Thursday, July 24, 2014

My SAHM Experiment

Guinevere’s daycare closes for a week around the 4th of July every year.  It’s a private, in-home daycare, everyone’s gotta take a break every now and then.  Fortunately, since I am still on maternity leave, we didn’t have to scramble for childcare.  I just took care of both kids.  All day. By myself.  For a week.  Part of me was super nervous, and another part of me was excited.  I got over my nerves by reminding myself that stay at home moms take care of all their kids all the time.  They don’t get a maternity leave where the oldest goes off to daycare.  If they can do it, so can I.  Right?

I think every working mom has fantasized at some point, however briefly, about being a stay at home mom.  My fantasies usually occur as I am writing that check to daycare (oh man, two daycare payments are right around the corner – ouch!).  It’s also nice to fantasize about being able to spend more quality time with my kids and have time to do laundry, cook and clean.  Wow, you know it’s a sign of getting old when you fantasize about having time to do chores around the house!

So, how did I do in my week pretending to be a SAHM? (“Stay at home mom,” for those not up on the lingo.)  Honestly, it went surprisingly well!  Both kids were remarkably well behaved for the most part.  We may have watched a little too much “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” the first couple days, but hey, no one’s a perfect parent from the very beginning, right?  Guinevere is obsessed with Mickey, and it was the best way I could think of to get her to stay put when I had to feed Malcolm.

Here are some highlights from our week together:
  • -       Coloring with Guinevere in her Mickey Mouse coloring books while Malcolm napped nearby.
  • -       Having a dance party and folding laundry to the soundtrack of Carole King and Billy Joel.
  • -       Taking the kids to the park by myself to meet up with a friend and her two kids.  We went for a walk around the lake and then played on the playground.  I am very grateful to my friend for following G around the playground while I fed Malcolm.
  • -       Taking the kids to a lunch date with another friend and her baby.  I am so proud of my babies – they were very well behaved in a non-kid oriented environment.  Malcolm slept through the entire lunch and Guinevere made it a good 45 minutes before she started getting bored.
  • -       The weather was amazing and I took the kids for a walk almost every day.

And some lessons I learned from my week as a SAHM:
1.              Being a stay at home mom requires a lot of planning!  Unless you want to not eat and sit in front of the TV all day, you need to have a meal plan and plan out whatever activities you want to do well in advance. 
2.             In order to get two small kids out the door at a certain time, you have to start the process about at least an hour before you actually want to leave.
3.              Don’t tell the toddler where you are going until you are ready to leave.  Otherwise, you end up with a two year old wandering around the house saying, “Park, park. Go.  Go?  Go! Go Park!” and then dragging you to the door while you are still trying to get everything together to actually go to the park.
4.              A double stroller is a very useful tool, however, carrying one kid in an Ergo or similar, while the other kid rides in the stroller is a viable alternative.
5.              It’s ok to let the baby cry for a couple minutes while you put the toddler to bed.
6.         It’s ok to wait to clean the house until after the babies are asleep; in fact, it is essential to maintaining one’s sanity.
7.              It is important to schedule some sort of physical activity in the morning; otherwise the toddler will NOT nap!  Instead, you will be treated to a chorus of the “A, B, C’s,” counting, “reading” various books, and random singing and dancing all within the confines of the crib.
8.         Even if the toddler does not actually nap, having “quiet time” in the house from 1-2pm is crucial to one’s sanity.
9.              You are never too old to color in coloring books.
10.          Toddler hugs are the best!

We really did have a great week.  I haven’t been able to spend that much quality time with Guinevere since I was on maternity leave after she was born!  I was sad to see her go back to daycare . . . ok, sad and relieved.  I took an amazing nap her first day back at daycare!  She came home so tired that she fell asleep in her high chair during dinner! 

PS If any of my co-workers are reading this, have no fear, I am coming back! I have no intentions to become a full-time stay at home mom.  While it’s nice to pretend every now and then, it’s not something that is feasible for me or my family.

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