The following excerpts are 100% real. The words in bold are actual outtakes from an instruction manual of sorts that my wife left for my sister and her fiancé, who recently watched the boys for a weekend while we escaped to a bed and breakfast in search of something special – sleeping past 6am.
Thanks for coming up to watch the boys. I will just give you a rundown on some things for them.
Translation – We have eagerly been anticipating this weekend for about 2 months now. We don’t want a single phone call aside from when we check in with you, so pay attention and get this right.
Both boys will usually eat three meals and two snacks in between the meals. Milk and water for their drinks. I will leave snacks on the kitchen counter that you can pick from as well as fruit & yogurt in the fridge.
They pretty much never stop eating so this is really a pointless paragraph. You’re not the parents and you don’t have to worry about habit forming practices. Your only mission is to keep them alive and not call us. Feed them whatever they want, whenever they want it, as long as it doesn’t involve calling us.
The baby gets up earlier than his brother so he usually eats breakfast first. You can give them waffles, pancakes, cheerios, etc. for breakfast.
He wakes up at 5:30 every morning and it’s brutal. You won’t ever get used to it and the longer you wait to get him up, the louder he will get. Drag your tired butt out of bed and pump him full of milk. This will usually buy you about 15 minutes of shut eye time before he demands actual food.
The baby will sometimes take two naps and other days, one. If he’s up early, usually he’s ready for a nap again around 9:30/10:00. If not, he will usually do one nap around 11:30 or right after lunch.
Consider getting him to go down for two naps akin to getting a promotion. They both take hard work, don’t happen often, but when they do…celebrate.
For bedtime, get him in jammies around 6 p.m. and if he’s super-tired he can go to bed right away. If not, he should be in bed by 6:30 p.m. Read him two stories up in his room, sing a little, and put him down on his pillow and put the blanket on him.
Kind of gets me a little teary just reading that. Why did we want to leave them for the weekend again? And yes, he goes to bed pretty early. If you want to test the theory of keeping him up later, be my guest.
His brother does not have as many instructions. He doesn’t nap anymore so he can hang out.
The 4-year-old is a breeze in every aspect but for his questions. Keep your answers short and to the point, for if you leave anything vague or open to interpretation, he will proceed to ask more questions!
He should get jammies on around 7 p.m. and he can watch something on TV. (He is definitely into sports these days!) Then go upstairs and have him use the bathroom and brush his teeth.
“Into sports these days” is an understatement. Until something changes, “hockey” is his answer to any question starting with, “What do you want to watch?” As for the bathroom and brushing teeth part, muwhahahaha (that’s an evil laugh by the way). It sounds easy doesn’t it? I wish I could give you further instruction, but I probably have a glass of wine in my hands at this point and am enjoying a laugh with my wife about your frustration with this seemingly easy task.
After, you can read 2 stories to him and he usually reads 2 books to us. Then tuck him in and say good night. He usually likes his back rubbed for a few minutes.
The dog is the most low-maintenance of all. Just put two cups of food in her bowl in the morning and evening and check that she has water. She’s fine to hang out in the backyard for a while, unless it’s really cold.
I once uttered the words, “Getting a dog will help prepare us for having kids.” Aside from having to feed something to keep it alive, there really is no comparison.
That’s about it! Feel free to call us if you need anything or have any questions.
Don’t call us unless it’s an emergency.
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 2/11/12.