A Day in the Dekker House

posted by Andrea | 02/5/2013


I’m frequently asked if I would share what a day in my life looks like… if there are certain things I do at the same times every day, schedules I stick to, productivity secrets to share, or any tips for how I balance work, home, family, and life.

And while I would love to tell you that I wake up every day at 5:30, and that I’m super productive until I go to bed at the reasonable hour of 10:00 — that’s just not the case. Even as I type this post, I can’t help but feel a little disheartened by our haphazard daily and weekly “schedule”.

We are far from perfect. 

But since I preach “progress, not perfection,” I’m sharing our perfectly imperfect daily life with you!


5:45am — Dave’s alarm goes off. He almost always gets up right away — I continue sleeping.

6:30 — Nora is up and crying by her door. However, since she usually wakes up at least twice every night, I can tell she’s still tired.  So, I go into her room and lay in bed with her until 7:30 when she wakes up again — this time much happier.

7:45 — I change Nora’s diaper, change her clothes, make her bed, and feed her.

8:00 — Nora plays with toys in the living room and watches Curious George on TV while I get dressed, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, and check my emails.

8:25 — Curious George is over… I know this because Nora is now pulling on my shirt as I sit at my computer desk!

8:30 — We read a few books (usually 2 or 3 books multiple times in a row) play with some toys, and dance with her toy piano.

8:45 — She has fun “helping” me unload the dishwasher (I started it before I went to bed last night) and putting the wet clothes into the dryer (I also put this on an 8-hour delay cycle before I went to bed).

9:00 — Her all-time favorite TV show (Super Readers) is on, so she watches that while I respond to several more emails, do some social media promotion, and look over my schedule for the rest of the day.

9:30 – 11:30 — I usually  try to get out of the house during this time. We might get groceries, walk around the mall, go visit a friend or relative with little kids, go to the library, play outside (weather permitting), or make up an errand JUST to get us out of the house. I’d be perfectly fine to stay home, but Nora needs a change of scenery… and a good car ride or stroller ride always tires her out!

11:30 — Lunch. I’m usually starving by this time, and since I dislike sandwiches, I almost always eat leftovers. If Nora fell asleep on our way home from running errands, I’ll eat my lunch in the car while doing a little more work on my laptop. If she didn’t fall asleep, then we’ll eat at the kitchen table like normal people.

Nora plays peek-a-boo every time she’s in her high chair.

She LOVES peek-a-boo!


12:00pm — if Nora didn’t fall asleep on our car ride home, I attempt to get her to take a nap some time between noon and 1:00pm. Some days, she only fights it for a few minutes and then falls asleep. Other days, there’s no way I’m going to get her to sleep. Period. After almost 15 months of dealing with her nap-less days, I can usually tell within 5 minutes if she is or is not going to fall asleep.

If she DOES fall asleep…. she won’t sleep for more than 25 minute (she’s a power-napper!) I use this time to do my “15 minutes” for the day. I clean up the lunch dishes, fold a load of laundry, glance at my email again, respond to anything urgent, and do any prep-work required for dinner.

12:45 / 1:00 — Nora is awake and we spend the next hour playing and reading books. If it’s not freezing cold or raining, we will probably go for a walk or do something outside.

2 – 4:00 — The babysitter arrives! We have a babysitter come to our home 3 days a week from 2-4pm. Also, my sister or my Dad usually comes one of the days the babysitter doesn’t come.

Since I work from home and don’t have the luxury of a toddler who sleeps during the day, this is MY TIME to work on my blog or do anything else that requires focused attention. I schedule all meetings, phone calls, etc. during this time and I also do a good chunk of my Virtual Assistant work during this time.

Sometimes, if Dave will be out late at a basketball game, I have the babysitter stay a little later so I can get dinner going. As I mentioned yesterday, dinner might be just shoving a defrosted meal from the freezer in the oven and cutting up veggies for the steamer. However, it might also be a full-blown freezer-cooking session, making many meals at once. It just depends on the day and our schedule.

4:30 — Nora and I hang out again until Dave gets home from school. Sometimes she watches while I cook, other times, we play with the iPad, look at photo albums, “talk on the phone”, or go outside again.


5:00 – 6:00 — Dave usually gets home around this time and he literally drops everything and scoops up Nora, who is anxiously waiting by the back door after hearing me ask “who’s here?”.

Dave plays with her while I finish making dinner. Then we eat, and Dave and Nora play while I clean up dinner and get a little more work done.

