I sit here in our salon with a warm breeze blowing over me. Golden sunlight peeks through the hatches and shadows move about as our boat rocks gently in the breeze. The coffee is on and the smell of it steaming up from our Aeropress fills the cabin. The twins are asleep. Scott and Isla are at the park just around the corner here from where we are in Soper’s Hole. Paul Simon sings quietly in the background. All is calm and quiet. It is – in a word – blissful. This moment is blissful. If there is one thing that life with three children under three has taught me it’s that we need to savor in the moments, particularly those filed under the hashtag: BLISS (Because, believe me, it can all go to hell in a hand basket in an instant. Snap.)
We’re now on day three of living ‘off the dock’. Already we’re falling into some little routines that are proving to make life easier, because – I am not going to lie – life on a boat with three very small children is NOT easy. I sort of wish that we could have someone come aboard and film a whole day with us and then make a time-lapse video of it. It would certainly be interesting. You would see that it is non stop and completely exhausting. We rarely stop moving. Then again, do any parents ever stop? Land or sea being a parent is work, that is for sure. It’s awesome, of course – but it takes complete and utter team work for us to live on a boat and there is no way this would work if we were not two very energetic and very involved parents. The plus side of this pace is that I should be the size I was in high school in a few weeks. So there’s that…
Here’s what our little routine is looking like these days:
- Between 3-4:00 am: Babies are crying. I nurse them, half asleep. Putting them back into their bunk without dropping one is an effort. Walk back to the aft cabin like a cat burglar – any creaking floor board might wake up Isla who is sleeping in the walk-through. I know where to step to make no sound. I am Katherine Zeta-Jones a la Entrapment. Back to sleep for me.
- 5:00 am: Isla is stirring. Crap. Wants kisses from mommy. I groggily oblige and Isla falls back to sleep, thank God (Note: if this delicate situation is not handled perfectly, a tantrum can occur. Tantrums at 5:00 am are the worst.)
- 6:30/7:00 am: Everyone up for the day (Note: this is one of two very hectic times on our boat). Babies diapers get changed and they are let loose. I make our bed and convert Isla’s bunk back into a functional walk-through/work area. Scott starts breakfast. Where is the coffee????
- 7/7:30am: Breakfast for the crew. Waffles, pancakes, bagels or something similar accompanied by some fruit or yogurt (Note: very wise of us to hold off on moving back to the boat until the twins could feed themselves!) This takes place down below as Haven enjoys “screaming” when she wants more food. It is exceptionally loud. She will be an opera singer, for sure. (Note: Many of you have asked us about the seats we use for the twins, we use these seats for them. They are awesome. Great for keeping Haven and Mira contained underway, and great for mealtimes. Easy to clean and store and cheap to boot.)
- 8:00 am: Clean up from breakfast and either a) playtime in the boat or b) a “walk” in the dinghy (Note: the dinghy ride around the anchorage is our equivalent of a morning walk these days – the babies love it and we get to explore a little.)
- 9:00 am: Haven and Mira down for their morning nap. Siiiigggh.
- 9:15-10:30 am: Laundry that was soaking overnight in our bucket outside is agitated, rinsed and hung out to dry. Boat is re-organized after playtime. I begin to meal plan for the day and begin to prepare both lunch and dinner (Note: meal times are the bane of my existence. Ugh.) Isla and daddy swim, play or go ashore.
- 10:30/11:00 am: Babies are up from their nap. Diapers changed. All kids lathered in SPF 50 sunscreen. Screaming usually ensues for a hot five.
- 11:00 am: Possible dinghy ride or short shore excursion. Usually play time on the boat in the cockpit with toys.
- 12:00 pm: Lunch time for the crew. Something simple, tuna salad sandwiches, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, quesadillas…etc. We eat on deck where food can fly freely and squeals and screams can echo through the anchorage without disturbing too many people. Twin babies eating = mess of epic proportions and lots of noise.
- 12:30 pm: Clean up from lunch time, babies play before their afternoon nap.
- 1:00 pm: Haven and Mira nurse and down for their afternoon nap. Siiiggghh.
- 1:30 pm: Isla down for her nap (Note: this involves bribery and coaxing of epic proportions.)
- 1:30-2:30 pm: PEACE REIGNS AND ALL IS BLISS.
- 2:30 pm: Babies up from their nap. Diapers changed. Playtime. We try desperately to keep them quiet so they (cough, cough, Haven) don’t wake Isla.
- 2:30 pm: While babies play Scott and I prepare for the afternoon shore excursion by packing up the beach bag with a few toys, towels, snacks, strollers and/or anything else we might need depending on what we do or where we go. We try to be as prepared as possible so that right when Isla wakes up, we can go – time is of the essence!
