Whirlwind Job

I’m on day four of my stay-at-home-mama job. I’m not sure how the “boss” would rate me, but I feel like I still have a long way to go on the learning curve. I am still functioning as if I’m just “on vacation” and like I have some deadline to meet. Next week, it will probably all sink in and I’ll find it a bit easier to breathe deep and relax.

Monday, Day 1: A rough day. The first day in probably six months that I didn’t take a shower. Nor brush my teeth – ick. (Side note: That’s quite unlike me, as a shower is one of the most critical tasks of my day. Even after Kaia’s birth – gaping C-section wound and all – I took a shower every single morning. I would tape a plastic bag above my incision so that the water wouldn’t bother the wound and use the hand-held part of the shower to cleanse my weary body. My tender, sweet husband helped me accomplish this task for the first few weeks and never winced at my oozing wound.) So, on Day 1, my house was in shambles, with toys and diapers and food strewn about; dirty dishes stacked in the sink, and random items covering every square inch of counter space. Kaia decided not to adhere to her normal nap schedule (two 1.5 – 2 hour naps) and therefore gave me little respite. I didn’t rest when she did, instead I wandered around the house with my swollen, heavy belly trying to bend over and pick up aforementioned random items from the carpet, which was scattered with leaves and dirt that Kaia had brought in. I took a walk around the block with Kaia and was exhausted before we were done, my heart pumping wildly. Kaia was naked most of the day, refusing clothing and I refused to fight. I stared apathetically as she fed most of her snacks and food to the dog. By the time Jason arrived home from work, I think I was practically comatose on the floor as Kaia whirled about nude in the living room.

Tuesday, Day 2: I had ambition this day; well, ambition for a pregnant woman like me. Kaia played with the water hose for a few hours (in the nude) and I sat on the patio with her, reading my Vegetarian Times. I had even made a pasta dish for lunch, which Kaia adamantly refused to eat. She went down for a nap per her schedule and I had time to relax (I still didn’t sleep like I’d promised myself I’d do). After her second nap, I drew on my ambition and took her to the community pool. We swam, she laughed, and my belly felt so lightweight and perfect in that water. Afterwards, she played in the park (covering herself in sand) and then we hit the store for some grocery shopping. On the way home, I was already exhausted. I had underestimated how much commitment it takes to go on outings such as this with only one child! Everything seemed to take so much energy: toting Kaia on my hip while pregnant, worrying about sunscreen and snacks, juggling a diaper bag and purse and squeaky grocery cart, getting her in and out of the mini-van. I asked the question over and over and feared the answer: Was life harder being pregnant with a toddler or having a newborn and a toddler? Would life become easier once the baby arrives? (The answer from my wise MB, which I had anticipated, was…yes and no). Somehow, I managed to vacuum, pick up toys, do a few loads of laundry, and clean the kitchen. Lemme tell you, though, it literally took me about 2 hours to clean a kitchen that I can normally knock out in half and hour. But Day 2 left me at least feeling like we’d accomplished something together and that maybe I could “cut it” at this SAHM thing. And I showered.

Wednesday, Day 3: A busy day, but still no resting when Kaia napped. I awoke her early from her morning nap and headed out to a local meeting of homebirthers, midwives, doulas, and birth advocates. (I was so proud of myself for packing our bags and loading the car and eating and showering all ahead of time…only to STILL be 25 minutes late!). It was both overwhelming and heartwarming to see a gathering of so many like-minded mamas, many with nursing newborns at their breast and toddlers in tow. A few of my former doula clients were there with their precious babies, glowing with the look of motherhood. As I rubbed my belly, I realized – again – that I’d be that mama again soon. We sat in a circle, shared advice about breastfeeding and slings and wraps and then casually chatted. Kaia was a sweetie, playing with the other toddlers and being gentle around the newborns. Then, we met Jason for lunch and spent some time soaking up the grandeur and wonder of his Daddyness. Finally, I settled into the red leather sofa at MB’s house with her and my lovely Jeanette. The kids – most in some state of undress – had a ball playing outside in the dirt, eating berries, and checking out each other’s butts (yes, this really happens when you get a bunch of naked little girlies together!). MB, Jeanette, and I chomped on some ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies and gabbed. Before we left, Kaia and her two best girlies (Sula and Julianna) joined together in a few group hugs and kisses. It was all I could do not to envision them like my girly trio – MB and Jeanette – all grown up, lounging in the heat of the desert, swapping stories of the grittiness and raw, brutal, perfect joy of parenthood. Back in our abode, Kaia smelled like sunscreen when I put her down for her nap and I tried not to move too much while she snoozed. And as we waited for Jason to arrive home, I slowly picked up her blocks and big legos, only to have her dump them out five minutes later.

