Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Reflections of a SAHM of 3 babies...and advice needed (at the end)

Warning...this is a long post. If you are the type that likes to give advice, just skip ahead till the end.  There's where I ask for advice :)

“This is the life you chose, what you said you always wanted, to be a stay at home mom…you just have to remember that”.

Those were Aaron’s words to me Monday night when I told him that taking care of our three boys was going to be way harder than I thought.  He had stayed home sick for the day and half rested/half worked so I was solo with the children. It was a rough day.  And, as I was telling him how very difficult I think life is going to be, those were his words to me. My response?  Clearly I stormed out of the room, walked to our back bedroom and just kind of thought about things.  

When Aaron came back a few minutes later, this is how I explained it…

It would be like if you got your dream job and that job was everything you ever wanted.  But, once you started, you realized it was way harder than you intended.  You still want the job, it is still your dream job, but the knowledge that there is no going back is kind of, sort of, terrifying.  

Then, I think, he got it.  After talking, it was decided I should ask people who have been here for some tips and that I need to give myself a bit of a break.

So, I went to a facebook group I am involved with and asked for advice.  Got some 
really great stuff and some encouraging words. I went to bed reflecting and I woke up this morning bound and determined to have a better day.  I decided the following 10 things were going to help tremendously in this process.


It sucks and I hate it, but I have to go to bed earlier.  Nursing the baby at night is so wonderful, but getting three-four hours of sleep does not work for me.  From now on, when I can, it will be in bed by 8:30-9:00 and asleep by 10:00 (I do the internets in bed before sleeping).  Thank God for DVR.


Nightly touch-bases with the husband with no electronics, no kid distractions, just conversation.  After our talk last night I felt three thousand times better.  My husband is my best friend, it’s just a fact.  Spending a few moments with the bestie does the soul a lot of good.


Selflessness is hard and this is going to be the ultimate exercise in selflessness.  Three children that need me to do anything (they are not independent by any means yet at 2 1/2 , just barely 1 and a new born) are going to demand selflessness and I need to accept that.  The issue is, I am so damn selfish that this is really hard. 


Giving myself a bit of a break for the next month or so.  As I finish up c-section healing, some things are just going to give.  And I need to be okay with that.


Making lunch in the am when at least one child is napping.  Meal times are a biznatch.  If the food is prepped and ready to go, I can exhale a bit at lunch time.

The family room will not be clean.  It just won’t.  I am mustering all the strength I got post-operation to lift my three children during the day.  The up and down of toy cleaning/under the couch looking, etc, sweeping, etc… is just not gonna happen.  The husband will clean toys at night until I am a bit more healed.


No new skillz for the big ones until the little one is older and I am recovered.  The day before the husband went back to work, I had the brilliant plan to place a kid table/kid chairs in our kitchen for the big boys to do meals on.  IDIOT MOVE! They won’t sit in their chairs, they throw their food, etc… I am VERY dumb for thinking this would be the time to teach them a new skill.  Back to the high chair and toddler chair for at least another month or so.


Free time is pretty much gone out of my life until the kids are a bit older.  That might seem a bit extreme, but knowing it brings comfort, rather than being stressed. Today, Joey/JP were napping at the same time- I wanted to sit and do nothing. Instead, I cleaned the kitchen.  Before I did, I told myself, ‘it’s gotta be done and you’re the one that’s gotta do it’.  I feel good knowing this is just going to be life for a bit.


Doing little things constantly.  My mom always gave this advice.  To pick up slowly and constantly throughout the day.  Guess what?  She might have been on to something.  After using the bathroom today, I quickly cleaned and straightened.  It took five minutes and I felt better about the bathroom.  This will be my new gameplan.


When nursing, every door in the house gets locked and a ‘show’ gets turned on.  The big boys are confined to two rooms- and I can pretty much see them/distract them for the 20 minutes it takes to nurse.  

Done and done.

