I tried to do one of these posts a couple years ago, but abandoned it when I had written down 15 unique tasks in the first 40 minutes and realized it would either need to be too general (and thus boring) or tediously specific (and thus exhausting to read). Life with a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and two babies was just too much life for this format.
But now I can manage it, so here you go! This is from Tuesday, February 25th.
(ETA: And now that I've written it... oh my word this is long. WAY too long. But I've been writing it for ages and I don't want to edit. I won't blame you at all if you skim, or skip reading entirely.)
5:20am - I awake to Ambrose... what? Is he sitting on me, or just next to me? He's grumpy, that's for sure. But he's yelling for Bryan, and it's Bryan who is heroically handling nighttime wakeups to protect my sleep so I don't get as many headaches. They quickly disappear to the kids' bedroom and I'm back to sleep. Sweet sleep.
7:27am- Oh, here's Linus. I squint at the clock and see that Bryan and Camilla have now left the house; on Tuesdays he drops her at school and goes straight to the office. Blaise, our morning-person child, will be amusing himself (which he is luckily excellent at) but the twins come straight to me when they wake up. Linus demands to "yie on yo ahm, Mama!" I let him put his head there as it lets me continue half-sleeping for a while. But then...
7:45am- here's Ambrose, and he wants to "cuddeh you!" on my other arm, and I cannot sleep that way. I roll away from Linus for a while, and then back to him when Ambrose decides to go join Blaise. Linus also leaves after a bit, but returns, and he and Ambrose are in and out of the bed for the next hour while I bury my head under the pillow and pretend to sleep.
9:08am- I finally give up; it's silly to stay in bed pretending to sleep when I could get up and have some caffeine instead. I switch on the light, reach for my glasses, take my temperature quickly while turning my phone off airplane mode, and head for the bathroom.
9:12am- I'm sitting in a daze on the toilet (Blaise didn't get his morning-person genes from me) when I hear yelling. "Linus is bleeding, Mama!" Dang it, I hate an adrenaline rush before I've even had a chance to brush my teeth. Oh, but phew, the trauma is minor: it's a tiny cheek scrape. He's fine.
9:14am- Back to the bathroom. Teeth brushing, contact inserting, etc are slowed considerably by the fact that I'm concurrently checking email and iMessage on my phone. This kind of "multitasking" would surely draw criticism from any efficiency expert who observed me, but those killjoys are not invited. My line to the outside world keeps me sane.
9:33am- I head to the kitchen to get my breakfast. Notice on the way that, as expected, the Cheerios Bryan left out for them are now strewn all over the living room floor. (They can't be trusted in the kitchen so he has to leave sippy cups of juice and baggies of cereal in the living room for them. This has predictably messy results, but the extra sleep is worth it.)
In the kitchen, I fill the electric kettle with water for my tea and stick two slices of bread in the toaster oven. Take some big glugs from my water cup and down my allergy pill, which I have to take now so I can take my headache meds later, as the two drugs don't behave well together. (Not a big deal. Weird tingly hand thing. I don't know.)
9:39am- My small informants tell me that Ambrose was the culprit in the Cheerios-dumping incident, so I hand him the dustbuster and order him to make reparations. Cue outrage. How could I forget that vacuuming up cereal is an enormous privilege when one's sibling is given the chance to do it? (Although not, of course, when one is ordered to do it oneself.) I hand over the other dustbuster and order the three boys to take turns.
I stay safely on my side of the kitchen gate and deal with random kitchen mess (there is always random kitchen mess) until my breakfast is ready.
9:48am- I sit down to my hot cup of tea and buttered toast, one of my day's small luxuries. I'm on the home stretch of a book I've been reading for a week, and I'm very excited to start my next one, so I am hoping I get a happy quiet fifteen minutes to enjoy here.
9:50am- They've spotted my toast, and cannot believe I have cruelly failed to make none for them. Shoot. Nothing for it but to give in to stick another couple pieces of bread in the toaster oven. Ambrose and Linus hang on the gate and whine, but I can't let them in until their food is ready due to the high probability that they will fill the time with mischief making.
