Life at home during a remodel is, inevitability, unpredictable. Add two toddlers to the mix and things can get a bit wild at times but also never, EVER boring.
Today I’m sharing a detailed peek into a day in my life from summer 2021, one packed with kids, remodel snafus, and plenty of chaos.
If you enjoy posts like these, consider taking a look at my last day in the life post from March 2020, just as stay-at-home orders were beginning.
I wake up with a half-naked kid draped around my neck. This kid needs sleep, so I try to slip out to wash my face without disturbing them. I spent last night at the ER with Bennett for an asthmatic episode and needed to be close to her to give her a nebulizer every four hours. She swatted two batches out of my hand in the dark, and at least one dose was responsible for the damp spot underneath me. At least it isn’t pee.
I find Joe and August in the dining room discussing bee pollination. August knows more about the process than we do and I’m sensing he is onto us. Bennett provides some additional anecdotes about butterflies while removing her pull-up and putting on fairy wings. Maybe breakfast tastes better in the nude? I don’t care—she’s eating after a day of refusing all food.
We hear a loud bang at the front of the house and all rush to the window. One of the large dumpsters from our remodel is being removed and I am grateful for the window of free entertainment for the kids so I can check in with myself.
I am surprised to not be feeling the effects of yesterday’s whirlwind at the hospital. Ah, the powers of cortisol and adrenaline! A grumble of thunder shakes the house—a storm is rolling in. Morning storms are my favorite so I sneak outside for a moment of solitude. Just those few minutes spent breathing in the warm air are the medicine I need to get out of “fight” mode. Today is a new day.
Joe started breakfast and I finish it up. I give Bennett her morning neb dose and greet the nanny who helps me wrap up the breakfast routine. We transition into work mode, but not before Bennett reminds me I promised one episode of Chip ‘n’ Dale per neb treatment. (Damn, I thought she’d forget I’d said that last night!)
Most days my kids leave home with our nanny for the majority of the day, but since the kids have been battling a virus (thankfully it isn’t COVID or RSV) they will be mostly at home. We do a well-coordinated dance of who gets who dressed and she gracefully guides them toward finishing the craft they started yesterday. Soon they are hard at work on felt books.
I look through my to-do list and decide how to tackle my day. The content we shot yesterday needs to be reviewed, edited, and reviewed again, so I start there. Pearl runs into my office like a bull in a china shop for some cuddles. I oblige. Then I scroll through Instagram before realizing twenty minutes have passed.
I plug in my phone in another room and reset. My work life runs on Monday.com (BLESS) and I sort through tasks by their urgency and due date, then by how badly I want to avoid that task. I try to start my day with something that doesn’t take too long but I want to avoid doing. It’s the perfect start to the day, because it isn’t that hard AND you feel like you accomplished something big by just tackling it. Some days, I don’t have the energy so I start with small stuff. Just starting is the most important thing I do each morning. I wish I had known this very simple trick earlier in life! So if you are finding yourself in a similar place today—just start. You got this.
Just starting is the most important thing I do each morning. I wish I had known this very simple trick earlier in life! So if you are finding yourself in a similar place today—just start. You got this.
I am suddenly famished and tired. I make a cup of coffee and stand in the half-finished kitchen and imagine what I would be making if we had running water, a stove, and a fridge. I’d likely go for a slice of sourdough, fried in butter, and then rubbed with garlic. I’d add a thick tomato, a drizzle of chili oil, and flaky salt.
I scrounge for the good breakfast burritos but realize all that is left are the ones filled with chili. Wait—why did Joe buy a twelve-pack of frozen White Castle burgers? Why do we have chili-filled burritos anyway? I remember to add a few things to our grocery list for next week so I’m not left wishing he could read my mind.
Our marriage works on a different kind of choreographed dance—who has the bandwidth to do what to make life run? He never forgets my beloved morning avocados, so I slice one open and drizzle it with chili oil and salt. I eat it standing in the kitchen. It isn’t ripe but it tastes like a hint of that imaginary breakfast.
After working through the tasks others needed me to complete—like choosing product selects, prepping for a speaking engagement, replying to emails, and doing approvals—I start on the bulk of my day. Today, it involves shooting content and writing for said content. Today I’m shooting the outfits I’ve loved this month, which includes filming me dancing. I’ve come to love doing these, mostly because it feels good to just let loose alone in my house. (Editor’s note: This blog post, and the now beloved accompanying dance reel, will be published tomorrow on the site and Instagram.)
I calculate how long it has been since I washed my hair and assess if I can get away with one more day. I decide a shower would do some good.
After working through the tasks others needed me to complete—like choosing product selects, prepping for a speaking engagement, replying to emails, and doing approvals—I start on the bulk of my day. Today, it involves shooting content and writing for said content.
Whoops—I get distracted by the sight of weeds that have literally been growing all summer long. I must pick them NOW instead of getting started on the task associated with a real deadline. Hello, ADHD. At least I got outside and worked up a sweat.
I pop an essential oil tablet into the shower for some extra TLC and step into a scalding hot curtain of water.
