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Road Trip Rage

My husband and I are getting ready to take our kids to his parent’s house for the first time since Owen was born. Naturally, I’m stressing. Never in my life have I traveled in a car with three small children for four straight hours, but I’m certain that I will not survive. Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s doable. I know that traveling for a lot of parents is fun and carefree. Unfortunately, I’m just not that mom. I have to give myself a pep talk before taking all three children to the playground by myself let alone trying to drive four hours with all of them in the car. Call me crazy, but traveling is just not for me – unless I’m heading to the Bahamas sans babies. 

vacation

I was on the phone with my mom this morning, who was attempting to lessen my stress.  

“Throw a few changes of clothes for each kid in a bag. Done.” She said.

 Now, I’m not sure if my mom as simply forgotten what it’s like to have a brood of small people or if this is actually how she survived parenting four kids. Throw a few changes of clothes in bag? Are you kidding me? I’ve got four lists of about 600 items for each person that absolutely must be packed. I’ve got kids with medications, kids who need four million small toys to keep them entertained, kids who have attachments to blankets and teddy bears and binkis. I’ve got kids who go through “a few changes of clothes” EVERY DAY. We need swim suits and floaties and sunscreen and bug spray. I need a cooler with the prescription-only-milk-free-formula, the almond milk, the 2% milk, the snacks, the lunches, the juice boxes, the back-up snacks… AND the barf bags for my motion sick kids who will probably puke up half the shit I pack for them to eat in the car. That reminds me: don’t forget the Dramamine.

 And besides packing the clothing, toys, and food, I’ve got about a truckload full of baby gear to shove in my trunk. Now that I have two babies under two, I need to bring TWO pack and plays. I have to figure out a way to get a double stroller that’s the size of a small state into my minivan along with the 45 suitcases of shit mentioned above. We don’t have an overhead carrier for the car at this point, but I am just strongly considering strapping myself up, solely to avoid having to deal with my kids for the entire trip.

That’s the thing – the packing is only the beginning of the hardest part of traveling. Actually making the trip in one piece without killing each other is the second part of this hellish, so-called “vacation.” My husband doesn’t understand my hatred for traveling with the kids in the car either, since while I’m climbing back and forth from the front to the back, filling juice cups and replaying movies, he’s busy driving. Just driving along. For fuck’s sake, I’ll take battling with the big rigs and a little bit of rush hour traffic if it means I don’t have to climb into the back of the van 47 times.

Now, I’ll admit that at least we have the iPad and a few new movies to help get us through. Seriously though, I had to laugh when a woman in the car next to me at the grocery store recently commented on how lucky my generation is that our children have iPads and other electronics to keep them busy in the car. Ensue huge eyeroll, both for the unsolicited comments and your judgey tone of voice. Thanks lady, but you also parented during the stone ages, when you could probably hold your baby and breastfeed in the backseat while your husband was driving. You weren’t required by law to strap your kids into hot, uncomfortable car seats until they were 12 years old. I’m sure my kids wouldn’t need to be hypnotized by iPad if they could crawl around the backseats as they pleased. And don’t jump to conclusions here, lady, because listening to Moana play on repeat four times in the car during a road trip isn’t exactly fun for everyone.

So, with two days until go time, my husband and I have officially begun “laying out the clothes” and so on. I know once we get there, we’ll have a blast and it will be totally worth the 36 hours of preparation it requires to take three children on vacation.

But for real, if you don’t see a post from me in the next week or two, just assume I’ve surrendered at some point during the trip and tossed myself out the moon roof of my minivan.

 

My Summer “Vacation”

“Oh, all you teachers. Must be nice to have the summer off every year.”

Yup, the three best things about teaching are June, July, August. Amirite? I’m just over here laying in the sun, sipping summer cocktails, enjoying some peace and quiet. Awesome, yes?

Unfortunately, I have no idea if that’s awesome because I’m home with three small children this summer.

Don’t get me wrong. I love having this extra time with my children, but hanging with three kids under five is not a vacation. So far in the two days I’ve been home this week, I’ve cooked and cleaned up six meals, prepared 45 snacks, washed about 40 bottles, wiped three different butts, watched YouTube videos of kids playing with toys, helped my kids MAKE YouTube videos of themselves playing with toys, and cleaned up dog puke twice. In just two tiny days, I’ve had one child fall off a bike and scrape his face, got soaked at soccer practice because I forgot the umbrella, and chased an escaping toddler halfway down the street. Sweet, relaxing vaca, right?

IMG_4639

In the past two days, I’ve taken three kids to three different doctor’s appointments, including the psychologist for my five year old and the feeding therapist for the baby (Yes, feeding therapy is actually a thing). Today I took my two year old to the pediatrician since he was up half the night screaming. Thankfully, it turns out he’s not sick, he’s just an asshole , um, a toddler.

Even as I attempt to type this, there is a baby spitting up butternut squash all over his play mat and a five year old who just announced that he “needs to go poop real bad,” so I better finish this shit up before he needs me to wipe his ass.

When I had only one child, summer was slightly easier. I made sure to plan trips to the zoo, play dates, picnics, and science projects. Last summer, I smartened up and signed up to teach summer school, which was really a decent balance between work and time at home with the kids. This year, since Owen was born, I decided to enjoy some time at home with all three children. They are only little once, right?

