The Flipping Switch

I haven’t posted the contents of this blog for the past few weeks because I didn’t want to end 2020 on a sour note; or shall I say any more sour than the rest of the year brought for everyone…with a worldwide pandemic, quarantines and minimal social encounters, and of course the overall standard stress of being a parent and full time worker. The girls wrapped up the year with a new attitude at daycare, and not one that we are happy to discover.

I feel minimally prepared for the toddler stage we’ve entered. It’s as though a switch flips on a daily basis, one that changes from happy, curious, well-rounded toddler attitude into a argumentative, frustrated, acting out maniac. The girls refer to this as not listening! We are seeing attitude changes as the girls try to sort through newfound feelings and emotions and don’t quite know how to cope. Daycare seems to be having quite a tough time handling the change (or phase) and continues to hand us behavioral notes, almost every day. It definitely doesn’t help that they feed off each other (and I’m sure other toddlers at school) and escalate the situation more and more. Then, just as quickly, the switch goes off and flips them back to the nice, pleasant children we like to see.

Daycare is providing us reports for misbehavior, with the past few weeks more than the entire time we’ve gone there. It started with Harper saying no and not wanting to listen and has since branched out to Reagan being loud at nap time and throwing shoes at the teacher or when she is outside. I think Emerie has had one report so far but is otherwise maintaining her happy demeanor, even while patched. As for the other two, we talk at night about listening to the teachers and the girls constantly say they miss them on the weekends, but then we still get reports of fighting with the teachers and not obeying the first time they are told to do something without any wiggle room to learn from mistakes. Many of the things they do we don’t have an issue with at home, making it even harder to solve. I’m highly frustrated about all of this and think things could be handled a little differently during school days and that would help a lot, but we aren’t having success with our recommendations. I pray that it’s just a phase.

Harper is definitely the most strong-willed of the three and continues to present more of my attitudes as a kid; in fact, it feels as though she is a little Becca during all kinds of activities and adventures. For example, I had a toddler fascination with the color black, wanting to douse all drawings and pictures with it according to my mother. This phase eventually turned into loving pastel colors and a million necklaces. Harper, in kind, enjoys her black play dough, black markers and crayons. It doesn’t quite align with her love of all things princesses, so hopefully that one will win in the end. Reagan is clearly the most emotional one in the group (this hasn’t changed in a while) and blatantly rejects the idea of scolding and being told no. She’s improved some on this front, but not quite where I’d like to be yet. She very much responds to scolding more than spanking. Emerie still has her moments of rage and toddler angst, but overall is calmer than her womb mates until she reaches a certain tired status, then all bets are off. I believe the patching has helped us on this, because she dislikes it but has learned to understand she has to do it anyway, and complies with less fighting than when she was younger.

Schedule are timed plans while routine relates to commit habits. We survive through routine!

We are trying to navigate these new waters with perspective and grace, exercising discipline when needed, none of which seems to help improve daycare’s behavior notes. The outside eye would probably see our attempts to keep the theoretical boat floating and above water, and some (a lot) of days it feels that way. It does, however, seem to help at home. After school discussions each day consist of the girls explaining they are not listening, so clearly there is a level of understanding of disobedience and the need to correct, regardless of them actually doing it. Timeouts and losing privileges, as appropriate for their age, also occur. We attribute part of the attitude shift to just being toddlers, because they constantly go through phases and one never knows when the flipping switch will go on. Kids are going to push boundaries and talk back- sometimes they have to learn from those mistakes and that is part of growing up! The other part is to being strong willed little girls that keep getting routine disruptions and changes, something we’ve successfully maintained since birth. In fact, routine is likely the number one reason we have survived thus far as triplet parents. Doing the same things each day seems monotonous, but who has time to worry about that when there are screaming kids in the background and a mound of tasks to get done every moment of the day? It took us about two months for the girls to really settle into the new daycare routine, with a lot of very grumpy and clingy evenings after pickup; then with COVID-19 closures, the holidays and a head cold that put us at home for a week, waiting on negative test results, that routine keeps getting disrupted. Maybe the new routine is becoming routine disruption? I don’t know.

