Two Kids: It’s Always a Trade-Off

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 beΒ 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:

  • WP_20170625_13_35_30_ProWe 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 (ToddlerΒ 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?

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30 thoughts on “Two Kids: It’s Always a Trade-Off

  1. I am sure this is really hard. I only have one, so I have no advice for you. Maybe when they are both a little older, they can entertain themselves/each other? One can hope, right? You got this, Mama, hugs to you and you’re doing a great job.

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  2. You’ve got to know that there are a bigger majority of parents that do NONE of those kids with any of their kids. As a teacher it’s so wonderful to hear that parents are doing activities with kids and just know, if that’s the best that you can do then you are AMAZING. So don’t be hard on yourself. They grow up in a loving environment and u take time to do things with them when u can. They’re so lucky ❀️

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  3. That last comment says it all! And remember, those with bigger families have the older ones that look after the toddlers. I had my little sister with me from the age of three on. You are doing an exceptional job with those kids and I think you are way too harsh on yourself. Goodness, almost perfect is as far as we can go!!!

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  4. Your girls are so lucky to have you and you’re doing an amazing job with them. I think they’ll play together more when they’re older. I think a year from now it’ll be totally different. Melody and I have the same age difference as your girls and I remember it being hard to play with her when she was a baby.

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    • What a great idea!!! I love that! We do have music playing here almost all day long, but it’s my oldest who likes to dance. Baby sometimes does, but doesn’t do it for 45min straight like her sister does. πŸ™‚ I will try the parade, though – thanks for the idea!

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  5. I feel this way often too! and then I struggle between trying to get things done while baby sleeps or doing an activity with my 4 yr old while baby sleeps. Never ending guilty cycle.

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    • Ugh, yes, because there is always laundry and extra clean up. It just doesn’t end … ever. I try to do some chores (with my oldest’s help, if she will) and then an activity, plus reading. And she is only allowed to watch TV in the afternoon, so I’ll put on an episode of Sofia for her and sit on the couch with her (and read my email or write a post). My only sanity….

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  6. It is SO hard. My older daughter definitely doesn’t get as much time with me as she used to — especially lately. I’m so tired during baby’s nap time that it’s hard to motivate to fill that time with more hard-core parenting and provide enriching experiences. But, my girls play well sometimes — usually with me right there and only for a few minutes. We do let baby K paint and draw. She LOVES it. Color wonder markers are great, and watercoloring is too, especially outside. Maybe let her have a go at finger painting this summer when you can hose her down? Bet she’d love it.

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  7. Girl, I am right there with you! I have three under the age of four, and all day long its a juggle to get everyone’s needs met and still feel like a sane person at the end of the day. lol. You are a great mom and I think as they get older their interests and abilities will merge a bit more (or at least thats what I keep telling myself). I dont think they’ll remember all our little activities we did with them, more that we were just there. ❀

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  8. I feel you. It was just Little Man and me for six years, and then Baby Girl came along and took so much of my attention. Still does, since she’s the one more likely to be doing something crazy! They did start playing together a lot shortly before turning 2, so that’s something! And he enjoys taking on a teaching role with her. Have you every tried the edible paints? We’ve doing “painting” with pudding, so it didn’t matter that it ended up in her mouth. Plus, it was fun for her to help make.

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