So, I stayed horizontal on the floor (enduring a strange case of reflux), watching her build and sing and ramble on in her own little sentences, until Jason arrived. Another state of barely alive at this point, worn out from the day’s events, wondering if I’d ever get the incredible nesting energy that I had when I was pregnant with Kaia. Even though I had the same big belly, and worked full-time, I was cleaning and organizing like a mad-woman every single day and LOVING it. Where has that gone? Then, I crashed out at 9:30 and slept ten hours. But indeed, I showered!

And that sums up my first three days. I know, a boring story to tell. But my point is this: Being a SAHM is work; beautiful, messy, exhausting, wouldn’t-trade-it-for-the-world (yet) work. Like work from your heart – the best and most difficult kind, where all of you spills over into it. I knew these things going into it, but I really thought I’d be able to maintain some semblance of a routine and a semi-respectable house. Sheesh, will that ever come? Mostly, in between these moments, my heart expands a million miles as I watch my little girl bloom before my eyes. And I cannot believe I’ve been given this opportunity to witness her blooming from within, day in and day out. And when I hear her proclaim “Happy Day!”, I have to whole-heartedly agree.

So, I need your advice.


1)                 What kinds of things can I prepare for to keep me and Kaia busy and happy during these impending summer months? (i.e. get a kiddie pool, etc).  She adores being outside (in the mornings she swings and we say “G’morning birdies, G’morning trees, G’morning sky, G’morning sun, G’morning Mama Earth”) and I quite like the fresh air and dose of Vitamin D. 

2)                 While the weather is still mostly nice outside, what kinds of crafty, fun things can she do out in our tiny yard?

3)                The Million Dollar Question:  I don’t expect to be Susie Homemaker and I won’t spend a bunch of time cleaning.  But what advice do you have for a pregnant mama to keep up with the lightest amount of housework?  Mostly I want to do it because I am nesting…I really want to prepare a nice, decluttered, peaceful birth space for this next baby.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. mb says:

    -Paints and a kiddy pool outside (until it gets really hot). My kids paint, all over paper, the patio, the windows…the jump in their cool kiddy pool which fill with bubbles and/or lavender and tea tree oil.

    -Dirt, seeds, water. Kaia like the dirt! Plant sunflowers or desert marigolds or basil in pots and watch them grow! my girls love their rake and ho and watering can.


    -you don’t need much at all…just being outside and exploring seems to be enough for my kids. the more stuff, the more stuff i have to clean!

    -pots pans and wooden sticks…form a band! your neighbnors will love you

    -popcycles and the pool!

    as far as cleaning, the best advice i have is weed out the little toys…use silks, big blocks, and books. i am working on it. my kids don’t even play with all the little stuff, they just throw it around. the simpler the space, the more creative and mellow my kids seem to be. the more i am getting into this new school the more i see how brilliant it is that there is nothing there…a kitchen, some silks, little felt dolls. that place is so easy to clean after a day is done!

    i am on the same journey with the cleaning. my mom gave me advice the other day after complaining about the insane amount of laundry. She said:
    1. get rid of everything you and the kids don’t wear. Everything that just sits there and you think is cute but they don’t wear needs to be given away
    2. 1 load of laundry a day…wash, dry AND put away.

    I wish i could do the second one because i can see how that can help the crazy pile i always have. the first one would be easy if i could just stop being lazy and dig through the closets!

    or else sell nudie photos of yourself over the internet and use the funds to get a housecleaner.:-)

    you are such an awesome mama.
    i love you.

  2. Oh, you’ve caught me after a tough day. I see everything you’ve accomplished, and feel so guilty for being so utterly plastered to the couch. I’d say you’re going great, fantastically. I have no advice to give you, and no wit, and not much of anything… except to say I’m jealous of the lovely weather. Being pregnant with a toddler *and* stuck inside thanks to freezing rain sucks.

