Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Joy of Babysitters & Couple Time

My husband and I made a commitment to eachother when we were pregnant with our oldest daughter that we would make time for one another. It was one of our biggest fears of becoming parents that we would not spend the amount of time together that we used to. When Millie was a month old, I pumped a bunch of breast milk , packed up her bassinet and took her over to my mothers house so that we could go out to dinner. With all 5 of our kids we have gone out to dinner at week 4 or 1 month old, so regularly you could set your watch by it. When Deano came along I was in a show where I was surrounded by a ton of College girls. One of which was a Penn State Gymnast, Genevieve. She was one of the first non family members that watched my kiddos. She watched them for 2 years and then past us on to another gymnast when she graduated, and she past on to another who is still with us today. Gena , Lindsay and Brandi have been wonderful role models and have had lasting impressions on my kids.

In the meantime when Millie started dancing 4 years ago, we met our main core babysitters at the dance studio. These girls, who are sisters, started with us when the oldest sister, Brittney was 16 and then her sister Madison started with us 2 years later and now we are waiting for Leah to start with us, I am guessing in the fall. Now, I can see some of you out there reading this with raised eyebrows thinking, I cannot believe that she would leave all of her children with a 16 year old. All of these girls are incredibly responsible, they ADORE children, they are very thoughtful and I am sure that you have heard the term “it takes a village”? Well, when you have one girl baby-sit 9 times out of 10 they bring a friend. How awesome is that? OR in my very fortunate case they take my kids to their house and their family is a very warm and involved family so there is always someone around. My kids LOVE it. Often Patrick and I joke that they have this entire separate family, its crazy. Most importantly we usually don’t go any where that we can’t get home within 15 minutes. Unless we go out of town, but that is another blog!

Last year Madison & her friend Megan (who also sits for us) came to the beach with us. This year Brittney and a friend of hers are coming with us. If you are able to take a babysitter with you on vacation, do it! You will never know the stress it takes off of you. Beach time for us is truly family time. I don’t want you to get the impression that we are off flitting around every night while the kids are stuck in the house with the babysitter. That is the furthest from the truth. Last year it took Maddie and Megan to say to us “Get Out!”.

We went out once, maybe twice but it was late night and the kids had gone to or were getting ready for bed. What makes taking a sitter with us great is the extra help it gives us in the morning when we are getting ready to go to the beach. Or when its bath time, one can wash while the other dries, giving the other parent some down time. It makes it a real vacation. It is also so nice to get to know these girls who you entrust your children with on a personal level. I would strongly suggest always offer them to bring a friend along. Meet the friend first, maybe even have the friend baby-sit along with your normal sitter. The friend is a vital part of the vacation. This way your babysitter doesn’t feel like the odd man out during family time. This is definitely taking the whole babysitting thing to the next level, but it is really truly worth it.

I am spoiled, spoiled beyond belief. My core babysitters along with their family, in particular their mother, love my children and treat them like their own. I know this is rare but I would like to offer some advice on babysitters. GET ONE! If you have family around that loves to take your kids whenever you need them to then that’s great! My family would in a heartbeat but the biggest issue with all of us are our schedules, they are a little crazy at times. So,if you don’t have the family connection then find yourself a good babysitter. I suggest looking at dance studios or any organized sport. These types of activities usually demand responsibility which then trickles down to you. Also, if your children attend daycare, ask the directors or even your childs teacher if they would be interested. This is a great resource because they have had additional training and a background check! Now, all of this is well and good advice but there may be one question plaguing you at the moment though, and that question may be, why?

Well here is why, in my mind at least, you need time for yourself and for your relationship with your spouse. A lot of times when kids get added to the mix we forget a lot of things. We forget to shower, we forget to clean the bathroom, we forget to nurture the relationships that lead you to having children in the first place! Reconnecting should not be left to do only on Anniversaries and when you feel like your relationship is in trouble. Now, I am not saying that every date needs to be rose petals and expensive meals. I have friends that I run into at the grocery store on their “date”, I have other friends that meet for coffee once a week before work after the kids are dropped off at daycare. It doesn’t matter how you do it or where you do it, just as long as you both put down work and the responsibilities of child rearing and focus on one another.

I assure you that once you do this the quality of your relationship is greatly enhanced. Patrick and I a lot of times use these dinners out to strategize. There are a lot of things to discuss about your kids that you probably shouldn’t talk about in front of them. Like how are we going to curb certain habits, what are we going to get them for their birthdays, things like that. Sometimes though, we just need a break and that’s when we start texting to see who can help us out. A lot of parents worry about how they will be perceived or how their children will react, or that they are performing a disservice to their children by taking “couple or me time” You will not be thought less of for relaxing, just because you are parents does not mean that you have to give up everything you do for yourself. Trust me there are times when our kids need time away from us as much as we do from them. Its really amazing that we will come back and both of us (kids & parents) have reset. We have more patience with them and they respond more willingly to our requests. Just be smart about it and like everything, exercise moderation. One last note and I will hop off my soapbox, it important to remember, that without the relationship you shared with your spouse prior to you having children, there would be no children. So, it is so important that you take care of it!

