It Takes 67 Maneuvers to Get Outside with Three Babies

IMG_0462

“We’re ready to go outside now. We’re sharing one pair of boots, mmmkay?”

1) Check the thermometer. 39 degrees. Let’s wait a little bit.
2) Check the thermometer. 40 degrees. Ok. Let’s do this!
3) Announce: “Let’s go outside!”
4) Children scream and scatter in every direction with joy.
5) Oldest starts yelling, “I’m still in my jammies!”
6) Twin B toddles over to the shoe bin and pulls it down on head while repeating, “Shoes. Shoes. Shoes.”
7) Twin A starts crying because he is confused.
8) Dog jumps up and down by the door because she heard the word “outside”.
9) I run around like a crazy person trying to gather 3 coats, 6 shoes, and, hmmm, 6 socks.
10) I ask my oldest to go upstairs and gather 6 socks.
11) He cries because the stair gate is locked and he can’t get upstairs to get said socks.
12) I find 3 half-dirty socks on the floor, so then I unlock the gate and ask him to get only 3 socks from upstairs.
13) Babies try to rush the gate and manage to get up a couple of stairs.
14) I pull Twin A back down.
15) Twin B gets farther up the steps.
16) I pull Twin B back down.
17) Twin A gets back on the steps.
18) I heave both of them down the steps. (Combined, they weigh more than 50% of my own body weight.)
19) I re-lock the gate.
20) I find a 4th dirty sock on the floor.
21) I yell upstairs to my oldest that he only needs to get 2 more socks instead of 3. He can’t count very well so it doesn’t matter.
22) I sit down to put Twin A’s socks on.
23) My oldest cries because the baby gate is locked and he can’t get off the steps now that he has found 2 or 3 socks for me.
24) I heave Twin A off my lap.
25) I unlock the baby gate.
26) I tell my oldest to sit down and put his socks on.
27) Breach! Breach! Twin B has made it up a couple of steps.
28) Repeat steps 13-18.
29) Twin A removes the socks that I had just put on.
30) Oldest puts on socks. I tell him to take off his jammies.
31) I put Twin A in my lap again and put his socks on.
32) Twin B runs off with Twin A’s shoes.
33) I get up to chase Twin B and retrieve shoes.
34) Twin A cries because he thinks he can’t have any shoes.
35) Twin A takes socks off again while crying.
36) Repeat #31.
37) I put Twin A’s shoes and coat on.
38) Oldest cries because he can’t get his jammie shirt off.
39) I get up and help Oldest with his jammie shirt. I put his real shirt on.
40) Twin A cries because he doesn’t know why he isn’t on my lap or outside.
41) Twin B has run off with his own shoes and hidden them.
42) I chase Twin B.
43) I retrieve socks, shoes, and coat for Twin B.
44) I sit Twin B in my lap and get all items on him.
45) I get up to put Oldest’s coat and shoes on.
46) Twin B has taken off his shoes.
47) I sit down and put Twin B’s shoes on.
48) Repeat #40.
49) I open the door to the deck.
50) The dog rushes the kids and knocks babies down.
51) Twin A cries but Twin B doesn’t (as always).
52) I pick up Twin A.
53) We all actually walk outside.
54) I am barefoot and coatless. It’s 40 degrees and I forgot my own coat, shoes, and socks.
55) I try and fail to convince everyone to come back inside.
56) I carry Twin A inside.
57) Twin B runs away to the other end of the deck.
58) Twin A cries as I leave him inside.
59) I capture Twin B.
60) Twin A escapes back outside.
61) I retrieve Twin A.
62) Twin B escapes back outside.
63) I heave both twins inside. Together, they make up over 50% of my body weight.
64) I open the stair gate to get my socks from upstairs.
65) Repeat steps 13-18. Just kidding. I slip through the gate successfully, but they both stand at the bottom of the stairs and sob.
66) I come back, put on my own socks, shoes, and coat – while two babies cry.
67) We all actually walk outside.
68) Somebody pooped.

IMG_0465Notes:

People ask why I don’t “just” do an exercise DVD after the kids go to bed.

I can’t wait for summer: no socks, no coats, fewer maneuvers.

