A ‘Morning in the Life’; well, kinda
I’ve secretly wanted to do a ‘day in the life’ post for a long time – partly because I’m always so curious how other people’s lives work, especially people with weird jobs (like blogging) and partly because I kinda use this blog as my personal journal and I know that someday I won’t remember how we actually lived in 2015.
Click through to see the whole ‘morning’ post.
As I thought about it, I realized that there is no way to accurately document 1 day since every day is so different work-wise. I have four major days – photo shoot days, office/emails days (those are just RIVETING) design/shopping days and 2 days a week Brian and I split Charlie duty. Or try. Every week something comes up but that’s the idea, at least.
But what they all tend to have in common is the same morning. We have a routine, a rhythm I should say, and we find that it’s kinda the same most days. I’m not all regimented about it, it’s just how things have fallen into place.
I trust that you guys are smart and savvy enough to know that every morning has its own set of pitfalls and frustrations including (but not limited to) diaper blow-outs, tantrums, general bad moods by all three parties, coffee spilling on the carpet, and bananas mashing in my hair during the unexpected hug (that one isn’t so much a pitfall as you can imagine). And setting up shots to document those for you just seems kinda patronizing and totally weird. So this is an average morning. No major triumphs or disasters.
I asked Jessica to come over early, around 8am and catch the last hour of our morning and I figured we’d recreate the first three hours because having her come at 5am, in the dark to watch me work, seemed TOTALLY WEIRD. So some of this is kinda reenacted for you. I play the role of ‘blonde mom wearing Christmas sweats in March’ and Charlie is played by the cutest baby in the world. It’s a lot like ‘To Catch a Predator’ only with more authentic re-enactments and less of a creepy ‘after school special’ vibe.
OK. Enough with the disclaimers, on with our riveting morning routine:
5:45 I wake up, drink coffee, and write the blog. This is a new thing and it is truly the only way that I can be anxiety-free enough by 7am to spend real-time with Charlie without checking my email every 15 seconds and being that mom that prioritizes her phone over her child. The days that I wake up late are much harder as I feel immediately behind and I know that either work or Charlie will suffer. The blog isn’t pushed out (meaning, sent through social media) let alone published, and those emails are just piling up – this is today, by the way. If I had to say one secret to my success, it would be learning how to become a morning person and taking advantage of those hours before the rest of the world distracts you. Not that I’m calling my child a distraction. You know what I mean.
Back to 5:45. What you don’t see here is the fact that it’s normally pitch black at that time. I watch the sun rise and it’s pretty awesome. What you also don’t see is me being painfully quiet trying to not wake up Charlie. As I wrote about here, the mornings that he senses that I’m awake then wakes up are so harrowing because then I’ve just woken up at a really god-forsaken hour to just babysit in the dark. So, I have to be incredibly careful. But I need this 1 1/2 hour to finish each post and think/brainstorm ideas before he wakes up, so I normally risk it and I’ve gotten better at being quiet.
This year we got our gas fireplace fixed and man, I can’t recommend it enough. It wasn’t cheap (around $1200 with cleaning, maintenance and the porcelain logs), but all you have to do in the morning is flip a switch and it provides such lovely warmth and ambiance. If only winter lasted more than 3 weeks here.
7:00 ISH. 7:30 if we are lucky. Charlie wakes up and talks to his stuffed animals for a while until he starts yelling for attention. He then gets really upset, every morning, that we have to change his diaper and panics if he doesn’t get his bottle fast enough. It’s like every day he is surprised that we have to change his diaper. I constantly remind him that I’m not the one that pooped in his pants, but he doesn’t care. Typically we distract him with a toy. I normally do this while Brian is making his bottle. Not sure how I got that role, now that I think about it.
