Happy Tuesday everyone! Hope you all enjoyed your holiday Monday (or in the case of parents everywhere, I hope you survived yet ANOTHER winter day when your darling kiddos were home from school/preschool.)
So today I thought I’d take a little snapshot of what our mornings currently look like. When spring comes I hope a lot of our mornings will involve walks/playground outings and next fall Ryland will be in preschool THREE mornings a week (!!!). But right now we are more or less home bound and incredibly boring. But in the spirit of one day looking back and longing for lazy mornings at home, here’s what goes down in our households most days.
5:30ish. Bobby is up. We just stopped co-sleeping (for multiple reasons particular to Bobby including grassiness and stuffiness at night that made him SUPER restless, not a huge comfort nurser like Ryland, a much quicker and more efficient eater than Ryland so he only wakes 2 times to feed versus like 10). It’s gone really well with him in the rock n play next to our bed but one downside is much earlier morning wake ups. However I don’t mind too much because these dark, quiet moments with just Bobby are fast becoming some of my favorites times of the day.
I take him to the family room, feed him, and then he hangs out in the rock n play or on the playmat before conking out (this nap is usually pretty long, 1-2 hours).
I also change diaper #1, have coffee cup #1, eat my typical breakfast Clif bar, and catch up on some very intellectual DVR.
And then I enjoy the glorious peace and silence until...
6-7ish: The beast awakes. I kid, mostly. Most mornings she wakes up sweet and smiling and huggy. But occasionally she wakes up like a really pissed off hyena. Or even morefun, some mornings she wakes up with a dirty diaper that she has managed to “paint” on her crib (parenting is delightful and not at all disgusting right?)
I make Ryland breakfast, either a Kodiak cake pancake or an English muffin with PB (or if we’re really out of sorts a fruit pouch and cereal bar). Usually by this point I’ve switched on the local news or Today show (Ryland is old enough where I hesitate to keep Vanderpump Rules, I don’t want her first full phrase to be “stupid slut.”
The second she sees food she becomes frantic and throws herself at my legs, tugs on my sweater, raises her fists to the heavens in despair, basically acts like I have never fed her before in her life and this is her last chance to avoid starvation. Feeding a toddler is what I imagine feeding time at the zoo must be like. I manage to get her in the high chair and practically throw pieces of English muffin directly into her mouth as she screams for more. By the time the meal is over we are both exhausted and covered in peanut butter.
Usually somewhere in here is diaper change #1 for Ryland. Since we have nowhere to go she stays in pajamas or ends up in just a diaper.
Playtime quickly veers from her toys to anything in the house. Among her favorite activities: rearranging everything in our closet, pulling everything out of the drawers in our bathroom, bringing random items out of our room into various corners in the house where they will stay hidden for weeks or even months, flinging quarters in the air, and the old standby, playing with Tupperware.
8ish: I shower while Bobby finishes up his nap. This is essential for my sanity and I recommend it to all moms of infants. I have to start my day with a shower, even if we aren’t going to leave the house, no matter how cranky the babies are, even if it means Bobby needs to fuss for a few minutes, even if Ryland uses that time to draw all over the bathroom wall with my eyeliner. When you breastfeed especially and have the night sweats that come with it, you just wake up feeling gross and really need that shower. Usually Ryland hangs out in the bathroom, sometimes half in the shower. I remind myself that one day I will take showers in private again. And then I change from my nighttime comfy clothes to my daytime comfy clothes (which are essentially the same but I tell myself they’re different to feel better about living in leggings and sweatpants).
8:30ish: Coffee #2. Bobby wakes up. He gets diaper change #2 and eats again. I usually succumb and put on a show or movie for Ryland to keep her entertained while Bobby eats. These days it’s usually Sing.
9-10ish: Movie/TV time continues. I either use this time to write, cuddle Bobby (or usually a combo of both) or get stuff done around the house like cleaning or laundry. Ryland and Bobby are both fans of the vacuum and because we have a golden retriever with ALL the hair, I vacuum pretty much daily. Laundry is also almost a daily task because babies and toddlers are adorable and also disgusting. Somewhere in here Ryland usually gets diaper change #2.
10: Coffee #3! (No I don't have a problem...) Snack time! Ryland usually gets a yogurt squeeze pouch (best invention ever!!)
She downs this in like 10 seconds and demands more food. I cave and give her a cereal bar which is shoved into her mouth pretty much the second the wrapper comes off. She wants more. I put my foot down. She grabs my hand and leads me to the fridge. I say no. She leads me to the pantry. I say no. Cue meltdown #1 of the day until I can distract her with something shiny (literally).
10-11ish. A tricky time of morning. Bobby is typically napping again and Ryland is typically bored and restless and ready for lunch (despite her 2 snacks). This is when it would be really great to be able to you know, leave the house, even just to go outside or on a walk. But with temps below freezing we’re stuck. Sometimes we’ll go upstairs to the playroom. Sometimes we’ll find more things to do downstairs. Some days we color. Sometimes she follows me around as I do chores. And then there are the A+ parenting days when we watch another show/movie (please don’t judge me, I judge myself enough already!)
