I’ve written these posts for a few other months, but forgot to last November and December. Those months were busy and atypical in all the thing we were running around and doing. Here’s what a stay at home dad did on January 30th, 2014:
Wake up at 630, thirty minutes later than I wanted. I know that anything I want to do alone has the best chance of happening in the morning – when I’m alone. After I made coffee and my brain was ready for anything beyond moving my feet it was time to read a few emails and get my daughters up for school. At 715 everyone was awake, dressed, and munching on granola bars in the kitchen. I take our daughters to school, so we don’t need to leave the house for another fifteen minutes, but some kids have already been on the school bus for half an hour. I’m thankful for this and it reminds me that maybe the largest perk of being a stay at home parent is the lower levels of stress in your house.
By 750 we’ve returned from dropping my older daughter off at school and my younger daughter is in the shower. I don’t know why my kids love the shower, but they do. Their shower time is only limited by how much hot water there is. During this time I book a hotel room for my brother’s wedding, and buy Book of Mormon tickets for when the show comes to Columbus Ohio. I also check on a credit alert that fraudulent activity may have occurred in my wife’s name. Thankfully it was nothing and easily solved by ordering a free credit report. I also wash the bathing child, fold laundry, and tidy the kitchen.
At 830 my younger daughter is cleaned, dried, and dressed and she wants to lay down in my bed. We cuddle for forty-five minutes, listening to an audiobook of her choice. It’s taken me almost six years, but I finally can cuddle with my kids. When they were younger and wanted to lay down, I would say they should do that by themselves. Why did I need to be there I reasoned. There were things I wanted to do, things I thought I should do, things I felt guilty for not doing. Now I enjoy the moments of cuddling because in six years I’ve gotten a sliver of perspective. These wonderful kids of mine won’t be kids forever.
After resting for a bit, the clock strikes 915 and we’re out of bed to play dolls, find treasures, and draw together. For some reason we set up in the bathroom but we have fun doing it. At 1045 we get back in the car to pick up the older kid from school and by 1120 we are home again.
Once home it’s time for lunch, homework, and a bit of cleaning up the kitchen. For as smart as my kids are, they have no ability to focus on homework. They have ants in their pants and their skin seems to be crawling with insects too. They can’t sit still or focus without my urging. Part of this makes me happy because the homework they get is less than challenging and they recognize that, but part of me also wants them to just sit down and do the work. Eventually – 1230 – the homework is done and I’m sewing a headband that ripped in school the previous day. We also play some games with words my daughter is learning and I write the clever “come as you are” which she successfully reads and I spend the rest of the day humming Nirvana.
At 140 I send them off to go play while I grade some papers from my college students. I brew a cup of coffee, get the kids set up with their toys and open the grading program to see that no work has been submitted. So much for that. This has been a central point in trying to fit work into staying home with my kids. Long chunks of time to do focused work is rare, and having everything ready to work on during those times can also be a challenge. Not wanting to waste the temporary tranquility I do some writing and clear some emails.
Finally they find me and at 245 we decide to make muffins, except we don’t have any flour. Then we settle on making granola, but we don’t have any oats. Then I pull a pre-packaged bag of gingerbread cookie mix off the shelf and we make them. The kids have fun rolling the dough and cutting the shapes, but there were leprosy colonies with more complete bodies than what we ended up with.
After making cookies, we sit down to read some children’s books together around 345. After a half-dozen books about fairies, my daughters are inspired and want to dress like them, so they run off to put on wings and dresses. I take a moment to take my phone out of my pocket and open up Twitter.
James Altucher is doing one of his QA sessions and while I enjoy his writing, I can’t think of a question to ask. I scroll through the other questions and I’m struck that people aren’t really asking him much beyond, “How do I start _____.” This is what I want to do, start more projects, so I make up a list of ideas. Even making this list feels like an accomplishment with the few minutes I’m alone because my daughters have returned from their rooms and they are not only fairies, but gymnastic fairies. Until 425 they perform a mix of somersaults, rhythmic gymnastics, and flopping around until we need to really get dressed for their gymnastics class that night.
By 500 we’re ready and leave for class. During their time I mix watching them with reading The Why Axis, a more analytic and economic version of the book Nudge – both of which I enjoy. We arrive home at 720 and the kids get to watch twenty minutes of TV before we all sit down for one more meal. Our number of meals rivals that of the hobbits and I can’t help but think that in many ways, hobbits were modeled – in part at least – after children. By 845 we’ve eating a snack, read books together, and gotten tucked into bed.
I sit down on the couch and talk to my wife who just got home after a twelve hour shift. We talk about the day and I give her a summary of what happened at our house. Around 915 I’m reading The Why Axis again and then after taking the dogs for a short walk around our yard, we watch Modern Family together. At 1045 I’m in bed and fall asleep.