9:55am- The boys' toast is ready. The twins fall on it hungrily. Blaise whines at me that he didn't WANT toast. (Odd, since he very much did five minutes ago.) I remind him of the ever-present option of leaving the kitchen and refraining from whining at his mother. Amazingly, he takes it.
9:59am- WHY, when there are six chairs at the table, do they always decide that a particular one is the Chosen Chair and start pushing each other off it?
My toast is now cold.
10:00am- I inform Ambrose that he will have to leave the table if he can't stop spitting. Linus solves the problem by deciding he is done eating and removing himself. Temptation removed, Ambrose tucks in.
So do I. A quiet few minutes! At least my tea is still hot.
10:06am- Blaise and Linus are fighting over the dustbuster again. Apparently the battery has died on the older one, and they both want to use the newer one. I take it away (my standard solution to bickering over objects), deciding to deal with the rest of the cereal mess later. Ambrose complains about his diaper, which reminds me that I really should get the boys dressed.
10:07am- They follow me to the basement and start playing in the playroom, which is just across the hall from the laundry room, so I decide to take advantage of the lull to do some laundry. I put a load in the washer and sort the clean load that's in the dryer, then look for clothes for the boys to wear today.
10:18am- Pause to help Ambrose put on a random shoe, too small for Blaise but far too large for him, that he's found somewhere. It doesn't have a mate, but he doesn't care, and wants to wear it over his blanket sleeper.
10:21am- Head back upstairs, armed with outfits, but don't yell for the boys yet because nature is calling...
10:25am- ...and as usual when I forget to lock the door, someone barges right in. Linus this time. Luckily I'm done, and I grab him and head to the living room to change him and get him dressed.
10:32am- He's done. Blaise and Ambrose are upstairs now, but they're all playing happily, and I'm now in a fascinating conversation with friends on iMessage about a whole mess of topics (including this study about acetaminophen and ADHD that Susie wrote a fantastic post about, and I'm proud that my voice is in one small part of that piece).
(Here's what they did while I chatted:)
10:51am- I head to the kitchen to start making lunch for the boys. Grilled cheese! Slice bread, grate cheese, stick sandwiches in Griddler. Unload the dishwasher while they cook. I take the first of my two headache-prevention pills right now, turning the bottle upside down so I'll know I've already taken one when I go to take another one later.
11:14am- Lunch is ready, and I round up the troops to eat, thinking as I do so about how nice it is that they play together now. It wasn't so many months ago that the the little ones were all over me all day long, but the trio of boys is pretty independent now, and I am so much freer - and saner - because of it.
Being a bit choking-paranoid, I sit down with them while they eat. But I'm not so paranoid that I'll pass up the chance to read a little while I sit.
11:34am- They've eaten some sandwich and Ambrose and Linus have escaped from the kitchen, but I realize that Ambrose is rather... aromatic. I chase him down and change his diaper, then get him dressed.
11:44am- On my way back from dealing with the diaper, I glance into the kitchen to find Blaise standing at the kitchen table wearing his gleeful-puppetmaster face and holding a box of Lucky Charms. Where did he even get those? His brothers wait nearby for spoils. Hmm. Maybe they're still hungry.
11:48am- Okay, second lunch. Fruit. Bagels. I sit back down with my book for Choking Watch (very important, Choking Watch) and mentally thank heaven for Costco.
11:52am- Linus is screaming "my bagel!" What? Is his bagel in danger? Oh, yes, that's right, Blaise loves to tease his brothers. He's not actually touching Linus's food, therefore staying within the letter of the law, but I know by his devious grin that he's well aware he's outside the spirit of it. I order him back to his chair, threatening banishment.
12:02am- Yogurt. I mean really. It's actually pretty hilarious how much they can eat.
12:18pm- While tidying the mess from the lunches, I notice that Blaise is still wearing his pajamas, so I send him to the living room to get dressed. Amazingly, he does it quickly and efficiently, without waving his bare bottom in anyone's face. (When I say amazingly, I mean: this is honestly rare.)
12:22pm- We have a full afternoon and are on a time crunch, so I have to get the twins down for their nap asap. I herd them to the bedroom (I would just carry them, but that evokes cries of "I WALK!" and induces them to run back to the living room in order to get a chance to do it, so...) and shut the gate and the door behind us. (Yes, we really need a gate AND a door in their room. Trust me.)
