August 8, 2012

The Second Rule of Parenting Is...

I feel like this a lot
Did you know that there's an entry in the indexes of What to Expect The First Year on "Coping with motherhood?"

I am halfway through week two of the rest of my life.

That is to say, I'm figuring out how to make my life work all over again now that I've essentially jumped back into the SAHM gig after a year of nearly full time studenthood/only one parent at a time/pregnancy/lots and lots of awesome people helping me.

It's been an educational week and a half.

I've learned that my big girls are capable of so much more than I knew.  For example, today during RH's post-breakfast nap, I took a shower while the big girls drank strawberry milk and watched Sleeping Beauty.  It was a short shower that didn't include shaving my legs, but it was my first in six days.

For real.

Why haven't I showered in six days?

Two kids and a baby is fucking HARD.

I keep messing with their schedules to try to improve my quality of life.

RH started sleeping for six hour long stretches at night.  So I started trying to keep her up until midnight- so that she slept until M's alarm went off for work in the morning.

As I'm sure you can guess, that was an unmitigated disaster.  Sleeping from 10p to 4a and then again for another agonizingly short hour is better than not sleeping at all, as I can definitely attest.  So I decided to stop messing with the baby and start screwing around with the big girls instead.

Big girls
Do you remember all of our naptime drama?  Well, I eliminated naptime.  I ended it.  I was keeping it up to make my life easier, and it had stopped working.  Without naptime, bedtime comes two and a half hours sooner.  And if my kids are DEAD ASLEEP at 8pm?  I can actually sort of eat, bathe the baby, and get HER to sleep by 10pm.

Which is sort of great, except that it still doesn't give me enough rest to function.  If the baby is asleep at 10, then I'm not asleep until 11:30, and from 11:30 until 6 just doesn't give me enough energy to keep my eyes open.

Oh, how I long for the days when I could drink endless cups of coffee without being hospitalized.

I'll spare you all the permutations of our schedule that I experimented with.  Suffice to say, the girls are waking up just as M leaves for work at 7:15, RH is sleeping for eight hour stretches that start at 10, and I am still exhausted.

So what does a mommy who can't keep up do?

She reinstates naptime.

Today, I am experimenting with naptime again, for the first time in two weeks.  Because I still NEED my kids to take a nap.

For the first time, and possibly for the last, all three of my children are sleeping in the middle of the day.  Not so that I can sleep, but so that I can pay attention to something else.  To the laundry, to the dishes, to food, to blogging...

SI helping push RH's stroller
I'm starting with blogging today.  If it works, tomorrow I'll update my resume.  And maybe start dinner.

The thing is, when my big girls go to bed at six, we don't get to do a lot of things.  I don't have the time to give them a bath, I don't have the time to sit down and have dinner as a family, and if RH isn't going to nurse herself to sleep until 9pm, why should I put the kids down so early?  Because they're effing exhausted, that's why.

So today, I'm trying to make our schedule a little better again.  Today, I've made my big girls lie down for an hour at least- and SI passed out in less than ninety seconds.

After naptime, we'll go to the yard to play as usual.  But this time, when we come upstairs, we won't just run through baths/snacks/bedtime/feeding the baby until I'm literally weak and delirious from hunger and thirst, and ready to pass out with RH still awake at 8pm.  No, tonight, we'll head upstairs, make dinner, eat it as a family, and then my girls will get baths while I feed RH.  And then I'll read them their bedtime story and sing them lullabyes while I nurse RH .  And then, RH will have her bath, nurse to sleep, and M and I will go to sleep.

If all goes well, my big girls will be in bed at eight instead of six thirty, asleep by ten instead of by eight, and at ten o'clock- when RH passes out and M and I can go to bed- I won't feel like the parenting train has once again plastered me all over the tracks.

I love my kids, but I will never be that parent that lives to spend all my time with them.  I need time away.  I need time to be selfish and self involved and to just enjoy the quiet.  I need a few moments to myself, every day, where I don't have to actually be involved.

I don't think it makes me a bad parent.  I think it goes back to my second rule of parenting: "Whatever makes you a happier, saner person IS good parenting."

(Oh, how naive I was when I wrote that old post...)

I am happier when I have a few minutes a day to miss my kids.  To feel bad about snapping, or to clean up after breakfast.

I love them, but I am so grateful they're asleep right now
I am saner when I can turn my brain off in the relative quiet and not answer a million questions about why we don't want to wake up the baby.

I'm not a bad mom.  I just need to have an hour or so during the day to put my house in order and a few minutes in the shower so that I don't feel like a bad mom.

I have not been happy and sane.  I have been exhausted, filthy, undernourished, and depressed.

Here's to the return of naptime.

Please, please let this make my life work again.


  1. "I am happier when I have a few minutes a day to miss my kids. To feel bad about snapping, or to clean up after breakfast."

    Love this.

  2. I am still struggling with getting schedules coordinated and some sort of a routine. But I agree, I NEED some time away from them, to just decompress. I hope the new schedule works better

  3. I hope that naptime works again- that break in the middle of the day was my saving grace when I had my third newborn at home.

  4. Good luck... My 5 yo still naps most days... I believe strongly in the power of the nap!

  5. Oh my good God, this was me one year ago. My third is celebrating her first birthday this weekend, and I remember all too well what those first few weeks/months were like with three. Hang in there, soldier. Things are going to be pretty far out of whack for awhile, and then the baby's screwy schedule will stop screwing things up. Things will work themselves into a new regular routine.



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