Finally, it was my chance to make my quick escape; my three-month-old son had just drifted to sleep after 30 minutes of soothing and singing lullabies. I tiptoed to the door and halfway there the bell rung! My heart skipped a beat. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to move. But there it was, that shrieking sound. He had woken up and his two-year-old sister followed suit.
Ugh, “Are you kidding me!” I headed to the door fuming, ready to confront the intruder. “Grandma,” my daughter shouted as she brushed past me to hug the ‘intruder’. Well, my mom had decided to pay us a surprise visit. After tightly hugging her, my mother turned to me and asked, “What’s wrong honey?”
That afternoon I sat down with my mom and told her the difficulties I was experiencing while raising my kids who are close in age. The kids required my full attention and so most of the times I fell behind on work and the chores were half done. I was exhausted, resentful, bitter, and often felt I wasn’t good enough.
Mom, patiently, helped me discover 5 practical ways to stay sane and thrive while raising children close in age:
Keep a Journal
A research conducted by Dr. James Pennbaker, the author of Opening Up by Writing It Down, found that keeping a journal helps reduce one’s anxiety, depression and strengthens the immune system cells.
On your diary write down both the positive and negative experiences you have every day. Write down the milestones of each child as they grow. This helps you understand the growth phases and makes you more patient with the younger child.
Get enough rest
The first few years, when the kids are totally depend on you, are going to leave you exhausted. To regain you strength you will need to take breaks and get enough rest.
Your partner can keep watch on the kids while you take a nap, go for a walk or go watch a movie. Consider hiring a nanny if you do not have immediate family around you.
Involve your older toddler from the start
Most children feel threatened by the presence of a new sibling. This may lead to tantrums and complete meltdowns as they try to fight for your attention. One of the easiest ways to curb these tantrums is by enlisting your older child’s help from the start.
Before you deliver your baby, sit with the older child and explain to them about their new sibling. After the child has arrived, involve them in sorting the baby’s laundry, fetching the diaper’s, and cleaning toys.
Also ensure to spend some quality time alone with the older child playing their favorite games or watching a movie. Constantly make sure to verbally reaffirm them that they haven’t lost their special place in your heart.
Become a master at organization
Benjamin Franklin said, “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.”
As a parent, one constantly feels like a juggler. You have to balance between kids, work, and social events. If you miss catching one ball, the consequences are unimaginable. To successfully raise children close in age you need to become a master at organization. Here are some tips that will help you stay organized
Each day make a to-do list– This helps you stay focused and prioritize tasks.
Declutter your life and space– Keep your life simple by donating things you or your kids have not used for the past three months. Consider, also, “dropping” people from your life who don’t add value. People who do not bring the best out of you should not have a place in your life.
Plan meals in advance– This helps you buy the needed groceries and prepare meals on time.
Do what you love
If you don’t take time to look after yourself and enjoy your life as individual, chances are you will end up bitter and resentful towards those around you who seem to be enjoying their lives.
To overcome this, go back to the hobby you enjoyed before the kids came.
Be you, take a dancing class, sculpting class, yoga class or whatever calms you and gets your creative juices flowing. Do not feel guilty for enjoying your life, without the kids, for two or three hours.
There is no blueprint on how to remain sane while raising kids close in age. But, the above tips will enable you to remain energized, calm, and joyful at all times.