I’ve been meaning to write a personal/parenthood update for a while, but I feel like I just say the same things over and over: It’s magical and I’m tired. We are navigating life with two small children, which I liken to this: During the day it’s a pleasant, pretty country road with some twists, turns and maybe an adorable *bump* along the way, but it’s generally pretty happy, and often even so wonderful I could cry.
But at night . . . at night it’s as if you’re driving along the cliffs of Big Sur, in a convertible, not wearing a seatbelt, blindfolded . . . and drunk. It’s terrifying, and you aren’t sure you are going to live through it.
Go ahead, pop that birth control pill, I’ll wait.
While I’m obviously exaggerating, there is a lot of truth to it. How can some thing (children) bring me so much happiness and exhaustion at the same time?
Let’s get into the good first – and let me be clear: There is a lot of good. Elliot is an angel, full of such joy and total engagement. She watches us intently, smiles the second anyone smiles at her, loves her big brother more than anything, and will sit happily and and coo, even while I cook or work. And she loves me. She looks up at me like I’m the only person in the world (a feeling echoed by her dad, too). She makes you feel so special in a way that I haven’t felt before.
Every day is different right now, but I mostly try to spend time with her in the mornings so that Sylvia (our wonderful nanny) can take Charlie to his activities. And this is one of the biggest challenges (which will get much easier even in a year) – Charlie’s and Elliot’s needs are wildly different right now. He’s two and wants to run, play, explore, be social, etc., and she is four months and wants to be snuggled and loved, quietly played with, and shown how secure and predictable life with her mom and dad can be. So, I try to stay at home with her ’til noon when Sylvia gets back with Charlie. Then she takes Elliot while he’s napping, and I work from home, or go into the office. Then the afternoon varies – but often Brian finishes work by 4 so that he can take over. It’s a total juggle, everyday, but it’s manageable. And by manageable I mean every night we realize that we have survived.
Charlie is in a super “mama” phase which is VERY flattering, and he wants me to do everything for him. He wants me to get him his sippy cup, me to put him down for his nap, me to sit next to him while he eats. He freaks out if I don’t and cries/yells “MAMA, YOU FEASE READ DA BOOK, ” and what am I supposed to do, say no? If I’m working from home I simply say “I can’t right now, love, I’m working and work is really important but I’ll be done soon.” I make sure not to apologize for work, because I don’t want him to think that it’s something to be sorry about. It IS important, and he needs to know that. But it’s not more important than him and I try to make that amply clear.
Sleep. AH SLEEP. I have a pretty strong theory, which might even be an unproven FACT, that a parents level of happiness is in direct proportion to the amount of sleep their children let them have. On the “7 hour of sleep days” I’m so happy, and I have basically nothing negative to say about my family life. But on the days where I’m under 4 hours I feel emotionally bankrupt, and I have to remind myself constantly that everything is truly really good.
So what’s the big night time problem you ask? Both kids are up. A lot. They’ve both been really sick for a a few weeks. Just a cold, but enough congestion that they both wake up coughing, and then they wake each other up. And now I feel like bad habits are being solidified by us getting up so quickly with both of them. Charlie begs for milk or a book, and he gets them because we are too exhausted to say no, and too scared he’ll wake up the baby to be firm.
I didn’t talk about it before because I didn’t want to be “that person” but Charlie was a FANTASTIC sleeper as a baby. He started sleeping through the night at 9 weeks. We didn’t take any credit for it, nor did we ever take it for granted. We knew every single day that we simply lucked out and got an easy baby. And he was.
Elliot isn’t a terrible, horrible sleeper, she’s just normal and now has a cold. She goes right back to sleep after feeding and doesn’t really cry, but she is waking up everything at 2am and 5am (AT BEST). I know that all these pretty photos are good PR for having kids, but I swear my staff and good friends are thinking twice after witnessing the daily chaos and nighttime insanity.
I stopped having any good expectations regarding the kids sleeping months ago, and weeks ago it finally sunk in how we were to handle it. We just go to bed around 9pm with the understanding that we could be woken up nearly 7 times between both children. If we go to bed that early we can still clock in around 5 hours, which is doable. Speaking of sleeping you are probably DEAD ASLEEP because talking about child sleep habits is a syndrome that only parents of tiny children can relate too.
During the day, especially on the weekends when I’m not juggling work, it’s so wonderful and beautiful and life is so God damn good. I’m obsessed with these children and look forward to the weekend like a 6 year old does christmas, EVERY DAY.
Brian is an unbelievably good dad that takes on at least 50%, if not more, which makes the weeks and weekends bearable. During the day these kids are happy and fun and love each other so much. While we haven’t lucked out on the sleep thing we have lucked out on the “obsessed with each other and just make each other giggle all day long” thing. It’s unbelievable how seamless the transition is.
They have bonded and it’s starting to help us answer the “why did you have two kids so close together???” question. They’ll be friends. They’ll play. Someday they might even sleep.
But going from one to two is tough. Here’s what it’s like:
Having no kids is like living in a tiny 750 square foot house house that you love but you have to clean, maintain, etc. Despite it’s small size, life kinda still feels like work. When you have one kid and it’s like tripling that size of house to 2500 square feet and every day you are like “woah, this is a lot more work but I’m so glad I have so much more space!” Then, one day you add a second kid and it’s like adding 10, 000 square feet to your tiny manageable home. At first it feels impossible. You are the same people who could barely take care of 750 square feet, but now you have 10K to take care of with the same amount of time. But you start decorating, and getting house proud and while maintaining it is exhausting you wouldn’t go back to 2500. You couldn’t. You love this new life so much.
Then, when someone (grandparents, playdate, preschool) watches one of your kids it feels like all of a sudden you have one room again, and you are like “PHSHAW (AIR SLAP) THIS ONE CHILD THING NOW FEELS LIKE NO KIDS, AND IS SO EASY THAT I CAN’T BELIEVE ANYBODY EVER THOUGHT ONE KID WAS HARD!!!!”
