Okay, just so everyone knows, I’m aiming to be in bed by 10:00 tonight. If that happens, it’ll be a new record. I haven’t done that in weeks.
As the transition period for stay-at-home Mom to full-time teacher Mom comes to a close, I’ve been finding myself almost in awe of how you working moms do it.
When I stayed at home with the twins for a solid year, I declared it to be very challenging at times – and it was. Because little babies don’t sleep, they fuss, they have reflux, they have eating issues and regressions, and you’ve never been that tired in your life – and with two, I wanted them on the same schedule and wanted to maintain that schedule in order to find some sanity. I was able to achieve those goals and I never regret being able to stay home with them for a minute. I’m also very lucky that I was able to go back to work after we were through the baby period, because babies are just so needy. And I truly feel for those (ahem, YOU) who are making their home-to-work transition with much younger, much needier little ones.
But man oh man. Yes, being home with two babies full time is SUPER hard. It really, really is. Especially if they don’t nap at the same time – there’s not one MINUTE of downtime. Never a point in which all the children are sleeping – one baby is always awake and needy. And by the end of the summer, I found myself less motivated to work with my babies on new skills (which I really should’ve been doing a little more) and more motivated to get them (and myself) out of the house. There were weekly trips to Walmart, Target, Costco. C perfected her charming grin at every stranger, and my arms bulked up as I got used to pushing C in the carriage and holding B in my right arm (for multiple reasons, but in short, it cut down on the meltdowns from both babies!) And we were never short on groceries. But now – well, let’s put it this way. I STILL don’t have a minute of downtime! Except now, I’ve pushed back bedtime to around 11:30 every night. It’s just madness!
I was recently talking to a friend, describing being back in the classroom. My job, educating my group of twenty 5th graders, is probably 50% actually teaching, 40% crossing off and adding on items to my endless to-do list (planning, copying, emailing, etc), and 10% fighting with a copy machine. The teaching is great. My group of kids are great. But the other stuff, the endless tasks, and the absolute nightmare that is the copy machine (how can 5 copy machines ALL BE BROKEN?!)…those things take up all my time. And my brain space. And so it’s such an odd, weird feeling, when I get into my car, head spinning with things I never got done in my day and things I still need to get done, make decisions about, contact colleagues about – and I see a baby toy in the front seat of my car. Oh yeah. The babies.
And it’s rush home, hit every light, get stuck behind every bus, wash my hands, peel off my work clothes and the jewelry which would no doubt be pulled from my neck, head upstairs where the babies are playing with the nanny or with my mother, and take over. From that point on, until it’s bedtime for babies and even hours after that as I’m still doing baby-related chores, school just leaves my brain and Mom mode takes over. Correcting papers what? No – I’m cutting carrots, making smoothies (best thing EVER) – etc. You get the idea. It’s totally insane.
There are a few things that are going so well that without them, this whole thing would be downright impossible, and the first is my nanny, J. She’s been at this now for a few weeks and she’s amazing. Because of her, I honestly don’t worry one little bit about what the babies are doing with her when I leave. I thought I’d have a harder time adjusting, letting someone else make the decisions about my children’s well being but it’s not so. She keeps them on the same schedule I had them on, she feeds them what I prepared the night before. She does with them what I would have, but in addition, she does arts and crafts, games, and teaches them things. So because of that, I am able to go about my day at school with my brain ONLY on school things. And that’s really a big deal. My super supportive team – they’ve made it feel like I was never gone for a year and a half. I am very lucky to be given a binder full of whatever I need that I don’t have, and I know I can just follow along and play catch up until I get this back-to-school thing down pat again. My husband, of course, because even after his long day, his long drive, and his end of baths and bedtime (typically he does the baths, I do the PJs, and we each do a bottle), he gets down to his 2-3 hours of chores, which include making dinner for the next night, cleaning up dishes, washing bottles, and cleaning and straightening up the house.
And really, the babies themselves. Because they transitioned perfectly. Because B THANKFULLY came out of his sleep/behavior regression after 5 weeks. Because they don’t even cry one little bit when I wave goodbye and head out the door in the morning, and no, I’m not sad about it. They have each other – they’re besties. They can do so much now and every day it’s something new. Today I got home from work and C finally took 3 steps, pointed to her arm (which we hadn’t taught her yet), and said “please” and “Sadie” (the dog) clear as day. B ate up his minestrone soup like a champ, said the perfect “apple” (another new one), snuggled in, giggling as he repeatedly pointed to my nose, and only had a minor meltdown in the bathtub because C decided to climb in with him and they thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. I have to admit – I said to my husband tonight, as we were each bending over the tub, getting soaked with water as we each washed a squealing baby who were refusing to sit down – “Is this what we had in mind when we heard we were having twins?” And the answer is no – I never could’ve imagined the controlled (sometimes uncontrolled) chaos that is our everyday life.
This CAN be done. It is super-rewarding to know that I can be both a good teacher and a good mother. But this 11:30/midnight bedtime every night…..it’s got to stop. Mommy needs her beauty sleep!