Home-to-work transition

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!

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But I don’t even like coffee…

My babies are 10 months old tomorrow! More on that in a minute.

I’ve been feeling very, very tired. I mean, I imagine all parents do, and especially stay-at-home parents, because that which makes you sleepy is what you do all. day. long. And in my case it’s times two. I’m noticing, though, that my sleepiest, downright dysfunctional period is mid to late afternoon, usually between the hours of 3:00 – 5:00 pm. The babies go down for their second nap around 1:45, and it lasts until between 2:30 and 3:00. What I’m doing during that second nap is having a snack, walking around the house pretending to clean, and then sitting down on the couch, connecting myself with the outside world via Facebook and blog reading. Inevitably, the babies are up so quickly, and then it’s that last long stretch before bed.

The past few days, it’s all I can do to not literally curl up on the floor and shut my eyes for five minutes. Yesterday, my sister was over so I was actually able to do just that (but on a couch), but today I was driving. I can’t stop yawning, my eyes get heavy – I’m about ready to pass out. And then the feeling sort of goes away, especially once I’ve eaten dinner. Then I’m immediately recharged and raring to go for the rest of the night.

The thing is, this system isn’t really working anymore. Not for the babies, not for me. What I’m currently doing after that last nap at 3:00 is passing the time, usually with a stroller walk if it’s nice out, followed by bottles at 4:00 and then…and then the babies do a lot of playing by themselves. I’m sitting right there, mind you. But I’m not interacting with them much at all. I’m zoning out, keeping them busy with toys and counting the minutes until my husband gets home to take over for a few minutes while I get bedtime stuff set up.

When my husband gets home around 5:30, I let out this big sigh of relief just knowing that I’m officially “off duty” for a few minutes. And I love being with my kids. But it’s just so nice, and I’ve been “on” since they woke up at 6:00. It’s a long-ass day. And once bedtime and bath stuff are ready to go, my husband does the baths around 6:15, I do PJ’s, it’s bottles and then sleep by 7:00.

This is our current schedule. After the babies go to sleep, we creep down the stairs, wanting to plop it on the couch….and start dinner. By the time we’ve eaten and cleaned up from it, it’s 8:00. By the time the nightly chores of straightening up the house, washing bottles, making formula, preparing solids, washing diapers/folding laundry (if necessary) are done, it’s 9:00/9:30. That’s when I finally get “me” time, which is either a little TV with the hubs or sorting through pictures or blogging. My bedtime isn’t usually until 11:00 and then we’re up at 6:00.

So you see, this current situation I have going for us isn’t working for me, because I’m crashing so hard every single day. I don’t like how I’m just placing the babies down to play and not even doing much with them during that time. I don’t like the feeling of forcing my eyes open. Apparently I need more sleep. But I think I also need to work on preparing dinner BEFORE the babies go to bed, so that after they’re down, we eat right away and clean up quickly. If that happened, everything would shift to an earlier time, including my precious bedtime.

But that’s the problem – I can’t prepare dinner before the babies go to bed. I’m TOO TIRED.

The thing about caffeine for me is that it really works. I don’t really consume caffeine. A little soda or a piece of chocolate at night would have devastating consequences. Even when the babies were newborns, not ONCE did I have caffeine to keep me going. I’ve never needed it. And that’s why, when I do drink it, I’m beyond wired. I don’t like that feeling, so I don’t do it. Also, coffee is gross unless it has all the cream and 83 sugars. Tea is the same. For a treat, I’ll have a decaf sugar-laden coffee from Dunkin Donuts, but as a dessert – without caffeine. Right now, I’m starting to wonder if that’s what I need. Most people drink coffee in the morning, right? They need their caffeine to start their day, to get them going. Well I practically jump out of bed with a spring in my step. I’ve always been a morning person. But that mid-afternoon slot? That’s where my coffee would be.

I don’t know. I really want to stop wasting away the hours of the late afternoon and be productive. Imagine if I made dinner, cleaned the house and played with the babies, all before my husband got home? That would free up my entire evening! It also sounds impossible.

Today the babies and I went on a trip to my school to visit my teacher friends. I’ve been coming around lately to the idea of going back to work. I haven’t worked since April of 2013 when I was put on bedrest at 23 weeks – a long time ago. And even a few months ago, I didn’t feel ready. But now I can envision it. Talking with other adults, going back to teaching (some) subjects that I really like, making a difference again – it does sound appealing. And when we visited today, I was reminded even more so how the topics of curriculum and data are in my not-so-distant future. Hmm, am I happy about that? On a surface level, sure, yeah, it’s good for me. And I have no choice, anyway. But deep down I’m wondering – how will I ever dedicate myself to both my job AND my family? Before my kids, teaching was my around-the-clock job. Once I had kids, they took that slot. It isn’t possible for me to work two 24/7 jobs, so you know, something’s going to have to give. And I doubt it’ll be my babies, short of me not being home anymore. This whole topic just makes me sleepy.

