A Day In The Life of This At-Home Dad

A Day In The Life of This At-Home Dad

One of the questions I have been asked more than any other by various media-types during my brief stint as a minor celebrity has been “So what are your days like? Can you walk me through a typical day?”

I always have a hard time answering that, for a couple of reasons. One, they don’t have time to actually hear the answer. And two, while routine is wonderful and there are some days that feel like one big episode of deja vu all over again, we actually try to mix things up a lot. Some days we are out most of the day doing activities. Others we have lots of errands that need to get done. Sometimes we never leave the house.

But in an effort to get a good answer in writing, I decided to track a day, which in this case was a Thursday a couple of weeks ago, to give a sense of what a “typical day” is like.

THURSDAY:

6:30 AM – Tucker (age 3) wakes up. My wife, Anna, is in the shower, and instructs him that to go lay on the couch until she is done. I wake up enough to hear their conversation, but don’t let it show.

7:19 AM – Anna comes and kisses me goodbye, and tells me Tucker is sitting quietly in the living room watching Yo Gabba Gabba!, and Coltrane (age 1) is still sleeping.

7:20 AM – Anna leaves for work, telling Tucker to let me sleep a little bit longer.

7:20:01 AM – Tucker comes and wakes me up.

7:26 AM – I get Tucker out of his nighttime training pants (which are soaked, of course) and into some underwear instead.

7:41 AM – Tucker wets his underwear.

7:45 AM – I hear Coltrane stirring in his crib, and discover he has somehow managed to get his leg caught between the bars of his crib, but doesn’t seem to mind. He’s like a trapped bear who has given up the fight. He sits up at the sound of my arrival, and smiles. “UH-OOH!” he says. I ask if he contemplated trying to amputate his own foot, but his answer is noncommittal.

7:46 AM – Diaper #1.

7:55 AM – I make breakfast. Cinnamon apple toast and spread with some locally made apple butter, bananas and milk.

8:00 AM – Tucker decides that he doesn’t like the ends of the banana, only the middle part. This is back to the status quo, after yesterday’s aberrant “I ONLY like the ENDS of the banana” episode.

8:40 AM – Breakfast done, I get the boys dressed and let them play while I do some last minute cleaning. Mostly laundry.

8:58 AM – Tucker announces that he has to go potty. He goes, and triumphantly bellows “Dadaaaa! I poooooped!” just as the door buzzer goes off and . . .

9:00 AM – . . . Coltrane’s “early intervention” speech therapist arrives for our weekly session. I get Tuck cleaned up quickly, so he can answer the door. He tells Cole’s ST, Jacqui, that he likes her dress I’m pretty sure he has a crush. During the sessions, Tucker theoretically stays out of the way in his room, so we can focus on Cole. There is mixed success at this, but he does pretty well. Cole is doing great.

10:00 AM – Jacqui leaves. More laundry.

10:17 AM – A cry from the living room. Coltrane has wedged himself in between the Lay-Z-Boy chair and the wall, and his head is stuck. Tucker dances around with glee at this hilarious turn of events.

10:22 AM – Diaper #2.

10:28 AM – I realize suddenly that we have a playdate at the park to get to, but I still haven’t showered. I put on extra deodorant and put my faith in nature’s breeze.

10:35 AM – I pack lunch for the park (leftover pizza, grapes, yogurt, etc.) then get bags, diapers, sunscreen, wipes, backup outfits, sippy cups, a blanket, food, and the boys loaded into the van.

10:37 AM – Guilt compels me to run back into the house to empty the diaper pail and overflowing kitchen garbage, to drive over to the dumpster (~1/2 mile away). Humid day + bag of soiled diapers = eeeew.

10:48 AM – Stuck in traffic. It’s actually Coltrane’s morning nap time, and I hope he falls asleep in the car. He doesn’t.

11:15 AM – Arrive (late) at a local park where we are meeting with some other friendly local mamas and papas to play in the park. This one has a lot of shade from big old trees, and a covered sand box, so it’s an ideal location for a hot day like this. Cole is still not napping.

12:00 PM – Coltrane starts digging into other people’s things looking for something to eat, so I pull out our lunch and we munch, in-between the random sprints for the slide and sandbox. I get time for a few bites of a sandwich and some grapes.

12:15 PM – I notice that Tucker’s pants are wet again. I ask if he peed his pants and he says “Yes, but it’s okay. It happens sometimes.”

12:30 PM – Nice discussion with the other parents about the commonly felt need each of us is experiencing for a “real vacation.” I am clearly not the only at-home parent who is recognizing that weekends and holidays when my spouse is there to tag-team doesn’t actually allow much disengagement from my daily grind.  I’ll have to write more about this another time.