Playing

What I do know is that daycare believes routine and schedule are the same thing and that what we think is a major disruption isn’t. I disagree, because routine amounts to the daily milestones and habitual activity, if you will, that are done at the same time, in the same order everyday, to maintain sanity and keep things moving forward. Routine happens without planning because it’s so commonly done on a regular basis. For us that used to consist of a morning bottle feed, putting the girls back to bed, getting them back up at the same time, rotating through diaper changes and breakfast, tummy time and activities, naps, and repeat; running through the same process all day, up until the bedtime feed and into their cribs. This same routine lasted more than a year in our house; every. single. day. No days to sleep in, no days to stall and wash bottles later or settle down and watch TV because we needed a break from the business, because that was the daily path to survive. It continues to this day, although it has shifted some as the girls have grown and picked up new skills.

Schedule is what is followed at daycare, which more so relates to a timed plan, and that makes sense! I believe the issue we are having is where the two clash, and then you throw three maturing toddlers into the mix, long weekends extended period at home, and the switching back and forth of daycare classrooms and you find yourself in a lovely, stressful situation like we are burrowed in. We had one of the worst bedtimes we’ve face in a few months the other night- the best part is I have no idea why!

I don’t have an answer to how this will all play out so suggestions and tips are welcome. What I can tell you is it makes me stressed out and uncertain of the future, but I think that comes with the territory of parenting and is just something you have to take in stride and try to fix when you can.


In addition to the emotional, attitude switch, a second one presented itself over the past weekend; this one more encouraging for sure! We’ve worked for months (years, almost!) on sharing and playing together with toys. While we need to make a point to stop buying as many things in triplicate (which is amazing when stuck at home for periods of time to minimize fighting) and push the girls to share and trade off more with each other, it is another sign of growing up and getting more independent. This past weekend the metaphorical light bulb switched on for pretend play with each other. I’m not entirely sure what prompted the change, but it was a noticeable one! The girls all of a sudden spend periods of time playing together without just fighting and it’s simply amazing to watch.

Breakfast time?

Everyone had a doll, monkey or princess and sat down at the family room kid table for “breakfast.” All three found play food and plates and proceeded to share with one another, having conversations about what said stuffed animal wanted to eat. Once that became less exciting, they moved up into the living room and pulled out a few blankets, TAKING TURNS wrapping each other up and noting it was “nap time.” They even, completely on their own, took turns as the toddlers in the scenario or the parents putting the blanks and pillows out. This is very exciting after so long playing referee every single second, with minimal time to accomplish anything without screaming in the background. I made it through all the laundry while they played…at least before the fighting re-emerged.

Ring around the rosie

A few other cutesy things that I might as well finish the blog on…my little terrors thought it was the greatest thing to remove the bolts that hold the downstairs bathroom toilet to the floor. This was also accomplished while chewing on the lid that goes over the bolt (gross!). I will admit this took so focus and dedication to achieve. And that was only after moments of no supervision. The other day Harper found a small tack somewhere in the house and I found her trying to shove it into one of the few, open outlets in the living room. Boy did she throw a fit when I stopped that little activity. Side note but raising said outlets so plugged in things are out of reach is sooooo helpful when you have multiples to keep an eye on. Anyway, Reagan now repeats Craig’s lovely dad words and phrases and one afternoon when we spotted a moose off the side of the road, Harper commented moosie needs to take a nap, Emerie noted he probably wanted a carrot, and the lovely Reagan answered with no, moosie needs to take a shit. Yep, Craig gets credit on that one. The girls now mention things in future tense, using tomorrow, although I’m not sure they quite understand all that entails yet. Harper will tell me that things happened last morning and is more than happy to repeat your answers to her questions to her sisters. She’s definitely the wordsmith. Emerie’s toddler perspective continues to make us laugh. For example, she went to the bathroom once in Target (since store visits are pretty rare these days) and now she thinks every store bathroom is the equivalent of going potty at Target. I went potty at Target, Momma.

As we head into our next three day weekend, I am optimistic that outside play will keep us going and hopefully Craig and I can keep our level of stress about all these things down. The metaphorical boat is certainly trying to weather yet another storm, this is the first and won’t be the last. Some turn the switch back off!!

