I wrote a “Day in the Life” snapshot during both the twins’ first and second winters, though I’m not sure I ever published them. It’s fun to go back and see how life changes. This particular “Day in the Life” was actually recorded back in January. I’d been waiting for an “average” day to record, then decided there’s no such thing. This day was abnormal because we had three appointments/engagements in one day (I usually try to keep that number down because I like my sanity), and because the Man attended a mandatory “transitioning to civilian life” class with much shorter hours than his usual job (8 or 9 hour days instead of 12+ hour days). So, on the one hand things were a little extra crazy with back to back obligations and none of our usual morning playtime or picture book reading. On the other hand, two adults at home for significant portions of the day is a rare bonus! In contrast, for the last seven days the Man has been on call at the hospital. That means we’ve been up by 4:30 almost every day, and he’s been dragging home from work exhausted at 8:00 or 9:00 or 10:30, sometimes with calls at night. He finally got to see his kids awake for the first time in a week yesterday. Anyhow, here’s a peek at life with two two year olds, one 8.5/5 month old, one pregnant mother, and one preparing-to-get-out-of-the-Army father.
5:00 The second alarm goes off. This is sleeping in – usually it goes off at 4:30. I have no idea when the first alarm went off because I’m not responsible for my actions until I’ve been out of bed and vertical for at least five minutes. The Man makes sure I get up every morning; otherwise I’m very capable of hitting snooze 20 times without ever waking up. It’s not that I’m not a morning person. I just require a crowbar to get out of bed and realize that morning is indeed here.
5:10 Vertical state achieved. I dress, head downstairs, brew tea, and toast a bagel for breakfast. Meanwhile the Man gets ready for the day and changes for his workout upstairs. Normally the Man and I like to eat breakfast together, but right now enough dregs of morning sickness remain that I still need to eat and sit still for a while right when I get up. I check my email/fb/news/feedly as I eat.
5:45 I turn on a podcast (one from this series by A Slob Comes Clean, which I’m enjoying very much), clear the table, and empty and reload the dishwasher while listening.
6:20 The Man comes into the kitchen after finishing his workout and we chat as he wolfs some cereal and yogurt. Normally he’d already be out the door for work by now. It’s a rare treat to have him home for a little extra morning time together. It’s definitely worth it to spend the time together instead of off doing chores! He heads upstairs for a shower and I tidy around the downstairs, and sort, clear, and put away the clutter (mostly books) that’s accumulated on a low bookcase. It only takes five minutes, but of course it’s taken me a month to stop procrastinating and tackle the pile.
6:55 I prep the baby’s medication, heat bottles, and get the baby up for a diaper change. Mornings are crazy around here so I like to get a peaceful half hour of one-on-one time with her before the twins are up and requiring lots of help. She’s so undemanding and easygoing that she’d happily wait all morning for a little attention. I like planning for intentional one-on-one time so she doesn’t get ignored. The baby and I settle into an armchair with a new book (Noel Piper’s Treasuring God in Our Traditions) for a morning snuggle and bottle. The Man pokes his head in to kiss us both goodbye before heading out the door for class. He usually doesn’t get to see any of the kids before work so he’s enjoying this week of baby smiles at the start of his day.
7:20 Annie is up and chatting in her crib, but she sounds happy and Jack’s still asleep so I leave them be, finish feeding the baby, and quickly throw notes on the morning so far on my phone. I’m deliberately not recording them on my blog or computer so I’m not tempted to peek at the internet every time I update.
7:40 Jack wakes up as well. The twins are usually happy to wait a couple minutes in the morning. They gleefully chat and play together in their cribs and sing snatches of their favorite songs. I pop the baby in her swing (she has reflux and needs a bit of upright time after feeding), collect laundry from around the house, put in a load of whites, set a timer so I don’t forget the laundry, prep part of the twins’ breakfast, and gulp down a glass of water.
7:48 I pick up the happily squealing baby and we head upstairs to the twins’ room. I put the baby in her bouncy seat, hand Jack his favorite toy (a couple of plastic rings), pass Annie a book, then lay out clothes for the kids. The baby chuckles and chatters at us all as I change and dress the twins. I set their fan and diaper basket in the hall outside their room so they don’t play with them (they like to scatter the clean diapers, eat the wipes, and stick their fingers in the running fan), then scoop up the baby and leave the twins to play in their room for a few minutes.
8:05 Cut up grapes, mix plain yogurt with a mashed banana, and set out books to read during the twins’ breakfast, all while the baby watches from the swing. Pause frequently to give her kisses, tickle her chin, or hand her a toy. The twins are happy upstairs so I take a minute to throw out some dead flowers, rinse the vase, and take my medication. I peek in to make sure the twins aren’t destroying anything, then put in my contacts, brush my teeth, wash my face, and set up Annie’s pack n’ play in the guest bathroom (the darkest room in the house) so I don’t have to deal with it at nap time. She has to nap alone – otherwise she’ll keep her brother awake for hours with loud talking, singing, and social overtures.
