The Stay-at-Home Dad

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Guest post from my husband, Brian, The Superdad.

If you are not familiar with our family, my wife Cynthia and I have four children: a four-year-old daughter Alaina, 20-month-old identical twins sons Aaron and Brady (baby A and baby B, anyone with multiples would get the ultra-sound humor in that decision) and a 6-month-old son Brett. Before Brett was born, we had the three older children in day care full-time. It was a financial stretch. Actually, financial “disaster” would be a better choice of words. Once the baby was born we had no option but to have one of us stop working. Now, Cynthia works full time and I am a stay at home dad. How did we come to that decision? For us it wasn’t that hard.

I own a small Real Estate company. By small I mean just me, (hey the boss is a great guy). As a Realtor most of my hours are nights and weekends anyhow so the decision to be the stay at home parent was easy. We have learned not to depend on my income like we did in the past. The adjustment required giving up many of the luxuries we honestly didn’t need anyway. The life changes we made were tough but in hind site they were the best decision we’ve ever made. Cynthia works for a great company and there is a tremendous opportunity for her professional growth within her company. Besides, her company was our source of health insurance so that had to weigh into our decision.

To be honest with you, I was a little nervous at first. Could I really do it? My wife is an amazing mother and as the father (and as most fathers do) I tended to follow her lead when it came to child rearing.  Like a lot of dads, I was the king of short, extreme play sessions with my kids. I would get down and dirty with them. Rolling around on the ground, rough-housing and tossing them up in the air. It was that little thing that they got only from their daddy and both the kids and I loved it. Sometimes it would last 5 minutes, other times maybe 30 minutes, but it was never for hours on end. The general care of the kids always fell on my wife’s shoulders. I didn’t realize how much she did until it was my responsibility all day, everyday. I have a tremendous appreciation of my wife and everything that she does for this family.

I distinctly remember my first taste of being an at-home dad. When they were about 3-months old, the twins were both out of daycare sick. Cynthia had just returned to work from maternity leave and could not take the day off. I was panic-stricken. I was a very hands-on dad but this was a different ballgame altogether. Only a few hours into the day of non-stop crying, I remember calling my wife at work freaking out that she had to come home. “I can’t do this!” I hollered. I was so used to passing off my own children when things went wrong that I didn’t know what to do when I was completely on my own. Needless to say I survived the day. The boys seemed fine too. But I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home dad after that experience.

So how did I manage it later on? Did the children change? Not one bit. I did. I took on a bigger every day role on the weekends. I stopped relying on my wife to do all the “dirty work” and I am not just talking about changing diapers. This prepared me for the big day when we would take them out of daycare and I was on my own. I am not going to tell you it was easy, or that everything came natural but it was manageable. After a week or two I was an old pro.

The key was routine. Guys, your wife probably preaches this to you every day. I was just like you. The weekend came around and I would take the kids out to do something fun, not caring if it was a little past their nap-time. “They’ll be fine,” I always said. Great call genius! Kids are all about routine. Break that routine and they may be fine for a few hours, but it will bite you in the end. It may not be until the next day but you will regret it. You learn fast on this job.

The second key change for me was patience. You learn quickly that you can’t satisfy all of your kids needs (especially when you have three under two years of age) at once. You have to prioritize. You have to learn to let the screaming bounce off of you. Focus on what you can do to make one of them happy. Move quickly without taking short cuts and move on to the next issue. After awhile you get to know each child’s tendencies and you can get them what they need before they need it. Once you’ve reached this point being an at-home parent is great.

Now don’t misread that. I didn’t say “easy”, I said “great”. It is the most rewarding job (and don’t kid yourself, it is a real job) albeit the toughest one I’ve ever had. Work stress and child caring stress are completely different. I also don’t want to belittle the working parent’s role. It’s a team effort. You should both try to appreciate what the other does.

