October 11, 2012

Juggling with Two

Category: Being Parents
“One is just about tolerable, two is too much”. 

That was a tongue-in-cheek quip I remembered from a fellow mom of a 2+ YO kid when she was asked if she was going to have a second child. 
That made me smile. I can’t help but acknowledge the truth in that statement. I laughed heartily in full agreement.  What were we thinking when we decided that we’d have kids?! And, TWO? Well, having two is certainly more than just a handful, indeed.
While people tell us that it gets easier with #2 simply because of the experience, as well as the confidence the second-time parents would have chalked-up after having the first one, they forgot to warn us that we need to upskill ourselves in the art of juggling. 
Yes. Juggling. The skill involving moving objects for entertainment or sports (Wiki’s definition). 
Except that, we are doing this neither for entertainment nor sports. We are doing this so that we can be connoisseurs of life to get through the hour, the day, the months and the years to come in trying to get our lives in order. And so, upon accepting the fact that our life has inadvertently been turned upside down and inside out when we have #2, we (try to) juggle. 
[The irony of it all, as I am sure the above two were the result of entertainment]
When I reflect back to being a temporary full-time mum whilst on maternity, I realize that juggling two kids can be awfully draining than having to just go to the office for 8 hours and get stressed out by something else other than kids.
A day of juggling the two kids at home is nothing but exhausting. When I thought I was done with one child for the moment, the other would poop and would be needing a change of diaper. When I thought I was done with the diaper change, then the other one would be due for a feed. And just when one of the kids went down for a nap, the other napping kid would wake up with a wail and will need some attention. There are, of course,  many occasions when both start wailing at the same time. Then there’s the restlessness, the temper tantrums, the meal-time struggles, the pumping rituals and not to mention other chores like when #1 spills something all over the floor, me cooking for dinner and having to do the dishes amongst other things. It never ends. Then, there are the bath time and bed time routine where continuing to juggle both a toddler and a small infant remain a constant challenge day-in, day-out.
Of course, there are the mandatory initiations to marathon sleepless nights – waking up every 2-3 hours, or sometimes hourly to feed or soothe a fussy baby, or having to tend to the toddler who puked in the bed several times a night because she was unwell. And I often wonder how those with 3, 4 or 9 kids do the juggle without “losing it”. 
When it was only one kid, Spud was our only focus, and she has had all the attention she could ever get from 2 parents all at the same time. We also got very used to sleeping through the night for many, many moons. We were spoilt, and so, when Squirt came along, it was quite difficult for us to start over with the broken sleeps again. Now with two (kids), Squirt tends to  get the shaft to second as we go all out of our way to make sure that we pay extra attention to #1 in the first few months so she does not feel alienated, unloved or threatened by #2.
It did take a while for us to gently (and patiently) condition Spud as well that sometimes, she just has to wait for her turn when we have to attend to her baby brother – a concept she (sometimes) accepts with grace without throwing her signature temper tantrums. We did this usually by acknowledging her needs, and then telling her nicely, and firmly that yes we will attend to her, but for now she has to wait until we are done. If she screams and shouts and flings herself on the floor, we then just ignore her and tell her that we’ll start listening to her only after she calms down in her little corner. Most times, to her credit, she listens and will wait for when we are done with Squirt.
In juggling the 2 when it comes to giving attention, it is almost impossible to do it without one or the other wailing their guts out, especially if only 1 parent is minding both at the same time. It is, really sometimes hard not to “lose it”.
Spud goes to playschool during the day in the weekday, and that gave me (now the Nanny) the time to give Squirt my (her) undivided attention for a few hours, put him in his nap routine, catch some zzzzz’s or do other things. 
It does get a little bit more hectic on the weekends with no help on hand as we continue trying to juggle two kids between ourselves. Usually we have some place to be, and somewhere to go to and it takes us a lot longer than usual just to get ourselves and the kids ready before we eventually manage to get the entire family out of the door! Needless to say, we take turns throughout the day for one of us to mind one kid at a time – from the morning bath routine, to the swimming parent of the day, to the meal-times and to the evening wind-down bath time and sleep routine. 
Despite having some form of schedule, it really is all a juggling act,  and sometimes, we wonder how we managed to get through the day. But getting through the day we always did, and regardless of how bad the day has been, we know that come 7pm, the kids will be in bed. And, usually quite fast asleep.
For us, 7pm is the bestest time of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, and I love spending time with them; but really, while the weekends can be fulfilling (or chaotic depending how it went), it usually is much more tiring than spending a full 10 hour day at the office. 
Although we are usually properly knackered by then, we know that by 7.30 pm at the latest, we can at least put our feet up, be our adult self again and be comforted by the fact that both kids are safe and already sound asleep in their own beds until tomorrow comes.
It is one of the best feelings in the world.

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