Now, I have no idea if he is too old to need a bottle in the morning, but the thing is, we need it so I don’t really care. Typically Brian is there, too (I couldn’t convince him to do my pretend morning with me) and we just cuddle and snuggle and it’s almost always wonderful. All you moms out there know that forcing them to stay in your arms for more than 10 seconds at any point during the day can be impossible, so yeah, I’m going to milk this time until it starts to feel weird (not like 13-years-old weird, more like 6-more-months weird). Also he’s drinking really, really watered down formula (we had a ton left over) which is our attempt to wean him off it. I know he could be drinking milk but he loves this stuff so that’s just what is happening still.
During this ‘re-enactment’ he was very confused and psyched to get two bottles in the morning, but he was less good at cuddling with me. I kept whispering, ‘Don’t embarrass me’ and ‘You won’t make it anywhere in Hollywood with this kind of work ethic’ but I think the second bottle just made him want to take a nap. And since we didn’t have an understudy, the show had to go on without him – but not without a quick brush of the teeth.
7:30 ish – we brush his teeth.
Which really just means that he tries to suck all the toothpaste off of the brush before we have a chance to make contact with one tooth. Some days he’s pretty good at it and gets it (we brush them together, we show each other our teeth, etc) but this morning was one of the days where he really did not want me to be in charge and he wanted to do it himself. Which just means sucking on the toothbrush. To be fair, our mistake was buying pretty delicious artisanal (pretentious) toothpaste. He still only has six teeth (four on the top, 2 on the bottom) so brushing those guys is pretty easy.
We don’t normally brush our teeth in the living room but the bathrooms are still in their original (1964) state (see them here) and just too disgusting to take photos in right now.
7:30 – 8:30 am – we play in the living room.
This is probably my favorite hour of the day. We are together as a family and everybody is generally in such a good mood – mainly because Charlie is so happy and we are drinking coffee. This hour is even more fun on the weekends for obvious reasons. Charlie is so excited to play with ‘his guys’ (Marvel superheroes and Star Wars action figures), read books, listen to music, and just play. I used to try to sneak work a little while doing this, but he made it very clear that I wouldn’t be getting anything done. He would either sabotage whatever I was doing by banging his hands on the keys/stealing my phone, etc, or even worse, beg for my attention. So now, that hour is just off limits to tech. If I have to do anything for work, I go in another room. I swear that Brian and I have both started using the bathroom as a reason to get a quick online fix.
As far as favorite toys right now here’s where we are at: action figures, all soft stuffed animals, broom/mops and books. He loves that chair and when Bearcat is in it, he uses his new, really lovely phrase ‘No, mine. No, mine. No, mine’ to communicate with her. WHERE DO THEY LEARN THESE THINGS??? We only say ‘no’ when it’s a real ‘no no’ (hitting, trying to throw cell phone in toilet, throwing plates full of delicious food that I’ve made him, etc) and I really don’t think we say ‘mine’. We say ‘that’s mommys’ or ‘that’s for grown ups’ with our coffee or beer, but we don’t go around the house announcing that things are ‘mine’. Or so we think. Maybe we do. He got it from somewhere, I suppose.
And he loves books. All day long he’s bringing us books and putting his arms up to be picked up and put in the chair. The same books over and over and over. I guess I’m no different. Books are their version of tv or movies and I watch the same tv shows or movies over and over again. I’ve watched the full series of both Felicity and Veronica Mars 3 times, and the amount of times I’ve seen ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ or ‘Dirty Dancing’ is pretty weird. I guess reading or seeing the same predictable story over and over again is human nature. It must be comforting.
You can’t see it in this photo but all the toys are in a storage ottoman near the blue dresser. And then we have two wire bins that sit next to it. The large stuffed animals and the piano normally stay out, but we are pretty good about putting all the little bits away because this is my pretty room and it bums me out soooo bad when it’s messed up – and just throwing toys in a bin is so easy. Also we have gotten rid of almost all accessories in this room. He can’t reach what is on the blue dresser, but the rest of the surfaces are blank and I don’t even mind it. The family room is always a disaster but it’s not the first room you see when you walk in the door so it doesn’t really bother me.
8:30 ish Eggs.
