Depending on the day of the week — and the night before — The Schedule begins at 6:30 a.m. or 7:21 a.m.
I have to be at work at 8:30 a.m., so let’s look at what we shove into the first hour and a half to 29 minutes of our days.
6:30 a.m.: Get Shae Ready
Alarm blares “Silk,” which is a gentle and inaccurate reference to the car horn screaming me awake, at 6:30 a.m.
Alarm blares again 7 minutes and 59 seconds later. (Why can’t I set my own snooze on an iPhone?!)
Wake up, and actually get out of bed.
Obtain coffee. It’s dark outside, and humans should be awake, and coffee is life force in liquid form, and I need it.
The coffee is not fresh.
Drink it anyway.
Speed through a shower… or ignore the shower and hope #shorthairdontcare can be made presentable for work.
Get ready for work. This takes seven minutes with or without a shower.
7 a.m.: Get the Toddler Ready
Now “ready” for my day, simultaneously do the dishes, pick up the house and repack the toddler’s daycare bag because he definitely unpacked it the night before. Yay. He’s good at zippers.
Later than 7 a.m.? Ignore all chores and hope there are spare diapers and a change of clothes in the daycare bag.
Prepare the toddler’s breakfast, which is nearly always yogur’ and a ‘nack (a granola bar). Otherwise, he’s not gonna eat breakfast.
Wake the toddler — who would rather sleep longer thank you very much. I feel your pain, kiddo. Get TF out of bed.
Toddler attempts to drag me into the crib. He’s very strong.
Finally coax the toddler out of bed and onto his diaper changing station.
Argue with him about changing his diaper. He wants to keep it, of course. (I don’t understand this. Someone explain it to me.)
Argue with him about taking off his PJs. He wants to keep them, of course. (Again, please explain.)
Finally coax the toddler into a clean diaper, out of his jams and into daytime clothes.
Feed the toddler his yogur’ and ‘nack. He still doesn’t eat it.
While the toddler is NOT eating, make my own breakfast and prep a lunch for work because, no, I did not do it the night before.
Where are the toddler’s shoes? Where are his shoes always? Why aren’t they in the shoe tote? Why aren’t they ever in the shoe tote?
Find the toddler’s shoes in a pile of his toys — and then shove them onto his argumentative little baby feet.
He’s dressed. He’s “fed.” He’s got a jacket, hat and mittens. He’s wearing shoes. Hallelujah.
8 a.m.: Leave the House (we’re going to be late!)
Pack ALL THE THINGS.
Attach ALL THE THINGS and an uncooperative child to my body, so we can leave the house.
Leave the house.
The toddler has other ideas about leaving the house. Other ideas like finding a special invisible nonexistent toy. Fuss about it. Settle for a puppy. Demand to be carried. Cling to mom while she tries to open doors, close doors and lock doors.
Finally coax the toddler out of the house and to the car.
Argue with the toddler about which door he gets to open on the car.
Argue with the toddler about getting in the car.
Argue with the toddler about sitting in his carseat.
Argue with the toddler about buckling his carseat.
Promise the toddler — my first-born — to a random deity if he will just SIT IN THE CARSEAT.
Finally get the toddler in the carseat. No deity shows up to get him. (Rude.)
Did I lock the door?
Go back to the house to make sure I locked the door. It is. It always is.
Almost drive away with my now very cold coffee on the roof of the car.
Save the coffee.
Drive to daycare while pumping up my toddler about going to daycare — and being awake.
Arrive at daycare.
Park and get out of the car and carseat.
The toddler celebrates like I’ve locked him in for longer than 8-10 minutes.
The toddler helps me open the doors, which means punching the code in wrong at least twice.
Say “hello” to everyone we see, including the fishes in the fish tank by banging on it. Sorry, fishes.
Drop off the toddler at his classroom.
Be immediately ignored by the toddler once he sees all his little friends at daycare. He’s so excited to be awake now — and I haven’t finished my coffee. Bye, dude.
Got to work — I just made it.
Repeat every weekday that ends in Y, and there you have it: The Schedule.
Toddlers really make mornings a chore. Are teenage boys any better? I’m terrified.
Our 2019 resolutions were categorized by F words: finances, fitness, food and… f(h)ouse.
Obviously, F words couldn’t cover the complete list. I haven’t read the dictionary. I’m not searching for a synonym for “house” that begins with an F. Psh.
In 2020, though, every resolution will contain an F word.
The best F word.
Get an F Word Hobby
Prior to parenting, I had hobbies. Creative, fulfilling hobbies. Cooking, decorating, drawing, salvaging, writing, yoga.
