What does your day look like?
I remember asking this question way back in 2012, when we first started this Day in a Life series. It was so fun being able to take peeks into all these mummies' lives, that I ran this series as a blog train last year, and then again this year. Writing the posts forced me to take a good look at how we were spending our days. It was also great reading the posts, and reflecting back on how things have changed. In our 2012 post, we were based in Germany, and had only two kids. Then in 2015, we were back in SG, and there were three kids.
Now, we're looking at four kids, and so much has changed! I realize I had a whole lot more energy when it was just three, so I was bringing the boys out for co-ops and outings. But 2016 brought so many changes that I decided I would really go slow this year. Within the span of this year, we've welcomed Baby #4, renovated and moved into a new place, and also experienced our first official year of homeschooling (Junior J is supposed to be in Primary 1 this year). With the move came new challenges, since it was harder to keep an eye on all the boys, plus there were more hazards such as the staircases and the pond. I did what I usually do when I feel overwhelmed: eliminate to concentrate. As a result, our schedule and routines are a lot simpler this year, and here's how a typical day looks like:
My alarm rings, and I try to get out of bed. I have been clocking late nights for the past few months, due to some work and chores. Add to that a baby who nurses a few times each night, and it means I find it hard to be able to catch more than 6 hours of sleep. Too many things to do, too little time! I roll over to see this:
This little girl has been quite erratic about her sleep habits. Some mornings she wakes at 6 am to play, and I blearily hand her over to the hubby so that I can catch a few more winks. Then there are some other days where she's still asleep when I wake. Today is one of those good days. I wake her up, and change her out of her jammies. I carry her over to the boys' room, where I find all three boys are already awake and playing. Junior J is able to change himself, so I chase Small J and Lil J around to get them changed. If we're not running too late, we read a Bible story and say a short prayer.
I leave the baby to play with her brothers, and head downstairs to make breakfast. Small J follows me, saying he is "ungry" and that he wants "C-real". He shoves a bowl to me to fill, then opens the fridge.
"I wan chocolate chip", he demands, and I pretend not to hear him. (He's always demanding for sweets and chocolates.) He continues to rummage the drawers.
I prepare breakfast, while trying to distract Small J from ransacking the fridge for chocolate. The older two love their oatmeal, while I usually have muesli and yoghurt.
My dad is here! He's been a lifesaver, coming every weekday to help out with the kids.
I bring breakfast out to the dining table, and find that the boys are already seated (for once!), and Junior J is reading to them funny extracts from an Ellie Belly book.
We start on breakfast. Mealtimes tend to be quite a torture I must admit, since the older two take ages to eat. Lil J and Small J tends to run around after a few mouthfuls, and we've found that the best way to keep them seated is to read aloud while we have our meals. That means I have to gobble up my food in double-quick time so that I can read to them. Baby J joins us for all meals and sits in her high chair. I am hoping that this would help her to get used to sitting down at mealtimes. Anyway, if I am handlng the kids alone, I just don't have enough arms to carry her, feed myself and J3 at the same time!
Everyone brings their dirty dishes to the sink, and I get Junior J to practice his cello. I usually sit in to guide him or accompany him on the flute, while the younger three play. The first fight of the day starts between the middle two kids over some minor reason. I break up the fight, and manage to calm Lil J down.
After that, the boys either head for Junior J's swim class, or sometimes we have playdates. The three boys head to the nearby park or playground with my dad, on the mornings when we are free. It's a win-win situation: they get time to run and play, and plenty of sunshine, and I get some peace and quiet for about an hour. During that hour, I pat the baby to sleep, put her in the cot, and start preparing lunch. I cook the baby's porridge, and then prepare lunch for the rest. Usually I rely on frozen sauces or soups, and today we're having pasta with milk chicken. The chicken looks a tad dry, so I make some cheese sauce to add to the pasta. Half-way through cooking, Baby J wakes, and I drag her chair into the kitchen and pop her in.
Lunch prep is taking a little longer than expected because of my decision to make the sauce. The boys are back, and they show me their finds from the park. Baby J starts to cry. I feed her, and stir the sauce in between mouthfuls.
Baby J starts getting very restless, so I play a cello song for her on my mobile phone. The song helps, and Lil J also comes by to play with her.
Lunch is finally ready, and the boys and my dad start eating, while I finish feeding Baby J. I then scarf my lunch down and try to get the two younger boys to finish their food. Recently, I've been letting them listen to music or audiobooks during lunch to help them to stay seated. Today, we're listening to the Carnival of the Animals. When lunch is done, I cut and wash fruit, and everyone eats. I start the washing machine to run a load of laundry.
