operation stay-at-home-mom

Yikes. So I’ve said before that this is the hardest, most time-consuming job I’ve ever had, but that was before I even attempted to give it a shot.

I hadn’t even entered the kitchen at that point. Up until now, I’ve had 11 weeks of meals prepared by our dear friends and family. My husband would bring home take-out. We’d just eat a bowl of cereal.

This week I decided that I was going to start “earning my keep.” Not because anyone expects anything from me, but because I feel like if I’m home all day I should have a clean house and a meal on the table every night.

Sorry, Charlie. That’s not how this is going to work out. At least not right now.

On Monday, Hudson and I went to visit Todd at work and then were heading to the grocery store. En route to Publix, Hudson decided that he hated his car seat and had to be out immediately. So I just kept on driving. Past the grocery store and around the neighborhood. I wanted him to just get tired of crying and fall asleep. There’s nothing worse to me than a screaming baby in a grocery store and I was NOT going to be that mom. He finally fell asleep about twenty minutes later and we went in to Publix. I picked up all the ingredients for one of Todd’s favorite casseroles and all of the ingredients for pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, and asparagus.

Hudson and I went home and I fed him a bottle and tried to put him down for a nap. Two weeks ago he was an excellent napper. Now that I’m trying to get him to sleep so I can prepare a delicious family meal he is not at all interested in napping. (Is “nap” a verb? I like it as a verb. Oh well if it’s not.)

I started chopping the vegetables and he started crying. I went to comfort him and change his diaper so I could get him back down. He fell back to sleep and I started cooking the meat. He started crying again. By the time I got him soothed, the meat was stuck to the pan and I was afraid I had ruined the entire thing. Now, I’m not a very patient person, so you have to understand that I’m about to lose my head at this point.

For about ten minutes I considered calling my former employer and begging to have my job back!

I am normally a decent multi-tasker. I’m an event planner, for crying out loud! But it’s not physically possible for me to hold a 15 pound baby (who is still struggling to control his head) in one arm and cook with the other. I’m afraid I’ll burn him or drop him!

The time rolled around for Hudson to be fed again, so I managed to get the meal simmering and fed Hudson a bottle. I finally got him down for about twenty minutes and squeaked by just enough time to get all of the ingredients into the casserole dish and into the oven. Mission: Accomplished. Finally.

The meal turned out fine, but I was exhausted and had a hard time finding the joy in the whole event.

Next time I’ll be attempting a simpler recipe that has fewer chopping and fewer steps. I’m also considering the Baby Bjorn for the first time. And I swore I’d never wear a Baby Bjorn. I’m not sure how good that will feel with a 15 pound baby in it, but it’s worth a shot.

Tonight, I’ve attempted mashed potatoes and pork tenderloin. The meat is currently in the oven and the potatoes are ready. This morning, while Hudson was napping, I pealed the potatoes and put them in the refrigerator to save a step. I’ve tasted them and they’re delicious.


So this stay-at-home-mom thing is quite the challenge, but I’m up for it. Tomorrow I’m meeting one of the other wives of the two attorneys that Todd is working with. We’re planning an open house at their new office. These other two wives are the ultimate stay-at-home-moms with four kids a piece, so I feel like if they can do it I can definitely give it my best shot.

In the meantime, I’m going to let this precious boy sleep (he loves sleeping on his side) and leave you with the most beautiful image in the world.* At least to me! How could I have been frustrated just because he wanted to be awake to play with his mommy?


*He is snuggled up in his new Woombie in the picture and we love the Woombie. I swear I’m going to do a baby product review post one of these days, but I’ll go on the record and say that the Woombie is wonderful. It hasn’t changed our life or his sleeping patterns drastically, but it is such a great alternative to swaddling. When I have to unswaddle him to change him it takes a long time and he gets all woken up. With the Woombie, it unzips from the bottom, so I can leave him in the Woombie and change his diaper. He can move his arms and legs around because the fabric has a little bit of stretch, but he can’t move his arms so much that he wakes himself up. I really love it.

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  1. The wife says

    Get some crock pot recipes to try out–it’ll help a lot on those hectic days! And, where did you get the polka dot sheets at? I found some at Babies R Us, but the dots aren’t that big–and I like the big!