Hell, I even read books that didn’t rhyme.
After my son was born, I abandoned all of my hobbies. Cooking became a chore. All the art, breakable decor and photos came down. I packed away my charcoal, paints and pencils. I was proscribed from yoga entirely by my physical therapist — still the case to this day.
And the house transformed into my son’s play space. An extra-safe, dull, totally decoration-free arena where he could crawl, explore and scatter toys.
Well, I’m taking it back.
My art, decor and photos are going back up. I’m unpacking my pencils. I’m pulling my desk out of storage.
His toys are going in his room. (Wish me luck.)
And I’m getting an F word hobby in 2020.
Take Some F Word Time
Am I taking from my son by making our house less his space? Yes, but I’m planning to give him something in return.
Our day-to-day schedule is wake, work/school, eat and sleep. We shove all of our family time together in the two and half hours between getting home from work and toddler bedtime.
In 2020, we’re making that window bigger and giving him more quality in our F word time.
First, I’m going to make work-life balance a priority in 2020.
Because I abandoned all of my hobbies after I became a mother, I turned to the activity I was best at for creative fulfillment.
I love my work, but I spend too much time outside of it focusing on it. So, to Take Some F Word Time, I’m changing my focus. (Hence why my first resolution is to Get an F Word Hobby.)
See, I’m trying.
Second, we’re going to do more as a family in 2020. Activities that benefit us all by getting me walking (for my pain) and tiring out the toddler (for our sanity).
Exploring at Botanica Gardens or the Sedgwick County Zoo
Going to the farmer’s market
Playing at one of the parks we love on the weekends
Taking walks after dinner
Visiting grandparents and great-grandparents on the weekends
Even before we had a child, my husband and I loved these activities — and the tiny toddler terror loves them now.
I get my house back. He gets to jump in puddles. Win-win.
Remodel the F WordHouse
In 2019, we turned the lights back on. In 2020, we’re putting lipstick on our pig, er, house — countertops, flooring, paint. You name it. I’m changing it.
Not only does the house need some TLC, it will also be my part of my F Word Hobby.
I love a fresh coat of paint as well as the tedious focused work of stripping layers of it off something that used to be beautiful.
Plus, remodeling the house will absolutely be part of my “might lose weight” resolution. Because omg it’s exhausting, and I’m already sore.
All of my “active minutes” during Thanksgiving break were me painting the dining room while the toddler napped or slept.
Our goal is to do as much as we can DIY, but we might have to call in the professionals to rip out the carpet, pad and staples tarnishing the PERFECTLY GOOD hardwood floors under them.
What were the 50’s(?) thinking, for F word sake. (Seriously, this wood is OLD, and the carpet pad under the “new” carpet doesn’t look super new…)
Take Care of My F Word Self
I faced a host of health hullabaloo in 2019: eczema, GAD, hair loss, hormonal imbalance, PMDD, thyroid cysts and, as always, chronic back pain.
My body is a mess, but most of its problems stem from poor serotonin receptors. (Turns out, it was “all in my head,” or wherever serotonin is made. Also too lazy to look up science.)
Thankfully, I took time in 2019 to find a diagnosis, get treatment and pull myself back out of the hole postpartum left me in. I’m going into 2020 armed with a will to fight and a priority to Take Care of My F Word Self.
Including all our favorite F words, of course… finances, fitness and food.
My friend and I drove to Texas to visit a girlfriend when my son was 6 months old. A seven-hour drive, and he slept nearly the whole time.
The whole family piled into my in-laws car in 2017, when my son was 11 months old, for a 10-hour drive we split into two days. He didn’t do as well as the Texas trip. But he still did pretty well.
I was still breastfeeding during both of those trips. Any fuss could be nipped (ha) in the bud quickly by a quick pit stop, snack and the ensuing nap.
This trip? Not. So.
Not only am I not breastfeeding, I knew milk wasn’t going to cut it. Plus, it would have been too hard to keep cold.
The toddler has recently been showing off how much of a toddler he can be with the independence and the tantrums and the sass, so I knew I needed more than a few toys and his favorite drink to keep him entertained and satiated — and the rest of us sane — on a two-day, 13-hour PLUS STOPS road trip from Wichita to South Haven.
So I Googled it.
“What to pack for a long drive with a toddler.”
Pause Blog for TL;DR
You don’t have enough snacks.
Pack more snacks.
Favorite stuffed animals, blankies and lovies. Maybe a pillow. (I forgot a pillow.)
Coloring books and crayons or a doodle board — or both.
Storybooks. (So you can get car sick while trying to entertain him.)