I could tell you a million stories, but I have a short attention span and this post is already longer than I would voluntarily read. I do have a few parting bits of advice. I sensed a collective cringe when I wrote that. Fear not. I am not going to tell you how to raise your kids. To be honest I wouldn’t have the first clue how to raise someone’s kids. I can, however, give you a few tidbits that have made all the difference our arrangement:

1 – Get out of the house, for your own sanity if nothing else. I take the boys to a local children’s museum a couple times a week. We also go to story hour at the library and a playgroup at an area YMCA. Dig around a little, you can always ask other parents you meet what they do. Getting three little ones out of the house is a daunting task but there is a wonderful reward. Giving them a change of scenery is not only fun, but it always leads to a nice long nap for my kids. Hello “me” time.

2 – Appreciate your spouse. We are a well-oiled machine at this point. We both know what needs to be done each evening so we just do it. Don’t wait for your spouse to ask you to do what you know needs to be done. Just do it and next thing you know the kids will be asleep and you can finally relax. As a side note, everyone has a bad day. My wife and I give the other heads up on those especially tough days. Something as simple as, “just to warn you, it’s been a long day and I’m unusually cranky”. It’s simple yet effective.

3 – Try to create “me” time for each other. Take care of the kids solo so your wife can go out with her friends to lunch, shopping, or a movie. Whatever makes her happy. My wife plans to take half days on Wednesdays this summer so I can play golf. Don’t underestimate the meaning of little gestures.

4 – Get the kids on a schedule and stick to it. They may not like it at first but trust me long term you will all be better for it.

5 –Don’t let the little hiccups get you down. Look, things never go as planned.  If you can appreciate them for their future humor, you will be better for it. Just this morning I woke up sick as a dog to find Brady buck naked in his crib with you guessed it all over the mattress and crib. Was I in the mood to deal with “that” today? No chance. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hilarious. Why not laugh about it then?

6 – Enjoy your kids. Everyone you meet tells you to enjoy your children because they grow up quickly, but it’s true. The next thing you know they are going to be teenagers and want next to nothing to do with their parents. Keeping this in the back of your mind will help with those especially frustrating days. Always remember that they won’t be little forever so enjoy them.

For those out there contemplating being a stay-at-home parent. Do it. Don’t hesitate. In fact, you should jump at the opportunity. The first few weeks might be tough but you’ll find a way. I love that I get to see my kids everyday. My wife would love to be in my shoes (most of the time). Granted I am so tired by the end of the day that I have zero social life, but eventually they’ll grow up and I’ll have plenty of time to do that stuff again. You only get one chance to raise your kids.

I am a better person for it. You can ask any of our friends or family if I have changed and they would say with absolute certainty, yes! They don’t see me as much but when they do they notice that I am more relaxed. The little things that stressed me out before bounce right off me now. Just this past Sunday as we were stuck in traffic with the four kids in the car, instead of freaking out about the guy trying to cut me off, I turned to my wife and said, “I’m really happy. We have a great family, our relationship has never been better… things are great”. Pre-stay-at-home dad would never have said that. I am grateful for my amazing wife and beautiful children and I love them more than you can possibly imagine. Pre-stay-at-home dad would never had written that in a public blog either.

Now if you will excuse me. The boys are all asleep and the Yankees have a day game. Off to the couch I go with a cold beer in one hand and the other hand down my pants. I may have gotten a little softer, but hey, I’m still a dude!

(Mom’s edit: no beers were consumed during the writing of this post. I hope. You can read more about our family on our personal blog.)

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Guest Post: Au Pair

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Dana and Walker live in Seattle with their 2 year old identical twin boys, Finn and Ollie.  They’ve been blogging about their life with the “Deuce” since they were just a plus sign on a pregnancy stick.  Both Dana and Walker enjoy documenting their family adventures, parenting struggles and hilarious toddler antics… Dana through her writing, and Walker through his photographic expertise. 

 

An Ode to Our Au Pair

 

Parents, be warned… this might sound like a sales pitch.  Over the last year or so, I’ve had many conversations with friends that start with, “So, how’s it going with your Au Pair?” and end with, “Where do I sign up!?”

 

I realize that not everyone can say they are 100% satisfied with their childcare arrangements.  Searching for the right ‘fit’ for your family can be exhausting.  I know, because I haven’t always been so happy with our situation. Believe me, I know what it’s like to stress about childcare.

