People are always asking me what it’s really like to be a SAD (Stay-At-home Dad). Fair question, but tough to answer for several reasons:
A: No two days are ever alike.
B: About as fast as we establish routines, Bub throws a kink in things, changes the game.
C: It doesn’t make for very good storytelling. Not a lot of peaks and crises and plot twists and irony. Lucky for you, though, I have no qualms boring people to tears.
So here goes. This should be a fun exercise for me as well, since I often wonder myself—what did I do all day? I’ve decided to write this in “real time,” whatever that means. Still waiting to run into fake time; actually sounds semi-relaxing. Anyway, it’s 8:45 a.m. on what I can only assume will be a fairly generic Thursday. Let’s get you up to speed thus far:
6:00 – 7:00 a.m. Bub crying off and on, fikey re-inserted. Rule #1 of sleep training is there is no sleep training. But rule #2 is brekkie is served at 7, not 6.
7:00 – 8:00 a.m. My wife feeds Bub, gets ready for work. I lie in bed and desperately try to steal a few more Zzzs; it doesn’t work. It usually doesn’t. And just like that, wife goes to work, and the party starts anew.
8:00 – 8:45 a.m. I make some coffee (and the bed) and bring Bub in with me to check e-mail, Facebook, yadda yadda.
And by yadda yadda, I mean I read my new blog posting (vanity) and find that someone has commented—yippee! Bub is already getting restless, so we turn to our new morning ritual—the Wii. Who would have thunk it, but Bub loves watching me play the Frisbee Dog game on Wii Sports Resort. Not my fave, but you know, I’ll play it for my son (I’ve eclipsed the 1000 point mark, if you were curious).I give him the other Wiimote and we practice some wrist moves. He’s much more interested in the taste of the Wiimote, though. The entire experience lasts all of 15 minutes, then he’s bored again. We go to the couch and look out the window overlooking the street, naming things out yonder, in the great wide world.
***Okay, so this isn’t in real time, I admit it. That’s just not possible. It’s 11:10 a.m. now—here’s your recap.
8:45 – 9:50 a.m. I manage to suck down most of my first cup of coffee at a relatively warm temperature. I smell something fetid; Bub has taken a Himalayan-sized dump. I change and dress him, and we read Rainbow Peekaboo. No Dr. Seuss by a longshot, but he loves pulling back those little flaps to reveal the hidden babies in various colors—and he’s gotten quite adept at it.
But this doesn’t last long; Bub needs to be re-stimulated, so we go for a morning walk around the hood. He falls asleep briefly, I wake him up (Rule #3 of sleep training—no unsanctioned napping) and we wind up at the playground down the street. It’s about our fourth time here, and he seems to actually enjoy the swinging this time. I put him on the semi-soft, rubbery ground and he practices his pinschering by grabbing tiny pieces of wood, dirt, rock—anything except the bird poop I steer him clear of. I’m simply there to keep whatever he grasps out of his mouth. Then we hit the slide a couple of times and head home.
9:50 – 10:45 a.m. We struggle through some solid food—he’s not really feeling my squash and pear concoction, and he has a new way of showing it, by spitting it back out. This is a short meal. I try to force a little water on him, again he resists, makes well-lubed motorboat noises instead of swallowing. I warm a bottle and set him up in the papasan chair with it, and he drinks it himself (this is a new trick). I sneak in a turkey sandwich for myself, pour another cup of coffee. It’s a little early, but it’s an acceptable nap time, so I take him in his room, we sit in the rocker and read Donde Esta Spot? (another one with little flaps to pull back) and then The Missing Piece. I put him down and he’s wide-eyed throughout ‘On Top of Spaghetti,’ but after five minutes, I don’t hear a peep from behind his door.
10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Bub sleeps. I get some writing done. Do a little pre-prep (marinade) for dinner tonight, write a couple e-mails, do the dishes. Exciting stuff.
12:15 – 12:45 p.m. Bub awakes, happy and refreshed. We spend the next half hour on the kitchen floor, playing with some new toys (a ballcap, Tupperware lid, etc.), practicing standing, balancing and crawling. He is smiley and loving life. So am I, I must admit.
12:45 – 1:15 p.m. Lunch time, he’s hungry and scarfs down some cereal with pears mixed in. Drinks his bottle in the papason, while I throw some laundry in. He’s happy as a clam.
1:15 – 2:00 p.m. We head into the living room. I put some music on, we sing, we dance. We look out the window, we practice crawling a little more. He gets a hold of the tissue box and subsequently empties it. I put on an episode of Dora the Explorer; his attention span lasts approximately 6 minutes, but I enjoy it.
2:00 – 2:15 p.m. Bub sits in his pack and play for a bit. Sometimes he’s better at entertaining himself than me. This is not one of those times, it turns out.
2:15 – 3:00 p.m. We go for an afternoon walk, end up at the store, buy some soda water. Bub starts to fall asleep again about a block from home. I bring him in and put him right down for a nap.
3:00 – 3:50 p.m. Bub sleeps. I make a couple phone calls, work on the blog, grab a snack.
3:50 – 4:00 p.m. Bub awakes in a tizzy. We try eating, and he cries his way through most of his sweet potatoes. No milk this time around, as my wife will feed him when she gets home. Bad timing on that one, as he’s really pitching a fit.
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Bub cries. Seems really uncomfortable, borderline inconsolable, so I walk him around, sing to him, do whatever I can. I try the Wii again—he is soothed for about 8 minutes. We come into the living room to watch Word World. He is totally into it for about four minutes, then Mr. Crabby comes out again. Nothing I do is calming him down, so I put him in the pack and play and turn Word World so he can see it. After a couple minutes, he is completely calm and building his vocabulary.
4:30 – 5:00 p.m. That didn’t last long. He is steamed again, so out of the Pack N Play and up to the window we go. This stops the tears from a-welling, then we take a trip to the basement to get the neglected laundry. In a fortuitous turn of events, he is immediately entranced by the basement. The carpet, the laundry basket, the foam pipe cover thingie—all very fascinating. So we decide to hang out for a while, practice crawling, avoiding crying. I even get a laugh or two.
5:00 – 5:24 p.m. The home stretch, but he is still extremely needy. We read The Sneetches, then another flippy book. We open up a photo album and start reliving the past a bit; all the way back to baby’s first Thanksgiving. He tries to turn the pages, then eat the book. And then … Mommy arrives! It’s debatable who’s smile is bigger between Bub and I at this moment. She scoops him up and I am officially off-duty to come and wrap up my stirring narrative here. I haven’t showered today, I confess; I should do that. I just brushed my teeth. Small casualties. I still have to cook dinner, too, and I’m not truly off-duty (ever, really) until he goes down at 8:00. Then Mommy and I get about ninety minutes together, then I’ll stay up and watch SportsCenter, and we’ll get up and do it all again tomorrow.
Check my math here, but I calculate about 36 minutes of actual “me time” per day. It’s not nearly as easy as I’d imagined, it’s not glamorous, and it’s not always fun. But I get to spend a ton of time with my son, and I have to believe that makes it all worthwhile. This is our crazy, stressful life. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.