- 3:00 pm: Isla up. We round up the troupes, put them all in their life jackets and load everyone and everything into the dinghy. This is – at the bare minimum – a ten minute endeavor, and that is with all the preparation we did an hour earlier. If any particular child has a meltdown (usually Isla these days), tack on another ten minutes.
- 3:30 pm: At shore. Walk. Park. Beach. Swim. Whatever the area offers.
- 5:00 pm: Head back to boat. (Note: Deep breaths as we prepare for the second incredibly hectic period on our boat.)
- 5:10 pm: Babies eat dinner. I start the dinner for Scott, Isla and I. I fill the baby inflatable tub with water. Fill our laundry bucket with soap and water. Who says I can’t be in two places at once?!
- 5:30 pm: Babies have bath in their inflatable bath tub at the back of the boat and their clothes go into the laundry bucket. They now try to climb out of said tub so this is a game of “keep slippery baby in the bath” – they enjoy it immensely. I do not. Whack. A. Mole. Towel off. Hand baby to Scott. Towel off, bring other baby down below. Fresh diapers and jammies.
- 5:45 pm: Isla is coaxed into the bath and I quickly wash her down and get her dressed. If her hair needs washing, screams will ensue throughout the anchorage. (Note: why are we not past this yet?!?) Isla’s clothes go in laundry bucket. (Note: she has worn nothing but jammies and swim suits since we have arrived down here. She refuses all other clothes. Not a battle I care to fight. Note to grandmas: send more swim suits and jammies.)
- 5:55 pm: Nurse the twins and put them into bed. They play quietly together for a bit and then fall asleep. Unless Haven jumps on Mira, at which point screaming ensues for a bit. Then sleep.
- 6:00 pm: Twins down for the night. Life is considerably more quiet. Siiiigggh. Can someone please deliver me a stiff drink? Oh wait…more to do!…
- 6:15 pm: I jump off back of the boat and shower. My clothes go into laundry bucket. Bliss moment. Sun is setting. Air is cooling.
- 6:30/7:00 pm: Dinner for Scott, Isla and I. We talk about our day. Namely: “Holy crap. We are doing this.”
- 7:15 pm: Clean up from dinner (Note: being something of a neat freak means I spend a decent amount of time cleaning, but a little goes a long way. Order is key to life with three.)
- 7:30 pm: Isla story time and bed time. This is a difficult part of our day and usually involves bribing of some sort.
- 8:00 pm: PEACE REIGNS AND ALL IS BLISS.
- 8:30 pm: Scott and I sit in the cockpit. Enjoy a drink. And, if I have the energy and the internet bandwidth, I will try to answer email or write a blog post (Note: sorry to everyone who has written us in the past months, I can no longer keep up with emails anymore – I know this sounds like a humble brag or whatever, but I don’t know how else to let everyone know that it’s just too much for me right now. I appreciate them all so…Sorry!)
- 9:00 pm: I head to bed, read a bit and fall asleep, but not before saying a little prayer that the kids all sleep well and don’t wake up too much in the night!
It’s pretty wonderful – but exhausting, and these are the days that we don’t sail. Sailing with the three of them is another challenge all together and definitely not easy, but can be a lot of fun (another post on sailing to come). I do have to give us a pat on the back at our foresight on not doing any long sails with the three littles. One to two hour sails are wonderful and, if they do get hectic, it’s manageable because it’s only an hour or so. There is no way we’d attempt any long passages with these three kids this young. Later? For sure. Now? Hell no. But right here, right now the British and US Virgin Islands are the perfect training ground for our fledgling crew. I am so proud of all the preparation we put into this journey – all our forethought and planning, from the toys we brought to our various innovations (like the dinghy seat – more on this!), have paid off in spades and, so far, we are really enjoying life aboard with our kids. Most of the time (wink.)
As I said before, there are certainly moments where life is two or three times more exhausting than it would be on land, but then we remember that this period is so short, so fleeting and that to be able to spend so much time with them, doing something so wonderful – will pay off great dividends one day. Soon – before we know it – our girls will be less dependent, and more manageable and life will get easier. It will still be challenging, of course, that is life with children – but in new and different ways. To us, the huge benefit of bringing babies on boats early is the simple fact that by the time they are two or three, they are old salts. We hardly worry at all about Isla on the boat. She knows how to climb around, knows how to maneuver, has exceptional balance and understands the dangers around her. And she’s not even three! We keep reminding ourselves that having our twins start so young will mean they will be much easier in a year. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy, and having those realistic expectations has been hugely helpful in this adjustment period.
Because spare time is such a precious commodity around here, I will not be blogging as regularly as I was last time we cruised (my goal is two posts a week, max), so if you want to keep closer tabs on us – please check out our Facebook Page. It’s much easier to post pictures and updates real-time over there.
More to come. I have so much to write about. I’m inspired like crazy out here. Sigh, if only I had the internet bandwidth and the time.