The very first glimpse of my kids in the morning is one the best parts of my day as is the very last glimpse when I put them to bed at night. How do kids wake up so happy and funny? It is a talent I think we lose over time. I try to peek at them before they know I am there but they are always watching the door. At least Eloise is. Beckett many times is yelling at the lovies that he threw on the floor and Addy is talking to him. The second they see me they all laugh and reach for their sippy cups of milk. Hmmm, maybe it is the milk and not me. Then they all start chatting like they are telling me what I missed over the last 12 hours. They usually say something about dogs because they want me to open the shades so they can watch for doggies going for their morning walk. Sometimes they all want to get into Eloise's crib because she has the best outdoor view.
Their little brains have been reset, they are rested, tummies full of milk, happy to see me and act as if they are seeing their toys and books for the first time. Things start to go downhill when I start to change diapers. It appears as if the diaper change is a huge inconvenience and interference into their play time. But the first hour or so in the morning is generally so very smooth, like butter.
I said the last glimpse at night is also a favorite because again they are so happy and content but it takes a lot more to get them there. The hours between 5 and 6 and sometimes 4 and 6 are just dreadful. It is called the witching hour for a reason. It's like the whole day just caught up with them, they are over stimulated and are unable to process anything anymore other than being held or sitting on laps reading books. Dinner is during this time as well which can just be torturous at times but for some reason the minute their feet hit the floor after dinner they have this attitude adjustment and turn into silly giddy little angels. I know why- because they know what is next...
The minute dinner is done is the start of the wind down time to prepare for bed. I started working and thinking through this process before they were even born. When I was pregnant I spent most of my time reading about BEING pregnant with multiples and NO time reading about what would come next. When we were interviewing for night nannies the room was not really set up yet but I told one of the women that there would be a chair for holding/rocking babies. She said that would not be necessary because she did not rock them to sleep and they would need to learn to put themselves to sleep. That was the smartest thing I ever heard. I just assumed I would rock my babies to sleep or nurse them to sleep (yeah, right). When I thought about having a baby that is what I envisioned. How was I going to do that with 3? That's when I started to think about routines and how routine was the integral part of the process to get our kids to willfully and happily go to sleep on their own.
I'm a huge believer in the theory that our "sleep hygiene" or sleep habits make all the difference in how well we sleep and how rested we feel in the morning. That being said, the sleep habits for our kids start after dinner is done. Predictable, expected, calming habits or routines that get them ready to go to sleep- for 12 hours.
Sometimes after dinner there is a couple of minutes to play before heading upstairs for a bath but the minute I say, "Who wants to go upstairs?" I'm not kidding they THROW whatever they are playing with in the air, Eloise screams in excitement and they all hang on the gate at the stairs chomping at the bit for it to open. Then there is a race up the stairs with horse race-like commentary to see who can make it into the nursery first.
I usually bustle around getting out their pj's, fleece sleepers, socks, lotion, diapers, and bedtime books while the bath water is running. As they are getting older and more capable of helping I'm starting to incorporate more self-help routines like trying to get them to put their clothes in the basket but we still have a lot of work to do with that. They know that they are not supposed to come into the bathroom until I say so sometimes they will sit at the door and wait but most of the time they just read books until I say, "Okay, who wants to take a bath?" when it is like a mad rush to the bathroom.
They have developed their own bath time routines. Beckett makes a beeline for the tub and tries to climb in with a lovie or book or whatever he was able to sneak in. Addy and Eloise start to walk bath toys from the bin to the tub one by one and toss them in. Of course there is some variation like Eloise trying out each potty chair before going for the toys but in general what they do once they hit the bathroom is pretty predictable. Including Addy squatting and peeing on the floor when picking up toys. Today she peed twice. I caught her, put her on the potty, she stopped peeing, played for a while, got up squatted next to the toys and peed again. Beckett thinks the potties are for drinking out of. I'm still trying to encourage potty interest.
Just because they know the routine doesn't mean they always have to like it. Eloise will not under any circumstances sit in the bathtub. She stands holding on to the side. I don't blame her, with all 3 in there together it can be chaotic and wet and she does not like to get splashed or water near her head. But she has no problem when someone else gets splashed, she thinks that is the cat' meow.
We used to use Burt's Bee Baby Wash for their hair and body until Eloise developed eczema. Now we use the Burt's Bee for their hair and Cetaphil for the body. As far as our pediatrician is concerned, that is the only thing on the market mild enough for their skin and there is no reason that anything else should be on the market. I need to start to incorporate a third product- conditioner- for Addy. A few of her curls are turning into dreadlocks.
