It Takes a Village…

Some days as a working mom of triplets, I feel like I can’t do anything right. I can’t get my kids to nap, to eat, to brush their teeth, to get dressed, to put away their toys, you name it. And I can’t finish grading/prepping/emailing/organizing at work before racing home for the trio’s dinner. And on these days, when two kids are screaming, only one is in his high chair, one won’t let me put her down, no one is eating,  and there is now turkey bolognese sauce splattered across our rug, it’s all I can do to keep it together until bedtime.

Other days? I feel like Supermom. Today was one of those days.

Let me be clear.

Jack woke up screaming for Daddy and refused to let me pick him up out of his crib. Eventually he caved.

Sophie had a meltdown at the playground and I couldn’t put her down, so we had to leave. And the only reason we were able to GET to the playground is because I had a second set of adult eyes, ears, and hands (thanks, Kare)!

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Protein count for the day? A WHOLE LOT OF cheese and yogurt. WAY too much cheese and yogurt. Oh! And eggs! Well, 2/3 of them had eggs anyway. But I got them to eat eggs this morning! Another point for Supermom. Veggie count for the day? Approximately three peas between them, and one piece of a carrot that Jack thought was a sweet potato, and when he realized it wasn’t, he was pretty disappointed. Minus one for Supermom. So as far as food goes, it’s a wash.

There are stickers EVERYWHERE.

Sophie ate a piece of blue chalk.

Jack cried/whined/moaned for Daddy and then Mommy for about thirty minutes during his nap, and I let him. Because Sophie had only fallen asleep ten minutes earlier.

They watched one episode of Sesame Street and two of Curious George.

They flooded the bathroom during their bath and I kind of let them.

Jack refused to brush his teeth.

Henry wore the same shirt today that he wore all day yesterday AND slept in.

Sophie didn’t eat any dinner, partly because she threw a tantrum for two yogurt pouches about an hour before (and then found Jack’s leftover snack cup and ate the rest of his crackers), and partly because she almost never eats dinner. She will surely wake up starving and CRANKY.

They pretty much trashed the apartment seventeen times today.

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The aftermath. I cleaned up those Elmos and coloring books no fewer than five times today.

But…

By 7:00, the kids were all in bathed, diapered, fed, happy, and in their beds. By 7:30, the kitchen was clean. By 8:30, the living room was clean, the art supplies were organized, and I was (am) sitting on the couch.

And over the course of the day, I…

  • Made (does microwaving mac ‘n cheese count as “making food?”) three meals for my kids and myself, and we ate them together

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  • Got all the kids dressed and out the door before 9am (in coats, socks, and shoes)! We went to CVS.

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  • Did a LOT of “drawing” with H, J, and S in their new Sesame Street coloring books
  • Made a ladybug with H, S, and J. Ok, made the ladybug, and they stuck a couple of stickers on. But they were really excited about the whole thing!

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  • Made a “chalkboard” on our hallway wall

  • Enjoyed a visit from Karen and Emi
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I think Sophie has a thing or two to learn from Emi about eating yogurt with a spoon.

  • Mopped the kitchen floor and the hallway (this was kind of necessary after all the chalk)
  • Cleaned our bathroom
  • Updated my math pages for school
  • Snuck two crying boys out of the nursery without Sophie waking up
  • Prevented said boys from reentering the nursery to find Sophie no fewer than five times

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  • Completed 11/12 of a 7-minute workout
  • Vacuumed! Again with the chalk. And the sand…
  • Cleaned out the refrigerator
  • Survived FaceTime with the kiddos and Will without a meltdown
  • Found a place to hide the chalk so they don’t (maybe?) ask for it every five seconds
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Shhh…don’t tell the kids!

  • Smiled a lot

That last one is the main reason I feel like Supermom today. Maybe it’s because I didn’t spend 10 hours at my “other” job today. Maybe it’s because the day started and ended without any rush to get everyone ready or everyone into bed so that I can finallly take off my work clothes (or race out the door to tutoring). Maybe it’s because Henry, Jack, and Sophie finally decided to nap for me again (even if the simultaneous napping was relatively short-lived).

I was terrified this weekend without Will would be the DEATH of me. All crying and no napping. And while we sure missed Daddy (everytime we woke up, in fact…), it wasn’t nearly as awful as I thought it would be. In fact, it wasn’t even close. Will, if you’re reading this, we love you. We miss you. We need you! And I promise tomorrow morning is going to feel MISERABLE without you. But I survived, and I even mostly enjoyed myself, and THAT’s why I feel like Supermom today.

