Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Our at-home routines

After sharing about each of our days from our San Diego trip, Allison commented on a post and ask if I could share what our routines look like when we're at home.

I don't know about you guys, but I love reading about what other mamas do with their days- schedules, routines, adventures, etc. It gives me new ideas to try with our own crew.

So today I'm going to share what our typical days look like.

This, by the way, is NOT what a typical day looks like 😂

Our Weekday Routine:

5-6:30ish - Me time
Workout, quiet time, coffee time. This is also when I take care of daily household/personal chores like empty the dishwasher, fold laundry, bills, email, etc.

6:30-7:00 - Kids wake up

7:00-9:00 - Morning time
Breakfast, play room time, reading time, watching a show, and getting everyone dressed for the day.

9:00 - Head out for our morning activity
We are out of the house between 9:00-9:15 every day unless we are hosting a play date. So  every day at this time, I load our kids in the car and do a mad dash through the house cleaning up toys, loading the dishwasher with breakfast dishes, and making myself a smoothie to go. This is usually a 5-10 minute stretch. The kids either look at toys/books in their carseats, or watch a little show in the car.

The first look when we get back into the house has always been a big deal to me, so I try to have it look as picked up as possible for when we return for naps. This doesn't always happen, but it's what I prefer.

9:00/9:30 - 1:00/1:30 - Morning Activity & Lunch 
In warm weather this includes parks, playgrounds, zoo, splash pad, or pool.
In cold or rainy weather, this includes the mall, Ikea, the library, an indoor play place like Catch Air or Hippo Hop, the Children's Museum, or a playdate at a friend's house.

My goal before getting in the car to drive home for naps is to have everyone full, changed or recently pottied, and with clean hands and faces.

1:30-3:00/3:30 - Naps/Dinner Prep
This is when I pick back up wherever I left off in the morning with laundry, dishes, bills, etc. Often times, I also prep dinner during nap time. If it's a casserole, I can make the whole thing and put in the in the refrigerator so it's ready to pop in the oven later. Otherwise, I make a sauce and leave it on simmer or at least chop all of the veggies and take care of other prep work that will make the dinner-making process faster when it's time.

3:30-5:30 - Fill time until Matt gets home- ha!
I'll be totally honest. This time of day varies so much for us because of the ages of our kids. Sometimes this looks like Ryan watching a show after nap, while I play with Natalie and Emily, and then all of us either play in the play room or go outside and play in the driveway. Sometimes we walk through the neighborhood or walk to the park. Sometimes we go down to the pool and swim. And other times our kids are eating dinner and taking baths before Matt even gets home because they're just having a more-tired-than-normal day.

5:30-7:30- Play, dinner, bath and bed
Matt is home most days by 5:45 (more on that below). When he gets home, we play with the kids until around 7:00 when we start the bath and bed routine. If we are eating all together (more on that below), we'll play first, then eat and head up for bath. We try to be out of everyone's rooms by 7:30/8:00.

8:00-10:00 - Us time
We try not to do any work during these hours, and this includes multi-tasking work like folding laundry while watching a show. I try to take care of all of that stuff during morning hours and nap-time hours so we can both have chill time together at the end of each day. Often times we'll eat on the porch or sit out there with a glass of wine and talk about the day and whatever else we're planning at the time (it seems like there always something to talk through calendar-wise in this stage of life!) Just being 2 feet from the kitchen and actually outside feels like such good separation from the endless "stuff" there is to do inside the house. I so look forward to this time!

This was us the night before we left for our San Diego trip- I can't even handle the amount of pollen that was on the table in this pic, but that didn't keep us from getting outside and relaxing for a bit after the kids were asleep!

Additional Notes:

I almost always pack our lunches, unless part of our morning activity involves the Chick-Fil-A playground. And I'll tell you, it is not abnormal for us to spend 2 hours in a Chick-Fil-A: playing, coming to the table for the lunch, playing more, coming back to the table for ice-cream (and in case it's not common knowledge: kid's meal toys can be exchanged for a kid's ice-cream). So sometimes, Chick-Fil-A IS the morning activity. :)

In my car:
I keep diapers, wipes, disinfecting wet wipes, and hand sanitizer. I really don't like putting dirty kids in bed for naps! So clean diapers, clean hands, and clean faces are what we shoot for before heading home for naps.

It is not uncommon for all 3 of our kids to fall asleep on the drive home for naps, so when we get home, I carry each one upstairs and put them in their cribs/beds for the rest of nap time. They do wake up as I carry them upstairs, but they fall back asleep in their cribs. I know not all kids transfer, but ours always have, so that's how we roll if they fall asleep in the car.

When Matt gets home:
Matt has worked his schedule around so that he can be home most days by 5:45. And some days he's home even earlier.
This. is. everything.