We have some normal "bath" toys but many of the bath toys are the market squirt or collect water in some way which I've heard is the best way to grow bacteria if that is what you are into. I'm not so they mostly have cups and buckets and shovels (sand toys) and a few boats. I try to limit the cups because Addy's goal in life is to see how much bath water she can drink.
If there is two of us with the kids, one bathes and the other dresses. If it is just me, I bathe all three and pull them out one at a time put on diapers and then move into into the next room to get dressed.
This is where things get a little more interesting. During the day we use Huggies size 3 for Beckett and Eloise and 4 for Addy. At night we put size 4 on Eloise and Beckett and size 4 Huggies Overnights for Addy. The Overnights and larger diaper size means they don't wake up with wet pajamas. And Addy and Eloise wear different size clothes so I have to keep those separate as well. For a while I had 6 different lotion products that I used in various combinations for different things-eczema, dry skin, circumoral dermatitis, diaper rash, butt protection, face rash from the passy (Beckett). We are now down to 3 or 4. Eloise has a special cream she needs twice a day for her eczema and the other two get Eucerin lotion. We use Aquafor (according to our pediatriain in TX, the cureall and only thing to be used for diaper rashe) for healing diaper rashes and Burt's Bee for angry red rashes- thank goodness which is rare. Everyone gets lotion and these days they all try to put lotion on themselves. They love lotion and sometimes a promise of lotion is the best way to get them out of the tub. Eloise gets a full massage as well. The others would as well if they stayed still long enough but she is the one who seems to really enjoy it and will stay still as long as you want. The fact that she is really not squirmy when getting lotioned is great because the cream is so greasy that it stains which I found out the hard way. Now I put the medicated lotion on her and I give her a little Eucerin to rub on her belly and hands to be helpful.
I probably overdress my kids to sleep. They still don't sleep with blankets so I put on a onesie, cotton two-piece pajamas, wool socks, and a fleece sleeper. All of that clothes is a lot to get on and takes a while with 3. The other thing is that I wash all of that every day. I hate to wear grungy pajamas so why would I make them? Again, part of the sleep hygiene.
Rich doesn't believe in sleep hygiene or apparently hygiene. For example, the other day he was getting Addy dressed after her bath. While putting on her socks, he took one sock, wiped her nose with the sock, wiped the sock on the towel and put the sock on her foot. I said, "You did not just do that." He said, "What's the problem, her sock doesn't care." Then I noticed he was getting her dressed and the lotion was on the other side of the room. Good detective work on my part. I said, "Did you put lotion on her?" I don't remember word for word his response but was a very nicely put statement about me being a control freak.
When it is time, I say, "Get out the Boppy's" which reside under one of the cribs. That's the signal to start yelling for bottles. Yes, I know they should not be getting bottles at this age but that is another thing we need to work on. They get 4 oz of milk on their Boppy's while I read the same 3 books over and over again.
Because of the holidays I tried to incorporate a few different books into the repertoire such as the "The Twelve Dogs of Christmas" and "Twas the Night Before Christmas" but that really made Eloise mad. If she catches a glimpse of "Goodnight Moon" while I'm reading one of the interloping books, she yells and points.
During all of this they are listening to a repertoire of 2 or 3 CD's they have listened to at night since they were just a few months old. Some of the best CD's for day or night I've found to be the Puntamayo Kid's series.
When they are done with the bottles, I put them in their cribs, kiss them good night, turn off the music, turn on the humidifier, turn on the noise maker (rain sounds), turn on the base for the baby monitor, turn out the lights and walk out the door (and hope a fuse doesn't blow with all the electronics). Most of the time, we don't hear a peep from them until 7:15 or so the next morning.
So that last glimpse thing- back to where I started. When I put them in their bed, they are happy and content. It's a 180 degree turn from just 90 minutes earlier. They are back almost to that same happy place that they start in the morning. Beckett is usually squirreling around in the crib trying to squeeze in a few last words and let us know what is going on in that perfectly round head of his. Eloise is snuggling with as many lovies as she was able to get her hands on- sometimes upwards of 5. Addy is usually laying down still as can be staring at me.
I did it. I survived another day. That's why I love that last glimpse so much. It is a reminder of the day's accomplishments. It's a reminder that I love good endings. It is a reminder that for good or bad, we will start all over again tomorrow. It's a reminder that I can do this.
And I rigid? Yes. Am I control freak? Yes. Am I still sane with triplets. Yep. Do I think routines are important? Yep. Does the routine get tedious? Absolutely. But it provides structure, known excpectations, boundaries and really good and needed 12 hours of sleep for our healthy, thriving, curious little almost-18-month old "babies."
Once I turn out the light and trudge down the stairs with a basket of dirty laundry, bottles and usually one of the pugs in tow and see the condition of the living room and Rich and I look at each other and say, "We've been robbed!"