If I had thought that handling a newborn alone is tough, boy was I wrong. Because having to deal with a newborn AND a toddler is way harder than that.
Four weeks in, life is easier and harder at the same time. Easier in that I can more or less discern Zac’s needs when he cries, he’s a lot more interactive now and super duper cute, and Aidan is getting used to his little brother’s presence. Harder because Zac doesn’t sleep as much (if he even sleeps at all!), Aidan can get rather needy, and they tend to go off at the same time in the evenings.
That’s right, the dreaded witching hour.
Come six o’clock every evening, it’s like the moon turns blood red and the boys turn into imps who conspire to drive their mother mad. And because the husband doesn’t get off work early, it means that I have to deal with two cranky and crying kids for a good two hours or so. I have to cook, feed them and then bathe them so that they can both be packed off to bed early enough for mama to regain her sanity (and eat some chocolates in peace).
Zac, like many newborns, does not take long naps. I don’t birth unicorn babies, it seems, and I don’t know when his naps will consolidate! My last newborn – ie. Aidan – took SIX FREAKING MONTHS* to fall into a pattern of three naps of 45-60 minutes each. Zac is now taking 20-minute catnaps, before waking up in a snitch. Even when I baby wear him, he settles for about an hour before expressing his immense displeasure at the entire world in general (I blame this infernal heat, poor baby, to be born in June).
It’s okay if I only have one child, I’ll gladly have him sleep on me for all his naps! But when you throw in a tantrum-prone toddler who really misses his mama into the mix, things become a lot trickier.
Because Zac doesn’t take long, good naps, he becomes grouchy and overtired in the evenings, and wants to cluster feed. Cue lots of hysterical crying and grizzling.
And then Aidan gets a little jealous that mama is focusing her attention on the baby. He starts acting up, demanding TV time (which I allow only in limited quantity) and refusing dinner.
1 unhappy baby + 1 unhappy toddler = 1 irritated and pissed off mama, who is trying to keep her cool and not blow her top.
The good news is, having gone through this before, I know that this is not going to last forever. The newborn is going to get cuter and cry less. The toddler will move out of his disequilibrium phase and go back to being my sweet boy. But the present moment is still hard, and I am barely holding it together on some days.
In the meantime, meals are going to be simple and easy to cook. The house is going to be cluttered. I won’t have time to blow dry my hair (if I even get to shower at all, HAH). Somebody is going to have to cry for a bit while I tend to the other kid. MY dinner will be gobbled down in 10 minutes or less.
But this too shall pass. And I will keep remembering that the days are long but the years are short. Wish me luck (and PATIENCE).
*File this under “It Gets Better”: Aidan now takes a nice, predictable nap during lunchtime. His night sleep, on the other hand…