11ish. Bobby eats again and gets diaper change #3 (that brings us to 5 total). Ryland is back to her food demands. I always try to push lunch until 12 but typically cave and feed her closer to 11:30. Usually a sandwichor quesadilla and raisins/veggie straws/crackers and hummus. Something easy (and of course the ubiquitous fruit and veggie pouch, these are single handedly responsible for the reason my daughter doesn’t have scurvy, or rickets).
After lunch we play and I count down the seconds until nap time. Again I try to push this until 1 but typically don’t make it and she ends up down by like 12:30-12:45.
So that’s our morning deal right now. We have good ones where everyone is happy and no one cries. And we have bad ones when we’re all in tears by 10. I know before long mornings are going to turn into rushed, on the go productions so I really am trying to remember to embrace these long, unplanned winter mornings trapped inside. Because one day I will miss them...
or at least parts of them ;)
Here’s the truth.
We had a rough morning around here yesterday. Not serious, big deal kind of rough. Just the everyday, run of the mill rough of taking care of two babies under two.
We’ve had a lot of these hard moments lately, because R has been back at work and since Christmas has only been off one full day, hard because as anyone on the East Coast can relate to, it’s been brutally cold, single digit cold, far too cold to go outside with babies.
And I think yesterday it all just came to a head, this long week of R working and me being solo with both kids, and a long week of being stuck inside all day every day. This post Christmas period is always hard, and this year it feels even harder because of this relentless cold weather. I don’t think I realized just how much harder it is to have a baby in winter, when you can’t just get out for a walk whenever you feel like it. You can feel like a hostage inside your own house, and your hostage taker just happens to be 3 feet tall and wear diapers.
I wanted to share our rough morning because at least for me I need to hear stories of other parents who sometimes really struggle with parenting, who love their kids but sometimes want to hide in the closet with a bottle of wine and a block of cheese to get away from them.
I follow a lot of blogs that make parenting look glossy and beautiful 100% of the time, and I love those blogs because it’s nice to see that side of life, the side that’s always cute and photogenic and Instagram worthy. But anyone who is a parent knows that more often life with kids is messy and tear and snot streaked and littered with crumbs and sticky fibers.
Nothing particularly hard even happened. It was just one of those days I could tell my daughter would be cranky just from the sounds she made when she woke up. And she was cranky and demanding and fussy as I tried to change her and make her breakfast while also changing and nursing Bobby. We got through the early morning with a viewing of Sing (yes I have a dependence on Netflix movies to get through these long days, anyone who judges has clearly never been stuck inside for over a week with a toddler and infant). But then the wheels started to come off.
Ryland wanted something, but as frequently happens due to her lack of language skills, it was like playing charades with an angry drunk. I didn’t get what she wanted and she only got more and more frustrated with me. I could see the tantrum growing like a storm gaining strength and I tried to head it off. I got down on the floor to play puzzles. She threw the puzzle pieces across the room. I took her upstairs to color and she threw the crayons across the room (sensing a theme here?). All the while her steady whining turned into red faced tears.
At this point Bobby also started to get restless and fuss because that’s what 7 week olds periodically do. And as I tried to settle him, Ryland’s tantrum just escalated. I tried to pick her up, to give her water, to console her but she just flailed and cried harder. I could feel my own frustrations grow. I wanted to yell back, to run away, to punt one of her stuffed animals across the room.
But instead I did what I felt was the more adult response. I picked up my mess of a daughter, carried her into her room, put her down, left, and closed the door.
There was a long, almost surprised pause as she drew breath before unleashing the beast. I walked away as she screamed and threw herself at the door. I sat down and pulled up her video monitor to make sure she was safe and watched an epic fit of toddler rage.
For a moment I wanted to laugh because she was so absurdly angry about literally nothing. But just as quickly I could feel my own hot tears come, because I was so tired of dealing with tantrum after tantrum alone, because we had been stuck inside for days and I knew she was bored and frustrated and I couldn’t make that better, because I couldn’t understand what my daughter wanted or what was wrong, because to deal with her I had to let Bobby cry, because I couldn’t just fix it, because I was sick of diapers and the endless cycle of cleaning and feeding and picking up every new mess. I cried because it was 10am and I was already totally exhausted.
I felt a surge of guilt, which only made it worse, and I walked into her room and picked her up. I sat down with her and felt her little back rise and fall with sobs, brushed sweaty hair off her forehead. And I cried with her and felt totally silly and ridiculous, but we had just both reached our limit.
We got ourselves together. I made Ryland some lunch pancakes and she calmed down. I calmed down and laughed at myself for losing it over something so routine.
I love my kids and I love this life. I wouldn’t choose another. And so many people deal with so much harder (parents of multiples I salute you). I knew having two kids so close in age would be hard in the beginning, and it is. My kids are just over a year and a half apart. They’re both babies. One just happens to be a fully mobile baby capable of rage and mood swings and demanding of mama's attention about 95% of the time. And so it’s hard.
