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15 Exercises that Will Most Definitely Prepare You for Parenthood

You read the books. You took the classes. You survived building a crib – and you didn’t even kill your husband during the process.

You are definitely ready to take on parenthood.

Or are you?

Sure, the nursery is painted. The car seat is installed. And I really hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is simply the calm before the inevitable child rearing storm.

What else can you possibly do, you ask?! You packed your hospital bag, you interviewed potential pediatricians, and you even enrolled your future newborn in the best (and most expensive) daycare possible.

Sadly, these things will not truly prepare you what’s coming your way.

Stay calm. Skip your Lamaze class this afternoon and continue reading. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled 15 real-life, authentic exercises for you to complete that will most certainly better prepare you for parenthood.

Here goes:

1. Turn off all the lights in your family room, throw a bucket of Lego’s on the floor, and attempt to avoid stepping on them for an entire week.

lego image

2. Eat Cheerios for dinner three nights in a row.

3. Drink a bottle of wine and then set your alarm for 1am, 3am, and 5am. Sounds fun, right? Hung over parenting. Get ready for it, people.

4. Use a permanent marker to color small areas on every surface in your house. Practice using a variety of cleaning materials to remove the marker from all surfaces. Take notes and save for a later date.

5. Buy three cans of Play Doh, mix it until it turns brown, then smash half of it into your carpets.

6. Record the following: “Mom? Mommy? Hey Mom?? Mooommmm? MOM?!” And then play it on repeat for twelve hours on a Saturday.

7. Put child locks on your toilets and then try to open them when you have to pee in the middle of the night. If you’re really up for a challenge, drink four cocktails before attempting this exercise.

8. “Accidentally” send multiple text messages to your ex-boyfriend with “hdnakbsnebwnannanabdjd.  …$;&3@&/$/$!3shshehejjsbd” in the text field.

9. Show up to work ten minutes late and try to convince your boss that a poop explosion in a car seat is a legitimate reason for being late to work.

10. Take 400 photos of the floor on your cell phone and spend all night deleting them because your storage is full once again.

11. Fold three loads of clean laundry, dump it all over the floor, and squeeze a juice box all over it. Repeat.

12. Make a cup of coffee, set it down on your mantle, heat it up again twice throughout the day, and never take a sip.

13. Listen (and sing along) to “The Wheels on the Bus” for an entire three hour road trip.

14. Smash a box of goldfish crackers into tiny crumbs and gently scatter it all over the backseat of your car.

15. Study every creak in the floor boards of your house. Memorize them. Practice crawling from the crib to your bedroom in silence without disturbing any of the squeaky boards. Trust me on this one – you’re going to need it.

There you have it! You’ve completed the parenting version of a CrossFit workout. If you’ve done the exercises correctly, you’re probably exhausted, frustrated, annoyed, sore, hungry, and terrified of what’s to come (and rightfully so).

Now all you need to do is fit these exercises into your daily schedule every day for the rest of your life and you are officially ready to take on parenting! Congrats and good luck!

Motherhood: My New Normal

Two boys and a tunnel. Just another normal day around here.

Two boys and a tunnel. Just another normal day around here.

 

After a long week of work and parenting, I sneaked upstairs tonight with a glass of wine and slipped into the tub for a quick ten minutes alone before starting the bedtime routines. I made a mental note to thank my husband for this brief break, since any alone time these days is rare and precious.

I carefully poured the baby bubble bath into the steaming water, pushed aside the boats and bath toys… and I didn’t think twice. Then it occurred to me that four years ago, I would have laughed (and probably cried) at the strangeness of this situation. It would have felt awkward and hilarious to be washing up with tear free baby shampoo and setting my wine on the edge of the bath next to my son’s tiny squirt toys. But now, four years and another baby later, I realized that the reason this no longer feels so odd is simply because motherhood has finally become my new normal.