1:00 PM – After changing Coltrane’s diaper (#3) in the grass, we pack up and drive home. Traffic is still bad, but we pass the time singing songs.

1:14 PM – I remember that we’re out of milk and toilet paper and a few other things, so we make a detour to the grocery store for a quick stop. To avoid having to have Tucker walking, I load the boys into one of those hulking “race car” shopping carts, and thankfully because this store is quite new it has functional straps and steers remarkably well.

1:26 PM – Tucker announces loudly in the produce aisle that he has to poop. A sign on the restroom door says that no unpurchased merchandise should be taken in, but I choose to ignore it. He only pees a little, and I suspect he really just wanted to come marvel at the automatic flushing urinals.

1:48 PM – Groceries paid for, back in the van, loaded and headed home.

1:49 PM – Coltrane falls asleep in the car.

1:51 PM – We get home, and rather than wake him I carefully carry Cole inside in his carseat (MAN is he getting heavy in there!) and put him in a quiet place to keep napping.

2:00 PM – Tuck and I have some quiet reading time together. He chooses one of my favorites, Crocs!, written by family friend David Greenberg. It’s delightful.

2:20 PM – Tucker helps me water our plants outside.

2:30 PM – Time for Tuck’s afternoon nap, but first I make him go potty while I start working on cleaning the kitchen. He does great, and finishes and trots off to get into bed by himself while I’m not looking. I go tuck him in, and we agree that today we’ll leave his bedroom door open as long as he naps really well.

2:35 PM – Dishwasher emptied and filled, I get water boiling in the electric kettle to make coffee, then sit down to check email and Facebook. I check on Tucker and he’s already asleep. Nice.

3:10 PM – Coltrane wakes up crying just as I am about to hop into the shower. I bring him into the bathroom, carseat and all, and he waits fairly patiently for me to finish, but clearly wants out.

3:20 PM – I pull Coltrane out of his carseat and he has pooped one of those high-velocity, big-mess, low-odor deals. No wonder he woke up. Diaper #4.

3:25 PM – Coltrane and I play on the living room floor. I try to teach him to roll a ball to me, then we read a few books and generally just horse around. I’m hoping to tire him out enough that he’ll get at least some of his afternoon nap while Tuck is napping too.

3:50 PM – I remember I was boiling water for coffee. I re-start the kettle and this time don’t forget about it.

3:53 PM – Coltrane climbs up on top of the table when I have my back turned. I not-so-gracefully hurdle the baby-gate to get to him.

4:05 PM – Coltrane signals to me that he’s sleepy again by climbing into his car seat. I put him to bed and he doesn’t make a peep.

4:20 PM – I remember my coffee, which I’d made but abandoned and forgotten on the kitchen counter. It’s now pretty cold, but rather than reheat it I pour it over some ice.

4:25 PM – I sit down to the computer and do the usual email and Facebook thing, this time checking out a few interesting links and reading a few articles. Also, I get in some Angry Birds before cranking out a draft version of an upcoming post for the blog.

4:45 PM – Tucker wakes up, crying. I lay in his bed with him for a few minutes and he calms down. He’s wet (of course) so I get him to the potty and into some dry clothes.

4:55 PM – Tuck reminds me that, since he pooped on the potty today, he gets a turn playing a game on my Kindle Fire. We sit together and work on trying to get a certain alligator the bath water he so desires.

5:15 PM – Anna arrives home from work. Tucker runs to open and greet her at the door when he hears her keys turning the lock.

5:30 PM – Coltrane wakes up. Diaper #5. While I get to work on figuring out what we’re going to have for dinner, Anna plays with the boys and Tucker tells her a little bit about the day.

5:45 PM – We just brought home a load of fresh produce from our garden yesterday, so I decide to make a salad for dinner for the family. Kale, Swiss chard, green onions and green beans from the garden, along with leftover roasted chicken, dried cherries, and fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a quick dressing made from my big batch of mojo de ajo, some amazing jalapeño pepper mustard sauce, and a wonderful chocolate balsamic vinegar. I slightly over-blanch the kale, I think, but it’s a tasty meal on short notice.

6:00 PM – We sit down to dinner, a little bit later than planned. Coltrane makes a mess, but Tucker eats two bowls. Awesome.

6:40 PM – I roll around on the floor playing with the boys while Anna cleans the dishes. We build some towers with their new blocks, and knock them all down again.

7:05 PM – Coltrane starts trying to pull down all of our cheap Venetian blinds, while Tucker lays on the floor fake-crying because I won’t let him play on my Kindle any more today.

7:06 PM – While I am fixing the blinds, Coltrane tries again to climb onto the dining room table, this time getting his head stuck under a chair.