But for real. I realize this isn't a possibility for every family, but if there is any flexibility with your husband's hours and you feel like you need that extra support earlier than you are getting it, speak up and then appreciate! Having him home early every day has been so so helpful since adding Emily to our family. And I'll add quickly that he's always been good about being home early by typical work standards, but he bumped this up even more after Emily, and I really couldn't appreciate it more. We all love having him home early to play before the nighttime routine begins! I and think everyone welcomes a new face for entertainment by the time the 5 o'clock hour hits. ;)

Sometimes we'll walk to the park after Matt gets home and have a picnic dinner. The beauty of this stage is picnic food totally qualifies as dinner for little people. In fact, they prefer it. ;)

Dinner prep:

Prepping dinner during nap was a big change I made when we added Emily, and it has made the evening hours before Matt gets home SO much smoother! I think it totally depends on the ages and personalities of your kids though. If you're kids are happy to have some independent down-time during dinner-making time, I definitely don't think this is a necessary step. And some nights, we eat later, and Matt will take the kids outside to play or down to the basement to play while I cook. This is a super sweet setup I highly recommend. ;)

When one sneaks back upstairs to help me finish prepping dinner :)

Eating all together:
This is obviously our goal when our kids are older, but it happens probably 2 times/week in this stage. It is SO much easier for me to have the kids fed before Matt gets home than try to eat together as a family once he gets home. So some nights Matt and I will eat after the kids are down which gives us good time to talk and enjoy a meal together, and other nights I'll have a plate ready for him when he walks in the door and we'll both eat while we play with the kids.

"eating" all together

Bedtime routine:

When Matt and I went away for our ski trip back in February, I was preparing a schedule for my parents while we were gone, and literally almost wrote "crap shoot" for the 5-8 hours. I am happy to say we are in a much better groove these days with just 3 more months of growing up under our belts. Hah!

Emily was 6 weeks old in this pic- it was 9:00pm and everyone was in our bed
With three young kids, the bedtime routine part of the day can be a little crazy, but what seems to work best for us now is doing a bath with all three kids, then separating tasks: one of us takes Emily to her room for her bottle, pjs, stories and bed, while the other takes the big kids to Ryan's room for pjs, potty, teeth and stories.

Once Emily is down, the four of us usually read one story in Ryan's bed before I take Natalie to her room, and then Matt and I read one more story with Ryan before he goes to sleep. This whole stretch after bath is about 20-30 minutes.

So by now, you either feel totally overwhelmed or have some new ideas to try out with your own family! Hahah, hopefully it's the latter. I am clearly not an expert on scheduling, and have used a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for us, so if you don't feel like you're in a groove with your days right now, either change it or embrace it.

I did a whole lot of embracing it for the first several months of being at home with 3. There's really only so much organizing and planning ahead for ideal scenarios when you're momming little people. So instead of feeling like you're failing, accept that tomorrow's a new day and try to highlight in your mind as much of the sweetness of little-people-life as you can. You are doing a good job, mama!!


Saturday, May 12, 2018

San Diego- final day + navigating flights/sleeping/schedule/routines with little ones

Good morning! I intended to get this post out yesterday, but then life happened. So here we go today with our final recap of our trip plus all those logistical details that type-A people like me want to know before tackling a cross-country trip with their own family.

Okay- our last day! Ahh, this was our breakfast view a week ago:

In case you missed my first post recapping our trip, we stayed at the Pantai Inn in La Jolla and looooved it. Just don't look anywhere else if you're planning a similar trip. Book this place and call it a day. And sign up for their emails because they do cyber Monday deals on occasion and you could snag a super great rate.

We left our last day wide open with no set plans knowing that the kids would probably want to explore and would likely be worn out from all of the adventure from our three previous days at Disneyland, the zoo, and SeaWorld.

Sunglasses, paci, leaned back with her hands behind her head- living the life

Little observer

At breakfast that morning, Ryan and Natalie met two kids from Shanghai and played with them for almost an hour after we ate, and then they made a play date to meet at the beach for the rest of the morning. I love when our kids have opportunities to meet people from other cultures and was so glad this day was open for them to just play! 
Emily napped while the big kids played.
Natalie's new friend let her wear her Minnie Mouse hat, and Natalie always wears hats backwards. :)
Then we walked across a bridge to see the Sea Lions before heading to lunch.
I have this irrational fear of railings, so toddlers on an old bridge with rusted-looking bars and wider-than-I'd-like openings kind of took away from the coolness on seeing the sea lions down below. But we all survived, ha.

Lunch and gelato to follow!

After lunch, the girls napped in the stroller while Ryan and Matt explored this other cool beach with a cave.
There they are coming out- I was watching them from the top while the girls napped:
Not a bad nap-time view!
We walked back to our room and Natalie woke up right as we pulled in to our driveway. Look at that rested face. :)

Matt got himself and the kids popsicles from our room while we waited for Emily to wake up. And then we all changed into bathing suits to head back to the beach for the afternoon. 
We asked Ryan and Natalie how they would like to spend the rest of the day and they said playing on the beach with Cynthia and Elvis- their new friends from China. :) So I texted their mom to see if they'd like to meet up again and they did!
The sea lions would just swim up onto the beach while we played and then swim back in when the kids started to walk up to them. Definitely not our typical beach experience!
We spent the rest of the day here before heading back for dinner and bed. 
Ryan and Cynthia got each other's addresses so they could be pen pals. So sweet!