This was an easy day. Staying inside on a rainy day is worse.

Stay tuned for how many maneuvers it takes to BE outside.

Run-On Sentence Life

I'm not *busy*. I'm just crazy.

I’m not *busy*. I’m just crazy.

My sister-in-law asked how I was doing, and this run-on sentence disaster is what came out:

“We’re doing great, other than I feel like a crazy woman with the babies going so fast in opposite directions. They are like puppies. And potty training at the same time? Insane! I put R on the potty, and then I have to herd Baby A out of the bathroom, and by that time, Baby B is in the bathroom, and by then R is kicking that one in the face (idly) while he tries to go potty, and by then the Baby A has climbed up on the fireplace hearth and is falling off, and then I have to leave R on the potty, but then he cries because he is “wone-wee” in there and can’t go if he’s “wone-wee” and by then, Baby B has climbed on top of some sort of wheeled toy and is actually being pushed by Baby A across the living room.”

Run-on sentence much? My whole life is a run-on sentence!

My days are crazy. People say, “Wow, you are so busy,” but it’s not about being busy. I have plenty of down time where I am just lying on the floor as happy babies stick their fingers in my nose and knee me in the c-section scar. It’s more about me always spinning in circles- sometimes literally. By the time I remove Baby A from crawling toward the dog, Baby B has crawled toward the dog. I spin in circles.

My whole day is fight-or-flight. My husband says this means I am just reacting to things. I think this means that I am just really sweaty all day long.

I taught Kindergarten for five years before this motherhood thing. I can easily wrangle 25 five-year-olds into coats in 1 minute flat, but I can’t dress my own three children in under twenty minutes. I can easily usher 25 five-year-olds out the door during a fire drill in mere seconds, but I can’t get to my own kid who is falling down the stairs before dropping another kid. I can easily keep 25-five-year-olds happily engaged at a lovely decibel level, but my own three children make my ears bleed.

I miss a few things from the old days, when my 25 kids got on the bus and went home at the end of the day. Now I have three children for 24 hours a day, and there are some things that I feel like I will never get back. That’s okay. I swear I’m not complaining. But, whew, I wish God could give me one of those days back right now, just for a little vacation.

My husband and I were introverts. We had a quiet life, but maybe that was the problem! Our life is so loud and wild now, even if it’s not overtly busy. If only we had been big partiers before children (ha!), then maybe this would be easier now. I think wild party animals and social butterflies get all the After-Baby-Attention because their busy social calendar screeches to a halt, but I’m here to say that maybe we should consider the poor introverts. How do we fare in all this commotion?

I wish I was that mom who gets all gushy about the noise and chaos bringing joy to her heart, but, as you know, I am not shy about saying that bedtime is my favorite part of the day. I love my kids, and I love their bedtime just as much. I long to get my house back for those lovely two hours before I go to bed. But shouldn’t I be celebrating this “joyful noise”?

Mr. Okayest says that we’ll get there. The kids are just too little to go upstairs together and make blanket forts and have raucous laughter echoing down the stairs while I make dinner in peace. They still require constant 100% physical effort from me.

I miss Sunday naps after church, making dinner in silence, and eating dinner without food on the floor. I miss reading the Sunday Washington Post, going to the movies on Friday night, and going out to eat once a week. I miss driving the car in undistracted (i.e., safe) silence. I miss not lugging a 30 pound diaper backpack everywhere I go (and not packing a 30 pound diaper backpack before going anywhere!). I miss a back and a neck that don’t hurt constantly. I swear I’m not complaining. After all, I did let the doctor implant two eggs in there.

I’m a crazy woman with a run-on sentence life. I promise you that I used to be smart, and creative. I promise you that my vocabulary used to be twice as large as it is now. I promise you that I never wrote any run-on sentences. I also promise you that I never said this sentence ever at all before yesterday: “We don’t put turtles in our brother’s bottom”.

I also promise you that I wouldn’t change it or trade it. To cope, I may cry, or watch Keeping up with the Kardashians, or shamefully snap at my husband, or drink too many Diet Cokes, or whine… but I promise I wouldn’t change it. I kiss their fat cheeks, I squeeze their cellulite, I inhale their baby head scent before it’s too late. I see  three shades of skin, three colors of eyes looking at me, and my heart melts sometimes. I am thankful. Truly. But I wouldn’t mind just that one pre-kid vacation day….

