Monday, February 01, 2010

Not Enough Time

One of the nice things about having a second child is the chance to look back and realize that some of things you thought during your first round of parenting were just plain wrong, based on your extremely small sample size (n=1!) and parenting hubris.

For instance, when Pumpkin was a baby, I never really understood why so many working mothers felt that they didn't get enough time with their babies. Pumpkin started her day at 5 a.m., and went to bed at about 8. I left for work at 7:40 a.m., and picked her up from day care at about 4:45 p.m.. Even disregarding the multiple middle of the night wake-up calls, I felt like I spent a lot of time playing with her.

Petunia has been sleeping until about 6 or 6:30 a.m. Pumpkin bounds out of bed at about the same time most days. I leave for work at 7:45 a.m. on good days, 8 a.m. on the majority of days. The time between waking up and leaving for work is a whirlwind of activity, during which two adults try to get themselves and a toddler ready for the day. Petunia nurses a couple of times and produces a few dirty diapers, but mostly just sits in her bouncy chair and watches the chaos swirl around her. Petunia currently stays at home during the day*- she was with Hubby on my work days in January, and is with my parents for the month of February now that Hubby and I are both back at work full time. I leave work at 4:30 p.m. and drive to day care to pick Pumpkin up. We get home between 5:15 and 5:30. I have time to nurse Petunia, but then I need to start dinner, and by the time we're finished with dinner, Petunia is heading for bed. She goes to sleep between 6:30 and 7:00 most nights, sometimes staying awake until 7:30 if her afternoon nap ran late.

Tonight, she fell asleep not long after 6:30. I had just nursed her, and she was well and truly out. But I didn't put her down right away. I wanted just a few more minutes holding my sweet baby.

Of course, today was the first Monday I've worked since Petunia was born. I'll get used to our new routine. We still have weekends, but those are really pretty chaotic, too, since we also have a toddler to entertain. I genuinely like working, but I'm still a bit wistful about the sudden decrease in baby snuggling time. I keep reminding myself that (1) I would be a lousy stay at home mom and (2) even if I were a stay at home mom, I wouldn't get that much baby snuggle time- see the comment above about entertaining a toddler.

So really, the problem isn't that I work. It is that Petunia is my second baby, and the first baby is now an intense, funny little toddler, while Petunia is a very easy-going, smiley baby. I think it will all work out, though. Petunia does stick up for herself and demand our attention sometimes. She often fusses when she's in her swing at dinnertime. If one of us picks her up and holds her on our lap, she calms right down, even before Pumpkin starts pulling funny faces and making funny noises to try to elicit a laugh. I think Petunia just wants to be part of the family dinner. I can't begrudge her that, even if it means that I scarf down my meal, and/or eat it one handed, while balancing Petunia on my lap. In fact, I think family dinner may become a favorite time of day.

*The experienced day care parents are now nodding knowingly and observing to themselves that all of this will change when Petunia starts day care. They are right. She'll probably nap in the car on the way home from day care, and move her bedtime later. I may be the only working parent in history to actually think this will be a good thing.


  1. YOu are right that you wouldn't get much snuggle time with no. 2 if you were a SAHM. YOu have to give the same attention to no. 1 as before, there are the chores, the meals, the partner. The only time I got to snuggle with Zoe was when she was nursing. The rest of the time she was napping, in her capsule or under a bab gym. I started giving her some real one on one when Noah started kinder at three. She was 12 months.

    NO wonder second kids are so resilient and independent. They don't have much choice.

  2. Just a comment on your last note: I am (I suppose) an "experienced daycare parent" but did NOT nod knowingly, because bedtime did not change for us when LL started daycare at 5 months. He rarely napped in the car on the way home, and his bedtime stayed between 6:30 and 7:00. (At 16 months, it's still at the same time.)

    It's still a struggle for both me and my husband to get home early enough to spend any real time with him. Our solution so far has been to leave work earlier, pick him up from daycare earlier, and then work a bit from home after he goes to bed. Which, you know, doesn't solve the two kids thing, but it does provide more family time.

  3. Good point, Nicky. Petunia has already shown a propensity to sleep in the car, so I'm guessing she'll nap. But she may not. Any parent who thinks she knows what her kid's schedule will be once she starts day care is fooling herself....

    BTW, someone has left a comment on my Scientists who are mothers post, responding to your comment. You might find it interesting.

  4. I spend all day with my little girl and still am surprised by how little I focus on her sometimes. Life just gets in the way.

  5. I console myself with the extra time with the toddler, knowing he's the last one whether I like it or not. (A seven year age gap between the boys leaves much more time for attention to the second child). Life is about balance and trade-offs in all forms.

  6. Um, Ditto.

    Only difference really is that the Pookie is older, so we've been enjoying dinners together as a family--when I get home in time, because hubby has to start dinner at 5:30 to make sure both kids are ready to go up to bed at 6:30. I'm sometimes not home until after they are done with dinner. :-(


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