Thursday, January 31, 2008

There's FOUR of them and only ONE of me!

Hmmmm, okay, so I've been trying to figure out activities (outside the home) that I can do with all 4 kids when I have Cole and Bella home from preschool on Tues and Thurs. Here are the drawbacks: the babies still nap 2x a day (10:00 and 2:00), Cole and Bella are starting to drop their afternoon nap (they maybe need an hour of rest/sleep), and...let's not forget the HUGEST drawback, there's only ONE of me and FOUR of them.

The closest library to us has a weekly storytime on Thursdsays at 10:15. Since it's only once a week, I was thinking I could just have the babies catnap in the car for that morning nap (since it's usually only a short nap anyway) and bring the babies into the library with the double stroller. Ideally, they would sit happily in the stroller while listening to the story and Cole and Bella would behave and stay quiet and enjoy the stories as well. That's ideal, right? But here's what I think would really happen....within 10 minutes of storytime, Bella will tell me she has to pee/poop (which she doesn't really have to, but she has this really wierd need to see the inside of every public restroom in the world) so I'll ask her repeatedly "do you REALLY have to go or are we gonna get in there and you're gonna tell me you don't have to go anymore?", she'll say "No, Mommy, I really have to go". I'll drag all 4 kids with me to the bathroom. How fun will this be??? All the while, telling Cole "don't touch anything, remember public bathroom's are dirty", the babies will be screaming by now I'm sure. Then we get back to now the babies are just tired of sitting in the double stroller so I'll take them out and put them on my lap. Unfortunately by this point, Cole and Bella have also lost interest and they're starting to run around the room. I hate to be a pessimist but honestly I think this is what would happen. So let's forget storytime at the library....

Onto my next great about Gymboree??? A bunch of moms in my SAHM's playgroup go there and rave about it. But I have a unique situation, 2 sets of twins...most of them either have 1 or 2 children. So my first thing was is Gymboree affordable for us....I check out the prices online and I'm completely confused by all the pricing. So I call the place and speak with a very nice lady who upon learning I have 2 sets of twins, ages 10 months and 3 years old, she pauses and says "hmmm, let me think about this....I'm sure we can figure something out so all your kids can do some classes and we can make it affordable for you". She gives me a list of classes and says that Cole and Bella qualify for the school readiness program, where I can drop them off for 2 hours and they'll do activities like art, gymnastics and other learning activities. But unfortunately there isn't a class for the babies at those same times. And they have a rule that for each child, there must be 1 accompanying adult (with the exception of the school readiness program where the kids are dropped off and don't need a parent to stay with them). At this point I laugh and say to her "you see where my problem is then...there's only 1 of me and 4 of am I gonna do this?". Then she mentions that they do have a family gymboree class designed specifically for families with children of varying ages but she says "you know, we've never had this situation before, 2 sets of twins, but I'm sure we can figure something out" and she mentions a Saturday class. Then I tell her I'm sure I can get Tim to participate in the class but we still have the predicament of being outnumbered by the kids. But then I quickly tell her that Cole and Bella will probably just fall in line quickly with what the other children are doing and they won't need as much supervision as the babies will, obviously. She agrees and says the Saturday family class is our best option OR I can enroll Cole and Bella in the school readiness program where they are dropped off and then I can bring the babies to a separate class on the days Cole and Bella are in preschool. So then we talk prices...the most economical plan is $75 per month for 2 of the kids, so a total of $150 for all 4 kids with a $25 one-time enrollment fee for the family program. If I'd rather do the school readiness program for just Cole and Bella, that's $85 per month per child. OUCH!!! Tim and I are trying to stick to a strict budget so I'm not sure how we'd swing this. And if we do the family class which is on Saturday, I'm still left with 10 hours to fill each Tues and Thurs. The lady invites me to bring everyone to the class this Sat and just try it out...she says we can sit down and take a look at the class schedule and prices and work something out, since it is a "unique situation". I'm getting used to that word to describe our family...."a unique situation". Maybe I should get a bumper sticker on my mini-van says reads that..."Forgive me for cutting you off but I have a unique situation" or "I nap at read lights b/c I have a unique situation".

Alright, so maybe Gymboree will work for us somehow...maybe...hopefully?? Then I go and check out our SAHM's message board to see what activities are going on for February....I look at the calendar and actually laugh outloud. There are no activities really where I can bring all 4 kids without wanting to kill myself at the end of the day. There's the Valentine's Day party at someone's house, which looks like a lot of fun, but is it really worth the hassle it's gonna cause me?? I think the babies would be overwhelmed with the amount of kids/adults there and I'd probably lose track of Cole and Bella at some point and then I'd hear someone say "can you believe there are 2 kids playing in the toilet and their mother could care less??" I just don't wanna be "that mom" who everyone is talking about...."can you believe 'that mom' would actually bring 4 kids to a party like this all by herself?"

Now I used to be very active in this group last summer when I only had Cole and Bella, pre-pregnancy with Garrett and Landon. We had a blast...we'd go to a couple events a week. We would do things privately with other moms and their kids outside the group on the days there were no events. And on the days we didn't get together with other kids/adults, I'd simply take them to the neighborhood pool. Just when I was starting to think "I can do this...I can handle this...", God goes and throws me a curve ball. Not that I don't appreciate the miracle that Garrett and Landon are to our fact, I'm so appreciative of my "unique situation" but at the same time, I now realize that every little thing takes more planning and more thought on how to go about it without wanting to throw my head in the oven at the end of the day.

The pool, this summer, is definitely not an option with all 4 kids, although they are putting in a water park so I may be able to do that, provided Garrett and Landon are walking well by then and if I can convince Cole and Bella that running through spraying water is much more fun than swimming in the sparkly, inviting pool. For swimming, I'll have to take the kids up to my mom's house b/c she has a pool and beg her or my stepdad to go swimming with us so I'm not completely outnumbered by kids.

So ultimately what I'm left with is the park and the indoor play area at the mall. I figure maybe I can just map out all the parks in our town and visit a different one each week. That should mix things up a bit, right? I'm out of ideas....geez, just walking around Target would be fun, at this point. I've got THAT all figured out....I put one baby in the front of the shopping cart, put the other baby in a side hip carrier slingie-thingie I just bought (they have outgrown the Baby Bjorn!), put either Cole or Bella in the back of the cart and threaten their life if they even think about standing up in the cart, and the other child who isn't in the cart gets to either hold one of my free hands or hold onto the cart (yes, that child gets their life threatened too if they let go of the cart or my hand while shopping).

The other day while shopping, I saw a mom desperately trying to figure out how to put her baby (who was in an infant carrier) in the front of the shopping cart...she looked so frustrated. I figured she must have been a new mom, nervous going on her first outing with her baby by herself. For a minute, I was envious....look at her with her ONE baby...oh, must be nice....but then I was brought back to the place I was 5 years ago, when we were struggling to get pregnant and I believed I'd never be a mother to even 1 child, let alone 4 children. And I used to look at those moms shopping with their babies and think "oh, must be nice" but I was on the other side of the fence back then, just jealous that they even had that 1 child. So yeah my "unique situation" keeps me on my toes, constantly making long drawn-out plans of how I'm gonna manage all 4 kids at the library or doing whatever fun activity we attempt....but having my "hands full" as the saying goes sure beats "empty arms" by a long shot.

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr

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