Ways My Husband Has Found Me upon Returning Home from Work

  • Sprawled on the floor, flat on my back
  • Crying with frustration at the kids
  • Crying with joy at seeing him
  • Asleep on the couch
  • Wearing his clothes
  • Wearing no clothes, but not in a good way (because my clothes were pooped/spewed/peed upon)
  • Ponytail askew after a toddler tantrum
  • Actually making dinner (!)
  • Standing in front of the open fridge or pantry, crying because I don’t know what to make for dinner
  • Hyped up on Excedrin Migraine
  • Moving like molasses in January because of prescription migraine medication
  • Covered in children
  • Covered in spit up/poop/pee (“It’s ok, honey, I rolled it up before I hugged you.”)
  • Gone. Because I went to my mom’s house.

Momma Quotes

kid stuck under tvWell, I gave you 2-year-old quotes. And then I gave you 3-year-old quotes. What I forgot was 34-year-old momma quotes. You’re welcome.

Moms say things in combinations that have never been tried before in the history of the world. Ever chastised your kid and then wondered, “Has anyone ever said that sentence before? That was a weird thing that just came out of my mouth.” You just witnessed a completely original moment in history. Here are some things that I (may) have remarkably invented, and  that made me laugh. Later.

“Don’t sniff your brother’s bottom when he’s naked.”

“We don’t put potties in the kitchen.”

“Your hair is not a napkin.”

“No, sorry, we can’t get another Jesus even though he died.”

“Doesn’t underwear feel cozy on your penis?”

“If you don’t finish your french fries, you can’t have any more blueberries.” (Don’t ask, cuz I don’t remember.)

“Um, that is just where my peepee comes out.”

“Um, that is just where my milk comes out.”

“Yes, you can play there if you promise not to step in dog poop.”

“We don’t poke the dog in her bottom.”

“No, you will not get baptized with a floatie.”

“Why do you have to put avocado in your ear every day?”

“I’m allowed to laugh.”

“I’m allowed to sing.”

“I’m allowed to run.”

“I’m allowed to talk.”

“It’s good to poop, but we can’t touch poop.”

“Yes, you can have some dog food.”

“Kick your leg like Aerosmith.”

“Honey, one of the babies snotted in my eye today and I finally got the booger out just now! My eye still burns though.”

“All right, who threw up in the toy box?!”

And, lastly, the best one ever:

“We don’t put turtles in our brother’s bottom.”

So What Do You Do All Day?

I WILL TELL YOU WHAT I DO ALL DAY!

POOP

8 poopy diapers + 2 sit-on-the-potty-poops

60 minutes

POTTY TRAINING

teaching, sitting in the bathroom with him while babies run amok, reading stories to him while on the potty, cajoling, bargaining, cleaning up accidents

90 minutes

WRESTLING NINJA CHILDREN INTO CLOTHES

At least 9 outfit changes per day, each leaving me in a sweat

60 minutes

BOTTLES

6 bottles, including prep time

30 minutes  (in the early days, with slow flow nipples and 18 bottles per day plus breastfeeding, this was about 25 hours per day)

MEALS

3 meals per day: each with 30 minutes prep, 30 minutes feeding, 20 minutes cleanup (including the floor)

240 minutes

LAUNDRY

1-2 kid loads per day: washing, drying, folding but leaving it on the couch, refolding after the kids throw it on the floor, finally remembering to put it away after the kids are napping in their rooms and I can’t put it away so then they throw it on the floor again when they wake up

  

60 minutes

UNLOADING THE DISHWASHER

after 6 or 7 tries

20 minutes

OTHER CHORES

Just kidding

0 minutes

KEEPING THE KIDS AND THE DOG APART

‘nuf said

           30    minutes

TRYING TO PLAY WITH MY KIDS

but then someone has an emergency and I get up to deal with that

60 minutes

BATHTIME

If I do all 3 together… maybe… But who I am kidding? I never bathe my kids!