Okay, so I wanted to address a few things about traveling with kids that we have learned over the last few years that may be helpful to other families planning trips. If you have any questions about anything I mention or want further detail about anything, feel free to shoot me an email {} or comment below.

*Bring car seats- these are a pain to carry through the airport but SO worth having on the plane. The kids are just more comfortable and have a much higher chance of sleeping on longer flights. Plus they're contained, and it's a familiar way to travel for them.
*Bring a change of clothes for everyone- air pressure does funny things to little bodies. Babies are pretty much guaranteed a massive blowout, hah. I packed an extra shirt for me and Matt and extra outfits for our kids just in case. I also put Emily in a larger diaper and latched it tighter to avoid the up-the-back mess. (Sorry, gross)
*Use pull-ups for your potty-trained kids- Ryan and Natalie both used the airplane potty, but if they pee-peed while they napped or had an air-pressure-related accident, I didn't want to risk dealing with that on a plane.
*Follow regular nap times- I booked our flight on the way there and back during their nap time. On the way there, this was at the 2 hour mark. So at that time, we put away books, toys, snacks, etc. and I sang to them and rubbed their heads to help them fall asleep. There is so much stimulation leading up to the flight, so they're usually pretty tired anyways.
*Pay more for a direct flight- listen, I love a good deal, but nobody's thinking about the money you saved when you're flying all day with kids and you didn't have to.
*Fly Southwest if possible- Southwest offers family boarding right after their preferred members board. They also don't have assigned seats. So we make our way straight to the very back of the plane where it's the loudest and you're right next to the bathrooms. Then we spread out and hope no one sits next to us, ha. On the way there, we were able to get 5 seats when we only paid for 4, and on the way back we got two full rows (6 seats).
*I also love flying Southwest because each ticket allows 2 checked bags for free and each baby gets 2 checked items for free as well. So we technically could have checked 8 bags for free.
*But on that note, think about your walk through the airport when you're packing. We knew we would each be pushing a stroller and wearing a carseat, so we only checked two rolling suitcases (so we could each pull one while pushing a stroller) and each had one carry-on item that we could either wear or have in the bottom of the stroller.
*When you get to your gate, prior to boarding, let them know you have a lap child and ask if the flight is full. If it's not, bring the baby carrier on board. If it is, check it at the gate with your stroller(s). They'll give you a tag for each item and they'll be waiting for you right when you get off the plane. I had a wrap in my carry-on as a backup if the flight was full and I had to wear Emily.

We try to either book 2 connected rooms or a 2-bedroom suite so that everyone can spread out for sleeping. Since two of ours are in cribs, we can use closets or bathrooms for pack-n-plays as well. It is worth spending more for space, although we have definitely paid for single rooms in the past and asked for possible upgrades (free upgrades) at check-in. I've written about this in other travel posts, but Matt is a pro at free room upgrades. If there's availability, they do it. We've never been told no when there are upgraded rooms available.

On this trip, we were not as spread out as I would have liked for sleeping, but it actually worked out because the kids were so tired. Our girls shared a room with their pack n plays and Ryan slept on an air mattress in the living room. And yes, Natalie woke up Emily (our 10 month old) every morning because she was so excited to see her when she woke up, but Emily either fell back asleep or got an earlier morning nap.

I am really particular about sleep at home, but the thing to remember about vacation is that you're not following your other daily routines like you are at home, and you're also not doing it alone when you're on vacation. So if sleep gets off, they can make it up in strollers or go to bed earlier one of the nights. It all works out.

I am also pretty particular about schedule at home, so I have to let this go somewhat when we travel. The strollers are great for helping with naps and still being able to maximize each day. Because we were on a 3-hour time change, the kids woke up between 4-5:30 each day and therefore needed a little cat nap in the mornings. But this just naturally happened as we would drive to a park or walk around with the strollers. So point is (speaking to myself for our next trip) that all of these little schedule-related things work themselves out and it's best to just chill and be thankful you're on vacation. ;)

The routines our kids are used to at home revolve around what they do when they first wake up, what/when they eat, and bath/bedtime routines.

We try to keep the morning and evening routines the same and flex on diet- partly out of convenience and partly because having things you don't usual have (treats, juice, ice cream, etc.) when we're on vacation is part of the fun.

So on that note, I mentally prep for some meltdown moments from all of the fun and routine changes. Matt and I definitely have certain expectations for manners and behavior at home, but we try to give more grace for these things on vacation since their little bodies are experiencing a lot of excitement and routine-changes at once. And honestly, we've found that they do so much better than we expect any time we travel.  

So now that I've given you about 4 posts in one, let me know if you have any questions. ;)

Hope y'all have a great weekend!!