But then December 21, 2012 came, some thought it was the end of the world, but really it was just our littlest little's birthday. Though in many ways it was truly the end of our world, our normal as we knew it. Having twins had taken our lives, put it in a blender and pureed it beyond recognition. I wouldn't say N's arrival had anywhere near the impact in that way, but it has it did take me back to a place where I was drained completely. There were times in the early weeks when the combination of hormones and lack of sleep would find me crying through bedtime stories with the twins because I felt like the time I was giving them was so inadequate. And I missed them. This time was temporary but the stage we are in now is one of recovering from the early weeks, especially for me as a wife, mother and woman.
So instead of sharing about my typical, consistent, stay-at-home-mom life with two, I'm going to go ahead and reveal our life as it is currently. It's most definitely temporary, but I want to share it anyways for two reasons: one, maybe someone else out there is just surviving a season of life and they wonder if they're the only ones with such a strange existence, and two, my pride as a mom took a hit when I needed more help to do "my job". It had taken me so long to get back to a place of thriving and independence after the twins and with a new baby I'm back in that place of needing my husband home more, of simple meals and too many cartoons and not wearing makeup for days. My husband gracious sees that I need to rebuild right now so I can can be healthy in the long-term.
That was one heck of a backstory, and all that to say, this is what a day generally looks like for me right now, as a mother of two and a half year old boy/girl twins and a four and a half month old baby girl, with my husband on parental leave and working on his MBA from home, living in a 1000 sq ft apartment in downtown Vancouver.
To accurately explain my day, I actually need to start the night before. On a good night I get up to feed N at 2am and 6am (on a bad night she'll also wake around 11 or 12) and if I'm lucky she'll go back to sleep for another hour, but much of the time she chooses to start the day after the 6am feeding.
I turn on our video monitor to see if the twins are up (they've been waking much earlier these days, around 6:30) and usually one of them is sitting up in their bed softly calling to the other in an attempt to wake their playmate. I'll take N and go let out the awake twin so the other can hopefully keep sleeping a bit. We'll go to the kitchen, I'll fill sippy cups of almond milk and settle my them on the couch with their milk and let them choose an episode of Sesame Street or Sid the Science Kid.
I'll change N's diaper and dress her, then settle her under her wooden baby gym with a few toys so she can play on her own for a bit. Soon our other twin will come wandering out of their room, ready for milk and to join their sibling on the couch. By now it's past 7 so I'll wake J and he'll take over getting the twins dressed for the day (they are potty trained during the day but we still do cloth diapers at night).
Then I head back to bed, put in earplugs and catch a nap for a couple hours. For awhile, between the couple weeks he took of when N was born and the beginning of his delayed parental leave, I was up several times a night and not getting even a nap since our twins simultaneously went through a napless phase (the worst timing) and I struggled to keep going. Those weren't good days to say the least, but we survived and now we have some time when I'm able to supplement my night sleep and I'm so thankful.
I'll wake up a couple hours later and either the twins will be playing with their toys while my husband supervises with a sleeping baby in the carrier, or if it's a nice day they may have gone out to a park. If they're home I'll get a cup of coffee and a small bite to eat (I'm into chia seed pudding) and sit on the couch, trying to drink my coffee without spilling on the two toddlers who are excitedly climbing on me and begging me to read books to them. I'll read a couple and then tell them I want to finish my coffee and watch the news. This usually only sends them away temporarily before I need to break up an argument or someone tries to dive off the back of the couch into my lap again.
I help clean up what's left from breakfast and put away laundry, make beds and get dressed for the day. By about 10:30 N is usually awake from her first nap so I'll nurse her, change her and spend some time playing with her. The rest of the morning is a mix of baking or doing art with the twins, keeping cloth diaper laundry going, housework, snack time and possibly errand running. With my husband home right now we tag team on most things, if one needs to go out they'll take a kid or two along while the other holds down the fort at home.
Around 11 am I'll feed N some brown rice cereal and then she goes for a nap in her pack n play in our room. I make munchie lunches for the kids (their preferred way of eating lunch involving little piles of things like crackers and peanut butter, raisins, cucumber, cheese, nuts and fruit) and warm up leftovers or make salads for J and me.
When the baby wakes up around 1pm I'll nurse her again and then if it's a gym day for me (we have a summer schedule so each day is different - personal time for J, for me, family day, house project day, etc.) I'll head out to the YMCA at 1:30pm while J finishes up lunch and puts the twins down for their afternoon nap, then N for hers, usually around 2:30. I do a quick class or 45 minutes on the bike or treadmill and head home. I have never been a workout person, my lack of commitment to the gym has been a running joke as the family I married into is athletic and loves to get physical activity. But three babies in three years and I'm coming to see the value of what it does not only for my body but also for my energy levels and mental health.
When I get home around 3:30pm the kids are all usually asleep. I will do housework or blog or start preparing something for supper. N usually naps 45 minutes at a time so she's up first and I'll feed her, then settle her in her bumbo or swing so she can watch me work in the kitchen. The twins get up about 4pm and watch another episode of their shows while they wake up.
Around 6pm it's supper time but N also takes her last nap of the day so we'll get the twins started and then one of us will put her down in her bed. As soon as she is asleep the four of us can sit down together for supper, after which the twins always seem to get a burst of energy and usually end up chasing each other around while J and I finish eating and clean up.
N wakes up 6:45 or 7pm and I feed her but usually by this time of the day she isn't content to play on her own so we trade off holding her depending on who's needed by the twins during their bedtime routine. Right now they have pretty specific requests as to who does what and it usually looks like this: Dad does baths, mom puts on diapers and pajamas then makes them a bedtime snack, dad helps with teeth brushing and reads to them from their Jesus Storybook Bible. Bedtime isn't complete without a couple songs from mom so I try to be free to pop in at the end and sing to them before lights out at 8:15pm.
Around 8 or 8:15 N is getting sleepy so I'll change her, put on her pajamas, put her into her sleep sack and nurse her in the dark in our bed. When she is very full and sleepy I'll lay her in her bed, give her a blankie to cuddle and her pacifier and close the door on another day of childcare.
If we were on top of our game by now the house is pretty tidy and without too much more work we can sit down to watch a hockey game together or a show. If J has classwork to do or it's one of his nights to go play hockey or soccer I'll do something I've got on the go that I can work on in front of the tv, like a blog post or the blackout curtains I'm sewing for our bedroom.
Around 10 or 11 I'll head to bed, if J is home he will too, if not he'll tip toe in after his game and try not to wake me. If all goes well I'll catch four or five hours of sleep before it's time to feed the baby.
As you can see, despite the constancy of care required with a little baby and amount of energy the twins need from us, I am able to take some time for myself most days. It ebbs and flows, sometimes J needs to be out all day or over bedtime and it's up to be to get it done. But because we've realized the unhealthy place I was in post-baby and have chosen to "put on our oxygen masks first" we are being able to get healthy during the marathon stage. It's not easy to accept help and I often miss my days of kissing J goodbye as he headed out the door and planning a structured day or outings, baking, crafts and housework that I knew I could handle on my own. But allowing myself this time is teaching me so much about where my identity was tied into being able to handle it all.
If you can learn one thing from my weird schedule I hope it's that asking for help and sharing tasks can be the best thing for you and the health of your family longterm. Speak up when you're drowning because those babies need a healthy mom for years to come.