First Two Weeks

Two weeks in and we are still surviving. The girls are doing great at daycare; in fact, according to their teachers, they are settling in better than expected! This just goes to prove that little kiddos are very resilient and I hope we continue this trend as they grow up. One morning this week Emerie even confirmed she understood she was headed to school for the day, saying”Maddie” (who is her preschool teacher who she has closely bonded with!).

Headed to the car after a busy day having fun

At pickup last week I asked if the girls were climbing on the tables during meal times, running away when going outside or refusing to sit still for nap time; all typical things I would expect from my tiny toddlers. Things they all certainly do for their parents. The teachers looked surprised, answering no to all questions. So apparently this is just an issue that Craig and I have with our children and they have better behavior when we don’t witness it! They also have some magical skill at convincing them to nap.

Surprisingly, it didn’t take much to get them to comply with the new nap rules when they aren’t at home. In recent months naps have become much longer and needed to keep everyone pleasant for the evening. This has greatly improved from the 45 minute naps we had for quite a while, in a period my brain has mostly blocked out due to lack of sleep and stress. We also continue to have growth spurts that require more sleep and they make my babies look more like little girls every day. I love it and hate it at the same time.

The past two weeks has equated to more tired kiddos, which means that the parents FINALLY got a few full nights of sleep, without any kiddos pulled out of their cribs from anxiety or rage. This is a very uncommon thing the past year or so; almost every night requires some kind of intervention to keep someone happy. The other night I settled Emerie, put her blanket back on her, and she slept the rest of the night. That’s a little strange since she almost always sleeps through the night and her sisters’ fussiness. Harper is starting to improve after several months of extreme anxiety about her bed and soon I believe she will be back to sleeping in her room all night long. At this point I don’t mind laying down in the guestroom with her, mostly because I know one day I will miss that closeness- I should enjoy it while I can! Reagan’s sleep level varies between her sisters; about half the time she will call out at the crack of dawn for one of us and half the time she’ll sleep all the way through; sometimes we can settle her and sometimes not. Needless to say, the fact that we don’t wake up to full on panicked screaming at two AM every night is a blessing and much appreciated. My mom ears still pick up the momma! calls from the other room just as well as the MOMMAAA! version.

The new routine means the girls are up about 60-90 minutes earlier than normal. This is likely a direct factor why they are participating in nap time, being up so early, and also to the grumpiness in the evenings. Yes, the grumpiness. The girls are excited to see me at pickup, excited for their snack in the car on the ten minute drive home, excited to see Daddy, and as soon as we get settled in the front door, the rage and fussiness reappears for most of the evening. I try to remind myself it’s just the new routine adjustment period and the transition from daycare to home, but MAN, it takes a TON of patience after a long and busy workday. We mostly skipped this daily transition with the nanny because we were able to settle in from work while she was still there. Little did I know how much that helped each day! Fingers crossed this all improves after a couple of weeks.

One funny story out of this week. The girls “drove” a friend’s powerwheel truck at a park date last weekend and had a great time (other than the constant fighting over it). The truck was wide enough for three across and move on the pavement, inspiring us to do a little local, online shopping and find used ones to enjoy. We drove around the neighborhood the first night with all three crammed on and visited with a neighbor who has a similar vehicle. The second night we went down our street, in the rain, hoping for a few happy minutes as we transitioned from daycare to home. As you can imagine, using two vehicles when you have three toddlers doesn’t always go as smoothly as one would like. The three photos below say it all, some real life right here…it started out with smiles and giggles down the street, stretched into fighting over whose foot was on each gas pedal or wanting to be anywhere but where they were sitting at that moment, and ended with three total meltdowns in the middle of the street, both cars left on a neighbor’s front lawn, said meltdowners carried screaming down the street into the house (once we caught up with the little marathoners), and Craig retrieving the vehicles and carrying them home in the rain while I worked to calm the masses in the living room. True story, folks. You can’t make these things up.

All in all, I won’t complain too much about the grumpiness. It’s a phase, albeit not a very fun one, but we will get through it and move onto the next thing. I know the girls have fun all day while we are able to productively finish our workdays. I greatly appreciate the potty training efforts that I don’t have to do all day right now. I greatly appreciate knowing they are learning new things and becoming a little more independent, even though I’m not totally ready for it. And I’m greatly looking forward to the upcoming fall activities and more outdoor adventures, hopefully with happy and excited toddlers in tow.

