People constantly say to me – I don’t know how do you do it. Wanna know how I do it? Here is a glimpse into an average day.
Alarm goes off at 6:30. Exhausted – hit snooze. But baby wakes up anyway crying. I stagger to wash my hands, mumble brachot, pick up the baby, calm him down. Deposit him with a sleepy young sibling while I go to wake 5 older kids, each one resistant in their own special way. I serve the oldest five hot oatmeal, portion out the maple syrup, and give each kid a mug of herbal tea. I take their 5 completely different home-made lunches out of the fridge, add ice packs from the freezer, pack them into each backpack. Help find several pairs of shoes, insist on tzitzit for two boys who try to dodge them each day, kiss a boo boo, print out a last minute homework assignment and hustle 5 kids out the door with a hug. One kid still manages to miss the bus. He returns to the house as I am changing the baby’s diaper. I put baby in the highchair and spoon oatmeal into his mouth with one hand, dish two other servings for the little girls with the other. Finish feeding baby, take him to get dressed and wake up the two little girls for their breakfasts. After they eat and baby is ready, negotiate outfits with the girls. Much hysterical crying ensues because I won’t let them wear pyjamas or dress-up tutus respectively. Finally get girls dressed, two hairstyles done to girls’ satisfaction after several tries, and socks and shoes on with laces tied, an impressive feat actually bc all done while holding fussy baby. Set the 3 little kids (ages 5,3,1) up with toys in living room so I can scramble into clothes, scratchy wig, minimal makeup and the ubiquitous flip-flops. Make dear hubby lunch, pack diaper bag, fill sippy cup, add healthy snacks for baby, gather backpacks, two more lunch boxes and ice packs, purses, phone and keys, schlepp it to my car round one. Go back inside, pour myself coffee, grab banana, speak a few sentences to dear hubby, grab huge bag of library books. Round 2 put hot coffee, banana, books in car. Go back inside. Remind hubby to take son to school (late). Gather 2 girls and carry baby -round three to car. Strap each one into car seats with 5-point harness. Ignore fighting over who sits where. Climb into driver seat. Negotiate songs with girls; sing over the music to keep baby from hysterics. Drive 20 minutes to school. Take everyone out, plus stroller, lunches and backpacks. Push baby to both classrooms, settle girls, kiss hug goodbye. Return baby and stroller to car, buckle baby in. Drive 20 minutes to library. Remove baby, stroller, diaper bag, library books. Enjoy music class, return books, do puzzles with baby. Clean up hundreds of puzzle pieces. Give snacks/lunch. Return baby to car, buckle him, put stroller in, sing the whole way home to avoid baby’s hysterics. Arrive home, remove sleeping baby. Change his diaper, removes his shoes, re-settle him. Take deep breath. Look around – go! Race to do mending, organizing, paperwork. Wash, chop, prep after school snack for 7 kids. Wake baby (sorry!) at 12.30 to pick up girls plus two other toddlers, sing the whole way because baby is still tired and cranky. Buckle 4 kids in car seats with 5pt harness. Ignore 4 kids fighting over seats. Drive carpool. Sing the entire way home to keep everyone happy. Return home. More snacks. Set up art project with girls. Ignore paint spills on furniture and clothing. Wash veggies, chop and fry onions with one hand while holding baby. Babysitter arrives. Drive 15 minutes to other school to pick up teenager before school lets out for orthodontist appointment 30 minutes away. Finish appointment, drive home, ignore requests to stop at Jamba juice, Nordstrom rack, CVS, Town Center Mall on the way home, distract with “cool” conversation. Quickly pick up items at tailor and shoe repair. Make it home with enough time to gather mail, cuddle toddlers, give snack. Buckle 2 little-est ones into double stroller, put shoes on 5 yr. old, hustle everyone to bus stop. Play games while waiting for the bus so no one runs away. Realize baby has upset tummy and yet another dirty diaper that is leaking on me and has destroyed stroller. Meet the boys. Carry baby home while pushing stroller. Bath baby and toddlers while big kids eat snack. Give 3 little reluctant and resentful kids to babysitter. Do homework with 4 tired boys. This requires several punishments and threats to get done. Track down one missing book and two missing assignments. Get printer to work (paper jam), get login to work (figure out password on 12th try), email 2 teachers with questions, quiz 4 kids simultaneously on four separate sets of materials by doing it in rounds. Send them out to play while I set table and put out dinner (lentil sloppy joes, baked sweet potatoes, coleslaw, sliced mangoes – “eew gross… actually I like it, can I have more?). Enjoy a few minutes conversation with kids with baby on my lap, cajole then finally require picky eater to eat one bite of dinner. Get caught by older boys singing odd wombat song to baby for the millionth time that day. They find this hilarious. All laugh together. Love my big boys! Start bathtime and shower time. Brush and floss 120 teeth. Return boys to bathrooms to pick up dirty laundry and soggy towels. Read stories to delicious little girls with clean and yummy baby on my lap. Cuddle and settle girls. Cuddle and settle baby. Study for two more tests with older kids. Marvel at their maturity. Give two back massages to middle boys. Tell story, hear about day, answer questions about life, settle them. Marvel at their cuteness. Baby wakes up. Settle him again. Go and help two oldest kids with various issues. Get them off to bed. It’s almost 10. Hubby returns. Quick dinner together, both starving. Clean up kitchen. Shower. 11pm. Too tired to even read, watch a movie or work on personal projects. Collapse. Count blessings. Wake up several times during the night with 3 little kids. Kiss them, kiss them, kiss them and love them. Feel grateful. Pray for sleep. Stagger back to bed. Pass dear Hubby in the hallway staggering to different kid who’s calling him.
Have not: eaten any lunch, seen nor spoken to any friends who were not at library, made it to gym (hopefully tomorrow), visited great grandma, handed in every form or assignment, remembered every party shiur or event we were supposed to be at.
Do not: have much patience for anyone’s drama.
Repeat the next day with variations*.
*may include such fun items as: vaccination day, work deadlines with baby, bonus trip to ER while hubby is out of town, erev pesach cleaning lady no-show, hello again Dr. Jeffers, “unusual” relative coming to stay, fun with millipedes, lets take everyone to the mall, surprise it IS the flu!, who gave the baby a sharpie?, hilariously inappropriate things kids say loudly in public, and top ten worst things eaten off the floor.