Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Toddler and a Baby

        I can’t tell you how many times well meaning people tried to get the stroller from me in a restaurant or in church to try and put it aside - and when I stop them and hold onto it tightly while saying “Uh wait”, they would look and be surprised to find a baby inside! :D They all think the stroller is for Audrey who is either walking or being carried by her dad. I guess they just didn’t expect another baby to be in there.
         Having a toddler and a very young baby is quite challenging for hands on parents like my husband and I. The energy that we expend is so much so that we feel like we’ve run a hundred kilometers or more in a day. And during the weekdays, when it’s just me taking care of both girls the whole day, I always get amazed at how tired I am by night time. And they’re girls. If they were boys, I think I would be dead tired before dinner time.
         My husband’s cousin once told him, ‘You’re not a parent until you have two kids’ – and of course this was just a saying of sorts but so true! (imagine if you had more than two!) You now have not just one but two little ones to raise and attend to, and so much time and effort is needed if you truly want to be there for them. Whenever you fill the need of one and think you’re done, you’re not. The other one will need something from you as well and the list just goes on and on. Finding time for yourself just becomes so much more difficult.
         I am so thankful though to be blessed with such wonderful and well behaved (most of the time) daughters. Well, I say ‘most of the time’ because my toddler is not exempt from ‘I’m escaping my nap time’ crankiness and my little one would get bouts of fussiness once in a while. They’re normal human beings too.
         But what’s not easy with having a toddler and a baby at the same time is that they are both in very demanding stages in their lives. Audrey requires a lot of attention and Natalie is still so dependent. And both of these needs have to be met or there will be chaos.
         Whenever both girls cry at the same time, which thank God rarely happens to me – I just can’t help but find the humor in it. Getting stressed out won’t help and laughing would certainly make things seem lighter and bearable. So I just attend to their needs as soon as I can, knowing that they will be ok once it’s done. I just say to myself, don’t panic hehe.
      When Audrey sees Natalie being carried, there are times when she asks to be carried herself (the newly independent toddler has changed her mind and wants to be treated like a baby again). So if Dad isn’t around to carry her, I simply let them take turns. Natalie first, then Audrey (and sometimes I do a countdown to let her know that it will be Natalie’s turn soon). As long as she gets carried even for a bit, she will be happy and satisfied already. Perhaps in her mind, she already got the same amount of attention since her request was honored – so it’s wise for us parents to be considerate of our toddler. This is especially true for Audrey who is still basically adjusting to sharing the attention with Natalie, our new addition. We just always remind Audrey that we love her and her sister equally, and Natalie just needs a little more carrying time because she’s still a baby and can’t do things on her own yet. 
         There are still days when I can’t believe that the day has gone by and all I did was change diapers, carry, feed, give baths and play with them. A typical day at home would consist of this:

-         Feed Natalie
-         Give Natalie a bath
-         Feed Audrey breakfast (and myself too) while Natalie sleeps again
-         Feed Natalie
-         Give Audrey a bath
-         Change Natalie’s poop diaper
-         Change Audrey’s poop diaper (the once successful potty training has been put on  
          hold indefinitely because Audrey wants to be like Natalie – having her diapers 
          changed again)
-         Change Natalie’s poop diaper again (I don’t know why they usually like to poop at 
          the same time haha! Though this doesn’t happen every single day)
-         Feed Natalie
-         Play with Audrey/Arts and Crafts time
-         Feed Audrey lunch (and moi!) while Natalie sleeps
-         Brush Audrey’s teeth
-         Feed Natalie
-         Play/Sing/Read to Audrey and Natalie
-         Try to put Audrey to sleep (start winding down)
-         If Audrey still won’t sleep, give her snacks or milk
-         Feed Natalie
-         Change Natalie’s diaper
-         Get the room prepared for nap time (close lights, window shades, make it quiet)
-         If Audrey still won’t sleep again, I have to pretend sleeping as well (this is hard for 
          me but a piece of cake for Daddy! No need to pretend hehe :D)
-         Audrey taking a nap (yes, a break for me!)
-         Natalie soon follows (double yes! Now I can work)
-         Change Audrey’s diaper when she wakes up
-         Feed Audrey a snack if she’s hungry
-         Feed Natalie
-         Play with Audrey (or Arts and Crafts time if we didn’t get to do it in the morning)
-         Feed Audrey dinner (usually Daddy does this even though Audrey can already eat on 
          her own - supervision is still needed especially when Audrey wants seconds hehe, 
          and when not as hungry she may start playing with her food)
-         Give Natalie a sponge bath
-         Daddy or Mommy will give Audrey an evening bath
-         Brush Audrey’s teeth
-         Feed Natalie
-         Read books and pray
-         Put them to sleep!!!

