Probably the second most common phrase I hear related to parenting, behind "How old are they??" is "I don't know how you do it." Lots of people seem to be floored by the fact that I remain upright and functioning though I have three kids under the age of four, a challenging job, extra tasks and demands from CPS and, oh yeah, those three kids under the age of four. That is a big deal to some people who just can't even imagine how someone in their right mind would say yes to such a situation, much less survive it. I often give a blah response like "Oh we just do our best" or "We have our ups and down" or "It's an adventure for sure." But each time, when someone says they don't know how I do it, I mostly want to just say "I don't know....we just do..."
But. In the interest of being informative (and getting this dang blog post published after about eight attempts to get it written over the past month), I give you...how I do it...
Pep talks from my mother
When a stomach bug took over our house for a week and I just wanted my babies to feel better: "You're doing everything right."
When we had just moved baby #3 into our home: "If people are calling you crazy, it'll only be crazy for a year or 18 months and then y'all will be so, so blessed."
When baby #3 had been in our home a few weeks: "This is a season and someday...it won't be."
When our house turned into an evolving disease ward with pink eye, hand foot mouth rash, strep and bronchitis and not one single family member emerged unscathed: "This is a job for OmieJean. I'll be there at 8 am." (Keep in mind she lives three hours away.)
If it's 7 am on a weekday, our kids are being awakened. If it's 7:30 am on a weekday, they are being dropped off at daycare. If it's 7:30 on most any night, our kids are in bed. We have seen how very much a steady routine benefits our kids, to get enough sleep, to know what is coming up next and to have consistency day to day. It helps us too because we know our kids know that routine and go along with it great, so that makes things easier for us.
We take breaks
Trent and I take breaks. Regularly. Our weekly individual nights out have been sort of derailed lately but we hope to get back into them. They are so beneficial and so easy. It's a chance to get out of the house, take a breather, do something or accomplish something.
Oh ma gawd. Life saver. Just...'nuff said.
Some parents think this is cruel, some use it a bunch. Our bedtime routine, after some advance ten minute and five minute and two minute warnings, is what we refer to as "plop, night night". If a kid isn't loving the idea of going to bed right then...they'll get over it shortly and konk out and they still love us in the morning. Bedtime holds no strife or drawn out drama, unless something is really wrong with one of our kids, which we of course tune into. But generally, by 7:30, night night.
Our kids are easy
We really have very few issues with our kids. They're sweet and loving and any bad behaviors are pretty typical to most any toddler you'd compare them to. They eat. They sleep. They generally don't try to kill each other. Could be worse. Terrible times three would be bad news. Normal/easy times three is doable.
Trent and I are a good team
We work hard together, bounce things off of each other, are honest with each other, share responsibilities, share frustrations, share successes. We do our best. We take our best crack at each day. Most are incredible. Some tank entirely. But we forge ahead as a helluvah team.
We don't know any different
We have never had only one kid. We have never not had little kids. We jumped right into the deep end of the baby pool with two babies at once, so all we have ever known is little kids who came to us as a combo pack. So we don't have anything else to compare it to and just rock along with the norm we've had from the beginning.
We don't sweat the small stuff
Oof, some parents out there stress over all of the things. Ain't nobody got time for that, certainly not us. Our daughter won't let me put her crazy bonkers curly hair in a ponytail one morning? So be it. You may go to daycare looking like Albert Einstein. Our son wants to wear his pajamas and camo boots to Target, then proceed to say hi fifty bajillion times to everybody we pass? Rock on. Our baby didn't eat much for dinner? Whatevs, she's acting fine, so she'll eat when she's hungry. (Ok, that's a bad example...our baby eats boatloads of food at every meal.)
We just do
I mean...I dunno...we have had three sweet little kids plopped into our life that we committed to love and care for. What are we supposed to do but just...do it? Some days are a challenge, but most days are awesome. We just kind of roll with the punches and do our best.
And sometimes we don't
We're tired all the time, we drink gallons of coffee, we often don't have a clue what we're doing, we sometimes get excruciatingly angry or frustrated or fight with each other. Some nights we go to bed at 8:00 pm. Some days we literally high five each other once the kids are asleep because we made it through another day. Our house is usually wrecked, my knees crackle now from all the baby toting and my shins will never be the same after almost two years of coexisting with our dang baby gate.
Some days in the trenches of raising little kids are hard, hard, hard. But you know what? Even on the worst day, we find ourselves making it to the next one, and the next one. And not just making it. It may seem like just getting by while we are down here in the trenches, but really, we are building a life, shaping our kids, keeping them safe and loved, oh so loved.