Friday, September 16, 2011

5 months! What's working?? Part I

At five months, it's all about the schedule right now.....

The boys turned five months on Aug. 29, just as summer was drawing to an end and fall was beginning. For some reason, this change in seasons, coupled with boys being just that much older, has caused us to make some larger shifts in our routine. Whatever the catalyst, during the week that the boys turned five months old I woke up one morning and realized how much I wanted to cook again for my family, exercise, read books, get our butts to church again..... things that might help us to feel more centered and perhaps live a little more fully.

The first weekend in September happened to be very chaotic. We'd just gotten back from being away for a few weeks, so there was no food in the house yet spoiled food in the fridge, the babies were all off schedule (although they weren't on much of a schedule to begin with), and Colin wanted some attention that I couldn't give him due to baby- house chaos. By mid afternoon on Saturday, I stood in the center of my messy kitchen surrounded by overtired babies and bags of groceries, threw my hands up in the air and said with certainty, "That's IT, we're getting on a schedule!"

And so we did. We ALL did.

I've never been very good at keeping on a schedule. Back when I had one baby, I never kept a schedule except whatever organically unfolded based on his needs, not mine. At some point naps just sort of fell into a predictable routine, but I was never a slave to a schedule. I never called whatever was happening "a schedule". But I vowed to give this new "routine" one week to be able to effectively evaluate it was working. "Working" would mean that ALL of us felt calmer, happier, more rested, more centered.

I must say that at the end of week two of trying the new schedule, things are going beautifully (knock on wood!). The babies and Colin (and Chris and I!) have responded well to the predictability that a schedule brings. For example, I can count on getting sweet, quality time with the babies first thing in the morning. Colin also knows that when he wakes up in the morning, he gets one on one "special time" with mommy or Amelie and I can better plan play dates and errands if need be. At the end of the day, I can count on sitting down with Chris and Colin to eat a meal together. That all feels good.

So here is the new schedule:

6:30- babies wake up. The first day of our new routine, I actually woke the babies! Something I would NEVER do with one baby but....

6:30-8:30- The babies eat right away and then we play. Although I'm not a morning person, I must say that this has become one of my favorite times of the day. It's quiet, I've got my coffee, and the babies are in the best moods. They are just so happy to be up and starting the day!

8:30- I put the babies in their sleeper sacks (which is a cue for them to go to bed!), carry them up to their cribs, give them a pacifier and lovie and they nap for an hour.

8:30-9:30- I wake Colin at 8:30 and then he gets an hour without any babies around. He has his breakfast. We play. We welcome Amelie, our helper, when she arrives. Often I'll then have Amelie and Colin play together and I'll get a moment to shower or check e-mail before ALL the kids are up.

9:30-11- Everybody's up! The babies will have a bottle during this time and then go down for their second nap around 11:00. We use the same routine of putting them in a sleep sack, giving them their pacifier and lovies. I'm finding that this consistency is really helping them be able to know it's time for bed and soothe themselves to sleep.

11-12- Colin time again while the babies sleep.

Colin goes down for his nap around 1:30. The babies go down for their 3rd nap at around 2:00. Then I have an hour, if I'm lucky, of peace and quiet.

6:30- Bedtime for the babies

6:45- Dinner for Colin, Chris and I (more on this in my next post)

8:30- Colin starts to go to bed. Sometimes he doesn't go to bed until 9:00, but he sleeps late in the morning. This bedtime may seem late for a two year old but we have found that staggering the kids so that Colin gets time with both Chris and I in the evening and when he gets up in the morning, and the babies get time alone with me first thing in the morning, works quite well for everyone right now.

The babies tend to eat about 7 oz. around 6:30 a.m, 10:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sometimes they'll sleep from 6:30 p.m. until about 2:00 a.m. and then get up for a bottle, but other times they'll wake up around 8:30 p.m., eat, go right back to sleep and sleep until 5:00 a.m. We feed them again and they go back until around 6-6:30 (personally that's what I prefer). Whenever they get up during the night, I only feed them 4 oz. because, 1. it's faster, 2. maybe they'll get used to having less and eventually go ALL night without eating (please please please!), 3. 4 oz. is usually enough to satiate them and get them back to sleep. Of course the key word to ALL of this is usually. ;)

So that's our current "schedule". I'm writing it out in case anyone else with triplets might find it helpful! My guess is that over the next month or so, we'll drop the last nap and shift the first two naps a bit.

People ask me all the time if it's getting easier now that the babies are getting older. Yes and no. It's easier in the sense that they sleep longer, their feedings are more spaced and they finally love to lay on their tummy's and play with toys. They also love watching Colin play which can hold their attention for a good chunk of time. On the other hand, they are also more demanding of my playful attention. They want to play, and they want to play with me (especially if I'm the only caregiver around). Wonderful? Yes! Challenging with so many? YES!

With each passing month, I get more and more back from them- the smiles, the coos, the pleading eyes to pick me up! or play with me!  With each passing month the relationship with each child grows, the attachment deepens and my heart swells even more. As this happens, fostering each of these unique, beautiful little relationships can feel overwhelming in a way that brings different challenges than at first. Now, if I can't reach one of them because I'm tied up with somebody else I can actually see the disappointment in their little faces where as before as babies, it was less evident. 

If only I had eight arms. 

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