of Wednesday’s supper: chili. We don’t usually have this much hamburger in a week, but I had bell peppers and spinach I wanted to use up and hamburger was on sale…so for about an hour I worked on prepping chili for the slowcooker (I turned it on Wednesday morning and let it simmer all day), clearing up all the dishes, and doing some lunchbox prep.
After John headed down to the office, Levi and I worked on a word search together at the dining room table, which was very fun! Once Abby’s friend headed home, I gathered the kids in our bed for some picture books and prayers and then had them head to bed (where they proceeded to talk to each other through the heating vents until I told them to pipe down).
8:00-10:00: Work/leisure/bedtime prep
By 8:00, I really want the kids to be in their rooms. This doesn’t always happen, but I start losing patience with interruptions about this point. I then either tackle lingering work tasks, do a bit more cleanup, or pursue some leisure activity. Writing for the blog, reading a book, texting friends, talking with John. When I have the energy, I love taking a hot shower before bedtime.
This Tuesday, I actually had a lot of work tasks that had piled up between 2:45 (when I logged off) and 8:00 (when I logged back on). I usually check in on things periodically throughout the afternoon and put out any urgent fires, but since I had been on the road with Abby, then supper, then cleanup and meal prep, I dedicated an hour in the office working on some reports, checking calculations, setting up calendar reminders for action items, and sending a slew of e-mails.
I wrapped up my computer time by spending a few minutes tackling a creative holiday project on Vistaprint.
I make family calendars for my parents + inlaws, and I had received some pictures from a sister and brother that needed to be incorporated. I did this and finished off the calendar! I had a coupon code that expired on Saturday, so I really wanted to get this done. *I finalized this order a few days later (enjoying 33% off + free shipping. Such a great feeling as I am officially feeling behind on holiday shopping, though I’m hoping for it to be extra minimal this year, focusing on experience-based gifts as much as possible.
John and I debriefed about the day while relaxing in the downstairs family room, and then enjoyed a scalding shower. When I make the time for this, I never regret feeling clean and warm before climbing into bed.
We often watch some sort of sitcom right before bed, and recently finished Parks and Rec for the umpteenth time. This particular Tuesday it was back to the very first episode of Seinfeld! Running 9 seasons, there is lots of fodder.
3-4 nights of the week I’ll read for 30 minutes or so, instead of watching something.
I have made a concerted effort to stick to a 10:30 pm bedtime and that’s exactly when I shut everything down this Tuesday.
That said, I’ve been realized it’s fine to aim for a range. I try to turn the light off between 10:00-11:00. Some nights I’m exhausted and fall asleep by 9:30 (actually Monday, 18 October, I was asleep by 9:15), but generally find I’ve managed to unwind enough to get to sleep at some point before 11:00.
When I have a hard time getting – or staying – asleep, I’ll tackle a project. Finishing a book, working on photo organization, getting ahead on work tasks.
In general, I’m a good sleeper, but 4-5 times a month (often around the full moon cycle, which my Mom always swears is a legit sleep disturbance) I will wake up at some point during the night and won’t be able to get back to sleep. I always feel like there is too much I want to do and too little time (this is true!) and I actually count on having these nights of disturbed sleep to catch up. This particular Tuesday, I slept from 10:30-3:15 and then woke up feeling wide awake. I rested for 30 minutes or so and when I was sure sleep wasn’t coming any time soon, grabbed my robe and a fluffy blanket, and settled in on the downstairs couch to work on this blog post!