Their tiny hands just kill me.
Every day is different, both schedule-wise and emotionally. The combination of exhaustion and gratefulness is absolutely mind-boggling. I’m sure i’m repeating myself but HOW DO YOU LOVE SOMETHING SO MUCH THAT CAUSES YOU SO MUCH STRESS??? If work caused me this much stress I would do something different. If one of my hobbies caused me so much stress I would hang up my apron. But kids? You can barely tear them from me for an hour on the weekends because I literally NEED and LOVE to be near them at all times. Such masochists. We are all such masochists.
I thought about whether I should even write about the challenges because I don’t necessarily want my clients (both big brands and individual design clients) to think that I can’t handle it, or that I’m distracted by my kids. But then I thought:
1. I shouldn’t be ashamed for trying to be a good mom first, and also manage a company second. Instead I should be (AND AM) proud of that fact. Both are a lot of work, and Brian and I work really, really hard to succeed.
FURTHERMORE (prepare for rant): I’m a firm believer that every person and company should put family or personal lives first, and that men should “lean out” instead of women “leaning in.” I believe that prioritizing your kids over your job is something to be admired, not embarrassed by. I know that the last generation of women didn’t have this option, and instead had to pave the way for us having this luxury. For this I won’t apologize and nor should any of you, male or female. Family #1, work #2.
2. Pretending to you guys that things are really easy is not an option. Charlie was easy, which is why I rarely wrote about being exhausted – we weren’t. He never cried, and he slept so very much. I made it look easy, because it was kinda easy. But two isn’t, so saying that it is would be inauthentic and also a total lie.
3. I’m actually really inspired work-wise. I think it took me 6 months after having Charlie to get creatively back into it, but this time around my brain got back into it faster, strangely. I think that like anything, the second time around you bounce back faster.
4. I have so much help in every department, so even if I were overwhelmed to the point of paralysis, we are all good (which is a luxury, I know). We have a full time nanny. Brady and Sara have really taken control of the editorial calendar of the blog and they keep it moving. We brainstorm together, then I art direct and write a lot of the content, and then they take over. Meanwhile Ginny and our two new designers are tackling all our design clients. I oversee everything, and approve everything that goes to clients but Ginny is really is killing it, and I don’t have to babysit that department at all. I’m insanely lucky to have such talented and smart people work for me that actually care about the future of the business, not just performing their tasks well. Also the professional and personal lines have really been blurred the last four months with most important meeting being held in Elliot’s nursery. So thanks for, you know, sticking with me.
So, clients (and readers), due to points #1 – #4 you can see that despite my personal challenges WE ARE ALL GOOD 🙂 Life is a big, happy, insane snow show. Those kids make us feel both young and old. Brian and I are hanging on by a thread, but its a really strong, happy thread that is actually indestructable despite how tight we pull it. I know its temporary. I know that in a year we’ll be in a different place and thank god I have a almost unrealistic optimistic personality (i’ve been told) which keeps me in a pretty good mood all day most days. I may not look back at these months with nostalgia or fondness, but getting through them is a badge of parenting that I’m going to wear PROUDLY and I’m still enjoying every second of our days together (well, the seconds in between toddler tantrums).
If you have any sleep suggestions please help. As soon as their cold blows over we are going to try the no-cry, or ‘save our sleep’ methods, but if there is anything you swear by please let me know.
Happy Weekend, y’all. May we all get some ZZZZZZZZZSSSSSS.
*All photos by Stephanie Todaro.
Brava, lovely Emily. What an outstanding blog post. You are not only a business leader, artist, and mother, but a role model – and a great one at that. So many women seem to feel the need to portray their lives as flawless, especially on social media. But life – and motherhood – is multi-faceted. It’s wonderful and beautiful and amazing, and also hard, exhausting, and agonizing at times. Thank heavens that you, Emily, were brave enough to post this honest account of life with two little uns. Thank you so much for sharing so honestly and openly. You rock!
My first was born a few weeks after Charlie and my second a few weeks before your Elliot, so I’m right there with you Emily… except, you know, lacking the crazy successful empire you’ve built. But the sleep deprivation and the whole “how is my life so amazing yet so overwhelming at the same time?” deal… I get it. I don’t have any advice but from what I can see you don’t need it. Thanks for being my place to go to with my fourth cup of coffee and my six minutes of spare time. I hope you have a place to escape to like I do!
We should get coffee 🙂 OR A DRINK. Thanks for commenting.xx
The list of things I would not do to have a drink (let’s be serious… several drinks) with you, Emily H., is a very short one.
Beautiful comment! 🙂 If life ever slows down for you, you should blog or at least write in SOME way.
This was a great read! I completely agree with the daytime being a happy magical time with young kids and evenings being so hard and tiring that getting through until bedtime seems so impossible sometimes. I have three girls (18 mo, 4, and 7) and raising them is hard and awesome. I appreciate this honest glimpse into your life. AND AMEN to not apologizing for making work a priority but not THE priority.
Point number one literally gave me chills. I don’t have kids yet, but hope to one day, and what you said about balancing work and family is so spot on and inspiring. I hope your quote about lean out vs. lean in “goes viral.”
I wish I coined it. I’m not sure where I read it (I think an article about men in the Atlantic) and I was like YES – we should be encouraging men to ‘work’ more like women – prioritize families in addition to work rather teaching women to be more like men – by prioritizing work over family. I think its happening, thanks to people like Mark Zuckerberg. A whole new generation of men, hopefully, and corporations like Google, Netflix, etc are realizing how important it is for BOTH parents to take leave. xx
There’s a book called “The Wife Drought: Why Women Need Wives, and Men Need Lives” by Annabel Crabb. It can be a bit repetitive but it is EXCELLENT. http://blog.annaspargoryan.com/2014/10/book-review-the-wife-drought/
Slow clap on that whole “leaning out” paragraph!! LOVE it. I will be stealing that phrase.