I step out of the shower to a call from our contractor. If he is calling, that means something is going on with the kitchen sink fiasco. We ordered the wrong one over a year ago and just opened the box. WHOOPS. Now we are risking going off schedule for the remodel since we can’t measure our marble countertops without the apron sink.
Crisis somewhat resolved, I finish getting ready for the shoot and lay out my outfits. I have the theme for this particular roundup honed in but still need to work through the details. I usually start this content by thinking about the song I want to dance to and go from there. This post is all about summery outfits and, BAM—I hear Enrique Iglesias in my head singing, “You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my love.” Err … problematic? Problematic and a catchy beat. This was THE song of my summer in 2002 and the theme of my real tropical vacation with high school friends. Thank god it’s 2020. Oh wait … it’s 2021.
I finish filming and shooting and sit down to write. I go to make coffee and realize someone didn’t put the top on the cough medicine and it has spilled all over the “kitchen” that is set up in my office. I demand to get to the bottom of it and ask Joe where the cap is and immediately feel like an ass. It’s been a long week. And it’s only Wednesday.
Joe leaves for a work event just before the kids come bounding through the door happy, hungry, and in need of a bath. They hit up a couple of parks and took a long nap drive. We give our nanny flowers for her birthday and send our well wishes.
Suddenly the volume goes up ten octaves and both kids are screaming for food, wrestling, and using their outdoor voices. It happens every day at the same time and I’m never ready for it. I still have finishing touches to do on my edits and a piece to finish writing, so I give Bennett her third nebulizer of the day and get out some snacks. Then the T.V. goes on so I can finish up my work before 5 p.m.
It’s mom time! Joe is at a work event and won’t be home until after we’re all asleep. August reluctantly accepts the fact he won’t be playing soccer outside with his dad once I ask what pretend game they want to play. They have conflicting opinions about the game. Bird wants to build a tent with my foam roller and August wants to play “Magic Statue.” The hardest part about this time of day is how intense and short it can be. The kids are so close in age they are best friends, but at the same time they crave one-on-one time with me because they spend so much time playing.
There are meltdowns from both of them and August tells me dad is more fun. I agree and say maybe he would miss dad less if he called me daddy? They think this is hilarious and the mood shifts.
There are meltdowns from both of them and August tells me dad is more fun. I agree and say maybe he would miss dad less if he called me daddy? They think this is hilarious and the mood shifts. I wrap August, the magic statue, in some extra bubble wrap and pitch a tent for Bird. Then I grab a couple of decorative boxes and fill them with treasures—foreign currency sitting in the junk drawer, a stray button, crystals, and plastic bugs.
The doorbell rings and it’s Pizza Hut. Bless them for still making personal pan pizzas because it delights the kids to have their own little box with their own personal order. The mood shifts when Pearl snags the last piece and I use Ring Pops as a distraction from the misfortune. I tell myself when the kitchen is done we’re going to cook as a family and they’ll learn to love food other than boxed mac and cheese.
I announce it is bathtime. No one acknowledges me. We negotiate a bathtime treaty: one episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and no one yells when it is time to get in the bath. We shake on it and I scroll through my phone while bouncing my feet to the beat of “hot dog hot dog hot diggity dog.”
In the bath, each kid takes their melatonin and cough meds. Soon I’m chasing two naked kids through the house, with Pearl at my ankles tripping me every third step.
PJs are on and we’re getting ready to read in bed after one last big hurdle: brushing Birdie’s hair. I look to my left and see August snoring softly. I quietly whisk my most talkative child into my bedroom where she sits on my lap and I move a brush through her hair like someone walking through landmines. She puts her head on my lap and begins to breathe deeply. This kid is ready for bed.
The kids are asleep by 8:15 p.m. HUZZAH! I flop into bed and text Joe about the triumphant news. Bedtime has been hard during the pandemic and each night we’ve lost more adult time together.
The kids are asleep by 8:15 p.m. HUZZAH! I flop into bed and text Joe about the triumphant news. Bedtime has been hard during the pandemic and each night we’ve lost more adult time together. I stare at the ceiling until 8:45 p.m. when I remember the house needs to be put back together.
I put on a podcast and start tidying. I don’t have much energy to do it but know I need to be out the door before 8 a.m. tomorrow morning and need to catch up on sleep. It takes about forty-five minutes but I have the company of Francis Lam and his guest on The Splendid Table. It feels like a luxury.
I have a little extra time to give my face some TLC. I have a big flare-up of cystic acne, which is both painful and slightly embarrassing. I have been caring for my skin less, flopping into bed with every intention of getting up to wash the day off my face. Too many times I find myself asleep in the kids’ bed at 1 a.m. and stumble into my own bed without realizing I forgot to do the one thing I rarely skip: my skin-care routine. So getting back into the habit feels even more important tonight. It’s not just about the acne; it’s about making time for me a priority.
I finish up, pick out some nice PJs, and slip into bed. Heaven.
I hear hoarse breathing near my face. Bennett is up again, coughing, right on queue for her next nebulizer. She crawls into bed and I ask if we can just spoon for a moment before we strap on her mask. She pats my arms and says, “Yes, Mommy. I love you.”
BY Kate Arends - August 4, 2021
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.