With Jess going back to work after Christmas and my office being closed for the holiday (as well as our daycare being closed), it fell upon me to man up and maintain the Habertwins for 4 straight days all by my lonesome. To say it was an adventure would be an understatement.
These girls are high energy and completely mobile. They just don’t stay in one place for more than 37 seconds at a time and are usually heading in opposite directions. Actually, that is probably a good thing since Alex has a penchant for horse collar tackles of Meri and mashing their heads together. Anyway, the best we can do in our house to keep them corralled is to close all the doors to bedrooms and bathrooms. However, the main living area of our house is one big open room of kitchen, living & dining rooms. It is impossible to keep them in a small contained area. One day, as I was feeding Alex a bottle, Meri was occupying herself by dunking a book in the dog’s water bowl. Needless to say, I spent a good deal of time chasing them down. If I had a dollar bill for every time I said either of their names, “come here” or “no” we could retire early and hire a live in nanny.
Here is a visual representation of what went on in our house. This first picture is all of their old toys and new Christmas stuff semi-neatly piled up out of the way:
After 2 hours:
And after 4 hours:
You might notice that the density of toys seems lower in the last picture… that is because many of the toys have since migrated out of the living room area and are now in the kitchen, dining room and elsewhere.
One thing I learned fast was to break the day down into more digestible chunks.
First chunk was getting them out of bed, diapers changed, bottles fed, breakfast fed, another diaper change (poopies this time), play time, then down for their first nap, sometime between 9:30am and 10am. Yeah, they’re weird. For some reason, they can sleep 12 hours, wake up for 2 and be tired again.
During that nap, I can finally relax, maybe take a pee, and polish off the coffee without having to keep little hands out of the mug. The thing is with these girls, you can’t set anything down where they might reach it. Because they WILL reach it and dump/poor/spill/wreck anything they can. However, one benefit of being the only one home watching them is that I get to drink the entire pot of coffee myself. The caffeine jolt helps quite a bit. About an hour after they go down, you start watching the clock, just knowing they are going to start hollering soon. The first day I got them up when they only napped for 45 minutes. That was dumb. By Friday when they squaked at an hour in, I let them spend 10 minutes crying when they fell back asleep for another hour. It’s all a learning process.
Chunk 2 is getting them up from the nap, doing more bottles, more diapers, then some lunch. Feeding them is probably one of the most stressful parts of this whole deal. They keep you on your toes. You just never know what they’re going to want. Sometimes, they HAVE to feed themselves, and will do the tight-seal-mouth-turn-the-head method of spoon refusal. Other times, you’ll get out some pieces of cheese or banana or whatever on their tray and they won’t touch it. One time, Alex would pick up a piece of food from her tray, look me square in the face and drop it right on the floor with disdain. *sigh* Or, food they loved yesterday and couldn’t get enough of, today they will spit out the second it touches their tongue. I don’t even want to think about what this bodes for the future. One thing they always seem to like is Cheerios. Which is a good thing, unless the dog is at doggy day care to stay out of dad’s hair for the day. Tuesday, there were roughly 4,739 cheerios spread across the floor.
The afternoons are not as structured as the mornings. It is a lot of play time. The thing with 1 year olds, is that at least as far as I know, they aren’t really into organized activities. Which makes killing time so difficult. On Wednesday, the Grandparents took the girls for 3 hours which was like a mini vacation. I came home and napped. Thursday and Friday the weather was so nice (in the 40’s) that we were able to take LONG walks around the neighborhood. Friday afternoon in particular, we went almost 4 miles in an hour and a half. They slept a little in the Bob stroller. I put on my headphones and could zone out for a while. That was nice.
Hopefully, they’ll take an afternoon nap somewhere in there. Afternoon naps are iffy though. Most often, they’re pretty short. Then it’s just killing time until mommy comes home to help out. I can remember one day looking at the clock on the wall and thinking, “Ok… just 5 hours and 10 minutes until Jess gets home”. Then looking at the clock again at what felt like 40 minutes later… 5 hours and 5 minutes until she gets home. Ooof.
One day, Alex pooped 4 times. Throw in 2 for Meri, it made for a stinky day.
I admit, shortcuts were taken as well. They stayed in pajamas all day. Life was just easier that way. Besides, we weren’t in public anyway. In fact, Dad stayed in pajama pants and a t-shirt as well. Funny how everything else goes right out the window. I didn’t get dressed. I didn’t shower. I only put actual clothes on when I took them for a walk. Only one of the 4 days did I even remember to eat lunch. I didn’t accomplish a single other thing than tending to the Habertwinadoes. I’m guessing that it probably takes a month or 2 before you reach a point where one could watch kids and still accomplish other things like cleaning up or doing laundry. I’m certainly not there yet.
All of that being said, it was probably a good thing for me to have done this. If anything, I figure if I can do that I can do just about anything. Plus they did get some quality Dad time. Not that they don’t get a good amount of that on a regular basis, but with mom nowhere to be found, they couldn’t be dependent on her. I think by Friday, the girls were getting used to Dad’s program as well. Having one less set of hands makes putting them down for a nap different. Instead of them each getting one on one rocking and bottle time, they got to share Dad’s lap. I held a bottle and a baby in each arm and rocked them. Tuesday, they didn’t like this much and cried for 20 minutes after I put them in their cribs. By Friday, they went right down for their nap with nary a peep. No muss, no fuss.
And, all of the work aside, they can be a lot of fun when they’re in good moods. And even when they’re choosing to not eat, sometimes they can be pretty funny. I also was able to spend some time teaching them where their noses and ears are. It is pretty cute to see them point to their noses when I ask where they are. However, Meri will often stick her finger IN her nose… which I suppose is still correct. Unfortunately, they don’t like to perform in front of others. So, it’s a pretty tough skill to show off.
I’m pretty interested to see what 2012 has in store. I can almost see these girls getting bigger every day. Each day they get better balance. They learn something new. They are sleeping in now, if you can believe it. During the break, they slept til 7, 7:30 and once til almost 8am. That is a far cry from the 5:45am days. In fact, this morning when heading back to work we had to set an alarm, get ourselves up and ready at 6:40, before waking them up. I never thought I’d see the day. It was the first alarm I have set in 13 months. Crazy.
I’m really trying my best to soak in the things I enjoy before they’re gone. Probably my all time favorite is the few times a day when they’ll nestle their heads on my shoulder when holding them. If they only knew that was the perfect way to keep dad from ever putting them down…