Toddler-sized driving steering wheel and dashboard toy.
A couple to 100 more snacks.
Back to the Blog
One tip rose above the rest in my research: overpack snacks. Pack ALL the snacks. You think you have enough snacks? Pack more snacks.
I dumped a case of applesauce on-the-go pouches in three flavors into the biggest diaper bag I own as well as a box of mixed bagged treats of graham crackers, cheese crackers and “Cheddar Bunnies” — that my son wouldn’t touch, but I sure enjoyed — alongside his go-to favorite strawberry-banana snack bars.
I mean, look at this thing.
A water cup, 25-ounce water bottle for refills and spare milk cup for when we stopped for lunch rounded out this bursting bag.
Of course, I also packed road clothes for potential accidents or diaper leaks of which we only had one — solved in the driveway to the house we were staying in because of an epic tantrum in a grocery store and parking lot during which I gave TF up.
But that’s another blog post.
I did not neglect the need for toys. Food can only be so entertaining… when you crush it up into crumbs to wipe on the adjacent car door or person (me).
I packed one of his collapsable storage cubes to the brim with crayons, coloring books, storybooks, comfort stuffed animals, lovies, blankies and a magnetic doodle board.
I also had a perfectly timed Drive With Me Kiwi&Co. Crate delivery with a cardboard steering wheel and dash. It arrived just three days before we left.
It’s like they knew.
I packed his sound machine in the cube to help him sleep in a strange place. As I unplugged it and took it off his dresser, it dawned on me that he’s never touched it. It’s always been on his dresser. He played with it in the car several times. It’s shaped like an owl and has a fascinating amount of buttons.
Rotating snacks, toys and people in the back seat with the toddler kept him mostly entertained and fuss-free.
It’s genius, not toddler-proof.
Any tips? I’ve got another one of these things planned.
I used to travel often for work. I learned how best to pack light and travel lean to reduce costs and crap for which to be responsible. The less you have, the less you lose.
With a toddler, my packing skills are pretty much moot.
One suitcase, one overstuffed diaper bag full of snacks, one laptop bag, one collapsable storage cube full of toys, a booster seat, a sleeve of diapers and a doodle board that didn’t fit in the toy cube filled my in-laws car to nearly full alongside their luggage.
I did successfully pack all of my clothes and the toddler’s clothes into the smallest suitcase we own. A minor victory.
Loaded into my in-laws car, we left at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 26, and set off on a two-day road trip to South Haven, Michigan, for family vacation.
We, as in the toddler and me. Not we, as in the toddler, my husband and me.
Daddy stayed home for work during this family vacation. Poor man. It’s a sacrifice I appreciate him making.
The first leg of the trip was only a seven-hour drive. We turned it into a longer leg thanks to the need to stop for diaper changes, food and general toddler tantrums.
Our first stop was in Emporia, Kansas. My son already needed a diaper change, and I had had several cups of coffee before leaving the house.
There’s a historical marker at the rest stop. My husband’s parents used to stop at every historical marker on road trips with him and his sister. Largely because it drove them crazy. I fully intend on continuing this tradition.
Throughout the drive, my son refused to take a car nap. (I know, right?!) When he finally did fall asleep, we enjoyed a blessed 47 minutes of silence.
The second leg of the trip was much shorter. Only five hours, which of course took much longer due to driving with a toddler monster — and Chicago.
We arrived in South Haven just a half an hour too early to check in, so we went to Meijer (Super Target on steroids, according to my sister-in-law, and she’s not wrong), and my son promptly threw a huge fit. When we finally got to the house, the toddler was salty, I was salty — and we were both done.
I put him to bed at 4:30 p.m. He didn’t wake until the next morning at 8 a.m. I might have a toddler monster, but I have a good sleeper. (Knock on wood.)
The rooms were themed! We slept in the Music Room. Grandma and grandpa were in the Principal’s Office, and the four cousins and their parents enjoyed bunk beds and a spare bedroom in Detention.
The bathroom was very cute, too. My child wanted to spend an unnecessary amount of time in its shower. And I had to go with him, for some unknown reason.
I made Zuppa Toscana for dinner Sunday night — without the appropriate ingredients or cookware. You see, I forgot to pack several things, including the Instant Pot in which I usually cook Zuppa Toscana.
It was still pretty good.
Our first morning in South Haven was a bit of a blur. My son ate like a starving man — famished from refusing to eat anything but applesauce and cheese crackers for two days in the car. He had toddler tantrums, and we had to go “relax” in bed until he calmed down. Often. We climbed and played on the most epic playground equipment ever (just down the street from the house) for the better part of an hour.