 

Over the last 2 years we have tried every childcare arrangement in the book.  When the boys were 4 months old, they started attending a childcare center that had good references, and flexible hours.  The staff seemed kind and competent, and the price was reasonable.  And although my hectic workday was book-ended with stressful and exhausting daycare pick-ups/drop-offs, I believed this was all part of being a working parent. 

 

But soon the double-baby-barrel-holds up and down two flights of stairs… combined with serious doubts about the owner’s ability to keep staff members happily employed longer than a month… became too much for us to handle.  And so, for the first time we found ourselves in the horrible position that I do not wish upon any working parent: without childcare. 

 

In Seattle, finding another daycare without a 6-month wait list was impossible (especially for twins).  So we expanded our horizons a bit and decided to hire a nanny and found an incredibly loving and playful caregiver for the boys.  And the best part…coming home every evening (without having to manage the double-baby-barrel-hold in and out of the daycare) and just sitting down on the floor with my two happy babies…made it well worth the extra money we were paying.  But 3 short months later we found ourselves scrambling at a moments notice to find replacement care when our nanny decided to return to school.

 

In midst of my frantic search another twin mom suggested getting an Au Pair.  I had never seriously considered the idea, and even then dismissed her suggestion, since I couldn’t fathom how we could fit yet another person in our house.  But once I heard the cost benefit, my ears perked up, and we quickly starting thinking creatively how we were going to rearrange our living space to make it work (for example, our once family room is now our bedroom). 

 

Since welcoming Anna (from Brazil) to become part of our family we’ve learned first hand the many other benefits to this arrangement.   

 

First, the cost…   When you’re trying to swallow double-tuition at a daycare facility, it is a huge relief to know there is a less expensive option.  When you factor in the annual program fees, the weekly stipend, and other expenses (education, car insurance, and food), we are still paying at least 30% less then what were paying at the daycare.  And that doesn’t include the savings in babysitting fees.  We haven’t paid for a babysitter in over a year, and we go out (are you ready for this??) every weekend for a date night! 

anna-at-gateanna-at-grocery

 

Second, the flexibility… Au Pairs can work up to 45 hours per week (regulated by the State Dept.).  My job is pretty flexible, and I actually only work 4 days per week.  Because of the flexibility of Anna’s schedule I’m able to choose which days I’d like to work, and when I’d like to be with the kids (which is as much as possible!).   And then, as mentioned earlier, we work 5 hours into her schedule each week to baby-sit on the weekends. 

 

Third, the ease of our days…  If the boys want to sleep in before I have to leave for work, it’s OK, they can sleep in and Anna will get them up and ready for their day.  If I need to come home early to cook a big dinner, Anna can watch the kids until I’m finished cooking.  Most days when I come home, I just pick up playing with the boys, where she leaves off, and they never have to leave their Lego’s. 

 

Finally, the added love to our children.  I am sure that most caregivers show kindness and affection towards the children the care for.  But I am positive that Anna genuinely loves our kids, and plays with them like a big sister would play and care for her younger siblings.  Also, the boys are immersed in another culture, in their own home.  She is always singing preschool songs in Portuguese, and cooks them Brazilian treats. 

 

There is probably not a day that goes by where I am not honestly and sincerely thanking our Anna for all that she does with the boys.  But, don’t get me wrong; I am not naïve to what could go wrong with Au Pairs… I’ve heard the horror stories.  It is absolutely necessary to do your homework, go with an Au Pair agency that you trust, and interview many, many, MANY people before you find the right fit.  I also recommend really asking yourself whether your family is open to welcoming another family member in your home, sharing your lives with them… not just hiring someone to work with your kids. 

 

If anyone is interested in learning more about the agency that we used, or you have any logistical questions, I’m always happy to help a fellow twin parent find the perfect fit for their family.  Parenting twins is hard enough… it’s good to know that there’s a childcare option that makes things a little easier! 

 

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S.A.H.M.

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I’m so excited for this week’s focus on childcare.  The options can be mind-boggling and are accompanied by lots of hard choices, so I am really glad we’re showcasing the many different kinds of arrangements even just amongst our contributors.

