So, we're now into week 3 of back-to-work and back-to-school routine. Some parts are going great, and some parts ... not so much.
Work is awesome for me right now. I really feel back in the swing of things already. My class is doing great - I'm so proud of the persuasive pieces they're writing right now. I've finally got my classroom back organized the way I like it, I'm getting into my procedures and routines, and things are cooking with gas there. Katie Anne is doing wonderfully at school. She's getting great reports from her teachers, has slipped right back into the gang of her old friends, hasn't shed a drop-off tear yet for Daddy in the mornings (knock on wood that trend continues), and is doing a fabulous job on all her school work.
The two SJs are fairing okay. Daddy is taking both kids to daycare in the mornings now, and I think that's been a challenge on some days, but he's taking it in stride. He has done a great job of remembering all the things that they need for school each morning, he hasn't been too late for work, and he's developing a higher tolerance for the magical formula that is baby + carseat = screaming.
SJ4 is struggling a little bit with the transition. He's very cheerful at school and the teachers love him, but he cannot sleep there. Period. For instance, today he was there from 8:10 am - 4:50 pm, and he slept for 64 minutes. That's only about an hour out of the 8.5 hours he was there. Luckily, that doesn't make him grouchy, but it does make him exhausted and pitiful ... and it means he's so tired when we get home. He's still not on any sort of meaningful schedule ... he's still not sleeping through the night ... and he goes to bed so early because of his exhaustion that he thinks 4:00 am is a great time to be up for the day. So, our nights and mornings are quite challenging. I never know what time he'll wake up or how many times I'll get up with him. Plus, in the evenings, I can never predict what time he'll need his bottle, so I never know if I've got time to run an errand after work or how negotiating getting everyone fed/bathed/in bed will go.
After talking to my mom about it today, I just decided that I had to bite the bullet and try to keep him up later at night to get his days/nights realigned. I couldn't get him to stay awake past 6:00 - the poor little man absolutely passed out halfway through his bottle. So, I put a new little plan in place that will hopefully work and make our evenings more manageable. Here's how it went down:
Step 1: As soon as we get home, get KA a snack and feed the dogs. Unload the car. Start a load of laundry. Then, feed SJ and put him down for an evening nap.
Step 2: Start supper while multitasking kitchen chores like dishes and bottle making. I put KA at the barstools with an activity (tonight was Playdoh) so I could a) avoid using tv as a babysitter and b) get in some quality time with her while cooking and doing some of my nightly chores.
Part of Step 2 is accepting that dinner will be nothing fancy for the foreseeable future. Boxed/canned/frozen is entirely permissible because it is better than drive-thru food, which has been the extent of my cooking the last few weeks. Tonight we had soft tacos from a box kit, black beans, corn, and strawberries.
I did earn extra credit by making a dessert - brownies from a box kit, but that's the only way I make brownies regardless, so that's pretty high up there on the culinary scale for me. I had some great help from my sous chef.
(Her hair has not been cut, by the way - it's just tucked into her turtleneck to keep it out of the brownies.)
Step 3: Eating dinner and cleaning up the kitchen. No pictures here, but I am starting to make KA take some more responsibility for helping me here. Today, she set the table, helped to clear it, and helped load the dishwasher. Keep the laundry going and run the dishwasher, grab a hot brownie for dessert, and then it's on to...
Step 4: Time to rouse the little man for some awake time. I've tried this idea before to try to keep him from going to sleep too early, but I couldn't wake him up. My mom suggested giving him a bath to try to keep him awake a little bit. God love him - he tried his best to sleep through the clothes changing process:
Step 5: Bathime for baby boy and me while Daddy and KA have some daddy-daughter time together, which tonight was very loud and rowdy horseplay in the living room, but whatever - I can't micromanage every second. I just crossed my fingers and prayed nothing got broken in the process. SJ was a little confused when he woke up in the bathtub:
But he soon realized where he was and got happy:
Step 6: Parental divide and conquer time! The guys had bonding time while Daddy gave SJ his nighttime bottle. Then, it was lights out again for the poor little exhausted guy:
Meanwhile, I helped Katie Anne get her shower, brush her teeth, and blow dry her hair:
Step 7: Books and bedtime for big sister:
Step 8: Finish my chores and then off to bed to get a few hours sleep before the baby boy wakes up!
All told, this plan of attack seemed to work well for us tonight. It involved a lot of multitasking and not one second of "downtime" on my part (I literally did not take off my work shoes or go to the bathroom until KA was in the shower) and more evening time help than Saunders is used to providing, but I think it might have to become our new normal for a while. Both Saunders and I got to spend time with both kids one-on-one, so that's good - I felt like that had been missing in the evenings during the last two weeks. I cooked something reasonably healthy while getting the dishes done and bottles made for tomorrow as well as getting three loads of laundry done - Saunders gets credit for hanging all of them up and putting them away. Both kids got baths and were in bed with no drama at a reasonable hour. I hate that we aren't really having "family" dinners because SJ is in bed at that time, but it just doesn't work out to have him there right now. Hopefully, as he gets older and more into baby food/finger foods, he can stay awake more and join us at the table. Also, my fingers are crossed that keeping him up for a little over an hour in the late evening will help SJ readjust his little nighttime clock and sleep a little later in the morning. If I could just get him to sleep through the night, I'd be golden!
**Note: In the above pictures, you might notice that SJ is asleep on his tummy. That's in direct violation of the "back to sleep" movement and in direct alignment with the old school "let baby sleep however the heck he wants because he's a giant and has great head control and can totally do that mini push up thing" movement. And he's got a light blanket over him, which is a grade A parenting fail. And ... wait for it ... in about 3 days, I'm going to feed him cereal a month ahead of the recommended schedule. I'm just a rebel without a cause this time around. Actually, I did all that with Katie Anne, too - but I was too afraid to admit that I went with my gut feeling and didn't do the "right" things. This time, I'm just going with what works and not worrying about it so much.