What tips do you have for getting through the daily grind when you had a baby dropped off in the middle of the night, are exhausted, and have more to deal with when you get home?
“You know what it’s like having five kids? Imagine you’re drowning. And someone hands you a baby.” -Jim Gaffigan
That’s kind of what it feels like, except we just have two or three kids at a time. I say “just” because it’s not five kids, but at the same time, we are accustomed to one!
More truthfully, I can just imagine that I do the same things any other mom does on a rough day when the baby didn’t sleep, etc. There are some tricks that I call on to keep me going. Mostly this:
One time we picked up a newborn baby from the time he was 8 days old until he was 12 days old. I KNOW. So cute and perfect. And, surprisingly, he slept pretty well. 3-4 hour stretches at a time. Which is GREAT for a newborn. Not necessarily great for this mama who is used to a solid 7-8 hours. I was struggling throughout the day. Each morning, I would put one drop of En-R-Gee on the bottom of my feet and rub it in really well. I did not feel the least bit drowsy during the day. I slept better at night. Well, 3-4 hours at a time. I’m serious when I say that I don’t know what I would do without that oil.
So if I were forced to make a list of “tips,” I would include the following:
• Take Responsibility: My husband and I are a team when it comes to kids. I’m not one of those wives who is “thankful when the husband babysits so I can…blah blah blah.” My husband is just as much a part of the team as I am and he is so wonderful about carrying his own weight and stepping up to fill in when I’m losing it. If you’re married, have conversations with your spouse about who defaults to what responsibilities around the house. For example, I do laundry and my husband cooks. We share other smaller responsibilities, but these are the two that drives us mad, so we each take one of those large tasks. These are also the ones that don’t necessarily have to be done at the same time, so there is always someone to be with the kiddos. I know that when a new child comes into the home, I have to do his laundry. Cody knows that he has to fix the meals. We don’t have to stress about who’s going to get what done because we know who is responsible and it doesn’t all fall onto one person. If you aren’t married, (single people can DEFINITELY be foster parents!) find someone like a neighbor or good friend who is willing to be called on when you need help with housework or to babysit, etc. Community is so important, inside and outside the home!!
• Be Forgiving: On the flip-side of the responsibility coin, there are times when we just can’t get it all done. There are times when it’s crazy, that Cody is digging clean underwear out of the dryer, or we’re eating take-out, because things don’t get done all the way. Even though it’s really difficult sometimes, we try to be lenient in those moments that someone’s just handed us a baby/child that we don’t know and can’t quite figure out. It totally happens.
• Work In Some “Escape” Time: This has been crucial for us. When we got our first placement, there were times that we were losing our minds and pulling our hair out. We would get through all the crazy stuff like meals and baths and we would get to this time where the kids were happy and playing and we would be exhausted. When that happened, one of us would take off to Walmart. I know, it sounds stupid, but there was always something more we needed, like diapers or applesauce or whatever, and it was a great opportunity for one of us to just get away for an hour. It really worked for us.
• Be Intimate With Your Spouse: Intimacy looks like a lot of different things, not just doing the deed.
Pause: Let me just apologize to my family members that read my blog. I’m sorry you just had to read that.
Moving on. Although that is an important part of a healthy marriage, it’s not the only way to build intimacy, and it’s definitely not going to happen if there’s a lack of intimacy somewhere else.
Intimacy usually happens for us when the kids are asleep. Getting a kid to sleep that is terrified and in a new place and is completely out of any semblance of a bedtime routine is like trying to wrestle an alligator. Okay, not literally, but it is exhausting, and you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Finally, they do go to sleep. It happens. And that’s when we decompress. Most evenings, we just unwind in front of the television. We love to watch the same shows, so laughing at the Big Bang Theory or Family Feud, or trying to solve the mystery together on Criminal Minds really helps us connect. We wind up talking and laughing and really connecting in a way that we can’t do when there are kids in the room. Something else that builds intimacy between us is going to bed at the same time. We are able to end our day at the same time. Sometimes we even fall asleep talking to each other.
I know. We’re super cute. 🙂
I’m not a pro at any of these things. I’m really not great at most of them. But being intentional and self-care is really important when trying to keep it together for your kids. You know when you’re flying on a plane and they say to put on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else? Yeah. Parenting is like that, too.