7:20 ish — Bath time!  Dave gives Nora a bath — which she absolutely LOVES. He lets her splash around for about 15 minutes, which gives me another 15 minutes to race around the house picking up. I put away all the toys and books, clear off the counters, start the dishwasher or a load of laundry (if necessary), and basically declutter the living areas of our home. It’s amazing how much I can accomplish in 15 minutes when I’m racing against the clock… or against the bath!

7:50 — Nora is out of the bath with a fresh diaper and jammies, and she’s ready for bed. She looks at the pictures above her changing table and eagerly points and grunts at the familiar faces while I attempt to comb through her crazy hair.

I feed her and lay down with her for a few minutes, and she quickly falls asleep. After months and months of dealing with a child who refused to go to bed at night, we FINALLY have a routine that seems to be working and she regularly goes to bed without much of an hassle (most of the time!)

8:00pm – 12:00am — This is when Dave and I get everything done that needs to be done!

I usually take a shower and get ready for bed right after I put Nora to bed. This gives me a little energy to be super productive for the next few hours.

Dave uses this time to do all his grading and lesson planning. He packs his lunch, irons his clothes, washes dishes, takes a shower, etc. etc.

After I’m out of the shower and ready for bed, I park it at my computer desk and type away. This is when I write most of my blog posts, respond to lengthier emails and comments, do more VA work, etc. This is the ONLY time of the day when our house is quiet, and no matter how exhausted I might be, I need this time to just sit quietly and think.

As many of you know, I used to write all my blog posts on Friday and I had a babysitter here all day. I absolutely LOVED that system, but unfortunately it doesn’t work as well now that Nora is older and has massive issues with being separated from me 🙂 She cries most of the time the babysitter is here, so I’ve opted for several 2-hour windows instead of one full day. I’m not quite as productive, but it’s better for Nora, and it is helpful to have at least 2 hours of focused time to get something accomplished.

Right before bed — The one thing I ALWAYS do before I go to bed is take 5 minutes to quickly jot down my to-do list for tomorrow and prioritize the top 5 things that are most important for me to accomplish. I honestly don’t think I could fall asleep if I didn’t do this!

Wee Hours:

11:30 – 12:30 — Nora wakes up between this time almost every single night — and she wakes up screaming. We’ve tried letting her cry it out (so, so many times) but since we’re not willing to clean up puke every night of the week, I simply go into her room and lay down with her for a few more minutes until she goes right back to sleep.

Then we go to bed.

Nora’s random midnight wake-up is another reason Dave and I stay up so late. We both have plenty of work to do, and it’s frustrating to go to bed at 10:30, only to wake up for Nora an hour later.  Neither one of us are naturally night owls, but for now, this is our “new normal” and it’s actually working pretty well!

3:30am — Nora is up again… screaming. I get up and get her back sleeping within 10-15 minutes. Then I crawl back into bed. Sometimes she might wake up more than this… but she almost always wakes up around midnight and then around 3:30.

5:45 — Dave’s alarm goes off and we start all over again 🙂


Obviously, not every day runs exactly as I outlined above. I might be gone for a chunk of the day for something work related, we might go to Dave’s basketball game in the afternoon, or to a friend’s house for dinner at night. We might have some of Nora’s “friends” come over to play, or we might have an off day where we watch Baby Einstein movies on the couch all afternoon. Also, our weekend schedule is quite different because Dave is home all day 🙂

No two days are ever the same — which is sometimes refreshing, and other times, it’s just down-right exhausting.

I realize that by sharing all of this, some of you might be thinking:

  • She’s a work-a-holic
  • They never do anything fun
  • She has her priorities all messed up

And others are probably thinking:

  • What a “gravy” life — I’d like to sit at home all day with my kids
  • She has no idea what “busy” really is
  • What is she going to do when she has more kids?

However, I have a hunch there are least a few people reading this and thinking:

  • I can totally relate to that.
  • I’m happy to know there are other moms out there who struggle to manage everything they do each day.
  • It sure makes me feel good that someone who is naturally so organized still has to hire a babysitter so she can get stuff done!

Life with a toddler is just so much different than I thought it would be. Not necessarily “bad different” just “different”.

And even though Dave and I are often over worked and over tired, we also know how blessed we are to have jobs that we love, a home we love, loads of family and friends who live close by, and a cute little girl who ALWAYS keeps us on our toes.

