I feel I need to start this entry with a disclaimer. I feel totally unqualified to write such a piece as this. I mean, I do have a baby and a toddler and have for just over 9 months. And, yes, we are all still alive. But I feel like the kind of mum who can really give guidance like I am about to is one who floats effortlessly though the day. I don’t do crafts, baking or phonics with my toddler. My baby squawks for attention pretty much the entire time he is awake. However, we are:
- all still alive
- pretty happy (most days)
- probably not all that different to any other family with such young children
So I’ll begin. These are the things that have kept (and keep) me sane. I understand everyone has a very different lifestyle/different prioritites.
- the double (bloody) buggy. Yes, I curse it pretty much every time I use it. It’s big, cumbersome and so heavy I get a back ache from just looking at it. Its wheels are a dog poo magnet and there’s no storage. Jostling Sam into the second seat underneath makes him puke EVERY TIME. And yet, I really couldn’t be without it. Max is small and not particularly strong, he’s not big into walking. I’m basically the size of a (small) 12 year old so finding ‘slinging’ Sam really hard work (plus, the vom issue means slinging is very much reserved for desperate times). We needed a double buggy and it has meant I haven’t ever felt housebound. Winner
- Along the same lines, getting out whenever possible. Max still naps so each day is broken into morning and afternoon activities (unless we venture out for the day – rare). We get out of the house at least once a day and I do aim to plan something for each ‘section’ of the day (even if it’s playtime at home). I lose my mind if I don’t have a plan.
- When Sam was born, I went to and hosted bazillions of playdates. I soon learned that they are often really bloody hard work if the toddlers don’t get on. I’ve streamlined it a lot so only see people that both Max and I get on with. That way we both enjoy ourselves and there are fewer arguments over toys. I also try to keep some sort of social life without the kids (generally this involves meeting friends for drinks and often talking about our offspring).
- My time. This is a toughie – there are not many opportunities for this. But I do carve out ‘slots’ in my day for myself. Sometimes this means getting up early early to do some exercise before the boys wake up; moving heaven and earth to get them down for a nap at the same time or taking some time at the weekend. It is not easy but I can’t function properly without some time alone so it’s very much a priority.
- I love coffee. I seem to have bred a very urban 21st century child who delights in going to a café. So that’s what we do. We get out of the house, do some people watching (‘mummy, is that a lady or a man?’), enjoy a flat white/babyccino and feel like part of the real world again. Of course, I also keep coffee at home, so I can have a treat without having to go out (though it’s never as nice and I always seem to have to have to reheat it in the microwave).
- Lowering my expectations. This only dawned on me about 4 months in. I spent a lot of mental energy beating myself up for ‘failing’ because my baby wasn’t sleeping through the night/my toddler had tantrums/I sometimes forgot to buy milk. I gave myself a good talking to. I was aiming for the unattainable. So I relaxed my outlook, took more time to enjoy playing cars/reading books to Sam and found life that bit easier.
There’s noting mindblowing in the list above. The fact is, it’s hard having two small kids. Harder than I ever anticipated. I feel I have lost a lot of ‘my’ things (yes, I have gained more than I could ever imagine too). I won’t be going back to work when Sam is one. A decision I am happy with. But for my sanity I have to work hard to ensure I am looking after myself as much as my children. So I aim to do whatever I can to make life easier and more enjoyable for the whole clan.