8:20 Direct the twins through cleaning their room, then head downstairs with them. They climb into their booster seats. I move the baby to her bumbo seat near them so she can be in on the action and put grapes and sippy cups of milk on the twins’ trays. Switch over the whites load to the dryer, then sit down with the twins to read them some of their usual morning books while I spoon feed them their yogurt (I cannot handle the level of mess when they spoon feed themselves something this soupy yet…). This morning it’s a couple poems from a children’s poetry anthology collected by Julie Andrews and a story from a children’s Bible.
8:40 We run out of time before I can move on to the other picture books in their stack. I dole out cheerios to keep small hands occupied and start in on Annie’s hair styling. We usually condition and detangle her hair once a week, then style it the next morning. A complicated style can easily take three or more hours. This morning I settle on something simple that will only take half an hour. The Man calls from a class break and we chat on speakerphone for a few minutes. The baby watches happily, sucks her fingers, and chats at us.
9:15 Finish Annie’s hair. Change the baby’s diaper and put her down for a nap. Throw a load of darks in the washing machine. Wipe up the twins, sweep the floor around their chairs, wipe their trays and release them from their chairs. Change a poopy toddler diaper, and put a screaming Annie in time out.
9:35 Annie’s speech therapist arrives. She always lets Jack tag along during sessions because his speech is much more advanced than Annie’s and he’ll often model speech for her. They adore her – to them she’s a beloved Mary Poppins figure who magically appears twice a week with a bag full of special toys and endless supplies of patience and good humor. They all head into the living room together. I tidy the kitchen, pop dishes in the dishwasher, put away the hair styling supplies, and prep part of the twins’ lunch. I grab the kids’ shoes, and pull their coats out of the closet and get myself and the diaper bag ready to go. I collect the baby after a much shorter nap than usual and strap her into the car seat.
10:05 The therapist leaves. Instead of our usual picture book time on the couch we need to head to an appointment at the hospital. Shoes and coats all round, then out to the car. Due to her extreme prematurity the baby gets monthly Synagis shots to protect her against RSV during the winter months. It’s a bit of a pain with two extra hospital trips a month (one for weight so they can prep the immunization dose and another trip for the shot itself). However, it’s well worth it to keep her healthy. RSV can be extremely serious for children with immature lungs like hers.
10:30 We arrive at the hospital. A friend spots me in the parking lot and stops quickly to say hello before I bundle the twins into the stroller, strap the baby to my chest, sling the diaper bag, and head into the hospital pediatrics clinic with the herd. The wait and the shot itself are quick. Thankfully its not the kind of immunization that gives kids nasty after effects like swelling or fevers.
10:45 We’re back at the car. I strap everyone in, stow the stroller, and we head home. Lately I’ve been listening to the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy on CD in the car. I’ll have to shift my audio book selections soon as the kids get bigger and capable of understanding what we’re listening to.
11:15 We’re home. I heat a bottle for the baby. The twins climb into their chairs and I serve up a quick lunch of sliced tomatoes, whole grain bread, and cheddar cheese with sippy cups of water for them. I feed the baby while they eat. About halfway through the bottle I glance at the clock and set the baby down to preheat the oven and throw together a quick batch of scones.
12:00 I wipe the twins up and let them down, then finish feeding the baby while directing the twins through cleaning up their toys and books in the living room from the couch.
12:20 The baby gets a clean diaper and goes down for a nap. I follow the twins’ up to their room, change them into clean diapers, pull on their sleep sacks, and pop them into their beds for nap time with kisses and hugs. I turn on their fans, close the curtains and door, and head back downstairs.
12:25 I do a couple of minutes of final cleaning before a friend arrives for a visit. Thanks to a combination of the baby’s vulnerability to illness and Annie’s loathing of strangers, a peaceful chat with a friend is a very rare treat these days. This is the first time I’ve had a friend over just to relax while the kids sleep in many months – the last time was before we brought the baby home from the NICU in August! I set up a pack n’play for her baby, then shape the scones and pop them in the oven while she settles her daughter for a nap. We enjoy a couple of hours of chatting with tea, coffee, and scones, with occasional pauses to check on sleeping kids or mix up tomorrow’s batch of preemie formula.
2:45 The friend leaves. I take a few minutes to put final dishes in the dishwasher and clear up.
3:20 The first child is making noise upstairs. I pretend not to hear since it’s just one kid and glance through email, facebook, and feedly.
