One of my 2016 goals is to update my blog once a week. To facilitate said (at this point very lofty) goal, I wrote a quick editorial calendar in my shiny 2016 planner around January 1st. For February 4, I scribbled “2 Kid Tricks."
It’s laughable, actually, that I thought I’d be able to deliver any tips or tricks for wrangling 2 kids after 1 month in. The combination of active toddler, chilly weather and newborn I’m trying to keep away from ALL germs often left me in a ball of cabin-fever anxiety during this first month.
So far, I haven’t found a great solution for getting Elliott the energy-expending outings he needs on cold days, while also keeping Ira warm and protected. And up to about 5 weeks, I was still totally intimidated by the super-human feat of getting both boys in the car and actually going somewhere public with them.
At one month, I mostly racked up not-to-dos. So I thought I’d share 3, inspired by real events. Learn from my misadventures!
WHAT NOT TO DO
#1 Don’t Get Too Fancy
Ike has been a wonderful help and has started to take Elliott to school. Other than the constant health advisories (one week it was pneumonia, bronchitis and strep OH MY), school has been a lifesaver which I guess leads me to my only practical 2 kid tip: get someone else to watch your kid! Ha! Anyway, Ike is not always able to pick Elliott up.
The first time I had to pick up my adorable little toddler, it was pure mayhem.Thankfully, I left laughing (perhaps hysterically) and not crying by the end. Although, really, it could have gone either way.
I decided to experiment with the best ways to bring Ira into the school. First method: transferring him to the Ergo. I thought this would keep my hands free to carry Elliott’s stuff and hold his hand in the parking lot. And I just really dislike contorting my body to carry the carseat.
FAIL. Ira started screaming as soon as we got in the school.
It was a busy day, and Elliott came and greeted me then proceeded around the corner toward the exit. So there I am, wearing a screaming newborn in a congested hall of toddlers and moms and my toddler has just disappeared around the corner. I am attempting to talk to one of his teachers as she reports that Elliott decided to sing instead of eat his lunch.
She’s trying to pack his lunch and gather his other possessions as I imagine Elliott traversing the parking lot by himself.
Finally, he’s returned by a kind fellow mom (true to his adventurous self he had made it to the outside door). His teacher has to force him to put on his coat and then he refuses to hold my hand as we head to the car. So there I am, wearing a disgruntled newborn and dragging a toddler. When we got to the car, Elliott wants to do anything but get in his seat. And after all that, I got home without his lunch!
It was exhausting to say the least and totally deflated ANY confidence I had about trying a library program with the 2 of them the next day. (Which made the next day a LONG, toddler nap-fail/toddler mess-making day. Like he found my cocoa and smeared it all over himself, the kitchen and my living room chair kind of MESS).
Pick ups have gotten better since then. I just leave Ira in his seat, and he snoozes while I gather Elliott. It’s still not easy, BUT it’s much better than dealing with a little screamer AND a little escape artist.
#2 Extreme Multitasking
My next day on my own with them didn’t go much better. Although I’m boy mom, it is my goal for them to leave the nest with a handy arsenal of domestic skills: grocery shopping, laundry, cooking and baking. So I thought why not start on this too-cold-to-go-outside day?
Unfortunately as Elliott and I were whipping up some French Puffs, Ira needed to be bounced. In my over-the-top multitasking state (baby bouncing, toddler policing, ingredient measuring), I sent my glass liquid measuring cup full of milk flying off the counter and shattering on the floor.
Elliott called the pile of glass “ice” and fell twice before I got him out of the kitchen. So, I’m not ashamed to share that I called Ike and he came home during his lunch to help with the cleanup. Sigh.
I’ve learned to not feel too much pressure to plan over-the-top activities. If E doesn’t nap, the world doesn’t end. Or at least it hasn't happened...yet.
#3 Trust the Quiet
And finally, on my third school-less day, Elliott managed to escape the yard and house not once, but twice! I left him in the backyard while I was putting Ira down for a nap, and while unattended he wiggled out through our broken back gate and ended up on the sidewalk in front of our house by himself before I found him.
I forgot to close pull the back door closed, and he was out in the front yard again, not 10 minutes later. Sheesh. At least I don’t have much time to be bored!
WHAT TO DO
The what-not-to-dos have actually taught me a few to-dos along the ways. Maybe I did learn something 1 month in, after all.
#1 Laugh, Don’t Cry
I have to keep reminding myself that this is a short time of my life. That I’ll miss toddler caveman sentences and probably even the crocodile tears. I know for sure I’ll treasure Elliott’s headbutts (his version of a kiss).
Although I haven’t gotten to the level of loving nighttime feedings as some moms do, I will miss Ira’s sweet newborn sounds, smells and smiles. Seeing his little face light up when he recognizes me is no less than transcendent.
So when things go haywire, I’ve literally learned not to cry over spilled milk. It’s funny! And instead beating myself up or getting too overwhelmed, I’m trying to learn what I can and laugh at the rest.
#2 Find a New Metaphor
I’m struggling with this one. Sometimes in the midst of diapers, feedings and crying fits (from either boy), it’s hard not to feel “trapped” “at war” or that I’m merely “surviving.” I don’t want to be a prisoner, a soldier or a person who endures time instead of enjoying it.
But honestly, many days, I can’t help but express myself in those ways. At best I’m surviving and at worst, I’m dying for a moment to sit, breathe and eat a meal without simultaneously feeding 2 other people. Or even to do chores while listening to a podcast, like in the good ‘ol days.
So what’s a good way to express my day-to-day experience? I don’t know! Maybe I’ll start with at least eliminating negative metaphors and something else will develop soon.
#3 Be Patient
I think much of my unrest derives from expecting too much from myself and my boys too
soon. I keep trying to clean the house, plan perfect activities and keep my boys on a
schedule (while obsessively googling newborn sleep tricks at all hours).
I know I need to chill. Elliott is ok. Ira is ok. And I’m ok.
Someday, we'll all sleep again. Someday we'll all be able to leave the house. Someday, my house will be clean. Someday, I’ll say “remember when” and smile about days just like the ones above.
Thanks to unseasonable warmness (global warming, yay?), I was able to successfully leave the house with the boys and go to the park and the store. It. Was. Wonderful.
Elliott played his little heart out and took a wonderful nap. Everybody was happier.
Now, if I could get Ira to stop fussing from 3am-6am I would be ready to accept the title “Super Mama.” Keep the trophy shiny for me. I’m on the case!