I pretty much always knew I’d be a stay-at-home-mom.  My husband, M, and I discussed it long before we got pregnant.  It was something we both wanted, and something we prepared for pretty much as soon as we got married.  For background, it’s important to know that there is/was a major wage discrepancy between the two of us.  I worked in secondary and post-secondary education, so not a big paycheck there.  M works in technology, so he fares significantly better.

Anyways, we started prepping for our one-income family right away.  When we got married and got our joint bank accounts settled, we switched my salary to direct-deposit straight into savings (and maxed out my retirement contributions).  This made for a gentle adjustment, since “my” money was always readily transferable in the savings account, but we got used to seeing a particular amount of money in checking.  While neither of us is an avid budgeter, we have always seemed to manage to live within our means, so this worked out great.  And had the added benefit of padding our savings account pretty painlessly. By the time I left my job, we were already used to paying all of our bills from one paycheck.

Gymnastics

I’ve been home full-time with my kids since they were born, so 20 months and counting.  The major up-sides to being their sole childcare provider are, of course, that I get to be there for all of the firsts and all of the fun stuff.  I also have complete control (or, well, as much control as one can have…) over their environment, schedule, activities, and the like.  I decide what’s happening, I make it happen.  No worrying about communicating my wishes to a third party, no worrying about conflicting philosophies, etc.  And you know what? Maybe I’m setting myself up for a visit from What Not to Wear, but I rather like the casual life.  I only own one pair of pants that aren’t denim.  There are no uncomfortable shoes in my world.  I can spend rainy days in my pajamas.

There are negatives, to be sure.  The very hardest part is this:  THERE IS NO VACATION OR SICK TIME.  It’s a 24/7/365 job. There are no holidays, no days off.  It can be incredibly hard to carve out time for yourself, because your whole day revolves around the kids and their needs. You don’t really get to leave and forget about it until the next morning.  Weekends don’t have nearly the same appeal as they did in my child-free working days, as my kids are entirely too young to understand the joys of sleeping in.  In their world, one day is pretty much the same as the next.

Klubhouse

The key to survival as a SAHM, I have found, is to NOT stay at home.  Get out, get out!  Playdates, classes, storytimes and the like are key to our sanity.  Spending all day cooped up in our living room, or especially more than two days in a row, is a recipe for disaster.  Social isolation was my biggest fear when I left the world of paid employment, and, it has thankfully not really come to pass. But that’s because I made a very concerted effort to combat it by taking lots of classes with the kids and spending time with other moms.

And if there’s one thing I really need to improve upon?  I need to convince myself that a babysitter is a necessity, not an undeserved luxury.  We moms can be martyrs for the cause.  If I’m a full-time mom, then I should be a full-time mom! But when it comes right down to it, we still need breaks.  Whether a childcare swap with some friends, finding a neighborhood high school student, or paying through the nose for a professional nanny who has mornings free…  Got to find a few hours to myself.  I haven’t had that for the last year, and with two draining toddlers, I’m really starting to feel the effects of never being off-duty.

Playground

As draining as this gig can be, I have no intention of changing our arrangement anytime soon (except for the aforementioned babysitter).  I want to be the one participating full-time in this part of my kids’ life.  I want to spend this time with them, I want to watch it happen and teach them the things I want to teach them.  Do I miss my old job? You bet. Do I miss it enough to spend an hour commuting each way, having to rush to get the kids ready in the morning, and only barely catching them before bedtime each night, only to give my entire salary to someone else? All that, so that I can spend my afternoon with college students instead of taking my kids to the playground? No.  No, I do not.

Anyways, that’s what has worked out in my house.  Other SAHMs out there, what are your tricks to maintaining sanity?  What has been your single biggest challenge?

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Welcome to Child Care Week!

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With the multitude of child care options available to parents, the authors of HDYDI have decided to share the nitty gritty details of their particular child care option. Each day this week, we’ll be featuring different authors who will provide details on their child care option. We’ll discuss pros and cons, rants and raves, and what went into making our decision.

