Staying Sane with Two Children

Friday, March 11, 2011

In the next couple of weeks my second born will be turning one. The year really has gone by so fast. I feel like I say that so much, but it's true. It's probably because there are many days and nights that bleed into each other since being a mother means being on call all of the time.

I have been a mother of two children for almost a year now, and I can't tell you how many times they have pushed me to the edge. I am convinced that there is nothing else in life that can help refine my character as much as children will, since they regularly put me through FIRE. If I do not prepare myself with a good night's sleep, a little quiet time for myself in the morning, I lose my temper and feel defeated more easily than if I had. Sure, I suppose life would be a lot easier if I would just leave the television on all day long to babysit them, but I will not resort to that. However, I am happy to say that coming up to this one year mark, I have it under control more often than not.

There are a few things I've learned that really help me keep my sanity and be a mother that my children want to be around:

• Get a good night's sleep.

Joaquin has been sleeping through the night from about five months. I worked really hard to get my baby to sleep through the night. That meant feeding him as much as could at meal times (babies sleep through the night once they receive enough calories during the day, they won't need to be fed in the middle of the night) and trying my best to figure out any thing that would prevent that. And Joaquin sure is sensitive. At one point he was waking because he was too cold. Babies aren't known for keeping blankets on, so I had to dress him in a onesie as well as a flannel sleeper. And then another point he started waking again and I discovered that it was that he felt wet so I had to try different types of diapers until I found that worked. I even had to figure out an optimal amount of formula to feed him before he went to bed: enough to keep him satisfied 'til morning, but not so much that made him overflow his diaper. It can be so frustrating though - ask any parent - when you can't figure out why they just won't stay sleeping. Finally we've hit a good spot.

• Help your first born understand

It occurred to me that perhaps my three year old doesn't comprehend all of the implications of another baby in the family. I'd find myself in a situation where I'd have Joaquin crying 'cause he was hungry and then Sofia would go to the bathroom and need me to help her "finish the job" and she'd be yelling and he'd be screaming and I just want to go close myself in my room. Those moments are inevitable. When we'd start bumping into these times, I found myself starting to explain to her that "Mommy's only one person." I think sometimes we unknowingly expect little ones to understand what is going on, but really, they need to be taught everything.

• Be flexible

I am the kind of person that if I don't get anything done that I was planning on doing I get really bummed. Like, low-energy, almost depressed, kind of bummed. I have had to learn to just be okay with getting it done later - like on a whole 'nother day. It'll be okay.

• Communicate and Plan

This one is the other side of the coin of "Be flexible". Some things are non-negotiable. Especially if you're a working mom. I have been working a little bit during my maternity leave and there are deadlines. I still have to meet those. How do I do this with as little stress as possible? First, explain to those you work with that you have a few more variables going on at home now, and whenever possible if requests could come to you as soon it is possible to allow as much time as possible this would be ideal. It's amazing how people will comply to help you out. And then this also means sometimes to make sure I can do the best job possible, I'll do a task late at night when it's quiet (details are hard to pay attention to if I've got one baby chewing on my ankle and another asking to put on a dress over the skirt she has on already), or wake early to get something done. This way, I do not have far too many things competing for my attention.

• Time for myself

Every day I make sure I have time for myself. Not just a time to zone out, but I mean quality time. Quality time for myself means that I learn something, grow something or work on something that is good for me: reading a book, knitting a present, writing in my journal, reading my Bible, exercising or something along those lines. Not playing Angry Birds or Facebook stalk for the hour and half that I have the silence I need. This also means that only on desperate occasions do I take a nap. I find that napping makes me want to have a nap the next day too even if I have had a good night's rest. Sleep then starts to take over my life and that makes me unproductive and THAT makes me very unhappy. (Sorry if I sound totally insane).

• Step back and remind myself

And ultimately, whatever is going on, I have to just step back and remind myself, "SOFIA IS ONLY THREE" and it's amazing the patience that will suddenly flow through my being. A lot of my frustration comes from me expecting far too much from her. I think it's partially her fault since she really speaks quite clearly and expresses herself really well, but then can't feed herself her meal from beginning to end, or put her Lego away. And well, Joaquin is a baby so I don't expect much. :)

Being a parent is unbelievably challenging, but it is the absolutely most rewarding thing I have ever done. When I think that my child is on the cusp of going to school for the first time, I can't believe that she is ready to do that. What an incredible responsibility and awesome privilege it is to prepare another human being to succeed in the next step in life.

I just look into their little faces and think, wow...and I almost decided against this whole idea.

Obviously many days go by that are less than perfect. I lose my temper much more than I'd like to admit. But every day I try hard to be a patient and understanding parent, so I know that I'll be adding more skills to the list that I live by now. What are some of the ways you stay centered in the midst of pressure, whether you have kids or not? I'd love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the post :) loved it. can't agree more. there are days where i literally have to breathe and count to ten and remind myself they are only children. what an amazing journey it truly is though. ;)


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