Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Day in the Two-Kid Life

We're finally starting to settle into life as a foursome a little bit. Eric has been back at work for a couple of weeks now and I'm starting to find my groove as the stay-at-home parent to two whole kids. I've recorded what a typical day looked like for Ellie and me once or twice before, but I figured now was a pretty good time for another installment. Ellie is just shy of 2.5 years old, E.J. is about two months old, and we're starting to develop some semblance of a routine. So let's record it for the ages!

The first time my feet hit the floor on any given morning is usually around 4:30 a.m., when E.J. wakes up for his middle-of-the-night feeding (he is currently sleeping in a little co-sleeper bassinet in our bedroom). I can't complain about this, because he has been asleep since about 8:30 p.m. the night before. I'm tired, but it's my own fault because I can't seem to make myself go to bed as early as I should. This feeding is a quick one - he's awake and ready to eat, which he does for about 10 minutes then passes out again. I usually sit with him for a few extra minutes before laying him back down and returning to bed myself. I'm generally back asleep by 5:00 a.m.

Eric gets up around 6:15 a.m. for work, and leaves around 6:45 a.m. I make him wake me to say good-bye because I hate waking up and just having him gone.

E.J. wakes up between 7:00-7:30 a.m. I drag myself out of bed, vowing to go to bed early that night (spoiler alert: never happens). E.J. always wakes up happy and greets me with a huge smile, which is all I need to help snap me out of my morning fog (considering I don't drink coffee, this is a very good thing). We spend some time "talking," playing and generally interacting before, during and after his morning diaper change.

Who can be mad about getting out of bed when this is the face that greets you?

He's happy to see me, and my day has already been made, just like that.

I take E.J. out to the living room and sit on the couch to feed him. By the time he's done eating, he has usually been awake for an hour or more, and he's starting to get drowsy and ready for his morning nap. I put him in his Rock 'N Play "nest" in the living room and wrap him up tight with a swaddle blanket, then rock the nest until he dozes off. He's usually asleep between 8:30-9:00 a.m.

This is a rare unwrapped nap, but hey, you get the idea.

Once he's asleep I try to take care of some important business before Ellie wakes up - primarily, taking a shower. If E.J.'s sleep seems restless I'll also try to grab breakfast before he wakes up, but if he seems pretty dead to the world I'll often wait to eat with Ellie. If I still have some time I'll usually hop on the computer to catch up on emails or grab a few minutes of work on any ongoing projects (right now, those are primarily catching up on photo editing and blogging).

Ellie has been waking up between 9:00-9:30 a.m. these days. Part of me is bummed by this, because why did she only start sleeping in like that when I couldn't join her?! Before E.J. was born, she was up between 7:00-8:00 every morning. But, I can't complain because her late rising has been giving me the chance to have some one-on-one time with E.J. and allows me to take care of his needs (and mine) before adding her into the mix. If she were still waking up so early, it would definitely complicate my morning. I realize that things could change at any second and she could be back to early wake-ups tomorrow, but even if that happens, this has been great timing to help ease me into a morning routine with two kids.

When Ellie wakes up I go into her room and change her diaper (yes, she's still in diapers...with all the recent changes for her, potty training seemed like a terrible idea! We'll work on that this fall). We generally hang out in her room and play for a few minutes. She's usually very excited to go see E.J., so we don't stay in her room for long.

Another face that is happy to see me in the morning! These kids, man. They sure do know how to kick off a day.

Ellie saying hello to E.J., quite possibly her favorite part of the day.

Apparently the feeling is mutual, and E.J. is happy to see her, too.

Then it's time for breakfast for Ellie, which right now consists of some combination of pancakes, toast, frozen fruit yogurt drops, cereal and fruit. Assuming E.J. is still napping while she eats, I will either eat with her or take care of other stuff that needs to be done: any further "getting ready" that I need to do (hair, makeup, getting dressed), dishes or other household stuff (lately, small unpacking projects), or may hop back on the computer to finish up whatever I was doing before she woke up. I'll also try to prep anything I need for our morning outing: get the stroller loaded and ready, make sure the diaper bag is stocked, etc.

After breakfast I get Ellie dressed. By that time E.J. has generally woken up, so I get him changed and dressed too, and then we hang out while I feed him before we leave the house. We're generally ready to leave around 11:00 a.m. Hey, this is not a speedy process.

I love this stretching face he makes while waking up!

Our morning outing varies somewhat. I have yet to gather my courage to take both kids to story time or any structured activities like that, but we have done a few errands outings. Most often, we'll go for a walk to the "train park," which is about a 10-15 minute walk from our house. Sometimes Ellie will play for a while; sometimes she just wants to sit on a park bench with me. Sometimes E.J. will sleep for the entire outing, sometimes he won't, but he's generally pretty content in the stroller either way. The outing helps pass the time, gets us out of the house, gives us some exercise (well, me, at least) and I think the heat helps tire the kids out a bit! On particularly hot days, we may even stop at Panera Bread on our way home to cool off for a few minutes with a frozen lemonade. We're fancy!

Out on the town with the kiddos

Hanging out on a park bench with my best girl

Cuter than a speeding bullet, this one.

