Tuesday, September 02, 2014

24 hours

One thing new mother's find simply infuriating (besides the constant swathe of unsolicited advice), is the fact that people think that they basically sit around all day.

Hell, maybe they do. Maybe if they have maids/nannies/au pairs/grannies/siblings on hand, they do get a few hours a day, just to themselves.
Certainly in South Africa, this is more the case. Some of my motherly friends might as well live in a completely different world to me, nevermind country. Hired help and proximity of family members is easy to come by there, and don't think for a second that I don't think about this all the time.

I'm fully aware that my life would be a lot easier if I was living in South Africa now. It would be sunnier, I'd have more support emotionally and otherwise, and my son would probably have a large garden to crawl around in.

But that's not the purpose of this post, actually. I live in the UK (and to remind myself why: it's safe, the politics are somewhat orderly, it's cosmopolitan, it has real seasons, first world, close to the continent and therefore travel, beautiful, cultured, and we live in a lovely period Victorian conversion on the foot of one of London's best commons.)

The intention here is to describe exactly, in excruciating detail - as much as my sleep-deprived brain may allow - what an average day is like. As a mum, on maternity leave, in London. Today was an average day, perhaps Sebastian was grumpier then usual- now crescendoing his usual cry to a further louder rasping effect, which I believe is teething.

So without further ado.

6:15am - The first mewlings, fast escalating to yelling. He wants milk this very second.
Leap out of bed, stumble around bashing things on the way to his room.

Feeds for half an hour.
Gulp a pint of water to wake up and help my milk flow.

7:00am - The Brit wakes up, Sebastian turns to him and plays with his face. By 'play' I mean grab his nose and try to rip it off his face.

Play with him.
Leave them there to go and pump the remainder of milk into a bottle.

7:30am - Brit showers and gets ready for work, I make a super juice.

Put Seb in his bouncer.
Seb is moaning. His toy fell off the bouncer.
Hand it back to him.
Attend to juice and vitamin supplements.
Prepare his breakfast, by mixing pear, cereal and some of my milk in a bowl.
Shit. He's seen the bowl. Starts to moan for breakfast.

8:15am - Feed him breakfast.

Clean his face, hands and surrounding area where splat-a-thon has occurred.
Finish my juice.
Put All Bran in a bowl.
See that he has done a pooh.
Take him to changing mat and wipe his bottom, affix new nappy.
Change him out of pyjamas, wipe his face, brush his hair.
Find dreadlocks in his hair.
Appears he is picking up lint and getting it entangled in hair.
Cut the dreads out. Leave gaping holes in his hair.
Starts crying.
Is overtired, was already meant to be down for his nap, like half an hour ago.

9:00am - Rock him to sleep, put on white noise app.
9:10am - Exit room on tippee-toes, trip over the belt of my dressing gown that is trailing behind me.

It's now a race against the clock. I have about 40 minutes, maybe an hour if I'm lucky.

Attend to All Bran.
Add up WeightWatchers points.
Finish breakfast.
Go back to kitchen, can't put dirty bowl in dishwasher as it's full.
Unload dishwasher.
Make cup of tea.
He cries.
Go to his room to put his dummy back in.
Make mental note of figuring out how to lose dummy for good.
Forget about tea, is now cold.
Reboil kettle.
Answer three emails that have been needing a reply for four days.
Reply to a text.
Forget about tea, is now cold.
Go and wash face.
Put on clothes.

10:00am - He wakes up
Check nappy.
He's done another pooh.
Oh look, the consistency and colour of this one reflects the avocado he had, how interesting.
Answer Skype call from mother
Chat to mother
Put him on blanket on floor on his stomach so he gets Tummy Time
He cries because he has managed to push all his toys away from his body
Rearrange toys close to his hands and face
Go back to couch to continue conversation
He cries because he has vomited on himself
Get up to wipe his face
Where's the fucking muslin?
Who took the last muslin out of the fucking lounge?
Oh. It was me.
Go to his room to get a new muslin.
Wipe his face.