Love your reflections! You said it yourself “every day is different right now”.
Short windows of time. In the blink of an eye…..
Take my word for it.
Signed, Mommy of 2 and Grammy of 4
I love these glimpses into your life and your honest portrayal of life with kids. I think there really is some pressure to lie about how easy everything is because one could sound like a real jerk (you don’t!) for implying that life with two precious children is anything short of magnificent.
[warning: climbing on to soapbox now, feel free to stop reading]
On a slightly different note, I’m on a campaign to get people to stop saying, “you can’t understand this unless you have kids” or, “you don’t feel this amazing thing unless you have kids” I don’t have any children and I am 956742% certain you are not in my brain. It is entirely possible, and even likely, that YOU did not feel or understand these things until you were a mother, but please stop making that assumption about the entirety of the human race. [stepping off soapbox now]
I felt that way too…and then I had kids. Which I know is an obnoxious thing to say, but it really is an entirely different experience from not having kids, for every single person I’ve talked to, regardless of what other kind of deep love and care taking you do in other ways without kids. It just is. It’s like saying, you can’t know what it’s like to be a different race. You can empathize on some things, you can have a lot in common because human experience leaves us with lots of overlap, you can imagine, but there are some things you just can’t know without personal experience, and I believe that’s okay to recognize without saying anyone’s experience is somehow “less than”.
Great point, especially the comparison to race. In that regard, I think you’re right that there are “motherhood” moments, feelings, and experiences that are simply incomparable to anything outside of motherhood (or parenthood). But in this article you were referring to a “combination of exhaustion and gratefulness”. That doesn’t really pass the same litmus test. And, still, you only know how YOU feel for sure.
I think it’s a good debate and I appreciate your thoughtful reply.
Thank you 🙂
I totally respect that and no i’m not in your brain. Hopefully your well slept brain. 🙂 God, does that even make sense? I’ll edit it because while all my friends without kids tell me they don’t understand, I don’t want it to be a blanket statement that brings negativity to this post … or else i’ll cry 🙂
Sleep deprivation is torture. It’s ACTUALLY torture. Take care of yourself…
Emily, this is so well put. I have one daughter (terrible sleeper and therefore only child! ha!) Life with a child and all it brings with it is just something I think one can only truly understand through experience. It’s not just the emotion, the love, but so much more–all of the things you have to think about and consider that you simply don’t when you don’t have a child. And those who have no children, you are certainly not less than! Humans have such varied lives across the planet and none of us are less than for not having had some particular experience.
So, so true. I used to hate when parents assumed that I could never understand their plight because I wasn’t yet a parent. But now that I am a mom I think it’s completely true. I didn’t understand. Even a little. My former single, childless self used to roll her eyes when our new-parent-friends couldn’t go out to dinner on a Saturday, or see a concert last minute. I used to think, “geez, just get a babysitter!” As if it’s ever, EVER that easy. Empathy is powerful, but at the end of the day, our experiences are ours alone and even though we can be lucky enough to find people who relate to us and can share these experiences, you kind of don’t really know until you’ve lived it. We adopted our perfect little peach of a daughter and I feel certain that other mothers who carried their babies don’t know what it was like for me to struggle with infertility for years and then slog through a 4-year adoption process before we were blessed with our daughter when she was one day old. Just like I could never understand the ins and outs of nursing or morning sickness! Personal… Read more »
one other little thing on this note…my brother who is expecting his 2nd baby next month, whispered in my ear, “I can’t imagine loving another child as mush as I love my first child” I told him that your heart magically grows bigger. Impossible to explain, but amazing to experience. Kinda like the Matrix…you gotta take the pill…
I love the overall honesty Emily is sharing in this post but I don’t have kids and I also feel rubbed the wrong way when parents say I’ll never know a certain feeling until I have kids – especially since I don’t plan on having kids. It sort of makes me feel “less than” and I don’t think that’s fair considering my love for my pets and my husband is FIERCE and the joy they bring me is also fierce.
I think it’s just something to be conscious of when talking about these matters but again, I do like when Emily shares these honest, personal posts.
Oh dear, The only thing I said, that was already edited was talking about the level of exhaustion/stress/gratefulness combo that arent typical of pets and husbands. I didn’t say anything about being less than at all or love or anything and I am super sensitive to that. I know i cant do a personal post without offending somebody but i do really try and putting my reality out there is hard and pushing ‘publish’ is stressful for this exact reason. Hopefully, I didn’t offend you 😉
So appreciated the “I don’t apologize for working because work is important…” – mom guilt is so real yet I love my work! Aren’t working mothers some sort of working superhuman heroes?
Also, I make no apologies- it’s truly impossible to ‘get’ the kid thing until you have one. I was one of these people who thought I got it. I didn’t. I do now. Three years in and still tired, but man… this kid! <3
Authenticity is everything. Thank you for this post. xo!
I love this post! But i have to ask – how is it that people can take something so touching and personal and find a way to be negative about it. I hope you don’t take these people serious because I can assure you, without a doubt, that they find a problem with EVERYTHING. Sadly, some people just don’t know how to be anything except negative.
I just wanted to be clear for Emily H’s sake that the first “Emily” reply on this thread isn’t her (her responses are in pink, which is probably obvious, but I want to be clear so I’m not inadvertently putting words in her mouth!)
Ha! Emily, not Pink Emily, I did not realize that so thanks for pointing it out. I actually wondered why some Emily’s were pink.
Debate, discourse, the sharing of opinions… these are not negative or, at least, shouldn’t automatically be interpreted as negative. It’s just that: sharing. It’s a lot easier to be empathetic when you understand that there are actually different opinions.
