Sunday, February 19, 2012

Double Trouble

Two boys both at the toddler stage can be a tricky thing to balance; and no, I don't have twins... so, I'm sure I've got it easy in comparison. However; I say "easy shmeasy!''. There is no easy when it comes to being a full time parent, there's maybe 'easier', but it's still blooming hard!

When I first got pregnant with baby #2, I feared taking a newborn out in public and being able to parent my toddler at the same time. I'm a pretty involved parent, and I like to engage our toddler in his activities, plus it's very important to me to be on the sidelines and on cue to discipline any errant behaviors. A nigh impossible task if you aren't watching what's going on with your little un.

Once I let go of his apron strings a little - notice it was me that had to let go - I realized that he was able to function really well without my hovering over his every move. I still have to have him in sight of course. But at least that gave me the freedom to hold and nurse my newborn out in public, while still being able to supervise and play with my then 17 month old kiddo.

Surely it would get more manageable once baby #2 gained more independence - I'd hoped. And at first, it did. Baby figured out how to sit - so Momma became hands-free for a little while. Yippee! But then he crawled.. and started pulling up... and climbing (already!). Before I knew it, he was toddling around - very haphazardly. His walking was more falling to start with, and even now, after 7 weeks of practice, I often think he looks like he's had a few too many! Needless to say, he needs Momma right there alongside him, pretty much all of time.

I had looked forward to them both toddling under false pretexts. Nobody warned me they would toddle in completely different directions. The little fella loves to follow big bro, but big bro is so much quicker now - and doesn't wait for no-one - especially not a baby who's about to cramp his style! So again, the challenge of taking them both out in public is a big one.

Not long after our littlest started walking, we all got sick. And frustratingly, we were housebound for the best part of January, keeping all guests safely at bay to boot. Finally, by the second week in February, we we're all back on form, and desperately ready to get out and about, and back into the land of the living, before we all got sick again - this time with cabin fever!

So, last weekend we reappeared on our family and friend's social radar, by throwing baby a Valentine's bash for his 1st birthday party. Bringing folks to our home is surely my favorite way to socialize the kiddies. I'm safe and secure enough in our home environment to let my boys roam willy nilly. I'm starting to host a monthly at home play date. It'll make life easier on myself, and keep the kids entertained by their friends, without the whole rigmarole of getting them in and out of the car!

The next stage of boosting our social calender - and getting this Momma more proficient at taking the boys out alone - was to log back onto the Hill Country Momma's Meet-up website, and schedule myself and the boys a few play dates.

So far I've only managed The Jumpy House, going solo. It's a kid-friendly warehouse chocca-bloc with bouncy castles and slides - what an incredible hit with our 2 and half year old! I didn't see him for dust - so much for needing to hold his hand. The littlest was a different story. It was all I could do to extricate him from around my legs and out of my arms for 5 minutes. The play date was a massive success... right up until my failed attempt to lift my 2 year old safely onto the picnic benches with one arm, while balancing baby on the other. The result was a scary fall backward with a bump on the back of the head. Game Over.

Still, I didn't class the whole experience as a total failure. I'm not SO brutally hard on myself. It was an unfortunate accident - and could have happened to anyone (I told myself over and over all the way home - trying to feel less terrible about not protecting my toddler better). It hasn't put me off though- next Jumpy House play date, I'm game!

I did attempt to take the boys (all by myself) to a local playground for a Momma meet-up. Usually, a big  'no no' for me is to take the boys into unchartered territory, which is just what I went and did! I'd expected the climbing frame to be a little more baby friendly. The height didn't phase our kid one bit - but it terrified the pants off Mom. Thank goodness Daddy got off work early and surprised us by showing up. I was just starting to panic about how I could spot our not so big, big kid and keep toddling baby safe at the same time, when Daddy came to the rescue. I probably won't brave that place solo again anytime soon - but I'm glad I gave it a go.    

It's Toddler-time at the Library in the morning, and that's definitely one of the safest places I like to go solo with the kiddies. It's a nice secure self-contained room, with lots of familiar Momma's on hand to lend a watching eye during those frequent potty trips (for both training kiddo, and preggo Mom). I haven't taken the boys since baby started toddling though, so keeping them both seated to listen to the story may still prove to be somewhat of a challenge. Wish me luck....

I sometimes feel like a wuss, when I see other Mom's with multiple children out and about at play dates and braving stores like Target and HEB, and I have to remind myself that I have a pretty slim age gap to contend with. They are still both babies after all. We do have the monkey rein backpacks at our disposal. I've only ever tried it once, on our eldest, and I wasn't a big fan of leashing my kid. I begrudgingly see the safety benefits, and maybe I'll have to get over myself if I want to get the boys out and about safely with Mummy more often!

With baby# 3 coming along in 5 months, I'm sure two toddlers will soon feel like a walk in the park!    

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