The balancing act

When I am home alone with the two kids, I find that my every move must be a calculated one.

It was so much easier with one kid. When the Munchkin was a baby, it was easy to just roll with her schedule. She began sleeping through the night at 3 months old. When she’d wake up in the mornings, I would nurse her and we both would go back to sleep (the Webmaster would head off to work) for a couple more hours. Then we’d get up, have breakfast (once she was on solid foods), and begin our day at her pace.

If we did need to go somewhere, I only had to pack enough diapers along for one kid. I could toss her in the car seat with minimal preparation and go. When we got to our destination, I just plopped her in the stroller and off we’d go. As she got older, I could take less things with me. She would sit happily in a cart (I used to keep Teddy Grahams in my purse to keep her quiet, but I managed to break her of that a long time ago) and just go along with my errands.

When Baby Boy came along, I became very hesitant about leaving the house with the two of them. It wasn’t quite so easy anymore to handle two kids – one active toddler and one infant – in a store. For a while, the Webmaster did a lot of picking-up-stuff-after-work, or I would run out to go shopping on Sunday afternoons while at least one kid was napping (which is something that I still do). But I became braver, the kids got older, and I learned to shop smart – meaning that I try to go to only one or two locations to get all of my shopping done. Though sometimes, I do get to bring along extra help (Auntie, Grandma, the Webmaster or Bachan are all likely victims candidates), or someone (usually Grandma or the Webmaster) watches one or both kids for me.

But when I am alone, it is quite the calculated effort to get in and out of a store. The Munchkin has discovered that she likes riding in the open basket of the cart, and Baby Boy (still in his carrier, though those days are numbered) gets the “child seat”. This does make it a lot easier to handle both of them while shopping (though I have to be on the lookout for little Munchkin fingers trying to add more items to the cart). In the mall, though, Baby Boy now gets the stroller and the Munchkin walks. This does make it harder for me to restrain her, though so far I’ve done pretty well.

And just preparing to go somewhere can be a marathon feat in itself. Here’s a sample checklist of what I have to do before I can even leave the house:
– pack diaper bag with two sets of diapers
– make sure I have at least 2 clean bibs (if we are going to be eating while away from home)
– pack food for Baby Boy (plus a spoon and sippy cup)
– refill baby wipes container (was once caught with one wipe and a poopy diaper – never again)
– get jackets/shoes/clean clothes on the kids
– check the diapers one last time
– get at least one toy for each kid to take along

Add in the time that it takes to also get myself ready AND chase down both kids to do all of these things and you begin to understand why I’m late to everything.

Even here at home, I have to be as efficient as possible to serve the needs of two children who never need the same thing at the same time – unless it’s sleep, a diaper change, or a bath. Since Baby Boy still nurses, his mealtimes can be off from the Munchkin’s by a hour or more sometimes. And now that we’re potty-training her, I have to spend more time getting her into the bathroom and working with her in there than I would whipping out a fresh diaper and just changing her. Sometimes they nap at the same time (and on those days, I rejoice and praise God for His everlasting mercy), but more often than not, they don’t. While this does mean quality time for the awake kid, it also means that I get close to nothing done without a lot of bribery (the Munchkin and TV) or physical restraints (Baby Boy and the excersaucer).

Thursday nights, the Webmaster has choir rehearsal at church. The kids and I have a routine when Daddy is away – the Munchkin usually gets to pick a movie to watch (and it’s usually a Pixar-created one) while I try to get things done. Last night, Baby Boy got tired early (not napping much in the afternoon will do that to you), and the kids really needed baths. So, the Munchkin watched Monsters, Inc. while I cleaned up the kitchen and kept Baby Boy in the exersaucer (as he cried his head off), and then I got his bath drawn in the kitchen sink. He got his bath, got all dried off and into pajamas, and nursed before the movie was over. He fell asleep nursing. I then laid him down and started in on the Munchkin – she got her bath going in the tub while I tidied up a little and got her clean pajamas out – and by the time she was getting shampooed, her Daddy came home. I finished up with her (brushed teeth and read her a bedtime story), but she did get to say good-night to Daddy.

When I can make it all work like that, I get a real sense of satisfaction. Of course, there are the days when the kids plot against me. On those days, they both have poopy diapers five minutes before we have to leave the house. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you! The kicker was yesterday when I took them out to run errands. I thought I had everything covered – clean diapers, lunch, toys – and as I was buckling the Munchkin into her car seat, she said, “Mommy, Munchkin wet.”

Thanks for the FYI, kid.

3 Responses to “The balancing act”

  1. LAB
    April 11th, 2006 08:44

    it’s nice to read your stories. it’s such a good way to keep up with how you are doing.

    Take care, sweetie.

  2. Deanna’s Corner » Blog Archive » Taking a little trip
    June 28th, 2007 09:25

    […] I’m remembering the days when it used to be a big deal to go out to the grocery store or the mall with two kids by myself. This is a much bigger step. Anyone out there? Help!! […]

  3. Infant Bath Seat
    September 28th, 2007 16:10

    Salutations – I\’m not exactly sure what this has to do with Infant Bath Seat (that\’s what I was searching on MSN when I saw a link here), but I\’m glad I got a chance to read your blog. Thanks!!