March 02, 2005
The single fatherhood diaries

Tiffany left today for a two-day business trip out west. We considered having Olivia and I go with her, but since she was going to be busy during the day, we decided that if I was going to be by myself with Olivia, it'd be better to do it on familiar turf. So, for the first time in Olivia's almost-nine-month life, she went to bed without having Mommy in the house.

I've spent many an hour alone with Olivia, so I had no particular trepidations about this, but there's so much to do just to prepare for the next day - put used bottles in the dishwasher, take pumped milk that was delivered home by one of T's coworkers and put it in bottles for later, get Olivia's solid food ready for the morning, feed her, feed me, bathe her, etc etc etc - that I'd have been pretty overwhelmed had my in-laws not been here. It's not a question of capability, it's a question of having hands free, since Olivia's going through a bit of a separation-anxiety phase - basically, if you're not holding her or in her line of sight, she fusses. Being able to hand her off to one grandparent or the other so I can do what needs to be done was a huge help. The fact that my mother-in-law brought dinner didn't hurt, either.

I'm a little concerned about the morning, since I can't predict Olivia's wake-up time. I fear getting up and entering the shower while she's asleep only to exit it while she's awake and howling for her breakfast. Sharon, my mother-in-law, will come by again to ensure that at the very least I can leave Olivia at home while I walk the dog - I can and often do take her with me for walkies, but a cold front came through today, so doing that isn't a good idea now.

Tiffany returns Friday afternoon. Leaving Olivia was hard for her; it remains to be seen how hard it is on Olivia. If you're lucky and you have a baby with a reasonably sunny disposition, you aim to get her into a routine, since babies like familiar things. That's all well and good for normal days, but when something forces you to adjust your routine, you scramble like heck and hope it doesn't upset the baby too much. So far, so good, and we even survived a leaky-bottle incident, which forced a change of pajamas, without too much ado. Ask me again in 24 hours how we're doing, and hope you get the same answer. I know I'm hoping for it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 02, 2005 to See, I do have a life! | TrackBack

Buck up, little camper. I've been there, and I can give you two pieces of advice:

1. Elmo
2. More Elmo

Did I mention Elmo?

Posted by: Pete on March 2, 2005 11:06 PM

Hang in there. By the time she's 28, she'll have forgiven you for having had to squall unattended for 10 minutes while you finished your shower.

Posted by: Beldar on March 2, 2005 11:09 PM

Baby Einstein, specifically Baby Mozart, is very helpful for allowing the parent to sneak in a shower. =)

Little ones are such blessings, but they are handfuls! Good luck.

Posted by: Anne on March 3, 2005 6:58 AM

If you have a bouncy seat or something you can strap her into and take her into the bathroom with you while you shower, that might help. (A clear shower curtain is also useful.)

The first time you have to do all the baby stuff without the other parent for a couple of days is always an adventure -- but like everything else about parenting, it turns out to be generally manageable (if tiring). It does, however, give you a new appreciation for the challenges of single parenting.

Here's to an uneventful couple of days!

Posted by: hope on March 3, 2005 8:58 AM

Thanks for the feedback, y'all. Olivia slept through the night and woke up after I'd showered and dressed, so we're good on that score. Tomorrow I'm off work, so I can be a bit more laid back about it.

What she did do that I did not expect was refuse to drink from her bottle this morning. Oddly, she eventually stopped fussing about it and went to day care more or less as happily as always. They eventually succeeded in getting her to take the bottle. Obviously, she did indeed miss her mommy! We'll see how she is tonight.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on March 3, 2005 9:52 AM

Ha Charles:

Brings back vivid memories of last year. My wife is a medical resident here in Waco(pulling obscene hours) and so I got the task of being stay-home Dad to our two girls (now 2 and 6) while I work out of a home office. The youngest, Catie, is in daycare now, and her older sister is in 1st grade, so I have my day's free.

When Catie was 9 months old she would basically be with me all the time. In my office I had 4 play stations for her: (1) her play saucer that had various games around the edge, (2) her jumper hanging in the doorway, (3) a little mat with an arch overhead that had toys dangling down, and (4) a Graco playpen with other toys in it. I would just rotate her from station to station as she would get tired or bored and that would usually buy 20-30 minutes until the next rotation. One thing I never did was put her in front of the TV. I've read bad things about that for very small babies and toddlers about their attention spans.

As for showers, the key is getting in before they wake up. But if not, I would drag the saucer into the bathroom and she would play while I took a shower behind the glass shower door. We have a large master suite bath with lots of floor space so that works.

We didn't put Catie into daycare until 15 months old so I had her all day every day. 9 months old is OK. Once they get real mobile then it's total chaos. Must harder to keep track of a 15 month old toddler who can get into kitchen cabinets and climb chairs than a 9 month old that is fairly stationary. When you have to start child-proofing the upper cabinet doors because your kids knows how to make a ladder out of chairs drug in from the dining room. That's when you freak.

Posted by: Kent on March 3, 2005 1:14 PM

I've seen you in action with Miss Olivia sans Tiffany, and so I know you're doing a great job!

Posted by: Ellen on March 3, 2005 1:31 PM