Some will argue that a woman becomes a mother when she conceives, but accepting the title doesn’t mean that the role comes naturally. I remember how weird it felt to carry the infant car seat around with me everywhere I went in those first few months (which wasn’t many places, except for drive thru coffee shops and the occasional trip to Target). I felt so anxious, so aware of the people around me who I was convinced could tell that I had no idea what I was doing.

I even felt like a stranger in my own house. My bedroom at night looked as though a baby bomb had gone off – diapers and wipes strewn around the changing table, the bassinet pushed closely to my side of the bed to make for easy nighttime breast feeding sessions. My night stand was stocked with anything that I could possibly need to survive the night with a newborn, like diaper cream, extra pajamas, receiving blankets, nose suction, a thermometer, infant Tylenol, and a multitude of other items that I surely did not need.

The first time we took my son to the pediatrician, the final page of the paperwork required a parent signature. My mind went blank. Parent signature? Omigod. That’s me. And next to my signature was the “relationship to patient” line where I wrote “Mother” for the first time. Surely I was not old enough (albeit I was 26) or mature enough to be solely responsible for another human being…. Right?!

After eight weeks at home, I reluctantly returned to my full time job. My son’s diaper bag was the size of a small suitcase, packed with enough stuff for him to survive at least three weeks. And then I packed my lunch, my work bag, my pump, and a cooler for breast milk. Did it seriously take this much preparation and planning for one day out of house?! I was fairly certain that I wasn’t capable of this chaos – and I eventually did resign from my position before returning to work 18 months later.

Now, ten months after my second child was born, motherhood in general has become, well, normal. I’m used to the fact that my dining room will always be used as a playroom for the boys. I’ve accepted that I will probably never sleep soundly through an entire night ever again. It doesn’t feel weird to me that my grocery list is dominated by baby products and kid friendly meals rather than steaks, scallops and other delicious food I’m sure I ate prior to having children. It doesn’t bother me that it takes at least two hours to get myself and the kids out of the door each morning before work. I don’t think twice when I crawl into the backseat on road trips and make animal noises for an hour to soothe my fussy baby. These things would have all felt absurd, hilarious, and overwhelming a few years back. And now, four years after I accepted this role in motherhood, I can finally say that I really feel like a mom.

So for all of the new mothers out there who feel as though they aren’t as natural and prepared as they had expected to be: hang tight. After a couple of years, a few tears, and probably another baby – motherhood will finally become your new normal. And you most likely won’t ever want to change a thing (except maybe the sleep deprivation– a few uninterrupted hours would definitely be nice).

Top Ten Things I’ve Learned about Four Year Olds

Two weeks ago, my oldest child – my first baby –  turned four years old. I have to admit, I’m happy to say goodbye to the “threenager” who’s been bossing us around for the past year. I fanaticized about life with a four year old to be something like this: my child will all of a sudden put on his clothes and shoes by himself in the morning, he’ll stop crying over ridiculous shit, and he’ll wipe his own ass. Sadly, none of this has proven to be true. We are two weeks in, and here’s what I’ve learned about kids who are four.

1.) He’s right – ALWAYS. He thinks he knows more than I do. Actually, sometimes he does know more than I do. Apparently all the time he spends watching PBS has paid off.

2.) He’s more than capable of putting on his own clothing, coats and shoes. Unfortunately, not only do children need to be capable of doing these things, they need to be WILLING – and four year olds are NOT willing.

3.) He still thinks he’s the boss. And why wouldn’t he? If someone put my clothes on for me and wiped my ass every day, I’d assume I was in charge as well. And FYI – four year old boys are not capable of wiping themselves. Give it up and try again next year.

4.) Four year olds – and boys in general – are competitive. Occasionally, this works in my favor. For example, I can tell him anything is a race and he moves faster. On the other hand, he constantly needs to be winning and he must always be first, be faster, be the best, etc. – this drives me insane and makes my husband proud. Typical.

5.) Four year olds hate all food. Except fruit snacks, plain pasta, and dessert. Even if your child ate everything as a toddler, they will turn four and ultimately realize they can refuse all food and live solely on Cheez-Its and juice (which must only be served in their official Snackeez cups).