Just within the HDYDI authors, the variety is astounding. We’ve got stay-at-home mom, single mom, stay-at-home dad, work from home mom, work outside the home parents, home day care, group day care, nanny, au pair, mother’s helpers… almost every situation you can imagine! So sit back, enjoy, ask questions, and share your experiences in the comments.

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Prep School

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Categories Celebrations, Childcare, Development, Family, Mommy Issues, Preschoolers, ToddlersTags , , , , 5 Comments

My boys start school in a week.

I found out that two spots had opened up for them last August, but it just didn’t feel like the right time. We had upcoming travel to California. Their nana was moving to town a few weeks later. There was a lot of change in their lives and I didn’t want to push it. After much deliberation, talking to the school administrators, conferring with other moms, we decided they would start with the new year. I marked the calendar. January 5th was the day.

Way back in October, I began my plan to gradually prepare them for this day. We casually talked about school. We regularly looked at a fantastic book called “Wow! School!” that I found at in the dollar bin at the grocery store. We drove past school and waved and marveled at the playground. In November, I scheduled a visit for the boys to meet their teacher and play outside with their classmates. It was a huge success. In December, we had two visits where the the boys and I spent the first hour in the classroom for their day opening activities. We’ve talked about school almost every day.

And now that we are a week away, I’m talking with them specifically about what to expect. That they will stay at school without mommy. That I will drop them off and they will spend time at school without me, like big boys, and they will play and learn and laugh and eat, and then I will be back to pick them up. When we talk about it they are happy and say things like, “school!” and “teetee! (teacher)” and “play!” We started our day today by driving by school and waving and then going to Starbucks across the street for a blueberry muffin. We’ll do this a few more times this week. I feel like they are exhaustively prepared and I’m exhausted just from reiterating all of it!

And yet, I feel completely and utterly unprepared!

How did this sneak up on me like this? I’ve spent almost every single hour of every single day of the past two years with them, and now what? How am I supposed to say goodbye to them? At almost two, are they too young for this? Will they be sick every day for the next six months from all the germs? Where do I get a freaking nap mat and can I get the 1 inch kind or should I spring twenty bucks for the 2 inch thick deluxe version? What the heck do I pack them for lunch? You mean I have to PACK them a lunch every night?!

Emotionally I feel completely ambivalent. On one hand, I feel we are all ready for this. They will strive in a structured Montessori environment. They will learn so much from people who are trained to teach toddlers. They will learn even more from being around their peers. And I know the social interaction is worth its weight in gold. The boys are great around other kids, but I’ve noticed more and more lately how they tend to cling to each other. And define what they are doing by what their brother is doing. I know this is all natural, but I want to give them the tools early on for being socially independent. Or at least giving them an environment where they can choose to be socially independent from one another.

Selfishly, I also crave some social independence. My existence has been crucially tied to them since they were born. I feel such gratitude to my husband, to the universe, for making this possible. But I’ve become increasingly antsy and want to start doing more things for myself. Professional undertakings, health-and-diet improvements, a kitchen remodel – I have goals and lists that make me dizzy. But most important, I want to regain a sense of “me” again. Lastly, the boys are quickly approaching numero dos, which has brought utter joy and hilarity, as well as incredibly intense challenges. Not that I want to cop out, but I’m pretty excited about getting a daily break from this.

But all these very healthy and logical reasons doesn’t stop the ache, the hesitation and the sense of impending loss that has invaded my heart the past few days. More than anything, it’s manifesting me to second guess our choice of school. Our last visit left me wanting. The teacher was running late so the aids were running the class. Things seemed chaotic. An aid grabbed a toy out of a child’s hand without warning. They read the kids an appalling book about a child who does everything wrong at school. I heard a lot of nos and negatives, which isn’t my style of parenting. Kids were coughing all over each other and one girl had green snot spewing out of her nose. I’m freaking out just recalling it. But I also know this is just my brain’s way of trying to flee.

