Friday, 26 February 2016

Fair weather parent: My daily routine with a toddler and a baby

Fair weather parent: My daily routine with a toddler and a baby

A friend of mine, possibly suffering from the same kind of parenting guilt that plagues us all from time to time, recently asked on an online forum what other stay at home parents did with their children all day.


If she was looking to be reassured (as I was) that leaving the house with two children under three deserves a medal in itself, let alone attending scheduled activities, then she would have been sorely disappointed. The responses did not make me feel particularly worthy as a parent.

The majority of mums who chimed in said that they took their children out every day, rain or shine. Some did soft play, playgroups, sports or other classes multiple times a week, with noble pursuits such as park visits, feeding the ducks, going to the zoo, and a plethora of playdates and lunches with friends and visits to grandparents to fill up the time.

My routine is fairly predictable. 

We do have 'exciting' trips out to the farm or the zoo on occasion, but these things get expensive and are inevitably stressful and disappointing, so most days (particularly when it is cold and wet, for I am most certainly a fair weather parent) it goes something like this:

The baby, totally getting his
money's worth at soft play

.
All night: Don't get nearly enough sleep.

5am: Get woken by the baby (again). He is not going back to sleep. Swear a lot in my head. Feed baby. Get puked on. Promise to change sheets later. Can't quite bring myself to open my eyes despite baby poking and pinching me with his Wolverine talons. Resolve to cut them when I am a bit more awake and won't take off his fingertips.

7am: Baby falls asleep in my bed. Try to go back to sleep, and fail. Rather than getting up and getting dressed like I promised I would do from now on, stay in bed and look at Facebook.

Around 8am: Realise the toddler is up and probably has been for some time. Eventually sneak away from the baby and go in to see her. Baby wakes up. Change nappies amid protests. Go downstairs for breakfast in our pyjamas.

8.30am: Try and tempt my toddler upstairs to get washed and dressed. She is now playing and doesn't want to. Wish I'd done this before breakfast. Relent and bring down clothes with the intention of getting her changed downstairs. Baby does a big poo, take him upstairs to get changed. He is now the only family member wearing actual clothes.

9am: If I have an activity planned for this morning, usually (shudder) soft play, start to panic that I'm not dressed and therefore I'm probably going to be late. Get dressed. If we have no plans, fleetingly consider getting dressed and taking kids to the park or garden centre. Ask toddler if she wants to go out, knowing it is likely she will say no.

10am: Either go out just in time to be about 15 minutes late, or put the baby down for a nap. Maybe do some housework. Try and lure the toddler into the garden because that seems better than sitting in the same room all day but she throws a tantrum so we stay indoors and play Happyland or kitchens while I mentally create lists of things I will never have the time or inclination to do, and try to sleep with my eyes open.

12pm: Baby is usually awake by now. Feed the children (or more accurately, throw some food their way and let them feed themselves. It's lazier, although infinitely messier).

1pm: If we've not left the house yet, go out. Probably to a playgroup or the park, maybe to a friend's house for a toddler playdate if I fancy refereeing an exciting game of 'MINES', 'NO, MINES!' over a cold cup of tea. Immediately regret decision.
We went to the park. It was cold.
3pm: Most groups and activities finish around now. Calculate time until bedtime. Realise it's quite a long time. Attempt to get the baby to take his second nap. He is not keen. Stick toddler in front of some godawful children's TV programme whilst I try and persuade the baby to sleep.

3:30pm: Play. This could be one of a number of exciting activities; perhaps ruining play doh, counting to twenty slightly inaccurately many, many times over, colouring, reading books we both already know all the words to, singing LETITGO repeatedly, the toddler version of hide and seek (sitting on the sofa with a cushion on your head and giggling) or something that means I have a lot of tidying up to do.

4.30pm: If he's actually gone to sleep at all in the first place, baby wakes up (this is quite an optimistic best case scenario). Almost dinner time. Wish I'd been proactive and cooked something at the weekend in readiness. Baby is unhappy and tired. Listen to the toddler shouting READY YET, READY YET on repeat until dinner is ready.

6pm: Bathtime, and all the fun that goes with it. On the home stretch now.

