Loss of Leisure

“Staying home with kids, that’s a full-time job.”

This is a common response I get when I explain to people that I am an at-home dad. I usually nod politely and say something about how the two boys do keep me busy.

Even at “full-time,” this job (and I use that term loosely) has some perks that few other jobs have. For instance, shaving is always optional and I can wear basketball shorts all day. But the truth is, up until last week, I had manipulated nap schedules so that it wasn’t really full-time at all. I’d get at least 90 minutes and sometimes two full hours in the afternoon when both boys were snoozing. This would have been a great time to vacuum, dust or scrub the tub, but it generally proved to be an even better time to comb the Notre Dame football message boards and catch up on missed Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

The days would go something like this: Momma heads to work at 9, James (little bro) goes down for a nap shortly thereafter, Sammy (big bro) and I watch cartoons, build block castles and read some books, James wakes up at 10:30, we go out for a run or walk, have lunch, do an errand or two, then it’s dual naps at 2:30, and daddy free time thereafter.

This little madman recently turned one and decided he’s done with his afternoon nap.

Recently, James turned one and decided he was done with the second nap. He still takes that first one, but it now goes from 9 a.m. til noon. Sammy and I are rendered house-bound during this stretch, and my wife says he’s too young to watch The Wire. That severely limits our options. By the time James wakes up, I’m ready for a nap after entertaining a three-year old all morning. No such luck. It’s lunchtime.

Once everyone is fed and I’ve picked most of the Goldfish cracker remains out of James’s hair, we’re close to 1 p.m. We can either go for a run or hit up the grocery store, but not both, before we need to be back for Sammy’s nap. Then it’s me and the little guy, mano-a-mano, for a long, long time. I’ll plop him in his crib while I take a shower, but he’s standing up and shrieking within five minutes. He just wants to be free to eat tiny objects off the floor and to try to pry the safety covers off electrical outlets. Any other activities make him angry.

So, unfortunately, this gig has turned into a full-time workload. The staggered nap schedule has ruined my afternoons of leisure. Where to get the best meatball sub in Minneapolis? Couldn’t tell you. I’m not even sure who Notre Dame’s second-string right guard is for Saturday’s spring game.