10:45am  - set about breastfeeding.
Start on the boob he prefers (the left, which is therefore a much larger breast as it stands, now that's embarrassing. Especially for those who see both of them at once and can actually compare.)
Move him to the right breast while he is half asleep, hoping he won't notice.
He doesn't notice. For three minutes.
He notices. Puts his head back and screams in disapproval.
Move him back to the right breast.
He is distracted by the Bauhaus print behind us on the wall. He is always distracted by it.
Gets upset and starts to roar.
Sit him up to burp him.
Burp him.
Try the left breast again.
Screams and thrashes, legs go round like a bicycle.
Give up. Hope that 13 minutes of breastfeeding will be enough.
Fetch milk pump spout from kitchen.
Arrange Seb on couch in sitting position, using cushions.
Put toys around him.
With one eye on him, attach boob to breast pump.
Pump.
Watch him. While pumping.

11:30am - Starts to niggle.
Go to his room to prepare him for his long lunchtime nap.

Race against the clock. An hour and a half (always interrupted). If lucky, two hours. But this has only happened twice.

The tablet on which the white noise app sits, has low battery.
As I turn on the soothing sound of waves, the only thing that helps him get to sleep, it stops.
He gets annoyed.
Take tablet and place it on charge.
Find the Brit's tablet and turn on white noise app. Battery is also low.
Go to kitchen to prepare some food
Switch on baby monitor
Peel three sweet potatoes and two courgettes
He starts crying.
Head to his room.
Give him a jiggle.
Go back to kitchen.
Put peeled vegetables in the steamer.
Prepare to make a sandwich.
Butter bread.
He's mewling.
Go to his room.
Give him a jiggle.
Return to kitchen, put ham on sandwich.
Starts crying.
Grit teeth and try to ignore for an additional 2 minutes while I chop a tomato.
I WILL finish making this fucking sandwich.
Crying gets too loud.
Head to his room, give him a jiggle.
Head back to kitchen. Place the chopped tomato on the sandwich.
Cut it up. Finish making sandwich.
Eat sandwich.
Mash up courgettes and potatoes, dispense into ice cube tray and put in freezer
He's finally asleep.
Make a cup of tea.
Realise I have to pay for his swimming lessons.
Head to computer and log onto internet banking.
Forget about tea, is now cold.

12:45pm - The Brit phones. Pick up call.
End call abruptly, as realise I haven't brushed my teeth yet.
Head to bathroom.
Brush my teeth.
Start to prepare to put some makeup on
Start brushing on some foundation.
He wakes up.
Is talking to himself, not crying, so continue
Do I have time to put on some blush, or should I skip that and brush my hair?
Fuck the blush.
Brush my hair.
He's chortling to himself.
I have time therefore to do a wee.
I do a wee.
He's starting to get impatient.
I wash hands
Apply hand cream
Put on wedding rings. Been forgetting to put those on when I leave house, which isn't good.

1:15pm  - Pick him up
Put him on changing table
Change his nappy
Put a cardigan on him
And his shoes
Realise I haven't drunk enough water
Fill up water bottle
Down a pint
Refill bottle
Set about breastfeeding.
Start on the left boob
Move him to the right breast while he is half asleep, hoping he won't notice.
He doesn't notice. For three minutes.
He notices. Puts his head back and screams in disapproval.
Move him back to the right breast.
He is distracted by the Bauhaus print behind us on the wall.
Gets upset and starts to roar.
Sit him up to burp him.
Burp him.
Try the left breast again.
Screams and thrashes, legs go round like a bicycle.
Give up. Hope that 13 minutes of breastfeeding will be enough.
Fetch milk pump spout from kitchen.
Arrange him on couch in sitting position, using cushions.
Put toys around him.
With one eye on him, attach boob to breast pump.
Pump.
Watch him. While pumping.

