(I swear I wrote this post at 3 weeks… it just took me a whole week to finalize it and hit post!)
We have survived the first 3 weeks, and looking back we actually did ok! I mean, of course, there were plenty of meltdowns, tears, timeouts, potty accidents, and dirty faces; but all things considered we did ok. Here are a few of my take-aways from our first 3 weeks….
#1: Structure and routine are a priority. I have always been a big believer in structure and routines, and now I can see the benefits of all of our hard work keeping to these routines. The big kids know what to expect and our routines haven’t changed too much since Emmett’s arrival. Everyone stays in their beds until at least 7:15- if you’re up before then you can read books in your bed, but for Mama’s sanity you can’t get up before this time. Next is hang out time upstairs while I get dressed/ready or feed Emmett. Usually this is our little bit of TV time for the day, although it often turns into play/chase time for Shae and August as well. After Emmett falls back asleep from his morning feed the rest of us head downstairs for breakfast, and of course my cup of coffee- literally my saving grace in the morning! Then a fun morning activity (see #6). Next its lunch, naptime by 1 and then usually outside playtime while we wait for Clint to get home around 5:45. Dinner, baths, and bedtime is usually fairly smooth with 2 parents although putting Shae down (for nap or bed) still seems to be the hardest part of our day….
#2: Timeout chair that Shae/August can get in/out of independently. We’ve done timeout in the past with Shae but its never been super effective. I switched to using the pack n play for several months this past winter, but wanted to give the timeout chair another shot. Timeout is reserved for hitting, kicking, biting, pushing, etc. Shae has to be in there for 3 minutes and August for 1 minute, and honestly its been working pretty well. It is in the front hall so they are removed from the fun, but also still within my line of sight to make sure they stay put. I don’t use it for disobeying or not sharing because then honestly Shae would probably just stay there all day long! This gives me a pretty easy and consistent method of discipline that I can carryout while nursing.
#3: Give the big kids responsibilities. Both Shae and August have honestly been pretty big helpers since Emmetts arrival. I knew Shae would do better this time around because she is 18 months older, but I thought August would struggle quite a bit with having to share my attention- wrong! Both kids can help clean up after breakfast, bring me diapers/wipes/burp rags when asked, and Shae is great at helping to clean up toys or get things together to get out of the door. I think all of the positive reinforcement we give for good behavior has helped a ton. We did a sticker chart for a long time, but lately have just stuck to “special” things for Shae- something as simple as a “special snack” or “special Shae and Mommy time” goes a long way in this house! And August will do just about anything for you to clap for him- haha that kid is just too sweet.
#4: Its OK to ask for help, and even more OK to take help when it is offered. It took me 3 pregnancies to realize this one! I have always had a “I can handle it” mentality, but by the time I was 32 weeks into my pregnancy with Emmett I completely realized that I can’t do it all. I am definitely not superwoman, and the saying “it takes a village” is extremely accurate. When help is offered I am really trying to accept it, whether it be someone running a quick errand, or a friend dropping off dinner. I also started asking for more help from Clint especially, but also from my Mom and Sister. Realizing that I could not do it all was one of the more humbling things I have learned since having kids.
#5: Make sure all kids nap at the same time! This one is huge for having 3 under 3. I think it is definitely one of the many perks of having them so close together. Shae and August will still consistently nap for 1.5-3 hrs at the same time, and I have already started making it a priority to feed Emmett right after the big kids go down and get him to fall asleep then as well. This is the only “me time” I get all day, so I think it is probably the most important detail to get right from the start!
#6: Get out of the house! This has been much easier this time around due to the absolutely gorgeous weather lately. We have a general rule that we have to get out of the house by 10am. We have to have a plan or activity for the day, whether it is taking a walk, going to the park or hitting up the pool with Nana, it is a must to get out of the house at some point before lunch otherwise everyone goes a little crazy. After week 2 I was able to go to the park solo, but other than that everywhere we have gone I’ve taken help- someday I will venture to Target again with all 3 by myself… someday when I am very brave!
I am fully expecting things to get much crazier as Emmett starts waking up… stay tuned for Emmett’s 1 month post!