Life with a Newborn: Take 3

Baby #3 is finally here (Yay!). The sleepless, drugged day-into-night time warp feeling has begun as has the overwhelming joy in having a new addition to the family (and to finally getting to enjoy chocolate and decaf coffee without heartburn again – hooray!).

Being our third time around the newborn baby block, I find myself thinking about how this time is different from all other times. So, before the fog of the newborn period lifts, I figured I’d write a post, one-handed, about how our third time on the newborn merry-go-round has been different than our first or second one.

  • Newborn #1: Parenting 101
    • Summary: Even though we thought we were prepared to become a family, we totally weren’t and our unrealistic expectations made the transition hard for us. We had no idea what we were doing and we held parenting books/websites and other people’s opinions in way too high regard. I googled e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g at midnight, 2 am, 3:30 am, 5:05 am, etc. and did silly things like expect my house to be clean like it was pre-baby (and then I religiously cleaned instead of napped to meet that high standard). I believed I could “have it all” and felt like a failure when I didn’t meet society’s ridiculously high standards for mothers. I second guessed myself all. the. time. My husband and I had very few dates and a lot of stress due to no family or friends-with-babies nearby and no sleep. When our adorable baby was less than adorable (hey, it happens!), I thought those moments would last forever, especially during long sleepless nights. I brought a suitcase full of baby supplies with me on trips to the grocery store and stressed over when and where to nurse and change the baby. In fact, I stressed over everything: Will giving my baby a pacifier ruin her developmentally or cause her to need braces? Am I a bad parent for putting my baby in a stroller instead of wearing her? Am I causing hip problems for her because I am wearing her?…
    • What I learned: Chill. out. Life with babies is different.
  • Newborn #2: Outnumbered 101
    • Summary: We had made it through one newborn, so we could do it again (high five for us!). This time we were a little smarter: I cooked and froze meals before the baby came. I reduced my work hours and requested a slightly longer maternity leave than I had the first time. We worked on saving some money before baby came. We found a sitter we trusted who could help us out. However, we still had a few silly beliefs, namely the following:
      • Whatever techniques we had successfully used and mastered for the first baby would work for the second baby.
      • That our older child would feel betrayed when we brought home a new baby.
    • What I learned:
      • Everyone is different, so how you build a positive relationship with them will be different. This is normal and healthy.
      • Any change, no matter how big or small (like reading Goodnight, Gorilla instead of Goodnight Moon), is a big deal to little people and will bring about big emotions. In the long run, the close love-hate-love sibling relationship your kids will form is one of the greatest assets they will have.
  • Newborn #3: Relationship Management 
    • Summary: This time, I feel a lot more prepared. I started getting all non-essentials out of our life before Baby #3 came; I unsubscribed from email lists, opted out of events, donated rarely used items to Goodwill, ruthlessly recycled mail I didn’t need to save … you get the picture. Then I made time for the important things in life: my marriage, my sanity (Read: carving out time for things that make me a happy and balanced person, like reading books or writing this blog), my friends, and my kids. My husband and I majorly lowered our standards and re-prioritized our time: When the newborn napped and the older kids were being watched for a few hours, we skipped cleaning the house and went out on a date instead (with our newborn, a.k.a. Mr. Wingman). We took turns sleeping when various kids slept and when they were all awake we took turns playing with them. I accepted any and all help from friends and family (and even asked for it!).
    • What I am learning: This third time around seems much easier than the other times (so far!). But then again, I’ve called in a lot of help from friends and family (and have gotten it – thanks, y’all!). I’m realizing if I just go with the flow and have some fun (and donuts and coffee with my spouse!), I can enjoy this crazy time. Attempting anything else is optional.

 

Raising Three Kids: When to Bathe

Bath time. It’s fun. It’s messy. Some kids love it. And some kids really (really) hate it. I like bath time, but I also find it challenging when there are a bunch of little ones around.

