My Typical Day with 3 Little Kids (on a “School Day”)

As I’m sure you guys can imagine (and as some of you know from firsthand experience), having three little kids makes for very busy, very emotional, and very interesting days. Over the past year (since having Caroline), I’ve been asked many questions about our schedule and about how I manage everything. Funny enough, one question that I used to get asked regularly when I only had one kid (the frustrating one :: “What do you do all day?”) is NEVER asked anymore. Thankfully, people are smart enough to know that with three little kids, there’s never a shortage of things to do (not that I had a shortage of things to do with “only one,” but it’s nice that I never have to field that question anymore).

Here are the questions I AM asked these days ::

  1. How do you do it?
  2. Do they go to school?
  3. Do you have help?
  4. What’s your typical day like?

Most of the answers are simple ::

  1. Routine. I would not survive without a routine. Our routine keeps order in the house, sets expectations, and teaches the girls discipline.
  2. Yes. Abigail and Mackenzie go to school on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9am-12pm.
  3. Yes. We have a housecleaner once every 2-3 weeks and I have a babysitter on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for 3 hours.

But the answer to #4 is a little trickier. It all depends on the ages the girls are, which day it is, and whether or not we have a healthy crew. That said, at this point in our life with a 12 month old, a 2.5 year old, and a 4.5 year old, on a Monday, and with healthy kids, here’s what our typical day looks like.