       And where am I in the midst of all this? I try to squeeze in preparing Audrey’s food, answering work emails and squeezing in some more work if possible, cooking or supervising the day’s lunch and dinner, preparing snacks… so all the other important stuff needs to be done before the girls wake up - like praying, reading, taking a bath, working and blogging (and sometimes late at night if I still have energy). So this is why I get tired?! :D I just wish the girls took more naps together at the same time during the day hehehe. Been working on their daytime routine and it’s been successful some of the time, but not always. And sometimes I do have to enlist the help of Hi-5, Dora and Doc McStuffins! I try to limit tv watching time as much as possible but there are times that I need to allow it for my own sanity ;P And of course, my husband and I need to make time for each other as well. So we try to set our 'Us Time' and be deliberate about it or it won't happen.
     On some days, there’s also some disciplining happening when my opinionated toddler shows some hardheadedness. It’s not easy, but it needs to be done - and done right away. I know that I would be doing her a disservice by not correcting her and teaching her the right way even at this very early stage in her life. The book of Proverbs says that “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child” (Prov 22:15) and no matter how nice or sweet they are, this holds true. So as parents, we need to lovingly but firmly and consistently teach them the right ways – God’s ways (and both mom and dad need to be in agreement as to how their approach in discipline would be). So yeah, besides physical tiredness, emotional and mental tiredness can happen too.
       But despite all this ‘busy-ness’, tiredness and parenting going on, I can’t tell you how truly grateful I am. Especially when my daughters show me their appreciation by saying “Thank you mum” (this is Audrey of course J), hugging me and simply smiling at me (Natalie!). Sometimes we just find ourselves laughing together and being silly – including Natalie since she’s more interactive now - and I can’t tell you how fun that is!

My toddler and baby having so much fun together :)

      I am also so blessed whenever I see Audrey being a loving big sister to Natalie. It was our prayer that when Natalie came, Audrey would welcome her presence in the family and love her – and this prayer was answered. She loves ‘checking up on Natalie’ (like mom does whenever we’re in the dining area for a meal and Natalie is asleep or sometimes awake but just in the room) – and she would slowly sneak into the room, take a peek at her and go back out to announce that "Natalie is ok" J She also gives Natalie her toys whenever she starts fussing because of boredom. And her favorite is playing peek-a-boo with Natalie and making her laugh! This is precious! I love watching them play with each other especially since Natalie laughs so much now – it’s so infectious! We just have to remind Audrey to be extra gentle with the baby though. Sometimes she can get too excited and forget that Natalie is smaller and a bit more fragile. She likes to smother her with kisses and touch her face. But overall, I am just so delighted by the way they both interact with each other.
        A toddler can just take you by surprise with how grown up she can suddenly be when a baby is around. And Natalie? I get surprised too by how much she enjoys playing with her big sis. She just gets so entertained that it’s so amusing to watch J
        There is just no measure of how fulfilling it is to be the mom of these two girls. So I make the most out of every moment with them. And even if it seems as though I’m missing out on everything else, I’m really not. Because I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and I am where I’m supposed to be. I obviously love and enjoy being their mom! J


  1. What a beautiful entry... I am a follower of your blog, Cecil. Learned about you through Patty's blog... I admire how faithful and centered you are... May God bless you and your family more abundantly!

  2. Hi Cecil! Your babies are adorable! I am on my 8th month, 1st pregnancy and like you, I've been praying hard to give birth through natural vaginal delivery and I have been getting lots of tips from your posts. BTW, may I know where you got those cute little chairs your kids are sitting on? I would like to get one for my baby :)

  3. Hi! Those are Bumbo seats :) ours were just borrowed but I saw them being sold in Baby Company so you can get it from there. Glad my posts were able to help you and hope you will have a normal birth for your first baby :)

  4. Hello! This is such a wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing your family's life with strangers like us, teaching us a thing or two along. I just wonder, though- did you really intend to have a second baby while your firstborn is still a toddler? I would want to have the same thing but like what you said, it's not gonna be the easiest of things.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi mai! glad my post was helpful :) Well, we really didn't intend to get pregnant with our 2nd baby while our first was only a year and half hehe. We were actually planning to try for our 2nd after Audrey turned 2, but we were happy nonetheless. Babies are always a blessing! And now even though it is quite hard to take care of two kids just 2 years apart, it is also very rewarding. It's so wonderful to see them play and laugh together, esp now that Natalie is getting bigger and moving around more :) I'm looking forward to more fun times! (and trying to overlook the difficult ones) ;)