For all of you loyal followers, we’ve moved for (hopefully) the last time. We now have our own domain: mancubmamas.com! All of our posts have been republished there and we look forward to bringing you all more great content.
It seemed like every morning was a battle with our son. It would easily take over an hour to convince him to get ready for the day. Even getting him to eat breakfast was difficult. He just wanted to wake up and play. After a particularly difficult morning, I realized something had to change. Enter our chore chart.
I know this may have seemed like an obvious solution for some parents, but sticker charts can be hit and miss with some kids. Especially since our son is only two, I wanted to make sure that the chore chart I made wasn’t too overwhelming. I tried to find some templates online, but honestly most of them included things that I didn’t need my toddler to do yet.
So I decided to make my own. It would only include the very basic things he needed to do in the morning. This is what we narrowed it down to: a fresh diaper, eating breakfast, and changing into clothes for the day. That’s it. These were things that we argued about on a daily basis. Three things that could be completed in less than 15 minutes if our son was focused. Once he finished his chores, he could play as much as he wanted.
I started out with a hand drawn chart to make sure this idea would work, and it did! Then I upgraded and made my own printable which you can view here: My Chore Chart. It’s in Word so you can either print it or adjust it to your child’s needs!
Our mornings are so much smoother now. We still argue over getting his chores done, but because he can see the visual and physically “check off” items, it makes things so easier.
Do you use a chore chart? What chores do you expect your toddlers to complete?
At the beginning of the month, I left D in the capable hands of my husband and traveled across the country to be with my family for four days. This trip was meant to off-set the fact that my husband would be going to Boston for four days in May, leaving me home with D. This was also meant as a break for me. Because as much as I love D, I needed a break.
Ever since we moved across the country, staying home with D has been harder and harder. This could be because my husband got a new job that meant he would be gone more than with his old job. It also could have been the fact that I didn’t really know anyone initially. As the months have past, we’ve adjusted to his job and I’ve made friends. But I was still struggling- more than I had ever before. The hour or so that D slept every day just wasn’t cutting it. I considered getting up early for some “me” time, but that meant going to bed earlier and missing out on time with my husband. So we decided that I should go on a “Momcation.” We knew that this wouldn’t necessarily fix the problems I was having, but it would at least give the me break I had been craving for so long.
And what a wonderful break it was! To be honest, I didn’t miss D too much because 1) I was busy reconnecting with friends and family, 2) I knew I would only be gone for a few days, and I would see him in person soon, and 3) I could FaceTime him whenever I wanted.
Almost everyone I saw while on vacation (or who knew ahead of time that I was going) assumed that I was bringing D with me. It was almost as if they assumed we were inseparable. The two different responses I got when I explained that I had left him behind were, “Why would you do that?” and “That must be nice!” I’m glad to say that most people belonged to the latter party, where they understood that I needed a break and that it was easier to go on a trip on my own rather than bring a toddler along.
I know in the past I had the same question when I heard that one of my friends was leaving her kids and husband behind to go on a trip. I think the underlying assumption is that somehow that mom doesn’t really love her kids, or at least that she doesn’t love being around them. I’m glad to say my feelings have since changed, and I realized how judgmental those thoughts were. Now I believe that a mom who takes care of herself – whether that’s daily “me” time or an occasional “momcation” or whatever else helps her recharge – ultimately is better able to care of her children.
Do the obvious child-proofing (remove unsafe objects such as low-hanging blind strings)
Create designated safe spaces for your child to BE a child (where they can run around, jump, get things a little messy)
Allow yourself to be OK with messes (Don’t expect to have a perfectly clean home, especially during the day while your child is awake!)
Always speak kindly to your child
When you do have to say “No” to your child, redirect them and help them understand why they shouldn’t do what they’re doing
Let your child talk your ear off- one day you may have to beg them to talk to you! (This one is specifically for me! 🙂 )
Make the rules clear and be consistent (For example, in our house, it is never OK to hit others. Whenever my 3 year old does this, he automatically gets a 3 minute time out or gets a toy taken away for a few hours.)
