In: Family Blog
July 6, 2013
June 10, 2013
Some days I feel completely overwhelmed by the workload of a full time job, taking care of kids, and running a household. Other days I am full of energy and everything feels like a piece of cake. One day I will look at back at this post and wonder how we managed to make a living, have a homemade meal on the table every day, and keep the kids entertained. The truth is, we can’t always fulfill all needs and wants. But we are doing our best. This is what a typical day in our life in April 2013 looks like:
5 AM: Felix wakes up, but I just give him a bottle, change his diapers, and turn the lights off again. He better learn early on that I am not to be disturbed before a certain time and he can tend to himself if he really needs to be up before the birds. Usually he just chills in his bed or falls back asleep for another hour or two.
6 AM: Felix wakes up for real now, if he wasn’t already awake at 5. Time for his milk, diaper change, and getting him into some clothes. This is his and my hour before everybody Milo wakes up. I might take a shower while Felix watches the water drip down. Then I make lunch for Milo and Felix and I play for a little bit.
7 AM: Milo wakes up. Like clock work. Because of his Gro Clock. Still the best kids related purchase ever. I can’t wait for Felix to be old enough to follow it. Sometimes I hear Milo up before 7, but he just goes potty by himself and then goes back to bed until the sun shows. “Mami, Sonne is da!” is my cue to bring him his milk. It usually takes him about half an hour to really want to get up and get going, so Felix and Milo and me hang out in his room together an chat about the upcoming day.
7:30 AM: Milo is ready to climb my back and ride downstairs. All kids and me have breakfast together. Sometimes I have to actively feed all three people, because Milo is too distracted or unmotivated to eat.
8 AM: Milo plays by himself, while I pack up my stuff, clean up the kitchen, and finish packing his school bag.
8:30 AM: Felix is either ready for a nap or I hand him over to Lincoln. Either way it’s time for Daddy to wake up. Milo and I leave for the day.
9 AM: Milo’s preschool starts, Mama goes to work, Daddy and Felix stay at home. Felix usually takes one nap in the morning and (unless he is sick) is pretty happy chewing on something or jumping in his bouncer, so that Lincoln can get about two hours worth of work done.
12:30 PM: Lincoln packs up Felix and they pick up Milo from school, which ends at 1PM. They all go to Lincoln’s parents house, where Milo takes a long nap and Felix is being cared for by the grandparents or auntie Rosie. Usually he takes another nap. Then the kids play for the rest of the afternoon.
5 PM: I get home and seize my golden hour before the rest of the family gets home. Now is the time to prepare a quick dinner, pick up stuff around the house or finish some home decor projects. Ideally, dinner was prepared the night before and is already cooking in the crockpot, but that only happens about once a week. Usually I try to make quick stuff like stews, pasta, or burgers and we make enough for two days so that less cooking is required. This is the most productive hour of my day.
6 PM: Lincoln and the kids come home. Felix is usually tired enough to go to bed right away, so I give him his bottle, change into PJs, and put him to bed. If he had a late nap, he might stay up for dinner with us. We all try to eat together, although Milo sometimes already comes home fully fed.
6:30 PM: Play time. This is really the one hour of the day where I try not to worry about getting stuff done and Lincoln and I play with Milo. Usually lots of wrestling, playing some sort of ball sport, or running around is involved.
7:30 PM: Time to get ready for bed. On bath nights we go upstairs closer to 7:15. While I wash Milo, brush his teeth, and read a book with him, Lincoln takes a nap on the couch.
8 PM: Kids free time begins! For Lincoln that usually means getting back to the computer to work, but depending on how much he got done during the day he might also tend to computer games, watch hockey, or work out in the basement. My idea of a good time is working on home decor projects or working on home decor projects. Once or twice a week we hang out together and watch ER or do what couples do. Somehow however, around 4 out of 7 evenings end up being used for errands. The list of things to do is endless: do laundry, pay bills, do financial planning, write blog posts, prepare my lunches for the week, go grocery shopping, stay in touch with people, research kids activities, etc.
