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What's Your Parenting Routine?

My husband went on an impromptu boys trip to Vegas this weekend, for the Mayweather/Mosley fight, and left me home to fend for myself for four days with a sick baby and a crazy dog, and a virus of my own to nurse. Good times.

It was the first time that I'd be taking care of Preston on my own, not that I think I deserve a medal for it (maybe just a small trophy). As the week went on and I started feeling worse I was a little nervous about what the weekend would entail (non-stop crying? sleepless nights?). Especially after the week Preston just had -- he's been having trouble pooping from the food he's eating, and he was in a lot of what seemed to be inexplicable pain which turned out to be constipation. Then he caught Jay's cough, so we took him to the doctor to get things checked out (no ear infection, thank god). It was his first virus -- apparently, he's not invincible -- and it was my first time seeing him suffer like that, so uncomfortable and defenseless and vulnerable. But, as everyone knows, there's not much you can do for a baby suffering from the common cold. You just have to roll with it, which is much easier to do with two parents around.

Juggling solo parental duties with a sick baby (and being sick myself), and working my usual 10-hour days (two of which I missed earlier in the week to take care of Preston), was a bit daunting, not going to lie. And knowing Jay wouldn't be there at night to help out…well, let's just say, I was more than a little apprehensive for him to go out of town on Thursday. But I didn't want to rob him of this trip, a trip he was invited on by his uncle and cousin; he deserved the vacation. And after all, he took care of Preston on his own when I had to go to Austin for a five-day work conference in March. I owed him this time off. But just out of curiosity, would you have been cool with it?

As I sit down to write this blog on Sunday night at 10 p.m., the first time I've had to myself all weekend, I can honestly say I feel a little like Super Woman right now. I accomplished more this weekend than I thought possible: we're stocked with groceries, the laundry is done, the baby's bottles are clean, the baby is bathed and sleeping soundly, and the house is spotless. I had two fun play dates on Saturday and Sunday at the park across the street, keeping Preston active all weekend while the sun was shining. Even Barkley is well fed and happy. Maybe I've been underestimating my homemaking skills all along… But when push came to shove, I stepped up my game. And the real reward came Saturday when Preston finally said "mama" for the first time. He said it again on Sunday, and again this morning – "maaama, maaama!" Music to my ears, and right in time for my first Mother's Day.

However, behind all this cheeriness is an exhausted individual: I am completely and utterly spent right now. My back is shot, too, and I almost feel hungover from just a lack of rest -- when Jay got home last night I could barely hold a conversation with him. And he has a softball game later, so it's not like I can take the night off after work.

The weekend running as smoothly as it did, I give full credit to a routine Jay and I put into place in the early months during my mat leave – and our consistency with it ever since. As most new parents know, it's all about routine routine routine. But it's not just babies who need it -- parents thrive on routine too. It's become our saving grace, especially when only one of us is home. We're a well-oiled machine in the Gorenstein house, which helped make the solo parenting act doable this weekend. I think every household has its own rhythm that keeps things moving along smoothly, even when things get particularly hectic -- like when there's a sick, crabby baby to tend to, or a sick, crabby parent (or both).

So I thought I'd share my Parenting Routine below -- in the hopes that you will share yours. What are some of the key components to your parenting style or rhythm? Is there anything you do that is so crucial to your routine and sanity? For us that would probably be getting bottles ready in advance of feedings by having at least 6 filled up with nursery water, making a quick bottle while holding a nearly 20-lb. baby a little easier. Cleaning the bottles as we go is also helpful -- we don't let bottles or the baby's laundry pile up, but obviously having a nanny three days a week (because I work full time) helps us manage that. But we were doing it like this even when I was home on mat leave full time with no help.

Below was Sunday's routine, which is very typical:

6:45-7 a.m.: Reluctantly get out of bed.

7:15 a.m.: Take Barkley out.

7:30: Feed Barkley, and then make Preston's breakfast: a 6 oz. bottle of Similac; a bowl of Gerber baby food mix of bananas, apples, and prunes (to help with the constipation).

7:40: Get Preston up (a little later than usual, he talked to himself in his crib while I took care of Barkley).

7:45 a.m.: Feed Preston some of his bottle first, then the baby food, which he has been refusing to eat all week. It's a bit of a battle but he finishes!

8:30: Play with Preston and watch cartoons (or Beverly Hills, 90210 reruns).

9:30: Put Preston down for his morning nap.

9:45 a.m.: Pack up Preston's diaper bag for our afternoon outing.

10 a.m.: Clean bottles from the night before; sanitize bottle parts; get new bottles ready for the day/night by filling them up with 6 oz. of nursery water and putting all the bottle parts together so they're ready to grab on the fly (and with one hand).

10:30: Run a couple loads of Preston's laundry.

10:45 a.m.: Shower and get ready for noon play date with old high school friend and her adorable son Cal.

11:15 a.m.: Straighten up the house; clean Preston's toys to get rid of sicky germs in case Cal wants to play with any of them.

11:45 a.m. Take garbage and Barkley out, in that order.

12:15 p.m.: Play date arrives, we shoot the breeze for a few minutes, and I pack Preston up to leave for the park.

12:30 p.m.: Swing time! Preston isn't so into it though. Poopy diaper already? Nope. Hungry again? Yep!

1:30 p.m.: We leave the park and walk over to West End, a sports bar in my hood, for lunch. The babies are amazingly chill and adaptable; we are actually able to eat and talk, uninterrupted for the most part.

3 p.m.: We leave the bar and walk back to my place; high school friend says her goodbyes; I take Preston upstairs.

3:15 p.m.: Change Preston's diaper, and put him down for his afternoon nap. He cries a little, but eventually goes to sleep.

3:30 p.m.: Attempt to take my own nap, but instead watch bad TV and talk to my mom on the phone.

4:30 p.m.: Straighten up the house some more; clean bottles from the day; sanitize bottle parts; fill up more bottles for the week.

5 p.m.: Lay down for an hour, but never actually close my eyes for more than five minutes. Damn, Facebook!

6 p.m.: Preston wakes up from his nap; I give him a longer bath, and we play in the tub for a while (he loves his baths). Then I put on his PJs, bring him into my room to play on my bed and work on tummy time and rolling over.

7 p.m. Put Preston in the jumper; feed Barkley dinner.

7:30 p.m. I give Preston his last bottle, and add in white grape juice for the constipation (he's had two small poops today).

8 p.m.: Read Goodnight Moon and help Preston wind down for bed, which is where I would like to be headed…

8:20 p.m.: Preston waves at me as I'm closing his door. First time!

8:30 p.m.: Watch Brothers and Sisters (I really should be checking my work email or writing my blog).

9:15 p.m.: Realize I haven't eaten dinner yet! Pick at my leftover salad from lunch. (Probably wouldn't hurt me to skip a meal.)

9:30 p.m.: Download photos from the weekend.

10 p.m. Write my blog.

12 a.m.: Turn off the TV, and finally close my eyes…

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