I am writing this whilst hiding in the tent in my eldest’s room, I have just managed to finally get the littlest one off to sleep and into his crib and I have now embarked on the challenging task of making toddler and naptime come together….needless to say I am now hiding in his tent as a) he doesn’t want me near him b) doesn’t want me to leave the room c) doesn’t want to see or speak to me, so I am hiding in the play tent. I think I win to be honest, I might just curl up and have a nap myself.
I thought going from child free to having one little monster was challenging enough, but having two has certainly upped the stakes. Some days are wonderful and I couldn’t be happier being mummy (well a little more sleep would make me happier) other days I feel like I’m wading through one shit storm head on into another.
You think having had one child you are now more of a pro, you’ve survived the sleepless nights and come out the other side. You’ve weaned your child and now they can fend for themselves, as long as there is a steady supply of rice puddings and fruit pouches in the pantry that they can grab. You’ve even gotten bathtime and bedtime down to a fine art that you can pretty much plan to do something once your sleeping beauty is in the land of nod. This false sense of security fills you with a cocky confidence and you mutter to your OH….”lets have another baby, how hard can it be?”
WELL….if you thought you were tired from sleepless nights with child number one, you have another thing coming when number two arrives. We thought we had had it hard with our eldest. He was prem, had reflux and would only sleep lying on his front on your chest….parenting rule number 1 broken!! We spent many a night semi propped up, half asleep in the vain attempt to have some silence in between the screams that surrounded feeding, and to top it off, I was also up during the night to express. I was hanging on by a mere thread of life each day. The slightest thing would break me down into an inconsolable sobbing wreck (there may have been some postnatal unhappiness there).
Now, however I am beyond crying tired…. I am sleep deprived raging angry tired. I don’t mean I am a tornado of anger all the time, but every now and again I give my toddler a run for his money in the tantrum department. Sometimes the smallest of things makes me stamp my feet in rage yes I have actually stamped my feet like a petulant child – embarrassing. I literally become the hulk of the mothering world. If I could acceptably smash things up I would – apologies to the mop bucket that now lies in smithereens.
Not only are you tired from the wakes up throughout the night, you are exhausted by the early morning ‘wake up and go’ as there is no such thing as lazing about and snoozing when you have a toddler AND a baby. With single child number 1, you could’ve crawled back into bed when it was the first nap of many throughout the day, there was no rush to get anywhere and certain no need to be out of the house by 7.30-8am, in fact you didn’t even have to get dressed if you didn’t want to, you could pass out from exhaustion multiple times a day if you so desired.
Even when child number 1 was old enough to require entertainment, its just one little person, one small being who would hopefully nap at some point in the day. If you are ‘cursed’ with the dropped nap from your toddler, I salute you, sometimes the only way I can get through the day is knowing nap time would bring me some respite. No offence to anyone with one child but I can’t help but laugh when I hear anyone complain about how hard it is with one….I look at you enviously and think how easy it was with just one!!!
The kind of tiredness that comes with two is a mind f@#$!! It’s the kind of tiredness that makes my eyes sting, my brain numb and my limbs feel disconnected from my body.
It’s the kind of tired where you would do ANYTHING for just another five minutes. Remember the days when you would press snooze on your alarm, if I could press snooze on my children my goodness I think the world would be all shiny stars and rainbows….well it is shiny stars and rainbows, but more out of delirium.
I have given up trying to ply my eldest with a box of breakfast snacks and the ipad as soon as he tottles into the room from anywhere around 5.30am, instead of sitting quietly munching his “breakfast” and watching Frozen he forcefully feeds me Cheerios and cheerily shouts his brothers name who ‘was’ sleeping peacefully after his dreamy 4.30am feed….not my kind of dreamy
Instead of delaying the inevitable and ultimately making the start to the day even more worse by waiting just that little bit too long before youngest erupts and wants feeding and eldest has disappeared to suck toothpaste out of the tube, I now drag my sorry excuse of a carcass out of bed and have us all dressed and ready to embrace the day by 6.30am….7am if I have been blessed with a 6.30am lie in by my eldest.
Every morning must have a purposeful activity planned, whether it be drop off at nursery on time *gets phone call on the way to nursery to ask if my eldest is actually coming in that day!! go food shopping/clean/tackle the mountain of laundry or when I have both boys in tow either go to the local Childrens Centre (a godsend) or to Boogie Babies (the best £4 I pay each week) before attempting to shop/clean/tackle laundry – all unsuccessfully. If nothing is planned the day will literally unravel, I will brave the pouring rain and stand watching my eldest splash in puddles and scoop mud with his bare hands than sit inside with nothing planned. If I try and tempt fate by not being organised I am sure to be rewarded for my disorganisation by my eldest “entertaining” himself.