  2. says

    It actually sounds like your doing really, really great! I’m so impressed that you were able to cook that while at the same time taking care of Hudson – I think I would’ve lost my mind after the driving and the crying and the grocery 🙂

    And yes, a sleeping baby is definitely one of the most beautiful images in the world!

  3. says

    You’re a total rockstar! And don’t you dare think otherwise! I’d also bet it’ll get easier when he’s a bit older! Until then… have you considered experimenting with some Crock-potting (one of my favorite “verbs”)?

  4. says

    I think its great that you are trying to make dinner and giving yourself a challange. Stick with it sooner than you think he will be crawling, walking and running. I also love all the baby product reviews you have done, soon we will be starting and I could use all the tips I can get.

  5. says

    it sounds like you are doing great!! i am sure it is an adjustment. btw — maybe try a sling or moby wrap — my friends love them and say they are more versatile for their “at home” needs than the bjorn.

  6. says

    WOW, I don’t even cook meals like that without a baby (I’m working on getting better though!) Good for you! Hudson looks adorable sleeping in his wombie. I’m sure the whole “stay-at-home-mom” job will be get easier as you go. Just imagine how it was when you were planning your first events at work and how much learned over the years!

  7. Grace says

    I so can relate! It wasn’t until about a month and a half ago that I got a dinner routine down myself; for the first few months, we were the take-out/cereal-for-dinner masters because my son just would not let me make a dinner without a total disaster. You’re light-years ahead of me in this department: my boy is 10 months old! Way to go with your two nights of dinners in a row!

    I agree with the previous commenter about trying a Moby wrap. My Bjorn was brilliant for being out and about, but the soft structure of my Moby was wonderful for when I was doing around the house things.

    In either case, I’m sure you’ll be wonderful!

  8. Morgan says

    Baby Bjorn will change your life! I’m a first time SAHM and I get everything done thanks to that bad boy. Plus it’s gotta be a work out carrying a chubby wubby baby around all day 😀

  9. Leah says

    Hang in there! It gets easier. During my first weeks as a SAHM I would make a list of chores that needed to be done around the house at the beginning of the week and be pleased if I could accomplish one thing a day! So overwhelming in the beginning, but you get better at it, you get new ‘systems’ in place and gradually you start to figure it out.

  10. says

    Is a Baby Bjorn one of those sling wraps? My sister SWEARS by that – it’s literally the only way she gets anything done. They own their own business and both have to be on the move all the time, so little Liam just tags along strapped right in! He also enjoys being a cooking helper in the kitchen, too.

  11. says

    Girl get a BUMBO seat! I put one in my kitchen and my 4 month old will sit there and watch me cook. Run…..to BRU! It’s a lifesaver….I use it when we go out too because she’s too small for the highchair.

  12. says

    I’m impressed! That’s quite the meal to tackle with little Huddy by your side!

    It looks like a few others have said, but I’m gonna say it too…find some great crock pot recipes! I find that they’re life savers on my busy days, so I know they’d help with multi-tasking in the kitchen!

  13. says

    Gah, I can’t even make dinner for myself and you can make it for you and Todd (and it sounds delicious) and feed and care for Huds! You don’t give yourself enough credit. Now, I will go back to eating my cup of noodles 🙂

  14. says

    Oh he is so precious! I totally agree with the crockpot idea-especially once fall comes and it starts getting cooler outside. They’re a lifesaver!

  15. says

    Cooking was beyond most days when my son was that young. I will tell you what worked for me then. I never cooked on the day I shopped. I always tried to shop on the weekend or at night when my husband was at home, so I could be by myself (I am super fast when I am alone in the grocery store). Sometimes I took Mac, but it was nice to have a little me time. It gave my husband father/son time, too. I would pick up something pre-made for that night–rotisserie chicken, bertolli freezer meals, etc.

    I swear by the Baby Bjorn. It was good for us until he reached 20 lbs. Then it was too heavy. I also used to put him in his bouncy seat in the kitchen so he could see me while I cooked.

  16. Hillary Novak says

    You are super mom, girl! 🙂 I love hearing your stories. I got caught in the rain TWICE last Wednesday with both the kids! I was seriously drenched trying to buckle them in their seats. hahaha!! Camden said “Mom, this is nasty”. So funny. Finding joy in all those crazy moments will keep you from losing it! 🙂 Love you, friend!!