First Day Jitters

It’s a little terrifying to give up control as a parent. What do I mean by control? So many things are controlled for our every day routine, something that has been incredibly detailed and stringent for the past two years, with pretty much every second planned out strategically ahead of time (and a lot of hoping for the best!). Control, as in what habits (or words/actions) your children will pick up because they’re only with you or people you’ve hand-picked to be a part of your lives. This may also be genetically from their DNA- yes, that part might be payback for Craig and I. Control, meaning knowledge of each detail of their daily lives, knowing they are completely safe from the craziness of the outside world, safely tucked away in your house, your safe place, the place you call home.

The past two years were controlled, spending the majority of time in this safe place.

It also means relinquishing control by placing your children in the hands of other people and having new experiences that you won’t be there to witness. This is a hard concept to deal with. Because we’ve been so blessed to have in home care, we have been involved in so much of the first times. In reality, it’s really not that different from me and Craig being at work and the girls being home with the nanny, but soon there will be more kids around we don’t yet know and less involvement in daily activities and experiences. Miss Chris was always great at sending pictures and videos and making us feel connected to the girls, even when we at the office. And the last four months with the COVID quarantine and working full time from home, while I was not directly with the girls every second of the day, I could still hear them downstairs or outside the window, laughing in the backyard and playing in the water, or chasing each other across the living room and giggling over a song. I still heard them screaming about the food they disliked, or when they settled down for a nap and chatted in their cribs, knowing from the other room that they are happy and snoozing away from a busy day.

The question is, is this life adjustment harder on the parents or on the kids?! We all know the truth of that answer; it’s harder on the parents and I daresay hardest on the moms. Whether your kid is three months old, two and a half years (like us), or headed off to the first day of kindergarten, separation anxiety is a thing, for both parents and kiddos! It’s hard to let go, change routine and take the next step. Am I ready for them to go to daycare? Not remotely. Did I want to put this off a lot longer? Yes. Do I think they can handle it and be okay? Yes. Do I think I can handle it and be okay? Yesss. I know the transition is tough, whether that is a quiet house for my workday or a few no-nap weeks for them to come home super grumpy and clingy. I am sure it will be quite the transition for them, exciting and scary, but also quite the transition for us as well as we step into this new phase of our lives. A phase with a little less control.

Snack when we got home.

We’ve done a lot of daycare prep the past few weeks. After touring the preschool and talking with several of the staff and toddler teachers, we shifted our daily routine a little bit. No major changes, just small incremental things that encouraged how they would be at school and wouldn’t cause further stress while we juggled everything. This included unbuckling the girls for breakfast and lunch, something we’ve done at all meals their whole lives, using the constrained time to finish food prep, cleanup, throw another load of laundry in or start the dishwasher, and run around and quickly do fifty random chores before they ransacked everything again. The toddler classrooms have kid sized tables and chairs and expect the kiddos to eat respectfully without buckling in. This is going okay at home so far, often the taking away of a full plate of food convinces them to sit back down. It definitely shortens meal times and doesn’t allow for us to sit and eat for long, but the change is going better than I expected it to right away.

We are also leaving the dining chairs on the floor now, instead of putting them back on top of the table. This is soooo much nicer on the parents, not having to constantly remember to put them back up, but still certainly results in climbing toddlers, standing on the table, smacking the television and playing with the remote and DVD player. I won’t call this a win yet; at some point each day someone is on the table (or multiple someones more often), but yesterday I only had to put them (all) in timeout once for climbing up and that is MAJOR progress. Hopefully we aren’t too far from this being a non-issue.

Another bigger change at daycare involves splitting them up. They don’t put three new toddlers together, regardless of sibling status, so we opted for Harper and Reagan to stay together and Emerie to be on her own. No, it’s not because the two team up against their smaller sister more often; it is because Emerie is great at independent play and likes to take the time to figure things out. We are hoping she will thrive from this. They will still be together for breakfast and recess each day, but not for some activities and nap time. I’m hoping once everyone settles in they can go back together, unless Emerie absolutely loves being on her own.

