Wow.  For starters, I learned that being a mom of four really is a full time job.  Especially when your husband has a demanding career that keeps him on the lamb 24-hours a day.  The month of April was particularly challenging for us because my husband was extremely busy with work, and Spring Break came ridiculously late this year.  It was the first time I realized there was a chance that I might not be able to do this all on my own.  Without strict planning, overly-organizing and thoroughly scrutinizing every detail, we ended up spending money we didn’t need to, packing in every minute of the day, and creating a mini-entourage of nannies.  Having a brief moment to take a step back today, and after my second battle with an organized class we paid for and missed out on all month, I realized there was a lot of learning to be done in these past 30-days.

Lesson 1: Don’t pre-pay or commit monetarily to classes in advance without analyzing your calendar first.
I learned this the hard way with swimming and Gymboree.  Both classes required month long commitments, and both classes my kids only attended once in 30-days due to my husband’s busy work schedule, no additional help, or Spring Break.  Find out what the make-up policy is, and if you can pay per class if you know your month is going to be hectic.  Or skip it all together and sign up next month!

Lesson 2: Plan long term, not just day to day.  Look ahead, not just to the next day.
Going back to Lesson 1, because I was in frantic, survival mode, I didn’t take the time to look at the month as a whole, and therefore, signed my kids up and paid in advance for a month of classes we all missed out on.  All because I wasn’t really looking ahead.  I didn’t realize that Spring Break was going to cut into our month of lessons, or that my husband’s busy schedule was going to keep us out of the loop for an entire weekend.  It probably didn’t affect my kids as much as it affected my check book, but it was a good lesson learned, and one I will consider more now that I’ve added two more people to my calendar!

Lesson 3: Realize that you can’t do it all by yourself.
This, believe it or not, even with a 7 and 5 year old and 6 month twins, is a hard lesson for me to learn.  I really think I can do everything by myself.  Then I get there and realize that, hmmm, maybe I can’t.  One needs to go to the bathroom, one is hungry, the other is crying, and the other one…oh shit!  Where is the other one?!?!?  Get my drift??  I considered, during a moment of temporary insanity, that maybe I should sign the twins up for swimming lessons.  Then I remembered how we didn’t even make it to one day of Gymboree during the month of April due to lack of an extra adult, and realized that if I did that, I would be absolutely insane. 

Lesson 4:  Realize that you can’t do it all by yourself.
Yes, I repeated myself here.  For good reason.  You CAN’T do it all by yourself!!  Seriously, this is so hard for me to learn.  I was planning an entire three week vacation to the beach, alone, with all four kids, until I started to say it aloud to a friend and realized that there might possibly be something wrong with me.  How the hell was I going to take four kids to the beach, again a 7 and 5 year old and a set of soon to be 9 month old twins, by myself.  I mean, my older kids are really great kids, I mean really, they are.  They are pretty independent and can do a lot on their own, but even so…they aren’t tall enough or strong enough to hold and carry a baby if I needed them to.  I can’t keep my son interested long enough to feed one of them.  They aren’t old enough to go to a public bathroom alone.  Not to mention the towels, blankets, snacks, drinks, sunblock, pack-n-plays, beach toys, diapers, wipes, bottles and formula I would have to pack and take with me…and that’s just to the actual beach.  So, I had to cave in and find a local nanny to save my sanity.  After all, like my girlfriend said, “It’s a relocation, not a vacation!”

Lesson 5:  Hire a nanny
For the last three weeks, I have been using five different girls (yes FIVE) to create one network of nannies.  They are like my Nanny Entourage.  One can only work at night, the other only during the day, the other just had surgery and can only watch the older kids, one goes to graduate school three times a week so can only help out on certain days…it’s like a mad house around here.  Thank God we have known half of them since they were babies, and know where their parents live…my kids have a relationship with them, so I don’t feel AS bad, but still…to have that many people in and out of your kids life on a consistent basis…there has to be somewhere in the “Parent Rulebook” that states that is not OK.  But have I told you how hard it is to find a nanny??!?!  Especially a good one, who already knows how to do everything.  You know why it’s hard?  Because another family already found her and she is working for them!!!

We are headed off to the mountains for Spring Break…my next post might be entitled, “Why you never travel with your in-laws without your husband on a 12-hour road trip there and back with 4 kids,” but who knows, I’m hopeful, and damn it, I think I can do it!! (without a nanny!)