  17. says

    Hi there! Love your blog… not sure how I found it, but it is great! Definitely look into a moby wrap… i use the baby bjorn every once in a while but the moby is great for when your baby wants to be awake OR asleep… My daughter is always happy as a clam in it!

  18. says

    As a stay home mom myself, THANK YOU for going on record as to how hard it is! It is definitely a challenge and you don’t really get it until you do it. Ya know? It takes work figuring out how to juggle everything when NOTHING is predictable… no matter how hard you try to prepare for the unknown. Sounds like you’re doing great! And your post makes this SAHM feel much more normal.

  19. Maggie @ It Is Everlasting says

    Erin you are doing such a fantastic job! The fact that you are even thinking about wanting to have a clean home and meals on the table is huge. You’re a new mom and just like any other job there is a learning curve. It’ll get easier but for now I think 2 meals in this first foray into doing both Huds and taking care of cooking is fab… Sometimes I don’t get that in without a baby!

  20. Cate says

    I am a stay at home mom to a little boy born June 10th and yes it is hard. Sometimes I feel guilty like I’ve done nothing all day – but my child has decided that he can’t be put down during nap time. He will nap fine running errands, but if we’re home the second I lay him down he wakes up crying! We don’t have any problems at bedtime though :). I have a bjorn and a sling and love them both. I have vacuumed and done other housework with the bjorn and he slept right through it. I have also put him in it when I had a lot if groceries to buy and there wasn’t going to be room for his carseat in the buggy. He slept all through that trip too.

  21. says

    I think you’re doing fantastic!! I had a hard enough time getting dinner on the table for Lee tonight and I don’t have a sweet baby to distract me. It all turned out ok, I just wish my timing was a little better.

  22. says

    I don’t know how you did it, I get aggravated with the dogs in the kitchen some days. A baby that demands my attention just might make me a TV dinner wife one day haha.

  23. Ann says

    You are doing very well. There are things that mommies don’t share (because the human race would die out) and this is one of those things. The other is the newfound difficulty in getting a shower every day and the lack of sleep you will operate machinery (cars, coffee makers, ovens) on. I confess that I worked until my second was born and my oldest was 3— husband in grad school. I truly didn’t find my “mommy groove” for 2 years. It was more work than I could have ever wrapped my mind around. And it doesn’t stop but it gets worlds easier. I saw a mommy today pushing a toddler on a mini trike with an infant strapped to her chest. All this to get a breath of fresh air! And then I remembered that I got 30 minutes to run all by myself! Congrats on this new stage of life.

  24. Es says

    I agree with Kate, you should try crock-potting! Perhaps you can chop all the ingredients while he’s napping (I love this word too. I enjoy taking naps more than I’d like to admit) and then all you have to do is throw it in and let it cook. Sounds easy enough, in theory.

    There’s no shame in take-out, especially with a newborn.

    Everything must be so exciting/ terrifying/ frustrating/ satisfying/…and new. It must be quite an experience going through it all for the first time. I wish there was a foolproof manual for new mothers. Let’s hope that exists by the time I have kids (I know, I’m dreaming. But wouldn’t it be sooo great!)

    The modern stay at home mother isn’t expected to be like her 1950s counterpart (well, except for the kitchenaid mixers in those nifty 50s colors). We don’t necessarily have to have everything prepared from scratch, and our roles have diversified so much with women who work full/ part time, volunteer etc. I’m sure that in a couple months you’ll be able to do more. You’ll be fine. You’re doing great! Two dogs, one new born, and a husband – sounds like a full house to me. Keep up the good work, your interweb friends have faith in you! You’re a terrific mom already.

  25. says

    Oh, Erin, I commend you! There are some nights working full-time that I can barely pull together dinner for us and we don’t even have a baby yet! I’m sure you will get it all figured out in a few weeks time and be able to have some fancier meals some nights and some easy meals others. 🙂 Good luck with the changes and congrats again on Todd’s practice and your new job!