We joked on our walkthrough that daycare staff has until their third birthday to figure out who is who, because we will then dress them all completely alike and make them work for it. They thought that was pretty funny. Kidding not kidding…

We had to do physicals (and shots!) before their first day, and since we didn’t get an official two year height/weight update because COVID hit, here are your updated numbers for the munchkins!

29 Month Update

Harper

Harper Anne after her first day!

Height: 38.75” (99%) / Weight: 29 lb., 8 oz. (71%)

Clothing size: 2T onesies/dresses, 3T everything else

Shoe Size: 8

Favorite Word: Pan! (meaning Tangled movie)

Favorite Food: dad’s Belgium waffle pancakes, bacon and blueberries

Favorite Song: Lola the Cow or Baby Shark

Favorite toy: she likes her pink bear or the singing bear

She is still ready to take the world on 100% of the time, is often the instigator for trouble making and encourages her sisters to join her, and is practically talking a mile a minute. She enjoys movies the most of the three and will sit and snuggle for 30+ minutes and watch one before bed time.

Emerie

Emerie at home after her first day!

Height: 37.75” (96%) / Weight: 27 lb., 4 oz. (47%)

Clothing size: 2T onesies/dresses, 3T everything else but it’s a little big

Shoe Size: 7 / 8

Favorite Word: lullo (yellow)

Favorite Food: mango or blueberries

Favorite Song: Tay Tay’s Shake It Off and Twinkle Twinkle

Favorite toy: any type of container, her Piggy, and her toddler “cell phone”

Emerie is the curious thinker of the group and loves to color and play with puzzles. She loves holding your hand and insists upon it quite often, especially when jumping off things or going down most slides. She likes the Pan movie and Moana and randomly singing her ABCs.

Reagan

Reagan after her first day!

Height: 38.25” (98%) / Weight: 30 lb., 1 oz. (76%)

Clothing size: 2T onesies/dresses, 3T everything else

Shoes Size: 8

Favorite Word: no!

Favorite Food: broccoli or potato chips

Favorite Song: Baby Shark

Favorite toy: any binkie she can get her hands on, her white bear or toddler “cell phone”

Reagan is still the most timid of the three and a little more emotional. She’s shy in new places but then opens up and wants to share toys with friends. She enjoys holding your hand, sitting on your lap under a blanket and watching her sisters get into trouble. She also likes dancing to all music.

Right now no one is a fan of wearing pants, or their diapers if given the opportunity to remove them, and everyone is obsessed with the potty. The current favorite color is “yellowblue”. No, that is not green; it is yellow-blue. As true Alaskan babies, they are now okay playing in hose water or the sprinkle out back, even with the multiple cold! comments.

First Day

The first day went even better than expected! Craig and I were still reeling from several nights of actual sleep, which felt weird, with Harper sleeping back in her own bed and not having anxiety episodes that result in me sleeping next to her in the guest room.

We got up a few minutes early and ate a breakfast snack on the couch, I did everyone’s hair really quick and dressed up in cute, first day outfits that matched the beautiful summer day.

Craig and I took them over together at about 8 AM, expecting some tears as we handed them off. Due to COVID-19 rules, we are not allowed into the daycare and have to leave them at the front door, after temperature checks. While I am not a fan of this at all, especially since this is my first time handing them off to new people, I think down the line they will be fine. Harper didn’t even shed a tear, albeit she wasn’t excited, but stuck out her jaw and went with it. Emerie and Reagan? Bloody murder, screaming rage. Yes, as expected. We just walked to the car as they screamed inside.

The coordinator texted us later that they only cried for a few moments and then were okay. I’m sure it helped to have breakfast time together and a whole new set of toys and activities to entertain.

Believe it or not, everyone did some form of a nap, which greatly surprised me! I was expecting very overstimulated and sleepy toddlers by the end of the day, but apparently they were worn out enough to sleep a little. What a good sign! Emerie, who napped in a different room than her sisters, did great according to her teacher, waking up a little upset but quickly calming down with one-on-one time and a book.

We picked them up out on the playground, everyone happy and running around, no one exactly ready to get in the car and go home. The evening was a little grumpy but overall not as bad as expected.

Thank you everyone for the prayers for a calm week!