Challenges this Week

Posted by  | Sunday, June 7, 2009  at 3:02 AM  
I've been looking forward to this week because I need your help and advice! My challenge in parenting right now is what to do when there's 3 little ones who are tired, fussy, and all want mom at the same time? What do you do when you're playing defense, rather than offense, and have 2 or even 3 crying in unison?! Typically this happens in the evenings, though not always. And I can't always seem to be prepared for every circumstance. I want to be flexible enough we can break away from our typical daily routine, but goodness. . . that can be rough!

For example, this past Saturday when we went to the beach. I got up early, made our lunches, packed the cooler, made breakfast, nursed the boys. Then Josh and I were trying to get out the door - towels, beach toys, sunscreen on, bathing suits, etc. and the boys were screaming. At one point, we just stopped, looked at each other and laughed. What else could we do?! They were refusing pacifiers and nothing would calm them except me cuddling with them. I could've stopped and held them, but there's no telling when we would've gotten to the beach (which isn't exactly fair to Lydia who'd been looking forward to Saturday all week long). We had a good plan for our time at the beach and it was wonderful. But when we got home - whoa! We were playing serious defense for the rest of the day. Everyone was tired, needed baths, food, laundry, dishes, cleaning the house for our summer guests arriving the next day, etc. Lydia didn't get a nap and the boys just fussed unless they were being held. I had to go to the grocery store and that's next to impossible with all three, so I had to leave one of the twins at home and he cried (of course, whoever I take in the sling is always happy, content, and usually sleeps). By the time the day ended and they were all asleep, we felt like we'd been through the battle field.
(Sometimes I wonder if I could/should let everything else go and if the twins are crying just tend to them. I'm trying not to take on too much, but there are things I feel like I need to do - like getting groceries and preparing meals. And sometimes there are meetings and work-related things I need to be available to help Josh with.)

Well, before I paint too bleak of a picture, let me just say this is not how every day is spent, although there is usually a moment in each where at least two kiddos are not happy campers at the same time. And it seems like evenings are more prone for this. I'm trying to get supper, the twins need me, Lydia needs me. So, here's some things we've tried for evening time and some days they work better than others:

Josh is good about taking Lydia and playing with her while I get supper together. (Supper, these days, is not fancy - I'm talking throwing some meat and veggies on the grill and serving it along with some brown rice. Still it takes some amount of time and attention on my part to get it on the table.) Meanwhile, if the twins aren't napping, I'll sling one baby and then switch the other baby from the bouncy seat to pack n' play with mobile - along with putting the pacifier in his mouth quite often. Then I'll switch which baby I'm slinging. (Ahhh pacifiers. . . I wasn't crazy about them with Lydia and never really gave her one. And I said I'd "never" keep putting a paci in a baby's mouth once he spit it out - ha! With twins, I can't imagine life without them. Anyone else ever had to eat their "nevers"?!)
After dinner, Josh will clean up and I'll take all 3 kiddos to Lydia's room to play. By this point, she wants mommy time. Sometimes I'll nurse the babies in her room and then they'll usually lay on her bean bag and watch the ceiling fan and their big sister for a little while so I can give her my attention. However, by the time it's time to get Lydia in the bed (jammies, brush teeth, get water and/or snack, read Bible, pray, etc.) the boys are ready to be held as well. Josh, while a wonderful father and helpmate to me!!!, is admittedly not a baby person. He's intimidated by them when they're small and rather uncomfortable with them, so they usually cry and that just continues the cycle of him not really wanting to hold them much right now.

I long to get one step ahead of the ball game, but I'm not sure how. There are times when I use a video as a babysitter for Lydia while I tend to the twins. I play Steve Green music often and that has a wonderful, calming effect on the whole house. When playing with Lydia I talk to her about her brothers and have her include them and interact with them (for example, telling them about her princesses, or making food for them when she's playing in her kitchen). But there are days where I feel like I just can't take anymore crying while still displaying the fruit of the Spirit. . .especially patience beyond measure! When I'm trying to read with Lydia and they are crying, she'll say, "Mommy, they need a paci." She'll wait patiently for me to try to get them settled down, because she craves that special time alone with me. Please don't hear me wrong, life is wonderful with 3 little ones and I love, love, love it. . . I just want to be the best mommy I can be and would love your advice on what you would do in these moments!


Matt and Stacey said...

girl, you crack me up! I know you didn't mean for your post to be commical but you had me LOL! I don't really want to be one that says "this too shall pass" but it really will. I remember days when Madison and Matthew Ray were about to make me lose my mind...Meredith would enter into the room with questions like, "Mom, who was before God? and How do babies get in your tummy?" I remember thinking..."how in the heck am I supposed to answer these crazy questions with these 2 screaming in my ear?! I can't even think!!" Sometimes I actually went to my closet and sat in the floor and cried (I don't think you have room for that in your dulabs:) This is a season...a crazy season...soo, I don't have any handy dandy answers for you...BUT I am praying for you...for God to give you grace beyond measure as you continue to be an amazing mom to your precious gifts from Him! (and I'll be glad to help in July:)
love ya,

ChezDeshotels said...