  • 6:00am (plus or minus 15 minutes) :: Our alarms go off. That’s my nice way of saying one of the girls wakes up and proceeds to wake up both her sisters. Everyone piles into our bed for about 2 minutes before Abby wants to eat, Mac wants “hot milk,” and Caroline just doesn’t want to snuggle. This is when I get out of bed and wash my face. Mac always comes with me and insists on following the same routine as me, sunscreen and all.  Diapers are changed for Mac and Caroline and we all march downstairs (carrying two cups of water, 5 blankies, 2 lovies, 2 kids – Mac doesn’t know how to walk in the mornings 🙂 , and whatever else the girls brought up the night before).
  • 6:15am :: Breakfast chaos ensues. Thankfully on most days, we all eat breakfast together. Travis and I work as a team making coffee (priority #1), getting food for the girls, preparing milk bottles, and I cook us eggs and toast while he helps everyone eat (yes, we help them sometimes…if we didn’t, we’d be at the breakfast table until 10am). I’m always the last one to eat, but that means that the girls are typically already done and in the playroom (so I get 5 minutes of peace and quiet to enjoy scarf down my food).
  • 6:45am :: Travis takes Caroline upstairs to get ready for work (that’s their bonding time since she’s typically in bed by the time he gets home).  This is when I do the breakfast dishes, make Mackenzie’s lunch for school, make beds (there’s something about made beds before I leave the house that makes me feel really good), and do some general straightening from the night before (fixing pillows, folding blankets, etc).
  • 7:15am – 7:45am :: Somewhere in this timeframe, Travis leaves for work.
  • 7:45am :: I work on getting the girls ready for school. We brush teeth, I do their hair, I pick out their clothes (thankfully they don’t really care what they wear yet), Mac always insists on dressing herself and Abby prefers for me to help her, sometimes I get Caroline out of  her pajamas, I change Mac and Caroline’s diaper, Abby goes potty, and we put shoes on. This is when the girls help clean up the playroom. Abby is an AMAZING helper, Mackenzie is still learning, and Caroline tends to pull out one additional toy for every one we put away. It definitely takes longer than if I did it on my own, but these girls need some responsibilities. This is one of their main ones every day.
  • 8:00am :: We let our kids watch 2 cartoons per day. Somewhere between 8:00am and 8:15am (and only after they’ve helped clean up), they get to watch cartoon #1 (which is typically either Paw Patrol, Octonauts, or Doc McStuffins). This is my time to get ready. I take everything down to the car (lunch box, sweaters, milk, etc), open all doors (for easy piling in since we’re almost always running a couple minutes behind), and then head all the way upstairs to get dressed with Caroline. It’s typically 8:25am by the time I make it upstairs.
  • 8:25am :: My turn to get ready. Since my face is already washed, it only takes me about 5 minutes to go from pajamas to ready-to-go. I put on my workout clothes (because I workout when the girls are at school), a little concealer, curl my eyelashes so I don’t look like a zombie, throw my hair into a high pony, put my running shoes on, and I’m done. Easy.
  • 8:35am :: Caroline and I head back downstairs, I change her diaper again (if needed), and I inform the girls it’s time to leave (they typically haven’t made it through their whole 1st cartoon at this point, so we say “bye-bye” to their favorite characters). We walk down to the car to head off to school.  Getting from the living room to the car can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Who knew…half the time I not only have to carry Caroline down, but then I have to get Mackenzie who’s on strike at the top of the stairs. That alone could be considered my workout for the day.
  • 8:45am :: We are finally rolling off to school, listening to Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night” for the millionth time, and dancing like crazy people (that is, of course, assuming no one is whining or complaining about something we forgot at home).
  • 9:03am :: We’re 3 minutes late to school for Mackenzie and therefore 6 minutes late to school for Abby. Ugh. Someday we’ll figure out how to show up on time. Well, I guess we’re in the parking lot on time, but then there’s the actual getting three kids out of the car that slows us down. Abby always hops out first (thank goodness someone is self-sufficient on occasion!) and carries her water, then I get Mackenzie out (who sometimes carries her lovey and that’s about it), and then I grab Caroline. Once everyone’s out, I let the girls walk up the stairs while I turn into a pack mule. I carry Caroline, Caroline’s lovey, Mac’s lunch, both the girl’s sweaters (which they rarely wear but insist on having), Mac’s milk, my keys, and my phone. It’s a miracle I have yet to drop Caroline.
