Me: “Is the laundry done?”
Husband: “I didn’t have time, I was busy watching the baby.”
Me: “Is your homework done?”
Son: “I didn’t have time, I was watching the baby.”
Apparently, my 17 month old is a big huge time suck. No one can do anything around the house, because they are watching the baby. But what is it exactly they are watching the baby do?
If you’ve been around a baby for even a few hours, you realize they hardly ever stop. They don’t just sit around, hanging out. They are into everything, exploring, practicing their walking, talking and whatever else they have recently found out their bodies can do. My baby recently found that he does a very good downward dog, and frequently stops in the middle of what he is doing to perfect his pose. I’m sure this gives him an interesting perspective, viewing his world upside down, as he peers through his legs.
So, it seems to me, that having a person around you with so much energy, can either drain your own, or you can use it to keep you going.
When I get home, the productivity of the household shoots through the roof. Honestly, sometimes I just want to sit, and channel surf, and sometimes I want to take a power nap. Who doesn’t? But now that the baby is older, I find his energy can catapult me into more activity. Everything is new to him, and exciting, and watching that excites me.
So, that laundry my husband didn’t have time to do? I take the baby down to the basement with me (it takes about 5 minutes to navigate the stairs) and we do the laundry. He likes to pull the clothes out of the basket and throw them across the floor. We go over colors and I try to teach him to sort them. Sorting may take a few years, but he’s learning his colors. He also has an affinity for putting things into containers, so when the dryer is done, he helps me get the clothes into the basket. I did the same with my older son, and now he does his own laundry at the age of 12. Now if I could only teach either of them to fold…
Do homework with my other children can be a challenge, because the baby loves to gather papers, throw them around the room and scrunch and rip them. Forget the dog ate my homework excuse, babies can destroy homework quicker than you can blink. But sometimes the kids get reading homework, so why not have them read passages to their baby brother? The baby is starting to echo the sounds he hears, and reading aloud helps the older kids with their reading comprehension. Because now, they aren’t just gathering information through reading, they are telling their baby brother a story. Even if the baby’s attention wanes after 15 minutes, it was a good 15 minutes spent.
Yesterday the baby got the whole family moving. upon coming home from work, on one of the most gorgeous days we’ve had in a while, the baby was keen to go outside. He walked around my car, checking out the wheels, we checked the mail, even though it had been brought in hours ago, and went to check on the dogs in their pen. I had my older son bring out some dog treats, so the baby could give them to the dogs. Since he was outside, he decided to muck out the pen. Shortly after, my husband, wondering where everyone had gone, came out and noticed some weeds growing into the fence of the pen, so he decided to pull them out. Within 15 minutes, the pen was washed out, and trimmed back, and the dogs were very happy with treats in their bellies. Thanks to the baby.
On the weekends, when I get into my house cleaning routine, the baby helps me with almost everything. He likes to sweep the floor. He’s terrible at it, and the floors may not even look done when we finish, but who cares? We got the most of it and the baby is thrilled he got to use the broom. He helps pick up his toys in the living room so I can vacuum, and yells at me over the vroom of my Dyson. I can only guess he’s telling me I missed a spot.
I think he was the most help to me when I cleaned out my basement. Because he is so curious, he just seems to find things, things I forgot I had, or didn’t know was there, and I decide if it’s trash, donate or keep. He doesn’t have a very methodical way or going through our stored items, but his randomness keeps the daunting task interesting, and keeps me from retreating to the bedroom for a nap with my little one.
It is a very different style of house keeping than I’m used to. Every Saturday morning, I used to turn on every light in the house, and start at one end and work through to the other, shutting off the lights as I went. It was very thorough. Now, we start in the kitchen, wind our way to the living room, meander into the bathroom, making a pit-stop in the bedroom. It all gets done in the end, because you know… I’m watching the baby.