This all started on a very minor point that Pink Emily made, and as she noted, it has now been changed. It was not meant to be a conversation about how motherhood changes you and I certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone.
I completely agree with all of you – obviously, you are all well aware of how your feelings changed after you had children, And, sure, it might even be true of 99.999999999% of women, but it isn’t necessarily universal and it is simply not something for you to know with any certainty for anybody beyond yourself. I was just asking for the courtesy of considering that just, maybe, there are experiences that differ from yours.
Ha. Thanks, Emily 🙂
All good, Becca. And thanks for your comment. I’m just glad you weren’t offended. Just as you are sensitive to things so am I (negative feedback to REALLY personal posts) so while I did get nauseous for a second I re-read your comment and knew that you weren’t that offended, just commenting on something bigger. We all can only function, relate and express based on our own realities but the more we can consider each others experiences while doing so, the better. For sure. 2 years ago after a really loving/happy post about Charlie as an infant someone commented that as a long time reader that was their last post they were ever going to read because coming to my blog and reading about my happiness made them sad because they couldn’t have kids. I felt so terrible for days. After a while I realized that my new-mother happiness didn’t make her a victim (of me, anyway) and that there are always people who are going to be offended, but it stuck with me. I posted less personal, less often… just in case. And while that comment wasn’t a really negative one I do have a post I want to… Read more »
I thought that way too, until i had kids. Now I kind of see it like, if someone is a frequent skydiver, and they say to you, “it’s the craziest feeling, falling out of a plane. you just can’t quite understand it until you do it”
I wouldn’t argue with them. And it’s kinda the same thing, having kids and raising them.
I LOVED reading this entry – there is something so satisfying about seeing my own life’s joys & struggles mirrored by someone who writes as well and honestly as you do Emily. Your comment that men need to “lean out” is brilliant and gets to the heart of the problem. Thank you for sharing this peek into your full and wonderful life.
I’ve been waiting (in a totally non creepy way, of course) for this update and I’m so impressed. Not exactly that you’re taking good care of your kids, that’s what parents should do, but that you’re striving for balance and you are impressing the importance of both parents actively parenting together. I think the days of dads being a babysitter are over and I’m so glad. I’m due with number 2 in 8 weeks and our kids will be 22 months apart, everything you’ve said sounds about right and what we’re expecting. Indescribable joy and indescribable exhaustion is how I describe tiny humans. Best to you!
Lovely post. I love your square footage analogy…we are literally selling our large home to move to less square footage b/c my 2 year old makes it impossible for me to care for such a large place. My daughter is the same age as Charlie, but she has never been a good sleeper, is a professional screamer, and has been in a “mama-only” phase since the umbilical cord was cut. We have been living your exhaustion since November 2013. (laughing/crying emoticon). You are right, the 9 o’clock bedtime is paramount to survival. I too wouldn’t ever want to go back, but it is pretty amazing that someone can bring you so much happiness and so much misery at the same time!!
Right there with you Emily! I have two kids the same ages. The first was easy and the second is more, shall we say, expressive. So challenging, but so incredibly worth it.
I don’t have kids yet but I have crazy long work hours, a long commute and grad school on top of being married and I sometimes wonder how I could ever add kids to the mix. You give me hope Emily. Not a fake, everything-is-always-good-here type hope but real hope, like it’s-not-easy-but-it’s-worth-it type hope.
Good job mama! I remember that feeling of exhaustion (…like it was yesterday – mandatory mom cliche). But that stage of life is *so good*… if I could revisit it for a time I would! My son is 7 and my daughter is 4 now… when I see their tiny faces in pictures I want a 3rd. But I’ve heard that adding a 3rd kid is like… in your terms… trading in a 10,000 sq. ft. house for Aaron Spelling’s mansion. And sleep is happening, as much of it as I want, so I don’t know if I can give that up again. But aren’t the babies and littles just the sweetest things ever…?!
I actually heard the opposite from my Aunt who has 4 kids. She said after you have 2 what’s another couple? They all start kinda blending in.
I’ve heard that, too. Which is terrifying. It’s probably like having your 4th or 5th drink … sure you get more drunk but you aren’t even really noticing it. 🙂
I don’t have children so this is not based AT ALL on personal experience, but an article I read that stuck with me. It said going from 2 to 3 kids was the hardest because that’s when you and your spouse become out numbered, ha! So all of a sudden you and your spouse/partner/whoever can’t each be in charge of one kid, of if you’re alone you can’t hold each of their hands. But that going from 3 to 4+ was easier because what’s one more?! I thought that was pretty interesting and not something I had ever thought about.
I’m expecting my third in a few months, and I wonder about this too. It’s a quite I’ve heard a lot, the one about being outnumbered. But the thing is, for 80% of the day, it’s just one parent caring for the kids anyways. You’re outnumbered as soon as you have two 🙂
I don’t know where we got it but my husband and I say its like going from man-to-man to zone defense. And I’m expecting twins so we’re making that jump (From 1 – 3) VERY quickly. Send help! 🙂
My mother who had 5 kids said 3 was ten times harder than 2 because they gang up on each other. Ha.
