The number one question I got when we found out we were having twins (and the number one question in my own brain) was "How are you going to do it?" That is, how was I going to manage to take care of my two older girls (who will be 3 and 4 in December) and twin newborns while Ryan was at work? I truly had no idea how I would make it through a day by myself with all of them. What I did know is that when Sally was born I also felt like there was no way I would be able to take care of both girls on my own. But, as time passed, I figured it out. So I knew that this time I would also eventually figure it out. When you don't have a choice, you have to make it work somehow. I am not saying that it is easy, but we survive on a day to day basis somehow.
One thing that has been huge in adjusting to life with 4 kids is all the help we have received. My mom was here for about 2 weeks after the twins were born, and Ryan was off of work during that time as well. With 3 adults at home, we managed pretty well. Ryan and my mom mostly watched the older girls and kept up with cooking, cleaning, etc. while I was basically on baby duty since I am the food source after all. Then after she left and Ryan went back to work, our church provided us with meals for almost 2 weeks! Also, my amazing and generous friend Sarah Beth has been coming 2 days a week and staying as long as I need her (pretty much all day!) to help with everything. My friend Leidy has come to help us a lot too as well as Ryan's mom. These wonderful women have been so generous with their time and energy and have really made it possible to function around here without dishes, laundry, cooking, and cleaning overtaking the whole house.
There are (and will be) plenty of days where I am solo. I feel like pretty much all I do is feed people. There are no breaks. Sometimes if I find a free moment, I try to get as much done as I possibly can just because I know that if I don't do it now, it won't happen. It is kind of strange, because sometimes I feel like I am more productive now than before the babies came. This is because before, though I didn't realize it, I had the freedom to be lazy. If I didn't do something in the afternoon, I knew I would have time later to do it. And then later, I would be tired or find something else to do instead. Now, there is no choice. I might not get to take a shower later or eat a meal or get some small task done at all if I don't just do it right when I find a chance. I guess you could say I have been forced to really manage my time. I thought some of you might be curious to know what our day looks like. It will also be interesting to come back and read this one day when everyone is older and life is not so crazy (or at least just crazy in a different way).
Here is what a typical day for us looks like:
Between 4-6am: Babies wake up to eat. I always feed them at the same time even if only one woke up. It can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to feed them and get them settled so that I can actually go back to sleep too.
7:30-8:30am: Sophie and Sally get up. I race to the kitchen to get them breakfast. I have to find something they can eat that won't make a huge mess b/c I can't control it if I am feeding the babies. I turn on a show for them to watch while they eat and while I feed the babies.
Between 8 and 9am: Babies wake up to eat. In the morning, I breastfeed them for about 30 minutes and then pump (about 20 min) so I can keep adding to my supply of stored milk in the freezer. I also feed them again (the pumped milk from a bottle) after I pump because they usually want more.
Between 10 and 11: I am finally done feeding the babies, and Sophie and Sally have watched a ton of tv already. Usually the babies sleep for 2 hours or so. I get Sophie and Sally dressed (or at least in clean panties and a shirt), wash bottles, and sometimes try to do some kind of chore or take a shower. Oh, and find something to eat for myself.
Around 11-11:30: Get Sophie and Sally a snack. I try to play with S and S sometime in the morning, because I know they need my attention. Sometimes I just don't have a choice though depending on what the babies are doing or if I just have to get some things done.
Between 12-1pm: Babies wake up and eat. Girls eat lunch. I try to guess when I think the babies will get hungry in order to decide if I am going to feed the girls lunch first or wait till after I feed the babies. This is a hectic time because I don't always guess right. Then I either get screaming babies or a chaotic lunch. S and S are not the greatest independent eaters. They just want to play with food or fight with each other, and I really have to monitor them closely to get them to actually eat. Either that or turn on a show and basically put food into their mouths for them or constantly remind them to eat while they watch. This second scenario is not ideal but at least keeps peace and prevents fighting and big messes.
Between 1-2pm: Babies go back to sleep (or just cry a lot while I go back and forth between them and the big girls. I try to get Sophie and Sally to use the potty and brush teeth. Then they go down for a nap. Or at least quiet time in their room. This doesn't always work though. They come in and out of their rooms a lot. Lately Sophie has been going #2 in her panties again (refuses to use the potty), so I will almost always have to clean her up at some point. Sally is also inconsistent about #2, so lots of times I have to change her too. This can be difficult if I am already in the middle of feeding the babies. Sometimes I get the girls down before the babies have woken up to eat, so I end up dealing with the big girls' shenanigans from the couch as I am limited in my ability to deal with them since I feed both babies at once. At least, when you just have one baby to feed, you can kind of get up and walk around if you have to during a feeding. Not so with two at once.
Between 2-3 pm: Hopefully, the older girls are in their rooms and quiet. Sophie usually does not nap. Sally naps a little more often, though not always. The babies may or may not be sleeping. I might be able to get a few little things done around the house, if everyone is cooperating. It is useless to try to nap, because almost always, someone will need something.
Between 3-4pm: Sophie and Sally get up from naps. Babies eat again at some point. They eat every 2-3 hours during the day, so their eating times aren't set in stone or entirely predictable yet. I get Sophie and Sally a snack and try to do something with them before the babies wake up. Pretty much anytime I am feeding the babies, I turn on a show for the girls. This is the only way I can prevent disaster and injuries during this time. Sometimes the girls will play downstairs, but usually it ends in crying within 5 minutes because of not getting along or someone getting hurt.
4:30-5pm Ryan gets home from work! Hooray! He usually takes the girls outside to play or the the pool or park while I feed the babies or lay down for a little bit and then feed the babies.
Between 5-6pm: Babies eat again
6-7pm: Girls eat dinner.
7-9pm: Girls play for a while and get ready for bed. Babies eat again. Ryan usually ends up getting the girls in bed while I take care of the babies. Evening time is kind of a fussy time for the babies, so usually when they are not eating, Ryan and I have one each in a wrap or baby bjorn while we eat dinner or help the girls eat dinner.
8:30-9pm: S and S go to bed! Our workload is cut in half. Well, unless Sally decides to come out of her room over and over until after 10pm sometimes.
8:30-midnight: Babies turn into eating machines and eat every 2 hours until midnight or 1ish. You would think I would have more time to do things during this time, but mostly the babies need to be held either to eat or because they are restless/fussy. So, pretty much every night, Ryan and I sit in the living room and watch Breaking Bad on Netflix while we care for the babies. When I find little 5 minute windows to do things, I will kind of straighten up in the living room or kitchen or work on a little laundry or paperwork, etc.
Between Midnight-2am: I get the babies in bed and settled down and finally get to fall asleep myself after a looooooong day.
Whew! Just typing that is exhausting to me. Oddly enough, the days go by pretty fast because I am so busy. And I don't feel super overwhelmed most of the time. Sometimes I totally lose my patience with the big girls. And the babies have reflux which makes them frustrating to feed. A lot of times I feed them for a bit and end up having to pump and give them bottles because they are just crying so much. They take bottles a lot more easily sometimes. I try to take the time to really enjoy their sweet newborn-ness. I wasn't always a big fan of the newborn stage, but I am loving it right now. I think because I know how quickly they get big! Even though I look forward to the days when they are sleeping through the night, I know that different challenges come with older babies, so right now I am enjoying all the snuggles and sleeping during the day (on their part).