OH Krista,

I am sorry sounds like you have your hands full! DO you ever get to rest? I am praying for you to have the strength and to mount up with wings as eagles....I know you are a great mommy and I know you are doing a great job!

Alas for those of you who might can give Krista advice I need some as well :) We have a 3 year old and a 5 month old and Lydia is just horrible with sibling rivalry. She is flat out mean and will not obey anything she has been told will yell and be completely destructive, For example she talked very ugly at me and threw a toy at Lillian and I put her in her room to calm down and she pulled everything off the walls that is just one example amoung many every day. I always said I would have obediant children HA HA I sure try and I spend special time with her everyday as well as do crafts cook etc and I include her in the houshold chores but it is one fit after another any suggestions? Both of my kids need me all the time. Lillian has been a sick baby and we live at specialist so sometimes her needs have to come first but I never neglect Lydia and I take time to take her to dance and gymnastics just she and I as well as have her bedtime snack and play a game or ready astory...but nothing seems to help. I would love any advice anyone has! This is not an ideal situation and I have tried to show and tell her how special she is and how special each person in our family is?

Love to hear anything

Krista said...

Thanks for bringing a smile to my face. You are an amazing momma so if your babies were screaming and tell me this will pass I'm going to believe it!

It's funny, the twins are sleeping through the night but I'm still exhausted by the end of the day. It's a different sort of tired I guess :).

Bekah said...

Hey Krista! I have definately encountered the problem of having all my kids fussiest time be the late afternoon while I need to be getting dinner prepared. The best solution we have come up with for that stage of life has been "Make Ahead Meals". I compiled a list of meals that can be prepared the day before or in the morning when the kids are more content. Many of the meals on my list are cooked in the crock pot or prepped in the morning (or day before)(or when kids are napping-then I can prep dinner with some worship music on and have some Mary time while I'm Martha-ing) and refrigerated and then I simply place them in the oven. I can give you some of my meal ideas, though, some of them may require tweaking to achieve Krista nutritional approval:) But in any case I would certainly break out the crock pot cookbook and see what recipes will work for you. The crock pot has certainly become a HUGE help in the kitchen particularly with the rapid growth of our family size:)

Also, for other times when your babies need you, but chores are calling your name, I have been known to wear one baby on my back in the Ergo and one on the front in a sling. The boys won't be ready to ride in the Ergo for a while yet, but it's definatley something to remember for the future.

Courtney said...

Krista, your heart pours out through your writing. You can totally see that your desire is to be a good mom and you are achieving that even if you do not feel it at the moment.
I surely don't have experience here, but I do have a thought. Could you do the play time the same, but then let Josh take over with Lydia? I know lots of dads that LOVE the going to bed routine with their kids. It is like special daddy time. Even if he doesn't do all of it, could he do some of it while you tend to the twins? Just a thought...

KC said...

Here is a website that might help you:

Like Courtney said..I don't have any experience to draw on that compares to yours, but some thoughts nonetheless...Even with Josh feeling a little intimidated by the babies, would he be willing to sling one of them (which ever one is fussiest) while you cook or do whatever you need to? Once he tries it and sees that they will calm down and just hang out in there, he might not be intimidated. Also, is there any chance he would take over the cooking duties on those nights when it seems the worst? Maybe you could plan a simple meal and do the prep work during the day for him.

Fellow said...

Raising kids is hard work. I can't think of any season that is harder or easier than others. There may be some things that get easier over time, but I think that just allows other things that are harder than before to enter into the fold. Multiple little ones all crying and wanting is hard. When that is done you have the challenge of actually teaching your kids the truths that will make such a huge impact on their lives. As they get older you begin to deal with issues of puberty, adolescence, maturity, etc. The problem with seasons is that there is always another one coming down the pike. With that said, we have always tried to deal with the present issues as best as we can as we live in them. We have felt that if we don't work to maintain our sanity, regardless of the season of life in which we find ourselves, then there will be many other people (including our children) that will work to take it from us.
Everyone parents differently. And families change their parenting styles from child to child and from season to season. This is good, and healthy. Shouldn't we always look at what we are doing critically and change things that can be changed if it would help us? With that said, it seems to me like it might be time for some rethinking and some adjustments. Parenting is a journey. We are not perfect. Let's first of all throw out the lie that says we have to do everything perfectly and never stumble or else our kids will end up drinking, taking drugs, hating their fellow human beings, walking away from God and the church, and voting Democrat. As a believer, while I desire to honor God in all I do, I rest in the grace of God that when I fall short and sin, God's grace abounds and is sufficient. It doesn't sound like anyone could accuse you, Krista, of being a lazy mom. Striving to be a perfectionist, though, will always end in failure and frustration. I have met many parents who have wanted to do it so well, that they have never been able to rest in the joy of God's grace for their family's daily activities. If you would be willing to hear some practical advice from a family who has struggled through raising kids, then I offer the following few ideas. We have to split this for the sake of space.