Tomorrow, I’m sharing more of my thoughts about balancing home, family, work, and life… so make sure you come back to read that! In the mean-time, feel free to relish in the fact that although we try really hard, the Dekkers definitely don’t have all our ducks in a row all the time 🙂

Filed under: LifeDaily LifeVA Work

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  1. Sally


    This post really made me smile. I find it funny how we can live so many miles apart ( I live in the Channel Islands, UK) yet our life with a toddler ( I have a 20 month old son) are so very similar with the same related issues and feelings. Refreshing to see such an honest blog x


  2. Lourdes


    Thank you for sharing !! I have 2 daughthers of 7 and 2 years. The small one is still nursing and sleeps with us. When she wakes up more than 3 times crying day after day I already loss my patience. I fell miserable for not sleeping, really tired and bad for losing my patience. The other one still comes to our bed every other day. It is good to hear that they are not the only ones that wake up every so often and do not like naps!!


  3. erin


    Just saw you posted on this after I did a search (duh!). Thanks!!


  4. erin


    I just found your blog a I’m really loving it! Right now I’m a working mom (outside of the home) with a three year old and one on the way. I’m interested in you VA work. I know a little bit about it from another site, but how’s it working for you. I’d love to do something like that when #2 comes.


  5. Rachel


    Wow. My daughter was never good at napping as a little one and it took over a year to get her naps to increase but only 25 minutes?! At least I had multiple 45-minute stints throughout the day for respite. Good work handling that so well!

    Since i’m reading/commenting several months after you wrote/posted this you might have already started this but the thought that comes to mind re: night wakings is “wet diapers”. Our little one had a similar waking pattern (~1230 and again ~4AM) and it was usually related to the times that she’d pee during the night. Someone suggested to me that I go in just before the typical wake-up time and rouse her enough to sit her on the potty — and this was actually more of a potty-training suggestion than a sleep-thru-the-night one. (I didn’t actually try that out more than once because it had always been a struggle to get her back to sleep). Maybe that’s something you could try, since it seems you are able get her back to sleep relatively quickly when she wakes up.

    p.s. Our daughter didn’t sleep through the night consistantly until she was 21 months old…


  6. Jennifer


    I just subscribed today, and I’m so happy to have found your site. I loved reading this post. My 15 mo yr old still wakes 2-3 times a night and I keep wondering what I’ve done wrong. No “rituals” that I read about have ever worked with him. But, I can usually get him back to sleep quickly unless he’s teething….ugh! Anyway, that wasn’t really the point of your post, or my comment. I am a school counselor and have dreamed of starting an online life/wellness/student coaching and blogging business and working from home, but I’m so chicken!! There seems to be so much on the Internet already! Any advice??? Anyone???


  7. skye @ neathering our fest


    I absolutely LOVE this post for so many many reasons. The main one being that I don’t know anyone who runs their business and works out of their home with a baby/toddler and I’m well on my way to doing just that and I had no idea what to expect. Half of me says “PSH it will be easy I can do it” and the other half is petrified that I will fail miserable. I love how honest and detailed you are – even though I know each household and baby schedule is completely different this at least gives me SOME kind of idea of what I will be working with.

    We are on the fence about daycare – the church where my husband works has a CDC and we get a hefty discount so I’m thinking of sending our baby there a couple days a week so I can get things done business wise and around the house. Would you recommend this or recommend hiring someone to come to your home and watch your baby? Do you have a hard time separating from Nora even though she is in the same house? This is something I’ve been thinking about…

    Thanks for the wonderful post Andrea. Love it! 🙂 xoxo


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Skye,
    I didn’t know anyone who worked from home and had a child at home full time either — come to think of it, I still don’t know anyone who works full time from home, has their kids full time at home, and has a spouse who works full time OUT of the home. So maybe I’m just crazy!

    I would say don’t make any decisions about daycare until after the baby is born if possible — although, since you’re getting a good discount, it’s probably the way to go.

    As you’ve probably read, Nora has been quite a challenge for us, and although we’ve tried to send her to in-home childcare, she basically just gets “kicked out” because she’s too disruptive crying ALL DAY LONG! She also refuses to eat and sleep when I’m not around, so as you can imagine, day care is not a viable option for us right now.

    This is why I’ve opted for in-home child care for only a couple hours throughout the week. Nora can handle it better, and I can still get work done. It’s not totally ideal for my productivity, but it’s the best we can do right now!

    Good luck wit the new babe!


