I’ve started probably about five blog posts to date about how the parenting of two is going. I keep getting distracted or stalled not knowing what to say, and abandoning them the next time because how it’s going seems to change weekly, hourly and even to the minute. Parenting an infant and a toddler solo through the week is demanding, exhausting, and, when it’s going well, is rewarding and exhilarating. I feel like supermom when the day goes off without a hitch, but those moments are rare. Most of the time, I’m just living task to task at the moment and I’m still trying to find that sweet spot where I feel like both of my children are getting enough attention, love and patience from me. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, probably not. I feel I am always lacking in patience and attention, and putting myself at the very low end of the priority list of people to care for, and I always feel like I look tired and unkempt. Motherhood, it all its glory I guess. I shower alone and a quiet cup of coffee or a chat with a friend is a good day.
I am happy and I am doing okay, but it is challenging in ways that I didn’t expect and easier in other ways. Kate so far has been a dream of an infant. She is mellow, content, easy going, and easily pacified aside from her 8 pm til bedtime fussy period (it sometimes takes her several feedings to calm for the night). She sleeps well right now, though only when in bed with us at night. I’m rolling with the co-sleeping thing right now, it gets us both sleep. If I put her in the bassinet she wakes after ten minutes. In bed with us, I get 7 hour stretches. That’s what we’re doing right now, but eventually I want to move her to sleeping in the bassinet and naps in her crib instead of the swing. Breastfeeding her is thankfully going well. She’s gaining great and rarely spits up. She’s still in 6 month clothing but it seems to be getting snug already. We have her two month appointment next week so we’ll see where she is pound wise.
Then there is the bit that I thought I had a handle on – parenting a toddler. Leopold has been a bit of a mess since Kate arrived. First it was the potty training regression, now it’s sleep regression. And the not listening, fighting us on everything, etc. On the whole, it’s getting better. I think he’s adjusting to our new routine and he was, but things got worse again when we were out of town for Thanksgiving. His sleep is all over the place, he doesn’t nap, though he hasn’t been a good napper for a long time. Now his night time sleep is messed up – he was up for 3.5 hours one night this week screaming. We tried to help console for half hour chunks, then give him a chance to settle himself because nothing we were doing was helping. It was awful. Sometimes he doesn’t let us do the bedtime routine, he fights and screams when we try to brush his teeth. the last two nights were good nights thankfully, so I hope we’re on a good trajectory here. Tantrums have been off and on awful and debilitating. One day he spent the day with his grandma and cousins, I picked him up and he spent a half and hour screaming in the garage that this wasn’t his house, he wanted to go back with Grandma. It was a bit, well heartbreaking. I felt awful. Eventually he settled and would listen to me a bit and I helped him work through his feelings…but man, it was an epic tantrum.
The relationship between Leopold and Kate is so sweet. He really, really loves her. He is constantly holding her hands, kissing her cheeks, and trying to get her to smile at him. He says multiple times a day “that’s my sister and I love her” If she’s fussing in her swing or anywhere, he goes over and lays his head on her belly and puts his arms around her. He asks to hold her and loves hugging her. Which is awesome, except he never wants her to have her eyes closed and sleep so he’s constantly trying to wake her up to play. I’ve had to stop him and talk about this and he’s finally getting better after a few consistent time outs as a result of him trying to wake her up. He doesn’t show a lot of jealousy, but I know it’s in there. I think the night wake-ups are about her being in the room with us and not him and if I’m holding her, he wants to climb into my lap too.
With Leopold, a few things seem to be key: time. routine and consistency. Talking to him and giving him a heads up about what will happen today and tomorrow. Bribery when necessary which I am not proud of but it seems to really help calm the tantrums. I don’t mean “I’ll give you a piece of candy if you just…do xyz”. Though that does happen in moments of desperation. But more “I know you don’t want to do this, but if you want to go see your friend today, you must brush your teeth.” Or talking him through, this morning you have preschool and then we’re going to have lunch with friends, then quiet time. So that when quiet time comes, he doesn’t fight it quite so hard since he knew it was coming all day. I don’t do nap time generally since it seems to ruin the whole day because I try to fight him down for an hour or two, it fails, it aggravates me, and makes me cry. Most of the time I turn on a movie, he falls asleep on the couch or sometimes he stays awake the whole time and that’s okay too.
So, that’s that. My cup runneth over..with love for my kids, with exhaustion, laundry, chores, dishes, and to dos. Christmas is happening, thanks to Amazon prime. I feel like I’m never meeting everyone’s needs quite enough, including my own, my husband’s and my kids’ but we are getting by. I hope that soon I can handle more, I can fit self care (exercise and maybe wearing makeup and date nights, etc) at some point. But for now, I’m managing, falling into bed at the end of the day glad that we survived and hoping that the night’s rest will bootstrap me through the next crazy day.