A Day in My Life (a few years ago)

This is a repost of a post I did for FMH‘s A Day in the Life series. I’m resurrecting it now because my little sister recently had her second baby and is feeling overwhelmed. Hopefully this will help her realize that she’s at least doing better than I managed at the same time. Also, I hope to follow this up by finishing a post I started when the second was about a year old and things were much more under control, so look for that soon.

I’m a SAHM with a BA in anthropology and a minor in computer science. I have a 21-mo-old and a 3-mo-old (both boys). I write, and hope someday to publish a book, but not for a while at the rate I’m going.

Here’s my post…

I wasn’t sure I was going to send in a “day in the life” guest post, but after reading Julie Smith’s I decided I needed to. I read hers and thought, “Wow, she’s amazing. I wish we were that good, organized, etc.” And one of the reasons I wasn’t going to send in a “day in the life” post was because I don’t really want people to know how little we manage to get accomplished (and how bad a mother I am a lot of the time). But then I decided that maybe there was someone else out there just like me who was left feeling totally inadequate by Julie’s post, and maybe they needed to know they’re not alone. So here it is…

Most every day…
The toddler (21 mo.) wakes up at about 9:30. He cries enough to wake me up, and I drag myself out of bed. I go in the kitchen, get him a glass of juice and some dry cereal and take it in his room. I put on a kids video, give him the juice, and change his diaper. Then I leave him in there with the juice, cereal, and video, and shut the door behind me (he can’t open doors yet). I feed the baby (3 mo.) (he’s usually about ready to eat again) and then put the baby in his swing (or bouncer seat, or under his toy) and climb back into bed.

Two hours later the baby is hungry again and screams loud enough to wake me up. I get up and feed him, then let the toddler out. He runs around while I sit on the couch and try to wake up a little more. We play a little bit, then I put him in his high chair and feed him lunch. I get him down, put on another video (a short one this time, and leave his door open), change his diaper again, get him dressed, and clean up the disaster he just created in the kitchen (every meal is a disaster).

I feed the baby again. Then I spend a couple of hours alternating between two positions – sitting on the couch holding the baby and reading while the toddler runs around screaming excitedly and climbs on furniture, and playing with the toddler (more running around screaming excitedly) while the baby sits with toys and occasionally whines about not being held. At about 4 the toddler’s diaper gets changed again and he goes down for a nap. I feed the baby again and then sit and read for half an hour to regain my sanity. The toddler wakes up, I feed him again, then clean up his mess and feed the baby again.

Now it’s about 6:30, and I’m counting the hours until dad gets home. We play some more, and I call dh to see if there’s any chance of him making it home before 8:30 today (not very likely). I feed the baby again, change another diaper (probably the baby’s this time, as it appears I haven’t done it yet on this particular day), and finally dad gets home. Everyone cheers really loudly.

Often dad picks up dinner on the way home, or we have leftovers or frozen pizza. Dad almost always gets dinner on the table, because at this point I’m too exhausted to care if we eat. But we eat, and then dad plays with the toddler while I feed the baby again. I read or watch tv for half an hour, then we get a new diaper and pajamas on the toddler, play quietly or read a story with him for a little bit, then say prayers and put him to bed.

I feed the baby again, then talk with dh for just a few minutes, then say prayers with him so he can go to bed. I empty the dishwasher, rinse the dishes, and reload the dishwasher. I feed the baby again, and change his diaper. I eat a bowl of cereal. I write (at least 50 words). I sit and read or blog or play computer games for an hour. I feed the baby again, then go to bed. The baby wakes up to eat a couple of times during the night, but wakes up dh first, so he brings him to me, changes his diaper, and puts him back down when I’m done. (I’m so groggy I barely remember these times.)

Then at 9:30 it starts again.

Other things:
I try to check at least one thing off my to-do list every day (and I usually manage). Tuesdays this is laundry, other days it’s paying bills, submitting insurance forms, unpacking boxes, returning books to the library, getting the car inspected, or vacuuming.
Sometime during the afternoon we play either in the backyard or the basement play area (depending on the weather) for at least a little while, for a change of pace.

I do usually eat at least once before my husband gets home from work (usually during toddler’s naptime), though this day I seem to have forgotten to (that happens). I also usually change the baby’s diaper before 6pm (usually twice even, though it’s not guaranteed).

I just sat and typed out what a day was like, and when I was done, I went through and counted the feedings to see if I was really accurate (since I felt like I typed “feed the baby” a lot). I was. There were 12 feedings, and the baby usually eats 11-12 times a day. I wish he ate less often, but he wishes he ate more often, so we compromise with every 2 hours. (He sometimes sleeps through one feeding at night, so that’s why the 11-12.)

Toddler is cutting molars and baby is cutting his first incisors, so sleeping is especially bad at the moment. I typed most of this post one-handed while holding a screaming baby at 3:30am.

This post consists mostly of lots of little things like feedings and diaper changes that barely seem worth mentioning, except that they’re all I do. All day long. If I didn’t mention feedings and diapers my “day in the life” post would be blank.

In spite of everything, we survive. We rarely make it to museums, zoos, play dates, or even parks, but we survive. We’re generally even happy. And it will get better.