Four year olds are obsessed with Snackeez, and all other As Seen on TV items, FYI.

Four year olds are obsessed with Snackeez, and all other As Seen on TV items, FYI.

6.) Four year olds are OBSESSED with You Tube. They will literally watch anything on the internet. It’s amazing. It’s a bargaining tool. You Tube Bribery. Because really, the thing that four year olds love best about life is watching other kids open and play with toys. Right?! Why would they bother playing with their own shit when they can watch other kids play on You Tube?!?

EvanTube - The Ultimate YouTube channel for watching kids play with toys. #creepy

EvanTube – The Ultimate YouTube channel for watching kids play with toys. #creepy

7.) Three year olds think they are teenagers – hence the term “threenager.” Four year olds straight up think they are adults. My kid literally talks about what he’s going to do when he goes to college – no joke. Slow your roll, dude. Let’s focus on Kindergarten before we get too far ahead of ourselves.

8.) Four year olds should NOT need a cup with a top. But low and behold, they still spill shit every day.

9.) Four year olds have selective hearing. I can scream at my son to get dressed in the morning and he stands there zoning out to Paw Patrol for 45 minutes straight. But you bet if he hears the slight creak of the pantry door as I attempt to have any kind of snack, he’s immediately at my side begging for food.

10.) Four year olds want to play pretend. And they want you to do it, too. I spend the majority of my time at home with him fighting bad guys, wearing capes, throwing batarangs. I’ve gotten an entire education on the Avengers, the Green Lantern, the Ninja Turtles and their escapades versus Shredder and his foot clan. In case you weren’t aware, pretend play as an adult is torture (unless there are a few glasses of wine involved, of course).

So there you have it. The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned about Four Year Olds. I’m sure the course of the next year will bring some surprising challenges, but just like every other stage of parenting, I know we will survive.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll embrace this age – pour some wine in my Snackeez, binge on some creepy YouTube videos, and thank my lucky stars that I survived the Terrible Twos and the Year of the Threenager.

Why Winter is the WORST Season for Parenting

Winter in Western NY. If you aren’t familiar, it’s pretty much comparable to the arctic between November and March. Sometimes longer if we’re really lucky. While we’ve been spared somewhat this year, I still feel certain that winter is the absolute WORST season for parenting.

Now that I have two small children, I find that we are stuck inside during the majority of these horrible months. I mean, the temperature last weekend hit -25 degrees with the wind chill. I’m all for bundling up and getting out there now and again, but -25 degrees is like some north pole, tundra, polar bear bull shit. So for hours and hours on end, I am attempting to entertain two kids inside my home.

Winter time ghost town. I swear people live here. We just don't go outside for half the year.

Winter time ghost town. I swear people live here. We just don’t go outside for half the year.

Between Christmas and birthdays, there are literally 400 toys in the house – a multitude of things to do to keep them busy. But if your kids are anything like mine, they play with toys for about seven minutes at a time and then they spend an hour rolling around the kitchen floor complaining that you aren’t playing with them enough. The baby, who has every infant toy ever created, would rather  spend his time speed crawling to the back door and eating dirt and salt off the boot trays (yes, our door ways are lined with boot trays – another reason winter blows). And my four year old prefers to use the dog leash as a lasso and the top of my sauce pan as his shield for fighting bad guys. When they are tired of these things, they go back to hanging on my legs and begging me to entertain them.  This pretty much sums up my weekends.

Why play with toys when you can hide in boxes?

Why play with toys when you can hide in boxes? #winterfun #desperatemama #keepembusy

And then there are school breaks. Don’t get me wrong. As a teacher, I rejoice in a week away from work every now and again. But after two weeks at Christmas and a week in February during the middle of winter, I start reconsidering whether school breaks are actually such a “vacation.” During these weeks, the preschool teacher in me scrolls through my Pinterest boards at night searching for activities to keep my kids busy as long as possible educate my children. Sensory bottles, art projects, counting games. I spend tons of time planning and creating these things. Of course, my kids LOVE this shit for about 12 minutes, and then they get back to begging me for snacks and crying because I won’t let them climb on the coffee table and shoot Nerf guns at our flat screen TV.

