Now that Julia is a whopping (and mature) 17 months and Sebastian is approaching his 4 month birthday, I consider myself somewhat of an absolute expert on weathering the storm that is two nonverbal children. Currently, we've just returned from daily Mass (on foot of course), my house is sparkling, all three of us are dressed for the day, we've all enjoyed fortifying breakfasts whilst smiling our widest, and a complete dinner is simmering in the crockpot ... salad, glasses of ice water and all ... and it is merely 10:29 in the am. Just another typical day in the perfectly managed life.
1. Know that greater parents have gone before you. I know I'm not special. Wrangling two kids under the age of two is absolutely laughable compared to what many others deal with every day. Multiples, three under two, three under three, four under four, two under one, two under two while working from home, two under two with a husband overseas, home schooling four under four with a husband overseas, etc. Two under two is a complete joke compared to a myriad of other potential situations so stop feeling sorry for yourself. Okay, you can feel sorry for yourself for five quick minutes if both kids are crying, need diaper changes and you are crying.
2. Shower every other day. No, I didn't type, 'get dressed every day' -- just shower. You can put your sweats and holey cardigan right back on but at least you'll feel clean and your hair won't be a grease mop. Dry shampoo/baby powder/topknots don't work for me and if I don't shower and wash my hair I look like I haven't showered and washed my hair. No one ever sees me other than the tyrants and Simon but .... there is definitely a brighter twinkle in Simon's eye if he's noticed that I've showered. Most definitely (I sense my sarcasm isn't coming across the screen like I'd like it to - I doubt he notices but I pretend that he does -- and that he appreciates my toil in the hygiene department). I get the kids to their temporary happy places (Netflix -- highchair and Bumbo) and take a very short shower every other day. More than half the time I'll turn off the shower/blessed noise muffler and one of them will be screaming and I have to scramble back into my uniform and my hair won't get brushed for hours (plural) but at least once it dries it won't be begging for it's mothership: bacon and a frying pan.
3. Exercise every day. Yes. Every day! Nothing crazy. Or crazy, that's fine too. It is my absolute priority that after breakfast and before morning meltdowns, I march downstairs to our teeeeny tiny TV and elevate my heart rate for a few minutes. I don't venture outside when the temperature is below 54 degrees because I am a realist and it would take longer to bundle up the needlings than our power walk would actually last and I loathe the cold so I usually turn to my DVD friends. I used to try to sneak my workout in during Julia's nap but she has dropped her morning nap (thank you, worst nightmare ever) so I just do it while she whines and rubs her snotty face and grubby hands all over my toning-in-progress bod. I aim for 40 minutes but am happy with 10 which leads me to numero four-o.
4. Lower your expectations. And then lower them again. And again. See the following exhibits:
a. I used to be able to sew almost every day when it was 'just Julia'. But now, I think I've been able to sit down at the sewing machine approximately 3.5 times since Sebastian has been born. And I don't expect that that will be changing anytime soon. Machine's loss.
b. Julia is far too old to be so attached to her bottle of diluted almond milk. Oh well! It's what keeps the peace for now and I'm not going to pick a war in order to wean her into normal toddlerdom. Not yet.
c. I often think up (or dream up thanks to Pinterest) elaborate dinners that I will surely have time to prep and serve as Simon is walking in at night but when 5:00 rolls around and Julia is clinging to my kneecap and Sebastian is chewing on my clavicle, the dinner has been forgotten ... which is okay and I try not to curse over unpoured milk. Which leads unnaturally into number five.
5. Try to make dinner every night. Just try! You'll be surprised how quickly and easily those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and dill spears come together and how three minutes of sitting at the table together 'as a family' before one of the piglets voices his/her emergent needs will make you feel a slight semblance of sane at the end of the day. And if you're able to get fancy with cornflake crusted chicken and a tossed salad -- I will bow down. Hats off. Applause. Encore, encore. You get the photograph here.
6. Don't go out in public. What? So extreme. Truth. Sebastian is a very good baby that will sit in his car seat and not complain for a long period of time. I don't know where he came from. I could probably handle a few trips to Target every now and again. But Julia is not a good baby in public (for me! for Simon she is an angel, of course) and I refuse to set myself up for misery just to go to the grocery store on a Tuesday morning. We get our grocery shopping done at night or on the weekends and if I manage to leave the house with both kids I am always headed for a soft landing like the hospital to see Simon or a fellow mother's house.
7. Email people. I don't know what I would do without the internet which is completely and utterly pathetic. I know! But I've met and reconnected with some hilarious and helpful people via the w-cubed. I don't think I would've been able to let Julia cry it out without emailing out my own cries of help and receiving prompt and lifesaving responses. Or how I would've felt less guilty about poisoning Sebastian with formula without the solidarity of others doing the unthinkable same. Or how I would know what Jessica thinks of the (awful, in my opinion) high-low dress trend?!
8. Know how blessed and lucky you are. I won't step onto my 'fertility is a gift!' soapbox but know that there are so many women that would kill to be in your shoes. Kill. While I know 99% of my posts tend to swirl around complaints about the piglets, I'm mostly kidding. I know how blessed we are to have have two healthy and mostly happy children. Very, very blessed. Which reminds me ...
9. Enjoy your kids.
blogs and books dedicated to this novel concept and this might come easily to many. But I tend to try and 'get things done' when Julia is happiest in the corner chasing a piece of lint and Sebastian is content to sit and stare at nothing in the Bumbo. I've found that if I actually interact with Julia when she's in a good mood and take the time to play with Sebastian when he isn't fussy then I'm more likely to be less annoyed and a smidgen more patient when they do flip into need/whine/grunt/blown out diaper mode.
10. Switch from nose to mouth breathing when changing disgusting diapers. Especially when you have days that the dirties tend to explode back to back to back to back.
Lets end here, even though we all know I could type on about other obvious tactics like actual productive prayer and actual unproductive binge drinking/eating/wall staring for years. I will stress again that this is not a complete list. I am not a successful veteran. I only cry every third day in the face of my life with two non-talkers which is a great success compared to the darker days of life with two non-walkers.
You're welcome, as always.