First, there is the time and people management piece. There are number of children to bathe to consider (Do I bathe them all at the same time? In quick succession? On separate days?) and how to handle the variety of kids who are dirtier-than-mud, Mr-Clean-clean, or somewhere in between.  I have also needed to start evaluating my options in case someone starts wanting snacks, needing to use the potty, or aspiring to world domination while I are up to my elbows in bath toys.

Then, there is the “optimal” amount of time in between baths. Do I go ol’ skool and bathe them daily? Do I strategically skip days so that I optimize the amount of good bacteria on their skin? How does using/not using soap change showering frequency? What if they want to join their sibling in the bath – does that reset the bath cycle?

But today, I figured out when I would know it was time to bathe my sweet, sweet baby: When he starts smelling like Umami. Yep, if I snuggle up next to him and inhale and am reminded of cheese or miso soup instead of Mr. Snuggles, I know it’s bath time. Mind you, he gets a pass if he just smells like goat cheese – anyone can smell like that with just a splash of dried spit up (Child’s play, really). I’m talking like a sharp cheddar or aged Romano. Love those smells from the kitchen, just not from the fat rolls hiding my baby’s neckline.

There ya have it: When to bathe baby – When he smells like miso soup. Or poop (obviously). No spreadsheet or predictive modeling required. Enjoy!

 

 

Raising Three Kids: Determining Pickup Time

My mother in law was visiting to help out while my husband had an especially busy workweek. 

On the first day she was here, she said “So what time do we need to leave to pick up the girls from school today?” 

It would seem like there is a very simple answer to this question, like 12:15. However, I have a newborn and our two preschoolers go to different schools, which have similar pick up times. So I have to bring my newborn to get the 2 year old from her school and the newborn and 2 year old to get the 4 year old from her school. It’s a little chaotic. 

I thought about my pick up juggling act for a few seconds and then replied, “I have no idea what time I need to leave to get the girls. I’ve been trying to figure that out for the past week! Yesterday, when I picked up my oldest, she said ‘Mommy, why do you always pick me up late now?’ So … Yeah, I will let ya know once I finally figure it out!”  She laughed. I laughed too. No reason to stress over it while you are sleep deprived and the house is a disaster. Everyone is just lucky that I can feed them at this point. 

Moral of the story – If you’re a parent of three young kids, it may take you a few weeks to figure out how to time everything so that you can pick your kids up on time. Things that need to go into your mathemagical equation include the following variables:

  • Nursing the baby (Baby’s gotta eat All. The. Time. Else suffer the consequence: Being in a car with a very vocal p*ssed off back seat passenger). 
  • Burping the baby 
  • Changing the baby’s diaper
  • Changing the baby’s clothes (If it’s wet, another outfit you get!)
  • Changing your clothes (Well, Junior just Niagra Falled on me so … new outfit with new undies it is!)
  • Remembering to make yourself presentable to outside society (Did I put on deodorant this morning?)
  • Putting the baby into his/her car seat (If baby is not already sleeping in said car seat. (S)he is your third child after all…)
  • Locating your keys/wallet/coat because you forgot where you placed them due to lack of sleep (Keys in refrigerator? Check!) or because your Mini Me’s played with them and relocated them on your behalf (Keys in laundry basket? Check!)
  • Figuring out the fastest route to school given fluctuating traffic conditions (Maybe if I take the surface streets here and then take the second most popular road, I can get there slightly faster…)
  • Getting your toddler or preschooler from the first pick up to cooperate so that you can get on time to your second pick up (Do I wait 7 minutes for my 2 year old to get into her car seat by herself or do I pick her up and do it for her and deal with a tantrum right before the next pick up?). 
  • Getting the baby and toddler out of the car to then pick up your oldest (Because naturally you cannot pick up the older child first – she has a real “class” with a strict schedule – No Early Pickups Allowed – even though that would make your life a million times easier since you’d be dragging the older kid to get the toddler instead of the other way around). 

In short, I’m still working on figuring out the algorithm to get to my kids’ schools on time. I’ll let you know when (if?) I ever find it!