Monday, June 20, 2011

Back to reality

The first three months of parenthood have flown by. We’ve been blessed to have an essentially “perfect” little boy. He sleeps all though the night (usually 10 hours straight), hardly ever cries and generally seems to be about the happiest person in our house.

Lauren was able to take a full 12 weeks off from work for maternity leave, and somewhere in all the fun times we forgot what a drastic “routine” change we were about to endure when she went back to work.

Before Elliot arrived, we were occasionally teased by friends with the old classic: “Just wait till you have kids.” We’d usually get that feedback when inviting people to spontaneous nights out in the middle of the week or missing a phone call at noon on a Saturday because we were still asleep. I used to laugh it off; now I know exactly what they were talking about!

Long before Elliot’s arrival Lauren and I discussed the importance of fitting Elliot into our routine and not letting him dictate it. One example is the gym. Staying healthy and exercising have always been important to us, so we decided we would do whatever was required to keep up our fitness once we became parents. For years the morning was always my time to go to the gym, and Lauren would take the evening shift after work. We knew we had to continue this after Elliot, because I think we both feared if we quit, we’d never start back up again.

Two weeks ago, when Lauren went back to work, we unveiled our new Monday to Friday “routine.” I will never again underestimate the drastic impact having a kid has on your schedule or sleep patterns.

4:30 AM
Lauren’s alarm goes off. It’s that nice iPhone jingle. I’m usually vaguely aware of it but fall right back to sleep. Lauren gets up and starts getting ready for work.

4:45 AM
My alarm goes off. Mine is not so nice. It’s a shockingly loud repetitive beep, and I usually awake with a jolt. I have to remember to grab the baby monitor by our bed and take it in the bathroom so we can keep tabs on sleeping junior.

4:55 AM
I head to the gym for my workout. I’m usually sitting in the parking lot when the “Open” sign illuminates and the poor sap that got roped into that job unlocks the doors. I meet my bleary-eyed brother, who has no kids and I’m sure wonders every day why he agreed to this ridiculous schedule change.

Lauren has to leave the house at 6:05 AM sharp for work, so I have to be extra conscious of the time and make sure I leave the gym no later than 6:00 AM. I now work out with my phone in my pocket, because should Elliot decide to wake up while I’m gone, I’d have to rush home and “control” him so Lauren is not late for work. I haven’t had to do this yet but know the day will come soon.

6:05 AM
I walk in from the gym, and Lauren is waiting for me in the kitchen. She shows me where Elliot’s freshly pumped breakfast bottle is, reminds me not to forget to take the diaper bag and day’s milk with me to the babysitter and usually imparts a few other words of wisdom that I might need to hear.

6:10 AM
Elliot has to start eating his breakfast at 7:00 AM in order for us to be ready to leave for the baby sitter’s at 7:30 AM. The 6:10 AM – 7:00 AM range is my time to eat and get ready for work unless he wakes up before 7:00 AM, which he’s been known to do on occasion. That being the case, priority number one is to shower before he wakes up. Anything else I can do while holding him in one hand, so once I get out of the shower without hearing him stirring on the baby monitor, I know I am going to “win” that day.

At some point I always think about getting back in bed and trying to catch a 20-minute nap, but I fear if I do, I’ll be showing up to work unshowered, unshaven and starving – so I resist the urge.

7:00 AM
This is the best part of the morning: waking Elliot up. He’s always happy in the morning and greets me with the biggest smile. I get him dressed, changed and fed and in his car seat by 7:30.

7:30 AM
We are on the road to the baby sitter’s house and I can’t help but wonder how people with more than one kid do it!

Jordan Echols is a Sr. Marketing Specialist for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and first-time dad to three-and-a-half-month-old Elliot.

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