I’ve been back to work for a couple of months now, but things got kicked up a notch last week when I started a consulting project in-house with a client. This means my husband Ian and I are both commuting to NYC.
I’ve never been much of a clock-watching scheduler, but I do believe in the power of routine—doing things in the same order so everyone can do them on autopilot.
Here’s how we run our mornings with 4 under 6.
- Get up (our 12-month-old twins have most likely been complaining in their cribs for 15 minutes or so)
- Change both babies’ diapers.
- Husband wakes up the big kids and goes downstairs to make coffee and 1 milk bottle
- Teo drinks a bottle while Juney nurses.
- Husband gets showered and dressed.
- Big kids stumble into my room and start to get dressed.
- I administer about 100 threats to the boys about getting dressed.
- Husband sets out something for boys to eat (usually) and leaves for the train
- I put 1 baby in an Exersaucer and the other in a Pack n Play while I take a shower
- Big kids are usually dressed by now and playing with babies
- They might even go downstairs by themselves to eat
- I get dressed and put on makeup. Sometimes I bring a baby in with me while big kids play with the other baby.
- I start getting everyone downstairs, taking one baby at a time.
- Babies sit in their high chairs and snack on O’s while staring at their big brothers.
- I prep my breakfast (usually a green smoothie) and get ready to drive Isaiah to school.
- Our beloved au pair emerges from her room smiling and fresh after a full night of sleep.
- Au pair takes over with the babies.
- Isaiah (kindergartener) gets teeth brushed/hair brushed/shoes on.
- Drive Isaiah to kindergarten. He gets to school a bit early so he can run around and play before sitting at his desk.
- Once Judah completely ready for school, he can have computer time until it’s time for him to leave. If he complains when it’s time to go or gives me a hard time about getting out the door, computer time is taken away for the next morning.
- Return home.
- Make my smoothie and pack up my bag/computer/high-protein snack.
- Au pair and I get the babies and Judah down the stairs and into the car.
- They drive me to the train. Blow a million kisses to my babies.
- Au pair will now drive Judah to preschool and take babies back home.
- I made it. On the train platform with all the other working parents.
- Ride the comfy, quiet train along the Hudson river until we reach the city.
How did I survive this past year with baby twins, a preschooler and a kindergartener?
(And the people who watched my children while I took said naps. Thank you Mayra and Mom!!)
“But I can’t nap,” you say.
I’m here to tell you that you can learn how to nap, even if naps have never worked for you.
How to be a power napper
1) Get the kids in a safe place.
Ideally this means into the hands of a babysitter, teenage neighbor, playdate, or if all else fails, an iPad.
When I was pregnant with my twins and still had two preschoolers at home, we had “quiet time” every day after lunch. My boys were so thrilled to be in their room alone with Netflix on the iPad, they never once came out to wake me up or get into trouble. I also have a very responsible older son I could trust to tell me if anything went awry.
But if you are concerned about snoozing with kids in the house, bring the youngest one into your room to watch a movie (while the oldest gets the iPad by himself in his room). You might even get your little one to wear headphones next to you while you sleep in peace.
2) Set the stage.
So ideally you are all alone in your room now. Your beloved room! Create a perfect napping environment by:
- Making it cold and dark
- Silencing all ringers.
- Firing up your white noise machine
- Popping in some earplugs (if your kids are with a babysitter)
- Setting your alarm if you must
- Blocking out all remaining light with a comfy eye mask.
My love of the eye mask emerged when I realized it’s a signal to my brain to shut off. Something about the weight over my eyes helps tell my mind it’s time to be quiet. I’m completely addicted to it now. This kind is my fave.
3) Let it go.
This is the part where you can start to stress that you’re not going to be able to sleep. Or you’ll start thinking about all the things you need to do. Or feeling guilty that you are spending money on a babysitter to sleep.
Everything can wait. And you have never spent your money more wisely. You are buying your health, and you are giving your children a much happier mother. This nap is going to help you make it through bedtime with a smile on your face.
This is where you want to practice the breathing exercises you learned in yoga. If you need extra help shutting off your brain, try a relaxation app. (The one I’ve used doesn’t seem to be available anymore. I’ll update this if I find another one to recommend.)
4) Decide how long you want to sleep.
Sometimes I tell myself “I can sleep for one full hour” and I’ll magically wake up exactly an hour later.
Lately I can even nap for 20-30 minutes and get enough energy to get through the rest of the day reasonably well. If you are the type of person who feels groggy and hungover after you nap, first down a glass of water before you fall asleep, and then aim for a shorter nap.
Check out this infographic: How Long to Nap for the Biggest Brain Benefits.
5) Do not do anything else but breathing deeply and not thinking.
And hopefully the next thing you know, you’ll be waking up ready to move mountains.
But as I tell my non-napping friends, even if you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes of lying in the dark not talking to anyone and breathing deeply, you’re going to feel better.
I’m sad and elated.
Shocked and relieved.
Out of the infant woods and heading for the toddler roller coaster.
Happy birthday to my beautiful Juney and Teo.
You are the best surprise I’ve ever had.
As I wind down with breastfeeding my twins, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Here’s an homage to all the places I’ve pumped in the past year. Where’s the craziest place you’ve ever pumped? Leave a comment below!
On I-87 while operating a moving vehicle (Not recommended)
Numerous parking garages, numerous times, with big kids keeping me company
Judah takes selfies while I pump
The bathroom of my rock n roll hair salon, which reminds me of the bathrooms at CBGBs (I opted for a “pump and dump” on that one)
In Central Park behind a bush with a hand pump and bebe au lait nursing cover (awkward)
Parking lot of a New Jersey office park, while witnessing an undercover cop shakedown
In the office conference room
In a friend’s NYC apartment, with her pump (my meeting ran late and I couldn’t make it home in time. Thanks Jen!!)
On I-95, on the way to Cape Cod.
In Williamsburg, Brooklyn at least 3 times (little did I know when I met my husband there 14 years ago that I’d someday be pumping in the third row of my mom-mobile on that very street)
And about 1,000 hours in my nursing chair…
…all for the love of these guys.