  26. says

    I’m on baby #2, and the great thing about every kid after the first is that you have realistic expectations about what’s coming and what each stage is like. When your expectations are realistic, you understand that you don’t need to do EVERYTHING at every stage, and that things will not always be how they are right now. For example, I knew when I had #2 last November (she’s 9 months old already!) that I wouldn’t be doing any fancy cooking for 2-3 months. I usually cook pretty involved things, but when I have a newborn? I bust out my list of extremely simple foods.

    We’re talking baked potatoes with toppings (we just like cottage cheese on them, which is great for some lean protein, but we’re probably weird), grilled cheese with bagged salad, loaded nachos (put chips on plate. sprinkle with pre-shredded cheese. add canned black beans and whatever else you can find. microwave. then add salsa and sour cream), and then a whole list of frozen/prepared foods. Do you shop at Costco? They have frozen foods that are actually healthy and natural, taste really good, but with the convenience of popping something out of the bag and onto a plate within 10 minutes–we really like the frozen Chinese dumplings (steam them in a pan, cook some sticky rice and slice up some cucumbers or sugar snap peas to go on the side), but that’s just an example. Take-n-bake pizza (or frozen). Pasta with store-bought pesto (again, the pesto in Costco’s refrigerated section is awesome–tastes like fresh homemade, and is like a quarter of the price as the stuff at Publix)–just boil the pasta, drain it, dump some pesto on top and toss it together. I only buy bagged salad kits now, which avoids any washing and drying of lettuce, chopping, etc.

    Wow this is already way too long. The point is, cut yourself a little slack! Yes it is a good goal to have a home-cooked meal on the table most nights, and to also have a tidy house and a happy baby. But when the babies are so small, these things just don’t always happen. Give yourself a few months of cheating just a little (with meals like the ones above, and with cutting some corners on the housework), and soon Hudson will be old enough to be in a real routine where he takes consistent, longer naps (Eve has been taking 2-3 hour naps since she was 3 or 4 months old!), and you’ll be able to get more things done. You’re already really on the right track with the idea of prepping your potatoes during his earlier nap though. That’s something I’ve done since my first was little: use the morning nap time to do any dinner prep-work that you can (chop veggies and put them back in the fridge, defrost frozen meat, etc.) and then even if you have to wait until your husband is home to do the actual cooking, it won’t take as much time. Oh yeah, that’s my last piece of advice. Sometimes I can have dinner almost done by the time my husband gets home. But most of the time? I don’t actually start cooking until he walks in the door and I can hand the baby to him. Have you ever heard of early evening referred to as “the witching hour” for kids? Basically, from about 5:00 until after dinner-time is the toughest part of the day for babies, toddlers, and kids. They’re hungry, getting tired, getting restless from whatever activity they’ve been doing. . .it’s just a notoriously tough part of the day. Made tougher by the fact that you need to be making dinner at the same time, when they just want to be held/played with. So I just decided that we’ll eat dinner at more like 6:30 or 7:00, and I don’t start cooking until Daddy’s home to entertain the baby. Makes a much more pleasant evening when I’m not frazzled by running between a baby who wants to be held and a meal that needs attention!

    You’re doing great, don’t feel like you’re not being a good stay-at-home mom if you don’t have a fine meal on the table every night at 6:00. It will come, it will come.

  27. Carolyn says

    Hi Erin, Thank you very much for your thoughts on the Woombie! I did end up ordering it and I am hoping it arrives today.
    I can very much relate to your dinner woes. Since bringing my 7 week old home from the hospital I have only prepared one “real” meal for my husband. I started that meal at 12pm doing little bits throughout the day in order for us to be eating at 7:30pm. This is the hardest job ever! But, as you have often said there is nothing else I would rather be doing.

  28. says

    Oh man..I feel your pain! I’m in the same boat, only my baby is only 3 weeks! I’m using the infant sling right now and will have to move on the the bjorn once he gets bigger. I cant get anything done unless hes attached to me or sleeping!

  29. says

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of the book “The Wonder Weeks” but you should check it out. Its a British book (I think) and you would be amazed at how it just hits the stages on the head. For instance, a few weeks ago the baby I was nannying for who is generally a very pleasant baby was just un-happy with everything. We checked the book and low and behold it said it was a “grumpy” week as it was time for a major growth-suprt/teeth development. Sure enough after the week was up, she was happy again, and had 2 tiny teeth!!