Once everyone is done eating, it is time for school. Most people are surprised (or horrified) to find that we don't spend more than an hour doing "school"! I've been keeping lessons short for a few reasons: the boys can't sit down for long periods of time, they lose concentration, and I have to settle chores, meals and baby's naps so I also cannot afford to spend a long time doing school. Only Junior J and Lil J do school, while the younger two would be busy playing nearby. I work with Junior J on his spelling, Chinese and Math. He then continues working on his Math independently and does some Chinese writing, while Lil J practises reading to me. I then cover Chinese, phonics and Math with Lil J.
The laundry is done and I can hear the machine beeping. Lil J and I head down and we hang up the clothes, while my dad watches the younger two. For some strange reason, Lil J loves helping me with the laundry, and I am more than glad to have an extra pair of hands.
We leave the clothes to sun (and that's one of my favourite sights: clean clothes drying in the warm sun!). I leave Junior J to finish the rest of his work, while his younger brothers play nearby under my dad's watchful eye. I bring Baby J to my room for her afternoon nap.
She goes to sleep fairly quickly in the carrier. However, these days she's been waking every time I try to put her down in the cot. I give up and leave her on the bed instead. During this period, I catch up on messages, and message the hubby the question that I ask everyday: "What time will you be home?" I get good news: he'll be home before dinner!
This little girl doesn't nap very long even in the afternoons. She wakes after about an hour. I carry her to join her brothers, and then Junior J and I spend some time learning how to draw. Sometimes the boys request to do art, so they get to paint and craft. Today, they are too busy playing "camping" so I let them be. They start fighting again over some toys. I wade into the fray, separate them and spend some time comforting Small J, and then talk to Lil J about sharing.
I head down to the kitchen to start cooking dinner. Junior J comes along to help. We're cooking beef stroganoff, and he helps me to chop the mushrooms. He complains that he does not like the smell of the onions cooking in butter, so he goes off to read a book, after helping me to chop the ingredients.
Baby J is tired again and is due for her third nap. (These days, I feel like I spend half my life cooking or feeding kids, and another half my life making the baby sleep. Oh well.) Dinner is halfway done, so I head to the room to pat her to sleep. While I am patting her, the hubby comes home. Hooray! It's one of the rare days when he is back before dinner. He's been working late quite often these days, so the boys are very happy to have their Papa home earlier. My dad heads for home.
Baby J goes down for a really short evening nap. While patting her, I mindlessly scroll through my social media to unwind. Before I know it, its time for baby to wake. I head down to find one kid reading, another trying to ride his bike in the front of the house, and another playing quietly, and the hubby is sleeping. I wake him up, pass him the baby, and finish cooking dinner. We have dinner together and the hubby and I catch up, and we do the read-the-book-and-nag-at-kids-to-eat routine again. The kids fight over who gets the most mustard in their stroganoff.
After dinner, the boys have a bath, while the hubby bathes the baby. I clear the dining table, keep the already dry laundry, and have a quick shower. Then I read to the kids again, while feeding the younger two boys their milk. The hubby busies himself with loading the dishwasher and cleaning up the mess in the kitchen.
The kids finished their dinner pretty quickly, so they have some time to play before it's bedtime. Small J joins Baby J in her cot, and declares he is a hippo in a cage. He plays with her, while Junior J is again having his nose buried in a book. Lil J disappears, and I find him in the art area working with Biggie beads.
Then bedtime rolls around and the hubs settles the boys down for the night. He reads a Bible story, changes them and prays with them. I pat Baby J to sleep. Again, she keeps waking when I put her down in her cot, so she ends up on the bed while I work next to her. I've been helping a friend to start her business, so I sort out some admin, and reply my mails. I do a little reading up to see how I can teach Junior J to draw. Some nights I write on the blog, but these days time to blog has been rare.
Baby J is now in a deep sleep, so I gingerly shift her into her cot and then tackle the chores. The clothes get folded, I tidy some parts of the house, and before I know it it's way past 2 and time to sleep!
As you can see, our schedule has been pared down to the bare minimum. These days, I find it so hard to plan interesting activities, and I feel I'm just surviving rather than thriving. There's so much I would love to do with regards to the boys learning, and I'm always hoping for more time! But I've come to realize that this season with babies is always one of the hardest, but things will get easier in time to come. Meanwhile, its all about doing the next thing, and enjoying our children while they are little. I am thankful that life has settled into this rhythm, and I hope to slowly add more to our days. Bit by bit, step by step!
This post was written as part of the Day in a Life (DIAL) blog train that is being hosted by this blog. Please click on the button above to read more DIAL posts. It's been so interesting taking a peek into the lives of other mums!
Tomorrow, we get to follow Mark and Sue as they go about their day. Sue blogs with her husband Mark on parenting, homeschooling and life at Parenting on Purpose. Her greatest joys are being Teacher-Mummy to her two sons and travelling the world with them. Mark and Sue run a training and consultancy company called The Social Factor. They also are owners of an online store, Sensational Play. Hop over to their blog tomorrow to read more!