    (But then, if it were nice out, would I even have the energy to go anywhere? hmmm…)

    You’re doing great. Do everything MB says.. brilliant ideas, especially about the small toys. We’re due for a herd-culling here, too.

    Phew. (sigh). My fingers are tired. 🙂

  3. leighsteele says:

    MB – Ohmygosh, thanks for the incredible, pratical advice. I will definately try to eliminate toys…I was JUST thinking that last night.
    And the laundry thing…yah, my Mom has the same advice and I try really hard. But, alas, there are days like Day 1 where I just can’t get it together at all.

    Kate – I bow to you! To have a toddler and TWO in the belly…wow…I can’ t even imagine. I say if you are waking up, eating some, and still alive in the evening,then you are doing GREAT by my standards. 🙂

  4. Liesl says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog when Kieran was born 🙂 It’s so nice to meet another homebirthing mama!

    I think you’ve gotten lots of great suggestions here, so the only thing I would add is that you’ll fall into a routine sooner or later and get the things done that are important to you, plus maybe a few extras as icing on the cake. The really important things to “get done” are taking care of you, your gorgeous daughter, and your wee one inside – which you are clearly doing and doing well. Pregnancy is different the second time around for sure!

    Thanks for stopping by my place, and I’m looking forward to following your upcoming birth story 🙂

  5. Ninotchka says:

    Bubbles provide hours of fun! I think you’ll get into your own routine that is not like anyone else’s the longer you’re home. And it’ll change and then again, but I really do think you’ll hit your stride. Staying home after working outside of the home sort of feels like an endless weekend, huh?

    Also, get out the house on a regular basis (that’s how it stays tidier). Find storytimes at libraries and bookstores, etc. They’re free and fun.

    It’s a little tedious to get out with a newborn and small child but worse still is being stuck in the house with them for days on end. Don’t do that or you will surely go crazy! 🙂

  6. Karen says:

    hmmm . . . good questions all.

    Our side fun? sidewalk chalk, bubbles and bubble wands, a ball, a ride on scooter, finger paint and really big paper. A kiddie pool to splash in or kiddie sprinklers (drag them around the yard or near flowers so youdon’t feel like you’re wasting too much water) Once it’s hot start outside very early then come in to play.

    Get out of the house unless she’s a homebody. Find a story time or library. Go to a spray park and then have a picnic. Find a playgroup or get together with friends (it’s as good for you as her, if not better)

    As for the cleanliness, I wish I could help. I homeschool three of them and my house usually looks like a disaster area.

    As for the newborn/toddler thing, get a routine down now. Not necessarily Tuesday: Park at 8 AM but a routine of packing the diaper bag the night before, having snacks ready, etc. So it won’t take you four hours the first time you leave the house with both (hey – don’t laugh!)

  7. Jen H. says:

    All the previous posters have left great ideas for you – and for me! I’ve always been home, but I’m always looking for new ideas since we get bored with the same-old.

    My son could play outside with the hose running on low for HOURS if I let him. We also have a good-sized sandbox, so things get incredibly mucky and fun. However, we also have over five months of cold weather that makes outside play more difficult and less appealing, so I’m always looking for good indoor stuff to do.

    I agree with those who’ve said that if you get out more, the house stays cleaner. I had these grand illusions of my house being so clean since I was home all the time, but I think it’s the opposite. When we’re here, we’re making messes. When we’re out and about and nobody’s home, the house stays much cleaner. In any case, my house is always a disaster – just ask Jeanette. She was amazed that my husband and I could sit and watch our shows in the evening with toys and crap strewn all over the floor, and not angst about it. I was like, yeah, so what? He’ll just make the mess again tomorrow if I clean it up tonight!

    Anyway, it sounds like you’re doing great. I too (I’m sure all mamas do) have those bad days where you don’t do anything and the house is a mess and your kid seems bored, and you just want the day to end. All we can do is try to make the good days outweigh the bad.

  8. amygeekgrl says:

    i just wanted to say you are such an amazing woman and mama. i thoroughly enjoyed this post. it was all too familiar, including the tales of lil miss nakee butt.
    i can’t believe you are due next month. is that right? my, how the time has flown!!
    big hugs to you, mama. 🙂

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