7:30 PM – Time to get the boys ready for bed. Anna takes them to get them in their jammies while I make their evening “snacks,” which are really just sippy cups of milk.

7:40 PM – We start the nightly bedtime routine. The whole thing is very complicated and takes a while, but occasions where we hear much more than a peep from either of them until morning are rare, so we keep it up. During his bedtime prayers Tucker, unprompted, asks Jesus to help him make good decisions. It’s a very special moment.

8:00 PM – The boys now quiet, we try to get a few things done around the house: more laundry loaded into the washer, toys picked up, etc.

8:15 PM – I sit down at the table to work on a project. I’ve printed out some of my fruit, veggie and herb illustrations and am making garden stake signs.

9:00 PM – Anna and I chat about our days, and then we watch a little bit of TV together. Thanks to the wonder of TiVo, we’re not slaves to the network schedule, but it does mean we have back-episodes we need to work through for some shows. Tonight we watch part of an episode of “Food Network Star.” Only 5 more episodes until we’re caught up!

10:00 PM – Anna can’t keep her eyes open. She goes and gets ready for bed, and I put her to bed.

10:00:05 PM – Anna reaches a deep sleep. Seriously, it’s kind of crazy fast.

10:05 PM – I get to work on the computer. I finish off the blog post I started earlier, and create a supporting illustration for it. I’m going to hold off on posting it until Anna can proof read it for me though. No rush.

10:50 PM – A bleary-eyed Tucker comes into the living room. He’s scared of something and wants to sit with me. We sit on the couch for a few minutes to cuddle, and he says he got scared by a sound his bed made.

11:00 PM – After a potty-stop, I get Tuck back to bed, thankfully without waking up Coltrane.

11:04 PM – Tuck comes into the living room again, to say I forgot to re-start his music. I try again. This time he doesn’t reappear.

11:30 PM – I work on finessing the text and a few illustrations for my next children’s book. It’s about two tiger brothers discussing the merits of having a jellyfish handy. I get one 2-page spread pretty well done, and another well started. I love how it looks and I’m excited about letting people see it when it’s complete. Look for it soon!

FRIDAY:

1:45 AM – I realize what time it is. Oops! I turn off the computer monitor and start shutting off lights when I remember that there is still a load of laundry sitting in the washer, wet, and the dryer is still full. Thankfully it’s mostly sheets and towels in the dryer, so I get them all out and the wet stuff drying.

2:00 AM – Climb into bed and curl up with my Kindle. I don’t even get through a single digital “page” before briefly passing out and smacking my face into the screen. I put it away, and close my eyes, until . . .

6:30 AM – . . . It begins again.

Sound familiar? I highly suspect that this is typical of most at-home parents with kids the age of my boys.

If you’re an at-home parent, what is your typical day like?

6 Comments


  • A well told blow by blow snapshot of how a typical day goes, or went before kiddie warfare and drama enter the scene.
    Oh yeah, did I mention I need a vacation?

    Reply

  • Yep. This sounds all too familiar.

    Reply

  • Thanks for sharing, this is very insightful as I am considering becoming a stay at home dad for the next 6 months. What advice would you give someone like me?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply

    • Hi Hecado.

      My main advice, since you say you are still “considering” it would be to absolutely DO IT. Your kid(s) will never be this age again, so soak up every second you can.

      Beyond that, and not knowing the age of your child(ren) my general advice would be:
      1) Get out of the house as much as possible. In my experience the day always goes better.
      2) Seek out some other dads (or welcoming moms) in your community. Even if you just do 6 months, it will do wonders for your sanity.
      3) Intentionally treat spending quality time with your child(ren) your full-time job. That means that rolling around on the floor tickling one another comes before dishes or vacuuming or checking email.

      I hope that helps. 🙂


    • Thank you Chris, I have a 7 month old daughter and have missed out on a paternity leave due to the demands of working for a small start-up like environment, I’m partly responsible for that but also felt that the company hasn’t supported me in that sense. I commute 2 hours each day and put in at least a 45 hour work week for a job that I’m no longer passionate about.

      My significant other is going back to work after a well deserved 8-month maternity leave from a job she loves that is 15 mins away from our home and although we can afford to place our daughter in day care, as first time parents we are still uncomfortable with the idea of having someone else take care of her. When we brainstormed potential options, it made more sense for me to quit my job at least until she turns a year old. I don’t know why we didn’t think of it sooner and to be honest with you I have never felt so certain about an idea in quite some time. The thought of spending quality time with my daughter brings me so much joy and happiness and in the recent days I keep daydreaming about all the wonderful experiences we will have together. I realize it is a lot of work but I also know it is probably the most rewarding type of “work” I could do.

      Thank you!!

      Sincerely,

      hecado


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