Monday, May 24, 2010

What's after Survival?

Survivor wrapped up an amazing season last week. And, yes, we still watch it every week. And yes, I'm glad we do because this was an amazing season.

But... that's not the kind of survival I'm thinking about today. Last week was a great week - to the point that I'm willing of officially declare that we are out of survival mode and on to... What? What comes after survival? We're certainly not all the way to "thriving" mode, but I think we've hit our stride as a family of 4. Maybe I've just finally gotten all the pregnancy/postpartum hormones out of my system, but I told Scott that I felt like I as "on a high" all day Thursday because I really feel like things are working. It doesn't feel like I'm are trying to work our lives around a new baby anymore, and I'm not constantly thinking about the extra effort it is to do things with two kids - instead I'm just moving through the day with two kids and it feels NORMAL. I talked before about how we were nearing the end of the new baby tunnel. Now I feel like we are out of the tunnel and aclimated to our new surroundings to the point that we can actually navigate this new place with some level of confidence.

I'm thankful for the wonderful advice we got from all angles to lower expectations and give ourselves grace to be in survival mode for the first few months with a new baby. I had a friend (Hi Stephanie) tell me that she was skipping the toddler baths and relying on Annie's Mac and Cheese quite a bit after her second child was born. While we can't skip baths (remember the blue hair?), I did reflect on her words quite often as I gave myself permission to make PB&J every day for lunch or eat cereal for dinner on those days (or weeks) when we were buried in the weeds.

Just last weekend, I was lamenting to Scott at how frustrating it is to have to work around infant nap times again. If Josh naps until 10:30, by the time I can nurse him, pack up the kids, and get out the door, we usually have just 30 minutes to do something before we have to head home for lunch and nap time again. It was not looking like a fun summer. And then, last Sunday, we headed up to Mt Bachelor for an end of season BBQ with some friends (pictures soon). We got an early start, Josh napped in the car and the Ergo, and we were able to enjoy our time with friends instead of stressing about getting back home. Suddenly, I can see how a similar routine will let us enjoy our summer activities.

Last Thursday was nothing special, but I finally felt like I got some things done other than just feeding the kids and maintaining sanity. The kids and I took the car to the mechanic (thank goodness our shop is owned by a guy with small children, so the waiting area has plush chairs and a children's toy corner), vacuumed, set up a "string and bead" obstacle course, prepped dinner during nap time, went to yoga (again, thank goodness our community gym has an amazing child care center - $2/hour!), read and responded to emails from work, and even cooked and pureed 3 different batches of baby food while making other meals throughout the day. This is just normal stuff, but I think that's the point. It all felt normal, not monumental, not overwhelming, just normal to work through that day. We are hitting our stride.

The other big "hitting our stride" accomplishment is that for 3 nights last week, I fed, bathed, and put to bed both kids by myself. Just a month ago, Scott's mom was here helping out because bedtimes still felt so daunting. Not anymore! I recognize that a big part of this success is that Owen is getting on board with the routine now as well. I bathe and cloth both kids together, but then he has to occupy himself for a half hour while I nurse and snuggle Josh. After many attempts at this where Owen threw major fits, he has finally embraced his "pajama play time." He was so used to bath-pjs-snuggle time, but now understands that his snuggle time IS coming... just a little later.

As I read back through this, it all sounds a little silly. How can it feel so daunting to navigate a day with two kids? But I think that's the point. A month ago, I felt totally buried, but now I almost can't remember why it was so challenging in the first place. Maybe it's not encouraging to read that it's taken us almost 7 months to get to this point, but it sure feels great to be here.


Colleen said...

Definitely nothing wrong with PB&J for dinner, we do pancakes (the box kind, not from scratch...that'd be too fancy) all the time. I am so glad you are in the after survival. Thank goodness for the light at the end of the tunnel! We have days when it feels like we are there too, but then hop back into survival, like this week has been! And we still watch Survivor too :).

Anonymous said...

That's excellent to hear. I don't think it sounds silly at all. It's taken you 7 months to get out of pure survival mode, but it might take others much longer. It depends on the parents, their schedules/routines, and the kids' temperaments. Plus, you did a heck of a lot of stuff last Thursday, girlfriend.

Katie said...

So happy that you are out of survival mode and hope the "high" continues for you and your family! We are in the throws of survival mode at our house but I am trying to embrace it and well, just survive each day! Glad to know that one day we will get out of the tunnel! I am sure things will continue to get easier and that ya'll will have a wonderful summer!!