Recently when I asked on my Instagram page on what type of posts and updates everyone likes to see, work life balance and “day in the life of Nags” was a top request. So I wanted to share a few insights into how we are managing with 2 full time working parents and a 17 month old toddler in the house.
Before you begin, a couple of things. This is a long read so please bear with me. Also, TH = The Husband 🙂
The most common question I get is “how do you do it all?” The answer is very simple.
I have help and lots of support.
We have a kickass full time helper cum nanny who does all the cleaning, most of the cooking, and most importantly, looks after Sameera when her dad and I are at work.
My husband is an equal parent as he was a partner before our daughter came along and Sameera is WAY more attached to him than me *eyeroll*
My mother is a rockstar who will leave things on the drop of a hat if her kids need her. She has visited me 6 times in the past 15 months and stayed anywhere from 1 week to 6 weeks at a time, based on what we needed.
My in-laws adore Sameera, she’s their first grandkid, and have visited three times since she was born, helping out during some critical times when we were changing helpers and when I had to make a couple of longer work trips.
A few things around how I manage work and home/baby/marriage/social life
The first thing I did going back to work from maternity leave is to get a new role within my company that needs me to travel less. I was on the road about 50% of the time before I fell pregnant and that had to change for us post baby. If it meant making a lateral move and pausing aggressive career goals for a few months, that was just fine for me. Your views may differ from this and that’s fine too. My husband made similar changes and his job requires no travel so I can still do the required 10-20% travel time my current job needs. We are also very fortunate to work in companies that have flexible, family-friendly cultures and with we have great managers who are very understanding.
Before Sameera, we had clear roles and chores around the house and it’s continued since her arrival too.
I take care of schedules, grocery shopping, Sameera’s meal plans, buying her clothes (teehee), toys, doc visits, and also managing our helper and ensuring she has everything she needs to do her job well. Hiring a helper is a new thing for us and we only got help when I was 8+ months pregnant and almost ready to pop.
I make lists and follow a schedule for my to-dos on a weekly basis: Saturdays are when I make meal plans for the following week and also place orders online for all the things we need. In the off change something runs out mid-week, it is purchased by my helper from the store inside our apartment complex. If something is urgent and unavailable nearby, I use Amazon Prime (delivers within 2 hours) or either me or TH go to the store (this is really the last option since every minute after work spent outside is time away from our daughter).
TH takes care of things like preschool hunt, activities and organised playgroups for her, and also spends a lot more time with her on walks and swims than I’m able to. He’s also the one who feeds her dinners on most nights and puts her to bed. He’s my back up on everything I need to get done so if I can’t get to groceries one week or need help with scheduling a doc visit, he’ll get on it.
My helper/nanny takes care of all the cleaning, laundry, ironing, all meals for Sameera and us, taking care of her during the day from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, accompanying her on play classes my very socially active toddler attends, playdates with other kids and their nannies within the condo we live in, and so much more.
I refer to us as Sameera’s Team of Three.
A typical work day:
My helper starts the day at 5:30am, cleans the kitchen, living and dining area as well the spare bedroom. She also does a load of laundry on most days and makes us tea before getting started on Sameera’s breakfast and lunch. My husband is up around 6:30 and gets some work emails out of the way.
Sameera wakes up around 7 and so do I. She sleeps in her own room so either TH or I get her, change her diaper, clothes, brush her teeth and get to the living room for her morning milk which my helper warms up and keeps ready on the sofa. The next hour or two is our time with her and my helper goes on to clean and tidy up Sameera’s room and the master bedroom.
While TH gets ready, I play with her, read a book, try to take some non-blurry pictures of her on my phone with little success, or generally potter around with her singing songs or blowing bubbles. She will ask numerous times for her Appa and where IS he, which I have to answer repeatedly and patiently, until he comes out ready for the day.
Then it’s my turn to shower and get ready so TH plays with her (much more rowdy and loud than playtime with Amma!) and my helper gets her breakfast ready.
We usually leave the house when she’s eating or about to sit down for breakfast. We always say bye to her and never sneak out so that she gets used to the fact that Amma Appa leave the home for work and will come back later. It works! She cries some days but is mostly happy to wave and send us on our way with a round of peek-a-boo as the lift doors close.
Then her daily routine of breakfast, play, walk, bath, lunch, nap, snack, and play continues while we toil away in our respective offices 😀 Our helper sends us text updates and always a picture of her as soon as she’s down for her nap so I have around 200+ pictures of Sameera sleeping in her cot. Heh.
Between 6-6:30pm we are both home and take over from our helper. She usually prepares Sameera’s dinner when she’s napping in the afternoon and one of us (usually TH) feeds her while the other showers, etc. We read, play with blocks, and do some simple activities together until her bath time at 7:30. If I am home, bath time is my time with her. We use lots of bubbles and some toys and she loves the water. By 7:45-7:50, she’s done with bath, milk and bedtime stories. During this time, our dinner gets made by my helper.
By 8pm, Sameera is in her cot almost sleeping or asleep already.
TH and I have our dinner then and our helper clears everything away, wipes down the kitchen, and preps anything needed for the next day. She is usually done for the day by 8:30 and if our dinner gets late or we need something after that, we take care of that ourselves. Then it’s time to unwind and watch a movie, Netflix, or do our own thing like reading a book, colouring (me), online shopping (also me), PlayStation (him) or whatever else we feel like.
This is also the time I feel very guilty about not using for blogging but honestly, I feel quite tired and I can’t bring my brain to do any creative work at this time. On Fridays, we head out as soon as she’s asleep and go for a dinner. Rarely, we also manage to fit in a movie as well but usually we are too sleepy to stay out too long.
When neither of us are home, my helper’s only job is look after Sameera and manage her routine. When Sameera naps, my helper naps or takes rest as well. The only thing she has to do on some days is make her lunch in case she couldn’t complete the cooking in the morning. I have looked after my toddler for 2 weeks on my own and as any stay at home mom would agree, it is TOUGH.
PS: most of my Instagram posts are created when I am commuting back and forth from work which allows me around 30-40 minutes of uninterrupted time. I edit and keep posts in draft on IG a lot.
Saturdays we spend the entire day together as a family. Rarely, I step out for a haircut or TH steps out for a movie with his friends but usually we spend the day with Sameera or go out with her while my helper takes care of everything else. I bake her snacks in bulk on Saturdays (usually toddler muffins) and also prepare dosa batter every other week myself and sometimes cook our lunch but usually I opt out of it. Sundays and Public Holidays are my helper’s days off and that’s when you see me cooking and baking (I share a lot through Instagram stories) a bit more while TH takes over daughter duties and mini outings with her.
It’s often tiring and we usually don’t nap, our meals are very standard and simple, we don’t get to sleep in, have many visitors, host friends as often, or go out as much but life with a baby or toddler is about resetting, juggling, and accepting that phase of life for what it is. Having a helper and working outside the home helps me keep my sanity and I am a much better mom for it.
I hope that helped clarify a lot of your questions and curiosity 🙂 With a lot of planning, a lot of help, and a lot of flexibility from people around us, we manage just fine.