  30. says

    Sometimes I wonder if I would be a good SAHM. I can’t imagine how tough it is, but this post paints a good picture 🙂 you are awesome at it! YAY for dinner turning out great and yay for sweet Hudson sleeping. He looks just precious!

  31. says

    Never heard of a wombie, but I’m going to have to try it, and I wish I could be a SAHM. I know that it’s tough, but I want that job so bad. I wish G would let me do it, but right now, it’s better that we have two incomes.

  32. says

    You’ll get it under control – just takes some practice. I can so respect you because I don’t think I could stay at home all day. Do remember it gets better. I remember the days of trying to cook with a baby and it just didn’t happen, but it gets so much easier. Esp when you can put them in one of those over-the-door bouncy seats. I used to sit my little guy in one of those in the kitchen door and he would just bounce around while I was cooking.

  33. Becky says

    Ah, go back to cereal! Who doesn’t love a great bowl of cold cereal for dinner anyway? It’s my favorite! 🙂

  34. says

    Okay, I can remember feeling that way when Jake was a baby…I always avoided any errands that involved getting out of the car if he was crying or upset. It’s embarrassing! Glad you’re not THAT mom! 😉 jk, people who are parents can empathize with you and understand…but others, not so much!

    I have got to get my hands on the Woombie for our sweet baby girl! 🙂 The other swaddlers I have from the first baby were great for swaddling, but not so great when he would wake up while diaper changing. The velcro alone was loud enough to wake him up! Ha!

  35. Catherine says

    They sell the Moby wrap at Bumble Boutique at Trenholm Plaza if you don’t want to go the Bjorn route. A girlfriend with an 8week old swears by it. I used the Bjorn. It was your first attempt. It will get easier. When you are a mother, SAHM or not, perfection goes out the window. 🙂 Keep your eyes on what is important, loving that sweet baby, and doing all those tasks around the house as best you can with love, and the JOY will follow.

  36. says

    It sounds like from all these comments that things will get easier for you. I’m sure with your perserverance, you will get it all figured out. And if not, you can always just stand there and stare at that cutie pie sleeping!!!! 😉

    By the way, I re-posted your Two Point Taco soup (from Weight Watchers Wednesdays) today. I’m not doing Weight Watchers, but it’s such a great recipe that I thought I’d share again.

    Take care!

  37. says

    You’re doing great!! I certainly don’t know the trick to babies and cooking! I babysat for my friends a few weeks ago, they have a 6 yr old, a 3 yrd old and a 6 month old–let me just say that thank heaven’s for their sweet 6 yr old because he was my saving grace as I was trying to hold a fussy baby, and feed two hungry kiddos. I’m amazed my mothers–y’all are awesome 🙂

  38. says

    You go girl. I know it’s gotta be tough. I like how you described it all out for us. So, just out of curiosity, why did you swear you’d never wear a baby bjorn? Just wondering. Kelly

  39. says

    Uh I can’t make a casserole even without a baby wanting my attention. You are amazing. I would have burned down the house. You can totally do this! Thanks for painting a little bit of a portrait of what it might like to be SAHM. Rockstar Erin..

  40. says

    If you haven’t already gotten the Bjorn, I’ve heard great things about Ego Baby Carriers. They have more of a Bjorn look, but can be used front, hip, or back. I had a Bjorn with my 2 (big!) babies, and couldn’t use it very long at all. Good luck finding something that works well for you!

  41. says

    we are definitely going to have to check out the woombie, Next Edition (and BabyBoy did too) can bust out any swaddle, we have the the kiddopotamus swaddle blankets=) sounds like you’re doing a great job! I’d never done the bjorn in the house before until just the other night while cooking dinner=)


  1. […] When a shower is not an option for lots of reasons,* you must be prepared with alternative outfits that still look great, but don’t require much effort. *Hudson is not fooled by his bouncy seat. I appreciate the suggestions of putting him in his bouncy seat in the bathroom, but we’ve tried that. I know, I know. I can just let him cry for five minutes while I get my shower, but then I’m stuck with wet hair. I’ll do a “hair edition” of mom-style Monday so you know what my full hair routine is and how much time that requires. I just have to wait for him to take a solid nap before I can shower– or cook. […]

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