  • 9:05am :: Mac’s lunch is in place, her lovey is in her cubby, her sweater is hung, she’s all signed in, I’ve given her a big squeezy hug and a kiss, and then she proceeds to scream bloody murder while crocodile tears fall from her face as if school is the worst place ever and I will never return. The funny thing is that Mac LOVES school, but this is just part of her routine.  I look forward to when that phase ends.
  • 9:07am :: Abby empties out her cubby from the previous school day’s work. She typically has anywhere from 3-10 new papers to show me (which, yay, the pack mule gets to carry back to the car and then add to the huge pile of artwork that’s sitting in our living room). She puts her water in her cubby, hugs me and Caroline, and runs off to whichever table has the most stickers out. It’s time for her to get to work.
  • 9:10am-9:15am :: Caroline and I are finally back in the car with our new pile of Abby’s artwork and we head home. I try desperately to keep her awake by letting her drink milk, singing songs with her, and rubbing her on the head when I’m at red lights. If she falls asleep in the car, it can compromise her nap (meaning, compromise my precious alone time).
  • 9:30am :: We’re in the driveway. She fell asleep…again. UGH. So much for all my efforts. Thankfully, she’s been transferring into her crib pretty well lately, so we haven’t had too many missed naps. Thank goodness!
  • 9:40am :: She’s back asleep in her crib.
  • 9:40am – 10:30am :: MY TIME!  Well, “my time” where I clean up the playroom from the extra mess Caroline made, figure out what’s for dinner, pay bills, respond to emails, put a load of laundry in, and maybe…just maybe…work on my blog.
  • 10:30am :: I wake Caroline up. She would want to sleep until 11am, but that would compromise the afternoon nap where ALL THREE GIRLS sleep at the same time, so I always figure waking her up is the smart way to go. I bring her downstairs, get milk and a snack for her (string cheese, blueberries, yogurt, or something like that), grab two “treats” for the girls for after school, change her diaper again, and head down to the car.
  • 10:40am :: We’re off again! This time it’s for my workout. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Caroline and I go for a run.
  • 10:50am :: I’ve finally found a parking space by the lake. Sometimes I’m lucky and I find one right away, but sometimes it can take 10 minutes.  I park, pull the BOB out of the minivan, grab Caroline, and go. She’s a happy camper after her nap and all it takes for her to stay happy the whole time is a bottle of milk and my sunglasses.  The route I run is approximately 3.17 miles and I run it in ~26 minutes. It’s perfect…a great run that doesn’t take long at all.
  • 11:25am :: We’re back at the car, I’ve already put Caroline and the stroller in, and it’s time to head to the girl’s school.
  • 11:35-11:40am :: We’re at school.  We’re early. I change Caroline’s diaper before we head outside to sit at some benches. We’ve been arriving early for a few reasons…
    • It’s sunny and warm at their school most of the time, so we can enjoy the lovely weather
    • It’s bonding time for me and Caroline
    • A couple other Moms have been joining us, so it’s become a social outlet for me (and Caroline, which we both love!)
  • 12:03pm :: I’m late to pick up Mac. I’m still not sure how I manage to do this so frequently considering how early I’m at school, but I’m working on it. 🙂 Mac is always in the BEST mood after school. I’m greeted with a “MOMMMYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!” and a big hug. I love it.  I sign her out, grab her sweater, her lunchbox, her milk bottle, and we’re off to get Abby.
  • 12:05pm :: We head into Abby’s classroom where she’s typically trying to poach food off of the other kids. For the kids who stay longer, they have lunch at noon. Abby eats her lunch at home, but she’s ALWAYS hungry at school, so she typically manages to weasel a snack out of one of her teachers before I arrive. 🙂  Once we get there, she cleans out her cubby again (because yes, there’s more artwork to bring home), grabs her water, we sign her out, we spend about 10 minutes in the school’s office asking for stickers (long story short, they have a sticker basket that turns otherwise wonderful children into crazed lunatics if they can’t find the perfect one…it’s my least favorite part of the pickup process), and then we make the journey to our car. I call it a journey because it literally takes us another 10 minutes to get from the top of the stairs to the bottom. It’s a good thing we’re rarely in a rush…
  • 12:20pm :: We’re finally all buckled into the car, Abby’s already requested her treat and her “favorite song,” and we’re off and boogying down to Luke Bryan yet again. Half the time Mackenzie falls asleep on the way home, but I’m happy to report it doesn’t negatively affect her afternoon nap…I just think it’s her power nap to get her through lunch and a little bit of playtime.
