A morning in the life of a working mom

I wake up at 4:30 in the morning so there’s enough time to exercise, drink a little coffee and get ready *hopefully* without any little children distracting me.

I successfully make it through my morning routine and I’m actually about to leave 10 minutes early for work. I’ve been 10-30 minutes late everyday this week. But then mom-mode kicks in. I was feeling guilty about not helping out around the house all week (the guilt is my own doing and  is not warranted – I’ve already worked 65 hours and commuted 8 hour in the past 5 days alone and my week isn’t done yet – but I can’t get myself to believe that for some reason) and then it begins.
I realize the dishwasher needs to be emptied and I decide I will help Jason out a little and empty it before I go.
Then as I’m putting dishes away, I realize I need to wash my pumping supplies. So I hurriedly wash them.
While doing that, I realize there’s a a few other non-dishwashable items that need to be washed in the sink and I figure I might as well just do those too since it will only take another minute.
I finally finished washing the dishes and realize the counter needs to be wiped down, so I do that real quick.
When I finish that, Elizabeth starts crying. I hurriedly run into the room to give her her pacifier, hoping I can let my husband to sleep for another 20 or 30 minutes before he needs to start caring for the kids.
That’s useless. I rush back to the kitchen warm up some water for a bottle since I pumped and have no milk (and I don’t have time to feed her anyway – now I’m 15 minutes late instead of 10 min early).
Then this level of stress begins to rise. There’s a wailing baby in one room, I am over 15 min minutes late to leave for work and I hear Eli at the bottom of the stairs yelling “mommy, Brooklyn’s up. Can you come get her?”
I put the refrigerated milk into the warm water to help prepare the bottle for my husband as he’s changing Elizabeth.
I move to the living room to gather my things for work when Eli asks if he can have a banana. He’s just tall enough to reach to the tip of the banana but isn’t quite able to get it off the banana tree. I sigh quietly but say “of course” happily.
I walk over to him in the kitchen while Jason goes to get Brooklyn. I peel the banana for Eli and ask if he could be a super helpful big brother and maybe start feeding Elizabeth the bottle. He starts crying, saying no he just can’t do two things at once, it’s too much.
Then Eli proceeds to have a meltdown about a string of banana stuck on the banana. He gets it off the banana but then it’s stuck to his hand. This just makes him more angry. He is standing in front of the garbage can throwing a temper tantrum over a banana string.
As I walk out the door, I hear Brooklyn saying mommy over and over again as she is coming up the stairs. I try to not feel horrible that I won’t be seeing her for the entire day and she just doesn’t understand why I’m gone all day.
Elizabeth is still wailing because she really wants to eat, and I don’t blame her – she hasn’t eaten in 10 hours which is like an eternity in baby time.
And Eli is  still having a temper tantrum in the kitchen over the banana string.
How does 10 minutes early turn into 25 minutes late that quickly? 3 kids and mom guilt – that’s how.
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12 hours with 3 kids, ages 4 and under….

I decided I should post some of my parenting moments in a place more easily referenced than facebook. Here is a glimpse into my world in July.

 

12 hours with 3 kids, ages 4 and under….

Somehow the stars align and ALL 3 kids are sleeping (for now) at 8pm. It’s actually not that magical, but I’ll take it – Brooklyn is down at her normal bedtime (and has taken her diaper for 3 times. I put a cloth on backwards hoping to have that secure the disposable), Eli has a fever that started suddenly after bathtime and fell asleep on the couch. Elizabeth is just taking a nap (I think). Regardless, I’m exhausted and just want to go to bed, but there are things to do. I basically complete 10% of what I want to get done and realize it’s 9pm.

Elizabeth is still in a cloth diaper from 5pm, because when she went down at 7 I figured it was just for a nap. So my choice is to let her sleep, knowing whenever she wakes up, she’ll be waking me up from sleep and that she will be soaked. So, I roll the dice, wake a sleeping baby. I change her into her PJs and attempt to nurse her. She eats for maybe 5 min and then is over it. Instead of just drifting back to sleep (as I planned would happen) she decides to scream uncontrollably. Nothing we do stops her. Does she want her arms out of the swaddle? No, that just makes her more angry. Does she need the swaddle sack to be tighter? No, now she’s really mad. Does she want a looser swaddle so she’s snuggled but can get her arms by her face? Yes, that seems to work and after a few min of rocking she’s asleep. Now it’s 930. Since she didn’t eat, my choice is to not pump, knowing she’ll probably wake up in 2 hours and want to eat anyway, or pump to be comfortable and help keep up my supply with the hope she’s going to stay asleep until her usual waking hour of 3am. I choose to pump.

Now it’s 10pm. I thought I was going to go to bed at 815? Well, nevermind that. I say goodnight to Jason and lay down. I can’t stop thinking about how Brooklyn has a little blister on her lip and I’m worried it’s a cold sore – where did she get a cold sore from? We don’t have cold sores. What crazy person is kissing my baby when I’m gone (likely no one -she probably put someone’s toy in her mouth). Is it actually a cold sore or did she just get a cut there? She is always getting hurt so it wouldn’t surprise me. But, it really looks like a cold sore. So I look at pictures of different lip ailments and for 15 min, decide it’s probably a cold sore and go to bed.

