I have two kids; a 2-year-old toddler, and a 4-month-old baby. I lead a truly blessed life on most days. Between diaper blowouts, tantrums, time outs, and watching my kids fall sound asleep, we bask in oodles of smiles, armfuls of hugs with plenty of kisses to go around, and even a few belly laughs to add to our daily routine.
However, on days that seem particularly trying and I still need to make those hugs, kisses, and smiles happen, I have below, 10 guilt-free and perfectly acceptable ways I keep my sanity:
1. Reading books instead of playing:
When we are stuck at home because of crappy weather, or because the baby is napping, or if I just don’t feel like dragging my little entourage out and about town, we stay home and read. This is great if I’ve had a bad night with the baby demanding frequent nightfeeds and have no energy to play with the toddler during the day. We could do a bunch of DIY toddler activities but that takes effort and energy and I’m talking about days when you really just want to sit and not do much of anything.
2. Using technology to help with babysitting:
Yes, I am one of those moms who uses media to keep my toddler engaged while I am busy with my infant – like when I am putting her down for a nap. Toddler gets to watch his favorite YouTube videos everyday at lunch time. Yes. Everyday. Do I feel a little guilty about it? Maybe. Do I plan to do something about it? No, not until I can figure out some alternatives.
3. Letting the baby cry it out while you collect yourself:
This one is especially true if you’ve ever experienced holding your baby for a long time with arms shrieking for relief or if your baby has been crying incessantly for long minutes that seem like hours. Lay your baby down in her crib and give yourself a break. You deserve it for your sanity (and everyone else’s).
4. Turning off the audio on your AV baby monitor:
Like most babies, my baby does not go to bed after I put her down. The ‘put them down drowsy but awake’ mantra may work for some but it does not work for us, not always anyway. In fact, she lets her displeasure known by fussing and whimpering for some time. It bothers me that she has to go through this but I have accepted this set up as a necessary evil. It does not mean I have to feel worse hearing her unhappiness. I turn the audio off but still leave the video on. I just don’t need additional auditory anxiety.
5. Taking a shower while both kids watch you:
Mama needs her shower and if that means sometimes propping the kids up in front of the shower while I quickly get in and out, then so be it. If you do this, just be sure kids are
safe. I strap my baby to her little chair and have books for the toddler to keep him busy. What I love about this arrangement is that I get to watch my babies sitting there doing their own thing. I get to make faces at them from inside the shower and see their big smiles. With all these beautiful moments, my sanity is restored and the fact that I sneaked a shower in, makes me a guilt-free genius!
6. Giving your toddler a special treat so he doesn’t wake the baby:
Yes, done that! Just as a two-year should, my toddler is prone to sudden reactions over the littlest of things and sometimes this energy translates to excited screams. Then there are the tantrums that cause him to yell. If the baby is napping, I will sometimes bribe him with a cookie or a special sticker, or whatever else I have handy. Let go of the guilt. You are doing the best you can and occasional special treats have never harmed anyone.
7. Having your toddler do age-appropriate chores:
My toddler loves helping with baby’s diaper changes. He has also gotten me burp cloths, blankets, diapers, powder, Vaseline or whatever else (not all at the same time, thank goodness) I may have needed and forgotten or if I am too much into something (think holding an infant’s feet in the air to prevent more damage from a diaper blast!) to get those things myself. Point is, again, don’t feel guilty soliciting help from your older child as long as it is age appropriate. What is deemed as age appropriate is for you to decide depending on a variety of factors.
8. Reprimanding/threatening to punish your toddler for loving the baby too much:
My toddler son loves his baby sister. A bit too much, sometimes. When she was younger, he would haul himself over her in her swing to kiss and hug her and then shower her with tons of wet kisses. While I was afraid for my newborn, I couldn’t deny the bond he felt with his sister. Yet, when kissing her could potentially mean her slipping off her swing (because she was swaddled, she was not strapped) or chair, I have had to reprimand him or threaten with punishment. It makes me feel horrible to say, “Stop kissing NOW or else…” and yet, if safety is a concern, you do what you have to do. Timeouts are perfectly acceptable too although I know there are opinion pieces out there that talk about why that is not the case. To each her own.
9. Using one’s burp cloth to clean another’s snot:
When everyone demands your attention at the same time, a burp cloth may just be what it takes to buy you a few minutes. I don’t necessarily use a used burp cloth to clean snot but if it is unused and just hanging next to the baby and the toddler happens to need some wiping, I have that handy cloth. Why get up for a different one?
10. Ignoring your baby to attend to the non-important needs of your toddler:
Sometimes my toddler absolutely NEEDS me to look at his latest train crash or tow truck and the baby is howling for attention at the very same time. In those moments, I have let her cry and gone over to my son’s play area to look at and appreciate whatever it was that he needed to show me. It only takes a few seconds but reassures him that his needs are also important to me. Content with that knowledge and secure in his little world knowing that mommy still pays attention to him, he is back to playing on his own and I can then go attend to the baby.
If you have two or multiple kids, how do you keep your sanity while raising them together?
This post was originally published on the author’s personal blog at www.thephdmama.com