60 minutes

BEDTIMES

 5 naps per day (2 kids x 2 naps each + 1 kid x 1 nap) and 3 bedtimes (3 kids x 1 nite nite), includes wrestling into jammies, prayers, teeth brushing while screaming, lotioning, singing, cuddling in a hurry, reading scriptures and books

120 minutes

CLEANING UP

Um, yeah

5 minutes

WATCHING REALITY TV AFTER THE KIDS ARE IN BED

Don’t judge

120 minutes

GRAND TOTAL

~16 hours

Enjoy Every Moment? Bah.

We spent eight years childless. We went through 15 (!) rounds of fertility treatments (including two IVF procedures), a miscarriage, an adoption, and a high-risk twin pregnancy that nearly bested me. After all that, you can bet your whatever that I am grateful for my children. Does this mean that I “enjoy every moment”? No, it does not.

I hear that phrase often. A lot of us young (young-ish?) mothers hear it. We hear it in the grocery store, in the check-out line during a tantrum. We hear it at church, when our kids are going three different directions and one of them is saying, “Don’t sing, Momma!” We hear it. Often, the woman who is saying it is a little older than us and has a dreamy look in her eyes. I can tell that she has forgotten what it’s like to be in the trenches every day. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she’s just realized that the trenches don’t matter and that time passes quickly. (Insert any overused cliché here!) She might be right.

I have heard other moms complain about this “enjoy every moment” thing on blogs and in person and in articles. I am not the first to write about it. Of course we don’t enjoy being up to our elbows (literally?) in poop. Of course we don’t enjoy multiple tantrums in one day (or hour). Of course we don’t enjoy fixing dinner/showering/facebooking while three children cry. Of course we don’t enjoy seeing our husband’s stress and disappointment when he opens the door after work to chaos, dirt, no dinner plan and a wife with dead eyes. So, no, we don’t enjoy every moment.

I used to feel guilty about that. But Okayest Mom is setting the bar lower. Okayest Mom has had an epiphany.

I went to the LDS temple, which is a peaceful place that we Mormons go without our children. It is not church or Sunday services – it is special. I was there for the first time in two years, after the IVF/bedrest/birth/recovery (I need an acronym for that). I was pondering my Mommy Guilt, and I knew it was not a spiritual feeling. I wondered how to deal with it. This scripture came to mind: “Men [& women] are that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)

“Have joy” was the phrase that warmed my heart. It doesn’t say that we are supposed to be giddy at all hours of the day. “Have joy” maybe means that we feel the joyous moments, that we find joy in our moments. “Have joy” is a thing you can DO, not an emotion that you are supposed to feel. Does that make sense?

For those of you who are not religious, the other phrase that came to mind was from Bob Dylan’s song “Most of the Time”: “I’m halfway content most of the time.” That sums it up pretty well too. He isn’t doing cartwheels either.

If we can be “halfway content most of the time” and find moments that “have joy”, then we can drop the guilt for not “enjoying every moment”. It’s my new goal to REALIZE when I have joy, and appreciate it. I want to notice that moment when I have that momma-gushy-feeling where I feel like I could eat my kids. I want to notice that moment when they squeeze me and I want to die. I want to notice that moment when I know I would take a bullet for them. I want to notice that moment when they say “I love you” or “I’m sorry” or “I like your underwears”.

I’m gonna realize those moments, feel them and appreciate them, and move on.

 

bono

(Okay, okay, here’s me actually ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT. Me + Bono!)

A Survival Guide to Three Kids in Diapers

Let’s all just relax, take a deep breath, and stop competing to be Mom of the Year. Let’s just settle for World’s Okayest Mom sometimes.

I am posting this list because I often hear “How do you do it?” Well, I set the bar low, for starters. I know my kids won’t have a “normal” life right now, and I’m okay with that. I figured that admitting to some of my survival tips would help free other moms from some guilt. Sometimes other moms will “confess” something to me that I don’t think is bad at all. Please,  don’t be so hard on yourselves.

Conversely, unless you have spent 24 hours in my size-tens, don’t judge.

PS, I have come to the conclusion that I would have far more creative energy if I hadn’t spent of all it teaching five years of kindergarten. Those 100+ kids got my best. My kids, eh, not so much.