You think its hard enough trying to juggle getting things done when there is one child hanging around your ankles! But when one is around your ankles and another refuses to be put down, achieving anything is momentous. Making a meal – if it requires more than five minutes prep we ‘aint’ eating it, and when I say prep I mean turn on oven, throw food on tray, set timer, boom DONE! I attempt to make every meal healthier by throwing a bucket load of mixed frozen veg at it and hope it satisfies at least three of the five a day. If all is really looking a little too beige then I will whizz up a quick fruit and veg smoothie and ensure the weeks worth of your five a day is in it, thankfully they seem to go down well with both children.
Weaning child number one requires careful studying of cook books and recipes, tiny pots of frozen yumminess is prepared lovingly, weaning child number two, (maybe) wipe the excess (high in salt) sauce off some chicken and veggies from the ready meal you have just blitzed in the microwave and smush together, or in true yummy mummy angel parenting style….hand over little hand sized pieces of pizza – M&S pizza of course.
The only time my eldest would watch TV when he was a baby was when I had to express during the day, he would be put in the jumperoo and I would endure the ‘delights’ of baby TV for the twenty minutes it took me to express, other than that he would have lots of sensory play, go on play dates, attend various groups. Now that there are two the TV has become my saving grace. I don’t even bother to try and dissuade my eldest from wanting to watch the Lion King or Frozen, he has watched it so many times that as soon as the opening credits starts my youngest suddenly becomes transfixed for the next 10-15 minutes. This time is CRUCIAL. This is where as an ordinary human being you may have made a brew and possibly gone to the toilet, as a mother this is where a load of laundry is put on, pots are washed, lunch is prepped, a quick once over with a flannel before getting dressed, smear make up onto face and hope not to look too TOWIE *unless that’s the look you’re going for, scrape hair back, brush teeth and shovel a handful of chocolate into your face. You “may” contemplate making a brew and may actually be in the throes of making one before your time is up and the baby starts screaming. This all sounds like an achievement, which I guess it is, but one crucial thing has not been done…..going for a wee. As a supermum we have the capacity to not wee for a whole day, if we do decide to indulge in such luxuries not only do we have the audience of our newest member to the family as they lay on the floor debating whether to cry or not, but we would most surely have our eldest child want to come and watch the whole process, proclaim loudly “mummy wee” and then attempt to put toilet paper down the toilet as you are still mid pee. This I have on a regular basis! not that I get to wee on a regular basis.
Once I have defeated each day with some success and have endured the witching hour, bathed both boys and gotten them ready for bed I am then on the home stretch to getting them into bed. That is unless tonight is the night to play musical beds. It was only the other night when I was home alone as hubby was working that I tiptoed upstairs ready to put the littlest to bed only to find my eldest sat on the landing singing ‘old MacDonald had a farm’ to himself – aawww sweet you say!! Here’s how it panned out:
*puts youngest to bed
*escorts eldest back to bed, crouches on floor with head on pillow to encourage sleep.
*youngest starts to squirm and squeal just as eldest is settling – dashes from one room to the other.
*settles youngest back off to sleep but not made ‘the transfer’ – eldest tottles in and climbs into bed.
*makes successful transfer, escorts eldest back to bed AGAIN.
*youngest goes off AGAIN – dashes back out.
*eldest back in my bed again.
*carry eldest back to bed, crouches back on floor, head on pillow, eyes begin to drift (dammit I need a wee)
*stealthily escapes bedroom like a ninja, enjoys first wee of the day at 9pm.
*Leaves bathroom – spots a little face peering out of bedroom door – ffs!!!
*Back to crouching down with head on pillow and ass in the air willing sleep to come….at this point I didn’t care if it was him or me sleeping as long as one of us was sleeping.
Every day has the potential to either be wonderful or diabolical….no scrap that every day has the potential to go from wonderful to diabolical or vice versa or it might just yoyo between the two constantly. Dealing with the emotional roller coaster between pride and exasperation, love and despair, can truly be exhausting. Getting to the end of the day with your sanity intact (ha) is an achievement. It takes every shred of remaining energy to not just collapse into bed and pass out, as much as that would be sensible – no heavenly, there is still a tornado of mess to contend with, mountains of laundry to wade through, lunches to prepare, bills to pay, nappies to order and a husband to say hello to before passing out from exhaustion…and guess what? It all starts again tomorrow.
So is having two harder than one? sometimes it can be, sometimes I sit with my head in my hands and wonder how I’m going to keep going but then the rewards are heart burstingly wonderful. I am blessed with two beautiful boys who have me awestruck every single day. Picking up my eldest from nursery and have him run to me beaming and shouting “mummy” melts my heart. Having him grab my hand and pull me toward the door and say “home please” reassures me that I’m doing OK. The beautiful big blue eyes and gummy smiles from my youngest fills my heart with so much joy, he is a crazy thug who frantically grabs my face and attempts to eat it when excited, but then sits and stares at my face so intently when he feeds, desperate to stroke my cheek and never let me go.
One day I will pee alone, one day I will regain control over the mess and chaos, one day I will no longer be hanging on by a thread….but I guess that’s when one day my boys will be all grown up.
It may be crazy with two but it’s the kind of crazy I love.