As a mother of 4, I can say with certainty, that the transition from 2-3 was insanely hard. It’s a physical battle… you just can’t be in 3 places at one time and the kids are surely to NEED something simultaneously, many times per day (and night)! But, for me it was mostly the emotional battle of not being able to give each child enough of ME. Enough 1 on 1 time, book reading, fun little dates, etc. By the time you have 4 and the first 3 are thriving and not as emotionally damaged as you assumed they would be (since you can’t possibly spread yourself thin enough to give all 3 of them as much attention as you were able to “in the good old days” of 1 or 2) you realize you GOT THIS and indeed you ARE ENOUGH, because at that point you’ve finally realized that it’s about the FAMILY UNIT, not everything hinges on my ability to be everything to everyone in my family. Each of my precious children plays a role in shaping, fulfilling and loving on their siblings and it is the most BEAUTIFUL thing to experience!
and before you know it you’re passed out on the floor covered in food scraps and spew 😉
i truly found the increase in washing to be the hardest part of going from one to two kids and it’s what’s putting me off a third! Don’t want to spend the rest of my life washing! Didn’t even consider this before number 2 was born…
Ha! That’s kind of funny! But the sleep… the sleep…
As a mamma to three little girls, 8, 5, 2….. I am still waiting for the “blending in” to begin. 🙂 A friend once told me, you are no longer 1:1, it’s zone defense. The number of children is really not the challenge, it’s the variation in daily routines (toddler routines to second grader school routines.) Oh and their volume….. they are so much louder now. On a positive note, my older two help tremendously with my toddler (diaper changes, fixing snacks, reading books, etc) and that is pure bliss!
My mom told me that adding a 3rd was the hardest because you only have TWO hands. But then, if you can handle three, it doesn’t get much harder to add more after that.
Having just delivered my fourth child (other kids 6, 3, and 2) on Valentine’s Day, I can say unequivocally that more is harder, exponentially! Yes, we know how things go and are more prepared, but there simply aren’t enough hands-to-kids ratios. #birthcontrolfail But, I can’t imagine life without each one of them, even my terror of a two year old turned silky sweet, probably so we’d keep him ?.
I love that I can point to you when some of those poor informed souls get on a negative “feminism means…” rant. It doesn’t mean men get left behind. It doesn’t mean children miss out. It doesn’t mean family isn’t important.
Not all that long ago men could (and still do) rationalize spending all their time at work because their wife was with the kids and meeting their needs so it was ok. But it wasn’t good for anybody.
Thanks for filling our hearts this morning. Love.
Yes, yes, yes! You have totally captured what life is like with little kids while working. My first two kids (I have three now) were so much like Charlie and Elliot. My oldest, a boy, was a great sleeper and all around fun and easy baby. Life was pretty awesome and manageable. Then we had our daughter. She was the most adorable, sweet and fun baby in the daytime…and the worst little person ever at night. She woke up every hour from about the time she was 3 months old until she was about 15 months old. It was just horrible. She woke us up, my 2 year old–who then started to have terrible sleeping patterns too–I honestly don’t know how we got through it. I don’t think I had more than 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep for an ENTIRE YEAR. I hardly even have memories from that time. I look back at pictures and I can remember what we were doing in a really detached way. So yes, your hypothesis about the amount of sleep you get directly correlating with your happiness as a parent is right on in my opinion. It is so hard sometimes–but always worth it.… Read more »
We keep saying 2 more years, 2 more years and then we have to stop ourselves because we don’t want it to go faster. And yet we do because everyone tells us it gets so much easier even at 2 and 4. Trying to stay present but its hard.
Mine will be 2 and 4 in a few weeks, and it is SO MUCH EASIER. At 1 and 3 there was a big shift, but now at 2 and 4 they’re not so fragile and needy. They obviously still need a lot of love and attention (which I am obviously MORE than happy to provide), but they don’t need the constant hovering. My four year old will disappear, and then I’ll hear the toilet flush. The two year old doesn’t search the house for tiny objects to choke on. They play together. Yes, they fight and do dangerous things and need supervision, but it’s not the NEVER LOOK AWAY EVEN FOR A SECOND attention they needed when they were tiny.
In the same boat with a 9 month old and 2.5ish year old. Motherhood right now is such a balance of trying to get through it and trying to enjoy it.
And a great commercial in the lean out vein if you haven’t seen http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/25/news/sheryl-sandberg-india-share-the-load/
Emily – as the mother of a 16 and 19 year old – I promise you, the day will come when you will be waiting (and waiting) for your children to wake up, and you will happily go to bed before they even think about turning in for the night! Until then, know that this too shall pass and your sleep balance will be restored and you will laugh with your children one day about how you never got any sleep when they were babies (kids live to hear that kind of thing!). Keep on swimming!
Ah. I’m sure. That’s the biggest problem of all – that this is actually one of the best times of our lives. I’m actually crying right now (to be fair last night was another BRUTAL one so i’m just so tired) but I already miss not having a newborn. It’s all so emotionally confusing. Thank god its friday 🙂
“It’s all so emotionally confusing” – that hits the nail on the head of being a parent! It is so confusing and so emotional. You know logically “this too shall pass” and that when they are 16 you won’t be wiping a butt or getting up 7 times a night to feed/change a diaper/wipe a nose/soothe a cough/etc. And yet while you can’t wait for that time because you will sleep FINALLY, you also dread the passing of time. We moms feel it more, typically. We’re more emotional to begin with. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it (and if you blink you just might fall asleep, too!)
Yep, we are now there!
I loved this post. We have two girls; the first didn’t sleep during the day ever, even as a newborn, yet thankfully she had a fairly happy and calm disposition, until bedtime – very exhausting! Now she’s a couch potato and sleeps till lunchtime wherever possible.
Daughter number 2 did nothing but sleep and feed for the first 3 months of her life. No exaggeration. She then became a very active toddler and has been that way ever since. She no longer has time to sleep!
My oldest 12 and this is the first year that I’ve started going to bed before her! Craziness. 🙂
My husband and I had our first child 10 months ago. I basically gave him the lean out speech a few months in, and surprisingly it is working. He is a super hard worker and his boss loves him, which helps, but he has set boundaries and made more time for our family and it has made all the difference.
Oh, and this post was awesome and thanks for your honesty on all fronts.
That’s great – tell your husband ‘kudos for being such a modern man’.