Sensory bottles: Pinterest Win for about two full minutes until they got bored.

Sensory bottles: Pinterest Win for about two full minutes until they got bored.

After 13 hour days spent between our playroom and the kitchen, I occasionally give in and agree to take them somewhere more exciting, like one of the many local indoor play gyms (which is an entirely different post on its own). Another reason this season is the devil? The gear it requires to actually go anywhere. The boots, the coats, the hats, the mittens. It takes at least 45 minutes to get everyone dressed in the appropriate attire in order to even attempt to leave the damn house. While I wrestle the baby into his car seat, the four year old is undoubtedly climbing around in the snow banks behind me – only to cry afterwards for ten minutes in the car because his pants are wet and cold. And on top of all that, the car seat Nazis will chastise you if you DARE put your child in a car seat with a coat on. This is unsafe practice, if you weren’t aware. I don’t know about you, but I consider going out in -25 degrees without a coat also an unsafe practice. Either way, it’s the worst.

It only took 25 minutes for us to get our shit together before leaving the house. Record timing.

It only took 25 minutes for us to get our shit together before leaving the house. Record timing. And check out that death stare from the baby. Looks like he really loves being bundled up in there. 

 

And finally, when there is snow outside, the children will most definitely, unquestionably, ALWAYS want to play in it. If your kids are little, that means you will be playing in it, too. The back hallway of my house turns into a snowsuit shit storm, as my four year old screams about his boots being too tight, his coat being too bunchy, and his hat being too itchy and so on. The baby is usually lying on the floor looking like some cross between the marshmallow man and an infant mummy. I spend another 45 minutes putting on the gear only to find out that my kid has to pee and it’s an emergency. Can’t we just fast forward to summer when he can pee in the grass in the backyard for god’s sake?

I'm not sure, but I think he's giving a thumbs up. Or he's trying to tell me he needs to pee again. F*ck, I hate winter.

I’m not sure, but I think he’s giving a thumbs up. Or he’s trying to tell me he needs to pee again. F*ck, I hate winter.

Every February, I begin to wonder why any human being would actually choose to live in a place that is so cold for so many months of the year. But I know that in just a few short weeks, the snow will melt, the temps will rise (slightly) and we will be able to get back outside. And then of course, we’ll have the rain and the mud to deal with until June.

In conclusion, if you are a parent and you are considering moving to Western NY, just don’t.

Marshmallow Man. I swear he's enjoying this.

Marshmallow Man. I swear he’s enjoying this.

How to Get Your Children to Sleep through the Night

How to Get Your Children to Sleep Through the Night

So now that I have your attention, I have some disappointing news to share. I do not know how to get your children to sleep through the night. And after welcoming my second baby last year, I have finally figured out the truth.

“Sleeping through the night” is a myth. A fucking myth. It’s like the Santa Claus of parenthood. We want to believe that this is a real thing – that it does exist somewhere in a magical sleep filled land – but in our hearts, we know the truth. It’s all a big lie. Children do not sleep through the night.

And the older you get, the more children you have, the more you come to realize the truth. You will literally never sleep through the night again.

I find the phrase, "sleep like  baby" insanely ironic. Babies don't sleep for shit, people. Just saying.

I find the phrase, “sleep like baby” insanely ironic. Babies don’t sleep for shit, people. Just saying.

Our pediatricians tell us this sad lie is for two important reasons: marketing and money. That’s right. You clicked this post, didn’t you?? You read the title, “How to get your children to sleep through the night” and you rejoiced and you clicked it. It sucked you in the moment you saw it. You prayed that I was going to tell you exactly how to solve your sleepless problems. Because we are taught that children actually sleep through the night, we are desperate to read, buy, and believe anything that “the experts” have to say about how to make this unrealistic miracle happen.