Most days we do pretty well. Some days we even get everyone dressed and bathed and fed home cooked meals instead of eating fruit and veggie pouches for dinner. But sometimes we don't do as well. Some days we melt down. Sometimes I feel terrible because I can never be 100% mom to either kid. Im always splitting my attention now. One kid sometimes has to cry while I deal with the other. It’s just unavoidable. And it causes me an enormous amount of mom guilt, particularly with Ryland, because for 19 months I was able to give her 100% of me. And I feel even guiltier knowing Bobby won’t ever get any of that undivided version of me, the mom who can hold and snuggle him for hours on end.
We’re all still adjusting to this new world order.
And most days we do it a little more gracefully and with fewer tears. Most days we even manage one or two of those glossy, Instagram worthy moments, where everyone is behaving and happy and not hurling objects across the room.
But some days we melt down. That’s life with two babies. Heck that’s life with one baby. That’s life period, imperfect. And I think it’s important to share that too, because life without it’s flaws and ugly moments is just a carbon copy. I prefer the real thing.
Happy New Year’s (one day late) everyone! We continue to live a pretty unexciting life right now because...
And that’s after it warmed up a little. You know what two things don’t mix? Infants and below freezing temperatures. Right now this winter is looking a little daunting to me, because between a super active flu season + these crazy cold temperatures + an infant, we’re going to be stuck in the house, a lot, like a lot, enough to possibly make mama go insane.
Mostly because of this one:
We have had a trying few days with this little girl/wild beast. She has a cold so I’m (hoping) it’s the reason for her sudden shift to the dark arts. I’m usually pretty exhausted by like 7:30am because she’s been waking up somehow already pissed off about life, like scorched earth, violent rampage pissed off. Once we get through these morning demon possessions, the rest of the day I spend waiting for the next infraction on my part or George's part (he really pisses her off when he does things like steal her food), or the world’s part that will set her off. It’s like working for an incredibly irrational, unpredictable boss who vacillates between wanting to hug you or verbally and physically abuse you. Like I now know what Naomi Campbell’s assistants must feel like, never knowing when some object will be hurled at them. And there’s no predicting any of it, because sometimes all it takes is for me to take her out of her high chair the wrong way or not let her have 2 scones for dinner that sets off a battle royale that lasts an hour.
We've been dealing with tantrums for a while now but these have been different: red in the face, almost hyperventilating, never ending tantrums that are almost hilarious in their excess.
I usually don't know whether to laugh, try to put her in time out, try to console her, or just start screaming and crying right along with her. Again I sincerely hope it’s a (temporary) combination of her cold plus literally being stuck inside all day long (and she is SUCH an outdoor girl), and not just the onset of a toddler personality disorder that will lead us all to heavy drinking.
On the plus side I have one child who doesn’t ever try to hit me or make me want to hide in a closet eating my feelings in Christmas candy.
Luckily my mom lives nearby so we’ve been able to escape there a lot for a change of scenery. Yesterday morning when we drove there, it was absolutely gorgeous out. The drive is pretty much a straight shoot through rural farmland, and the cold weather turned all of the fields into ice that looked like acres of glitter in the bright sun.
That may be the only upside to this cold weather though, because right now it feels like this winter is going to be miserable and last FOREVER. Like straight up Games of Thrones level winter misery (and I live in Virginia for God's sake, I know I'm a huge wuss, I normally don't mind cold weather and actually usually love winter, but cold weather with a newborn and a toddler feels like this:)
We're going to have to come up with a lot of indoor activities other than Ryland taking all of R's ties off the hook in the closet for the 500th time. My main activity the last few days has been a big Christmas clean up/general house clean and reorganization. I think this officially makes me old, but the second Christmas ended I was literally itching to take down all of the decorations and couldn't even wait until New Year's.
I know, I know. That makes me a literal Grinch. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas, like fanatical, almost annoying levels of loving Christmas. I used to hate when my mom took down decorations and would have happily had her leave them up until Valentine's Day. Even before kids as an adult I used to be fine leaving Christmas up for as long as possible. But when you have kids and the house is already cluttered with their crap, there's something about all of the Christmas crap that just completely loses its charm at midnight on the 25th. It goes from magical winter wonderland to CLUTTER, like a spell wearing off.
So down it all went and my goodness did that feel good, like almost endorphins after a long run good.
I also have managed to organize my medicine cabinet and spice drawer, so EXCITING times over at our household, lemme tell you.
The good news is that Ryland starts back up preschool next week (once a week) and my sweet and always super helpful mom is going to take her a couple days this week (R is currently on an 8 day stretch which means I am a single parent from wake up until bed time every day all day) which will help preserve all of our sanity.
And winter will end eventually....
I'm a thirty-something mom of two, wife, pediatric RN, and writer with a passion for the all the big and little things in life.