If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I like to keep my writing here on the lighter side. If there’s a humorous side to something, I’ll try to find it. If I can make a jest or complain (with a funny twist) about my parenting life, I’ll do it.
I don’t like to tackle serious subjects in a serious way here; I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because there are plenty of very good blogs that do that, or maybe because I’m not always comfortable feeling emotions. (Introvert alert!)
But today I’m going to tap into my serious side. Just a little – bear with me. Having two little kids (are they both toddlers now at 17m and nearly 4y? or now a toddler and a preschooler?) has been testing my parenting skills lately, namely my ability to satisfy both of their playtime and learning time needs.
My feelings are not unique, I’m sure of that. So many of my mommy and daddy friends share my frustration. Those of us who have multiple young kids spaced about two years apart deal with a fairly basic problem:
The two kids generally don’t like to play with the same things. (Although when they do, one always rips the toy out of the other’s hands.) And as a stay-at-home-mom, it’s hard to split myself (“Mom! Can you please tie this bow on Sophia?!” and “Mama! Up!” … then 30 seconds later, “Mom! Will you dance with me?” and “Waahhh! No down! Up!”) between my two girls’ separate activities.
Life would be soooo much easier if they would just play together!
Sometimes I feel like Toddler gets the short shift now that Baby is here. I have limited attention for just her now – during Baby’s naps – and we don’t get to do as many focused learning/exploratory activities as we did when it was just us two. It would be ideal to continue that with her little sister in the picture, but I’m just not great at setting Toddler down to do something – a craft or a puzzle – while I attend to Baby for a diaper change or milk feed or some such.
Toddler is always interrupting me anyway to ask for help!
Sometimes I feel like I just can’t win. A better balance is needed; I need to get them playing and learning better together – but how much longer will it be before they can really do the same activities together? Once my youngest is 2 and stops putting things in her mouth? Because this is the state of things now:
- We made floam yesterday (foam and slime), but since Baby still puts things in her mouth she could only watch as her older sister, myself, and my husband played elbows-deep in the fun stuff. How do I tell her she has to wait six months so she wouldn’t eat the tiny styrofoam balls (or the goop itself) we added?
- I’d love for both girls to do watercolor paintings together (Toddler loves painting), but it’ll still be another month, I think, before I let Baby have a go. I just know the brush tip will end up in her mouth – and the paint everywhere else.
- Toddler likes to jump on the trampoline; Baby just had her first go yesterday, although she actually can’t jump yet. She can walk in the trampoline with me at the moment, but that’s it for now. Her skills will improve over the summer, yet right now even her attention span is too short to stay on there too long.
- Ever try to do a puzzle with a toddler and a 17mo? It’s like trying to fight a starved dog off from a hot pizza when I stop Baby’s fingers from undoing her older sister’s progress. Cue the cries!
- Heck, even playing with blocks is a challenge. If Baby’s not purposely knocking over everyone else’s creations, she’s accidentally walking over them. Why bother? (We do … I just keep a five-foot buffer between them and hope for the best….)
This is assuming we have large chunks of playtime! I’ll admit that I must not be great at time management because I feel like I’m always either making food or feeding someone or cleaning up or changing a diaper or wiping Toddler’s butt after a poop in the toilet or dressing someone or laying Baby down for a nap or feeding her milk – or going pee or getting myself ready. With a second kid now, this “mommy duty time” has grown to be oppressive at times. Seriously, how did you moms of three or more kids get everything done?!
I sometimes wish it was just Toddler and I still (I know every mom of multiples feels like this once in awhile – oh, the guilt…). But then Baby does an extra long nap, I’m alone with Toddler for a long time, and I get bored! I miss having my baby around and their co-entertainment. I just can’t win!
I suppose in the meantime, until Baby gets old enough to partake in her older sister’s activities, parenting will be a trade-off.
Or will we just be constantly chasing that playtime parity?