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.
Raise your hand if you waited anxiously for the latest Baby-Sitters Club book and then read it in 3.2 seconds back in the day? I had a stash of them in my desk at all times, and got in trouble for reading during class on more than once occasion.
One of the keys to happiness as a parent, I’ve discovered, is having a handful of wonderful babysitters on call. This is not an easy task, and we are luckier than most since our own parents live in the neighborhood and babysit frequently (and for free!).
We don’t want to take advantage of our family, though, and they’re not always available since they work and have busy schedules themselves. My mom and mother-in-law have both babysat one or two afternoons a week since Parker was born, but we needed to fill in the gaps when it came time to return to work after my first maternity leave.
Since then, we’ve cultivated our own little “baby-sitters club” who are just a text away. We have a great schedule worked out for weekdays so that a sitter is here with Mia (and Parker, on the days he isn’t at school) when I go to work.
The hours I’m at work are dedicated to working with students and clients, so I don’t have much time during the week devoted to business stuff or just to do things for myself. But Fridays are my day off, and when the sitters — two girls who live a couple streets over — come over for a couple hours after school, I spend that time on my work projects, writing, running errands, or just relaxing.
I remember thinking, back in the day, how restricting it must be as a parent, needing to arrange childcare in order to do anything or go anywhere without kids. Years later, I have found that to be oh-so-true…and it is definitely frustrating sometimes.
But then I remind myself that this is a temporary season. In a few months I’ll have at least a few days a week on my own, and then I’ll probably look back and miss this time at home with tiny kids. So like everything else, I’ll continue to soak it all up and be grateful for my baby-sitters club :)
Technically I could call this post “almost eight months of breastfeeding” because, you know, second baby…but let’s pretend I wrote this two months ago just like I did the first time around.
The thing about breastfeeding for the second time is that you actually know what you are doing from the get-go. I get that all babies are different, and Parker and Mia are no exception, but I learned from my rookie mistakes and have had a much smoother experience this time.
I thought Parker was a good nurser, but Mia has been an even better one since day 1. Her latch was perfect from the start, and she is nowhere near as distracted as he was (even at almost eight months). She took longer to get used to bottles, but now she takes them like a pro when I’m at work.
My body has also gotten much better at feeding, for which I am so grateful. I had some supply issues with Parker a few months in, and I dealt with plugged ducts on a weekly basis. This time around, I can count on one hand the number of plugged ducts I’ve had, and my supply has been great. Having both experiences has helped me to really appreciate the smooth sailing with Mia — especially since life is busier and more demanding now.
We introduced Mia to solid foods at a little over six months, and so far, she’s not a huge fan. If she’s anything like her brother, she may not come around for a while longer, which is okay. I’m not going to sweat it like I did with Parker, because now I know that eventually she’ll enjoy eating food and for now, she gets everything she needs from breastmilk.
I’m planning to continue nursing at least through Mia’s first birthday, if not longer. Parker self-weaned at 15 months, on the same day I found out I was pregnant. Since I’m pretty sure there are no more babies in my future, I won’t mind going even longer with Mia.
We don’t have much downtime other than when she’s nursing, so it’s wonderful to have quiet moments built into our day. The bittersweet thing about the second baby is that now I know how fleeting this time is, and every second I spend snuggling and rocking her is so precious.
I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions or set any big goals for 2016. Instead, my business partner Katey and I came up with a motto. “Simplify, Streamline, Self-Care” are the three words that will dictate my approach to work and life this year, which will be quite a change from 2015.
I’m taking great care to identify my priorities and eliminate the noise, but that’s really hard to do when you’re dealing with a business, a toddler, and a baby. I feel like my life is a giant puzzle whose pieces are scattered all over the floor, and I’m trying to fit them all into place. It’s hard to even know where to start sometimes.
So I pick up a piece at a time, examine it, and try to figure out where it fits into the puzzle that is my life. Some pieces get tossed back into the pile because they just don’t have a place right now, which was hard at first but has gotten easier as I’ve dedicated myself to this motto.
I finally finished reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I want to devote a day in the near future to applying that method in my house. I think it will really help me simplify and streamline my life in general, because I am one of those people who gets anxious when the space around me is cluttered. And the act of tidying up my house totally counts as self-care, because I am a total organization nerd.
2015 was a rollercoaster year that left little time for considering my own happiness and well-being, and I’ll admit that it’s still not easy putting those things at the forefront. But I’m at least taking the first step by being more mindful about it, and continuing to come back to my motto when I start to feel overwhelmed.
I thought I was going to hate it. I still worked from home during Parker’s first year, so “pumping at work” meant walking from my home studio to my kitchen.
This time around, I was completely dreading having to remember my pump and parts every day, haul everything back and forth, and then set up shop in my studio between clients.
It took a few days to get the routine down, but once I did, something completely unexpected happened: I started looking forward to my pumping break.
It’s only 15 minutes, and I have to hurry through the prep and cleanup, but the time spent actually pumping gives me a chance to relax my brain for a few minutes. My afternoons and evenings are otherwise nonstop with back to back students, clients and groups, so it’s nice to be able to check my email, scroll through Facebook, and have a snack.
I’m lucky in that I was able to structure my days so that I only have to pump once; I would probably enjoy it much less if I had to pump multiple times throughout the day. And ask me in May how I feel about pumping at work…I’m pretty sure I’ll be over it at that point.
Two months in, though, I’m happy to have this tiny bit of downtime in my day. As long as I have a lock on my door and a fridge for storage, I’ll keep on keeping on.