I felt really good about these 10 things.  Today was going to be a better day than Monday.  And then lunch time hit.  And all hell broke loose.  Joey, who we have some concerns about anyway, likes to cry. A lot. All day long (don’t worry, we are working on figuring out why).  Someone suggested we try to see if putting him in his crib would help him see he can’t just cry all day long. I decided to do that today  (I broke the no new skillz rule- dumb me).  He pretty much lost his mind and screamed for the next ½ hour.  Then the baby, who has not cried at all, started crying because he wasn't being nursed when he wanted. However, it was impossible to nurse him because I was dealing with Joey, and little A.  Oh, little A was screaming because he didn't like the lunch options or that he was scolded for chucking turkey slices across the kitchen.  So, for real, for about 10 minutes, all three of my boys were crying. It was like coo coo land around here. And you know what I did--- I remained calm, and here’s why.

(this part might be a bit extreme for my non-religious friends)

I saw what was happening as a temptation from the devil and prayed through it. I am not one to get overly spiritual about things.  But, being a mother is my vocation.  It is what I have felt called to my whole life long.  And, the last couple days, I have been doubting my vocation a bit.  This morning, I am feeling good about my 10 steps to sanity and BAM- worse lunch ever.  Which brings me to the most important step.

My spiritual life is gonna have to be number 1. I have been ‘excusing’ myself from a crazy active faith life the last year or so.  I have been telling myself I am doing the best I can do, but I haven’t really been leaning on God much.  Lemme tell you friends, there is no way I am gonna be able to do this insanity without fully relying on grace to raise these babies.  You see, the worst part about self-doubt is wondering if I am a good mom or not. Wondering if I am screwing it up.  Wondering if I am being a good enough example to my children, so that one day they desire a relationship with Jesus and heaven.  I have a whole post coming on that, but for right now, lemme just tell you the biggest voice in my head is shouting that I am failing at those things.  Some of it is true, but some of it is nothin’ but the devil.  And, together, JC and I are gonna work on kicking him out.  

And best part, after praying through the crazy lunch, my darn Joey pushed open the bathroom door and started playing in the toilet.  ARGH!  Jokes on you buddy, I had just disinfected it because of revelation #9!!!!  What what!!!

Now the advice part.

If you have been in a similar situation before…with multiple children in diapers, what were your ‘best practices’?  Maybe you have been blessed to have three children REALLY close together, maybe you have worked at a day care, maybe you babysit multiple young children…but those of you who have been there- what do you do to stay sane?
Here’s the wording I used last night…
What do you do to keep your house clean? To keep kids distracted while feeding a newborn? To be able to leave a room, without being afraid that your one year old is going to tip over the bassinet, or punch your 2 week old in the face on accident? To discipline with follow through, when sometimes it is really hard to follow through on a threat because you've got a kid attached to you nursing, while your 2.5 year old is stealing your 1 year olds toys etc. Basically, what are some ‘life hacks’ to make this a bit easier?
 I just need some ideas from people who have done this before.

Sidenote- I know so many wonderful people have offered to help.  I can’t even tell you how many meals we have in our fridge, my dear friend/cousin have offered to spend a few hours here on the regular to give me a break, etc… I love that we have people in our lives so willing to help us.  BUT, I promise this isn’t a cry for more help.  The advice portion is more like, ‘what’s the best way to do this, from people who have done this before!’.  Thanks thanks thanks in advance!!!

Cute table...bad idea :)


  1. would love to give you advice - however, I think your 10 ideas are the BEST!

    Only thing I can think of: pray even more! When you get a bit better feeling, and you have that wonderful person stopping by to help: try some Adoration? That is the best advice I have received in 20 years of mommyhood.... weekly Adoration; even if you can only sit with Jesus for 5 minutes - it helps.

    Prayers continuing for you

  2. I think that there is not a perfect answer for your question because what works for some people may not work for you. Here are my thoughts about what I read. You are being way to hard on yourself, Think about anytime you have started a new job. In the beginning you always feel stupid and inadequate and that you might be in over your head. You prefer to be in control...don't we all. Control comes with experience and you just have to cut yourself some slack and try different ways to cope. Only you (and your relationship with God) can bring yourself peace about this and definitely do what you need to do to keep calm and get a break. If you need people to take one or two of the boys from time to time there is nothing wrong with that. Once you get into a regimen that works for you, you will be writing advice columns ;) Hugs & peace to one of the strongest and bravest women I know!!

