This is an old picture, but it just applies so perfectly here! Aww, how I love my little squishy man!
I currently hold the best job I have ever had. In many ways it is also the hardest. Still, I would never trade what I do these days for my old 9-5 life. This job is way more exciting and way better. Some things I did not know or realize before becoming a stay-at-home-mom:
1. It is all the time. As in, your hours are 24/7. You get breaks, of course, when the baby sleeps or your husband/family takes over for a while, but you never stop thinking about your baby. You never stop worrying and you never get into a deep sleep because half your mind is too alert and focused on listening for cries. It is not hard while you do it - playing with Calvin and reading him stories or feeding him aren't hard in-and-of themselves - it's the constant nature of it that can be a little exhausting.
2. It can be a bit tedious and day-in, day-out routines can lose their excitement. That's when you have to make your own excitement in the day. For example, I call everything I do with Calvin an adventure. We go on a "mailbox adventure" to get the mail or a "library adventure" to get some new books to read. It makes it more fun for both me and him because everything to Calvin really is an adventure! He's not even been on earth a year, so it's all new. It sounds silly, I know, but it helps me. :)
3. You can begin to lose your own identity if you're not careful. I began to wonder who I was anymore... what am I doing in the world? Am I really contributing? After conference talks and chats with my cute husband, I always snap out of it. We try to celebrate any accomplishment as a team. Did TJ get a promotion? Yay for the whole team! Did Ashley make a delicious, well-balanced dinner? Yay for the whole team! Did Calvin have two good naps? Yay for the whole team! We try to see all our successes as the same. As long as we are trying to accomplish everything for the good of the family, we are all winners. I know it sounds so cheesy, but it's true.
Here is what a typical day looks like with me and my little man.
Calvin wakes up around 6:45 or 7 am. At that time, TJ or I will grab him from his crib and put him in bed with us while he drinks his morning bottle.
After he has his bottle and we all play for a little, TJ eats cereal while I make the bed and prepare his lunch (he has a turkey sandwich on wheat bread with string cheese, yogurt, carrot sticks, and fruit). Then TJ hops in the shower while I get ready to go on my morning jog with Calvin. If I've got time, I'll iron TJ's shirt for him, too. :) Before we leave for our jog (around 8 am), we all have family prayer. I have to time my jog so we get home before 9 or 9:30 because that's the time Calvin goes down for his first nap and I don't want him sleeping in the stroller.
We jog around the community in the jogging stroller and Calvin has a ball! He loves facing forward. He thinks he's on a ride or something. I can make my route 3.5 miles, 4.5 miles, or 5 miles. I usually go for 4.5 miles. I always listen to an audiobook while I run - I have an app on my phone that lets me download them straight from the Salt Lake County library for free. It's awesome! Calvin usually starts nodding off at the midway point, so I get him out of the stroller and hold him for a while so he wakes up. If he falls asleep for even 5 minutes on our jog, it ruins his first nap. Trust me! It's crazy, I know. But I've worked with this kid for 9 months on his sleep now and know it inside and out. :)
Once we're home, I feed Calvin his solids and put him down for his nap. Then, I have "me" time and drink my breakfast smoothie while watching one show (usually a rerun of The Office). Then I get ready for the day and tidy up the house.
When Calvin wakes up from his nap, he has his bottle and we usually go do an errand. The store, the library, Ikea (grrr!), the post office, or something like that. It helps my sanity to get out a little during the day. He usually isn't fussy when we go out as long as I've timed it right. When we get back, he has his solids and we play until his second nap at 1:30 or 2 pm. He then goes down and I eat lunch while doing some work on the computer. Right now, I'm doing some extra content writing on the side for one of TJ's coworkers and I get new clients often. I just write their website content for them - it's as easy as that! It's nice to have my own little stream of income on the side. It's not much, but it's just fun money for us as a family. If I don't have any work, I do some chores around the house (like make baby food for Calvin) or just have more "me" time!
After Calvin wakes up, he has his bottle and we just play. I make sure he has about 30 minutes of independent playtime and then we practice crawling, reading, or fine motor skills. I prepare dinner for us all while Calvin's in his high chair eating finger foods and then wait for TJ to get home so we can eat. Around 5:30 pm, Calvin has his bath and we get ready for bedtime by putting him in his overnight diaper and jammies. Sometimes TJ gets home late and Calvin is already in bed. Calvin has his nighttime bottle at 6 pm and usually is in his crib by 6:30 pm for the night. That's when his little body wants to go to bed and I'm not about to disrupt that! :) TJ and I then chat about our days and eat and maybe unwind with a show. We do prayer and some Ensign before heading to bed. I like to read, so I always have a stack of books I'm reading on my dresser and like to snuggle up with one before I drift off. And then we go to sleep and start it over again the next day!
Our routine doesn't always go this way. Sometimes Calvin is being very fussy and we just have to roll with it all day. Sometimes I am really tired and don't feel like cleaning, so I take a nap instead. :) Sometimes Calvin doesn't feel like being a good boy and sleeping his whole naps. Sometimes I get a big work project and don't have time to complete it until late at night. We just have to roll with it! It's been really good for me to have disruptions. It shows me that the world doesn't end when our routine is disrupted. We all just move along and try again the next day. I will say this, though; the days we have our routine are the days I feel the least out-of-control and crazy and Calvin is the happiest. :)
I still think it's the best job ever! I never go to bed dreading the next day. I feel more relaxed and stress-free than I have in a very long time. It's still hard at times, and I know it'll get more challenging as more kids come along, but I have to say I'm doing the job I've always wanted to do and loving it.