Years ago, some douche bag doctor decided that he would lie to parents, tell them that if they bought his book and followed his instructions, their kids would sleep. And then he giggled as parent after parent sought after his advice, purchased his materials, and slaved over the 5 S’s of sleeping (shushing, side sleeping, swaddling, blah blah blah). Well screw you, Harvey. That shit doesn’t work.

I was just like you. I googled “healthy sleep habits.” Once, I even considered speaking with a sleep consultant. What the hell is a sleep consultant, you ask??? Someone who you pay to tell you lies about how to get your child to sleep through the night.

I prayed that my baby would sleep. And when he didn’t, I told myself that eventually, he would not be a baby anymore and he would learn to sleep. But every time your children tease you with one night of decent sleep – and by decent I mean a five hour stretch – some shit storm happens and it disappears as quickly as it ever arrived. Teething, illness, a chilly bedroom, too much light, not enough light, loud noises. Who knows? Anything and everything will keep your baby from sleeping.

Then your baby will get older, transition from a crib to a bed, and realize that they can actually get up and walk around at night. Good fucking luck.

At age three and four, they become scared of their own fucking shadows and are absolutely incapable of even falling asleep in their bedrooms. Monsters under the bed. Night time potty training. The list goes on.

And don’t you dare think that when they are teenagers, you will finally get to catch up on some zzz’s. It’s true – teenagers like to sleep all day long, but they also like to stay out all night – which will most definitely keep you up as you lay in your bed and worry that they are getting drunk and breaking laws and making children of their own.

So just accept it. It’s never going to happen. Your rested life as you know it is over. Give up and learn to drink coffee.

You’re welcome.

The Parenting Pendulum

A pendulum is a weight that is suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely back and forth. When resting, it sits quietly in its equilibrium position. Now let me just say that this info came straight from Wikipedia, solely because I failed physics in high school and barely passed it in college. It looks like a simple object to me, but is definitely characterized by some complicated physics shit that I will never seem to fully grasp (gravity, force, acceleration, blah blah blah….).

My life as a parent feels very similar to what I can observe and understand about the pendulum. Parenting may seem simple, but is often more complicated than can ever be described. As a mother of two who works full time, I am constantly swung in separate directions, feeling myself pulled by the forces of both career and raising kids.

When I had my first child, I struggled with finding the balance between being my best as a mother and an employee – as I’m sure almost every parent does. I felt the mom guilt sweeping over my skin well before my sparse eight weeks of maternity leave came to an end. I was unhappy in my position at work in general, and in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth losing the time with my son. I quit, stayed home a few days a week, and spent a few days watching another mother’s children to make some extra cash so that I could afford to be away from “work.”

Luckily, I fell into my dream job two years ago. With this brought the financial ability to welcome another child – which ironically has also created my current dilemma. Between caring for two children and upholding my responsibilities as a full time employee, I am constantly swinging in opposite directions. As I care for my kids, a small part of my brain is still carrying the energy from work – the stress, the demands. When I’m at work, a large part of my heart is hurting to be with my children who need me, especially when they are sick, tired, or sad to see me go.

It’s a constant struggle – passing my attention back and forth between the two things that I care so much about. I’ve worked my ass off to earn a Master’s degree in Education and I’ve finally landed the position I’ve dreamed about – the position that has allowed me to afford to have a second child in the first place. But sadly, the ludicrous cost of childcare in this country combined with the lack of reliable options makes things even more challenging. I refuse to give up my career, because it keeps me sane many days, but I still find it hard to give 100% of my time, attention, and energy to my kids and my career at any given time.

As mentioned before, when the pendulum is not moving, it sits in its resting, equilibrium position. One thing that I know for sure is that in motherhood, there is often no resting position. Whether we work full time, work from home, work as a full time mother, or some crazy combination of these things, maybe the answer to this never ending struggle is to find our equilibrium. As my parenting pendulum swings forcefully from side to side between home and work, I am going to make it my goal to slow down every once in a while and find my resting place.

