We just got back from a killer vacation as a family. We spent our days swimming and building sand castles and our evenings eating good food and strolling. Now that we’re back, I’ve noticed a big change in my kids and I’m not sure how to reset. Raffi is 4.5 and Ali turns 3 this week. They are very sweet kids but all of a sudden have started fighting a lot.
Raffi is also very grumpy/crabby and Ali has been whining a lot. Actually they both have been whining a lot. Raffi has also been talking back to us which is a completely new thing.
They were super spoiled on our vacation with tons of attention. We also said yes to a lot of things we normally wouldn’t. They watched plenty of TV and ate tons of candy. This week is a complete detox from both in many ways, but I didn’t expect this reaction.
For now I’m planning on keeping up with the detox of no TV (except Friday movie night!), no candy, and back to our basic family rules. I’m also trying to give each child enough attention. It has been challenging to do so since we got home as there was plenty of laundry and unpacking to do as well as catching up on work. I’m making a conscious effort though.
They also seem to need space from one another. All of a sudden they seem to get on one another’s nerves. This is a new thing. They seem to annoy each other on purpose and also just generally need space. I’m unsure how to provide that since they share a room and do most activities together. At least Ali has dance which is just her thing and Raffi gets quality time with Trig on dance mornings.
I’m hopeful someone has some advice for us as this is completely new territory for me. Or maybe you’ve been through it with your kids and can help us understand what is going on. While our kids can be rowdy at times, they are usually well-behaved and quite kind to one another. I can’t figure out how to stop this behavior in its tracks as most of my usual tricks aren’t working. It’s obvious that Raffi, especially, is going through something but I can’t figure out what or how to help.
I haven’t done one of these in ages, but I thought it would be fun to be able to remember just how crazy life is right now when it’s boring one day. Ha. So here goes nothing!
My schedule is different from day to day. Here is a day where I exercised, both big kids had school, and I didn’t have work. On days I work our nanny comes at 8 AM and the morning routine is so much easier. She also helps out with the kids’ laundry which is so helpful. I do at least one load every day. Ali is in a full leg cast for 6 weeks so we are stuck at home most days, which is unlike us. It’s been interesting coming up with fun things to do when we are home so much. I used photos from all different days.
Raffi is 4 years 4 months old, Alessandra is almost 3 years old, and Valentina is 8 months old. And I’m 26 for life.
2 AM: Valentina is half crying. I lower the monitor and pretend that if I can’t hear her she isn’t awake.
2:10 AM: I finally snap out of it and go feed Valentina. I believe in sleep training but haven’t trained her for a few reasons. 1. She might be our last baby and I want to enjoy these baby moments and 2. It helps keep my nursing supply up, especially since she is often distracted by the big kids. 3. It allows her to sleep in later which makes my morning routine far easier. I can get myself ready, get Raffi and Ali ready and then go wake her up to get her ready for the day. Taking care of 2 kids early in the morning is way easier than 3.
3:40 AM: I hear Raffi crying. Even at almost 4.5 years old he still wakes up every. single. night to go use the bathroom. And he’s scared to go by himself. I don’t mind because I was frightened of the same as a child and remember how it feels. I walk him to the bathroom, walk him back to his room, give both big kids kisses (they share a room) and then head back to my bed.
5:20 AM: First alarm goes off. I have this insane power to fall back asleep almost instantly and to feel refreshed after only a few minutes. I usually set two alarms, one 10 minutes before the one where I really have to wake up and I fall completely back asleep between the two.
5:30 AM: Second alarm goes off. I hop out of bed and into my exercise clothes and drive over to the boxing gym. I’ve been taking classes at Joltin’ Jabs for a couple of months now and am COMPLETELY ADDICTED. There is free street parking in the area before 8 AM and I’m too scared to ride my bike in such darkness, so I always drive over if I go to the early class.
6:00 AM – 6:50 AM: I work really hard for the full class, pushing myself until I can barely lift my arms up. I haven’t enjoyed exercise this much in at least 6 years. I also wish I had the time to be able to come to class more, but I am thankful that it works for our family for me to have these one to two days a week to work out. And that I live in a city and walk everywhere.
7:00 AM: I’m home and Raffi and Ali are snuggled up in our bed with Trig watching a YouTube video of kid jokes. For almost 6 months we had a no TV rule save for Friday night movie night, but Ali fractured her tibia and is in a full leg cast for 6 weeks. We have relaxed on that rule temporarily because we need the electronic assistance.
7:10 AM: Trig and I get the kids dressed, I make the kids’ beds, fold a load of laundry, and lay out their pajamas for the night. I always lay out clothes at least one outfit ahead of time because it makes my life easier. I then shower and get myself ready for the day. Trig leaves in a rush because he has court and has to drive there.
