tricks + tips

Help. They’re Mobile. (Seriously, I Need Help.)

Although the boys aren’t crawling up on their hands and knees yet, they can inchworm around the house—fast. And now they’re pulling themselves up to standing. They use the ottoman, couch, dining room chairs, stairs, toys, my legs—anything they can for help.

We’re sleeping now. Typically we’re only up once a night, for one child. Owen’s favorite wake-up time is around midnight; James, 2:30am; Sophie, varies. (Trust me, this is much, much, much better than last summer, which I can’t provide the details of, because now it’s all a blur.) I only have to pump milk for the boys five to six times a day—sometimes I can get away with four. (Much nicer than every three hours.) We have a nap routine. A bedtime routine. Enough of a schedule that we can write it out if someone else watches our children for a few hours.

For a few weeks (a month, I dare say), I felt (somewhat) in control.

Lately, though, I feel like I’ve lost it.

When Sophie was crawling, I simply followed her. Through patience, time and repetition, I taught her to leave the dog bowls alone, to not touch breakable decorative items, to lower herself when standing instead of simply, inexplicably, letting go.

I can’t do this with the boys. There’s too much going on. While I’m moving Owen who is seconds away from tipping over and cracking his head on the hardwood floor, James is plunging both arms into Tucker’s water bowl, soaking himself and the floor (and laughing). While I’m cleaning up the bathroom floor after Sophie tried to dump the contents of her little potty into the big potty (and missed), Owen is pulling a basket of toys out of the cubbies, narrowly missing his head. And while I’m wiping the wet cat food off of James’s hands (and wondering if any made it into his mouth), Sophie is clicking the end of my laptop charger and cell phone charger together, creating sparks. (Note: Andy doesn’t believe this. I’ve tried to replicate it, but could not. But I swear I saw sparks.)

I’m exhausted. Never have I had a job so physically demanding. I’m constantly jumping up, picking up, putting down, moving, shifting, catching, pulling, rolling.

I know. It’s a phase. It’ll pass.

But seriously. I need some help. Every night I take note of the bumps and bruises (both on my children and my parenting self-esteem).

So, parents. Of multiples, specifically, but anyone, really. Advice? Tips? Tricks? What do you do about dog bowls? Do you gate absolutely everything? Do you invest in one of those large, gated, play yards (which both boys could be placed in, say, when I take Tucker out)? Do you hover when your almost-one-year-olds pull themselves up (sort of impossible, with three) or do you let them learn on their own, let falls happen (note we have hardwood floors with area rugs)?

Outside is a problem in and of itself. Sophie hated grass. Turns out, that was awesome. You could put her on a quilt outside and she stayed on the quilt, even when she could walk. Owen, though, has no fear. He inchworms his way off the quilt so fast, dragging his stomach through grass, dirt, mulch—you name it. James, on the other hand, inchworms his way to the edge of the quilt and then eats whatever is on the other side (grass, leaves, dirt, you name it). All the while Sophie wants me to chalk with her or push her in her car or catch her at the bottom of the slide one more time.

Here’s the thing: I can pack away anything within reach that’s pretty. I can gate like crazy. I can set up the play yard in the living room and throw in a couple toys. I can take our jumpers outside and insist the boys play in them, and only them. But then, how do they explore? How do they learn about the world around them?

I don’t think it’s right to go crazy with baby proofing, to gate everything, to never let them move, try, fall, stand up, sit down. But I also have to keep them safe. After all, it’s sort of my No. 1 responsibility.

So please share. Ideas. Products. Phone numbers of nannies willing to be paid in toddler artwork instead of cash.

I thank you. My kids thank you. And so does Andy, who, I’m pretty sure, has witnessed a mini meltdown every night this week.

“Now the thing about having a baby—and I can’t be the first person to have noticed this—is that thereafter you have it.” —Jean Kerr