  1. I am the little sister. I smiled and realized that things could be a lot worse. Baby 2 still eats every two hours, but at least that’s just during the day…if it was at night too, I think I would be 6 feet under.

    I did realize one thing the other day that might make me happier. I have resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t be able to scrapbook much for a little while, because it takes way too much effort to pull out what I need to work on, but I can sit and write. I think I’d like to write more, so I am going to try to write a little everyday. Everyday I will read, write, and make sure kids don’t die.

    Maybe I’ll have one extra thing a day, like you did Vada, like bills or laundry. But that’s a big maybe!

  2. I read it the first time at FMH, where I discovered this blog. And now my 2nd is 3 months old, my 1st is 2 years old, and I’m trying to survive law school finals. Amen to just surviving!

  3. Vada, I remember this post because it looked JUST like my life at the time, but I didn’t know it was you.

    It was very comforting to know that someone else was just gettin’ by.

  4. I feel as if I’ve spent most of the last two years of my life coping with pregnancy and the aftermath of childbirth. My daughter is thirteen months old, and I feel as if I’ve just emerged from the chaos this fall.

    I really want another child, and this post scares the living daylights out of me.

  5. That first year after baby #2 was the worst year of my life. I remember.
    Baby #4 is now 20 months old and #1 is 12 and it is SUCH a different life. Now I’m doing what I signed up for and it is way busy but really interesting and fun.

  6. Vada,
    Great post. Now that my baby is 2 it all seems like a foggy memory.

    But, I was filling out a medical questionnaire about my menstrual cycle and I had to stop and think, “What is that like? Since 2005 I’ve been either pregnant, breastfeeding or had an IUD (which I thank God for everyday)”

    Motherhood changes everything.

  7. Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    Michelle, I going to try to put up a post soon that I started about a year after this one. Then I’ll do a day in my life now post.

    Anna, I’m glad it made you smile. I didn’t mean for it to make you see things could be a lot worse — just to make you see you could be doing a lot worse (because I’m pretty sure you’re doing more than I was — for instance, we rarely, if ever, left the house). And you don’t necessarily need to find something to accomplish every day (like scrapbooking or writing, though they’re both great things to do). Just make sure you manage to carve out a little time for something you want to do (which could be the aforementioned scrapbooking or writing, but could just be reading a good book). You’re doing enough work just making sure everyone remains alive. Trust me, it’s a full-time job.

    Guinevere, good luck on your (and your children’s) survival! Remember, it does get better.

    EmilyCC, I’m glad the post was comforting. That’s why I wrote it originally — so others would know that they weren’t alone in accomplishing nothing more than survival.

    Eve, while two is a lot harder than one, it does get better. I’ll finish writing my next post so you can see how much better I was doing just a year after this. They start to play with each other and their needs aren’t so all-consuming. Also, I think it’s a little easier if they’re spread out more. Then you can get the older one to help a little bit (even if it’s just fetching a diaper and wipes for you). Good luck with whatever comes!

    jkis and Jessawhy, thanks for the comments! It’s good to know that others have been there (and that they’ve moved past it).

  8. I’m getting ready for baby #3 in eight weeks and this post terrifies me. Intellectually I know that those first few months will pass and we’ll all survive, but I’m still scared. My other two are 6 and 3 1/2 so we’ve got big spacing, but that’s also because my last birth precipitated bad PPD that combined with a lot of horrible other events in my life to create a very, very bad year for all of us. This reminds me that I really need to go ahead and email the therapist my friend recommended because I’m going to be proactive about getting help this time!

  9. Vada, I recall reading this when it was first posted at fMh, but reading it again, I’m struck by how completely overwhelming your life at the time sounded. It sounds like something I as a reader can’t really begin to appreciate without experiencing it. I’m comforted to hear that you’re in a better, or at least less difficult place now with your kids being a little older.

    I was wandering through the fMh archives a couple of months ago, and came across a very early post that Lisa wrote about similarly having her life sucked away by caring for very small children. Just like you, though, she had come back and commented on her post perhaps two years later and been surprised by how much easier parenting had gotten as her children had aged.

  10. I appreciate this post. This really is what it is like. I feel like I feed kids and change diapers every minute of every day. My life with my baby and toddler is very similar to what you described in this post. Add in three school age kids, and it looks more like this:

    6 a.m. Feed baby to make sure she’s happy during morning routine.
    6:15 Get kids up for morning routine
    7:15 Drive 3 older kids to school
    7:30-3:00 Change diapers, feed either baby or toddler. Put toddler down for nap and hopefully baby, too. Otherwise it’s just straight diapers and feeding over and over.
    3-4 homework
    4-6 make dinner
    6 Eat dinner
    7 If dad’s home, abandon four oldest kids. If dad’s not, do the night routine

    I have to admit that this baby is the easiest baby I have ever had. Lay her down – she goes to sleep. Make her wait to eat so I can finish making dinner – she sucks her thumb. She even sleeps through the night (most of the time). I think the Lord knew I couldn’t handle another baby who was up multiple times. So, I’m grateful for that. But, still, this is a hard time.

    I, too, am interested to hear how things have changed for you.

    Oh, and Anna, I haven’t scrapbooked since 2003 – not since I was pregnant with #3. But things have changed since then. You can do it on the computer now! I am looking forward to starting that when I have a life again.


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