Cooling off in Panera Bread

We usually get home from our outing at about 1:00 p.m., and E.J. hangs out while I fix Ellie's lunch. I get her set up with lunch (macaroni and cheese, cottage cheese and fruit) and Thomas the Train on PBS, then I take E.J. into his room, where I've set up a fan for white noise and his little bassinet. I change, swaddle and feed him, then put him down for a nap in there. When I finish with that I go join Ellie again and grab lunch myself if there's time before Thomas is over. At 2:00 I take Ellie into her room, change her and put her down for her nap.

God-willing, both kids will be asleep at the same time for at least an hour. Last week they actually both blessed me with a couple days of two-and-a-half-hour naps AT THE SAME TIME. Miracles do happen, my friends! I generally spend this time running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to accomplish as much as possible (unpacking, cleaning, computer projects, phone calls, what have you) before one or both of them wake up.

Barring any out-of-ordinary after-school commitments, Eric will get home from work during naptime.

If by miraculous means one or both kids are still asleep by 4:30-4:45 p.m., we wake them up. Eric will generally wake/change/entertain Ellie while I wake/change/feed E.J. Then we try to go for an evening outing: usually, a walk around the neighborhood (rush hour traffic is too annoying for us to really drive anywhere). So far our favorite destinations are Friendship Fountain or "the seahorse park," which we walk to via a nice path through San Marco neighborhoods along the river. At either destination, Ellie will get out of the stroller and play for a bit while E.J. snoozes, then we'll head home.

E.J. asleep in the stroller...

...meanwhile, his sister is checking out Friendship Fountain...

...running off her energy...

...playing at the seahorse park (so named for obvious reasons)....

...and playing on the swings, superhero style!

We get home around 7:00, give or take a bit. Ellie will have dinner (usually string cheese, fruit, turkey, grilled cheese with ketchup and a vegetable if we have one readily available), sometimes while watching Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger, depending how in need of a break we are! While she eats Eric will sometimes go for a run, and then will shower and get his clothes ready for the next day.

After all that, Eric usually hangs out with E.J. until 8:00 when we change him, swaddle him and I take him into our bedroom to nurse him and put him down to sleep. E.J., at least to this point (and I'm over here knocking on ALL THE WOOD), is the kind of baby I've only heard about in fairy tales: I can nurse him then lay him down drowsy but awake, and he'll finish the "go to sleep" job himself. This is in great contrast to his sister, who required being nursed to sleep (including a "suckling" session that could last over an hour, and any attempt to detach her would be rewarded with open eyes on the face of an unhappy, awake baby). Once she was asleep I would pretty much just wait for her to unlatch herself, then would wait longer to make sure she was really dead asleep before having Eric come in to ever so carefully pick her up and transfer her to her crib. Should she wake at any point in this process, we had to start all over again. During that time I read just about every "Get Your Kid to Sleep" book ever written and people kept talking about putting your kid down "drowsy but awake" and I would just laugh, because no way does that work on any baby. Then E.J. came along and made a believer out of me. While E.J. almost always dozes off while nursing, unlike his sister, he releases his latch quickly thereafter and if I hold onto him for too long after that, he'll fidget himself fully awake. So, once he starts nodding off I lay him in his bassinet and wish him goodnight. Sometimes he stays asleep and sometimes his eyes open back up, but either way, he'll be asleep shortly after I leave the room. MIRACLE CHILD.

While I put E.J. to bed, Eric spends some time playing with Ellie, which these days generally involves reading books, playing with her "guys" (stuffed animals), Fisher Price house and barn and playing doctor with a stethoscope E.J.'s hospital doctor gave her (love that game!). Sometimes they'll play outside on her slide, or with her tee-ball or golf sets. She also does a lot of pretend play: she'll choose to be someone (for example, Anna from Frozen) and will assign the rest of us characters as well (I'm Elsa, Achilles is "reindeer," Eric is Kristoff), or she'll act out storylines she saw that day from Elmo or Daniel Tiger.

Playing outside on her slide

All dressed up as Elsa (hence, the gloves)

Sometimes E.J. is unlucky enough to be included in the game, too

Depending on how long I need to spend with E.J., Eric will get Ellie ready for/put to bed. Bedtime generally includes the reading of a story of her choice, teeth-brushing, diaper change, pajamas on. (If it is a bath night, that comes at the beginning of the process). Then we turn the lights off, turn on her fan and pray with her (The Lord's Prayer and "Be Near Me Lord Jesus"), then we put her in her crib and hold her hand while singing "You are My Sunshine." Then it's the "goodnights" and "I love yous" and out we go. She is in bed between 8:30-9:00 p.m. and usually asleep shortly thereafter.

As for us, once both kids are in bed, we eat a late dinner and generally just relax on the couch, barring any outstanding responsibilities that need to be addressed. We'll hang out and watch TV or spend some time on the computer (Eric is usually working on lesson plans during this time) and finally head to bed around 11:30 p.m. or midnight. And that's a wrap until it all starts again at 4:30 a.m.!

1 comment:

Molly said...

You've got this business down!!! Sounds like a wonderful day!