  • 12:35pm :: We pull into the garage, unpack all the artwork, blankets, sweaters, bottles, and kids, and head upstairs. This is when I get to work on Abby and Caroline’s lunch (Mac eats lunch at school, but she’ll sometimes eat a few things with Abby as well).  Lunch typically consists of a peanut butter sandwich with fruit and a few crackers, leftover cheese pizza, mac’n’cheese, or something else that’s easy to put together. Thankfully, Abby eats everything and Caroline does too, so lunch time isn’t too stressful.
  • 1:00pm :: Lunch is done, so the girls get to play for a few minutes (part of the routine), then we work together to clean up the playroom, then Abby goes potty, diapers are changed for Mac and Caroline, and they get to finish the cartoon they hadn’t finished before school. There are typically about 5-10 minutes left so they do that and I clean up the lunch mess. There’s ALWAYS something to clean up around here, it’s crazy.
  • 1:30pm :: Nap time. Abby and Mac share a room, so Caroline and I tuck them in first. Mackenzie has milk with her at naptime and Abby has water. I tuck them in, Caroline gives both of them a big hug on their beds and we do “stinky feet” (Caroline puts her feet in both their faces and everyone gets a kick out of it), I turn on their fan for some white noise, and I leave their room. From there, I take Caroline into her room, put her down in her crib, let her drink a few sips of milk, lay her blankets on her, turn her white noise on, and leave. She falls asleep within a few minutes almost every day. The key to her going down so easily (from what I’ve found) is making sure there’s a solid 3 hour period of time that she’s awake and busy between naps.
  • 1:40pm :: Regulation time. I’d say 3 out of 5 weekdays, I have to head back upstairs one time to tell Abby and Mac it’s naptime. Thankfully today is not one of those days so I can do other things, but they do have a hard time calming down sometimes. They’re either singing, jumping, reading, yelling, fighting, or well, doing anything to avoid sleeping.
  • 1:45pm :: Everyone is asleep. I breathe for approximately 5 or 10 minutes. The silence is amazing and so appreciated at this point in the day.
  • 2:00pm :: Cooking time. I’ve fallen into a routine of cooking a big meal on Mondays when all the girls are napping. I find it to be relaxing, I find that it makes actual dinner time less stressful, and I find that it’s really nice to have leftovers for Tuesday (and whatever I cook tends to be my lunch for a couple days as well so I’m not eating the girl’s mac’n’cheese or a bowl of Cheerios…not that there’s anything wrong with that from time to time!). I do my meal planning and grocery shopping on Saturdays, so I typically already have everything I need in the house. I tend to cook something like one of these recipes ::
  • 3:15pm :: At this point, food is typically in the oven and I’m working on cleaning up yet another mess. Caroline almost always wakes up at 3:15pm as well. She’s always the first one up. She watches me finish the dishes and then if I’m lucky, I squeeze in a quick shower while she plays in the bathroom.  My showers last all of 3-5 minutes, so it’s easy for her to keep herself busy.
  • 4:00pm :: One of the girls wakes up and wakes up the other one (the not so amazing part of sharing a room). Then we all head downstairs, the girls fight play in the playroom and I tend to wear one of the following hats at all times..
    • referee
    • disc jockey
    • drawing buddy
    • dictionary
    • lego builder
    • cleanup crew
    • dance partner
    • disciplinarian
    • tantrum tamer
    • baby protector
  • 5:00pm :: We put some toys away (again) and head upstairs into Mommy and Daddy’s room for bath time. No, I do not bathe my kids every day. I did when we only had Abby, but now we’re looking at a 4 bath/week schedule. They get them on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and either Saturday OR Sunday (whichever day we’re not feeling super lazy). Our bath routine is simple and it works for us. Abby and Mac go in first while Caroline stands at the tub wishing to get in. I lay out towels, pajamas, undies, diapers, and Mackenzie’s lovey.  I like to have everything prepared for when they get out. I scrub both girls, rinse them off, let out some of the water (so Caroline doesn’t have water up to her ears), and then put Caroline in. They all play together for a couple minutes, Abby and Mac scrub Caroline’s head with soap, and then I get Mac out while Abby plays with Caroline. Then after rinsing Caroline, she gets pulled out and dressed. Poor thing doesn’t get much time in the bathtub, but at least she gets clean!  Abby is the last one out because she is by far the easiest going of the group. Sometimes I brush their hair after bath time, sometimes I don’t. If they’re cooperating, I do it, if they’re not, it’s not worth the fight. Especially at this point in the day…
  • 5:45pm :: I text Travis for the first time in the day and ask when he’ll be home. He almost always says “normal time” which means he’ll be home right around 6:45pm. I only have an hour to go…