I’m sure it was because I had help from friends. I’m quite certain yesterday would have been a no-nap kinda Saturday if Grace hadn’t swooped in. I would have been much crankier without yesterday’s run in the park (thanks again to Grace). I know we wouldn’t have gotten out to the playground either day without Grace and then Karen. I’m not sure anyone would have eaten anything all weekend if not for Linden and Esme’s mac ‘n cheese. Today would have felt much longer and less exciting without Karen and Emi’s visit. And this weekend would have felt much lonelier without the company of friends not once, not twice, but three times including last night. And even though there was a part of me that sort of wanted to tackle the entire weekend entirely on my own (just to prove I could, in a Type A, perfectionistic, competitive kind of way…all my greatest qualities shining through), I’m really glad I didn’t have to.

 

Henry, No, No, No!

It’s February, and no matter what that groundhog says, we still have many days and weeks of indoor play ahead of us. And as Henry, Jack, and Sophie near their second birthday, they are getting more independent (and more mischievous)!

Things we like to do ourselves: brush our teeth (all 48 of them…that’s 24 new teeth since Christmas…ouch); get into our high chairs; take off our clothes (well, at least Henry really likes to do that); clean our hands and face; read; pick out our outfits; take out the trash; put the laundry in the laundry basket (let’s be honest, taking it OUT of basket is just as much fun); use our spoons and forks; go down the slide.

Our favorite indoor activities: baths, dance parties, reading, riding around on our various “vehicles,” puzzles, drawing, mixing, moving the furniture around, “cooking” in the kitchen, taking care of Baby, Milo, and Dog, “cards” (these are flashcards), playing in the tent, FaceTiming, 7-Minute Workout, playing, “Who can stand on the color…[fill in the blank]” on the play may, reorganizing the clothes bins, or the diaper bin, or the bookshelves.

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FaceTime with Nana and Grumples

Other indoor fun:

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Selfies!

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Wizarding!

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Please note the scar on his forehead. And know that we didn’t put him up to any of this. Do you think he remembers listening to Harry Potter in the NICU?

 

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Relaxing in a box of diapers. You know, the way we do.

Despite the winter weather, we try to get out for an “adventure” every Saturday and Sunday, and we are lucky to have Grammie and Grace to help during the week for other escapades when the weather permits.

Here’s some of what they’ve been up to when we do get out.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan (Okay, we’ve only done it once so far, but it was awesome)!

The Natural History Museum. Nearly every weekend, baby. “Hi, dinos!”

Central Park. The playgrounds. The zoos. The boat pond. The other boat pond that’s not called the boat pond. Alice. Swings. There’s SO much to do. Even in winter!

Our first snowballs! 

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Visiting with Friends…more photos to come!

The grocery store. Ok, so I don’t have any photos of this, but it still feels like an adventure (or at the very least, an accomplishment) when we get there. We now have a triple stroller that navigates the aisles of a tiny, Manhattan health food market, and that feels like a pretty big deal.

When we get really desperate, trips in the wagon to the lobby, the laundry room, or even just the hallway provide afternoon entertainment.

And, for the title of this post. All those hours spent inside could drive anyone crazy. Or at least drive us to do something a bit naughty (because it’s SO MUCH FUN)! All three of these silly people have their fair share of naughty moments. But some of us have a bigger naughty streak than others. And some of us have a bigger bossy streak.

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And this. This is bedtime. No visual. Just listen.

I went in there once just to make sure he wasn’t hanging from the curtain rod or something. And do you know what these three did? Hit the deck. Dead silence. Pretended to be asleep in their cribs. WHAT?! Where did they learn that?

A slumber party every night. How many other nearly-two-year-olds can say the same? 

When the System Breaks Down

Those of you who know us or who have spent any time with the Strumolo Five know that we have a pretty strict system in place. For everything. The system has changed over time as Henry, Jack, and Sophie have grown, but there is always a system. This has helped us manage life with three newborns/babies/toddlers. The crazy is a little less crazy when we can all predict what’s going to happen and when. Except when we can’t. So this is a post about what happens when the system breaks down.

The first system to go is definitely nap time. And this is most likely to go haywire on the weekend. When Mom and Dad are home.

Reasons we might not nap:

  • We’d rather take our clothes off.
  • We’re too excited about blankets.
  • We insist on singing every song we know.
  • We just REALLY don’t. Want. To. Nap. So we cry instead.

When one-third of the group refuses to nap, chances are that at least another third will follow suit. The probability increases if Mom or Dad has to go in to quiet or retrieve the aforementioned non-napping child.

What ensues is a really LONG, pretty cranky afternoon, followed by an early (usually VERY cranky) bed time. No-Nap days are rough, but they’re survivable. The biggest casualties are laundry, dishes, to-do lists, and any semblance of organization and cleanliness we might have had in this apartment. Oh, and sometimes our sanity. I won’t sugarcoat it: a weekend without naps is R. O. U. G. H.

