Ever wonder how other parents handle (or try to handle) the day-to-day grind of raising young kids? We were, which is why we started this series. Here’s a day in the life of Kveller contributing editor, Jordana Horn.
I’ve been scared of doing this project because it means coming face to face with the insanity that is my life–and this is before kid #5 is born. But here goes nothing: a day in the life of a work-from-home mom with four kids, 34 weeks pregnant with kid five.
5:30 a.m.: “DADDY! DADDY!” This is not an alarm clock. This is the 2- year-old girl. She yells “Daddy,” I’ve decided, every morning, because she knows there is no way that I will go to her when the sun has not even thrown a hint of its light over the horizon. She also knows she has Daddy wrapped around her little little finger. I yell back, “G, it’s still nighttime! Go back to sleep!” She issues one more halfhearted “Daddy?” before there is silence again. And murmurings from the 11-month-old baby, who has had to live with her older sister, the self-appointed alarm clock, all her life. The one time the baby slept far away from the 2-year-old, we had to wake her at 8 a.m. Poor baby.
5:50 a.m.: “DADDY! DADDY!” At 5:50, there is really no point in struggling anymore. Jon the Wonder Husband gets out of bed to go get the girls. I hit the shower, where I wash as best I can. Afterwards, I brush my hair and teeth without looking in the mirror so as to not contemplate my uncanny resemblance to the Goodyear Blimp.
6:20 a.m.: “Hello, Mommy!” The 2-year-old is friendly as can be, sitting at the kitchen table with Jon, holding a sippy cup of orange juice in one hand and a sippy cup of milk in the other. The baby is equally delighted to see me and, as a greeting, attempts to hurl herself from the highchair into my arms. Since she is huge, this is a frightening and potentially real prospect.
6:30 a.m.: Jon goes up to shower. I suck down as many cups of coffee as I can while being a short order cook: cereal for R and G, with some Cheerios for the baby; oatmeal for Z, which of course means G needs oatmeal too, even though she will not really eat it. At least the two older boys can get their own beverages. I have no idea why no one in my house sleeps past 6:30.
7:00 a.m.: Sesame Street is on, and therefore, I can pee. Of course G comes with me to show that she, too, has to pee. Then the baby comes in as well. It is a regular convention in there. We all finish our business and everyone wipes. I take everyone out, give G jellybeans for peeing in the potty and change the baby and G out of their pajamas and into their clothes. I bring them back into the kitchen (so much for Sesame). They sit and bother Jon while he puts his briefcase together while I make the boys’ lunches and snacks for the day.
7:10 a.m.: Let the following be known: A) If there is ever an award given for unoriginality, my school lunches would win. B) Every day I pack lunches for these kids, I think that I should get a “good job” or a gold star. I’m not sure why, but lunch-making is firmly filed under Monotonous Parenting Activity in my brain. Please comment on good (kosher) lunches to make because sometimes I bore myself so much I nearly fall asleep making them. I am heartened, however, that one of my sons has a best friend who is Chinese, who carries lunches to school in elaborate steamer contraptions and yet has repeatedly said that he covets my son’s PB&J. Grass is always greener.
7:20 a.m.: Jon leaves for the train. I realize he is a hard worker but every day when he leaves for the train, I get this sensation of wishing I too were on a train zooming through space and time, in a place where I could do the crossword and maybe even read the paper in its entirety. Then I would travel like a normal human being to a quiet office where people didn’t dump sippy cups of juice on my computer.
7:45 a.m.: I have learned the hard way that even though we don’t leave for school for a half hour, it is absolutely critical to start the “leaving the house” ball rolling now. I call down to the basement to tell the boys it is time to start getting ready.
7:50 a.m.: I yell downstairs again.
7:55 a.m. (see what I mean?): I tell them to come up. They do. I send them back down to turn out the lights. Our sitter comes downstairs. She lives in with us Monday morning through Friday evening. While I am sure that life with all these kids would be possible without her, I prefer not to find out the hard way. I hand her the baby. The baby yells her head off: she does not want to be handed off. She wants to be carried by me and only me. I relent, take her back and hug her. She rests her head on my shoulder like she is channeling a koala. I contemplate hiding in a closet.