10 PM: Is my average bed time. Sometimes it’s half an hour earlier, sometimes later, but you bet that I regret that the next day. Lincoln keeps working / enjoying quiet time much later.
2 AM: Lincoln goes to bed. All lights go out. The house sleeps.
May 19, 2013
(This picture shows the Batman that Milo drew this morning. It was the first time that he intentionally drew something specific and it actually turned out to look very remotely like what he wanted it to be.)
Nic: “Felix is sad.”
Milo: “Maybe he needs a friend.”
Nic: “Can you be his friend?”
Milo: “No, I can’t. Mommy is my best friend already. And daddy. And Felix.”
Milo is using his flashlight to check my teeth out: “Your mouth is very broken.”
Milo: “I got a hairy cut.”
Milo while brushing my hair: “Don’t move. I’m cutting your hair and making you a new one.”
Milo wants to drive my car.
Nic: “You can drive it when you are bigger.”
Milo: “I’m gonna drive cars when I’m big and when mommy is small.”
(Funny how they think that our roles will reverse at some point and they get to be the big person while their parents will be the kids. Dream on.)
April 30, 2013
Milo: Oh no, the airplane is flying away! It’s scared of us.
Milo: I didn’t sleep so well.
Nic: Why not?
Milo: I had a dream. And there was a finger.
Nic: Can you say it in German too?
Milo: No, I can’t
Nic: Why not?
Milo: Cause I’m not Mommy yet.
Milo totally out of context: A rocket.
Milo: No, mommy be quiet. I’m talking to Felix. Felix, a rocket, yes or no?
(No idea what he wanted from Felix)
Nic: Please stop it, Milo. You are hurting me. (He was playing cars on my head)
Milo: And then you be sad and cry real loud and wake up daddy?
March 14, 2013
Milo: “The wind is not moving today”.
Milo copies Lilia and says: “Watch this, Lincoln.”
Linc: “Who is Lincoln?”
Milo points at me (Nicola) and says “him”
Milo is trying to pump air in the tires of his bicycle: “I need to put punk in my motorcycle.”
I take Felix’s rectal temperature. Milo says: “I want fever in my butt too.”
Milo: “Stop squishing me, Felix. Mami, Felix is squishy. Like Ava. Ava is ssss … smart.”
Nicola: “You are smart, too.”
Milo: “No, I’m not smart, I’m a big boy.
Milo: “Mami, you are Superman.”
Nicola: “And what is Felix?”
Milo: “Felix is a real small Superman.”
February 12, 2013
People who think that sleeping like a baby is a good thing clearly have no clue what infant sleep really is like. Unless they mean to say that they wake up every few hours, want to sleep anywhere but in their bed, and can only fall asleep with the help of pacifiers, white noise machines, or by sucking their thumb.
When such clueless people (aka me 3 years ago) have a baby, they will try to apply their adult sleep habits to how their kid behaves or how they expect them to behave. Especially when babies are out of the newborn stage and start resembling a human, it just happens naturally to expect babies to follow common sense sleep logic. After only a few weeks of disappointment and sleep deprivation you begin to understand that they don’t. But you still wish they did. Then, when you finally gave up hope that they ever will sleep like a normal person, for some reason you still instinctively treat them as if they did. Only when you have fully and totally accepted that they just don’t make any freaking sense, is when they will surprise you with sleeping like a pro. Only for one night, of course.
After months of frustration, I compiled this 101 of baby sleep logic to keep reminding myself that kids aren’t just small versions of us. As a parent of two ultimate sleep fighters, I might have dealt with some of these issues to the extreme and I am sure that other babies follow different nonsensical patterns. Luckily our babies were pretty good night sleepers and only had problems with naps during the day. And – I just broke baby sleep rule number 1:
1. Don’t jinx yourself. The day you brag about how well your child sleeps, it will be over. It’s like they want to prove you wrong and practice their rebellion early on. So do your happy dance quietly, but never ever post any sleep success on Facebook.
