November 9, 2013 by Caroline Mincks
A couple weeks ago, I agreed to babysit for Sarah, which meant I was going to be totally on my own with four boys for an entire day. I was nervous going into it, and I was exhausted coming out of it, but the day actually went a lot more smoothly than I expected. I’m a little overly confident in my ability to handle so many kids at once…don’t let Adam hear me saying that, though!
Marlowe, who is eight months old, is a laid back and incredibly cheerful little guy. Hudson is five and very independent, preferring to keep to himself rather than socialize with me most of the time. Max, the oldest, is seven and more or less the definition of “extrovert”. It was quite an interesting mix when you add in Ethan, who has his own strong personality!
Continue reading to see how our busy, busy, busy day went!
7:00 AM: Ethan wakes. Adam sets him up with breakfast while I get dressed and toss some laundry into the washing machine.
7:35 AM: I clean up from breakfast, pack the diaper bag, and chug some coffee while Ethan plays. I manage to get him to hold still for a minute so I can get him dressed for the day.
8:25 AM: Ethan munches on some banana bread while I double-check to make sure we have everything we’ll need and put the laundry into the dryer.
9:00 AM: We arrive! Ethan has an instant and intense meltdown – he’s overwhelmed by the somewhat unfamiliar location (it had been a while since his last visit), excitable dogs, and three other boys. He’s also almost due for his nap, so I make sure his diaper is dry and set him down in the Pack n’ Play downstairs. Sarah briefs me on what to expect for the day, then heads out to work.
9:45 AM: Marlowe seems sleepy after his morning snack, so I set him in his crib and go about comforting Ethan, who is still very nervous and unable to sleep yet. I give him a few toys and he calms down.
10:00 AM: Max heads out for his play date. Hudson finally emerges to say hello, then runs off again to play in his room.
10:30 AM: Marlowe wasn’t sleepy after all and begins to fuss a little. I put him into my Boba, set Hudson up with some paints, and start checking to see what I can offer the boys for lunch.
10:45 AM: Ethan was just drifting off when he begins to cry – he needs a diaper change. I swap Marlowe for him and give him a change as quickly as I can, hoping he’ll still be tired enough to nap, but he finds his second wind. Marlowe continues to play in the PnP while I take Ethan upstairs and put him in the high chair for a snack.
11:12 AM: Marlowe is awfully quiet. I sneak downstairs to peek at him – he’s asleep! I dash back to the kitchen and take advantage of having free hands to start making lunch. I wash some grapes, cutting a few up for Ethan, and start to preheat the oven for some pizza.
11:35 AM: False alarm. Marlowe is calling for me. He plays at my feet while I finish making lunch. Max comes back over and shows me some of his new toys while I feed the youngest boys.
12:15 PM: After lunch, Ethan finally wants a real nap. I change his diaper, set him in the PnP, then realize Marlowe needs a diaper change. Max offers to keep an eye on Ethan and help him fall asleep, so I take him up on that and dash upstairs to change Marlowe. By the time I come back downstairs, Ethan is fast asleep – with the help of a couple of graham crackers Max shared with him.
12:25 PM: Max and Hudson play in their room while I sit in the basement to finish giving Marlowe his bottle and keep an eye on Ethan. Marlowe falls asleep in my arms – too sweet!
1:15 PM: Ethan wakes quite a bit earlier than I would like, but at least he got a little rest. His diaper is dry, which is a nice bonus. Hudson wants to show Ethan how to work a puzzle, but that quickly dissolves into tears from both of them. Ethan just wants to take all the pieces and pile them up in another part of the room, and Hudson is frustrated at Ethan’s lack of cooperation. Max goes back to his friend’s house and I decide some fresh air is in order.
1:40 PM: Marlowe wakes. I check his diaper, then put him in the Boba again and take Ethan and Hudson outside. Ethan goes in the stroller and Hudson helps me push it while we stroll around the neighborhood for a while. It’s an absolutely beautiful day, and all three boys are happy.
2:45 PM: We arrive back at the house and Marlowe has fallen asleep once more! I decide not to risk attempting to put him in his crib – besides, I can’t resist a baby sleeping on me. Ethan is still in a good mood, so we all head downstairs to play with the train set. Hudson is marginally more willing to let Ethan do his thing when it comes to the trains. Max comes back home and is very excited to teach me all about Minecraft. I still know absolutely nothing about Minecraft after his tutorial, but I appreciate his enthusiasm.
3:50 PM: Snack time all around, plus some more milk for Marlowe, who wakes up with a huge grin on his face. I cannot get enough of that kid!
4:00 PM: If I had the power to bestow many rich gifts upon Max, I absolutely would. He is an amazing helper with the younger boys, keeping Ethan well-fed with plenty of crackers and helping me find Marlowe’s favorite toys. Hudson prefers to play alone in his room for a while, so I just peek in on him every so often to make sure he’s okay. Marlowe needs another diaper change, and I dawdle a little before coming back downstairs because he is in such a giggly mood while being changed.
5:15 PM: Ethan is definitely tired – so tired, in fact, he doesn’t even fight his diaper change – but our attempts at getting a second nap in him are fruitless. Even the graham crackers don’t do the trick this time around, much to Max’s dismay. I resort to the thing guaranteed to keep my child happy: Special Agent Oso. He watches way too much TV while I enjoy the blissful, semi-quiet that comes along with it. Max occupies himself with a little more Minecraft – seriously, what is Minecraft? Is it like Minesweeper but with a Sims element? I don’t get it. Hudson joins us the minute he hears the Special Agent Oso theme song.
5:30 PM: I take Marlowe upstairs for a little dinner. Ethan hangs out in the PnP and continues watching that unique stuffed bear with Hudson. Max comes up a few minutes later to hang out with me and we chat about school for a bit.
6:15 PM: Sarah comes home to a good deal of chaos, but four relatively happy and even somewhat clean boys! I make sure to tell her how helpful Max was and give her a quick rundown of how the day went, but I do have to hurry out of there because Ethan is not going to last much longer.
6:45 PM: We get home and sure enough, Ethan is ready to crash. I give him some milk and a light snack, change his diaper and put him in his pajamas. He’s asleep before I set him down in his crib.
7:30 PM: I take the laundry out of the dryer, fold it, and start a new load. After putting away the clean laundry, I start a loaf of sandwich bread and pour myself a victory glass of wine while it rises, then I fire up an episode of Downton Abbey for some good ol’ Edwardian drama.
When I finally sit down and sit still for a bit, it hits me how tired I am. It’s a different kind of tired from what I’m accustomed to. With Ethan, I’m usually more physically tired than anything since most of the day consists of chasing him. After caring for the four boys today, I’m physically and mentally exhausted. It takes a lot to take care of that many kids, especially when their ages and needs are so varied. Caring for two under the age of two was particularly tricky – double diaper duty alone takes a certain amount of, shall we say, vigilance.
I know I lucked out by having a relatively easy day with generally content kids, and obviously a lot of days would not go so smoothly, but it was still a bit of an ego booster for me. What’s more, it was actually a lot of fun. I was nervous going into it, but I spent more of the day smiling and laughing than not. I’m proud of Ethan for handling it all far better than I anticipated, and I’m proud of myself for getting through the day more or less unscathed. My back hurts, my arms ache, and I feel like I could sleep for about 18 hours, but my heart is full.