Now that it is summer and with me working, we have come to depend on our babysitters more than ever. We love them all like our family and we would be seriously lost without them. To them, Madison, Brittney, Megan, Emily & Brandi, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. To those of you reading this I hope that you will be blessed enough to find yourself wonderful babysitters like we have.

PS-The Pictures are all from our trip to Cape May last year. Madison is the brunette, Megan is the blonde. We ended up referring to them as our twins, this has stuck for us and for them. Personally, I LOVE it!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Catching Up

So I sort of dropped off the blog circuit there for a while. It’s amazing how life can completely absorb you, and that it has! Since I last wrote there has been a tremendous amount of change that has happened! I have started running again! So much so that I was able to run the Memorial Day 5k in Boalsburg before Ava was 2 months old! How cool is that!?! I average between 6 & 9 miles a week, not bad! I also started back to work when Ava was about 4 weeks old. In hind sight, that was a little too soon. I had a lot harder of a time readjusting then I thought I would. However, if you know me, you know that’s pretty typical. We went to that wedding we spoke of and it was amazing! So much fun and my kids were such angels through it all. It didn’t hurt that our incredibly thoughtful hosts realized that we needed an extra pair of hands so they included our babysitter. Godsend!

We love our babysitters so much but that is another blog! Look for it soon!

I worked through my baby blues pretty well. They lingered a little longer than they have in the past and longer then I would have liked. Self doubt issues follow me more than they used to. It can be really overwhelming at times, especially with 2 toddlers entoe, but we are working through it. About 3 weeks ago after a really long day of “family fun”, I finally had the feeling. The feeling that everything had fallen into place, we had achieved our new normal. When I finally acknowledged it I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was so giddy and excited; my husband thought I had seriously jumped off the deep end! What a relief that was. You get so caught up with everything going on in your life and just making it through the day that you forget what normal feels like! Luckily, it has continued to go along rather smoothly and I am so incredibly grateful for that.

Nursing is still working! (She writes with a surprised tone!) I am amazed that my pumping and nursing is still working for us. I have reached my first goal of 12 weeks (or will this Friday) now I will work on making it to 24 weeks. Tiny steps so that I don’t get too overwhelmed. I have managed to keep between 60 &80oz in the freezer at a time which is an amazing number for me to have. She had gained close to 2lbs at her last appointment making her 8 lbs 15 oz, so I guess she is getting what she needs. You would think that after 5 kids I would have this whole nursing thing down. To me it’s the hardest part of the newborn/infant stage. So I will continue to learn and hopefully master it this time!

Avalina Elise is a wonderful baby. I marvel at how beautiful she is and how much I love her. She has also made me appreciate all of the kids and the stages of life that they are at and what they are able to accomplish. It is totally amazing to me. She has been extremely text book in her feedings and sleep patterns. This has been a real challenge because our other children have usually slept pretty well for us early on. Yet, every 2-4 hours has been her MO until last night! She slept, in her crib for the whole night! That was crazy! I woke up startled because I had this odd feeling….I had actually slept a night through without disruption! How strange! She smiles so beautifully. The first week she would only smile at Celeste. Celeste is Ava’s keeper. They love eachother so much. Now she has graced all of us with that huge gummy grin that all of us as parents covet and treasure. We are so blessed.

So, our family has adjusted, our Littles are still little tsunamis but they are getting better. Stella still won’t sleep at night which is driving both of us insane! My dear husband is working so hard and is in a show right now which makes things crazier than usual. I was supposed to be in a show as well but scheduling changes made it impossible. I was disappointed but in the end it was for the best. My first baby, Millie, made us so proud last week when she performed in her end of year dance recital. We had been taking her to dance 2 times a week this past year for her 5 dance classes. It paid off because she was simply, amazing! So grown-up, it took both Patrick and I’s breath away. Next year she will start competition dance and we just can’t wait for that. School is out and camps & lessons and summer fun have commenced on our house. We are very excited for our annual beach vacation which is coming up in the next month. Wow, there will be 7 of us this time! Amazing what happens in a year!

I will be updating this blog with 2 new blogs over the next 2 weeks. One is on babysitters and couple time, the other is about unexpected pregnancies and how they affect people.

I want to thank you so much for following the last few months of our lives. Its been crazy ride so far, we just can’t wait to see what happens next! I will happily take you along, and really try not to hold anything back!

Much Love and Happiness to you Always!