7:45 AM: The kids have breakfast while I unload the dishwasher and start prepping food for the day. When they are done they go play. I ask them nicely 3 times to put their coats, shoes and hats on which I’ve laid out for them. I finally use my stern mom voice and they listen. I run upstairs, wake up Valentina, change her diaper, feed her and run back down. She stays in her jammies until after she eats breakfast.
8:00 AM: Valentina is really hungry for breakfast but we have to leave for school in 10 minutes. I stick Valentina in the high chair quickly and feed her oatmeal, a full banana, and a few puffs. Our amazing nanny had made a big batch of oatmeal for me on her last day of the week and I’m thankful to not be scrambling to make breakfast for V. While I’m feeding her I pack the kids’ lunches. I change Valentina into her outfit for the day, she spits up on it, and I just give it a quick wipe instead of taking the time to change her outfit again. Mother of the year folks.
8:10 AM: It’s gorgeous out and I really feel like walking to school, so the kids all pile into the stroller. We use our double BOB and Raffi perches on the front. Raffi reads all the street signs as we walk by.
8:35 AM: We’re 5 minutes late for school dropoff, which really bothers me. I pride myself on being on time and have had a hard time with this since Valentina was born. The school is very accommodating to Ali’s full leg cast and has made it work for her to be able to attend school for these 6 weeks. I take all 3 kids out of the stroller, run the big kids to their classrooms, say hello to all my mom friends and the school director and then head back outside. We all stand around for 10 minutes talking before I realize I need to rush home if I don’t want to waste Valentina’s nap on a stroller nap.
8:50 AM: I make it home in serious record time, and without my coat, hat or scarf. I always start my walk all bundled and walk so fast that I need to take off a million layers. I change Valentina’s diaper and outfit and stick her in her crib. I grab the monitor and head downstairs to the kitchen. I swear I spend 95% of my day standing in the kitchen.
9:45 AM: I’ve made and eaten my breakfast (english muffin with PB and 1/2 banana, decaf black tea and a huge glass of water). I clean up from breakfast since I left Valentina’s high chair a mess and the kids’ bowls out. I start prepping dinner for the night.
10:00 AM: I sit down at my laptop and work for a bit. I’ve very, very recently transitioned to part time work and am trying to figure out how to make it all work.
11:00 AM: Valentina is still sleeping so I wipe down all the tables, vacuum the living room, and do other chores I tend to put off. I head up to the kids’ room and organize their books. I reorganize them every few weeks even though I know they will be a mess again. I keep saying I’m just going to let them be but I can’t help but fix them up now and again. My closets are kind of a mess at all times and I tend to just shove things away, but anything that is exposed in my house has to be neatly organized and placed well. I quickly set up two trays with a fun activity for the kids for after rest time. I also reorganize the laundry closet because I’m really not used to this extra time.
11:30 AM: I go wake up Valentina after a crazy long nap, feed her quickly and head to school to pick up Raffi and Ali. I always bring their lunches because they are too hungry to wait until we get home. I go by car because I’m lazy and want to be on time. We have 15 minutes between Ali and Raffi’s school pickups so we hang in the lobby chatting about our day.
12:00 PM: One of the other moms brings Raffi up for me since I have my hands full with baby Valentina and Ali in a full leg cast. I load one girl into the car at a time and Raffi walks himself and then buckles himself. Four year olds are awesome and I love that he can buckle and unbuckle himself.
1:00 PM: We’re home, the kids finished having lunch, Valentina ate her lunch, and they are cleaning up some toys. Valentina and Ali take their naps, Raffi takes his rest time. Raffi’s rest time means he comes in the kitchen to ask me things and then goes back to the living room play area to play about 50,000 times. I know he wants me to play with him but I have a deadline and need to finish up a project, so I’m frantically typing on my computer. I still freelance for the Babycenter Blog – going on 5 years!
3:00 PM: Raffi’s rest time is over and I hear Ali yelling for me to come get her. I transfer the laundry, remake Ali’s bed loosely and carry her downstairs. Ali sits on the floor in the kitchen and Raffi sits at the little table. The play with their new Play Doh sets but are unhappy on different levels, so I move Ali to the big table and Raffi joins her there. Play Doh Town is so so fun and they both sit for a really long time playing. I sit with them and work a little more, check my Facebook and then put my phone and computer away.
3:30 PM: Valentina’s up!! Raffi races upstairs with me and Ali is pissed that she can’t come too. She yells for us the whole time we are up there. When I get downstairs I find that she somehow has Play Doh in her hair which is going to be really fun to clean when she can’t sit in the bathtub. I feed Valentina while chatting with the kids.