Here is a list of things I do that make me more sane.

1)      I don’t do chores during afternoon nap. I only allow myself to read, nap, watch TV, or blog. That’s it. Just four choices for me.

2)      I do not really play with the kids much. Seriously, I rarely do.

3)      I only do one big chore per day – and it’s during morning nap. Don’t ask me what I’m going to do when they drop down to one nap per day in a few months.

4)      I only go one place per week – at least right now while we are on a twice/day nap schedule. That means I can take my kids to storytime at the library, or the playground, but not both.

5)      I hire an 11-year old mother’s helper from church for a mere pittance for three hours a week, so I can do some other chores. She entertains the kids while I work. I don’t leave her alone and she doesn’t have to change diapers or anything. She is super happy to be making some money and getting “babysitting” experience. I am super happy to have some extra hands, but not pay an exorbitant rate.

6)      My mother-in-law comes  here for an entire day, once a week. I consider myself extremely fortunate for this one. That day is the day that I take my older son for a date to the pool, or get bigger chores/ shopping trips done.

7)      I let my 3-year-old play outside by himself (but he only goes if the dog comes too- otherwise he says he’s “wone-wee”). However, I do live in a private spot in the woods and I have a huge back deck that serves as a playpen. It’s so big that he can ride his big wheel – and every other wheel –while I watch him through big glass doors. Also, I have a very careful 3-year-old and I understand that not all kids are created equal.

playing on deck alone

8)      I have friends come over to our house for a playdate while the babies are having morning  nap and my older son is awake – rather than going to their house.

9)      I feel really really happy when they go to bed!

10)   I put them in their own rooms from a young age. And I am not the devil for doing it.

11)   We did cry-it-out. And I am not the devil for doing it.

sharing room again

12)   I do not go to them at night unless they’re sick.

13)   I have my husband do the grocery shopping. During a really hard week,  when it is more important to have my husband home than it is to have food right away, I have been known to use a grocery delivery service (which was not as expensive as I feared).

14)   I completely childproofed one room, so that we have somewhere to go in the house where I can completely relax.

15)   Our LDS church service is three hours long, and it’s during naptime. We have a system now that isn’t perfect, but it allows us to get there. We take two cars and go to sacrament meeting as a family. Then, Mr. Okayest takes the babies home for nap, while I stay with the older one. It’s not ideal, but we are doing our best.

16)   As for laundry, I do 1-2 loads of kid laundry every day. Kid laundry doesn’t have to be taken out of the dryer immediately because, well, it’s kid laundry. Who cares about wrinkles? I do the adult laundry, including my husband’s button-downs, on the weekends when we have two adults.

17)   My kids never get bathed enough.

18)   I don’t do chores after they go to bed. My husband goes to bed very early because of his work schedule, so the 1-2 hours between their bedtime and our bedtime is sacred couples’ time. Or sacred TV time. Or whatever floats your boat time.

Now, lest you think I have got it all together, let me assure you that I do not. I have been known to burst into tears as soon as Mr. Okayest walks in the door, for any of the following reasons:

  • Migraine
  • PMS
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stomach viruses
  • The dog
  • My toddler crying for two hours at the playground because “he wants to go home” and then crying all the way home because “he doesn’t want to go home”
  • Seeing a book that I used to read to my oldest when he was a baby and then sobbing because I can’t remember the last time I read a book to my current babies and now they’re going to have low IQ’s
  • Realizing that my 3 ½ year old doesn’t know how to play hide-and-seek and, therefore, has a lot of huge holes in his childhood from my bedrest/ recovery period
  • A mean librarian
  • A kid at the playground making fun of something my kid can’t help
  • There was more than one suspicious fluid to mop up that day
  • My babies aren’t cuddling me anymore because they are simply getting too big to cuddle
  • Not showering that day
  • It was the day of the week that Mr. Okayest went to grad school and was gone from 5AM until 9PM
  • All three crying at the same time (PS, I am now accepting applications for what to name this particular phenomenon.)

I don’t have this mothering thing all figured out at all. I just want mothers to relax and let go of the guilt and do what works for them. World’s Okayest Mom says it’s okay.

