Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Baby Mode

I've noticed that on this third baby, we've gotten into a routine so that we just slip into "baby mode" when a newborn enters the household. Not that baby mode has gotten easy: it is my belief that whether you have one kid or six kids, life is just a little tougher when there's a baby in the house (Erin says it more eloquently). But we've figured out the ways in which things goes most smoothly for us with the littles.

Baby Mode looks different for every family, but here's what it looks like in our house:

Out comes the Stuff: For being so little, there are so many large ticket items that take up semi-permanent residence in the house when a baby arrives. After a few months, I am counting down the days until the Stuff can be tucked back into the corner of the basement, because I get SO tired of tripping all over it. Our Stuff includes:
-Baby Swing
-Bouncy Seat
-Two nursing pillows (Boppy)
-Car seat/infant carrier
-Baby activity mat
-Baby Bathtub

And coming soon:
-Bumbo seat
-Doorway jumper

Shared sleeping space: Our routine includes keeping the baby sleeping in the bassinet in our bedroom for the first few months. This comes at a time when you are so desperate for the baby to sleep that you will do anything not to wake him up. So that leads to several weeks of whispering & hand motioning, getting dressed and brushing teeth in the semi-dark, and adhering to a strict "no flushing" rule when Jr. has his eyes closed. A new challenge for us this time is that Katy will burst into our bedroom (either in the middle of the night or in the morning), and proclaim at the top of her lungs, "I had a bad dream!" or "Good morning Mommy!" to which we shush her like a first grade teacher. Each time that we have made the transition to put the baby in his own sleeping space, it feels like a reclaiming of our bedroom.

Baby calls the shots: He may not know it, but Baby Luke is determining how and when the other four of us do anything, especially outside of the house. If we need to go anywhere, it revolves around his eating and sleeping and waking schedule. And if we go somewhere and he determines that we need to return home: we do. The rest of us may think that it's time for lunch, but if Luke requires attention, lunch waits.

Loss of Evening Free Time: When the kids are old enough that they are tucked in for the night by 8pm, both parents have a couple of hours to themselves to spend as they determine before hitting the hay. This time for me is so precious, whether I need to talk to Brian about something, catch up on *ahem* blogs, clean, or just relax, it's the only "off" time that we get. However, when there's a small baby in the house, the evening is gone. When they are very small, we don't put them to bed until we go to bed ourselves in order to get the longest stretch of sleep possible. In addition, my babies have been very awake, alert, and even fussy in the evenings hours. Right now Luke is most awake between 7-10pm, cluster feeding to prepare for the night and insisting on being held. Brian and I have learned to tag team a little bit during this hour so that at least one of us can get some things done, but the frequent feedings make it feel as though it's impossible to accomplish anything at all. I also tend to feel more and more anxious as the evening wears on, fearing that he will never go to sleep and we will be up all night.

Slower pace: This is my favorite part. Babies force us to slow down. We haven't had much of anything planned for this summer, and you know what? It's kinda nice. Brian and the kids are going to the pool, taking trips to the zoo, working in the yard, and watching neighbors and friends head to the beach. Traveling with small children can be so tiring that I'm thankful to take some time off and stay home. Of course...looking at the August calendar, we are managing to plan a few things that might make things seem a little crazy again, but I guess you can't stay in baby mode forever.


Pam said...

Ah yes, baby mode! Just 17 months in, I have completely forgotten all the details. Funny how that happens isn't it.

Erin said...

Awww, thanks. You caused me to actually go back and read my own old post and I was like, HUH.

Losing evening free time is the most painful for me. By far.