Family Balance is BS

I've read the baby books and blogs. I've lived them now. Being a woman, a libra and living with fluid moods drives me to reflect on the notion of balance more often than not.

As my third pregnancy winds down, I am doing my best to delegate and prepare and plan for life with five people in the house. There are several areas which need to be addressed before baby number 3 arrives. Most importantly, bedtimes, feeding schedules and maintaining personal time. We are making headway in all three areas. However, there are still days where I look to the future and shake my head thinking, how is this going to work? What does balance look like with multiple young children? Is balance achieveable?

Amelia is still bottle feeding three, sometimes four times a day (in addition to solids). She is still a VERY hungry girl. She is also about to walk any day now. And she really likes pulling up on the oven door! We already went through two different oven baby proofing products, with minimal success. She is most interested in investigating all the precarious "no-no" spots (much unlike her sister). Amelia also has a spontaneous allergic reaction to the mini van. Everything will be going swell one minute and the next minute she's wailing and inconsolable. Amelia is still a baby. In many ways having a newborn this winter will feel like having twins, except with an added challenge of one twin walking! Amelia may be one year old, but that does not make her a toddler in my book. 

Christine's bedtime has been an issue for over a year and a half. We have managed in the last month to curtail her antics and get her to bed as early as 8:15. With the help of tart cherry juice, relaxation music, a lavender "sleep" sachet (oh yes, I went there!) and added time to the bedtime routine, we are almost parent sleep jedis. She still makes excuses for cheese sticks and bananas once she's lying down, but it's becoming a less familiar trend. In spite of my tireless efforts to get Christine to dress and buckle and wipe herself (she's still skeptical about wiping her behind) she marches to the beat of her own toddler drummer. I was hoping at this point we would be witnessing just slightly more independence in her daily routine, however I am grateful for her nighttime progress nonetheless. 

And then there's dinner time. I would personally love to meet a family or two with multiple children under the ages of 4 who are able to enjoy a regular family dinner. Our dinner time is as unpredictable as date night. Amelia begins fussing as early as 5:30pm. Christine at this point is usually whizzing around the island as I attempt to prepare food in-between her passings. The new goal is to get the kids fed and bathed by 7pm, giving Ben and I a solid 15 minutes before beginning Christine's bedtime routine. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't. The new baby is not even here yet! Come November, so long as we all find time to eat and the last one is in bed by 8pm I will be content.

If we have the energy and if Christine has the resolve, there are two hours in the evening Ben and I can share together. It isn't every night that the planet's align, but every once in a while it happens. It's important to carve out quality time, even if it's in the same our walls you inhabit on a daily basis. The most important thing really is striving for that quality time, all while knowing it may or not translate into a reality. 

For those with multiple young ones, I suggest remove as much stress from the situation as possible. A child never keeled over from a couple bathless nights. There are no bad dinners, unless there is no food in the fridge. And when evenings are hijacked routinely by the kids, look around the neighborhood or phone a friend for a sitter referral. The chances are if your friend has young children she is probably getting out of the house as often as you and she won't mind sharing her sitter's number. In a household with young children, no two days are alike. Heck no two evenings are alike. All the preparation and planning in the world can't save you from a miserable night of third trimester tossing and turning or a dinner meeting gone late or a defiant toddler. I've determined that balance is a relative term, much like happiness, and preparation. You never actually achieve balance. It's something you aim for, time and time again. 

So plan as best as you can, accept what is, and have faith in the possibility of tomorrow!


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