Everyone keeps on saying having your fourth child is the easiest transition of all… I haven’t tested that out myself, three is plenty for me, but I speculate that it’s because at that point survival is the only goal and nothing else matters 😉 With three I’m just resigned to the fact that hauling kids around in the minivan is my main job description and that my house will never be totally clean (and my laundry will never be done), and I’m cool with that 🙂
i wanted to say i like your parenting posts. i come here for your all around wisdom. i wanted to emphasize that and encourage you not to pay attention to people who say they don’t want to read anything but decoration here. hoping you’ll get a chance to write a little more about the design business — i think your mormons at martha piece, and your hiring an assistant piece, are high points of modern life. honesty about parenthood is a good one too.
thank you 🙂
Cheers to you, Emily! I’ve loved learning about baby #2 from you as my first was born right near Elliot (11/8/15). That said, she’s sleeping amazingly in her crib with Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit. I have to tell every mom who’s struggling with sleep about the magical suit. IT IS TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY, MAGICAL. ORDER IT ON AMAZON RIGHT NOW!
I LOVE you and your blog. I’m a mom too and feel you. The ‘only’ difference is, i have ONLY one child. That was not a choice and it makes me feel quilty every day (for not giving my daughter a sibbling). I also always have to defend myself for ‘only’ having one child. ‘Only’ one child is not easy either, there are the same challenges. I wish people in general are a little bit more sensitive about saying that having one child is Not Hard.
I agree that many people assume EVERYTHING is easier because I only have one child and too often people assume that was a choice. We definitely have many of the same challenges and still have to juggle. I do admire people with multiple children doing multiple activities and wonder how our family would handle the busyness of a bigger family when I feel like we’re just “getting through the day.” We were blessed with just one beautiful, energetic, strong-willed kiddo who keeps us on our toes. I’ve accepted that it was’t completely in our control to give him a sibling and that wouldn’t automatically make him happier, stronger, smarter, or guarantee that he had a good relationship with a sibling. Most of us are just doing our best to appreciate the situation we have, love our children and guide them in growing to be their best selves.
I feel ya. I had 3 kids, I commuted into the city and my husband worked nights, so I was a single parent when I got home from work. (There were lots of tears–on my part) My husband leaned all the way in…Cleaned house, cooked, shopped, and had the laundry done on Fridays.
We also had an amazing sitter (thank God).
But guess what… the boys are grown and gone, and my daughter leaves for college in 5 months. We had a lot of laughs when they were little, but it seems like a million years ago. So enjoy the fun.
As a new mom myself, I have been stressing over sleep schedules and sleep training and if I am failing to “teach” my child to sleep. Then I read this article (link below) that talks about how genetics play a large role in how babies sleep. There was solace in the fact that I cannot control my son’s sleep (hard for a control freak) and for better or worse just accept what it is and know that this phase will not last forever.
Get the Moms on Call Toddler book. It has a schedule on how to live with a toddler and a baby at the same time. And will get your kids to sleep. Life. Changing.
Done. thank you!
I can only find this on kindle–either of you get paperbacks?
What I always try to remind myself – (I have 2 kids, 4yr and 11mo old) is that even when I snuggling at ungodly hours of the night, there will come a time when they don’t even want to interact with me. That being said I try to remember to eat all that snuggling time up. You give a lot now, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t get the time back once it’s gone.
Me, too. I always think when he’s 16 he’s not going to beg me to read him a story at 3am., so appreciate it NOW.
I sincerely appreciate your honesty Emily! So many times we see glossy, over photo shopped photos online and it’s just not the whole truth. I love design, I have a toddler Charlie’s age, I run a successful company that I don’t own — but I’m passionate about, and I’ve loved following along in your journey. Sometimes the things you write sounds as if it’s my own brain talking through what I’m presently experiencing. How can you have so many talents woman?! Writing is definitely one of them so please don’t stop. Your words truly matter and make a difference — thank you so much for sharing!
You are sure an adorable family.
I found the opposite to be true when adding a second kid–it was like NOTHING. So easy compared to one! Both of mine have been terrible sleepers, so it’s probably just the sleep thing that determines how hard it is. I hope Elliot gets the memo soon that sleep is #1.
I have friends that say the same thing!! Its just not our reality and i’m not sure which is better – easy first or easy second ?
I loved reading this! I had my second baby just six months ago and also have a two year old, so I can relate to the chaos and exhaustion and also the bliss! I love to hear how you and your husband balance your family and careers, as it’s a struggle that my husband and I are also working on. I don’t know you in person, but I read your blog everyday like a stalker and love it! Thanks for keeping me creatively inspired! And good luck at night! The struggle is real.
You’re not going to want to hear it but 2am and 5am is pretty good going! Our monkey is a day younger than Elliot and she’s waking at 11, 2 and 5 on a good night. On a bad night? Don’t ask ?. It was every 90 minutes for a while there…
Admittedly we don’t also have a toddler to deal with and I’m still on maternity leave (yay for England!) so I don’t have to juggle work – I count myself lucky for those saving graces! But I know exactly what you mean about the combo of overwhelming love and total exhaustion. Luckily these babies are rewarding little creatures!
I have a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old and I always say the same thing you said: after having 2 kids, taking care of just one of the kids is like having no kids again. Thanks for the honest post about the struggle of these early years because it’s otherwise so easy to look around at other moms and think they have it all figured out.
That said, I do think I’ll feel very nostalgic about these young boys when they are older.
Your feelings and emotional state are spot on. I truly remember it as a day by day survival, and during those “wild” nights I found some crazy kind of hope and joy when I could see the sunrise coming and hear birds chirping. We refer to it as the “foggy” years because one can only remember so much on so little sleep. So take lots of videos, and pat yourself on the back when you see your babies laughing and smiling. They are capable of that because of the love from their parents, and yes that’s a badge of honor. Mine are 8, 6 and 4 now. Different problems now….my 4 yr old just stole and lost my 6 yr olds first lost tooth last night…before the tooth fairy even had a chance! But it’s all just so much fun. Love the post and I promise, you will sleep again.
