A while ago, a friend, expecting her 2nd, asked about my biggest tips/thoughts/advice on managing two. Well- I don’t have it all together, and each person has to find what works for them. But I had enough ideas I thought I’d turn it into a blog post. A multi-part blog post, at that! J Here, you’ll find a collection of ideas, humor, “advice”, encouragement and thoughts on what worked best for me…in no special order.
I’m learning that since we’re all such different personalities, we have to find what flows with our personality…not to mention, our life circumstances, etc.! So, take it all with a grain of salt, and see what works for you!
If you’re new here, just as a quick aside for background- Viviana is my toddler, and was 17 months when Timothy, my baby, was born. They’re now 21.5 and 4 months, respectively.
-If you’re committed, you’ll make it. You won’t be perfect, you’ll make mistakes….but you’re going to do it, and with flying colors, at that! I know it seems intimidating and daunting on the days that one takes all your time. But everyday, there’s grace. And somehow, you just find ways to make things work.
-On a similar note, Necessity is the mother of creativity. I know, it’s said often…maybe it’s even clique. But, it’s so true! Different things I’ve worried about and wondered how on earth I could make work (for instance: getting both kids to nap), when I was put to it, I just found a way. We just made it happen, enough said. Not through miracles or super-woman powers. Just because we had to figure out a way, so we did. And usually, it was easier than I thought it would be!
-You can’t meet everyone’s needs at once. A friend told me this….a mutual friend had told her. It’s a pearl of advice, if balanced on both sides. I mean, you wouldn’t want to use it as an excuse to not meet everyone’s needs, or to not multi-task or to ignore someone. But on the other hand…if you’re a natural mama, in tune to your babies’ needs and with a sensitive maternal instinct (like we all should be- like God created us to be)- you could easily get stressed over your lack of extra arms, or the idea that someone has to wait. And it was helpful to remember….it’s okay. No one’s going to be permanently traumatized, and if I’m doing my best, and lovingly trying to meet all needs….everyone will feel taken care of, and will “still” trust me to meet their needs. What a relief! Usually, it’s Viviana who does the waiting, but it depends on the circumstance. That’s just because she’s old enough to understand when I tell her “I’ll be there to help you in just a minute. Let me finish with Timothy.” She doesn’t always act like she understands….it doesn’t cause her to stop crying and wait patiently immediately! But she’s mentally capable of processing. I can’t expect Timothy to understand what it means to wait when he’s hungry. At this point in life, most of his “wants” are needs which need to be taken care of instantly. On the other hand, though, sometimes he has to wait to be put down for a nap, or have something altered. Maybe I’m wearing him and he’s no longer happy- needs a diaper change and more effort towards sleep- but I’m in the middle of something in the kitchen, or helping Vivi get lunch. Since I know his greatest needs are being met, and he isn’t being ignored (I am holding him), I’m comfortable letting him wait. I wouldn’t be if he was playing on the floor. You’ll figure out what you’re comfortable with and what feels right to you as you follow your instincts!
-Chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Even more chocolate on the rocky days. Okay, in balance. Seriously, though- sometimes a little treat in the middle of a stressful day does help. Whether it’s really the properties of chocolate (my mom and I have jokingly called it “nerve control” for years!), or taking a moment to do something for you and savor something delicious, or getting away from a stressful situation, or just the pick-me-up-buzz something sweet gives….it can be nice. So I’m not kidding! J
-Pray. And pray….and pray. I had really thought I had grown in a lot of areas in my life, pre-Timothy. Especially weeding out my tendency to get stressed/frustrated/upset/etc. I think I had- I just had a long ways to go, too! Becoming a mommy to two has grown me even more. I hate that my babies have had to “suffer” along the way, as they put up with my mistakes in the growing process. Especially in the early weeks- when constantly sleep-deprived, recovering from birth, dealing with Vivi transitioning, and the fussy newborn stage, not to mention PP hormones- I prayed so much. Sometimes, it was a begging cry to “please just change me” or “help me”.
