Monday, April 29, 2013

Redefining Weekends

It is interesting how our concept of weekends changes once we have kids.  This is especially true, I think, for those who stay at home with young children full-time during the week.  How do we go about differentiating the "workweek" from the weekend when the stay-at-home parent's job is to take care of the children Monday-Friday?

First, I've found that it is absolutely necessary for the SAHM to still embrace the fun anticipation of the weekend just as someone who works outside the home does-- after all, no matter what our job (even if it's taking care of our dear little ones) we all need a break in order to be our best.

It gets even harder to find that personal time once you have more than one child.  You can no longer  easily pass the one child off to your spouse and take turns running errands, exercising, etc.  There are now two (or more) children to entertain, care for, feed, etc.  And if the SAHM isn't careful, her weekends can easily blur into the workweek.

So what to do?

One tip I have is to make sure you carve out a couple of activities to enjoy solo on Saturday and/or Sunday and-- this is the most important part-- put them on the calendar.  Decide what you will truly look forward to-- lunch with a friend, reading at a coffee shop, window shopping?-- and reserve a time slot for it.  Otherwise it is too easy to put everyone else's needs before your own...and before you know it, Sunday evening rolls around and you eat chicken nuggets for dinner, have baby poop on your hands, and the same sense of exhaustion that you have come to expect Monday-Friday.  I know I feel much warmer to my whole family by Sunday night if I've managed to get a little space over the weekend.

But I also like to make sure there is some family time on the weekends where we all spend time together.  Otherwise, my husband and I never really get to share in the fun (and work) of having young kids.  Playing in the yard, going out for ice cream, or just playing with cars (of course) as a family feels really nice.  As in a this is why we had kids way.

One of the hardest parts of being a mom though, regardless of your work situation, I think, is the "mom guilt."  On the weekends, sometimes I wonder "should I go out for two hours by myself?"  Or worse yet, "do I really deserve x-y-z?"  I try to remember that I am a better mom when I return from a little alone time.  I have a renewed sense of energy and appreciation for my family.  And then I'm ready for another Monday.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Random Questions of New Motherhood

Here are some (non-pressing, rather unimportant) questions that occur to me since staying home with two young children on a daily basis:

Why is 7a.m.-8a.m. is the fastest hour of the day?  Everyone is scrambling, the husband is home for a bit, breakfast is eaten, favorite toys are played with.  The day has a sense of energy.  By 8:30, I'm tired and wondering if it's too early to turn on a show.

How many days per week can I give my son a bagel with butter on it and call it lunch?

Can eating said lunch on the coffee table while watching Cars count as a picnic?

How long is it appropriate to let my son play with apps on my phone?

How is it possible that I, a grown woman with no previous serious interest in cars (beyond dreams of owning a Volkswagen Thing), now know the name of every single character from Cars and Cars 2?

Why can't my two children ever overlap in naps for more than 20 minutes (no matter how much effort I put into trying to make it happen every day)?

How many cups of coffee is too many?

Why won't my son just eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Will I ever wear something other than yoga pants from 9-5 again?

Will we ever know what it's like to sleep past 6:30 a.m.?

Does Facetime count as social interaction for my kids and me?  (I've decided that it does.)

Why doesn't preschool begin at age 2?

What would it be like to go to Happy Hour again?

Are fruit snacks good or evil?

When will my husband get home from work today?

How will I entertain my son and baby from 4 p.m. until that time arrives?

Should I attempt to pack up both kids in the car for an outing? (The answer is usually no).

Why is the initial 20 minutes after arriving home from occasional outing so stressful/exhausting?

What questions am I leaving out that you often ponder?

(And seriously, Facetime counts, right?)

~Frantic Mama

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Friday, April 12, 2013

"Easy" is Relative

I've recently noticed something my husband does at social events since we had our second baby.  When people ask us, "so is two way harder than one?"  He cheerfully replies that "it isn't that bad actually.  Way easier than I thought it was going to be."  Sound familiar?  That's likely because their wonderful, tough wives are the ones who feel the majority of the effects of bringing a second (or more) child into the mix.

We are the ones who nourish the developing child in utero for 9 (10) months and carry the burden of a healthy pregnancy (don't eat sushi!  avoid alcohol!  are you really going to use that cough drop?).  Yes, pregnancy is an amazing experience, but it is also a lot of pressure!  Then, we are the ones who must exert major mental and physical strength to deliver the baby (regardless of where the baby comes out), not to mention the surprisingly exhausting and often painful recovery time.

Oh, and have you ever thought your body looked, how shall I say, different after having a baby?  How about after that second (or third) one?  Yeah.  Our husbands manage to avoid that minor repercussion too.