That made me laugh re the tooth. THANK YOU. xx
Well said, Emily! I just started following your blog (where have I been?!) because my husband and I bought a fixer upper and are about to take on the huge task of a re-model. We have a 2.5 year old daughter and a 9 month old son and I founded my own business as well. I felt the need to comment because I have never read ANYTHING on parenting that I felt really nailed it like you have with this post. You are an inspiration, lady!!! xo
Thank you so much. Seriously. (and welcome to the blog :))
My dog woke me this morning, sitting next to the bed and crying. She had a poop situation that required help. I was exhausted, she was uncomfortable. And while I was doing the things, and cleaning up the aftermath on the carpet, her bed, the patio, and her, I was thinking how gross this would be to anyone else and how I handle it because I’m completely in love with her, and because she is vulnerable and relies on me for everything and I am her most favorite person.
She inspires crazy hopes and fears. She is so smart and kind that I feel guilty everyday if I haven’t done enough to help her reach her potential and to be happy. I sound like a crazy person, but I was cleaning and thinking of how similar pets can be to children even though I know it’s not the same.
When I was done, I went straight to this blog to get some pretty pics and grown-up stories…how hilarious and timely the topic is!
LOVE hearing about Elliot and Charlie and your parenthood journey and your views on working parents…never stop sharing!!
When my son was 1, he got a bad head cold. It progressed into an ear infection and he stopped sleeping through the night. At first it was fine, and I was patient and sympathetic. Then he got better, but by then was used to waking up at night. I tried so hard to be patient and kind, but finally one night I was SO TIRED, I ended up sleeping in the basement so I couldn’t hear his cries.
He didn’t wake up at night anymore after that.
Overall, though, both my kids were pretty good sleepers after the first 3 or 4 months. I’m not really sure I have any helpful tips, but hang in there! It will get better. My kids are 4 and 6 now, sleep great, and play together constantly. It’s so much fun.
Thanks for the great post!
I know this isn’t always feasible but my husband and I slept in separate rooms, he took the toddler when she got out of bed 4 times a night and I slept next to the bassinet in the nursery. We didn’t love it but it got us through. Toddlers seem to know something is up and the night is when it manifests itself : )
That lasted about 5 or 6 months and then my 3 year old stopped waking up so often and the baby woke less and at 8 months we did a version of cry it out and all is well now. We worried they would wake each other too but we finally just couldn’t take it anymore and it went better than expected.
That is a very simplified version of what we did, so so many small details and endless conversations were had daily to make these things happen as you well know!
Perfect post, my baby is now 14 months and we are sleeping now thankfully, but it brought back so many happy memories, thank you for doing that and being so honest.
Aw, you are doing a great job Emily. Thanks for your honesty. I don’t have kids yet but I read every single parenting post you write and always enjoy them. Lack of sleep is my biggest fear when the day comes…but your grit and gratitude inspires. 🙂 Your kids are off the charts cute, those smiles! xox
Happy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child is a game changer. Referred to my copy often with all three kids.
3 kids is crazy town, btw!
Yes! I love that book and swear by it.
I’m here to say: I promise you, it will get easier AND better. It did for me.
Mine are now 8 & 10 and I can honestly say it’s so much better than those early years. It’s now a perfect blend of being independent but with them still liking you and wanting to hang out with you (sometimes a little attitude, but manageable).
I hear from so many parents how they adore the baby/toddler years and I say to them, “good for YOU!” For me, however, it was a whirlwind. Exhausting, confusing…busy boredom also can apply.
I don’t wish to go back. I have nightmares of being pregnant with twins and wake up crying, then extatically happy realizing it was only a dream!!!
But today — TODAY — and the realization that it gets better with time makes it all worth it. I’m a better mom to my kids as they grow older and that’s okay to admit.
I was one of those people who loved babies. I think I might be. Maybe tomorrow. You are in the sweet spot of parenting 7 – 12. HAVE FUN, you deserve it.
I have three boys (9,6,and 2). Going from 1 to 2 was the absolute hardest for me. I am not one for sleep advice. I am so lame. With my third, I pass out when they all get in bed and turn off the baby monitor. Evil, I know.
You are a positive light. Its actually amazing to me. Sleep deprived, hard working and happy. I was so in awe of you in Las Vegas with your breast pump on your back. The under belly of motherhood can be so dark. Your light is so refreshing…
Those last two sentences made my day. Thank you. xx
My son is four and a half and my daughter is just a couple of weeks younger than Elliot. I have a theory that parents have a second child soon after the first if their first child sleeps well early on. My son was a horrible sleeper until 18 months (now he is wonderful at it, thank goodness)–so, needless to say, I required more time to recover from that trauma before diving back in.
I’m also sleep-deprived these days, but last night I got 6 hours straight for the first time in weeks and weeks so I basically could lift a car with one finger.
Good luck and thanks for sharing!
Ha! That is so true. We have 3 years between the first and second and my first was a poor sleeper. i was traumatized and needed that whole second year to recover! our best friends had a baby who would sleep anywhere – as in, they traveled and would stick her in a closet, bathroom, anything and she’d get her full 12 hours – and they had a second so fast.
Yep. Charlie was so easy that at 11 months we were like….lets try again. And then waited til after christmas and then mid-february rolled around 🙂
Super woman! So funny, thanks for making me laugh as I lie in bed with my two week old on my chest while I hear my toddler in the other room gearing up for the day. The comments are just as good as Emily’s confession. Emily you should host a convention; your readers are truly delightful people. 🙂
It would be SO hard to share so much of your personal life for the world to see, enjoy, or nitpick. Thank you Emily for being so bold! Authenticity is what truly helps people and what others can relate to.
We are all so different! Here’s a good read on the topic.
Oh, and this is a blog meant for advice and such. 🙂 I posted the article for the sake of people in general just giving each other some slack. 🙂
Thanks, Tracy. I’m going to check it out 🙂
Family #1, work #2–right on.