6:30pm: husband arrives home. Exhale. If he's not home yet, start mentally berating him with each minute that goes by. It's definitely his fault the trains are shit.

7pm: Put children to bed, usually against their will. Say I'm going to bed at 9pm to catch up on sleep. Get wine.

8pm: Eat dinner, drink wine even though I promised myself I wasn't going to do this during the week any more, watch TV and intend on having an early night.

9pm: Don't go to bed.

10pm: Don't go to bed.

10:30pm: Fall asleep on my iPad and admit defeat.

11pm: Can't sleep. Remember I did not cut the baby's nails. Wish I'd changed the sheets.

Maybe there is still time for me to become a Pinterest-style 'stimulating their senses every waking moment' type of mum.
Still cold
Maybe. But even when (let's be optimistic here!) I'm getting a decent amount of sleep at night, I fear it's unlikely. I do try. But for every successful trip out, there are many more like the last time we went to the park, when it took us 45 minutes to leave the house. By the time we arrived, the toddler, having walked all of ten minutes, was tired and stroppy. Having bundled the kids up like eskimo children I had neglected to put on a suitable coat myself and I was shivering from the cold, and the baby had fallen asleep in the sling. The toddler didn't want to get her Peppa Pig wellies muddy so I had to carry her screaming across the park to get to the swings, trying not to crush the baby. It was fabulous. The kind of bonding experience new parents must dream of.

I think I am probably just much better suited to my signature lackadaisical attitude towards parenting. I may never win mother of the year (I'm not as good as Kerry Katona, obviously!) and I guess I never will get that medal, but hey - they're happy, they're bright, they're loved and they're clearly not doing too badly... So neither am I.

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29 comments:

  1. I have to say love live this blog. I actually spend most of my time with netflix on, most going out I do a week with lo is playgroup twice a week, depending on money trip to town 1/2 times a week just to get out

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    1. God don't mention the money thing. Here it's a fiver for soft play for each kid! No wonder we don't tend to do it very often.

      I am sure the kids don't remember. Summer will be easier I'm sure! When I do dare to take them out the toddler usually cried GO HOME GO HOME all the way to our destination!

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  2. It sounds like you do a brilliant job!! This is such an honest account of parenting. Your friend and you should keep your heads held high

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  3. This is excellent! 2 under 3 is hard, but luckily you have to ride out the first year or so, and then it gets easier, I promise! In between all of the above you finally get glimpses of times where they, shock horror, actually play together! I have a weekly routine, and I take full advantage of Sure Start and the free play sessions they offer. They only way to get through the week without going completely crazy. And I totally get fed up with the husband too if he is late for some reason. It was totally his fault for making the signal break and the train get cancelled...

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  4. It's never ending with these little ones, eh! Most mums I know don't do as much as they'd like to and it's more about surviving each day as it comes! You're doing an amazing job though!

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  5. Do what you want to do and are capable of doing. Sometimes I congratulate myself for getting to the end of the day with baby intact fed bathed and asleep! Comparing ourselves is a pointless exercise as you will always end up feeling bad in some way
    #abitofeverything

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    1. My survival rate is 100%, I should totally make more of that :)

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  6. Ah, don't be so hard on yourself. We go out every day, not to stimulate my little darlings, but for my own sanity - you and I obviously find different things difficult. I was recently told my daughter's number recognition want great - well of course not - we're out on expeditions every day, no time for learning! There's plenty of time for them to learn the bits we're not so good at from someone else :)

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  7. Sounds like you're doing a pretty good job to me! Up until 6 months ago I had two under threes. To be fair I lived at playgroups just because I actually found it easier than trying to think of stuff to entertain them at home! The great news is that since the little one started walking it had got much easier, and they do actually play together!! Yey to that! Fab post and refreshingly honest xx

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    1. Well as this one is determined to walk asap (my money is on before nine months) I suspect 'easier' isn't the right word... But it will be lovely watching them run after each other! He's definitely happier now he's upright.

