Now that we don't have daytime bottles or a morning nap to deal with, the Fab Four and I have been getting out a lot more. Which means that we're running into a lot of strangers with a lot of questions for us. The most frequent comment is, "You sure have your hands full!" (Yes, I do.) Many people want to know whether it's hard, whether I'm worn out, and whether the kids sleep all night. (Yes, yes, and yes.)
Another common question is, "How do you do it?" Well, besides a lot of prayer and a great husband, I have to say that the key is a consistent schedule. The babies came home from the NICU on a 3-hour schedule, and we've just adapted that routine as they've grown. Here is what a day with 16-month-old quadruplets looks like for me:
7am: Wake up! Anyone who wakes up before this is out of luck. Sometimes one or more kids will sleep later than 7, but we never let them sleep past 8. Everybody gets a diaper change and then plays with Ted while I unload the dishwasher, assemble and fill sippy cups, and make breakfast.
8am: Breakfast. I feed and clean up the kids while Ted gets ready for work.
8:30 to 10am: Playtime. While the kids entertain themselves, I clean up from breakfast (wipe off table and floor, rinse bibs, refill cups, load dirty dishes), prep lunch, make myself as presentable as possible, and usually change a couple of dirty diapers. Around 9, I pop in a DVD (usually Baby Einstein) to keep the masses under control.
10 to 11am: WALK! By this time of the morning, all of us need a change of scenery. Doesn't matter if it's hot, cold, or raining—our mammoth stroller can handle it all! Once in a while (usually on the weekend, when Ted can come with us), we all pile in the van for a change of pace.
11:30am: Lunch. I feed and clean up the kids, and then I strip them down to their onesies. Each kid gets a diaper and wardrobe change while the others run around and have a good ole time. My back is usually killing me by this point.
12:30pm to 3pm: NAPTIME! While the kids sleep, I clean up from lunch (see breakfast cleanup routine), get lunch ready for me and Ted, eat in front of the computer, fold laundry, pick up toys, etc. People always assume that I nap while the kids sleep. This is rarely an option!
3:30pm: Snack. After the kids eat, I wipe the table and bibs, prep dinner, and then it's time to change diapers. A few times a week, friends come over during this time to entertain the kids and help me out for a few hours. This is a LIFESAVER.
4:30 to 5pm: Walk. The kids really enjoy leaving the house, so I try to fit in two walks a day. Sometimes this doesn't happen, in which case there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth (by both me and the kids).
5pm: Dinner. I feed and clean up the kids, and then I strip them down to their diapers. They run around like I just freed them from prison while I clean up from dinner and fill their bedtime bottles. When I'm done, it's time to put on their jammies (and usually change a couple more dirty diapers). "Naked time" is coming to end, however, as a couple of the kids have become a little too interested in messing with their diapers (!!).
6pm: Musical education hour. Ted is done working, so he breaks out the CDs and teaches the kids what good music is all about. During this time, I hang out with them, finish my chores, get a shower, chill in front of the computer, or do whatever else I need to do. If it's bath night, we skip musical education and stick the kids in the tub (we started bathing two at a time this month, but I'm still not brave enough to try all four at once).
7pm: Bedtime bottles. Everyone drinks their bottle while watching "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy." Everyone, that is, but Lucy, who weaned herself from the bottle this week and now drinks a bedtime sippy (big girl!). After bottles, we brush teeth and do a last round of diaper changes.
8pm: BEDTIME!! The kids are in bed, but the day isn't over yet: Gotta pick up the toys, finish any cleanup that didn't get done, fold laundry, watch "Lost" or "Survivor" (the only two shows we can't miss), pay bills, go to the grocery, etc. Oh, and figure out what to eat for dinner. Around 10, we hit the sack and pray that no one wakes up during the night ... gotta rest up to do this all over again tomorrow!