Wednesday, January 28, 2009

at loose ends

It's early days yet, but, at least so far, Cole is a remarkably easy baby. He cries and eats and sleeps. I hold him, feed him, change him, put him down, pick him up. Of course, I'm a little bleary-eyed and incoherent from lack of sleep, but (and remember, I'm not nursing or recovering from giving birth or taking care of other small children), since the falling temperatures and growing snowdrifts make it hard to imagine going much of anywhere, I find myself with a fair amount of time on my hands.

So, I've rearranged all my dishes, thrown out large numbers of old decorating magazines, organized the nursery and learned more than is strictly necessary about komodo dragons (did you know that they're capable of parthenogenesis? And that their drool contains at least 50 separate and distinct types of virulent bacteria?).

But mostly, I'm doing a lot of cooking -- waffles with raspberries, chocolate sauce and whipped cream, spinach quiche, lentil soup with kale, souffles (both chocolate and cheese), fondue (ditto), risotto. I've been lucky in that I've never worried about my weight, but I can see that, if I stay home much longer, that may not be the case.

I guess that three weeks out is too early to go back to work, but, honestly, the idea is awfully tempting. If you've spent any chunks of time at home, how did you manage? Did the lack of structure grate on you? What did you, you know, do?


edited to add: Which is not to say that I'm exactly well organized. So (and I know there are a bunch of you out there) if I owe you an email or phone call, please, please remind me.

48 comments:

Amy said...

Last summer I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I read a lot, went for lots of walks, took baths, read a lot, blogged, cleaned, and read a lot. I was not terribly productive (but I read a lot!).

Mrs. Spit said...

knitting.

Nicole said...

I am spending a lot of time at home with my now 7 month old. I am not managing at all. Not at all.

Ya Chun said...

I am at home 4 days a week. Of course, I have my business, but that doesn't take all my time. I exercise, bake, work on my quilt, read; I try to do one household chore a day. I blog and email and FB.

Otherwise, I enjoy the quiet in my house.

bunny said...

thank you for your comment-- i am blown away by your blog. love, love, love the photographs and cole is amazing. congratulations!

Anonymous said...

scrapbooking

niobe said...

Amy, Ya Chun: When you describe it that way, it sounds perfect. I just have to get beyond the feeling that, since I'm not working, I need to be super-productive to make up for it.

Mrs. Spit: Knitting would be perfect. Of course, I don't know how to knit. But maybe there's a site out there that provides very easy-to-follow instructions...

Nicole: I find it's much harder than it looks. I wish there was something I could do to help.

niobe said...

Bunny: What a nice thing to say. : ) You've made my day.

Catherine said...

I HATED being a stay at home mom. So much so that I arranged things VERY differently with Myles (taking him to the office for a few months). No matter what I did at home, it didn't feel "right" for me. Good luck finding something for yourself!

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

Hmm...what did I do? I watched a lot of Tivo'd TV and found myself clinging to my blogs. I also read a lot of magazines and baby books. That's about it. I didn't have a whole lot of free time on my hands with Lemy. She's 5 handfuls plus a few feet and legs. ;)

I'm so glad that Cole is easy and you are enjoying your time with him. :)

Galen said...

You're going through a tremendous adjustment; it's freezing cold out, and you have a newborn infant. That set of circumstances would make even June Cleaver come down with cabin fever. The secret is to build your own structure, including small pleasures, into each day. Getting out of the house works wonders, but that may not be possible right now. When all else fails, dream about the delightful things you and Cole will soon be doing come spring.

beagle said...

Well, since N. was born in summer, we went what I liked to call "strollering" nearly every day. And I frantically tried to figure out how to fit in with SAHM groups and plunged right into that subset with much angst. I also am NOT organized and I despite all good intentions we did not have a nursery set up when we got the (18 hour notice) call. And it literally took me 4 months to set it up the way I wanted it.

But now . . . winter has me a little cabin fever-ish!