Emily this is so well written and so exactly what its like. At some point I thought I had just become an angry person and I couldn’t figure out what had changed my personality until I realized, OH YEAH, I haven’t slept in like a year (our baby woke every 2 hours until 14 months when I hired a sleep expert to help. Best $100 email consultation I ever spent in my life!!!) Sleep is amazing.
And I really appreciate hearing how you run the whole crazy family and work life. We have 4 kids under 4 (twin boys, a sweet girl, and then a sweet accident 🙂 ) And we have a similar juggle. My husband works from home and runs the house and I work from home 2x a week and we sort of bounce the kids between us and preschool, etc. Its crazy. And exhausting. And amazing. And passes so quickly. And also feels like it will never end.
Thanks for being such an amazing example of a strong beautiful working mother.
WOAH. Four under four. You are a bad ass. Nice job and tell your husband KUDOS for being so modern.
Ok, I wish someone would have told me this earlier. The sooner you start putting your newborn to sleep awake, the better! As lovely and even convenient as it is to rock and pat and sing them to sleep they then learn to depend on it, and wake throughout the night needing that crutch. The book that worked wonders for my first and is now working wonders on my 5 month old is the Sleep Lady book – it’s on Amazon. It’s a gentle approach to sleep training that doesn’t leave them to cry alone but actually works. There’s a formula, you are there with them, and with my first child it took 3 nights and he was sleeping 8+ hours. That was after months and months of every two hour wakings. It’s also for all ages, there’s a whole section on toddlers. I highly recommend it! Good luck. This too, shall pass. 🙂
Ordering it. And I just tried to put her down awake and it was a fail, but thats because i know that rocking takes like 2 minutes … trying harder tomorrow.
I have a 2.5 year old son and a 3 month old daughter, so I loved reading this post like a fat kid loves cake. But I have to chime in here because…as frustrating as it is, this method may not work for all babies. My firstborn was a unicorn baby like yours, Emily, he slept a full 12 hours without needing any intervention at 9 weeks! Unicorn! BUT, I ALWAYS nursed him, an average for an hour (sometimes up to 80 minutes!) until he was fast asleep, then gently put him down and walked out. This nightly suspense turned me into a anxious mess at the time, but I did it because that was the only way it worked, and because he would sleep for the next 12 hours. Then, eventually at around 8 months, he learned to go to bed awake and never looked back.
I am not recommending my way, but simply sharing my story because Elliott may not be a baby that takes well to being put down awake. Experiment, as we all must, but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work and move on!
Charlie was the same. we rocked him to sleep til 7 months and all was good. so yes, i agree that putting down awake isnt for everyone. xx
I absolutely loved this post! Bravo on all your points and I couldn’t agree more – especially on point one! We should be proud of putting our families first, not embarrassed! Hang in there on the sleep! Colds are THE WORST for sleep and I hope they get over them soon, and that you guys get some sleep soon too! xo
I never had a girl crush before, but this post changed all that…You’re rockin’ motherhood with such great perspective and patience. Everything is a phase and things will get easier, and then harder, and then easier. I have two kids 18 months apart. We thought we had it all down after getting through the first one, but then we found out, no. This child was different. She hated being swaddled or jiggled. She loved nursing. She couldn’t stand being apart. What.So.Ever. The first year was like being thrown back into in the milk-soaked, Cheerio-encrusted trenches of parenting again. But you won’t just survive this first year, you WILL look back and yearn for those cuddly, snuggly days when things were hard but so simple. My biggest sleep advice: Buy “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” It’s the best and we treated it like the Bible. Our first and second graders still sleep 10-11 hours a night!
I have that book and I’m going to reference it again tonight. Nice job – 18 months apart sounds possibly more insane. I like you right back. xx
I swear it is as if I wrote this post myself, except I only have 1 child for now. I loved this post I didn’t want it to end!!! When I wrote a similar personal post about experiencing postpartum anxiety on my blog I had over 200 emails from women thanking me for being honest. Now I want to thank you! Ignore the commenters who were annoyed with you telling the TRUTH. There is zero way to understand what it’s like to be a Mom without being a Mom. You’re not saying you’re a petter person than them, because you’re a Mom, it’s just that they can’t comprehend what you’re going through period, end of story. Now re: sleep. We hired a sleep training expert to come in and save our lives when our son was 8 weeks old. She used the Baby Wise method. She cost us less than $1000 and our son went from sleeping 1-2 hours in a row ON SOMEONE to sleeping 12 hours in a row every night in his crib by himself without a peep. I highly recommend hiring a sleeping training expert and/or reading Baby Wise. It changed our lives and our son’s.… Read more »
Laughed out loud at the driving a convertible, blindfolded, and drunk. Got more than a few stares from my counterparts at our work space, but well worth it.
The love you had for those kiddos literally shows through in every single photo you post. Can’t wait to see the stories your kids come to share as they get older!
What I have always loved about reading your parenting posts is how well you describe the insane juxtaposition of thoughts that motherhood brings about. I am mom to a toddler with another on the way (my first was the easiest baby ever so I’m fully expecting WW III come September 2016), and I have always had that feeling of, “How can I love this child with such intensity one second and want to wring her neck the next?” A (slightly) less eloquent restatement of your words, but what I mean is, I feel you. I adore/despise all the wonderful/terrible things about motherhood. I still walk past my daughter’s room and think, “There’s a kid in there! And she calls ME ‘Mama!’ Who let that happen?!?!?” And I am so looking forward to what fresh hell awaits when I have two of them.
I love posts like this…..my kids are 23 20 and 16 and you definitely forget how hard it is during the young years. I tell people all the time that when they are young it’s physically exhausting and when they get older (specifically late teenage, early adult) it can become a mental challenge. Different problems altogether. It will get better, I promise…..
You will be glad when they get older that they are spaced close together…trust me on this one.