I remind Blaise that it's his job to clean up the living room while I put the twins down. He's usually pretty good about this, except when he's tired. We'll see.
In the bedroom, I lie down to play iPad games with one twin on either side of me. If they are ready to nap, this works brilliantly. If not, they bounce up to play, yell, throw things, climb on me, try to climb the walls, etc. (This is why there is no furniture in this room, only mattresses on the floor.)
Today is a bouncing climbing day.
1:06pm- I desperately need a bathroom break, so I leave the door open and the gate shut and pop out to do this. Check on Blaise's progress.
So... that's going well, then.
1:23pm- I take a picture of Linus (left), Ambrose (right), and me, the last one I do before I forget to keep documenting my Life, Day in the. Don't they look happy? Why are they so happy? They should be sleeping!
1:34pm- I abandon ship, because it's far too late for the twins to take a nap before we have to leave anyway, but I still need them out of my hair for a bit, so I leave the iPad in the bedroom with them and shut the gate. (This is where having twins comes in handy, because they will play happily together for quite a while.)
I head to the kitchen to grab some food.
1:44pm- Blaise wakes up as I walk back through the living room and follows me to my bedroom. It's the coziest, warmest room in the house, and I'll camp out with my book on the floor as I eat my snack. (Not on the bed, because I hate crumbs in the bed.) He cuddles up next to me and I enjoy his warm quiet presence. I read the last 50 pages of my book (which was, frankly, not that great, although I suppose it was horizon-broadening) and start my next one which, based on the number of times I laugh aloud in the first 20 pages, promises to be much more enjoyable.
2:08pm- Ambrose and Linus are yelling that the iPad battery has died, and it's been more than twenty minutes, so I go to let them out. Blaise is fully awake now, and the three of them run off to find some mischief as I put my hair up on hot rollers. I add a little makeup then dig in my dresser for a presentable outfit, because we've got to head out presently.
2:28pm- I stick my feet in some shoes and run to the garage to get the car warming- even though my kids have compressible coats they can wear safely in their car seats, they will still yell at me about the cold unless I preheat the car. This infernal endless winter, I tell you. And it's warm today! 22 degrees or something!
2:31pm- Rollers out! Hairspray sprayed! Basic jewelry on! I find coats and shoes for the boys and discover they've hit me with my favorite pre-leaving-the-house challenge: the double poopy diapers! But I'm on fire, so I handle it and we're still out the door on time.
2:48pm- Someone always yells about his car seat buckles. But it's a different kid every time. Do they coordinate this on a secret schedule?
2:52pm- I hook up my headset and call Lauren on the drive. We'll only get a short chat today, but no day is complete without checking in with her.
3:06pm- Pickup at Camilla's school is from 3:00-3:15, and I like arriving right in the middle - neither too late nor too early. (They don't call her name to come outside until I get here.) She skips out, bright in her pink coat like every day, and I let her in the car and then drive to the other side of the parking lot to meet our friends.
3:14pm- On Tuesdays Blaise and Camilla have Atrium, the Montessori-style Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at our parish, which is just down the road from Camilla's school. Her (school but not Atrium) classmate's younger brother who is Blaise's best friend is in Blaise's Atrium class, and to simplify things for his mother we give him a lift to Atrium on Tuesdays. She pulls into the parking lot, he hops in, I check seatbelts and we're off.
3:25pm- Ambrose and Linus, predictably, are soundly asleep in their car seats. I ask the big kids if I can just drop them at Atrium - it's a tiny building full of familiar faces and they know right where to go - and they're amenable, as usual, so I drop them and I'm off.
I need to go to the grocery store, and I debate heading straight there, but I suspect my twins might sleep for a while. Better to head home, which is almost on the way, and where I can have conveniences.
3:41pm- In my garage, with my book. I guess I'll just... stay here and read. Hey, it's nice and quiet. I run inside for a quick bathroom break and to refill my water cup, but otherwise I'm just sitting here in the car. This book is very good. My life is leisurely. Although my butt is kind of sore.