On top of all this, if it's your second or third kid, there's the draining experience of feeding the baby (countless times a day) while your toddler runs around the house with a random roll of toilet paper, old fruit snacks, and a leaky sippy cup begging to watch another episode of Lazytown after you got a total of 3 hours of sleep the previous night.

Need I go on?  Sure.  If you are like me, now that you find yourself home with not one but two dependents, you alternate between two pairs of black yoga pants every day, live in the same nursing bra for the first several months, and are lucky if you swipe on some lipstick or shave your legs.  Don't even get me started on that old relic, the hairdryer.

And remember how with one kid, you could just get him/her in the car and run an errand together on a Tuesday afternoon and call it an outing?  The well-meaning husband may not realize it, but it takes way, way more effort to pack up multiple kids in the car and drag to a store.  In fact, it is no longer "fun" (see Post: Fun vs. "Fun).  And that's why I pretty much avoid it altogether.

So, do I mention all of these challenges and caveats at parties?  No.  I don't want to be Debbie Downer; after all, I know we are very lucky to have our two children.  And as I've written before, there are really fun aspects of having siblings.  Our baby worships her older brother-- she finds no one more hilarious-- which is a treat.  And when my son throws her a bone and tells her his version of a joke, it makes my day.

I actually agree with my husband that bringing a second into the mix is not as completely life-altering as bringing the first into the world (hello, Parenthood).  But, is two "pretty easy?"  Ha.  Worth it?  Yes.

(And if my husband is reading this, love you, Honey!)

Frantic Mama
(Find me on Facebook as "Frantic Mama" and on Twitter @MNFranticMama).

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fun vs. "Fun"

There are certain child-centered activities that new parents soon find out are more "fun" than fun.  As in, fun in quotation-marks, should be real fun (used to be fun), but for various reasons, don't quite make the cut to being quotation-less fun.

Here are a few:

Playdates and Playgroups.  A bunch of moms and their kids hanging out at someone's house, the moms sipping coffee and chatting while the children happily play together?  This is perhaps the best example of "fun."  Because it should be fun.  It sounds fun.  But it's not really.  It is surprisingly draining trying to keep up a conversation with other adults while refereeing the children, feeding them, and otherwise [attempting] to keep them content.  Not to mention the preparation involved when hosting-- straightening up the house (i.e. scraping old peas off the floor), making yourself look presentable (i.e. shower), making sure to have decent snacks and drinks available (all-natural if not organic).  It takes me a day or two to recover from these.

Holidays.  Enjoying the fun of the Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, etc., with children is one reason you have them, right?  It will be so fun to be Santa, hide Easter eggs, and dress up your kids in their cutest outfits for various family celebrations!  Sure, the day usually starts as real fun, but by 11a.m., the parents are dead-tired and the kids are hyped up on sugar, and it isn't even noon.  Let the clock-watching begin.

Vacations.  Yes, unfortunately, vacations with children also tend to fall in the "fun" category.  They aren't un-fun; they're just not the pure, carefree fun of your pre-kid life.  The "fun" starts with the packing, follows you to the security line at the airport, sits beside you on the the airplane ride...and continues when you get to your destination.  Will your child sleep in a new place?  Will you?  Will you decide to attempt naps (to avoid a cranky toddler) or skip naps (in a desperate attempt to "loosen up")?  Will your toddler get sick (yes)?  Ah, let the "fun" begin...

Music Class.  Or, really, any class that requires parent participation.  I've heard well-meaning (but clueless) people ooh and ahh about the fun I must have had taking my toddler to music class (yes, that's past tense;  since having baby #2 we no longer do classes).  It was all I could do to bite my tongue so as not to seem ungrateful (a SAHM must never seem ungrateful!) and to not rant about all the "fun" I'd have there, getting in a sweat chasing a two year old around as he starts pulling on the stereo cords or running out of the room (especially when I was 8 months pregnant with my 2nd baby).

Now, before casting me off as being cranky myself, let me explain that "fun" doesn't mean horrible.  It doesn't even mean not worth it.  It can be adorable and hilarious to watch your child dance and clap along with at music class.  And it can be uplifting to socialize with other moms during the day, even if playdates are more work than play.  And there is joy in watching your children gleefully wake up to their first Easter basket or stocking full of treats (even if it is at 6:30 in the morning).

I guess all this "fun" means that once we are parents, we must accept a new definition of fun.  Vacations, for instance, are no longer about staying out late, sleeping in, and reading on the beach all day.  They are about little sandy toes, splashing in the pool, and early morning sunrises.

Let the "fun" begin!

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