  8. makinna


    I just wanted to tell you that I can totally relate to the non napping toddler. My first, now 8 yrs, didn’t nap alot but went to sleep nicely. My now 2 yrs is crazy! napping is like the end of the world! and night time is bad! I have to hold him until he falls asleep! Its nice to hear that my child isn’t too different. And i hear ya with life with a toddler is “different”. I figured with my second it would be much like the first, but i’m thinking each child is very different!


  9. Theresa


    Thank you so much for sharing! Toddlers (we have 19 month old twins) are unpredictable and hard work! I’m not sure how moms working outside the home can pull it off. You’re doing great. (And it is so refreshing to see that I am not the only one who turns on a kiddie show so I can get dinner on the table!)


  10. Nicki


    I can relate to a lot of your routine. Our routines have a lot of similarities. I also have kids that never used to sleep much during the day and were pretty bad sleepers at night. Even though I am working outside of the house, I would be home a lot early on. So I would definitely have to schedule time in the day when I had to work.

    I have one question for you, though: What do you do about writer’s block? Or do you not really have this?

    I am a professor and am supposed to work on publishing articles, aside from teaching, of course. I have a two and four year old and schedule, like you, time in the day for writing (mostly in the evening when the house is quiet or during nap). But it happens that when I sit down during my scheduled writing time, that I simply can’t write and focus on it. I write and re-write and re-write and…… and at the end, hate what I wrote.

    Any tips?


  11. Michelle H.


    Reading this post is so refreshing! Our third child is and always has been a horrible sleeper. He has regularly woken-up at night, screaming, like your daughter, since his birth. We have tried EVERYTHING, to figure out why he does this, and to get him to stop, but we are totally stumped. We also just go lay by him until he falls asleep, b/c that is the only way he will go back to sleep.
    He is 2 1/2 now, and he will finally sleep 8-10 hours on most nights; he wakes “only” twice a week on average. Hang in there! Hopefully she will outgrow the nightly screaming 🙂


  12. Kimberly


    I’m exhausted just reading your post!!!! It also takes me right back to when I had 3 babies under the age of 4. I didn’t work outside the home and it was everything I had to keep them, myself and the house clean with a few groceries in the pantry and clean clothes on top of the dryer or in the dryer!!!! Now those babies are 18, 16, and 14…….cherish this time of no time and sleepless nights because it’s gone before you know it!!!


  13. Shareen


    I can relate completely and I only wish my parents were closer to spend time with my daughter and babysit. I think I’d be much more sane and excited for a second child. Now I’m hoping for a second but know it would be very overwhelming. I love you and your posts. Greetings from Florida.


  14. Michelle


    It seems to me you’ve got a good balance in your day … time with Nora, time for work, time with Dave. And i completely agree with a routine vs a schedule (an invaluable piece of advice from my brother-in-law when we had our first!).

    And you’ve found a routine that works for your family … that’s what we’re all trying to do! And it changes from year to year, from child to child.

    The routine my first was on was very different than the routine my fourth was on … due, in part, to personality but also due, in part to life circumstances. With my first, there was no one that had to be dropped off at school! lol

    Keep doing what works for you, as long as it works for you. And when you find it stops working, just keep experimenting until you find the new routine that works!


  15. Jen


    I think it’s really awesome that you have this good of a schedule! I’ve recently been struggling to get back into freelance work and still make time for my toddlers and this gives me hope and a little inspiration to just keep trying until we find a system that works for us!


  16. Kathy


    Your first baby is definitely an adjustment to your routines and honestly the thing that you can reply on is no two days are alike. And no two babies are alike either so any suggestions we provide to you about waking up in the night are options for you to try and not necessarily the answer for Nora. She could also be teething and her gums could be asking. Those frozen teething rings could help and bongella (not sure of the spelling that you rub on their gums. A tip I was given was a good one was put some bongella onto a toothbrush and then they can chew on it in the spot that is most comforting to them. Obviously this is not a middle of the night thing and not when they are walking around and could trip over. Maybe when they are sitting in the high chair. Maybe a warm bottle soppy cup of milk just before bed time to keep her tummy full through the night. Being a mother without your virtual assistant job is full-on that’s for sure.


  17. Doreen@househoneys.com


    Great post! The pictures of Nora are ADORABLE, especially the last one. She’s one happy little girl it seems. I’m happy to say I can’t relate to what you’re going through, as we only had one child and at 6 weeks old she started sleeping through the night (from around 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.), but you’re handling it well and before you know it this cycle will just be a memory. Hang in there.