Aiden has been attending preschool for just over a year now. In September, he began attending preschool for 2 mornings a week, 4 hours each day, and recently went up to 3 days in preparation for the two socials that mark the year-end for the year. Ideally, preschool offers me a break from taking care of 2 kids full-time. In reality, that’s not usually the case.
Damien at the beach today for the 2 minutes he was happy before crying non-stop. I *thought* I would give him a relaxing day at the beach and park. Completely backfired.
Damien’s morning nap begins around the time that Aiden leaves for preschool. As the shortest of his naps, I was sometimes returning home just as Damien was waking up. Ianiv thankfully stepped in a couple of months ago to do the drop-off so that I could at least get some break / work time before Damien’s nap was over.
On a typical non-preschool day, we go to a playgroup or park or activity of some sort then return home around 11:30 or 12 for lunch and some playtime before Damien takes his nap around 1. On preschool days, our schedule is much different.
After Damien is awake from his nap, I try to keep him home when I can, but he often is antsy to get out. Most days, he’s not ready to go out before 10am, so the more age-appropriate playgroups don’t line up with us spending solo time in that way. Most days, we run errands, which means many trips for him in and out of the car seat. Some days we return home for lunch and some play, but I need to time it correctly or he will want to go for his nap before we even leave the house to go pick up Aiden. Many times, I’ve had to take him out for some random errand again before pick-up because he’s simply beside himself wanting to nap.
Today’s Hectic Example
Today, I rushed Damien out after his nap (which had been both early and short), hoping for some relaxing time at the beach followed by lunch at home – no errands, just a Mommy & Damien day!
I took Damien for his snack at a cafe first, since Mommy needed some more coffee after being awake since 5:20am. After 2 minutes in the sand, he had a major tantrum about his hat being on and simply would not calm down after that. I tried to walk him to the water, but he sat down and cried. I took him to the park, which occupied him for 5 minutes, but he burst into tears when I tried to sit and play with him. Hours too early to return home for lunch, I ran some random errands in West Van to fill time and bought him some Tylenol. He was still frantic, so I decided to feed him out rather than return home with him in that state. He calmed down some after a big lunch, but we now had no time left to return home, so I took him to another park to kill 20 minutes before preschool pick-up. He was down for his nap by 1:30.
Damien is always a little out-of-sorts on preschool days without Aiden around, but the past 1-2 weeks have been particularly hard. Damien is going through a period that mirrors his worst colicky days, so I would say it’s probably deep teething pain. Not content at home or anywhere I take him, we end up having to go to even more places than usual, and it’s so damn exhausting.
So, while I have a break from Aiden, it’s not always a break for me! Once Damien is over this hump of fussiness, it should calm down…
One of the biggest struggles I’ve had to adjust to in having 2 kids is my need for personal space. This struggle began when Damien was born, who turned into another high needs baby, and was intensified when Aiden stopped napping (when Damien was 2 months old). 10 months later, parenting a 3.5 year old and a 1 year old, I struggle with this issue on a daily basis.
I’d like to tell you I love every moment I spend with my kids. But that’s the thing. It’s every moment. From the time they wake up, I have no time to myself until they go to bed. On preschool days, I sometimes luck out and Damien takes a longer morning nap. I use this time to relax a tiny bit, but mostly to work. Other days, Damien’s nap times are spent with Aiden having “special Mommy Aiden time”, which he really needs. He’s a cuddly kid who needs a lot of attention.
Since Aiden still gets tired in the middle of the day, and so do I, Aiden is allowed to watch some tv during part of Damien’s afternoon nap. Thankfully, this nap is almost always over an hour (it wasn’t for many months). I used to sit with Aiden to watch his shows most days, but honestly I still felt overwhelmed. When I sit there, Aiden asks me a lot of questions (which is great to moderate the tv experience, I know) and often wants to sit in my lap. That’s not really giving me the space I need.
Instead, most days I spend the majority of the tv experience doing other things: cleaning, organizing, having my lunch, doing stuff around the house. This time is interrupted many times by Aiden, who wants food, a drink, has a question, needs the episode changed, etc. It’s not a time I can go be by myself to read a book or even to work (I tried in vain for many months, it wasn’t productive). Our house is slowly getting more organized than it has ever been. And yet I’m still wound too tightly.
I am lucky to have a husband who is very involved in parenting and often gives me a half hour to relax between dinner and bath time, who will drive Aiden to preschool to give me more time to myself when Damien is napping, who will play with both kids while I take a walk (schedule and weather permitting) or at the very least clean the kitchen and make coffee in the morning.
Although I may struggle for ‘down time’, taking care of the kids full time and working, it’s this lack of personal space that overwhelms me. I don’t have a solution. Anyone else struggle with this?
Just one short year ago, on May 20, 2012 at 8:30am, we welcomed you into our family. The days awaiting your arrival were filled with anxiety and discouragement, but you came quickly enough once you were ready and settled into our family like you were always meant to be there.
Those early weeks were filled with the highs and lows of any new baby, plus all the added complexities of getting to know what it’s like to be in a family of 4, where you’re not the only baby in the house. You have happily come along for the ride as we cart you around to all your big brother’s activities. Thankfully, it turns out you are of a very similar disposition and love being out seeing people and new places. You always have a waiting smile on your face to flirt with people or beam at your favourite friends.
Your newborn days are a blur now of breastfeeding struggles, a lack of sleep and the crazy schedule of 2 kids. I wish I had more time to go back and gaze at your beautiful sweet face. Sadly, the time has flown by and you are a one year old now, on the verge of walking and attempting new words every day. Your vocabulary of words is in the dozens now, though perhaps only a select few can be understood by others.