  3. Love love love your 10 things. They are completely awesome, and so are you. :) The learning curve with a new baby is always huge. You basically just got promoted and now have exponentially more responsibilities. It's the classic "good news bad news" dichotomy. :)

    Definitely give yourself a break. Definitely rely on the electronic babysitter when you need 20 minutes here and there. Personally, I would have napped instead of cleaning the kitchen if I were recovering from a c-section! But you have to find what works for you, you have to decide what YOUR priorities are and what YOUR values are and what YOU can't live with and what you can. You're already 2 steps ahead of the rest of us yokels who are trying to do things according to other people's expectations.

    Get on out there and be your awesome self, Girl. Congrats on the baby!!

  4. Praying for all of you, Mary! Throw yourself at the foot of the cross. And make sure your house is blessed and have Aaron bless you and those babies every day. You can do this.

  5. I work in a preschool, which admittedly is a whole different world, but having spent many mornings in a room where it felt like all 13 infants would scream and demand attention at once, I definitely relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed. The best advice I can give you for your own sanity is to prioritize. I mean baby steps of priority. Number one is safety. If you have one place where you feel the kids are totally safe, whether it is a room or even just a part of a room that you can corral off, USE it. Rotate out toys so it is always a cool place to be. Don't feel like anyone crying is the end of the world. They are going to cry sometimes and you don't always have to make it stop immediately. If someone is hungry, it sucks but they can wait a few minutes. This actually will help them become more self sufficient as they grow. What else? They make little toy sanitizers...I would so recommend one, especially if you use pacifiers (which I hated until I started working here). Do Aaron and Joey have special loveys? They can be another great way to foster self-soothing behavior. Most of all, like everyone has said, don't be too hard on yourself. Things will happen, because that is life, and all you can do is provide the safest, most loving place you can. You may also think about staggering eating scheduled and/or doing shorter, more frequent naps. Of is great to have quiet for a couple hours at a time but you will feel less overwhelmed with 3 breaks of 45 minutes throughout the day. I think that is all for now...lol.

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  7. Great stuff Mary! I would just add an addendum to the "no free time". I think it's important for your soul and sanity to have a little free time away. Try to schedule a few hours every so often that you let someone else enjoy your kids and take a breather. However that works for you and the fam, it is important that you get to recharge too. Praying for you friend!

  8. Hugs! Great list ~ and you are so right about prayer; this is your vocation and God will give you the grace and strength to meet it ~ great post about that; http://timeflieswhenyourehavingbabies.blogspot.com/2013/09/serviam.html

    Baby safety is tough to start; I was bringing the newborn to the bathroom and placing her in the pack&play for awhile but after a month or so my toddler did learn what 'gentle touch' meant.

    The only other thing I would add would be outside time ~ I appreciated getting out of the house and even if it was only running up and down our block the older two got out some energy in a non-destructive/non-messy way.

    1. *taking to bathroom OR placing in pack&play* LOL our p&p is not in the bathroom!

  9. When I got to 3 kids--that's when I started to feel overwhelmed. Its hard with so many little ones.

    The babies will all cry at once, you know just to annoy you ;) Crying won't hurt them. they will be OK. If you use pacifiers they could help. Swaddling in a warm blanket from the dryer. A swing or bouncer? Try nursing one while cuddling another on the other side? The older ones are most likely just crying a lot more now because they just want to know they are not forgotten in all this new baby stuff. Give them a few special moments with you.

    Sounds horrible--but sometimes you just have to ignore the crying for no reason cries.

    They all are really little and this is a trying time. Relax and rest as much as possible.