4:32pm- Calculations tell me the snoozers should be waking soon, so I put the car in gear and drive the 5 minutes to the grocery store. Sure enough, Ambrose is awake by the time we get there. I unbuckle him and jiggle Linus to awaken him. I hold their hands tightly and we head in. I probably can't hear them fussing about the cold wind. (I feel you, buddies.)
4:42pm- Hello Meijer! We're ready to shop! My list is fortunately not long, and the catalyst for the trip is our need for a new kitchen garbage can, so we head that way first. Linus is clingy and won't let me put him down, and Ambrose wants me to hold his hand. As you might imagine, I'm having trouble pushing the cart while sustaining this. But here, look! A display of garden ornaments. We admire ladybugs and butterflies and soon everyone is cheered and ready to shop. (Although they still won't put their hoods down. The endless winter is getting to all of us.)
We grab a trash can that looks pretty good, and then hit the grocery side of the store for some miscellaneous staples plus ingredients (if you can call them that) for tonight's dinner, my go-to when I'm at the grocery store at 5pm and don't have other dinner plans: a rotisserie chicken, romaine lettuce, croutons, and a hunk of Parmesan. Chicken Caesar salads it is!
5:24pm- We're in line, and we check out. I like to make conversation if the people around me are pleasant, which luckily they are today. The cashier asks me if my twins are always this quiet. I look down at them, confused. Um...?
It's funny to suddenly come up against those perception gaps and realize that your children are totally different people to you than they are to those who don't know them like their own hearts.
5:34pm- My twins want to ride the mechanized pony, and I have a couple pennies, so I indulge them. Linus, who's in a braver phase currently, is up first. He wants me to hold him while the horse moves, but he stays on for almost the full minute. Then it's Ambrose's turn. "Mama, you hold on-oo me!" I insert the penny, my arms tightly around him, but the pony's jerking is still too much for him, so he's done.
5:38pm- And just in time, since my phone is ringing. It's Bryan - he's picked up Milla and Blaise from Atrium and is now home, wondering where we are. I assure him we'll be home shortly.
We troop out to the car - owwwww that wind is bitter - and I deposit L & A in the van and close the doors so they stay warm while I open the back and load the groceries. Shut the hatch, run the cart to the corral, then back to chase them down (they are, predictably, crawling all over the car) and buckle them into their seats.
5:48pm- I collapse in the driver's seat and we're on our way. Somehow I'm both freezing from exposure and sweaty from exertion. Winter is... special.
I call Bryan on the way and tell him that if he'll come out and grab the boys, I'll bring in the necessary groceries and get started on dinner right away.
5:52pm- We pull into the garage. I collect bags from the back, Bryan collects kiddos. I go to the kitchen and start organizing. He comes in and carves up the chicken while I ready the other food. Lettuce, chicken, grated Parmesan, croutons, dressing, and a big bowl of grapes on the side. Everyone will eat some combination of these foods, thank goodness.
6:02pm- We pour cups of milk and call the kids to the table. One parent on each end, two kiddos on each side. Although I'm often kind of burned out by now, I love this part of the day, talking and laughing with my favorite people.
Bryan and I have lots to do, disbursing various food items, dropping the hammer on grape throwers (there are, at different moments, three. I won't reveal their identities) and trying to keep track of who is eating and who might need a spoonful of peanut butter before bed. (This is our family's preferred solution to the problem of dinner-haters going to bed hungry.) It's a busy half hour, but it's fun.
6:34pm- Bryan suggests I take some writing time while he handles the post-dinner craziness, so I run downstairs to collect small pajamas. I save myself some time later by grabbing Camilla's uniform pieces now too. Switch a load of laundry while I'm down there, then back upstairs with clean pjs, which I toss on the couch.
6:45pm- I duck into our bedroom and shut the door (which has a magical twin-invasion-prevention doorknob cover) behind me. Brush my teeth (I'm sure I've forgotten to mention several teeth brushing incidences today. I'm obsessive about brushing right after I eat, not because I'm conscientious but because I hate the way my mouth tastes with food/beverage particles. I also carry xylitol gum with me everywhere I can't brush.). Spend a few minutes tidying our bedroom, because I can't sit down to write until it's tidy.