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  8. Oh I do love a bloody good mama blog like this! You've put a big smile on my exhausted face :-)
    #abitofeverything

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  9. Who wants to be a pinterest mum anyway? It looks exhausting, all those crafts and baking extravaganzas! It sounds like you're doing a great job to me, don't beat yourself up. I try and go out every day but my boy doesn't always want to and I'm totally fine with that, nothing wrong with a pj day xx #coolmumclub

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  10. I'm all for a bit of keeping it real! I personally don't dig a smug Mum...who the hell are they kidding? Bet behind the scenes they're all sticking their kids in front of Peppa Pig while they're pinning perfect days out ;-)
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

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  11. Loved your last line- they're happy, they're bright, they're loved and they're clearly not doing too badly...So neither am I. That really sums it all. That is all that matters. Every family is different and what works for one may not work for you. Thanks for sharing with #abitofeverything

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  12. I love posts like this! I have a friend who when I first had my baby tell me how lucky I was that I was on maternity leave and how early life must be. She's now pregnant with thes first and I can't wait to see if her opinion remains after she's had hers haha x #coolmumclub

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    1. Yes what a lovely year long holiday! Ah, it's best to say nothing and wait until she realises for herself I think!

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  13. Just because you've got somewhere to go everyday doesn't mean you actually go ;). I'm sure some of the ones who swear blind they're out there mummy-img every day have similar routines to yours really.

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  14. Oh, I feel for you. My two are only 16 months apart and I remember willing for bedtime to arrive most days! #pocolo

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  15. It sounds exhausting but I'm sure it's rewarding too - and for me the important bit is that you said they're happy, bright, cared for and loved. That's what it all comes down to doesn't it? Thanks for linking up to #PoCoLo

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    1. Indeed! I'm sure as summer rolls around it will all get a bit easier. Leaving the house when it rains is the pits!

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  16. Parenting forums are a crock of shit. Have you ever tried crafting with a toddler? It seems like such a good idea but it's a bloody nightmare - it always ends up with the Child in front if the TV and me finishing the craft to an acceptable standard. #chucklemums

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  17. I often feel guilty if we stay at home. Then I think back to my happy, well adjusted childhood...we were out on a farm and rarely went anywhere. And we are all OK. We put so much pressure on ourselves nowadays! I like your more relaxed approach! #chucklemums

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  18. I think that you'll have made a lot of mums happy reading this blog. Having babies and toddlers is an incredibly lonely experience a lot of the time, as well as incredibly frustrating and never ending hard work - my friends who jumped on a train with their Costa at 7.30am a few days a week, almost all said that they found those days easier! I absolutely love your honesty and if humour can prevail, then you will keep your sanity! It sounds to me as if your approach is working pretty well! Alison x #chucklemums

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  19. What I love about your posts is the keeping it realness but with humour. I LOL at -if I fancy refereeing an exciting game of 'MINES', 'NO, MINES!' over a cold cup of tea. It totally sums up so many toddler play dates that I had with my son (slightly arsy sometimes bless him) mostly wrestling thomas and friends out of other toddlers hands. Also the logistics of a baby and a toddler with their different needs is full on isn't it. It defo gets easier from here on in #annoyingcliche but true. Everyone is winging it whatever they might say! #chucklemums

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  20. If you go by many a persons instagram feed you can fall into the trap of thinking they have it sussed but a lot of the time I have to remind myself there is a lot of factors and a lot going on behind the scenes that means I can't possibly compare.

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  21. All very reassuring and normal! Who's got the energy or money for constant outings and excursions? It's the little nuances of daily life that matter, not the big gestures and occasions. A cuddle on the sofa or a helping hand with the laundry...nothing wrong with staying home :-) #chuckemums

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  22. I struggle to get out and about with a 5 month old, I shudder to think how I would manage a toddler as well. So well done, you are doing an excellent job :-) #chucklemums

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  23. Oh YAY, this makes me feel better. Mum groups have me in an eternal fit of guilt over not doing things like gluing macaroni to pieces of paper or letting the baby play in jelly (WHY?!). Most days involve lots of ipad, cbeebies, playing with various superheroes and never getting to be who I want to be, and loads of breadsticks...and thats pretty much it. #chucklemums

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