The End of an Era

Early this spring, I went through a major nesting phase in prep for welcoming Gannon into our family. We redid our kitchen, which was totally insane to do whilst nine months pregnant. Having a construction zone for a kitchen while trying to prepare for a baby wasn’t totally ideal, but we really wanted to upgrade a little bit before the baby arrived. And mostly, I wanted to install a dishwasher because hand washing and sterilizing bottles by hand is a total bitch. Thus ensued  the kitchen remodel.

A month later, Gannon arrived. And about six weeks after that, despite the kick ass dishwasher and the gorgeous new kitchen, we realized that our house was slowly getting smaller. It’s not that we don’t have enough square footage per se, but our house is old and the layout is very choppy. When I’m cooking in the kitchen, I can’t see the kids. The entire house is hardwood (tricky for setting down a tiny baby) and our massive wood burning fireplace is just begging for someone to bust their face on the surrounding brick. So, even though we finally finished redoing our little kitchen, we considered the fact that we might eventually need to move.

It all happened really fast after that. I swear, we decided to meet with a realtor “just to talk” about our options. One thing led to another and two weeks later, we listed. Our house sold four days after that. The only thing more shocking that could possibly have taken place would have been finding out that we were pregnant with another baby (which thankfully was not the case).

The end of an era. We will always love this old house!

The end of an era. We will always love this old house!

After it settled in that we were actually moving, we set out to find a new house. You can imagine what that process was like – stalking the MLS, setting up appointments, and dragging two kids under four years old to showing after showing.

We found a house we absolutely loved and we made an appointment to see it early one Saturday morning.  After fifteen minutes of touring the home, the baby was due to eat. My husband and our realtor took Grey outside to check out the backyard so that I could feed Gannon in private. I sat in the living room of this house, breastfeeding on someone else’s couch. Between the tour, debating whether or not this place would fit all of our shit, and feeding the baby, we’d spent the better half of the morning hanging in this house. By the time we got out of there and got the kids strapped in their car seats, Grey decided he had to take a shit. Our realtor kindly unlocked the door and let us back inside. As I used the last of this stranger’s toilet paper to wipe Grey’s ass that day, I realized that trying to move with small children might have been a mistake.

I honestly feel like we accidentally sold our house, but even so, I know it is the right thing. We are finally moving within a few miles of work and the kids’ daycare. We are half hour closer to my family who will be just under an hour away. And we will have a much more open, airy space for our kids to enjoy. I’m excited, terrified, stressed, overwhelmed, and nervous. Besides his occasional tantruming, Grey is handling the transition of welcoming a new baby and moving into a new house pretty damn well. And while I will always love our first home – the house that my wedding photos were taken in, the house that my babies came home to – I know that our new place will be our forever home. Here’s to the holidays, the new house, and to new memories.

I will miss that gorgeous fireplace (except for when the kids are constantly trying to injure themselves near it).

I will miss that gorgeous fireplace (except for when the kids were constantly trying to injure themselves near it).

Our first family photos in our lovely family room, which inevitably became known as the "play room."

Our first family photos with Grey in our lovely family room, which inevitably became known as the “play room.”

 

I will miss Gannon's nursery, but my husband swears he will repaint the kickass beige stripes we put on his wall behind the crib.

I will miss Gannon’s nursery, but my husband swears he will repaint the kickass beige stripes we put on his wall behind the crib (right, Matt??).

Siri: My Preschooler’s New Personal Assistant

I saw some article on my Facebook newsfeed the other day that mentioned that four year olds ask an average of 437 questions per day. My immediate thought was, “Is that all?” In my house, it certainly feels like about four times that amount. I start my day with the intention of being patient, answering my son’s questions, and appreciating his curiosity. By noon, I start ignoring him, nodding my head and smiling to anything and everything that comes out of his mouth. At least I’m still pretending to be interested at that point, right? At 4PM, I’m almost always responding to everything with, “I don’t know,” or, “because I said so,” while guzzling wine and praying for my husband to roll in from work to save me from the four year old interrogation.