  • 5:46pm :: I start dinner for the girls. If I’ve made chicken curry, I feed them that with naan and peas. If I didn’t, I’ll make something else. Either leftover kale & quinoa, or mac’n’cheese with corn or peas, or pizza, or fish sticks, or…well, I make them something edible. 🙂  During this time, they’re all in the playroom having fun or fighting over something again…either way, they’re busy making a huge mess.
  • 6:15pm :: Dinner time for the girls. They all eat together. Abby eats a ton, Mackenzie barely eats anything (though you’d never know it), and Caroline takes little bites of everything I put in front of her.
  • 6:20pm (approximately) :: I pour myself a glass of wine while they eat. We talk about the day, eat, and wait for Daddy.
  • 6:30pm :: Bedtime for Caroline. Travis misses her in the evening because he’s typically not home this early, so I put her to bed. Abby is usually downstairs coloring and Mac follows me upstairs to “help” put Caroline to bed. I can’t say it’s very helpful since she becomes such a huge distraction, but it’s definitely sweet. We brush her teeth, change her diaper, read her a book, and lay her down in her crib. She has a few sips of milk, Mac and I sing to her, and that’s it. We leave and she cries for a minute or two and is asleep within minutes. Thank goodness for routines and thank goodness for at least one easy baby!
  • 6:45pm :: I’m down to TWO KIDS!  Woohoo!  Time to have a sip of that wine I poured myself 25 minutes ago. I work on cleaning up dinner dishes while the girls play. I also work on prepping dinner for Travis and I (because even though I’ve already made the main dish, I still have to put naan in the oven and make the peas).
  • 6:48pm (ish) :: Travis walks in and receives a standing ovation from the girls as if he just won a gold medal. Must be nice. 🙂  Then he takes Abby and Mac upstairs with him while he gets out of his work clothes and I have a few minutes of silence. I’m still working on stuff, but at least it’s quiet.
  • 7:00pm :: They’re back down and it’s time for Mommy and Daddy to eat. I’d love to say we eat at the dining room table, but we almost never do. We eat “hog style” (as my Mom calls it)…we sit on our couches because they’re comfy and that way, the girls can crawl around while we eat. The food is always amazing, but the environment is never all that relaxing. But hey, on a day like today where the girls haven’t watched their second cartoon yet, we let them watch it while we eat. That way, we can actually catch up on each other’s days before 9pm.
  • 7:45pm :: Bedtime for the girls. Travis does bedtime. I do all the dishes from dinner and I also straighten the house back up. I refuse to go to bed with a mess in the house. The mornings are crazy enough…the last thing I need is more mess to be staring at (gosh, how OCD am I making myself sound right now!?). Anyway, bedtime takes a while. They brush teeth, go potty, get comfy, jump on bean bags (even though I don’t want them to), watch a short video with Daddy (he’s the “fun guy”), read books, etc..
  • 8:15pm :: I take both the girls ice cold water. That’s also when I say goodnight to them (not that it’s the last time).
  • 8:30pm :: Travis comes down. I go back up for more love (per their request). I close the door. This is typically when Mac comes out and says she has to go potty AGAIN. So I send Travis back up. He sits with her. Tucks her back in. And closes the door.
  • 8:45pm :: Everyone is asleep. Really, REALLY asleep.
  • 8:46pm :: Travis and I catch up, watch something on TV (either a show we’re binge watching, a sporting event, or Access Hollywood), Travis works more, and I finally relax.
  • 10:30pm :: On a good day, we’re in bed at this point thinking about how early the girls will be up. Knowing that, we attempt to go to sleep.  This is typically when I remember that I forgot to switch that stupid load of laundry but I’m too tired to do it now…it’ll be yet another load I have to re-run. At least I tried!

And there we have it. That’s what my typical Monday looks like. It may sound like a lot, but we’re in such a good place right now. It’s taken a LOT of trial and error, many transitional periods, and tons of patience, but we’re in a groove. The girls know what to expect and so do we (with, of course, many unpredictable challenges along the way). It’s funny because now that we’re in this groove, things are going to change again…Abby will drop her nap all together which may affect Mac’s nap, Caroline will drop her morning nap, someday they’ll all be in school, etc…

I think what I’ve learned the most since having three kids is that it’s very important to adapt to change. I mean it when I say our routines are absolutely necessary for my sanity and also for the girl’s, but they’re flexible routines. Things change constantly and we have to be willing to change with them.

If you have any questions about our days, I’m all ears!  I also plan on writing a typical Tuesday with 3 little kids, but I’m exhausted from writing this one so it may take a little while. 🙂

Also, if you’ve made it to the end, I’m impressed!  Thank for reading. 🙂

Ali

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