Church Mice, that is. Way back in the fall of 2006, I was invited to take the reins of an early childhood music class at the church I attended. I was still in graduate school at the time, so I gladly accepted my very first “professional” position in the music field.
I fell in love with this class from the very beginning, and it fit in beautifully with the music therapy and teaching I was doing full-time just a few months later. Every weekend, I got to work with little kids and their families, singing songs, playing instruments, and having a great time.
2016 was a year full of ups and downs, but it most definitely ended on a high note (corny pun totally intended). I had the opportunity to perform at First Night Springfield, an annual New Year’s Eve event put on by my city’s arts council. And while performing was a joy in and of itself, the icing on the cake was that my friends and family — including my two children — were there, too.
Today was a big day. I called it D-Day in my latest podcast episode — the day Mia started daycare. After 15 months at home with my baby, today was the first weekday during which I wasn’t her primary caregiver.
I talked on the podcast all about the mixed feelings I’ve been experiencing related to this day: excitement, anticipation, sadness, guilt…you know, the usual emotions that most moms cycle through on a daily basis. I’ve been looking forward to and counting down until this day for months now, but when the time actually came, so did the tears.
Nothing can prepare you for motherhood, and the way it completely overhauls life as you know it. But they should tell you that nothing can prepare you for a second child, no matter how experienced you think you are. And “they” didn’t tell me, so I’m telling you just in case you find yourself in that place down the road.
After Mia was born and we brought her home from the hospital, I was ready to get back to real life. None of this hazy newborn hibernation for us, no sir! Of course we took it easy and mostly stayed home those first few weeks, but I had a very active almost-two-year-old and a business getting ready to undergo a huge transition.
So I was thrilled that things pretty much went my way in the early months. The hormones didn’t hit me nearly as hard as they had after Parker’s birth, and I felt like myself pretty quickly. Breastfeeding was a total breeze. Mia was a sweet and adaptable baby.
I was getting a bit more sleep this time, too, and even found plenty of time to work (mostly in the wee morning hours after nursing Mia back to sleep). I figured out how to survive and keep two tiny children alive by myself for entire days at a time. I took the summer “off” as a “maternity leave” — and while I didn’t see clients or students, I put in more hours than I can count on the business and my own personal projects. I didn’t miss a single week of my podcast. Sure, I hadn’t had a full night of uninterrupted sleep since before Mia was born, but I wasn’t going to let my exhaustion get in the way of productivity.
It was all working beautifully, until it wasn’t. All of those things I had been sweeping under the rug — lack of sleep, wacky hormones, absence of time to myself — hit me like a ton of bricks in December. I remember having an anxiety attack on a Tuesday afternoon, shortly before it was time to go to work. I was standing in the middle of the family room, holding Mia, feeling completely paralyzed about how I was going to get through the rest of the day, let alone the coming weeks and months. I honestly had no idea.
As a mom and business owner, I am constantly struggling with the tug-of-war between my family and work. I’m not talking about setting my priorities, because without question, my husband and children come first above everything else. I’m talking about the day-to-day stuff.
The “I could send this email really quick while Parker eats his breakfast” stuff. The “I should really put Mia in her crib rather than hold her a little longer while she sleeps so I can go record that song” stuff. Because there’s always stuff to be done, but never enough hours in the day.
I’m pretty sure every parent in the world would agree that naptime is sacred. It’s taken me a few months to figure out how to best utilize those precious minutes, especially on the days when I’m home with both kids, but I have it down to an art now.
In the early days, I struggled with knowing just when to put Mia down for a nap. Then a couple months ago, I stumbled upon some advice from another mom in a Facebook group I belong to.
She had read that the first nap of the day should start two hours after waking up in the morning, and the next nap should start three hours after waking up from the previous one. According to this mom, it worked brilliantly with her baby, so I was up for giving it a try.
Luckily this schedule has worked out amazingly for Mia, so now I’m a lot better at planning out our days based on when Mia wakes up.
I typically put Mia down for her nap around 10 am, at which point Parker and I hightail into my bedroom. He plays with his lego table and reads books while I take a quick shower and get ready for the day, all while Mia sleeps. If she sleeps an extra long time, I might even sneak in some quick computer work while Parker entertains himself.
When she wakes up, we go downstairs and eat lunch before it is Parker’s turn to take his nap. That time isn’t nearly as productive, since Mia is too young to play on her own for more than just a few minutes (and I always stay within arm’s length unless she’s in the exersaucer or jumpy seat).
Mostly, though, Parker’s nap time is spent giving Mia some extra attention and getting my fill of baby cuddles. If I have a show DVR’d, this is my chance to watch it since I try not to have the TV on too much throughout the day…aside from a couple episodes of Super Why or Little Einsteins here and there.
Once Parker wakes up, it’s playtime for all of us until the babysitter comes and I head to work. The days I’m home with both kids are pretty predictable and repetitive, partly because I thrive on routine but mostly because I’m not brave enough to venture out in the cold with both of them (unless it doesn’t involve getting out of the car, like a quick run to the bank or Starbucks drive through).
As predictable and uneventful as they are, those naptime minutes are still just as valuable. I feel sort of like a ninja on the days I’m able to time everything out really well and get all the things — you know, showering, eating, maybe a load of laundry — crossed off my list.
I would have never guessed back in the day that those things would become accomplishments, but it seems that comes with the territory of being a mom. As does writing an entire blog post about nap schedules, apparently.