 

In other news, my twins are 10 months old tomorrow (picture overload incoming!). I know people comment how fast the time goes with their own children, like they’ve grown in the blink of an eye. In some ways, yes, I can see that. I can’t really remember my babies being the five pounds that they were. Nor can I really remember a time when they didn’t smile and laugh (I guess those first few months are just a blur). But otherwise, I seriously think I felt every single day up until now. It wasn’t a long time coming, it didn’t go by super fast – but I really felt it. In a good way, too. Every new stage they enter, though, I’ve liked more than the last. It’s a joy to watch them become little people, slowly but surely. And it’s crazy to me to think about how my babies were born completely blank slates. Never having tasted anything, never saw anything, never met anyone. As I’m home with them all day, I have the power to decide what they taste, who they see, what experiences they are introduced to. It’s just kind of crazy and overwhelming. But awesome. And hopefully, most of the time I’m making the “right” choices, the choices that sit well with my husband and I and contribute to the growth of the babies.

B is, as usual, a giant hunk of a baby boy. He was 25 pounds at the 9 month check up a month ago, so I would assume he’s grown some since then. His head is the size of a 4 year old’s (I know because I just bought him a toddler hat that fits perfect), he has giant feet and hands and he eats like a lion. He’s got some great thunder thighs and is a mini Godzilla “walking” around the house. He’s not crawling yet, as I’ve mentioned before, but he loves to “walk” while holding your hands. Loves it – would do it all day if he could, but it hurts my back. He is rolling now and spinning in circles on his stomach. He has officially outgrown the doorway jumper (so sad), as he’s past the weight limit. And it’s not good for him anyway – but man, he loved that thing. He jumped as high as he could, and if I let him, would lift his legs and swing back and forth, allowing his arm to connect with the wall. He’s a very physical boy – when he’s happy and laughing, it makes him jump. It’s funny, when we go to playgroup or the library for songs, C smiles and coos, and B bounces up and down on my legs like it’s nobody’s business. Moving is all he wants to do. I really, really look forward to him crawling, so that I don’t have to carry his large self around as much. He has recently made the transition to a straw cup from the bottle. Just like everything else that my babies have transitioned to, I continue to learn that my babies will transition when they’re ready. And when they’re not ready, no amount of persuasion can make it happen. All of a sudden, he was getting antsy with the bottle. Once he learned how to suck from the straw (using water at first), he was hooked and it was simple after that. We still do the last session in a bottle as he typically falls asleep while drinking, but the other 3 meals are through the straw. I’m not looking back from that bottle. I’m glad to be done with it. Now, if only he would hold the thing himself. As for food, he eats whatever I give him – purees, finger foods (but off my fingers, not his…). He just wants to eat. There isn’t a single food so far that he’s turned away from, so I continue to just throw together whatever I have already made and when they are purees, stir them up together. Today’s purees were carrots, butter beans, pears and avocado all mixed together. He doesn’t care. Boy just wants his food. He also likes finger foods but we’re just starting that – so far he’s eaten banana, avocado, sweet and white potatoes, baked apples and peas. He has 7 teeth, and they all came in in a month’s time with next to NO drool, no fevers, no extreme fussing. Just teeth, thank goodness. Super shy in public and with new people, he’s also very leary of new experiences and appears to scowl for most outings. At home, he’s the life of the party.

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(No, I don’t dress him like that all the time. It was for a professional photo shoot we had done, with the results coming soon..)

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C always seems so petite next to B but she really isn’t. She’s around 23 pounds herself, with another large head. But she’s much thinner than B with small little hands and feet. She just got her first tooth yesterday, the same day B got his 7th. Like B, no fevers, barely any drool and not too fussy – I guess I’m super lucky. In public, she’s all smiles, a total charmer. She loves new experiences and is absolutely fascinated by her world. I don’t even notice anymore, but today at our school visit a coworker commented as C was drinking her bottle that she had her eyes scanning the room the entire time – never once did she zone out. Definitely my child – very aware of her surroundings. I put her in the front of our double stroller because she’s all eyes and ears – taking it all in and squealing with delight. At home, she gets bored much more easily than B. She prefers people, even B, to her toys. She’s the first one to get antsy when they are playing by themselves, because she needs more stimulation than the toys can give her. But carry her around the house, read her a book, just change it up, and she’s happy. I imagine this is why she loves going out of the house so much. She’s so very, very good when I pull out my camera – she knows when to smile, when to keep her gaze in my direction. She’s a little harder to get to transition to new things, but it can be done. We’re just starting the straw cup with her, but for now, she’d prefer a bottle. However, she was the one who told me she was done with purees and ready for finger foods – she suddenly turned up her nose at purees, or after having a few bites, would gag and spit them back up. She absolutely LOVES the mushy finger foods I’ve introduced, with avocado and banana being favorites so far. Of course, like B, she doesn’t eat them off her own fingers but hopefully soon enough. Also not yet crawling, this was the baby who absolutely HATED tummy time from Day 1 and has come a long way. She’s leaning forward from sitting to a tummy position and tolerating it for a few minutes. She’s also spinning and circles while there. She finds people hysterical and laughs with so many types of human interactions. She loves to be thrown in the air, to hang upside down.

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Together, the babies continue to show affection for each other. C continues to kiss everything in sight and now B has learned how to give kisses as well. They also pull each other’s hair and smack each other in the face (purposely) with toys, but they enjoy each other’s company and can be heard laughing to each other, back and forth, while I’m not in the room. I’m totally in love, and totally exhausted. I can’t wait to see what Month 10 has in store for us!

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