That is how I feel as each day starts, as the sun is barely rising over the horizon……..it’s like we blast-off at mach 10 and there is barely a second to think until 14 hours have passed.
Life with two kids is exhausting.
Let me write that again – this time imagine it in 84 point font in bold – EXHAUSTING.
Lately I hear myself sound like that mom. You know that one that you hear at the park and you’re horrified and think to yourself, I will never bark at my kids like that and be so impatient. You know that one that you are rolling your eyes at in horror.
Remember one of the fight club rules at KT? Whenever you think you won’t be that person or it won’t happen to you – it will and it does – and usually worse than you think.
So clearly I need a break. I think two weeks of sick kids, including an emergency 24 hour hospitalization for DD1 (and yes, of course I was alone with both kids at the docs when we were rushed to the hospital) – hasn’t helped and has in fact, made me raw and beyond the point of exhausted. But still. Wow. This is hard.
At first, I really didn’t think adjusting to two was that big of a deal. Newborns are easy, I thought. And honestly, compared to an insane toddler and when you are doing it the second time around, newborns really are easy (with the exception of colicky babies or an illness). All they do is sleep. Sure they don’t sleep a lot and so you don’t either but that’s nothing new – so it’s not a hard transition.
But then they start to grow up. They sleep less, they regress in sleeping patterns, they learn more about what they want, they whine endlessly between 5-7pm, they become more demanding because well – they are older and wiser.
And your older one is still, well, demanding – because at least mine is 3.5. She’s old enough to assert her independence and want to do everything herself – but that can be very frustrating and time consuming and patience exhausting.
It’s funny – it’s like they play tag with you. DD2 is easy because she eats whatever I put in front of her. With DD1, most meals and even getting her to eat is a battle. An exhausting, draining one. But I won’t back down, she needs to eat and “healthy choices” is a constant phrase around my house.
Then it’s nap time. DD1 goes right to bed. DD2, she fights me and drags it out, then I get her to sleep, then she wakes up literally 45 minutes later and up I go again to get her back down, and so it goes. It’s always something.
Through this, don’t get me wrong. I love love love being home – I never once find myself missing work or feeling like I am missing out or wishing I could put on a suit. I would honestly tell you if I did. And I love our lazy afternoons at the park, watching DD1 and DD2 make each other laugh and giggle, or painting at 11am on a random Tuesday.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not tired to the bone and wondering when things will ease up. Most days I feel steamrolled.
I used to go to the gym at 6am because it was the only time of day I could workout. It still is the only time of day I can workout but now I go to the gym at that time because I need to get the f out of the house and be by myself and have quiet time. It gives me the strength to power through the next few hours.
I was the sleep police with DD1 and I still am with DD2. The reality of naps for the second child is that it revolves around the schedule of the older child. This kinda sucks for the second kid but whatever, if you have an active 3 year old in your house, you know you need to get the hell out and just hope the baby will sleep in the stroller (mine, as it turns out, refuses to do that). The good thing is that morning naps for DD2 are spotty but I’ve forced them both onto the same afternoon nap. Sometimes I do get 2 hours of quiet time at the same time. Not every day – DD2 often wakes up mid-way through her nap and needs help getting back down – but I stand firm. At least this time round, I know that these phases will pass and I remind myself of that over and over again as I am feeling raw and like I’m going to lose it.
Blast-off is really the only way for me to summarize life with a 3.5 year old and a six-month old. I was reading an entry on the Washington Post “On Parenting” blog and it’s what really spurred me to write this entry. The author wrote that when you add a second child to the house, you are adding a whole new set of needs and demands and wants but the number of parent hands stays the same. Indeed. And it means a whole lot more work for daddy, that second child.
DH is very helpful with the kids, I really cannot complain about that, and he can see when I am teetering on the edge and will suggest I get out. But I’ve also really worked hard at actively carving out time for myself on the weekends. I think it’s the key to my survival but also it’s important for him to be alone with them. Not because he doesn’t know how to care for them but because I think it’s important for them to just have daddy time.
At first, DH just had to take over care for DD1. I had a c-section with DD2 and physically couldn’t manage a 3-year old for at least the first three weeks. Before DD2 was born, I was the only one that DD1 wanted (I was the only one she wanted for basically the entire second year of her life. That can get old). The end of my pregnancy really changed that because I also couldn’t carry her upstairs anymore or manage wrestling her onto the potty. So she had to learn to accept daddy in her life. It was a battle. She really was only-mommy, all the time for so long, but I knew I needed to step back for her sake because I knew daddy was the best she could get once DD2 arrived. She eventually relented and realized that daddy was pretty awesome, so it was fine for her that daddy was on full-court press with DD1 with the arrival of DD2.
Now that I have been home for two months, she’s easing back into an only-mommy phase but she’s also older – so you can reason with her or frankly, just ignore it, much easier than you can with a 2-year-old. But daddy’s involvement and participation and help is more crucial than ever. I really have no idea how single moms do it.
So what is my point in all of this? Well, frankly, I just need to blurt it all out because I’m so tired and exhausted and I know it’ll get easier but just blurting it out makes me feel better. My point is also not to scare anyone having a second. Trust me – seeing the siblings laugh together and play together is amazing. It’s amazing like when you have your first and realize what true love is – you remember that feeling? Well, it’s amazing like that.
Everyone has an opinion. Some say the transition from 0-1 is the hardest. Others say the transition from 1-2 is harder because you are already in a routine with the one and it’s a big adjustment. The majority say adding a third isn’t even mentionable once you’ve got two. Right now, I think the transition from 0-1 was the hardest for me because it was just such a shock to my system. I also know that having a baby and a 3 year old is just hard. It’s universally hard for anyone doing it. They both are so needy and dependent on you, it’s basically unrelenting.
I think the best way to summarize life with two kids is really and truly “BLAST-OFF.” Strap yourselves in and try to enjoy the ride, kittens.