Click below to read the other articles in this series!
Leah Denke is a wife and mom to three children, Gage (6), Farrah (4) and Shiloh (1), so needless to say, she’s one busy mom, however; Leah sticks to a daily (and evening) routine, and it’s working for her family of five.
How do you find balance family/time for yourself/time with spouse?
It’s tough! But routine is key. Our mornings start early getting our kindergartener off to school. Once he’s on the bus, it’s time to get the preschooler ready for her day at school. All clothes are laid out the night before and lunches are made while the kids eat their breakfast. After the hustle and bustle of the morning routine, I try to make sure I have a little personal time during the day while the two older kids are off at school. Running errands and grocery shopping are much easier when you just have one baby in tow. My husband is a Chiropractor nearby, so during his lunch hour, we try and meet each other at the gym at least three days a week. It’s nice to have this time together even if it just a quick hour. After school tends to be hectic. As soon as the kids get home, we enjoy an afternoon snack together, talk about their school day and then we conquer any homework or reading assignments they have for that day. We always eat dinner together as a family. After the kids go to bed my husband and I enjoy a little quiet time together before we go to bed. Once a month my husband and I try to have a date night. We are pretty lucky to live close to our family.
Tell us a little about what it was like to add a second child…and a third child?
Adding a second child was a little hectic because it happened so quickly. It was a lot of work with two in diapers. We had many sleepless nights. But it has been so special to watch them grow up as babies together. They have such a special bond. As soon as we were in the rhythm, we were surprised with the third. We thought the third would be easy, but we quickly learned we were outnumbered, and things were going to be more difficult. Usually one of us has two and the other has one. We can no longer get a normal size table at a restaurant. We have to wait for a larger one. Three kids can’t sit in a shopping cart together if you have a quick errand to run and getting three kids in and out of their car seats on a rainy day is definitely a messy adventure!
The age gap between the older two and the baby has been a bit challenging. They are so active and are now involved in after school extracurricular activities. I’ve said since the moment the third was born that she had to be the “go with the flow” baby.
You have two girls and a boy – any difference in how you parent?
I parent to their specific personality. My son is very easy going and normally apologetic as soon as he knows he did something wrong. When my daughter gets in trouble, she just needs time to chill out. She is very strong-willed. She is normally well behaved but has a hard time when she doesn’t get her way.
How do you handle tantrums/discipline?
Babies go straight to their crib if they start a tantrum. I let them get over it and then I will give them attention once they are done. We’ve had this routine since they were born, and it’s worked out great for us. They aren’t going to get any type of attention for behaving a such a way. If my older two need to be disciplined they get sent to their room for time to think. We normally do one minute for however old they are. They are expected to think about why they are in time out and how they could have made a better choice. Timeouts are normally followed with a talk and apology.
Where do you go to for advice or do you have any favorite resources?
Facebook mom groups. I’ve joined one for every year that my kids were born. Mommy friends. And of course, my mom (who raised three kids as well).
Do you have any “mom hacks” or tips to share with others?
I know all moms can relate blowouts are never fun. After three babies I finally learned that putting a burp cloth under their bum in their car seat can save you a lot of time a heartache. When you have more than one kid, I’ve learned it’s best to clean all their ears and cut their nails on the same night.
When choosing childcare and/or preschool, what did you consider?
I was an elementary teacher for ten years prior to having my third child, so obviously academics are very important to me. When my kids started preschool, I wanted them in a print-rich environment where they would receive a strong foundation to start school. I was looking for a school that offered centers and different learning experiences that would help my children grow not only academically, but also socially, emotionally, physically as well. I wanted them in a school that had a strong well-set routine. I also looked for a preschool with a focus on Christian values.
How do you tackle bedtime routines?
Routine is key at bedtime. After dinner if weather permits, we take a walk around the block before bath time. Baths and teeth brushing works like an assembly line in our house. After everyone is clean, we give the kids a choice of watching one cartoon before bed or reading two short books. This helps them settle down for bed. Then one of us will go upstairs to tuck each of them in to bed and say prayers, while the other gives the baby her last bottle before bed. Then we switch.
Are there any “must have” items that you use daily?
Our pop-up play pen has been a life saver for us. We always keep one in the back of our car, so we have it when we need it. It has been extremely helpful with Baseball practices or a quick stay with grandparents.