Once you pick up a skill, whether it was sleeping or eating solids or talking or your scooting bum crawl, you charge ahead and never look back. I love that about you. You express a confidence in all things that shines out with an “I’ve got this mom, it’s all good.” Even now at night when I give you your kiss as you smirk at me with your thumb in your mouth and then give you your milk, you give me one last big grin and roll away from me, asking to go in your crib to put yourself to sleep – Mr. Independent through and through.
Your bright brown eyes are always on the move, searching the world. Your finger is at the ready to point to things you want to touch and explore and you want more than anything to be set free to see them on your own terms. You are outgoing and social and daring – always on the go. You love nature – sand, rocks, flowers, grass, trees and most particularly water. You are not afraid to express your enthusiasm for the things that you love (especially food), though you are more than happy to quietly and seriously observe at other times.
You have an amazing future ahead of you. I hope you continue to charge at the world to get what you want. At one year old, you are already a strong and courageous spark of a boy and I can see glimmers of the man you will grow to be. I will continue to stand at your side all through your life, offering a hand if you ever want to take it, though I know one day soon you will walk on your own, looking back to say, “I’ve got this mom, it’s ok.”
Happy Birthday my Damien!
Once Damien was sleeping well, he gradually dropped all of his feeds on his own for the 12 hours of his night, keeping only the dreamfeed. By 4-5 months, Damien had dropped his remaining night feed at 3am all on his own, we only had to re-enforce the habit. Since then, I’ve held on to the dreamfeed and it has been my special time with him.
There have been times, for sure, when it would have been convenient to be able to stay out past 10:30, to go to bed early or to drink an extra glass of wine without having to worry about feeding a baby at a certain time. But, given all that, I couldn’t bear parting with my special time with my little baby – my last little baby.
Damien rarely wakes up early anticipating the feed, I almost always wake him up when I open the door or approach his crib. I hear him wake up and sometimes smack his lips waiting for his milk (he may also use his milk sign as well, as I get ready to feed him). I am always assaulted by the wonderful baby smell of his room and the warm perfection that it all is. It’s like my own little piece of paradise.
I pick up that sleepy baby and feed him for a few minutes – only 5-10 now, which isn’t very long. There’s no kicking, no fussing, no stretching or pulling of hair. No biting, no banging, no distractions, no preschooler to talk to. It’s just me and Damien and it’s perfect.
After I feed him, I put Damien right back in his crib and he’s oh so relaxed. From time to time, the feed actually wakes him up for a while, but he’s such a content little sleeper that he just chills out and eventually falls back to sleep. He never progresses to fussing in the same way that Aiden did! He rolls over asking to go right into his crib when he’s finished his milk – no cuddles necessary.
It’s an amazing experience, nursing a baby, and the dreamfeed has been my little oasis of calm before bed. I’m sure the oxytocin was a nice boost too!
Last night, I didn’t offer Damien milk at his usual time and he slept right through to morning, no problem. I’ve known for a while he probably wasn’t hungry, but he’s my baby and I was selfishly waking him up to spend time with him. I’m going to miss those special times.
At least I know that he’ll probably still have some night wakings when he has a cold or is teething or whatever. Then again, he popped a tooth out during those 12 hours and didn’t make a peep!
Now, if only there was a sniff detector in his room, since he sometimes dirties his diaper while falling asleep and doesn’t cry, so we don’t know. ;)
I love preschool days, but they are also crazy hectic days for me. While you would think having one kid would make for a relaxing day possibly filled with some extra time for me to work, you’d be wrong. There are some days when I can quickly answer a few emails or write a little post, but mostly I’m rushing around running the errands that are easier with one kid and taking care of Damien. Often we go for coffee, just the two of us, which is nice. Sometimes days are too busy for that – today was one of those.
First, a cute photo of Aiden in the Valentine’s pageant yesterday:
Here is how my day went down today for just the morning:
- 6am kids are awake, we get them at 6:30 when they are done waking up properly
- 6:30-8:30 play in our room, get everyone dressed / showered etc, go downstairs to eat breakfast, play
- 8:30 Damien begins nap
- 8:45 leave to drop off Aiden at preschool, pick up coffee on the way home
- 9:20 clean up breakfast dishes
- 9:30 Damien wakes up, feed him, read him books for 25 minutes
- 10-11 run errands at 2 stores
- 11-12 play with Damien, feed him lunch, put him to nap
- 12 eat lunch while checking email, pack Aiden’s after-preschool snack, prepare a craft for his return home
- 12:20 write one client blog post
- 12:45 Damien wakes up from a very short nap, grab him and rush to get Aiden at 1pm
Usually, I’m able to leave Damien napping while I get Aiden, but he sometimes fails to take longer than 40 minutes for his 2nd nap (his only long nap of the 3 naps in his day).
After we came home, I had to juggle breastfeeding and feeding Damien then dealing with Aiden, who was about 2 hours past when he usually has his ‘quiet time’ (tv), but trying not to let him watch tv with Damien awake. Sometimes he can handle a delayed quiet time, sometimes not. Today, tantrums ensued. After he wanted to lie in bed, worrying me he’d nap (which messes up bedtime), I caved on tv, but he remained tired. Promised a trip to ice cream to motivate him to get up (yeah yeah), so we took a long walk together (Damien in the Ergo for his nap). Sprained my ankle, but still got the damn ice cream and got Damien to take a nap (even if it was short). Came home, prepared dinner and put ice on my foot. Limped up for bedtime routine.
Am now settling down to begin my work for the day.
So, that was my day. How was yours? ;)