I hear uncontrollable screaming again and am woken up from sleep. I look over and it’s 10:35. Ugh. I get up and try to help Jason. Elizabeth’s diaper is dry (it was just changed an hour ago), she doesn’t have a fever, and doesn’t have a random hair tied around her toe to explain the shrill scream she has. Since I just pumped I have maybe a measly 1 ounce to feed her so I try nursing which works for a total for 1 min and she’s mad again. Jason consoles her while I warm up some freshly pumped milk and give Jason the bottle. Nope, not hungry. She’s just mad at the world that she needs to be up at 10:35 (I feel for you you, baby girl…). We give up and put her in the swing and close the door. She screams for another 20 minutes and eventually goes to sleep.

I probably fall back asleep around 11. Then the door opens. It’s Eli and the clock says 11:28. He has a fever again and just wants to sleep with me. Jason was just getting ready for bed and agrees to sleep in the spare room (which is on the other side of the house in the basement – you can’t hear anything else in the house with the white noise/box fan on – tough decision, I’m sure). Eli takes some ibuprofen and quickly passes out in the bed. I finally fall asleep just before midnight.

Sleep…yes.

I hear Eli cough a few times and moan a bit, who knows what time it is. It seems like uninterrupted sleep compared to usual. But then it’s 3am and I hear screaming, which is expected because that’s when Elizabeth usually wakes up these days anyway. I start feeding Elizabeth and realize I need to pump too, but the pump is still in the living room. She’s being finicky with eating so every 20 sec she comes off and screams as I try to balance the pump and bottles form the kitchen and bring them back to her room. I get the pump set up and pump on one side while she half nurses/half screams on the other. She somehow eats 4 ounces in what feels like no time and then is just mad like she had been earlier in the night. I stop pumping and try to soothe her, even though nothing that usually works is working tonight. Eventually she dozes off and I can set her down in the swing again (it worked the first time so it’s got to work this time, right??). She’s mad and doesn’t want to swing. I calm her down and put her in the rock and play and she’s quiet at last. Sigh of relief. I finish pumping and store the milk. Now it’s almost 4am.

I crawl into bed and Eli feels hot. He’s awake but doesn’t want medicine. Fevers are your body’s way of fighting infection so I decide I’m not interested in forcing it – if he feels poorly he’ll take the medicine. We both go to sleep.

And then it’s 4:45 and I wake up to yet another shrill scream from Elizabeth’s room. I change her diaper, which is basically dry and redo my ritual. Nothing works. Maybe she’s still hungry? I warm up some freshly pumped milk again and try to feed her. No luck. Ugh. But she does want to nurse the maybe ¾ ounce per side that’s accumulated in the last hour. But only on the right. I guess the left is bad or something. She dozes off and will eventually take the pacifier again. We go back and forth a few times as I try to put her down and she wakes up and gets mad, so we repeat. I kind of doze off on the chair holding her for long enough that I think she’ll stay asleep. Decision time – do I just sleep in the chair with her or put her down. I try to put her down again and it works this time. Yeah.

Now it’s 5:45. Do I just stay up so I can enjoy coffee in peace and start my day, or do I go back to bed. Usually I chose the former but I’m SOOOOO tired and this is my last chance to sleep in for the foreseeable future, so I chose the latter.

I quickly fall asleep and hear screaming. It’s 730. How in the world is it 7:30? Oh yeah, I closed the blackout shades so Eli would sleep longer. But there’s screaming so I need to go. I feel guilty I’ve slept this late and make my way to Elizabeth’s room but it’s not her (thankfully). It’s Brooklyn, duh – I kind of forgot there was a 3rd because she hadn’t caused trouble for the past 11.5 hours. I open the door and she is naked. How did she get a snap cloth diaper off backwards? Freaking Houdini. Anyway, I turn the light on – not only was she naked but there was poop everywhere. Ugh. So I get the wipes and clean her enough I can get her to the tub without contaminating myself. She gets scrubbed, screaming the entire time but then gets mad when she has to get out and can’t stay to play. Jason wakes up (I can’t blame him – he’s in the room in the basement and can’t hear anything. And went to bed at midnight so still didn’t even get 8 hours. And he is also sleep deprived because he usually helps with Elizabeth at night every other night) and gets Brooklyn dressed. I go clean up the crib and start the 5th load of laundry I’ve done in the past 24 hours.

And now it’s 8am, 12 hours later, and it’s time to start the day. I really need some coffee.

///

When I go back upstairs from cleaning up Brooklyn’s crib and starting laundry, Eli is smiling and playing in the living room, asking if I’m happy now and will play with him. Doesn’t seem like he was sick for a minute. Brooklyn is in the kitchen asking for “cinmin” (aka cinnamon and butter on bread) and trying to hug me. Elizabeth is sleeping soundly. Jason is making coffee. As tough as it all is, life is good and I need to remind myself that this is all just a phase that will be a distant memory one day. I’ll miss those baby snuggles when Elizabeth doesn’t want to sit still. We’ll laugh at the fact that Brooklyn somehow got her diaper off and thought playing with her poop was a good idea and not let her live it down. I’ll miss Eli wanting me to hold him, take care of him and sleep by him when he’s a big kid and has way cooler things to do than hang out with his mom.

Food Restriction is Not the Solution

A recent study showed that parents of overweight/obese kids were more likely to restrict food while parents of normal weight kids were more likely to be in the “clean plate club.” While I personally don’t agree with either, this is a very useful insight – while the parents of heavy children have good intentions, there is a chance that these actions are actually hurting their child more. As this summary article states, the best solution is to make healthy foods available and empower children to make good choices. Kids spend A LOT of time outside of the home. If food is outwardly restricted at home, they are more likely to eat whatever they want outside of the home.

Interested in learning more about good nutrition parenting skills? Read Ellyn Satter’s Child of Mine book; hands down one of the best child nutrition books around.