1:48pm  - Realise him I'm super late
Bring buggy from his room to the door
Load him in the buggy
Find keys. mobile phone
Exit door
See postman has delivered package
Reopen door
Drop package
Exit
Realise I've left water bottle
Swear loudly
Apologise for being such a bad example
Race down the street
Stop to put his dummy in
Stop to find sunglasses floating around the depths of his nappy bag
Cross main street
Enter building where a class is being held (we sing and do baby activities in a big circle)
See other mums, make some polite small talk about Bugaboo buggies and weaning
Wipe drool from his face
Realise the class instructor is still on fucking holiday
Leave building exasperated

2:15pm - find a coffee shop after walking to the high street
Order a massive Americano with milk
Find a table where there is  space to slide a buggy in next to it
He starts to whinge, it's nap time
Coffee shop is quiet, save two important-looking novelists tapping away on laptops

2:30pm - He starts roaring
Panicked, I shush and jiggle him to sleep
Finally he drops off
Drink coffee
Order a slice of cake. Fuck it.
Read a few blogs, message a friend who thinks I'm dead, respond to a WhatsApp
Take a picture of my coffee
Put a filter on it
Add some hashtags
Upload it to Instagram
Pay for coffee

3:30pm - Exit coffee shop
Walk home
Find keys

4:00pm - Enter house
Lie him on his activity play gym
He lies there and swats the toys
Down a pint of water
Give him a breastfeed, this time just one breast

4:30pm - Entertain him. It's now officially Witching Hour, anything can set him off
Stand him up, swing him around, wave toys in front of him, sing to him, get out the nursery rhyme book
Realise haven't checked nappy in a while
Change nappy

5:00pm - Get potato cube and carrot cube out of freezer
Put in bowl
Heat in microwave.
Add some breast milk.
Put him in bouncer chair, put bib on
Feed him his supper
Clean his hands and face
Put dummy in, as hates having hands and face wiped
Put him back under play gym

5:30pm - Prepare his bath
Run the water, check it's the right temperature
Fetch bath support seat, put it in the bath
Get towel and sponge, baby shampoo out and ready

5:45pm - Put him bath
Wash his hair, extremities, play with him

6:00pm - Get him out of bath, dry him, take him to his room
Get out baby oil and give him a baby massage
Brit is home early, comes in to give him a kiss and cuddle
Dress him in his pyjamas

6:15pm - Draw the curtains
Take tablet off charge, get his bed ready
Take him to our bed, open up a book
Read him a short story
Short, as he is properly niggly now
Attach him to preferred breast
Change him to other breast when he is half asleep. He stays there.
Breathe a sigh of relief.

6:45pm - Take his comatose little body through to his room
Tuck him in
Switch on white noise app

Eat supper with the Brit.
Hope he doesn't wake up, but if he does, it will be just as we are about to tuck into a giant bowl of something delicious.
The Brit will go and attend to him.

7:30pm - Have a bath.
Close the door
Put on a candle
Put on my iPod and speaker
Sit and think. Often about Molly.

8:00pm - Write a blog post.
Watch something on TV with Brit.
Drink a cup of [warm] tea.

9:15pm - Pump milk into his bottle

9:30pm - Brit gives him his dreamfeed, either the bottle if its full or as recently, formula.

10:00pm - Go to bed.

Somewhere around 3:00am
He might wake up. Often he does. Brit or myself puts him back to sleep.

This took me three hours to do. It's pretty much taken up all my spare time, so I do hope you read every. single. word.

In conclusion. If there's one thing I have realised it's this: No office job is as difficult as being a full-time mum.
Mark my words. NO OFFICE JOB.
There are lull periods in any given office day. You can drink a hot cup of coffee. You can stare out of a window for more than 12 seconds. You probably had at least 8 hours sleep.

* I had to dedicate time to write this. Once the Brit was home so that I could really concentrate. And not have to write it with my teeth whilst doing 109 other things with my fingers. And toes. At the same time. 
* Haven't included cuddle time in here. Assume I cuddle him pretty much every twenty minutes of the waking day.
* Make no mistake. I love being a mum. I wouldn't have it any other way.

7 comments:

Coffee and Books Cape Town said...

Phew! You were very easy.. Content on dear Flora's back! X

po said...

Ok you are scaring me a bit... a lot. Will be doing this come December. Eeek. Ps I read every word and consider it a valuable education.

Marius said...

I suspected it wasn't easy, but I read. every. single. word - and I have new respect for mum's everywhere.

Lulu Becker said...

Brilliant Post! Oh my goodness you are so funny!
I have so much respect for you and all Mum's! x x x

Tertia said...

I read every word. It was good.

It does get easier, I promise. Xx

Jane Clark said...

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