I remember especially Thanksgiving afternoon, when Timothy was 3 or 4 weeks old. Vivi was exhausted and thanks to another young cousin, I was unsuccessful at getting her to sleep. Timothy was fussy. Ben was out playing football with the guys (we were at my in-laws). Everyone else was sleeping, more or less. I felt my frustration mounting more and more as I tried to mange the kids. I felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore, and Vivi was so whinny and clingy. Frustrated, I pulled her off me too roughly. And then I broke. “Oh my God, what am I doing? Why can’t I handle this? Timothy’s barely into our family, and I can’t even meet everyone’s needs! Why do I have to be so frustrated? And why can’t they just be easy?” So I packed us up, loaded the kids in the car, told Ben to find a ride home and went home. The whole way home I cried over the fact that I had succumbed to my raging emotions, and my babies suffered for it. We got home, I loaded the kids up on me for a tandem walk and we enjoyed a delightful time together. Timothy fell asleep, Vivi was soothed and calmed….and so was I. We enjoyed a quiet afternoon and early evening together….and all ended well.
I still pray a lot, and still have a lot of growing…but thankfully, things are much more balanced these days! So, not to scare anyone with the above story- it was one of my worst moments. J One of those moments I wouldn’t have gotten through without prayer!
-Invent a “Word of the Week” to work on. This was born out of the above scenario….and honestly, I never moved beyond the first word on my list. I should get back to it- it was helpful and refreshing. I started jotting down words that described who I wanted to be or what I wanted to be like…stuff I wanted to incorporate into my life. My first word of choice was “gentleness”. I wrote it on a 3x5 card and put it on the fridge. On the back, I wrote explicit ways for how I wanted to incorporate gentleness into my life. And, amazingly, it helped me so much. I saw a lot of growth in my life as I focused on one word through the day’s various situations. I’ve got a ways to go, but I truly did become a more gentle mom. So yeah…I need to move beyond the first word and pick a new one, hehe!
-Kids are forgiving- be so grateful for it! Not much to say here…it just blesses me so much to see how forgiving my kids are of me. They always welcome me with open arms. It stresses Vivi out when I get stressed…but she never pulls back from me. And life is beautiful again for her as soon as I warmly take her in my arms and interact un-stressed with her. Somehow, they never hold anything against me. I cringe every time I do something – or a whole day of “somethings” – that I regret, knowing they weren’t healthy for anyone. It kills me to think that I could (do) scar my children, and that in later years they’ll have stuff to work through just because of my imperfections. But sadly, it’s going to happen, know matter how hard I try. So, I apologize, make up, and move on…grateful that, today at least, my babies don’t love me any less for my flaws.
What? I said I didn’t have much to say on this one? You knew I was kidding, didn’t you? ;-P
-Cherish the beautiful moments- for it truly is such a rich season! There are so many beautiful things that happen every day, if only I stop and listen and see.
Sweet moments playing at the park with Viviana, while Timothy observes the world from his perch in the wrap or ergo. Enjoying Vivi’s delight as we all go down the slide together. The irresistible way Vivi brings me the wrap and says “Wrap. Back.” when I’ve just put Timothy down to finish his nap in bed. The way Timothy smiles at me with his huge chubby cheeks. The way Viviana woke up in the night, and, without a peep, climbed up into our bed and snuggled against me- priceless. Feeling Timothy snuggled up against me all night long, listening to his soft breathing. The moments of tandem nursing when each baby is so happy with their own breast. Or, more common now that we’re older, moments like this morning when Timothy’s nursing and I’m sharing a healthy “shake” with Vivi. Or reading Vivi a story while bouncing on an exercise ball (Timothy in carrier) trying to get him to sleep. Squeezing my babies so close. Laughing, all three of us together. Enjoying sunshine together. Kneading bread dough with Vivi while kissing the top of Timothy’s head. Or seeing Vivi’s delight when I get out the crock pot as she proclaims “Beans! Beans!”, because she knows we make beans (amongst many other things, granted) in the crock pot, and loves helping to rinse them out and soak them. There were the first weeks when I would watch Timothy sleep for hours. There was helping Vivi adjust to having a new sibling, and enjoying her delight in him. There’s watching as Vivi gently strokes Timothy’s head- just like I do. There’s watching her try to wear her babies- just like me.
Oh, so much beauty! It makes my heart almost hurt, my life is so full of good things. Yes, there are hard days- you’ll have them, which is why I’ve chosen to share some of mine with you- but you’ll encounter so much heart-bursting beauty and wonder, too!