Bon said...

i've been home since April. the lack of structure takes a lot of getting used to...and i have to get used to it all over again every time our routine changes. i now have a much easier baby than i did two months ago, so...yeh. i hear you. i keep meaning to get back to printing photos and writing fiction, but...uh...not yet.

there are some great knitting sites and youtube how tos...Dave's been teaching himself and has a crush on Kelsey the knitting chick - http://www.expertvillage.com/video/809_dropped-stitch.htm

thirtysomething said...

Oooh. Lentil soup with kale? Can I have that recipe? Yum.

I bet it is an extreme shock to your system to be home all the time when you are used to being out the door and on your way all day long.
You'll adjust. This time is so special for you and Cole. Once you get settled into a routine, and the weather warms a bit where you can take him out to the park or for walks and such, work will be the last thing on your mind.

Hannah said...

For me it's feast or famine... I'm either wandering around at loose ends or I'm so jammed up with the kids and contract work and michael's diabetes management that I can't see daylight.

When I was first home with James and he slept all the time, I read a lot, did more blogging than I do now, caught up on movies that the rest of my family has no interest in, went for walks, cleaned closets, and painted (walls, not pictures). If I had started baking I would now weigh 400 pounds, so I stayed away from that.

It's extra-hard when it's too damn cold to go outside.

bleu said...

I think everyone is different and some love every second and others go nuts. One thing I DO know though is that things will change very very soon with your wee one and get busier and busier than imaginable. That may be fulfilling or not I do not know but those first few weeks they do sleep a lot. I read every Isabel Allende book while nursing those first weeks.

Tash said...

See, I have no idea WTF you're even talking about. I feel like an abject failure. Bella never, ever slept. Ever. No naps. I suppose looking back I put her down a fair amount while I putzed around but I was so. fucking. tired. that there was no way I was cooking or hanging on the computer or, well, anything really other than maybe taking a shower.

So I'm no help. I'm home now all the time and find I don't have the time to do half of what you do. I believe YOU are the one that should be filling US in.

More pics please?

My Reality said...

You don't have to be productive. The *only* thing you have to do is care for Cole. I know that there is a lot in caring for a newborn. So, really, if you don't want to do the other things, you simply don't have to.

niobe said...

Tash: That's exactly why I tried to make clear that my situation is far, far from the norm. I mean, if I were recovering from childbirth or breast feeding or had a child who didn't spend much of the day sleeping, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have time or energy to do anything at all.

Eva said...

When my little girl was, you know, little, we took a lot of walks.

There's the trinity of TV, books, internet.

Maybe take up computer games?

No law says you can't work, either!

thordora said...

CRAP I hated being home. My floors were immaculate the first time because once the kid was fed and down, I was BORED. I made this giant flower collage I never used-it was nuts. I cooked, I cleaned, I tried to read, and settled on watching a lot of movies and CNN.

Find something mindless you like to do-that's all I could settle with-or can you do some work at home?

I'm not set up to be a SAHM.

slouching mom said...

spinach souffle? fondue? YUM.

OK, moving on...

I always seemed to find ways to use (read: waste) any extra time I had. If nothing else, I could read.

LawMommy said...

Well...Gabe didn't sleep. And by didn't sleep, I mean he didn't sleep for 3 years...so, I was incredibly tired. He was a good nurser, though, so as long I was nursing him, he was happy. That limited my activities to reading and watching Law and Order. And I slowly lost my mind in a very real, and completely disturbing way.

I started working from home a few hours a day when he was 8 weeks old. I needed it to keep from losing my mind.

Bea said...

I joined Flylady. And read lots of multi-part fantasy series novels.

Aurelia said...

My first one screamed round the clock unless I was in public, so I went out to every mall and store and campaign office and mommy group I could find.

This time, I am so busy at home and dealing with house issues and older kid issues I can't even move. I'm waaayy behind on blog reading.

Hmmm, can you go to a mall and just walk in the stroller with some music on the Ipod?

Maybe do some room by room reorganizing? I am currently on a bid to throw out/recycle some books I no longer need. And filing and sorting for taxes is becoming kind of critical for me.

