Dinner, bath, bedtime: I WILL SURVIVE

Some days, the clock strikes 4:00, and I’m not sure where I’m going to get the energy to make it to my bedtime.

Dinner, bath, bedtime: I WILL SURVIVE

Some days, the clock strikes 4:00, and I'm not sure where I'm going to get the energy to make it to my bedtime. Sometimes I make myself a coffee so I have an extra pep in my step, and sometimes I wing it.

Because dinner needs to be made, the kids need to eat, need to bathe, need to fall asleep. The house needs to be picked up a bit, I need to relax, my husband and I need to talk to each other and I need to practice self control by way of not stay up until midnight (or later!).

I get sucked into the busyness and craziness of these witching hours. And then the whirlwind of these nighttime tasks and activities is over.

And what's left is the 'before' and 'after.'

Before I can even get dinner the late-afternoon rush of life, I feel like I'm doing all the things at the same time. I feel like my brain may explode.

Before we sit for dinner...there's a big milk spill, the wrong fork or the incorrect number of green beans.

Before we finish dinner...there's lots of coaxing to eat just a few more bites or dessert-for-vegetable-bites type deals made.

Before we clean up dinner...there's, well, more messes made that need cleaning. Why not add to the growing pile of crumbs on the floor, anyway?

Before we switch gears from dinner to bath time...there's some complaining happening about wanting to watch a show instead of washing up. There are patience levels that are running thin...

Before we finish bath time...there's some pushing/splashing/arguing/crying in the tub.

Before we go to bed...there's lots of time dedicated to picking those just right jams out. (Gotta look fresh for bed, right?)

Before we read our stories...there's lots of debate around which book would be best for tonight.

Before we say our goodnights...there's multiple requests—for water, to use the toilet and to find the 'right' stuffed animal.

Before you fall asleep...there's chatter and looking for stars and cuddles.

And, then there's the after.

After we put you guys to bed for the night...I miss you.

After I tiptoe out of the room...I doubt myself. I wonder if I did anything right today. If I gave you my best.

After I kiss your forehead...I forget any tantrum from the day, and I remember your sweetness.

After I shut your door behind me...I think about the way you cracked up at my silly joke and that big hug you gave me when I found your doll.

After I finally sit to eat dinner with your dad...we talk about how great you two are. How proud we are.

After I tidy up...I feel (somewhat) organized and together again.

After I relax and watch TV...I am recharged.

After I wash the day away from my face...I tell myself to wash away my mistakes, too.

After I check on you...I watch you sleeping peacefully and I count my blessings. I thank my lucky stars I have you in my life. I wonder why I lost my patience today.

After I fight the urge to stay up even later than I already have...I climb into bed and say goodnight to my husband.

After I lay my head on my pillow...I try to slow my brain and succumb to the peace and quiet.

The before's are often wild and crazy and yes—sometimes very draining. But the after's allow me to reflect, to practice gratitude and to be gentle on myself.

There is always a calm before and after the storm.

What I'm challenging myself to do now, is to be the calm during the storm, too.

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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