Even when the naps don’t fall perfectly into place, we have a pretty strict 7-7 policy for bedtime. Hate all you want. We are about to experience the Terrible Two times three.

When THAT system breaks down, God help us. One child screaming in the middle of the night is miserable. One child screaming repeatedly in the middle of the night is repeatedly miserable. One child screaming in the middle of the night followed by one more, oh wait, TWO more children screaming in the middle of the night is almost unmanageable. There is no good solution.

Option 1: Let the one cry? He might wake the others. Plus, you are awake anyway (hello, he’s screaming in a two-bedroom apartment), so you might as well acknowledge his terrified presence and try to calm him down.

Option 2: Go right in there and tell him it’s all right. Hmmm…sounds great. IF (and this is a big IF) it would get him to go back to sleep, and IF your going in there didn’t wake one or both of the other sleeping children in the room (who have somehow managed to sleep through their brother’s screams but the sound of your footsteps on the carpet in the room are just TOO loud and wake them instantaneously). This almost never works. So if it was one crying child, now it’s three. And you’re outnumbered. And sleep-deprived. So you try…

Option 3: Pulling them into your bed. This DEFINITELY doesn’t work because due to the strict 7PM-7AM policies (and the fact that you have a CRAZY cat), they have pretty much never seen the inside of your bedroom. And they know the crazy cat lives there. So they are 50% fascinated and 50% terrified, and they refuse to sleep. So you’re left with…

Option 4: Everyone’s up. For good. And it’s 4AM. Or 430AM. or 5AM. Whenever it is, it isn’t 7AM, which means you haven’t: worked out (ha!), showered, gotten dressed, made your breakfast, made your coffee, eaten your breakfast, drunk your coffee, emptied the dishwasher, or made their breakfast. And somehow you now have to do all these things (Ok, you’re obviously not going to work out, but whatever), WHILE entertaining three (two, if you’re lucky) toddlers, AND operating on far less sleep than you’re used to. Suddenly we’re eating breakfast at 6AM while watching Elmo on the t.v. Not our finest moment.

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This has only happened to us a handful of times, and it was almost unbearable. I would like to take this moment to apologize to my own parents for refusing to sleep through the night for the first fifteen years of my life, and to congratulate all those parents whose children don’t sleep and they continue to function in the adult world. I don’t know how you do it. I am thoroughly in awe of you.

There is a domino effect when one system breaks down. For example, when they wake up early, the entire morning routine is off, and nobody appreciates this. Or when they refuse to nap, dinner doesn’t get prepped. Or when we’re all running on less sleep than usual and there’s a blizzard outside, this happens:

Have YOU ever tried to navigate a triple stroller on the streets of NYC after two feet of snow? Believe it or not, I think the detritus above is the lesser of two evils.

So I am reminded in those moments of how grateful I am that we have a system and that I have a partner in crime and a caregiver who help keep that system in place day in and day out.

And for those of you who wonder what our system looks like or who would like to implement a system of your own, here’s what a day in the life of Henry, Jack, and Sophie looks like right now. That is, of course, assuming that the system doesn’t break down.

6:40 AM: Awake and chatting in their cribs.

7:00 AM: Good morning! We fetch them (and their numerous stuffed animals) from the cribs and retreat to the “play area” (read: “baby jail”) for fresh diapers and a change of clothes. I get the clothes while Will does the diapering.

7:15 AM:  Will finishes the diapering while I get breakfast ready. The kids help carry their pajamas to the laundry and their diapers to the waste basket. Then we head to the high chairs.

7:25 AM: Will finishes feeding them breakfast while I depart for work. It is pretty important that I leave before they finish breakfast.

7:45 AM: Playtime in the play area.

8:15 AM: Diana arrives! Play, play, play.

9AM: Snack! We get to pick what we want to eat now. So grown-up! Slash demanding 🙂

Time for an outing or a play date. Playground, park, museum, indoor play space, they’re all fun!

11:30 AM: Back in the high chairs for lunch.

12:00 PM: More time to play! Or take a bath. They’re one in the same for this trio!

12:45-3:00/3:30: NAP TIME.

3:30 PM: Snack! Then PLAY!

5:30 PM: Mom and/or Dad are home for dinner.

6PM: Play time/pajama time/brush teeth with Mom and Dad.

6:45/7PM: Back in the nursery for a lullaby and bedtime.

And that’s all she wrote! When I write it out like this it sounds pretty easy…that is, of course, assuming the system doesn’t break down.