There’s nothing between the playground and Lake Michigan, which made for beautiful views. My son said, “Wow,” in his precious toddler way when we walked to hill overlooking the lake. He’s never seen a body of water bigger than a friend’s pool.
My father-in-law’s brother and his wife joined us for dinner — Honey Garlic Shrimp and Roast Vegetables from my sister-in-law.
I will be getting that recipe.
My son immediately fell in love with his great uncle. I think most of the littles have.
Tuesday was beach day, and not a moment of it was blurry. I waded the toddler into the chilly water of Lake Michigan and let the waves crash on his feet.
He. Loved. It.
My fearless son dragged me through the water, trying to go farther and farther in, and pitched a hot fit when I carried him back up the shore to start all over again. He clung to me. He tried to escape from me. He jumped into the waves with eyes closed tight, teeth showing in a wide smile and arms open to welcome the force of the water. He giggled and squealed and just loved it.
That night, he slept early and well. Too tired for dinner of burgers, brats, corn on the cob and salad under the pergola.
I woke up late Wednesday to the sounds of my toddler jabbering at nothing about everything. Neither of us were really ready to get up, so I pulled him into bed with me to cuddle. We get so few moments of happy cuddles that I couldn’t waste the opportunity.
We went to lunch and shop along South Haven’s main drag.
South Haven has a Farm Market to rival any I’ve seen. Blocks and stalls of berries. Blueberries, blackberries, cherries and raspberries. Wichita’s has garlic, greens, onions and root vegetables more than anything else. Not bad, but I’ve never seen so many fresh, plump blueberries in my life. I wish I had brought a shopping bag with me and cash to buy pounds of what were probably the best blueberries ever.
Missing his normal nap time again, the toddler lost energy and patience quickly. He rode grandpa’s shoulders nearly the entire time and fell asleep just as soon as we got to the house.
We celebrated grandpa’s birthday that evening with chorizo black bean quesadillas (I will be getting this recipe, too) whipped up by the littles’ great aunt and uncle, pineapple salad (and this one) and chocolate cake.
I got my father-in-law coffee for his birthday — our go-to gift for him. Bought it right in front of him at the Farm Market because I don’t prepare well. We both love coffee and were the only drinkers in the house. Lucky us, we had a 12-cup drip coffee brewer to share.
And we drank all of every cup.
After the toddler went to sleep Wednesday night, I walked back downtown in search for a brewery where I could get some cans to take home to my hubby and Gnomies at my favorite Wichita brewery, Hopping Gnome. (Have you noticed my #AGnomeADay attire? I entered the #TaketheLongWayGnome social media competition by accident.)
I missed my first choice, Harbor Light Brewery, by 27 minutes. Walking downtown, it looked like the entire city shut down at 9 p.m. Luckily, South Haven Brew Pub was still open and serving up mix-and-match six-packs to go.
I greeted another late morning with my son on Thursday. He spent the majority of the night in bed with me, snorting and coughing himself awake. We Gnome-a-stayed in that day — this is my Gnomaste shirt — so he could rest and recover enough energy to make the drive home Friday with as little discomfort as possible.
While he napped, I did what any red-blooded vacationing woman would do. (I’m sure.)
Thursday night was a rough night. My son was up and asleep and up over and over again feeling terrible. Toddlers are contagious little boogers. (Of course, I’m a terrible parent and just wiped his binky off every time it fell out of his mouth… and then I gave it back to him.) Fingers crossed none of my sister-in-law’s kiddos caught his cold RIGHT before school starts for them.
Because Thursday night was horrible, Friday morning was difficult. I had to drag myself out of bed late to help load the car for the drive home.
And what a drive it was.
And then we got home. He happily jumped up and down in our driveway. Daddy was a sight for sore eyes — for me, for sure — but it lasted about 20 minutes before the toddler hated everything and everyone.
He slept until 9 a.m. Saturday. (Again, knock on wood, y’all.)
Going places with a toddler is a pain. They’re nearly never satisfied, and you — as a parent — NEVER have the solution to whatever problem has popped up in the last five minutes.
But my 2-year-old gleefully jumped into the waves of Lake Michigan. He wildly explored a strange place, excited about every cranny, nook and turn. He challenged me, and he tested his limits. Pushed boundaries. Found obstacles. Needed me to help. Didn’t need me to help.
Going places with toddlers might be a pain, but I can’t wait to take him on every adventure we have. No matter his age. I loved watching him experience more than I wanted to experience. Such a strange feeling.
We’ll be hunting down historical markers and taking the long way home from now on.