Wash, rinse, repeat.

Trying to keep a house clean and picked up with two children living in it is like trying to build the Bilbao Guggenheim with marbles and sand.

We’ve fallen into something of a pattern with Jewel. I suppose that some parents have a plan or follow some sort of a system, but that’s just not us, so we wait for the pattern to reveal itself to us.

Why not? A day after it does, it changes anyway.

For the last few days, however, that hasn’t been the case. Sort of. Our little Jewel wakes up at 5, and I get up with her while Mama catches what little uninterrupted sleep she can during the day. This also happens to be Mama’s only me time.

I take Jewel out to the living room and move her from blankets on the floor to a Bumbo on the dining room table to a bouncy seat to an exersaucer to a swing to my arms and back to the blankets. While she’s amusing herself in all of those locations, I’m making coffee, an omelet, toast, and lunch for myself. If I’m good, I’ll empty the dishwasher.

But I’m not often good.

Of course, along the way, I’m taking time out to talk to Jewel, hold her, read her stories and try to make her laugh. By the time her brother gets up, at about 7:30, Jewel is done with me, done with her toys, done with the blankets, Bumbo, bouncy seat, et al. and is ready to go back to bed. However, in another half an hour we know that she’ll wake up, starving.

In addition, at this time, I’m switching from making breakfast mode to getting out the door mode, leaving Mama with one waking boy and one sleepy, hungry baby…and one Papa pulling on tights. Her dilemma is how to give them both what they need at the same time, which requires being in two places at the same time doing two different things.

My dilemma is that if I leave before 3B gets up, I can simply walk out the door and get home an hour earlier. If I’m still here when he wakes up, which is almost always the case, it takes another hour for me to get out the door because I’m helping Mama manage the two kids. I’d like to get home an hour earlier, since the end of the day is often more challenging than the beginning, but I also don’t want to leave Mama outnumbered by the kids…and, of course, I don’t want to leave the kids.

So, I usually get out the door after 3B is up and eating breakfast and while Jewel is on her way back down. She’ll stay down for about 45 minutes on Tuesday or Thursday and about an hour and a half on Monday, Wednesday or Friday, when her babysitter, O, is here. Why does Jewel sleep more for O? To taunt us.

Why is O here? So Mama can work after dropping off 3B at school. But whether it’s Mama or O, Jewel takes a morning nap, then is awake until her afternoon nap. Of course, she usually is ready for her afternoon nap around the same time her brother is going into quiet time, which has replaced his nap.

He spends about an hour in his room pursuing quiet activities. Or performing the drum solo from YYZ. You know, whatever works for him. If Mama’s lucky, she’ll have Jewel down for her nap by the time 3B is done with quiet time and ready to wake her up with his afternoon activities. Or, perhaps, he’ll camp out in front of the TV, although we’ve started to firmly enforce a one hour TV time limit, so that’s not as likely.

Around this time, I’m wrapping up work, forgetting to anticipate that one person who comes by as I’m packing up and needs to talk about a project for half an hour, or that one seemingly innocent email that’s really a stealth bomb with a payload of urgent work. Eventually, however, I disentangle myself from that right around the time that Mama is starting to unravel a bit under the constant tugging pressure in opposite directions from Jewel and her brother.

I get home in time for the end of 3B’s dinner. He eats, if we’re lucky, or wanders around the living room if it’s a typical night, while I change from my bike clothes into play clothes. Then, Mama and I tag team dinner–one of us eats while the other wrangles 3B and somehow keeps Jewel awake and content.

Then we divide and conquer, one of us retiring to our room to bounce Jewel on the yoga ball for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 days or however long it takes to get her to sleep, while the other puts 3B into bed, reads him three stories, locates his extra, super duper, double duper, extra, extra, extra soft lovie, gets him a sippy cup, brushes his teeth, snuggles with him for a minute, kisses him five times, walks out, remembers to go back in and turn off his Christmas lights, and so on.

Then we collapse. Jewel sleeps in bed with us, and often Mama lays down with her while she goes to sleep and then drifts off herself. I tend to stay up way too late after that, watching whichever Bourne movie is on that night, tweeting mindlessly, writing blog posts, wondering why I’m up, and running the dishwasher if I’m good.

But I’m not often good.

Eventually, I make my way to bed where Mama is feeding Jewel throughout the night as I slumber unaware next to them. Until 5 a.m., when I take Jewel out to the living room and move her from blankets on the floor to a Bumbo on the dining room table to a bouncy seat to an exersaucer to a swing to my arms and back to the blankets. While she’s amusing herself in all of those locations, I’m making coffee, an omelet, toast, and lunch for myself. If I’m good, I’ll empty the dishwasher.

But I’m not often good.

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  • I hope the good days when you empty the dishwasher only follow the good nights when you remember to run it.

  • I can relate to this one. We're still getting into the groove of the two kid thing. Trying to establish a routine, one that gets changed on a daily basis – so routine probably isn't the right word really.

  • CAGirl: I'm not nearly that good.

    AFM: Well, our routine with one kid was about the same–changing every day–so we should be used to it, but this is somehow more intense.

  • add child #3 or #4. Been there done that without so much as any help from a spouse. Okay I am thankful I didn't have to go to work through all of that.