How DO People Do It?

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Categories Breastfeeding, Feeding, Infants, Mommy Issues, Toddlers

I have a confession to make: I have no idea how to be alone with all four of my children (awake) at the same time.

Sure, my 3-year old is a dream; she is really almost entirely self-sufficient. Baby Brett is also pretty easy. But as he is a 100% breast-fed baby, when it’s time for him to eat, I’m pretty tied down.

This leaves the monkeys twins, Aaron and Brady. These two are a challenge. It’s not that they are bad kids; they are just toddlers. Adventurous, curious toddlers. Plotting and scheming toddlers with their own “language“. So they need constant monitoring when they are awake. And almost constant physical intervention. The word “no” gets no reaction from them whatsoever. Well, except for a smile and a laugh. (And I think they are learning how to wink at us before climbing on the back of the couch as well.)

As I type this, I feel that I must disclose that I am really, truly alone with the children for very tiny windows of time during the day. I am blessed with a work-at-home husband who does 99% of the heavy lifting. But he does get caught up on work phone calls or occasionally would like to use the bathroom or shower.

Since I was born with only average, human-length arms, during those times when I am alone, if I need to sit and breastfeed, I only have two choices for the twins. First, I can take a chance and let Aaron and Brady (who sense weakness and go for it) have full run of their normal playroom. This room is <em>mostly </em>childproof but still has a few holes that they are drawn to when they know no one can jump up and physically stop them.

OR, I could confine them in their ever-present pack & play with a toy or a DVD for the duration of the nursing session. This can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the baby’s mood at the time. That seems a little unfair to them.

If there is anyone out there who has any advice on how to make these nursing sessions a little less stressful, please help!

This post is cross-posted on my personal blog,

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6 thoughts on “How DO People Do It?”

  1. Oh, Cynthia, I feel for you! That sounds so, so hard. I have a couple of thoughts which you can feel free to ignore if they’re not helpful—what do I know about having four kids? I’ve heard people talk about nursing in slings—maybe this would give you a bit more mobility? I had a mom with 3 kids really close in age tell me that she made nursing time story time for her older ones, and they would all have a big snuggle on the couch. Not sure if your monkeys are ready for this and could sit still. My guys will sit forever with Richard Scarry books—so much to look at. They are a bit older than yours, but not much. I also might take an afternoon (with all your free time!) and finish babyproofing the playroom. That way, you can have a kid-safe place when you need one. I’m trying to think of toys that occupy my kids for long stretches—-Mr. Potato head is a huge hit, megablocks, a play kitchen….anything new, of course! Good luck. Keep us posted on how things are going for you.

  2. I don’t think it sounds unfair to have them sit in a PNP. I found that age to be very difficult to have them unsupervised for any length of time… not because of what they got into, but because of them hurting each other. You can think of it as some much-needed downtime for everyone. And I would think this would be easier to implement the younger they are – they don’t know that getting free range of the playroom is an option!

    I used to feel guilty that we let the boys watch tv every morning while we get everyone ready for work and school, like maybe I should do something like get up earlier to give myself more time. But I’ve stopped feeling bad because it works for us and keeps everyone happy. Sure ideally they should be doing something interactive and educational, but it makes the entire morning a lot less stressful for me.

    Anything that gives you less stress is a good thing!

  3. I have twin boys (they are 3 1/2 now) so I know how active they NEED to be. But that said, how about trying one of the following:

    1. Play dough (with trucks – they can move the playdough around in the little dumptrucks (at the table) and so forth – when we involved other props like trucks, etc. they’d actually play with playdough for a good 20 or so minutes.

    2. Sticker books or just blank paper with stickers – I am so amazed at how much my boys LOVE stickers. If I bring out stickers, they immediately want to play with them and will sit at the table for quite awhile.

    3. Make a fort in your living room with sheets and put some pretend kitchen food or other pretend play things in there. They love that they can go in and out of the fort – and they will do that over and over and over.

    4. Save any fine motor skill type activities for ONLY nursing times… so things like blocks, etc. aren’t available to them except at those times. Might make those types of activities more alluring and make them want to play with those while you are nursing.

    5. Otherwise, PNP sounds like a great option :)

    Good luck.

  4. I too have four children, but am blessed with one in school full time. I have a 3 1/2 yo son and 22 month old twin girls. My days are filled with interventions and constantly sitting in the same room with the 3, making sure no one beats up the other one, etc. It’s physically and mentally draining. My twins don’t sit still for tv unless they are in the high chairs. So, if you get some super good advice, send it my way!

  5. Hi, when I was nursing my twin ladies, my boys were 2 & 4. We would have multiply story times a day. The boys would take turns picking books. I’d set myself up on the couch with enough room for them on each side and we’d read away. On the days when they had too much energy to sit down we’d play simone says or make shift treasure hunt. For the treasure hunt I would ask them to go find certain toys in their room and promised a treat if they found everything. I am on my own with all 4 kids m-f and most days things went smoothly…but we had our share of crayon/marker….climbing bookshelf incidents. Just take it one day at time…I found the more creative the better :) Good luck!

  6. Oh, wow. I don’t even remember this part of my life, even though it was just two years ago! My older set of twins was 2 when my little boys were born, and I know I must have busied them somehow while nursing the little ones! We must have done lots of reading, like someone else mentioned. It’s funny how it seemed at the time like it would never end, and now I’m wishing for it back, lol. Good luck :)

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