I can’t help but feel a sense of loss in all this. Like this is the last week I’ll spend with my boys. Our last hurrah. Silly, I know. I’ll still see them every morning, every afternoon and every evening. But I think the loss I feel goes deeper. It means I need to let go. Lighten my grip. Allow someone, other than myself, my husband or nana, to care for my boys. I think our last visit freaked me out so much because I had to accept, in some way, an environment that was out of my control. This is a big deal for me. Not because I’m some neurotic control freak. It’s just because I’m a mom. And as a mom I realize that at some point I will have to let go. A little bit at first, a little more later, and a hell-of-a-lot more when they grab the keys to the car and say, “see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya!” This is my first time letting them out of my protective wingspread, and truth be told, I’m scared. So much so I actually had a dream a few months back that they died at school. The worst dream I ever had. Maybe I need therapy?

I know I will get through this and in a month or so I will be singing the praises of school. It’s just weighing so heavy, as I’m sure it does for millions of other parents dropping off their babies (no matter how old they are) at school/day care/etc. for the first time. It’s just going to be a tough few first weeks. Or maybe it won’t. But regardless, things will be very different around here.

Amidst the whirlwind of emotions, I am very excited. Thrilled even. To realize that I’ve gotten the boys this far and now they are ready for the next step. To witness what they soak in and learn in this new environment. To realize that I’m going to have a bit of freedom again in my life, an opportunity to re-imagine and re-identify myself. To seize this time I will have for myself, and cherish, perhaps even more deeply, the time I have with my boys.

Completely scary and completely thrilling. Just like parenting always is.

Dropping them off at school for the first time can't be half as scary as watching them climb an eight foot rope ladder at the same time!
Dropping them off at school for the first time can't be half as scary as watching them climb an eight foot rope ladder at the same time!
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A letter to Santa from two years ago LauraC

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Two years ago was Nate and Alex’s first Christmas and they were seven months old. It was also their first cold and flu season in group day care.

I don’t remember much of December 2006, between the twins, the endless ear infections, the reflux, the torticollis physical therapy appointments, the helmet casting, The Time The Ped Diagnosed Them With RSV And I Freaked Out, the sick crying babies being up all night crying, stomach flu (yep, stomach flu AND ear infections AND possible RSV), and oh yeah, twins. Frankly, I don’t remember much of winter 2006-2007, except what I wrote on my blog.

So imagine my surprise this weekend when I dug out the Christmas decorations. I found a plate to be used for leaving cookies for Santa. It comes with a dry erase marker so you can write a letter to Santa to see when he eats your cookies. I vaguely remember this was a Christmas gift from 2006 that we never opened and I thought it would be perfect for Nate and Alex to use this year. I opened the box to find this:

santaplate

It says, in my handwriting, to please bring me:

* two sleeping toddlers
* a full night’s sleep
* lots of red wine
* CHOCOLATE
* my pre-pregnancy body

Before erasing the list, I had to take a picture. This plate is from one of the most difficult times of my life. I was so sleep-deprived, I have no recollection of writing on this plate. Zero memory of this list. NONE. It scares me and makes me laugh at the same time.

Doesn’t that just sum up life with twin newborns?!?!?!?!

(Cross-posted at my personal blog, Laura’s Mommy Journal, because ironically one of my boys spiked a fever close to 105 last night while my husband’s out of town. I don’t have two posts in me today.)

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I think 2 1/2 may be my tipping point

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I know a lot of readers of this blog have much younger multiples than mine. Next month, my boys will be 2 1/2.  For those in the newborn stage with multiples, 2 1/2 may as well be 13. I’ve been in that crazy newborn period with twins so I know how far away it can seem. I’m writing today to provide hope and a definitive answer to the question “When does it get easier?”

I think 2 1/2 may be my tipping point – the point at which I REAP the benefits of having twins. At this age, a lot of my singleton parent friends are starting to have their second child. And universally I hear stories of transitions, lack of sleep, and planning their day around a baby. Not me! My transitions are over. My extreme lack of sleep is over. My days of planning around baby sleep schedules are over.

Sure, my boys fight a lot. But they’ve reached the stage where they also hug a lot. Sure, there are two of them. But they nap at the same time, eat the same food at the same time, and go to bed at the same time. Sure, they may wake up with nightmares or due to illness. But 99 nights out of 100, they sleep 11-12 hours.