8:15 a.m.: Koala moments are over. I herd Z, R, and G into the car, leaving the baby with the sitter. Lest you think I am ignoring the baby: she is 23 lbs, learning how to walk but not there yet, and I am hugely pregnant. Going out with her without a stroller (G’s school is a veritable festival of stairs) is no joke.
8:25 a.m.: Drop boys off at school after making sure they have their lunch bags and that there is something in said bags. I have learned the hard way that both of these checks are necessary.
8:25-9:15 a.m.: Random errands with G including quick Trader Joe’s stop, gas refueling, and a blur of detours as everywhere in town has decided to rip up perfectly good roads. This is accompanied by what I call the “Vagina Monologues,” as G delivers a rapid-fire dissertation on everything she sees, will see, is doing, will do, etc.: “Mommy today I go school! I see my friends and my teachers! Mommy, look, doggie!” It is entertaining, if somewhat draining to keep up.
9:30 a.m.: Drop G off in her classroom. Classes just started last week, and there are still many kids who are crying as their parents or caregivers drop them off. In contrast, I do not get as much as a “goodbye” as she runs away to play with her friends and her newfound favorite thing, play dough.
9:45 a.m.: I am back at my desk and need this time to bang out an article for Times of Israel on the death of Madonna’s Kabbalah rabbi and the substance of their relationship. I also write a blogpost for Kveller on why I build a sukkah, and catch up with e-mail correspondence.
11:30 a.m.: I go to pick G up at school. While G does run to me happily, she also bemoans the fact that she has to leave school. She asks me if she can have a playdate. I ask with whom. She says her teacher.
11:45-1 p.m.: G, the baby, the sitter, and I are home for lunch, playtime, and a veritable plethora of diaper changing before 1 p.m. naptime.
1:20 p.m.: The baby has decided that she doesn’t want to take a nap today. I decide this is the perfect opportunity to take her out to get her first pair of shoes. Fine, it’s her second first pair of shoes: the first ones were sold to us at a department store by someone who didn’t know what they were doing and the shoes fit poorly.
1:45-2:15 p.m.: Baby’s got a new pair of shoes. Baby also has socks. Baby also has laid waste to the entire shoe store, pulling things off the rack and crawl-cruising at the speed of light. Since I move at the speed of an oil barge, this is challenging.
2:17 p.m.: I look in the rear-view mirror and see baby is, after her marathon of shoe carnage, asleep. I pull into my parking space a block away from the boys’ school, roll down the windows, push my seat back, set the phone to vibrate and enjoy a half hour of quiet. The day is beautiful, sunny with a light breeze. The baby is sleeping. I am large but temporarily immobile. It is bliss.
2:50 p.m.: I have to wake the baby and put her in her stroller to go get the boys from school. She is displeased.
3:00 p.m.: I get the boys. They talk over each other, fight over who gets to push the baby in the stroller, and deluge me with tons of essential information of which I hear approximately 50%.
3:10 p.m.: Home. G is delighted to see me but it is just a cameo. Z has to go change his outfit as I am taking him for his weekly athletic thingy. I sit R down with his homework to encourage getting started and go to drive Z.
3:30 p.m.: I drop off Z for his half-hour and drive to Trader Joe’s (yes, again) because I have no idea what I will serve these children for dinner.
4:00 p.m.: One half turkey breast, rice, and broccoli purchase later and I pick up Z and am on my way home.
4:15-6 p.m.: Homework, dinner prep, phone calls, permission slips, checks written, missing shoe found (baby figures out Velcro), Jon picked up at train.
6:15 p.m.: Bid adieu to the sitter and godspeed and head out to Back to School night, where Jon and I split up and I go to one kid’s class and he hits the other. We park a few blocks away from the school. I complain because I am, for whatever reason, really tired.
8:00 p.m.: Jon and I get home. The girls are asleep and the boys are not. Jon checks emails and follows up with work calls while I talk to the boys as they alternate showering and getting ready for bed.
9:00 p.m.: Jon and I are on the couch. At this point, we are so tired that we basically grunt at each other. We watch one episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix–we didn’t watch it at first and now are frantically playing catch-up. Jon rubs my pregnant sore feet in yet another example of saintly husbanding.
10:30 p.m.: Lights out, with the silent prayer that perhaps tomorrow will not begin until 6 a.m.