Teach yourself baby sign language? That btw, is the oddest thing about next babies coming so much later than first ones. Stuff changes! There are all these new books and theories and things. New stuff. New classes.

Anyway, you don't have much longer until he wakes up and becomes very very loud. That's what happened with us. One minute he was a sleeping lump, then he got reflux, then we got meds and he got quiet again, then he learned to talk and yell and jump and all heck is breaking loose.

Carly said...

Enjoy your time at home! Treat yourself and little Cole, Really all that food sounds awesome! Keep cooking!

Wordgirl said...

It is possible I'm the laziest human on earth -- I quit my teaching post a few years ago now -- the sabbatical that became permanent...

I give myself absolute permission to just read, loll, half-heartedly organize things -- but very often I'm thinking, exercising -- I have a project in the works so probably my mental energy is knocking over that quite a bit -- I plan meals and revel in getting good food and making nourishing meals for G and W -- I lay down with the dog. Take walks.

I've never had much of a problem sinking into the quiet in my head -- as long as there's not too much external stress I'm quite content.

Um er. Or lazy.

:)

Wordgirl said...

Oh and PS -- have you read this Stevenson essay?

http://www.library.wisc.edu/projects/glsdo/feraca/idlers.html

I'm not lazy -- I'm just idle!

missedconceptions said...

I teach part-time and I am just now figuring out how to stay home with a baby. It gets easier when they have regular nap times, but it is still challenging. I don't do well with unstructured time. I have also realized that I have no idea how to unwind, except for sleep.

A couple of neighbors and I started a play group on Fridays just so we could get out of the house. We were all starting to go a little mad.

Which Box said...

My 3 year old was an incredibly easy baby, and the fall of 2005 was beautiful and warm. So I spent my maternity leave taking long, long walks. I also checked in at work and stayed up to date on e-mails and things. I went to the office once a week and had lunch with one of my friends and caught up on the latest. I saw a couple of movies in the afternoons. And Thursdays was my Target day - you always need something, diapers, cleaning supplies, etc. But I love shopping, even window shopping, just walking along, watching people, fingering merchandise.

I think winter would be harder, and since we have the nanny watching the 3 year old, it is like it's just me and the baby. I've only been to the movies once, but hope to go more. I read a lot of blogs. (I'd be writing more if he slept more). I have been staying away from the mall because it's too tempting to buy bargains, but if it stays cold I might have to go. I walk to the library and read in a different atmosphere. ANd a lot of puttering. (which means a whole lot of nothing most of the time).

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I bought a professional cooking text book and I went through all the lessons. We certainly ate well and I felt like it was like being in school.

excavator said...

Writing, blogging, reading blogs, reading books, thinking, thinking

Lori said...

1) I never had babies who slept during the day for any significant amount of time. So I know not of what you speak.

2) I am incredibly well suited to be an at-home mom. I choose not to think that makes me lazy. I just enjoy the mundane realities of housekeeping, organizing, managing a household, etc... Sure, there are moments I am a bit bored, but most of the time I'm okay with a little boredom. Sure beats working!! :)

3) I do a lot with photos and home videos. Have you played with a video editing program? That's sure to suck hours out of your day!

Rach said...

You will fall into a rhythm - as Cole grows, his day will be more predictable and you will arrange your day around sleeping or feeding. I have been at home for over 3 years now. I gave up my HR Manager role to care for Minnie and to have another baby. After Alice was born and then died, I just kept staying at home.

Minnie and I paint and draw and craft. We cook and read and swim. We walk and talk and play dress up. We write and gareden and eat.

At the end of each week, I wonder where the days have gone. Enjoy them. Every single one of them. Even the crap ones.

Ahuva Batya said...

I have to say, I've never been a person who finds a problem with having vast amounts of time on my hands...and it sometimes leads me to worry that I'm simple-minded. I've been at home now for 3 months, and it sounds like my experience has been different from yours. Only in the last week or so have I gotten to the point that I can set Solomon down for any appreciable amount of time without heart-wrenching wailing. So I haven't been able to do much, but as he starts to get more of a schedule, I use my time to write, run errands, keep the house moving, do our finances, watch Food Network, cook meals, write, read books, do crosswords, and as soon as the weather breaks, there will be lots of walks with baby and dogs.