Being home all day drives me crazy, so I try to get out of the house as much as possible. Here are my top five go-to get out of the house lifelines as a SAHM.
- Playdates. And I’m not talking about a playdate where you end up watching two kids instead of one. I need adult interaction!! I’m talking about playdates that we saw are for the kids, but they are actually for the moms to swap stories and give advice. I try to have at least two playdates a week. I love having standing playdates (the same day weekly or monthly) so I don’t have to think about it. But sometimes schedules are crazy and it’s easier to text a friend in the morning and see if they are available.
- Story Time. I have been known to drive to libraries that were farther away just to go to story time because my local library didn’t have a time that worked for us. Luckily, the nearest library to us currently has story time twice a week. Story time is crucial for me because I: 1) meet new moms and 2) get new book recommendations. I love that the librarians at our library rotate who does story time, so we get a variety of book recommendations. Each librarian has different tastes and preferences, and often they pull out books I haven’t heard of but come to love as they read them out loud.
- The Zoo. This is the most expensive of my options. We bought a year long zoo membership and it has been worth every penny. We average going once a week, which means it costs us $2.50 each time. Our pass allows us to go on several rides at the zoo for free, which would normally cost us $2 per person per ride. The good thing about having a zoo membership is that you don’t have to feel like you have to see everything in one shot. Often we go and deeply explore a few exhibits.
- Parks. If you have toddlers, the best time to go to the park is during school hours, because then they can have the park to themselves without worrying about waiting their turn for the slide. Pro tip: if you go to the park after it’s rained, bring a towel to wipe down the slippery slides and swings.
- Walks. We live in an apartment complex that covers a full block. Every day we go on a walk within our complex. I also know of several parks in our area that have walking trails. This is a great way to help introduce kids to nature (my son saw a lizard in the wild for the first time last week!) and to enjoy the fresh air.
Let me be totally honest: I had no idea how difficult the transition from 1 to 2 kids would be for me! I know that it isn’t this way for every parent, but for me going from 1 to 2 kids was much harder than going from 0 to 1. Several factors can play into the ease or difficulty of adding a second child to your family:
Expect to stay at home a lot: It will take time adjusting to feeding a newborn as well as taking care of your other child. Give yourself time and don’t worry if you don’t get out much for the first few months- that’s to be expected!)
Choose your battles: You have to give yourself and your kiddo some leeway while everyone gets adjusted to all the changes. What saved me was screen time for my 2 year-old: I told myself that I would not feel guilty about letting him have lots of screen time those first few months after having my new baby! This saved me because I was often able to sleep while the baby slept during the day- because my toddler was occupied with his favorite movies and shows. If you’re super against screen time, good luck finding ways to occupy your oldest… 🙂 I know there must be ways, but you won’t hear them from me because like I said- screen time saved me!
Take care of yourself: I know this is said a lot, but take this advice seriously. I didn’t have any postpartum depression after I had my first baby; but I got it after my second baby was born. Know the signs and don’t be afraid to get help if you need it. And even if you don’t have PPD, take good care of yourself! Keep doing things that you love to do!
Let people help you: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from family and friends. It was so refreshing for me when a friend would babysit my oldest for a little while so I could get one-on-one time with my baby. It reminded me how easy each of my boys are when it’s just one of them! 😉
Do dates with your oldest child: Adding a second baby to the family brings big changes for your first little one. Taking one-on-one, uninterrupted time to remind your oldest that they are still your special child will rejuvenate you both.
I LOVE having two kids!!! I was unsure about how I would establish a special, intimate relationship with each of my children since my time would be divided between them. But I figured it out, and so will you. And even though your oldest child may act like they don’t like the new baby at first (or they may love him or her from Day 1- who knows!), you will eventually see a fun and precious relationship form between them, and it will melt your heart!
have nice things.” And then I found out there was a book written about it! This book is a series of essays about parenting and marriage. You can start in any chapter without having to worry about having read the one before it. Which is good, considering the fact that one of the chapters is titled, “the day we caught our kids looking at their buttholes,” and curiosity had me reading that chapter first. Then my eye caught, “just because I get up in the night, doesn’t mean I deserve praise,” and I had to read that chapter next.