6:54pm- Blaise is yelling from the other bathroom, which is right outside our bedroom door. Quick break to wipe him, since Bryan is still dealing with the neverending dinner.
7:01pm- Grab my laptop and crash on the bed to write. None of the drafts in my folder are inspiring me, so I start a freewriting exercise which turns into this post.
Our bedroom still has twinkle lights that I left up after Christmas to give me a bright cozy spot through the dark winter. I love it in here, and I'm savoring the warm bed and my big cup of water and my fingers pounding the keys. I can hear Bryan dealing with the miscellany of the post-dinner pre-bed routine and I'm quietly grateful for his competence (as I am a zillion times a day).
7:43pm- Camilla and Blaise burst in to tell me there's a surprise for me out in the living room. The "surprise" is always the same, but I follow them out and express the appropriate amount of (not-fake) glee at the living room, which they've obviously worked hard to tidy. It looks great.
7:46pm- Family prayer time. We say the Magnificat, personal intercessions, the Our Father, and the prayer to St. Michael. There's almost no way to keep the twins from running in circles while we pray, but the older two are reasonably quiet and reverent for their age. (So, you know, 70% of the time for Milla, 50% for Blaise.)
8:06pm- My fingers are wiggling to get back to my piece and finish a paragraph that has grabbed me. Bryan agrees to give me a few more minutes. He reads to the kids on the couch while I escape back to the bedroom for the finishing touches on my post.
8:26pm- I take over with the big kids, and the twins are Bryan's for now. I set a timer for ten minutes so C & B won't dawdle while brushing their teeth and gathering their pillows and stuffed animals into our bed. I put them to bed every night in our bed while Bryan puts the twins down in the room all four kids share, and then we transfer the big kids to their own beds later. It works.
8:37pm- We're settled in the bed, Camilla and Blaise with me between them, for one of my favorite parts of the day. They each choose a game for me to play on the iPad while they watch (I try to keep an eye on the clock and do no more than 5-10 minutes per game, depending on what it is), and then I choose one. We chat during this time, making jokes and rehashing our day. Then it's cuddle time, and I do a hug-kiss routine with each kid, and say "special prayers" (an evening blessing I made up) for them.
9:24pm- Bryan is in the bedroom with the twins now, but I can hear that they're still full of beans. (They're at that awful phase where they either skip their nap, or take one but then stay up very late.) I know Bry has work to do, so I stick my head in and offer to take over with the maniacs. He escapes, and I'm in for the duration.
9:32pm- Except, wait, I forgot that I meant to do a sinus rinse - hoping to relieve some of the pressure in my head- before I came in. Quick SOS text to Bryan, who takes back over while I run and do that.
Salt water. Goop. Etc. Gross.
9:41pm- Back in. This time, really for the duration.
I catch up on blogs, text with friends, fire mental expletives at Candy Crush level 500 (I've been stuck for weeks) and kill time 21st-century style while my goobers roll around, chat with each other, and refuse to go to sleep. I won't let them get up and play, but while I can make them lie down I can't make them actually sleep, so I'm stuck here. I console myself with the fact that, hey, at least Bryan is working, and I've survived his work hours in worse ways.
11:03pm- They're finally both asleep. Fiiiiiiiinally. I venture out of their room, hoping that Bryan (who is not an evening person like I am) has not dozed off over his laptop. Hooray! He's awake. I ask if he needs to go to bed right now, but he swears he's good, so we sit down to watch a Parks & Rec episode together before heading to bed.
11:34pm- Teeth, contacts, facewashing, etc. I'm still reading The Rosie Project, which is excellent, and I'm happy to beat Bryan to bed, because it means I can read in bed with the lights on for a few minutes before he comes and needs to crash.
(But the reason I beat him to bed is because he moved Milla and Blaise over while I was in the bathroom, and now h's refilling humidifiers and checking locks and turning down the heat, so I feel a tiny bit guilty.)
11:48pm- Lights out. Cuddling. Bryan crashes in about two minutes, and thanks to the half a Unisom I took before we watched TV, I'm out pretty quickly too. Ahhhhh sleep.