Anonymous said...

Well I gotta say that in the beginning I was just surviving in the moment. They were both relatively easy babies but it was a shocker not to be involved in an adult world. I took up pottery and I read every Tintin (in French) twice. I talked on the phone and read blogs like yours. But mainly I guess I tried to go with the flow, as it were, because the tides seemed to change quickly. I guess also I'm an older mom so I see these years staying home as more minutes in my life that I can spend with my kids.
The food sounds scrumptious!
allypally

Furrow said...

Gosh. I wish I had advice, but Zo never slept much and when she was awake she demanded (still does) pretty much constant attention.

Still, it drove me crazy being home all day in the winter. We went on long drives, which is when she would sleep.

Betty M said...

Left to my own devices I am completely indolent. I took about 13months off about 7 years ago no. I read an incredible no of newspapers every day, I swam, I did yoga, I cooked and baked, walked, spent time with friends on maternity leave, comprehensively failed to get pregnant and generally did nothing useful around the house. It was fun. When science brought the babies and they slept - I was much lazier and did lots of reading, tv and sitting around in coffee shops.

Anonymous said...

I think I watched that same special on komodo dragons--PBS? I kept telling that guy to get away from them! And then he grew the bacteria from their mouths and his own! Wow! Eew!

-e

Sarah said...

I hovered around my back window, watching for when one of the neighbors came home or the mail was delivered, pouncing on the opportunity to interact with another adult.

Anonymous said...

When I had my daughter I was pretty new in this community, so I knew very few people outside of work... live pretty far north, too, and she was born in October so the weather promptly went downhill. That said, she was a pretty easy baby (as far as I can tell without having another of my own for comparison's sake), so I think I understand where you're coming from.

Get out every day. Go to the mall if you have to, just for a walk. Do whatever you have to to find other mothers of newborns, and have coffee together as often as possible.

painted maypole said...

my child needed way too much attention for me to do any of the things that you mention. I'm in awe.

movies on TV. books.

maybe you could exercise between baking?

diana said...

About Knitting:
www.tricotin.com
www.phildar.fr
Relax. In between 3 kids, a big house, garden, cat, job, husband, I don't remeber my name most of the days. I'd love to have some time at home.
He's very, very expressive, this young gentleman!

Amelie said...

mmh... I'd love to come and visit and try some of your cooking. And see Cole, of course.

Learning to knit sounds great. I learned it from my mom, but videos or internet instructions should do as well. Either way, enjoy the time you have now.

Emilyinportland said...

I knew that komodo dragons are capable of parthenogenesis, I think this happend fairly recently at the london zoo. There have been months during my time as an infertile person trying to get pregnant, that I also wished I could do that sort of neat trick.

Maureen said...

Eventually Cole will wake up. You will come up with a routine. What helped me was getting out every day, unless the roads were way too bad to drive. For months my routine was wake up, eat, both us take a bath (together) get ready to go out, go out (sometimes a mommy and me group, story hour 2 times a week (from about 4 weeks old on), sometimes it was just the grocery store, my first LOVED all of the colors in the produce section of the grocery, the grocery store people got to know us to the point they would ask if we were "just looking" or if we were going to buy something that day), lunch, computer time, make dinner, socialize with dh, bed... repeat. As I was nursing and my first wanted to be walked and held at all times, this was the extent for a while. Then he got older and there were more activities for him, playdates and other activities.

Anonymous said...

It can get a little harder when the baby gets to 3 months or so, and is awake a lot.

The first three months my long awaited baby slept....and we had a clean house for those three months. Then, well, he woke up. He hasn't gone back to bed. He'll be six soon....

Birdies Mama said...

I admit that I love being at home, even with some extra time on my hands. It's liberating to have the freedom it brings, and now with Holdyn it's even better! We get to hang out and do whatever we want to, go for a walk, or just hang, and he chills in the baby carrier while I do what I need to do. No complaints here.