  10. I feel (well, felt) your pain, Mary! When Sam was born, Charlie had just turned 1 and Nick was 2 1/2. C-section with Sam. My advice? You are being way too hard on yourself! :). You are recovering from major surgery, If the kitchen isn't clean, so be it. If you can't pick up the toys right now, that's fine. MAJOR SURGERY! You wouldn't expect someone else to do all those things at this point, so you can't expect yourself to do them either.
    Also, don't give up free time. It's what keeps you sane :). We had an agreement that one day each week when Tom came home from work I would get to leave for 2 hours. I could do whatever I wanted. Sometimes it was grocery shopping by myself, sometimes I went out to eat, sometimes I holed up in the library and enjoyed the lack of talking. It was only 2 hours, but it was heaven :).
    Finally, there is no shame in using a favorite tv show to keep your kids safe and occupied while you nurse, get lunch ready, whatever. I fully admit to letting them watch tv while eating, also, just to keep them in their seats and calm. I know doing that is considered 'bad', but when it's between watching tv while eating and mommy going nuts, I'm going with the tv.
    Sam liked to be in the swing, so we used that frequently for him. I had a few toys that only came out when I was feeding Sam, so the other boys looked forward to that time also. Worked some days, didn't work others :). Like most things!
    You are an awesome mom, and your kids are lucky to have someone as loving and faithful as you in their lives. You're doing a great job!

  11. I don't have any advice that you haven't already realized in your 10 things except sometimes the baby or babies just have to cry. I know it's hard and you are absolutely right, the mealtimes when you're solo are crazy hard. I always find that keeping my 10 week old on an every two hour schedule is the way to go. So for instance if he wakes after having napped, at 10, he should be ready to nap again by noon. My littles usually eat lunch at noon so I know I have nothing else as high as a priority as nursing the baby and getting his tummy full before I start making their lunch.

    Also sometimes I rock him to sleep for a nap after nursing by using my Manduca baby carrier. It's not too hard on a c section because of the wide waist belt. This way I can make lunch or do small chores like fold laundry and this usually helps lull him to sleep.

    In terms of nursing and keeping the others occupied, you have the right idea. Keeping all the kids in the same room is best. I also rotate toys to keep the novelty for awhile and it minimizes clutter. But for real you're probably doing a better job than you think.

    I was and still am in the weeds. I have 3 yo twins, a 2 yo girl and a brand new baby. One of the twins is nonverbal autistic so she is constantly throwing tantrums because of her frustration at not being able to communicate. Plus she wanders making it damn near impossible to take the kids anywhere on my own. And girl, the devil uses all my crosses to get me to lose my mind.

    I'll be offering today's crosses up for you. We moms with closely spaced munchkins have to stick together.

  12. 3 was the hardest for me, get over this hump and you'll be able to have 12 kids! Ha!

    But really, with any newborn stage, you just gotta let go. Let go of control, a clean house, perfect meals, rules about tv, whatever. We did a lot of take out, a lot of tv time, and a lot of "free play". Two things helped me the most: 1) Getting kids to sleep at same town so I could lay down with baby and nurse and (hopefully) sleep. 2) Exercise. I know you're recovering right now, but in a few months, taking some time out just to be by yourself and walking is an incredibly mentally freeing sensation.

    This SAHM thing is your dream, but that doesn't mean it was going to be easy. Just know you are in the trenches right now, and as the kids get older, things get so much easier!!

  13. Lots of Netflix, lots and lots of 'dump cheese, crackers, grapes and meat on plate and call it lunches,' and at least one night per week out of the house for Mommy, either alone for an hour (if JP will tolerate him) or with him snuggled in his carseat under the table at Starbucks or the pew at Adoration. When my Joey was 1.5 and JP was a newborn, I thought I was going to die from being 'on' all day and all night long...one night off per week saved my sanity. Also, put a container of Clorox or Pledge or even diaper wipes in every room (out of kiddo reach) and grab and swipe any obvious messes as you walk by throughout the day.

    You are doing such a good job!

  14. Mary! I wrote you a long comment and then pressed "sign out" like a real cool person. Basically, I wanted to say you're amazing...and I want you to focus on keeping your kids and yourself alive, fed, and reasonably clean (kids can wear pajamas all day to cut down on laundry) and that is it. That should be your goal everyday and you should feel accomplished when it is met! We call this "survival mode":) In a year or so, you can revisit your goals and you'll probably realize how much more you are able to do!!