Benign Neglect: A Case Against Preschool

okayestmom strikes again

Since I am both a mom and a former kindergarten teacher, parents are always asking me what they need to do to “get their child ready for kindergarten”. I always say, “The fact that you are asking means they are ready. But if you really want to know, the secret is (drum roll please) Play-doh, crayons, and scissors. That’s all it takes.”

I am so tired of the competition and pushing kids too early. Kindergarten teachers have a real beef with preschool. We have certain state standards that we have to teach, which do include basic things like letters, numbers, and counting. Preschool teaches a lot of that same stuff too. Sometimes children are pushed to learn things too early, and it isn’t always developmentally appropriate. Preschoolers and even kindergartners should still be learning in a very hands-on way.

The dirty little secret? Kids even out. Parents may think that their kid is getting a head start, but children who go to preschool and children who don’t end up scoring the same by third grade.  What I’m saying is: it doesn’t make them smarter.

Memorization isn’t the same as learning. Pushing kids too early isn’t teaching.

I didn’t quit a successful teaching career to send my child to another teacher. The only reason I might consider sending him to preschool is because I can’t give him the time and attention that I could have if we hadn’t had twins right after him. If I did send him to preschool, I would want it to be something that I couldn’t offer him at home. (I have one word: Montessori.)

There are many different, and worthwhile, reasons that stay-at-home moms might  send their children to preschool. I am not ever going to say (or even think!) what is right or wrong for someone else’s family. However, if you are sending your kid to preschool because you feel pressured by other moms or because you have a tiny competitive thing going on, you might want to back up and slow down.

The most imaginative students I had during my years as a Kindergarten teacher always seemed to be the ones who had the most free time. My friend Chrysta said she provides three things to her kids: classic toys, free time, and “benign neglect”. That is the best thing I ever heard. That’s what I’m doing. I didn’t know it had a name. Benign neglect. It’s the opposite of overscheduling and helicopter parenting. Benign neglect.

Despite graduating cum laude with a B.S. in Psychology and Early Childhood Education, my personal parenting and teaching philosophy comes from church. The wife of the former president of my LDS church, Sister Marjorie Hinckley, said, “Give them time to explore and learn about the feel of grass, and the wiggliness of worms.”

My gift to my preschooler is not rushing him. That is the best I can do in this crazy Okayest Mom household. When he was given to me, I promised myself never to interrupt his play if I could help it. I promised myself that he would learn the feel of grass and the wiggliness of worms. I quit teaching so I can give him this gift.

***

Insprired by an article I read that summed up how I feel:

http://magicalchildhood.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/what-should-a-4-year-old-know/

Taking a Bullet

tired with e

When I look at any of my kids and think:

-I would take a bullet for you
-I would chew through steel to get to you
-I would crawl on my hands and knees for days to get to you
-I would step in front of moving traffic to save you
-I would step right out this nursery window if God asked me to

…. then I realize that I AM doing the equivalent of all that, every single day and night when I feel like I can’t go one more step. I AM doing all that every time I get up in the middle of the night for the fourth time, after only 30 minutes of sleep. I AM doing all that every time I hear all three cry at once. I AM doing all that when my husband goes to work and grad school and I am alone from 5AM until 9PM. I AM doing all that every time I breastfeed one while the other two cry.

I am taking a bullet for them. And I love it. Most of the time. And not in the middle of the night.

so tired

(help me)

Notes From the Early Days

how to bathe 3 babies

(how to bathe 3 babies)

Here is a note I scribbled on a scrap of paper in April 2013, when the twins were 6 months old and R was 3 years old.

There’s a pantiliner on the floor. A half-eaten binky on the dog bed. I found silverware outside. My kids haven’t been bathed in a week. G has old blood in his ear and 4-day-old spit-up from his twin in his hair. E has dog hair stuck between his toes, in his toe cheese. I yelled at R. I lost a part of the breastpump.I look like a zombie. My salad went bad. My dinner plans, um, fell through. I had to choose between making dinner or bathing the kids in the the 30 minutes I had with my husband. And my floors… oh my goodness, my floors.

Handwriting courtesy of baby-induced tendonitis.