Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Life with two wee people...

Generally speaking, life with two small people in the house has proved to be less of a disaster than I anticipated. Before Tick was born I had nightmares about sibling rivalry, escalating toddler behaviour, extreme sleep deprivation and general insanity. The reality is thankfully not quite like that. For starters, The Bean adores his little brother. Sure, he is also occasionally jealous and yes, there has been quite a bit of wanting to be carried around or sitting on Mama's lap while Tick is nursing... we work around that. Also, sleep deprivation, while never a joy, isn't quite so awful this time round. I think it's a mixture of knowing what to expect and the fact that Tick isn't as much of a snacker as Bean was, meaning I occasionally get longer stretches between feeds. Again, there are occasional tough nights, like two days ago for example, when teething pain coincided with a growth's spurt, but most of the time, as long as I go to bed at a reasonable hour, it's OK. And life in general might be more chaotic, but then, we are used to chaotic around here, and Tick fits in rather well with us. He is a contented and relaxed baby, and quite self-reliant and independent, happy to lie on his blanket and watch his big brother play. He is an additional happy little bundle on shopping trips and an interested observer of toddler play during play group sessions. I can honestly say that the introduction of the second little person has been a resounding success, not only with us but also with the proud big brother.

Nonetheless, there are also occasions when things are a bit more rocky. Occasions where you find yourself with two crying little ones and you are just about hanging on to sanity while really you would like to do a bit of howling yourself because you feel so desperate and helpless and tired. Like tonight for example.

Bathtime - normally a fun time in this household. D usually takes over then and both The Bean and D enjoy their special time together. While they are playing I get to straighten things up a bit, get Bean's bed ready, prepare his milk, and spend time with Tick. This spending time with Tick is particularly important at this time of night because this is when he becomes more grizzly and fretful. After a hard day's watching everything around him he is tired and overstimulated and he doesn't quite manage to make himself sleep so he is prone to quite a bit of fussing.Normally this isn't a problem because there are two of us and I can settle him.

Not so, however, tonight. D had to work late, leaving me with the task of getting The Bean bathed and into bed. It started off well, with Bean having a good spash in the tub and Tick, minus his nappy (he has had a weird rash for a few days and I suspect it's the disposables so I am trying a mix of cloth nappies and lots of nappy-free time to cure it), kicking on the changing mat on the floor.

Then he started fretting. I tried to calm him while at the same time keeping an eye on Bean in the bath. With little success. The fretting turns into crying. Now Bean is starting to get upset and urges me to pick Tick up because, so Bean, "Tick hungry!! Tick booby!". Well, I try that, in the vain hope that it will calm him. No luck. Of course I know what he needs - some calm time with Mama in a quiet and dark room to settle himself - but right now, with a toddler in the bath I can't really provide that. I put Tick back down to get Bean out of the bath and hurry things along a bit. By this point Tick is howling and Bean is visibly upset (he hates to see his brother cry). I convince him to come out of the bath and help me get Tick ready for bed. This means that Bean's bedtime is shifting rather more than I would like (he is still a difficult sleeper so I don't like to upset his routine because we tend to suffer for it), but it can't be helped. I stuff Bean into his PJs and we go into Mama's bedroom to get Tick ready. Bean is now quite frantic with worry about his brother and wants to lie down with him in Mama's bed. We do that for a bit because I want to try to nurse Tick again in the hope to settle him. It doesn't work, but now I also have to get Bean out of my bed, where he is contentedly settling down for the night, and into his own. All the while Tick is howling.

Eventually I manage to get Tick into his PJs and sleeping bag and into his own cot and Bean out of my bed and into his own. He is not happy that he isn't sleeping in Mama's bed but eventually cooperates. He is a trooper, really - while, like all wilful toddlers, he has his moments and his tantrums, in situations where I get really desperate I can usually reason with him. He seems to sense that I need him to cooperate and he can be ever so sweet. I am deeply grateful for that.

While I settled Bean in his bed and then when I went back into the bathroom to tidy up the chaos I finally heard Tick settle down. I tiptoed in again to check up on him and to switch the monitor on and then glanced at the clock - the whole episode had taken little more than 20 minutes from Tick starting to fret to both children in bed and asleep, yet it had felt like hours.

I came downstairs, and sat down on the sofa with a hot drink and a couple of slices of banana bread and took the luxury of closing my eyes for a moment to relax.

I think I have earned it.

~ * ~

Just so that this post at least includes some knitting too, I thought I'd give you a quick update on Unwrapped. It was going well until yesterday lunchtime. I have managed to do quite a bit of knitting - mainly in the evenings and, and this has been particularly effective, in the car, when Bean has his nap (recently he has refused to nap anywhere else so I do a lot of sitting in the car...) - and Unwrapped has been growing nicely.

Now, however, progress has stalled. The reason? A broken circular needle. See, this is what happens if one is a cheapskate and buys a whole bunch of bamboo needles on eBay for something like 50 pence per pair... They arrive and one looks suspiciously at the rather stiff plastic tubing used to link the two needles. With good reason, as it turns out, because these needles don't even seem to be able to withstand the wear and tear of ONE knitting project. The bending proved too much for the tubing and it broke. I have already put in an order for a new pair of circs although in the meantime D managed to simply cut off the broken bit of plastic tubing and to stick the remainder back onto the needle, showing a) how simply these needles were made in the first place, and b) that he is the more technical minded person in this household. The needles are still not usable, though, because we didn't have any super-glue to secure the tubing. Also, who knows how long they would last before the next breakage?

Anyway, here is a picture to show that progress is being made - I'm doing the hip increases now, so I'm nearing the end of this project already!


  1. Anonymous7:20 pm

    They are adorable! Really, truly, it does get easier. Take care of you too. :)

  2. My goodness you certainly earned your hot drink and cake, plus a bit of quiet time to yourself. Glad you are finding time to knit, needles permitting, when your hands aren't full of beautiful children. Well done you.

  3. Anonymous10:21 pm

    I actually disagree with tiennie as I think it just gets different and you just have to embrace the crazy times and remember that todays disaster will be tomorrows funny anecdote!
    Last night asked teenage son to run bath for me so I could come upstairs and bath the 3 year old. You can guess what comes next..... when water started pouring through the kitchen lights and rangehood I realised he had got distracted and not turned the taps off! I think we used every towel in the house to soak up the water, but at least the bathroom floor is clean now! Lots of towels to wash and dry now. And of course it happens when my husband is away.
    Thats just life - don't forget to enjoy it every stage is gone so quickly.
    Oh and knit for stress relief, it's my own form of meditation.
    Much love.