Charlie Henderson loves him some eggs. Here is a weird endorsement in case you can’t get your kids to eat eggs, we buy the ‘Happy Egg’ brand which Brian claims is strangely flavorful. Then we scramble with whole milk, salt and pepper and a decent amount of butter in the pan (not oil). They are DELICIOUS. I mean, of course they are, they have cream and butter in them. Normally they look WAY more appetizing than those eggs do, but Brian wasn’t here for this reenactment so I made them. Charlie was already down for a nap when I was doing this part of the morning so I phoned it in for the photo and they look pretty sad. He eats 2-3 eggs now. We give him 1/2 piece of toast sometimes but he loves bread so much that it becomes all he focuses on so we try to have him eat the eggs first so he doesn’t fill up on just bread.
I think that might have been the most boring paragraph I have ever written. But as a mom, this kind of stuff is always interesting to me – not just what the books say to do (which we NEVER read, those books aren’t exactly your friend) but instead what my friends do/feed/buy. So we do eggs – you are welcome.
But in case you are dying to know what Charlie’s favorite food in the world is, its berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. Like me. I love berries soooo much. We were trying to teach him please and thank you in sign language but at first we tended to do it mainly with desert/berries so now all day long he just maniacally rubs his chest with his open hand (please) asking for berries.
As far as I know they are loaded with vitamins and good carbs, so we basically just let him have a few berries a few times a day. And yes, most of his clothes and a lot of my pillows are covered with berry stains now. Thank god red and pink are in my color palette.
8:30 – 9 ish. Out on the deck to play. This is the tricky time of day. I am dying to get to work because I can feel the emails adding up and Brian is ready to start his day, too, but our nanny doesn’t get here until 10:30 (we are changing that). So from 9 – 10:30 is the ‘Who has a busier day’ competition between us and we generally take turns.
We haven’t redone the deck yet so bear with me on the photos. At first I was so worried about it being kid friendly because its pretty high up, but it’s actually totally childproof so we are embracing it and pretending its a back yard.
One of his favorite things to do is sweep. Why do they love cleaning supplies so much?
And cook. His attention span is still pretty short, but if we give him projects to cook (Can you collect all the shrimp and put them in a bowl? Can you help me make leaf soup? etc) then it can last for 10 – 15 minutes at a time. We bought this BBQ and this kitchen. They weren’t cheap but yes, they are super cute. We also bought this one for the family room which is very cute (more on that later). I went a little kitchen crazy one weekend because he was at a friend’s house and was obsessed with the kitchen so I was like ‘CHARLIE MUST HAVE PRETEND KITCHENS!!!’
His two favorite ride-ons are that radio flyer scooter and the plane that lights up with really annoying music that he loves. Please note those adorable teeth.
Brian came back from the gym and Charlie was dramatically happy to see him – rushed over to him with a big hug as if I was just sitting there mute the whole time not engaging him. Oh and here’s a good manipulative tip for you parents – Brian and I started making a conscious effort to hug and kiss more in front of him (not in a weird way, just being affectionate) and then afterwards inviting him in for a ‘family hug’. He LOVES it because he gets to do what grown ups get to do. Somehow we made it cool. So now we are constantly yelling ‘FAMILY HUG!!’ all the time and he rushes over as if I’m offering him berries. Ha. Sucker.
So that’s our morning, most days anyway. Right now I’m really embracing it because I know that when we have another baby these casual mornings will turn into mini circuses and the juggle of two kids with two working parents will squash all our peaceful mornings. In a good way, of course.
So for now the 6am – 10am routine is working as well as it possibly can. While we wish we had help earlier on some days, it’s also incredibly nice to have a solid 2-3 hours with him before I leave for 8 hours. So even when I have work anxiety and feel super behind, I try to remember that stuff can generally wait and he’s only 15 months once. I say that as I’m literally trying to finish this post at 9:30am when it should have been up at 6am. I slept in til 7 and then spent the first hour with Charlie. I feel like it’s a daily battle between work and family, and most days work gets the majority of the day so in the morning family wins.