3:37 Both twins are awake and chatting upstairs. Oh fine. Wave of pregnancy exhaustion notwithstanding, it’s time to get back into parenting mode. I get them up, change their diapers, work with them to tidy their room, and bring them down for a snack.
3:50 The Man texts to say he’s coming home! Unheard of! He never ever gets off this early – on a normal day (let alone a call day) he’d usually be gone from 6:15 in the morning until at least 6:00 at night. I settle the kids with a snack – rice cakes, water, and dried apricots since I need to go to the grocery store and we’re running out of fresh produce – then step into the garage to switch over the laundry. I leave a message with a possible babysitter about covering the twins during a medical appointment later in the week, then put on some Mozart and chat with the twins while they eat and I fold laundry.
4:11 The twins are done and have resorted to playing with their food. I sweep up under their chairs and wipe their hands. Daddy arrives homes! The twins are shocked and delighted to see Daddy so early (as am I). Everyone gets hugs and kisses, and we release the kids to wreak havoc. I send a quick email to a possible babysitter.
4:15 The baby is making noises over the monitor. I bring her down, change her diaper, and pop her down for some tummy time while I heat her bottle. I’ve found reserving special toys for the kids’ pre-dinner witching hour very helpful. This afternoon I get out a big basket of balls to go with the basketball hoop. Before I sit down to feed the baby I discover a toddler with a stinky diaper and stop to change it.
4:30 Finally collect patient baby for her bottle. In the afternoon the twins usually hang out in the room with me while I feed the baby and sing through sections of the hymnal while they play with their reserved “special treat” toy. With Daddy home, they’re bouncing back and forth between us like yo-yos instead. He works on paperwork in the kitchen while I feed the baby in an armchair in the front room and sing (we work through half a dozen hymns from the hymn book during most afternoon feedings). The kids bounce off the walls from excitement. After 15 minutes they simmer down a bit and start to enjoy their toys.
5:00 The baby is fed and content. The Man takes over baby bouncing/toddler wrestling/book reading duties so I can run upstairs and put away three loads of laundry.
5:15 The Man heads upstairs to take care of more work responsibilities and paperwork. I prep dinner (tweaked leftovers, plus fresh veggies), set the table, switch over the laundry one last time, and coach the twins through cleaning up their books and toys. The baby watches placidly and occasionally spits up in approval.
5:45 We’ve just shifted the baby’s bedtime earlier. On the upside, she’s better rested and not cranky in the evenings anymore, and the adults get to enjoy an hour of quiet kid-free time each evening before bed. On the downside, it means a lot needs to coordinate between the start of mealtime and all three kids landing in bed on time. We’re compromising by all being in the same room together chatting even if we’re not all putting food in our mouths at the same time. The Man starts spoon feeding the kids their applesauce while I sit next to them at the table and eat my dinner. Then I stand, heat the baby’s bottle, and change her for bed at the table while the Man eats his dinner and the kids continue to munch on theirs.
6:10 The Man pops the last couple dishes into the dishwasher then sits to read the kids some picture books while they finish their meal. I take the baby next door for her evening bottle and some one-on-one time with Mom.
6:30 The Man takes the twins up to get them ready for bed. I keep feeding the baby.
6:50 One final diaper change for the baby. She’s transitioning from a Moses basket in our closet to her crib in the guest room this week. The first night did not go well because she’s used to our very dark closet and the guest room has a bright street light shining through the blinds – we had to move her back to our closet after two hours of babbling from the wide-awake baby. Tonight I hang some dark sheets over the blinds to see if some hillbilly blackout curtains will do the trick, and tuck the baby into bed.
7:00 I pop into the twins’ room for bedtime kisses then head downstairs to tidy, change the diaper pail liner, and update these “Day in the Life” notes.
7:10 The Man has finished with the twins’ bedtime story, song, and prayers. He kisses them goodnight and closes the door. The baby is quiet and still. Success!
7:20 We each eat a bedtime snack (me for my pregnant self, him because he always has one), then sit peacefully together, read (Noel Piper for me, a re-read of Anna Karenina for him), and chat. It’s so rare to have a quiet evening together without a late work day or parenting or urgent household demands; we’re relishing it. Of course there is always more laundry to fold, a kitchen floor that (desperately) needs vacuuming, bills to sort, and work to do, but there is not always a chance for time as a couple. We read Bible together, then head upstairs.
7:50 I discover that the Man has sneakily made our bed (a chore I never got to) and tidied our room as a surprise. It is so nice to end the day in a peaceful and orderly room. Yes, he’s awesome, no, you can’t have him. I shower, and we get ready for bed, lock the doors, and check the kids. The day is over by 8:30 or so.