The teacher in me still wants to attempt the art projects and fun summer events, but doing anything with three kids is pretty much a total shit show the majority of the time. So far this summer, the only place I’ve taken all three in public is the pediatrician (which is an entirely separate post on its own). I’d consider taking them to the library, but I’m afraid I’d be arrested for the amount of money I owe in overdue fees. So last week, out of desperation, I piled them into the car without any plan in place as far as where we were going. I took them to the gas station where I bought them crappy fidget spinners, drove them through the car wash, and then ran through the McDonald’s drive thru for Happy Meals on our way home. Compared to a day at the children’s museum, I was feeling like this little trip out was pretty pathetic, but to my surprise, they were totally pumped. Who knew that a $7 ride through the car wash could be so exhilarating?

All jokes aside and despite the challenges, I’m obviously so happy for this extra time with my kids. I’m thankful that my boys are spending their summer at home, swimming with friends, eating popsicles, riding bikes, and running through sprinklers. Despite the fun, and for the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’m thinking that next year, it’s time to sign them up for a few weeks of summer camp.

camp

Outnumbered and Out of Control

“Mom, Gannon has a Sharpie!” 

It’s a good thing my five year old likes to tattle because otherwise a lot of really bad shit would have gone down with that Sharpie.

This is life with three children. 

I remember hearing toddler horror stories about kids who colored all over the walls and flushed cell phones down toilets. I know kids are insane and this shit occasionally happens, but I’m not going to lie, a very small part of me judged wondered about the parents. What the hell are you doing when your kid is coloring your on your walls with a Sharpie? How is it possible that your child is left alone, unsupervised, long enough to find a Sharpie and then redecorate your house? 

Then, we had our third baby, 20 months after our second baby. It all became very clear to me. When you have three kids under five, someone is unsupervised at all times, whether you like it or not. 

Unfortunately, feeding and caring for a needy newborn means my very independent and capable two year old has let himself out the front door and played around in the yard by himself once (or twice). It doesn’t make me a bad mom, or neglectful, it just means that it’s not humanly possible for me to have eyes on all three at all times. Obviously, we’ve learned to lock the front door. 

My escape artist.

My escape artist.

When I found out we were expecting our third, I asked a friend of mine who also has three kids about how she manages being outnumbered. 

“Well we’ve lowered our standards, obviously,” she replied. 

This made me laugh at the time, but now I totally get it. Our first child wore expensive toddler shoes when he was learning to walk. We served him vegetables at every meal, even if he refused to eat them. We held tight to his strict napping schedule and made sure we tracked and limited his screen time. These days, my kids play outside without shoes, eat freezy pops by the box, and skip naps whenever necessary if it means getting where we need to be on time. And when I’m really feeling like a rebel, I let them eat dinner in front of the laptop while they watch other kids play video games on YouTube.  

So the next time you see a toddler playing in the front yard alone, instead of contemplating calling CPS, pick that kid up and carry him inside. Surely the mother is busy trying to breastfeed a baby, while on the phone with the pediatrician, and trying to get someone dressed for soccer practice all at the same time. 

And for those of you moms who are expecting your third, or fourth, my advice is simple. Relax a little. Forgive yourself when the kids are chaos. Lower your standards just a little bit, and um, don’t forget to lock your front door. 

An Honest Mommy Update

three

In 2012, my husband and I welcomed our first baby into our family, and needless to say we were blindsided by the responsibility and chaos that comes with parenthood. Before Greyson was born, we belonged to a gym. We drank cocktails on Thursdays and slept late on the weekends. We were unprepared for the endless doctor’s appointments, the long sleepless nights, and the toddler tantrums in the Target parking lot. 

Instead of having conversations with friends over cocktails, I was talking to a toddler, saying things like, “Don’t lick the dog,” and “Stop touching your butt.” I traded in steaks and scallops for chicken nuggets and fish sticks. Instead of running on a treadmill, I was chasing a two year old up and down the stairs all day. 

For many women, first time motherhood is magical. For me, the first two years were exhausting, mind-numbing. I hated hand-washing bottles, spending a small fortune on formula, and watching Paw Patrol on repeat. 

But slowly, as time went on, we adjusted to our new roles. We even willingly decided to have a second child. It wasn’t even as insane as I expected. I learned to wipe butts while breastfeeding and to wear the baby in my Bjorn when I needed to chase Greyson around outside. 

I stopped writing. The things that I found so outrageous with my first child became my new norm. I felt like I had closed a chapter. I had overcome the craziness of caring for infants. Gannon was turning one, and I could just barely see the light at the end of the tiny-baby tunnel. 

And then, the unthinkable happened. The week of Gannon’s first birthday, we found out we were unexpectedly expecting a third child. Even as I type this, while this little baby stares at me from his bouncy seat, I’m still in shock.

Life with three is often times… well… indescribable. It’s hectic, overwhelming, hilarious, unreal. Sometimes I look in the rear view mirror of my minivan and I have to catch my breath at the sight of three  kids in car seats. 

I posted recently on my personal Facebook page about how within ten minutes, the baby’s shitty diaper leaked all over my shirt, I found my two year old wandering around in the front yard, all while my five year old was busy teaching himself how to rap via YouTube videos.

“You should keep a journal,” a friend said.

And I laughed, thinking of the hundreds of blog posts I have saved from when Greyson was little. It inspired me to get back on the bandwagon. Hopefully, by sharing the chaos that occurs in my household everyday, a few other women might feel as though they are not alone in this motherhood mess. And maybe you’ll get a few good laughs. Or quite possibly, my stories will serve as a serious form of birth control. Either way, it feels good to be back and I hope you enjoy what’s to come. 

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.