Toddlers and Tiredness
I have three kiddos seven and under with number 1 and number 2 being 2 years apart. There is a serious love/hate relationship between those two. Number 2 has fomo which is sometimes quite draining as I find myself repeating myself all the time because her eaves-dropping skills are aweful. And number 1 is so quick with her mouth she is forever saying things to irritate her sister. And then there is number 3 who is 14 months and into absolutely everything. Just to top it off we have at least one child that wakes up at night still - sometimes all three. I make it sound terrible don't I?! But it is not all bad.
We chose to have our kids close together. I have one sister who is 6 years older and she got married young whereas I got married later so we have never been in the same life phase. I have always been the "little" sister and we have never really had a close relationship. I wanted my kids to have a close bond with their siblings. But truth be told it is not something I have naviagated myself so I am sometimes (actually most of the time) in unchartered territory. I have always envied families where the siblings are best friends and I wanted thath for my kids. However, I have never been under the illusion that having kids is easy but going through it is another things all together. Thankfully I have a husband who truely is my partner.
But I do think I have learnt a few things along the way:
1. Try to focus on the here and now.
I am one of those people who continually thinks about future consequences. So, if my 7 year old is cheeky it is as if I can see her as a rebellious 16 year old when that might never happen. I have to focus on brining myself back to present and try to focus on each individual need at that exact time. I feel that by doing this I won't miss on the little things. When I am tired I find it hard to get through the day because I am constantly thinking about the future, however if I focus on the here and now, I just have to get through the day. Tomorrow will bring its own joys and trials - no point in trying to figure tomorrow out today. Kids are inherently innocent - enjoy that innocence while it lasts and if we are focussing on the next thing, we will miss it. Every life stage comes with joy and trials. Keep focused on the joyful times.
When your kids aren't sleeping and their moods are not desirable, it is easy to become a bit of a grouch. But gratitude changes things. There have been numerous books written on this and many speeches made on it and it is a proven way of making life easier for yourself and others around you. We all know why it is good to focus on the good in life and we all know that at times it is very hard. Having small kids drains the very life out of you sometimes but if you look hard enough, you will find the little things to be thankful for. Even if it is sometimes small like "ah No 3 slept for a hour today instead of 30 minutes" or "No 1 was in a good mood when she left for school" or even "I made through the day and everyone is fed and alive." For someone who is forever going down the what if path, this is quite daughnting and I by no means have this one down, but I do try. Daily.
3. Carve out some time for yourself.
Self care is important. I would love to take a week alone somewhere, however, that is not feasible so I settle for going to gym for an hour a day. No 3 is happy and cared for in the child-care so I focus on doing something I enjoy. Do sometimes that makes you feel energised and it will do wonders for you.
4. Look after yourself.
I cannot stress this one enough. When I don't eat properly, I feel terrible. When I don't exercise, I feel terrible. I have come to realise that I need physical stimulation and not everyone is like that but some form of exercise is vital. I read somewhere that lack of exercise actually shrinks the brain because during exercise blood is forced to 8 different areas in the brain whereas when you don't exercise, it wouldn't normally flow there. I can go on about why physical activity is important but I won't. But what I will say is that you do need to keep yourself healthy whichever form this takes. This encomasses physical health as well as emotional and spiritual health.
5. Draw on the knowledge of others.
When I had Number 1 I really struggled with people giving me advice and me not feeling the freedom to take it or leave it. Over the years I have learnt who I can trust with my struggles. There is so much information around today and so many different expectations but I have learnt that the people who have gone before us sometimes have pearls of wisdom. A lot of advice is outdated and will not suit our family but sometimes it can be on little piece of advice can make a huge change. Don't feel bad about not taking everyone's advice but do realise that a lot of people give advice to help and not because they think you are not doing it right. Be careful not to mask insecurity in pride.
6. Don't succumb to others' expectations.
Following number 5, I feel I do need to mention this one. A lot of the time we allow others to dictate to us how to raise our children, raise our family and even how to be in our marriage. We need to be able to take advice from other people but we need to be able to conduct our family in the way we choose to. You need to feel the freedom be able to raise your children without feeling judged. Truth be told, there will always be those who will judge your and will have something to say but brush it off. At the end of the day YOU are responsible for your family and yourself - no one else. I have always said that you are the mom your specific child needs - remember that.
7. Grace, grace , grace.
Grace for yourself, grace for your kids and grace for others around you. I think that says it all.
To be honest, navigating parenthood is one of the hardest things ever. There is no perfect parent, no perfect child and no perfect family. And I have heard it said that if it is not hard, you are not doing it right. Us parents all face trials and I am trying to work on the above points - I have by no means got it right. Some days I get some right and some days I get nothing rights. Just remember, if you are giving your best and all to your kids, you are the best parent they could possibly ask for. And this too will pass....