When Per and I moved to Gran Canaria a few months ago, everyone was imagining the Svendsen family living amid the constant sunshine, with long, relaxing days on the beach, Mommy sipping prosecco and little Per Christian cheerfully playing in the sand next to me.
So now inquiring minds want to know… how exactly does a Mommy on full-time maternity leave spend her days in Gran Canaria? Is it all sea and sun and a life of leisure?
Surprisingly, the answer is no.
I’m the mother of an active, inquisitive and sometimes challenging ten-month old. I’m not working at the moment, so I spend my days the same way as most stay-at-home-mommies all over the world – I feed my son, I play with him, I (try to) get him to nap, I clean his clothes, I change lots and lots of dirty diapers, and I (try to) get us out of the house once a day.
There’s not too much sun and leisure in there, I’m afraid. Here’s what a typical day looks like for Mommy Svendsen:
7am – In the shower, dressed and semi-assembled before Per Christian wakes up (Hint: this is the key to everything!! Getting myself up first means I’m at attention and ready for enemy fire from the very beginning…)
730/800 – Wave One begins. PC is up, gets his first diaper change and his morning bottle. Then a bit of playtime in the living room while Mommy catches snippets of the BBC and slurps down her first coffee of the day.
900 – PC gets breakfast, which means that he practices getting fruit in the general vicinity of his mouth and Mommy practices her clean-up skills. Second (and sometimes third) diaper change of the day. Second (and sometimes third) costume change of the day.
930/1000 – PC goes down for his morning nap. Angels sing in heaven and Mommy breathes a (small) sigh of relief. The morning nap used to be a good two hours, but lately our sneaky little boy has been cutting this down to an hour or so. I am not impressed with this development.
There is just enough time during the morning nap to quickly clean up the disaster from Wave One (dishes, laundry, pulling porridge from my hair, etc.) and to get ready for Wave Two. I prep his lunch “matpakke” so we can eat out during the afternoon wherever we are, I check and refill his diaper bag and make sure the car/stroller is all packed and ready to go. Also Spanish lessons twice a week during this time (all the while praying PC stays asleep just a little bit longer….).
1030/1100 – Wave Two begins. We have a good three hours to get out of the house around this time everyday. We do grocery shopping once a week. We hit up the local fruit & veggie stand (with a stop for cortados and shameless flirting with the vacationing grandmothers). We go down to the Norwegian church for their children’s sing-along hour, or we go by Pappa’s office and distract him. We even sometimes get out the dreaded baby jogger and try to put it to good use. When the weather gets a bit warmer, this is hopefully the time when we’ll get down to the beach and get little Per Christian’s toes in the water.
1330/1400 – PC goes down for his afternoon nap. Angels sing in heaven and Mommy breathes a (slightly longer) sigh of relief. The afternoon nap is usually at least two hours, and it’s the best time of the day for me to get my own stuff done. I do some writing, I take care our finances, I email friends, I research local barnehagens, I do a bit of dinner prep, etc etc etc. If I’m very lucky, I may even finish my to-do list just in time to put my head down for exactly 42 seconds before Per Christian awakens.
1530/1600 – Wave Three begins. Snack time and play time and, quite honestly, the nicest time of the day. We’re all finished with our errands by now, so it’s just me and my son and the fantastic afternoon sunshine. We bring the play-mat outside to enjoy the cool breeze on the terrace, where there is a lot of room for Per Christian to crawl around and play with his balls. This is the time of day when I’m most grateful to have this precious and oh-too-fleeting time with Per Christian.
1730 – A final race for the finish line… bath, pajamas, bottle, lullabies, bed. I love, love, love bath-time. Per Christian can sit on his own in the tub now, and he enjoys playing with his stacking cups and rubber ducky friends. He gets a nice, long soak in the tub to wash away all the debris from Waves 1-3. (Note: the length of time spent on dirt-removal increases in direct proportion to the length of time he’s crawling around the terrace. It’s getting longer every day…)
1830 – Glorious, glorious bedtime! Per Christian falls asleep very well on his own now, so there’s not much to worry about after he goes down. I get to make dinner in peace, and then Per comes home and we have an actual, real-life meal together.
The ironic part is that, within an hour or two of Per Christian falling asleep for the night, I start to miss him. I find myself checking on him several times, just peeking into his room to hear him snoring away in his crib. He’ll be asleep now for 12-13 hours, and then we get up and do it all over again.
So that’s the less-than-glamorous island life for the Svendsen family these days. It’s a bit different than we originally expected, but make no mistake – I wouldn’t trade it for anything!