Fellow said...

Here's the rest...

1)Babies cry. This is absolute truth. Especially for little ones, the only way for them to burn off their stored up energy is to wail it out. We have been trained to equate baby's tears with there being something wrong. Our first was a crier. We know now, years later, that we helped her to be this way. We couldn't understand why she would be crying even after she was thoroughly dried, fed, cleaned, rocked, swayed, slung, and strolled. There was nothing else we could do, but go insane. Our insurance didn't cover stays in the local mental ward so we had to try something else. We put her down. She was only a few months old, but we put her in her crib and walked away. She hated it. We hated it. we felt deeply guilty as if we were neglecting our parental responsibilities. A regular time of putting down this screaming little girl did two things. It allowed us to have time to decompress, and it allowed our daughter to get used to not being attached to us. We began to discover that this is something that we could in fact teach not only to her, but to all of our subsequent children. We have always given our kids alone time in their playpens during the day and in their rooms as they got older. I think band-aid brand ought to make their own sling. These wonderful contraptions that make getting around with your baby also turn into a fix it for every whine and discontent moment. When you put a baby in a sling every time he or she fusses you teach your little one that all they have to do is cry out and they get the best seat in the house. This does not solve the just becomes a band aid. Babies are great learners and great implementers of what they have learned. If they learn that they can get mommy or daddy to do what they want, they will act on this all the time.
2)Unless your husband chooses to get over his feelings of intimidation and/or incompetence, you will remain overwhelmed. We decided not only to have children together, but to raise them together as well. Our babies have always been more comfortable with mommy. They ought to have been. She nursed all of them for over a year each. This did not excuse daddy at all. It may have taken more time, but daddy was able to care for the kids, even if they weren't as content when he did. Let's not forget that the Scripture identifies the wife as the help-meet. This means the husband bears the responsibility for the well being of the family. That even means what happens in the kitchen and nursery. I think husbands today, even very conservative, complementarian ones, fall into the trap of thinking that just because women primarily find their God-given roles in the home that they are exempt from responsibility. Time to put the big-boy pants on and bow up. Changing diapers, feeding kids, giving baths, cleaning house, and comforting fussy little ones are all in the job description for being a man of God in the home. On the flip side, wives need to allow their husbands to lead even in this area. A man who is a little nervous about trying to comfort a crying baby is not helped at all by a wife who makes if obvious that he is "not doing it right." A man who cares for his wife and kids, and is respected as he does so, will be quick to ask for advice on how to do it better himself. God has a way of making families so they work. When we live within the roles and responsibilities that he has given us, family just goes better.
Allow us to conclude this comment by stating that we have not done it perfectly. We have however, been able to raise our four kids with sanity. And for that, we are grateful. For it has been a gift of God's grace.

Sue said...


It sounds like it's time for a spanking. Otherwise, it seems like someone could really get hurt in your home.

Shannon said...

Krista, I so feel you here.

I only have two, and I very often feel like you. Especially when they were younger. Know you are not alone. AND this IS just a season. It won't always be like this.

One thing that has helped me is trying to get dinner done earlier in the day, so that during the "witching hour" (as I began to call it about a year ago) I can just tend to the kids and wait for Jeff to get home. We can re-heat the meal when we're ready to eat.

How is Josh at preparing dinner? Maybe, since he isn't comfortable holding the boys, he can get dinner done while you give the kiddos special attention.

Prayer is most important. You will get through this!!
Love you.

Krista said...

Dear Fellow,
Thank you so much for the time you put into your response! What a good word that each season has it's challenges and when this one ends we will move to another one. Also, thanks for the practical advice you gave!


Leah said...

We are busy practicing care and kindness at our house with our almost 3 year old to his 14 month old brother. Samuel really likes to run and knock Joel over full speed. Here's how I deal with the situation:
1) I remove him to his bedroom, say "We do NOT knock over brother. That was very mean and unkind. You will now get a spanking." Then I spank him with three swats on the bare behind.
2) I comfort him for the 5 seconds it takes him to stop crying. Then I say to him, "We do NOT knock brother. Your job is to be a protector of JoJo and take care of him. You now need to go out and ask Joel if he's okay. Then you need to give him a hug and kiss and tell him you're sorry." Then he has to do that.
3) Then I say, "you need to go pick out a toy to share with Joel." And he does that. That way he is not only making up for the hurt, but he's also taking a proactive step to care for Joel.
Finally, I praise the HECK out of him for the slightest bit of kindness or care he shows towards Joel. I make a REALLY big deal of it, telling him how happy that makes me and what a good big brother he is.
That's the best advice I have from our experience. Good luck girl!

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