Our entire evening last night was so easy. All four of us ate the same meal at the same time. The boys helped clean up after dinner. We decided to go to a toy store to check out tricycles for Christmas and I didn’t pack anything. Nada, nothing, zip, zilch. We keep a bag in the trunk for emergencies so I didn’t need to pack a thing. The boys walked around the store, so we didn’t need a stroller. I put the boys to bed on my own so my husband could pack for a work trip, and the bedtime routine did not involve any tears or gear.

I am in no way, shape, or form saying parenting twin two year olds is easy. It is hard, and I often write about the emotional challenges on my personal blog. But those labor-intensive years where everything was so baby-focused seem to be fading away. Everything feels so much more manageable now and I can truly say I would not have it any other way. To me, that defines my tipping point. What about you? Have you reached your tipping point?

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The Superdad

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Categories Childcare, Family9 Comments

A few weeks ago we made an important decision in our house: we would be pulling our 14-month old twins out of full-time day care. They would be joining their 3 1/2 year old sister at home. And the primary caretaker would be their father.

At the time, I was a little bitter. I wanted to be the one to stay home full-time. As the mother, I felt I was not only better suited, but I felt a sense of entitlement to the part. After all, I carried them, endured bed rest, delivered them, and nursed them. Shouldn’t I get the reward of spending oodles and oodles of time enjoying them now? But, circumstances of our household and current employment situations mean – Dad is the man for the job.

I am now home on bed rest (with child #4) and I’ve had plenty of time to observe and over-hear daily events in this house and I realize – Holy Crap. He IS better for the job. He’s Superdad.

And what is his superpower?

Nerves of Steel.

While I have the patience of a saint, I have the nerves of, mmm, straw, perhaps? And with the boys finding their footing and learning to climb, move furniture, wrestle, etc., I find, I am not suited for their full-time care at this point. I can barely breathe when they get going. I want to wrap them in bubble wrap and keep them in furniture-free zone. My husband on the other hand is not phased one iota by their shenanigans.

And everyone is happier and more relaxed as a result.

He even managed to take all three out of the house yesterday to give me some peace and quiet. Where was his chosen destination? Shoe shopping (for himself) and the Apple Store. Yes, a mecca of electronics so breakable and expensive I barely touch anything when I go in there by myself. Was he nervous? No. He just pumped right on in there with three kids and proceeded to consult with an employee about some issues on his laptop. As a result of his ease, the children behaved. If I were to duplicate this adventure, my stress level would have them so ramped up, we would all be running out of there crying. He then proceeded to take the three of them out to lunch. In a restaurant. WHAT? I’m shaking at the thought of doing that. And they all ate, and the staff and other patrons loved them.

So, yes, I wish I didn’t have to work and could spend hours on end with the children. But, perhaps I will keep quiet about that desire until they are, say, seven? Or at least able to know enough to not to try and walk upright under the kitchen table, practically knocking themselves unconscious in the process.

Thanks, Superdad. You’re my hero.

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A cure for my singleton fantasies

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Categories Childcare, Family, Medical, Mommy Issues, Toddlers4 Comments

Earlier in the month, I wrote a post about how I wasn’t sure we were done having kids. After reflecting on it, last week I realized I had a serious case of singleton fantasies. Last night, Jon and I found a cure for that 1% doubt we are done with kids: a sick tantruming toddler.

My boys are almost 2 1/2. They went to bed with no objections at 7:30 then sang and chatted until 8:30. Around 9:15, right as Jon and I were settling down to watch the Heroes season premiere, Alex woke up crying. Despite soothing and motrin, he would not settle back to sleep. We got him up and hung out for an hour before deciding it would be best if we laid down with Alex in our room. He then proceeded to have a mega-tantrum that would not stop. He was so clearly overtired but every time he calmed down, within a minute he burst into another screaming fit. At 11:30, Jon put Alex in the car and drove him around until he fell asleep. Alex was complaining about his ear hurting, so Jon has him at the doctor this morning.

