I know I've said previously that I don't want to continue updates on Astrid forever. But the other day, I was reading through the posts I wrote while I was pregnant, and it struck me how much I'd forgotten about what that time was like. I figured, given what everyone else says, I'll probably also forget what life with Astrid is like at the moment. So what I'd like to do in this post (and in a series of posts) is snapshots attempting to capture Life with Baby. I want to be able to remember these things as she changes and grows. Perhaps she may even find them interesting when she's older.
“Life” is a hard thing to describe, though; I'm not quite sure how to tackle it. I think that what I might do is try to describe a “typical” week (bearing in mind that there is no such thing as a typical week).
At the moment, Astrid wakes anywhere between 5 and 8 am for her first feed (this is after going to bed between 7 and 9 pm; I'm fortunate that she's a sleeper and very rarely wakes in the night. [Though she probably will again during key developmental periods.]) For the past month, after she's done with the first feed, I've been giving her two tablespoons of rice cereal, which they say is a good food to start with when you're beginning solids. (Solids for the first year are more about tastes and textures than nutrition.) The feed plus solids usually takes about an hour. I have my breakfast and then put her back to bed, and then go and get some more shut-eye myself as I've usually not slept enough. She'll sleep for about 1-2 hours more, then after the next feed, I'll get up proper—have a shower, get dressed, start the business of tackling the day, and so on.
Monday is housework day. It became that way because our cleaning lady (whose services are still generously provided for by my mother) could only come on Monday. Then I just decided that it was better if all the housework stuff got done earlier in the week as I tended to run out of stamina later. Our cleaning lady comes once a fortnight, and when she's here, she tackles all the vacuuming, the bathroom and the kitchen. On the weeks she's not here, I do the vacuuming because I'm moulting so much that after a few days, it looks like I haven't vacuumed at all (*sigh*). I also do all the laundry every Monday, which includes changing all the bedding.
However, before I get stuck into the housework, I take Astrid to Music Time at church. It's for children ages 0 to 5, and it involves singing songs (with actions), playing with musical instruments like wooden sticks, toy drums and bells, doing clapping rhythms and listening to a Bible story. The whole thing goes for an hour and then afterwards there's morning tea. Even though Astrid can't participate much (I put her in the Baby Björn and do the actions sometimes holding her hands), I hope she still enjoys it. I've been trying to remember some of the songs and rhymes to do with her at home.
Little Rachel doesn't live too far from church, so we have on occasion met up and then gone back to my place (walking if I have walked). We have also done lunch together, which has been extremely nice. Otherwise I just have lunch at home. These days, during Astrid's “lunch” feed, I'll try to feed her solids again—a fruit or a vegetable (at the moment, it's pear, but she's not into it, so I've started mixing it more with rice cereal because, as a friend pointed out, the pear may be a bit too tart for her).
By the late afternoon, I will have completed most of the housework with just a bit of laundry to go. Astrid gets bathed every other day usually in the afternoon. Sometimes I also have nappies to wash. Ben is now in charge of cooking, so will make dinner for us. We chat and eat, then he will put Astrid to bed (and she usually cries and cries) and I will do the dishes. Then during the rest of the evening, sometimes Ben will work (depending on how much work he has to get done) and sometimes we will watch TV, and I will knit. We try to be in bed by midnight (but sometimes Ben has to work late). Most nights when we're at home end this way.
Mother's group meets between 12 and 2. The members take turns choosing the location. It's a little tricky as there are 14 of us now, so meeting outdoors is preferred, but then there's always the problem of extremes in the weather: too hot, too cold, too rainy, and so on. So sometimes we meet in cafés, which is hard to do, but then not everyone comes every week.
Tuesday is usually food delivery day as well, so Ben tries to be home to receive the groceries, meat, and fruit and vegetables that I order online. I try to make sure the deliveries are scheduled for the afternoon as sometimes we have trouble being awake earlier in the morning (which is understandable if you've been working late into the night).
Bits of housework also get done on Tuesday—basically, any leftovers from Monday, I fold and put away the laundry if it's dry, and I feel like I'm constantly doing the dishes.
Sometimes there are things on in the evening, like Cheesecake Club (which was instituted by Little Rachel who likes to make cheesecakes and have other people eat them; so far, we've had peanut butter cheesecake and breakfast cheesecake) or craft night at Virginia's. Sometimes it's just another night at home with TV and knitting.
The latter half of the week is more social for me. Although on Wednesday I find myself mostly at home, occasionally I'll be meeting friends for coffee, or trying to go for a walk, running errands, attacking the ongoing items on my rolling To Do list, and so on. Because Mondays and Tuesdays can be quite frantic with all the running around, Wednesdays are a nice contrast by being quieter with stuff more at home than out.
