If my kids are fed and still alive at the end of the day, I've done my job.
With two kids under the age of two, I found myself just the other day rocking in a corner, incoherently singing the verses of 'I'm a little teapot.' I broke two dishes within 20 minutes, the second of which landed shards of broken ceramic in the macaroni and cheese that was cooking on the stove. The macaroni and cheese that my 21-month-old was waiting for so impatiently.
While my toddler had a complete and total meltdown on the floor, TheOneWhoPoopsAlot screamed bloody murder at the top of her itty bitty lungs. Both my babes were hungry, both needed me right NOW, lunch was ruined, the sink was overflowing with dishes, and I was completely overwhelmed. I sat down on the floor next to my screaming babies and bawled. All three of us, crying in synch. HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS?!
My husband, bless his heart, tried to offer a word of encouragement: "All the other moms figured it out, I'm sure you will, too." But then I thought: Awesome. Everyone else in the world has this mom thing down pat except for me. I must just really suck at life.
So I sought the advice of fellow mommy friends for support. The same mommy friends who I had assumed had it all figured out. Supermoms. The ones who vacuum with one hand while carrying a toddler on one hip and an infant on the other. While looking damn good at it, too. I realized then that all my supermom friends who had to juggle a baby and a toddler struggled in the beginning. And I realized that I needed to cut myself a little slack. As long as the babies are fed, dry, and not playing in the chemical cabinet, the day has been a success.
The next day, I woke up and said to my husband, "I've got this." I had no expectations, other than making sure the vultures were fed and dry. Yes, my expectations were low, but guess what - I did it! And the dishes, a load of laundry AND I put on deodorant. And what. Yes, I want a medal. One I can wear out in public that says, "I kept my kids alive today, what did YOU do?!"
I smiled as I melted into the couch cushions the other night, and said to myself, "I WIN." And just as I began to study the back of my eyelids for a moment, my oldest sat in front of the couch and colored on his arms and legs with blue and red markers. Oh, hell. We can't win them all.
But we can try. Here's a list of a few things I've learned during the past four weeks to help keep my sanity intact with two under two:
- Wear your baby and never again forget where you left her! And whether you prefer a Moby wrap, Baby Bjorn, Boba or velcro, I've found that having two hands to clean cheerios and crayons out of the heater vent is much easier than having none. The early bird gets the worm. And shower. And a cup of coffee. And maybe if you're lucky like I was the other day, a little deodorant and a chance to brush out that bird's nest growing sideways on your head. I like to wake up about an hour before my son usually wakes up in the morning so I can have a little extra "me" time to get some things done that I ordinarily wouldn't have a chance to do. And when I say "me" time, what I really mean is, me and OneWhoPoopsAlot. Still, one dirty diaper in the morning is easier than two.
- Child labor! Even at just 21 months, my son loves more than anything to help with housework. My little workhorse works long hours for little to no pay, and he LOVES it! He does laundry, helps to load the dishwasher, wipes down the table, the patio doors, helps to change OneWhoPoopsAlot's diapers...and all he wants in return is a little chocolate, some mommy kisses, and maybe a Thomas the Train video. And bubble time. And someone to change his poopy diaper. And a piece of cheese. And to push him in his truck. And to feed OneWhoPoopsAlot a blueberry. And to hold his stuffed doggie and his choo choo and his sippy and one sneaker he found underneath the couch while he chases the dogs with his Tonka truck. Okay, so maybe the pay isn't so bad after all.
- When we're not eating macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for dinner, I'll use my oldest's nap time to prep dinner. And I keep it simple. I'm still learning this two under two thing, so if you're coming to our house for dinner, don't hang yourself on expectations of a gourmet meal. And honestly, I won't do it if it takes longer than 30 minutes to prep. I'm not lazy. With a baby who wants to nurse every 30 minutes some days, I'm realistic.
- Try to keep new, exciting toddler-friendly activities on hand at all times, such as wooden puzzles, flash cards, books, blocks, the Hungry, Hungry Hippo! Stay far, far, away from window markers. Unless you want your toddler and everything around him to look like this:
- A supermom is like a leprechaun. Have you ever seen a leprechaun? No. So don't try to be everything to everyone all at once or you'll be the one rocking the corner singing your own tune that no one knows. Someone told me once that it's one day at a time, but really, in the beginning, it's one hour at a time, with a countdown to nap time. If you can make it to nap time, you're halfway there!
- And don't forget about your oldest! I know how busy mommyhood can be with two in diapers, but the big brother/big sister needs one-on-one mommy time too! So remember to cherish all the marker mustaches and poop wall murals and macaroni and cheese hand prints on the windows. Because one day much too soon, these moments will disappear.
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