4:20 PM: The kids finally tire of the Play Doh Town so I clean it all up with their help. I took a page out of the preschool system and they each have jobs every week. Ali’s job this week is to “collect” so she’s in charge of collecting all the toys she can reach and putting them in the proper bin. Raffi’s job is to “sweep and wipe” so he is attempting to use the dustpan and brush to clean up the Play Doh crumbs. They both help for about 45 seconds but that’s enough for me. I set them up in the other room with a show while I finish dinner. They’d prefer Paw Patrol or Wild Kratts, but I push them into choosing some random show from Animal Planet. They like it enough. Valentina hangs in the kitchen with me but periodically crawls to the other room to see what they are doing.
5:00 PM: Dinner is done but we aren’t going to eat yet. I haven’t given the kids a snack today so I know they’re going to be hungry early, so I want dinner ready for the minute they tell me they want to eat something. I shut off the TV to no protest (seriously shocked) and bring Ali to the floor. I sit with all 3 kids as we play with Valentina and build with Duplos. Valentina is really close to standing on her own, and will do it if she’s holding something in two hands, so we practice that for awhile. The kids LOVE helping her and playing with her so we are all happy.
6:00 PM: Trig texts to remind me he has drinks tonight but won’t be home too late. Putting all 3 to bed with Ali in a full leg cast is a lot easier with two sets of hands, so I know he is going to try to make it home for the bedtime routine.
6:10 PM: The 3 kids and I sit down to dinner. Valentina eats a Stonyfield Farms yogurt, Plum Organics Grow Well tummy pouch, cooked apple slices, a leftover meatball and then chomps on some pretzels while I clean up. I bribe the big kids to eat their fish and farro salad with feta by offering them 3 Cadbury mini eggs in any color of their choosing for finishing those two new foods. I didn’t think I believed in this kind of bribery but found that getting them to just taste something new is more than half the battle; most of the time they LOVE the new food once they try it. I’m working very hard on this but I have best success with a bribe. If the food is really weird to them I offer them a treat for just trying it – they can spit it out if they like. We found out that way that Raffi does NOT like pickled vegetables (torshi) but Ali LOVES them. They also eat grapes, raw broccoli, and some tiny mozzarella balls.
6:45 PM: Oh my god this is the hardest part of the day. I start scrambling to clean up from dinner when Trig walks in the door. HURRAY! He takes over dinner cleanup and I ask him to please start the dishwasher before he comes up.
7:00 PM: Valentina and Raffi get a bath while Ali plays on my phone. I feel so sorry for her that she can’t take a tubby that I decided a few minutes of phone time is ok. I put Valentina and Ali in their jammies in the bathroom while Raffi continues to play. Ali is wearing nightgowns only until her cast comes off, and she LOVES them. I nurse Valentina while sitting in the bathroom and then run and dump her in her crib with a quick kiss. I’m so lucky that she is so easy going now and loves her crib too. Raffi wants to play more in the tub since he’s “cooking soup” but I tell him bath time is over and he reluctantly listens on the first try. He reminds me that it’s good to listen to your mommy and daddy and I thank him for listening. He gets his jammies on by himself, which he doesn’t do every night, but then asks for help brushing his teeth. I don’t mind and help him.
7:45 PM: The big kids do their bedtime chart and I tuck them into their beds. I lie and tell them it’s 9 PM because it feels like 9 PM to me and I want them to be asleep! They ask for more books but I decline and leave the room. I think about grabbing the dry laundry but decide not to. Trig hears them calling for me and heads in to tell them a bedtime story. He has the BEST stories and they look forward to them all day.
8:00 PM: Raffi comes in our room and asks for “food privileges.” Their rule is no snack before bed unless they ate their entire dinner. He did on this night but Ali hardly ate. He asks what they are allowed to have. I list 3 options and he asks for all 3 on behalf of both of them. I run downstairs and make two bowls of clementines, a cheese stick each, apple slices and add 2 crackers too. Raffi is upset I’ve included crackers and asks me to remove them. I throw them out instead of bringing them back downstairs to the kitchen. Both kids sit in their beds and eat their snacks.
8:30 PM: I peek in and Raffi is reading one of his BOB books to Ali in her bed. At some point they fall asleep but I’m back in our room and if their light is off and they’re not rowdy I don’t get involved. Another mom taught me that trick and it keeps me from being annoyed when they are awake and really need the sleep. By 9 PM when I go back to check on them they are both asleep in their own beds and their snack bowls are empty. I set out their outfits for the next day since I forgot at bedtime. Then I bring their snack bowls to the top of the stairs so I can remember to bring them down in the morning.
9:10 PM: Trig is in bed watching CNN and working on his computer and asks what I want to watch. We put on an episode of Downton Abbey and he falls asleep in 5 minutes. I’m paranoid that I forgot something for work so I run downstairs and empty the dishwasher as I check my computer. I debate texting my BFF neighbor to come over for tea and a chat, but it’s already late and I’m already in jammies so I decide to wait for another night. I mentally make a note to remember to fix the screen door, take down the trash and go vacuum the car but by morning I only remember that I was making a mental note and forget what that note was.
1:10 AM: Valentina is up… let the cycle continue.