2. Babies only sleep long / deeply / independently / (enter your happy word here) when you don’t expect it or it’s super inconvenient. Not when you need to get something done or at their regular bed time, only when you actually have places to be.
3. On that same note – kids only sleep in on weekdays when you already have a tight morning routine, so you will end up having to wake a sleeping baby (=#1 parenting sin).
4. Babies wake up earlier the later you out them to bed. The natural bed time for most babies is earlier than you think / than it is convenient for going out for dinner. So, you might have the genius idea to try to push their bed time later. Sure enough the kid will wake up at 5 AM the next morning. Trust me, don’t you ever mess with a bed time that works for your child!
5. Also, the less / crappier a baby sleeps, the less / crappier a baby will sleep. Unlike an adult, kids won’t make up for sleep deprivation the following night. Once their regular sleep pattern is disturbed, it can only get worse and takes at least two days to go back to normal.
6. Most babies don’t just close their eyes when they are tired and magically fall asleep by themselves. Those hilarious videos on Youtube where a baby falls asleep with his face in the food bowl only happen to 1% of us parents and only when you let your baby get seriously overtired (see rule #7 for overtiredness). The other 99% need to be put to to sleep by your active effort. Rocking, Singing, holding for 30 minutes have been reported in our house only to lead to a 30 minute nap.
7. When toddlers get overtired, they don’t voluntarily go to bed, but go nuts instead. They will run in circles, throw toys, yell at the top of their lungs, and go deaf as far as your reprimands are concerned. Afterwards they are so amped up that they will take twice as long to fall asleep as usual.
8. Most babies need to learn how to fall asleep independently. In one way or another. After dealing with putting your fussy baby to sleep for a few months it is very likely to get fed up and just let them cry themselves to sleep. It happens to the best of us. And then magic – suddenly your kid knows how to fall asleep. For Felix all it took was one time of crying for 3 minutes until he realized: “Wait, I can do this.”
9. It takes only one day to untrain good sleep habits, but a full week to retrain. Typically happens when your kids are sick or teething, that you just have to rock them to sleep again even though you know they are perfectly capable of falling asleep by themselves and you have already done everything you can to alleviate their pain.
10. Night terrors are very different from nightmares, and you won’t know which one your kid has when you hear them crying in the middle of the night, until you go into their room. If you are able to calm them down, then it was a nightmare. If they freak out when they see you and then continue to scream the house down for the next 20 minutes, it was a night terror and the best approach would have been to stay the heck out.
Well then, good night everyone!
January 18, 2013
This year one of my big goals is to start all Christmas preparations way earlier than usual, so that I can finally experience a season of joy and peace rather than chaos and stress. But before that, let’s just wrap up last year real quick, shall we? 2012 was Felix’s first Christmas and Milo’s first time that he really understood what was going on. I had big dreams and plans to make it very special for our boys, but then life happened. Felix got very sick (sinus and ear infection, plus a bad cough with wheezing and trouble breathing) and Milo had a super emotional cranky phase. On top of that both kids were teething. Nobody in our house got nearly enough sleep and between December 17 and 27 we just wished for it all to be over.
We barely managed to get all Christmas preparations done and just wanted the kids to get better. The negative highlight of our holidays was spending Christmas Day with Felix at the urgent care clinic. No wonder we didn’t quite feel the festive spirit, right?
At least Milo didn’t seem to notice, so he had a good time with ripping presents open. We were wondering beforehand whether we would go with the whole Santa story or not. In the end we just kept it unspecific were the presents came from and I don’t think Milo cared enough yet. So maybe we will revisit this philosophic question this year. And are wishing for only one thing: Healthy and happy kids.
On these photos we look deceivably happy and healthy, but I swear we were all miserable inside. At least we won’t forever be reminded of a not so merry Christmas by these photos.