Then, a few weeks ago, I came up with a genius idea. My kid’s two favorite things in the world are as follows: asking pointless questions and playing on my cell phone. I finally realized that I could solve my conversational kid problems by introducing him to the one thing in the world solely designed to answer questions (on a cell phone, nonetheless): Siri.

photo via http://appadvice.com/

photo via http://appadvice.com/

Listening to my son speak to Siri was one of the most hilarious things I have witnessed as a parent. Between the uselessness of his questions and the fact that Siri could hardly understand a thing he was saying due to his rapid fire question asking, I got to witness some comical responses from the trademarked “Intelligent Personal Assistant.” Below are a random sample of the type of things my four year old felt it necessary to ask Miss Siri.

1.) Whats your middle name?

2.) So, what’s the best poker?

3.) What’s the best baseball team again?

4.) What are handcuffs for policemans for?

5.) What are you going to be for Halloween Siri? Because it’s almost Halloween.

6.) What is the hairiest dog? I have a big dog.

7.) What’s the best baby?

8.) What’s the best computer that can do anything?

9.) What the best website on street number ?

10.) What’s that big cord for?

11.) What’s in there?

12.) Why is it dark out in the morning?

13.) How old are you? How old are you? How old are you, Siri?

14.) Where’s Daddy? Where is my Daddy?

15.) When is the red thing going to come to my hand?

16.) What’s the biggest lion at the zoo? Hahahah.

17.) What’s the best circus player?

18.) Let’s get out.

19.) Why? Why? Why, Mom?

20.) Why is Mom writing down all the funny things I told you?

 

After about twenty minutes of this nonsense, my son handed my phone back to me and said, “Mom, she stopped answering. I think I knocked her out.”

No hard feelings, Siri. After 427 questions, I give up, too.

Zoo Boo with Two

I think it’s safe to say that getting out of the house with any amount of children is a challenge. It was difficult with only one. And it’s about twice as difficult with two. The easiest thing to do would be to become a recluse and avoid public parenting appearances at all cost, but I promised myself that I’d conquer my crowd anxiety and take my kids out even after this baby arrived. I don’t want my three year old to miss out on all of the fun events that he’s used to attending, like play dates and parties, even though dragging an infant along can make things a little complicated. So today, I faced one of my fears, packed up the kids, and went to Zoo Boo – an annual trick or treating event at our local zoo.

I have to say, I’ve done a kick ass job of getting myself to events with our weekly playgroup. A newborn is actually relatively portable in the beginning, since they sleep the majority of time you are out and about. But today, I knew this whole Zoo Boo business would be a little bit more difficult than the average play date. It was chilly outside, the event would last at least a few hours, and I knew my three year old would be missing his nap time. Any event that spans several hours requires a massive amount of packing, plus the weather was a little iffy, so we’d need to plan for chilly conditions. Every ounce of my wanted to bail, sending my husband with my three year old so that I could spend some quiet time at home with my cozy baby, but I really didn’t want to miss out.

Here’s the thing about braving cold weather with kids. I not only have to find the warm coats, hats and gloves, but I also have to battle my three year old to actually put it on. Then there are the costumes to consider. I spent at least a half hour trying to convince Grey that Superman definitely wears a winter hat AND he pees before he puts on his costume, belt, and coat. Once all that was taken care of, I attempted to put the baby in his dinosaur suit, but then realized that strapping a kid in a costume into a tiny car seat is pretty much a sweaty shit show.

Not to mention, wrestling an infant out of his chintzy, one piece dinosaur get up in order to change his diaper in a dirty public bathroom sounded pretty intense. And so, I said screw the costume for the baby. This is what happens with baby number two. Convenience over cuteness.

My attempt at the infant dino costume. We didn't get passed the head piece.

My attempt at the infant dino costume. We didn’t get passed the head piece.

