A Day In The Life: 18 Months

I, um, skipped a Day In The Life post. Sorry. I kept meaning to post the 16-month one, and then time just kept passing. It’s just as well; things as they were at 16 months did not stay that way for very long, as we were right in the middle of a big transition. Another one, I should say.

Two huge differences between now and my last DITL post: the twins are fully weaned, and now take only one nap a day. It feels like an entirely different world.

Weaning was not all that bad; to be honest, looking back on it from the vantage point of a few months, I think that I miss the concept of breastfeeding more than the reality. The knowledge that your body has continued to sustain another human being (or two!) is pretty viscerally satisfying. But as a tandem-feeder, the reality of breastfeeding was never as glorious and soul-affirming as I think it might be with just one – mostly, it’s a lot of trying not to move so you don’t dislodge anybody, removing somebody’s fists from somebody else’s hair, and balancing how to let the lazy nurser keep going when the active one finishes ten minutes ahead, while making sure that the newly-freed one doesn’t immediately run off and burn the house down while you’re still tied down by the still-nursing one. It’s fulfilling, sure, but it was never all cuddles and sunshine, at least for me. So I can look back on it proudly, and not really wish I was still doing it. Phew. Our very last nursing session was on Mothers’ Day, when the twins were almost 15 months old; the next morning, I took them straight down for breakfast instead and they didn’t even notice. I waited to fully wean until they no longer were anxiously demanding to nurse first thing; when they were equally content to run around the nursery and play instead of coming straight over and climbing into my lap, I knew they were ready.

The two-to-one nap transition is the one we were in the middle of at 16 months. At around 15 months, we started having issues with two naps. They would sleep solidly for one, and then only sleep for like half an hour for the other, spending the rest of the time in their room talking to each other, giggling, or kicking the crib walls. Or all three. The problem was that which nap they took and which they mostly skipped seemed to switch off every day. I had been waiting for them to just naturally ‘tell me’ which nap to drop, which is how all of our other schedule adjustments had been made. They would simply naturally fall into a new pattern, and we’d adjust the schedule to match. But they never did. So I dithered and dithered for what seemed like ages about which nap to drop, morning or afternoon. Finally, after advice from a friend, I took the transitional approach: I condensed them to one midday nap, and then after they got used to it, I moved the nap later.

So at 16 months, they were getting a snack at about 10 AM, because they would sleep through lunchtime – they went down for their nap at 11 and slept until about 1, and I gave them lunch as soon as they woke up. The first week or so of just one nap, they were really tired. There were a couple of days where we gave in and put them down for a short nap in the late afternoon – like at 3:30 or 4 – but made sure to wake them up no later than 5. But they got used to it very quickly. After a couple of weeks of this schedule, I tentatively pushed the nap later and gave them lunch beforehand, and it worked very well – to the point of lengthening their nap, because (aha!) they were no longer being woken up by hunger.

So. Transitions accomplished, here’s our current schedule, which I think is probably going to be our longest-lasting one.

  • 8 AM: Wake up, change diapers, and get dressed. Head downstairs. The children usually wake up a bit earlier, but play fairly quietly in their cribs until it’s time to get up, which is nice.
  • 8:30 AM: Breakfast. We’ve moved on from high chairs to booster seats at the table, complete with plates and forks. They’re like tiny humans! Except that their chins are pretty much at table level still. Sorry, babies. For breakfast, on weekdays, it’s usually fruit and either cereal or a waffle, plus a cup of milk (served in a straw cup).
  • 9 AM: After breakfast, we generally head out. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we go to the YMCA, where the children go to the child-care area to learn to socialize with other children and be without me, and I go to the treadmill to try to sweat off the ten pounds I gained immediately after I stopped breastfeeding. On Tuesdays, we go to story time at the library, where we sing inane songs and I balance one child who wants to sit in my lap with the other who wants to go stick his finger in the electrical outlet and the other mothers look at me with combined pity and awe.
  • 11:30 AM: Lunch. We usually get home from whatever activity we’ve done at about 11, and they play while I get lunch ready. If they’ve had a relatively good morning, sometimes lunch can be delayed til noon; but usually, it’s pretty clear that they’re ready for it by 11:30.
  • 12:15 PM: Naptime. I change diapers after lunch, and then I carry them up the stairs – occasionally they climb them themselves, but usually they’re too tired by this point. Straight into the nursery and into the cribs they go. I hand them their stuffed toys and wave goodbye as I leave the room. They’re usually asleep within ten minutes.
  • 12:30 – 3 PM: Do All The Things. On gym days, I shower and do laundry. On other days, I clean up the house, deal with various postal issues, etc. Every weekday between 1 and 2 PM is dedicated to writing; I sit at the computer and don’t do anything else for that hour.
  • 3 PM: Wake up. Some days, they wake up earlier than this, but I don’t go get them until 3. Often, if they wake up beforehand, they’ll go back to sleep. Once in a while they will sleep until 3:30 or 4 if they’re super tired. My general rule is to wait to go upstairs to get them until I hear both of them chattering away. If only one child is talking, chances are that the other is still asleep – and I never wake them. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way! Once they’re both awake, I go into their room, change diapers, and bring them back downstairs, where they get a snack – usually a cup of goldfish crackers or baked snap peas.
  • 6 PM: Dinner. I try to plan out all of our meals for the week on Sundays (I do my grocery shopping on Sunday nights, after they’re in bed). So I know what I’m making on any given day, and I know whether anything needs to get taken out of the freezer that morning, what time I’ll need to start cooking, etc. Generally speaking I start cooking at around 5. Dinner is served at 6, and we all eat together at the table.
  • 6:30 PM: After dinner, my husband takes the kids to the living room to play while I clean up from dinner. They build towers and knock them down, play with cars, cuddle, etc. I get the dishes into the dishwasher, put away leftovers, and clean up the kitchen. Then I go out to join them.
  • 7 PM: The beginning of the bedtime routine. First step, a cup of milk and cuddles on the couch as a family.
  • 7:30 PM: Bath time. Right around the time that we weaned, we finally switched bath time to a bedtime thing instead of the middle of the day a few days a week – our reasoning being that they were getting increasingly messy at dinner time now that they were really eating all of it. This is also ‘Daddy-time’ – my husband is in charge of bath time, and it gives him his own time with the kids and makes it so he’s an important part of their daily routine even though he is gone most of the rest of the day. Once a week, he works late, and it’s pretty clear that I’m a poor substitute during this time! We all go upstairs together; he runs the bath and I check for anybody who needs a diaper wipe-down before getting into the tub (ahem). Once they’re in the tub, I head out to go fold laundry or sort clothes for the never-ending cycle of growing out of and into different sizes – our guest room is pretty much a giant baby clothes closet now.
  • 7:45 PM: When bath time is over, my husband puts diapers on the kids and sends them running to the nursery, where I cram them into PJs. Then we all head back to the bathroom and brush their teeth. Afterwards, he takes them back to their room and puts them to bed and reads them stories while I grab the towels from the bath and take them downstairs to the laundry room. I finish cleaning up the toys strewn all over the house while he’s reading stories, and he’s back downstairs by 8.
  • 8 PM: Whatever we want. Sometimes one or both of us has work to do; other times we collapse on the couch and watch DVRed episodes of ‘American Ninja Warrior.’ We generally go to bed ourselves at 10 or 11 – sometimes later. The children sleep through the night, as they have since very early on, thank goodness. And then we get up and do it all again.
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