Hank Jeffrey Cranston entered this world on August 20, 2019 weighing 7 lbs. 8 oz. and measuring 21 inches long. A week later we would come to find out he was only 19 inches long; but that’s a story for another time. My C-section went great and baby boy was as healthy as could be. We spent three nights in the hospital, welcomed visitors and spent some much needed time bonding with our son.
My parents brought the twins in to meet Hank the evening of the day he was born (they had just turned 23 months old). While they weren’t too interested, they did give him kisses and hugs. Otherwise, they just wanted to run around the hospital room, eat french fries and have a few tantrums. By the way, did I mention that they started having frequent tantrums about a week before Hank was born? What a wonderful time to welcome the “terrible twos”.
All was going swimmingly until we returned home with our new bundle of joy; in less than 10 minutes he had already been hit on the head with a sippy cup and I was almost scalped while nursing! Cue the anxiety.
What the heck was I going to do when Nick returned to work the next week? How was I going to manage three under two all alone for the next 3 months? I decided to tackle this issues like I do most things in my life – with planning and organization!
I researched. I made lists of toddler activities. I created a daily schedule. I gathered supplies (Moby wrap, snacks, play doh, baby gates, craft stuff, baby monitors, movies…. Amazon Prime never received so much business!). And when Nick walked out the door to return to work, I put on my mommy pants (yoga pants, obviously) and jumped right in.
And you know what? I kicked ass. I made this mom of three thing look like a walk in the park (most days) just like I did as a new twin mom. I kept three children alive and still found time to cook, clean and shower on a regular basis!!
Because I love you all so much, I am going to share my secrets with you. Us moms (parents) need to stick together! So, get out your new notepad and purple pen and write this down (or just bookmark it).
Get your kids on a schedule. Or as close to one as you can. I can’t stress this enough! While it’s pretty difficult to get a newborn on a schedule; your other kids should not be so hard. Here is what my average day on maternity looked like.
Obviously we had to stray from the schedule often, but this was my goal if we were planning to be home all day.
Feed the baby and/or pump whenever your kids are eating/sleeping. This will allow for fewer interruptions. But newborns feed on demand, and for those instances when you need to feed while your toddlers are running wild, set up a feeding station (aka bunker).
After just a few days at home it became apparent that the twins were the clingiest or crawling all over me when it was time to feed Hank. In an effort to barricade myself onto our love seat and keep the girls at a distance, I used our baby play yard gate as a fence! It worked like magic. I also set up a pumping station in this area where I kept my pump, pumping bra, nursing cover, snacks, etc.
Keep the baby out of reach. Get a bouncy seat or something that you can put on the counter for when you are prepping meals or need to keep the baby out of reach. In my experience, swings did NOT work for this purpose and swing time needed to be monitored because my kids liked to climb INTO the swing with Hank, or HELP him swing by pushing it.
Let your older kids help (or think they are helping). One thing that served as a great distraction for the twins was letting them help with the baby as much as I could. I would have them get me diapers and wipes, help with feedings, or hold him (supervised of course). If I was in the kitchen cooking and I heard him fussing, I would send one of the girls in to “check on him” or give him his binky (some might call this irresponsible, but I prefer resourceful). They also love to help me cook so they would often pull chairs up to the counter and I would give them their own bowls and spoons to “help” with.
Use your baby monitor often. If the baby is asleep, set up the monitor so you can play with your kids in another room or even outside! Or, if your toddlers are playing in a room and the baby is awake you can set up the monitor where your kids are playing and then go feed or tend to the baby in another room.
Imitation play. Like with cooking, allow your toddlers to “do what you do”. We bought the girls their own baby changing station, new baby dolls, diapers, wipes, bottles, etc. When I feed or change Hank, they love to get their babies and “be like mommy”. It is a great way for them to learn new skills, too.
Get out of the house. If the weather is warm, try to get outside at least once a day. We have a great backyard. I would take Hank outside in his bouncy seat or car seat and play with the girls while he snoozed. We also have a playground a couple blocks away that I would take all of the kids to. We walked there – the twins in their tandem stroller and I would baby wear Hank; that was great exercise!
Say yes to help. When Hank was an infant, getting out of the house by myself with all three kids (unless it was for a walk or to go to my parents’ house) would have been a nightmare. I solicited the assistance of my mother or my mother-in-law so that I could plan at least one outing per week. We went to the zoo, metro parks, shopping, story time at the library, or even just to their grandparents’ house for a change of scenery!
Wear your infant if you need to multitask. I would often wear Hank when prepping meals, going outside with the girls, or if he was extra fussy and didn’t want to be put down. It kept my hands free if the twins wanted me to play with them or if they needed my assistance.
Rotate out your toys. We put some of the twins’ toys away (or in the basement) and keep some out, and then switch them out every couple of weeks. This makes the hidden toys seem new and exciting and encourages more free and independent play because they’re not so sick of all their toys! I also had new toys delivered often thanks to Amazon Prime.
Meal prep on the weekends and stock up on bulk snacks and frozen meals. This will make breakfast and lunch time while you were on your own much easier it’s also helpful for you the mom to just be able to grab something and scarf it down really quick because in reality you are going to have time to make your own meals.
And that, my friends, is how I survived my maternity leave!