Last night was a repeat of almost every night of the newborn phase with twins. We spent hundreds of hours floundering with crying babies, trying to figure out what was wrong. And as difficult as the newborn phase was, last night was even more difficult because we knew exactly what Alex needed – sleep – yet we were unable to achieve that goal. 

This pretty much clears up any baby lust I had. I don’t miss those days of little sleep and crying newborns. I’ll just depend on my friends with newborns to get my baby fix.

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Change Of Plans Thanks To Hurrication Ike

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Categories Childcare, Family, Infants, Mommy Issues, Safety, Travel3 Comments

I usually post on Tuesday’s.  And though it is still technically Tuesday, I usually post earlier than this time of the day.  But we’ve been under rather unusual circumstances since last Thursday, the day we evacuated our home in Houston ahead of Hurricane Ike.  I had previously put much of my own advice into action, but anticipating power loss, we just didn’t want to be stuck there with 5 month olds (as of today!).

Because I am from San Antonio, and because my family and their families live there, being here has been a bit of a “Hurrication” – that would be a hurricane evacuation slash vacation all wrapped in one. We’ve been blessed to have family around, water running through pipes, and electricity here in San Antonio, something we still do not have at our home in Houston.

My dad and I did drive up to Houston and back on Sunday to check on the house while Jennifer and my mom stayed back with the twins. I guess that’s one unique thing about being a two-mom household: there is no “tim-the-toolman-husband” to send to get stuff cleaned up, boarded up, and repaired. And though my dad went with me on this trip, Jennifer and I are both the tender mom’s who cuddle babies to sleep and put that rectal thermometer in just right, and the ones who replace ceiling fans, electrical switches, and build workbenches in the garage.

We cleaned up tree debris, cleaned out the two refrigerators and freezers, took video of the ceiling and back door leaks (small), got some clothes, made the place “flow” for when we return (towels are ready for baby baths, sheets are changed, tables cleared, diaper stations reloaded, etc.), took fuel and ice and water to neighbors and friends, hugged some necks, said some prayers, and drove back. We were there maybe two hours.

There’s no sight of power restoration in our residential neighborhood. And even when the grid comes back, a block of 10 homes, including ours, will likely still be lacking because a 60 foot tree fell across the power lines to our house, also knocking down the framing of a garage apartment on some new construction behind our house.

My office opens up officially tomorrow and I won’t be there. Nor the next day. Nor the next. The school systems are closed through late next week at least. The Montessori School where our kids go follows the school schedule. Translation – no childcare. Speaking of which, HOLY SHIT STAY-AT-HOME PARENTS, you have the most difficult and most rewarding jobs known to (wo)man. We have been doing this for five days now and it is both a blessing and an exhaustion. Single parents who do it, much less with multiples have an even MORE special place in Heaven.

Nevertheless, we are FAR more fortunate than hundred’s of thousands of others and so despite the relatively minor inconveniences, I cannot complain. I can only be homesick and anxious about my job. Not too long ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated greater New Orleans and gulf coast communities. Many of our friends and family members were directly affected, some losing EVERYTHING. Jennifer and I spent a couple days volunteering at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston at a shelter for those bused out of New Orleans. Without ever seeing their homes, what they lost in the tangible and intangible, you could see it in their faces.

We are grateful, then. I should hope that it doesn’t take devastation to remind us always of the blessings we have, but circumstances such as those certainly give us pause. And in that time, I’ve stepped back a moment from our we’d-rather-be-in-our-own-house-it’s-hard-living-with-infants-far-away-from-your-home-and-routine sentiments to see one of the joys of evacuating to San Antonio: we were able to gather all the “cousins” for the first time in their lives – a situation which would not have otherwise occurred until Christmas.

So anyway, I guess today’s post just goes to show we mom’s of multiples that sometimes the answer to “How Do You Do It?” is simply “we just DO.”

All The Cousins
All the cousins: 1 o’clock and 7 o’clock – our kids; 11 o’clock and 6 o’clock – my sister’s kids; 4 o’clock – my brother’s kid.

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