Overall, the afternoon was pretty awesome. The highlights included seeing an official group of adults dressed in “authentic, professional-grade” Star Wars costumes (which I thought was absolutely hilarious and my son thought was terrifying), witnessing a scandalous mother dressed as “sexy witch” complete with a short skirt and fishnet stockings, and watching my husband and his guy friend get mistaken as a couple when a Zoo employee offered to take a “family” photo for them by the scarecrow display (which turned out rather cute, if you ask me).

As I made my way out of the zoo through crowds of overtired, sugared up, screaming children – including at least six different crying kids in Elsa costumes – I felt proud of myself for both braving the crowd and even having some fun. Despite the stress and the chaos, I just might bring the kids back next year.

Happy Halloween!

My little Superman (in his hat and coat).

My little Superman (in his hat, coat, and cape).

My First Post-Baby Post

Four years ago, my husband and I were getting ready to welcome our first child into our family. We were still enjoying long nights of uninterrupted sleep and hours of free time spent preparing for our tiny addition. We were 26 and 27 – what many would probably consider young for having a child nowadays – but we were excited. With a few months to go, we couldn’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy.

Reality set in when we brought Greyson home from the hospital in February of 2012. We had no idea what we were doing. We were both overwhelmed and in over our heads. We missed free time, happy hours, and daily trips to the gym. And after eight months of feeling like an absolute mess of a mother, The Honest Mommy began.

My blog became a way for me to vent about my insecurities as a new mother. As it turned out, lots of friends and strangers began following my stories and I felt less alone – I realized that what I was going through, the feelings of being inadequate and frazzled, were more the norm than the exception.

Fast forward three years, I am back to working full time during the day, and recently welcomed our second baby, Gannon (which explains my absence from regular blogging). It’s not that I ran out of things to say, I’ve just run out of time to say them.  But last night, as I looked around my room at the explosion of baby gear, teething toys, breast pumps, overflowing garbages filled with dirty diapers, I started feeling the need to share my experiences of life with two. I can’t promise I will find the time to post every week, considering the majority of my free time now goes to shoving a quick meal in my mouth and catching up on as much shut eye as possible – but I’ll do my best to fill you in on the craziness of working full time while caring for two active baby boys.

So far, I’ve realized that caring for two kids is very similar to caring for one. However, life has become a game of carefully calculated choices. Let me explain.

After Grey was born, I definitely felt like my life was a shit show the majority of the time. Nonetheless, I did find the time to shower regularly, get dressed most days, and even got my hair cut and colored every so often. With only one child, you can utilize nap time – two hours of blissful child-free time and space each day. Additionally, it’s easy (and less expensive) to find a sitter to watch one child, so my husband and I even got out once in a while. I remember seeing a mother out in public whose children looked well rested and dressed adorably only to find that the poor woman looked as though she hadn’t slept in a decade even though she was wearing pajamas that look as though she’d been wearing them for days. It wasn’t until I had a second child that I realized the cause for such confusion. Life with two (or more) – it’s all about the choices. You dress the kids or you dress yourself. Clearly, that mom I witnessed – she chose the kids.

My days have become very similar. In the mornings, I have time to put on makeup or to blow dry my hair. I can shave my legs or brush my teeth. I can stop for coffee after dropping the kids at daycare or I can be on time to work. I can make them dinner or I can make myself dinner (because god forbid we all eat the same thing for once). I can grab a snack or I can pour myself a glass of wine. You get the idea. At this very moment, I’m deciding between finishing this blog or picking up the baby who is beginning to fuss in the swing. And in this game of choices, most of the time, the children win.

The work is similar – bath times, bed times, bottles, diapers – but the amount of time per day that I have to get anything done seems to have been cut in half. It may be a while before I leave the house in which myself and both my children are fed, dressed, and well-rested. I probably won’t have an evening when both the laundry and the dishes are done at the same time. And I may never again have the time to paint my nails and pluck my eye brows in the same week. But when it comes down to it, and I look at my boys playing together on the floor, I have to say that so far, it’s totally worth it.

gannonandgrey