This might change; I'm in talks with some friends to start a Bible study group in the middle of the day because we're not fans of morning ones.
For the past couple of weeks, I'll try to plan something nice for me to do on Thursdays. This might involve going to the movies (mums and bubs sessions are usually on Thursday mornings), going somewhere (perhaps to see someone; Elsie and I have gotten together a couple of times for lunch and other things), or doing something special that I think would be nice for me (e.g. walk around Centennial Park). I think after Wednesdays at home, often I feel like I need to leave the house and go out for an extended period of time. The nice thing is that if I'm out east, I can give Little Rachel a lift back home since she's not too far from me. I don't even mind being stuck in rush hour traffic anymore because it prolongs the time we're in the car, which means there's a higher chance of Astrid having a nap (because when you're out, it's hard to get a baby to sleep; you kind of have to pick your moments so that you're in a convenient location to feed and change her, and that you're doing something sleep-friendly [like pushing the pram/driving the car] so that she can just drop off to the movement of the vehicle carrying her).
This may also change as I'm trying to get back into writing time with Bec and Guan (only Bec can't make it regularly), so Thursday afternoons may end up being that. Ben said he's happy to mind Astrid.
At the moment, I spend the mornings at home tending to fiddly little house things like washing nappies, stuffing nappies, cleaning up after solids, doing the dishes and the like. In the afternoon, I've been going to my mum's place as she works from home on Fridays and is happy to mind Astrid for a couple of hours while I go to the local caf´ to do some writing. (It helps that the local caf´ is really nice). This way she gets to spend some time with her granddaughter and I get to spend some regular time writing. It can be hard because sometimes I'm sleep-deprived and can't concentrate or focus, but on occasion I've been able to do stuff like write a blog post. If I can, I try to prepare for these writing times by pulling together as much material as possible so that I'm more productive with the actual writing part (rather than the research part). That doesn't always work.
I'll drive home through rush hour traffic. In the evening, sometimes Ben will be out with his friends and I'll have a quiet one alone at home (once again watching TV or a DVD, and knitting), which is good recharge time for introverted me. Sometimes Ben and I will have a date night (or “marriage time”, as we call it, as per the marriage course). We might get family in to babysit (the grandparents like this as they get to spend time with Astrid) and go out for dinner, then come back to watch a DVD. (Once we went to see a concert—Sufjan Stevens at the Opera House. Just amazing.) Or we might take Astrid with us and go somewhere local to eat, then come home, put her to bed and watch something. Or we might order takeaway/eat leftovers and stay home. We vary it from week to week, but the idea is for Ben and I to have some quality time together.
Saturdays vary. Sometimes they have been quiet, and we do things together as a family. Often they have been social, with us getting invited out to things like birthday parties, baby showers, lunches and dinners. In the evening, if Ben didn't go out with friends on Friday night, he will on Saturday night, and I'll stay home and veg out (or occasionally have a friend over). Sometimes date night happens on this night.
Sunday is more of a business day than a leisure day. Some rest occurs, with us having some home time to recover from whatever it was we were doing the past couple of days. But I've found myself also doing things like tidying, ordering groceries online and organising myself for the week ahead.
In the evening there's church, which starts at 6. (Depending on when Astrid feeds, we're either early or late.) The service finishes up at 7:30 or so, and I'll hang around for a bit to chat to people, but not for too long as Astrid will be rather grumpy by this stage, so we'll come home so she can sleep. I usually end up having dinner rather late, and I'm also usually tired so go to bed at a semi-reasonable time (unless I'm trying to get ready for the following day; then I'll be staying up doing things).
And then it all starts again.
Hmm, I should find a photo of Astrid to cap off this post. This one will do:
It will be interesting to see how this all changes as the months and years go by. Right now, it feels manageable and even quite leisurely, compared to the crazy life I used to live. (People used to tell me I was the busiest person they knew.)
But what about you? What is life like for you now (with or without children)? (You'll notice I've installed a snazzy new comment system called Disqus on this blog that allows you to comment using social networking. Why not give it a whirl while you're here?)
A way of funding writing in the future: pitch and idea and get people to support it.
Place where you can hire play equipment for parties, etc.
How to recalibrate the home button on your iPhone.
Unsolicited manuscripts accepted by Pan Macmillan with certain conditions.
Thought Balloon is a group blog in which the writers tackle a new theme every week? month? with one-page scripts. This URL is for their Phonogram ones.